Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Homemade Laundry Detergent

In our small household we go through so much laundry detergent with all the loads of laundry we do with 2 littles AND cloth diapering! The cost of detergent is so expensive so I started looking into making my own. 

My mother in law makes her own and so she let me have some to try it out on Brandons work clothes that smell because of the environment he works in (even though it's an office building-it reeks) as well as his workout clothes. I washed them all in her detergent and they came out smelling great! I was definitely impressed.

So as soon as I finished my box of Gain I had been using, I spent about an hour making the laundry detergent with the 3 simple ingredients that Louanne just GAVE me! They are really cheap anyways and you can get it all at Walmart or Kroger!

The "hardest" part of the whole process was grating the bar of soap-and that wasn't even "hard"! I now have a 5 gallon bucket sitting in my basement that will allow me to fill up my detergent container many times-making a total of 10 gallons of soap. I think we are set on laundry detergent for quite some time. :)

This is the recipe that I followed. And here are some step by step photos of my process!

Homemade Liquid Laundry Soap
(Front or top load machine-best value)

4  Cups - hot tap water
1  Fels-Naptha soap bar*
½ Cup Borax


-Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.
-Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
-Stir and fill a used, clean, laundry soap dispenser half full with soap and then fill rest of way with water. Shake before each use. (will gel)
-Optional: You can add 10-15 drops of essential oil per 2 gallons. Add once soap has cooled. Ideas: lavender, rosemary, tea tree oil.
-Yield: Liquid soap recipe makes 10 gallons.
-Top Load Machine- 5/8 Cup per load (Approx. 180 loads)
-Front Load Machines- ¼ Cup per load (Approx. 640 loads)

Grating the soap

Melting it.
Adding and stirring in the washing soda and borax.
Last step! Filling it the rest of the way up with water and then letting it sit over night!

I did add some lavender essential oil to it to give it a slight lavender smell.
And that's it! Laundry soap for a lonnnng time! I'm very pleased :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review #3

I had the privilege once again to review a book for 
A Love Undone is a different sort of Amish romance. 19 year old Jolene is very ambitious and spunky and through a series of events is left virtually alone with just her siblings having her heart broken and shattered in many different ways. This book shows more than the "romantic" side of the Amish life, a side you don't see too often in these types of books!
Her journey during this book is inspiring with the many ways she picks up and goes and her strength is displayed in such tremendous ways. You easily fall in love and become attached to the characters of this book and rightfully so! There are quite a few twists in this book which makes it intriguing and fast paced. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New wardrobe!

I've been desperately wanting to revamp my wardrobe lately and start changing out my style from teenager to early 20's/youngmom look. Not quite sure what a "young mom" look is-but figured it's different than what I had been wearing. 
Only problem was that I didn't have any extra money to spend on buying new/new to me clothes. 
That's where Twice comes in. Twice is an online clothing consignment type website for women's name brand clothing. A friend of mine posted her referral link on Facebook not too long ago and said that she got $50 worth of clothing for just $5! I was immediately intrigued :). So off I went and followed the instructions on how to get $20 worth of credit and then 50% off my first order. I then started browsing the site and added things into my cart that totaled up to $50 so I could get free shipping.
Once I finished and clicked the check out button-I paid a grand total of $6.90 for everything in the photo below!
Needless to say-I was hooked :)
I went ahead and shared the instructions along with my referral code on Facebook and waited to see if anyone would sign up. (When you sign up with my link you get $10 automatically added to your account and $10 to mine!)
People did.
Eventually I was able to go on quite the shopping spree for completely free! I had $200 in credit!
So. This is what I got.
13 shirts (long, 3/4 length and short sleeved) that were all very, very nice name brands!
Three pairs of jeans. I went ahead and got a size bigger than what I wore before pregnancy, just incase, because I know bodies change :)

When I opened my box from them, I was SO pleasantly surprised with how it all was presented! It was definitely like Christmas morning. :)

They have a great 30 day return policy so if anything doesn't fit I can send it back to them for a refund-minus the shipping! Not too shabby!

The greatest part about my $200 order is not that I didn't pay a cent, but how much I SAVED! I couldn't believe the number :)

Do you see that in the red down at the bottom?? I saved $908.47 by shopping at Twice! Um-yes please and thank you!!

So if you haven't already, you totally need to go sign up AND download their app if you have an apple device! (Android will only give you 50%off-but that's still fantastic!)

Here are the instructions on how to get your first order for as low as $5!

1. Click on referral link below and get a $10 credit for signing up.
2. Download the Twice app - get another $10. ( I downloaded on my iPod!!)
3. Visit this blog for a 50% off coupon (link in the blog): 
4. Free shipping on orders over $49, which is applied BEFORE the $20 credit and 50% if your order total is $50, you get free shipping, 50% off brings to $25, then $20 credit means you pay $5 for a $50 order.

