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Taking Time To “Mom”

Hello All! First of all I am pleased to say that we at Little Whale Spouts LLC are back at it! We have all taken some time to “mom,” but now we plan to have more presence online. I, Valerie H., am pleased that I have gained a new niece and nephew! Congratulations to Tonya and Val! With that being said, I am also excited to tell you that even though we have been offline, we have been working on some exciting new products for in the shop! Stay tuned for those!

With Mother’s Day coming up, I have been thinking about what it means to “mom.” I tend to think of it in a couple of different ways.

To “mom” (noun): To be the person responsible for the care and nurture of sweet little people.

To “mom” (adjective): The act of  caring and nurturing of sweet little people.

IMG_3000Let break down the noun version of “mom.” This is a huge responsibility for a person! It means sacrificing your physical body, mental state, social status, and your emotions sometimes daily! It is a tiring, yet so rewarding job! The identity of “mom” brings on so many feelings of satisfaction, but also the pressure of responsibility. I remember being so excited to hear my firstborn call me “ma-ma.” Its such a sweet memory. Now I hear my children call “mom” for so many reasons. It could be that they are looking for me just because they like to know where I am. Or it could be that they are hungry, scared, tired, hurt, or in need of a referee. :/ Whatever the reason, being that person for them is a pleasure.

The adjective form of “mom” is hard to completely explain. It has many facets to it. It could mean wiping up the 2nd spill of the day at 8 am. Or it could be having Dad watch the kids so that you can have some time off. It could be seeing your children’s faces light up with excitement over the littlest things or nursing your children back to health. Whatever it takes to allow you to act on caring and nurturing your sweet little ones.

IMG_4604The noun version of “mom” is very appealing. Mothers tend to be associated with tender loving care. Who wouldn’t want to be looked at as a source of love?

The adjective version of “mom” is most often what I struggle with! It’s hard to know how to raise your children in the way they should go! It’s even harder to do it with love and care! An area of struggle for me is knowing when to spend time getting things done and when to stop work so that I can spend time with my children. I try to remember that they will not always need me so much, so I should find joy in being needed.

IMG_2901Regardless of which “mom” version I am at the moment, I do know that motherhood is a very unique experience. Every mom has their own story of how they became known as “mom.” There are so many happy and endearing moments of motherhood. Along with that, there are also very hard “help me have patience” and “I’m not sure I can do this” moments.

During this season of “mom”-ing I have found it especially encouraging when people have told me that I am doing a good job. It is such a simple thing to say, but in the midst of everything, it means the world. Offering encouraging words is one way anyone can show love to mom. Because being “mom” is a very important role, let’s help her to feel special and loved this Mother’s Day! God Bless!IMG_2951

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Recipe for Canning Peaches

IMG_0828

I love being able to go to my shelves in the middle of winter and pull out a jar of these peaches! So maybe it takes a bit of work now, but it pays off in the long run. There is nothing quite like homemade!

Not only do we eat them straight out of the jar, but we have found a couple other ways that we love to eat them as well. We make a fresh fruit salad and then add some of these peaches along with a bit of the juice. It adds a bit of sweet and helps keep the fruit from browning. We also combine these peaches with bananas, yogurt, and miscellaneous other fruits in the blender to make smoothies.

So here it is.

 

Canned Peaches

3 Baskets of Peaches, peeled, seeded, and cut in halves (I use Red Haven)

24 Cups of Water

6 Cups of Sugar

2 Tablespoons of Lemon Juice

You will also need canning jars, lids, and rings.

 

Combine water, sugar, and lemon juice in a large kettle. Bring to a boil. Stuff jars with peaches and one seed. Pour sugar water over peaches until liquid is one inch below the top of the jar. (Be careful not to pour hot liquid into cold jars too quickly or they may break!) Lid and ring the jars snug but not too tight. Place them in a water bath canner. Bring them to a boil and start timing for 20 minutes. When the time is up, tighten the jar rings and place them on a counter top. Let them set for 24 hours. Enjoy.

