Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Keeping Gift Simple


Welcome to the December edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - Gift Giving cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children and Laura at Authentic Parenting. This month, we write about what taking sthe stress out of gift giving.

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I almost laughed when I read this month's theme. Because my gift giving is fairly simple, purely for the fact that we can't afford to go overboard. Because I most certainly would. I love Christmas shopping and gift giving. Even so, our Christmas morning never seems lacking, so I think we are doing just fine!

Friday, November 29, 2013

'Twas the Day After Thanksgiving

The turkey was perfect. The potatoes divine.
The pies were almost too tasty for people to believe they were mine.
Then we settled ourselves down for an after dinner nap,
to plan and draw out our Black Friday map.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Healthy Child Summit

Have you ever felt overwhelmed when it comes to making the best choices for your family?


With all the hidden dangers lurking in our food supply, water supply, products we use daily, and even just in the environment, more and more parents are choosing to live a simpler, more natural lifestyle. But making the transition is enough to make any parent's head spin. And what about those soon-to-be parents who are just beginning their journey? All the research, websites, and books lead to information overload.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Introducing Native American Culture to Children at Natural Parents Network

I have a post today at Natural Parents Network about "Introducing Native American Culture to
Children.
"


That time of year has arrived. Harvest, turkeys, apple picking, pumpkin pies, and the story of the Indians and Pilgrims sharing the First Thanksgiving. It seems to be the only time of year we consider the historical or cultural impact "Indians" had on our lives: as a vague story of peace and harmony between the two groups who cohabited the area around Plymouth Rock. But, with November being Native American Heritage Month, more families are taking a closer look at the contributions Native Americans have made to our history and society.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Geek Food: Pumpkin Pasties


Welcome to the November 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Feeding Your Family
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared recipes, stories, and advice about food and eating. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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The long and short of things. Our family loves food. And we are pretty much geeks. So, it isn't a far leap to turning our love of cooking in to recreating food from our favorite stories and books. Being fall, of course I need to share Pumpkin Pasties.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Natural Parents Network's 2nd Annual Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway! {12/6, 26 winners, US, ARV $2,587}

Second Annual NPN Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway {12/6, 26 winners, US, ARV $2,587}

Welcome to the Second Annual Natural Parents Network Holiday Gift Guide!

If you need to complete your holiday shopping, find a birthday present for a friend, or just treat yourself to something special, the NPN Holiday Gift Guide has something for everyone. But what's even better, the NPN Holiday Gift Guide is a great opportunity to shop consciously and to support many naturally minded small businesses.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Second Annual NPN Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway (Pomegranate Kids $28) (12/6, 26 winners, US only ARV $2587.26)

Second Annual NPN Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway (12/6, 24 winners, US only ARV $2587.26)

This review is part of the Second Annual Natural Parents Network Holiday Gift Guide!
If you need to complete your holiday shopping, find a birthday present for a friend, or just treat yourself to something special, the NPN Holiday Gift Guide has something for everyone. But what's even better, the NPN Holiday Gift Guide is a great opportunity to shop consciously and to support many naturally
minded small businesses.


The 55 companies that have provided items for review and giveaway are almost exclusively made up of work-at-home shops or companies that are dedicated to supporting eco-conscious choices.

I'm featuring one of those companies in my review below. When you get done reading my review, please click on over to the full Perfect for Kids and Perfect for Families. And you can find all 6 Rafflecopter widgets there, too.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Second Annual NPN Holiday Gift Guide& Giveaway (Kidecals, $28 ARV) (12/6, 26 winners, US only ARV $2587.26)

Second Annual NPN Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway (12/6, 24 winners, US only ARV $2587.26)

This review is part of the Second Annual Natural Parents Network Holiday Gift
Guide
!


If you need to complete your holiday shopping, find a birthday present for a friend, or just treat yourself to something special, the NPN Holiday Gift Guide has something for everyone. But what's even better, the NPN Holiday Gift Guide is a great opportunity to shop consciously and to support many naturally
minded small businesses.

The 55 companies that have provided items for review and giveaway are almost exclusively made up of work-at-home shops or companies that are dedicated to supporting eco-conscious choices.

