Weight Loss and Baby Beans


This has been our first week of summer break! Yeah! That has meant more sewing for me. We have also had some warmer and drier weather so the children have been enjoying playing outside. It has also been the week that I have finally lost more than half of what I’m hoping to lose – only 12 more pounds to go.

So let me say a few more words about the Trim Healthy Mama plan of eating. I have mentioned before that this is what I’m using for a diet. Let me just say that I’m absolutely blown away with how I have been able to lose this weight even though I would say that I have only followed the plan about 70-80% of the time. For instance, when my husband takes me out for our weekly date I don’t worry about dieting and even have dessert. However, this diet has taught me how to properly fuel my body so that I’m not giving my body extra fuel that it stores as fat but rather uses fat already stored to fuel my body hence causing weight loss. (That sentence was a bit too long. I hope it at least made sense.) If you are sitting on the fence as to whether or not to buy the book and use the Trim Healthy Mama plan for eating, go for it. Not only  have I lost weight I’ve also lost my headaches, depression and out-of-control sugar cravings. It has been wonderful and overall has been simple. I have not felt starved or deprived except for the few times I’ve eyed my children eating their fresh-out-of-the -oven bread, but then there has always been a chocolate shake, lemon curd tart, fudge or a strawberry whip to fall back on.

On the garden front our beans are up. This morning when I hung up our laundry there were a few poking up. Some were maybe and inch or inch and a half tall. When I went to get our laundry tonight we counted 26 baby bean plants! Several were 3-4 inches tall. It was exciting. The children had to come have a look. I think beans are one of the easiest and most fun plants for children to grow because they are easy and fast.


checking out the new babies in our family

baby beans - yeah

baby beans – yeah

We’ve been having fun travelling around the world. So far we’ve visited New Zealand, Australia, Papau New Guinea, Japan and China. I’m learning my geography better and so are my children. It’s been fun. Did you know that for every person in New Zealand there are seven sheep?

How was your week? If you have a garden, how is it doing?

It’s IN!


Yesterday I was all set to do a a post only I couldn’t get into my account. I was upset and tried everything I could think of. I went to bed with the post unwritten and the problem unsolved. A couple of hours after I got up this morning I was mentally giving myself a slap on the back of my head – I had been using the wrong username. Such is life. I’ll have to save that post for another time.

On a happier note we finally planted our garden this week. Since we were late buying our plants this year I had to make some changes but I don’t mind. I just am happy to have plants growing in my backyard. We also saved a little money since the plants were on sale. We ended up with eight tomato plants, 4 zucchinis, 1 honeydew melon, 1 pumpkin. We also planted a mint plant. I wanted to get some parsley but couldn’t find any. While we were looking we saw a stevia plant which we thought might be fun so we bought it. I know nothing about growing or harvesting stevia so I’m going to have to do some research. I’m excited to be trying something new. We also planted some beans and carrot from seed. I still have some marigold and sunflower seeds that I want to get in – hopefully tomorrow.

I had a whole bunch of pictures of us planting our garden, but one of our children mistakenly deleted all the pictures from my camera this morning. So you’ll have to be happy of one picture of everything tidy and in place. The plastic box is my compost box. So far no compost. I’m so anxious to make my own compost – gardening can be great for increasing patience. 🙂


How was your week? Do you have a garden?



Today I needed to go to a couple of stores and the library, and I had to do it by myself! {gasp} No help from another adult or an older child with the toddler and baby! So, my husband dug our tandem stroller out of the back of the garage and off we went. Absolutely wonderful! I had totally forgotten how wonderful this set-up is. First of all, it’s a great workout. I’m pushing between 75 and 85 pounds between the children and the stroller. Secondly, with my toddler sitting in the front seat we don’t talk much so I’m just pushing and quietly thinking. Occasionally my little guy would call out “digger” or “truck”, but it doesn’t take much thought to agree with him and go on with my own thoughts. To have that time to just think without interruption was wonderful. I really need to plan on doing this more often.

The shopping wasn’t fun – couldn’t find exactly what I wanted and what I did go with just seemed overpriced (maybe I’m just too picky?). We stopped at the library midway to return something and for a nursing break. The baby was too distracted though so he nursed a little and then quit – at least it was enough to hold him until we got home. I normally don’t shop. My husband does it all – wonderful man that it he is he loves shopping. Today reminded me why I hate shopping so I’m so glad that the walk made up for the disappointment.

If you’re not one for walking you should try my mom’s idea for inspiration (not that she needs motivation herself – I think my love of walking is inherited from my mom). Every time she walks she clocks how far it was. She’s following Google Maps and “walking” to visit my sisters. So far she’s made it to my sister in Illinois. Now she’s on her way to my sister in Wyoming. Check out her blog where she talks about how she does this and how far she is.

On the garden front I still don’t have my veggies in yet. 😦 In my defense it has been cold and rainy quite a bit. However, my oldest son made a compost box for me. We followed this pattern. So I’ve been having fun putting scraps in it. The problem is I want to see it changing now, but this is one of those projects that’s going to take a while. He also made me another garden box which is approxiamately four feet square. Hopefully this week my plants will go in!

