Friday, March 29, 2013

Free Healthy Life Summit

Did you know there's a free online conference going on right now?!  Check out the Healthy Life Summit hosted by Village Green.  The conference ends March 30th.  It features 35 experts talking about Healthy Eating, Healthy Living, Healthy babies and kids, Healthy Bodies, and Healthy World.  Registering for the event is free, and you still have time.  Click here to register and get notifications about up coming talks.

Some of today's available interviews include:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop, making the transition from eating Junk Food to real food. Learn how to make the jump from junk food to real food. She teaches you to overcome obstacles of cost, motivation, time, stick-to-itness, feeling overwhelmed and family complaints.

Genevieve Pazdan of presents "Cloth Diapers Made Easy." Mama Natural teaches you everything you need to know to get started with cloth diapering.  From prefolds, to All-In-Ones to wet and dry pails.  It's not as hard as it looks, and it's a lot more fun than you think!

Summit Package 60% off

Presentations will also be available after the conference for download.  The download package will include the entire 7 day conference, and 35 interviews.  The price for the package right now is $79 dollars, and will go up to $199 after the conference is over.  So if you missed out and would like the audio, go snag it now before the price goes up!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Guest Hollow -- American History Homeschool Curriculum Review

This school year my son has been working through Guest Hollow's American History curriculum.  I was initially drawn to this curriculum for two reasons.  One it was free, and secondly it appeared to be secular in nature.  The author of Guest Hollow does not hide her faith, but I feel this curriculum is suitable for a family of any faith or none at all.

My son is a gifted fourth grader who easily could have been promoted to fifth grade this year (it doesn't really matter that much when you're homeschooling).  My son loves reading, and this curriculum contains lots of reading. The author's  son was the one she wrote it for, and he also was a strong reader.

When I mentally committed to this curriculum for the year, I had initially decided it would be for both the lego boy, and my butterfly who's in second grade this year.  She states the curriculum is appropriate for grades 2-6. About 8 weeks into the program I found it to be too much to her, so we switched to a different curriculum.  Not much to worry though, when her reading skills are up perhaps in another year or two she'll be going through this curriculum too.

I printed out the curriculum and put it in a binder.  A step that later on I found to be unnecessary.  She has a week by week section online and I refer to that more than I do the notebook.  Online she also has links to print outs and websites with extra reading.  Not all of the print outs work anymore, and I'd love it if she fixed broken links or found replacements.  It's hard to complain though since she's put it out there free.

As far as books or supplies, that's what brings the price back up. I think I spent around $200 in books.  In hindsight I should have checked with the library on many of these.  Kept my purchases limited to History Pockets, and other supplements.

I also have to admit, this is the most time consuming of my curriculums this year to prepare for each week.  For me, it's removing pockets from their books, scanning them in and printing them out. That's the purpose of these books is to reuse the material, and I plan to with my daughter when she's ready for this program.  I also have to look a week or two ahead each weekend and request the books he'll need from the library.  All in all, I likely spend one hour prepping each week.

The best part though is my son loves this curriculum.  He doesn't fight me to do history, and enjoys the hands on projects that happen on an almost weekly basis. The book choices that go along with each week are age appropriate. Between this and the 39 clues series, he's actually become quite the history buff.  He loves it.

I haven't taken a look at her American History 2 curricula just yet, but I hope it's put together similarly and is just as secular as this year's was.  

Guest Hollow

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Garlic Balsamic Vinaigrette

So simple to make, so yummy.  I think it's easy to have so many home made salad dressings to help keep your salads different every day.

Most recipes I found for balsamic vinaigrette have sugar, or honey.  I don't think it's necessary, after being primal for so long the sweet of balsamic vinegar is more than enough sweet this recipe needs.

You can easily double this recipe, I made this one for two adults for a week's worth.

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2-3/4 cup oil of choice (try sesame, garlic, or olive oil)
  • 1 tbsp of dried basil, or a handful of fresh basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, or 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp of dried chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients in a jar or bottle, and shake before using.  I don't refrigerate this because it makes the oil weird, so I only make what I can use in a week.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Menu Plan Monday -- All Primal

We're having to be super tight.  It's the end of the month and the bottom of the budget.  Luckily for us last week meat was on a super sale, so this week all we had to purchase was veggies and dairy.  Two nights of Mexican flavored stuff to stretch what we have, and easy recipes for busy days.

