I was taking a break in between appointments and sat down with Emma to watch The Swiss Family Robinson. If you haven't put it together yet, the name of this blog was inspired by the name of the book. I liked the book and the name so much that I had to stick with it and so it became the name of this blog. As Emma and I watched the movie I thought to myself that I should blog about something interesting today. I love this blog & I love sharing things on here that seem so normal to me, but are quite possibly not something that everyone else already knows how to do.
So today I welcome you to Almond 101!! Today we'll discover how to make yummy almond milk that's cheaper than buying it in the stores. So many people are using coconut and almond milk in their smoothies on a regular basis, and I'm often asked which is healthier. I wouldn't say that one is better than the other, because they both offer a great amount of nutritents. It really just comes down to personal preference. One thing that many aren't aware of is just how many synthetic additives there are in some brands (not all, make sure to check your labels) of both almond and coconut milk. The additives in these milks are found in the form of synthetic vitamins, which are the chemical mirror image of the real deal. Instead of worrrying about checking the labels and stressing over where to find milks that don't contain additives, here's an easy and quick way to make almond milk at home in your jammies =)
To begin your going to take 1 cup of raw almonds, pour them into a mason jar, and fill with 3 cups of filtered water. Allow the almonds to soak overnight, or 8-12 hours if you're soaking throughout the day.
Once your almonds have soaked, drain the water out, rinse, and place them in the emulsifier, food processor, or blender.
Gather your ingredients - organic saigon cinnamon, pure vanilla, and organic agave.
Pour 3 1/2 cups of water over the soaked almonds, 1 tbsp. pure vanilla, as much cinnamon as you'd like, and 1 1/2 tbsp. of organic agave.
Next is the fun part, we get to mix it all up!!! Mix thoroughly beginning on a low setting and working up to a high setting.
At this point you have 2 options, pour the milk over a cheese cloth or milk nut bag. Pouring the milk over either of these allows you to separate the milk from the almond meat and peel. Personally, I like to keep the peel and meat mixed into the milk because you keep more of the nutrients. Once your milk is ready to go, grab some mason jars to pour in.
Now that your milk is ready, store it in the refigerator and enjoy knowing exactly where your milk was made & exactly what's in it!!!
What happens in your world when your kiddos wake up and they're sick? Do you have to call in to stay home with them? Do you change your plans and make time to care for them? Does it throw a major chink in your chain of weekly activities, events, and worst of all...do you then feel the need to work in a pediatrician appointment at the last minute? We interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you a case of the sickies!!!! Well, here are a few things that we do to kick a virus, cold, or just an overall down in the dumps feeling in the butt. By the way, we happen to be doing this today because one of my girls woke up with glassy eyes, a sore throat, and her shoulders hurt. I immediately made her a smoothie, covered her with comfy cozy blankets, set out a glass of water, and headed to the kitchen to throw together some chicken noodle soup. Although I love my babies and would drop anything and everything to make them feel better, I too must change my plans in order to care for them. I had an appointment I was scheduled to travel for today, but as you can surely relate...my baby took center stage when she looked at me with those big ol' brown glassy eyes. Over the years I've incorporated what we call "Sickie Prevention" into our daily routines and diets. Most kids don't get in enough veggies and essential vitamins and minerals, so we start the day doing just that. My kids get a smoothie loaded with fruits, greens, coconut milk, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and a whole packet of Amazing Grassblended in. * Contains over 70% certified organic ingredients
• Whole food source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
• Supports a strong immune system
• All natural...No artificial colors, flavors, fillers or other unnecessary stuff
• Non Dairy, Gluten Free, Soy Free, Non-GMO, Vegan
• Excellent source of Beta Carotene, Thiamin (B-1), Vitamin K
• Good Source of Vitamin C, Iron, Riboflavin (B-2), Folic Acid
• Just one 6 gram serving has the antioxidant equivalent to 3 servings of fruits and vegetables*
* (Antioxidant value determined by an independent ORAC analysis)
Maybe by this point you're thinking "My child won't eat that", well that's what I thought too...until I tried it. They both love it, and the best thing is they think they're getting a dessert for breakfast, but really they're getting in everything most kids are lacking.