I'm featuring one of those companies in my review below. When you get done reading my review, please click on over to the full Perfect for Kids and Perfect for Families. And you can find all 6 Rafflecopter widgets there, too.
Without further ado, here is my review - thank you for reading and entering!

This is a Joint Review and Giveaway of the Canning Labels from Kidecals between Natural Parents Network and True Confessions of a Real Mommy.

Have something you love enough to put your name on it? Does your computer need brightening up? Maybe even a wall? Time to check out Kidcals! Their fashionable decals are just the thing. The name labels stick to anything, including clothing, and are waterproof and washing machine safe. The canning labels are dishwasher safe. And the wall decals are re-positionable. I had the chance to try out their personalized canning labels!

Our Experience


The first step is the hardest. Picking and personalizing your labels. Cute options abound! I had a little bit of a hard time with finding the right wording to fit their set space without the ability to change the font size or positioning. After I fiddled a bit, I found just the right number of spaces to fit the wording I wanted. From then out it was easy to place my order, and quick to ship. They stick well to my jars, and look great. I would check your jar choices before ordering, a few styles had too much glasswork design to allow a smooth application. 

You can see a little puckering on the bottom of the half pint jar label.

I am so excited that my hard work canning can get a quick label, and pretty bow, and I am set for the gift giving season!

Buy it!

You can purchase your own Kidecals on their website. With so many great choices for labeling and decorating your are sure to find the right item to help keep track of your personal items, customize birthday parties, or decorate your favorite spaces. I mean, chalkboard labels shaped like mustaches? Who can resist?

WIN IT!

For your own chance to win a $28 voucher from Kidecals, or one of the 26 huge prize packages we're giving away, come back to this post on November 6th when our Rafflecopter widgets will go live for your chance to enter! Or you can visit Natural Parents Network on November 6th to see and enter to win all of our fantastic prize packages at once!

Disclosure: Our reviewer received a sample product for review purposes. Amazon links are affiliate links.We try to seek out only products we think you would find relevant and useful to your life as a natural parent. If we don't like a product, we won't be recommending it to you. See our full disclosure policy here.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Second Annual NPN Holiday Gift Guide& Giveaway (Redmond Clay $19.99) (12/6, 26 winners, US only ARV $2587.26)

Second Annual NPN Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway (12/6, 24 winners, US only ARV $2587.26)

This review is part of the Second Annual Natural Parents Network Holiday Gift
Guide
!


If you need to complete your holiday shopping, find a birthday present for a friend, or just treat yourself to something special, the NPN Holiday Gift Guide has something for everyone. But what's even better, the NPN Holiday Gift Guide is a great opportunity to shop consciously and to support many naturally
minded small businesses.

The 55 companies that have provided items for review and giveaway are almost exclusively made up of work-at-home shops or companies that are dedicated to supporting eco-conscious choices.

I'm featuring one of those companies in my review below. When you get done reading my review, please click on over to the full Perfect for Kids and Perfect for Families. And you can find all 6 Rafflecopter widgets there, too.
Without further ado, here is my review - thank you for reading and entering!

This is a Joint Review and Giveaway of a Real Salt Organic Gift Set from Redmond Trading between Natural Parents Network and True Confessions of a Real Mommy.

You diligently decide on meal. Make the effort to get to the store, get it home, prep and cook. So, why use any old table salt in it? Time to give Redmond Trading's Organic Seasoning set a chance to bring out the natural deliciousness in your food, and find out how they add a new dimension to your food. Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy put them to the test, find out what her family thought.


Our Experience




Here's the thing. I do a lot of cooking. My husband is a chef. I rarely use salt in flavoring foods, and we NEVER buy seasoning or other flavored salts. They all seem to just taste stale and overpowering the flavors we so carefully put together. Not any more. This set is delicious. No dusty, stale flavor. The garlic and onion versions are superbly balanced to add dimension to the food without taking control. The seasoning salt is my new go to for fries, meat, and even a little zing on cottage cheese. 

This is where I would tell you any concerns or not-so-great parts of the review go. I have none. These are delicious. They are easy to use. My awesome skillz in the kitchen are only made better by using these over the other versions we have tried.



Buy it!