This has been such a blessing and I can't  wait to go through my other clothes and start getting rid of stuff!! :)

*i have not been asked to write this post-I have just had such wonderful customer service and a fantastic overall experience with them I WANTED to write this! *

Monday, October 27, 2014

James Alexander

We welcomed our 2nd born son into this world 11 days over due, just like his big brother! :) 
October 23rd at 7:25 pm, James Alexander was born at home after a 3.5 hour labor. The labor was fast and intense but we are so thankful for a safe delivery and a very healthy little boy! He weighed in at 8 pounds 8 ounces and 21.5 inches long. He is quite the squishy little man and we are so in love with him :)
Because of the labor being so short our midwives spent about a grand total of 5 hours at our house. 
We are so thankful for both of our midwives and the wonderful support they are-can't imagine doing any of this with out them!

When Isaiah got to meet James for the first time-he wanted to take a picture of him-but that was it! He was not interested in him at all :)
He is now settling into life with a younger brother. It's not easy and he seems to be getting sick/filled with energy but we know he will adjust :)
Brandon has off work for a while and goes back to work on Thursday! So thankful for this time with him to help out!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Canning apples!

To answer everyone's questions-yes! I am still pregnant. No signs of baby coming any time soon but that's okay-we have a week for him to make his appearance naturally before induction. So prayers appreciated that he would :) Isaiah came at 41 wks 4 days so it's definitely possible!

About a month ago I got a huuuuge bag of horse apples to make into applesauce, fruit leather and dried apples. The weight of my bag was over 70lbs and I only paid $14 for the entire bag!
I finally had a day where I could dedicate to just apples and took the opportunity and got going! 
It was a little rough starting out-I wasn't feeling great and had to take lots of breaks to sit down and rest/eat/throw up etc. oh the joys of being just about 9 months pregnant at the time!
Thankfully though, this year I borrowed my mother in laws Vitamix. Best invention ever and made the apple sauce process SOO fast compared to previous years. It obviously still took me all day since I was working by myself and afore mentioned reasons for sitting down/resting very frequently.
With the vitamix, all I had to do was cut the apples into quarters and dump them into the blender. Once it was full, I turned it on and it took about 15 seconds or less to turn into wonderful, delicious applesauce!
I would then transfer it to a big pot and hear it up.
Once it was heated through, I would put the applesauce into jars and put them into the water bath! It was such a quick and easy process!
This applesauce is even better for you because it's made with the skins and there is not a drop of added sugar!!
I then went on to use a mandolin slicer and did quite a few apples that way-and dehydrated them.
And THEN I made fruit leather out of left over apple sauce that I didn't have enough jars for :) I think I worked off an on for about the entire day :) 
I'm very thankful to have it all stored up-although, the fruit leather is totally gone now, thanks to Isaiah :) it makes the absolute perfect snack! I think I want to get another bag just to turn into fruit leather and dried apples :) mmm!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Chia Vitality

Chia Vitality by Janie Hoffman

This book caught my eye because I've been so curious about all the health benefits of chia seeds and needed ways to use up my huge container of chia seeds that I currently have sitting on top of my fridge!
Janie Hoffman, the author, has put together a fantastic source of information on the many uses of chia seeds, a menu plan and has even incorporated a yoga routine to go along with all of this.
Some of the suggestions or information was a little too "out there" for my liking, but I did come away with more knowledge about all of the things you can do with chia seeds/what they do for you.
These tiny little seeds are a great source of Omega 3's, protein, fiber and antioxidants! Just a tablespoon or two a day will give you a boost of energy PLUS keep you fuller for longer! Add them to your smoothie, your oatmeal, chili, soups-whatever! You can even grind them into a powder and use it as an egg substitute. There are just so many ways you can incorporate these little seeds into your every day diet and you won't even notice them half of the time!
My favorite part of her book was the recipe section towards the end of the book. What a fantastic resource for healthy recipes incorporating chia seeds! I'd highly recommend getting this book if you are curious about all things related to chia! I don't think you'll be disappointed!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Day in Lynchburg

Isaiah and I made a little day trip to L-burg before my friend Bethany had her first baby.
Figured it'd be a good time to get caught up before her life changes in many different ways!
We had a lot of fun baking together, seeing their nursery all set up and playing ball-yes! In the house ;)
We then headed right up the road to a little ice cream truck called Mr Goodies. So yummy!
They gave Isaiah his very own tiny little cone. It was the perfect amount for him-made him happy and let mommy eat her cone in peace :)
While we were there Amy and Asher showed up to visit as well. So much fun. I love seeing Isaiah and Asher play together-they are such great friends and cousins!
It was a great and busy day :)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We unfortunately got hit with the dreaded Hand Foot and Mouth virus. I hope we never have to experience that again. 
Isaiah definitely got hit the hardest. It was about 4 days with him whinning and crying over everything(which is way out of the norm), feeling feverish, a 2-year molar coming in, sores all over, and a headache eye. (Also on top of a runny nose and cough!)
The poor guy was so miserable and it made life very difficult, but! We made it through!! :)
Brandon and I also got mild cases of it ontop of colds. We stayed away from people for 2 weeks to make sure we didn't contaminate anyone. 
We are very thankful to all be back to good health and our normal, happy routine!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lake day!

