Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Movin' On Up

FamilyNatural is moving. Taking that big 'ole leap from Blogger to Wordpress. It's been coming for a long time, and as I've been working on the new site, trying to get the most important things in place, I've lost my posting habit. That's one reason I haven't been saying much lately.

Well, the most important things are in place, and though it's not perfect (or how I envision it will be some day), it's good enough. One of my favorite Fly-isms is that "housework done incorrectly still blesses your family" I love that concept, and it can be applied in so many ways!

So, here goes. Come and see the NEW FamilyNatural here. Make sure you leave a comment so I know you've visited!

And, of course, I couldn't end this without a little Jefferson's music...

PS. Some of you have already been visiting the new site (and are reading this there) without realizing that it wasn't officially "open for business" yet. If this is you, well, "welcome" anyway! And leave a comment and let me know what you think. (That includes letting me know about any links that might be broken, etc.) Thanks for taking this journey with me!

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Story of Cosmetics

Interesting video. I definitely have a lot of progress to make in this area.

This text will be replaced by the player

How about you?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Make Your Own Vanilla Extract

Confession: We've been using imitation vanilla. As in Fake. As in, filled with chemicals and nothing good. And it doesn't even taste good! Why, you may ask? Well, to save money. Vanilla extract is expensive--and that's in the US, where it's made. Add import expenses and taxes to that, and, .....you can't even find it here without really looking. And when you do, you don't want to buy it because of the exorbitant price.

A while ago, I saw a recipe somewhere for making your own vanilla extract. I thought it sounded interesting, but did nothing about it as I didn't have the brain space and energy needed to hunt down real vanilla beans.

And then, the other day, I happened to find some.

I bought 3 for 20 shekels, which is about $5. Expensive, yes. But only about as expensive as ONE BOTTLE OF EXTRACT. And then I found that with those SAME 3 vanilla beans, I can make enough extract to last for YEARS!

I got mine brewing the other day and sadly need to wait 8 weeks. But then.....vanilla. In pancakes, desserts, drinks.....I love the flavor. Good stuff.

Here's the recipe, found at SimplyRecipes.com

How to Make Vanilla Extract
Commercial vanilla extract usually has simple syrup (sugar water) added to the extract to give it a sweet aftertaste. You can do this if you want, but if you are using the vanilla for baking, there really is no need.


  • 3 vanilla beans
  • 1 cup vodka
  • glass jar with tight fitting lid


1 Use kitchen scissors or a sharp paring knife to cut lengthwise down each vanilla bean, splitting them in half, leaving an inch at the end connected.

2 Put vanilla beans in a glass jar or bottle with a tight fitting lid (mason jars work well). Cover completely with the vodka.

3 Give the bottle a good shake every once in a while. Store in a dark, cool place for 2 months or longer.

Lasts for years. You can keep topping it off with vodka once in a while as you use it, just remember to give it a good shake.

Searching on Vanilla for this post, I came across this music video. It'll bring you back. (I was unable to embed it here. Sorry!)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Menu Plan for the Rest Of JULY!

As I've mentioned, I struggle with menu planning. Even though I KNOW it works, it helps, it's good to do, I just don't like to do it, which is why it's so helpful for me to post it because I know I'll get it done then. As you may (or may not) have noticed, I haven't been posting them the last few weeks. And, that means, I haven't been making them. Which means, I sometimes have no idea what I'm going to make for dinner, even half an hour before said dinner -time.

I have a goal of making menus one month at a time, and doing some amount of prepping ahead and freezing what I can. Right now, the most I've done is make a double batch of some things and freezing the extra, and making some mixes. These are helpful, but not what I have in mind for my freezer cooking goals.

Today is Tuesday. I didn't have my menu planned for the rest of the week yet yesterday (on Monday, my menu planning/posting day). But today I am going grocery shopping, so it had to be done. And then, I did the unthinkable.....I planned the menus for the rest of the month! Using this monthly menu planner from $5 dinners, I filled in the rest. I know it's only 2 1/2 weeks, but for me it's a lot. Unfortunately there's not many things I can prep ahead, but I may be able to figure some out.

So, here's what's planned for the next 3 weeks:

M- Baked Potatoes, grilled onion&mushroom toppings, steamed green beans
T- Eggs & toast, OJ
W-Burgers (Father's Day--we never had it)
Th- Rainbow Salad & (hopefully) Homemade Bread
F- Chicken Pot Pie, Broccoli, Challah, Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies&Almond Milk
S- Granola, Raw Granola, Almond Milk, Pasta Tuna Salad

S-Vegetable Stuffed Eggplant
M- Spinach & Chickpeas with pita
T- Homemade Pizza, Greek Salad
W- Pancake Supper
Th- Homemade Hummus, Couscous Tabouli, pita
F- Crock pot Sweet n Sour Cabbage&Beef soup
S- Couscous Salad

S- Taco Casserole
M- Eggs & Toast, OJ
T- L/O Cabbage Soup
W- Spaghetti, Salad
Th- Cabbage & Potatoes (pan fried)
F- Baked Fish, Macaroni & Cheese, Candied Carrots, Spinach

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summertime Fun: Camp at Home

With five children at home with me all day, every day, all summer long, .....um, I lost my train of thought. I guess that's because I have FIVE CHILDREN! At HOME! WITH ME! EVERY DAY! And yes, I'm planning to begin homeschooling (more) after this summer, so this is something I need to know how to deal with.

You may be wondering how I'm going to stay sane. You'll be happy to know that I have a PLAN.

A few years ago I heard from Flylady the great idea to make "camp" at home. Just like when kids go to day camp and they have lots of fun activities around a theme, you can create this at home. And so I did a one-week camp that summer. I called it "Camp Creation" and based it around the seven days of creation. Each day had activities based on what was created on that day during the creation week. It was a big hit.

Last summer, I was very pregnant, and just didn't have it in me to do a camp. The boys attended a 3 week day camp at the preschool, and after that I did try to use some good scheduling ideas to manage things, though, and wrote about them in
Summertime Kids-How Scheduling Can Stop The Madness!

