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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Parasol Co Diaper Review

I'm so excited to share with you my favorite diaper subscription to date. Parasol co.

During the newborn phase, I was able to sample all the BEST diapers out there as I registered for all the popular diaper brands in the eco-friendly category.


After trying several brands and being severely disappointed in quality and feel, Parasol co stuck out to me instantly because they are the softest feeling diapers I've ever felt (like feather pillow clouds) and they didn't break out Baby T's sensitive bottom.


 Let's face it, I also love their designs. How cute are these prints? They have several design options available. The Delight collection is what's photographed here.

 The fit is perfect for our long, lean little man and hugs his thighs well. I'm happy to report zero blow outs, or leaks from an over-night diaper. I was skeptical as these diapers have a thin profile, but the absorbency is unmatched. 


 At comparable pricing as other competitors, Parasol co was a no-brainer. The wipes are extremely thick and big. Another perk is that they are lightly scented and smell like cucumber. Every time I open a pack, I can't get over how great they smell!


 The travel size wipes and several diapers travel well in my purse (or whatever bag I decide to use that day). 

If you're on the fence, you should at the very least try it! You can cancel or change your subscription at anytime.

Sign up here and earn $20 towards your first month's subscription. I promise, you will not be sorry!



*affiliate disclosure*

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Stay Caffeinated : Giveaway with Willow & Everett

As a new mom, caffeine has become one of my new best friends. Mornings can be brutal, especially after a sleepless night with baby T.

My Willow & Everett Electric Gooseneck Kettle and Pour Over Coffee Filter have made my morning coffee easier and oh so delicious!



My cup of morning Joe has also become more sustainable! Using stainless steel eliminates my exposure to BPA which is typically found in most plastic kettles, and the stainless steel is much more substantial and durable than traditional plastic kettles I have used in the past.

I also love that the coffee filter is reusable and washable, not to mention versatile. It can be used with a Chemex or in my case, my pour over coffee maker. Its a wonderful green option as it has eliminated paper waste of traditional coffee filters, and is saving me money in the long run. After each use, I give it a quick wash in Stem to Stern soap - and it's ready to be used again and again.



Current favorite coffee? :
 

Want a chance to win your own reusable coffee filter and stainless steel kettle?

Go HERE for more information on how to enter.

The contest runs from July 1st -15th.

Stay caffeinated, my friends!

- Corina



Thursday, June 8, 2017

My Unmedicated Birth + Postpartum Story




The Sunday morning before our little was born, started like most Sunday mornings. I was 5 days past my due date and anxious-excited to meet our son. The alarm went off at 7:15 am, we started stirring to get out of bed. We showered, got dressed and headed off to church. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Early service came and went. Soon we were back home enjoying the spring rain and thick fog that followed. I made a brunch jambalaya and decided I wanted to give the castor oil trick a try to induce labor. I took a tablespoon mixed with juice around noon and decided to take a nap. I woke up at 4pm and decided to take another tablespoon of castor oil, and started on a few chores. Two hours later, my water broke and contractions started immediately.

I started timing contractions and by 8pm they were strong and 2-3 minutes apart. We called the midwife and headed to the hospital. On our way in, we started down the call list letting everyone know what's going on. Once we arrived, we headed down the hallway to the OB ED and the admission process began.

Our first nurse was fairly new and slightly nervous. Will and I joked with her asking her if she knew where babies came from and if we could have a hot towel and turn down service. She quickly became our favorite as she only replied in sarcasm to any of our questions from then on out.  IVs were in, birth preferences were entered and all seemed ready to roll by 11pm.

Then, we waited. The midwife came in around 12:30 am and checked to see how far I was dilated. I was 2cm dilated. She said, "I'm going to try and catch a nap and will be in to check on you later." Once she left and Will and I thought we had a while to wait, I started listening to my birth affirmations by Janet Angela Mills "Supernatural Childbirth in the Glory" and "Scripture Birth Affirmations" by Mama Natural. I could feel myself allowing my body to relax. The admission process had made me tense. An hour later, the contractions really began to pick up.

