Tuesday, April 29, 2014


It seems like news breaks at the most inconvenient times. Whether you are halfway down the stairs of a bus (Which is where I found myself when Elizabeth Smart was found) or on your way out the door to something "important." The newscaster interrupts the typical programming and says, 'Listen to this it will make everything else in your life menial. Those other "important" things no longer matter.'

As with Breaking News - this discovery is also at an inconvenient time. But it is so BIG that these other things can wait. Rather than cleaning, organizing, packing, and doing all other things associated with moving/long trip preparations I am here sharing a few of my new favorite discoveries from my health journey.

"Why is this so important?" , you ask. I just had the most wonderful lunch. Zoodles (which I am newly addicted to) and Cauliflower Alfredo.

First let me explain zoodles and why I love them. For years people have been using Spaghetti Squash in place of pasta, but a new age has come and people are spiral cutting and julienning all kinds of fruits and vegetables for use in low carb diets. Zucchini is probably the most common (Hence the ZZZZoodle). Despite all the Z's I just typed zoodles are not something to sleep on. If you love pasta as much as I do (which is probably not possible) you should try this out! I tried my first zoodles yesterday and couldn't wait to have them again today for lunch. One small zucchini is only 23 calories opposed to the 100+ in a small serving of pasta. Plus- it's a vegetable, who isn't looking for a way to add more vegetables into their diet?

As for the Cauliflower Alfredo - even Mr. Sam said that it was good and couldn't even guess what it was made of. If he put his stamp of approval on something low cal and healthy then you know it's good.

Recipe I used for a guide found on Tastefully Crafted - obviously I did things a little differently because I didn't use pasta and I also only used about 3 cups of water and since I don't keep Italian seasoning on hand I used about 1 Tbs of Basil and 2 tsp of Oregano. With some sautéed zoodles and a chicken breast it made for a healthy, filling lunch. And the sauce is so creamy I could eat it all day!

I loved this so much that I haven't even cleaning it up yet - it is still warm on the stove while I write this. Hence the Breaking News.

Other happy discoveries on my healthy journey this last month have been:
-Oatmeal with blueberries (frozen) with a little brown sugar and if I have toast I make it whole wheat and substitute coconut oil for butter (I don't even notice the difference!). I have this almost everyday!
-My whole life my parents have enjoyed cottage cheese on salad and I thought it was the most disgusting thing I had ever heard of. Recently I tried it instead of ranch for a healthy fat and added protein and it was great! Just add some salt and pepper, or my favorite Salad Supreme, right on top and it is delicious.

I hope you enjoy these tips or try out zoodles. They are great! And this sauce is seriously creamy. I was actually very surprised that it was so good. And now I end this breaking news to clean my fridge and scrub my floors...fun.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Diapers are Stinky.

They really are.
When we were pregnant with Hobbit Jo we talked about doing cloth diapers because we are destitute students. Nothing organic or natural about it, we just didn't want to go into debt for something that was going to be thrown away after a few hours (sometimes a few minutes) of use.
However, the start up for cloth diapers can be PRICEY, so the resourceful woman that I am. I decided to take advantage of my discount at work and buy diaper flannel, elastic, and snaps for a fraction of the price that it would be to buy diapers. With a borrowed diaper from my sister-in-law I set to work.
Before I share these tips on sewing your own diapers I have to say this one thing. DON'T DO IT! If you can shell out the $150-$200 dollars (at the least) to start diapering then DO IT!
After many hours, days, trials, prototypes and tears. I have settled on our current diapers.
Tip #1 - The elastic was pointless.
Tip #2 - Tri-folds are pretty awesome for burp rags and as diapers.
Tip #3 - You will be pee soaked and smell a good majority of your life.
Tip #4 - Get a good bucket with an air-tight seal.
Tip #5 - Research your choices and how to care for your diapers and especially covers.
Tip #6 - Care for your covers. This needed said twice because they are important. They are your only defense against the pee.
Tip #7 - Strip your diapers at least once a month.
Tip #8 - If you can afford it, spring for flushable wipes, because poopy wipes that aren't wrapped up in diapers reek!
Tip #9 - Keep disposables nearby.

Our system is cloth during the day and disposable at night (otherwise we would need to wash her sheets almost everyday. We also use disposables for adventures like church, playgroup, grandma's house, or if we are doing errands or shopping for a long time. We have only needed to buy 1-2 bags of diapers per size and towards the end of the last two sizes we had to use them for awhile to use the rest of the bag. As gross as it was to get use to swished out poop in the toilet and the gust of stink when you open the bucket to throw them in the wash, I like it. It's cheaper, I never have the fear of running out and needing to run to the store; if we run out we can throw on a disposable while the others wash. Another bonus is flushing the stink. Hobbit Jo's diapers keep getting stronger and even more stinky than the last so it is great to flush it away. The paper diapers that are full of poop in the garbage stink more than anything.
All-in-all it is totally worth it to cloth diaper.