I know it’s been a week since my last post. Hopefully, next week I’ll get back to more posting. I hope you had a fruitful week too.

Starting Our Garden


This has been a cool, overcast and sometimes rainy week for us. It’s been so cool, in fact, that I was glad I hadn’t planted my garden yet. However, today seemed like a good day to get started. We didn’t plant anything today, but we cleared out our garden box and the plants that were overtaking it. I couldn’t believe how many weeds had started to take over. My oldest son chopped out numerous branches of a bush that was trying to take over that particular corner of our yard. We tossed weeds out of our garden box, and two of our middle children took our wagon around to the other side of the fence to gather up all the weeds and toss them in the deep bush in the ravine behind our house.

Then we set up our fence. Every summer we unroll a length of snow fence and attach it to stakes with tie wraps. We initially did this to protect our garden from the labrador we had. If any of you have ever owned a lab you know why our garden needed protecting. 🙂 We no longer have our dog, but we do have toddlers and little ones who don’t understand that plants grow best when you don’t dig around them.

Every year I struggle to come up with some way to create a simple “door” in the fence so I can get to the garden and my clothesline. I think I have something workable this year as you will see in the picture. I’ll let you know how it holds up over the summer.

Tomorrow my husband and oldest son are going to build another garden box for me. We’re also hoping to set up a compost pile. I really want to stop giving my compost scraps to the city and use them myself for my garden.

Sometime in the next few days we’ll be putting in our plants – tomatoes, zucchini, green beans, mint, carrots, pumpkin and I really want to try a watermelon again. I love square foot gardening, and I love the excitement our children have in planting, watering, watching and harvesting. Gardening really doesn’t feel like a chore, but that could be because space constraints keep our garden fairly small. We buy from local farmers to get the bulk of the vegetables we need for preserving in the fall.

I hope you had a good week and that if you have a garden it is going well.

a very sad "before" picture

a very sad “before” picture

my hockey stick "gate"

my hockey stick “gate”

a close-up of the "latch"

a close-up of the “latch”

a much improved "after" picture

a much improved “after” picture

…We All Scream for Ice Cream


This has been a momentous week for our family. Our second oldest child became a teenager. He’s a wonderful boy. I love to watch him playing with his toddler and baby brothers…makes my heart melt. It has also been a wonderful week weather-wise. We’ve been enjoying hanging the laundry out, having our windows open, lots of walks and playing outside. The Vitamin D is great, right? We’re all sleeping better with all the fresh air.

Last year I started making homemade ice cream for our children’s birthdays. I was constantly searching for a way to do this without eggs and without an ice cream maker. Then several months ago we found an old-fashioned hand-crank ice cream maker at our local flea market. It’s a bit beat up but it does the job. I’ve finally found a recipe for ice cream that doesn’t use eggs. You can see the recipe here.  This is not a cheap recipe, but we only have ice cream on birthdays so we don’t mind spending a little more for these special occasions.

Noah has discovered that leftover homemade ice cream is much better than fresh so tonight he and his brother made the ice cream for his birthday party tomorrow night. It takes a good thirty minutes of cranking to get ice cream. It is soft serve style but after “curing” in the freezer for several hours it becomes harder. I didn’t think of it soon enough, but next time I will use unflavoured gelatin to try and thicken it a little more. One tweak I did make to the recipe was changing the sugar to honey. In order to make the honey mix properly we had to heat the honey with the cream and then cool it before we started cranking.


We’ve had a little taste of the ice cream tonight – you know, just to make sure it was okay. 😉 I’ll let you know next Friday how it tasted. Making our own ice cream is a lot of work but very satisfying. It’s great to know all the ingredients that are in our ice cream – all readable and all edible.

How was your week?

A Hard Week


This has not been an exactly healthy week for our family. There has been some nasty stomach running the circuit of most of our children. It really hit two of our younger ones quite hard. It is so hard to see your children sad and sick and not be able to do much more than offer them comfort. We do have a “Sore Tummy Tea” that I made but it didn’t seem to help much. Thankfully everyone is better now and eating lots to make up for lost time. 🙂

On another note, I recently started studying about why we should have more gelatin in our diets. I have started to add it to my smoothies. Maybe someday soon I’ll write a post on this subject.

We’ve had much warmer weather recently so I’ve started taking walks again. Let me assure you that taking a walk with a twenty-pound baby in the sling is quite the workout! When my husband isn’t available to walk with me the children enjoy taking turns. It’s some nice one-on-one time with whoever comes with me. And let me just say that none of our children are ever at a loss for words. 🙂 We have some great conversations along the way. I always come home feeling refreshed emotionally and physically. Walking is one form of exercise that I really love.

How was your week?

