Friday, August 10, 2012

Post Drought and Real Drought

Once again I have to apologize for my lack of posts.  Time just seems to get away from me sometimes.  I think the main problem is that my computer is in my kitchen and whenever I sit down to blog I look over and see a mountain of dishes or look through the door into the laundry room and realize I need to start a load of laundry (I'm seeing it right now and resisting) and I go do those things and then R wakes up from him nap and I never get back to the blog.  So, again, I will try to do better. 

Today I wanted to post about the big, bad thing in our lives right now...the drought.  We are in our second year of it, though we did get a little moisture this winter and early spring.  Drought is something that makes a farmer/farm wife feel helpless.  We work so hard to get the ground ready for crops, doing soil tests so we use just enough fertilizer but not excess and picking the best seed.  We try to plant just at the right time and get the seed just at the right depth.  And we spend so much time doing everything we can to make sure our cows are well cared for.  Checking them every few hours during calving, bringing them in and doctoring them right away if they show the tiniest sign of being sick, sampling and testing their feed to make sure it is the highest quality, fixing fences to keep them in so they won't get injured, monitoring the pastures to make sure they don't eat too much in one place and damage the grass, etc. 

And then drought comes.  And we are helpless.  The crop start looking withered, then start looking brown, then dry down to nothing.  They don't pollinate well and don't set seed, which is what we harvest.  Some farmers around here do have irrigation, which we don't, but even those can only pump so much water so fast and the heat sucks it up faster than the plants can.  And the hot dry wind blows the pollen away before it gets where it is supposed to go.  And by the day it gets drier and browner.  And the grass in the pastures starts turning brown and it stops growing and the water holes dry up.  And you start to wonder when you will have to start giving the cows extra feed because the grass isn't enough and you wonder how many and which ones you will have to sell to get through the winter with the feed you have.

So you do the best you can.  You bale up the corn or chop it for silage to feed to the cows.  You haul water with a truck or run hoses long distances to tanks to water the cows.  You try to decide if it is worth it to plant wheat this fall or hope the drought breaks by next spring and you can plant corn or milo or soybeans instead.  You pay someone a little extra to graze their CRP grass that USDA opened up for drought help. You watch the radar and read the forecast.  And everytime you see a cloud on the horizon you get a little hope.  And you thank God for even .04" of rain because it at least settled the dust for a few hours. 

And then, the well you get your drinking water out of starts to go dry because you have been watering the cows from it too.  And you test it and it has coliforms and isn't safe to drink.  So you do what you can and bleach it and wait for results from new tests, and hope its safe now. 

And you try to be positive about it and joke that at least you haven't had to mow the yard much.  But in your heart the tan expanse around you house and the dried up plants in your garden weigh on your heart.  And you can't keep up watering them because the well is low and watering the cows and water for the family and the pets and having clean laundry and dishes comes first. 

And still, you say, "next year will be better, it has to rain sometime". 

That is what drought feels like for me. 

Here is what drought around our house looks like:
Corn that should have been cut for grain being swather to bale for cow feed

This should still be all green

D looked long and hard for these few almost full ears.  They are small and so are the kernals

The corn all baled up and ready to move off the field.  It turns out it is high in nitrates so we will have to grind it and mix it with something else or it will make the cows sick.

Our pastures are dry and brown but the cows can still get some nutrients out of it, sort of like they do from baled hay. 

Our water has tons of air in it when it first comes out of the tap because the well is low

100% of our state is in severe to exceptional drought. We are right on the line between "extreme" and "exceptional".  We thought last year was bad but only 45% of the state was in severe or above a year ago. Another week of no rain and I think we will be in the exceptional drought category.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Feeling Lost

I'm feeling a little lost lately, like I really don't have many true friends, mostly since I became a mom.  Most of who I thought were my friends live 3 hours away from me.  And while we still get along ok it's just not what it used to be.  And honestly, I get a little frustrated with them and with their moms, who I was pretty close to as well. 

