The Zarb Homestead

Living natural and healthy on a simple budget

Living Healthier on a Budget April 18, 2017

Filed under: Green Living — Sheena @ 2:50 pm
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On the Zarb Homestead I am growing my garden and growing my little ones too. I decided to make a change this year and try to get back to nature as much as possible. I started with ridding my house of “stuff.” My goal was to get rid of 80% of the stuff cluttering my house. I have been working weekly to achieve this with my goal of one (or more) trash bags out of my house per week. I am about 30% there but I will continue to my 1 bag rule weekly and hopefully end up with only have what is truly needed. I use the 80:20 rule. We only use about 20% of the stuff we own and rest is just stuff. Anyways, I decided since I am the gate-keeper to what comes into my house, and I am very picky since my deep clean, I want to my sure it is as healthy as possible. I also want to make sure it is good quality too, buy-it-for-life products are a big item on my shopping list. Junk out-good stuff in, but on a budget. I mainly purchase only organic food and organic on most of our “other” items. I have been researching each item I buy to find out if it is easier, or cheaper, to make it or purchase it. If I +purchase it I want to find the best at the best price. I thought I would try to share what I find weekly with you all. Take it or leave it, no worries. I am in no way paid to do any of the reviews and I pay for the products myself.

My journey starts at Trader Joe’s, aka poor man’s Whole Foods, I go weekly here to grab 80% of my grocery list. If you have never visited this place, close your computer and go right now but it is that awesome! My 80:20 applies to food too. 80% good healthy and 20% fun food. Let’s start with fun: Trader Joe’s Joe Joe’s! My husband has an Oreo problem and they are a must have in our house. They have been replaced with JoeJoe’s and we are not looking back. I honestly think Oreos are just okay, which is great for my waist line, but JoeJoe’s are amazing with real vanilla creme filling….yummy! Plus, they have special flavors throughout the year. Our toddler is also a big fan, which speaks volumes if this kid will eat them, he hates everything! I don’t recall the exact price but I think they are $2.99


Next is the healthy, but still delicious, Trader Joe’s Broccoli & Kale Slaw: A Complete Kit. My friend served this at dinner one night and now I am hooked. It is a crunchy blend of shredded broccoli stalks, shredded kale, and shredded radicchio. Packaged separately in the bag you’ll find dried cherries & dried blueberries, and crunchy, roasted sunflower seeds & slivered almonds. The traditionally tangy cole slaw dressing is just the right combination of flavors to wrap the veggies, fruits, seeds, and nuts together to create a unique salad. Inside every bag there are ample ingredients to make side salads for about three people. I make it about an hour before it is to be served. It only cost $2.49! 



Jasper River’s Birth Story September 23, 2016

Filed under: Baby Z — Sheena @ 1:19 pm
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There was only 5 more days left before Jasper would be overdue for arrival. I was super ready to meet our new baby. I was very tired of being pregnant and on top of that going to UT HiRoc weekly for my “gestational diabetes.” I was having to test my blood sugars 4 times/day and being on a low carb diet, all this was getting old. Side note: I never truly believed I had GD in the first place. I failed the one hour test and the 3 hour test but just barely. I am not one to eat a lot of sugar, I do not drink sodas, and normally eat a healthy diet. I recently found out that the oral glucose test is not very accurate and can give false positives if your body is not use to that crazy amount of sugar they make you drink. I had UT test my A1C, this measures your blood glucose over the last 3 months, and it was 4.5 (level of a non-diabetic.) The dietitian said that was better than hers and she agreed that I did not have GD but at that point I only had 1 week left of pregnancy so we decided not to do anything about it.


Despite my large belly, I was able to still be fairly active. I hiked 5 miles at Cades Cove the weekend before while Phil rode his bike with Little O around the loop. I was trying to get things moving a long; however, despite a few hard contractions it did not work. I tried all the old wives’ tales on how to naturally induce labor, except for the castor oil. I heard that would cause loose stools and that does not sounds pleasant during child birth. I went in for my weekly appointment and had an ultrasound and they said that the baby was getting very large and they would have to induce if he did not come on his own soon. As much as I did not want to be induced, I would rather do that vs having a c section. I agreed with them and was told to come in at midnight on Sunday to get things started.

