Activities When Kids Are Bored

I recently read an article about kids needing to be bored during the summer. I totally agree! They need to understand that there will not always be an agenda or something fun to go do every.single.day. They can use their imagination and come up with fun things to do. My kids will do this quite often. Here are some things they have come up with along the years, or just things I can think of to give you some ideas when they say, “We’re bored…….” Some of these are a given, and some are dependent on the weather. There’s a few ideas on here that my sister and I did when we were kids. We used to spend the summer with my mom or at Grandma’s house and would come up with all kinds of fun things. With Fibro fog we know that lists and ideas are important. I hope this helps if you’re stuck on ideas to keep them busy. 🙂

activities for kids

 

1. Blind-Folded Taste Test: My kids came up with this one day so I made a tray of different foods that they could use. It was a variety of foods with different textures and flavors. Then they took turns blind-folding the other and feeding them different foods. It was fun and hilarious to watch.

2. Package Delivery: There are so many creative and fun things you can do with boxes but one that my kids came up with recently is to take the boxes that may be laying around from UPS or whatever and they can put things in them (toys, books, maybe some picked flowers from outside?). Then they would tape up the boxes or just close them as best as they can, and leave them out for different family members. Like in front of their door, their place at the table, on their chair. They would even put it outside sometimes and ring the door bell.

3. TV Land: Another idea for using a big box is to cut a square to make a TV and they can take turns pretending they’re on TV. They can do the news, or just a show. It’s really fun to watch. My kids would play dress-up and be different characters.

4. Grocery Store: If they have a play shopping cart or basket they can use that but if not, it’s still fun. Get out the canned/packaged food and line it up on the counter or table. If they have a cash register, great, but if not just use a calculator and they can pretend to ring up the items. Get out your reusable bags or paper bags. One can go through and shop and the other can ring up their items and bag them. It would be the perfect time to do this right when you get home from grocery shopping. Then they can put everything away when they’re done too. 🙂

5. Restaurant: They can make little tables for their stuffed animals. Grab a pad of paper and a pencil and they can take their orders. If they have a little kitchen and some play food they can make their food and serve them. Don’t forget to do the dishes and clean the tables! 😉

6. Coloring Contest: My kids like to compete with each other. What sibling doesn’t, right? So sometimes they come up with different things to draw or color and want me to be the judge. They always say that I have to tell the truth and not just be nice. Ha! So I really do try but I know that every single time, the one I don’t pick has their feelings hurt. So I try to make sure I’m not always picking the same kid, of course.

7. Bubble Station: I save all those bubble wands you come across with the different sizes and shapes, and I save the smaller containers. Then I buy a big container of bubbles and fill the smaller ones. Each kid can have their own and dip the different wands into them. This is also good for when they spill so they aren’t spilling a huge container of bubbles.

8. Kiddie Pool with a Slide: We have always had a little kiddie pool with a slide going into it and the kids just love it. So do their friends! 😉 When you fill the pool, the water is usually cold and the kids complain. With a slide my kids like to slide into the cold water and jump out real quick, then do it again and again and again… So much fun!

9. Miscellaneous Outdoor Activities: Riding Bikes, Hide and Seek, Tag, coloring with chalk, playing ball.

10. Going on Walks and Exploring the Area: They could collect different things they find along the way.

11. Painting: Set-up a paint station outside (or inside). Just a little table with chairs. Put on some old t-shirts and paint away! We save all the papers from school during the year that have one side that is blank. Then we use that paper to draw on or paint.

12. Play-dough: In addition to the usual things you do with play-dough, my kids have also made clothes with it to put on their Barbie/Ken dolls.

13. Building with Legos/Lincoln Logs

14. Sumo Wrestlers: Stuff pillows in their shirts and wrestle.

15. Build a Fort (inside or outside): All you need is some chairs and blankets, or you can use a table with a blanket over it. You can also setup a tent outside that can be their fort.

16. Playing School: My daughter loves to pretend she’s the teacher and give her brother schoolwork. LOL Then they were eating their lunch together and she says, “Let’s pretend we’re in the cafeteria and we want to trade stuff in our lunch.” Hmmm… 😉

17. Scrapbooking: We love to take old magazines and go through cutting stuff out that we like. Then you can put it together to make a scrapbook. Just paste/glue the stuff you cut out onto construction paper and staple the edges to make a book. Then can also write and draw in it. Maybe give it a title and sign their name too, if you want.

18. Tea Party: Gather up all their stuffed animal friends, the play tea cups, and they can pour some water into them.

19. Board Games: We have a variety of different board games the kids like to pull out and play sometimes. They know where to find them and I just make sure they pick up all the pieces and put the game away before starting a new one. Some of those games have some tiny pieces that are easy to lose! And we have lost some pieces along the way, of course. Sometimes they will just make up a new game with one of the board games instead of playing by the rules. That is fun too. 🙂

20. Bird Watching: We have some play binoculars and the kids like to go around the backyard and look for birds sometimes. My son even knows the names of the different kinds of birds from his grandma teaching him, and it’s also in one of his books.

21. The Zoo: When we got home from the zoo one time, my daughter got out all her stuffed animals and pretended they were in the zoo. She lined them up in different sections and was talking about the different kinds of animals, as if she was a tour guide. It was really cute.

I’m sure there are many MANY more ideas out there and I will probably keep adding to this list but hopefully that gives you some ideas for now. Next time my kids say they’re bored, I’m going to refer to this list to give them some ideas. If you have any other ideas please add them in the comments below. Thanks! 😀

Fibro at Work vs. Fibro at Home

fibro at work vs fibro at homeI was working full-time when I started getting Fibromyalgia symptoms. I was in and out of the doctor’s office but still tried to work full-time. I worked full-time for 5 months and then my boss let me switch to part-time. It was definitely easier to manage things at home but after a while I still felt like I never got any down-time and it was hard to keep up. My time at home was filled with other things. Especially since I really wanted to spend more time on this blog! 🙂 So we finally felt like we were financially stable enough for me to stay home. Now my job is to manage everything at home, take care of my health and my kids, and work on this blog. But I love it! So here is what it was like for me at work vs. what it is like at home, and pros & cons of each.

Fibromyalgia at Work:
It was nice sitting down at a desk throughout the day and having the adult interaction. I got to eat my lunch and take a break in peace. It was much quieter too. And being at work kept me on a schedule. I had a designated time to eat breakfast and lunch. At home sometimes I don’t end up having lunch until like 2. I get busy with something and forget. It was nice feeling like I accomplished something. At home sometimes I feel like I didn’t get anything done all day when in reality, I did do something but it was bits and pieces so it didn’t feel like much. And sometimes I do miss dressing up and looking professional instead of being in my pajamas or jeans all the time. It was a good feeling to feel important, doing something to contribute to society and feeling appreciated. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel appreciated sometimes at home. But not like I did with my job. I liked having the excuse of work though. ‘My house is a mess because I work and don’t have time to clean it’, lol. Now it’s like, uh… my house is a mess because I have Fibro and don’t have the energy to keep up with it all the time. If I spent all my time and energy cleaning I wouldn’t be able to make all the food that I make and blog about stuff. And wouldn’t be able to do all the fun things with my kids.

Sitting down that much was also killing me. I don’t like to sit for that long. It hurts, and my body gets stiff. The stress at work wasn’t good for me either. Stress can make us physically hurt and have a flare-up. It was also hard to interact with people all the time, especially when I didn’t feel good. I would have to put on a smile and not show how I really felt. That was VERY hard for me. If I am in pain I have a hard time keeping that to myself. The bright lights were too much sometimes, and it was hard to work in an office building in the summer when I wanted to be outside in the sunshine. It’s good for us and my body needs it. It is definitely easier to take care of myself at home and do what I need to do. If it’s sunny, I can drop what I’m doing and go outside. If I need to make a smoothie or have some tea, I can anytime. I can’t make all the things I want to make if I’m at work all the time. At home I make bread once/week, homemade granola sometimes, I experiment with different foods. I was able to keep up with the garden and I cooked pumpkins to make pumpkin puree. These are things that would be much harder to do if I had to work too. Sure, they could be done. But my time would be filled up from morning to night and I would not have that much energy. My spoons would be long gone! And I wouldn’t have time to blog about all these things either.