Tips about making them - skip the elastic, sew around the edges with a serger if you can, go around the diapers twice to insure they won't fray or shred, buy your covers (they are expensive but you'll be grateful).

Diapers are stinky. They really are. But when they are poop-free, in a bucket they stink a lot less than poopy in a garbage.

"If in doubt, Meriadoc, follow your nose."
-Gandalf, Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien-

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Playgroup and All That I Have Learned

The last month or so the moms from our apartment complex have been getting together for playgroup. At the beginning it was hard for me to go. I didn't REALLY know these girls. And I was scared and uncomfortable. But, I knew it would be good for me and it really has.

After a few weeks of actually going (instead of sleeping in, taking a long bath, or slumming it on the couch while Hobbit Jo napped). I started to really like it. I got more comfortable and started adjusting her schedule so that her nap would be after playgroup. And rather than going for the 45 minutes that I started with I have started spending hours with these women and I love it.

It has been so eye-opening to learn about different relationships and different styles or opinions. Yet, I feel so uplifted and unified because we are all the same. Just moms and wives and members of the church trying to do our best and looking for friendship far away from home.

Among our weekly chats we've discussed babies and sleeping (or the lack thereof) and Dressing Your Truth (blog post here) and families and technology. Dressing Your Truth has been a frequent conversation whether we are pro-ing or conning it (it depends on the moment) we have learned a lot more about each other and it has really opened me up personally to welcoming them in as friends. But, I've also learned even more about myself.

I've learned that I need to focus on my strengths and acknowledge my weaknesses. Which sounds simple and obvious, except I didn't understand that.

They would always say I looked cute, I was good at sewing, my blog was fun, etc. I would thank them and feel slightly embarrassed because as touched as I was that I was getting the exact compliments I so badly wanted didn't feel deserved because the back of my mind was rattling off all the reasons I didn't deserve admiration. I am messy, I am forgetful, we watch TV a lot, I give my baby hot dogs, I'm so much younger than they are, I am overweight, I tend to exaggerate and occasionally lie in social situations when I feel uncomfortable or disproved of (one of my biggest faults and something I'm working on in my life), I am lazy, and I could go ON AND ON! Each time I got a compliment all of these things would rush to my mind and sadly my heart.

However, the more we have talked the more we've identified ourselves with "types" or tendencies, I felt more accepted and understood, and I have been able to understand that I'm not being judged, I'm not looked down on for being me. I really am a good cook, I really do know how to sew. And I feel cute. Despite my weight, despite my wreck of an apartment - and wouldn't you know it? Since I have become friends with these girls and become comfortable in my environment; our apartment is consistently cleaner, I am a better mom, I get ready more often, (after a passing comment about needing to start exercising by another member of the group) I started exercising again, I started sewing again, I started reading my scriptures and wrote in my journal for the first time since we were dating, and I want to get off the couch, out of the house, and with my friends.

And in a conversation about this blog I realized I didn't have to be the scheduled, original, agonized over with perfect pictures (which I have no way to take with my digital camera that I can stick in my pocket that only has 3 settings; photo, video, and panorama). Why am I competing? This isn't my job. It's my way to share thoughts and experiences. Tales and Bag End has been though an identity crisis. This blog was started as OUR blog, a way to update people on our family and our activities and then I became under the impressing that it was supposed be scheduled, planned, promoted, pinned, perfect. I was no longer free to write a post about how much Hobbit Jo loves to dance and share her binky or blog about my feelings concerning the media and women and it's effect on me. The "mommy blog" world made me feel insignificant and I reshaped my blog to keep up.

So, identity crisis over. I will still be sharing the things I make or love. Not scheduled. Not planned 3 months in advance.

Thank you for reading (I love looking at my stats and seeing that 11 people read my post or hearing that people have looked at our blog; I feel so loved). So thank you again for checking on our family and caring about us. We love you!