Throughout the day I make sure they're drinking enough water. I'm sure you heard all of your life that 8 glasses of water is what you should be getting in, but what about our little ones? In reality, our water consumption should be based on our weight, activity level, the environment we live in, etc... For Abby, I aim to give her 0.5 liters of water every day. For Emma, I aim to have her consume 0.8 liters every day. Abby is less active than Emma, and Emma weighs more than Abby. It's important to realize and understand that not only do we as adults have our own unique nutritional needs, but so do our children! Here's a greathydration calculator to try! In addition to the water, fruits, and veggies, I also like to make a mug of unfiltered acv, raw honey, organic saigon cinnamon, and mix it into warm water. Once the mix is blended, I pour it into ice cube trays and freeze for several hours. Emma likes to eat ice whenever I let her, so I give her a small cup of the acv cubes and let her eat them. Sometimes I'll put them into a glass of apple juice, water, or make popsicles out of them. For Abby I like to put them in her formula or blended food to keep it cool during trips. The taste likely is not good in Abby's food, but it goes into her tube and she doesn't have any idea what it tastes like. By giving them the acv mixture, you're combating and preventing an enormous amount! Here's afabulous article on the many, many benefits of acv and raw honey!
Additionally, for each meal of the day I make sure that both girls receive plant based meals, snacking on whole foods that boost the immune system (no processed foods), get enough natural vitamin D by taking walks, playing with neighbor friends, and they do Tai Chi every morning. Now I know that not everyone can do Tai Chi in the mornings, but my mom is an instructor, so I use that to my children's advantage. Tai Chi is a gentle way to fight stress. Our children shouldn't be stressed out, but the truth is that they often are. The world has changed so much since we were young, and even more since our parents were children. Stress is a key factor in promoting disease, and in my opinion disease and stress has no place in the body of a precious child. These days our schools are places where we find high levels of stress for our children, after school activities can be stressful (they can also be beneficial, just depends on the child and environment), sometimes home life can be stressful, peer pressure, genetics, puberty, special needs family members, health issues, etc... It's hard to imagine a child being stressed out, but the annual Stress In American Survey finds that parents underestimate the level of stress that kids feel and the causes of that stress. Here's anarticle by Kids Health that discusses some common stressors in children's lives.
When my kids do get sick, yes it happens...but to be honest, it only happens about twice a year. They haven't had the flu since they were 16 months old and when they do get sick, it's only a minor cold. They haven't ever had a flu shot, so that is not the reason why they don't get sick. However, when they are sick I always, always, always make a giant pot of Chicken Rice Noodle & Mixed Veggie Soup, which has been dubbed "Sickie Soup" in our house.
I use grilled chicken that we always have on hand, a bag of organic & non GMO frozen mixed veggies, organic free range chicken broth, any rice pasta we have in the pantry, and sea salt. That's it!!! While the soup's cooking, I give both girls a bath in Epsom Salt, put them in comfy sweats, cover them with comfy & cozy blankets, close all of the blinds to block out any bright lights, and serve them their soup in cute soup bowls. Now, tell me that if your spouse did that for you, you wouldn't smile and that it wouldn't make your spirit lift even just a little? Even at 5 1/2 years old my kids still take 2 hour naps every single day. So, at 12pm we head up to bed and nap time begins. Even if you're child doesn't take naps, rest time is mandatory for feeling better so try to squeeze it in and encourage quiet rest time in their beds.
