from glamour-to-this

We don’t have a photo-ready kitchen.

Not since our adventures in nourishing food and gardening began.

There are “science experiments” all over the place.

And I’m kind of proud of it.

yogurt
We developed this very fancy sign because we’ve lost our yogurt on more than one occasion to the oven being turned on while the milk was souring … oops. Oh … and there are beans soaking in that stainless steel saucepan.

Milk “yogurting” (I know it’s not a word) in the oven.

quinoa

There is quinoa soaking near the Vita-Mix (for a soup I’m making tomorrow).

sourdough start

Two kinds of sourdough start “souring” on the cutting board (one is whole wheat bread flour, the other whole wheat plus all-purpose unbleached unrefined).

photo

There’s bread dough rising on the counter.

Compost ready to be taken outside … but it’s 14 degrees outside and I’m reluctant to walk 50 feet through the snow from the backdoor to the bin.
And vegetables fermenting on top of the refrigerator.

Oh … and don’t forget the kombucha … on its second fermentation on the washing machine (which is not technically in the kitchen, but the laundry room is just next door).

And then, of course, there’s kefir in the fridge.  And more yogurt.  And more fermented veggies.  And bone broth.  And farm-fresh eggs.  And home-made jams and jellies (which we get from a local food swap as we don’t have any fruit trees to speak of).

And a maple coconut milk ice cream that I made to help celebrate Abby’s birthday tonight firming up in the freezer.  (Going to share that recipe tomorrow … it’s a favorite here in the Cottage!)

Aren’t we fancy?

Yeah … I thought so 🙂

– Jeanne

i’m building a desk?

Okay … so … this is Jeanne.  And I am pretty sure I’ve mentioned that we live in a Cottage in town.

And by Cottage … I mean … on the free market it would be referred to as “cozy” and “quaint” …

It’s a wonderfully full home to a family of four including two littles (who take up more space than I can fully express or appreciate)…

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and two dogs (who believe the house actually belongs to them).

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this is our “angel” Henry … he is what I would call a very good sport.

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And everyone has their own space in the house.

The littles have their room and a playroom (see above).

The dogs have the entire floor … and Hitcher has taken over a leather chair in the living room  (thank goodness it’s leather …how else could we keep it clean?! )

And the Cowboy has turned our unfinished basement into a bit of man-cave (but it’s not in my prerogative to take a photo of his intensely manly environ.

Which leaves little space for this mom-blogger (outside of the kitchen … which belongs to EVERYONE).

So I scoped out a corner of our bedroom and have been looking for a desk.

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And just haven’t found one that I love … or that fits into this miniature space.

Which brings me to my friend Suzy (who I’ve mentioned on occasion … we board our horses on her property outside of town, and she’s my Mad-Gal connection).  Suzy is cooler than cool. And a maker of beautiful furniture and cabinetry.

I guess maybe I mentioned my struggle to find a desk to Suzy … and without batting and eye she offered to help me MAKE one!  What?  Make it?  The exact desk I want and need?  That will actually fit in the corner?

So we’re going to do it.

A modified version of this one:

sawhorse-desk1
I’m so excited!
And only a little nervous to use the power tools.
Hope to have something decent to show you by week’s end!
Are you doing anything fun this week?

something small that makes life easier

My kids don’t share a room yet, but I keep all their clothes in Elijah’s closet. David’s crib is still in a nook in our bedroom, but one day I’ll get up the courage to put them together.

Meanwhile, their clothing storage situation is out of control.  I buy a lot 99% of their clothes second hand.  Even though very little money has been spent on their wardrobe, they have A LOT of clothes.  Thankfully, I forgot to snap a before picture, but just imagine the clothes in the closet having looked something like the puzzles in this old pictures.

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We don’t have tons of room, so I am always rearranging furniture to try and make the most sense with what we have.  The other day, I needed to clean up the house a little so I did the most logical thing and tore everything apart.  I emptied out the boys’ closet, and put the old dresser in there.  Admittedly, it’s an eyesore, but it’s hidden in a closet and I don’t really care.

So once I put the big dresser in there, I pulled out the label maker.  I may have gotten teased for this, but it was worth it.  There were 6 drawers so I gave each boy a drawer for their jammies, each a drawer for their pants, one for their joined shoes and one for extra blankets.  (I sort of can’t believe I’m showcasing these tacky handles… oh well!)


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Even though we have only been living with this system for 48 hours, it feels like one of the best things I have ever done organizationally.  Elijah can’t read yet, but he knows which drawers are his and he has enjoyed helping me put away laundry.  John no longer has to ask where something is, because it was honestly a huge mess in there before.

a1000-38 So I’m officially in love with a label maker.  You think anyone will notice if I label the entire kitchen?

Happy Monday!
-Abby

how to start building a nourishing cupboard

Jeanne here …

I’ve recently been asked a few times about how to start eating a nourishing diet. How to start changing one’s diet.

I’ll admit readily that it’s not always easy. Because we are creatures of habit. Because habits are easy. And breaking habits is not.

