Why I Bake With Guar Gum

I get a lot of comments, emails, and messages from people asking if they can use xanthan gum in my recipes, so I wanted to take a moment and address that really quickly.

The short answer is yes. You can do an even swap, and will most likely never see any difference.

So why do all my ingredient lists specify guar gum?

Firstly, because that’s what I used, and secondly, because guar gum is sooo much cheaper. Although xanthan gum has come down in price over time, it’s still much, much more expensive than guar gum. (Here’s the cheapest place I’ve found to get either).

One of the biggest problems with adhering to a gluten-free diet is the price tag. Yikes! Gf products are expensive. Using guar gum, along with adding it on a per recipe basis rather than putting it directly into your gluten-free flour mix,  is just one of many ways to make a gluten-free diet more budget friendly. 

That said, there are other pros and cons to both gums.

Xanthan gum

Pros: 

  • Widely available


Cons:

  • Made from corn products
  • Possibly GMO based
  • Expensive


Guar gum

Pros:

  • Cheaper 
  • Not made from GMO products


Cons:

  • More limited availability 
  • Derived from beans (which some folks have found problematic)


We haven’t had any problem with the bean aspect of guar gum, and we have had some issues after using xanthan gum that have made us think that Gabriel may be allergic to it. 

Factor in the price difference and… You get recipes full of guar gum. If you prefer xanthan gum though, feel free to make the swap. It’s all good here. grin  

Homemade Baby Lotion Recipe

Homemade Baby Lotion Recipe
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I’m really picky about what I put on my baby’s skin and you can bet that commerical, chemical and preservative filled lotions don’t make the cut. 

You wouldn’t feed those things to your baby, so why would you put it on their skin? Skin - any skin, but especially baby skin - is very absorbent. If you rub it in, it’s going to make it’s way into the body. 

And so, I make my own lotion. Incidentally, this is the same lotion I often use on myself. It’s an excellent facial moisturizer because it absorbs quickly, and you can adjust the ratios for your specific skin type. Oily skin? Use more aloe vera gel. Dry skin? Add more coconut oil. Acne problems? Add some tea tree oil tree oil.

As you can see, this homemade baby lotion recipe is very simple, and very easily customizable. It’s a great blend because coconut oil, as oils go, absorbs into the skin quickly, and the aloe vera gel helps it absorb much more quickly so that it doesn’t feel greasy at all.

There is some controversy about whether homemade lotions should be kept at room temperature for more than just a few weeks, so I’ll just say that I’ve kept mine out on the counter top for a couple months at a time with no issues at all. I do however usually add some sort of antibacterial essential oil to it, even if it’s just a few drops. If you do store it in the refrigerator, the texutre will be closer to a lotion bar than a creamy lotion.

Lavender essential oil is an excellent addition to baby lotion - especially if your baby has a difficult time sleeping. Lavender is so relaxing - and it just happens to be one of those aforementioned antibactierial oils! 

 

Homemade Baby Lotion

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup aloe vera gel
  • Essential oil - several drops (optional)

Gently heat coconut oil until just melted - but not hot. Pout into a blender or food processer (or use a cup and stick blender for easy clean up!) with aloe vera gel and essential oil, and blend until creamy and well emulsified. 

Scrape into a container with a tight fitting lid, and store either at room temperature, or in the refrigerator - whichever you prefer. 

That’s all there is to it! 

Have you ever made your own lotion? 

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you click through and happen to make a purchase from that website within a certain timeframe, I may recieve a small advertising fee. This doesn’t affect your purchase price at all, and helps me keep this site running. Thanks for your support!

Chocolate Mint Tea

Chocolate Mint Tea
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When I first heard about chocolate-mint tea, I thought whoah, that sounds amazing. But what in the world is chocolate tea? 

Answer: it’s tea with cocoa powder in it, plain and simple. 

Peppermint iced tea is my all time favorite summer drink, with a tie between hot peppermint tea , and hot chocolate for favorite winter drink. Which makes Chocolate-mint tea pretty much perfect, right? I sure think so!

