I’ve been away…

I’m sorry I’ve been away. A lot has happened in the past few months. Life has been scary, exciting, and blissfully happy lately.

You may recall me saying that I wasn’t sure what to do with this little piece of me. One morning I woke up and didn’t feel like writing anymore. I didn’t see the point.

After I converted the blog back to a WordPress-hosted blog, I didn’t really see the point. Why was I putting myself out there? Why was I letting this stress me out? Why do I care? I didn’t want to do it anymore, so I stopped.

I feel like I’ve gotten away from what I wanted this to be. I want readers, but I don’t want to write about things just to gain them. I really don’t care about being “Pinterest perfect” because honestly, it’s too much work. My time is more valuable than that.

So I decided to take a break. I was unsure if I’d come back or if the blog would just one day disappear.

Then life happened.

I was unhappy in Texas. As much as I thought I would love it, I didn’t. Tony could tell I was unhappy. We discussed moving back to Florida. We decided that he would start looking for a job there and to put it in God’s hands.

Two weeks later, Tony was laid off. It was sudden and unexpected. He was anticipating a promotion, not to be let go. This horrible blow to our family was actually a blessing. We decided to sell everything (again) and drive back to Florida. We prayed, a lot.

We moved back to Florida just before Thanksgiving. It was so wonderful to spend Thanksgiving with my family. We all crammed into my sister’ college apartment where I cooked an amazing meal from scratch. It was amazing.

So here we are. I feel happy where we’re at and excited for our future. We are home. That is something you can never replace. We are home with our family, our church, and our friends.

I think I’m ready to pick this back up again, but maybe in a slightly different way. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

The Feeling of Healthy: Part 5

Like I’ve said before, 80% of your journey will be in the kitchen.  You will start losing weight and feeling better just by eating better.  You will get to a point where you are comfortable with your eating habits and you want more.  The “more” I’m talking about is exercise.

The Scacchi House: The Feeling of Health - My Cardio of Choice

Even though I haven’t always had the best diet, I’ve always loved to run.  And by always, I mean since college.  I remember in college calling up my mom and telling her I was going to run a 5k.  She laughed at me.  She said that women in our family are not runners.  I started running anyway.  Fast forward to 2011, my mom and I ran our first 5k together.  We’re both runners.  She was wrong.

The Scacchi House: My Cardio of Choice

My aunt Sue, mom, and me before our Ft. Lauderdale, FL run.

Since that first race, I’ve participated in quite a few more.  I ran my second race while pregnant and then another 8k two months postpartum.  That’s the farthest I’ve run to date (more on that in a minute).

The Scacchi House: Running Postpartum

Finishing my first postpartum race in Clearwater, FL.

I love to run.  I love the high I get.  I love how it makes me feel.  I love being outside.  I really hate running on a treadmill.  Put me on a treadmill and in a half mile I’m bored out of my mind.  I know it’s not like that for everyone.  I also run for my own mental health.  Running really is the best therapy.

You don’t need to join a gym or buy some fancy equipment to get a good workout.  I’ll talk more about this next week.  You run in your neighborhood, bike local trails, or swim in your backyard pool, all for free.  Just find something and do it!

I’ve never been a fast runner, but I’m working on that.  My fastest race time to date is 34:35 for a 5k.  Believe it of not, that was my time from my first race.  I’ve got to get my butt in gear.  I would actually like to place in my age category at some point.

Since arriving in Texas, I’ve been running more than ever.  I didn’t run AT ALL while we lived in Alaska.  To be honest, I was afraid.  No, I was not afraid of bears (although the thought of a moose lurking around every corner kept me on my toes), I was afraid of slipping on ice.  I did try to stay active by pulling Ava in her sled.  Walking through 4 feet of snow is a fairly good workout.  Shoveling snow isn’t easy either.

I try to run 3-4 times per week.  I don’t stress if it doesn’t happen.  I take Ava out in the stroller with me.  I run for 2-3 miles, then we stop off at the playground for some playtime.  I definitely use our running as mommy/daughter bonding time.  I hope Ava too has a love for running some day.