My first baby was also an induction at Vanderbilt due to his heart condition so I thought I knew what to expect. I never wanted a hospital birth in the first place. I have always gone to Lisa Ross Birthing Center and saw midwives for my prenatal care. I have heard horror stories about hospital births. With my first baby I took all the birthing classes and was excited to see that Vanderbilt had a birthing tub and I was hoping for a drug free labor but once I arrived I was told due to his heart condition I was not able to move or use the tub. I ended up with an epidural and they would not follow anything on my birthing plan. My husband did not even get to cut the cord. I was so disappointment by that labor experience. I was excepting the same thing to occur at UT. I am happy to say I was dead wrong.


I had to call UT before we left the house to make sure they had the staff and the room to induce me that night. Thankfully they did and we were on our way. Phil and I arrived at UT labor and delivery at midnight on Sunday/Monday. There was only one other patient on the floor so it was a slow night for them, despite the full moon. My first nurse, Treva, welcomed us to our room for the night. She informed us on what was going to happen to get things started. Next, the doctors came in to check my cervix to see if I was dilated anything. I was only at 1 cm, I had been at 1 cm since my 37 week check, but my cervix was as soft as butter, so I had that going for me. They decided to try the folly bulb to get me to dilate however my cervix was high and tilted. Despite 3 doctors trying to get it inserted did not work and they decided to start me on pitocin. I have never had pitocin before and was nervous about it. I heard it can cause a very painful labor and to go with the lowest dose as possible. I did not even have to tell them I wanted to start on the low dose. They started me at 1 unit and slowly increased it 1 unit every 45 minutes until I was at 10 units then the increased by 2 units. It was working, I could feel the contractions starting but they were very manageable. If I laid on my left side it almost made the go away completely. This was a slow process but there was no rush.

My mother soon arrived while Phil got some sleep. It was also shift change for the nurses. My nurse Treva was being replaced by Rachel. You never know what you are going to get with nurses, some are great while others… not so much. Rachel came in an introduced herself and she smelled like lavender essential oil. This made me feel like I was in good hands and like minds. I honestly had not made birthing plan with Jasper. I did not think it was necessary since they are going to do whatever the want to anyways, like Vanderbilt. I quickly found out at UT this was not the case. I had dreamed of a natural childbirth with Little O and sadly was not able to achieve that. I had not recently taken any classes on natural childbirth and did not feel like I was prepared for it. The nurse advised me she prefers natural labor and would be able to help me during labor. UT also has a lot tools to aid in labor: birthing balls, walking (wireless monitors), aromatherapy,  showers, etc. I was super impressed with my options and decided I was going to try natural childbirth but was always open to an epidural.

It was 8:00 am when the team of doctors came in to check my progress. I had went from 1 cm to 4 cm and they decided to break my water to get things moving quicker. I guess when you have a large baby you also have a lot of water. The nurse said she had never seen that much water before, a bit embarrassing. With the water pressure gone it actually relieved some of the pressure. Contractions started getting closer and harder, fast. I remember this happening with Little O. I went from 2 cm to 8 cm within an hour. At this stage of labor I was still able to walk around and get up to use the restroom but it was getting very painful! I was doing my deep breathing to try to work through the contractions. A couple of hours had past and I was in a lot of pain. I was having back labor and could not find anything to relieve it. The contractions were so intense I could hardly move an inch without bringing on another one. I had Phil call the nurse, I needed/wanted the epidural.

After what feels like an hour, the pain relief team arrived. They are telling me what they are going to do but I honesty could not even open my eyes to see who I was talking to. They set up their area and tell me I have to get into a certain position to be able to insert the epidural. Negative, that was not going to happen. At this point, I was on all fours in the hospital bed and could hardly move. I told the nurse that I thought I was close and felt like I needed to push. I kept apologizing to the epidural team and was finally able to sit down. They got the catheter in place and then the nurse was asking me if I wanted her to check my progress. I was able to get onto my back and when she checked she called the doctors in. Jasper was coming and fast. It was go time! My epidural got put into place but never got the chance to even get hooked up.

