Monday, April 30, 2012

Weekly Menu ~ April 30th

Our weeks are getting crazy as the opening of Sarah's play creeps closer and closer.  Lots of trips to the theater, long hours of rehearsal, and a few nights she wont even make it home.  All this lead to a menu that has easy meals that hold and reheat well as well as some grab and go lunches.  The craziness makes cooking whole food meals a little bit more of a challenge, but with planning it can be done.  My family's health is worth the planning and extra time.  Wouldn't you agree.

Breakfast:  Pumpkin Muffins
Lunch:  Roast Tomato Soup and Spelt Crackers
Dinner:  Black Bean Burritos

Breakfast:  Homemade Yogurt and Maple Almond Granola
Lunch: Spinach, Brie and Tomato Quesadilla
Dinner:  Cheesy Bow Tie Pasta with Peas and Ham

Breakfast:  Bulgar Wheat with Wild Berries
Lunch:  Tuna Salad in Pita with Apple Slices
Dinner:  Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Carrots, Celery and Onions

Breakfast: Sour-cream Coffee Cake
Lunch:  Garlic Hummus, Raw Veggie Sticks and Pita
Dinner:  Chicken Enchiladas

Breakfast: Poached Eggs on Toast
Lunch:  Almond Butter, Apples and Celery
Dinner:  Homemade Pizza

Breakfast: Pancakes
Lunch:  Grilled Cheese and Pears
Dinner:  Roasted Cod, Brown Rice, Sauteed Veggies

Breakfast:  Smoothies
Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Chili with Cornbread and Salad

This menu is being shared on Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm an Organizing Junkie.  Hop on over and see what others are eating this week.  There is always lots of inspiration!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dandelion Lavender Cookies

I love when Spring finally makes her appearance after the long New England winter.  Before the grass is really green the dandelions start sharing their happy yellow flowers.  As a child I loved dandelions.  I would pick bouquet after bouquet, and those that I missed became fuzzies to blow.  I did go through a phase when I thought dandelions were just a weed.  But oh how glad I am that was just a phase.  Now I am actually jealous of my neighbors who seem to have so many more dandelions than I do.  Lucky they share with me, as I just can't seem to get enough of the little yellow flowers and their yummy, nutritious greens.

Our latest adventure in the kitchen with dandelions is a yummy little cookie.  These nutritious bites are just perfect balance of a tad sweet with a hit of floral and just enough oaty goodness that even the man of the house will devour them.

Dandelion & Lavender Cookies

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (purchase here)
  • 1/3 cup raw local honey
  • 2 pasture eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup white whole wheat four
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup yellow dandelion flowers
  • 2 Tbsp lavender flowers

Whisk together coconut oil, honey, eggs and vanilla.  Add flour and baking soda and mix until combined.  Stir in oats.  Finally stir in the dandelion petals and lavender flowers.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven on parchment lined cookie sheets for about 9-11 minutes.  Remove to rack to cool.

The addition of the dandelion and lavender pack some extra nutrition into these little cookies.  Dandelions are high in beta carotene, iron, calcium and vitamin A.  They also contain lecithin which is good for the liver as it flushes out toxins.  Lavender contain vitamin A and calcium as well as limonene which has been shown to promote weight loss and help prevent cancer.  And really this are just lovely benefits because the flavor of these cookies is just plain yummy!  No need to tell anyone they are good for you too.

Linking up with Make your own Mondays over at Nourishing Treasures.

I shared this post over at the Homestead Barn Hop, a great place to share and find tidbits to help your little homestead grow.

You'll also find this post over at the Living Green Link-up Tuesdays.

Friday, April 27, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda, aka Soule Mama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

In gratitude this week for:
  • The month co-op delivery
  • A successful community dinner
  • A sweet five year old her learned to tie her own shoes
  • A finished brooder box - the chickens are coming
  • Some weeding done
Wishing all of you a glorious weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yarn Along

Joining in the fun of the weekly Yarn Along hosted by Ginny over at Small Things. In Ginny's words:

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

It has been a while since I've participated in the yarn along.  It has been a while since I pick up my knitting.  I finished my last project over a month ago and just couldn't find any inspiration.  And then, well you know how it is.  It was just time to pick up some needles and dig through the stash and find a little project.  That project - the Hetty, a darling baby girl top.  You can find the free pattern on Ravelry.  I think my little one with love this.  And the yarn, a gift from a dear friend that moved away just a few short months ago.  I miss her terribly, but knitting with this yarn she gifted me, help me feel close to her.  Crazy, but that how it is.

