Friday, February 22, 2013

10 Uses for Coconut Oil

I've briefly mentioned how much I love coconut oil and gotten lots of questions about how I use it. So here's a whole post dedicated to my favorite uses for this blessed substance!

{First to Sarah--I use the same coconut oil for everything. I just scoop some out of the container into a tupperware, then melt it down so it takes the shape of the new container and let it harden again. Then I keep it in my bathroom. It's all purpose! =)}

{And to Nicole--I get unsweetened coconut at Whole Foods in the bulk section. Sunflower also sold it in Utah, so I'm assuming most health food stores with a bulk foods will have it. Our Trader Joe's is really small, but they carry some pre-packaged kind that is realllly expensive. So bulk is the best if you can find it. I'm also looking into how to just buy a coconut and make my own. I'll get back to you on that!}

1) First and foremost right now because I'm pregnant, I use it for stretch mark prevention and for that awful itchy skin that accompanies growing a baby. Our homeopathic nutritionist told me that it's the oil most easily absorbed by human skin, so it gives amazing deep down moisturizing relief.

2) Make up remover. It's incredible how the tiniest bit will take off everything-waterproof eyeliner, mascara, eye shadow. I just rub a little onto my eyes and then use a cotton ball to wipe it off.

3) Facial moisturizer. I only do this a couple times a week because it's so heavy duty, and that's all I need. I wash my face with honey (an explanation for a different post) and then use apple cider vinegar toner and then  put on coconut oil. It's fabulous.

4) Deep hair conditioning. I only do this once every 6 months or so. You can melt it down and put it on just like that old school Neutrogena hot oil. Then wrap your head in saran wrap for 30 minutes then wash. It's so good for your scalp, and makes your locks completely luscious. Just be prepared to shampoo about four times to get it all out. It is oil after all. You can also add a few drops of tea tree oil (Melaluca) for extra scalp treatment, because it's anti-fungal. And it also smells amaaaazing.

5) A carrier for essential oils. When Mason gets a cold, instead of Vicks vapo rub I mix some Eucalyptus oil in with a few tablespoons of coconut oil and rub it on his chest. It can also be mixed with Lavendar to help babies sleep, and to calm soreness on their nose from a cold. It's also great for teething remedies like clove and grapefruit, and really just any essential oil you want to use.

6) Diaper rash treatment. When Mason had a horrible yeast diaper rash a few months ago, my sister in law told me that for my niece she had mixed Grapefruit Seed Extract (also incredible) with coconut oil and used that instead of a prescription medicine. It cleared up Mason's rash within two days. Now anytime he gets any kind of diaper irritation I use the coconut oil and it clears right up.

7) Cooking and baking. You can replace most oil or fat with coconut oil, and it won't even taste like coconut. I use it in our homemade bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies, even tortillas. And I'll cook Mason's eggs in a teaspoon of it instead of using cooking spray.

8) A dietary supplement. It's great to use as an external moisturizer, but your skin also benefits if you eat it. A spoonful a day can help with eczema and just general dry skin. I also stir a spoonful into Mason's oatmeal each morning to help him get good fat, since we don't give him cow's milk. Eating it also increases your good cholesterol and can help lower the bad because it contains lauric acid. It also helps regulate blood sugar and makes your liver more efficient, helping you burn fat, and it can help regulate thyroid function. Pretty amazing!

9) Chapstick. It's the best lip moisturizer I know of. And it's something I can put on Mason if he needs it and not worry about what he's ingesting.

10) Toothpaste. This is a new one I just started learning about. Studies are showing that the antibiotic properties of coconut oil will fight tooth decay and that it helps with calcium absorption, strengthening teeth. It's also been used for teeth whitening. Ohh how I love my teeth whitening. I'm going to try it this week and I will report back!

It's pretty amazing all the things one humble ingredient can do. There's loads of other things that I've read about but haven't tried yet, including homemade deodorant....hmm. I'm not sure my loyalty to coconut oil runs that deep.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Persistence of Motherhood

I have always thought that Salvador Dali perfectly captured the essence of motherhood in this work.

"The Persistence of Memory"

Melted clocks. Insignificant time. No method to the madness of day or night. No telling if it's sunrise or sunset.

The perfect summation of my first year as a mother.

