Monday, May 28, 2012

Weekly Menu ~ May 26th

Breakfast:  Blueberry and Banana Sourdough Muffins
Lunch:  Tomato and Cheese Bites
Dinner:  Spaghetti, Salad and Garlic Bread


Breakfast:  Swiss Oats with Fruit and Seeds
Lunch:  Garlic Hummus with Veggie Sticks and Pita Bread
Dinner:  Grilled Pork chops, Quinoa and Black Beans and Sauteed Summer Squash and Zucchini

Breakfast:  Poached Eggs on Toast
Lunch:  Veggie Pockets with Apples
Dinner:  Chicken Divan with a Garden Salad

Breakfast:  Pancakes
Lunch:  Tuna Wraps with Kale Chips
Dinner:  Black Bean Burritos

Breakfast:  Cereal
Lunch:  Hot Dogs with Baked Beans (watch for the recipe this week)
Dinner:  Homemade Pizza on Sourdough Crust

Breakfast:  Homemade Yogurt and Soaked Granola
Lunch:  Egg Salad with Carrot Sticks
Dinner:  Steak Tips, Macaroni Salad

Breakfast:  Green Smoothies and Toast
Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Roast Chicken, Potatoes, Carrots, Celery and Onions

Linking up over at I'm an Organizing Junkie's Menu Planning Monday.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower

The other day I saw a chart posted of Facebook that was talking about the best way to cook vegetables. Of course this intrigued, so I enlarged the chart. me.  Boy was I disappointed when I realized that it only talked about three methods - boiling, steaming and microwaving.  Really folks ~ microwaving  as one of the top way to cook your veggies.  I will say that the chart did rank steaming as the best more often than not.  But really there is a lot lacking here.  Every time I hear someone say they don't like vegetable I wonder how that can possibly be.  Veggies are delicious and there are so many there has to be a few to like!  Then I come across something that promotes boiling or microwaving veggies and I start to get the dislike of veggies, well sort of.

So I thought I would share one of our favorite and easy way to cook our veggies.  Roasting!

Don't you just love all the colors that cauliflower comes in?  This is just so pretty, how could it not be yummy?  And it's quite nutritious too packed with vitamins C and B complex, fiber, potassium and calcium and antioxidants.


  • 1 head purple cauliflower
  • 1 head yellow cauliflower
  • 1 head green cauliflower
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • sea salt to taste
  • 3 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • Parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Clean cauliflower and cut into bite size pieces.  In a large bowl toss the cauliflower, garlic, salt and grapeseed oil.  Spread in a single layer on a sheet pan.  Roast in oven until golden brown about 20 minutes.  Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

Sorry about the crummy after photo.  Dinner ended up delayed a bit and the veggies stayed in the oven too long.  Between that and the horrible light with a later than normal dinner and you get a crummy photo.  But be assured the cauliflower was still yummy.  The girls were all picking at it before we'd even had a chance to say our blessings.

This is a great method for other veggies as well.  We love roasted broccoli, asparagus,  carrots, eggplant and oh so many more.  I hope you'll about to throw your veggies into a pot of boiling water or press start on the microwave you will think again.

I'm linking up with Make Your Own Monday and Scratch Cooking Tuesday.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vegetable Fried Rice

This is a family favorite. I have been playing with the flavors and amount for a while and I know think I have a perfect dish.  Of course perfect is one of those subjective ideas, but for us this is perfect.  A great light dinner or hearty lunch.  It stands alone, but adding some chicken or Chinese sausage isn't too much.

There is a little bit of prep-work getting  all the veggies cleaned and cut.  Rebekah is a great help with this.  She loves to pull the strings off the pea pods and cut them with her wavy chopper.  She also peels the carrots.  I don't let her cut them, match stick cuts can be difficult for an adult.  She does crack and beat the eggs.  It really is a grand time.

Once all the prep-work is done the cooking goes really fast.  So fast that even though amazing smells are wafting through the kitchen I don't need to be sampling, well at least not too much.  I like that.

I'm luckily enough to have a wok gifted to me by my mother-in-law many years ago.  Buy you could do this in a large saute pan.

Doesn't it look yummy?  I'm sure you are wanting to go right now and make this, so without further ado on to the recipe.


  • 4 cups brown rice
  • 2 Tbsp kefir (used to soak the rice)
  • 3 carrots
  • 3/4lb pea pods
  • 1/2lb bean sprouts
  • 6 scallions
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 cup tamari soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp sucanat (brown sugar would work)
  • 1 heaping Tbsp grated fresh ginger root
  • 4 eggs
I like to soak my rice, but you can skip this step.  Basically you want to cook your rice as you normally do.  For me that means putting the rice, water and kefir in my rice cooker in the morning. Give it a stir and let it soak until it is time to cook.

