New Bed

This may seem funny to you, but we spent the first 12 years of marriage sleeping on a full size bed. When I got married, the idea of a huge bed was ridiculous to me. Why would I need that much room?

Then I had six kids fairly close in age. That means we always have a toddler and a baby. And I co-sleep. And kids come pile in at night. Suddenly my full size bed was seeming a little too cramped and full.

We thought we wanted to go all the way to king size, but weren’t sure. It might be overkill. A friend of mine had a queen mattress and box springs that she gave to us. We gladly welcomed the bigger mattress, but figured we’d try it out for a bit before we got a bed for it, in case we decided the queen wasn’t big enough.

I’m not sure how it is possible, but I think my husband and the toddler are the only ones who got more room on the queen bed. I was still pushed to the edge by the numerous people always in my bed! We figured we’d make the move to a king size, but wanted to do some shopping around. Then another friend gave us a king size mattress!

The Pastor wanted to make a bed for it. We wanted a low platform bed. And we had specific needs for the color. (We have dark wood bookshelves in our room and light wood drawers, so we wanted the bed to combine both light and dark finishes to help tie our mismatched furniture together a little better.) Now, The Pastor isn’t really into woodworking. He helped my Dad build triple bunks for our boys. He has helped people do random house and wood working projects. But this isn’t a hobby for him or something he does with any regularity. We searched Pinterest and found a couple ideas that he ran with.

bed no mattress

This is the finished product without the mattress. We found this pin with a few ideas. We liked the spaced wood boards, but since we rent, we didn’t want to just nail them to the wall. The pastor came us with this headboard based on the pictures of a few we saw.

Looking through a million pins on Pinterest, we decided we wanted the platform style. We liked being closer to the floor, since kids sleep in our bed, it makes falls and getting up and down for them easier. We used this blog post for the measurements for the wood for the bed. We went to Home Depot and had them cut the wood for us. (They tell you they charge $0.50 a cut, but if you’re a nice patient person, they might wave that for you like they did for us.) With the stain, lumber, and screws, this project cost us about $150. Add the new linens, and the grand total was $230.

bed fx

It took one evening to stain all the wood and make the headboard. Then it took another 3 hours the next day to put the platform bed together and get the mattress on it and such.

I am super happy with how this tuned out. Like, really happy with it.

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This was the hardest part of the project, unless you count wrangling 6 kids in Home Depot while your husband gets wood cut. We managed, but it was looking almost impossible there for a second.

Now I just need throw pillows and to finish that giant crocheted blanket for it.

Oscha Caledonia Braes Review

CB front wrap

When I was pregnant with Peregrin, I saw a picture on FB of a woman wearing a baby wrap that looked so Lord of The Rings. I thought, “I NEED that wrap!” I sent the picture to a friend. We quickly found the wrap was an Oscha Caledonia Braes. But there weren’t any new ones for sale on the site. Bummer. I figured I would just have to track down a used one.

oscha cb happy

A couple weeks later, I get a series of texts from my friend. “Oscha just relisted the Braes!” “I ordered one for you!” “If that isn’t okay I can sell it!” Of course, it was okay. I sold several baby carriers to fund the new acquisition. The Pastor did not think it necessary to own 8 baby carriers. I don’t know why. 8 seems like a modest number of carriers to own. (I now have 4, which seems like not very many at all!)

oscha cb watch

The Caledonia Braes- 50% organic combed cotton, 50% linen, 230 gsm. I got a size 7, which is long enough for really pretty tails. I love long tails.

oscha cb cello

This wrap is beautiful and tough. It  was soft and wrappable straight out of the bag. Honestly no breaking in was needed at all. It was just great immediately.

CB newborn sleep

It wraps nice and snug. It has the perfect balance of grip and slip. Not too grippy, but not too slippy. You can strand by strand tighten easily. Wrap a newborn with no problems. Wrap a toddler with no problems. This is really a wrap that can work all duties. If you’re only buying one wrap, you need a wrap like this. It works in any weather. Hot or cold, this wrap is fine.