When my girls get up from their naps between 2 and 3, I give them a mug of warm water with honey and lemon, and allow them to relax on the couch for as long as they like. Abby of course receives all fluid through her feeding tube. The two simple ingredients, honey and lemon, help relieve the worst cold symptoms. Honey soothes sore throats and lemon juice fights off bacteria. The antioxidants in honey boost the immune system, as does the vitamin C in the lemon juice. Wafts of steam from the drink can also help relieve nasal decongestion.
Typically by 4pm the girls begin to feel better and Emma almost always wants to go out and play with friends. I do however keep her inside and continue to encourage her to drink water & allow her body to relax. We end the day with smashed carrots and sweet potatoes drizzled with a small amount of pure organic maple syrup, and fruit cream (faux ice cream) to soothe a sore throat (if they have one).
Orange fruits and vegetables, such as carrots andsweet potatoes, are rich in beta-carotene. When we eat these foods, our bodies convert this organic compound into vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining a strong immune system.
Vitamin A is especially important for areas that go haywire when we catch a cold: It keeps the mucous membranes that line our nose and throat—one of the body's first lines of defense—healthy and functioning properly.
Normally by morning both of my girls are feeling back to 100%, and we can resume our regularly scheduled broadcast, lol!!
Do you have any tips or tricks that your family responds well to when the sickies have invaded your house? Do you have any sickie prevention tips? If so, please share them on myFB page for others who may be in need of some tips =)
*Please don't hesitate to take your child to the pediatrician if necessary. These are tips to help promote health and overall wellness, but sometimes the sickies do need a little help in the form of a doctor.*
Today we're going to get down and dirty with pantry staples & grocery budgets. Two weeks ago I did my shopping and spent only $185.00 for a two week period. Last night I did my bi-weekly shopping again and only spent $105.22 and that will take care of the next two weeks. We had so much left over from the last grocery trip that I didn't need to do a full blown shopping trip this time. AWESOME!!!
and here's my receipt from BJ's Wholesale Club
Before I delve into the nitty gritty I want to share with you what my refrigerator looks like after only spending $105.22 last night and combining it with what we already have. Doesn't look like we're going without. Wouldn't you agree?
Refrigerator is FULL!!! Please excuse how unorganized it is right now =)
Bottom half of freezer is stuffed (the gluten free pizzas are my mom's that she bought) for family movie night on Friday.
The top half of the freezer is full of fruits, veggies, and a loaf of bread from a local bakery that uses organic whole wheat.
The pantry is also full.
Veggies (I prefer to buy as much as I can at the Farmers Market, but depends on the season) such as:
Organic bell peppers
Organic bok choy (once every 1-2 months)
Organic baby green salad
Organic baby spinach
Organic raw garlic
Organic sweet potatoes
Fruits such as:
Organic pears (once every 1-2 months)
Organic whole wheat bread
Organic whole wheat tortillas
Organic hummus (unless we make our own)
Organic natural unsalted pb
Organic superfruit (no sugar added) preserves
Organic low sodium veggie broth
Organic free range chicken broth
Organic saigon cinnamon
1 can of organic black beans
1 can of organic great northern beans
Organic rice noodles
Organic spaghetti sauce
Organic cold pressed olive oil
Organic almond meal (once ever month)
Organic coconut oil
Organic vanilla coconut milk (4 at $2.99 each, compare that to cow's milk)
Organic honey greek yogurt (for Abby)
Organic vanilla yogurt (for Emma)
Soy free, dairy free Earth Balance butter
Apple Gate Farms roasted turkey (lunch meat I buy 1 and advise them to use it sparingly)
Trader Joe's raw cheddar cheese
Trader Joe's sliced American cheese
Frozen organic blueberries
Frozen organic pineapple
Organic frozen strawberries
Organic frozen sweet potatoes
Organic frozen green beans
Organic frozen asparagus
Organic frozen corn
Organic fire roasted salsa
Organic Enviro Kids cereal (1 small box)
Organic Bragg's raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar
So Delicious coconut milk coffee creamer
Jay Robb's egg protein powder
Whatever brand of toilet paper & paper towels are on sale
Organic bananas (LOTS) they're on .57 per lb!!!
