Monday, May 30, 2011

Ten Things I Do & Enjoy: No Mommy Guilt Involved!

Last week I posted "Ten Things I Don't Do" so I thought I would follow up with a post about the things I do. I wouldn't want you to think I'm a lazy slob who just sits around and eats ice cream all day while her husband works in wrinkled clothes. Plus, these are things I do because I truly enjoy doing them and not out of mom-induced guilt or necessity.

(1) Make my own yogurt. Because we eat A LOT of yogurt, I have found that it is more cost-effective to buy a 32 oz. tub of yogurt and a half-gallon of milk and make my own. It's super easy because you let your slow-cooker do all the work. Basically, you heat your milk for 2 1/2 hours, unplug the cooker and let it set for 3 more hours; then whisk in some yogurt and a thickener like nonfat dry milk or gelatin; and, let it set for 8 more hours. Yes, I will get that recipe on here soon.

I like to make our yogurt, not only because it saves us money, but also because I can monitor what is in our food, namely the preservatives and artificial junk as well as all that sugar. This is especially important since now both of my girls are eating yogurt. I have been adding agave sweetener instead of sugar lately and it's delicious!

(2) Cloth Diapering. Before our first daughter was born, I decided to try my hand at cloth diapers, primarily as a way to save money. While cleaning poopy diapers is not so fun whether you're using cloth or disposables, cloth diapers are particularly gross. Still, I love that we can use them over and over again, and I've used the same set of diapers for two children. There is a little more labor involved than disposables, but I love that when my girls wear the cloth diapies, they have soft microfleece and not plastic and chemicals close to their little growing bodies.

(3) Follow a Daily Cleaning Regimen. I don't know where I learned this idea, but when I was pregnant with Kate, I implemented this plan to ensure that at least one household cleaning chore got done each day. With little ones it's easy to get overwhelmed with all that keeping household entails, and, honestly, I don't think a super clean house should be a top priority.

Daily, I will make the beds, clean the kitchen, and tidy up the house. In addition, the daily cleaning regimen that I have followed for almost 3 years now is as follows (by the way, I take the weekends off!):

Tuesdays: Vacuum and mop floors
Wednesdays: Take trash to the dump, Clean the bathroom
Thursdays: Thoroughly clean one room (This used to be the day I dusted, but you know how I feel about that chore. Needless to say, that one rarely got done.)
Fridays: More laundry including bedding, diapers, and rugs and sometimes another trip to the dump

(4) Read read read. Ever since I first learned how, I have enjoyed a good book (or three). I love to have multiple books that I'm reading depending on my mood. Right now, I'm reading Sally Clarkson's The Ministry of Motherhood, Dr. Meg Meeker's The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers, and Louisa May Alcott's Jo's Boys.
(5) Go somewhere everyday. I'm a goer. It doesn't matter if I need to go or not; if there's gas in the car, we are going somewhere. I absolutely despise being cooped up inside our little house all day long. So, at some point--usually after naps--we will load up and go somewhere. We might go to the library for some new books and to look at the water in the fountains, the playground to run out some pent-up energy, the farmer's market to meet the farmers and buy some veggies, or Target to get popcorn and browse the clearance shelves. I am always looking for free places to visit and have some fun with the kids.

(6) Garden. Now I don't have the greenest of thumbs: I killed an aloe plant this past winter. But I love to garden. Planting seeds and watching them grow makes me feel closer to God. And when we have fresh tomatoes, peppers, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, lettuce, onions, and tomatillos overflowing in our garden, I love to find new ways to prepare and preserve them. And that leads me to #7...

(7) Make my own jams and preserve other fruits and vegetables. My mom taught me the fine art of preserving, which she learned from her mom and which I hope to teach my girls. I still don't put up a lot of the produce from our garden simply because I don't have the time, but I do find time and particularly enjoy making jams (strawberry, peach, blackberry) and apple butter as well as sweet pickle relish and refrigerator jalapenos. I've found they make wonderful gifts, too. My goal this summer is to get out my pressure cooker and can some green beans as well as put up some tomatoes for the winter months.

(8) Finding and trying out new recipes. By nature I dislike change and generally stick to the same routine every day, order the same menu items at the same restaurants, and buy the same brands of clothes, food, everything. There's just something so true about the expression "tried and true." However, one of my favorite gifts is a new cookbook, and I LOVE to try out new recipes and make them my own. Many times they don't work, but, occasionally, when they do, I love the joy of adding a new recipe to our repertoire.

Here is a great recipe for blue cheese dressing (actually I combined three different recipes) I recently made that is easy and delicious for a summer salad:

Blue Cheese Dressing
1 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream (whatever you have)
4-5 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (the more the merrier)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients and stir well. Cover and chill.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups.
(9) Get in the Word! Nowadays I take the first 30-45 minutes of my day to read my Bible, pray and write about what God has said to me in His Word. I try to do this before the kids get up, but sometimes that doesn't happen and I have to wait until nap time. I've found that when I get up, grab a cup of coffee, and get in the Word first thing, my day goes much more smoothly, and I call on Him more often when things get a little harry, as they always do.

I have also found it very beneficial and encouraging to join Bible studies with like-minded Christian women, especially moms. The conversation is uplifting, and I walk away with a renewed sense of purpose.

(10) Make my own bread. I have very fond memories of coming home after a long day at school to the wonderful aroma of baking sourdough bread. My mom has a real knack for baking, which I am trying to learn. But there's nothing like that first slice, steaming hot, slathered with butter. So, every other month or so, I will make a sourdough starter and bake some fresh bread for us to enjoy. We love to use it for French toast, cinnamon toast, topped with cheese and garlic and toasted, and cut up and toasted with some olive oil, salt and pepper for croutons or dipping crackers. Yes, making your own bread takes a fair amount of time to do, but the results are so much better than store-bought.

This list wasn't meant to toot my own horn--"Look at me! Look what I do!"--but to remind myself on days when I feel like I don't do enough that I do. I may have a dusty house, my kids may be deprived of daily craft time, and I may not get everything on my to-do list accomplished, but, chances are, I have done one or more of these things and that makes me feel a lot better!

What are some things you enjoy doing that are completely "Mommy guilt-free"?

This post is linked to Top Ten Tuesday at Oh Amanda!

1 comment:

  1. Those are great things to do. I am a lot like you in that I love to read, made my own yogurt when I was home, hate being cooped up in the house and love cloth diapers. (Did you know that even if you use disposables you are supposed to dump the poo out, too? So they aren't even really that much more messy!) I also love a new recipe and growing my own stuff in the garden. I do need to get more into the Word, though, and make it a part of my everyday. Great post. Thanks!