CB newborn wrap

And did I mention it is pretty and perfect for my little hobbit?

oscha cb lean

My Experience With Trim Healthy Mama

I’m sure you’ve heard of Trim Healthy Mama. It seems everyone has. I had heard about it from friends for years before I decided to buy the books and give it a try. I researched it for quite a long time before committing. I’m not really one to try diets, despite needing to loose weight. I did the Whole 30 a couple years ago with huge success. But since living that way is almost impossible for an active family, I decided to give Trim Healthy Mama a try. Everyone said it was whole family cooking and it wouldn’t leave me in the kitchen all day long.

The good:

  • The meals were made for large families in mind. I didn’t have to double and triple recipes, which was refreshing. Most family meals feed 6-8. They do have lots of single serve recipes in the cookbook for things like breakfast and lunch, too.
  • I found some ridiculously yummy recipes that my kids love in the cookbook. Swedish Meatballs in Cream Sauce, Slim Sloppy Joes, Blackened Chicken with Mango and Black Beans, Lentil Soup, Chicken Jalapeno Popper Soup, Tomato Chicken Bisque, Nacho Stuffed Peppers, Trim Healthy Pancakes. Amazing food. Really.
  • I found most of the sippers to be awesome and I love them! Good Girl Moonshine & Singing Canary are staying. Period.
  • The Pastor lost lots of weight in the first month.

The Eh:

  • I lost minimal weight. Very minimal. Likes, in 3 months maybe 8 lbs.
  • While it was a whole family plan, you have to tweak every single meal for every single person. This meant adding cheese to kid food but not adult food. Adding an extra side for kids. So while I was only cooking one “meal”, I was having to adjust at the table.
  • While they claim you don’t have to use specialty ingredients, I found that they were necessary if you don’t want to be completely frustrated. So, you’re buying special flours and weird stuff that are really hard to find and expensive.
  • They also claim you can do the plan without Stevia. After reading their stuff, I just started using the Stevia, even though I really didn’t want to. Cutting it out is a bigger deal than they make it.
  • You can have brownies! they say. Then you make the brownies exactly like the recipe and they are gross. The online community then tells you that your taste buds are just messed up from years of real sugar. You’ll adjust. But chocolate should never taste like chemicals. I don’t want to get used to that. So these beloved desserts are apparently all acquired tastes that will eventually be okay to you once you forget what real baked goods taste like.
  • Despite saying you can be a food purist to stick to the plan or a “drive through Sue”, I found that I was having to make a lot of concessions to food purity. I was eating things that didn’t seem normal for me to eat. So, I’m sure there was a way for me to not bend on my food standards, but they weren’t easy if they were available.
  • There are a lot of rules. It takes time to understand and properly implement the plan. While there is good support through their Facebook pages and such, you have to be careful what you say so you don’t offend the plan. (Really just never critique the plan. Just watch how much hate mail will come from this post. And not all of the groups will be like this. You’ll also find a lot of encouragement and a lot of help. Just don’t complain- they don’t like it.)

The Bad:

  • My milk supply tanked, despite doing crossovers as described for nursing moms.
  • My immune system plummeted. I had eczema and then Shingles. The nutrition just wasn’t there.
  • It was expensive. The specialty ingredients are very pricey. They say you don’t need them, but over half the recipes call for them. Want to price them yourself? Whey Protein, Trim Healthy Mama Baking Blend, Stevia, Super Sweet, Gentle Sweet, MCT Oil, Gelatin, Collagen, Glucomannan, Not Naughty Noodles. Now, some of these things will last quite a while, like the Stevia and the Glucomannan. But some, like the baking blend and the super sweet will be monthly expenses at least.
  • I was eating more meat and less veggies than usual. While they say vegetarian and vegan options are available, I don’t really see how.

My Conclusions:

I have seen lots of people loose weight and have great health on this plan. I will still be using my cookbook, despite my not using the plan because some of the food is really yummy. But this plan is clearly not for me. I had so many health problems that started when I switched to this plan. I did not see results anything like I would have liked to see. And my family was just eating too many things I wasn’t really super comfortable with. So, I am going to take some of the recipes, but leave the plan. It just didn’t work for us. It certainly isn’t for everyone. It worked fine for my husband.

