Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Backyard Camping Party

Pin It Now!

 I love me some pinspiration. Although, I have found myself to be- how shall I put this?- very flexible in the way I follow the directions on the things I pin.  It seems the trend is that I take a look at the image and decide how I think it was made, the decide how I think I could make it using or re-purposing materials that I already have.

These tents, for example, that we made for our backyard camping party were inspired by a pin on Pinterest, but we used some scrap wood trim that our neighbor had put out on the curb "free to good home", and some of my stash hoard of vintage sheets.  We were inspired by this tutorial- though we never really read the directions...

The details:
It should come as no surprise that most of the rest of the party was put together with many items that we already had with some $1 store binoculars and thrift store woodsy art.  We also threw in some FREE found items- pine cones, branches, twigs and logs.

The food:
We had originally planned to roast s'mores over a campfire in our fire pit, but most of the state of Colorado was battling wildfires at the time, so we settled for some s'more substitutes.  I made a S'mores Mix using graham cracker cereal, tiny marshmallows and chocolate chips, and also S'mores Pops by putting a jumbo marshmallow in a stick, dipping in melted chocolate ans rolling in graham cracker crumbs.

We also served a couple of foil-wrapped favorite campfire cooking recipes made on the grill, like these meatloaf onion bombs and baked apples.  I made a pot of my favorite vegetarian chili , a pine cone cheese ball and some homemade rosemary lemonade.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Minnie Mouse Birthday Party

Pin It Now!
Sweet Minnie Mouse
Eleanor's 2nd Birthday Party

Pink, red, polka-dots and doilies!
This post is also a bit of a throw back, but way too good to miss!

I made the cupcakes and frosting at home and ordered the Minnie Mouse fondant toppers from a shop on Etsy.  I also made a special cake just for Ellie using 2 6" spring form pans.


Okay, I'll admit it.  My favorite guilty pleasure dessert is Rice Crispy Treats.  I made them as anyone normally would and used a Mickey Mouse cookie cutter directly in the pan.  Then I inserted a polka dot paper straw, slipped it in a cellophane bag and tied it with a pretty ribbon.

In keeping with the theme and wanting to add some healthy snacks to the mix I made some fruit and cheese skewers and watermelon hearts.  The watermelon was as simple as slicing the melon and using a heart shaped cookie cutter.  Then I used the "scraps" of the watermelon and some mild Jack cheese, and strawberries alternated on a bamboo skewer.  I also served a big bowl of "bow-tie" pasta mac-n-cheese style.  Gotta add some more bow action in keeping with the theme, right?

A kid friendly drink station was made from a large red bucket bought from the bargain section at Target and filled with organic milk boxes in strawberry, white and chocolate milk; along with pitchers of lemonade and iced tea.  Paper cups in pink and white with paper polka dot straws in pink/white/red finish off the look perfectly.  The paper straws were ordered from an Etsy store- there are many options out there, and inexpensive too!

Other decorations were also simple and very inexpensive! Pink paper lanterns were bought for around $1 each in the bargain section at Target, again.  Red pom-pom yarn was bought on clearance at Michael's craft store for $2. Pink plastic tablecloths and doilies finished the tables. We picked up a few balloons from the party store and splurged around $8 for the big Minnie Mouse face balloon.  Also from the party store we bought a few favors- Minnie ears and party blowers.  My favorite decoration addition was recycled from a previous party we had thrown see the Ladybug Party here!
Little red buckets ($1 bin at Target again- gotta love it!), filled with sugar (for weight), with pink polka dot pinwheels, pink and white lolipops and a paper Minnie Mouse cut out.

All in all the party was a smashing success!  
I hope some of my ideas have inspired you.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Homemade! 3 flavors, Lara Bar-style

Pin It Now!

As we are updating our kitchen, one of everyone's favorite additions is the pantry.  We've never had a real pantry before!  The kids (at ages 2 and 4) feel so independent when they can open the door and help themselves to a snack.  Knowing this, I have stocked the shelves at toddler level with snacks that I don't mind them helping themselves to- even when I am not looking.  Their shelves hold things like sunflower seeds and nuts, raisins, banana chips, fruit leather, and "baby food" packets of fruit/vegetable smoothie types.  I love that even when given a choice, my kids will usually prefer snacks a Lara bar, Cliff bar or Z bar over a candy bar!