You can purchase your own Real Salt Organic Seasoning Set on their website. Go ahead and take a look at their other categories to find all natural toothpaste, bath salts, and more!

WIN IT!

For your own chance to win a Real Salt Organic Seasoning Gift Set (value $19.99), or one of the 26 huge prize packages we're giving away, come back to this post on November 6th when our Rafflecopter widgets will go live for your chance to enter! Or you can visit Natural Parents Network on November 6th to see and enter to win all of our fantastic prize packages at once!

Disclosure: Our reviewer received a sample product for review purposes. Amazon links are affiliate links.We try to seek out only products we think you would find relevant and useful to your life as a natural parent. If we don't like a product, we won't be recommending it to you. See our full disclosure policy here.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: June 26th, 2013

Some new friends, some adventuring, and a whole lot of rest needed to recover from this week.

















Monday, June 24, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: June 24th, 2013


Breakfast for Dinner

Greek Chicken Skewers with Avocado Tzatziki

French Dip with Tater Tots (my oldest son's favorite right now.)

Enchilada Casserole

Spring Rolls with Garlic Snap Peas

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad


Oh, do I have something delicious for you today. I don't even like the foods involved and I think this is one amazing dish. And an easy new cheese recipe as well!
Stuffed Mini Bell Pepper with Marinara Sauce 


Ricotta
Mini Bell Peppers, stems cut and seeds cleared out
Jar of Marinara (Hey, we made ricotta, its fair to use a premade jar sauce)

Fill a pastry bag with a large tip and your ricotta. Use to fill peppers with the cheese. Pour sauce into shallow dish, place peppers on top. Bake in 350 degree oven until hot and bubbly. Serve with pasta.

Raw Milk Ricotta
Makes about 1 ½ cups

½ gallon raw milk (you can use whole, but not ultra-pasteurized)
¼ cup white vinegar1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
Use a large, heavy (at least 8-quart) stockpot (see "other notes" above). The larger the pot, the less likely the milk will boil over (which is even worse to clean up than a scorched pot).
Without touching the bottom, stir together milk, vinegar and salt. Gently heat milk to 175 degrees, stirring occasionally.
Increase heat to medium-high and, without stirring, let temperature rise to 205 degrees. Watch carefully so that milk does not boil over.
Remove from heat, and let milk sit for 10 minutes and curdle.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth, or a thin dish towel, and place over a large bowl.
If curds are large, use a slotted spoon to transfer curds from pot to strainer. If curds are tiny, pour entire contents through the strainer.
Let ricotta drain 5 minutes for a creamy product, or up to 30 minutes for a drier cheese (good for filling for the recipe above).
Drained ricotta will keep two to three days tightly covered in the refrigerator. Ricotta will get drier while stored as the curds absorb more whey.
Meal Plan Monday

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: June 19th, 2013




Birthday, Father's Day, town festival, and some gorgeous weather filled out this week.


 We have some new visitors to the yard, too.

New dye!
Happy Birthday, to my husband!



This is what 10pm in mid June looks like in the Pacific Northwest! Still too light for stars.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Embracing the Schedule



Welcome to the June edition of the Simply Living Blog Carnival - Around the House cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. This month, we write about what we do to keep the little things from overwhelming us. Please check out the links to posts by our other participants at the end of this post.

The greatest thing my family ever did to keep up with our housework was our system of 5 Things. Not only was it the first "New Year's Resolution" to ever make it out of the month of January, we are now 6 months into it with only a few adjustments needing to be made for our surprisingly nice spring and our drive to start family biking. So, if you haven't read that post, go do read it now. Then come back and I can tell you how we created a system for keeping it up with the rest of our schedule.

Soon after starting our 5 things, my 3 children came down with the chicken pox. It was a very mild case for them all, and it was a solid month of quarantine, waiting for them all to finish. In that time, I learned I needed to embrace The SCHEDULE.

My husband and I are not schedule oriented. We like to go with the flow, see what happens, and just enjoy. Turns out, that is harder to do with kids. Even homeschooled ones. The first thing I had to look at is how to display our schedule. Some people prefer the ease of online calandars, so everyone can sync up and know what is going on, wherever they are. Unless you are my husband, who does not want a smartphone, or even one that connects to the internet. So we went to the great, old fashioned wall calendar. A giant one.



