FARMHOUSE // August renovation update

It’s been two months since the last update! Eek! Things slowed down on the reno once we got home and Shane had less free time. And then we had a baby, so even less free time now! 

But never fear! There has been definite progress. 

The upstairs is completely gutted. 

Farmhouse upstairs

The chimney has come down since I took this picture. 

Shane and his parents took the windows off the porch in preparation for taking off the porch!

Windows out

And then the porch came off.

Porch gone

One of those big branches on that giant cottonwood tree is going to come down this week. We really, REALLY don’t want to take the tree down. But if one of those branches fell, it would crush the house 🙁 Don’t worry. I’ll be planting more trees in the future. 

Today Shane took down the ceiling tiles in the living and dining room. It revealed the awesome 9 foot ceiling! 

Ceiling tiles down

So there you go! Our contractor will start working on the upstairs mid-September. We’ll get the slab poured for the new porch done soon as well. Things are moving along nicely 🙂 

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Remember that one time…

Remember how I used to actually blog things?! What happened there? Oh, life. Right! 

Well here’s the latest:

In 2014 we decided to move to the ranch.

In 2015 we actually moved to the ranch.

It’s now 2016, and we’ve figured out our forever home. We’re renovating Shane’s grandparents’ 1923 farmhouse. It’s a four bedroom, one bathroom house.

While my parents, my girls and I took a six day vacation to Montana, Shane and his parents ripped into the house. Literally. Good thing I had already taken the “before” pictures! They moved all of the furniture and boxes and other things from the upstairs to the main level. They took down plaster and lath from a few of the rooms. And cleaned that mess up. They took out a couple windows (which we now need to get covered since there’s actual rain in the forecast).

 

The smallest of the upstairs bedrooms, with all of the plaster off the walls and on the floor.
The smallest of the upstairs bedrooms, with all of the plaster off the walls and on the floor.

It is currently 86 degrees outside. Shane and my parents are in the house taking out more plaster and lath. Luckily I’m not allowed in the house during demolition. Only five more weeks of using that excuse! Then I get to use the “I just had a baby!” excuse 🙂

While Shane would like to do the work himself, he just doesn’t have the time. It’d be 10 years before we could move in! So most of the work will be hired out. I’m planning to keep everyone updated with the progress of the reno.

Also, I’m fairly clueless about this whole renovation project. And yes, I do watch Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna, feel free to come do it for us!

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ESSENTIAL OILS // That’s all you need

In my quest to have a thriving essential oil business, I went to my company’s global convention last month. It was inspiring, and motivating, and educational, and…and…and… I could go on and on. I’ll try not to though. 

We met several people who are fairly high ranking in the biz, and chatted with them briefly. We would talk a little bit about ourselves, and ask them if they had any tips for us newbies. When talking about myself, I would say, “I live in a town of 800 people.” Technically, I live a couple miles outside that tiny town.

BUT every time I said that, these people, who have been in the business longer than I have and who make a good living, said the EXACT. SAME. THING. I kid you not. They don’t know each other. I don’t think anyway.

They all said, “That’s all you need.”

How profound is that?! And inspiring. And motivational. All over again 🙂 

Now if can someone make me a pretty picture that says that, I’ll hang it in my office. That would be super duper. 

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Learning and Growing

Well my blog has been quiet lately, but that’s about it. It’s rarely quiet in my home! While my girls are at daycare this morning, I wanted to take a minute to talk about a couple things going on in my life.

First off, I started using essential oils about a year ago. Oh man, I’m a bit obsessed now. I just got back from my company’s annual convention. I didn’t know it was possible to love this company any more, but after seeing the amazing things they do throughout the world, I have so much respect for the company and its founders. So, be prepared to see me back to blogging, and incorporating essential oils into that!

If you’re interested in essential oils, you can contact me here. I’m always up for talking about oils and how they can enhance your life. 

Second, I have been working on getting my certification as a nutritionist. My goal is to have it done by Christmas, and that’s definitely within reach. It’ll probably happen sooner than that. 

THEN my goal is to write a cookbook!! All of the recipes will be migraine free! I am so excited to start it, but I really want to focus on my certification first. I have a list of a bunch of recipes to write. Let me know if you’d like to be a recipe tester 😉 

That’s all for now. I’m off to Do The Work! 

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PODCASTS // My Latest Obsession

I’ve been absent from the blog lately, in case someone out there has been waiting for a new post. No excuses. It’s been busy here and I let it slide. 

I just needed to get on here and write this out:

PODCASTS ARE THE BOMB. For real. Back when Cece was born – A YEAR AGO!! – I asked my brother for podcast recommendations to listen to during those middle of the night feedings. He suggested a couple. One of them stuck: Stuff You Should Know.

