Sunday, May 24, 2015

It has been kind of crazy around here lately.  Always trying to get things accomplished, especially on weekends when my hubby can help.  This being a three day weekend, we are both trying to slog through our to-do lists.  Mine, of course, now involves things that are ten times more difficult to accomplish with a broken toe.

The shoe I purchased from amazon is really helping though.  I find I can walk in an almost-normal gait as long as I am wearing another shoe with kind of a thick sole.  The shoe has also already saved me from banging that toe again at least half a dozen times since I got it.  Right now, the toe doesn't even hurt anymore.  It's only when I forget about it and try to actually use it that I feel the sharp stabbing pain.  Today that happened twice.  The first time was when I was trying to lift a heavy bucket onto a high shelf.  When I couldn't quit reach it, I stretched out and used that foot (and that stupid tiny toe) for balance.  Yow!  The second time was when I was using the circular saw to cut a piece of particle board.  When I reached the end the two halves collapsed and I tried to catch my balance with that foot (and that stupid tiny toe again).

So why was I using a circular saw?  Well that brings us back to my to-do list.  Remember the laundry sink I ordered from Costco?  It still isn't hooked up yet, but we had to stack the washer and dryer to set it in it's place.  So I have been working on getting the rest of my tiny laundry room organized.  I have re-purposed shelves I found at Goodwill and shelves we had gathering dust in the garage.  Sanded, painted white, and now hung in my laundry room providing much needed storage.  I can finally see the finish line with that room after dealing with the horrible lack of storage for the last five years.  I also found the perfect item on amazon, but I'm not going to discuss it until it arrives.  I opted for standard shipping so I could get the $1 discount on a digital order.

So what have I received from amazon this week?  Well, I can say this - it is so truly exciting I just couldn't wait to share!  Remember the disposable toilet cleaning pads?  I got four of the Scrubbing Bubbles Fresh Brush Toilet Cleaning Starter Kits!  I know, not exciting at all.  Two are for my mother-in-law and two are for me, now I have one for each bathroom.  If they help me clean the toilet more often, then it may be exciting to whomever has to use them.  I have used both the heavy duty pads and the disposable ones, and they're both good.  I think perhaps the heavy duty ones are going to get a lot more use in this household however.  The starter kits come with a caddy that holds both kinds of pads and the wand.  I think I preferred the older style that only has a hook that hangs over the rim of the toilet tank, but I guess it is kind of nice to be able to store the pads with the wand in one place.

Not the most exciting post, but I do have a lot of items in my shopping cart right now!  My subscribe-and-save should also be arriving soon, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Last Friday night I broke my pinky toe.  It's amazing how easy it is to dismiss that tiny little toe as something disposable that doesn't really do much of anything.  Why do we even have that useless little appendage?  I'll tell you why - because we use it every time we move, whether walking, balancing, or just standing still.  And mine is broken.  There really isn't even a 'treatment' for a broken pinky toe, just tape it and stay off of it.  Well that is easier said than done with a four-year-old and an almost two-year-old.  Between activities, preschool, and general running around, there is absolutely no way to stay off of my feet.  And I've got to tell you, hobbling around for the last few days has made every other muscle in my body hurt from over compensating.  Amazon to the rescue!

Ortho Wedge Healing Shoe : Small - I was somewhat hesitant to get this because it just looked so awkward, but the thought of hobbling for the next few weeks isn't even realistic.  I have gotten by so far wearing an old, stretched-out pair of clog slippers, but they are so old and worn out that my feet are hurting just from wearing them.  I went out and actually got a pair of flip-flops over the weekend (and really overpaid), but just my luck to walk into the house this afternoon and see that the puppy ate one of them.  Good thing this shoe had arrived!  I put it on and immediately started trying to walk around in it.  It is awkward, but I think it just will take some time to get used to.  Going up and down stairs requires some care, but I was already side-stepping anyway so it's not too bad.  In spite of the learning curve to walk in this thing, it really is working.  I am able to (almost) walk with a normal stride without putting any weight or pressure on my toes, I kind of just roll over them.  I dug out one of my very old Dr. Martin sandals to wear on the other foot, so I am at least kind of balanced height-wise.  I haven't worn this shoe for at least a decade, so we'll have to see how it goes.  So for now, it's working.
Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Fresh Brush Flushable Refills, Citrus Scent, 28 Count - Now this one is truly exciting.  I actually ordered these along with the starter kits for my mother-in-law.  She likes mine so much she asked me to get some for her as well.  I don't actually use these because we are on septic and I'm not sure how they would do.  They are supposed to be completely biodegradable, but I don't really want to risk having them clog up the system.