Do I recommend you try it? I don’t know. I don’t recommend you NOT try it. I’m just not a fan because it really wasn’t a fit for me and my family. I had really high hopes and it just did not deliver.

I also think I am somewhat biased in my attempts. I’ve never been a Stevia fan. In fact, I think I might actually be allergic. I’m not a fan of processed foods. I’m not a fan of casseroles or crock pots meals. It isn’t that I am picky. I’m just more of a whole food, clean food person. So telling me no potatoes and limit carrots isn’t ever going to sit well with me.

**This post contains affiliate links.**

Danu Sky Songs Midnight- A Review

danu sky songs 6

A friend of mine graciously loaned me her Sky Songs Midnight to try out. Well, and to help break it in. We’ll get to that bit. I had previously tested a Danu wrap, so I wanted to compare.

danu sky songs 3

Sky Songs Midnight is a wrap made by Danu. It is 55% Irish Linen and 45% cotton. 302 gsm.

danu sky songs 1

First, this wrap is thick. Very thick. And stiff. Very denim like. It is an absolute beast to break in. When I had this wrap, it had been months of attempting to break it in. And it was usable, but still had a long way to go before it was broken. This is one wrap that you might want to consider buying used. Very used.

danu sky songs 2

Now, it is strong enough for larger kids. It is a very sturdy wrap. It is also really grippy, so your passes don’t slide. Makes a great back carry because your passes won’t slide down.

danu sky songs 4

It is also really pretty, while still being a tough wrap. This would make an excellent workhorse/beater wrap. It would also be a really good choice for a wrap conversion because it is so thick and sturdy.

danu sky songs 5

Another really cool aspect of this wrap is that there is no right or wrong side. It made some awesome wrap jobs when you get both sides showing. They flip the hems on the top and bottom rails so either side really is “correct”.

danu sky songs 7

 

Overall, a pretty and sturdy wrap. Not really suitable for newborns. Not really suitable for inexperienced babywearers unless you find one super duper broken in. But a beautiful and tough wrap, for sure.

Sorry I have no pictures of me wearing the wrap. There is probably one on Instagram somewhere. I apparently failed to take a lot of pics of myself during that time. (Super bad haircut.)

Godbold Academy Geography

We are homeschoolers, as I am sure you are aware. This is the little geography program I put together this year for my kids. I do this for pre-k through upper elementary. I think it would work well for any age, though. I plan to continue this program forever.

My goal in geography was for the kids to know generally where countries are and for them to have a broader worldview. It is hard to fathom the world that isn’t right outside your front door. I want my kids to have the knowledge of geography along with a heart for the people of the world.

map trek

I start the school year going over the 7 continents and 5 oceans. We review this every single year. The older kids know it, but it gives the younger kids a chance to learn it every year. I use the Map Trek CDs to print out maps for the kids to color and label. This book and CD set is a little on the pricey side, but I use this so much year after year. Buy it. Use it. It is great. You can print out as many maps as you need. Historical maps. World maps. It is awesome. We’ll have some contests and such to learn all the continents and oceans with the older ones helping the younger ones. We usually only spend a week or two on this review. It is just an annual refresher.

operation world

Operation World is the next piece of our geography curriculum. Each week, we choose a country and commit to praying for that country for the week. I use my Map Trek CD to print out maps. Each child keeps a master world map in their notebook where they label each country we study that year. The Operation World book lists the basic stats for each country. Things like land size, population, climate, etc. We talk about those things and compare them to what we have here. Would we have more neighbors? Less? Would it be warmer? Colder? Operation World also gives a brief summary of the economy and politics of each country. Then you have a break down of the religions of each country. You’ll also find a prayer list for each country, including things to thank God for that are answers to prayer there.

We might make some food from that country this week. Or we might try some art that is known for being associated with that country. Or we might only do the map and pray for the country. Sometimes I’ll find and print out the country’s flag for the kids to color. The details change week to week, but the bones of the program remain the same.

(1) Locate the country on a world map.

(2) Label your master world map.