Organic non GMO brown rice, black, and pinto beans (buy enough to only have to go 1 -2 months)
BJ's Wholesale Club:
All natural ground bison (it's illegal to administer antibiotics and growth hormones to bison & it's healthier & less fatty). A great tip for making meat stretch is to take 1 lb. of ground beef or bison & separate it into 2 baggies. With the bison I'll separate 2 lbs. (comes in 2lb. packages) which will actually make 4 meals.
Organix moroccan argan oil shampoo (usually $6.99 at Walmart and $7.99 at Target for the 13 oz bottle, but at wholesale clubs you can find the 25.4 oz bottle for $9.99!!! My whole family uses this!!)
2lb bag of organic quinoa for only $4.99 (major savings alert!!!)
Grass fed bacon (only when the family choses this as their meat for the 2 week period)
Grass fed beef (only when the family choses this as their meat for the 2 week period)
Raw unfiltered local agave (a bottle of agave lasts us 1 to 2 months, so this isn't a regular stop)
Local raw honey
Every time I make a grocery list, I ask my family what type of meat they would like for the 2 week period. I only buy 2 types of meat during that 2 week period, and the amount that comes in the package I buy decides how many meat based meals I'll make in that 2 week period. I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS make a meal list with 10-12 meals on it. From those 10-12 meals I make my grocery list. I write the list in order of the stores. Yes, that does sound like it would take an outrageous amount of time, and yes it did when I first started doing it. But child please, you and I both know good and well that you have your grocery store aisles memorized to a degree. If the majority of Americans didn't they wouldn't spend so much on unnecessary foods!!!! We all know that when we walk into our local Walmart we'll find frozen foods in a particular area. The only thing in a big box grocery store that most people have a hard time finding is organic and natural foods. Wheeeew, ok...now that I've said that, on to the actual shopping day.
I give myself a budget of $200.00, but aim to spend less. When I walk into the store I'm always tempted to buy flowers. The reality is that if my goal is to save money, why do I need to spend $5.99 on hydrangeas that will die in a few days??? So, I grab my will power up by the panties and I head toward the bread section. I LOVE bread, so I'm easily tempted to throw all kinds of breads into my cart, but again if i'm trying to save and tone my body, why am I trying to justify several different types of breads??? My point is, if you're writing your list and filling it with items that you need to nourish your family's bodies, soul, and create a connection to their food, then you need to STICK TO THE LIST!!!!!!!! Be militant about it, don't sway from the mission!! However, while you're in the store create a connection to your store by getting to know where your food is coming from. Look at the labels, talk to the produce girl/guy about when they get their organic produce in so that you can get it when it's freshest. Find joy in the fact that you're doing something AMAZING for your family and yourself while shopping. Don't dwell on the number EVER!! Dwell on the blessing that you're there and are able to provide nourishment, balance, health, and love through the food your going to serve to your children.