In a small bowl mix the soy sauce, vinegar, sucanat, and grated ginger.  Mix until sucanat dissolves and set aside.

While the rice is cooking we prep the vegetables. Peel the carrots and cut into match sticks.  Clean the pea pods and cut into bite size pieces (halves or thirds).   Chop the greens of the scallions into thin rings.  Put the lower white portion with the roots in a glass to grow more.

Next heat the grapeseed oil in you wok or pan over medium-high heat.  When it is hot throw in the carrots and stir fry for about 2 minutes.  Add the peas and bean sprouts and 1/4 cup of the soy sauce mixture and stir fry for another 3 minutes.  Remove the vegetables and keep warm.

Return the wok to the heat and add the cooked rice, scallions and the rest of the soy sauce mixture.  Stir fry until heated through and all the soy sauce mixture has been absorbed.  Push the rice to the side and pour in the beaten eggs.  I find it works best if you pour in a little at a time and let it cook, like scrambled eggs.  When all the egg is cook mix it into the rice.

Serve rice in bowls with the veggies over the top.  This makes 8 servings.  We fight love to have left overs the next day for lunch.

I have been known to use different vegetables, sometimes it is what ever is in the fridge.  Broccoli  is a lovely addition. 

Hope you give this a try and if you do enjoy it as much as we do.  

I'm linking up with Make Your Own Monday, Traditional Tuesdays, and Scratch Cooking Tuesday.

Friday, May 25, 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:
  • Some quiet productive days at home.
  • Lots of bouncing on the trampoline.
  • Quiet early morning, now that Rebekah will sleep for about an hour after I "sneak" downstairs
  • Green, everything and everywhere there is green, spring is finally here.
Wishing you a blessed weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Our deepest wishes are whispers of our authentic selves. 
We must learn to respect them
We must learn to listen.
Sarah Ban Breathnach

What are you wishing for today?

Wednesday, May 23, 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! ~

So good to be back knitting, reading and sharing with this wonderful community.  I finally figured out my issue with the Hetty and now am moving right along.  It is hard to see the detail in the photo, but I am really loving the  seed stitch accent.  The next section is straight knitting to get the length and should go quite quickly if I can carve out the time to knit.

I've also managed to get back to hitting the books after letting my studies laps during Sarah's play.  I am excited to get back to it.  I love learning and herbal medicine is something that I am growing more and more passionate about. This unit is one vaccination, a subject that had always interested me.  I wont get into it here as it is a big and hotly debated topic.  What I will say is that I wish both side would stop using scare tactics and really present the facts.  I truly hope parents do their research as well as know and understand their options when it comes to vaccination.

The Teenage Liberation Handbook is more for Sarah than for me.  She is such a creative, talented and alive soul.  I love how the world is opening up to her and she is discovering herself.  I want her to keep growing and searching to find her true self and not who society says she should be or how she should get there.  I firmly believe that education is a journey in and of itself and should NOT be the ends to a means.  I want these high school years to be a time of self discovery propelled by interest driven learning and self education, and not the "required" subject list.  Did any of us really love those required courses?   Ok, now I'm hoping this book is all that it has been cracked up to be.  I'll be sharing more soon.

Don't forget to stop by the Yarn Along to see what everyone else is knitting and reading.  There is always an abundance of inspiration.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Overnight Sourdough Waffles

I have been playing a lot lately with sourdough.  I have learned a ton about bread, gluten, yeast and sourdough in the Family Herbalist course as well as from their bread book.  And of course there are numerous blogs and websites with great information as well.

I thought some of you might be interested in some of the most interesting facts I've learned.  If not you can skip to the recipe and just know that not only is it yummy, it is also good for you!

First, refined white flour is not a new thing.  The ancient Egyptians were very adapt at refining flour and had white flours that would rival our modern day flour.  For them the more refined the flour was the "better" and more expensive it was.  White flour was a sign of wealth.

Gluten has always been present in wheat so why is it now such a big issue.  It seems that gut health is more the issue than the gluten.  Leaky gut syndrome refers to the intestines not filtering as they should.  Particles that have not yet been fully digested and are too large are able to cross into the bloodstream.  Most often when something ends up in the body where it doesn't belong the outcome isn't good.  The body begins to fight that substance.  Interestingly enough many of the same people that suffer from leaky gut syndrome also don't have the correct digestive enzymes to break gluten down.  Of course traditionally a wider variety of grains were used as well, some of which are naturally lower in gluten.