Fibromyalgia at Home:
There is more physical work at home for sure that does get to me at times but I feel like it is good to keep moving and keep busy. I don’t think about the pain and exercise is good. When my kids fight it gives me bad anxiety. I usually just separate them but that’s hard sometimes too. It is much easier to keep up with the housework at home. I have all week to do what I normally tried to cram into the weekend. And vacuuming alone can be a lot of work, so I like to do that one day and do other stuff the next day. Spread it out so I don’t suffer as much. I can also do what I need to for my health. If I need to sit down, I can. If I need to move around, I can. At work, I was stuck sitting. But at home I never feel like I can take a nap or have too much down-time, like I thought I would be able to do. There’s always something to do around here and it really is like you are never leaving your job! I have guilt too, for not being the one to bring in money to support our family. So I try to save money wherever I can. And I always make sure the important things are done. Dishes, dinner, kids are taken care of, etc.

fibro in summerHome in the Summer – In the summer, we are a lot more active. I try to get things done at home in the morning so that we can do what we want to do in the afternoon. Keeping a schedule is harder. I might say Monday is laundry day but really, it takes me all week to get it all done. We are a lot more relaxed in the summer. We just eat when we are hungry instead of scheduled times. We get up late and I always said I am going to set an alarm so I can have at least an hour before the kids get up, but no. Never happened. As you know, mornings with Fibro are very hard. So we would get up, do our own thing for a bit, have breakfast, do a chore and some kind of schoolwork. We made a chart for Monday – Friday that has a chore, schoolwork, and a life lesson. (More on this below.) Then do what we want to do for the afternoon. Maybe go to the pool, park, ride bikes, just play outside, go visit someone, go on the boat with daddy when he gets home. I get a lot more exercise in the summer and sunshine! I feel better because of that. It’s a lot harder to blog in the summer than winter for sure! 😉 We are just very busy so I was trying to do at least 1 post/week.

fibro in winterHome in the Winter – Well, I assumed everything would be easier in the Winter because we wouldn’t be so busy. I thought I would be able to get projects done around here, more cleaning, and more blog posts. My Fibro is a lot worse in the Winter. There are days I barley get anything done and look forward to the next time I can sit down. It also didn’t help that I got off of a natural supplement I was taking. No energy, major Fibro Fog all the time, some kind of pain all the time, anxiety if something comes up that is more for me to worry about or to have to do. Family functions, school activities, etc. The holidays were insane. So, I can barely function. I do the minimum possible and projects just start piling up again. Then I only take care of extra stuff when I really have to. I tried doing some kind of exercise each day hoping it would help but I think I pushed myself too hard and it had the opposite affect. I am more depressed too. So I get up and focus on my daughter first. Making sure she gets ready, has her breakfast, and we make her lunch. Then we go out to the bus stop with the dog. After she leaves, my son and I have breakfast and some quiet time so I can get on the computer and check messages, write blog posts, do my work. I was also doing my exercise, the dog has to be taken out several times, we have lunch, we try to take the dog on a walk every day, we go grocery shopping once/week, there’s dishes to do every day, laundry, cleaning, bills to pay, you get the idea. 😉

Chore Chart (from Summer):  We did this in the summer and do still have chores during the school-year but not as much. It’s hard enough trying to get dinner done, my daughter’s homework (that we spend a lot of time on sometimes), her Art class is after school once/week, and then all the usual bedtime stuff, with a small amount of time to play. Our chore chart is for Monday – Friday in the summer, but you can do this all year long if you want, and consists of a chore, schoolwork, and a life lesson. This was nothing fancy. We don’t have a working printer right now so we just made this by hand. I did not spend a lot of time on it but you could make pictures and everything. I’m not very artistic lol.

  • Chores – The chores consist of sweeping, dishes, vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, wipe counters and the kitchen table. Of course each kid might have a different chore depending on their age. Tyler (4, at the time) can do a lot of things but he is shorter and it’s harder for him to push a big vacuum than it is for Kailey (8, at the time). There are other chores that they do sometimes too like change the cat and dog’s water each day and make sure they have food, put their clothes away, put toys away, clean their rooms, help put groceries away, water the garden, etc.
  • Schoolwork – The schoolwork consists of writing, math, counting $, shapes & colors (fun for Kailey and learning for Tyler), telling time (Kailey), and reading (Tyler). Kailey is to read every weeknight before bed.
  • Life Lessons – The life lessons consist of tying their shoes (Kailey has this mastered now but sometimes I have her teach Tyler and that helps me out), a fire drill, cooking lesson, earthquake drill, and anything else I can think of. Maybe going over some family rules, what to do if a stranger comes up to you, when and how to dial 911, etc.

IMG_6110Our Chore Chart for the summer (sorry, it’s kinda messy and got drawn on)

We didn’t always follow exactly what the chore chart said. Sometimes we didn’t need to dust so we did something else. Or we would swap a chore with a different day. Basically we just did what needed to be done. This really helped me stay on track too and get things done. Otherwise I might say, ‘I really need to do this’ and forget and move on to something else. We did the Chore Chart in the morning before the kids were allowed to go outside to play with their friends in the summer. During the school-year, Kailey is at school so things are a little different. When she gets home, she has to do a chore and her homework but it really depends on the weather. We don’t have a lot of nice days here in Washington during the school-year. If it’s sunny out, I’m going to let her play outside when she gets home and do her chore and homework later. But like I said, this is rare. It’s usually raining or at least cloudy in the Fall/Winter. And Tyler is helping me during the day with things like unloading the dishwasher (the silverware mostly), helping put groceries away, he likes to help make the bread, do some juicing, and other things I make, he will sweep sometimes with a little broom. And he does preschool activities.

So there you go. This is my view of working vs. being home and how it effected my Fibro. A lot of people ask how Fibro is while working and how it is at home. Obviously not everyone has a choice to be home. I am not really sure which is better for Fibro. There are challenges with both. I knew that I really wanted to be home. Now that I have been home for a while, there are some good things about going back to work but the thought of managing work and home gives me a lot of anxiety. I hope that I can continue to stay home and do what I love to do. Tyler will start Kindergarten in the Fall but it will only be for half a day. I am still planning to stay home and use that time that he is gone for the blog or anything else I need to get done without any distractions. We shall see what the future holds. I’m not going to rule anything out. 😀

Resolutions for the New Year

Do you have any resolutions for the new year? I know for me I really really need to develop an exercise routine and stick to it! I have talked about this for so long now. It would be nice to have a treadmill but we just don’t have the room for that. I would love a treadmill desk!!! For now we take the dog on walks and I’m always doing things around the house but I need to develop even just a 15 min routine I can do every morning and stick to it. I get wrapped up in what I’m doing around the house, or on the blog. Maybe I will set an alarm on my phone? 😉 I rode my bike a lot in the summer. It’s harder to get exercise when it’s so cold out. The cold just really hurts and makes Fibro worse.

Here are some of our posts (in no particular order) that may help you feel better this year, and meet those resolutions. Or maybe you don’t have any resolutions yet and need to figure out one that works for you. This may help.

resolutions for 2015

 

Buy your First Organic Cookbook – Maybe this isn’t a resolution but it would help you cook more organic foods! 🙂 I was lucky to be chosen as a cookbook ambassador for 2 really great cookbooks. I now own my first 2 organic cookbooks. My review of these cookbooks is included in each link below, and there’s a 3rd option for purchase (one that I don’t own yet but am planning to buy).

100 Days of Real Food Cookbook Review

Deliciously Organic, Grain-Free Family Table Cookbook Review

 

Make a School Lunch Every Day – Do your kids take a lunch from home just sometimes and now you want to start making one every-single-day (or have them make one)? Here are some ideas, and I’m working on Part II of this series!

School Lunch Collage1

 

Make Your Own Chicken Broth – You could start making your own homemade chicken broth. It’s easy to do and SO much better for you. You get a lot of broth and there are many ways to use it. And there are so many benefits to bone broth. They are listed in this post.

whole chicken & broth collage

 

Save Money – Did you spend too much in 2014 and want to save some money to be able to buy more organic food? 😉 Here are my money saving tips. I am constantly trying to save money so we can continue to eat the way we do.

money saving tips

 

Start a Garden – It’s not too early to start thinking about a garden for this year. I’m already thinking about what we want to plant next. We had our first organic garden last year and overall I would say it went really great! (FYI, the picture below, on the right, is not from our garden but from my Grandma’s.)