I'm sure everyone goes through a transition period when they become a mom. Almost like you have to go through the stages of grief as you mourn your previous life of selfishness and freedom. I have never felt any kind of regret or burden at being a mom, but I have had those thoughts of reminiscence...

"I miss just running into the grocery store for one thing"
"I miss laying around on the couch on Sunday after church"
"I don't even remember what it was like to go to the bathroom without interruption"
"It'd be really nice to eat a meal without someone on my lap"

And I only have one child right now, I can't imagine the plethora of "This was so much easier when I only had one" thoughts that go on in lots of mother's heads. I know I'm in for another awakening in a few weeks.

The hardest part for me was the fact that AM and PM no longer mean anything, nor do the days of the week. What, my toddler didn't get the memo that it's Saturday and we sleep in? And day and night are interchangeable. Especially in the beginning, you're just as likely to be doing the same thing at 3 in the morning as you are at 3 in the afternoon. {Not sleeping though, I assure you.}

For the first 8 months or so, we struggled a lot with Mason's sleep. A lot. First we were challenged with nursing and then he had food allergies and then he just liked to wake up I guess. I could feel myself getting progressively frazzled as the lack of sleep compounded. I was forgetful, stressed, exhausted. I had no energy to exercise and no time to eat a decent meal. Austin was working weird hours at eBay so I also felt lonely a lot. I had an amazing support system in my sister and my friends. But there's no companionship that you turn to as you are woken up every 3 hours all night every night.

I prayed {harder than I ever have} for patience and for the ability to feel rested on whatever sleep I could get. I always felt sustained and capable of getting through, and was always reassured that this was my job right now. And I always felt that calming feeling of love, just knowing how much I loved this baby. More than I thought I was capable of loving anything. But I never really got that awe inspiring, life changing revelation that I knew would get me through the rest of my mothering years.

Until Mason was 7 months old and we had just moved to Idaho.

One night {or morning?} he was awake for what felt like the millionth time. I was rocking him in his room and just feeling totally drained. I could feel the last 7 months bearing down on me and feeling lost. What was I doing wrong? Why did other moms have babies who slept? Was there something seriously wrong with Mason? And feeling like a horrible mother as I felt resentful and frustrated and finally started to just feel angry. I said an exasperated prayer that was more like me shouting in my head "COME ON, ENOUGH ALREADY!" {I'm sure Heavenly Father appreciated the lecture from me}.

Instead of just feeling calmed, I felt completely overwhelmed with the most powerful sense of gratitude and privilege. It was one of those moments when time stopped and heaven opened just for me.

I was reminded of how many women long to hear the cries of a baby in the middle of the night. How they would give up every full night of sleep they've ever had if they could only have a child.

I thought of women who have lost children, because of passing away or just growing up. How they must wish for those nights of holding their tiny child, and would do it all night long if they could.

And I felt overwhelmed with the knowledge that I was privileged to be there with this tiny little person, losing sleep, to fulfill the most divine calling I could have been given--being a mother. I felt myself filled with that heart breaking kind of love, the kind that I felt when I met Mason for the first time--at 2 in the morning. And ever since then, the times that I have felt this love are usually in the middle of the night. When the whole world is still and quiet, and I slow down enough to receive this kind of outpouring from heaven.

After the Sandy Hook tragedy and then spending Christmas in Newtown withe my parents, I have carried this feeling with me constantly, like I know so many parents have. Realizing that I cannot take for granted even one moment that I have with this child. That it's okay to focus a little less on making him independent and a little more on just letting him be little. That when he asks "Again" after every book we read and every song we sing, it's okay to indulge him. Dishes can wait and who vacuums these days anyway?