So don’t expect it to happen overnight.

Because it won’t happen overnight (and if it doeshappen overnight, it’s going to cost waaaaaay too much money. And it might not stick).

My advice is to start small. Start in the cupboard.

When you run out of Skippy, just don’t buy another jar. Look for a healthier alternative that you might enjoy. The kiddos and I have switched to almond butter. But the Cowboy digs his PBJ and I know a lot of folks who don’t like having to stir the organic peanut butters. Natural Directions offers a peanut butter that absolutely does not require stirring. (Maybe you see it on the second shelf of our cupboard?) So maybe that’s your first step.

If you start small, I promise, that one day you will realize as you walk through the grocery store you are only walking around the edges. Maybe you’ll dip into an aisle or two, but mostly you are on the outskirts. Fruits. Veggies. Dairy. Meat. With a diversion down the baking/bulk aisle for flours and oils and spices.

Again, it doesn’t happen overnight. But one day you realize you are living on the fringe!

And the fewer aisles you visit, the lower your food bill! Even if you’re spending a little extra on organics.

So you get more food and spend less. And when you eat more food (versus eating processed food-like products), you might find yourself feeling better!

It’s a happy coincidence.

But again, how do you start?

Simply. Of course.

For me, it was figuring out easy changes like replacing vegetable and canola oils with things like extra virgin olive oil (organic EVOO is available at Costco), grape seed oil and coconut oil (oils with higher smoke points, that are easier to digest), looking into replacements for refined sugar like maple syrup (which we buy in the bulk aisle) and locally sourced honey.

And so what happens when you make these changes?

Well, for example, I realized that buying locally sourced honey wasn’t only good for the pocketbook, but great for our bodies, too. You want to know why? It’s because the bees make their honey from the local flora and fauna. And ingesting THAT honey causes your body to build up the right immunity to those pollens, thereby alleviating Spring allergies! Seriously, who wouldn’t want a more gentle spring allergy season because you spent the winter drinking tea with honey?!?

Count me in!

What changes have you made that are making a difference …to your wallet and/or to your well-being?

ALSO – don’t forget to register up for this week’s WHOLE FOODS MARKET GIFT CARD GIVEAWAY!!

jersey girl update

A brief update …

Last weekend, Donna “stayed local” because more than 1,000 people are living in the Hopatcong High School because they are still without power or because of damage to their homes and property.  She and her family delivered more than a few items (clothes, food, water and the like) because that’s where they were needed.  She’s working with a Catholic Church in Point Pleasant and gearing up for another weekend of heartbreaking awesomeness.

Since we opened the HURRICANE RELEIF STORE at O’Mamas … your open hearts and generosity have sent:

  • baby food
  • toothpaste
  • toothbrushes
  • blankets
  • trash bags
  • bath towels
  • and crayons

to the folks who otherwise would have none!

This week’s “needs list” includes:

  • School Supplies
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Gloves – work and rubber
  • New Socks and Underwear
  • Toys and Decorations for Christmas and Hanukah!

All gifts purchased through the O’MAMAS HURRICANE RELIEF STORE are tax deductible and any profits we receive will be returned to the relief effort!

To everyone who is contributing (through our store, or some other organization), your generous response has been awesome.  THANK YOU!

PS – Don’t forget to register for this week’s GIVEAWAY!

so much goodness in simple glass jars

Abby here…

Sorry it’s been quiet around here for a few days. I spent the weekend traveling home from a vacation, and Jeanne spent the weekend heading out on one. We’ve been busy traveling cross-country with toddlers… and we all know how consuming that can be!

But now I’m home. My littlest one was was under the weather yesterday which meant we were stuck in the house. He’s much better today, and being at home was a good excuse to get some things done. For example, the spices went from this…

To this…

And it just added one more reason why I am dorky obsessed with these inexpensive, glass canning jars.

One time at the kid’s gymnastics class Jeanne showed up with the cutest little half pint canning jar with some grapes it in for her little ones. I was in love with that cute little jar and next thing you know she shows up at my house with a 12 pack of them for me. Now that is a good friend!

So… back to the jars. They are whole living mama’s very best friend. First off, they are glass. Second, they are cheap. Third, they are self-sealing. They have all different sizes, and I find myself using them all the time for different things. You can buy them in just about any grocery store or we have them in our Amazon store!

I use them in the freezer to store bone broth, soups and pesto. (Update: forgot to mention a few things about using them to freeze. The wide-mouth jars work best for this, and be sure to leave at least 1/2 inch of extra room up top. I have yet to have any jar break in the freezer, but I know this can happen. The smaller the jar… as in pint size… the least likely you will have a problem.)

I refrigerate all sorts of things like my homemade salsa and fermented vegetables.

Jeanne uses this one for brewing kombucha, but canning jars aren’t just good for food related things. Not only do we drink out of them, we store crayons, homemade play dough and odds and ends. I just read in this post on YoungHouseLove (a favorite blog of mine) how he uses them for organizing nails and screws in his basement.

So there you have it. Do yourself a favor and pick some of these babies up!