IMG_2962garden kids

Juice or Make Smoothies – Do you want to juice or make smoothies? Or maybe you do it already but want to do it more often. I do both but definitely make smoothies more than juice. Here is my comparison of the two.

carrot, apple, orange juicesmoothie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lose Weight – This is what I did and ended up shedding off 30 pounds over several months, without trying to lose weight. I just wanted to feel better. I know everyone is different, but this worked for me.

before and after

 

Help Spouse and/or Kids Eat Organic – Maybe you are eating completely organic and now you want to help your spouse and/or kids to completely make the switch. Here’s what I did to help my husband and kids eat organic foods.

3 year old trying an organic pop-tart and almond chocolate milk for the first time

 

Survive Fibro – We all know there’s no cure for Fibro but we can try to survive it each day. Here are my Tips for Surviving Fibro. If you just want to feel better, try some of these tips that you can incorporate into your daily routine.

Daily Tips for Surviving Fibromyalgia

 

Get Rid of the Chemicals in Your Home – Do you still have chemicals in your home? Start with making your own cleaners. Here are my natural cleaners, and I especially like the hand soap.

natural cleaners

 

Switch to All Organic – Maybe you buy some things organic but you want to make the complete switch, or do you know someone who is thinking about making the switch? You can share this with them.

First Steps in Switching to Organic

 

Stick with an Exercise Routine (I’m going to use these tips!) – How to stick with your exercise routine.

first race

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but Organic Fibro Mommies will earn a small commission (which helps to offset web hosting fees, maintenance, etc.). Your support is greatly appreciated!

How We Survived a Week Without Electricity

Okay so obviously we can survive without electricity, but these days we rely SO much on it that when it’s gone we kind-of go into a panic-mode. We are having a storm tonight and everyone is kind-of freaking out about it and we will most likely lose power. When we lost power for a week before, I didn’t have a smart phone, didn’t have a blog, wasn’t eating all organic foods mostly from scratch, and I was working full-time. So there were different challenges then, and there would definitely be different challenges now. We thought about getting a generator after that week-long-adventure, but still haven’t gotten one. I think we should! Even just to be able to plug-in the fridge. And sorry, this post really doesn’t have much to do with organic food or Fibromyalgia but I just wanted to tell our story and give some tips on preparing for a storm. 😉

So here’s the story. In January 2012, our area (Olympia, WA) had a Snow Storm/Ice Storm. It started with the snow. 22 inches to be exact! (See a picture below – I wish I would have gotten better pictures.) We don’t ever get snow like that. It just seemed like it kept coming and coming. At first we were excited. Then we were shocked. Then we were scared, lol. Then we got hit with freezing rain and everything was covered in ice (another picture below – sorry, not the greatest picture). This caused major problems like downed trees, huge branches falling, and downed power lines, among other problems. There were blocked roads, power outages, damage to homes, etc. A huge branch fell on our back deck and knocked out 1 of our railings. Luckily it was the railing that was already broke. I didn’t let the kids play outside after the ice storm hit because it was just too dangerous with branches falling, huge chunks of snow/ice falling, and power lines could snap at any moment. And just from the snow, the ambulance, firetrucks, mailman, and garbage trucks couldn’t get into our neighborhood for a while. We lost power right away and it was out for a week. I missed work most of that week. We were washing clothes and doing dishes by hand, used a neighbor’s shower because they had gas to heat their water tank, cooked off our wood stove, and used snow in coolers to keep our food cold. My mother-in-law was with us at the time and helped tremendously. It was amazing how many neighbors around us left to go stay with family or go to a hotel. We stayed home and got through it together. We are also lucky to have a wood stove we can cook on and keep warm.

Power Outage

1 week without power doesn’t sound very long, but it felt SO long to us. And we weren’t really prepared. We only had a small amount of supplies. Plus we didn’t know when the power was going to be back on. Our neighborhood was one of the last to get power back. And then even when it did, only part of the neighborhood was turned back on. We were still waiting. I hope we don’t have to go through that again but if we do, I know we will be okay. I think the challenges back then were when I had to go back to work. It was dark when I got home and having to try to look decent for work when you can’t just take a shower easily or wash your clothes easily, or even see very good to get yourself ready made things very difficult. If we lost power for a long period of time now, there would be different challenges. I am home now, so I wouldn’t have to worry about going to work, but we don’t eat a lot of ‘convenience’ type foods anymore. Sure I can throw together a pot of stew or soup easily and stick it on the wood stove to cook, but I can’t make my bread easily, or other things I make, and we wouldn’t be able to make smoothies or use the juicer. And I don’t think organic food would last as long as the other stuff. Our food would go bad quicker for sure. And obviously my husband and I couldn’t do our work on our computers like we are normally doing. Everything would be on hold.

22 inches of snow

The Food
We started with the items in the fridge. When the fridge was no longer cold, we transferred the items to the coolers filled with snow outside. We were trying to scrap things together to make meals and cook on the wood stove. Then when the items in the freezer were thawed, we transferred those to the coolers too. It got to the point where we had to start cooking all the meat so it didn’t go bad and used the BBQ to cook it. We tried to make meals and make things stretch as much as we could, without them going bad. We were not eating organic at the time but did try to eat at home as much as possible. Especially since it was really hard to get around anyway with all that snow and roads blocked. I remember when we did finally get out and it felt so good to go into a store and buy a bunch of junk that we could just eat. We also had to buy more batteries and other essentials.

Staying Warm
We had a lot of blankets, and a wood stove. We slept in the living room some nights because the heat doesn’t go back to the bedrooms very much. We did get low on wood at one point and drove to my grandma’s house to get more (and took showers while we were there!). They were lucky and got their power back on pretty quick.

“Cleanliness”
To get warm water, we had to heat up a big pot of water on the wood stove. We did that to wash some clothes in the bath tub, wash dishes (the hard-to-clean-ones), or take a little ‘sponge bath’. And washed our hair in cold water sometimes. We also went to a neighbor’s house and used their shower once because they had gas heat to heat their water tank. And we took a shower at my grandma’s when we went there to get wood. The hardest part was when I had to go back to work and the power STILL wasn’t on. I felt so dirty and it was hard to come home to a dark house and try to find everything, and figure out what to wear to work. I didn’t worry much about keeping the house clean. The floor was very dirty, and there was stuff everywhere. It was easier to clean when I was home and it was light during the day. But when I was working and coming home to darkness, even with candles & flashlights, it was just too difficult to keep everything clean.

Keeping Our Sanity
We played games, we listened to the battery operated radio, we played in the snow, we just hung out and talked. I wrote in my journal a lot. It was really nice at first! Then we started getting bored and tired of the darkness. Each day the power wasn’t back on we kept wondering how much longer we were going to have to live like this. It seriously took a tole on us. We can live without electricity but our lives would definitely have to change to adapt to it. Think about the amish! Everything was more of a challenge, but doable. We were even potty-training by candlelight! haha.

Ice Storm

*Tips on Preparing For a Storm*

1. Make sure you have supplies on hand ahead of time, like way ahead of time. When a big storm is coming people panic and raid the stores. In fact, you should keep a good amount of supplies on hand at all times just in case. Things like batteries, a battery-operated radio, candles, flashlights, lots of extra-warm blankets, any medicinal items (prescription medicines, first aid kits, etc.), a manual can-opener. Nice-to-have items like games, a generator, lots of things for the kids to do. Keeping a little cash on hand would be good too in case the power is out and stores cannot take your debit/credit cards. And make sure you have plenty of food/supplies for your pets too!

2. Use the electricity for everything you need before a possible power outage. Run your washer and dryer, dishwasher, take showers, and charge phones (especially if your cell phone is your only phone in the house).

3. Clean up and organize the house as much as possible. This is important because it will be hard to find things and get around when it’s dark. Candlelight and flashlights only provide so much light.

4. Stock up/Collect water. If your water doesn’t work when the power is out, then you will need to prepare for that as well. We are fortunate and have running water still, even though it’s cold water. You may want to collect rain water in buckets even just to be able to flush the toilet. You wouldn’t want to drink it, so make sure to have drinking water stocked up ahead of time. You could fill juice containers/milk jugs with water out of the sink ahead of time too. If you have a wood stove you can heat water to be able to bathe in, wash clothes, or do those hard-to-clean dishes.