For the next five hours I went from 2 cm to 10 cm. The midwife was speeding back to the hospital after the nurse came in the check on me. A flurry of tables and gowns and what not made their way into the room. "This is it, and I'm not ready!" I was thinking to myself. Will was standing next to me with a cold rag on my forehead. "You got this, also this is what you wanted!" I couldn't be mad at him for speaking the truth. For months I told him to not let me waiver when it came to pain medication. I wanted a natural, unmedicated birth and to waiver on months of research and mental preparation was not something I wanted to do. I wanted to feel each step of the process.

Out of nowhere, the urge to push took over my body. It was an unreal relief. I felt my contractions coming on and would push during each contraction. The rest in between (although very brief) was just enough for me to catch my breath just before another contraction started. Some of the breathing techniques and knowledge I studied about in pregnancy went right out the window. Experiencing birth first hand was exciting and so confusing all at the same time.

After pushing for what seemed like a long time, our son was born. Just like that, the discomfort of birth faded away. I remember feeling my warm, slippery son on my chest, and a proud dad-kiss and job-well-done pat on my head from Will. We were elated! I couldn't believe we made it through. (Will worked hard, being my support the entire time.)

30 minutes later the after birth came followed by a few stitches, and we were off to recover. When I would rise from sitting or laying, it felt like my insides were completely amiss and made it hard to catch my breath. My mind and body was ready for rest. I remember being thankful for the ice pads and kind nurses. We were discharged the next day. It was such a relief to be home!

POSTPARTUM

We were exhausted. After 2 days of sitting at home and starring at this new wonder, we decided to get out of the house to run a few errands. We went to Towns' first doctor visit, grabbed some pizza and started on our way back home. I noticed my legs were feeling heavy and chalked it up to nerve pain. My mind wouldn't stop, it kept telling me, "No, this is different." As a precaution, I called the midwife who also felt it was nerve pain, but informed me if I felt differently about it that I should go back to the OB ED and have them check me out just to be on the safe side since I was just there.

Reluctantly, we headed to the OB ED joking about how I was being paranoid. Upon admission, I was taken back to get an ultrasound on my legs. After 4 hours, we were informed that I had 2 clots in the back of my left lower leg. I was shocked and devastated. What did this mean for me? I did not want to be hospitalized or have our brand new baby live in the gross hospital room I would be admitted to for however long.

I was started on a heparin drip and had 14 tubes of blood drawn to check for any preexisting blood disorders. Every 4 hours, I was stuck like a pin cushion to see if my heparin levels were therapeutic to prevent further clots from forming all while recovery from birth and trying to breastfeed a new born. I was unable to sleep as my body was so uncomfortable and sticky from the new hormonal night sweats and a poorly placed IV. I was miserable. After a 5 day stay, I was discharged with a diagnosis of Deep vein thrombosis and a Rx of subcutaneous blood thinners I now have to administer myself 2x a day for the next 6 months.

It's been several weeks now, and the shots are getting easier everyday. Labs and doctor visits are frequent and prayers for there to be continue to be no pre-existing blood disorders are still being said.

I'm thankful that God prompted me to go back to the hospital to get checked out. I'm thankful my husband trusted me and took me back to the hospital. I'm thankful for emergent modern medicine. Above all I'm thankful that our baby boy is healthy, for the support of my husband and family and for God's hand in every part of my life. Through this seemingly sad and uncool experience, relationships have been mended and strengthened. My faith has grown in ways I wouldn't take back for the world. God is good.

Recovery is/has been well. I'm learning a lot about myself and this new role as a 'Ma'. In the next few weeks, I plan to be return back to the work force part time and give my business Stemtostern.co some much needed TLC. If you feel led, your prayers are coveted as we navigate through this new phase of our lives.

