Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Simple Soapmaking

I have been seeing this (All these moms are on Pinterest making their own soap and reindeer-shaped treats, and I'm like "I took a shower and kept the kids alive") lately and it makes me laugh because I am one of those moms making her own soap. However I am definitely not one of those moms that it is referring too.  I believe it is referring to moms who are super crafty and able to make all sorts of really nice looking DIY's. As I mentioned in my post before, when I tried to make my own chocolate peanut butter acorns, they came out rather pathetic looking. I am more like the mom who envies those types of moms who are so creative and aspires to be like them. I don't think I will ever be able to attain the levels of craftiness and creativity that I see on all the blogs that I follow and pins from Pinterest but I am able to get ideas from them and do a fraction of what I see and like.

Anyway back to soapmaking. Trust me it sounds a lot harder than it really is. A few years ago I read a blog post about "green" cleaning.  It is something I have been wanting to do since but it was only recently that I actually implemented the tips mentioned in the post. (The major impetus was wanting to use non-toxic cleaning supplies now that there is an infant in our apartment). For example I have been spraying a mixture of water and vinegar to clean my counter tops and wipe down mirrors (leaving them streak-free). In addition, I use baking soda when I need to do some stain scrubbing. Another tip was to use a mixture of Castile soap and water as another cleaning agent which I also sprayed to clean various surfaces in the bathroom. When I was running low on liquid hand soap, instead of buying more, I realized I could just fill the soap dispenser with some water and (the equivalent) of a few spoonfuls of Castile soap to....ta dum...."make my own soap". I told you it sounds a lot harder than it really is. When I think of real soap making I think of those fancy soaps that are so nice you don't even want to use them.

Anyway, I am really liking my "homemade soap". Because Castile soap is so concentrated, you don't need that much of it to add to the water.  I bought a big bottle of it online and I anticipate it lasting awhile thus it is cost effective even if you have to spend more in the beginning. I have other plans for it as well, such as using the water and Castile soap combination as a dish detergent once the one that I am currently using runs out. I especially like how it it is all natural since it is made of vegetable oil.  Because it is oil based it also keeps my hands much more moisturized than regular liquid soap which always dries out my skin at this time of year. Maybe I will be able to learn about and implement even more uses for it!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Acorn Annoyance

After surviving the first couple months of motherhood, I was fortunate enough to join a mom’s Bible Study affiliated with my church. It was a wonderful group of moms but since our church is about 30 minutes away (longer with traffic) from our apartment most of the small groups, including this one, is about the same distance. Since I know how isolating being a new (and for the time being stay-at-home) mom can be, I really wanted to find some moms with whom I could connect, that also live in the same area as I do. It took a few months but I am now settling into some formal (organized on meetup.com) and informal moms groups that are also nearby.

With the formal groups, each mom is required to host a play date every once in awhile.  A couple weeks ago I volunteered to host. I was excited to do so because I had been wanting a reason to make these  chocolate-peanut butter acorns that I had seen in a Martha Stewart Living magazine.  After reading the directions, I thought that it would be really easy to make and that once I made them they would look just like the picture. How wrong I was! It took so long for me to roll out the peanut butter and they definitely did not have that perfect acorn shape. When it was time for me to dip the “acorn” into the chocolate, the shape became even more messed up. The reason was because the chocolate had to be hot enough in order to stay melted but then the heat from the chocolate would then melt the peanut butter causing the shape to change. Below is a picture of some of the more decent looking ones that I made.

Overall I was really disappointed with how they ended up looking. I still ended up serving the “acorns” at the play date and all the moms were of course very gracious.  They thought they were cute and the “acorns” also (at least) tasted delicious. It is hard to go wrong with a combination of peanut butter, chocolate, sugar and butter. I ended up eating more than just a few at a couple sittings. For the play date I had also prepared ham and cheese crêpes (which also took awhile to make), homemade hummus (a little complicated since I also made one of the ingredients tahini which is a sesame seed spread from scratch) and some other store bought snacks.