5. Fill up the vehicles/gas cans. When people panic and raid the stores, they also line up at the pumps. You will want to be prepared ahead of time and make sure your vehicles are filled up and maybe a gas can or two, just in case.

6. Stock up on food, but be careful with the perishable items. Make sure you have plenty of food in the house because you won’t know how long the storm will last and what’s all involved. In our case, we had blocked roads and 22 inches of snow to get through if we needed to go to town. You will want to be careful on what you buy though. Some people lost freezers-full of food in the storm we had. It would be horrible for that much food to go to waste. So even though fresh organic food is nice, it will be a little different when preparing for a storm. I would make sure you have foods that don’t go bad quickly. Canned foods, rice, packaged non-perishable items. A little of the perishable stuff is okay, you can just eat that first.

7. Have an Emergency Plan in place. Know what to do to prepare if a storm is going to hit, if the family is separated during the storm, and what to do if something unexpected happens. We did not expect that much snow, or for the ice storm to be that bad. We weren’t prepared for road blockage and a power outage for a week. We just have to think of these possibilities ahead of time and be ready.

8. Have trees trimmed/cut-down ahead of time. We had some dangerous trees around our house during this bad storm. HUGE branches would fall and break things like our railing, we lost a couple BBQs and a chair. We are lucky it wasn’t worse. There could have been damage to our roof or one of us could have gotten seriously hurt. Those trees have been cut down now.

Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness

The holidays are so busy and crazy, and when you add Fibromyalgia to the mix it is just too much. The bright blinking lights, the noise, the crowds… And those posts going around on Facebook that tell you how many days are left until Christmas don’t help! That just brings on the anxiety. Well don’t listen to that at all and don’t panic. It will all get done. Believe me, I know it is a lot because I go from Thanksgiving, to my daughter’s birthday, to Christmas. I just tackle one thing at a time, keep lists, and stay organized. And anything I can get done ahead of time, I jump on it and just get it done. I am one of those people sending out their Christmas cards right after Thanksgiving. 😉 Don’t stress and just try to enjoy the holidays. 🙂

Surviving Holidays with chronic illness

 

Tips on Surviving the Holidays with a Chronic Illness:

1. If you are hosting a party, ask everyone to bring something. That really cuts back on the amount of food you have to make.

2. Communicate. If you don’t feel good, say so. If you want to say ‘no’, do it. Your family/friends should understand and support you and if they don’t, it’s on them, not you. You have to do what you have to do for your health. And maybe tell them that you need to cancel for now but would like to do something at a time where you are feeling better. Ask for help if you need to! It’s OK.

3. Feeling depressed? Depression can hit hard during the holidays. It’s a battle with everything we do and we can’t win. We want to participate in everything but if we do, we pay for it. There are some natural remedies in this post: http://organicfibromommies.com/2014/08/battling-depression/. And make sure to follow tip #2 above.

4. Focus on the happy fun times throughout the holidays and not all the work and stress. You don’t have to do everything that comes along. Pick and choose certain things and save others for next year.

5. Make a plan. You can plan out everything you want to do and how you will do it. A plan-of-action. For example, if you are going to someone’s house for a party, plan it out ahead of time. Bring anything you might need while you are there. You could talk to the host(s) ahead of time to let them know you might need a quiet place to go and rest for a bit. If you have a significant other or a friend with you then communicate with them and maybe you can have a signal to know that you aren’t feeling well and need to go sit in a quiet room or get yourself together in the bathroom for a minute, maybe splash some water on your face. Social gatherings can be exhausting. If you are hosting the party, make sure you have help. Your significant other or a friend can help clean and get things setup and be there during the party to help and give you an out if you aren’t feeling well. Maybe you can socialize when guests first arrive, go take a break, come back out and socialize some more. That way you are able to participate for the majority of the time.

6. Bring a dish to a party. Bring a side dish to the party that you know you can eat (healthy foods) so that you can eat some of that and a little of the other stuff. That should help so you aren’t feeling so icky after eating a bunch of foods you probably wouldn’t normally eat.

 

How to help someone with a chronic illness during the holidays: Be supportive. If they can’t attend something it’s not usually because they don’t want to. They probably want to really bad but their illness has taken over and it is best that they do what they need to for their health. The last thing they need is to feel guilty about it. Try to plan something with them another time, when they are feeling better. It doesn’t have to be during the holidays. And offer to help as much as you can, especially if they are the ones hosting a party. It may not be easy for them to ask for help but they may really need it and would appreciate the offer.

 

Holiday Checklist

Here’s a list of our holiday items and how I coordinate them. I know all families have different traditions or religious beliefs. This is just to show you how I get through the holidays and still make sure my kids can participate in some of the fun holiday activities. 🙂

1. Family Photo/Christmas Cards – We always try to have someone take a nice picture of our family on Thanksgiving. We are already dressed up and there’s someone around to take the picture. Works perfectly! (Or you can use a photo you like from earlier in the year.) Then I put our Christmas cards together, usually using Walmart’s online photo program but there are other ones like Walgreens and many more. I ordered 28 Christmas cards for about $12. You can have them shipped to you too. I like to get this done right after Thanksgiving and start getting them sent out.christmas tree with lights and a star(I also have to do my daughter’s birthday invitations at this time as well.)

2. Christmas Tree/Decorations and Christmas Music – We get our Christmas tree and start decorating after Thanksgiving. Well, we used to have a fake tree so we would just pull it out of the garage. But it’s nice just doing everything together when we are all in the spirit. And we listen to Christmas music while decorating. 🙂 Item #1 & #2, done right after Thanksgiving! Now there’s plenty of time (and energy!) for many other things.

3. Christmas Lights – Your local newspaper may post different neighborhoods that have amazing lights to go drive around and see. This is a great F R E E way to do it! And not much gas to get there. Or, in our area there are places you can drive and pay to see lights (Spanaway Lights, Zoo Lights). We do this sometimes, not every year. But we always at least drive around and see lights in different neighborhoods. It’s also fun to watch the ones on YouTube with the lights flashing to music. 😀

Santa picture4. Santa – visit, write, and/or call Santa. Now, of course you can go stand in the long lines at the mall to see Santa and pay an arm-an-a-leg for that picture, but we choose to just see Santa when we can. We saw him at the Christmas tree farm and got our free picture taken with our phone, and he came through our neighborhood on his sleigh collecting canned foods. The kids sat on his lap and we took another free picture. We have never gone to the mall. The thought of that gives me a lot of anxiety and I couldn’t imagine waiting forever and spending a ton of money on a picture. It’s already an expensive holiday! We did see him at Walmart one time and did pay to have a picture but it wasn’t very much. To call Santa, just dial (951) 262-3062.

5. Christmas Shopping/Wrapping – If you have kids this is definitely harder to do. You have to get a babysitter first, go get everything that you can during that timeframe, bring everything home and hide it or start wrapping. I do all my wrapping for other people’s presents when the kids are home. Just space it out if you can. And online shopping is so easy! You can avoid the crowds, wasting energy on the shopping trips, wasting gas driving around, having to get a babysitter, etc. And I do not do Black Friday shopping. No way…. lol. And I hate to sound like a salesman but if you want to use our link to do your shopping on Amazon it would really help us out! There’s no discount for you but it helps us offset the costs of blogging, and it’s so easy. You just click on the following link and start your shopping. We would really appreciate it! 🙂 OrganicFibroMommies-Amazon-Link. We also have an Amazon store if you want to check out our items: http://astore.amazon.com/orgafibrmomm-20.natural stocking stuffers

6. Stocking Stuffers – I start collecting stocking stuffers right away while I am shopping at different stores (Fred Meyer, our local food co-op, Trader Joe’s). I have found things like naturally flavored candy canes (no dyes), 100% pure maple syrup candies, chocolate coins, and holiday gummies. You can also put fruit in the stockings, homemade cookies (wrapped of course), and non-food items like stickers/tattoos, little toys, play-doh, Christmas-themed toys/pencils/stickers, etc., mini activity book/notepad, crayons/colored pencils, mini books, money, small stuffed animals, new socks, a rolled up new shirt, a jump rope, jewelry, matchbox cars, and so much more.
naturally colored christmas sugar cookies
7. Baking Cookies –
Maybe just plan to make 1 batch of cookies. Why do we have to make several batches of all these different kinds? Let the kids pick what kind they want to make each year, to make it extra special. Or you can make a batch in the beginning of the month and another before Christmas, space it out.
Trader Joe's Gingerbread House