Children definitely have more fun and behave better when they have some kind of direction to their time and they're not just on their own with "free" time all day long.

This year, they're all at home. I decided I needed to plan something. I got great ideas for CampWannaLaffaLotta from LifeAsMom.com

The weekly themes she suggested were just right, so I'm keeping most of them the same. Last week was Week 1, and we were Down On The Farm. This week we're Under The Sea. We'll also have a week going on a Jungle Safari, then Camping in the Great Outdoors, and Blasting Into Space.

That's 5 weeks. I'm not sure yet of the rest; I'm figuring this out as I go along. I haven't had much time to post my links and activities, but there's always next year. Right now it's time to have fun!

And I don't have a name for my camp, so if you think of one for me, pass it along!

Visit Flylady's CampGonnaWannaFly page here

What's your summer-fun plan?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

There's A Party Going On Round Here...

A celebration....to last throughout the year.

OK, my eighties brain is coming out. I hope you are singing along with me to those lyrics. The song everyone knows. Kool & The Gang. But I digress.

How can I digress? I haven't said anything yet.

So there you go. This is how my brain works.

What I wanted to say, the reason I started with thinking about celebrating is this: I want to teach you a secret. A concept that my friend Dr. Andrea Hazim taught me. It's a good one that really helps me make better eating decisions.

Are you tempted by your tongue to eat things that you know you shouldn't? (We all are!) Do you argue with yourself about your level of self discipline (or lack of it) and then get angry at yourself for either depriving your inner princess of the yummy stuff or for giving in to that inner princess of yours? I do! Or, I did. Until I learned this concept:

Celebration Days vs. Regular Days

It's just as it sounds. On a celebration day, you are free. You are celebrating. Whether it's an anniversary or a family reunion, a party or a night out, it's not your average day. So, relax your standards and have fun.

And on the flip side, if it's not a celebration day, don't eat cake and ice cream!

You can even decide how many celebration days per month to allow. For me, we allow such things once a week, for a period of 24 hours. Don't get me wrong. This does NOT mean that for 24 hours we eat nothing but sugar and junk! But it does mean that we might indulge some. And I know that our bodies will have at least 6 days free of things hard on our systems.

What happens when things come up that are not on our normal "free" day? Well, we have to adjust for it. Our family attended a pot-luck picnic on the 4th. For dessert there was an array of sugar filled options. I allowed my children to each have 2 items, (their choice). And when it comes time for our end of the week treat, I'll keep that in mind when choosing a dessert to make for everyone. Instead of brownies, I'll make apple crisp. See how it goes?

You can't listen to this without dancing. Go on, try it!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The contempt shown to parents of large families

I have five children. The oldest is 7; that means that in my 8 years of marriage we've been.....busy.

I always wanted a large family. That's probably because I am an only child, my parents are divorced, my mother is also an only child with divorced parents. With no immediate family to speak of, and a very small extended family on my mother's side, I was lonley, to say the least. I saw my friends with brothers and sisters and wanted that for myself. Although I couldn't have it growing up, I decided to create that large family and give that gift to my children.

I always envisioned a large dining table, full of people for dinner. And they were all part of one family; my family. I love that we already have that now. And although they are still very small and needy, they are growing. The hardest years are behind me ( I think. Or hope.) and they are little by little becoming "real" people.

Kim from Life In A Shoe posted the following article from Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, and it was right up my alley. I hope you enjoy it.

"Why are people impressed that Jay Leno owns 20 motorcycles, but disgusted that some religious families choose to have 10 children?

Let's not finesse the response. We all know why. A world that has lost its innocence has trouble appreciating beings who are innocent. A world that has become selfish has soured to the idea of leading a life of selflessness. A world that has become grossly materialistic is turned off to the idea of more dependents who consume resources. And a world that mistakenly believes that freedom means a lack of responsibility is opposed to the idea of needy creatures who "tie you down."

Read the rest of this article here.

How do you feel about large families? Do you think there's something "wrong" with having more than 2 or 3 children? Why do you have the number of children you do? Have you felt pressure from society/family/friends to have fewer children than you really want? Let's talk.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Love, Love, LOVE Watermelon

Last year at this time, I was quite pregnant. Pregnant and hot. With no air conditioning as is common here, I got desperate. And in my desperation, I discovered my love for watermelon.

I've always liked watermelon, I mean, who doesn't? If you actually know someone who doesn't like watermelon, I want to know who it is.

When I was little we'd always have watermelon seed spitting contests to see who could spit the farthest. Funny thing, though, I can't even find a watermelon with REAL seeds anymore. Only the seedless kind around here. Easier to eat, but no contests!

I thought that my watermelon craving was only due to my pregnancy. Apparently, I was wrong. Here it is, watermelon season again, and I JUST CAN'T STOP EATING WATERMELON!

My friend Diane posted this great idea: slice watermelon, cut out with cookie cutters, and freeze on a popsicle stick. I can't wait to try it!

The good thing is that it's good for me! Live, fresh fruit. I can't go wrong. This article tells all about what's so great nutritionally about it. And if you want to know why it's actually a Pregnancy Superfood, check out my blog post on it from last year.

Good thing that it's inexpensive. Unless you buy one of these square ones, sold in Japan, for $100.

Happy Summer!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

What's for Dinner? Day 27 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

What's For Dinner?

Do those words fill you with dread? What about when it's 5 o'clock and you still have no idea what the answer is as you're standing in front of the refrigerator just hoping something will assemble itself and jump out at you? Now do you feel stressed out?

At this point, many of us would feel tempted to pick up a phone and order in. Or tell the kids to hop in the car for a "treat". These choices will cost LOTS more money and give you much less nutrition, and much more chemicals and fat. Which you know you don't want to do.

3 Reasons to Make a Menu Plan

  1. Save Your Brain!
I don't know about you, but my brain is......hibernating. It started with my first pregnancy. You know: Pregnancy Brain. And then it was New Mommy Brain. And then it was Living With Little Children Brain, then more Pregnancy Brain, and so on. So while I used to consider myself an intelligent, thinking person, that person has been sliiiiippppiiing away, and I want to conserve whatever intelligence I have left so that I might be able to write coherent blog posts. In other words, the fewer decisions I must make on a daily basis, the better! It's much easier to decide in one sitting what we will be having for dinner each night than to have to do it every day. And in doing so, I can plan to actually have the ingredients when I go to make the meal. Who would've thunk it?