The other night I was reading a talk from October LDS General Conference and read this story from Elder Richard G. Scott:

“One night our little son Richard, who had a heart problem, awoke crying. … Normally my wife always got up to take care of a crying baby, but this time I said, ‘I’ll take care of him.’
“Because of his problem, when he began to cry, his little heart would pound very rapidly. He would throw up and soil the bed clothing. That night I held him very close to try to calm his racing heart and stop his crying as I changed his clothes and put on new bedsheets. I held him until he went to sleep. I didn’t know then that just a few months later he would pass away. I will always remember holding him in my arms in the middle of that night.”
It reduced me to sobbing so hard that Austin woke up and said "Are you okay?" After the heartache of losing his child, Elder Scott looked back lovingly on the time that he was able to be up with him in the night. I consider myself blessed to have spent so many nights with my sweet little one.
Now that life is settled and Mason sleeps through the night, I find myself wishing sometimes for him to wake up. And he still obliges me once in a while. Last week he woke up from what must have been a nightmare and he was really worked up and wouldn't calm down. I let him lay in our bed because I'm pregnant and too tired to rock him for very long. As he was drifting off he looked up at me, put his little hand onto my cheek, and fell asleep. How wonderful to feel so loved by someone so perfect and pure.
As baby girl joins our family it's hard to imagine having enough love left in my heart that already feels like it will burst. But I know that's one of the most beautiful gifts we have been given as mothers, our capacity for love. To love rowdy, grumpy, tantrum throwing, messy, night waking little monsters. And know that there is nothing in the world we'd rather be doing. 
I say this as I'm watching Mason dump his entire bowl of Cheerios onto the living room floor and then run over them with his bike.
Ahh...the persistence of motherhood.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Buyer's Remorse

I suffer from a very chronic and sometimes debilitating disease. The clinical term is "Remorsus Emptor". The layman's term is "Buyer's Remorse".

When I buy things I get home and I instantly want to return them. Sometimes I regret my purchase even as I'm swiping my card. I would estimate that I return 99% of any remotely frivolous purchase. This may seem like a good thing. A better thing would just be to not buy this crap in the first place. I would save a lot of time and gas money.

I'll admit it has gotten much better since I started thrifting, but I still have a form of it. I've gotten cheaper as a result so I regret anything I spent more than $5 on. So maybe that means it's actually gotten worse...

And since opening the Etsy shop I've discovered another form of this chronic illness.

"Seller's Remorse".

I love everything that I'm selling in the shop. I really wouldn't put it in there if I didn't love it. So whenever something sells I'm really excited, but instantly have a rush of sadness and regret that I have to send the lovely item away. It's kind of a problem.

When I'm listing things I'll think to myself "I love this. I really hope it doesn't sell, so I'm going to price it really high. I'd be willing to part with it if someone is willing to pay that much." So dumb, right? I have no business sense.

So today when I woke up and saw that my beautiful purple American Tourister hard case luggage set had sold, I was filled with regret. They are so lovely and vintage and girly.
But seriously, where am I going that I need fancy suitcases?
I guess I just feel like my dream of jetsetting to fabulous destinations wearing scarves and giant sunglasses disappears when I send them off to someone else.
I'm assuming it's not good business to just tell her she can't have them, right...?

So off they go in a ginormous box to fulfill some other lucky lady's dreams.

I'll go through the grieving process and hopefully come out stronger and more capable of selling my precious junk.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

5 Uses for Flour Sack Cloth Towels

Sometimes when I really stop to think, I can't believe the things that I get excited about these days. Getting married, having kids, owning a home. All these things definitely change a girl.

 Like the hardwood floor vacuum we found on Amazon.

Or finishing folding all the laundry and getting to put the empty baskets back into each room.

Or actually getting dressed and ready for the day before 11 am.

Life has really changed my perspective on what I consider to be pretty awesome. And one silly little thing that I continually enjoy very thoroughly are these flour sack cloth towels.

So much so that I am indeed going to write a post about them. Maybe you will get just as excited and then I won't feel so strange.

The best news about these little lovelies is that they cost about $1 a piece (WalMart), and they have so many uses. Some are pretty duh, but some I have found to be quite fantastic. So here are five things you can do with flour sack cloth towels.

1) You can use them as towels. Obviously. But they are perfect for covering rising bread. Maybe I just think this because my mom always used tea towels to cover rolls, etc. But they are so lightweight and sometimes I think a heavy towel will actually stifle my rising bread. Is that crazy?

2) They are great for cleaning. They are so soft and wipe mirrors so nicely. Another silly thing I love. Really clean mirrors with no streaks and no cleaning rag fuzz.

3) Cloth diapering. They make perfect flat diapers that can be folded into any size. And they are so easy to wash and dry, so they take less energy than bulkier prefold diapers. And I keep a couple in the car as diaper emergency back up. Which will be nice when I have two babies because then I don't need to keep multiple sizes in the car.