In addition to the Amazon order, I decided to order meat from a new farm in Indiana this month.  I am always shopping around for the best prices for the best quality, and for my family this means organic grass-fed beef, pastured pork and chicken, pastured eggs, and raw grass-fed dairy.  I found a farm that has great pricing and a nice selection of meat in addition to other items from a coop of local farms.  Unfortunately, the nearest pick-up location is really not convenient as it is about a half hour away at 9:00 am on Saturday morning.  I signed up to be a drop location, so hopefully they will expand this direction soon!

I ordered a nice variety of meats from Seven Sons Family Farms in Roanoke, Indiana.  I am anxious to pick it up and try it.  I am still learning to cook grass-fed beef well, but it almost always tastes great even when I over cook it.  I have had some great clean meat since I started eating meat again two years ago, and I have had some bland, tasteless meat.  I can't wait to see how this tastes! 

Doesn't it look yummy?  

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Hope everyone had a great Mother's Day!!  I can't say that it was very relaxing around here, but we did get quite a bit accomplished.  Got the washer and dryer stacked and the new laundry sink moved out of the garage and into it's new home.  I have always been adamant that I did not want the ugly utility sink or utility laundry vanity found in every big box home improvement store.  I found the one I wanted at Costco years ago, but wasn't in a position to buy it at that point.  Of course, it has never been back since.  I have looked every time I've been there for the last two years.  But a couple of months ago I was flipping through the Costco online shopping flyer and there it was!  It actually took me a few days to convince myself to buy it though because it was more than DOUBLE the price it was in the store years ago.  The price was ridiculous but it is now sitting in my laundry room waiting to be hooked up and it looks great.  Honestly, I have no idea how it will work when it's actually hooked up, but I'm really hoping it will be worth it.  The demand for the Daisy White Vanity-style Utility Sink is so high that it was back-ordered for a month when I ordered it and it is actually no longer available at, so the picture below is one listed at eBay in espresso.  Sorry!

Moving on from my beautiful sink, I wanted to mention what I ordered for my mother-in-law for Mother's Day.  She is a huge Cubs fan, but also one of those women who doesn't really need anything.  The only thing she has mentioned she wanted is a new toilet brush, but I didn't really think that was a great idea for Mother's Day.  A couple of years ago she lost all her jewelry in a burglary, so jewelry is always my fall-back gift.  She said she loves the watch I ordered for her on Amazon!  There was also a coupon code, so that made it even better.  I can't wait to see it on her when she comes up to visit in June.

Game Time Women's MLB-AS-CHI "All-Star" Watch - Chicago Cubs

Last night I placed another order with To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co.  I love their products and the fact that I don't have to do all the work myself.  My last order was really just a sample of some of their products, but this time I decided to place a larger order.  I also decided to forgo any brown rice flour because of the continuing issue with arsenic contamination.  Even though we are gluten-free, I have realized that even without rice flour, I can still produce baked goods that are wonderful using a variety of other sprouted flours.  Check them out, they're wonderful!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

I am battling my addiction every day.  As I go through my routine, I am constantly thinking of things I absolutely have to have.  I try to make mental notes to look items up on Amazon as soon as I get a chance to sit with my computer.  Thankfully, I usually forget what I was thinking by the time I actually get that chance, but I usually have something in my shopping cart.  However, since I am trying my best not to order every week, I decided to discuss some of the items I have ordered in the past.  So let's look at my previous orders.