The BIGGEST money saver when it comes to groceries is - DUN DUH NA NA - YOU MUST SACRIFICE THE CRAP AND PROCESSED FOODS TO MAKE IT WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You don't have to cut it out completely if you're not ready, instead crowd it out with nutritious, whole, and clean foods if you're ready to make those changes & save money. Matt works with a guy who has 4 kids. He shared with Matt that his family goes through 4 gallons of milk every week and that it's breaking the bank. I said "WHAT!!!!!!! 4 GALLONS OF MILK!!! You mean to tell me that those 4 little bodies are consuming 4 whole gallons???? NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!! Did you ask him if he's ever thought that as the parent all he has to say is no more milk, have some water?" Did you know that:
*According to the National Institutes of Health Fact Sheet on Vitamin D,http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp, vitamin D3 derived from lanolin, (the oily wool of sheep), is the form of vitamin D that is typically added to cow’s milk in the United States. It may also be added to evaporated milk and infant formulas, margarine, and yogurt. Vitamin D2 derived from yeast may be added to certain rice milks and soy milks. Either, but mostly vitamin D3, may also be added to fortified breakfast cereals and fruit juices.*
Would you get the vitamin D by eating the oily wool of sheep? Most likely not!! Why feed those precious bodies with products that COST TOO MUCH, have added antibiotics & growth hormone, and don't really even naturally contain the whole reason most parents feed milk to their children - vitamin d and calcium. HELLO!!!! So here's what I propose. If you're big milk drinkers but want to save money, buy 1 to 2 gallons less than you usually do and replace it with a natural milk & (coconut milk, almond milk, oat milk, etc...buy it for it's natural benefits), save the difference and add it to your child's college fund!! Your kids will most likely not like it at first, but when you clean your body of the processed foods, your taste buds will change and the kiddos will begin to like things they never liked before! Trust me, I've seen it and participated in it over, and over, and over again!
The real question to take home is - are you ready to save, make some sacrifices, achieve health, balance, & financial stability? If so, my family is here for yours and remember that we've been through the trenches of debt, bulimia, brain surgeries, deployment, inflammation, major weight gain, weight loss, and all while raising a family. If we could do it, so can you!!!
Budgets, bills, limited income, debt, unwanted weight, nutrition, and life circumstances can all be overwhelming. There were many nights when I'd lay in bed asking God where I was going to find the money to buy diapers, wipes, and formula. I was so overwhelmed and stressed out that I would often wake up in the morning with my shoulders tensed up near my head & my cheeks clinched between my back teeth. I was stressed about money, debt, Abby's medical needs, and to top it off I was trying desperately to loose the baby weight. Ok, I had gone from 145 when I found out I was pregnant, to 213 right before I had the girls. I was in an XXL and my stomach hung down to my knees. I'm not exaggerating, it was depressing x 10!!! I had been a runner for 5 years prior to becoming pregnant, so I figured I'd just run off all of the weight. I went from running .50 miles 6 days a week, to 3-4 miles 6 days a week. By the time the girls were 12 months old, I had lost all of the weight plus a little more. For one year I allowed myself 1 Coke on the weekends, and completely cut out meat. The main reason for cutting out the meat wasn't to lose weight, but rather to save money. Everyone's grocery list is different, but meat & dairy are your big money suckers. I love cheese, hate cow's milk, love ice cream, and did I mention I love cheese? Did I also mention that I've been lactose intolerant my entire life? I cannot eat dairy, whey, casein, or lactose. As a result of having never been fed dairy on a regular basis growing up, I didn't see the need to have my girls transition from formula to milk (they now hate the taste of cow's milk as a result). These were money savers for us, and even if you love these items and are not intolerant, add up how much you spend on them per year. What would happen to your body and your wallet if you lived without one of these items for only 30, 60, or 90 days? Just something to think about.