My Take-away :

1. My body is totally capable of birthing naturally and unmedicated. I don't regret going natural. Recovery seemed speedy and I feel empowered from the experience. (If you need encouragement, you can do it! if you REALLY want to.)

2. My body and mind can put up with a lot, but not alone. God's strength showed up when I needed it most. I would have been a nut case if I had attempted to 'deal' with it on my own. He showed up in my husband, nursing staff, family and supportive friends.

3. God is good. He is always good, even when situations seem tough and hopeless. He is good.

Much love,
Corina




Monday, November 21, 2016

5 Quick & Easy Winter Meals


Want a filling meal without all the fuss and mess ? 

Check out my favorite Quick & Easy Recipes below. 

The quantities are good for healthy eaters or those who enjoy left-overs.

*Organic and local ingredients, always suggested.


BAKED ZITI:

INGREDIENTS

SERVES 8-10
  • 16 ounces  gluten free ziti pasta
  • 32 ounces  ricotta cheese
  • 6 cups  mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 16 ounces organic pasta sauce

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Boil ziti, following the package directions.
  3. Drain the ziti and place in a large bowl.
  4. Mix all the ricotta cheese with the ziti.
  5. Mix half of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese with the ziti.
  6. Spray a large pan (larger than 13x9) with cooking spray.
  7. Cover the bottom half of the pan with half the pasta sauce.
  8. Put the ziti mixture on top of the sauce.
  9. Pour the remaining sauce on top of the ziti.
  10. Top with the remaining mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
  11. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until cheese is melted and it is lightly golden.
_____________________________________________________________

SAUSAGE, KALE & POTATO SOUP:

INGREDIENTS


SERVES 6-8
  • 16 ounces of mild ground sausage
  • 1 pt. of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 bunch of fresh kale
  • 2-3 cups of cubed potatoes
  • 32 oz. of vegetable broth

DIRECTIONS

  1. Brown ground sausage in large soup pot
  2. Cube potatoes and shred kale (Remove stems), set aside
  3. Drain ground sausage and return to heat
  4. Add vegetable broth and bring to slow boil
  5. Add kale and place lid on pot
  6. Soften potatoes in microwave for 5 minutes, add to pot
  7. Once kale has wilted, add heavy whipping cream
  8. Simmer for 10 minutes
  9. Serve hot
_____________________________________________________________

TexMex Chicken Stew:

INGREDIENTS


SERVES 8-10
  • 1 Rotisserie Chicken
  • 1 can of rotel
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 pack of organic dry ranch mix
  • 1 pack of organic dry taco seasoning
  • 1 can of pinto beans, drained
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1 can of kidney beans, drained
  • 32 oz. organic chicken broth
  • Sour cream, Tortilla Chips and shredded cheese (upon serving)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Drain and rinse beans, place in large soup pot
  2. Add rotel and drained diced tomatoes
  3. Add chicken broth
  4. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes
  5. Add shredded rotisserie chicken and simmer for 10 more minutes
  6. Serve with sour cream shredded cheddar cheese and tortilla chips
_____________________________________________________________


Hearty Vegetable Soup:

INGREDIENTS

SERVES 8-10
  • 2 - 32oz. Vegetable Broth
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 3-4 cups of cubed potatoes
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 ½ cups of green beans
  • 1 cup of  kerneled corn
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2 dashes of oregano or italian spice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Dice potatoes and soften in microwave for 5 minutes
  2. Add carrots and celery to large soup pot and soften, mixing occasionally
  3. Add yellow onion, cook until translucent
  4. Add broth and other vegetables
  5. Add oregano or italian spice
  6. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-25 minutes
  7. Serve hot. Add salt and pepper to taste
_____________________________________________________________

Easy Tomato Soup:

INGREDIENTS

SERVES 4-6
  • 1 can of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of italian seasoning
  • ⅛ teaspoon of black pepper
  • A Dash of hot pepper sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • Sourdough croutons