I am a firm believer in making as much of the food we eat from scratch as I possibly can, and every day I get a little closer to eliminating our dependence on processed foods.  To clarify my view of processed food, I heard once in a documentary "processed foods are any food that goes through a building before it gets to you".  This statement really hit home for me, and a light bulb went off over my head! Such a simple truth that had never occurred to me.  So here we go, one more step in reducing the amount of buildings between my family and our food...

This style of snack bars really couldn't be easier to make!  I wish I had known this years ago- I will never pay $$ for the store-bought ones again!
  • Combine ingredients in food processor beginning with nuts/seeds, then fruit, then lemon juice (driest or hardest to softest).
  • Press firmly in a glass baking dish (metal would probably work just as well, but I don't have one so I can't attest to how easily the bars would remove).
  • Chill and cut out. I only chilled them because I was afraid that they wouldn't hold the "bar" shape.  I am not entirely sure this step is necessary, but we were happy with the results!
  • That's it!

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup banana chips
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  •  1/2 cup pistachios
  • 1 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/2 dried cranberries
  • 1/2 dried goji berries
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Our Family's Favorite Juice Recipes for Health and Healing

Pin It Now!

I could go on for days about the seemingly magical healing and health benefits of juicing! But, today, I will spare you and just share these tried and true recipes-for now ;)  This is a collection of our family's favorites.  Some of the other recipes I have included in our list are ones we have concocted, and some are from other internet sources that we hand wrote out so long ago I have no idea whom to credit at this point.

Most of the following recipes are from The Complete Book of Juicing, by Michael T. Murray- which I will highly recommend to everyone.  Not only does this book offer a wonderful variety of recipes, but it also includes personal stories and my favorite- good, hard science and nutrition!! Click here for the link to buy this book from Amazon. You might also find it at your local library, as that is where we found it at first.  We borrowed it son many times that we knew we needed our own copy!

Immunity Juice:
·         2-3 carrots
·         1 Granny Smith apple
·         1 handful of parsley
·         2 cloves garlic

This is the stuff!! It has an excellent track record among our family and friends for knocking just about anything out of your system! When someone is feeling under the weather, we often double or triple the recipe (enough to make a full pitcher) and have them drink it all day long (along with lots of water and warm tea with honey).  The next will be a whole new world :)
When I first read this recipe, I was very skeptical of the garlic.  Once I tried it though, I must confess I was pleasantly surprised! It sort of just lingers as a mild aftertaste, and is actually quite tasty.

Mean Green:
·         6 kale leaves
·         1 cucumber
·         2 Granny Smith apples
·         ½ lemon (peel the yellow rind, but leave as much of the white as you can)
·         4 celery ribs
·         1 thumb size piece of ginger root
The Mean Green is the basic powerhouse of greens, and tastes really good! Really!

Beet Rejuvinator:
·         3-4 carrots
·         1 cucumber
·         1 lemon (peeled of the yellow rind, but leave as much of the white as you can)
·         1 thumb size piece of ginger root
·         ½ beet (with greens)

I dislike beets. Truly, madly, deeply.  I have tried and tried, but I just can’t do it.  But, I think this juice is good!  I have tried to vary the recipe here and there, and skipped some ingredients that I may not have had on hand, and I do not advise it if you don’t like beets.  Stick to it this way- I think it’s the cucumber and lemon that calm the beet flavor to a place I like it and get all of the beet benefits (calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, liver health) in my body!

Basic Breakfast:
·         3 carrots
·         2 apples
·         1 thumb size piece of ginger root

·         1 sweet potato
·         1 carrot
·         1 red bell pepper
·         2 beets (with greens)
·         2 golden delicious apples
·         1 orange (peeled)

While I was doing a juice cleanse, this juice came into play as a bit of a mood booster.  It resembles some sort of a tropical cocktail.  Pour it into the right type of glass and you might find yourself on a mental vacation! I looked forward to it as an afternoon treat.

Femme Fatale:
·         1 fennel bulb (with greens)
·         2 apples
·         2 celery ribs
·         Optional: I add ½ beet with greens for the extra iron

The healing properties of this juice are nothing short of magical. I can personally attest to this.  For years I have had menstrual problems (that have sent me to the emergency room and countless OBGYN appointments), and my OBGYN and other doctors have basically said there isn’t anything they can do for me short of a procedure to burn the lining of my uterus. Yes, you read that right.  Sometimes western medicine and the type of trial and error surgical approach to wellness deeply terrifies me.