  1. Save Your Money!
We'd all like to save money and use it for more important things. When you eat out, you spend MUCH more money than you do when you eat home. When you buy last minute items at the corner convenience store, you also spend much more money than you would for those same items at the supermarket, if you'd known you would want them. And when you buy random things at the grocery store, things spoil because you don't have a plan to use them. What a waste!

  1. Eat More Healthfully
When you make your own food at home, you are (hopefully) not going to fill it with MSG and other poisonous preservatives. You can be sure that convenience foods are toxic to your bodies, and with a little bit of planning, you can avoid these and know you are helping your family to be healthier. And it's really easy!

So Here's What You Need To Do.

  1. Pick an amount of time you'd like to plan. I usually do 1 or 2 weeks at a time, but if you're new to this and it seems too much, try 3 days.
  2. Write down a dinner meal for each of the days you are planning for. Dinner is the most important meal to plan, so focus on that meal first. Remember to include side dishes.
  3. On your shopping list, write down each of the ingredients you'll need to make your meal. $5dinner.com has some nice printable planning sheets for menus and grocery lists.
  4. Go shopping and save money because you're not buying things you don't need or won't use.
It really is that simple.

And if you really don't want to do all of this, you can go to SavingDinner.com and buy their menus, complete with grocery lists. They're very inexpensive and will still save you lots of time and money.

What's For Dinner is the theme of Day 27 of the Flylady's babysteps. I'm so glad I've made this a habit because it's really helped me. I even aspire to plan a whole month at a time and get into more freezer cooking....but I'm not there yet. One step at a time!

I usually post my weekly menu on Mondays. Doing this has helped me be accountable for getting it done. I love linking up to others' menus; if you post one, let me know!

Do you menu plan? Why or why not? How long? I want to know what works for you.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Swish 'n Swipe. Day 24 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

Day 24 of the Flylady's babysteps is when we meet the Swish 'n Swipe, which is a fabulous tool for my bag of tricks in my quest for a peaceful home. Ya want another tool? Check this out.

The "swish" means you take a toilet brush which you keep upright in a container next to your toilet and do a quick once around your toilet bowl. No need to get out the cleaner--just keep some old shampoo or liquid soap in the bottom of the brush holder. It takes about 10 seconds.

The "swipe" means you take a rag of some kind and rub the spots off of the mirror (not "clean the mirror; just the spots!), wipe the counter off (after putting away whatever you've left out there), and wipe out the sink. It takes about 10 seconds.

Because I have little boys, I also take another 10 seconds and use a baby wipe to wipe down the toilet seat, top & rim, and base and floor around the toilet. When needed, I'll spray this area with a bleach spray and wipe with a paper towel.

The whole thing leaves your bathroom nice and fresh (the shampoo makes the whole thing smell good), ready for company, in 30 seconds. It's simple and part of my morning routine. Yes, that means I do it every day, and don't wait until it gets stinky. I do my bathroom when I use it first thing in the morning, the boys' bathroom when I do the laundry (it's also the laundry room), and the downstairs the first time I use it later on.

If you have any tips for easily keeping your bathroom nice, please share!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Eggplant Torte Recipe

I'm always looking for more recipes that do not include meat and are both easy and inexpensive to make. This is one of them.
Eggplant Torte a la Provencal adapted from The Occasional Vegetarian by Karen Lee

1 large eggplant sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 medium potatoes sliced into 3/8 inch rounds
2 medium tomatoes sliced into 3/8 inch rounds
1 medium red onion sliced into 3/8 inch rounds
1 medium zucchini sliced into 3/8 inch rounds

3/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 tsp dried thyme

  1. For seasoned oil, combine oil, garlic, and thyme, salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Brush eggplant with oil & broil for 2-3 minutes until brown. Remove from oven.
  3. Toss other vegetables to coat (but keep them in separate sections in your bowl or separate bowls.
  4. Layer vegetables in an oiled baking dish, tucking basil leaves between layers.
  5. Repeat until all have been used up.
  6. Pour any remaining oil over pan
  7. Bake uncovered for 1 hour at 350F
Serve hot or at room temperature. This torte can be refrigerated for 1 day. Reheat before serving.

Time to Get MOVING!

We've heard about the two main things to change in our lifestyle in order to be healthy. We've heard these two things so much for so many years that they roll off of our tongues and we never really stop to think about whether we're actually doing them...or we know we're not doing them and we feel at least a little bit guilty about planning to start "later", when the timing is better....

Diet and Exercise. Those are the two things.

Wanna guess which one I haven't done regularly for YEARS?

Yes, I have good reasons. We all do.

I was not born into a sporty family. My parents did not play any kind of sports or exercise much, and I was not encouraged to do much, other than take up tennis a little. See, I was one of those girls everybody loved to hate--I could eat whatever I wanted and still had a good figure. So I didn't really have the motivation to start something I didn't like. In college I learned to walk and work out at the gym because everyone else was doing it, but I really never liked it. Same with chiropractic school, but I did learn to like it better. When I graduated and moved back to Florida, I lived on my own. I joined a gym and took early morning walks on the beach.

And then I got married, moved across the world to a different culture (without any family or friends), and had babies. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Learning how to and now managing a home for seven people leaves things like exercising by the wayside.

And now that I'm 36 years old and have had five babies, well, my figure isn't exactly what it once was. And my energy is.....lacking. To say the least.

It's time for a change.

I need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk of health. After all, I'm giving tips on how to be healthier, right? I'm sure you'd agree that I should be a person who actually exercises regularly, not only for my own health but so that you can feel good about trusting me to help you on your path to health.