Another key piece to the puzzle is yeast.  For millenia, people have been baking their own bread.  However they didn't open a little foil packet of bakers yeast to do so.  Ancient peoples discovered that leaving a mixture of flour and water exposed to the air would "catch" the wild yeast, at least two different species.  In turn these wild yeast would grown in the medium of water and flour.  Of course while this produced a wonderful loaf of bread it was hard to commercialize.  It took time and each loaf was unique.  So bakers yeast was developed as the answer.

One should note that bakers yeast is one is only one species of yeast and is not one of the natural yeast that was used in baking.  Also in order to ensure the consistent and reliable results a package of baker's yeast contains over 100 billion yeast cells.  Natural starters contain very small amount of active yeast.

And I love this, fermented breads also contain bacteria caught from the air.  Why is this important?  These bacteria, usually from the lactobacilli family, feed of the maltose, one of the carbohydrates in flour that the yeast doesn't utilize.  And it is important to note that these bacteria take about 12 hours to fully develop in the dough.  They are not present in today's modern bread.  The long fermentation time also allows for the gluten to be predigested making it easier on our guts.

So there you have it, the wild yeast and bacteria have a symbiotic relationship.  The work together to make bread  a whole food that is easier to digest and whose minerals are more bio-available.

Thanks if you actually read all of this. I hope you learned something.  Now, as promised the overnight sourdough waffle recipe.  Enjoy!

Overnight Sponge

  • 2 cups of White Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 Tbsp Evaporated Cane Juice
  • 2 Cups Kefir
  • 1 Cup Sourdough Starter (unfed)
Waffle Batter
  • All of the overnight sponge
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda

The night before you will want to mix up your sponge.  In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, kefir and starter. Cover and let sit out on the counter overnight.  No need to worry about it going bad.  All the good bacteria in the kefir and starter.  I love mixing this up the night before.  Makes getting breakfast on the table much simpler.

In the morning your sponge should look, well spongy.  It will have risen and have lots of lovely little bubbles in it.

Now you are ready to add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well.  If you are not used to working with sourdough batters this will seem a little strange to you.  They have a very elastic consistency to them.  It can take a bit to get everything incorporated well.  Just stick with it.  It will come together.

Now all you have left to do is cook your waffles.  We use a Belgian waffle iron.  This recipe will make about 6 waffles yummy waffles.  We top them is pastured butter and local maple syrup!

I'm linking up over at Traditional TuesdaysScratch Cooking' Tuesday and Friday Homemaking.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekly Menu ~ May 21st

Ahh I must say it is good to finally be slowing down, to be back in the kitchen, the garden - to just be home.  I really am a homebody.  I love my home.  I love hanging out with my family and keeping a home for them.  After a very hectic month during the production of Sarah's play, I am so glad to be home.  Getting back into a familiar routine.  The sounds, the sights, the smells.  Really there is no place like home.

Breakfast:  Overnight Sourdough Waffles (recipe coming later this week)
Lunch:  Chicken Enchiladas
Dinner:  Cheesy Bow Tie Pasta with Peas and Ham

Breakfast:  Swiss Oats with Berries
Lunch:  Vegetable Fried Rice (made with brown rice, sucanat and grape-seed oil)
Dinner:  Church Community Dinner

Breakfast:  Poached Eggs on Sourdough Toast
Lunch:  Tomato and Cheese Bites
Dinner:  Crock Pot Chili and Cornbread

Breakfast:  Homemade Yogurt and Soaked Granola
Lunch:  Tuna Salad Wraps with Kale Chips
Dinner:  Roast Chicken, Potatoes and Carrots

Breakfast:  Pancakes
Lunch:  Chicken Salad Sandwiches with Raw Veggie Sticks
Dinner:  Homemade Pizza on Sourdough Crust

Breakfast:  Blueberry Banana Sourdough Muffins
Lunch:  Egg Salad on Wheat Rolls with Apples
Dinner:  BBQ Chicken, Potato Salad and Dilly Beans

Breakfast:  Green Smoothies
Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Burgers, Baked Beans and Potato Salad

Linking up with Menu Planning Monday over at I'm An Organizing Junkie!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

DIY Mason Jars with Straw Lids - Summer Perfect Drink Container

With summer coming I have been looking for some lidded beverage glasses for a while.  I knew I didn't want plastic and there weren't many other choices out there.  I wanted lids for the little ones that always seem to spill their drinks and for everyone else to keep the bugs and stuff out.