When the going gets rough for me, a good helping of this juice is nearly miraculous.  On one occasion, this juice all but stopped my heavy bleeding in its tracks.  What I have learned from this is that something in my glandular system is off balance (even though doctor’s tests show nothing abnormal), and when I get a needed dose of phytoestrogens things begin to balance back out.  I would much rather address things through food/juice/nutrition that be sliced open and have the lining of my uterus burned out! Who wouldn’t?

From The Complete Book of Juicing:
“This drink supports the female glandular system.  Both fennel and celery contain what is known as phytoestrogens.  These plant compounds compounds can occupy binding sites for female hormones and exert hormone like effects.  This drink is helpful in a wide range of conditions specific to women, including menopause and PMS, because of the phytoestrogens as well as the important nutrients contained in the juice (such as the potassium, magnesium, folic acid and vitamin B6).”

Potassium Power:
·         1 handful  of parsley
·         4 carrots
·         1 handful spinach
·         2 celery ribs
·         1 tomato
Sweet- *make this one in the blender*
·         1 peach
·         2 oranges (peeled)
·         ½ papaya
·         1 banana

Tummy Tonic:
·         ½ thumb size piece of ginger root
·         1 small handful of mint leaves
·         ½ fennel bulb (with greens)
·         2 Granny Smith apples

This juice soothes upset or sour stomach.  It has helped friends suffering from IBS, helped me when I had gallstones, alleviated mild nausea (would probably be good for morning sickness during pregnancy, though go easy on the fennel with its phytoestrogens), and has even soothed heart burn.

·         2 Tomatoes
·         2 cloves garlic
·         2 big handfuls of basil

Kitchen Sink:
·         1 celery rib
·         3 carrots
·         3 radishes
·         1 apple
·         1 cucumber
·         1 tomato
·         ½ c broccoli (with stems- most of the nutrients in broccoli are found in the stems!)
·         ½ green bell pepper

Tangy Cabbage:
·         2 pears
·         2 apples
·         2 wedges cabbage
·         2 carrots
·         1 lemon
·         1 lime

Sayonara Soda! Homemade Ginger Ale:
·         1 thumb size piece of ginger
·         1 lemon
·         1 Granny Smith apple
·         1 cup sparkling water

Ginger Ale will help to soothe an upset stomach, plus it tastes good!  Imagine the possibilities of homemade “soda”.  You could make any flavor of juice and add sparkling water- and it will be GOOD for you!

His & Hers Homemade Soap

Pin It Now!

Both my husband and I are really intrigued by the idea of making our own homemade soaps.  At this point though, I'm still terrified of recipes that include working with lye.  I'm sure it can be perfectly safe, but I don't feel ready to make that leap just yet.  So, our first little baby steps in this process involve melt-and-pour soaps.  We were able to find both a goats milk and Shea butter melt-and-pour at Michael's craft store.

The melt-and-pour soap comes in a large block, about 2 pounds.  We cut off about a 1 inch wide slice for each of our "recipes" and roughly broke it into 1 inch blocks (this will yield about 2 bars of soap).  Then we melted it in a thrifted glass beaker in 20 second intervals, stirring in between.  Once the soap is liquid, we added the other "ingredients", stir and poured it into a thrifted silicone muffin tray and let it cool completely. The knife, beaker and muffin tray we use for soap were all thrifted and we only use them for soap- not food. It probably wouldn't hurt us to use theses tools for food (since it is just soap and should wash off), but I just like to have the separation of tools.

Also, I haven't added measurements for the essential oils because I think every person/family has a different preference on how strong they like their soap to smell.  Some people are sensitive to smell and too much scent can give them a headache. We like ours strong- as in, acts as potpourri for the entire bathroom strong! So, I think it best to go with your own personal preference on the amount of each essential oil to add.

The hub's favorite blend:  
Minty Tea Tree & Rosemary Soap

  • goats milk melt-and-pour soap
  • tea tree essential oil
  • peppermint essential oil
  • cedarwood essential oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons Epsom salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped dried rosemary

My flavor du jour: (exfoliating and firming!)
I Like It a Latte Soap

  • Shea butter melt-and-pour soap
  • 2 tablespoons coffee grounds (finely ground)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
This soap looks deceptively deleicious- if I didn't know better, I'd think it was a latte! Don't you just want to drink it up?  Here is my thought process behind coffee + soap: I have seen some recipes on Pinterest for exfoliating scrubs using coffee, claiming that the caffeine helps to reduce cellulite.  While I haven't fact checked any of that business, I do know that I like a good exfoliating soap, and I do like coffee.  And, I will say that after using my new soap, my skin was very smooth all day, and honest and truly it did seem to feel more firm!