Friday, May 1, 2015

Easy Chicken Broth

I'm driving to Columbus tonight to see one of my college roommates that now lives in LA.  I'm SUPER excited to see her, but I'm leaving as SOON as Evan gets home from work, so I'm scrabling to get everything in today before he gets home.  So quick post.  Chicken Broth.  I actually eat chicken broth on occasion.  I feel like it's more of an animal byproduct, like milk or eggs, than meat, so I'm not real strict about it.  I like the idea of making it from scratch, but don't like the simmering pot on the stove that keeps me in the house all day long.  Enter the crock pot.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mulch Is Here!

Well, the first load of mulch has arrived!  Last year this was the easiest to spread since it didn't have to go far.  Hoping it's the same this year.  So in honor of the mulch I thought I'd throw out a few reminders about natural weed control.  

First, spread some wet newspaper under he mulch to help prevent weeds from sprouting.  Last year I tried to do dey paper in the wind-- didn't work well.  This year I have two little hose enthusiasts so

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

School To Farm Fun Day

I got a notification about a really interesting event at Marlington High School this Saturday.  It's a Farm To School Fun Day.  Here's the flyer:

Looks interesting!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Breakfast Revisited

I blogged last week about planning breakfasts that were healthy and fast to make our mornings smoother.  After I ran last weekend, I'm taking a mini exercise vacation so I have a few extra hours each day.  (I'm not totally being lazy.  Olivia's favorite teacher at Child Watch is on vacation this week and I wasn't sure how she'd do without her.)  So last night I went through two cookbooks and pulled a few breakfast ideas.  They had to fit within a few parameters:

1. My kids will eat them.
2. They must be freezable.
3. They must be fast.
4. They must be healthy, i.e. more than just empty calories or sugary snacks.

This may sound simple, but it wasn't.  My idea of fast isn't most cookbook author's idea of fast.  Really, I'm not a morning person.  Really.  So something that can be ready and eaten in 10 minutes is what I'm looking for.  My little Vincer has a rough time with breakfast.  He's not hungry when he first gets up, but he doesn't get up early enough to be awake long enough before it's time to go to get hungry, so things that are portable work well for him.  The 7 minute drive in the car is usually enough time for him to down his breakfast and be ready for school (general with food on his face, but that's why I carry baby wipes in my purse.)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sunday Was A Remarkable Day!

Yesterday two amazing things happened.  Well, actually neither was truly AMAZING, but both were very rewarding and happy experiences.  First, I ran a marathon.  Well, I only ran part of the marathon, my relay team ran the rest.  I'm really proud of how well we all ran and how much FUN it was!  I was nervous about the whole thing, because it's doing something new, but I'd do it again in a second!  It was a beautiful day to run, my leg of the race was nice and flat with only a few hills (both up and down) and lots of water stops-which always keep me motivated because there are all these people, volunteering their time just to stand there and hand out water (or Gatorade--not pleasant when you're expecting to drink water. It's kind of like popping a salt and vinegar chip in your mouth when you're expecting just a regular potato chip) and cheer you--a total stranger-- on in your race.  My leg was the second to last, which meant that I ran miles 13-20.  That meant that I was running with my fellow relayers and the marathoners.  My teammate, Steve, said, "If you're thinking about running a marathon, don't stand at the finish line.  That's just inspirational.  Stand at mile 22.  That's the REAL marathon."  I agree.  It was inspirational to me to watch these marathoners push through that last half.  I saw a lot of people stop and walk and a lot of pained faces.  I saw a man offer another runner who had stopped to walk, his last gel pack to help give him the burst of energy he need to finish the race.  The whole thing was just such a positive experience.  My friend Melissa once told me that she loved being around races because runners a great group of people.  I really felt that yesterday.  Except for the first few REALLY fast people, there's not a lot of inter-personal competition in running.  It's mostly intra-personal, beating your personal record for distance or pace or simply pushing your body to YOUR limits.  That's what I love about running.  It's a very personal sport.  I can do it alone, yet surrounded by people.  The only thing that made me sad yesterday was seeing all the dogs on the sidelines.  It made me long for my running buddy, Jack.  Jackie would have hated the race, too many people and strange places, but he does love to go for a run.
The Handoff- Leg 4 to Leg 5 (Me to Eric) 

Most of Team "Melissa Talked Me Into This"

The second thing that was awesome about yesterday is that our foster dog, George, found his forever home! (Please don't be concerned--this means that he was adopted, not put to sleep!) We had George with us for 10 days.  He came to us as a shy, timid pup and left

Friday, April 24, 2015

Grand Plans for Breakfast

I'm a mess in the morning.  It's really hard for me to function, no matter how late I get up.  It takes me a long time to really be "with" it and therefore, our morning routine is always rushed and rather unpleasant.  I'd like to change this.  I'm starting with breakfast.  I'm tired of feeding my kids boxed cereal or bagels that are shelf-stable for weeks.  I'd rather make them something that's really going to give them fuel for the day.  However, this requires a functioning adult--which is absent until about 8:45.  So I need to plan for my stumbling morning self when I'm my wide-awake motivated self during the day.  I read cookbooks and they always have great ideas for breakfast, but

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Breakfast Tacos

Quick recipe post today.  I'm reviewing scholarship applicants and I can't stand to look at the computer one minute more!  I made these breakfast tacos for dinner the other night for the kids.  Mostly went over well, Caden complained they weren't crunch tacos, so I guess you could do that too, although it wouldn't really be real food then.  So, I got the idea from 100 Days of Real Food and now I can't seem to find the recipe online.  I'll give you the long and short of it--it's a taco with scrambled eggs as the "meat".

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Happy Earth Day!

Today's the day!  Earth Day!  Celebrate the day by doing something today to "green" your life.  Turn out a light when you leave the room, have a meatless dinner, walk instead of driving somewhere (not if your'e in Northeastern Ohio, but if you live somewhere where isn't not gross outside) or something else that you've been meaning to do to green your life.  Happy Birthday Earth!  With a little bit of our help you'll have many happy returns!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Family Dinners

The other day my mom told me that it made her sad that we didn't sit down to eat dinner as a family.  This totally shocked me because we DO sit down to dinner as a family--almost every night!  She said the times she's there around dinner time we're eating at different times, but I have to say, the times she there at dinner time are generally special occasions--I'm leaving for something, she's bringing Blue Apron, or there's some other upset to our normal evening routine.  I'm actually really proud of the fact  that we eat dinner as a family every night.  I've read statistics about family dinners that include:
Reason #6: Prevent Destructive Behaviors
Research shows that frequent family dinners (five or more a week), are associated with lower rates of smoking, drinking, and illegal drug use in pre-teens and teenagers when compared to families that eat together two or fewer times per week. Even as older children’s schedules get more complicated, it is important to make an effort to eat meals together. Scheduling is a must.

Reason #7: Improve Grades
Children do better in school when they eat more meals with their parents and family. Teenagers who eat dinner four or more times per week with their families have higher academic performance compared with teenagers who eat with their families two or fewer times per week.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dryer Balls Revisited

A few months ago I was all excited about felted wool dryer balls.  My mom got me a few for Christmas and then I read online how to make them and I made a small army of my own.  Now that I've been using them for awhile, I thought I'd revisit the topic and let you know how I think they're going.  Yes, this is actually the blog post today--laundry.

So, I LOVED making them!  They were really easy to make and I felt super crafty. (Why I felt crafty for rolling a skein of yarn in a ball, I don't know. I don't get to craft a lot, I guess.)  Now, this is shocking, but the dryer balls I made

Friday, April 17, 2015

Another British Invasion!