I had been seeing these converted mason jars on the web but the prices on Etsy were way out of my range.  Others were using paper and cutting a slit for the straw.  Ok that would work for the bugs, but not the spills and really seemed like too much work.  I wanted something cheap frugal and reusable.

Thanks to my brilliant husband, the answer was more than simple it was very reasonable too!  And he even ended up doing most of the work, if you can really call it that.

Hannah "dimpled" the lid in the center.  This was done so the drill bit would have a place to rest and not jump.  Don't know if you really need to do this, but it worked and gave Hannah a job!

Then Doug drilled a hole through the lid.  He used a 3/8" bite.  It is hard to see but there is a scrap piece of wood under the lid.  He DID NOT drill right on the kitchen table.

I inserted the rubber grommets.  It was easy to do, but I couldn't take pictures and do it at the same time.  We found the grommets at Lowes in the fasteners aisle.  They come two in a package.  We bought the 9/16th size.  This fits a standard plastic straw perfectly.

Of course Rebekah couldn't wait to try out her new cup.

We made a set of six.  And seriously it took us all of about 10 minutes with all of us having a job.  And better yet the whole project cost $4.12.  That's 69¢ each!  And it would have been a lot less, but I couldn't resist the red and white check lids.  They scream summer, don't you agree?

Here's how it broke down:

  • Mason Jars - in the pantry
  • Lids - package of 6 on sale of $1.00
  • Grommets - package of 2 for $1.04 bought three packages
Now I would like to add some reusable straws to complete the project.  I have seen both glass and stainless that I like, but I'm not sure which way to go.  The glass ones are definitely more pricey and I wonder about them with kids.  I'd love to hear what you all think.  Do you have reusable plastic, glass or stainless straws?  What do you love or hate about them?

I'm linking up with the Homestead Barn Hop, Make A Move MondayLiving Green Link-upSustainable Ways Wednesday and Creative Friday!

No Poo

If you have been following my blog for any length of time, you already know that fugal, green solutions are one of the things I am passionate about.  God only made one amazing Earth and commanded us to take good care of it.
"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it.                                "Genesis 2:15  
And if we take a closer look at the word to "keep", we will see that in the Hebrew it means to care for something completely and gently ensure that no harm comes to it.

Today I wanted to share my No Poo hair cleansing recipe.  I have been No Poo for a few years now and really love it.  I can't imagine ever spending money on shampoos and conditions especially knowing how bad some of the ingredients are in most of them.


  • baking soda
  • rosemary essential oil
  • water
  • funnel
  • container to mix in
  • container to store No Poo solution
Mix about 1Tbsp of baking soda to 1 cup of warm water.  Mix to dissolve.  Add a couple of drops of rosemary essential oil.  Mix again.  Pour into storage containers.  Let sit for about a week before you use.

To use wet hair.  Massage about 1/8th of a cup into scalp.  More or less depending on the length of your hair.  No need to drench all you hair.  Let mixture sit on your hair for 3-5 minutes, then rinse.  If you have hair that tangles easily you may want to follow with an apple cider vinegar rinse.

Dry and style as usual.

So why rosemary essential oil?  Well it has long been know to nourish hair and help with scalp dryness.  Some even say it promotes hair grown and treats dandruff.  It is also known to promote memory an added benefit for getting your day off on a good foot. 

And just a few added notes in case you are wondering.  I have hair more than half way down my back.  We have hard water.  If you are not having results you like, before you through in the towel, I would play with the amount of baking soda per cup of water.

I'm linking this post up over at Make Your Own Monday and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dandelion & Violet Lemonade

Rebekah and I have been loving the Herb Fairies books!  We are both learning so much.  And they sparked an interest in wild foraging for Rebekah.  She is always bringing me plants and asking, "What can we do with this one, Mama?  Is it edible?"  Don't you just love that?  Of course I'm so glad she comes and asks insted of tasting first.

A couple weeks back I stumbled across a recipe for Dandelion & Violet Lemonade, and I just knew that we would have to give it a try.   We kept trying to get out to harvest violets, but the rain and Sarah's play foiled many of our attempts.  Finally this week we made it.  I love this little patch of violets out behind the chicken coop.  We are still in our yard in the middle of town, but it feels so remote and magical.  Rebekah got right to work harvesting the violet flowers for her lemonade and munching on the violet leaves for a little snack!

Next the dandelions.  We have NO shortage of these beauties.  They seem to be everywhere this spring.  Funny, as a kid I loved them and then grew to see them as an annoying weed, now I love them again!  It took quite a few dandelions to fill our jar half full.  Both of our fingers were stained a lovely yellow by the time we were done.  Rebekah thought that was just fabulous!