We have all seen scenes on TV where the women is having a baby and people are holding her legs as she pushes. Well, it was just like that. My husband had left leg and my mom the right. They would count 3 sets of 10 and let me rest. When I would feel another contraction and I would start again. Pushing actually helped with the pain. The team of doctors where all around the room plus the nurses and my family. To say the least your privacy is out the window and you do not give one care in the world. Then I hear the room fill with a panic. As I turn to my left, my husband is no longer standing holding my leg but yet is holding onto one of the doctors before he hits the floor and passes out. All I could think was I can not hold this baby in any longer and he is going to miss his son being born. I had to keep pushing. My mother was able to get him a chair beside the hospital bed and he came to fast but was very weak. I had forgotten that in the mix of all that was happening he had not eaten in 15 hours and does not do well with blood. Nurse Rachel called to the nurses station for them to bring him a soda and once he was able to get some sugar he started feeling better. A minute or two later the panic hits the room again. This time it was the male doctor hitting the floor. I do not know what I have going on down there but men are hitting the floor. Thank goodness there where some women doctors in the room because one more push and out comes my screaming little Jasper. Total pushing time 10 minutes.


Jasper River Zarb was born at 11:27 am on 9/19/2016. His weight: 8 lbs 15 oz, this was his weight after 2 large pees all over the doctors and me. Length: 20.7 and Head Circumference: 14 inches. I did have a few requests once he was born. I wanted to delay cutting of the cord, no bath, no circumcision and uninterrupted skin to skin with my newborn. UT made sure I was able to get all my requests and it was communicated to everyone in the room. Once it was time to cut the cord my husband was still coming around but not enough to stand so my mom got the honors. After an hour of skin to skin the nurse came in to get his measurements and to give him a exam. He was prefect! I wish I was able to hold O after birth but I got about 30 seconds and he was rushed away to Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.


We were off to the Mother Baby unit to recovery. My closest friend Maria was waiting on us there, she also happened to be my RN. Maria went over what to expect in mine and Jasper’s care for the day/night and we were able to get some rest.I was able to eat and get a change of clothes. It made all the difference in the world, I felt like a new woman. We had a few family members come visit but overall once nighttime arrived we where left alone. I never thought I would get any sleep in a hospital but I was only waken a few times that night to get my vitals and to check on my bleeding. Jasper had to get some blood draws to test his glucose levels since he was such a large baby and he also needed an ECHO due to his brother having CHD. Despite the lack of sleep the night before and the whole natural childbirth thing I was feeling great! Our stay was short because we wanted our of there ASAP. The minimum requirement is 24 hours and that is what we got. We both where discharged happy and healthy the next day.





Trading Harmful Chemicals for Nature November 18, 2015

Every since I had my son I try to reduce his exposure to harmful chemicals. This is easier said than done. I tried my best to feed him locally grown foods and super filtered water to drink. I have decided to rid my house of plastics and replaced everything with glass. I put away all my non-stick pans and only cook all my food in cast iron, but I still used a ton of harmful chemicals to clean my house.

I was introduced to Young Living essential oils a few months ago. I decided to purchase a starter kit and give them a try. I am very science based when it comes to phrase “natural.” I believe many things we think are “good” for us are a marketing scheme. I went into the essential oils with this same mind set. Thus, the reason for this post. I am trying out all the different products and will give my honest unbiased review of them.

I am 3 months in and I have had a chance to try many of their products and have come to LOVE most of them.

My FAVORITE product I have purchased from them is the Thieves Cleaner. Note: the cleaner doesn’t come in the starter kit but you do get a small bottle of the Thieves oil in the starter kit. The story of this oil is inspired by the legend of four 15th-century French thieves who formulated a special aromatic combination composed of clove, rosemary, and other botanicals they used while robbing the dead and dying and they did not get sick. Kind of  a creepy story but it is awesome oil to use to protect yourself this winter.