These guys make me happy. They pick a topic, research it, and then just talk about it. I can’t tell you how much cool stuff I’ve learned from Josh and Chuck over the past year. From things like earwax – way more interesting than I thought it would be – to the Lewis and Clark expedition. (That Lewis and Clark episode is one of my favorites.) You can listen to their podcasts on their website or on iTunes. 

A few weeks ago we went back to Iowa. It’s an eight hour drive. I don’t think I turned on the radio once. I plugged my phone into the auxiliary outlet in my car and listened to Stuff You Should Know. For eight hours. Both ways. 

Then just the other day my sister-in-law told me about another podcast called Being Boss. It’s two women who talk about being creative entrepreneurs. I don’t even have a business, but these women have me all jacked up and motivated! It’s been three days since Sheila (my sister-in-law) discovered them, and I’ve listened to eight of their podcasts. EIGHT!! 

They are inspiring women and I love what they are doing. If you feel like getting some motivation, you can listen to their podcasts on their website or iTunes, also. I listen to them while I fold laundry, clean up, wash dishes, rock the baby to sleep, and generally putz around the house. 

This is how jacked up these ladies have made me: I got up at 5:45 this morning, showered, ate breakfast, watered the garden, and finished a project before 8 a.m. Then my three-year-old woke up. I fed her breakfast, we let the chickens out, put clothes on the line, and then headed out of town by 9:30. I may not run a business, but I do run my house. They gave me my new mantra: Do the work. I also managed to wash all of our dishes by hand (no dishwasher in this house), clean the master bathroom – including mopping! – and start dinner before Shane got home around 5:30. 

I did the work. 

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Norah’s bum knee debacle

Well, today was interesting. It all started yesterday afternoon.

Norah was sitting at the table eating a snack. She told me she had to go potty and got off the chair. Then she grabbed her knee, said it was “frowny,” and asked if I could carry her to the bathroom. I did, and didn’t think much of it. 

Then she did it again. 

I sat her on the couch and took a look at her knee. It looked fine to me! She relaxed and watched a show. She spent the evening saying her knee was still frowny, and refusing to walk. 

At bedtime she even asked for medicine.

When she woke up, she still wouldn’t walk, or even stand up. I got ahold of a friend who is a retired physical therapist (isn’t it great to know people?!) and she came over right away. I’m talking 7 a.m.! She talked to Norah and checked out her knee. Then she recommended we take her to an orthopedist. 

Awesome. 

We called, and they were booked. So we headed to urgent care. If it was bad enough, they would be able to get us into ortho. 

She got another examination, plus some x-rays. All they saw was some minor swelling around her knee. The doctor said to basically just follow her lead. If she doesn’t want to stand and put pressure on it, then don’t. If she wants to get up and run, then do that. 

They did get us an appointment with ortho for next week. If she’s up and running then we can cancel. But so far, she’s still not standing on her right leg. 

The doctor said that kids love to run and jump. So if she’s sitting and refusing to run around, then something hurts. And if you know Norah, jumping is her thing. We don’t call her Norah Jean Jumping Bean for no reason!

She did so great at the doctor’s office! In the past, she screamed and cried the entire time. No tears, no crying this time! I’m impressed. 

Hopefully we’ll get some good news next week! In the meantime, I’ll be home, hanging out with my two girls – neither of which can walk 😉 

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Orlando Family Vacation!

The last week in February, Shane, myself, the kids, my parents and my brother took a family vacation to Orlando! We had been planning the trip for nearly a year. It was a celebration of both my parents’ 60th birthdays and their 40th anniversary. 

We had a great time, hitting up Universal Studios (The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!), soaking up some sunshine, and getting to relax while spending time with family. 

When my brother and I met outside of our hotel rooms one morning, we just happened to both be wearing our Raygun shirts, proclaiming the awesomeness of Iowa. Seriously – it was a coincidence. 

Proud Iowans
Proud Iowans

I was so excited to go to Harry Potter World. I’m basically like a 12-year-old when it comes to Harry Potter. It did not disappoint! The first day we went to Islands of Adventure which has Hogsmeade. It was so cool to see the little shops with snow covered roofs. Unfortunately, a lot of the store fronts are fake, and the real stores are very narrow! But it was cool nonetheless. Butterbeer is delicious. As are chocolate frogs 🙂 

We stopped in Honeydukes and got some candies. We bought lots of overpriced merchandise! One of my favorite stores was Weaselys Wizard Wheezes. If you’re a HP fan, visiting Universal Studios is a MUST!! 

At Islands of Adventure, there is a Dr. Seuss World too. It was a great stop for Norah to burn off some energy and see some of her favorite characters. She’s still too small for most rides, but she did get to go on the carousel! 