Well, we're getting ready to walk out to door to drive to pick up or foster puppy, George.  His brothers, Paul, John, and Ringo have already been adopted, but George and his Mom, Cheeta, are still at Save A Mom.  We're going to bring this little guy home this weekend and give him a chance to see what living with a family is like.  I'm SO SO SO excited to be able to do this!  I've wanted to foster for a long time and I'm finally getting the change.  All the volunteering I do and all to donations don't really seem the same as actually working with one dog, trying to make him ready to find his forever home.  I'll post a pic when I can, but you can see his old puppy pic if you click here.  Wish us luck!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Honest On Sale At Target

Just a quick note today that The Honest Company now sells some of their products at Target.  I think I mentioned this before maybe a year or so ago, but I wanted to tell you today that they're 5-10% off on Cartwheel.  If you've been considering trying their products (bath, cleaning, diapers) this might be a good time.  Target doesn't carry the full line you could get if you had a subscription, but they have the basics.  I just noticed this today while making out my grocery list for tomorrow's shopping trip for next week's meals and I plan on grabbing a few more things to get my through until my next Honest shipment arrives.  That is all.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Going on About The Farmer's Market-Again

Sorry, I know I just blogged about the farmer's market, but this one was a little different and I wanted to feature one particular booth here for you.
We ALL went this time since it was the Spring Fling in downtown Akron.  Most of the booths were at the Akron Library but there were a few across the street in the Akron Art Museum.  I told each of the kids that they had $5 to spend, hoping it would get them a little more involved in the whole Farmer's Market Shopping Experience, but it turned out, they all really liked it.  Well, really liked it might be exaggerating.  The didn't complain and seemed content to be there.  That's the most I can really hope for with any shopping trip.  Caden bought some

Monday, April 13, 2015

Blue Apron: Following Up

I'm REALLY doing well with this following through thing!  A few weeks ago I blogged about this company called Blue Apron.  My brother in law was telling me about it at Caden's birthday party.  You sign up, then they send you everything you need to make 3 meals for the week--all from REAL FOOD.  The longer you're a member the more free gifts (a weekly subscription) you get. Since he's been getting it for awhile he gave my mom a free trial week.  Since she's cooking for one, she made each meal then brought the other half (the meals are for two) over for me.  So of course to me, Blue Apron is someone bringing a freshly cooked meal right to your table and I love it!  For her, it's someone shipping food to her house where she preps and cooks it all and then drives it over to my house.  I know, I know.  Next week I'm making some of the meals to balance it out!

Friday, April 10, 2015

100 Days of Real Food

A friend of mine sent me a text about this book/blog awhile ago.  I requested it from the NCPL and got it a few weeks ago.  It is now my newest obsession.  Real Food.  This is where I'm ultimately headed.  I'd love to have noting processed in my diet or in my house, for that matter, but it's a long road.  Anyway, the deal with this is a family of four took  a pledge to eat only real food for 100 days after the mom, Lisa Leake, read a

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Back on Sugar

I blogged before about how I gave up sugar for the month of March.  It didn't really have anything to do with Lent, I just felt like it would be a good experiment to see how I felt and how I looked if I stopped eating sugar.  It was hard.  I mean, REALLY hard.  I did it though and I'm so glad I did.  First, I proved to myself that I CAN do it and second, it was really eye-opening.  I wish I could say that I gave up sugar and felt amazing and lost 10 pounds.  This was not the case.  I gave up sugar, but I still ate a lot of other crap.  The time I felt the best was toward the end of the month when I started eating better AND wasn't eating sugar.
So, I'm back to eating sugar and feeling guilty about it.  I've found that when I "couldn't" eat sugar, I didn't eat stuff that I didn't really WANT to eat.  For example, the other day

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I Read A New Book!

This is going to be a quick post about a new book I read about living green.  The book was All Natural: A Skeptic's Quest to Discover if the Natural Approach to Diet, Childbirth, Healing and the Environment is Really Keeps Us Healthier and Happier by Nathanael Johnson.  I REALLY enjoyed this book, although it was a lot of repeating of what I've read before.  I loved the style of this one though because although it presented lots of really good info, his tone was

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Two Years Late-But I Made It!

I've been wanting to go to the Countryside Conservancy's farmer's market for probably two years.  I blogged about them awhile (a LONG while) back, but never actually made the drive up.  Since this year is my year of following through, I made the decision at midnight to set my alarm and get up early on a Saturday to be in Peninsula by 9AtM. Olivia went with me (I tried to talk some of the other kids into going, but she was the only taker--also the only one awake) and we made the drive up to Old Trail School and visited Countryside Conservancy's last winter farmer's market.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I've been to the Haymaker Farmer's market (in the winter) and was a little disappointed.  I read all these books and they're all talking about all the great stuff you can get at a farmers market.  Most of them are also written by Californians, who's growing season is drastically different than ours in Northeast Ohio.  Haymaker was good, don't get me wrong, they had local meats, honey, breads, produce and, of course, all the odds and ends that make them fun-like the natural cotton candy Vincey picked.
WOW, was I amazed when I walked into that school!  For a winter market in Ohio this was AMAZING!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Back From Spring Break and Gearing up for Earth Day

KI'm back!  I took last week off with the kids for spring break, and as luck would have it, I actually had TONS of great topics to blog about!  I wrote them all down, so don't despair, you won't miss out! Today I was at the North Canton Library so I'm going to do a post about that--yes, again.  I know, I blog about the library all the time, but this is something specific, not just my general praise.  Every time we go to the library we visit the bathroom.  Today I was even lucky enough to visit TWICE!  Olivia is so good to me!  Anyway, in the bathroom there was a poster advertising all the things that the NCPL is doing for Earth Day.  I'm REALLY excited about one of them in particular but

Friday, March 27, 2015

Disagreeing with My Mother-In-Law

I'm writing this post because of something my mother-in-law said.  Now, first I must tell you that I LOVE my MIL.  Most people roll their eyes after saying, "my mother-in-law" but I don't.  I can honestly tell you that there are only a few people in this world that I'd rather spend my time with.  If you know her, you get it.  But the other day, as we were celebrating by brother-in-laws birthday she said something that I've been thinking about all week.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Circus Is Coming To Town!

I saw a billboard the other day advertising that the circus is coming to town and two of my most memorable childhood books are about the circus, If I Ran the Circus, but Dr Seuss and Circus Time by Marion Conger.  That's just part of being a kid is going to the circus.  My kids need to do this!  Or do they?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Antibiotics In Meat

I'm repeating myself, but Evan sent me this link the other day to an article about the rising use of antibiotics in meat.  I don't think there's anything in this article that surprised me, I know I've said this before, but I think it's important to reread some of this stuff because

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Puppy Mills

I'm tired so you're basically just getting link to an article I feel strongly about today.  Yesterday was National Puppy Day, I know, whatever, but in honor of NPD Evan sent me a link to an article about Puppy Mills.  If you don't know what a puppy mill is it's basically some @!$#@ overbreeding and/or inbreeding "purebred" dogs and keeping them in deplorable conditions to sell at high prices.  The fact that every dog I've ever owned has been a rescue should key you into how I feel about puppy mills, but in case you're still unclear--they enrage and disgust me.  My favorite rescue Save A Mom, told me that they got a few dogs from a puppy mill recently.  One, was kept in such a small cage that literally, all the dog could do was turn in circles, even after it was out of it's cage.  It was all it had ever know.  What is WRONG with these people?!?!  I doubt any of you think, "I don't see anything wrong with that!"  but the fact is, you may be supporting puppy mills, without even knowing it.  The article Evan sent me states that many puppy mills sell their dogs to the fewer and fewer (luckily!) pet stores that still sell dogs.  Even though these store claim that their dogs do NO come from puppy mills the Humane Society did a little research and found that in most cases (and for some chains ALL cases) the dogs did in fact, come from puppy mills.  This article is full of really great stats about puppy mill dogs and how not only are they kept in poor conditions, but also

Monday, March 23, 2015


So what is this stuff anyway?!?  It's seems to be in everything now. It's in the coconut granola Vince wanted from Aldi, te in drinks that you get in the refrigeration section (I've actually tried these and wasn't a fan. Drinking slimey beads was hard to stomach.). It's touted as a superfood but why?  Green tea is too,  but you need to drink SO much of it to make it worthwhile.  So I decided to look into chia a little and share what I found.