After trying many different variations, this is my favorite, although you might catch me drinking an all water version now and then, I love the extra body the milk gives this drink.

Chocolate-Mint Tea

  • 1 tsp peppermint tea leaves (or one tea bag)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2-3 tsp honey
  • 6 oz hot water
  • 6 oz hot milk

Stir peppermint leaves into hot water and let steep for five minutes. Strain into mug

Add cocoa powder and honey. I’ve never had any trouble getting cocoa powder to dissolve into hot water, but if you have any doubts, go ahead and combine it with the honey first.

Stir in milk. For the lactos intolerant, you can sub more water for the milk, or a dairy-free milk such as almond milk

Enjoy! 

February Date Check In

It’s the end of February, and if you hang around here much, you know what that means!



At the beginning of the year, I told y’all that one of my big resolutions was to make a monthly date night with my husband, and to keep myself accountable, I’m sharing an update every month with what we did.

I was really hoping to have a date night separate from Valentine’s day, but it didn’t happen. February has been a busy month, making it hard to want to stay up after the kids have gone to bed. 

We had a few lengthy car trips this month though. Having the kids asleep in the backseat leaves you with some great one on one time together, so I didn’t feel too deprived of hubby time. grin

We have something of a Valentine’s evening tradition involving chocolate dipped strawberries. It’s nothing fancy, but for us, it’s a nice treat. It’s one of the few food related things splurges I’ve found that Gabriel really, really enjoys. 



The trick is planning a trip to the next town over within a day or so of Valentines day to get fresh strawberries. Our own little town doesn’t carry much in the way of fresh produce this time of year.

Gabriel and I don’t usually eat during the late evening, which makes this little tradition that much more out of the ordinary for us. 

I’m beginning to love at-home dates. I love special events and trying new foods at restaurants - don’t get me wrong - but it’s so much more relaxing to be in your own home. There’s no rush, no waiter asking if you need more water, no ambient noise to try to talk over… It’s nice. 

That said, we alread have a date night semi planned out for March, and it’s not at home. grin

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? 
 

Ab Rehab

Diastasis Recti. Those of us who’ve born children are all too familiar with the term - and what it means. It seems to be inevitable, and incurable except, perhaps, by surgery.

I was paranoid too, especially after hearing someone say that their abdominal separation caused them pain.

But did you know that you can close a diastasis of the rectus abdominus naturally? (I like using all those Latin words because it makes me sound smart raspberry)

I had a bit of separation with both my kids, but I’m super blessed to have a midwife with more knowledge than I’ll probably ever have, and thanks to her advice, I’ve closed that separation both times. Basically, it’s been a non issue.

How to check for diastasis recti: Lie on your back and crunch up slightly, bringing your head up off the floor.

Poke with your fingers along the midline of your stomach. It’s easiest to feel between your naval and rib cage.

The gap between muscles should be closer than a centimeter (one finger width).

Though I’m no expert, and my own diastasis recti was fairly small, I want to pass on the method I’ve learned to correct it, because it can do nothing but help.

These exercises can help even if you don’t have diastasis recti. And by “help” I mean that they activate and strengthen the transverse abdominus.

So if you have a tummy pooch, and don’t know why, if you have “mommy tummy”, this may be the answer to your problem.

Here it is: lie on the floor and breathe.

Okay, so it’s slightly more involved than that, but not by much.


Here ya go: (I apologize in advance for the crummy selfie photos. Just keepin’ it real).

Lie on your back, knees up, feet flat on the floor. As you breathe deeply, notice how your low back hollows out as your abdomen expands.

Take a deep breath…

Now, expel the breath, pulling your navel into your backbone.

It may take some practice to figure out which muscles to activate to effectively “suck in” your belly button, but keep practicing, you’ll get it! Hold for a few seconds.

Relax, and repeat.

One good way to know your doing it correctly is to place a towel under your low back. When your activating the transverse abdominus by pulling the navel inward, you should t be able to pull the towel out.