So this is my plan so far:

  • I've been doing about 5-10 minutes in the morning on the floor which includes stretching, stomach crunches, push-ups, and back extensions. Not a lot, just a little and I will increase it as I gain strength.
  • This morning I took an early morning walk after my floor exercises for about 20 minutes. It was wonderfully energizing. I'll try to do that most mornings plus the floor workout from 6 to 6:30 AM.
  • Hubby bought a home gym machine for weight training. I'm not sure when I'll fit that in, but probably in the afternoon during nap time. I'm always sleepy and it will help wake me up. It's getting delivered at the end of the week. I'm excited that we're in this together.
  • And a mini-trampoline. It's in the living room. I can certainly put on some fun music and dance for a few minutes each day. I hope we can find some place to keep it when it's not in use...

Just like everything that's good for you, exercising is part of a lifestyle change. And changes need to be approached in a way that is simple and most importantly DO able. That means to take babysteps so that you don't crash and burn.

I think I can realistically commit to 1/2 hr each morning. I don't think it's realistic to commit to an hour. So I won't. I want to be successful in reaching my goal.

I think I can probably commit to about 15 minutes each afternoon, but for this week I'm going to focus on the morning habit. Every little bit counts.

Jonathan Roche coined a term I love. It's the No Excuse Work Out. (NEWO). No excuses, because it can take only 6 minutes. And everyone has 6 minutes! You can listen to his weekly BlogTalkRadio show here.

I can use all the encouragement I can get, and I'd like to cheer you on too. What's your exercise routine or challenge?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Afternoon Routine

One of my favorite tools from the Flylady is the concept of routines. A routine is something you do every day, and putting it in a specific order helps you to remember and learn it until you don't have to think about it. And having a little checklist, either on a post it or in your Control Journal can help.

In my recent post about keeping up with the laundry, I shared my morning routine. It looks like this:
  1. Make my bed
  2. Get dressed to shoes
  3. Feed baby
  4. Wake other kids
  5. Start a load of laundry
  6. Prep & drink smoothies (hubby usually does this)
  7. Prep school lunches (hubby usually does this)
  8. Cleanup kitchen/empty dishwasher
  9. Baby to nap
  10. HANG CLOTHES OUT TO DRY/laundry "reboot"
My late morning routine looks like this:

  1. Cleanup kitchen if it's not already done
  2. blog post/computer work/desk work 1/2 hr
  3. declutter 15 minutes
  4. daily mission/detail cleaning/weekly home blessing as needed
  5. outside time or other activity with children
  6. prep lunch
And my afternoon routine (babystep #23), looks like this:

  1. Serve lunch/feed baby/eat lunch myself
  2. Lunch cleanup
  3. prep snacks for school children
  4. put toddler to nap
  5. welcome school kids home/give snacks
  6. story time with 4 year old (and anyone else who wants to join us)
  7. put baby & 4 year old to nap/bigger boys to quiet reading
  8. MY QUIET TIME! computer/reading/nap if I want.
It really is helpful to do it the same way every day; it helps me to not forget anything. Since I've been doing it for a while, it does come automatically so I don't consult my control journal, but if I were new to this or found myself leaving things out, I certainly would.

Flylady gives her routines as examples
. Use any of these to give you ideas; just remember that you need to make it work for YOU.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grocery Store Wars

It's Tee-hee Tuesday! Enjoy.

Tomato Basil Salad with Goat Cheese

This salad is simple, elegant, and delicious. It's good for date night and yet my kids can't get enough of it.

Tomato Basil Salad with Goat Cheese

2-3 large tomatoes, sliced
fresh basil
goat cheese
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

  1. Arrange tomato slices on a serving dish.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil & sprinkle liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Cut ribbons of basil & sprinkle on the tomatoes.
  4. Sprinkle goat cheese
Don't tell anyone how easy it was!

Monday, June 21, 2010

"Nutrition 101: What Would You Know If You Didn't Know Anything?"

If you didn’t have a million research studies, nutrition books, and diet experts to tell you....

If you hadn't had the "4-food groups" chart, health class, and your gym teacher in school to advise you...

If everyone from your mother, to your doctor, to Oprah wasn't instructing you....

How would you know WHAT, WHEN and HOW MUCH to eat?

Join WellWithU on BlogTalkRadio TODAY (Monday) at 2pm EST for "Nutrition 101: What Would You Know If You Didn't Know Anything?"

I'm looking forward to the show. If you miss it, you can also listen to the archives by clicking the above link.

Menu Plan Monday-June 21

Sunday-Eggplant Torte

Monday- Creamy Celery Soup and Tomato Basil Salad with Goat Cheese

Tuesday-Scrambled Eggs with Veggies and Hash Browned Potatoes

Wednesday- Baked Potatoes with grilled Mushrooms and Onions, steamed vegetable.

Thursday - Lentils of some kind

Friday-Baked Chicken, Steamed Broccoli, Apple Sauce, Black Bean Brownies

Saturday- Raw "Granola" with Almond Milk & fresh fruit, Leftover Celery Soup

Sunday- Burgers. (We moved Father's Day to this week.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Making It Work For YOU

Today is Father's Day in the US. (Happy Father's Day!)

But we live in Israel. It's not Father's Day here. And although we continue to celebrate most of these American traditions, it's something that we do within our family because we want to, certainly not because of any type of social pressure.

My husband has lots of extra work he wants to accomplish this week, and the idea of taking today off (remember, Sunday is a work day here) was adding stress. So, we decided to MOVE Father's Day. We'll celebrate it next Sunday, in one week. With a family fun day and burgers. Yum.

Moving our Father's Day celebration a week works for us. And this Making It Work For YOU concept is a really good one.

Almost every good idea is just that: an idea. A concept. Whoever made it found that it helped him or her, but that doesn't mean it will work for you exactly as it is; you might need to tweak it just a little. And that's OK!

Figuring out how to take good ideas and make them work for you will make your life much more manageable. It will save your sanity.

So, the next time you hear an idea that sounds interesting or even great but you just don't see how it so could work for you, don't dismiss it easily. Give it a little more thought and you just might come up with a variation that works for your family. After all, there's no one just like you!

Laundry. Day 20 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

We now have seven people in our home. SEVEN! Seven people wear a lot of clothes. Especially when one of them is a baby who sucks her hand between spoon-fed bites and then holds her toes and the food goes everywhere in between....and four of them are of the little-boy variety who play hard, in dirty things, every day.

