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A Heart For Home: May 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Strawberries Galore!

Our strawberry patch is a success. Here's two days worth of berries ready for freezing ~ minus the ones I couldn't keep from eating :)

The frozen berries bagged up in a gallon sized Ziploc freezer bag and ready to go back into the freezer. I think I'd have to pay around $6-$8 for a bag of frozen strawberries this size at the store.

We've mostly been eating the berries fresh, but we're having trouble keeping up, so now we're freezing some. Here's how we freeze our strawberries. There are plans for strawberry jam as well.
We'd love more ideas for using our abundance of fresh strawberries! Leave a comment telling us what you'd do if you had a quart of strawberries a day.

This post contributed to: I Am Blissfully Domestic, Frugal Fridays, Kitchen Tip Tuesday

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mess Proof Hand Towel

One thing that drives me crazy in the bathroom is the never ending battle to keep the hand towel hanging nicely. Inevitably it gets thrown back onto the ring, tossed on the counter, or dropped on the floor. I decided that I needed to tackle this problem and find a quick fix solution.

After folding the towel and placing it neatly over the ring I grabbed a coordinating ponytail holder and threaded both ends of the towel through the holder.

Now the towel hangs neatly and securely on the ring until I remove the ponytail holder. It's also just as easy to dry your hands with the towel still hanging on the ring.

You could also make a matching scrunchie type holder with elastic and the fabric of your choice.

For now, this quick and frugal bathroom fix works for me!

This post contributed to:
Tackle-It Tuesday
Works for Me Wednesday
I Am Blissfully Domestic

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Recipe & Coupon Savings Newsletters

We've recently received a lot of great recipe ideas from the various email newsletters we've signed up for over the past few months.

Pillsbury's Cooking for 2 is good if you're cooking for just two adults or if you're looking for a good date-night at home recipe.

Pillsbury Cooking for 2

Bisquick's newletter is full of quick fix meal ideas.


General Mills Spring Recipes' newletter has great ideas for grilling and recipes for spring and summer holidays.

Betty Crocker Spring Recipes

Finally, the General Mills Dinner Made Easy newsletter is loaded with recipes for getting dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less.

Simply click on the image to sign up for one or all of these newsletters. Your taste buds will be glad you did.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tackling the Laundry Pile

In our house we don't have a specific laundry day. With an 8 month old in cloth diapers and starting his first foods, a 2 year old in the final (hopefully for good) stages of potty training and still learning to use utensils to eat, a gardening, grass cutting, weed whacking husband, and the fact that I can't seem to go a day without getting something on my clothes, laundry is a daily occurrence in our home.

On most days I start a load of laundry before eating breakfast. However, while the clothes might be cleaned every day I have the awful habit of simply pulling out what we need from the pile of clean clothes instead of taking the time to fold and put them all away.

A few months ago I read a tip about sorting the pile of clean clothes before I begin folding and then putting each smaller pile away as it is folded. I like to sort our clean laundry by where it goes once folded. If you have older children that help put laundry away, you could also sort by what each child is responsible for.

Presorting the laundry and putting away each smaller pile has cuts out a huge problem with our clean laundry situation. If you have young children at home, you may be able to relate to getting an entire load of laundry folded and placed into neat, sorted stacks on the floor only to have a baby or toddler make their way through the middle of the stacks or try to "refold" the clothes by themselves.

So far, this idea has been working well at our house. It's also a great way to start training children to help with the laundry. Even a toddler can place all of the diapers in a pile or separate out all of the socks. The best part is that since nothing has been folded when the clothes are sorted, there is nothing to mess up.

No, it doesn't mean that I always fold the clothes on the day they were washed, I'm still working on that. It does however save me time, which means I'm more likely to begin. And once I begin to sort and fold I normally feel compelled to finish folding and putting away.

Here's a sample pile of clean laundry that needs to be put folded and put away.

Here are the piles that I presorted the laundry in to. left to right and top to bottom

Tim & My Dresser
Kitchen & Bathroom
Kid's Dresser
Kid's Blankets

Once each pile is folded, I put it away before moving on to the next pile. This way no laundry gets unfolded by my helpers. :)

Do you have any tips for completing housework with children underfoot? We'd love to read your suggestions!

Related Posts:
Training a Toddler: Dish Washing
Getting you Toddler to Clean the Toilet
Involving Our Children

To see other piles that have been conquered visit Tammy's Make Your Home a Haven.
5 Minutes for Mom to see other tackling projects.
Presorting laundry
works for me!