As for reading, I have been busy studying.  I'm enrolled in the Family Herbalist Course from Vintage Remedies.  It is truly amazing!  I highly recommend it to anyone interested in natural health.  It covers everything from nutrition to body chemistry, herbal medicine to aromatherapy and oh so much more.  

Extra Yarn is a cute book Bekah picked out on our weekly library trip.  We are both enjoy it.  A very cute story about how sharing a little color can change a lot.

It feels good to be knitting again and joining in here at the Yarn Along.  Don't forget to hop on over and she all the wonderful fiber crafting and reading going on.  It is always inspiring.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekly Menu - April 23rd

This is one of those crazy weeks when funds just need to go to other things.  It is these weeks that I'm thankful for a stocked pantry and freezer, for our homeschool co-op buying club and  produce day.  My shopping list is only six items long!  God is good and we are so thankful for His provision!

Breakfast: Maple Almond Granola with Raw Milk
Lunch: Nut Butter Sandwiches with Oranges
Dinner:  Sausage & Potato Fritatta with Garden Salad

Breakfast:  Swiss Oats with Mango and Coconut
Lunch:  Garlic Hummus, Pitta Bread and Raw Veggie Sticks
Dinner:  Hot Dogs with Sauerkraut and Corn

Breakfast:  Crepes
Lunch:  Tomato & Cheese Bites with Pears
Dinner:  Roasted Cod, Brown Rice and Steamed Veggies

Breakfast:  Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins
Lunch:  Salad
Dinner:  Cheesy Beef and Rice Casserole with Salad

Breakfast:  Poached Eggs on Sourdough Toast
Lunch:  Tuna Sandwiches with Apple Slices
Dinner:  Homemade Pizza on Sourdough Crust

Breakfast:  Blueberry Breakfast Bars
Lunch: Leftovers
Dinner:  Baked Chicken, Potatoes, Carrots and Celery

Breakfast:  Smoothies and  Sourdough Toast
Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Chicken Enchiladas

This menu is shared on Menu Plan Monday hosted by I'm and Organizing Junkie.  Hop on over and see what others are eating this week.  There is always lots of inspiration.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Going Green For Earth Day and Your Budget

In recognition of Earth Day I thought it would be fun to take a quick peek at a few simple ways you can help not only the Earth, but your family and your budget.  I love how those three really do fit together, don't you.

I was hoping to cover simple changes one can make in the bathroom, kitchen and laundry room.  However as I got going I realized that was just too much to take on for one post.  So today we are going to start in the bathroom.  Then over the next few Sundays we will move to the kitchen and laundry room.  And who knows we may continue on this journey a bit further.  We will just have to wait and see.  For now ~

This is one of those rooms many don't like to talk about, and pray that is it clean when someone drops by expectantly.  No worries, we wont be taking a peak in your or mine for that matter today.  But I did want to point out some places where it is easy to be kinder to the earth, our bodies and our budget.

Let's start with some simple health and beauty products.

Shampoo - Most commercial shampoos have some really nasty stuff in them.  Many contain petroleum derivatives such as isopropyl alcohol (SD-40), propylene glycol (PG), butylene glycol.   Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are detergents that are also use in car washes and as engine cleaners. None of these are items I want on my or my families hair and skin.

There are some good natural/organic brands of shampoo, but most of them are costly.  So the budget friendly solution. . . go no poo.  You read that right.  Give up the shampoo and conditioner and replace them with simple baking soda and apple cider vinegar.  I did this over a year ago and haven't looked back.  Really it is simple, frugal and safe.

Here's how:

Mix baking soda, about 1-2 Tbps, to a cup of water.  This is the ratio you want to start with.  You will find many variations and I think it depends on your water as well as your hair.  I tend to you a little more baking soda.  Shake to dissolve the baking soda.  Pour mixture on your scalp and massage in.  Let sit for a few minutes before you rinse.  That's it.  I mix mine in larger batches and store in a squirt bottle in the shower.  I find it works better if it has set for a least a few days.  Next for the rinse.  This is simply apple cider vinegar, 2 Tbsp, to one cup of water.  Once again I make this is a large batch and store in a spray bottle in the shower.  I just spray a generous amount and rinse.  I've never had issues with the vinegar smell, but if you don't like it you can add essential oils, herbs or even vanilla to the rinse.