So, we have a lot of laundry. I remember when I was in college & in my single days when I could go a week (or more!) without doing my laundry. Those days are long since done, and the habit I've learned would have been helpful even then.

What is that habit, you may ask? How do you stay on top of the laundry when THERE'S JUST SO MUCH OF IT!? You make laundry part of your routine. Which just so happens to be Flylady's babystep #20.

This means that I do laundry EVERY DAY. Well, 6 days a week. It's just part of my morning routine which looks like this:
  1. Make my bed
  2. Get dressed to shoes
  3. Feed baby
  4. Wake other kids
  6. Prep & drink smoothies
  7. Prep school lunches
  8. Cleanup kitchen/empty dishwasher
  9. Baby to nap
  10. HANG CLOTHES OUT TO DRY/laundry "reboot"
I do this every day, with slight variations. If I do one FULL load each day, it's almost enough. Add an extra load or two for towels & sheets and we're good to go. In addition to this, we do a load of cloth diapers each night. In the morning they are dried and ready to put away (this job belongs to my four year old).

My biggest challenge with the laundry is not the washing and the drying. Even the folding I've gotten a new system for: since I'm line drying, I realized that I must handle each piece of clothing separately as I take it off of the line. So, I add a few seconds for each one and FOLD IT AS I TAKE IT OFF THE LINE AND PUT IT INTO THE BASKET ALREADY FOLDED! I was excited when I realized I could save time like that.

No, the challenge is putting the clothes away. I do have a time in my schedule that is supposed to be for this, but I've gotten behind most days and needed to skip this step. And, the drawers are so full that there's no place to put things. So everyone lives out of the laundry basket. It's no good.

Today, I'm going to actually use the time that's supposed to be set aside for putting away the laundry to fold and put away the laundry. That will mean that we must eat our lunch on time and stick to the schedule I worked hard to put together. Then I'll be able to see this.

Which feels good.

Friday, June 18, 2010

What's the Big Deal About MSG?

You've probably heard that MSG is bad for you. But you might not know why, or realize how prevalent it is. It's in so many packaged and processed foods that you might not even know you're eating it when you are, especially since it comes under many different names.

Here's what you need to know about MSG:

  • MSG is an excitotoxin, a type of chemical transmitter that allows brain cells to communicate. The problem is that excitotoxins can literally excite your brain cells to death.
  • Aside from harming your brain, MSG has also been linked to eye damage, headaches, fatigue, disorientation and depression. Source
  • Children are most at risk from MSG. The blood brain barrier, which keeps toxins in the blood from entering the brain, is not fully developed in children. MSG can also penetrate the placental barrier and affect unborn children as well. Nonetheless, most major brands of infant formula contain some processed free glutamic acid (a form of MSG). Source

Hidden Names for MSG

OK, so now you know why it's bad. But it gets even trickier....MSG is not always called MSG. Here are 2 tables showing all the names under which it can be found. Source

MSG Gelatin Calcium Caseinate
Monosodium glutamate Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) Textured Protein
Monopotassium glutamate Hydrolyzed Plant Protein (HPP) Yeast Extract
Glutamate Autolyzed Plant Protein Yeast food or nutrient
Glutamic Acid Sodium Caseinate Autolyzed Yeast
Vegetable Protein Extract Senomyx (wheat extract labeled as artificial flavor)

The following substances contain some factory created free glutamate in varying amounts. Please note that some food labels list several of these items, which can add up to a considerable and dangerous amount in one product:

Malted Barley (flavor) Natural Flavors, Flavors, Flavoring Modified food starch
Barley malt Reaction Flavors Rice syrup or brown rice syrup
Malt Extract or Flavoring Natural Chicken, Beef, or Pork, Flavoring "Seasonings" (Most assume this means salt, pepper, or spices and herbs, which sometimes it is.) Lipolyzed butter fat
Maltodextrin, dextrose, dextrates Soy Sauce or Extract "Low" or "No Fat" items
Caramel Flavoring (coloring) Soy Protein Corn syrup and corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup
Stock Soy Protein Isolate or Concentrate Citric Acid (when processed from corn)
Broth Cornstarch fructose (made from corn) Milk Powder
Bouillon Flowing Agents Dry Milk Solids
Carrageenan Wheat, rice, corn, or oat protein Protein Fortified Milk
Whey Protein or Whey Anything enriched or vitamin enriched Annatto
Whey Protein Isolate or Concentrate Protein fortified "anything" Spice
Pectin Enzyme modified proteins Gums (guar and vegetable)
Protease Ultra-pasteurized dairy products Dough Conditioners
Protease enzymes Fermented proteins Yeast Nutrients
Lecithin Gluten and gluten flour Protein powders: whey, soy, oat, rice (as in protein bars shakes and body building drinks)
Amino acids (as in Bragg's liquid amino acids and chelated to vitamins) Algae, phytoplankton, sea vegetable, wheat/ barley grass powders

In order to avoid this nasty chemical, you MUST READ LABELS! I was and continue to be amazed at how many things contain it. I learned how to make my own chicken broth the old fashioned way just to avoid using boullion cubes (it's really good; try it!).

Dr. Russel Blaylock is a Neurosurgeon who has many teachings, interviews, etc. on the dangers of MSG. I haven't heard most of these, but I have heard an interview with him in the past; he is extremely knowledgeable (he is a neurosurgeon, after all!) and he speaks with the training of the medical community. Here is a link to a lecture he gave on MSG. I'm sure it's worthwhile.

So, to recap, Here's what you can do:

  1. READ LABELS! Try to recognize any of the above names for MSG
  2. Umm...Avoid those things. Probably means eating fewer or different packaged foods. This is a good thing, trust me!
  3. Feel good that you can make this small change for a BIG step towards health for your family!

Cheetos and MSG – Bringing new meaning to the slogan “Dangerously Cheesy”

More info about the damage of MSG

Links about MSG

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's Bedtime! Day 17of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

Day 17 of Flylady's babysteps is to set a bedtime and stick to it. I love this. And I hate it.