Riding the carousel at Dr. Seuss World
Riding the carousel at Dr. Seuss World
Norah playing in the stream at Dr. Seuss World.
Norah playing in the stream at Dr. Seuss World.

We also spent a day at Universal Studios, hitting up Diagon Alley. I liked this park more than the other. It was bigger and there was more to see. I even liked Diagon Alley more than Hogsmeade! Shane is not a Harry Potter fan, so he took Norah to the Curious George Playground and Fivel Goes West Playground while the rest of us explored Diagon Alley. 

I knew staying on my diet would be tricky. I managed pretty well though! I ate a lot of rice and steamed broccoli – luckily most restaurants have this. One of my favorite meals was the half rotisserie chicken from Wolfgang Pucks at Downtown Disney. It was a plateful of awesome, soaked in butter. Mmmmm, butter. 

I ended up getting two migraines on the trip. The first one was on the first day. My guess is because we flew over lunchtime and I basically skipped a meal. Big no-no! The second was on the fourth day. I don’t know why. It just happened. I took my meds, and dealt with it.

Also you may remember from my Thanksgiving post that my brother has Celiac Disease aka he can’t eat gluten or he will be a hurtin’ unit. 

My dad turned 61 while we were there. We celebrated with a great lunch at Lombard’s in Universal Studios. 

Happy Birthday Dad!
Happy Birthday Dad!

The girls were AMAZING on the trip. Seriously! Based on Cece’s last hotel stay, we assumed we would be getting zero sleep. But she slept all night, almost every night! I may have had to feed her during the night twice. Norah was also awesome, as usual 🙂 She just rolls with whatever we were doing. 

We also did some non-theme park stuff. Our hotel had a waterpark attached to it, so we spent the first day (the warmest day) doing that. It was Cece’s first time swimming, and she seemed to like it! Norah loves swimming. She’s basically a fish. 

Enjoying the Florida sunshine!
Enjoying the Florida sunshine!

There was a billboard right outside of our hotel advertising M&M World. After seeing it several times a day, the ad worked and we all ventured to said M&M World. It was awesome! Expensive, but awesome.

M&M World, aka Norah's idea of heaven.
M&M World, aka Norah’s idea of heaven.

 My favorite picture of the trip? Cece threatening my brother with a five-finger death punch:

Cece fist

 

My second favorite picture? My parent’s getting photobombed in front of the Universal Studios Globe:

Photobomb 

That was our vacation in a big nutshell. It was unbelievably helpful to outnumber the kids 5-2. I could not – and would not – have done it without all those extra hands! 

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Hives are the work of the devil

Seriously. I had hives once, when I was 5 years old. I don’t remember it, thankfully. It was when we discovered I was allergic to penicillin. 

This recent medical mystery started on a Sunday morning. I woke up with a little stomach ache. I ate my usual oatmeal, then started getting nauseated. 

By 10 a.m., I thought I was going to pass out. Tunnel vision, sweaty and cold. My husband took me to the ER and they diagnosed me with gastritis, where the lining of the stomach is inflamed. I thought I was having a gallbladder attack. I’m still not convinced on the gastritis.

They gave me some meds and sent me home. A few hours later, I started having stabbing pains in my upper back. Definitely gallbladder, right? A heating pad stopped the pains, but then the hives came. Those terrible, awful, miserable hives!!

They started on the back of my neck. By morning they were all over my chest, shoulders, neck and forehead. Soon they were on my arms. I saw my doctor that afternoon and he prescribed me a steroid. 

But the itching didn’t stop. I was back in the ER Tuesday evening because the hives kept spreading and the itching was unbearable! This time I got Zantac to stop the itching, a shot of epinephrine, and another pill for itching. I was feeling gooood by the time we left! Epinephrine is something else! I’m pretty sure I could have lifted a truck. 

In the morning, the hives were back. 

I googled hives remedies. What worked best for me was to make a baking soda paste and slather it on. Really. I looked ridiculous, but I didn’t care. I dumped some baking soda in a bowl, added water, mixed it with my fingers and put it on every hive I could see. I’ll forewarn you – it makes a mess. Everywhere you go, you leave a dusty, white trail. There will be drops of white on the counter and floor where you apply it. But if you’re suffering with hives, you won’t care.

Tepid baths are also great. They are not enjoyable. I was shivering the whole time. But they make the itching stop! I never did the oatmeal bath, even though many people said it helps. 

And ice packs. Or just a bag of frozen veggies wrapped in a thin cloth. Anything that’s cold helps! Heat makes hives worse.

By Thursday evening, they seemed to have gone away. I woke up hive-free Friday morning! If I never have hives again, it will be too soon. 