Friday, March 20, 2015


I've meant to blog about this for awhile, and today, while I was thinking about what to write for my blog post and also making lunch, Vince gave me an idea.  We were having bok choy and peanut butter and he asked me if there were any "abc vitamins" in the bok choy.  I lied.  I was having grapefruit and I gave him a wedge and he asked about the vitamins in that.  Sorry.  It was 4 hours ago.  I'm getting old and my memory is fading.  Anyway, the "ABC vitamin" comment came from his Stretch-N-Grow class that he takes after school on Thursdays.  He LOVES it!  He's not a huge fan of school, but Thursday's I can always get him out of bed with a "It's Stretch-N-Grow day!".  He's always very vague about what he does in class, but I do know that there's always a theme.  They do a great job of keeping them very up-to-date.  He did How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me, Shrek,   and other pop culture topics as well as traditional preschooler favorites like dinosaurs and firefighters.    I should probably back up and tell you that Stretch-N-Grow is a fitness program for kids.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Reach Out and Read

It's spring cleaning time!  If you're like me (and I doubt you are) you're always trying to reduce the number of "things" in your house.  I'm a little fanatical about it actually.  My poor kids "lose" toys all the time to the trash can in my constant effort to eliminate clutter.  The other day I was looking at Olivia's little bookshelf with despair because it's a wreck.  She's the only one reading board books anymore so they're ALL in her room--4 kids worth of board books.  She can't access them because they're all piled on top of each other and in front of each other and there are books spilling over the top and library books stacked in front.  The kid LOVE to be read to and

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Chipotle's Sofritas and KIDS MEALS!!

So basically, two thumbs up to Chipotle!  First thumb is for the kids meals and second is for their tofu.  Let me back up.  Last night Ellie's school had a fundraiser in which the Chipotle in North Canton donated 50% of their profits to her school when a customer mentioned that they were there to support Clearmount.  Win-Win for me.  I don't have to cook and I'm helping Ellie's school. Evan and I love Chipotle, but the kids struggle with it.  We used to try to get an order of 3 tacos and then try to split it between two or three kids, but no one likes the same things so we'd try to have them put everything in a different container, which never really worked because we always ordered online and something was missing or they assembled the tacos.  It was always an expensive mess because we had to order for so many people and then threw so much of it away.  Yesterday we had an excuse to give it a whirl again so I did.  And low and behold!  KIDS MEALS!!!!!  SOOO excited to see that!  And they're great!  No crap with them-just healthy food.  They have their choice of tacos (hard, soft or corn tortillas) or quesadillas with a side of fruit (clementine) or chips and a drink (Horizon's milk as our pick).  Each kid had an individual tray with 4 sections, one for taco shell, one for filling and two for toppings.  GENIUS!  Everyone was able to get what they wanted, prices were comparable to a crap-food kids meal and they actually ATE IT!  It was so much easier than trying to order like we used to.  We did discover that the steak was a little too spicy for Vince (which is odd since he likes hot sauce on his eggs) so next time we'll have to try something else for him...which leads me to Chipotle's newest filling--Sofritas! This is a fancy way to say tofu. (Yes, we read Fancy Nancy in our house.) I was a little nervous to give it a try since

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Perfectly Posh

I'm muli-tasking with this post.  I was invited to yet another in home selling party.  I think you're one of two ways with these, you love them or you hate them.  I love them.  I always go and if I can't go I usually buy something.  I think it's because I've sold things that way and I sympathize with the consultants, plus, I like to get out and go to the parties.  Anyway, this one was something new that I've never heard of before.  It's called Perfectly Posh and it's a line of skin care products.  At first I was a little disappointed, the home selling cosmetic lines I can think of are generally not something I'd like to buy because they're really not very

Monday, March 16, 2015

Spring Preview

I know it's not going to last but I'm loving these few days of real spring we're having.  Yesterday I ran---OUTSIDE!  It was still icy and I had to run/wade through ankle deep water, but it was still so great to be outside, back on my trail.  Vince asked Evan to help him ride his bike. (We took his training wheels off last fall when one fell off and he never really got the hang of two wheels before the weather was too cold and snowy to ride.) That held his interest for about 10 minutes and when he ran off, Evan started raking some leaves along the driveway.  Soon I was out there with him and even though we didn't get a TON of yard work done,  it felt like we really made a dent. Last year when we went out it was all such a mess and so overwhelming.  This year - I have a plan.  Just knowing what I'm going to do is making it more fun to be out there.  I know that in a year or two I'll be where I was at the old house and actually enjoy working outside.  I'll be able to think about gardening and planting rather than just maintaining and cleaning.  I used to think people were crazy when they said they liked to do yard work and gardening, but now I understand.  It's not fun to weed just to weed, but when it's part of a bigger step to make my yard look like somewhere I'd like to be, it's suddenly

Friday, March 13, 2015

I'm Sugar Free!

I probably should have mentioned this in yesterday's post about non-candy items for Easter baskets, but I'm not eating sugar for the month of March.  It's not a Lent thing, it's purely a health thing.  I've been exercising a lot lately and I'm still not really seeing any real results.  I *thought* I ate pretty well, but I know I have a weakness for sugar and sugary foods.  Soo, I decided to see what happened if I went without sugar.  I had to make it long enough to be able to see if I there was any change and I didn't think I'd be able to stick to it if I made it indefinite so the arbitrary selection of the month of March it was.  I still plan to eat my coffee-and-donuts donut on Sundays with the family.  That's a family tradition and I know that by allowing myself one "bad" thing a week I'll be able to fend off the urges to eat bad things throughout the week.  I'm also

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Non-Candy Items for Easter Baskets!!!

I saw this on Facebook the other day and even though I just posted St Paddy's Day food I thought I'd share this as well.  I'm always looking for small non-candy things that don't break the bank for the kids

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Green Food For St Paddy's!

I know I've said this before, but I always like the idea of making fun, thematic food on holidays.  I like the idea of shaped pancakes or colored milk or whatever for Valentine's Day, St Patrick's Day, Halloween, 4th of July--all the holidays that really focus on color.  But sadly, I rarely actually DO something like that for the holidays. I got an email from Weelicious the other day about Creamy Avocado Lime Parfaits and when I clicked on the link it also had a link to other green foods for the upcoming holiday.  The best part is, none of them use food coloring!  That's what's great

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Happy 10th Birthday To Caden!

I can't remember each hour any more.  Nine, even eight years ago I could remember the day of my first child's birth so well that when I looked at the clock throughout the day I'd think "Right now they had him up in the nursery giving him his first bath.  This is about the time that my Dad et al arrived from up north to meet him.  This is when I was served dinner. " (I have to say, being served food is my favorite part of each kid's birth.  It's so sad to go home and actually have to WORK and not have food appear.)  I can't remember anymore what was happening at each hour of March 10th, 2005 but I certainly do remember the day overall.  I was so tired since I had been in labor all night and he was born at 5:55 am, 5 minutes before I was supposed to be induced.  (Nice timing Buddy, well done. )

For the next year Caden had to be pried out of my hands.  I wanted to hold him ALL the time.  When we'd go to family functions, Evan would take him from me so other people could hold him.  I never offered him up, just enjoyed my time with him until someone asked, or took him by force. I remember wearing him in a front carrier while I made dinner when he was only a few months old.  I had gone back to work and I missed him so much that I didn't want to be away from him for a second.      His first birthday was a party at our house in Columbus and we invited all the great-grandparents and grandparents and uncles and aunt.  It was the first time I'd thrown a party like that and our fridge broke a few days before.  I couldn't use it until the morning of the party, so I went shopping, tried to make all the food and the cake before everyone arrived.  I didn't make the deadline. The cake stuck in the pan because I didn't grease and flour it and Evan had to run out and get another box of cake mix.  I was cutting and frosting right up until we were ready to serve it.

This year is different.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Only Organic Quizzes: How Green Are YOU?!?

I was looking at another article Evan sent me to blog about, but it didn't look that fantastic.  It's probably stuff you already know.  However, below it was a link to that New McDonald video I blogged a few days ago.  The video is sponsored by Only Organic, which, shockingly is a website which supports and educates about organic foods.  In their own words:

They explain what "organic" means in terms of both produce as well as livestock.  They have search engines to look for organic retailers and farmers markets near you and they have...quizzes!  I'm going to brag here and tell you that I took the Advanced Quiz and

Friday, March 6, 2015

75% of Crops We Ate 100 Years Ago Are GONE!