(3) Write the country name on the prayer wall and commit to praying for that country this week.

(4) Read about the country. What language do they speak? How many people live there? What kind of work do these people do?  What challenges does this country face? How can we be praying for these people? Do we know any missionaries in this country?

The kids have really enjoyed this program and we’ve learned a lot about many countries. I chose countries where we knew missionaries first or we were learning about in history. I don’t think the order of countries is so important. Operation World is set up by continent, so you could go in that order and learn all the countries of one continent before moving to the next. I just choose randomly, though might go back and do the continent route at some point. As the kids get older, there is more discussion about things. What is the difference in a monarchy and a republic? What about a democracy? Why does it matter how many people are in poverty? How does history effect the current economic and political issues in a country? The little ones seem to focus on the climate and number of people. You can really delve deeper or keep it to 15 minutes reading the info in Operation World and locating the country on the World Map. It is really up to you and your child(ren).

**Post contains affiliate links. **

Ask LJ: Sewing Beginners

Sewing questions! I get a lot of them. So for those too timid to ask, benefit from the asking of others.

Dear LJ,

I want to start sewing but I don’t know what kind of machine to buy.

In The Market

Dear In The Market,

Most people start off with a cheapie machine. And that is totally fine. That is where I started, too. You don’t want to throw down $600 on a machine for a craft you don’t even know you’ll like. It is perfectly reasonable to start cheap.

Now, cheap machines tend to be snobby about thread and fabric. You are not going to want to sew a bunch of fleece or gauze on a cheapie machine. You want good quality quilting fabric. And you want good quality thread. Cheap machine + cheap thread = disaster. I’m saving you some frustration up front. Just go with good thread from the start. (I use Gutterman.)  And I’m not saying you have to buy designer fabric, but steer clear of anything with a loose weave for now.

I also recommend Brother over Singer. I started with Singer. So many problems. Easily overwhelmed is how I would describe that machine. People have much better luck with cheapie Brothers than cheapie Singers. Just my experience.

As far as what features you want, well, kind of up to you. Really, you NEED a straight stitch. You could USE a zig-zag and one step button hole. Anything beyond that is just fluff. 99% of my sewing is just a straight stitch.

I now sew with a Babylock sewing machine. It is dreamy. I have the now discontinued Crafter’s Choice model. I love it. I upgraded after about a year of sewing on my cheapie. When I realized this was going to be something I did on a regular basis.

LJ

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Dear LJ,

What project should I try first?

Eager To Begin

Dear Eager To Begin,

There are dozens of projects to start with! Pick something you want to make. And don’t start with a gift. Too much pressure. Here are some ideas:

Pillowcase Dress

Pillowcase

Twirly Skirt

Burp Cloths

Napkins

Envelope Throw Pillow Cover

Apron

Personally, my first project was a throw pillow. When I revisited sewing as an adult, I started with a pillowcase dress. Just pick something you want to make. Check out Pinterest and get going!

LJ

(One of my very first projects.)

Dear LJ,

Should I use a pattern or what?

Paper?

Dear Paper?,

Some people love patterns. I am not one of those people. I prefer to follow tutorials or draft my own patterns. I do use patterns on occasion. I have friends that only sew using patterns. Really, you are just going to have to try it and see what you think.

LJ

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Dear LJ,

I’m nervous about ruining the fabric. How do I do this?

Ready To Cut

Dear Ready To Cut,

Fear of the first cut is common! I still have that feeling at times with certain fabrics or projects. You just have to dive in and go for it. Measure twice. Then go!

LJ

Dear LJ,

Do I need a serger?

Edgy

Dear Edgy,

Sergers are overrated. I might have some folks disagree with me on that. I rarely use mine. I have a Babylock Lauren serger and it just sits around for the most part. I sometimes just use it because it is there and I feel obligated to use it. So, no, in my opinion, you do not need a serger.

LJ

Leave any other sewing questions in the comments. This post contains affiliate links.

Ask LJ: Carpet Questions

I get a lot of questions related to my Carpet Cleaning with OxiClean method and my Carpet Cleaning with Young Living Thieves Cleaner method. I figured I would answer them all in one spot for you today.

after

Dear LJ,

When I am cleaning my carpet, do I stop when the water is clear?