During the first couple months post partum, according to my midwife, you should do 10-15 repetitions of this exercise, 2-3 times a day. These days, I try to incorporate them into my post-workout stretching.

The science behind this exercise is that you are strengthening (often referred to as “toning”) the transverse abdominal muscles, which are basically the girdle that holds everything together.

You can do crunches and sit-ups all day long, but that primarily hits the abdominus rectus, and if anything, makes the problem worse. In order to close the gap in your ab muscles, and pull things back together as it were, you need to work the transverse abdominus, and that’s what this does.

There are many variations of this exercise, but this is the method I use the most.

It may seem, at first blush, that there’s no way a breathing exercise could have much affect, but believe me, when you’re doing this properly, you’ll feel the abdominal muscles working - and it’s more work than you think!

Gluten-free Blueberry Scones

Gluten-free Blueberry Scones
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What is about scone that are just kind of… Cool?

They make you feel all gourmet and fancy. Even though scones are one of the easiest recipes you’ll ever make. 

Gluten-free scones are no exception. Which is really great, because I’m all about easy gluten-free recipes.

I made these blueberry scones for our breakfast this morning and everybody loved them. This recipe’s a keeper for sure. 

You can serve them with icing (Gabriel’s preference), or hot with butter (my preference), or just eat them plain like Garrett did quite happily until he saw daddy drizzling something over his. wink Whichever way you serve them, you won’t be disappointed!



Gluten-Free Blueberry Scones


Preheat oven to 425°

Combine dry ingredients, and cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. 

In a separate bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy (we beat them for 3-4 minutes). Add dry ingredients. Stir in just enough milk to make a biscuit-like dough. 

Carefully mix in blueberries. I really didn’t want my blueberries smashed and turning my dough purple, but it’s kind of hard to avoid when you’re using frozen bloobs. Fortunately, it still tastes the same. smile

Turns dough onto a greased cookie sheet, and shape into a 1” thick circle with floured hands.

Cut dough into 8 wedges. Optionally, you can use a spatula to slide the wedges away from each other so they don’t stick back together as that rise in the oven.

Brush with milk, dust with sugar (optional), and place in the middle of the preheated oven. 

Turn temperature down to 375°.

Bake for 20 minutes. 

Remove from oven and enjoy! 
 

Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Feeding Big, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Show And Tell, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

Having Two Kids… It Ain’t That Bad

I thought parenting was going to be bad. I really did. Blame it on the “experienced” parents telling me I had no idea what I getting into. Or the frazzled moms who were at their wits end.

Actually it was bad for a while. Any life changing event takes some getting used to. I went from having only myself to look out for, to having a small needy person to lack around with all his accessories, and I lacked the experience to know that the saying “this too shall pass” was really true.



But it did pass, my son got a little older, and I really began to enjoy this parenting thing.

Then I got pregnant again. Again people (well, one person in particular) were saying I had no idea what I was getting into, having two kids was soooo hard, yadda yadda yadda.

I just knew that having a baby was going to be twice as hard - if not more - the second time around. 

I’m not the only person I’ve met who thought having two kids might be the end of the world, so I’ve decided to set the record straight based on my experience, as well as the experience of several friends.

In a way, having two kids is a lot harder than having just one.

With one kid, going places is easy. you can carry both him, and everything you need for him out to the car in one trip. Not so with two kiddos. You can make two or three trips out to the car, or load yourself down with baby and gear, while hearing the toddler out the car. Not only that, but you have to catch kid A, and dress him, then try to keep him clean while you catch and dress kid B. Travelling with kids is not an easy task. And my dad wonders why he never sees me any more. Pfff. 

You have two eyes, so keeping one focused on kiddo, and another focused on your work is relatively easy. When you have a second child, sadly, you don’t get awarded another eye. 

Naps are a bit more complicated with two children. About the time you get one to sleep, the other one starts hollering. Really loudly. 


On the other hand, having two kids is actually easier than having just one. 

They entertain each other. It’s amazing and fun to watch how much little people love each other. 