Monday: Chicken Tacos
Tuesday: Thai Chicken Salad
Wednesday: Taco Night
Thursday: Beef bacon onion bites
Friday: Primal Chicken nuggets with sweet potato fries
Saturday: Chicken Stew
Sunday: Easter Sunday with parents :)

Linking up with Organizing Junkie

Saturday, March 23, 2013

One day...

This post is just a glimpse of my busiest day of the week.  As a real food family, days like these take planning and quick meals.  Here's how my day went.

It was a gloomy, foggy morning.

7:00 am

  • Woke up, and woke the hubs up.
  • Took the dog out, and started the coffee pot.
  • Made the kids some breakfast, and went to feed the baby chicks.
  • Sat down on the computer and shared some awesome posts from the Green Village Network, and made sure my review on Conscious Box went live.
  • Got the kids started on their morning school work.
8:00 am
  • Helped my son find his missing notebook.
  • Fed the adult chickens in the back yard.
  • Took a shower.
  • After my shower, I put away some clean clothes and sort a load of clothes and put them in the washer.  I don't start the washer though because we have to leave in 15 minutes to get to my daughter's dentist appointment.
  • I pour myself a second cup of coffee and make the boy get back to his math test.
  • I brush the butterfly's hair and get her ready to go, and we head out the door at 9:15 for her dental appointment.  We even left on time!

No cavities, but not fabulous news about her two front teeth who refuse to grow in.

10:45 am
  • We got back from the dentist, and I got the kids back on task with their school work while I started making lunch and dinner.
  • I make the kids their lunch, and pack away our dinner.  Cooking and cleanup takes me almost an hour.
  • While the kids are eating I start that load of laundry I had put in the wash a few hours ago.
  • I call my mom to give her an update on the dentist visit.  
  • I take the laundry out of the dryer and hang it up to dry.
  • I get fresh water for the baby chicks, and let the kids hold them for a little while.
  • Butterfly finishes her school work for the day, and begins working on some art projects.  Lego boy continues his history assignment on Ben Franklin.
  • Worked with the kids on finishing up their schoolwork for the day.
  • Checked the chicken coop for eggs
  • Wrote a blog post
  • Relaxed.  Yes, I did.  The only chance I knew I'd get it.  I took an hour to veg out and just Facebook.  
  • Ok, I multitasked.  I also helped my son finish up his astronomy, and practice his violin.
  • Out the door to choir practice for the butterfly.
  • Volunteered as check in person for the choir.
  • Used the quiet time to finish writing my portion of a children's novel with a friend.  Yes I'm done.  It's off to be edited before it gets published.
Here's the view from the check in for choir.  I really don't mind doing it, and it was nice to get the short story done!

  • Off to fight traffic to get to the orchestra rehearsal.
  • We arrive at the community college where the rehearsal takes place and decide to eat our dinner in the car.  My dinner is thai pork lettuce wraps.  The kids have chicken and rice tortillas.  Our side is fresh veggies and hummus dip, and to drink I brought a water jug and they have organic strawberry milks.
  • We walk into the college and find out where rehearsal is.  

Here's a view from where I sat.  I had a good impression of this group, so I'm hoping I continue to enjoy playing with them.

  • Rehearsal is over, and we head home.  I have two very tired, but happy babies.
  • Bedtime for everyone. :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Conscious Box Giveaway!

Here it is!  A few days ago, I received my own Conscious Box in the mail and wrote this review.  I was so happy with my box, I'm so glad Conscious Box wants me to give away a 3 month subscription to one of my lucky readers.

The giveaway goes live at midnight, March 21st. Use the rafflecopter form below to enter.  It may take a minute to show, so just be patient or click here to go to my other blog where it's loading faster.   Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Linking back to Hip Homeschool Moms

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Conscious Box - A review

I've been patiently eagerly waiting for my Conscious Box to come in the mail, ever since Jameson Morris, president of Conscious Box contacted me to review his product.

I won't lie.  I grilled him.  He'll probably agree with that.  How does it work, what's your company like, etc etc.  He shined.  Most monthly box services are so expensive that I never really was interested enough to try them, or you had to sign up for like 5 years worth of boxes to make it worth your while.  However with Conscious Box, you can try it once, or you can sign up for a few months or a year.  Up to you, and it's super flexible.  You'll receive a box stuffed of samples of green products for you to try.  There are plenty of options too, you can get their traditional box, a vegan box, or a gluten free box.  I opted to try the gluten free.