We did eventually add meat back onto our grocery list, and back into our daily diet. We saw our budget tighten a bit and although our budget was still only around $120.00, we made it work by only buying enough meat for a few meals throughout the 2 week period. Around the same time we moved off of Fort Bragg & into a house that was well outside of the city limits. Suddenly the free military gym that I had been using was 30-45 minutes away. The daily running that I had been doing came to a screeching halt, however I did continue to eat the way that I had been when I was able to run in the gym. I quickly noticed how different I felt after not running for 2 weeks. I could feel myself slipping back into the old habit of eating, then heading to the bathroom, flipping on the exhaust fan, and bending over the toilet to rid myself of the meal I had just consumed. I had become bulimic at the age of 16, and as time went on I went through phases of hard core bulimia & then for a year I wouldn't feel the urge at all. From September 2008 up until September 2009 I gave bulimia a whole new meaning in my life. I very rarely actually digested anything, other than Coke, popcorn, and peanut butter and jelly mixed together in a bowl. Those were my go to foods & I had specific times of the day when I would allow myself to eat them. I drank coffee, but never ate breakfast. I replaced a real lunch with my pb & j in a bowl, and I would cook & eat dinner, but I would quickly throw it up after everyone had finished their's. After we had gotten the girls to bed I would make microwave popcorn, grab a Coke, & watch Reba & House Hunters. That was my nightly routine & I would nearly panic if anything rocked the boat and caused me to keep food in my stomach for an extended amount of time. By the summer of 2009 I had lost so much weight that I had family members ask me if I was doing drugs. I was shocked that they would ask me such a question, but looking back at pictures from that time, I can see where they were coming from. During the spring of '09 we started receiving respite care through an Army Community Service program. I was able to find an amazing girl that helped me beyond words when it came to caring for the girls. One day our respite provider brought a book called Skinny B*#%h to the house and shared with me what she'd been reading. The book talks about our food supply, the myths and lies about protein, why organic is a healthier option, factory farming details from ex employees, the truth about GMO's, and why a vegan diet has worked for the authors. I was intrigued and borrowed the book from her when she was finished with it. I can honestly say that the book changed my life, perspective, and belief in myself more than I could have ever imagined. If you're new to the world of health, wellness, and holistic nutrition, I don't recommend you start by reading this book. There are better options out there for beginners, but it is a fantastic read for a later date. For the beginner I recommend Joshua Rosenthal's book Integrative Nutrition: Your Guide to a Happier, Healthier Life.You can receive the book absolutely free from my website if you'd like =) By the time I was finished reading Skinny B*#%h I had made up my mind that I was doing away with drinking soda of any kind. I had gotten to where I was plowing through a 12 pack of Coke in 1 day. I would throw up, which caused my blood sugar to drop unsafe levels, and I would shoot them back up with a Coke. Doesn't that sounds just absolutely ridiculous?!!!? I would drink Coke, but I was afraid of gaining weight...ummm...HELLO Summer!!!! However, not only did I do away with Coke, I also fully embraced a vegan diet. I had done a vegan cleanse once before becoming pregnant with the girls, so I had a slight idea of how to live as a vegan, but not as much as I would need to know. Nevertheless, when I fully embraced veganism, bulimia instantly became a foreign word to me. I went from throwing up literally everything I put in my mouth (except Coke and popcorn), to actually digesting everything I put in my mouth. Most people would look at me like I had a booger hanging out of nose when I would tell them that I was a vegan. For me though, it was life saving. Not to mention it went very well with being lactose intolerant. One of the many questions I get regarding organic, vegan, gluten free, & all natural foods is "It's so expensive, how can you possibly save money?". When I give people my answer they often give me the booger in my nose look again, lol. My answer is DON'T BUY MORE THAN YOU'LL EAT IN A 2 WEEK PERIOD!!!! We all have a tendency to buy too much, that's the American way. I make a detailed two week meal plan, write my grocery list with only the ingredients I'll need for those meals, add in ONLY A FEW snack items, and I ONLY BUY 2 MEATS!!!!!!! If we're doing ground beef or bison, I buy 1lb and separate it into two baggies to be used in two separate meals. You're heart and arteries will thank you for that!!! If I buy chicken, I only buy one package of boneless skinless breasts to meet the need of the meals that are listed on my two week meal plan. The big kicker is that Matt takes his lunch every day. I buy lunch meat for