Friday, July 31, 2015

It's Friday!!

I've been MIA the past few Fridays, but time to get back at it!

It's been a fun, busy and HOT (OMG, like woah H-O-T) week at the Hayes Homestead.  Here's a few things we've been up to:
Speaking of the heat, the kids and I headed to the beach one morning this week.  It was great!  The kids loved the water and we had the entire beach to ourselves!  They did great in the water and, of course, loved playing in the sand.  I think it will be a go-to every week for the rest of the summer!

I did a little garden update earlier this week.  Unfortunately, it's not doing the greatest.  But, there's always next year!  Thankfully, my mom's garden is doing great and she's very generous :)  I was able to get about 20 cups of zucchini shredded and in the freezer and 8 pints of beans canned.  I've also been making pickles and canned some chicken stock.

I was able to pick enough zucchini out of our garden earlier this week to make one of Jason's favorites - Sausage Stuffed Zucchini:

I was recently given a rhubarb plant out of my grandparent's garden.  My grandfather passed away two years ago and since, my grandmother moved to a smaller house.  My aunt and uncle moved into my grandparent's farm house and take care of the land and garden now.  Rhubarb was always the first thing my grandpa would cut for me when I went for a visit because it's one of my favorites.  I love that I'll be able to grow and harvest something in my own garden that he grew and harvested with his own hands.

Potty training.  Ugh.
This has got to be one of the worst things we as parents have to do.  Ugh.
(can you sense my disgust!?)
We have started a very relaxed approach to PTing Ashlyn.  We know she's ready and able, it's just finding the time to focus on it for 3 days.  Some days she goes on the potty, others she doesn't.  If only she was as excited to go on the potty as she was to get her Minnie Mouse potty seat and undies:

Jason was golfing yesterday afternoon/evening so the kids and I went out to dinner.  They make some pretty adorable dates if I do say so myself!
Can you believe it's August tomorrow!?  Crazy!!  Here's to another great week!
~ Sara :)
I'm linking up with, Darci, AprilNatasha, and Christina for the Five on Friday link-up Party!
I'm linking up with A Little Bit of EverythingMomfessionals, and Grace and Love for my Friday Favorites!
I'm linking up with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife for the Oh Hey Friday linky party!
I'm also linking up with The Diary of a Real Housewife for Friday Favorites!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's Up Wednesday!

Hey everyone!  I'm a 'What's Up Wednesday' newbie and so happy to be here! I stumbled upon this linky party earlier this month and couldn't wait until today so I could join! 
Here we go!!

What We're Eating This Week....

We used to be so good about making a weekly dinner menu.  This chore had gotten away from us, but we're back on track this week!  I love having a weekly menu planned.  Just makes dinner so much easier!  Here is our menu for this week:
Sunday: Burgers, Homemade Buns, Sun Dried Tomato & Mozzarella Pasta Salad, Watermelon
Monday: Tacos
Tuesday: Grilled Steak, Sautéed Fresh Green Beans, Corn on the Cob
Wednesday: Stuffed Zucchini
Thursday: Grilled Chicken Salads
Friday:  Homemade Pizza
Saturday: Date night! 

What I'm Reminiscing About....

We've been in our house for just over a year now.  Crazy to think that this time last year our house was still full of boxes and we had no furniture in the living room.  We've done a lot to our house in the past year, but still have a lot more planned!
What I'm Loving.....
The new color of my laundry room!  We went from dingy white to Mango Madness!  We still have a few shelves to put up, but here's a sneak peek of the new color:

It's bright and funky and I LOVE it!!
What We've Been Up To....
Everything!  I can't believe how busy we are this summer.  I would really like 5 more hours in the day (at least) and an extra 40 minutes in each hour.  Is that too much to ask?

What I'm Dreading....
 The summer ending!  Now that it finally feels like summer here in MI, it's going to be gone so soon.  Just six more weeks until Redmond is back in school.  Time is flying!

What I'm Working On....