Here's what was in my gluten free box:

  • 4 oz. trial size of Jovial Brown Rice Pasta
  • 3 oz. Wheatgrass Boost from Agro Labs
  • 1 oz. Package of Teras Whey, organic whey protein powder
  • A sample size of Zarbee's All-Natural Cough Syrup
  • Two Degrees Apple Pecan snack bar
  • Two tea bags of Stash Very Berry Organic Tea (drinking one right now!)
  • One tea bag of Runa Mint Guayusa Tea
  • A sample of Kelapo Organic Coconut Oil
  • A sample of Babytime Cheeky Salve
  • A sample of Emily skin soother
  • Two bags of Nektar Honey Crystals (perfect to add in my Very Berry Tea)
  • A Yummy Earth Organic Lollypop
  • 2 samples of Smarty Pants gummy vitamins, one for adults one for kids.

What I love about Conscious Box:

  • Like any monthly box delivery, you get new stuff every month.  How fun it is to open your box each month and see what goodies await you.
  • Clear communication.  The ordering process is simple, and you get good communication as to when your box will ship, an email stating that it did ship along with tracking so you know exactly where your goodies are and when they'll be in your mailbox.
  • The box delivers!  It was absolutely stuff full of goodies to try.  These experts packed it in such a way that I couldn't fit everything back in the box after I pulled it out.  Definitely over $20 worth of items in there to sample.
  • There is no minimum to buy.  You can try it just once, or you can get a monthly subscription.  I'm kinda afraid of commitment, so I appreciate knowing I can try it out before I commit to a month or more.
Head on over to Conscious Box and check them out, and be sure to follow my Facebook page for discounts and sales.  Oh, and there will be a giveaway!  Thursday check back and enter to win a 3 month subscription to Conscious Box!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - All Primal

A new switch up begins this week.  I've decided to join an orchestra for this next concert.  Testing them out, and I'm sure they're testing me out.  It's going to make Tuesdays interesting.  My daughter's choir rehearsal is on one side of town, and I have roughly an hour and 30 minutes to eat dinner and get to the other side of town during rush hour.  So, instead of Tuesday being slow cooker Tuesday, it's now pack the dinner and eat it in the car on the way there.  Well, I'll be driving, the kids will be eating.  I'll eat there once I get there.  So now it's pack your dinner Tuesday.

Sadly, the orchestra is a pleasant drive from my house.  We're just not going from my house there. :(

Anyway, here's the plan for the week.

Monday: Chicken and mushrooms
Tuesday: Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps
Wednesday: Primal Spaghetti with spaghetti squash
Thursday: Taco Night
Friday: Indian Butter Chicken

Linking back to Organizing Junkie

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Homestead Happenings

I've finally gotten around to planting some seeds. I feel like I'm already late in the game with seeds.  I need to get outside and actually sow some spinach and other winter, early spring seeds.  Here's what little I've started so far.

Last year I bought one dill plant from the local nursery, and I harvested the seeds from the flowers once it dried out. This is the first time I've tried this with dill, and I'm pleased to see sprouts this week.  Yay for free herbs, right?

I always try to save plastic seed starter cups whenever I buy plants from the nurseries.  I had to buy quite a bit last year since I moved to Maryland mid-May.  I couldn't start any seeds last year.  These are spaghetti squashes.  Funny, usually I start tomatoes first.  I'm always stressed to get enough tomato plants so I can preserve them.  Right now we're on a spaghetti squash kick though.  I grew one plant last year. I got one squash from it.  Ate it around January.  My goal is to get 20 squashes.  Not plants, but harvest at least 20 squashes.  So far, these are 5 plants.  I'd like to plant the entire packet I bought to reach this goal.

I got some free plywood this week from the local small engine shop.  They put their pallets and extra plywood out back for people to pick up.  So far our new chicken coop has cost us around $30 in supplies.  Hopefully I can pick up some more wood this week and keep it as cheap as possible.

And now for some sad news.  This is our spare rooster.  We're going to have to butcher him at the end of the week.  He appears to have some kind of tumor and has always been a runt and somewhat sickly.  I've raised this fella from the time he was 2 days old.  It will be our first butcher for us, and I'm testing the waters with how I feel about this.  We've talked about raising meat birds, and if I seem to be ok with this process then we may end up getting meat birds later on. 