Just some things to remember if you decide to give this a try.  There is an adjustment period for most people that can last 2 weeks to 2 month.  What is happening is that with regular shampoos you are stripping all the natural oil and then replacing it with conditioner.  When you strip the oil your head notices it is gone and produces more oil.  When you stop stripping the oil, it takes a while for your scalp to adjust so you hair may seem oilier for a bit.  This will end, stick it our.  Once you are over this hump your hair wont get dirty/oily as quickly.  I promise.

Conditioner - More of the same here.  And really using regular shampoo is the reason so many of us need conditioner.  It replaces what was just striped.  Can you can great development and marketing on manufacture's part!  If you go the no poo route above you most likely wont need a conditioner, but on those days you do a little, and I mean little, bit of coconut oil does the trick as a leave in conditioner.  Helps reduce frizz and flyaways as well as smooths split ends.

Deodorant - Here again most of what is one the market is full of all kinds of nasty stuff or way to expensive for a frugal budget.  Some of the nasty ingredients in deodorant is the aluminum that is found in the antiperspirant varieties. This stuff has been shown to be just down right nasty.  Many brands also contain propylene glycol, diproplyene glycol, butane, propane and denatured alcohol.  YUCK!

Here again you can make your own.  This is quick and easy and really works.  I have been using this recipe for over two years and haven't looked back. I did have to play with the ratios a bit, and have come up with a blend for summer when it is warm and the coconut oil is liquid and winter when it is cooler.  I also add a few drops of my favorite essential oils.  A quick search on the web and you will find a bunch of variations if this one isn't your cup of tea.

Face Wash - You guessed nasty stuff in most of these as well.  Everything from Sodium laureth sulfate and butylene glycol to cocamidopropyl hydrozy sultaine and hexulene glycol.  Can you even pronounce some of these?  I can't.  Many of them have been linked to skin irritation, eye irritation and are linked to cancer in animals.  So why are ingredients that are known skin and eye irritants in a face wash?  Good question, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Luckily there are a few options that are better for you, your budget and the earth.  Castile soap is a wonderful vegetable soap that is reasonable, safe and easy to find.  Dr Bronners is a popular brand.

Or you can look no further than your pantry and pull out the extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).  You read that right.  Clean you face with olive oil.  It is a know fact that oil dissolves oil.  In "the Passionate Olive", author Carol Firenze  points to the first documents uses of olive oil as cosmetic and medicinal.  So how to wash with oil?  First a little bit goes a long way and this helps make it frugal as well.  There are many tips for using olive oil to cleanse your face, but here is what we do.  Take a dime size drop of EVOO and add a bit of water.  Massage in a circular motion all over your face and neck.  Next soak a washcloth with hot (not burning) water and lay over your face for a minute or two.  Rinse the washcloth and use it to gently remove the oil from your face.  You will find your face clean and moisturized.

Moisturizer - Sorry to say the news doesn't get any better with the ingredients in most moisturizers.  Again the list contains many chemicals that are listed as hazardous materials and/or made from petroleum and crude oil.  Common chemicals found in moisturizers are polysorbates, propylene glycol, sodium laurel, and parabens. Why company think we want to put this stuff on our skins is beyond me.

Our solution - coconut oil!  Love this stuff.  It is a great moisturizer that can be used right out of the jar or whipped for a luxuriousness cream.  There are a bunch of oils and butter that can be made easily into moisturizers.  Just a warning it can be quite addictive to play with them.  Some of them you might want to try are shea butter, cocoa butter, olive oil and jojoba oil.

Eye Make Up Remover - Ingredients here include parabens, propylparaben, methylparaben, and propylene glycol.  The thought of this stuff on my eyes makes me cringe.  How about you?

A simple solution again - coconut oil.  You got it a little coconut oil on a tissue will remove most eye make up.  It is that simple and pure!

Lip Balm -  petrolatum, phenol, cetyl alcohol, titanium dioxides, parabens and artificial colors and flavors.  And all of this is destine to be ingested as we lick our lips.  Yuck!

Making your own lip balm is quick and easy.  And you can play with recipes to come up with the perfect balm for you.  You can find our stand by recipe here.

The list of ingredients is really getting repetitive.  Makes you wonder when they say exposure in small amount is ok.  Well if we are being exposed to small amounts numerous times, when does that become large enough to be a concern?  I don't know about you but I don't want to find out.  I rather just stay away.

