“You Have Two Hands…”

“…make it yourself.”
~Danielle, Ever After

via ugo.com

I love the movie Ever After. And I love it when she wakes up from an all-nighter with her Prince and really sticks it to her stepmom and sisters.
“What about our breakfast?!”
“You have two hands… make it yourself.”

It’s one of the highlights of the movie -right up there with when she socks Marguerite Precious.
Today’s post comes to you straight from Danielle’s line. While I’m not going to tell you to make your own breakfast (since I’m sure you probably already do, peasant), I AM going to share with you my favorite Make It Myselves.
I love making things on my own.
Hi, my name is Alicia. I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter of amazing parents, a daughter of Heavenly Parents, an aspiring kitchen chemist…
and I’M a Mormon.
I can already see my mormon.org video.
What shirt should I wear?

First off:
English Muffins
These babies got a post of their own on my cooking blog.

I use these like mad cakes. Don’t know how fast a mad cake can be used? Make those English Muffins and you’ll see.

#2) Graham Crackers
My husband never bothered trying these because they didn’t look that great to him. He likes “real” (store bought) graham crackers, thankyouverymuch.
I found this recipe at a blog that no longer exists. It is EXCLUSIVE. Seriously. I found this recipe once, lost it, got so upset that I actually tracked down the author of the blog and asked her where on earth she was posting her recipes because I NEEDED them. Luckily, she actually responded kindly instead of threatening me with a cyber restraining order (don’t know what that is? Look in the dictionary… it comes just before “mad cakes”). She told me where to find her recipes (on the blog that is now gone) and I printed it. And thank goodness. A few weeks ago, I made a double batch of these babies and because we’re following Dave Ramsey’s Starve Yourself Rich Program (if you’re doing Dave Ramsey you know what I’m talkin’ about)… there were no fun snacks in the house. So my husband HAD to resort to homemade graham crackers. Fifteen minutes later, I had to take the bag away from him. He was eating them ALL.
Exclusive Graham Crackers -healthy!
1 C. Whole Wheat Flour
1/3 C. sugar
1/3 C. butter
1 Tbsp. Milk (can use soy)
1/2 C. Oat Flour (made by putting oatmeal in the blender until smooth -super easy)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. Honey

Heat butter, honey, and milk in a saucepan over med/low heat until melted.
Pour in dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
Place dough on a greased cookie sheet -roll out until even and smooth.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, cut into pieces (using a butter knife) immediately.
Enjoy! Store leftovers in fridge.
(Sorry, I don’t have pictures. Everyone eats them too fast.)

#3) Homemade Tortillas.
This is the BEST recipe for tortillas and no foolin. I hate store bought tortillas, so I make these pretty often.

#4) Homemade Comet
I made this by cutting a big flap in the bottom of my empty Comet container and filling it with the above recipe. After it was full, I duct taped the metal flap closed. I refilled my container about 4 times before buying a new container of Comet. The only downside? It does leave water marks, so watch out for that. Other than that, it works really well!

#5) Hands Down BEST EVER Mopping Solution
However, I DO add two tablespoons of Ammonia. It makes me feel more Chemist-y.

#6) Homemade Shout Stain Remover
We LOVE this at our house! The only downside that we’ve experienced is that it clogs up our spray bottle. We still worked with it though, especially since a good stain remover is essential when you use your own homemade laundry detergent.

#7) Homemade Face Paint
This pretty much makes me the coolest mom on the planet. It’s isn’t high quality, but it gets the job done well enough, and I can whip it up anytime. I usually try to keep a soft eyeliner pencil around and a little glitter as well.

#8) Liquid Sidewalk Chalk
This is SO EASY to make, and it keeps my kids happy for at least an hour. It washes right off the cement, and it’s ten times cheaper than sidewalk chalk and MUCH easier to store (you can throw away leftovers so you don’t actually have to store anything at all!).

#9) Homemade Translucent Face Powder
Okay, since I’ve conquered the art of making my own cleaning concoctions, I wasn’t scared to try making my own makeupy things. Yesterday -for the first time ever -I whipped up some cosmetics. And guess what? They work amazing! I used to actively sell Mary Kay products, and I’m tellin’ you: this face powder ranks higher than my Mary Kay. That said: my face is probably different from your face, and you might try this and hold fast to your own beauty supplier. But I’ve made a switch. I now store my finishing powder in an altoid can. And I love it very muchly.