Yield: Approximately 32 Quarts

 

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Me-Time

Your child/children are asleep (or at a sitter) and you have some time to yourself…what do you do? Chores or Relax? Something for the good of the family or something for yourself? If you’re like me, I tend towards the chores and stuff that benefits the whole family. As moms, we’re used to putting other’s needs before our own, but we also need filled up. A friend of mine wrote a good blog recently about this (https://tendinghearts.blog/2017/05/28/fill-er-up/).

 

So, if we actually do take the time to do something we enjoy, what do you choose to do? I actually wrote a list of things I enjoy and/or that help me relax. So when I do get some me-time, I’m not trying to figure out what I should do. I look at the list and whatever sounds the best for that time, is what I do. I’m not going to lie: most times that I’m home for my little one’s naps, I do housework. However, my husband and I take turns having a night off. We picked Thursday as the “evening off” night. So one Thursday, I will have the evening to do as I please and the next Thursday, he will. This can be a social time like a  girls/guys night out or something as simple as reading a book at a park or hidden in a bedroom in a comfy recliner.

 

Do you need some inspiration? Below is my list of things I enjoy or find relaxing:

  • Crafting
  • Reading
  • Manicure
  • Pedicure
  • Girls night out
  • Gardening
  • Walking in nature
  • Sitting in nature
  • Yoga
  • Organizing
  • Drinking a glass of wine, Kombucha, hot tea or coffee depending on the time of day/year)
  • Soaking in bath tub
  • Taking a nap
  • Meditating
  • Listening to my alternative playlist on Spotify
  • Watching an episode of Fixxer Upper
  • Creating healthy snacks
  • Going antiquing
  • Or do a combo like: drink wine while reading a good book in nature or listen to music while crafting

 

If you have suggestions to add to this list, please comment! I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

Craft Projects

DIY Cloud project

Before my daughter was even born,  I would tell people that she really wasn’t going to have much of a choice whether she liked to read or not. I had been collecting books from my favorite authors at yard sales years before ever becoming pregnant. We also asked for books instead of cards at our baby shower. In my defense, my job involved reading books to toddlers and school age children, so I had a very valid reason to even have a list of favorite children’s authors. Also, I believe that I learned my love of books thanks to my own mother. I have fond memories of trips to the library and of her reading stories to me at bedtime.

So very early on in Nugget’s life, I would read to her before naptime and bedtime. At first, she was clueless as to what I was doing, but now books are her favorite thing. She wants to read all the time, so much so that I have started hiding some for a few days after I can’t stand to read them one more time. She will surround herself with a pile of books and hold one up in the air, look at me and grunt. If I don’t come read it in a timely fashion, tears are shed. I guess I got what I wished for.

She is also in a phase of trying to wriggle away during diaper changes, so the picture below is a frequent occurrence if Daddy is home to distract her from the awful reality of getting her soiled diaper replaced. The daddy & daughter bond is just the sweetest thing ever, am I right?

readingwithdaddy

Fun fact:  note the little whale spout she’s sporting? This look was frequently worn by my niece at the time we were dreaming about opening a nursery décor business and was the inspiration for our business name. We do love a good whale spout.

For Nugget’s 1st birthday, I wanted to create a reading nook in our play room. I know she can’t fully utilize it yet, but I’d been waiting for an excuse to create one. Particularly one with a cloud hanging from the ceiling and rainbow ribbon suspending “diamond” raindrops.

I didn’t document the process very well, but should you like to make one check out the tutorial below. It’s a very forgiving craft project, so have fun with it and don’t worry about specific measurements or amounts.