I love to sleep. So this is something that I actually want. I want to go to bed at 10 each night and wake at 6 in the morning. Somehow, though, I have trouble getting there on time.

I know that if I can get dinner served on time (6pm), then we can be done by 6:45, I can finish cleaning up by 7:30 (hubby gets kiddos ready for bed). And by 8 when the kids go to bed, I can have some time to myself or to spend with my husband. And then I can get ready for bed no later than 9:30 and to sleep by 10. I know this.

And yet....it doesn't happen. It's the dinner at 6 that is the problem. I have a lot of trouble getting dinner prep started on time (probably because I don't want to stop the nap time and walk away from the computer). But, if I would, many good things would come from it.

I'd get enough sleep AND get time to myself in the evening. It's a good trade off.

So, I'm going to go to bed on time. Which means I'm going to walk AWAY from the computer at 4 when it's time to wake the kiddos from their nap. That's my plan.

And since I make my bed every day, it's nice and inviting.

Here's a post I wrote on sleep a while back with interesting facts, including how much sleep different people need.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Are You Raising Snackers?

"Parents are raising a generation of snackers — kids who eat almost constantly throughout the day as they graze on cookies, salty snacks and fruit drinks.
A sweeping study of 31,337 children and adolescents released on Tuesday tracked snacking and meal trends from 1977 through 2006 using data from four national surveys. On average, children reach for cookies, chips and other treats about three times a day, consuming nearly 600 daily calories from snacks. That’s an increase of 168 snack calories compared with what children ate in the late 1970s.
While these are averages, the findings showed that half of American children snack about four times a day. And some children appear to be eating almost constantly, consuming either snacks or meals as often as 10 times a day..."

The above is taken from this article by Tara Parker-Pope published in the New York Times on Tuesday, March 9, 2010.

This is bad news, folks.

If this sounds like your family, it's time to take control of the situation NOW.

Moms, you have the ability, the responsibility to shape your children's eating habits. I have children who love fruit, enjoy salads, and happily eat most vegetables. They are perfectly happy drinking water and do not expect dessert every night.

You can do it too.

The younger your children, of course the more difficult it will be, but you just start with babysteps. Meaning, just make one change at a time, little by little.

Example: Your children habitually drink juice, soda, or any other drink besides water daily. So, just increase the amount of water they need to drink before they get the other drink. And limit the number of those per day. If you drink soda, limit the number per day or days per week, whatever would be a decrease for you. Then keep the habit up.

When you are drinking the proper amount of water (1/2 your body weight in ounces), a few things will happen. Besides finally being hydrated which helps relieve many symptoms-including things like headaches, asthma, skin problems----you name it, YOUR APPETITE WILL DECREASE.

This is key. Many of us are mistaking thirst for hunger and eat when we are actually thirsty. Drink enough water, and you will not have as much desire for snacking.

Besides drinking enough water, there are 2 main changes to make:
  1. Switch from unhealthy (chips, cookies) snacks to healthy (fruit, veggie sticks) ones
  2. Break the habit of eating when you don't need to. If you eat a nutritious meal, you will not be genuinely hungry an hour later.

You can do this. You can change your (and your children's) snack habits. Take back the control of the health of your family!

Making My Bed. Day 15 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

Babystep 15 is to make your bed.

I have had this habit (regularly) for more than a year now. I love the way it makes my room look; even if other things are out, the bed being made sets the tone.

When I bought my first down comforter for the winter here (I'm from Miami; I never had one before), I was introduced to the concept of having a duvet cover for the comforter, and not using a top sheet. Using one of these makes making the bed so much easier. I used to pull the top sheet up under the bedspread, and then fold both over, exposing the top sheet. Yes, it looked very pretty, but it made making the bed take much longer than it should and therefore I didn't do it so much.

Now I use the duvet cover even in the summertime (with a lightweight blanket, or even empty if it's hot enough) and all I have to do is pull it up to the top of the bed before putting the pillows on.

That first duvet cover was white with eyelet. Very pretty and elegant. But, after a while, I realized that I was very bored with the lack of color and was not motivated to keep it nice.

So, I went and bought this pretty happy one. It makes me smile and that's the best motivation to keeping your room neat. If you don't like your bedclothes, go buy new ones! They really do not cost much and are so worth it. I have one set for the spring and fall and a different one for the summer and winter. That way I don't get bored.

If you don't have the habit of making your bed, keep this in mind: you have to do it IMMEDIATELY when you get up. If you wait, it doesn't get done. That was the most important thing to learn.

Enjoy your beautiful bedroom!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lost In Translation

However uncommon it may be in the US to eat a little more healthfully, it is much more uncommon here (in Israel). The more recent "back to basics" way of thinking hasn't permeated the lifestyle here, and many folks haven't even heard of things that in the States are commonly accepted. Example: sugar is bad for your body.

My two older boys were invited to a friend's house to play. Before they left, I reviewed the rules with them: remember manners, no TV or computer games, and eat only fruit or vegetables and drink only water. They know the drill, they understand. They'd already had a snack and would be coming home for dinner, so it's not like they were hungry.

But Israelis like to feed people. More specifically, Israelis like to give children sweets.

About 15 minutes after my boys would have arrived (they walked), I received a phone call. In Hebrew (of course). My Hebrew is NOT good. So it sounded something like this, to my understanding: "I want to give the kids an Igloo. OK?" Now, I know they have a sugar filled popsicle here they call "Arctic", so I figured it's probably something like that. So I said, "No, it's not ok." She said it's just water. I said no, it's water and SUGAR. She said it's hot, they're hot, they want something cold. I said, "so give them water with ICE." She said ok, she'll just give them water.

Well, that was what I understood.

After the boys came home, they said she had basically insisted that they take it.

I was frustrated. It's not that some sugar is that big of a deal. It's that some sugar every day IS that big of a deal. We eat sugar. The processed kind, usually in a yummy dessert I make once a week. The kids eat cake and ice cream at parties. But it's not a daily thing, and I know that if I am not very clear with the mothers at other houses they might visit, it will turn into a daily thing, and I can't let that happen.