In general, all my frustration in this situation comes from them making comments and apparently not realizing how offensive they are.  Last night I attended a get together with them at one of their houses.  During dinner R had a poopy diaper which I got up and went to the opposite side of the living room to change.  I overheard a very negative conversation between my friends' moms about how they were sure glad they didn't have to mess with cloth diapers anymore.  Here's the thing...I CHOOSE to cloth diaper my baby for a variety of reasons and honestly have not one time in the 7 months we have been doing it regretted that decision.  Them acting like it is a disgusting thing that I'm somehow being forced into is, in my opinion, rude and unsupportive.  Also, their daughters claim they would LOVE to be able to stay home with their kids like I do R, but they just can't quite afford it.  So, when I got back to the table I said something along the lines of "at least I do all I can to save money so I can stay home with my son instead of just wishing I could and not doing anything about it".  That was probably equally hurtful, but darn it, I'm SO tired of the criticism!  I'm not asking you to change my son, wash or even touch his diapers so WHY do they need to make comments that are hurtful?!

Then my friend who is having a baby soon was opening some gift and her MIL had very generously gotten her a Ergo carrier, which my friend had been wanting.  She has 2 active little ones already and was wanting something to help her keep up with all three.  She mentioned that you could carry a child up to 40lbs in it, which immediately raised comments from the "older mom squad" of how ridiculous that was, she just needed to use a double stroller.  I am loaning her a Moby and commented that the way the Ergo is that I think she can wear the new baby on her front in the Moby and her 2 year old on her back in the Ergo, but that she would have to check for sure because I have a different soft structured carrier.  The OMS was APPALLED by this comment and made some VERY hurtful comments about how yes, she could do that, and then she could go out and pick some corn by hard.  HELLO!  They all saw me wearing R at a recent community event and D and I farm!!!!  HURTFUL!!! 

And these are people I drive 3 hours to see because I have no friends where we live now because there aren't really any groups I can join and D is always too busy for us to go to any social events. 

Sorry for the rant, I just think people are pretty rude these days and don't even get it.  I genuinely hope I haven't ever hurt a new mom's feelings in a similar way! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The New Potty!

So, this cute little thing arrived at our house yesterday! 

It is a Pourty Potty.  I know, I know, R is just 7 months old.  And we are in no way pushing "potty training" nor are we striving for hard-core "elimination communication".  But we do think there are things we can do to hopefully help potty training happen a little earlier than has become the average in this country (37 months of age!).  So, when we notice that R is showing the signs of pooping, he will sit on the potty, either with or without a diaper.  If he wakes up from a nap and is still dry, he will sit on the potty for a bit.  If we catch some pee or poop in it, GREAT!  Saves me washing a diaper.  If not, hey, the potty will be a normal thing to him when he is big enough to get serious about potty training and hopefully it won't be intimidating.  I will let you know how it goes! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Feeling like Groundhog Day

You know that movie, Groundhog Day, where everyday it's just the same thing over and over.  It's starting to feel like that around here.  We are SO dry, D has cut down all the corn that should have been cut later for grain, he will bale it for the cows to eat now.  Our yard is yellow/brown and we haven't needed to mow in over a month.  It's too hot by 10am to take R outside, unless we are heading for the splash pad in the shade and even with that we can't stay out too long.  It's much too hot to use his little swing on our porch that he loves because the wind makes even the shade feel like a convection oven.  Our well is getting low and the creek hasn't had water in it for months so we are sharing the little water in it with ~45 cow/calf pairs, a couple bulls and 2 horses.  And I just looked at the forecast.  For the next 10 days the high will be from 103-108 everyday, 14-16 mph hot wind out of the south and 10% chance of rain at the most, most days with zero chance.  I'm starting to think this weather may never break.  If you haven't thanked a farmer recently, please do.  They are under more stress sometimes than they will ever let show. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Roo and the "Intruder"

So, I want to tell you I feel really bad I have no pictures to go with this post.  Had I known the events would be so exciting I would have videoed it. 

So, the other day D was home late in the morning (can't remember why, it seems like this week has taken forever).  So, all the dogs were outside, ya know, the 3 big, tough cow dogs whose alternative job is supposed to be to guard the house, and the 2 beagles, who job is to keep me company and look cute and hunt a rabbit or two occasionally. 