I do have a confession.  I injured my ankle the day I posted Part 1.  I’m not exactly sure what caused it.  I had just switched to my Vibram FiveFingers a month and a half before AND I had been working on increasing my speed.  I just think I over did it.  On a positive note, the day I injured myself I ran a 9:45 minute mile, which is a record for me.  I have been pain-free for about two weeks now, but I’m just getting over this nasty cold that’s been going around.  I have only been back out twice since then.  I did a half mile the first night, pain-free.  Last week I ran the half mile to the store, went shopping, then ran back.  The next morning I had a little stiffness, but nothing major.  I’m just trying to slowly get my ankles back into the swing of things.  I’m going to get back out there again this evening.

I so look up to my friend Brittany.  She is training for her second half marathon.  I wish I could run one with her.  Sadly, I don’t think I will ever be able to run any distance longer than 4-5 miles.  Why?  Well, my legs took a beating during pregnancy.  While pregnant with Ava, I developed a nasty varicose vein.  There, I said it.  I am 26 years old and I have a varicose vein.  They are genetic, so I was bound to get one at some point.

I honestly don’t care how it looks, that doesn’t bother me.  This. Sucker. HURTS!  When I do run 3 miles, by the time I’m finished, my leg is THROBBING.  This is what will hold me back from a half marathon.  To help the pain, I’m going to get a compression sleeve for my calf (the vein is on the back of my calf).  Hopefully this will help.  Let me know if you have any other recommendations.

Running is my choice of cardio.  Your choice may be something completely different.  Whatever your choice is, get out and do it.  Make time for yourself; you are important.  If you have time to watch TV, you have more than enough time to get out and exercise.  You really only need 30-45 minutes.  At the same time, don’t completely stress out about it.  Some days it’s extremely hot here.  I don’t know about you, but I do not love running when it’s 100 degrees out.  On those days, I give myself a pass.

Try adding some sort of cardio to your journey to health, you will be so glad you did.

nopin

If you’re interested in reading the rest of the series, you can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Build Those Pineapple Palm Trees

I’m sorry if you are seeing this twice this morning.  We are having some technical issues with our photos.  Hopefully they are resolved now.

Are you curious how I made the pineapple palm trees I talked about here?  Although they were a bit challenging at first, they were fun and exciting to build.  Here’s another look.

Wedding Pineapple Palm Trees

Here’s what you need to build the palm trees:

  •   8 Pineapples (4 for each tree)
  • 5 feet of 3 1/2 inch PVC pipe
  • 2 PVC caps
  • Fresh palm fronds
  • 1 bunch of Kale
  • 2 Floral Foam Disks
  • Burlap
  • Toothpicks
  • Rocks or Water Softener Salt

Let’s begin!

Do yourself a favor and pick the right pineapples.  Your pineapples should not be green when you cut them.  The best way to pick a pineapple is to smell it.  It should smell sweet and delicious.  If your store only has green pineapples, buy them a few days before you want to cut them.  They will most likely be perfectly ripe by the time you are ready to cut them.

Cutting a Pineapple

To get the pineapples to slide over your PVC pipe, you need to hollow them out.  On a cutting board (preferably one that will catch the extra juice), slide a very long sharp knife down along the skin of the pineapple.  It should glide very easily along the skin.  You only want to cut about half way down.  Take your time.

Remove Pineapple Skin

After you have made it all the way around, turn the pineapple upside down and cut along the skin once again.  Once you have made it all the way around you may need to gently slide your knife along your cut to loosen up any flesh that’s still attached in the middle.

Removing Skin from Pineapple

The solid chunk of flesh should slide right out of the pineapple skin.  You will be left with two pieces: The solid skin ring and the chunk of juicy delicious flesh.

If you are not building your palm trees the same day, you will need to store your pineapple skins.

Pineapple Palm Tree

I simply wrapped mine in a plastic grocery bag and tucked the excess bag in the top of the pineapple skin.  I then stashed them in the refrigerator.  I cut mine two days in advance.  I don’t recommend cutting them any earlier than that.

Cutting Pineapple

You will then want to cut up the pineapple flesh.  I cut mine into equal quarters.  To remove the core, run your knife down the inside corner of each quarter.  This will give you little wedges with the tips cut off.  You can then slice the quarters into wedges or chunks.  Store your cut up pineapple in airtight containers or bags until you are ready to serve.