Then we headed inside to add some fresh lemon juice as well as the peals to our flowers.  It was looking and smelling yummy already, but of course it wasn't quite done.  We needed to call on a little magic from the sun to finish off our yummy drink.

Oh so carefully, Rebekah carried her Dandelion & Violet Lemonade to the back yard and picked a sunny spot for it to brew!

It looked so lovely.  It was hard waiting.  Isn't that always the hard part?  But we did.  I sat out there the rest of the day until supper time.  When Rebekah, once again oh so carefully carried it inside.  We both had a glass with supper sweetened with just a touch of honey.  It was so good!

Don't forget you can find the complete recipe as well as come nutritional information on both dandelions and violets over at Blissville Living.

Friday, May 18, 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:
  • A beautiful end to a fabulous Perform It year
  • Checking off some outside projects
  • Blue skies, sunshine, and song birds
  • Some of the best friends anyone could have.
Wishing all of you a blessed weekend!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Curtain Closes

 "Good night, good night!  Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow."
                                           ~William Shakespeare

It is hard to believe that another year of Perform It has come to an end.  What an amazing group of actors, directors, parents, artists and more!  Love to you all for sharing your talents and making this stage company something unmatched.

Just a small peek at the truly wonderful production of The Tempest!

My daughter, Sarah, as an amazingly beautiful Sea Sprite.  As narrators they help the flow of the story, interpreting Shakespeare so that all can follow the plot.

The royals and mariners being tossed and turned during the tempest stirred up by Prospero and his Ariel spirits. 

The love interest in the story.  Doesn't every good story have a love interest?  Miranda and Ferdinand.

Such sorrow at the loss of her son!  The queen doesn't realize he is still alive on another part of the island!

Prospero!  The rightful Duke of Milan and magician who orchestrated the entire play.  And discovers forgiveness is better than revenge!

One of the Calibans, the original inhabitants of the island.  Now slaves to Prospero!

The entire cast and crew!  My hats off to you, you were all wonderful.

Thanks again for another amazing year!  We're already looking forward to next year!

Weekly Menu ~ May 14th

The play is over and life is settling down a bit.  Meals will be easier to get on the table and have everyone gather together.  That's the way I like it.  Don't you?

Breakfast - Poached Eggs on Sourdough Toast
Lunch - Tomato Cheese Bites
Dinner - Cod with Brown Rice and Sauteed Veggies

Breakfast - Blueberry Banana Sourdough Muffins
Lunch - Grilled Cheese with Raw Veggie Sticks
Dinner - Spaghetti and Meatballs with Salad and Garlic Bread

Breakfast - Smoothies
Lunch - Picnic (field trip and play clean up)
Dinner - Cheesy Beef and Rice Casserole with Salad

Breakfast - Swiss Oats
Lunch - Creamy Mac & Cheese with Peas
Dinner - Veggie Fried Rice with Chinese Sausage

Breakfast - Pancakes
Lunch - Tuna Melts with Apples
Dinner - Homemade Pizza on Sourdough Crust

Breakfast - Homemade Yogurt and Soaked Granola
Lunch - Spinach Salad
Dinner - Roast Chicken, Potatoes, Carrots, Celery and Onions

Breakfast - Smoothies
Lunch - Leftovers
Dinner - Chicken Enchiladas 

Linking up with the Organizing Junkie for Menu Planning Monday.  Come on over and share what your eating this week.

Friday, May 11, 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 most amazing group of actors, directors and parents! 
  • Opening Night - break a leg!
  • The many friends you helped me get my children where they needed to be this week
  • Sunshine this morning
  • A little girl and her chickens!
Wishing you a glorious weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Vitacost FREE shipping deal!

Hurry!  Today only Vitacost if offering free shipping on orders over $25.00.  This is a great deal, especially if you pair it with a $10.00 credit.  If you are a new customer you can sign up to receive your $10.00 credit on your first order through this referral link.  Then you will be able to refer your friends and family and receive $10.00 credits for each new customer who makes a purchase.  It is a wonderful way to share a blessings and receive one as well.

We love Vitacost as a supplier of high quality and healthy products at  great discount prices.  They offer a wide selection of foods, health and beauty products, environmentally friendly cleaning products and supplements.  We have found great deals on the essential oils we use for cleaning, insect repellent, and aromatherapy.  Some of them are more than 50% off what our local health food store charges. 