If this list seems over whelming, don't let it.  One of the easiest ways to change is to take it slowly.  You can either pick one items to try get that under your belt for a month and then move on to the next one.  In just six months you will have conquered all the items on this list.  The other way to approach it is to use up what you have and when it runs out try to make your own instead of buying one.  Slow and steady really helps make these chances that last.

I'd love to hear what products you make for yourself or ones you like to but don't know how.  Feel free to leave links to your favorite recipes in the comment section of this post.  I will try to highlight a few of them next week before me move on to the kitchen.

Happy Earth Day!  Hope you are feeling a little greener!

day2day joys

Friday, April 20, 2012

{this moment}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda, aka Soule Mama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.


In gratitude this week for:

  • Glorious Spring Weather
  • Morning Walks with the little one and the dog
  • So much more learning during my Family Herbalist Course
  • A couple of hours with a friend, a rare thing as of late
Wishing all of you a glorious weekend!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Healthy Oatmeal Cream Sandwich Cookies

Ok, so every one knows that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. But what happens when the food he likes to put in his stomach may not be the best for the rest of him? Well, my husband is one of those guys. He loves his junk food - cheese puffs, fluff, soda, microwave popcorn. Oh the list goes on and on. So what's a wife to do when she wants her man to be both happy and healthy?

Make a healthy version of one of one his favorite treats - Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies, of course. Now, I'm sure this isn't the healthiest cookie around, but it is a whole lot better than the plastic wrapped version from the local food store. And boy do they taste better!

Adapted from Williams Kitchen


1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 cup unsalted grass fed butter, at room temp
1/4 coconut oil (purchase here)
1 cup sucanat
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice
1 large free range egg
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. (I just love this stuff, don't you)

In a medium size bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in oats. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, coconut oil, sucanat, and evaporated cane juice until well blended. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture until all of it is well incorporated.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls about two inches apart on your prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 8-10 minutes. Cool on the sheets for a couple of minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


1/2 cup unsalted grass fed butter, at room temp
2 cups confectioners sugar (learn how to make your own here)
2 tbp heavy cream (we scooped the cream off the to of our milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, start on low speed and beat until everything is incorporated. Then increase the speed and whip until the filling is light and fluffy.

Assemble cookies by spreading one tablespoon of filling over a cookie and topping with a second cookie. Make sure your cookies are cool or your filling will melt like ours did a bit. Still taste yummy, but not as pretty.

Linking up with Scratch Cookin' Tuesday!

Disclaimer: Links in some of my posts are affiliate links. If you decide to purchase that product I receive a small percentage of the cost of the product.  It is a small perk that enables me to continue to blog and stay home with my family.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sparkle Stories

I don't often blog about products and services. I don't like to feel like a walking commercial. However, when I received an email from David over at Sparkle Stories with a great deal for all of you I just had to share.

We signed up with Sparkle Stories six months ago and have been loving the stories ever since. Every Friday we down load the stories and put them on an iPod. The girls love to listen to them in the car and at bed time especially. But they will play them while cleaning their room and often I find Rebekah hanging out on her bed listening to the delightful tales.

I don't know if I can say we like one of them more than another. They are all fabulous. And I think the age ranges associated with the tales is quiet appropriate. I will say that Hannah really enjoys them even though she is older. I think a good story holds almost anyone's attention, and these are good stories.

So here's the deal. You can enjoy your first month of Sparkle Stories for only $1.00! That's translates into hours, actually 12 stories, over 3.5 hours, of stories for just a dollar. You really can't go wrong. So here all you need to do. Head on over to the special Sparkle Stories page listed below and enter the magic code. That's it!

The magic code: SPARKLEFRIENDS
The magic page:

The monthly subscription really is worth the price. You wont be sorry. You have nothing to loose, you can cancel at any time, but trust me you wont. That was what I was planning on doing, when I signed up with a similar deal. And here I am 6 months later still enrolled and now sharing the joy of Sparkle Stories.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Weekly Menu ~ April 16th

The weather is finally warming up again! I'm hoping the soups and stews are really gone until next month. We're all looking forward to spring and summer meals. There wont be fresh veggies from the garden any time soon, but I am hoping that some of the local farms will start having spring greens soon.