The older child is helpful. When baby H drops a toy, Garrett can give it back to her, or get her a new toy which means I don’t have to stop what I’m doing every two seconds. He can also bring me things (like diapers), which saves me a lot of steps.

Going places can actually be easier once you get everybody in the car because there’s another little person in the back seat for baby to occupy herself with. 

So I guess in a way, all these positives and negatives cancel each other out, and in many ways, having two kids is pretty close to the same workload as having just one

I’m busy all the time, but realistically, I would be busy with something, whether I had kids or not. 

So for those of you who are wondering if you have what it takes to bring another hold into the family, you can, and when it comes down to it, you will. 

And hey, from what I hear, if you’re going to have two, you might as well have ten. wink

Zoombucks: Another Awesome Rewards Site

One of the top search terms bringing people here to The Frugal Farm Wife is “zoombucks”

I always feel little bad about that, because I only wrote about zoombucks one time - and it was just a little blurb. Probably not what folks are looking for.

So, if you’re here looking for info on Zoombucks, hopefully this article will be a little more along the lines of what you are looking for.

First, a brief description. Zoombucks is a rewards site very similar to Swagbucks - which is arguably the Number 1 rewards site on the web - where you can take surveys, play games, watch videos, and use as a search engine to win points toward purchases such as amazon.com gift cards. 

If you’re going to be searching on the internet, you might as well get paid for doing it, right? Right.

I win the majority of my points via searching. These days it actually seems like I win more points searching zoombucks than I do with swagbucks. The flip side of course is that the points are worth slightly less in amazon dollars - but then, in other rewards (like paypal cash), they’re pretty much equal.

Shop and Earn is also a pretty cool feature. When you Shop through their affliliate link, you earn 8 zoombucks for every dollar you spend, so you’re essentially getting 8% back. That adds up pretty quickly!

Other ways you can win are through surveys, promo codes, number picking contests, daily offers, inbox offers, zoom spin, coupon printing… and lots of other ways. 

Of course, another way to win is by referring your friends. When people join zoombucks using your refferal link, you earn 10% of whatever they earn. So for instance, if they earn ten zoombucks, you earn 1. Incidentally, the links in this post are all my refferal link, and I’d be suuuper happy if you used it to sign up. grin 

To sum it up, Zoombucks is legit, and it’s an excellent way to earn a few more dollars every month, or even week. It’s not as streamlined and user-friendly as Swagbucks, but it is easy to get signed up and started, so what are you waiting for?

Gluten-Free Artisan Bread

Gluten-Free Artisan Bread
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So I’ve been on the artisan bread making kick lately. I’ve fudged a little on my “no wheat in the house” standard, and bought a few bags with which to experiment on people at our weekly church potluck. So far they haven’t seemed to mind, but I got to feeling bad about baking all this amazing smelling bread that Gabriel couldn’t eat. So I started experimenting.

We all know how difficult it can be to make good guten free bread. It’s not impossible for sure, and I truly am happy with my gluten-free french bread recipe, as well as the gluten-free herb rolls. But there’s just nothing quite as delicious as artisan bread.

What sets artisan bread apart from other breads? Many things, but one of the main distinctives for me, is the aged dough. The simple ingredients - usually just flour, salt, and yeast - are typically mixed and left at room temperature to ferment lightly, and develope a rich, deep flavor, for at least 12 hours before baking. Then it’s steam-baked at a high temperature, giving it that signature, chewy artisan crust. 

Of course, this being a gluten-free bread recipe, we’re doing it a little bit differently. Still steam-baking, but lowering the temperature after the first fifteen minutes. 

I love using a variety of additives in my artisan breads. The one pictured here is my second favorite variation. Cranberries, walnuts (or pecans, or sunflower seeds), and cinnamon. It’s an excellent breakfast bread.

My very favorite combination is cheddar and thyme. It’s addictive. Seriously.