DIY CLOUD

Supplies:

  • 6 Chinese lanterns, no lights needed                                                                               (tip: wait until spring/summer and check your local Dollar Tree for cheap ones)
  • white spray paint
  • snow roll (sometimes called snow blanket/buffalo snow)
  • poly-fil
  • spray adhesive
  • hot glue gun & glue sticks
  • ribbon (chose what colors you like, I have one string for every color of the rainbow, but also thought about getting rainbow ribbon with all the colors on one strand)
  • faux diamonds
  • fishing wire & sewing needle (you want a really long needle)
  • hanging screws

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Set up your area. Be sure to lay down newspaper or plastic drop cloth for using spray paint and spray adhesive.  It will cover everything and get in areas you didn’t even know you sprayed! Be in a well ventilated space (outside is best), the spray adhesive is potent. We were not, hence the bandanas in the picture below.
  2. Assemble lanterns and spray paint white (if already white you can skip this step. I spray painted because they had floral patterns on that I didn’t want to show through). Allow spray paint to dry before continuing to step #3
  3. Roughly cut out sections of the snow roll. Attach the snow roll to the lanterns using spray adhesive. If I had extra, I just pushed it into the lantern opening.
  4. Lay out your covered lanterns in desired cloud shape and hot glue together.
  5. Take a whole piece of snow roll and spray adhered to the whole cloud shape. Be sure to push into the nooks and crannies so you don’t lose your cloud shape and end up with a blob instead. Repeat this step for both sides. I also cut strips of snow roll and adhered them to the top side to make a grid on the top (you could probably get away without the grid strips, but I wanted to be extra sure the shape would stay together once hung) cloud project*Above picture is of cloud before putting on poly-fil. Excuse the strange people. As stated, proper ventilation is key. We learned the hard way.
  6. Using spray adhesive, cover a small area and press in chunks of poly-fil. Continue to fill in the entire cloud shape. Once you complete the one side, turn over and repeat.
  7. Take your fishing wire and thread through your sewing needle. This step is to help support the structure as well as create a frame for hanging the cloud. Use the needle to thread the wire through the lanterns near the upper part of where each one meets (create two separate squares of wire; so the middle two lanterns with have wire on both the left top & right top).
  8. Cut two long & equals pieces of fishing wire for hanging the cloud. Take one piece of wire and run it under the two parallel wires on the top and bottom of a “wire square.” Once the wire is looped through the bottoms of the two wires, knot to create a loop. Repeat this with the other piece of wire and “wire squares.” These two knotted strands are your pieces for hanging the cloud with whatever screws you chose.   cloud project 2I realize steps 7 & 8 may be a bit confusing with out pictures, so hopefully this rough drawing above will help. The circles represent the lanterns. The squares are where your wire squares will be. X marks where you will run the wire strands under the square to create loops for hanging.
  9. Take your diamonds and hot glue them to the ribbon. (mine happened to have holes at the top, so I was able to knot the ribbon through the hole, but also hot glued for extra measure).  I chose to cut my ribbon at different lengths so the diamonds were varied, sort of like raindrops. I then hot glued a ribbon to each cloud puff. Be sure glue is completely dry before hanging.

 

cloud project 1.jpg

 

Finished project hung in our reading nook. I just love it! Now to get a better rug. I’m thinking grey.

Recipe

Basic Pesto Recipe

My favorite thing to make with all the basil that I’ve been harvesting is PESTO! And my favorite thing to eat pesto on is pizza…I know, I know super healthy. But really pesto is good on pasta, eggs, sandwiches, meats , vegetables and much more! It’s a very versatile condiment.

If you’ve ever bought pesto in a store, you know it can be rather pricey. (I may have gone to the store intending to buy it and left without it.) So I decided to look into making it. I went back to the store with my ingredient list. I was UN-pleasantly surprised how expensive pine nuts are. However, at this point, I bit the bullet and bought them. (I just wanted to try this Pesto Pizza recipe that looked amazing….it was!) After that, I stumbled upon a pesto recipe that called for almonds instead of pine nuts, so I tried it…and liked it! Fast forward to today: I now know you can make pesto from a variety of nuts, greens and cheeses. Below I have the basic recipe laid out for you. Then you can pick and choose the greens, nuts and cheeses you’d like to try. (I also have a few tips/suggestions and that Pesto Pizza recipe link down at the bottom under “Notes” if you’re interested.) Happy experimenting!