We joined my brother and his wife and son at Smith Mountain Lake one day last month and the boys had a blast! My dad and the three  youngest kids showed up as well :)
We had such a great time eating and playing in the sand and water! 
The shallow area was great for their ages and they had a wonderful time splashing and playing ball!
Next summer we will have to go back again. The price was a bit steep for one day-but the beach there was really nice and so it might be worth it to go a few times next year :)

Meeting a new cousin!

Last month Isaiah got to meet his brand new cousin, Caleb! He was absolutely enthralled with him and most definitely did not want to let go of him when we let him hold him.
My sister Stephanie delivered a perfect 10lb baby all naturally and at home. Talk about amazing. The little guy is such a cute chunker!!
We are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of baby cousin Henry any day now! And then Isaiah's very own baby brother in about 5 weeks!
Where has the time gone? 
I can't wait to see how all three of these new/soon to be cousins grow up together! 

Book Review :)

I was finally able to finish reading the book I had selected to review for! 
What a great website-free book to read and all I have to do is write a review. I could get used to this!

The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn by Lori Benton

Lori Benton is a very skilled author when it comes to writing historical romance. This was my first book to read written by her and I was most definitely not disappointed. 
The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn is riveting right from the start and filled with suspense and sweet, pure romance set in the mid 1700's. The whole story is set in the beautiful mountains of Watatuga, North Carolina. The descriptions of scenery make you feel like you are right there in the snow with each of the characters, feeling their pain or joy.
I was wishing the story wouldn't end when I was nearing the last few pages. It now makes me excited to read more by this author!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Last Saturday Brandon and I had the privilege to photograph his cousins wedding. The whole wedding was very laid back and low key which made it a fairly easy wedding to photograph :)

Being 30 weeks pregnant at the time-my main thought going into it was if I had enough food on hand to sustain me while being on my feet for several hours :). I packed bananas and trail mix and other dried meat/fruit that was easily accessible in my camera bag. And my water bottle followed me around everywhere as well. It all turned out quite well :)

Thankfully Hannah, Brandon's younger, most amazing sister, kept up with Isaiah the entire day so we could focus on the wedding. It was such a blessing knowing he was totally fine through out the day and that when he saw us-he wouldn't care because he had Auntie Hannah to play with. :)

By the end of the day we were all exhausted and were ready to relax at home-and I was able to put my feet up.
Isaiah really enjoyed all of the cameras that were around that day-maybe a future in photography? Along with soccer and foot ball and every other sport? ;)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Blogging has taken such a back burner lately. I do miss it-but not toooo much :) sometimes it feels like a hassle to come out and update this poor neglected blog, but if I get into the groove of things again-it shouldn't be hard, right? 

So here I am once again, with grand plans to keep this blog alive! I know I have friends out there that this is one of the only ways they can keep up with me-so this is for you friends :). I also have recently signed up for a site called Basically they will send me a book and I read it and write a review about it using my blog within 90 days and then I get to KEEP the book! Talk about a great deal-aaaand it'll hopefully keep me in the groove of updating my blog!

Since my last post, things have obviously changed. In a ton of different ways. One of the things that's changed is that I'm growing another baby. A boy baby at that. He is still nameless and will probably stay that way until he pops out, unfortunately. That being said-if you have a name recommendation that has a good meaning attached to it, please share :). This child is "due" to arrive around October 12th of this year, so I am officially in the 3rd trimester as of today. Exciting to be nearing the end and getting to see Isaiah interact with his baby brother.

Speaking of Isaiah-he is now 20 months old and talking up a storm. He loves books and being read too-almost as much as he loves food (namely, blueberries!). We are adoring this fun time of life with him and are still amazed that he is ours and we get to watch him grow up{wayyy too fast!!}! He is quite gentle with other peoples babies and so it makes me feel like he will be a great older brother come October. My belly has gotten many a hug and kiss from this sweet boy who keeps asking "where's baby?".

Brandon has landed a pretty fantastic job recently! He just completed his first week at a company called MFX Hosting. He is in training(for the next 6 months) as a Computer Monitor. He will monitor 12 different screens with different servers on them and fix any problems that present themselves. It's a lot to learn-but such a great job with wonderful hours/pay/benefits! We are very blessed and thankful to be done job searching after almost a year of odd jobs/internships/applying for jobs. Praise God! Brandon will pick back up with school in the spring semester so he can concentrate on learning this job fully and to the best of his ability.
So for now, we are staying here in Roanoke!

Life has been busy and full for us lately and I hope I can continue to blog about it, especially since it's so easy these days with a blogging app on my iPod and all the pictures I take are mostly on my iPod :)
So stay tuned for updates in our little family's life!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sewing project!

In January, Louanne (MIL) helped me sew a new baby carrier out of a table cloth I got on clearance at Target!

One of the best weekends!

After Christmas, dad rented a lodge at a state park called Twin Lakes for a couple of days.

We had so much fun and the whole family(just about) was able to come for at least part of the stay.

There was no internet/tv so the time was well spent crocheting, playing games, reading, hiking, eating and cooking yummy foods etc. it was FANTASTIC!!

Definitely one of my favorite weekends of the year :) I'm so glad that we were able to go for the entirety of the stay and hope that we do something like it again this year :)