Essential Oils

Friday again! They seem to come so quickly. We had another good week. We’re inching ever closer to being finished with school for this year which is always exciting. The weather if slowly starting to warm up and it has been nice to get outside and into the sunshine. I love walking when the weather is nice and walking with a baby snuggled in the wrap in front of me is even better.

walking with my oldest and my youngest

walking with my oldest and my youngest

This year I have a goal of learning how to use essential oils to aid my family in being healthy. Happily for me one of the blogs I follow is offering the opportunity to learn about essential oils one oil at a time for the next ten months. This is an online course on Facebook and it’s free – so good for our health and good for our wallet. 🙂

I signed up for the course this week. It starts in May with the first oil being peppermint. I’m excited to start learning about these oils. A couple of years ago a friend tried to get me interested and I just felt too overwhelmed. I’ve come to the place though where I’m very interested and eager to learn. If you’re interested in signing up here is the link.

So how about you? What have you done this week for your health or your family’s health?

50 Pounds Of Strawberries


Hi everyone!  This is Eva, Jennifer’s daughter and the oldest of eight siblings.  I volunteered to write the Fruitful Friday post today partly because I was an active participant in this week’s topic – preparing and freezing strawberries.


We’ve picked our own strawberries for several years, although there have been a few years when we’ve bought them in bulk when they go on sale.  This year was one such year.  My dad brought home fifty pounds of strawberries and my mom and several of my siblings set to work preparing them for storage.


Instead of canning the strawberries, we freeze them (although we did make and can our own strawberry jam a few years ago).  The first thing we did was take the strawberries out of their containers and dump them in the (clean) sink.  We sprayed water over them and then started quartering them.  My sister, Elisabeth did most of the quartering and we all pitched in (taking turns) to cut the tops off for her.  As the strawberries were quartered, she tossed them in our salad spinner.  Since they were still wet, she would spin them when the bowl got full and they would dry off almost perfectly.  When my mom was given the salad spinner years ago, she thought it wouldn’t be much use – since then we have used it for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and, of course, lettuce.


After the strawberries are dry, we put them on cookie trays, the boys take them down to our big freezer.  The next day, we take the trays out of the freezer and transfer the fruit to large freezer bags (which are then put in the freezer – obviously).  We’ve stored forty pounds of strawberries this way.  Even after enjoying fresh strawberries almost every day, we still have about half a year’s supply.  Over the months we’ll use the berries in hot cereals, muffins, yogurt and many other things besides.


 So what did you do, health-wise, this week?

Another Good Week


This week I’ve been able to do several things to promote the health of our family. The one thing I least expected to be able to do I’m very happy about.

As I said a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I are starting a new eating plan described in the book “Trim Healthy Mama“.  The first week my husband was off work so it was easy to set him up for all is food. This week he was back to work and I needed to send lunches. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I was surprised. It went well. I was able to send him to work every day with a nutritious lunch that was “on plan”.

If you are looking for a way to lose weight or feel healthier, I really urge you to check out this book – Trim Healthy Mama. In twelve short days it has made an incredible difference for my husband and I. I have lost nearly seven pounds, but beyond that my headaches have disappeared, my sugar and carb cravings gone, my mood swings just about history – I am a woman after all. 🙂

There is a bit of a learning curve which scared me at first, but I find that every day it gets easier. There is a great support group on Facebook. You can get encouragement, meal ideas and questions answered. I haven’t followed the plan 100% – my husband took me out for lunch at the Mandarin yesterday, but it has been so good when we have followed the plan. And when I came home from the Mandarin? Well, the next time I was hungry I just went right back to it…no guilt.

What else have I done this week – got back to my online exercise programme (someday I’ll post about that), let my children help me more in the kitchen, found a recipe for homemade CHOCOLATE ice cream which I did tweak a little, took a walk one afternoon before our weather turned nasty, enjoyed my children from big to little. It’s been a good week.

So what did you do for your health this week?

Where Has the Time Gone?


I can’t believe it’s Friday again already! This week has seemed to just fly by. We’ve been busy doing school, trying out new recipes, playing outside.

This week I’ve also been doing a big study of the “Trim Healthy Mama“. I’ve been hearing about this book for quite a while. I finally took the plunge and bought the pdf version. This is a system for losing weight but more than that it’s a lifestyle that will help your body to be healthy not just thin. The two – thin and healthy – are not always synonomous.

Boiled down to two sentences the eating plan is this – Every meal and snack needs some form of protein. Never include lots of carbs and lots of fat in the same meal or snack. There are lots of recipes clearly written out to help you plan your meals.

Maybe someday I’ll do an in-depth review of this book. It’s 650 pages of down-to-earth information and recipes. The book was written by two sisters. The things I appreciate are that they are both busy homeschooling mamas to several children, and they both are on budgets. Those two things assure me that this plan is doable for me.

Next week my husband and I plan to start eating the way they describe hence all my studying this week. I’m already excited about some of the recipes I’ve seen. The best part – this plan includes chocolate! I don’t think a plan that omitted chocolate would work for me.

I’ll give you updates from time to time about how we’re doing. My husband and I both hope to lose 30 pounds, and beyond that to just improve our health in general.

Now it’s your turn. What have you done this week to improve your health?