Pineapples

My little helper woke up from her nap half way through.   Gotta love the hair!

Pineapple Palm Tree Stand

You will need to build a PVC stand for your trees.  We bought a 10 foot length of 3 1/2 inch PVC pipe.  We really only needed 5 feet of pipe but the 10 foot pipe was almost $1.00 less, go figure.  We were able to easily cut the PVC down to size with a simple hack saw.  You can see at the bottom that we purchased an adapter piece that sizes it up.  This allowed us to use the cap that Lowe’s had available.  The adapter also created a nice little base for the trees.  My mom and I both agreed that if we used them again, we would definitely paint them brown.  The white becomes troublesome to hide.  More on that in a bit.

Build a Pineapple Palm Tree

To assemble the trees, simply slide the pineapple skins down over the pipe.  The bottom pineapple should sit right on top of the adapter piece.

I’m going to apologize for the lack of assembly photos from this point.  We were kind of in a hurry for a wedding. =)

Wedding Pineapple Palm Trees

To cover the white PVC bases of your trees, creatively wrap kale around the base.  We also got creative and added some flowers to the mix.  We also used collard greens as a base for our fruit display.

Once you thread on all of your pineapples you may or may not have some PVC pipe left exposed.  If you have your hack saw handy, feel free to shorten it up.  We were fresh out of hack saws at the wedding location.  We improvised by wrapping the remaining pipe with burlap, which worked really well.

Pineapple Palm Tree Top

Fill your PVC pipe with your heavy material.  We used solar salt (evaporated sea water) that is normally used in a water softener.  We wanted to use something safe around the food.  After the wedding, we used the salt for a sensory bin for Ava.  Double win!

Cap your pipe off with the floral foam rounds.  We found these at the Dollar Store.  We held up the burlap with a few toothpicks in the foam.  Top of your tree with lots of fresh palm fronds.  My Uncle Cris graciously picked these for us from his yard in the dark.  Thanks Uncle Cris!

You’re finished!  Your trees are done and you can finish decorating the rest of your table scape.

Do you have any pineapple tree plans?

(Psst… Don’t you just love our new watermark?)

Pineapple Palm Trees and All That Jazz

My aunt’s niece (on her husband’s side) got married recently while I was on vacation in Florida and my Aunt Sue asked my mom and me if we could help out with a few things.  And we did!  She enlisted us to make the cupcakes (and display them) and do some sort of fruit table.  She sent me a few ideas , but for the most part, all of the details were up to us.

The wedding was in Titusville, Florida at the home of the bride’s friend.  The house was a charming old bungalow right on the river.  I was in love… with the house.  I’m kicking myself now for not taking a photo tour; we were just entirely too busy.

I’ll just cut to the chase and show you what we did.  Everything turned out fabulous, if I must say so myself!

Pineapple Palm Trees Fruit Table

 We pulled together this bounty of fruit.  Every tropical fruit table needs a palm tree or two.  You want to know how to make them?  Check out my tutorial here.  You can see some of the awesomeness that is the vintage kitchen behind the table.

Fruit Table

Along with the pineapple we served strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Tropical Wedding Table

Their theme was an eclectic mix of tropical rustic.  If you were to cross a Hawaiian luau with a backyard picnic, there you have it.  I will have to say that it was a very lovely, relaxing, and enjoyable reception.  No fuss and everyone had a great time.  That leafy green stuff is kale if you were wondering.  And yes, I did take it home after the wedding.  It was delicious in some fettuccine alfredo and it made me happy that it didn’t get thrown away (unlike the collard greens).

Hawaiian cupcakes

We made simple cupcakes; chocolate, vanilla, and carrot cake.  All three flavors were topped with my mom’s homemade buttercream icing. Yummy!  If you are wondering about the flower toppers, they are actually little plastic rings.  They were a hit with the kids.  Ava’s Elmo and Big Bird even came home with one as a bracelet.