The good and bad, right?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Two Easy Grain Free St. Patty's Day Drinks

Being on a primal diet beer is out.  Sorry Guinness.  I have alternatives!  Before you read any further, I am fully aware that these drinks are not Irish in anyway shape or form.  They're green though, so there. In my house this is just an occasional treat for's so easy to go overboard.  Have fun this weekend, then tuck this away for your summertime barbecue.

First, you need a simple syrup recipe, and I lucked out and found a honey simple syrup right here. I use this instead of sugar.

Green Momma's Mojito: aka Melissa's Mojito

My friend Melissa introduced me to the mojito.  She grows her own peppermint and it's hilarious to stumble walk out to her garden after we've had a few to get more peppermint to make more! Anyway, her recipe is devine.  Here's how she does it.

  • Lots of fresh mint, smashed up in a mortar and pestle. A small handful should go into your glass.
  • Simple Syrup to taste (really, to taste because some like it sweet, some don't)
  • 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of soda water.
  • 2 shots of good rum, or less...or more!
  • Add a slice of lime, and enjoy.
The recipe really is that simple. The joys of it being that simple is that you can make more easily after you've already had one or two. Trust me. 

My Margarita:

My margarita isn't sugar free. It's because I'm lazy. My husband makes these margaritas, but like any good wife, I'm calling them mine.

  • 1 shot of Tequila 
  • 2 shots of Triple Sec 
  • 1/2 cup of ice
  • 1/2 cup limeade (We use Simply Limeade)
Put all that in a blender, and don't skip the salt. So good.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Homemade Hair Detangler

This is the face of a wild child. This is my daughter, and all her curly hair.  I don't have curly hair, so I've had to learn and relearn how to manage this head.  Brushing her hair would always end in tears.  She's an out doorsy, rough housing, climbing trees full of life wild child who won't hold still long.   Particularly if it hurts.

I've tried a couple things to tame these curls over the years.  Here are some of my favorite go to recipes to help ease the tears.

The first recipe is slightly tedious, but I like the way it leaves her hair feeling.  I also am glad to know it's natural.


  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup marshmallow root (get from a natural foods store)
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (I use with the mother)
  • 1 tablespoon of oil (oils like coconut, olive, or jojoba)
  • 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil
Boil the water and the marshmallow root for about 20.  Allow it to cool, then strain the liquid through a cheesecloth, and add in the rest of the ingredients.

This is what I ended up with.  Who knew my crazy girl had such beautiful hair in there.  Now I know what you're thinking.  I don't have time for that.

I hear you, I don't always have time for that either.  So when I don't, here's what I use instead.

In an 8 ounce spray bottle I put in the following:

  • A healthy squish of conditioner, like Avalon Organics Lavender Conditioner.
  • water

It pretty much ends up 1 part conditioner (or less), 10 parts water.  Shake it up, and spray generously.

Linking back to Holistic Squid

Monday, March 11, 2013

Menu Plan Monday -- All Primal

It's a tight week like every week.  We managed to get all we needed to create this menu for under $110.

Have a great week!

Monday: Sweet Potato Cottage Pie
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Shredded Tex-Mex Chicken
Wednesday: Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps
Thursday: Chicken and Sundried Tomato Sauce
Friday: Paleo Fish and Chips

Linking back to Organizing Junkie

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Easy Sugar free Homemade Applesauce

As promised, here is the easiest thing in the world to make. Just takes some time, and absolutely no skill whatsoever. My kind of recipe.   This is how I make applesauce.  There are many recipes out there, but this is how I do it.

 My neighbor very graciously gave me this box of apples last Friday. I came home from visiting a friend and there it was in all it's glory.  One of our local grocery stores (an organic/green store) gives away imperfect food for composting, however these apples were not compost material.  They were just dinged up and not perfect.  Which makes them perfect for apple sauce.

I like to peel my apples for applesauce.  I do it because most of the time when I make applesauce I get them from local orchards here, and for the most part they aren't organic.  This is optional, especially if you get your apples from a trusted resource and know they haven't been sprayed down with anything.

Next I cut them into manageable sizes.  I pour about an inch of water into the bottom of the pot, and fill it up.  I cook them about for about 10 minutes stirring occasionally until they are soft.

I dump the hot apples into my mixer and puree them until they are chunky.  If you're making this for a baby, you can puree it more.  I pour the chunky applesauce mix back in the pot.  Now's when you can add things to your liking, such as cinnamon, or honey to sweeten.  If you've chosen sweet apples you shouldn't have to add sweetener at all.  My summer batch was made of mostly golden delicious apples, and had no sugar.  This batch was a mix, and had some granny smith's in there.  I added a touch of honey to balance that out.