4) I cut them into smaller pieces and use them for staining furniture. They are the perfect texture for wiping stain and they're so cheap that I don't mind just throwing away a chunk of a towel after I use it. Then I don't have to worry about washing oily, stain coated rags. I'm not very crafty but I'd imagine they'd have a lot of other "craft" related uses as well.

5) I use them as a "cutting board". I hate when I have to chop nuts or chocolate chips or something and they fly off the board while I'm cutting. But I also hate using my giant cutting board because it's so hard to clean in my sink. So I cut things on the towel. It's also amazing for cutting bread. It contains all the crumbs and then you just shake it out. And when you keep it folded several times it's thick enough to protect your counter.

I hope you've been as inspired as I am by these simple towels. They just might change your life the way they have mine! It's all about the little things, right?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Why I gave up washing my hair

Expecting a second baby has made me rethink how I do a lot of things on a regular basis. 
Throughout my day I think things like "how would I be doing this with Mason clinging to my legs AND a tiny baby in my arms?" 
Most often I think that when I'm getting ready for the day. I cut waaay back on my "beauty" routine when I had Mason. So I'm just assuming that some cutbacks will be necessary again with baby girl around. 

In preparation for this, I have given up washing my hair. And it's spectacular.

I'm not sure everyone can relate to my hatred for having to wash my hair, because some people have lovely, nice, straight hair that blow dries quickly and beautifully. On the contrary, I have wavy, thick, crazy, kinky hair that requires blow drying, straightening, styling, and loads of product. Who has time for that with two kids?!

Then I discovered dry shampoo. One of my top 5 life changing moments. Just kidding. Mostly.

I now actually wash my hair every 6-9 days. And the best part is, my hair is way more fabulous unwashed than it ever was washing it every other day. 
At first I could only go 4-5 days, but the less I washed, the less I needed to. I've read that before but never believed it. But it's so true. Your hair will adjust and stop being so greasy. I don't even need the dry shampoo until day 3, and by then it's usually just in my bangs.
Days 4-6 are the best. My hair is voluminous and textured and lays so nicely. I wake up, run a brush through it, maybe straighten a few kinks, and that's it.

A lot of the time I wash it on day 6. But if I want to drag it out, I've discovered lots of cute ways to put my hair up. The best part is that buns and updos are SO easy when your hair is filthy and loaded with dry shampoo. The bobby pins stay in and it holds in place so nicely.  

I discovered this beauty on Pinterest. And it IS easier than it looks. It took me maybe ten minutes.

I've also found the joy of a lovely ballerina bun with a bow or a headband. I always see these girls with their hair pulled up in darling ways, and not washing my hair has inspired me to actually try it. And made it so much easier to do.

So if you long to be free from the bonds of your shampoo bottle and blow dryer. If you dread the mornings that you have to deal with that sopping wet mess of hair. Stop washing it!!

Oh, and dry shampoo is dirt cheap. My favorite is Suave Keratin and it's less than $3 a bottle. And of all the reviews I've read online, the cheap ones are just as good as the more expensive ones, so stick with the cheapies!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

This is not a food blog...

...but I'm going to post a recipe. I never really do that but I had about a dozen people ask me for the recipe for these granola bars after I posted a picture on Instagram. Which, by the way, is where I consistently keep up with our everyday lives. I neglect the blog like whoa, but I'm a regular on Instagram.


I love to cook and I love to bake. And I especially love to find ways to make things healthier. Not just cutting out the bad stuff, but adding things with more nutritional value. I never really post recipes mainly because I'm not very good at measuring things when I make stuff. Even cookies, sometimes I just throw things in until it looks like it will bake right. So I'll try to make this as precise as possible, but just know that there's room to add more or less of the things you like.

I've written before about how obsessed I am with coconut oil for about a million reasons. I can't go on enough about all the nutritional benefits of coconut oil. And I've recently been really into using raw honey in baking. And I like to add flax meal to just about everything. So there's some of each in this recipe of course.

I adapted this from a few recipes that I read and took my favorite things from each. So here it is! The recipe for yummy chocolate coconut walnut granola bars.


