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.
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