#10) Homemade Eyeshadow Primer
When I was actively selling Mary Kay, I used their eye shadow primer. I wasn’t the biggest fan. I thought I must have been using it wrong. After I ran out, I didn’t restock or bother ever trying another brand because, frankly, I thought it was a big hoax.
Until yesterday. I figured as long as I had all the stuff on hand… what was there to lose? I whipped this up (again in an Altoid can), slathered it on my eyes, let them dry (it was all very Oliver and Company when that snotty white dog sings, “Girl, we’ve got work to do… pass me the paint. and gluuuuuuuuue)… and then I applied my make up with absolutely no expectations WHATSOEVER.
I was WOWED at the difference. My eyeshadow stayed fresh all day! And while my husband didn’t notice one way or the other, I DID! I’m sold! I pledge my vanity to the DIY.

Today I’m going to try Homemade Finger Paints.
I’ll whip some up right after I finish playing with my “new” make-up.
PS: did any of you notice that CORNSTARCH is essential to all this DIY madness? Yeah, I buy it in bulk.

Copper Top

Remember when I whined about my hair last month?
After writing that post, I did something that might make you so embarrassed for me that you’ll squirm in your seat and scrunch your nose and hide your face.
I CALLED the salon in Utah and said, “Hi, I’m looking for Brittany… she works there…”
“She’s not in right now. Can I take a message?”
“Yeah, sure… uh…” and all the time I’m talking, my voice was echoing back to me for some reason and I couldn’t make very good sense of what I was saying, “I came in last year… 2011.. with the A New You group. Brittany did my hair… she wrote it down, and I have the card she wrote on. I just need to check with her to see if she got the colors right when she wrote it down.”
“I don’t understand,” the lady on the other line said, “I don’t understand exactly what you’re wanting. I don’t think we’ll be able to help you.”
“Can you just have Brittany call me?” I asked, trying to block out the echo in my phone, “My number is…”

And a few hours later, as I laid sick in my bed writing a Primary Program, my phone rang.
It’s Brittany.
Please keep yourself from ending that sentence with a swear word in your head. Thank you.
Thankfully there was no echo this time as I explained what had happened.
“What did I do to your hair?” she asked.
“It was a subtle red color with highlights…”
“I remember you. Alicia, yeah. I use that formula all the time now. It’s my signature fall color.”
BAM! It was a MIRACLE!
We talked for a bit about what had happened. It turns out she HAD written the color down right.
“Have you dyed your hair between now and then?” She asked.
“No,” I answered.
“Okay, you need to call the salon back. Make sure they used the right formula. Schedule an appointment with a master stylist. Get it fixed. You don’t have to live with it like that, especially if you spent the money on it.”
And so.
I strapped on my big girl pants, and I called. I got an appointment. Yesterday, I WENT to that appointment and I was a little scared.
You have to understand that I never send anything back: a $5 sandwich, a $20 pizza, a $200 dye job.
I was scared. I crawled into the chair and sheepishly handed my card to the master stylist. She immediately saw a problem for which I will forever be grateful.
“No,” she said, “Your hair should be a warm copper… Oh my gosh. How are we going to fix this?”
Having learned my lesson the LAST time I sat in a salon chair, I held up a picture of how I looked at the retreat last summer and I said, “THIS is what I want. If I can’t have this, then I’d be happy to let what I have grow completely out and come back later and start over fresh… I can just take a discount on the job, or something. I don’t expect it to get fixed today. I just want to figure out what went wrong because I LOVED my hair last year. And I pretty much hate what I have. I’m getting maternity pictures and family pictures and hospital pictures done, and I want to like my hair for them.”
I don’t think the stylist heard ANY of that. She was too busy thinking… she had on the same face I wore as a junior in high school when I tried to solve trig equations.
“Hold on,” she said, and disappeared.
She reappeared with a girl named Tyler (I just love that name for a girl. Someone push it on my husband, quick!) and Tyler had pretty copper-ish hair. Turns out someone had messed Tyler’s hair up and my stylist had fixed it.
“It’s going to take a couple of sessions, but we can do this,” she said.
“Okay,” I said.
And my son was the best behaved little man in the world for two hours while I was color stripped, painted, washed, rinsed, colored, washed, rinsed…

And just as Tyler was blow drying my hair, the stylist who had caused this mess in the first place walked by.
“What are you doing here?” She asked, genuinely concerned.
“I just had to get the color adjusted. I called the girl in Utah… the formula was right… I guess the salon recently did some reformulating…”
“Whatever, so long as you get the color you want. That’s what’s important.”
She then started asking about my pregnancy and telling me to watch, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting.”
And then she walked away.
“Aaaaawwwwkward,” Tyler sing-songed near my ear as she blow dried.
She also happened to say, “This looks SO much better” about 90 times while she ran a round brush through my copper locks.