So Roo starts barking like CRAZY!  I mean, he was going nuts right by our side porch.  D was like "oh, that dumb dog must have a cat treed on the porch again", because, well, sometimes Roo thinks it's funny to tree the cats on the porch (don't worry he would never hurt them!).  The big dogs were laying in the driveway and  didn't even get up when he went to see what was going on (it should have been a hint to D that something was up when even Jake didn't jump right up when he went outside). 

So D walks out the backdoor and around the house toward the side porch (not sure why he didn't just go out the side door) and he gets like halfway to the side porch and I see/hear him start yelling, cursing (it's a VERY bad habit of his) and jumping around.  Well, I immediately thought Roo must HAVE had a cat treed on the porch and when D went out it ran and the big dogs must have thought they were supposed to get it and had killed it (sadly, they have a history of thinking cats are intruders).  So I run outside ready to give them the what-for as D comes running back in. 

I say..."what happened" and he runs to the kitchen window and says "that happened! I just stepped on a big bull snake!"  Sure enough, right next to our sidewalk, right between the 2 porches, so about 15-20ft from either door is a big old bull snake and he is coiled up and he is MAD!  Apparently Roo was the only one brave enough to get anywhere near it and he confused D because he was barking at the door, not the snake, probably watching for one of us to come out, so D wasn't even looking at the ground when he went out, he was looking at the porch! 

D ALWAYS makes fun of me about my hatred for snakes (I told him once "hey, it's a natural human fear, they are the devil, it says so right in the bible" so now he quotes that to me all the time!). 

So, I said, are you gonna go kill it before it gets away?!  He yells at me "I NEED a minute!"  It was hilarious!  So, eventually he goes out, and from the porch, he stretches out like as far as he can and chops its head off with a shovel.  At this point I realized I should have taken a pic of the snake (maybe out the window) before he killed it and I didn't wanna post a pic of a headless snake so, there ya go, no pic.

Moral of the story, don't underestimate Roo and don't overestimate the bravery of a pack of "big, tough" cowdogs! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The "other" Dogs.

I decided today to introduce you to the other 2 dogs that live in our house.  Then tomorrow I have a funny story somewhat involving all of the dogs but starring this one:

Roo!  When I was a freshman in high school I got a little tiny beagle puppy named Dolly.  I took her everywhere and people were constantly asking me if I would raise some puppies so they could have one like her.  So...I did.  And it started my "part-time" job through high school and college.  Now, please don't hate on me.  I wasn't a "puppy mill" but I did get a couple other females and a male dog and sold a couple litters of puppies a year.  I was pretty diligent about making sure they went to good homes, with people who understood a beagle and that they were healthy.  Well...when Roo was a baby he was NOT healthy.  He had some major tummy issues and just plain didn't grow for a very long time (it's is a LONG story, I won't bore you with the details), so I kept him and had him neutered.  He is the SWEETEST, most softhearted little dog but can also be pretty rough and tumble.  He isn't overly smart (I think that is due to him having pneumonia at one point and almost dying and being really low on oxygen for a while) but he surprises us pretty often.  Roo will be 5 in September.

 (R wasn't feeling good and Roo watched over him ALL day)

and here is his full sister (but she is a year older)

Kisses!  Kisses was the first "chocolate" puppy any of my dogs every had.  We bonded like VERY early and I decided to keep her for my college companion and to maybe have a few puppies out of.  But as she grew we realized she had a condition called antebrachial growth deformity.  It is caused by one of the small bones in the leg grows disproportionately to the other, causing a curve or twist to occur in the leg.  Because it is in both of her front legs it is likely genetic.  We didn't really realize it was so bad until after Roo was born or we may not have even bred her mom again.  As it was, we didn't raise any more litters after Roo.  Kisses has more attitude in her little body than any 120lb "big" dog.  She is THE boss around here.  And she is VERY attached to me.  And her and Roo are the best of buddies so I'm almost glad he had "issues" so she ended up with her brother staying with her.  Kisses will be 6 in September. 

Check back soon for a funny story about Roo and D and an "intruder"!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Making and Freezing Baby Food

I can't believe I haven't posted in over 2 weeks!  Time sure does fly doesn't it?  In the last few weeks R has been having a lot of trouble adjusting to food.  We haven't been pushing it by any means and I'm not overly worried but it has been a long process so far.  To try to help his tummy get more accustomed to food and get him some good bacteria in there I decided to try mixing puree'd pears (the only thing so far that hasn't upset his tummy) with some plain (unflavored) whole milk yogurt.  Well...the only container of that I could find was this huge 32oz container! 