8. Gingerbread House – I found this natural Gingerbread House at Trader Joe’s last year for like $8! Yes it has sugar but they use fruit/vegetable extracts for the coloring. I know the kids aren’t going to be eating the whole thing but it’s pretty cheap and makes me feel good about not buying the bad stuff. Whether or not we are eating it, we don’t want to support purchasing it either. (That’s just my opinion.) 😉

9. Christmas Movies – I keep a list of Christmas movies that we want to watch each year and find them on Netflix, On Demand, Amazon Prime Instant Video, regular cable (ABC Family has 25 days of Christmas!), or we own some of them. It’s just fun to cuddle up with a bowl of popcorn, maybe some hot cocoa, and watch the classics. 🙂

10. Advent Calendar/Elf-on-the-shelf – We still don’t have an advent calendar because they are expensive but I have been watching for one that is reasonably priced. In the meantime, we just make a calendar on a piece of paper and check off the days. My daughter’s birthday is in December too so this helps them know when things are happening (and not bug mom & dad so much – well, mostly mom). 😉 And we don’t have an Elf on the shelf but after seeing the pictures I am tempted to get one! If there’s a good deal I might just do it. I bet dad would get in on the fun too and then I wouldn’t have to remember to do it everyday, haha.

11. The Nutcracker This year my daughter and I are going to see the Nutcracker! It’s her first time and I haven’t been since I was a kid. We can’t wait! This is not something we are doing every year but more of an at-least-once-during-her-childhood thing. And maybe we will go again when Tyler is older, if he’s interested in going.

xmas ornaments12. Make Ornaments – Last year we made ornaments using flour, salt, water, and coffee grounds. The coffee grounds made the ornaments brown so we could do bears. And then you can paint them too. And in this case, we just bought the cheap non-organic stuff. It was just a fun family activity we wanted to do and Grandma was here participating too. Maybe one day I will write up a post on how we made them. Here’s a recipe by MommyPotamus on making ornaments: http://www.mommypotamus.com/how-to-make-salt-dough-ornaments/.

Homemade Pumpkin Pureé & Roasting The Seeds

IMG_4371We tried growing our own pumpkins this year for the first time and…..  we got four perfectly orange round little pumpkins! (See the picture to the right.) We decided to carve two and use the other two for pumpkin pureé. I have never made pumpkin pureé before and discovered there are two ways to roast the pumpkins. I definitely prefer one way over the other. I’m not gonna lie, it is definitely work either way but I felt good knowing that we are using what we grew. And of course I had to roast the seeds too! 😉 Check out the pumpkin pureé recipe below (in a step-by-step process) and then some ideas on roasting the seeds. And here are my recipes for using the pumpkin pureé: Pumpkin Recipes.

homemade pumpkin puree

Homemade Pumpkin Pureé

There are two ways you can roast a pumpkin (that I know of). 1) You can put the whole pumpkin in the oven, or 2) Cut it in half or quarters, remove the insides, place on a baking sheet. Personally, I like just putting the whole pumpkin in the oven because it is so much easier to cut after it has been roasted. When I cut the pumpkin before cooking, I thought I was going to slice my finger off! No joke… I also hurt my back trying to do it. It was definitely a pain and I recommend roasting the whole pumpkin if it can fit in the oven (I pulled the stem off mine). It did seem like the ones that were already cut up came out softer but you can just cut up the whole pumpkin and stick it back in the oven to soften more. Anyway, I will show both ways to do it so you can make your decision. I got about 11 cups of pureé total from our two pumpkins. 🙂

IMG_4699Step 1. Preparing for the Roasting: If you are cooking the whole pumpkin then the only thing you need to do is rinse off the pumpkin really well and you might need to pull off the stem to fit it in the oven. If you want to do it the other way, cut up the pumpkin either in half or in quarters. Remove the insides (save the seeds to cook later if you want and toss the rest), and then place the pumpkin pieces on a baking sheet. For the whole pumpkin, I put a baking sheet on a rack below it just in case it dripped. It didn’t but I didn’t want to take any chances.IMG_4700

Step 2. The Roasting: Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes for a small/medium pumpkin. A larger pumpkin may need more time. You will know it’s done if you can cut into it easily. Cut off the stem of the whole pumpkin and then cut it either in half or in quarters. If it doesn’t seem like it’s done after you have cut it, you can always put it back in to roast longer. Then let all the pieces cool a little.

Step 3. Preparing for the Pureé: For the whole pumpkin, you will have to remove all the insides still but it should come out pretty easily (save the seeds to cook later if you want and toss the rest). Then you will need to peel off the outer skin from all pieces of the pumpkin(s). The skin should come off pretty easily too (see picture below). If not just scrape the pumpkin off the skin using a spoon. Toss the skin and cut up the pumpkin (like shown below).

prepping for the puree

Step 4. Pumpkin Pureé: There are a few ways you can make the pureé. You can use a Food ProcessorBlender (add a little water), Potato Masher, or you can even use a NutriBullet (or similar device) but you also have to add water to this one. I tried a couple different methods, the blender and the NutriBullet. Honestly I was about ready to start mashing with a potato masher! Just having to continue to add water and try to get it to blend up was a pain and then had to do several different rounds of it. It probably would have been much easier in a food processor or just mashing yourself with a potato masher. You can see a comparison below between the NutriBullet & my old blender. The NutriBullet pureéd it quite well. A little too good! It looks like baby food, lol. And the blender seemed to be the right consistency. I had to work with both quite a bit to get it to blend up.

pumpkin puree

IMG_4707Step 5. Storing the Pureé: The pureé is good in the fridge for up to a week, or you can freeze it for 6 – 8 months. I prefer to freeze it in 1 or 2 cup increments. You can use ziploc freezer bags or mason jars. I did some of each and prefer the mason jars because it isn’t so messy. Trying to fill the freezer bags was a pain and I can only imagine trying to get the pureé out of them when I go to use it. It will be a lot easier with mason jars but of course, more dishes to wash. (And you can reuse the lids and rings for the freezer as long as they aren’t rusty or bent (but you cannot reuse lids for canning unless you have the reusable kind)). If you use mason jars, make sure to leave some room at the top for expansion.

roasting seeds

Roasting the Seeds ~ Spicy, Sweet, & Salty

There are a few different recipes we like. Well, I should say that I like them. Kailey likes a couple of them but the boys aren’t as crazy about pumpkin seeds as we are. Anyway, here are a few recipes for you. You can double the recipe too if you have a lot of seeds. We like to make them different ways so we do 1 cup at a time.

spicy roasted pumpkin seedsSpicy:

  • 1 cup of pumpkin seeds (dried)
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt (I use sea salt)
  • 1 pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 TB olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the olive oil to a medium bowl and mix up the seeds to coat them. Then mix up the seasonings in a small bowl and add the coated pumpkin seeds. Mix up well. Lay them out on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

sweet pumpkin seedsSweet:

  • 1 cup of pumpkin seeds (dried)
  • 1 1/2 TB Sugar (I use raw cane sugar)
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 TB olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the olive oil to a medium bowl and mix up the seeds to coat them. Then mix up the seasonings in a small bowl and add the coated pumpkin seeds. Mix up well. Lay them out on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

salty pumpkin seedsSalty:

  • 1 cup of pumpkin seeds (dried)
  • salt (sprinkle desired amount)
  • 1 TB olive oil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Simply mix up the seeds with the olive oil in a medium bowl to coat them, and lay them on the baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with desired amount of salt. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Another Option – Dill Roasted Pumpkin Seeds:
Just follow the same recipe as above but sprinkle the dill on top of the salt. I really didn’t taste the dill too much but just wanted to put the recipe out there if you like dill. 🙂 Picture below:

dill pumpkin seeds

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Freezing Summer Squash

My Aunt gave me this huge patty pan squash and I started looking up ways to use it up. Well then my husband told me that he absolutely does not like squash and didn’t want me to add it to our dinners or anything. 🙁 So, I figured I would probably add it to my soup that I make for lunch sometimes and needed to freeze it to make it last longer. This was pretty easy to do. It’s just all the chopping and then the dishes when I was done but at least they were easy to wash! 😉

The reason squash cannot be just chopped and added to the freezer is because it contains enzymes and bacteria that, over time, break down and destroy nutrients, change the color, flavor, and texture during freezing. To destroy the enzymes, squash requires blanching. Blanching (in this case) is a cooking process using a quick plunge into boiling water to remove enzymes and bacteria, and then a quick plunge into ice water to slow the cooking process.

freezing squash

Step 1: Wash the Squash – Just rinse really good in cold or lukewarm water.IMG_4674

Step 2: Chop the Squash – If it’s yellow squash or zucchini, cut off the ends and chop the rest at 1/2″ thick slices. If it’s a patty pan squash, I just cut out the stem and chopped up the rest into chunks like in the picture to the right. Note: You don’t want to leave the squash sitting (after it’s cut-up) for more than 1/2 an hour, otherwise it will start to discolor. 