Getting my house ready for company!  Our guest room is a disaster - it's currently our catch-all and mine and Jason's closet.  Time to get that sucker cleaned up.  My brother and sister-in-law are going to be here for a few days next week.  I'm so excited!!

What I'm Excited About....

Family.  Not only are my brother and his wife coming to visit, but so is my sister and my nieces and nephew.  My sister will be staying for a week in a lake cottage so we get to spend a lot of time with them and in the water.  Can't wait!!

What I'm Watching/Reading....

Reading - researching Kombucha, essential oils, and new dishes for the kids.  Their plastic dishes are the next to go in my quest to have a (mostly) plastic-free home.

Watching -We've gotten back into House of Cards.  Just started the second season a few days ago.  Not much TV watchin' goes on in this house :)

What I'm Listening To....

At the gym - Mumford and Sons, Florence & The Machine, Meghan Trainor and Bruno Mars

At home - Fleetwood Mac, Elton John, Taylor Swift (Ashlyn loves her!) and Adele

What I'm Wearing...


I've always hated shorts.  But, all the Spinning and running I've been doing has paid off and I don't hate them quite as much.  Plus, it's been so hot here lately that capris just aren't cutting it! 

What I'm Doing This Weekend....

Dinner out with my Jason on Saturday and Sunday will probably be low key with the kiddos.

What I'm Looking Forward To Next Month....

Our chickens should be laying soon!  Can't wait to find our first fresh egg!!

What Else Is New....

Now that Redmond doesn't nap everyday, him and I have been spending time while Ashlyn is sleeping working on school related things.  Practicing writing, drawing, sight words, etc.  He is getting so good at writing and drawing!  So proud of our little man!!

Can you believe summer is almost over!? 
~ Sara

 I'm joining MelShay, and Sheaffer for their What's Up Wednesday link-up!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Mid-Summer Garden Update


I wanted to do a quick garden update.  Mainly pictures.....please ignore all of the weeds.  :)

Honestly, our garden isn't doing all that great :(  We're not sure what the issue is exactly.  If it's so much rain, our soil or all of the weeds that have taken over (it's been impossible to stay on top of them due to all the rain and all the mosquitos).  We are still harvesting some crops and are using this year as a learning experience.  We can only get better and better as the years go on!

A lot of our crops just aren't growing.  The corn, cucumbers, eggplant and peppers specifically.  We do have an ear of corn growing - yay!  Interested to see how it matures.  We are harvesting cucumbers, but as you can see, our plants are not very big. 

But, we have already harvested (and eaten!) lots of beans, zucchini and broccoli.  Our tomatoes are beginning to turn from green to orange to red!

One of the most exciting things going on in the garden right now is our watermelon and pumpkin plants.  They are a-growin' and taking over everything!  But, that's ok because we have wittle baby pumpkins and watermelons growing!  Take a looksee:

These photos were taken last Saturday:


And these were taken Tuesday.  Just three days later!  Isn't it amazing how fast they grow!?

Our first cabbage is going to be ready to harvest soon too!  I see coleslaw in our near future....

Thankfully, my mom's garden is doing much better than ours this year.  And, when she goes out of town, I get to raid her garden! 
How is your garden this summer?
~ Sara :)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hey Hey, It's Friday!!

Another week down!  Helllllloooooo Friday!!!
I'm not quite sure where the week went, it didn't seem like it was going by fast, but it's Friday.  Already!
Here's the top five things from my week:
Fourth of July Weekend.

We had such a fun weekend.  It was full of friends, cookouts, inflatables, beer, and so. much. fun!  Check out my weekend recap here.
I took another step on the fermented food train yesterday.  I made Kimchi for the first time! 

I posted earlier this week about Kombucha (love it!) and the more I read about fermented foods, the more and more I want to eat them!  The only downside is waiting for them to ferment - generally about 10 days.  I can't wait to try that Kimchi on one of my Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers!!
Speaking of food, I also whipped up some Magic Chocolate Shell (click on the link for the recipe) this week for our my ice cream.
It's so simple and only two ingredients!
Our garden is really starting to produce!  I'm picking a cucumber and zucchini almost everyday.  Our tomatoes are coming right along and the pumpkin plants are taking over!  I grilled up these beauties for dinner last night:

A little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic - they melted in our mouth.  So delicious!