SO much better!!!!!! It’s still a lot darker than I like, so I’ll be going in for one more treatment later in the month. For free (and the crowd goes wild).
But really. I’m so much happier!

I realized yesterday as I snapped a few pictures to text to my concerned husband (who has really caught the brunt end of this whole hair fiasco) that while my hair looked not-so-copper, I wasn’t taking any pictures. I didn’t do it conscientiously.
But I guess I wasn’t as eager to hop in front of a camera with my kids or with my husband, or anything.
It’s important to me to do that -not because I’m vain -but because I want to force myself to be IN pictures. Mothers often leave themselves out, and that’s all good and fine… but what about the kids? When they get older, they WANT to see mom in pictures! They want to know what kind of clothes she wore when she was a young mother, a mother of teens, an empty nester -what her hair looked like, if she painted her nails or her face…
And so I try to capture these kinds of things. But when my hair looked like it did, I didn’t.
Right now the red is so dark it looks almost Halloweenish, but I WILL TAKE IT. It looks much, much, MUCH better!
And yesterday, even though it took me two hours to get to this point, I was a much happier person. I was more patient, more attentive to my kids. I laughed easier. I smiled more. I FELT good -even though I’d woken up sicker than a dog.
As much as I hate that I spent so much on my hair (both time-wise AND financially)… IT IS WORTH IT.
To me. It is.
My hair is my thing. For some women, it’s their nails or their baseboards or their shoes.
For me, it’s my hair. If it doesn’t look good, life just doesn’t go as smoothly as it should… or as smoothly as I KNOW it can be.

Just that morning as I was getting my daughter ready for her very first school picture day, I sat her in the sink and waved her hair. If her hair didn’t look good for pictures, I wouldn’t be happy. And since I was paying for the pictures… I made sure to spend some time on her hair.
She hated it. Hair isn’t her thing.
“YOU’RE GOING TO BURN ME!” She sobbed.
“THIS IS SO BORING!” She continued to sob, tears rolling down her face.
Finally I said, “I am NOT going to burn you. You are going to be FINE. YOU ARE getting your hair done and if you want to cry that is FINE, but DO NOT SAY ONE MORE MEAN THING TO ME. GOT IT?”
And the minute I finished waving the last strand of hair, she looked in the mirror and smiled.
“I’m so fancy!” She cried out in glee.

I sighed. She bounced out of my bathroom and I gritted my teeth and tried to hide the scream. I didn’t do a very good job.
“She’s FIVE,” my husband said, gently.
“And we’re getting ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE?” I asked.
He held me.

Somewhere a few miles away, my mother is reading that story and rejoicing. Because I’m pretty sure I put her through it when it came to doing my hair.

BOYS, on the other hand, are easy unto me.
Especially mine. He’s the cool kid playing angry birds at the salon and hauling his mama’s purse around because he was SURE she wasn’t capable of doing it herself. Surely, she would mess Purse Carrying up.
I rewarded his exceptionally good behavior with a Slushy. As we were driving down the road, I heard him groan in frustration.
“Argggggggggggg,” he said in the backseat.
“What?” I asked.
“I’m sorry, Mom,” he said, “I just snocked my drink up ALL OVER MY PANTS.”
“Snocked?” I asked.
I still have no idea what “snocked” means. All I know is when we stopped, he had pink lemonade slushy all over his khaki pants, and we got a good laugh out of it.
If anyone figures out what “snocked” means, will they please tell me?

Just before heading home, the boy took his birthday money and bought something he’s been dying for.

Happiest kid in the world, right there.
And since he has all the garb to go with his Iron Man mask (he actually already HAS an Iron Man mask, but whatever) and he has a Captain America Shield to go with the mask, he’s now working to save for Hulk Hands.
You know those big green hands that kids use to smash their mother’s crystal? I’m excited.