his sandwiches, but I only buy 2 small packs (organic, nitrite, nitrate free) of meat and when he runs out...he's out! I will not and do not go back to the store for more. If you're one of those people that finds themselves at the store every week try only going once every 2 weeks, then act as if you'll get the plague if you go back between then and your next pay day. If our family runs out of their few snack foods before grocery day again, then I have them pick a snack that they would like to learn how to make. You can make goldfish, granola bars, fig bars, hummus, kale chips, cheese popcorn, really the options are endless. This is how we have been able to go from a low income with massive debt, to a debt free (although God has blessed us with a much better income, I still give myself a small budget of $150-$200 every 2 weeks in order to save money) & healthy (bulimia free) lifestyle that has allowed us to supply our family with the best possible foods we can find. What it comes down to is how bad do you want it? We made massive sacrifices & although it wasn't necessarily fun, it has been beneficial in the long run. If we could do it, I know with all of my heart that if you want to transition your lifestyle, eating habits, and grocery bill, you can do it too!! In the next installment we'll share with you our pantry staples, a typical grocery list, where I find most of my recipes, and what we do in & out of the gym to maintain a healthy lifetsyle! Thanks so much for reading!! Summer & Matt
Sometime during the whole 110 day NICU ordeal, I was up late one night folding little tiny lady laundry when I saw a Discovery Health special on a family of multiples. I watched obviously because I was a new mother of multiples, and because they featured a few tips on "Going Green". I hadn't really been very concerned with changing our lifestyle, eating habits, or adding recycling to the list because at that time in life I was lucky if I could even get a shower in without being called by the NICU. However, something inside of me sparked that night while watching the documentary. I suddenly felt the need to read all that I could about what organic meant and why it seemed so important to some people. I picked up a Going Green magazine from a store one day and was amazed at the turn of every page. I felt as if I'd fallen into a whole different world.
Shortly after the awww moment I had with my new magazine, I headed out to grocery shop one night after Matt had gotten home from work. I had a budget of $80.00 to spend for a 2 week period. That's right $80.00 stinkin' dollars!!!!! How in the world was I going to buy food for Matt and I, household products (paper towels, toilet paper, trash bags, etc...) diapers & wipes for twins, and insanely expensive formula that the princesses had to have because of their reflux issues. It was a very difficult jolt into what had become our new reality, but I was determined to make it work. I'm a type A personality, and if you give me a problem I only see a solution. I looked at my budget as a challenge, and so I headed in to tackle the store with my $80.00 and I wasn't about to let it get me down. Instead of dwelling on what I didn't have, I thought back to when Matt and I lost our house. At the thought of what had been compared where I was in that moment, I immediately felt like the richest girl in the world. I had $80.00 to put towards providing for my babies. What a blessing!!!
*Christmas 2007 on a steeper than steep budget*
Having previously read the Going Green magazine, I caught myself looking for the organic version of our favorite foods. I remember picking up two bags of popped popcorn. One was organic popcorn in a smaller bag, and the other was non organic in a ginormous bag for only $1.99. You can guess which went into my shopping cart, yep the bag for $1.99. At that time I had no idea why the price and size were so drastically different. Do you?
The shopping trip ended well and I stayed within my budget, which I truly believe was an absolute miracle!
Over the first year of Abby and Emma's lives we were so overwhelmed. Abby had multiple appointments 2 hours away several times a week, and Matt was working like a maniac. He went into work at 5am, got off of work around 5ish/6ish, stopped by the house to eat, and went into the second job he had picked up as a server/bus boy for Ruby Tuesdays. He worked from 7pm-12am at this job 6 nights a week. It was crazy, but we desperately needed the money for hospital trips.
The first year was a true learning experience to say the least. We have since dubbed the style of living that we learned "ghetto rigged". For example, if we needed a bundt pan to bake something in, we would take an aluminum pan (You now the ones you can get at the Dollar Tree, but are supposed to throw away after one or two uses. Those were what I called my pots and pans), placed an aluminum can in the middle (the can would come from an ingredient we would be using for the meal), and voila...a "ghetto rigged" bundt pan! Eventually we were forced to replace our fine cookware when it began to rust, lol! My mom came to visit and bought us new pots and pans. You know I really felt like I'd hit the jack pot then, lol!