We started the kids in swim lessons about 4 weeks ago.  To say that Redmond hated it and it was disastrous is an incredibly large understatement!  The first three weeks were absolutely torturous.  For him and me.  He screamed, cried and threw fit after fit.  We explained (over and over and over and over...) that learning how to swim was not an option.  He had to do it.  It took some pretty tough consequences (it's amazing what no control over what's on the TV will do to a 4 year old!), but he did amazing this week!  All smiles and very cooperative!

Very proud of our little guy!!
Well, that's it for this week, folks.  Hope your week was fun, adventurous and memorable :)
~ Sara :)
I'm linking up with, Darci, AprilNatasha, and Christina for the Five on Friday link-up Party!
I'm linking up with A Little Bit of EverythingMomfessionals, and Grace and Love for my Friday Favorites!
I'm linking up with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife for the Oh Hey Friday linky party!
I'm also linking up with The Diary of a Real Housewife for Friday Favorites!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


A couple years ago, I was visiting my sister and we were talking about an acquaintance of hers.  My sister was telling me about this "stuff they drink that looks like it's growing mold.  It's this big nasty, slimy thing called a 'mother' and this stuff just sits on counter and they drink it.  Gross!"

We both laughed and gagged at the thought of not only drinking something that just sits out on your counter, but drinking anything that has a "mother".  Ew!

Fast forward to now.  And, here I am.  A fermented tea brewing, SCOBY owning, Kombucha drinker!

And you know what?  It's actually really tasty!  Not to mention so beneficial in so many ways.

Kombucha is a fermented tea.  It starts out suuuuper sweet, but through the fermentation process, it becomes less sweet and more acidic.  It's delicious and refreshing and I'm sold!

I went to a class about a month ago to learn about Kombucha and to get my very own SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony Of Bacteria and Yeast).  Kombucha is full of health benefits:
  1. It aids in digestion.  Kombucha is full of probiotics which help your stomach digest important nutrients and flush out the garbage.
  2. Detoxifies your liver. 
  3. Helps to cure a hangover (see #2 :).  It's full of vitamins and nutrients.  Just what your body needs after a night full of fun!
  4. Aids in joint health.  Kombucha has natural glucosamine in it, which is great for your joints and cartilage.  It can help ease arthritis pain and help prevent it!
  5. Reduces stress levels and gives you energy!
To make Kombucha is very simple.  The hardest part is finding a SCOBY.  I have seen sites online that you can purchase them from, but I would recommend finding a health food store or a friend and getting it there.  The cool thing is that once you have an established SCOBY, you can just cut a chunk off and give it away or start a new batch.  The gift that keeps giving!

So, to make your 'booch, all you need is:

1.  SCOBY with at least 1/2 cup of established Kombucha.  This is what I brought home after the Kombucha class I attended:

2.  Tea bags - I prefer black tea, but I've heard green tea will work as well - you'll want 6-8, depending on how strong you like your tea (decaf is fine)
3.  1 cup granulated sugar (preferably organic, but regular will work too)
4.  1 gallon-ish (I usually use just slightly less since you already have some Kombucha and the SCOBY to fit in with the tea) of water, distilled is preferred.
5.  A gallon (or larger) glass jar.  I like Anchor Hocking glass because it's made in the USA.  I use this jar.
6.  A dish cloth, paper towel or coffee filter and a rubber band.  (DO NOT use cheesecloth.  I did.  Fruit flies invaded one of my batches and I had to throw it out.  Thankfully, I had another batch brewing!)
To make the tea just boil your water, dissolve your sugar, add your tea bags and let it steep.  How long you let the tea steep is totally up to you.  I like a strong tea, so I steep mine until it's room temperature.
You must wait until your tea is completely cooled and room temperature before adding it to the existing Kombucha and SCOBY.  Adding warm tea to a SCOBY is a very quick way to kill your SCOBY.  We don't want that to happen!
Once your tea has been cooled, slowly and gently add it to your gallon jar.  Then, pour the existing Kombucha and SCOBY in.  SCOBYs generally float, but they may sink as well.  Mine started out as a sinker, but now that I'm on my second batch, it's floating at the top.  Place your cloth or filter over the top and secure it with a rubber band. 
Place your 'Booch in a warm, dark place and wait.  After 7 days, taste it to see how you like it.  I let mine ferment for 10 days and I love the taste.  Basically, somewhere between 7 and 14 days.  It all depends on your preference.
Here is mine after 10 days - you can see how much lighter it is.  The SCOBY eats the sugar so it is not nearly as sweet as it was on the day it was made.
Carefully transfer the Kombucha to a pitcher(s), reserving 1/2 - 1 cup of the Kombucha and the SCOBY for your new batch.  Put the pitchers in the fridge and enjoy!  At this point, you could also add flavoring to the 'Booch if you'd like.  Fresh mint, vanilla extract, organic fruit juices, the possibilities are endless!
Have I sold you on the great power of Kombucha?  Maybe you're a 'Booch lover already?  I'd love to hear from you!
~ Sara :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

4th of July

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I hope you had a great holiday weekend.  Ours was awesome!!  We had such a great weekend, so much fun was had!  If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already had a glimpse at some of the shenanigans.
Ready to be bombarded with pictures?  They tell the best story anyways, right??
Jason had a the day off work - yay!  I got up and headed to Spin class and then once I got back, we headed to the park to play. 
Redmond's new favorite thing to do is to run up and slide down the skateboarding ramps.
And Ashlyn continues giving me mini heart attacks by climbing waaaaay higher than what is necessary!
Friends of ours (who happen to be kid-less) own an inflatable company.  They decided to host a pre 4th party Friday night for all of their friends with kids.  They had two obstacle courses, a huge slip n slide and a giant waterslide set up.  The kids (and adults) had a blast.  So fun!!
Marie and her awesome family showed up - we love them!
They had build-your-own pizzas on the grill for dinner.  I'd say Ashlyn was a fan....
It took some convincing, but Ashlyn finally agreed to put on the outfit I picked out for her.  I tried to do a little photo shoot of the kids, and I guess if I was just going for capturing their personalities and not a smile, I did quite well!
We spent the morning going to the local Farmer's Market and playing inside and out.  During nap time I whipped up my Cake Batter Blondies (with red and blue sprinkles) and my Sun Dried Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Salad.  After naps it was party time again!

We were invited to an annual 4th of July party held by the neighbors of my girl Marie.
  It was so fun! 
There was so much fun stuff for the kids to do....
Marie and I decided to break in the selfie stick I got for my birthday....
And then, a couple hours later, this happened:
I mean, no party is complete without a huge, inflatable slip n slide with flippy cup at the end!
We headed home right after my slip n sliding fun.  We wanted to try and get the kids in bed and fast asleep before the fireworks started.  Redmond is petrified of them.  Jason ended up sleeping with Redmond that night - poor kid just hates the noise!
A nice, low key day. 
We went to our favorite local restaurant for breakfast.  Ashlyn insisted on accessorizing:
After breakfast, I headed to the grocery store and Jason took the kids to a park to run around.  It was one of the warmest days we've had so far, so after naps we decided to head downtown to the City Building where they have these fun fountains on during the summer.  The kids (and Jason) had fun running through them.  Ashlyn loved it!
 We headed home, grilled a delicious dinner and then Redmond got a much needed haircut.  Perfect way to end a perfect, fun-filled weekend!
Hope you all had a fun, safe holiday!
~ Sara :)
Please join and link up with Marie and I for our Monthly Meet Up party.  It's all about the 4th of July this month!