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Emahry's Birth Story ~ Part 3

If you're just joining in, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 of Emahry's Birth Story before continuing with Part 3.

You can also read Jonathan's condensed birth story HERE.

After we arrived at the birthing center, my contractions continued every 2-3 minutes like clock work. By this point each contraction was lasting about 1 1/2 minutes so there was very little break between them.

The only relief I got was when I laid submerged in the tub. I got into the tub every couple of hours to "ease" the pain of the contractions, but unfortunately my contractions also slowed when I was in the tub, so I wasn't able to spend as much time in the tub as I would have liked. Thankfully, I was able to get at least a few minutes of sleep between contractions while I laid in the tub since I had been up since midnight.

Throughout my seemingly endless labor, Tim was everything I could have hoped for. He encouraged me and at times, quite literally, held me up. He also got quite a workout massaging my lower back which bore the brunt of each contraction.

Finally, by 1 AM, May 10th, I was fully dilated. At this point I had been having contractions no less than 6 minutes apart and 1 to 1 1/2 minutes in length for 21 hours.

However, although my body was technically ready to have Emahry, my contractions suddenly spread out to one one every 10 to 15 minutes. By 4 AM, 24 hours after my contractions had begun, we were told that I would need to travel to the hospital to be induced.

Needless to say, I was crushed. Our plan was to have a completely natural birth at the birthing center and now I would need to walk to the car and travel to the hospital to be hooked up to an I.V. for an induced labor. It seemed like such a slap in the face after 24 hours of strong contractions. Tim continued to be a pillar for me and reminded me that the important thing was for our baby to be born safely. Even though I knew he was right a small part of me still felt as though I had failed. (Not, that it's a failure to have children with medication, it just wasn't what I had planned.)

We arrived at the hospital around 5 AM and the nurse inserted my I.V. and began the Pitocin to induce my labor. By 6 AM I began feeling an urge to push. After a few unsuccessful pushing attempts, I figured out what I was suppose to do. The midwife arrived in our room just in time, with one more push Emahry's head emerged. The cord was wrapped around her neck, so the midwife uncoiled it and with one final push, Emahry slid into her Daddy's hands. It was 6:33 AM on May 10th, 2007, a full 27 hours after my water had broken. Even with the Pitocin, I had been able to avoid pain medications, which was a personal goal for my labor.

The midwife then helped Tim place our beautiful baby girl into my arms.

We were immediately startled by a large bump on the side of Emahry's head, however it was gone within a few hours. A specialist said it was probably just a fluid sac that appeared because of her placement in the birth canal and the length of the labor.

Emahry weighed 7 pounds exactly and was 20 inches long. Her face was such a beautiful sight to see after nine months of waiting. We just held her and starred in amazement at the wonderful gift God had given us. She spend the whole day in our arms and even that night, when the nurse asked to take her to the nursery, we refused. Instead, Emahry spent her first night laying on my chest as I battled with some serious insomnia.

Even though my labor with Emahry was definitely far from my notion of an "ideal" labor, I do feel a sense of satisfaction, knowing that I was able to bring our baby safely into the world. It's also nice to know, even though I hope I don't have to again, that I can naturally withstand over 24 hours of strong contractions. Of course, Emahry's long labor and delivery gave me the false assumption that my next labor would also be somewhat long. This naive thought and the long drive to the hospital almost combined into a roadside birth when our son Jonathan was born 4 weeks early in September.

Here are some photos of Emahry at 2 weeks old.

Emahry's Birth Story Part 1
Emahry's Birth Story Part 2
Emahry's Birth Story Part 3
Jonathan's Condensed Birth Story

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

They Love Him

Yes, they really do love our sweet baby boy.

No, not the adoring grandparents.

No, not the uncles and aunts.

No, not even the cousins or the family friends.

So, who really loves our sweet baby boy???


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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Birthday Fun

Here are some photos from Emahry's birthday. She turned 2 on Mother's Day. To help celebrate her birthday I'm posting her birth story. You can read Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

The Birthday Girl.

The Little Brother.

The official "Blowing Out the Candle" shot.

The first taste of cake and ice cream.
She took two tiny bites and then said she was all done.
Visit 5 Minutes for Mom for more Wordless Wednesday posts.