KEEN Newport H2-C Shoe (Toddler/Little Kid) - This is the fourth pair of Keens I have ordered, three pairs for my son and one pair for myself.  I let him pick the color he wants since they have so many choices, but try to steer him away from colors that are too boyish so hopefully his little sister can wear them as well.  This year he chose the black/lime green and they are really very cool.
KEEN Newport H2 Sandal (Toddler/Little Kid/Big Kid),Black/Lime Green,10 M US Toddler
In an unique coincidence, we discovered that they match his Julbo Kid's Booba Sunglasses and his jacket.  My chiropractor recommended Keens back when my son was two after she saw him clomping around her office in his tiny little flip flops.  She told me then that these were about the best shoes I could get the kids and I think she's right.  He's had a new pair every summer and he loves them.  They hold up well and getting them wet doesn't faze them.  His little sister is now wearing his first pair but I think they are really too big for her.  I may have to break down and buy her her own pair.  I also read a review that mentioned that the 'Big Kid' sizes fit the average woman, so last year I bought matching sandals for my son and I.  Buying the 'Big Kid' size instead of the Ladies size saves quite a bit of money and they have an awesome selection for the kids that they don't have in adult sizes.  I'm actually thinking of buying another pair, but I'm not through convincing myself to do it yet.  I was thinking of these in pink KEEN Women's Uneek Sandal.

Pretty cool, huh?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Let's be honest, I am addicted to Azure Standard too.  Every month I tell myself that I don't really need anything, but every month I order anyway.  At least I'm not ordering as much as I used to.  So I am not ordering any Sarah's Starts from Azure Standard this spring.  I made the difficult decision that I'm not going to try to put in a garden this summer and instead try to fix up the lawn and the horrible thistle-covered patches that were my first attempted gardens.  Too bad, some of the heirloom tomatoes looked so good.

This month here is what I ordered from Azure Standard.

Kombucha Wonder Drink Kombucha Niagra Grape, Organic - So far this is my favorite flavor.  I really love the grape, and so do my kids.  I don't drink kombucha every day, but I might drink one bottle a couple of times a week.  My kids would drink it all day, every day but I am hesitant to let them have too much.  I know it has all of these (supposed) health benefits, but I just don't want to get carried away with them considering the caffeine and alcohol it may have.  The last thing I need is for my 4- and almost 2-year-old kids to be chemically induced in any way.  Besides how great it tastes, for some reason this brand is so cheap it beats any kombucha I have ever seen in any store.  Of course, I decided to buy a case this month since I am now sure that we really like it and I added it to my cart without checking out.  Two days later the price of the case had gone up seven (!!) dollars.  I still bought it.
Natural Value Tomatoes, Diced, No Salt Added, Organic - These are my go-to diced tomatoes and I buy a case at a time.  This brand is organic and all of their cans are BPA-free.  They are also super cheap.  The tomato pieces are pretty large, so I usually toss them in my Vita-Mix and either blend them completely into a sauce or dice them up a bit more.  A couple of nights ago I tossed a can into the Vita-Mix along with a can of Natural Value Tomato Paste, Organic and some greek seasoning to top a pizza.  It wasn't quite authentic, but it was still pretty yummy.  My kids ate it, so I'd call that a win.

Natural Value Coconut Milk, Organic - This is the only full-fat organic coconut milk I have found that contains only coconut and water in a BPA-free can.  The cream layer is half the can and there is no way to shake it together again.  I use this in so many things, sauces, smoothies, and ice cream come to mind first.  I have also made iced coffee drinks with it and it is completely rich and decadent.  Honestly, I hate to admit it, but the price on a case of this coconut milk at Azure Standard puts Amazon to shame.  I get the organic case for only two dollars more than the non-organic case on Amazon.  We go through about a case a month.

Bionaturae Wildberry Fruit Spread, Organic - This has been on sale for the last few months, so I decided to give it a try.  We have had just about all the flavors, but this and the strawberry have been our favorites.  I love that it's all organic and it doesn't have any refined sugar added (it contains apple juice concentrate as the sweetener).  It doesn't have that cloyingly sweet taste, and I think it's a pretty decent compromise since I ran out of my own home-canned strawberry jam.  I would say that it doesn't have a really strong flavor like more traditional jams, but maybe that's because it doesn't have sugar.  My only other gripe is that the jar is pretty small so it doesn't last long.  It seems to me that there is always just a little bit left in the jar that isn't enough for anything.  Unfortunately, that means I usually end up eating that last bit with a spoon.