Phoning it in again, but this time it's really chock full of info.  Evan sent it to me the other day and thought I might find it interesting.  I love it when people send me blog ideas!  Thanks Evan!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Sorry, More Water Infusions

I know I've already blogged about this, but I was checking my email and I got a newsletter from The Honest Company and it included these recipes from Honeysuckle.  Check out their youtube video below!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Wags 4 Warriors

My mind is kind of all over today so instead of subjecting you to my rambling, I thought I'd just point you in the direction of a pretty cool charity I recently discovered.  It's called Wags 4 Warriors and it's a program to match returning war veterans with PTSD and TBI with a service dog at no cost to the veteran.  As I was reading about this it made me start to cry, as all working dogs do.  I can't really explain it, it's not that I find it sad, just moving I guess.  I cried at the state fair when we watched the frisbee dogs too.  Something about dogs working affects me.  Weird, I know, but if you read my blog this should come as no surprise to you.  And I promised no rambling...OK, so Wags 4 Warriors is pretty cool.  Check out their website.  If you're interested in supporting it you can

Monday, March 2, 2015

Target and Organics

I love Target.  I hate Target.  For the same reason.  They have EVERYTHING!  The money I would save by going to Target is usually lost because I end up buying more than I had originally intended.  I meant to just get laundry detergent and I walked out the door almost $80 poorer-expensive detergent! I went there to get more Honest Company detergent since I ran out before my next order arrived.  I love that they carry Honest products and so many other "natural" and organic products.  I will say that I'm disappointed with the FRESH organics at our Target, but I guess that's going to change.  This article was sent to me via my father-in-law, arguably someone who loves Target even more than I do!  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Chicken Fever

Well, it's that time of year again.  The one were I start thinking about getting chickens.  This is the third year in a row I've caught chicken fever and still, no chickens.  I spent the better part of the morning the other day looking at chicken coops and runs.  I've researched and researched, but I still don't feel like I have a hold on how to really DO it.  I also feel like we're not ready yet in this new house.  There's still so much work I need to do outside before I should start thinking about adding something like livestock.  Yet, the kids are still young enough to really enjoy them.  The dogs are still young enough to train to leave them alone.  My yard is still pretty crappy in the back and it might be a good time to just throw a coop out there and landscape and patio and clean up around it.  Chicken fever is a very serious illness, clearly causing delusions.  Ellie already has her chicken named.  We talked about predators and how they might get the chickens.  She rolled her eyes and told me that she'd keep her chicken in the house and take it outside and stay with it to protect it from predators.  Apparently we're getting the kind of chickens that are really more like dogs.

It's Not Just Me! OnGuard Works!

I saw this study posted on Facebook.  You can read it for yourself, but basically it says that OnGuard works to kill viruses.  Here's the abstract. (Oh how reading this takes me back to Ohio University!  I love you Porter Hall!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What's In Your Dog Food?

I saw this link on Facebook and I thought it was worth sharing.  It's a site called Dog Food Advisor and it ranks different dog food brands as well as gives you the low down on all the ingredients.  I found the site as I was reading a post about someone who's dog died from eating a dog food that contained substandard ingredients.  (It was Beneful, FYI.) I feed our dogs Iams, which got 3 out of 5 stars, about what I was expecting.  I like how it explains why each food gets the rating it does.  I found it really informative and it make me think about what's REALLY in dog food.  Check it out!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Magazines for Kids

Last night Olivia was brining piles of books out to the living room for us to read to her.  On the top of the pile was an old magazine of Ellie's (?) that I'd totally forgotten about.  There are lots of magazines for kids out there that are really great, but not that well know.  Luckily, when Caden was born Librarian Nana got him started on one of my favorites, BabyBug.  It was a monthly subscription that we enjoyed reading together.  The magazine itself is more of a paperback board book, sized just right for little hands.  It's very short, with only a few "articles" in each issue.  There are songs, rhymes and interactive stories in each issue.  Caden LOVED it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Way to go, H2O!

This weekend Ellie had some friends over.  I blogged a few weeks ago about not having lots of junk drinks when we entertain and I held firm with that for this party and it was AWESOME!  Water was all I served and the girls LOVED it! I can't take credit since I found iron Pinterest,  but it was super easy and cheap.  Much less expensive than buying "fun" drinks for them and much better for them.  Ok, so here's how I made water fun.  I went to Aldi and bought small bottles of water-24 for $2.50. My mom bought the next item, so I'm not sure if the price, but I can't imagine it was too much.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Car Seats and Growing Up

Now that Ellie is 8 she no longer needs to be in a booster seat. This is strange to me.  I still can't quite make myself take it out of the van yet. The idea that she doesn't need that second layer of security in a crash hasn't registered.  She a big kid.  You would think that this would have been something that I would have had an issue with with Caden, being that he's the oldest and I went through this with him two years ago.  His transition was during a major car seat overhaul though. I kept him in a booster for a few months past his 8 years,  moved Ellie down from a high-backed booster to just the regular booster, moved Vince to the 5 point harness booster and olivia to the convertable car seat.  Everyone was moving up.  This time it's a little different. It's just the one kid. I'm not quite ready to move her out and to be honest, when we don't have all these snow days, she's not really in the van a whole bunch.  Maybe when I clean the disgusting thing out I'll move her booster out as well.  As I'm sitting here typing this on my phone in the doctor's office waiting for Ellie's 8year check up,  this all sounds dumb.  I think it's more about the transition from a family of little kids to a family of school aged kids. I look at other families with 4 kids that are all older than mine and try to imagine what our lives will be like when we no longer think that "wiener" is the funniest topic of conversation. Or when olivia running around the house in a tutu and boots becomes weird instead of part of a normal day.  What will it be like to have kids that are self sufficient and can all shower themselves and get their own glass of water?  It's exciting and scary at the same time.  But I guess that's kind of parenting in general.  Ok, time to go back with the doctor. No shots today at least! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Latest From Honest

I can only think of one person who reads this blog that will actually find this information useful, but I'm hoping, like me, the rest of you may find it interesting.  The Honest Company now offers formula! I'll be honest, this wasn't something I saw coming.  I was really surprised when I got them email about their new products, formula and DHA drops.  It makes sense.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Updated Reading List

Well this is totally out of character.  I'm blogging about a book I've READ.  Not a book I want to read, am thinking about reading or have read the first few pages.  I actually completed this one BEFORE I blogged about it!  I'm really making progress with this following through thing I'm trying.  This one is called Lemons and Lavender: The Eco Guide to Better Homekeeping.     It's a different read that I thought it would be, but still really good.  I expected it to be all about greening your house CLEANING, but it's really more housekeeping--everything house.  The whole first part is about reducing, reusing and recycling to furnish your home, then there is gardening and cleaning and even a little bit of cooking and holidays.  I liked the cleaning part best because it just reinforced what I already know--vinegar and water with a little baking soda, castille soap and essential oils are all you need to clean just about everything.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Hot And Sour Cabbage Soup

I took one bite of this for dinner and and knew I had to share it at a blog post.  It's from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin.  I've blogged about this cookbook and shared some of his recipes before and this one didn't disappoint.  With the weather being so cold I thought soup sounded like a nice warm dinner.  This soup was a perfect choice!  I don't have a cold, but if you're feeling under the weather, I think this would be perfect!  It was quick and easy to make with minimal ingredients.  Even Evan liked it! (Although he said he didn't think it was very filling, but I think that's his obligatory response to anything vegetarian.)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Blue Apron