Lessons learned from this experience:
  1. No matter how easy a recipe looks, that may not be the case, especially one from Martha Stewart. I should have known since in the past I had made a craft that looked easy but ended up taking a long time and being harder than I thought.
  2. Be mentally prepared for the possibility that it might not end up looking the way I had originally thought it would based on the picture.
  3. Find hosting recipes (tested in advance) that don’t take too long to make and aren’t too complicated.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Goodbyes à gogo

Living in Southern California has its perks: laid back life-style (at least compared to the East Coast where we are originally from), beautiful sunny weather many days of the year, beach living, proximity to many interesting places to where one can take day trips, etc. However one downside is that many transplants come here to live for a few years taking advantage of all this place has to offer but then end up leaving.  Some reasons include the expensive housing/cost of living which deter people from ultimately settling down here, others who came here for graduate school and after they finish their studies they have go wherever career opportunities take them. Also there are those who want to move back to hometowns where their families are especially once they have children, etc. 

Dean and I plan on staying here for as long as we possibly can (though we always joke about moving to Texas where we can actually afford to buy a house). We love it here and pretty much prefer to rent here than buy anywhere else. We are willing to pay the "sunshine tax" (high cost of living) in order to raise our family here.  But it still doesn't make it easy for us to have to say goodbye to so many of our friends/acquaintances who have come and gone. For example, just this year I have had one good friend move to Oregon, Dean's good friend moved to Michigan, a couple that we are both friends with moved to Washington State, and another couple that we are friendly with is moving to Northern California.

Since becoming a mom I have made a concerted effort to make new (mom) friends. I am always asking, "So do you plan on staying in the area or are you most likely leaving at some point?" It turns out that many of my mom friends are on 2 year, 5 year etc. plans here, meaning they also want to leave at some point as well.  It is a little disheartening to know so many people want to move away but I totally understand, especially if they want to expand their family.  Being in another location closer to family where the cost of living is less, definitely makes having a bigger family a lot easier.
Before I used to feel more down about the situation but the lesson I am learning is to just really enjoy the friendships with people while they are still here and to just trust that if/when people move on I will be able to meet/make new friends when needed. Essentially I am just going to concentrate on the present and not dwell on what could (or might not even) possibly happen in the future.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Magic Mint

Post partum weight loss has not been the easiest for me.  Although, for the past month or so, I have really been making a concerted effort to eat smaller portions of carbohydrates, to increase my salad intake, to minimize snacking on baked goods and to walk ~3-4 times a week for about ~35 minutes. Gradually and steadily the pounds are melting off one by one. Last week I ate especially healthy, so this past Saturday evening when it came time to decide what to eat, I told Dean that I wanted to continue the trend by eating a salad at home. However, we ended eating In n Out burgers, which was a terrible idea (albeit it was my own- Dean wanted to give me a break from preparing dinner at home and suggested we eat out. I suggested In n Out since I know how much he likes it, plus it is very well priced.  I also figured since I had been eating healthily, I could splurge a little on the weekend.).

Later that night, I was awoken out of my slumber by an intense feeling of nausea. I am not the type who throws up but I really felt like the only way that I would feel better, would be to do so.  I got out of bed and moaned to Dean how nauseous I felt and tried several times to throw up (except when I was in labor-that is a story for another time). It was not working and all I wanted was that horrible feeling to abate. Dean suggested I try brushing my teeth since toothpaste contains mint which usually helps diminish feelings of nausea. At my request he ended up washing some mint leaves from my herb planter box. I chewed on a few pieces and it really helped. I no longer felt sick and was able to go back to bed.

Lessons learned- Don't eat a hamburger and fries after a week of eating really really healthy! Mint really does help to reduce nausea. I must try it for morning sickness the next time I am pregnant.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Doggie Dilemna

What to do to celebrate five years of marriage when you have a six month old and a dog?
Take a day trip to San Diego.

My husband and I originally wanted to spend a weekend there. After doing some research about places (Cabrillo State Monument and the Torrey Pines Nature Reserve) that we wanted to visit, we eventually realized (too late) that it just wouldn't have been feasible since our dog would have had to stay in the car. Though it was already the end of September, it still would have been too hot and we could not have left her at the hotel since the check in time was later on in the day. So we left the dog at home and cancelled our hotel reservation. After a late start to the morning, we drove down and hit our main stop: Cabrillo National Monument. The monument was built to commemorate Juan Cabrillo, the first (recorded) European to land on the West Coast of the present-day United States.

It was a gorgeous day as you can see in the photos below.
Mama and Bébé:  
Views from outside the visitor Center: 

A shot of the Cabrillo monument which overlooks the Pacific, with Papa and Bébé.


There is also a lighthouse that visitors can check out:

A family photo over looking the tide pools that are part of the state park:

We also drove down to see the tide pools:
Lesson learned from planning this trip: Find a dog sitter when dogs are not allowed!