Singin’ At Home

... and then sit back and get comfy, cuz hearing everything I do in one day will take a looonnnnnnggggg time.
This picture popped up on my Pinterest board yesterday. It was so timely.
Do you know what I did yesterday? I didn’t even bother telling my husband everything I did because it sounded, well, crazy. And I also don’t think he quite understands what I do.
But you might.
So I’m creeping up on 30 weeks pregnant (29 weeks tomorrow), and I’m big. My kids keep finding my belly hanging out in odd places and poking at it. It feels super good.
And I’ve tried to keep up with my house. It used to be much easier, but lately? I get the kitchen half clean, and I’m DONE. I have to recover on the couch for a good hour before I can get up and finish… by then, something else usually needs doing. One thing I noticed, however, was that when the entire house wasn’t clean, we didn’t bother cleaning AT ALL.
Things were flung here and there.
Toys were scattered.
It didn’t matter if crayons fell off this or that because no matter where they fell, there was already something on the floor anyway. Did we bother to pick them up? Nope.
If I spent my energy raking over the living room and cleaning it the BEST I knew how, it didn’t matter. Because if the kitchen were still dirty, my family had a Dirty House Mentality.
So yesterday I cleaned the. entire. house.
I also made 18 whole wheat pumpkin muffins from scratch. I taught my son how to pull weeds in the driveway, and we did yard work together for an hour.
I did a session of home-preschool with him, teaching him all about the letter P. We did some worksheets and a pumpkin craft, and as a reward, he got to pick a pumpkin from our garden.

Later that night, I gutted that pumpkin, cleaned the seeds and set them out to dry and then I made our yearly Dinner in a Pumpkin dinner.
Our house smelled divine.
My husband was late coming home which didn’t matter much since I had my hands full to the utmost and hadn’t had a chance to even take a shower.
By the end of the day, the house was beautifully clean. I had bleached, mopped, scrubbed, and washed. I had swept, put away, dusted, and vacuumed.
I had baked. I had cooked. I had taught. I had worked. I had doctored a ripped toenail, read ten minutes to my school kid, got her off to school freshly bathed and filled with nutritious food. I was there to greet her when she came home, and I helped her with her homework. I picked a cantaloupe from our garden and placed it in the fridge to go with our pumpkin dinner (what would we do for food without our garden? We’d starve).
When my husband came home, I taught the Family Home Evening lesson about Establishing a House of Order and then WE ALL folded the 7 loads of laundry I had washed and dried.
By the end of the day, my back was on fire. It hurt to move. My husband had to leave again, so while he was gone I got the kids ready for bed, did the dishes (again), did scripture study, had prayers and off we all went to bed.
I pulled my homemade belly band around my big belly and tucked an ice pack (THANK YOU GREAT JUJU!!!!!!!!!!) underneath it so it would hug my lower back.
I could have just laid on it -this is true. But last time I laid on my back in bed? I ended up in tears because the pain it took to move even a little was excruciating, and I had to have my husband take my hand and slowly roll me while I made the ugliest face imaginable and sobbed.
Not pretty.
Belly band to the rescue!
When I woke up at 3 am for my nightly powder room session, it took all I could muster to walk the 5 steps to my bathroom. Thank goodness my husband couldn’t see me. I was Quasimodo. Quasimoda!

Today I woke up and immediately added one more layer to the heel in my shoe in an attempt to easy the pressure on my back. So far it’s working wonders.
Today I’m busy cooking.
I’ve already babysat, toasted pumpkin seeds, made graham crackers, and got some pinto beans cooking in the crock pot… and so it’s beginning again.
THAT’S why stay at home mothers get tired of the old cliche, “What do you do all day?”
Well, everything. Okay? Let’s just leave it at that.

Two days before, I had some really good friends stop by and my house was filthy. I mean, it’s been dirty while I’ve been pregnant. But the past few weeks I just couldn’t get it clean. I couldn’t get the help I needed to get it clean. I couldn’t get anyone to consistently put their stuff away.
There wasn’t a clean dish in the house. There wasn’t a place to sit on the couch (the laundry covering it was clean at least).
And my two really good friends spoke not a word but went straight to work. We visited as we washed dishes and laughed as we folded laundry.
I wanted to be embarrassed, but I wasn’t -not with them. They’re my FRIENDS, if you know what I mean. They’re the kind of friends who don’t expect me to be anything but… me. And ME right now is tired, TIRED, and pretty much: tired.
However, there’s a sad sort of trend to their visits. Whenever they come, the house is a wreck. It’s got me doubting my housekeeping skills, so yesterday I set out to prove to myself that I CAN do this! And if I DID do it, I knew my family would be more conscientious about keeping up cleanliness.
And so. Lisa? Here’s what my house looks like really. Promise.

Nevermind that I snapped these pictures at 10 pm, after all the laundry had been conquered and the dishes had been done one last time…

I’m so glad to have it all done -it was worth the back ache and the headache I woke up with. It IS worth it.
I don’t have the nicest things or the prettiest anything. My TV is old. My couches are MUCH older.
My cabinets aren’t going to be featured in Country Living anytime soon (or ever, ha!).
But having everything clean makes them all seem so… homey.
I logged on to post today’s post and I found a comment from Lisa. I wanted to share some of it with you before I go because I think you’ll love it.
PS: Lisa, your comment made me cry a little. And not just because I’m pregnant. You’re so awesome. I’m so glad Rial got you :)

I found this story in ‘The Latter-day Saint Women Manual: Basic Manual for Women’, enjoy!