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups greens (see options)
  • 1/2 cup nuts (see options)
  • 1/2 cup cheese (see options)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon, optional

 

DIRECTIONS:

Add everything except olive oil to food processor. Process for about 15-20 seconds until everything is starting to break down.

Add olive oil. Process until smooth.

Use immediately or freeze it.

 

NOTES

-Nuts: preferably unsalted. You can roast them if you want, but not necessary.

-If omitting cheese, feel free to add 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt since aged cheese is usually salty. (This will make it a Paleo and Whole30 friendly recipe.)

 

USES

Pesto tastes awesome on/in the following: pizza, pasta, zucchini pasta, eggs, salads, soup, grilled meats, vegetables, on sandwiches, crackers, etc. If you have any other favorites, please feel free to share! My favorite is this pesto pizza recipe: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/garden-tomato-basil-pesto-pizza.

 

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Crochet

Crochet. What exactly is it? How do you do it? Is it hard?

I, Valerie, thought I would take a chance to tell you about my crocheting experiences thus far.

First of all, crocheting is different than knitting! Knitting involves two needles where crocheting uses one hook. You change the hook size or the yarn texture to get a different look or feel. You use different stitches to achieve dimension. You can make many items by learning just a few stitches! I think it is easy to do once you learn, but like anything it takes practice. The more you do it the easier it comes.

I learned how to crochet when I was just four years old! My mother is an avid crocheter and I saw her crocheting a lot during that time. I asked her to teach me and so she did. However, I didn’t do much at that age. I only learned a couple of the basic stitches which allowed me to make dishcloths and such. That was a bit boring to me after a while so I didn’t crochet for years.

I picked crocheting up again here and there as a teenager. I crocheted a bag and a queen size blanket. Still nothing too fancy.

Once I got married I took more of an interest in it again and even more so when I was expecting our first child. The rest is history. I taught myself more stitches by watching videos on you tube. It was fun finding a pattern and picking out yarn to make it. Isn’t it incredible how you can take a piece of yarn and turn it into a functional item?!

I’ve made quite a few different items by now including, blankets, slippers, bags, headbands, hats, barefoot sandals, baby shoes, scarfs, toys, and even a summer cardigan. I enjoy a challenge and the opportunity to try a variety of things.

So, that is my crochet story. Here are a few facts about my crochet items in our etsy shop.

  1. My crochet bumpers take about 10 hours to make.
  2. Each bumper (aside from the striped one) is made with only 2 pieces of yarn.
  3. Most of the afghans are made with only 5 or less different stitches.
  4. I made up the pattern for the bumpers by myself.

I hope I was able to give you some insight on what crochet is all about. Don’t forget to go check out the items in our shop!

http://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleWhaleSpoutsLLC

Here is a sneak peek of one of the blankets listed.

Pink 1

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Nursery Bundles

Our vision for Little Whale Spouts is to be a “one-stop shop” in regards to nursery decor. But since we are 3 woman with families and not a manufacturer, we had to start with realistic goals. So while furniture, curtains and storage solutions aren’t in our inventory, we do hope that a stop at our Etsy shop can help check off a good portion of your nursery wish list.

Our bundles are an even easier way to get all you need in one purchase. Plus, it comes at a savings! Each bundle is marked down for a savings total of $60 and even more if you add the changing pad cover!! We don’t make multiples of the bundles either, so each one is unique. If you like it, snatch it up before it’s gone.

Our Woodland Bundles are  currently available! It includes: Crib skirt, sheet, breathable bumper, quilt, mobile and customize-able sign. You also have the options to add a changing pad cover and the choice of changing the crib sheet to organic cotton.

cropped-bundle-4.jpg

A Shabby Chic bundle will be available very soon. Nautical and neutral bundles are also in the works as well and are excited to share them with you! If you have a design theme that you would like to see us tackle next, comment below with your idea.