DIRECTIONS

  1. Warm tomato sauce and heavy whipping cream over medium-low heat
  2. Add italian seasoning, pepper and pepper sauce
  3. Stir in brown sugar
  4. Simmer for 10-15 minutes
  5. Serve with croutons
_____________________________________________________________

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Frugal Homestead : 6 Money Principles to Live By



Money is my least favorite part of running a home. There are rules and ideas on how to manage it and the answers vary depending on who you ask and where you look.  Trying to build a homestead and moving towards the dream of financial freedom is attainable but the first step and most difficult step is IMPLEMENTATION. While I have certainly failed several times in the past 6 months of implementation, the following 6 principles continue to tug at my heart when I'm tempted to deviate from our financial goals. The concepts are elementary, but the over-all goal is a scholarly move ...

1.  Adopt a Mindset of Gratitude: It's simply human nature to look around and find the negative around us. To be unsatisfied with last years clothing, feeling annoyed with house-hold tasks and activities. Take a moment to pause when you start to feel unsatisfied. Look around you and verbalize 5 positive things you have going on right now. "I am thankful for a closet full of cloths, I am thankful for my job that supports us, I am thankful for my home, I am thankful for my family and friends." Combat the negative with all of the positive.

2.  Be Aware and Don't Deviate: As consumers, we are bombarded with updates of the "latest and greatest" man has to offer. Stick to what you need, and forget the rest. When I walk into a store and see SALE, I have to turn the other way. Regardless of the money I might be saving on whatever is on sale, I save MUCH MORE by not buying it at all. Just say NO! You'll be proud of yourself for doing it, and I promise -- it gets easier to say no.

3. Embrace to 'Bear' Necessities: "That's why the bear can rest at ease". I'm a fan of the jungle book song "The bear necessities", because it's a great little reminder to focus on the minimum needed to live. Be honest with yourself ... Do you REALLY need a flat screen TV? With less "stuff" to distract and displease around the home, the more time you have to devote to what truly matters. Spending time with loved ones, building up a homestead, and sticking to your financial goals. Being content with what I have and finding that having less and wanting less took so much stress off my daily life, it's hard to revert. Less clothing = less laundry loads = less water used = less time spent with laundry = more time to do something else that is hopefully more fun than laundry.

4. The Joneses are likely in debt. Stop trying to keep up with them. Buying name brand clothing, purchasing a new car, boat, plane, scooter, wine cellar, kitchen reno, and organic farm does not come over night. It takes time, resources, effort, and determination with a heaping side of patience. We are conditioned to want what we want, when we want it, and just charge it. Setting goals that are attainable (i.e. plating a few vegetables plants versus building an organic farm) has helped me work towards my main goals little by little. As I cross off one goal, I am that much closer to reaching my bigger goal.

5. Save for a rainy day. For peace of mind, we set aside an emergency fund. This fund should cover 3-6 months of monthly bills, groceries and sadly, taxes - should something ever happen to our cash flow. This took some time to build up and hopefully will not to be touched anytime soon. This was the first boot strap to buckle in our financial endeavors.

6. Avoid debt by Paying it off:  If you are able, over-pay on your monthly bills that are revolving debt. (Credit cards, store cards, anything that builds interest the longer a balance sits.) By adding a little bit more to the due amount each month, you are on the fast track to getting out of debt. Remember, the longer the balances sit - the more money you are paying back to the bank that could go towards your savings or vacation fund. Avoiding a night out can be a huge bump of cash to pay off  your credit card quickly.

This post is a good refresher for me as I sit here listing them all out. My favorite resource for financial health is anything by Dave Ramsey. In high school, our economics class went through Financial Peace and just recently, I read Total Money Makeover. The concepts align perfectly with our hopes of becoming a self-sufficient homestead.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Frugal Homestead : Eating Well & Budgeting



It can be challenging to save money when you are trying your best to eat healthy. Our household has been carving out our journey to eating whole and cutting out all processed foods. While the journey isn't always easy or convenient, the benefits far out-weigh the minor inconveniences.