Since he only eats 1Tbsp TOTAL a day of anything other than breastmilk that would last us MONTHS!  So I decided to freeze it.  I was already planning to freeze some green bean and sweet potato purees that we tried him on and had a bunch left.  But I couldn't decide what to freeze them in.  I was thinking ice cube trays but I couldn't find mine.  Since I'm not big on wasting money I started going through my cabinets.   And then I remembered my regular size and mini sized silicone muffin "pans".  Eureka! 

I put about 1/4 cup of yogurt in each regular muffin cup and 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) of the veggie purees in each of the mini cups. 

Then I slapped some Press 'n Seal over them and popped them in the freezer. 

When they came out I just popped them out, put each kind in its own sandwich size freezer bag, labeled them with a sharpie and put the little bags all in one big freezer bag.  That was easy!!!

(While I prepped his food R entertained himself with my dirty kitchen rug, instead of all the nice fun kitchen utensils I had out for him.  Love this kid!)

If you make and store your own baby food what is your system?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Sensory Kitchen Play

So...R gets bored.  I know to some that might sound silly to say about a 6 month old.  But he REALLY does.  He has met about 90% of his 9 month milestones, he has been crawling, sitting up and pulling up on furniture/mommy's leg/the dogs for weeks now.  He is ALWAYS on the go and is always looking for something new to explore.  Our entire living room floor is covered in baby toys...but he has already played with all of those a hundred times and they just don't interest him anymore.  So today, I decided to try something new.  I got out about 10 plastic bowls of different sizes, some lids and a bunch of measuring cups and spoons and put them on the kitchen floor.  Then I put some dry maccaroni in some ziplock bags and some in an old plastic peanut butter container.  Then I took a couple tiny tupperware containers and filled them with colored water.  I took 4 other small food storage containers and filled them about half full of rice, added some food coloring and shook them up.  And guess what....he has been enthusiastically playing for almost a half hour without a peep or even a glance at mommy.  Another day I plan to get down there with him and talk about colors and shake things with him and drum on the bowls and open and close things for him.  But today, after a VERY long, sleepless night, this Mama is just happy he is entertaining himself for a bit.   Here are a few pics.  If you have ideas for other activities to keep my busy baby entertained let me know! 

Checking it all out

Our bowls of colored rice

 Couldn't decide what to play with!

I need to remember sometimes the most commonplace things are fascinating to a baby.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Moving Cows you know we raise beef cows.  One of our management strategies is called "rotational grazing".  What that means is we house our cow/calf pairs in relatively small pastures and move them from pasture to pasture frequently (at the "farm" they move every 2 to 3 days, at our house they move about every week to 10 days).  We do this because it is a more efficient way of utilizing the available grass and avoids the cows selecting certain areas to not graze at all and certain areas to overgraze.   A few mornings ago it was time to move the cows.  Many times when they move they just have to walk through a gate.  But occasionally they have to cross the road and go up our driveway (or across our yard, depending on what they decide to do!).  Now, just so you don't panic, we live on a VERY rural road.  We have a car on average maybe every 30 minutes pass our house.  So this isn't really a dangerous thing.  There are 4 pastures on one side of the road and 3 on our side. is what moving the cows looked like. 

First, we set vehicles/machinery around strategically to deter them from running through my yard

Then D gets in his truck, drives into the pasture and HOOOONKS his horn.

Here they come! 

So....this is pretty much a problem already, the cows are supposed to be following D, not passing him. least they are going where they are supposed to. 

Oh wait, D is still back there trying to convince some calves to come through the gate! 

 And this is why I said it was bad that they passed D.  They are supposed to be going through the gate STRAIGHT across from the driveway.  They normally do but apparently this day some cow in the lead decided they should go down the road instead! 

This was the last picture I got before D yelled at me to get in my car (which required getting R out of the wrap on my back) and go park on the road to block them from missing the gate when he went around the section and brought them back to the correct gate. 

