Thursday, May 23, 2013

Homemade popsicles

It finally feels like summer has arrived in Ohio. I love this weather. I look forward to it every year and can't wait until I can comfortably wear maxi dresses, flip flops, and unwind on our balcony. I took a leap of faith this week and switched out all of the boys winter clothes to summer. Jason even installed one of the window air conditioning units. Summer is on it's way and I refuse to believe differently.

Last weekend we worked in our yard trying to clean it up and make it a suitable play area for the boys. We finally set up our sandbox and added a slide, in addition to the regular maintenance of mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, etc. Now we can let them loose for some fun.

Days like this always give me a craving for something sweet and cold. Ice cream is usually my go to, but since it's an after dinner treat, I wanted to avoid a bedtime sugar rush. I felt like I found the perfect solution when I stumbled upon some adorable monster popsicle molds - homemade popsicles.


Like smoothies, this isn't really a recipe. Whatever you have on hand that tastes good together is the recipe. The popsicles pictured are made with almond milk, banana, frozen berries, mango juice, smoothie packet, and chia seeds. Everything blended together in the Ninja, then pour into the molds, and freeze. Both boys devoured them.  The next night they asked for another.  

Besides these popsicles having tons of nutritional value, the best part is that we didn't notice a sugar rush before bed. They easily went through our nighttime routine and off to sleep.

Popsicle molds are Monster popsicle molds by Joie. I found these at TJ Maxx for $5.99. They do not indicate on the box if they are BPA free, so I contacted customer service and was informed that they are BPA free. Initially, I was a little worried about Collin handling it, but these are wonderful for little hands. I love these, my boys love these, they're so cute and fun! This is my opinion and I have not been compensated by Joie or any of it's affiliates.
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Monday, May 20, 2013


I'm currently testing my green thumb with two big projects (well, big for me) - my avocado seeds and my container garden.  Neither prospects are looking very promising right now.

The avocado seeds did not sprout as planned.  One looks like it's half rotten, another shriveled up, and the third actually looks good, but I just realized that it's been sitting in the water upside down for weeks.  I really doubt that it will sprout.  Maybe we'll try again with some new seeds soon.

The garden was actually doing quite well.  That is, until the neighbor cats started using it as a litter box.  In an effort to deter them, I've place some crinkled aluminum foil in the soil.  Fingers crossed that it works!  With both things happening at the same time, I'm losing any faith that I previously had to overcome my lack of a green thumb.

William is way more dedicated and optimistic than me, though.  He dutifully waters the garden every chance he gets.  He refers to it as "my plants" and loves them as such.  He keeps me going and realizing that regardless of the outcome, it's fun to work together and spend time together on these projects.  That said, I would love for him to see these plants that he loves so much turn into vegetables that he has grown.  I hope that our crop does not disappointment him this year.
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Friday, May 17, 2013

Happy Food Revolution Day!

Food Revolution Day…have you heard of it?  It’s an amazing cause and a great reason to celebrate (and enjoy delicious food) with friends and family.  And it's happening TODAY!

Food Revolution Day was created by Jamie Oliver (aka the Naked Chef and my food hero).  It’s a day for people to take action and make a stand for good food and essential cooking skills.  It’s a opportunity for people to gather within their homes, schools, businesses, and communities to cook and share kitchen skills, food knowledge, and resources.  This day aims to raise awareness about the importance of good food and increased food education for everyone by focusing on three simple actions – cook it, share it, live it.
The first Food Revolution Day took place on May 19, 2012 with more than 1,000 events in 664 cities across 62 countries. 

Food Revolution Day is celebrated globally as an individual, or within schools, business, or organizations that want to take part in hosting or attending activities in their area.  Many of these activities can be organized by voluntary Food Revolution ambassadors who play a leadership role across the work in connecting individuals, schools, businesses, and organizations at a local level.

Cooking skills that were previously passed down from generation to generation, are now lacking in millions of people.  We need to get back to the basics by cooking and eating fresh local produce, sharing cooking skills and food knowledge, and joining forces within our communities to get as many people involved as possible.  Food Revolution Day is our opportunity to get the world to focus on the importance of good food and essential cooking skills, by rallying our efforts to empower people with better cooking skills and inspiring them to cook fresh from scratch.