A few days ago I blogged about my Girl Scout Mom Time.  One of the topics we discussed was cooking.  One mom said, "I don't cook."  Which I love.  I love this because it's a chance for me to ask questions about how other people eat.  I'm always interested in other people's diets because everyone always seems so interested in mine--like it's totally exotic and I cook strange things strange way.  Oh, and I cook.  Everyone always assumes I cook a lot.  I'm realizing this isn't really so true.  "I don't cook" mom, does, in fact, cook.  I think people associate "cook" with "prepare elaborate meals every night".  I think very few people actually do this.  I know I don't.  I cook most night, but there are always a few nights a week (sometimes more) when I take the lazy route. Like last night (grilled cheese and tomato soup) and tonight (vegetable soup my mom made a few weeks ago and is not in my freezer).  But I do one thing a lot of people don't and that's menu plan. I learned this from my mother. I can remember her sitting at the kitchen table with a list and her recipe cards and cook books surrounding her.  She'd plan the menu for the week, make a grocery list and shop for the week.  So this is what I've been doing since I moved out on my own. (Not, of course, when I lived in the Phi Mu house.  Jackie Chan cooked my pink chicken and crack brownies then!) I need to do this now.  I need to look at the week's activities and plan what I'm going to cook each night so I don't have a night where I'm going to arrive home at 5:30 after haircuts and need to have a meal on the table.  Or the opposite, where I need to be somewhere at 5:30 and I need a meal that is quick to clean up.  Anyway, back to "cooking".  I have no idea how this became a topic of conversation, but last weekend was Ellie's birthday party and my brother in law started telling us about Blue Apron.  (He was actually supposed to write this post.  When he was talking about it and showing the page I kept encouraging him to open blogger and just write his thoughts down--didn't take.) Blue Apron.  Great idea, perfect for his family, not great for ours, but worth sharing alway.  In a nutshell: It's a subscription service that will send you all the fresh ingredients to cook a meal.

It looks really interesting, but as it says, families of 4.  It might be worth a try to just do the vegetarian options and do 2 people.  Then I won't have to worry about creating a veg dinner for Liv and I every night.  Cost?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Eight Is Great!

Today is Ellie's 8th birthday!  We all got up early so we could open gifts before Evan left for work.  It was a little odd having all that time in the morning.  It's usually so rushed, but it was great because Ellie got a chance to play with her new toys before she had to put shoes on (drama ensued of course) and go to school.  She was really enthusiastic about all of her gifts, which made me feel good because I didn't really spend a lot on her.  Usually there's one big gift, but this year I just got her a few little things. Guess it went over well.  Evan had a great idea (have to give credit where credit is due) to give her a cork board for her room.  It was a "big" gift but it was only $11 at Target.  She was so excited she wanted to hang it before she left.  We started the process, but I finished it and it's all ready for her when she gets home.  I hung a newborn picture of her on it already along with her first birthday card, from Meema, and a picture she colored at art class last night.  I thought about covering it with fabric too to give it a little fancier look, but I'm not sure if we'll ever really do that.  I'll have to get Ellie's opinion.

I'm excited for her to be 8.  With Caden,  because he's the oldest, it's always a shock when he gets a year older. ("I can't possibly have an 8 year old!  That seems so old!")  But with Ellie I'm over the shock and I can put it in perspective.  I remember 8.  Seven, a few things here and there and the years before, a few memories, but 8.  I remember being 8.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bath Recipe

YEARS ago my mom got me a bath book, The Scented Bath by Maribeth Riggs,  for Christmas.  I LOVED it!  I've moved 6 times since then and it's been one of the VERY few books that's made every move.  Sadly, I haven't taken a nice relaxing bath in years.  We had a garden tub when we lived in Columbus, and I loved the idea of taking baths in that, but it took forever to fill the thing up and used a ton of hot water.  Anyway, back to the book.  I was watching Olivia in the tub last night and I thought about adding a drop of lavender essential oil to the tub to help soothe her and get her ready for bedtime. It made me think of my bath book and I dug the thing out and reread some of the recipes.    It's pretty dated now (Clan Of The Cave Bear Bath) but I love the descriptions of each bath almost as much as the recipes. The really sets a scene in each description.  I remember scouring Canton for some of the more "exotic" ingredients.  The back of the book lists locations, addresses and phone numbers.  How much easier it would have been had there been an internet!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015


Last night Ellie had Girl Scouts.  I love Girl Scout nights.  Evan calls it "Stacy Time".  This is true.  While Ellie is downstairs learning all kinds of fun Girl Scouty stuff, I sit upstairs in the church lounge and talk to my friend.  It's an hour and a half of adult conversation.  It's AMAZING!  Granted, we talk about kids a lot, but still, Evan usually has the other 3 at home with him and I can just--BREATHE! This year there are a few other moms that stay and wait for their girls so it's not quite as much "Stacy Time" as it is just adult time (I'm slowly coming to terms with this) but I always leave there feeling more like and adult than like Mom.

We talk about all kinds of things but last night there were two topics in particular that I keep going over in my head.  One was about Stella's surgery.  This is actually a conversation I've had with a lot of people, but I was AMAZED, at how many people would have put Stella down had they been in my place.  The thought never even crossed my mind.  She's my child.  I adopted her with the intent to

Friday, February 6, 2015

Meat/Meatless Vegetable Soup

This is one of my (and now my family's) all-time favorite recipes.  It's a really simple, hearty soup that my mom used to make.  It's called Autumn Soup and I always can't wait for fall to come around so I can make it.  I've tried it many different ways to make this recipe meatless.  Generally, just omitting the meat in a recipe doesn't work, but for this one, I think it's just as good.  The trick is using a good bouillon base.  My recipe says this makes 2 large servings, but I'd say it's really more like 4.  Evan says he thinks it tastes even better the next day, and I agree.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Urban Homesteading

Since I started writing this blog again and since I've been reading a lot more lately, I thought I should probably grab a book on something "green" from the library.  I didn't ask, I just tried to remember where I found "green" books before and I ended up in front of some organizational books with a few homesteading things thrown in there.  I left the organization for another day and grabbed a few books on homesteading.  The first one I'm reading is The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen.  As usually I'm writing this post early.  I should write it once I've finished the book, but I'm a little harried today with the invalid puppy and IAT meeting and crayon in the dryer so you're just getting my take on the first section. So there.

So the first section I read was about farming, which translates to just gardening.  They had a TON of useful info about how to plant in small spaces, which is kind of what I have.  I actually have a really big yard, but so much of it is in the shade that it doesn't allow for a lot of room for veggies.  This book is about homesteading though which suggests that you turn even your front lawn into a useful plot of land for food.  I considered this for about a minute then realized that part of my front yard has a hard time growing grass, so it probably wouldn't make the best place for a veggie garden.  The other half...well, I'm just not ready to make that jump yet.  While I agree that the front yard is really pretty much a waste (this book says that the #1 crop produced in the US is lawn) I'm not totally ready to make such a cut from the "norm".  One thing that I AM willing to try in the front yard is a bean teepee.  You take stakes or poles or anything else that beans will climb and assemble them to make a teepee.  Plant beans around the base of each pole and as they grow they'll naturally climb the poles and fill in the gaps to make an enclosed structure.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Short post today.  I just noticed while I was digging around in our medicine cabinet for alcohol (you know, to get the nail polish out of the carpet) a bottle of children's cough syrup.  Seeing this made me remember that the last time I had a kid into the doctor for a cough (not to be confused with the ear infection I took Vince in for Monday) she told me that studies she had read showed that cough syrup wasn't really that effective or necessary for kids.  She said if you're going to use something to help with a cough, just use honey.  I'm definitely going to use this next time we have coughs in our house.  When I was getting sick last week (I really do think the essential oils helped!) I woke up each morning and made myself a mug of hot water, honey and a drop of lemon oil.  It worked like magic,  the hot water opening up my sinuses and the honey sooting and coating my irritated throat.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Stella's Drama

Today's post is about how I don't really have time to blog today because I spent the whole afternoon at the vet.  Last night Stella started puking (mostly on the floor but also all over Ellie's bed-at bedtime of course) and continued to throw up all morning (all over our bed).  She didn't eat at all and she looked miserable last night and this morning.  After preschool the two little ones and I took her up to the emergency vet in Green and after some blood work and x-rays we found out she had something in her stomach.  This isn't a surprise to me at all because I am constantly taking things out of that dog's mouth.  She always has something of the kids and it is though this that I have learned about that famous pit bull grip.  It's like an iron trap.  I can pry Jacks jaws apart to get an action figure from him, but not Stella.  When she clamps down I just have to wait until she's ready to let it go.