IMG_4675Step 3: Bring Water to a Boil – Fill a large pot 2/3 full of water and bring to a boil.

Step 4: Blanching – Add the chopped squash to the boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, covered. I left it on high and stirred occasionally. Note: If you have a ton of squash, you may need to blanch it in batches. You can use the same water each time.

Step 5: Cooling the Squash – Get a large bowl and add ice and cold water. Remove the squash from the hot water using a slotted spoon and add to the ice water. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes. Cooling the squash quickly prevents overcooking. Add more ice as needed. Drain the water using a colander and let sit for a few minutes. I then spread the squash out over the cutting board to let dry for a bit.

cooling squashIMG_4680

Step 6: Freezing – I just used ziplock freezer bags. I put about 1 cup (or maybe a little more since I didn’t measure) per bag and marked the bags. It should be good for up to 9 months in a regular freezer. Make sure to get as much air out of the bags as possible before closing them up.

When you pull the squash out of the freezer it will be mushy after it thaws, so it’s best to use when cooking instead of raw. You can let it sit out to thaw or just use it frozen with what you are cooking. I plan to just add it to my homemade soup I make for lunch sometimes with my homemade chicken broth.

This picture gives you an idea of how big this patty pan squash was!IMG_4371

Here is all the squash I got from the patty pan squash. I gave the two big chunks to a neighbor who likes squash. The picture doesn’t do it justice for sure. It was a lot!IMG_4672

Fibromyalgia, Organic Food, & Camping

fibro, organic food, & campingWhen I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I really thought I would never tent-camp again. I couldn’t picture it and thought we would have to get a tent trailer or an RV to make it work. And even then, I didn’t think we would go very often. But, I just went on my first camping trip since we switched to organic foods and since I was diagnosed with Fibro and survived! 😉 It was a lot of fun and we will definitely be going again. At least one more time during this summer. I was nervous about it but I made a plan and gave myself enough time in advance to prepare, even though it was kind-of a spur-of-the-moment thing. We usually have an air mattress to sleep on when we go camping but it wasn’t holding air, so we had to go without it. I was worried about that but we had access to my husband’s uncle’s house so I could always go in there if it was really bad. But I wanted to give this my full effort! 🙂 I wanted to be prepared for anything, so I probably packed too much but you just never know. See the list of items I recommend bringing below, to help with Fibro or for anyone.

So, how can we go camping and still eat organic? Well, there are a lot of good options out there now for replacements of our favorite camping foods! They aren’t all perfect but are definitely better than the alternative. It is a little more work to prepare but so worth it. My husband and I worked together to make sure we got everything prepared and cooked, and were still able to relax and enjoy ourselves. We make a great team! 😀 It works best to plan out all your meals ahead of time so you can make sure you bring everything you need including seasonings, utensils, pots, pans, etc. Scroll down for a list of organic camping foods.

Items to Bring When Camping with Fibromyalgia (or for anyone):

  • Your Warmest Socks – it usually gets cold at night when camping and I don’t know about you but my feet get ice cold sometimes!
  • Air Mattress – yes, we went without one and I survived, but I recommend bringing one and we will try to get another one for next time because we were both uncomfortable.
  • Homemade Bug Spray – we were still using up our old bug spray with all the chemicals in it but here is a homemade one that sounds easy to make (and hopefully works like they say!). I will try it out eventually and report back. Wellness Mama’s Homemade Bug Spray.
  • Layers of Clothing – With my Fibro, I can get really hot or really cold easily. Bring warm clothes and cool clothes.
  • Coconut Oil – this can be used as a moisturizer, sunblock, and for cooking. For sunblock, it has an SPF of about 10 but I don’t recommend using only coconut oil on really hot days where you are going to be out in the sun all day. You would have to keep reapplying like every hour or something.
  • Natural Sunscreen – There are some natural sunscreen options in the stores but here’s Food Babe’s post on sunscreen and the safe brands available: Food Babe’s Sunscreen Post.
  • Chapstick – Burt’s Bees is a good natural one.
  • Many Warm Blankets/Sleeping Bags and a Comfy Pillow – My rule is you could never have too many blankets. We thought we had a ton and I was still cold in the morning. Body heat helps too. 😉
  • Comfortable Camping Chair – uh, duh right? haha
  • Ear Plugs – I got woken up many times by crows, coyotes, roosters, dogs, cars, you name it!

Organic Camping Foods (not all of these items are certified organic, but they are natural better options):

  • HotdogsApplegate or Simple Truth brands are good. Simple Truth is found at Fred Meyer or Kroger (depending on where you live). They are nitrate-free.
  • Hamburgers – I found Simple Truth natural hamburger patties (see the picture below). They come in a resealable bag and were nice thick patties that tasted great! Convenient for camping but you could make your own patties (see link below for my grass-fed burger patties).
  • Buns – It is hard to find good buns out there, so I make my own! Most of the time anyway… Here’s my post that contains a link to the homemade buns I make: Grass-Fed Burgers & Homemade Buns.
  • Annie’s Deluxe Mac ‘n Cheese (pictured below) – I like this one for camping because you don’t need to add anything. It’s all included in the box. So you don’t need to measure out some butter or milk. Just cook the noodles and add the cheese sauce.
  • Pasta Salad/Potato Salad to Bring – see my post on Summer Salads for recipes on pasta salads and a potato salad.
  • Veggie Packs with Potatoes & Veggies (pictured below, although the picture doesn’t have potatoes in it) – I lay out the squares of foil, start cutting the potatoes, veggies, & onion, then distribute everything evenly on the foil. I start with a few squares of foil and then may need to add more. We had a couple extra veggie packs last time. Then add a TB of butter, some garlic (about 1 tsp of powder or minced), salt & pepper (sprinkle desired amount). Add to the grill and they really don’t take long to cook. You will know they’re done when the potatoes aren’t hard. You could also add your favorite herbs! (It may be easier to make the veggie packs without potatoes ahead of time and then maybe have baked potatoes with it. Whatever is easiest when camping!)
  • Corn on the Cob – you definitely want organic, non-GMO corn. Conventional corn on the cob is very high in pesticides. I spend like .89 to .99 for each ear of organic corn and some people thought that was crazy. Yes, it may be more than regular corn on the cob but come on, $1/ear? That’s not much at all. I think our health is worth every penny.
  • Sandwiches – I make my own bread once/week and also buy Dave’s Killer Bread sometimes. We make sandwiches with ham or turkey lunch meat without nitrates, or peanut butter & jelly (or honey). They are great to have when we are going out on the boat or just an easy lunch for camping, picnics, etc.
  • Homemade Lunchables – This is also an easy lunch idea. You don’t have to put them together in individual packs. Just bring all the items and spread them out like a picnic. See my post on the homemade lunchable I make my daughter for school.
  • Bacon & Eggs – Use uncured bacon, nitrate-free. And Cage-Free organic eggs preferred.
  • Hash Browns – There are a couple organic options out there that I have found for frozen hash browns (see a picture below). It is a lot more convenient to bring these than to peel and chop (or shred) your hash browns at the campsite.
  • Boiled Eggs – You could make these up ahead of time to bring camping. This post has directions on how to make the perfect boiled egg every time.
  • Chips – We like the Late July brand or Kettle Chips (pictured below with ingredient label). They are both Non-GMO project verified.
  • Annie’s Snacks – Bunny crackers, bunny grahams, pizza snacks, snack mix, etc.
  • Popcorn – Simple Truth has different kinds of popcorn, or just make your own and bring it. You could add it to your trail mix too.
  • Homemade Trail Mix (pictured below) – I just make my own using a variety of nuts (we keep all kinds of nuts on hand at home), raisins, pumpkin seeds, maybe add some granola or whatever else you want. Chocolate chips would probably be a very tasty addition but I was worried about them melting.
  • Organic Instant Coffee (pictured below) – This was actually pretty good. My husband couldn’t find the creamer so he drank it black and said it was really good. Just heat up some water over a fire or cook-stove, pour into a mug and add a spoonful of the coffee. For creamer we use Organic Valley‘s french vanilla or hazelnut half & half.
  • Marshmallows (pictured below) – I found Dandies marshmallows at our local food co-op. I wouldn’t say they are the best ingredients, but better. They are Vegan, gluten free, gelatin free, GMO free. Ingredients: Tapioca Syrup, Cane Sugar, Tapioca Starch, Filtered Water, Carrageenan, Soy Protein, Natural Vanilla Flavor. I’m not happy about the carrageenan but the other ingredients are better than regular marshmallows which contain corn syrup, refined sugar, dextrose, modified cornstarch, tetrasodium pyrophosphate, artificial flavor, and blue #1. Why do they have blue dye when they are white?? Ugh… 
  • Graham Crackers – I like Annies, and they even have a yummy cinnamon graham cracker option. They aren’t cheap though, I will say. If you want to make your own, Real Fit, Real Food Mom has a good recipe.
  • Chocolate – there are natural/organic chocolate bars available in most grocery stores. I always like dark chocolate better and it’s better for you but some like milk chocolate better and hey, we are camping and having s’mores. We don’t get to do that very often. 🙂
  • Hot Cocoa – All I did for hot cocoa for the kids is heat up some milk (enough for however many cups you want), and add 1 chocolate square per cup (from the chocolate you use for the s’mores). Stir until fully dissolved. They loved it! And it was easy to make.