Explore more details on the bundles following the link below

http://www.etsy.com/shop/LittleWhaleSpoutsLLC

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From Husband to Father

Before I even became pregnant, I knew that having a baby would change my relationship with my husband. I didn’t know exactly how, but I knew things would be different. I expected to be more tired and have less time with him because I would have to care for a helpless tiny human that depended on me to feed and care for him. I didn’t expect my love for him to change the way it did. Watching him interact with our son has made me fall in love with him in a different way than I did when it was just the two of us (Que Will Smith song….good luck trying to get that song out of your head now! You’re welcome!).

Raising a kid deepens your character and I have watched that first hand  in my husband. You learn to be more patient, to enjoy the little things, to be more selfless than you ever imagined you could be (on some days anyway) and to rely on God more than perhaps you had in the past. I’ve seen evidence of these things as my husband cares for and raises our son. It’s awesome to watch him love him. My favorite moments are when he gets down on the floor and plays trains or builds legos or reads books to him. My son eats that up and wants to be just like Daddy.

Since having a child changed my view of him, I thought I’d ask my husband what changed for him and how he feels about being a father. Below is my little interview with him:

 

What is your favorite thing about being a Father?

  • When our son shows me affection spontaneously. (I don’t need to ask or fish for it.) He unashamedly loves being around me.
  • When he (sort of) sings along to “Jesus Loves Me” before we put him to bed.

 

How has being a Father changed you?

  • I waste time in a lot smaller chunks.
  • It forces me to be more patient (I can see how much he still has to learn, and how much being tired or hungry influences his behavior.)
  • I want to be a good role model…someone he can truly look up to.

 

What’s the hardest thing about being a Father?

  • Realizing how I use my time and money, and how my goals for the future don’t just effect me, they effect my family as well.

 

What surprised you the most about becoming a dad?

  • The level of pride/joy of watching your kid learning new things. It’s as fulfilling as you learning it yourself.

 

Who do you look to for Fatherhood advice?

  • My Dad
  • Cousins & Brother-in-Laws who have older kids than mine

 

How do you feel about the upswing in culture promoting involved Dads?

  • I love it! Advertisers realized the “dumb dad” doesn’t appeal to the millennial generation. We don’t see being dead-beats as something to aspire to.

 

Today is Father’s Day, so let that be a good reason to let the Fathers in your life know that you appreciate them. Tell them how it has impacted you (whether it’s your Dad or Step-Dad, your child’s Dad, your Grandfather or someone else entirely that has played a Father figure in your life). They might not realize how much you respect them for the way they have carried the responsibility of Fatherhood.

 

Parenting

What I learned in my first year of motherhood

I have always been known as the one who speaks her mind. My parents still remember when my 8th grade teacher told a story at Jr. High graduation about how I bluntly inquired after observing his eating habits, “Doesn’t that give you the runs?” I don’t remember what it was that he was eating, but I do remember it was a valid question.

As I continued to get older, I continually felt as though my openness was a negative quality. After all in James 1:9 it says, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. I’m ok-ish at listening, super patient, but oh so bad at being slow to speak. So while I daily work on my filter, I instead often think on the verse , “for of the abundance of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). My biggest desire is to know God and to make Him known, so though I often fail, I still want my words and actions to speak love & life. Because, well, God is love and life (although at times, life just sucks and it doesn’t seem like any of that is true). My second biggest desire is probably to eat cake, bread and cheese everyday.

So while I have matured enough to know it is not appropriate to casually ask people about their bowel movements, I still appreciate open and honest conversations. So I am about to get even more real with you all… I have been blessed with the toughest year of my life and blessed with the most growth ever thanks to a handful of people that carried me through. (Christians can we stop using #blessed just because something goes right please? Overuse of this hashtag makes it seem as though God still isn’t present just because our life isn’t all cake, cheese and bread with no weight gain.) Notice how I used blessed for both good and bad? That’s because God’s favor was with me through it all.