I filled in our recurring events, and found a day for each household chore (aside from daily dishes and laundry). I also arranged things for plenty of open days so it would be easy to move around if we decided to ride, or didn't feel well. You know, Life. Then I used a highlighter to make it easy to differentiate between chores, homeschool group, adult nights, and meetups. I also keep an updated planner to take on the go.

Then each evening at dinner, we look at the calendar, discuss what our plans are, and write our 5 Things on the refrigerator white board. It is great to include our children in the process, and they really get into participating the planning, making them more apt to help in the execution.

Who knew something as simple as a giant wall calendar could have such an impact on how our house is run.

Thank you for visiting the Simply Living Blog Carnival cohosted by Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children, Laura at Authentic Parenting, Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, and Joella at Fine and Fair. Read about how others are incorporating simple ideas around their homes. We hope you will join us next month!










Monday, June 17, 2013

Meal Plan Monday: June 17th, 2013

I am kind of dialing it in this week. Summer is here and we are busy trying to be outside as much as we can, so easy-peasy is the name of the game.

BLTAs (It was such a big hit, the request for it is high!)

Superfood Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Macaroni and Cheese with Kielbasa

Stir Fry

Bagel Pizzas

Taco Salad

Tuscan Kale and Chickpea Pasta
Meal Plan Monday

Friday, June 14, 2013

10 Things I NEVER Thought I Would Say as a (Natural) Parent at Natural Parents Network

Natural Parents Network: 10 Things I NEVER Thought I Would Say as a (Natural) 
ParentI have a post today at Natural Parents Network with 
10 Things I NEVER Thought I Would Say as a (Natural) Parent.

Parenting changes us. Things never even considered for conversations slip past our lips. When you step out of mainstream a bit, things tend to sound just a little stranger, until you realize they are just another part of your new life.

That is not a bath toy!
I know. It is squishy and pliable. It looks like a cup. And it is. Your menstrual cup. How do they always find that thing? All the more reason to boil it before and after use.

Continue reading the list at Natural Parents Network ››

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Frozen Green Dream



Welcome to the Festival of Food Carnival. This month, we celebrate Smoothies and Mocktails!  Hosted by Diary of a First Child and Hybrid Rasta Mama, you're welcome to join us next time, or if you have a previously published recipe you'd like to share, add it to the linky below.
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Smoothie season! When it is too warm for that bowl of oatmeal and just want something cool and filling to start the day. Well, I am here to share our favorite tip for making smoothies and our basic concoction.

We start with a handful or two of greens. Doesn't matter what kind. Spinach, chard, kale, bok choy, if it is in my fridge it goes in the blender. Herbs can be good, too. Basil, mint, and lavender have been favorites.

green smoothieThen some yogurt. I usually get honey greek in the tub. About 2 heaping tablespoons.

Then fruit. Whatever you like. Fresh kiwis, frozen berries, whatever you have. Even avocados can help pull together a creamy smoothie.

This is where the trick (from my sister, in case it seems like I am taking credit for it) comes in. Fresh and even frozen fruit can be expensive. Canned fruit is pretty cheap. Keep a couple cans of your favorites (especially off season) in the freezer. You can take the time to put them in freezer bags, but we just put the cans right in. Then when we are ready, run the edges in warm water and carefully use a knife to carve it out. Our favorite is pineapple, as it is particularly delicious and one of the easiest to find in it's own juices.

Then just blend, blend, blend. Every so often, depending on fruits used, I need to add some liquid. Coconut milk keeps it lighter, but sometimes some good raw milk really bulks it out right.

Pretty basic, huh? The things I have really taken away from jumping into the green smoothie world: it is hard to mess it up when you stick to flavors you enjoy, greens are almost never the forefront of the flavor so don't be afraid to really use them, and always pour half of what you think you might drink until you get used to them. They can fill you up faster than you may think.

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Please take a moment to visit the blogs of our other Festival of Food participants. The links in this list will be live by the end of the day, as participants are all in different time zones.

Stay connected! Be sure to "Like" the Festival of Food Carnival Facebook page.