Here are a few sure-fire ways to help you get the most bang for your buck:

1. Shop the freezer isle: Frozen fruits and vegetables are picked and frozen at the peak of ripeness. Since they are frozen, you won't have to worry about wasting produce that might spoil before you use it. Organic brands from Walmart are reasonably priced and occasionally on sale.

(Fun fact: Freeze your bread, and toast slices as needed. )

2. Shop more than one Store: While this may seem inefficient, it's an easy way to save money on your total grocery budget monthly. For our two-person family, I enjoy shopping Aldi for fresh vegetables and Pantry items. I can visit Aldi once a week to grab our produce, and any pantry items we may be running low on. They have a small selection of organic and non-GMO produce, dried beans, rice, and canned goods that are incomparably priced to other stores (affordable). Read more about their Food you can Feel Good About HERE.

Another store that I have given a try is Walmart Neighborhood Market. You can easily avoid the hassle of the big box Walmart store and can be in an out relatively quick. (Same organic and non-GMO options here but at a much lower price point than Health food stores.)

3. Cook your Meals: Eating-out is a quick way to throw your grocery budget out of whack as well as your plan to eat healthy. If you are a budget-oriented person, include your eating-out budget into your grocery bill. You will gain a small boost of income towards your groceries. Save your pennies and stick to your guns. You can do it! (I'm speaking to myself here. This is one of my biggest struggles.)

4. Pantry Stock is Key: Grains, dried fruit, dried beans, rice, and broth are always good to have on hand. Keep potatoes and onions on lock as they are invaluable staples and great additions to many recipes.

5. Use Money-Saving Apps and Rewards Cards: I enjoy using Ibotta or ; Find and Save. Another great one to use is the Walmart savings catcher. If you purchase an item at Walmart, and the competitor has it at a lower cost, they will reimburse you for the difference. Keep
Your receipts so you can use these apps!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Frugal Homestead : Natural Bug Repellents




The warm months are upon us here in the south and that means all the insects are up and at it.

Creepy-crawlies are my least favorite thing about living in the woods, and being outside. While our chickens are loving it and literally eating them up, my dog and myself are still likely to succumb to insect bites.

I was recently listening to Learn true health with Ashley James podcast  episode "26 Essential Oils with Leiann King" on my Podcast list. Essential oils have a thousand uses from helping us replace household cleaners we use in our home daily, to aiding our body to heal itself from common ailments. One of the ways EOs can help us and our pets is to keep the bugs away while we're enjoying the outdoors!

We purchased the high-dollar tick collars and pills for our dog and still would find 5-12 ticks attached to his skin after a walk in the woods. (Not to mention, his skin didn't agree with the unnatural chemical ingredients of the collar.)

After a bit of research, I came to discover that Rose Geranium oil is highly effective as a tick and chigger repellent. Before going outdoors, I applied 2 drops on his fur around the head, base of tail, and underside. You can buy what I have below.



When we returned from our walk, I found 1 tick crawling on his fur and one attached to his skin. I was surprised at how effective the Rose Geranium EO worked that I have begun using it on myself. I put a drop or two on my socks and clothing.  


Below are a few plants you can place around your home or porch to keep mosquitos and house flies away:


Check your climate zone to see which plants will help you get the most bang for your buck. Opt for Non-GMO and Organic if possible. 


Here is Climate zone 7b: Lavender, Rosemary, Garlic, Mint, Catnip and Catmint, and lemon balm are perennials. (Depending where there are planted and how cold it gets in the winter. Most of them like to be protected from frost, but are pretty hardy.)  



Here is a photo of the Catmint I have sitting on our porch. (With our cat, Merlot, in the background :)

What to make your own mosquito spray repellent? Here is a infographic I found from stepintomygreenworld.com





Hope this helps! Please check back.
I will be posting more frequently on how to become more frugal at home.