“Fred ate [his breakfast] dutifully and then slipped down from his chair.

“‘Now can I go over to Jimmy’s, mother?’ he asked.

“‘But Fred,’ I [said], ‘you were over there yesterday and the day before. Why not have Jimmy come here today?’

“‘Oh, he wouldn’t want to.’ Fred’s lip quivered in spite of his six years of manhood. ‘Please, mother.’

“‘Why do you like Jimmy’s house better than ours, son?’ I pursued. It came to me suddenly that Fred and all his companions were always wanting to go to Jimmy’s house.

“‘Why,’ he explained hesitatingly, ‘it’s ’cause—it’s ’cause Jimmy’s house is a singing house.’

“‘A singing house?’ I questioned. ‘Now what do you mean by that?’

“‘Well,’ Fred was finding it hard to explain, ‘Jimmy’s mother hums when she sews; and Annie-in-the-kitchen, she sings when she cuts out cookies; and Jimmy’s daddy always whistles when he comes home.’ Fred stopped a moment and added, ‘Their curtains are rolled clear up and there’s flowers in the windows. All the boys like Jimmy’s house, mother.’

“‘You may go, son,’ I said quickly. I wanted him out of the way so I could think.

“I looked around my house. Everyone told me how lovely it was. There were oriental rugs. We were paying for them in installments. … We were paying for the overstuffed furniture and the car that way, also. Perhaps that was why Fred’s daddy didn’t whistle when he came into the house. …

“I … went over to Jimmy’s house, even if it was ten o’clock and Saturday morning. It came to me that Mrs. Burton would not mind being interrupted in the middle of the morning. She never seemed to be in a hurry. She met me at the door with a towel around her head.

“‘Oh, come in. I have just finished [cleaning] the living room. No indeed, you are not interrupting. I’ll just take off this headdress and be right in.’

“While I waited, I looked around. The rugs were almost threadbare; the curtains … tied back; the furniture, old and scarred. … A table with a bright cover held a number of late magazines. In the window were hanging baskets of ivy … , while a bird warbled from his cage hanging in the sun. Homey, that was the effect.

“The kitchen door was open and I saw Jerry, the baby, sitting on the clean linoleum, watching Annie as she pinched together the edges of an apple pie. She was singing. …

“Mrs. Burton came in smiling. ‘Well,’ she asked, ‘what is it? For I know you came for something; you are such a busy woman.’

“‘Yes,’ I said abruptly, ‘I came to see what a singing house is like.’

“Mrs. Burton looked puzzled. ‘Why, what do you mean?’

“‘Fred says he loves to come here because you have a singing house. I begin to see what he means.’

“‘What a wonderful compliment!’ Mrs. Burton’s face flushed. ‘But of course my house doesn’t compare with yours. Everyone says you have the loveliest house in town.’

“‘But it isn’t a singing house,’ I objected. ‘… Tell me how you came to have one.’

“‘Well,’ smiled Mrs. Burton, ‘if you really want to know. You see, John doesn’t make much. I don’t think he ever will. He isn’t that type. We have to cut somewhere, and we decided on non-essentials. … There are books, magazines, and music. … These are things the children can keep inside. They can’t be touched by fire or [financial problems] so we decided they were essentials. Of course good wholesome food is another essential. … The children’s clothes are very simple. … But when all these things are paid for, there doesn’t seem to be much left for rugs and furniture. … We don’t go into debt if we can avoid it. … [However] we are happy,’ she concluded.

“‘I see,’ I said thoughtfully. I looked over at Jerry and Fred in the corner. They had manufactured a train out of match boxes and were loading it with wheat. They were scattering it a good deal, but wheat is clean and wholesome.

“I went home. My oriental rugs looked faded. I snapped my curtains to the top of the windows, but the light was subdued as it came through the silken draperies. … [My house] was not a singing house. I determined to make it sing” (May Morgan Potter, “The Singing House,” as quoted by Reed H. Bradford in “Priorities,” Instructor, Nov. 1969, 410, 415)

Shopping, With Kids

There’s nothing more awesome than being on a tight budget and watching your son karate chop the biggest, most name-brandiest jug of peanut butter off the shelf.
It cracks, bleeds, and -in a desperate attempt for mercy -pops it’s seal open, crying out for rescue, help, freeeeedom!
Have you ever spent $10 on one container of peanut butter before? Put it on your bucket list.

It will thrill you to the bones.