Good news is that her surgery went well this afternoon.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Snow Ice Cream!

With all the snow we were supposed to get, I got all my ingredients ready for snow ice cream yesterday!  I put a big container out on the grill (up high enough that that dogs couldn't get it) and waited for the snow to fill it up. I was a little disappointed that we didn't get as much fluffy snow as we were supposed to get, but even with the rising temp, the snow that I had worked great for this recipe.  I'm sure there's more snow in our future so I'm sharing this recipe.  The original recipe calls for milk, but I use heavy cream.  It makes it much richer-if you can imagine that!

Friday, January 30, 2015


I didn't really have anything super awesome to eat this week that was vegetarian that I haven't already shared so I thought I'd just share this tidbit of info.  Floss your kids teeth.  If you're like me, you kind of consider flossing as going that extra mile.  People in movies use it as a way to prove that they're "good" people. "I always do what I'm supposed to!  I even floss my teeth!"  However, my kids dentist (Dr Stephen Girdlestone, a pediatric dentist in Canton--HIGHLY recommend him!) told me that I really should be flossing all of my kids teeth.  ALL of them.  That includes Olivia and even Caden.  He told me that every night he has all of his kids put their head in his lap and he flosses their teeth for them.   He has 4 kids too so he realizes that's a lot of flossing.  But he told me this one thing that really made me take him seriously since ALL dentists tell you to floss.  "If your'e going to skip one thing, I'd rather see it be brushing than flossing."  This kind of changed things for me.  It made a lot of sense at the time since he had just finished telling me that Vince had yet another cavity between his teeth.  How often do you see or hear someone say they have a cavity in the middle of their front tooth?  It's always in the back nestled in there.

 Evan, for the record, is fanatical about oral hygiene.  We were on vacation once and ran out of floss.  The next time someone said they were going to the store he asked them to pick up some floss, waxed, of course.  He takes this stuff seriously.  As he should.  Recently and even not so recently he's had root canals, fillings, crowns and soon, he's venturing into the world of braces! I spent more time at the dentist as a kid than any other doctor so I too, understand the importance of taking care of your teeth. Caden already has 3 crowns and both Vince and Ellie have been in for fillings.  It sounds like we don't ever have our kids brush, but we do!  I swear it!  As a family, we just have cavity prone teeth.

So, I started flossing the kids.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


It has come to my attention in the last few years that I have a bit of a temper.  Just a bit.  It's generally well hidden and I've had MANY people tell me over the years that I'm very patient.  "You teach preschool?!  I don't have the patience for that?"  "You teach first graders?!! I don't know how you do it.  I don't have the patience."   But the fact remains that sometimes I lose my s%#&.  Like, LOSE it.  I know it's genetic because my mother once described the "rage building inside" and I know EXACTLY what she means.  I don't get angry a lot, it's just every once in awhile, but when I blow, it's not pretty.  The upshot of that is, I can ride that "do you want Mommy to get angry again?" for quite awhile.  "I'm going to LOSE IT!"  is also frequently heard at my house, although it's really more of a threat since I don't really LOSE lose it too much.  But sadly, today I did.  And Olivia was the recipient.

Every morning is frustrating for me.  It's such a battle with all 4 of them just to do EVERYTHING!  Get dressed, eat, brush your teeth and/or hair, put on your shoes, walk out the door. (Today Caden was mad I wouldn't let him take his DS to school and stood in the doorway with his coat and backpack on refusing to leave.) I'm already irritated to begin with in the mornings.  I got Ellie and Caden off to school and Vince was mostly compliant, which is rare. Vince hates school.  Every day he drags his feet and refuses to put on shoes, stand still to have his hair brushed (which is in the process of growing out and he looks so shaggy) or anything else that will prolong the process of getting him to school.  We're always late and it drives me nuts.  I start getting ready to walk out the door 20 minutes before we actually need to leave and it's STILL not enough time.  Today, Vince was ready to go, just need to physically put him in the van.  I ran back to grab Olivia and she was removing her pants, socks and shoes and whining.  We were going to be late again.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


I'm blogging about books today because what I'm much rather be doing right now is finishing my book rather than blog.  I realized a few years back that I love to read.  I've always liked to read, even as an elementary kid, but a few years ago I realized that I LOVE it.  I read all different genres which I think keeps it interesting, although I generally get stuck on one genre for awhile before I move onto the next.  I'm in a book club which I love not only because I love the girls in it, but also because it keeps me reading, even when I might feel like doing something else.  Not to mention, it give me 12 books a year that I have to read, so I don't have to search for books to read.

It occurred to me the other day that I don't really model reading very much for my kids.  I read a lot, but it's when I have time, which is when I don't have kids--while I exercise (I have to brag that I recently started reading while I run on the treadmill.  I have no idea how I do it, but I've managed to do it twice now without getting sick or falling off the treadmill.)  or when the kids are in bed.

 I've blogged before about how I wish I focused more on reading to my kids, but again, one of those things I haven't really followed through with.  I will say that I have been reading with Ellie every night.  Awhile back she found an interest in religion and wanted to read a bible.  Of course the Good News bible I got in 8th grade was not only a little above her reading level, but also missing the book of Genesis since Brodie ate it. (Jack is not, in fact, the only destructive dog we've had.) I found a great kids bible at Ollie's, of all places, that is on her reading level, covers all books of the bible and is SUPER reader friendly because each bible story is condensed into one page.  There are 365 stories and we've been reading one a night...then two and sometimes 3.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"Getting" Sick

I'm getting sick.  I'm sticking with the "getting" part as long as I can although at this point, I think I'm pretty much just "sick".  How this happened, I'm not sure.  None of the kids are sick.  Evan's not sick.  Just me.  It's just a sore throat and a slightly stuffy nose so far but I don't like it.  I don't get sick days in this line of work.  I don't get sick nights either for that matter.  I can't get sick.  So I'm doing everything I can to cling to that "getting" part and maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to beat this thing before it gets bad.  So, first things first.
1. Drink lots of lemon water.  Check.
2. Apply doTerra's On Guard, their immune boosting blend.  Check.
3. Take some Oscilloccinum. This homeopathic remedy helps flu-like symptoms but needs to be taken at the first signs of illness.  So I'm running out of time on this one.  I thought I had some in the medicine cabinet, but I can't find it now.  Looks like a trip to the store is in my future.
4. Rest.   I ran 4 miles this morning, then some errands, picked Vince up from school then home for lunch and laundry and blogging and cleaning the playroom (which looks like some kind of toy-bomb went off in there).  Probably should work on the resting part, but like I said, I don't get sick days.
5. Drink hot tea.  I read that the heat helps to clear sinuses.  I'll drink it because it helps me relax (as much as I can) and it tastes good. And I'm going through a little tea obsession thing.  Mostly the obsession thing though to be honest.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Following Through

OK, so like I said before, I'm bad about following through on things I blog about.  My New Years Resolution this year is to stop that habit.  (You can make a resolution mid-January, right?) So far I'm doing pretty well.  I did the foot soak thing and this weekend I actually did the dryer balls!  Can you believe it!  Totally would have blogged about that and then never did it in the past.  Not now!  Friday I went out to dinner with my mom (thanks Mom!) then we went to JoAnn Fabric and bought wool yarn (and tons of St. Paddy's Decorations-again, Thanks Mom!) then hopped down to World Market and bought some glass tumblers to replace all the plastic I threw out.  TWO, that's right TWO blog posts I followed through on in one night!  I'm so amazing!

First, the glasses were actually $1.99 instead of $1.  Sorry about that.  They had a few different choices that would have worked, but I picked the ones with the widest base on Mom's recommendation to prevent spilling as much as possible.  We've used them all weekend and so far they've been pretty sturdy.  They had really cute ones with mustaches on them but I thought they mustache would probably just come of after a few rounds in the dishwasher so I went with these guys, who are also stackable, which is convenient.
New glasses with Ellie's leftover breakfast crust and Vince's guys.  