God was with me:
– when I had a crazy delivery; 28 hours and 2 hours pushing only to watch the hospital staff struggle to get her to breathe
-when I had no clue what I was doing with a newborn
-when my baby cried constantly, nursed 20 hours in a day and barely slept (At 11.5 months she finally slept all night!)
-when I realized all my years of working with children (over 10 years folks) didn’t make me any less clueless with my own
-when I sobbed as I returned back to work full time
-when I had to quit my job that I had loved a few months later; and cried even more
-when I became a stay at home mom; and cried
*I’ve seen both sides, working or not, being a mom is still tough
-when I finally started to enjoy motherhood, probably around 6 months into the gig
-when I finally stopped thinking about myself and how parenting has changed my life and noticed my husband again and saw just what a pillar of strength he had been and is for me
-when I got the privilege to share a house with my sister; who is even more open than me and so much wiser (I learn SO MUCH from her)

So that was my year in a nutshell and trust me, there is so much unspoken craziness within those events. In general I have had a pretty average life, so this past year felt like a whirlwind. Yet, with my 1 year old, almost walking whirlwind in the house, I have found myself in the best place ever because this year has taught me so many lessons that simply need to be learned the hard way. Parenting has a steep learning curve; childbirth sometimes changes your body in ways that “9 months on, 9 months off” just won’t fix, and accepting that I am not enough but God is- it’s so freeing.

If any of you are reading this and have a child that is more difficult than you had anticipated, all I can say from my experience is; you are not alone, so don’t be afraid to reach out to someone for help. Take time for yourself. It’s easy to push your needs aside, but you’ll be a better parent if you take the mom hat off for a little. And perhaps one day, when you aren’t even noticing, everything will just gradually get better. It did for me.

After showing a glimpse into my motherhood journey, I’d enjoy hearing from you. Feel free to comment below on what you’ve learned from being a parent or what surprised you the most about being responsible for another human.

-Val

 

Recipe, Uncategorized

Basic Roasted Vegetable Recipe

Getting my almost 2 year old son (& my 30-something husband) to eat vegetables can be a war sometimes. Let’s be honest: Sometimes getting myself to eat vegetables can be a struggle too. I know that they’re good for me and that I should eat more than just a spoonful at each meal. That being said, I decided I needed find other ways to prepare vegetables than just boiling them in water and throwing a few spices on top. The soggy results were never appetizing to me (or the rest of my family). So I decided to try roasting them instead. I looked into different recipes and came up with my own, which I am sharing with you today. (Grilling is another option we like too!)

I’m giving you the basic recipe today. However, feel free to also use this as a guideline and experiment by adding your own variations of herbs and spices. I’ll probably post some of my favorite spice and herb combinations on here at some point, so check back for those at a later date.

If you are already roasting vegetables and have a favorite recipe or herb/spice combo, PLEASE feel free to share! I love trying new mixtures!

 

Basic Roasted Vegetable Recipe

Ingredients

Vegetable, chopped into 1-2” cubes

Olive Oil (or oil of your choice)

Salt

Pepper

Herbs/Seasonings (optional)

 

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Toss chopped vegetables in a bowl with olive oil.

3) Place parchment paper on baking sheet and pour veggies onto it.  Spread out so that there’s only one layer.

4) Sprinkle salt, pepper and any herbs/spices evenly over the vegetables.  Put sheet in the oven.

5) Halfway through the bake time, get sheet out and toss the vegetables so that they cook evenly; Return to oven.

6) Check vegetables at the earliest time listed. If vegetables are soft, you may serve them. However, my family likes to wait until they are starting to get caramelized before removing them from the oven.

Roasted Veggie Pic

 

Note: You may combine different vegetables as well and play with the times. It’s a great way to use up those leftover veggies from recipes that only called for a small amount. I just chop them and throw them all in the olive oil, add some spices and bake. So far I’ve never had a bad combo.