For charcoal, we found an all natural 100% lump mesquite charcoal at Fred Meyer, but I only see it there sometimes. See the picture below. You can see that it looks very different than normal charcoal. My husband really likes it. It has a good flavor, starts quickly and stays hot longer. There are other natural types out there, like the one at Trader Joe’s.

This is not a complete list of items to bring camping, but just some recommended items that I think help with Fibro-related problems (or that could benefit anyone really), and my recommended organic camping foods. Also, I think it would have been a lot worse to camp back when I wasn’t doing as good. I am about 80% better than I was so it was a lot more manageable. Here’s what I do to feel good and keep myself going: Daily Tips for Surviving Fibromyalgia.

Simple Truth Hamburger Patties:simple truth patties

Annie’s Deluxe Mac ‘N Cheese:Annie's mac 'n cheese

Veggie Packs (pictured without the potatoes):Veggie Packs

Simple Truth Shredded Hash Browns: simple truth hash browns

Kettle Chips – Non-GMO Project Verified:kettle chips

Homemade Trail Mix:homemade trail mix

Simple Truth Organic Instant Coffee:organic instant coffee

Dandies Marshmallows (Vegan, gluten free, gelatin free, GMO free) –
I did see them available at Fred Meyer:marshmallows

You can also find these on Amazon:

Natural Charcoal (found at Fred Meyer):natural charcoal

Here’s what we had for breakfast one day:
Hashbrowns with sausage & eggs, apple juice and a fruit platterIMG_3567

Here’s what we had for dinner one day:
Steak, and potato/veggie packs, with waterIMG_3535

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Money Saving Tips

money saving tipsOne of the biggest complaints I hear about eating organic is that it’s expensive. Many people have said they would love to switch over but it’s just too much money. It is true, organic food can be expensive. And there’s no real way to get around it except to save money in other areas so that we can afford to buy organic. I have cut out other expenses and am trying to save every way possible so that we can continue to eat organic foods. It’s that important to me. If you do decide to switch over, here are some great posts to help make the big switch:

First Steps in Switching to Organic Foods
The Big Switch to Organic Foods
How I Got My Husband & Kids to Eat Organic

Money Saving Tips:

1. Composting – I am trying to start a compost right now. We have to figure out where we want to put it, how we want to contain it, and if we want to use worms to help break it down. You could get a smaller garbage can after doing this because you won’t have as much waste as before and that saves money for sure. And recycling of course, but I think everyone is already doing that. Here’s some good information on composting: http://www.treehugger.com/lawn-garden/which-composting-method-is-best-for-you-infographic-helps-you-decide.html.

2. Dry Clothes Outside – Of course this is dependent on the weather. So do it when you can, especially blankets/sheets. We have a fire going during the winter and dry our clothes in front of it after going out in the snow.

3. Buy Used and Reuse – Buy anything used that you can. This saves you money and helps the environment. There are consignment shops, garage sales, Craigslist, and tons of places to buy used. I get used clothes for my kids and myself from different people whenever it is offered. I save everything, even if it doesn’t fit because it might fit later. I thought I would never lose weight and I did eventually, so I was glad that I saved some of my old clothes. I have totes of clothes for the kids in my garage that don’t fit them yet but will one day (this includes coats and shoes). And the used clothing store that I really like will also give you money for your used stuff so I can bring stuff in there I don’t need anymore and exchange for stuff I do need.

4. Power/Water – Shut off the lights and turn off the water! I am constantly making sure things are off in our house if we aren’t using them. It helps keep our power bill at an affordable rate. I think you can setup your power bill so that you can pay the average amount every month instead of paying so much during the winter, but I haven’t tried it yet. Also use energy saving appliances. And don’t let the water run while you are doing dishes or brushing your teeth. You could even shut off the shower while you are soaping up in the shower.

5. Barter/Trade – If you have something to offer and someone else has something to offer, why not do a trade? I’m thinking about offering my good friend Jeanette some stuff out of our garden in exchange for a haircut. I wonder if she’ll go for it? 😉 This would save us both money and I don’t cut my hair that often anyway. I definitely don’t dye it anymore either so that really saves.

rain water barrels6. Collect Rain Water – We started collecting rain water in rain water barrels recently. We bought the barrels from a guy off Craigslist for pretty cheap and then my husband hooked them up to one of our gutter drains. I am trying to get him to write a post on how he did it because it’s a pretty cool system and goes right to our big garden bed. 🙂 And yes, we have a filter setup.

7. Gardening – We started a bigger garden this year and are learning as we go. Here’s my post about it: Gardening – The Beginning.

8. Raise Your Own Meat – I found out we can actually have chickens here in our neighborhood. I never would have thought we could, so it doesn’t hurt to ask. We don’t have a fenced yard though so I want to wait until we do so they aren’t caged up all the time. If you can’t have any kind of farm animals, you could go in on it with someone. If they have the animals, you could pay for the eggs and meat. Or go in on a whole or half cow together at a meat market. I know the Farm Fresh Market sells them.

9. Natural Ways to Store Food – I saw these on 100 Days of Real Food, reusable sandwich baggies. Here’s where you can find them: http://neat-os.com/product-category/bundles. They aren’t cheap but after you buy them you can just keep reusing and never have to buy ziploc bags again. And you can use 100 Days of Real Food’s coupon code “100days” for 20% off.

IMG_317310. Cloth Napkins/Reusable Sponges – There are cloth napkins you can buy on Amazon or 100 Days of Real Food has a great idea of buying plain white cocktail napkins and tie-dye them! I like that idea. And I found reusable ‘sponges’ at Kohl’s, see the picture to the right. They have worked great so far and I have had them for many months now. I just throw them in the washing machine when they need washed.

11. Coupons/Stocking Up – If you shop at Kroger or Fred Meyer, they have a Simple Truth brand. You can go to their website and load coupons onto your card before you go shopping. They also send coupons in the mail. And there’s a website/Facebook page for organic deals & coupons: http://www.organicdeals.com/. Also, stock up on foods that are on sale when you can.

12. Canning – We haven’t tried this yet but we have a lot of tomato plants growing and if we get an abundance of tomatoes we want to can them. We can make salsa, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. And if we get a lot of cucumbers that we can’t eat (or juice), we want to make pickles. I just found out my mom has all the canning supplies! She doesn’t think she will use them so this is another barter/trade opportunity. I can give her some of what we make if she lets me use them. 🙂 natural cleaners

13. Make Your Own Cleaners – After we switched to organic foods, one of the first things I did was make our own cleaners. It is pretty easy and saves money. Here’s my post on Natural Cleaners Made Easy.