Cleaning For Hours

 

Dear Cleaning For Hours,

No! Oh my goodness, I don’t think I could ever get completely clear water in a home carpet cleaner. Stop when the floor looks clean. If you want it clean until the water comes back clear, you’ll need to hire someone. I suggest Master Cleaners.

LJ

 

Dear LJ,

What does it mean when you say “rinse the carpet”?

Confused on Details

 

Dear Confused on Details,

Rinse simply means you are using your carpet cleaner with water only, no soap. Just don’t add anything to the cleaning tank. Just water. I use tea tree oil in my rinse because it makes the carpet smell nice and disinfects.

LJ

 

Dear LJ,

Can I use OxiClean in a rented carpet shampooer?

Rebel of Carpet Cleaners

 

Dear Rebel,

Your rental agreement likely says you cannot. I am not going to tell you to do it because I never have. The rental machines state you can only use their product. I have used them before with their product. Buy the pet version, it is better. And follow my same steps or washing, scrubbing, and rinsing. If you want to use OxiClean, buy your own machine. It will still void the warranty, but you won’t be potentially messing up a rental.

As for the long term effects on OxiClean on my machine. It creates more residue than the cleaners suggested by the manufacturers. The rinse cycle does help clean some of that out. But you’ll notice white powder residue in several places on my machine. So far, in the years I have been using OxiClean in my machine, it hasn’t killed it. But I’m not sure I’d risk it on someone else’s machine without their permission.

LJ

Dear LJ,

Can I use Thieves Cleaner in a carpet shampooer?

Natural Cleaner

 

Dear Natural Cleaner,

Yes, you can! I wrote about that here. It doesn’t clean as deeply, but it leaves the carpet pretty darn clean and soft! Try it. But yeah, it is still going to void the warranty on your machine, so make sure you are okay with that.

LJ

 

Dear LJ,

Can I use bleach in my carpet cleaner?

Giant Mess

 

Dear Giant Mess,

No. I have tried. Don’t do it. And I’ll just go ahead and address the next question. Don’t use peroxide either. I’ve tried that, too. Bleach will unevenly bleach your carpet. It looks bad. Peroxide will turn it orange in spots. It looks bad. So don’t do either of those things. Seriously.

Other things I have put in a carpet cleaner:

Dawn dish detergent: way too foamy. You can barely keep the machine going with all the foam. It takes forever to rinse all the suds out. Definitely not the trick I was hoping for.

Laundry Detergent: It cleans clothes, carpet seemed logical. While it smelled amazing, it was too sudsy and too slippery and just didn’t deep clean all that well. It took a few tries to get the amount right, and then it just didn’t clean any better than straight water.

Fabric Softener: I know. I was going for a good smelling carpet. It wasn’t the best. You have to use very little to not end up with a blue hue and then it doesn’t do much. Carpets shouldn’t be that soft. It is more creepy than cozy.

Lysol: I was attempting to disinfect my carpets post tummy bug. It did nothing. Skip this and use cinnamon oil or tea tree oil or Thieves Cleaner instead.

Febreeze: Again, I wanted the carpets to smell good. Just spray it on your carpet. It was way overkill and didn’t clean or do much of anything. Tea Tree Oil works so much better on fixing carpet stink.

Essential Oils: These are great. They work. They help with smell. They don’t stain, someone asked me that. They could potentially break down the plastic of the carpet cleaner, but I haven’t had issues. I also put them on my vacuum bag. I’ve tried many, but tea tree oil and cinnamon bark are my favorites for carpet cleaning. You can try others. I’ve done orange, lemon, fir, frankincense, lavender, and a few others. I still prefer tea tree or cinnamon.

LJ

 

Dear LJ,

Will you come clean my carpets?

Needs Help

 

Dear Needs Help,

No. I am not a professional cleaning service. See my recommendation above for Master Cleaners.

LJ

 

Did I miss your question? Feel free to ask in the comments. This post contains some affiliate links.