Fresh Produce Onions, Yellow, Organic - I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.  We eat a lot of onions and I get a 3 lb bag for less than five bucks.  They usually have no problem with going bad before we can use them up, and they last just fine on the truck.  They are also usually good-sized instead of the small organic ones you can find in the grocery store.

Independence Cheese Cheddar, Medium, Raw - This is a new item for me.  I try to stick to raw, grass-fed dairy at home and it's not always the easiest thing to find.  I purchase my raw milk, butter, and cream from a local dairy but the price of their raw cheese is pretty steep.  My kids, my daughter especially, love cheese to snack on, so paying $18/lb just doesn't really make sense when we go through quite a bit of it.  I usually buy the sharp version of this cheddar, but it was unavailable this month.  It is also a cultured cheese, which is always a good thing, even if it isn't an active ferment with live cultures.  This brand is the least expensive one Azure Standard carries that is raw, pastured, and organic.  It also tastes awesome.  It comes in half pound packages so it's a more manageable size than the full pound blocks I was buying before.  One of the main differences I found between this one and the last brand I was buying, Organic Pastures Cheddar Cheese, Truly Raw, Organic, is that this one is much softer.  It really doesn't hold up well to grating.  It works, but the final bits just crumble.

Coconut Secret Garlic Sauce, Organic - This is a new one for me, so I haven't tried it yet.  I am trying to avoid soy at home, so I already use Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos, Raw, Organic instead of soy sauce.  It is a really go substitute, although a bit sweeter than regular soy sauce.  I decided to try this sauce first, because it was on sale, and second, because it only contains a few ingredients.  Something so simple as Organic Coconut Sap, Organic Garlic, Sea Salt, Organic Ginger, and Organic Cayenne Pepper sounds like it should be easy to throw together for a quick sauce, but chances are this will taste a lot better than what I could come up with.  Not sure what I will use it for yet, but I'm thinking it will likely be something obvious like a stir-fry with some left-over meat.
Amore Vita Avocado Oil, Refined - This is also a new one for me.  I bought it specifically to make mayonnaise because avocado oil is very neutral in flavor.  I looked all over for organic oil, but all the options were either too large of a container or olive oil.  The last mayo I made was with olive oil, and while it tasted fine, it was a bit strong.  We don't really go through a lot of mayo, so it may actually be months before I get around to using this anyway.

So that was my order for this month.  I pick it up next Thursday at 6:00.  If I have one complaint about Azure Standard, it is this pick up time.  They changed it a few months back and it truly is a pain to drive 25 minutes to pick up my order right at dinner time.  I have to drag the kids out right when we are usually eating.  I still think it's worth it, though.

Monday, May 4, 2015

I confess, I'm addicted to Amazon.  Actually, I should say I am addicted to online shopping.  Rarely do I step into a grocery store to do anything other than deposit checks at the local branch bank (and I usually do that sitting at my table with my phone and my bank app).  I hate grocery shopping, especially with two small children.  I also do my best to feed my family the best food I can find, and that usually means avoiding the foods traps of the grocery store.  I shop on Amazon, I shop on Azure Standard, and I shop with a local organic produce delivery company called Door to Door Organics.  I also buy meat from a local farm and raw dairy from a different local farm.

Groceries notwithstanding, I buy almost everything for my house on Amazon.  I intend to detail these purchases on this blog with descriptions as to how my family uses them.  This may mean recipes for foods I buy or pictures of my dogs ripping apart a toy in the yard.  Who knows how this will go?

So I guess I can get started with the last order I placed with Amazon.  Here is what I bought.

Ball Dissolvable Labels - (Set Of 60) - I am on my second box of these labels.  I use them to label left-overs I put in the freezer, jars of fermenting foods, and dehydrated foods.  I also had some sort of idea of using them to label containers or storage boxes of some sort containing my kid's toys and clothes.  I am always thinking of ways to de-clutter the absolutely mind-boggling array of toys, puzzles, and games that have taken over my house, but so far nothing has really worked.  I like that these labels dissolve without leaving any sticky residue, but I'm not so sure how they would actually hold up organizing kid's stuff.