This FREE shipping is a deal you wont want to miss.  So sign up for your credit and head on over to Vitacost.  They have so much to offer it can take a while to check it all out.  Don't forget free shipping on orders over $25.00 ends at midnight tonight, so don't delay. 

Let us know what great deals you find.

Wednesday, May 9, 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! ~

Ok so after last weeks mess I think I finally have the Hetty figured out.  Unfortunately getting it back on track was about all I had time for this week.  I'm hoping it will go pretty quickly now.  Of course carving out some more time to knit would help as well.

The reading front has been much more productive.  I was bless to win a copy of hand in hand from the lovely Maya over at Maya*Made.  I'm loving this book.  More than a craft book of projects there are personal thoughts defining creativity and ways to incorporate creativity into your lives by 20 of the most creative bloggers out there.  Some of them were known to me and some were new.  Lovely to be introduced to a few more inspiring bloggers.  Now to find more time for visiting them, too.

We were also lucky enough to join in the fun of Herb Fairies from during their launch.  This is a wonderful series of books for children that teach all about herbs through stories.  And more than that the subscriptions also includes an audio version of the book, journaling pages, coloring pages, recipes and issues of Herbal Rootszine that coincide with the herbs.  One book will be released each month for an entire year!  Hannah and Rebekah are enjoying the stories, foraging and the projects.  Unfortunately Herb Fairies registrations are closed now and I'm not sure when they will be open again.   But if you love herbs and are looking for a tool to teach your children about them I would keep my eye out for this offer to come back again.

So what's on your needles?  I'd love for you to share what you are working on.  And don't forget to join the fun of the Yarn Along to see what others are knitting and reading.

Oh and if you haven't entered, there is still time to win a quart of Organic Gold Label coconut oil from Tropical Traditions.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Weekly Menu ~ May 7th

This is one of those weeks when make ahead meals as well as quick and simple meals are key.  Performance week for Sarah's play is finally here!  That combined with a day the food pantry is open and a field trip for Hannah is making getting healthy meals on the table a challenge.  The answer a few quick sandwich meals, a few make ahead favorites and even a lunch of popcorn!

Breakfast:  Pancakes
Lunch:  Red Quinoa with Sauteed Veggies
Dinner:  Taco Pie

Breakfast:  Poached Eggs on Toast
Lunch:  Tuna Wraps with Pears
Dinner:  Grilled Havarti with Dill Sandwiches with Roasted Tomato Soup

Breakfast:  Bulgar with Mixed Berries
Lunch:  Pizza Party after Sarah's matinee performance
Dinner:  Hot Dogs and Potato Salad

Breakfast:  Banana Bread
Lunch:  Creamy Mac and Cheese with raw Veggie Sticks
Dinner:  Baked Ziti, Garlic Bread and Cesar Salad

Breakfast:  Homemade Vanilla Yogurt and Maple Almond Granola
Lunch:  Popcorn with Nutritional Yeast and Apples
Dinner:  Being treated to dinner out before Sarah's performance

Breakfast:  Swiss Oats with Coconut and Berries
Lunch:  Tomato, Cheese Bites with Bananas
Dinner:  Homemade Pizza on Sourdough Crust

Breakfast:  Green Berry Smoothies
Lunch:  Leftovers
Dinner:  Cod, Brown Rice and Roasted Veggies

Linking up over at Menu Planning Monday over at I'm an Organizing Junkie.

Don't forget there is still time to enter to win a quart of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Green and Frugal tips for the Laundry Room

Two weeks ago we looked at ways to go green and save some money in the bathroom.  This week we are headed into the laundry room.  If you take a look in the average laundry room you will find lot of chemicals which lots of money was spent on.  Now I know people want to look nice and take good care of the clothes they have, but really you don't need to break the bank to do so.

So lets start in the most obvious place.

Laundry Detergent - Something we all use.  I took a stroll down the laundry aisle in the store the other day and couldn't believe all the choice out there or the prices they charge.  (I haven't bought laundry products in years.) So what's in all these commercial laundry detergent?  Sometime it feels as if one needs to have a chemistry degree to figure it out.  Lets take a look as some of the most common ingredients.  Benzene which can also be called benzol, benzeen, phenly hydride or annulene is a mixture of coal and petroleum.  It is a known carcinogen.  Another carcinogen found in laundry products is diethanolamines, these are man-made compounds that neutralize acids.  They are included in laundry detergent to make them less irritating.  Many laundry detergents also contain ammonia, a know irritant of the skin, eyes, and respiratory system.  And on top of how bad these ingredients are for you and your family, they are also wrecking havoc on our environment.  So what's the answer?  Make your own.  Really it's simple, effective and costs pennies.  Here's the recipe we have been using for year.  The only change I have made is to use my homemade soap.  And here is a recipe for powdered detergent.  And yes this really works.  I have washed cloth diapers, hubby's grimy and greasy work clothes, and sweaty athletic wear all with great results.