First off, I purchased this cleaner not knowing it is super concentrated. You use a couple of caps full of the cleaner and mix it with water for an all-purpose cleaner. With help from Pinterest, I learned I could use a empty Perrier water glass bottle and a spray top for any old cleaner to make my mixture. I no longer buy any cleaners from the store. This has replaced them all. It also made a ton of run under my sink where I had tons of different cleaners from bathtub to oven. Now I have one bottle now and it honestly doesn’t even go under the sink. I leave it on the counter because I use it all day long! I give this product an A+


If you want to purchase this cleaner I can purchase it for you at my cost, $22, or if you want to learn more about getting your starter kit check out this link

Or go to to learn more about essential oil


Little O’s Update October 6, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sheena @ 9:03 pm
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I haven’t written in the blog lately due to a number of reasons, main one being a mom to a crazy busy toddler. I wanted to update everyone on Little O’s progress. I try to keep everyone up-to-date on his Facebook page but it is only a sentence or 2. We have begun therapy. Tennessee Early Intervention System,TEIS, comes once a week, in house, to work on his developmental issues. They mainly focus on his speech. At 1 year old he was 40% delayed in speech, I am sure that percentage is higher now, thus causes other issues. He maybe all smiles one minute and complete melt down the next. He can not tell you want he wants, I am not sure he knows. I can say he is getting better but words are limited. His current vocabulary is: more, car, bye bye, see ya, go and yeah. No mommy or daddy, I get called by crying to come meet his needs. I am sure this will get better, I hope.

Medical wise, he is doing awesome. His heart is working great for him. He does have high blood pressure and it is controlled by meds. He is still skinny and short per the doctors percentile charts and is prescribed pediasure to help with weight gain. He has low iron and has to a supplement to help raise it but so far it continues to drop. He is due a check up next month for more blood work and his 2 year old visit. We also have a Vanderbilt appointment in November to see how he is doing. Just a small medical update on Little O.


We made it! Oryon will soon be 1 November 14, 2014

Filed under: Baby Z — Sheena @ 9:35 pm
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It is so hard to believe that we will be celebrating Oryon’s first birthday tomorrow (3 days early) Looking back at the past 2 years, pregnancy and birth, it was the hardest time of our lives. We never knew what the universe had in store for our little guy and honestly we did not know if we would ever have a first birthday to celebrate. “They” say, if heart babies make it to their first birthday then they should do just fine. I hope this holds true for us.


Here is me this time last year. The memories flood my head; I was so nervous. I was temperately living in Nashville, in case I went into labor before 39 weeks, we had to be close to Vanderbilt. I was told Oryon would not survive anywhere else, he had to be born there. My husband could not stay with me the whole time due to work and only came to visit on the weekends. I remember feeling numb, numb to everything and to everyone. I did not want to feel mainly because I did not know how to feel. How could I be happy but I was. I was so happy I would see my son soon but that also meant I may loose my son too.

I am SO HAPPY now! I wish I could have known everything would work out for us back then.


Heart Walk 5K -Knoxville September 8, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sheena @ 10:01 pm

Please join Team Oryon to help raise awareness for CHD. Did you know that 1 in 100 babies born have some form of CHD! 1 in 1000 babies will need life saving surgery to order to survive and that 1 baby was mine. What if it was yours? Let walk to support Team Oryon and help fund research to stop heart disease.


Research saves lives

The information for the walk is below. Please sign up on our page if you plan on walking.

Registration and Pre-Walk Activities Begin
9/28/2014 1:30 pm
Walk Begins 9/28/2014 3:00 pm


Free: No Fees
Walkers are eligible for a Heart Walk t-shirt once they have raised a minimum of $100.


World’s Fair Park’s Festival Lawn
934 World’s Fair Park Drive
Knoxville, Tennessee 37916

General Inquiries &
Event Sponsorship Inquiries

Danica Clark
(865) 212-6509

Donation Mailing Address
American Heart Association
ATTN: Greater Knoxville Heart Walk
4708 Papermill Dr
Knoxville, TN 37909


First Video Blog June 23, 2014

Filed under: Baby Z — Sheena @ 12:40 pm
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