*Look what I just so happened to have a picture of*
By the Fall of 2008 we were no longer paying off the Army, so we were able to explore the world of clean eating a little more. By then I had spent loads and loads of time reading books, magazines, and watching documentaries (we couldn't afford the internet, so I had no idea what more amazing info was out there) that I felt I knew enough to make a healthy change to our nutrition. At that point I could only afford to replace 5% of our non organic food with organic food. I weighed the pros and cons and knew without a shadow of a doubt that the 5% would be in the form of organic baby food. From day one of holding my tiny baby girls, I made the promise to God that I would do everything in my power to keep them safe, healthy, and happy. He saw me deserving of this enormous blessing, so in return being wise with these precious gifts was my utmost responsibility.
*Our whole world*
Eventually, my mom mentioned that I could probably save money and add a little more organic options if I were to buy enough fruits and veggies from local farmers to make baby food. Of course being the type A personality that I am, I jumped on that idea and forever changed the way I look at baby food. From that point on I would buy all of my produce from a local farmers market (boxes and boxes of fruit and veggies) on the first pay day of each month, and then I would spend an entire Sunday afternoon and evening pureeing baby food to last the entire month. I bought plastic containers that equaled the amount in Gerber baby food stage containers, I would then pour the puree in them, place in the freezer, then thaw the day before I had planned for them to eat it. By adding what seems like an enormous amount of work to the already overwhelming routine, I saved enough money to add 5% more organic food to the regular grocery bill (by now the grocery bill was up to $125.00 bi weekly), and we were able to begin paying off one of the bills we had let go to collection around the same time that we had lost the house. You better believe I could feel God's hand on our family! I couldn't believe that just a year earlier, we had been told Abby was incompatible with life, Emma may die as a result, we had a foreclosure hanging over our heads, Matt deployed to Iraq 10 weeks before my scheduled c-section, and we had no furniture for our 400 square foot apartment (we moved out of that apartment right before the girls were born). What a difference just one year made in every aspect of our lives.
*Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Ephesians 3:20*
*The girl's 1st birthday*
In the next installment I'll share with you how I went from this person:
To this person:
To finally this person:
And how you can do it too!! It was all on a grocery budget ranging from $80.00 to $150.00.
At times I had the use of a free military gym, sometimes I didn't work out at all, and sometimes I ran in my neighborhood, worked out in the back yard, driveway, living room, and did pull ups in my laundry room. I'll also share how I overcame 11 years of bulimia by simply changing my perspective and what I put in my body. As a result, our family also went through amazing changes as well.
Until we meet again, consider trying one of our family favorite recipes.
We call this recipe The Usual and eat it at least once a week.
1c. organic quinoa
2c. organic veggie broth
1.875 cups (15 oz.) organic black beans or 1 can.
1/2c. organic GMO free corn
3 tbsp. of your favorite salsa
2 cloves of organic garlic
2tbsp. organic cold pressed olive oil
Start heating 2 tbsp. olive oil in a pan over low heat.
Mince the garlic and sautee until the smell of garlic begins to grace your kitchen.
Pour quinoa into the pan and follow immediately by pouring in the veggie broth.
Drop in your salsa, stir, and bring your pan full of yummy to a low boil.
Once you've reached a low boil, cover your pan and turn the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Once the 20 minutes is up, pour in your corn & cover again for another 5 minutes. Continue by pouring in the black beans and heating thoroughly for a few minutes. Salt to taste and serve with a side of sauteed kale. Easy, cheap, and healthy beyond belief!!!
Welcome to our family blog, where we share all of the exciting, crazy, funny, and inspirational events that happen in our lives. We like to think of ourselves as a typical family, but the truth is...we're not. With 5 year old identical twin girls, one who is a healthy little brianiac, and her sister who is also extremely smart, but struggles w/ severe disabilities. We don't let anything hold us back, even though the hand we've been dealt is far from easy. We love life, each other, and we share that love here.