Jack N' Jill Natural Toothpaste, Blackcurrant, 1.76oz (Pack of 2) - I have bought most of the flavors of this toothpaste.  It doesn't contain any fluoride or SLS and it's organic.  My kids really like all the flavors they have tried, but I have to say that they all kind of taste the same to me.  I don't actually use them, but I have sampled.  It's not cheap, and the tubes are small, but they really don't use very much of it at a time.  It must work pretty well, because both of my kids had dentist appointments today and neither had any problems or cavities (we are also on well and septic so no fluoride in our water either).  I usually just click on every combination of two tubes that Amazon offers to see which combo is the cheapest at the moment and get that one.  Like I said, I can't really tell the difference and the kids like them all.

Redmond Earthpaste Natural Toothpastec 4 PACK!! (Lemon, Wintergreen, Cinnamon, Peppermint) - I am not as familiar with this toothpaste, I have bought it before but it was years ago.  There is some current controversy about the lead contained in the clay, but since the kids don't eat it and neither do we, I'm not concerned.  My husband is convinced that the last time we used non-fluoride toothpaste for an extended period of time it caused cavities.  I don't buy it, but he wanted to switch to Sensodyne because of his sensitive teeth so we have been using up sample tubes we've collected over the years.  I have also been using Peelu, which I like.  We'll see how it goes, he's not happy but he's also not willing to go out and buy it himself so he's stuck.  At least with this combo pack he shouldn't get bored with any one flavor.  We have started with the cinnamon and I like it.  My teeth feel clean, but oddly it leaves no lingering cinnamon flavor.  It doesn't burn my tongue at all like some cinnamon flavors can, so it's not strong at all.

Medium Soft Padded Digital SLR Camera Travel Case/Bag with Clip-on Detachable and Adjustable Strap for Sony Cyber-shot RX10, H400, H300, HX400V, HX300, HX200V, H200, HX100V, DSC-HX50V, HX30V, HX20V, HX10V, RX100, RX100M II, H90 - I bought this to protect the camera I got for Christmas.  I finally decided my old Sony (which was state-of-the-art when I bought it in 2005) just wasn't going to cut it.  My phone actually has more pixels that this camera had).  I asked for a new one for Christmas and my in-laws got me exactly the one I wanted.  So far I have hardly used it because it is pretty big and unwieldy, but maybe that's because I can't carry it properly.  It also needs to be protected since my kids have already managed to lose the lens cap.  So I like the bag, but it is very tall.  My camera fits nicely inside and the zip pockets on the side are great, but the camera doesn't seem like it's going to be held very securely since the zipper cover is domed and quite high.  I think I could probably fit some of my essentials like my license and my phone in the case so maybe I could leave my purse in the car and just take the case into places like the zoo and museums.  I guess I'll just have to try it out and see how it goes.  It is definitely too big to fit in the diaper bag though.

Pleasant Hearth - 3/4" Premium Solid Steel Fireplace Grates - Lifetime Warranty, Black, 30-Inch - I bought this to replace the old one we tossed after cleaning out the fireplace after the winter.  A comment I read (I always read the comments) stated that the grate should have three inches of clearance all around.  So I figured that my thirty-six inch wide fireplace should have a thirty-inch grate.  This one had great reviews and everyone said that it was holding up well without melting.  Since I found that Amazon has started charging tax, I have been trying to buy from prime-eligible third-party sellers whenever possible.  I saw that this was available for ten dollars cheaper through Amazon warehouse deals so I grabbed that one instead.  When it arrived last week I thought the box felt suspiciously light.  I opened it up and measured the grate and it wasn't even 30 inches.  It didn't look quite right either, so I double-checked what I ordered.  Sure enough, not only wasn't it the correct size, it wasn't even the same brand.  Here is what I ordered.

What I received was this one Landmann USA 85275 Wide Bar Fireplace Grate, 27-Inch.

Very rarely have I received an incorrect item, or one that just didn't work, so I was really quite upset.  I actually had to talk to a real person to arrange the return since it was a warehouse deal, but I did finally get it sent back.  I just received notice that the refund was processed, so now I just need to order it again.  I guess this time I'll just go ahead and spend the full amount and buy the other one.  I'll update then I decide to get it.

So that was my last order.  I am also working on placing my Azure Standard order for the month.  The cut-off is tomorrow evening, so maybe I'll review those items as well.  My mother-in-law is coming into town tomorrow, so maybe I'll have a bit of time sit down and type then.