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Emahry's Birth Story ~ Part 2

If you're just joining in, you can read Part 1 of Emahry's Birth Story HERE.
You can also read Jonathan's condensed birth story HERE.

The morning of Emahry's "due date" dawned with absolutely no sign of her immediate arrival. I tried to not be too anxious and instead worked on scrapbooking her ultrasound pictures and the photos from our 4 baby showers. (I know, 4 baby showers is absolutely ridiculous, but can you really tell someone that they can't throw you a shower? 1 from family back home, 1 from friends in TN, 1 from my fifth graders, and 1 from the faculty and staff at the elementary school where I worked.)

The next day began much the same way, with Tim going off to school and me staying home to get some last minute things completed. That evening we were invited to go hiking with some friends. Never the ones to turn down a trip to the mountains we heartily agreed to go. Looking back, that might not have been the best thing to do since the Smokies were a good hour drive from our home on campus.

Thankfully nothing happened and we all were able to enjoy ourselves in the beauty of the mountains with the setting sun lighting the trail. On our hike Tim and the other guys ran the 3 mile trail to get to the waterfall before dark. I was obviously in no shape to run 6 miles, but my friend and I did power walk 1 1/2 miles of the trail before turning around to walk back to the car. So in total I briskly hiked 3 miles while being nine months pregnant and 1 day past my "due date".

Tim and I had no trouble falling asleep when we arrived back home, but around 1 A.M the next morning we were both awake and having a difficult time sleeping. Tim actually got up and cleaned the house while I tried to rest in bed. At 3:15 A.M. Tim came into the bedroom to tell me that he was going to go to Wal-mart to pick up some snack food. I stood up to use the bathroom and knew immediately that my water had broken. I called to Tim that he better stay home and asked him to bring me a towel. It was now 3:19 A.M. I remember checking because I knew I would need to tell the midwives what time my water had broken.

Around 4 A.M. on May 9th, I started having contractions. They were irregularly spaced, but were all 2-6 minutes apart and were lasting about a minute each. I was surprised, because I expected them to start out farther apart. We called the birthing center and were told to meet the midwife there to do a non-stress test around 5 A.M.

During the test the midwife kept commenting on the closeness and length of each contraction. This got my hopes up that Emahry would be born some time in the next 5 or 6 hours. However, since the contractions still weren't regular, we were told that we could go home and labor there for awhile.

On the way home we stopped at Wal-mart to pick up some snacks. It was awkward shopping and having to lean on the cart during each contraction. Finally, we arrived at home where I could get comfortable.

By 8:45 A.M. we were back at the birthing center. By this time, my contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and lasting 1 to 1 1/2 minutes each. The midwife requested that I let her check me since I had been having strong contractions every 2-6 minutes for almost five hours. I was slightly disappointed when she told me that I was only 3 cm dilated.

Emahry's Birth Story Part 1
Emahry's Birth Story Part 2
Emahry's Birth Story Part 3
Jonathan's Condensed Birth Story

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Emahry's Birth Story ~ Part 1

Throughout my pregnancy, Emahry had been breech. We worked with our midwives trying various methods of naturally getting her into the correct, head down position. However, when she was still breech at 37 weeks we were told that if she didn't turn on her own before or during labor I would need to have a c-section in accordance with the hospital policies. Our midwives were very concerned that because of her position it was very unlikely that she would be able to turn on her own this late in the pregnancy.

After much prayer, consideration, and research, we decided to allow a doctor at the hospital to manually turn Emahry through an external version.

Needless to say, Tim and I were both very nervous about the procedure because there was a small chance that it could make it necessary to have an emergency c-section. However, in the end we had a peace about the procedure and headed to the hospital with a positive outlook.

I was hooked up to monitors for 2 1/2 hours before the doctor came in. It turns out that the hours of waiting were the most difficult because I couldn't get comfortable.

Finally at 6 o'clock P.M. the doctor came in to talk with us. We liked him right away and were very comforted by the fact that he had been doing external versions for 25 years and had only needed to perform 2 emergency c-sections.

He also told us that he would only give us a 50% chance of his being able to turn Emahry, because the process doesn't normally work as well with first pregnancies.

The doctor then did an ultrasound to confirm Emahry's position and the nurse placed the lowest dose of a muscle relaxer in my IV to help relax my uterus. Next, warm baby oil was rubbed all over my belly. The doctor told me to think of it as a pregnancy massage and oh, did it feel good.