DIY Cupcake Stand

We made roughly 80 cupcakes.  We made the cupcake stand with some hints from Annie’s Eats.  Ours is larger than hers, but the idea is the same.  We used the cardboard cake rounds that you can buy at any party store and quite a few cans of soup  (16 to be exact).  We wrapped the cans in white wrapping paper and added a burlap detail to match the burlap table runner the bride picked out.  It worked perfectly.

Toddler trying to get cupcake

I even caught my little helper trying to help herself to a cupcake.  Don’t worry, she wore a dress to the reception.  This was while we were setting up and she was having a few strawberries.  You have to keep the dress clean somehow.  It didn’t stop her.  By the end of the night her dress was covered in fruit.  Thank goodness Gymboree’s fabrics hold up to heavy-duty scrubbing!

Tropical Wedding Cake

The cake toppers are actually salt and pepper shakers.  Their lips are magnetic.  How fun is that?  Oh and if you were confused, there was a mirror behind the cake stand.

Ava Scacchi

We all had a blast!  I’m so glad we got the opportunity to help out.  I’ve got some mad pineapple cutting skills now.

Butterflies and Best Friends

This trip is flying by. A month might seem like a long time for a vacation, but it really isn’t. With only 10 days left, I feel like I have so many more people I want to see and so much more to do.

We met up with my friend Brittany in Gainesville. We took Ava to the Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida (which is also where Tony went to college). I had been before, but it had been so long. I think I was in high school last time.

Butterfly Rainforest Museum of Natural History

The main attraction for us was the Butterfly Rainforest that they have there. I knew Ava would be all about it!

Butterfly Rainforest

Ava had a blast! She ran around, pointing at all the butterflies. Brittany and I spent some time identifying some of the plants. We decided on a few we needed to have in our gardens.

Tropical Plant

The Butterfly Rainforest at the Museum of Natural History is a giant screened in room filled with lush tropical vegetation, trees, flowers, waterfalls and ponds, a few very interesting birds, and HUNDREDS of butterflies. The butterflies are all around you. One may even land on you. It really offers you the opportunity to get an up close look at them.

Butterfly on Flower

We took a break from the butterflies and checked out the rest of the museum. Although I had been there before, I had never taken the time to see the other exhibits.

Baby on Slide

Ava found the children’s discovery room right away. It had a slide. Guess what we did for about 20 minutes? We also found this contraption. It’s a sort of wind tunnel. The kids can put different objects in the tube and they fly up. I think we might need one for our playroom. Maybe a possible DIY?

Wind Tube

There were a few other exhibits about the history of Florida and the environment. Nothing I haven’t seen before. There was one exhibit that really intrigued me.

They had a set up with photos from all of the natural springs around North Central Florida. Each spring had a collage of photos, some old, some new. The purpose of this display is to show how much the springs have changed and how some are closed down. The springs are being polluted. The worst part is that some of the worst changes occurred in the pictures taken in the early 1990s to the present. The springs have changed significantly in my lifetime. I’m not old! It breaks my heart that Ava may never get to swim in and enjoy these natural wonders. If you are near Gainesville, Florida, check out this exhibit. It’s free. If you can’t make it there, do a little research. Sulphur Springs in Tampa, Florida is not just a slummy neighborhood, there’s actually a spring there. Stop and think before you pour things into our water supply.

Toddler at Butterfly Rainforest

Have you been to the Butterfly Rainforest? Which is your favorite spring in Florida to enjoy during the summer?

Food Waste Friday 2/22

FoodWasteFriday

After years of wasting what could have fed a small Ethiopian village, we are attempting to reduce our food waste. I will post a photo each week of our food waste and I will link up with Food Waste Friday over at The Frugal Girl.

This week we lost a handful of organic spinach and a half a bag of mixed greens.

The organic spinach was left over from Tony making juice. I have been trying to use it up by incorporating it into recipes like baked eggs. I wasn’t able to finish it all before it got slimy.

The lettuce I got on clearance because it was nearing its sell by date. I can usually finish a bag or container before it goes bad, but this one didn’t make it. It was only $.75, so not a huge budget killer. I just need to try harder next time.

mouse in cup

Photo by twoshortplanks

We had a mouse in the kitchen yesterday morning. I didn’t actually see it, but Tony says it’s there. I guess we will break out a trap. Poor little mouse just wanted to get warm. I will take Alaska’s occasional mouse in the house over Florida’s monster spiders and cockroaches any day.