They didn't end up coming back down the road.  D didn't realize there was a gate open down the road into the pasture they were supposed to rotate to in a week.  They all ran in there and headed for the trees and the crick.  So, they just started there instead.  Oh well!  Never a dull moment around here!!!   

Please let me know if you have any questions on different things we do around the farm.  

Thursday, June 14, 2012


After a week and a half of wheat harvest, with artificially inseminating around 320 cows/heifers dumped on top, all with a summer cold and a baby with a summer cold who has run a low grade fever off and on and is also teething, I have NO motivation.  My house is a mess, Mt. Laundry has replaced my couch, my kitchen counters are covered in dirty dishes too big for the dishwasher that I can't psych myself up to handwash and I'm completely void of ideas for posts on here. 

So...tell me...what do you do when you lose your motiviation? 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Little Bee Co. Giveaway Winner

Laura, you won the Little Bee C. Giveaway.  Check your email! Thank you to everyone who participated!  I loved reading your comments. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cattle Dogs

There are, what some people would refer to as “a lot”, of dogs at our house.  There are 2 beagles that stay outside, Daphne and Maddie and then there are 5 inside dogs. 

Today, I will introduce you to the 3 cattle dogs (none of them wanted their picture taken).  Cattle dogs can be very helpful on the farm.   They are an extra “person” when it comes time to gather and sort and work the cattle. 

Jake.  Jake is a Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog)/Australian Shepard mix.  He is 6 years old now.  Jake is the best cattle dog we have.  He used to work in the local sale barn 1 day a week with D but now just works cows at the farm on occasion.  Jake is also VERY sweet if he knows you and ALWAYS wants petted.  However, if Jake doesn’t know you and you show up at our house, you MIGHT not want to get right out of your car and just walk up to the door.

Annie.  Annie is a Blue Heeler and is 5 years old.  She is a hard dog to describe.  She likes petted but could also live without it.  She is silly at times.  She HATES getting left home with R and me.  She is a good cow dog in wide open spaces but gets a little out of control in the corral pens. 

Badger.  Badger is Jake and Annie’s pup.  So that makes him ¾ Blue Heeler, ¼ Australian Shepard.  Badger is a pretty big dog.  He is also a sucker for petting, like his dad.  He was born in Sept. 2010 so he is almost 2.  Badger is WEIRD.  He is very sensitive but very tough at the same time.  He also HATES to get left at home most of the time.  In fact, there are days D will be home and we can’t find him and we go look and he is in the bed of the pickup waiting to go somewhere.   Badger has a little of both of his parents when it comes to working cows.

Jake and Annie were D’s dogs before we got married.  They and Badger usually go to the farm every day with D.  They ride in the bed of the pickup and LOVE it!  

Yesterday was a big cow working day.  This morning D left them all home because he was gonna be in the wheat field all day.  Before he left he said “Umm…Jake kind of got overhauled by a cow yesterday.  Be careful of his face and just let him stay inside and be lazy if he wants to be”.   I ALWAYS just let them be lazy when they are home with me.  I checked Jake’s face.  He must have taken a pretty good kick.  He is a little scuffed and a little restless but he's ok. 

I think it is time for Jake to retire.  He actually doesn’t mind staying home with me and being lazy.   And R and I need a big dog to protect us and let me know if someone is lurking around that shouldn’t be.  Yep, I’m pretty sure I’m just gonna have to tell R it’s retirement time for Jakey!  Wouldn't you want him to just stay home if he was your dog?

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Wheat Harvest and In-law Frustrations

I’m so sorry I haven’t posted in forever!  This post is a bit of a “life on the farm post” and a bit of a “rant about my in-laws post”.  Hope you don’t mind

It is wheat harvest time at our house.  That means D is in the wheat field usually until at least 10pm if not later.  Since “the farm” is a 35 minute drive from our house (not by my choice, maybe I will post those details tomorrow) that means he isn’t home until 11 by the time he gets out of the tractor, things put away and gets home.  In past years it hasn’t been THAT big of a deal.  Before R arrived I drove an hour one way to my job so by the time I got home it was usually 6:30 or so.  Not too much of a biggie that we didn’t really see each other for 10 days or so.  And I didn’t mind waiting up to see him for a bit.  But this year there are 2 things that are making it more of a challenge.  R is here of course.  And he REALLY likes to see his Daddy before bed.  And, wheat harvest is WAY early.  That means we are also in the middle of when we artificially inseminate the 300+ cows and heifers.  So D can’t stay later in the mornings either because he has cow stuff to do. 