14. Vehicle Maintenance – Do your own oil changes and other car maintenance, if you can. I’m lucky that my husband used to work at Les Schwab so he can do our brakes and stuff too. Saves a ton in labor costs! He’s also a computer guy so he can fix our computers or even build us a computer when we need one. He’s definitely a keeper huh? 😉

15. Making Food Last – If there are leftovers in the fridge that I don’t think are going to get eaten, I freeze them. We typically eat leftovers for lunch but there are those occasions where we have too much. Then at a later time, I can pull them out to eat or add to something to make another dinner. i.e. I had too much spaghetti sauce so I froze the rest to make spaghetti another night. Or I bought some strawberries and they started going bad right away, so I cut off the bad parts and froze them for smoothies. And my son didn’t finish his banana so I sliced it up and put it in the freezer.

16. Wear Clothes More Than Once – I actually take the time to check my kids’ clothes to see if they are dirty before washing them. It doesn’t make sense to me to wash something that looks and smells clean and can be worn again. Especially if they only wear it one time! It’s worth it to me to save money and have less laundry to fold. 😉 I wear my clothes more than once too!

17. Reduce Cable Costs – Cancel cable or do a basic plan and get Netflix, Hulu, and/or Amazon Prime. Netflix and Hulu are less than $10/month and Amazon Prime is about $80/year and you get free shipping with your purchases through Amazon, free books to choose from each month, and Amazon Prime instant TV that gives you different TV shows and movies to choose from. We save so much by doing this. I don’t really watch TV now but do like to watch an occasional movie and there are some great food documentaries available through Netflix! I don’t have Hulu though so I don’t know a lot about that one.

18. Use Less – My former boss’ husband worked as an appliance repairman and he says you don’t need to put so much soap in your dishwasher or washer. I put half the recommended amount and everything comes out just as clean. That goes for shampoo and toothpaste too. We don’t need to use so much shampoo to clean our hair and you only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.

19. Use a Reusable Water Bottle – You will save money by not purchasing bottled water all the time and it helps the environment too. Here’s the one I use. They have different colors available and it’s dishwasher safe.

 

There are probably many more ways to save money but this is what I have come up with so far and is what I am doing, or plan on doing, to continue to save money so we can have healthy organic foods. Plus, eating healthy saves in medical costs! 🙂

 

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same, but Organic Fibro Mommies will earn a small commission (which helps to offset web hosting fees, maintenance, etc.). Your support is greatly appreciated!

Tips for Easy Grocery Shopping

Tips for Easy Grocery ShoppingGrocery shopping can be a real chore sometimes, but we have to do it if we want to eat! 😉 (Unless we raise/grow everything on our own of course.) I have developed a pretty good system that works for me so I thought I would share it with you. Some people plan out their meals for the week and even do some prep work over the weekend. I have never really done that, except I did try planning out our meals before and that became a chore in itself! So what I do now is just keep a stock of certain things and then I can make just about anything during the week. This has worked just fine when I’m working or not working. I do take a few minutes the night before to take something out of the freezer and think about what sounds good and what we haven’t had in a while. Something usually comes to mind pretty quickly. It does sound nice to have crockpot meals ready to go for the week but I haven’t tried it yet.

With Fibromyalgia symptoms, it can be extra hard to make these shopping trips. We forget things easily, anxiety comes on strong, especially with bright lights and crowds, pain can come on strong, and on and on. Then to have to stop and read labels and decide what to buy… it can be very overwhelming. Here’s what I do to make things easier for myself.

Here are my tips for easy grocery shopping trips:

  • Keep a shopping list going all week long and anytime you are out of something, write it down. I have those pads of lined paper that you can stick on your refrigerator.
  • Take an inventory either the night before or morning of the day you go shopping. I go through my fridge/freezer, cupboards and pantry and see what we might be low on or out of. There are basic items I always have in my head to check for.
  • Organize your shopping list by category and cross off the items as you go through the store. It may be fun for the kids to cross off items for you, if they are at the age to read and use a pencil of course.
  • Go shopping weekly so that you don’t have to get so many items and it won’t take you as long. Plus if you forgot something it would only be another week until you go again. Also, you can get fresh fruit/vegetables each week!
  • Bring something to keep the kid(s) occupied. This could be a book, pad of paper and a pencil, and yes I am guilty of giving them my phone to play with. Really, it’s whatever works so you can get through the shopping trip as stress-free as possible.
  • If you can, go shopping early in the day, or later at night to avoid crowds.
  • To save money, I load my coupons ahead of time and put any printed coupons in my purse. Maybe make a note next to the item on your grocery list if there’s a coupon. That way you can make sure you follow what the coupon says. I also give myself a weekly budget and try to stay within that budget. I haven’t been too strict on it while we have had extra money but when I am home I plan to bring a calculator so I can really make sure I am within budget, as money will be tighter.
  • Switch up your stores. I go to Trader Joe’s one week, Fred Meyer another week (they have a great Simple Truth organic brand), and our Food Co-op another week. That way I can get certain items we like from certain places. They may be cheaper or a better organic selection. For examples of these items, I made a list below. And yes, I actually keep different shopping lists for different stores. 🙂
  • If you really want to make things easier, you could find out when the store does their stocking and make sure to go on a different day. The organic section of the big grocery stores is usually small and they are always stocking when I go because I go on Fridays right now. It makes it more crowded, harder to get the things I need and be able to take my time and read labels.
  • Don’t shop on an empty stomach. I make this mistake all too often. Then I start piling extra things in the cart because everything looks good and that doesn’t help with trying to save money. Plus I get irritable and feel sick if I don’t eat when I need to. So that doesn’t help things either. Just bring a snack to eat in the car before you go in, or eat before you go.

I am sure there are many more ways to make grocery shopping easier but this is what works for me, as long as I stick to it. I had one week where we didn’t go shopping and I was thrown off for a while. It helps to stay organized and have a routine. Click here for our very first organic shopping trip, which includes tips on changes you can make if you can’t go full-blown organic.

Here are my kids on our first shopping trip to Trader Joe’s (back in February 2013)! Kailey was 7 and Tyler was 3. trader joes

Here are some of the places I like to shop and some of the items I like to purchase:

  • Trader Joe’s – Organic maple syrup (great price), organic ketchup-pictured below (least amount of sugar compared to other organic brands), Fairtrade organic coffee, organic frozen fruit/vegetables, organic pears & apples (they are the perfect size for kids to grab and eat), organic peanut butter-pictured below (it is 1 ingredient – organic peanuts), coconut oil (great price), Kerrygold grass fed butter (better price), and many other items. Not all the items at Trader Joe’s are organic, so you really have to read labels.
  • Olympia Food Co-op – They have a great bulk section! Nuts/seeds, granola, trail mix, beans, rice, noodles of all kinds, different flours and sugars, popcorn kernels, herbs & seasonings, etc. Their produce is fresh from local farms. And many other great items. I have found things there that I couldn’t find anywhere else. Canned organic pineapple is one item.
  • Fred Meyer – They have a Simple Truth organic brand and provide a wide selection of foods. They keep coming out with new items too. It’s a great price, for organic. Of course there are many other organic brands available at Fred Meyer. Compared to other big grocery store chains, I like their organic section the best.
  • Farm Fresh Market – This is where I go if we need anything in-between grocery shopping trips. It’s not too far from our house and they have a little bit of everything. And I love getting their rotisserie chicken! Cooked and ready to go.
  • Olympia Farmers Market – Obviously the Farmers Market is a great place to go for so many reasons. Fresh, organic, local foods. I don’t go here as often as I should. I have found some of the same produce at the Food Co-op and I can get other things there that I can’t at the Farmers Market. But, I will definitely be going to the Farmers Market more often when I am home and can get out more. It will be fun to just go down there, grab some things, eat lunch and play at the park. 🙂

Here’s a variety of nuts/seeds I put in glass jars that I saved:
IMG_2757

Organic ketchup from Trader Joe’s:
organic ketchup

Organic peanut butter from Trader Joe’s:
organic peanut butter