How did you do this week?

Cloth Diaper Basics

Let me start by saying that I am no cloth diaper expert.  When Ava was about 2 months old, I was interested in cloth diapering.  I searched all around the internet and everything I found used all kinds of lingo that I didn’t know.  I want this to be a guide to cloth diapering that you can actually understand.

How did I begin cloth diapering?

I knew I wanted to try cloth diapers.  I didn’t know anything about them and I honestly didn’t even know if I would like them.  I didn’t want to invest a bunch of money we didn’t really have to end up hating them.  I decided that  I would find the cheapest way to get started.  This is what I found.

I purchased 10 of these Babyland pocket diapers with inserts on eBay for $38.00.

20121204-150955.jpgCotton Diaper Insert

Basically, a pocket diaper is a waterproof cover with “pocket” that you put some type of insert in.  These came with microfiber inserts.  I found out quickly that this one insert was not enough (after pee leaked on me a few times) and I needed to double up.  I chose to wrap the microfiber insert with a cotton pre-fold that I found at a garage sale.  You can buy them just about anywhere.  A lot of people use them burp cloths.  If I am short on microfiber inserts, I will just fold up two pre-folds and stuff the pocket with that.

Cloth Diaper InsertPocket Diaper

So, would I recommend these cheap Babyland diapers?  It depends.  You definitely get what you pay for with cloth diapers.  These diapers are one size.  This means that there are snaps all over the front to make the size grow with your baby.  I actually like these diapers better now that Ava is bigger.  They fit her better now.  They don’t quite have enough elastic to hug a small baby, which explains why we had so many leaks in the beginning.  If you like the idea of a pocket diaper, try Bum Genius.  I recently acquired 5 of these on Freecycle.  They are very used and need some work.  I will post more about those later.

When Ava was about 6 months old, Tony’s mom sent a huge package of random cloth diapers and covers.  It was awesome!  It gave me the opportunity to try a few different styles without having to spend a fortune.  This is where most of my stash came from.

Here is a picture of our entire stash (minus a few of the pockets that were in the wash and the 5 new Bum Genius I just got).  Our stash consists of:

Cloth Diaper Stash

  • 10 Babyland pocket diapers with inserts
  • 4 Snap to Fit all-in-one diapers
  • 2 Kushies all-in-one diapers
  • 2 Gerber covers
  • 3 Nikky covers
  • 6 Bottoms diapers
  • 8 cotton pre-folds
  • 5 Bum Genius pocket diapers with inserts
  • 26 cloth wipes

Don’t be overwhelmed.  I will explain.

What exactly is an “all-in-one”???

An all-in-one is a cloth diaper that has an insert attached.  You have to use a cover with an all-in-one.  This is a Snap to Fit brand all-in-one.  This style has adjustable snaps to fit your baby as it grows and has a velcro closure.  I find this particular brand hard to fit just right because it does not have any elastic in the legs or back.  They work, I just prefer the next brand better.

Snap-to-Fit DiaperSnap-to-Fit

The other all-in-one diaper brand we have is Kushies.  These are very similar to the Snap to Fit diapers except that they have elastic for a better fit and they are only one size.  I think these are a medium or large.  We had a few smaller ones that we have already retired and put into storage for baby #2 (maybe).

Kushies AIOKushies AIO Diaper

Again, you need to use a waterproof cover with an all-in-one.  Here is what it looks like with one of our Nikky covers.

Cloth Diapers

We have 6 Bottoms brand diapers.  Some companies call this style an all-in-two, because you need a separate liner.  I actually like to use our Babyland microfiber inserts in our Bottom diapers.  These diapers have a velcro closure and are not adjustable, but they have fit Ava great since the day we got them and we still use them daily.  This has a lot to do with the elastic around the legs and the ability to fold down the back of the diaper if it’s too tall.  In this style, the insert just sits on top of the diaper.  You need a cover over this style.