Next the dryer balls.  I got two skeins of yarn, dark grey and winter white.  I did the grey first and made the first one too big so the second was significantly smaller.  That was really the only mistake I made, the rest was really simple!  Just wrap the yarn around two fingers about then times, then wrap 10 times around the middle of the loops you just made then start wrapping to make a ball!  When I was done I had a little trouble feeding the end of the yarn into the ball to secure it, but after a few tries with a crochet hook I figured it out.  The video I watched showed pulling it straight through the ball, but I just weaved it across the sides a few times and they've seemed to stay secure.  It didn't take long at all to do the first two, the second were a little more challenging only because

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Grass is Always Greener

I always scroll through Instagram and read Facebook and check out blogs and thing, "Wow!  How exciting and organized and glamorous everyone else is!" My friends post selfies of them all dressed for work and I'm sitting there in jeans that don't fit right and a free teeshirt with God-knows-what down the front.  Bloggers are saying how they're raising chickens and using GENERATORS to watch the occasional movie and I realize that all the lights are on downstairs and no one is down there.  Then it dawned on me that some of you may read this blog and feel similar, like I'm doing what you feel you should be doing to live greener.  So, to clear the air and make sure that no one is out there reading this thinking that things are so awesome over here I decided to post this video clip.  Just in case you thought our house was super cool there's this.  Sometimes the grass isn't really all that green.  Sometimes it's frozen and you just have to let it go.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Juice Beauty and Listerine Feet

I realize that I blog backwards sometimes, which I'm trying to right with this post.  Instead of telling you about this great product or idea that I tried, I often blog about this great product or idea I WANT to try.  So I've finally gotten around to doing some of the things I've blogged about in the past and I wanted to do a quick update on how that went.

First, Juice Beauty.  My friend, Stephanie, told me about Juice Beauty, an organic cosmetic line that she had recently discovered.  I loved the idea of it, and wrote a blog about it, just never got around to actually buying some to try.  SO almost a year later, I'm blogging that I did, in fact, give Juice Beauty a try and so far, so good!  I only bought the eyeliner, which required a TON of self control on my part, but it's really nice.  I was expecting it to be significantly different from conventional cosmetics, since I tried a brand in the past that was natural and I was really unhappy with it.  It was $16, which is literally 4x as much as I was spending on the cheap Cover Girl eyeliner I used previously, but I KNOW it will last longer than the CG and it's better for me and the planet.  I'm going to go back to Ulta and try a different Juice Beauty product next time I need cosmetics.  This time I will leave my girls at home and I'm sure it will be a much faster, less expensive trip.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dryer Balls

I sat here and stared at a blank page for a long time, trying to come up with something to blog.  So I fell back to my Christmas gifts.  Every year I get something "green" for Christmas and this year I got dryer balls.  I've used dryer balls before, even blogged about them, but these new ones are different.  My old ones were bumpy plastic things that would crack after repeated use.  These new ones are wool.  Let me back up.  What's a dryer ball, you ask?  It's a ball that goes in the dryer, or course!  Why you use it is the interesting part.  They're supposed to reduce drying time and help soften clothes, reduce wrinkles and static.  The wool variety will also absorb some of the moisture to help decrease the drying time even more.  Tennis balls are sometimes used as dryer balls as well.

The dryer balls I got for Christmas from my mom were from The Sitting Tree.  (Pictured above) I like the idea of dryer balls.  I like not needing to buy dryer sheets (although they work WONDERS to stop static hair in the winter-only an issue for Ellie now that mine is so short) and I like that they're all natural as opposed to the plastic (what was I just saying about heating plastics?!), but in reality, I'm not sure I LOVE them.  These wool ones really do absorb the moisture, I can tell when I pull them out of the dryer that they're still a little damp.  You can even add a drop of essential oils to them before you toss them in the dryer and voila, naturally scented clothes!  (Actually, I was just rereading the directions on their Etsy page and you need to let the oil dry overnight before tossing them in with clothes to prevent spotting.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Drinks All Around!

Birthday season is fast approaching.  Ellie's is February 12th followed by mine on the 18th then Caden on March 10th and Uncle Rob on the 22nd.  This means lots of family parties, which means lots of entertaining and lots of food.  The food part is usually pretty easy.  I ask the kids what they like and then go from there.  Where I run into trouble is the beverages.  Evan insists that we serve pop (I realize that the rest of the US calls it soda, but I'm from northeastern Ohio and it's pop up here.)  but I HATE to buy all those two liters which are opened for maybe one glass for one guest.  It's a guessing game about what everyone's drink is.  Coke or Pepsi? Regular, diet or zero? How many "other" kinds do we get?  Rooter, 7-up, ginger ale...I hate it!  It's such a pain for me and it's so expensive to buy all that CRAP that I don't want to drink, don't want my kids to drink and feel guilty serving my guests.  "Welcome to my home!  Can I interest you in a beverage that literally eats through iron nails?  Perhaps something with more sugar in one serving than a human should consume in one day?"

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Plastic Purge

Ahh, it's SO nice to be back to blogging!  Simply writing each day and thinking about what my next post will be is keeping me in a greener mindset.  I was doing just that as I emptied the dishwasher the other day and realized, I have TONS of plastic.  Plastic cups, plates, containers...wasn't I trying to decrease the number of these items not that long ago?  If you know me, you know I have obsessions (did I mention that I started running?!?) and although they're often short-lived (remember when I was going to get backyard chickens?) they often times help me in the long run.  I've selected decreasing the amount of plastic in my house as my next mini-obsession. (So you can relax.  I'll still talk about running all the time and continue to blog.)

Why get rid of plastic?  There's bad stuff in there.  And that's not just hippie me saying that. ( *I read an article from Pinterest yesterday about running and in the comments, someone had written "Where's the scientific proof for the information in this article?"  I realized that I do that a lot on here.  I make a comment, but don't show evidence to back it up.  Mrs Abrashoff, Ms Palmer, Mrs Barthel and Mrs. Klase would be horrified.  So out of respect for the Hoover High School English Department I'm siting my sources.  Sorry folks, no APA though.  You just get linked to the original article.* )  The Breast Cancer Fund states, "Three plastics have been shown to leach toxic chemicals when heated, worn or put under pressure: polycarbonate, which leaches bisphenol A; polystyrene, which leaches styrene; and PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, which break down into vinyl chloride and sometimes contains phthalates that can leach."  I've blogged before about the harmful effects of bisphenol A (also called BPA) and phthalates but I'll give you a quick refresher here.  BPA is found in water bottle and lots of plastic cups (you've seen the BPA-free label on sippy cups and baby bottles and increasingly more and more plastic bottles)  the bisphenol A leaches from the plastic into the food it's touching, either the liquid or also, the food from the can it's touching. (BPA is also found in the linings of cans.  Look for canned food that says BPA free.  As if you didn't have enough going on at the grocery store!)  WebMD states that 90% of us have detectable levels of BPA in our bodies.  As for the phthalates,  it seems they're everywhere!  They're in cosmetics and they're used to make plastics soft so things like teethers and pacifiers may contain phthalates.  They also leach into the food or liquid they touch, but in the case of things like pacifiers, they can even leach directly into the body.  Styrene, also a know carcinogen, is found in styrofoam and #6 plastic.  