Then the doctor placed his hands on my giant, slippery belly. One hand went underneath Emahry's bottom and the other was placed behind her head. The doctor gently pulled her up out from her location nestled between my hips and shifted his hands, somersaulting her to the proper, head-down position. It wasn't painful and took less than a minute. The doctor said, "It doesn't get any easier than that." Tim and I were very relieved that the procedure had worked so quickly.

At 7:30 P.M., after another 1/2 hour of monitoring Emahry's heart rate, we left and got something to eat. I was starving since I hadn't been able to eat anything after 10:30 A.M.

Emahry's Birth Story Part 1
Emahry's Birth Story Part 2
Emahry's Birth Story Part 3
Jonathan's Condensed Birth Story

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Preschool Activities in a Bag book Winners

Congratulations to our two winners.

The winner of Book 1 is Naturally Frugal Mom.

The winner of Book 2 is Monica from A Penny for Your Thoughts.

You should both be receiving an email from us shortly.

Didn't win, but still interested in Preschool Activities in a Bag? Go HERE to read our review and see an entire sample activity. You can also find purchasing information HERE.


Monday, May 11, 2009

A Time to Remember

Yesterday was a doubly special day for our family. Not only was it a great day to celebrate our mom's (what day isn't?), but we were also able to celebrate the birth of the beautiful little girl who made me a mom.

Two years ago yesterday, Tim and I were blessed immeasurably by the birth of our daughter, Emahry. As an added bonus, I was able to celebrate my first Mother's Day as a mom just a few days after arriving home with our little bundle of joy.

Now, every year I am able to celebrate Mother's Day and the child who made me a mother all in the same week.

In honor of Emahry's second birthday, I am going to post her birth story. It will be divided into several sections and will be posted over the next week or so.

We'd love for you to stop in and read about the arrival of our Emahry Joy.

If you like reading birth stories, you can find a condensed version of our son Jonathan's healthy, early birth HERE. Perhaps for his birthday, we'll post the entire story.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Tropical Pizza

Today we'll be eating leftovers of yesterday's delicious Fresh Asian Noodle Salad for dinner, so we decided to try a new recipe for lunch.

We've always enjoyed making our own pizzas, but we've just started to get a little more creative and adventurous with sauces and topping combinations.

The idea for this recipe came from an issue of Family Circle magazine. We started out with our standard whole wheat crust recipe.

Whole Wheat Honey Pizza Dough

1 pkg or 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup wheat germ
1 tsp salt (we use finely ground sea salt)
1 Tbsp honey

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Dissolve yeast in water for 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile combine flour, wheat germ, and salt.
4. Make a well in the middle and add honey and yeast mixture.
5. Stir well to combine.
6. Oil dough and bowl; cover and rise in warm place for about 10 minutes.
7. Roll dough on an oiled pan. Poke the surface of the crust with a fork and let rest for 5 minutes.
8. Prebake 15 minutes. Remove from oven and add toppings.

Tropical Chicken & Veggie Pizza

1 Prebaked pizza crust
1 cup + 4 Tbsp pineapple mango chipotle salsa (or another variety of fruity salsa)
1 cup shredded Colby & Monterey Jack cheese mixture
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 - 1 chicken breast, basted with salsa, grilled or broiled, sliced or cubed
1/3 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/3 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1. Heat oven to 350°.
2. Spread 1 cup of salsa over the crust.
3. Sprinkle the cheeses over the salsa.
4. Scatter chicken, peppers, and onion over the top.
5. Bake until heated through and cheese is melted. (As you can tell from the photos, I left the pizza in about 2 minutes too long.) Allow to cool slightly. Cut into 8 slices.

We'd love some new ideas for creating delicious pizzas. What pizza combinations does your family like?

Also, be sure to check out the Slew of Summer Salads Blog Carnival for lots of fresh salad ideas. We'd love for you to share your favorite and link to the carnival.

This post contributed to:
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
What's Cooking Wednesday

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fresh Asian Noodle Salad

This delicious salad is adapted from Pioneer Woman's recipe and has secured it's rightful place in our Slew of Summer Salads meal rotation. The blend of color, textures, and flavors makes this salad stand out from the crowd. We also like it's versatility because we can adapt it to meet our needs, better known as, "We have ______ coming out of our ears. How can we use it up?"