20121204-151156.jpg20121204-151203.jpg

We have a few covers.  Currently we have 3 Nikky covers.  I have retired a few Bummis covers (I loved them!) that Ava grew out of and I just retired our Gerber covers last week.  I think I’m going to sew a few covers myself.

A diaper cover is made of waterproof material and has either snap or velcro closures.  All of mine currently have velcro closures.  When I’m in a pinch, I will use one of my Babyland pockets without an insert as a cover.  Be creative!

My number one piece of advice?  Just go with it!  Don’t be afraid to mix and match.  I found cloth diapering very intimidating when I began, but it shouldn’t be.  The rules are… there really are no rules!

What “equipment” do I need to cloth diaper?

You really don’t need much.  We use cloth wipes.  I made our wipes.  They are just two flannel squares that I ran through the sewing machine.  Nothing fancy.  For my wipe solution, I just use water mixed with a pea size amount of natural baby wash.  To hold our wipe solution I use a spray bottle for the diaper bag and that peri bottle they gave you after you delivered your baby.  Yes, that bottle.

Cloth Wipe Spray

You will also need cloth diaper safe rash cream.  Some mothers notice that their baby has less diaper rash with cloth diapers.  We use California Baby that we get at Target.  It smells nice!  There are many other brands that are cloth diaper safe.

California Baby Diaper Rash Cream

You will also need some sort of diaper pail and a wet bag.  We use this Thirsties wet bag that I got on Amazon recently.  Before that, we just used a plastic bag in the diaper bag.  You really just need something to put the soiled diapers in when you are on the go.  Do what works for you.

Thirsties Diaper Wet Bag

When we lived in Florida, I used our washing machine as our diaper pail.  I just tossed our wet diapers into the washer and washed whatever was in there at the end of the night.  Since moving to Alaska, I made this diaper pail liner to put inside of a trashcan I bought.  I would recommend this, it makes washing them so much easier.

DIY Diaper Pail Liner 4

How do I care for my cloth diapers?

I read so many websites that said I needed to soak, pre-wash, soak again, etc.  It’s all a load of…. laundry.  I thought I was being a rebel, but after talking to a few other cloth diapering moms, I’m not the only one.  I don’t follow any special steps when caring for my diapers.  You should read your manufacturer’s instructions, but most of them are the same.  Here is what I do.

  1. After your child soils a diaper, place wet diapers in your pail.  If the diaper contains solids, shake and swish in the toilet.  Some people have diaper sprayers, but I have found this unnecessary.  Some people put the poopy diapers right in the washing machine after shaking, but I like to get off as much as possible.  Again, do what works for you.
  2. This is where the rebellion begins.  I do not soak or pre-wash my diapers.  I take my bag out of my diaper pail and shake all of the diapers out into the washer.  The pail liner goes in with them.  I wash them in warm water with a simple detergent.  In Florida, I used my homemade detergent, which worked great.  I haven’t made any up here yet.  Right now I’m using BabyGanics 3x concentrated laundry detergent.  It was BOGO at Babies R Us.  I have no complaints.  You really don’t need special detergent.  The only problem you may encounter with regular detergent would be some buildup on the diapers.
  3. In Florida, I would have line-dried my diapers.  The sun will help remove any stains that remain on the diapers.  I don’t really want frozen diapers, so I put them in the dryer now.  DO NOT use any fabric softener on your cloth diapers or wipes!  If you do, they will repel moisture.  I dry them on normal heat.  Sometimes I will air dry the covers.  Also, try to velcro the diapers to themselves, otherwise you may end up with a big tangled mess.

I try to take a very informal approach to cloth diapering.  If you are interested, don’t be afraid to dive in.  Also, don’t be afraid to look for used diapers on Craigslist or eBay.

I hope this helped.  Do you have any questions?

Fun Facts of Alaska

  1. Everyone in Alaska is amazingly nice!
  2. Most businesses don’t open until 10am.  The lifestyle here is very relaxed.
  3. Even if it’s 20 degrees out, people walk everywhere.
  4. A lot of people have two cars: a nice summer car and a beater car for the winter.
  5. I went to the grocery store; everything is the same price as it is in Florida.