So a couple of night R and I have taken supper to the field.  Like I said, it is a 35 minute drive but it is worth it to see D for a bit and so R can see him a bit too.  The first night went great.  We took Pizza Cups (I will try to post a recipe/tutorial next time I make them) and ate with D and then we went with him in the combine while my father-in-law and mother-in-law ate.  My FIL normally drives the combine, D drives the tractor with the grain cart which the combine unloads wheat into out in the field and MIL drives the semi and hauls the wheat to “the farm” to put in a bin or to the grain elevator a few miles away.   Here are some pics from the first night. 

(eating supper with Daddy)

(fascinated by the combine header)

(view from the combine)

The next night MIL said she didn’t want me to bring supper.  O....K.....  Kind of annoyed because that is really the only way I can feel like I’m involved and helping with harvest, but whatever.  It also meant I didn’t think I could justify driving 70 miles round trip with the price of gas.  So we stayed home.  And R was a BEAR to get to bed.  He wanted his Daddy.

So the next day I made it clear I was bringing supper.   We made slow-cooker sausage and jambalaya, corn bread, watermelon and bar cookies.  We got there and it was all great.  D was happy to see us, R was happy to see D.  We ate. 
(FIL cutting wheat)

(Little fawn that was hiding in the wheat, his Mama came and found him later)

(D was happy to see R, wouldn't even let me take him while he ate)

Then we went to get in the combine.  FIL had been smoking a cigar in there.   GRRRRRR!  He knew I was coming with supper, he knows we would be going in the combine with D while FIL/MIL ate.  And yet, he doesn’t care.  So frustrating. 

So now, I have to make a decision.   Do I keep R home and have him literally not see his dad except for maybe 5 minutes in the morning and avoid the cigar retch?  Or do I try to tell myself it’s not a big deal and every kid survives a little smoke here and there (not to mention smoke gives me a migraine in a heartbeat, so therefore I would have to do R’s bath and bedtime with that “accessory”)?   You might ask why D doesn’t just ask FIL to not smoke until AFTER we had been there.  Which seems logical.  Except my FIL has absolutely no desire to see R or me and if it interferes with anything in his life he doesn’t care if D sees us either.

So…give me your opinions.  What would you do?  I’m not sure how to handle the situation.  I’m tired, I’m lonely (I would like to see D at some point in the day besides waking me up to say bye in the morning too) and I’m grouchy because R and I both have head colds.  So fuel my anger or tamp it down, I’m ready! 

Friday, June 1, 2012

4 month sleep regression

Just quickly sharing a link today.   When R was about a week old he started sleeping pretty long stretches at night, like 6-9 hours.  I thought "I must have the most WONDERFUL baby, by 6 months old he will be sleeping at least 10 hours consistently!  This isn't so hard!"  When R was 1 day short of 3 months old he rolled over from his back to his belly.  For a week or so he slept terribly.  Then he kind of got back to sleeping pretty well, as long as I let him sleep on his belly.  His pediatrician said as long as he was big enough to get himself to his belly if he rolled over in the night he should be fine.  Then, right at 4 months old he started sleeping TERRIBLY!  He was waking up every 2 to 3 hours at night, did NOT want to take a nap, he even completely gave up his binky because he figured out when he sucked it he fell asleep!  He started hating to be rocked and would flail while he was nursing if he got drowsy.  I was panicked!  I asked around to some of my online Mom groups and heard a term I had never heard before "the 4 month sleep regression".  I thought, "how have I never heard of this, I have read so much?!"   R is now a little over 5 months old and we are still having restless nights, but he is napping better most days.  Some nights he sleeps for 6 hours, some he is up every 2.  I think it is a combination of being to busy during the day to REALLY eat and his mind being too busy to really rest at night along with some growing pains and teething pains.  Hopefully he grows out of it soon, if not, we will all survive I'm sure!