Fabric Softener - I'll be honest I have never used a commercial fabric softener.  Never really saw the point.  And after researching what's in them, I'm glad I've never exposed my family.  Lets start off with three of the main ingredients, toluene, trimethylbenzene, styrene.  All three are known neurotoxins.  And if this isn't bad enough.  The ingredient list continues with 

  • a-terpineol which is know to irritate the mucous membraines
  • benzyl acetate which is an eye and respiratory irritant
  • camphor which is on the EPA's hazardous waste list
  • pentane a sink irritant
And to make matters worse, fabric softeners are formulated to stay on the fabric.  So all of these lovey chemicals aren't being rinsed away, but are hanging out waiting to rub up next to your family's skin.  So what's one to do?  A simple, frugal and green alternative is to add plain white vinegar in the rinse cycle of your laundry machine.  And if hanging around to catch the rinse cycle is a pain, I think it is, then put the vinegar in a downy ball and toss it in at the beginning.

Dryer Sheets - These are really fabric softeners that are used in the dyer  and the ingredient lists looks similar to the one above.  Once again there are some simple and frugal solutions.  The first one is hang your clothes to dry.  Not only with you avoid the chemicals you will save on electricity, get some exercise, use the power of the sun to whiten your white (works great on diapers) and have a natural spring time fresh scent to your clothes.  Now I know that not everyone can hang there clothes for numerous, but you're still in luck.  Wool dryer balls are a fabulous solution for static in the dryer.  They also add softness and scent if you wish.  You can make your own dryer balls or they are inexpensive to purchase.  To make your own you can use some wool yarn which you wind into balls and then felt in your washer.  (felting is what happens to wool when it is washed and dried - you know how that wool sweater that accidentally found its way into the washer and dryer shrunk up to doll size) or you can use wool roving and wet felt balls.  Your balls should be about the size of  tennis balls.  I use about three in the dryer.  You can sprinkle a few drops of your favorite essential oil on the balls to infuse your laundry with a soft scent.  And as a side benefit wool is anti-bacterial. I have also found that using wool dryer balls reduces the time it takes for the laundry to dry!  Bonus!

Oxiclean - As laundry product go this may be one of the safer ones.  It is a mixture of solid hydrogen peroxide (peroxyhdrated caronate soda) and washing soda.  When it comes in contact with water it releases oxygen.  The concern are the solvent which we have seen above aren't all they great for you or the environment.  Luckily there is a simple solution.  Make your own.  In a clean spray bottle mix 1 Tbsp washing soda with one cup of peroxide.  Shake and let sit for 24 hours.  Shake before use.  That's it.  

Stain Remover -  Ok here is where I ran into trouble finding the ingredients.  Shout lists two patented  ingredients as there cleaning agents, but then you can't find anything else out about them.  Hmmm, makes me wonder.  Spray n Wash was just as elusive.  If I can't figure out what is in something then I really don't feel safe using it, that's just me.  So my solution?  Use the homemade oxiclean, rub a little castle soap or homemade laundry soap into the stain.  You might also try this soap jelly.  For oil stains try sprinkling a little corn starch on them to absorb the oil, let it sit for 15 minutes before brushing off.  Treat the stain with a little laundry soap and wash as usual.  Always check to see if the stain came out before you dry the garment as drying will set the stain.

Interestingly enough, many of the commercial products carry warning to use in ventilated places, avoid prolongs contact with skin.  I don't know about you but my clothes touch my skin for long periods of time and my laundry room is small and not well ventilated.  So I guess I will just pass on all the big name laundry products and stick to making my own, saving my family's health and money.

As I have mentioned before, the best way to make changes is to slowly add them to your routine.  Nothing will set you up for failure as quickly as trying to change your whole routine at once.  So take it slowly.  Choose one commercial item to replace with a homemade alternative.  Get used to making and using that one and them move on to the next.  A simple way to do this is to make a batch the next time you run out of something instead of buying it again.  Most of these recipes last a long time, so you wont be making them each time you need to do a load of laundry.  Think more like once every month or two or even more.  It really is doable.  I know you can.  Just remember slow and steady.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on laundry.  What are your tips?  What have you tried?  Are you having successes or do you need a little encouragement?  Leave a comment, I love getting to know my readers better and they make me smile!