Lunch: Pita Bread, Garlic Hummus and Veggies
Dinner: Chicken with Kale Casserole and Beets

Lunch: Creamy Mac & Cheese with Peas

Breakfast: Yogurt, Fruit and Maple Almond Granola
Dinner: Cod, Brown Rice and Veggie Saute'

Breakfast: Poached Eggs on Sourdough Toast
Lunch: Veggie Stir fry over Red Quinona
Dinner: Grass Fed Burgers, Crock Pot Baked Beans and Veggie Sticks

Breakfast: Green Smoothies
Lunch: Tuna Pockets and Pears
Dinner: Sourdough Pizza with Spinach, Tomato and Feta

Breakfast: Pancakes and Sausage
Lunch: Garden Salads
Dinner: Seasoned Pork Roast, Roasted Potatoes and Honey Glazed Carrots

Breakfast: Fruit Smoothies and Sourdough Toast
Lunch: Left Overs
Dinner: Spaghetti, Cesar Salad and Garlic Bread

So what is on your menu as the season changes? Do you have dishes you only eat at certain times of the year? I'd love to hear. If you blog your meal plan, leave me a link in the comments. I'll pop over for a visit, promise. And if you are looking for some more menu inspiration head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Herbal Sore Throat Remedy

Sarah came home from a sleepover exhausted, loaded with junk food and a sore throat. She had a great time, but was now paying the price. She needed more than tea with honey. Dad was sure her throat and tonsils were covered in white spots. We needed to make a decision. Head to the ER or treat her at home. Not being a huge fan of the over prescription of antibiotics, I headed off to the herbal medicine cabinet.

I remembered saving a post I had seen for a Strep Throat treatment. The treatment received rave reviews with lots of success stories. So we mixed up a batch and set to treating Sarah. She took a dose every half and hour for three hours before going to bed. To everyone's surprise she woke the next morning feeling much better. We continued to dose her every hour for the next three hours and then every two for the next six hours.

Less than 24 hours later and Sarah felt completely better and no white spots to be found!

So what is this simple, natural Strep Throat treatment, you ask? I'm happy to share, you will think it is too simple. But trust me, it worked.

2 Tbsp Raw Local Honey
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
8 cloves of garlic - crushed

Mix all the ingredients together. Take 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp every 30 to 60 minutes. Don't wash it down, you want it to coat your throat. You may need to double this recipe in order to have enough to last the 24 hours.

That's it. Simple! Natural! What else could you ask for?

There is science behind this remedy. Honey is an anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal substance. It is also coasts the throat. The cayenne is a rubefacient, which causes dilation of the capillaries bringing blood to the area. The garlic is a potent immune system booster.

This remedy is one we will be keeping around. It is empowering to know that we are able to take care of our families successfully. I'd love to hear about your successes with herbal medicine. What are your favorite remedies.

I shared this post over at the Homestead Barn Hop, a great place to share and find tidbits to help your little homestead grow.

Also sharing on the 36th edition of Wildcrafting Wednesday!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Growing Celery

I finally broke down and got a pinterest account! Why am I telling you this? Well, I have some some amazing ideas, this being one of them. We love celery. It ends up in lots of things we make, and of course it is a quick and easy snack all by itself or paired with hummus, nut butters, cream cheese and the like. So when I discovered you can grow your own from the discarded end, I just knew we would have to try.

First get yourself some nice organic celery. Cut off the end. The original directions said to soak the end in a saucer of lukewarm water over night. But I forgot. And well, we really didn't have the patients for that either. I'm glad to say it didn't matter.

As we still have snow covering our garden and the nights are at freezing we thought it a good idea to plant in a pot. We placed an unbleached coffee filter in the bottom. This stops the dirt from escaping. Then we filled it with some good organic seed starting dirt. Place the cut end of the celery cut side up and cover with some more dirt. About an inch deep.

Water and wait. Waiting is the hard part.

But we didn't have to wait long. This is our celery about a week after we planted it. We saw shoots in about three days. It still has a long way to go before we'll be munching on our own homegrown celery, but I'm sure it will be worth the wait. Now I wonder if we will be able to grow another bunch from this one?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 6, 2012

{this moment)

{this moment} - A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda, aka Soule Mama. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
In gratitude this week for:
  • Sunny days full of walks and bike rides
  • An awesome opportunity for my oldest girl ~ Thanks Dayna
  • A kombucha mushroom gifted from a friend
  • A little girl who is finally sleeping much better on her own
Wishing all of you a glorious weekend!