A few days later, I saw the other child's mother and (attempted) to talk to her about it. It went something like this:

ME: What happened the other day with the Igloo? I thought I told you that they could NOT have it.

HER: It's OK, I gave them water afterward.

ME: HUH? (I think it's the same in all languages) I don't understand

HER: What's the big deal?

Typing like this is kind of annoying, so I'll just paraphrase.

I said that the big deal was that it had SUGAR. And she said that she's a (dental)hygienist, and so she knows about sugar and that it's ok because she gave them water afterwards.

OH. Now I understood.

I told her that I was not even thinking about their teeth. And she actually asked me, then what was I thinking about? I told her I was thinking about their BODIES!

This is where I really couldn't believe how many people still DON'T KNOW HOW BAD SUGAR IS FOR OUR BODIES! I told her that sugar really hurts the immune system. I told her that in our family we only eat sugar 1-2 times per week, and maybe at a party or something special. But that we don't have it every day and that I can't let my kids go play at houses where they are going to be fed it.

She looked at me like I had six heads. And asked what about when it's hot, can't they have something cold?

I explained that of course, we eat things that are cold. I make popsicles in molds out of real juice. And that the children enjoy it just as much.

And that was about the extent of my Hebrew.

Have you ever had an experience trying to explain to someone what you were doing and they just didn't get it?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Menu Plan Monday-June 13

Last night we had a Mexican Taco Casserole, and while I was making it I made a second one to give to a friend who is expecting a baby shortly so that they could have some extra meals frozen to eat when they wanted. That's one of those things I love about casseroles.
And here's our simple menu plan for the week.

Monday- Pancake supper with fresh fruit. Make mixes.

Tuesday-Cabbage & Potatoes

Wednesday-Creamy Carrot Soup and Salad. Extra soup to freeze.

Thursday- Cuban Black Beans and Rice. Salad.

Friday- Don't know yet.

Saturday- Leftover Carrot Soup

Sunday-Father's Day. Black Bean or Regular Burgers.

I Can't Catch Up. Day 14 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

You Can't Catch Up. It's impossible.

This is a very important concept in life. Things keep moving, and it's almost certain that you won't keep up with everything. But what you do when you realize you're "behind", and more importantly how you feel about it will make all the difference in what you do next.

I'm struggling with these flylady babysteps. I'm falling back into the same habits I had before I began them again: I haven't done the 15 minutes of decluttering every day. In fact, I haven't done 15 minutes since I posted my success with it. That was days ago. Two minute hotspot, yes. Room rescue, yes, sort of(if you count me delegating it, but not if I do one myself). Daily mission, not so much.

I think my very favorite concept of Flylady's is "You are not behind. Don't try to catch up. Just jump in where you are."

I'm never going to catch up. I really need to just do what I can today. It's a new day, a fairly new week (we have Sunday as a work day here, so Monday is the second day for me). I'm going to ditch the guilt I feel and jump in where I am.

I'm also going to prioritize those things I seem to have a very difficult time getting done. I'm going to call my 15 minutes today my frog and eat it as soon as I can. I'd say "first", but with other household things that must happen in the morning, it's not possible. If you aren't familiar with the "eat the frog" concept, enjoy this short (1 minute) video. I wanted to embed the player but it won't let me. Very worthwhile.

I'm glad that today's babystep is to read an essay about calendars and how/why to use them properly. I can handle doing that while still focusing on my frog.

What's your frog today? What are you procrastinating on?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Your Mission For Today: Day 13 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home

On Day 13 of Flylady's babysteps, we are to choose one of Kelly's missions and do it.

I love the way this is done. Each day, Kelly sends out one "mission" to accomplish. It's something in the current zone, and usually will take less than 15 minutes. By dividing the house up into 5 zones and focusing a little extra time in it each day for the week, our houses can stay reasonably clean without much effort.

I need help with this. Just like regularly doing the 15 minutes of decluttering, I struggle to get it done, even though it really only takes a few minutes.

But they really do work.

This is a link to Kelly's missions; they are posted daily and remain for the week.

This past week we were in the Kitchen zone. My favorite mission from that zone is the deep wipedown of the counter. I have a large countertop and need to spend most of that time putting things away that seem to collect there (beyond regular putting away kind of stuff), so I'll usually do 15 mins + a little. And it might not all get done, but that's ok.

I won't get blown up if I don't get it done!

The Kitchen Hangover

Sometimes I don't shine my sink. I don't finish all of the cleanup at night. Most days I do, but on Saturday night, after a full day of relaxing and spending time with my family (which causes lots of extra dishes & stuff), my hubby and I like to have a movie night. And when it's already late and we don't want it to get any later, I leave things out.

Oh, I'll pack my dishwasher, and put away any food that's out. And even do an extra 5 minutes on top of that.

This is where I found this funny photo.

I woke up to this today. I call it my Kitchen Hangover.

It's a good thing I know how to use my timer. I'll go as fast as I can for 15 minutes and see what a difference I can make.

15 minutes really does a lot.

Push Delete. Day 12 of Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home Day 8

On Day 12 of the Flylady's babysteps, we are instructed to delete all of the emails that have been piling up. I really like this.

I've been on the mailing list for a couple of years. The reminders are good. The testimonials really are helpful and inspiring, and it's good to realize that it's ok to not read them all. In fact, lately, I haven't been reading much of them at all. And that's ok, since I've been exposed to this system for a while already. But if you are really just starting out, read a few each day. Then delete the rest.

Just like decluttering, just like taking out the trash, deleting emails and blog posts in my reader I haven't read and don't really need to helps me to get rid of guilt. I have so many things I'd like to do, I want to do, but just don't seem to have time for. I don't want to be reminded of what I am not doing.

So go ahead, push that button. It feels good.

More emails will come along.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sunshine vs. Sunscreen: Which is Worse?

I've heard a lot lately about Vitamin D and its almost epidemic rate of deficiency. Apparently most of us are lacking it, and its lack causes or at least contributes to all sorts of problems: cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, hypertension, arthritis, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, PMS, Crohns Disease, MS and other autoimmune diseases.
The Vitamin D Council states that Vitamin D deficiency can also cause stroke, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, muscle wasting and birth defects.