But that’s enough about what makes me drool. Here’s the recipe, so you can make some drool-worthy gluten-free artisan bread yourself. smile

Gluten-Free artisan Bread

  • 2 cups flour mix*
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon guar gum
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons (or one packet) yeast
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

*I like to add a mix of flavorfull flours to my bread recipes such as millet or sorghum. If you use rice flour mix, I highly recommend frutis, nuts, and/or flavorings to make up for the blandness.

  1. Mix first four ingredients. Stir in olive oil and water until dough is well mixed. It should be a “sloppy” dough, and honestly, better a little too wet than too dry. Cover with plastic wrap.
  2. Let sit at room temperature over night, or 12-18 hours. 
  3. Stir down dough and add your goodies if you’re going to. (See below)
  4. Grease a 6-8 inch cast iron skillet or pie plate. Scrape the dough into it, and do your best to form it into a ball. Let rest.
  5. Place a shallow pan of water on the bottom rack of oven. 
  6. Place top rack immediately above pan.
  7. Preheat oven to 450 for 30 minutes.
  8. Place risen bread into the oven (it’s okay if it hasn’t risen much - it’ll rise in the oven).
  9. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven down to 350. 
  10. Bake for 30 minutes more.
  11. Remove from oven, and turn onto a cooling grid. 
  12. Slice, and enjoy!

Additive suggestions:

Cranberry Walnut

1 cup craisins or cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 TBSP ground cinnamon

Cheddar Thyme

1 cup shredded or chopped cheddar cheese
2 TBSP ground thyme

Cheddar Jalepeño

1 cup shredded/chopped cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped jalepeño

Linked with: Skip To My Lou, Fat Tuesday, Hearth And Soul, Feeding Big, Love Bakes Good Cakes, Our Four Kiddos, Hunwhatsfordinner Poor And Gluten-Free, WFMW, Crystal And Co., Frugally sustainable, Allergy Free Wednesday Full Plate Thursday, Show And Tell, Gluten-free Friday, Foodie Friday

Weekend Deals - It’s All About The Babies!

Every Saturday, I’m posting a collection of deals I’ve found throughout the week that I think you may enjoy. My affiliate links are embedded within these posts, which means that if you click through and make a purchase, I will earn a portion of the revenue. Thank you for your support!

Today I’m posting a bunch of baby deals. I’ve purchased products from these sites or their sister sites in the past and been very happy with them!

Baby Leggings

Click on “Shop Now” and select any 5 baby leggings you like!

After searching all over town yesterday for leggings, I have every intention of taking advantage of this offer myself. smile

Car seat canopy

This would have been really handy as I was carrying baby H in her carseat - covered with my jacket - through the rain yesterday!

Click on “Shop Now”, select any canopy you would like (be sure to go to their sizing page so you can get the right size carrier for you). Once you have selected your size, you will automatically be directed to the “shopping bag” where you can enter the promo code “ENBABY” This promo code will take off 100% of the canopy purchase and all you are required to pay are the shipping fees. 

Nursing Pillow

Once you have made your selection, you’ll automatically be directed to the shopping bag. Enter the promo code “ENBABY” and we will deduct 100% off the cost of your selected Nursing Pillow☺ - all you pay are the shipping fees!

Nursing Cover

Uddercovers wants to give you a promo code for a free patterned breastfeeding cover (a $35 value) at (insert your link) The promo code is “ENBABY” Click “Shop Now”, select any cover you would like. You will automatically be directed to the “shopping bag” where you can enter the promo code “ENBABY” This promo code will take off 100% of the nursing cover purchase and all you are required to pay are the shipping fees.

Aaaand, last but not least… I’ve posted this deal before, But it bears repeating. I love my Seven Slings!

Baby Sling

Seven Slings wants to give you a promo code for a free baby carrier (a $48 value) at (link). The promo code is “ENBABY”. Go to (link) , click on ‘Shop Now”, select any baby carrier you would like. Be sure to go to the sizing page so that you can get the right size carrier for you. Once you have selected your size, you will automatically be directed to the “shopping bag” where you can enter the promo code “ENBABY “ . This promo code will take 100% off of the baby carrier purchase and all you are required to pay are the shipping fees.