4 1/2 cups oatmeal
1 1/4 cups honey (I used raw. You could also do part honey, part agave. Agave is suuuuper sweet so don't replace too much of the honey with it.)
3/4 cup coconut oil (you can find high quality organic, cold pressed at Costco for very cheap)
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate (I love Ghirardelli 60% cacao. It's very dark, and has no dairy in it. You could use any kind that you want though. Even butterscotch would be really good in these I think. More like a 7 layer bar kind of thing. Mmm.)


Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

Line a large baking sheet with rimmed sides with parchment paper.

Put the oats on the baking sheet and let them toast in the oven for about 10 minutes, stirring a few times throughout. Remove them to a large bowl when done.

While your oats are toastin', put your honey and coconut oil in a small saucepan and melt together over medium heat. Coconut oil can tolerate high heat, but be careful not to burn it. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.

Pour mixture over the oats and stir thoroughly to coat. Stir in the walnuts and coconut. Stir in your chocolate.
It will melt down and become like chocolate coating instead of chocolate chunks. If you want it to stay in chunks you could try letting the oat mixture cool for a while before you add them in. Maybe I'll try that next time.

Pour the mix onto your parchment lined baking sheet, using a spatula to spread it as much as you can. Then you can wet your hands and press the mixture firmly out to the edges, or use another piece of parchment paper on top to keep it from sticking to your hands. I wanted mine to be a little thinner, so I used a very large sheet and pushed them all the way to the edge.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Don't let them burn! My oven cooks really fast, so I only baked them 8 minutes. Adjust for your oven. They are crumbly when they first come out, but they set up as they cool.

Cool the baking sheet on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes, and then transfer the parchment sheet to the cooling rack.
Let cool for about another hour and then cut them in to bars, whatever size you like.
Mine were about 1"x4". I did them smaller so toddler man Mason could eat them. And he DEVOURS these. My batch made about 50 bars that size.

They are delicious right out of the refrigerator, and I froze half of them. I'm not sure how long they'll last in the freezer because we ate them all within a few weeks. But I'm guessing they'd stay good for a month or two.

Enjoy these admittedly NOT low fat, but still nutritionally amazing nonetheless, chewy granola bars.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Baby Mason

I guess he's not really "Baby Mason" anymore, but I just can't bear to call him a toddler yet. Here are a few highlights from our sweet little boy over the last few months.

He started nursery and loves it. He has a little bit of a hard time right when we drop him off. But after a few minutes it's all play, and he doesn't want to leave when we pick him up. This is also thanks to his amazing nursery leader who is so patient during his initial upset and makes it so great for him to be there.

He is a chatterbox these days, and will repeat just about anything we say. Which can obviously be a little scary. =) We are saying a lot of  "oh dears" and "bum" around here lately. No more stupid, crap, or butt. I guess it's good for all of us.

The last couple days he begs to "hide" under the blanket and when you ask him what he hears out there he yells "BEARS!" And then he'll say "peek??" until we look out and make sure everything is okay.

He's obsessed with the little pillow we got him for his crib. When he's really tired he'll beg for "pillooooow" and "pupppppy" of course.

He loves his cars. LOVES his cars. There are cars everywhere in our house. Even the fridge sometimes.

He still loves to read and knows the words to his favorite books. He can make almost all the animal noises, and can at least point to whatever we ask him to point out. He also loves to point out when someone is wearing a hat or a shirt or shoes.

He is obsessed with airplanes, helicopters, and trains. Whenever he hears the airplane sound he runs to the window and says "mairpane?!" "copter?!" I'm not sure why the "m" at the front of airplane...And when he hears the train he says "CHOO CHOO!!!"

He loooooves babies. He loses his mind at church if he sees a baby and he can't get to it to say "baaaaby". He loves videos of babies, and loves baby sister. He pats my belly and says "Hi, baby sister" and then gives her kisses. The other morning he was saying "baby sister out!!" I think he's going to be a little less excited when he realizes how much baby sister is going to rock his world. =) I can't wait to see him with the new baby though, I think for the most part he's going to love having her around.

He's such a sweet boy and says "sowwy" when he does something mean and "excuse me" after he burps or if you're in his way. He loves giving kisses and hugs and sometimes gives out the hugs too freely to little kids in public.