This recipe has been added to our A Slew of Summer Salads Carnival. Click the button below for more great salad recipes and to find out how you can join in the fun.

Fresh Asian Noodle Salad

Noodles, cooked, drained, and cooled (we used angel hair)
Lettuce (1/2 head of Romaine)
Spinach (1/2 bag)
Bell Peppers, sliced thin (1/2 of a green pepper & 1/2 of a red pepper)
Bean Sprouts, rinsed (3/4 can)
Green Onions, sliced thin (2)
Fresh Cilantro, roughly chopped (3/4 of a bunch)
Fresh Mint, roughly chopped (1/2 of a bunch)

Juice of 1 Lime
8 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Sesame Oil
8 Tbsp Soy Sauce (low sodium)
1/3 cup Brown Sugar
3 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped

Mix all salad ingredients and toss gently. Whisk dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Mix with tongs or hands and serve.

The dressing can be made ahead of time and will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Looking for a salad recipe or have one to share? Make sure you join in on our A Slew of Summer Salads Blog Carnival HERE.

Related Posts:
Grilled Margarita Chicken Salad

This post contributed to:
Tammy's In-Season Recipe Swap: Lettuce
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
What's Cooking Wednesday
Whole Foods for the Holidays Progressive Dinner

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Grilled Margarita Chicken Salad

We made and greatly enjoyed this salad tonight. It has the perfect balance of veggies and fruit and is fresh and light while still being satisfying. The original recipe was delivered to our email inbox through the Betty Crocker newsletter. (You can receive a similar service when you sign up for the Pillsbury and Bisquick newsletters.)

This recipe has been added to our salad carnival. Click the button below for more great salad recipes and to find out how you can join in the fun.

Here's our slightly altered version of this recipe.

Grilled Margarita Chicken Salad

1/2 cup frozen (thawed) nonalcoholic margarita mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 3/4 lb)
6 cups bite-size pieces
assorted salad greens
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 medium mango, peeled, pitted and cubed
1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat coals or gas grill for direct heat.

2. To make dressing, in small bowl, stir margarita mix, oil and vinegar with wire whisk until well blended. Measure 1/4 cup dressing for basting chicken; reserve remaining dressing for serving.

3. Cover and grill chicken over medium heat 15 to 20 minutes, turning and brushing occasionally with 1/4 cup dressing, until juice of chicken is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut. (The burner needs to be replaced on our grill, so I actually broiled the chicken breasts in the oven after pounding them to make them a little thinner. They cooked about 8 minutes on each side.)

4. Cut chicken into slices. In large bowl, toss salad greens, chicken and strawberries; divide among 4 plates. Arrange mango and avocado around each salad. Sprinkle with cilantro. Drizzle with reserved dressing.

Please share your favorite salad recipes through the A Slew of Summer Salads Carnival. We're going to need a lot of different recipes to continue eating a main dish salad every day this summer.


This post contributed to:
Tammy's In-Season Recipe Swap: Lettuce
Tasty Tuesday
Tempt My Tummy Tuesday
What's Cooking Wednesday

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Fun with Fonts

There seems to be an almost inexhaustible amount of free fonts available online. Here's one, in particular, that I really like. It's the Crayola Kiddy Font and it's available through a number of free font sites. We downloaded it from, here is the direct link.

This letter/picture font is a great to use with children. You could print out letters your child is working on, print their name, or make an entire alphabet coloring book. Here are the direction for downloading fonts from

Alphapix is another letter/picture font from

You can also find dingbats of just about anything.

Animals (Nina's Animals Font)

Flowers (In your Garden)

even Funny Faces (squareheads)

So go download some fun fonts and dingbats and let your kids make their own coloring books. Free personalized coloring pages work for me! For other frugal living ideas, check out Frugal Friday.

A word of caution: Some of the fonts on free font sites are not appropriate for children (or adults for that matter), so please do not let your children browse through the general listings on their own.

Do you have any frugal tips for playing with and teaching your children at home? We'd love to read your thoughts and suggestions!

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My Sweet Punkin Patch Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Amy (ingodslove@...) for winning this awesome giveaway. You should have received an email with more details.

If you didn't win this giveaway, you can still order a pouch sling, AIO diaper, diaper cover, & much more from My Sweet Punkin Patch. Browse through all of Brook's listings here.

Don't forget to enter our Preschool Activities in a Bag Book giveaway by May 11th.