This link shares some awesome information about the "4 month sleep regression" idea.

KellyMom has lots of great articles and resources for all sorts of other baby topics as well!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sauage and Rice in a slow cooker

I LOVE my slow cookers. I have 2 of them in fact. Today, I’m going to share a very easy, and YUMMY meal idea using a slow cooker (and it is gluten free if you use the right ingredients). The only bad thing about this recipe is that it is not an all-day recipe, so it’s not good for starting when you leave for work in the morning and not having to think about all day.

First, all you need is your slow cooker, a package (or 2) of fully cooked smoked sausage, a box (or 2) of rice mix (I usually use Jambalaya mix) and some water.

Pour your rice mix into the bottom of your slow cooker.

Cut the smoked sausage into slices. If I have time I like to brown it in just a little canola oil but it isn't mandatory.

Add the sausage to the rice and cover with water. Do not stir! Turn slow cooker onto low for about 4 hours or high for about 2 hours. 

Since the sausage is already fully cooked all you are really doing is cooking the rice. Times may vary depending on your slow cooker. After about 2 hours I usually check the rice to see if it is done. If it is done you can just turn the slow cooker on warm and leave it until you are ready to eat! 

Once you make this once you will know what setting/time combo work best for your slow cooker.

There you have it, a very easy, quick meal with very little work! This is a little spicy if you use the jambalaya mix like I did but you can use any boxed rice mix you want and can adjust the quantities to fit your family.

Another day I will share how I use this basic recipe to make chicken with herbed rice.

What are your go-to quick and easy meals for your family?

Little Books on the Prairie

Today, I am just quickly sharing a link for my friend Sarah's blog, Little Books on the Prairie. Sarah is wife to a small town librarian and Mama to 4 gorgeous little ones. You can visit her at where she reviews books she reads to her little ones. I hope it gives you some ideas for books for your littles!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Little Bee Co. Bee Changed Diaper Review and Giveaway

Today I am reviewing The Little Bee Co. Be Changed Bamboo diaper. 

I came across this diaper in my search for a nighttime solution for R.  He was doing very well not leaking at night in his cloth diapers until he started sleeping on his belly with his butt up in the air.  He is a VERY heavy wetter and that combined with gravity and his chosen sleeping position was resulting in wet jammies and sleep sack EVERY morning, right on his tummy.  So I started searching for a diaper that was big enough to stuff (a lot) and that had tummy elastic to hold the diaper snuggly against his belly.  I found several brands and bought 1 or 2 of each to try out. 

I must say I LOVE this diaper.  It is bamboo lined, which means it absorbs very quickly, with elastic in front, back AND on the pocket opening!  I really like that the pocket opening elastic means I don’t have to worry about a slack pocket opening slipping out the top of the diaper like many brands do.  I also love that it has 2 rows of snaps, which means I can adjust the leg opening and waist size somewhat independently.  The craftsmanship is great!   It comes with a large insert and a smaller booster insert. I got the standard microfiber inserts but you can get hemp/organic cotton inserts as well. 

Being the cautious person I am I decided to try the diaper out for daytime first, with just the large insert.  I must say, it worked GREAT, even through a nap!  No leaks and the fit was great (I tend to just unsnap one-size diapers these days.  I like the higher rise).  I have tried this diaper multiple times at night now, with both inserts, and we have had about 80% success, which is as good as the only other diaper we now use at night and way better than ANY others we have tried.  This is with a baby who also leaks out of overnight disposables.   

Not only does Little Bee Co. make a great diaper but they also have a great mission.  For every diaper purchased they donate a diaper to an orphan in need.  I have come to look forward to their updates about their “diaper drops” on their Facebook page.  I find this diaper to be VERY worth purchasing.  Little Bee Co. also makes a newborn diaper, the Bitty Bee Changed Bamboo (I plan to add it to my list of must-try newbie dipes for my next baby) as well as their one sized pocket in Microsuede for those who need that “stay-dry” aspect. 

How can you get your own Little Bee Co. diaper?  Well, you can buy one from their website, or you can use the rafflecopter below to win one!

Please let me know if anything goes wrong with the rafflecopter widget, I'm still not a pro at this blogging/giveaway thing
a Rafflecopter giveaway