OK, so enough scientific stuff.  It's bad for you.  So what am I going to do?  While I'd love to grab a bag and walk around the house tossing everything plastic, that's not really realistic or necessary.  So first, I'm just going to focus on the kitchen.  I'm going to decrease the number of plastic cups and plastic plates and work (again) on tossing those plastic food storage containers in favor of glass.  In the past the thought of getting rid of the plastic, unbreakable, kid plates and cups seemed a little scary, but I think the bigger kids are fine "real" plates and cups.  Olivia is still a spiller, but I'm hoping the sturdier glass cups might actually help her with that.  I'm also going to look for some stainless steel water bottles.   The only issue with that is the spouts are almost always plastic!  But, as always, I'm just going to do the best that I can.  I'm going to head over to World Market and have the kids pick some fun cups.  They have such a big selection and most of the cups are around $1 each.  When we got married we actually has a full set of salad plates (aka kid sized) but over the years we've broken so many we're down to 4.  I'll be honest, I'm actually REALLY excited to get rid of the leaning tower of Pisa in my cupboard.  Those dumb plastic plates don't stack and they're always falling over!  I'll grab a few more fun ones when I'm at World Market, but there's not really a good reason the little kids can't use a big plate.  The only thing I need to watch is portion size.  That big plate makes a normal kid-sized portion look super tiny.  

While I work on that, I'll also try to think about plastics in other parts of our house.  Keep reading those bottles for phthalates and BPA. Look at the bottom of plastic bottles for the safer plastics, 2, 4 and 5 and stay away from those really bad guys, 3 and 6.  I found this cute chart on
With birthdays coming up (Ellie and Caden) I'm going to try and think about the number of plastics coming into our home in toys.  I'll check out Magic Cabin and Nova Naturals before I look at Toys R Us.  I'll also try to think about eliminating some of the crap toys we have downstairs that no one ever plays with.  Many of them are made of cheap plastic.  It's a big job, but it doesn't have to be completed right now.  It'll be a work in progress for a long time, but like everything else I do to green this house and family.  That's why I say I'm doing the best I can.  Sometimes it's really a lot and sometimes it just throwing out a few cups and plates. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Recipe Friday: Baked Ziti and Carrot Ginger Sauce

Lazy today!  Kids are off school (except for Vince) and we've been running errands and trying to keep my weekday schedule on a weekend feel.  SO, you get two quick recipes from Weelicious.  The first I SWEAR I've posted before, but if I haven't TRY IT!  I love this one!  Evan loves it too--despite the lack of meat.  The second I hesitate to even post because it's not a crowd pleaser.  I liked it and Vince and Olivia did too, but it has ginger and therefore I automatically like it.  A word of warning: it's not like a pasta sauce.  Think pesto if your'e tossing it with pasta (I used soba noodles).  Here you go: Baked Ziti and Carrot Ginger Sauce compliment of Catherine McCord of Weelicious.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Christmas For My Dad

My dad is horribly hard to buy for.  He doesn't have a ton of little hobbies, he's not that into sports and he doesn't wear ties to work.  There goes he traditional golf balls, sports team gear and the generic tie gifts.  PLUS the buys whatever he wants as soon as he wants it.  So what's the one gift that he can't buy for himself?  Good health.  And it also happens to be something that he's always in need of, especially at this time of year.  So today I'm going to blog about my Christmas gift that I got my dad this year.  The theme was "Good Health and Good Cheer" since that's what all the holiday cards wish you.

First, my dad may or may not read my blog, but he only does it to support me.  He's not buying into all my green stuff.  That's my mom.  I talk her into trying all kinds of crazy stuff, but not my dad.  So when I bought him most of these things, I did it realizing that he was probably not going to use them, but it was worth a shot.

Second, my sister will attest that my gifts all come with directions. (My in-laws will tell you that my meals also come with directions- how are you supposed to know what everything is and what toppings go with what if I don't explain it!?!?) I like to think that the directions are my way of explaining that I put a lot of thought into the gift.  So much thought sometimes, that it needs a little explanation.  My dad's gift went a little beyond that.  Many of the gifts were actually wrapped with directions  and explanations attached.

Third, child on my lap is making this SO HARD TO WRITE!!!!!!

OK, so the actual gifts I gave.  They were all individually wrapped and then packaged in a large cardboard box.  I (very greenly, I may add) padded each layer of gifts with beach towels instead of tissue paper to reduce the amount of packaging we threw out.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lemon Water

It all started when I got sucked into Facebook.  I never really intended to spend the amount of time on Facebook that I do.  I just want to check one thing.  Usually it's the Save A Mom page. Then something else catches my eye and the next thing I know 10 minutes have gone by and Olivia is starting to get frustrated because I haven't noticed that she's been talking at me for about 5 of those minutes.  Curse you Facebook!  BUT, sometimes I find more that just snarky posts from my friends!  SOMETIMES, I find interesting articles that people have shared, like one on the health benefits of drinking lemon water!  I'd like to actually give you the article, but for some reason, when I went back to my friend's page who originally posted it, it was gone.  This, of course, after I spent WAY longer than I should have trying to find it.  SO, here's another link to an article that touts the benefits of drinking lemon water.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Put Those Kids To Work!

When I was young we had "jobs".  When we got home from school we looked at the giant job chart on the side of the refrigerator and completed our job to get a sticker which then translated to our allowance. (A portion of which always went into our savings account.)  On the kitchen counter beside the sink was a laminated pile of cards with our names on them which would indicate who's job it was to set the table that night.  As we got older the jobs changed and they didn't rotate a whole bunch.  I can remember as an older adolescent doing laundry a lot and being glad that I was no longer assigned the "land mines" job that I hated so much as a kid.

Now that I have my own kids I understand the importance of "jobs".  Not only does it teach them responsibility, but it also helps me to keep this place presentable.  I've been on a mission to find the perfect job chart and I found it at  HOWEVER, I guess I was the only one that loved it because she no longer makes it.  What I loved about it was that I could change the job each day AND there was only one job that each kid had to do.  Many of the chore charts have TONS of items listed.  While I'm not opposed to my kids doing all of these (may include brushing teeth, making beds, throwing dirty clothes where they belong) I don't want to have to give them a sticker each and every time they do something.  With one kid that's young I can see it, but with 4, I'd spend my entire day in front of the chore chart.  Anyway, I was stuck for awhile and the kids were off the hook.  I still have a whole bunch of the reward cards that I got when I got the chart, which I also LOVE.  Of course they don't make these anymore either so this time when I get down to the last one I'm going to take a page from mom's play book and have them laminated so I can reuse them!
I like how you can write the reward that the kids are working for right on the card so we can talk about and the older kids can read their goals.  There are just enough circles to get their checks that the goals are within reach, but they're not getting something all the time.

So, my new genius idea to replace the chore chart.  Are you ready?!?! I'm so impressed with myself for thinking of this!  STICKS!

When I taught I used this kind of thing a lot.  You'd put all the kids names on a stick then draw them to out choose groups or whatever.  For this, I wrote a job on each stick.  SO FAR the kids really like it.  I think it's cool because it gives them a little control.  It's not really a job I assigned (even though I created the sticks) it's a job they picked.  I'm going to include a picture of all the sticks to give you an idea of what kinds of things I have my kids do. I'm doing this because I was talking to a friend once about her kids chores and she very excitedly asked me what I had mine do.  I stole some of her chore ideas and she used some of mine.  Some of the chores are in there multiple times, simply because they need to be done more often (and also because I was running out of ideas).  So far I have them draw a stick then put it back it.  I could also keep the sticks out that have already been used, but I think they like the idea of digging around in there to pick one out.  All of these are things that I'm doing anyway so it's not like they NEED to be done, but most of them are things that could use a touch-up between my cleanings. (Think the kids bathroom.  That thing needs cleaned every 15 minutes or so!) 

Sometimes I make them draw again, like the 10 minutes cleaning the playroom. Caden drew that the same day as I cleaned the playroom.  Some are easier than others and some are a little more fun (dusting ceilings is going to be a favorite) be I wanted to keep it varied so they don't get bored.  So far they haven't reacted like they're chores, more like little tasks to get closer to their selected goals.  FYI, we also give checkmarks on the cards for other things besides chores.  If they're extra helpful or are super good I'll sometimes throw a checkmark on there.  The other day Caden was playing basketball with Olivia.  Clearly it was way more fun for her than for him, but he was spending time with his sister and she was in heaven.  Extra checkmark. Ellie is a BIG fan of the extra checkmarks.  She's ALWAYS asking if she can do something for an extra checkmark.  She used to do then ask, but now she's wised up! 

So there it is!  Child labor in my house.