Oh and don't forget there is still time to enter to win the Quart of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil.

I'm linking this post up over at the Homestead Barn Hop, Make Your Own MondayMake Your Move Monday, and Living Green Link-up!

Friday, May 4, 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:
  • Good friends who took both the older girls for nights away!
  • The newest arrivals to our little homestead
  • A fabulous night with just my little one and me - grilled cheese for supper with broccoli of course
  • More fabulous herbal learning ~ Love The Family Herbalist Course 
Wishing all of you a glorious weekend!

Don't forget the Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil GIVEAWAY!  There is still time to enter.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gold Label Coconut Oil Giveaway! (CLOSED)

Gold Label Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
Win 1 quart of  Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil!
Tropical Traditions is America's source for coconut oil. Their Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is hand crafted in small batches by family producers, and it is the highest quality coconut oil they offer. You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil? You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

Tropical Traditions also carries other varieties of affordable high quality coconut oil. Visit their website to check on current sales, to learn about the many uses of coconut oil, and to read about all the  advantages of buying coconut oil online. Since the FDA does not want us to discuss the health benefits of coconut oil on a page where it is being sold or given away, here is the best website to read about the health benefits of coconut oil.

Ready for your chance to win a quart of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil?  Please use the Rafflecopter to log your entries. If you don't see the Rafflecopter please reload just this post.  Still having trouble please email me.

Wednesday, May 2, 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! ~

Well, I haven't gotten very far on my Hetty.  I thought I was moving along pretty well until I discovered that somehow really messed up the sleeve increase.  Now I have to rip it back and figure out where things went arye.  I'm sure it can be done, but I'm not great at ripping things back and figuring out where the mistakes lies.  I really need to be able to fully concentrate and I just haven't found the quite moments to do that yet.  Soon, very soon I keep promising myself.

Bekah has been very into bedtime stories as of late.  We have finally found a bedtime routine that works for her as well as me.  Right now we are enjoying Eggs for the Hunting by Reg Down.  I know it is an Easter Tale, but Bekah loves Pine Cone and Pepper Pot, the little gnomes, in the story that she has asked that we read it again. Each chapter is actually a short little adventure story in and of itself.  The perfect amount for her to settle down to sleep.  The Tales of Tiptoes Lightly is sitting in my amazon cart waiting patiently.  I really hope to be able to get it soon as I'm nor sure how many more time I can read the Easter stories.

My own reading has been a little of this and a little of that.   And interesting chapter in the Family Herbalist course on the first year of life, wishing I had  know some of this before I had children, but also thankful that my mama instincts were pretty good.  I've also been scouring the internet for dandelion recipes.  Spring has finally sprung and we have lots of the little yellow gems.  So far we have made dandelion & lavender cookies and dandelion jelly.  Hoping to make some sunny dandelion lemonade but the sun wont co-operate.  Soon, hopefully soon.  And then there has been the reading trying to put together plans for next years homeschool.  Wow!  can it really be that time already?  I really do need to find a good book.  So you can bet I will be visiting other yarn along participants to see what I can find.  I'd suggest you head on over and take a peek too.  Lots of fiber and story inspiration to be sure.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Review - Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil

I was excited to receive a quart jar of Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil to review.   Coconut oil is yummy, healthy and has so many uses in and out of the kitchen.  However, just like lot of products out there all coconut oil is not created equally.

So what is so great about Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil? You can read more about how virgin coconut oil is different from other coconut oils on their website: What is Virgin Coconut Oil? You can also watch the video they produced about Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil:

I love coconut oil for so many things.  I use it in the kitchen in so many ways.  You will see it in many of my muffin, cookie and cake recipes.  We also like it in our smoothies and on steamed veggies.  It is a main ingredient in many of our beauty products including deodorant, lip balm, hand-cream, and insect repellent.  We also use it straight out of the jar for calming hair frizzes, removing make-up and as a facial moisturizer.  Coconut oil is also my favorite oil for oil pulling.  I am constantly finding new ways to use this amazingly healthy oil.

So now you know we use a lot of coconut oil and we have also tried lots of them.  I must say that Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut oil is by far my favorite.  I love it rich yet not overpowering coconut smell and flavor.  I love that it is pure with no particles in it, that is melts quickly, and has light feel to it, not at all heavy or greasy.  Tropical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil is unrefined and certified organic!  It is a product I trust!

Head on over for the Quart of Topical Traditions Gold Label Virgin Coconut Oil GIVEAWAY! (open until 5/15/12)

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product. 

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.