Monday, February 3, 2014


This week's Make-It Monday is being replaced by my report on January's fitness goal to run for a half hour, an update on the Sexy Challenge, and my new goal for February.
Running in place and walking back and forth in our living room got REALLY old. Granted that it wasn't an accurate simulation of going for a run, nonetheless it feels amazing to say that I am able to jog for 30 minutes at a time. I feel very accomplished and able. It was a good start to my year of fitness.
I have been working on the Sexy Challenge. To be honest with you, I still can't do a real push-up, but I'm trying and I am getting better. I really love this challenge, because it is really a challenge. I struggle each day, but each day I get closer to the goal and become stronger.
Now, comes the new challenge - detoxing my body. Over the past few weeks, despite my calorie cutting, increased fiber, la de da; I was gaining weight instead of losing it. So my fitness goal of February is detoxing. And I've already started....let me give you the skinny.
I must be candid, if you're going to understand how great this is. I've taken 3 detox baths already 1) My feet tingled and itched but didn't notice much of a difference 2) I lost about two pounds in 1 day and my digestion was finally back on the right tract (haha, get it?) 3) I feel great, and it's amazing how much gray gunk scraped off my feet and out of my tub. The toxins are pouring out me, I'm broken out, and dehydrated from sweating them out.

Detox Bath

2 Cups Epsom Salt
1 Cup Baking Soda
1 Tbs Ground Ginger

And for the rest of the month I'll be drinking a few detox water recipes. I'll report at the end of the month with my favorite recipes and how I feel.
If you had a day like we had yesterday and partied half as hard (we ate a LOT of man food, including soda, ice cream, and lots of meat) then you need this bath. But, don't do it if you'll be away from home. You'll regret it.
No matter who you cheered for; Denver, Seattle, the groundhog, the puppies, the commercials. Whether you won or were disappointed with 6 weeks of winter, you will win with this detox bath.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Weekly tip: don't gorge yourself on meatball sandwiches.

Starting Weight: 169.5 lbs
Last Week's Weight: 167.5 lbs
Today's Weight: 172 lbs

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Oils Part 4: Foot Soak and Body Wash

The final part of our oil series is about feet. I don't like feet. At all. Despite my aversion and belief that no one wants to look at a picture of a foot - I will be posting a picture of my feet.

I've never had much of an issue with calluses or dry feet in the past but after Hobbit Jo was born my feet were dry and hard as the ground of the Salt Flats. They were cracking and catching on things. It was terrible. I used lotion and socks, I scraped, grated, filed and pumused, I tried the "amazing" Listerine treatment. Nada. I am someone who LOVES tubs and prefers to take a bath everyday to ever showering (not to say I don't like showers or don't shower - but most days find me soaking in a bath). Because of this I am always looking for a way to make them even more relaxing and delightful. I found a tutorial about making a body wash that I decided to try instead of buying expensive shaving cream with hopes with it would be slick and moisturizing. Which it is. But the best part was that it softened my feet enough that dead skin started to just rub off.

It was a miracle and I want to share it with you!

The Body Wash

6 Cups of Water
1 bar of soap grated
1 Cup Coconut Oil

Combine water and chunked up soap (I just scraped pieces off with a knife instead of grating) in pan on low heat and stir occasionally until soap dissolves and it creates a milk water. Bring to LOW simmer until it thickens almost as much as you want your body wash to be, Add coconut oil and put back to lowest setting. Only keep it on the heat until they oil has combined with your mixture.
Pour into whatever container you've saved aside.
Will make about a quart of body wash and mine lasted a long time!
It was a great way to extend the life of my soap and was nice and soft.

*If you are using it for shaving, like me, thicken for longer and use almond or olive oil (liquid at room temperature) so that it will remain liquid to avoid clogging your razor.

Foot Soak

You can use the Body Wash but I prefer this recipe. I wanted it to be pourable, and didn't need it to be super soapy.

3 Cups Water
1/4 Bar Soap grated (just to help combine the water and oil)
3/4 Cup Almond Oil

Combine water and soap in pan over low heat, add oil until combined.

You don't need to thicken it because you're pouring it into the water anyway. You can use coconut oil instead but I preferred the almond oil so that the water didn't have to be as hot to melt the coconut oil. But I've used both and both are great.

You can also add essential oils (I recommend lavender and melaluca for their healing properties; both are great for skin and relaxation).

Soak feet in a bucket of hot water with 1/4 Cup of Soak for about 20 minutes and then grate/file/sand/pumus however you would like. I did this for about a week and my feet are in great shape. It's been about 2 months and my feet still feel great!


Here are the links to the rest of the series, incase you missed them.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Confession. I actually weighed in on Tuesday this week.

My tip for this week - BUY Raisin Bran with Granola...RIGHT NOW...If it's midnight, go to Walmart and buy it anyway. It satisfied my healthy requirement, it's fiber, and the granola took care of my sweet tooth. I am a big fan of it in a big way.

Starting Weight: 169.5 lbs.
Last Week's Weight: 168 lbs.
Today's Weight: 167.5 lbs.

People always say, "It isn't a diet, it's a life choice." So....Happy Life-Choicing!