We still don’t really know what caused my hives. At first we thought an allergic reaction to a medicine from the ER. Then we thought stress, or maybe it was just a virus that had to run its course. 

As my two-year-old said, “Mommy, I’m so glad you don’t have owwies on your face anymore.” Me too, kiddo, me too. 

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Creamy Cauliflower Potato Soup

Creamy cauliflower potato soup

We have Christmas Eve at my parent’s house every year. This year, everyone brought a soup to share. I needed mine to be migraine-free and gluten-free. I poked around on Pinterest, found a couple recipes, and combined them to make one of the best soups I’ve ever made. 

Creamy cauliflower potato soup

 I’ve made it three times now, and it’s still amazing. Even my two-year-old, who declared she did NOT like soup, gobbled it up. 

Norah eating soup

There are no “cream of whatever” soups here! I stopped using those years ago. And now that I’m gluten-free, I couldn’t have them, even if I wanted to. The base of this soup is pureed cauliflower! I added a brick of cream cheese, because, why not? Just check the label to make sure it is free of MSG. If you see “carrageenan” on the label, set it down, and walk away.   

Creamy Cauliflower Potato Soup
Creamy and delicious soup full of veggies!
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Ingredients
  1. 1 Head of cauliflower, chopped
  2. 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  3. 1 cup chopped carrots
  4. 1 cup chopped broccoli
  5. 8 oz cream cheese
  6. 6-8 cups broth or water, enough to cover the veggies
  7. seasonings to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large pot, bring broth/water and cauliflower to a boil. Cook until cauliflower is fork tender.
  2. Put cauliflower and some of the cooking liquid into a bowl and puree with an immersion blender. You can also put them into your blender to puree.
  3. Cube the cream cheese and put in with the cauliflower. Let it sit for a few minutes to soften. Then puree again to incorporate the cream cheese.
  4. Put potatoes, carrots and broccoli into the pot and bring to a boil. Cook until tender. Transfer the veggies to the bowl with the cauliflower puree. Stir together, adding cooking liquid to desired consistency. Add any seasonings to taste.
Notes
  1. If you're not migraine or gluten free, you could crumble some cooked bacon on top, add shredded cheese or sour cream.
Be SamWise http://www.besamwise.com/
This recipe is also great for customizing to your own tastes. You can add in whatever veggies you want! I used white potatoes, carrots and broccoli – besides the cauliflower base. Peas, mushrooms and corn would also be great additions! I see some new versions of this soup in my near future 🙂

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Handmade Christmas Ornaments

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I don’t often get sappy, but Christmas is such a great time to reflect on the past year, everything we’ve done, and remember our friends and family. I love decorating my Christmas tree every year. It’s more than just making it look pretty. It gets me in the Christmas Spirit, and I can reminisce about the holiday seasons of the past.

For many years, my Aunt Debbie has made ornaments as Christmas gifts. And when I say “many years,” I’m talking over 20. When we were little, we’d open the bag, knowing an ornament was inside. We’d look at it, then dig through the bag to find the candy. Because there’s always candy 🙂

My mom saved all of my ornaments, and a few years ago she gave them to me. 

Now when I decorate my Christmas tree, it’s really an Aunt Debbie tree. It’s a tree filled with handmade Santas, stars, angels, snowmen and more. There’s a few ornaments I’ve made, and a few others that were given to us. I love having a tree filled with memories, and not just pretty store bought baubles (even though some of them are really, really pretty!). 

Norah with ornaments
Unwrapping the handmade ornaments

Norah helped me decorate our tree this year. She loved playing with the ornaments. The angel got a lot of attention, and didn’t make it on to the tree for a couple days. She even took two ornaments to bed with her. 

I heard a rumor recently that Aunt Debbie wasn’t going to make any ornaments this year. WHAT!? I asked her immediately. It was, in fact, just a rumor. Ornaments have already been started. Phew! 

I love her tradition of making ornaments for everyone! I think it would be fun to make an ornament with the girls each year, and when they grow up and decorate their own trees, they’ll lovingly think back to the fun times we had making ornaments and their childhood Christmases. Hopefully 😉

Ornament collage 2
A closer look at a few of Aunt Debbie’s ornaments. 

For Norah’s first Christmas, I made salt dough ornaments with her footprint. I made three, and gave one to each set of grandparents, and we kept the third one. This year I’ll do the same for Cece, and maybe do a handprint for Norah. Here’s the salt dough recipe I’ll be using. 

Norah's foot ornament
Norah’s footprint ornament

I also think these could be fun to make:

Candy Ornaments from Baby Rabies

Scrap Ribbon Tree Ornament from Fireflies and Mudpies

Glitter Twine Ball Ornament from The Thinking Closet

Do you have any Christmas traditions? Have you ever made your own ornaments?

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