Food Revolution Day will happen in kitchens of homes and communities around the world inspiring people to take steps towards a healthier lifestyle.


Now go and enjoy Food Revolution Day.  Make a difference because this matters.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Natural beauty

Since I've been working toward an organic, natural lifestyle, I have done my best to research my decisions.  With every little piece of information that I seek, I am flooded with realizations about things that were not even on my radar.  The latest is beauty products.

As early as my teenage years I heard about animal testing and disgusting additives, but I always associated it with makeup, and I wear little to none on a daily basis.  Shampoo, face wash, soap, etc. never even crossed my mind.  To me these were necessities for cleanliness, not a function of beauty.  Now I realize that these things are full of toxins and dangers which can be quickly absorbed by your skin.

Recently deodorant came up in discussion.  My friend Leslie posted this article regarding the effects.  It caught my attention since it stated a huge increase in breast cancer and that is very close to home.  Sorry to get personal, but I am not a person that can go without.  I heard of someone using baby powder and found it quite laughable.  I don't think that I could make it from our bathroom to our bedroom without it wearing off, forget about all day.  I became frustrated because it is such a necessity for me and decided to ask her what she used instead.  Of course she is one of those people that doesn't need deodorant, but one of her friends recommended Crystal.  I ordered a stick and will give it a shot tomorrow.

Next up is eliminating my facial skin care regimen.  This is another tricky area for me.  I am prone to acne and general bad skin.  It's not overly sensitive, but I've had reactions to certain brands of face wash.  I plan to use coconut oil as my wash and witch hazel as an astringent, if needed.  My coworker, Allison, recently switched to washing with coconut oil and loves it.  My sister, Jamie, has been using coconut oil instead of lotion and also raves about it.  I'm excited to give it a try!

One small step that I've already made is eliminating sulfates in my shampoo.  I've done that for years and now it doesn't feel like a big enough step.  I'd love to go to no poo or homemade shampoo.  Please share any methods or experiences with no poo or homemade shampoo.  Any methods that have worked (or not worked) for anyone would be greatly appreciated.

Here's to natural beauty!
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Our first garden

This winter I decided that we are going to garden this year.  I figured that we would start small, probably a container garden, but we would have something growing.  I became excited with the idea and spent cold winter days researching container gardens and preparing for the upcoming spring.  I had visions of perfect matching clay pots neatly lined up growing our amazing vegetables.  I couldn’t wait for spring.

As soon as the seasons showed signs of change, my attitude changed as well.  I couldn’t see past the dollar signs involved with my perfect matching containers and organic seedlings.  It didn’t take long to table the idea with the thought of “maybe next year”.

Then one day my stepmom showed up with a flat of seedlings and quite a few containers and told me to buy soil.  I looked at the not perfectly matching plastic pots and the nonorganic seedlings for over two weeks.  The images of my cute, perfect garden were gone and that was fueling my excitement.  It's not that I'm not extremely grateful of the gift, but even with everything delivered to my doorstep, it still seemed like so much work.  Finally I just decided to do it.  Seriously, who turns away a free garden?  I had to get these poor little plants into some soil this weekend, I just knew that they wouldn’t make it another week.

Sunday morning I brought the boys outside and began planting.  William immediately wanted to help and quickly figured out how to cup his hands to transfer dirt from the bags to the pots.  He loved watching me put the seedlings in the soil and cover up the roots.  He even started adding sticks and picked dandelions to imitate the little plants.  We made several references to The Lorax.  Collin was more entertained by our horse tire swing.

When we planted about 2/3 of our seedlings, I realized that we were not only short on soil, but containers.  With William’s help, I watered the already planted containers and then went to buy more soil and containers.  This is what we planted at this point:

William.  My dirty little helper!

When I got home the boys were taking a nap, so I finished planting the containers myself.  When I finally planted the last seedling, I couldn’t help but to proudly look at our garden for a while.  The containers may not all match and the plants may not be 100% organic, but we put a lot of work and effort into it and it’s ours.  Honestly, I think that it looks pretty cute, even all mismatched!  We have nine cabbage, three broccoli, three red bell pepper, three hot pepper, and six tomato plants.  Not bad for a first garden.
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