Here is a great page of Vitamin D & Vitamin D Deficiency Links.

Apparently, we have been so taught to fear the sun (for causing premature aging and skin cancer), that we automatically spread on the sunblock, preventing us from getting what we need. So, we lack vitamin D, which as you can see, causes many, many health problems.

We need sunlight. Only 5-10 minutes each day is enough. More for those with darkly pigmented skin.

And about that sunscreen.....well, ironically, most are FULL of toxins that should NOT be put on our skin. Those toxins actually increase our chances of skin cancer, it seems.

According to this article from Enviromom, only 39 of 500 sunscreens are recommended by the EWG, for primarily 2 reasons:
1) Many sunscreens with high SPF claims don't actually offer that much protection, giving consumers a false sense of security and potentially increasing the amount of time they spend in the sun. Sun burns and exposure to UVA radiation increase the risk of skin cancer.

2) Vitamin A is a common sunscreen ingredient and has recently been linked (via government data) to accelerated development of skin tumors and lesions.

This article on the NatualNews explains how "the idea that sunscreen prevents cancer is a myth. It's a myth promoted by a profit-seeking tag-team effort between the cancer industry and the sunscreen industry. The sunscreen industry makes money by selling lotion products that actually contain cancer-causing chemicals. It then donates a portion of that money to the cancer industry through non-profit groups like the American Cancer Society which, in turn, run heart-breaking public service ads urging people to use sunscreen to "prevent cancer."

And this article from Dr.Axe shares that "The great thing about the way God designed our bodies is that the very thing that can cause damage to our bodies (ultraviolet rays) also protects us from that very same damage. Dr. John J. Cannell tells us that when you are out in the sunshine, Vitamin D goes directly to your genes and helps prevent any sort of abnormality that could be caused by ultraviolet light.

That is why sunscreen can actually contribute to cancer. Aside from the high amounts of toxicity, sunscreen blocks Vitamin D production in your body and you are left without nature’s built in cancer-fighting protection."

So pause a little before you slather on the sunscreen. Get some rays first, then use a more natural screen if you need to.

And purpose to get some sun on your skin each day. I do this while I'm hanging out my laundry. It's my "replenish my Vitamin D" time.

What do you do for your sun time? Protection?

Inspiring Words:Babystep Challenge To A Peaceful Home Day 11

Today's babystep is to add an inspirational page to your control journal. I like this. As you know, I've done many of these things before; I already have a control journal. But I never added this page. I'm not sure why-I guess it seemed sort of silly to me and I didn't want to waste my time.

About 6 months ago, I decided I wanted to try to change my habit of negative thinking. I felt I was heading into a depression of sorts. I'd just had my 5th baby in 7 years and I was struggling. Greatly.

I had come to believe that negative thinking is something that a person can actually become addicted to just as much as an addiction to any other drug/food/chemical. Watch this edited clip from the movie What The Bleep Do We Know. It's fascinating and will show you what I mean.

Watch it to the very end. The most powerful statement is the very last one. "If you can't control your emotional state, you must be addicted to it."

If my negative thoughts are an addiction, then I've got to break the cycle as I would another addiction. So, I started to formulate a plan.

I remembered listening to a Flylady & Friends show on BlogTalkRadio in which Marla was describing how she helped Kelly to quit smoking cigarettes. She told her to write down some mini-missions (2 minutes or less) on little pieces of paper and put them in a jar. When she felt a strong urge for a cigarette, she was to take out an assignment and do it.

What that would accomplish is to divert her mind onto something productive, something good during the time of her desire for the negative thing. If she could get past the 2 minutes, the urge would be lessened.

I figured that something like this should work for my negative thoughts. So I started a Happy Thoughts Box. I went out and got a very cheerfully decorated box, some cutsey happy but small paper, and a girly fun pen (purple with glitter!) and started writing inspirational phrases or mini missions on each paper. I planned to put them in the box, and whenever I felt myself getting into a funk I'd pull one out and do it. I thought it sounded like a good plan.

I still think it sounds like a good plan, and though I never continued on with it (it seems like just starting the project plus a little more alone/bible time was all I needed to get me back on track) I think that I should do it now.

This inspirational page in the Control Journal is the same thing. I'm going to spend 15 minutes today writing down more thoughts for my box and start a page in my notebook. Maybe if I have something positive in there I'll look at it more!

What are some of your inspirational quotes? What do you do to get yourself out of a funk?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

You Can Do Anything for 15 Minutes! Babystep Challenge to a Peaceful Home Day 10

You can do anything for 15 minutes.

Yes, anything. Things you don't want to do. Things you think you can't do. Things you think you shouldn't bother with because you think it won't make a difference.

You can. You should. It WILL make a difference.

How do I know? I learned from Flylady. Over and over I am amazed at what 15 minutes of focused time will do. And then I don't do it (see, it hasn't become a habit), and then when I do it again, I am amazed. Again.

This is my entrance hall. The view from our dining table (lovely for ambiance, isn't it?) and the view as you walk in the front door.

How welcoming.

FOUR minutes it took me to make it like this. FOUR.
Including quickly spraying it down & giving it a wipe. I've been looking at that stuff for DAYS, thinking I didn't have time to do anything about it and wishing someone else would, feeling a little sorry for myself that I have such a messy place and obviously I can't handle this by myself...

A little more welcoming, don't you think?

What am I going to do with 11 more minutes?

This. This is our liquor cabinet & we also keep our keys&sunglasses basket here. As you can see on top, it's also got bottles up there. I hate that. Besides looking messy, it makes it seem like we must drink a LOT. Which we don't. And off in that little nook there is stuff piled on those drawers.

And here's what it looked like afterward. Notice the CLEAR SURFACE!

Still 3:33 on the timer. (yes, I stopped it to take the pictures!) What else?

This is our hall closet. It has a curtain that falls down when my toddler plays with it because it's not really attached. It's been down for days, and I just "haven't had the time" to fix it.

And here it is with the curtain. Much better.

Still 2 minutes on the timer. I guess I can take care of this little hot spot.

You can do anything for 15 minutes. I dare you!
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