Once you've stirred it thoroughly you're done.  Store it in the best way you can, either by freezing or canning.

In the end all those apples made almost 4 quarts of applesauce.  One of the quarts went to my neighbor who brought me the apples to begin with.

As for canning.  I suggest you look up safety regulations for canning.  I used a water bath method with these, and processed them for 35 minutes.  If you live at altitude you should look into what adjustments you will need to make.  This should freeze well should you want to skip the canning part. :)



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Recycling Infographic

Thanks to Fast Haul for this informative graphic.  I think we as a country can and should do better.  What do you think?

Interesting Recycling Facts [Infographic]
© 2013 Fast Haul

Monday, March 4, 2013

Menu Plan - All Primal

Looking around the internet for primal/paleo recipes that fit our budget is tough.  I've seen posts about people saying their budget friendly recipes add up to $30 for the meal.  Sorry, that's still too high for our budget.  Now granted not all dinners are created equal, but we have to push it.  Monday's dinner, rounds up to $7 for a family of four, taco night ends up costing us around $15.  The most expensive dinner we'll probably have this week is the smokey roast, and that might end up being around $20 for everything.

I'm's still super tight around here.  Anyway, here's our week's worth of food, all for under $125.

Monday: Sweet Italian sausage and baby carrots
Tuesday: Slow cooker Smokey Roast
Wednesday: Taco Night
Thursday: Spaghetti with spaghetti squash
Friday: Bacon wrapped chicken bites

Linking back to Organizing Junkie

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Green Woman Magazine -- A Review

Just judging by it's title, Green Woman magazine feels like a magazine that I should be reading. I'm so glad I had an opportunity to write this review. It's an online magazine that sells for just under three dollars, and you can download it instantly. Don't waste paper or money on shipping. This is the best way to do it.

Check out their about page where you can find out who and what this magazine is about.

Greenwoman Magazine was founded on three passions: an enthusiasm for gardening, a deep love for garden writing, and a desire to do something that would turn people on to both.

I found this magazine to be so delightful and easy to read I kept going back to it again and again to read and reread different articles. It was lighthearted, creative, and so different than any magazine I'd ever read.  It wasn't filled with how to's, and who's life is better than yours.  It was creativity, poetry, short stories, artwork, comics, and beauty.  My favorite story for the winter/spring edition of course being the one about the chickens, or maybe it was the Diary of a Garden Goddess.  I don't know, it's hard to pick the best part. If you've read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, or the $64 Tomato, then this magazine is for you.  There is even a section with book reviews for new books on gardening, landscaping, and homesteading.  This magazine connects so many of my own interests in one whimsical package. I can't wait for their next issue!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Humble Beginnings

Finally, I've decided I can start planning my vegetable garden this year and get started. This year's garden will be different than years before. I rent now, so any additions I put in the ground this year have to be cheap, and temporary. I don't know if I'll be here next season, so it doesn't make sense for me to invest money in garden space. Up until about a few weeks ago, I wasn't sure if I'd be here this season. And while I think I will be, it's still not settled in it's entirety. I hate living this way.

Anyway, my preferred method of gardening is raised bed gardening. It's where I've had the best success, but this year I don't have raised beds, and it doesn't make sense for me to build them.
So here's where I started. It's been rainy here in Maryland for, oh..ever. This bed was difficult to maintain last year. We moved in May, and everything had already started growing, weeds, and whatever else was in this bed. Now was the perfect time to pull out everything while the ground is wet, and things haven't popped back to life.

This bed at one point I've been told was a Koi pond. I think the plastic base of the pond has been removed, and this area was just filled in with dirt. I'm not sure why anyone would do that, I guess from a landlord's point of view it makes sense. I guess. There are small trees growing in the bushes, and last year I tried to pull stuff out but ended up with a rash from the hemlock that was growing in there.  It was awesome.

I haven't fully decided how to best use this space.  The sunlight here isn't great because it's so close to the house.  It will get a few hours of direct sunlight in the summer, it gets almost none right now in the winter.

This is the pile of weeds I pulled out of the koi pond bed.  It's next to another bed that needs help, but it's not as bad as the koi pond was.  Hey look, there's a tree there.

So, for now, I will hoe out the rest of the stuff, transplant the flowering bulbs and probably put them in the front yard.  Fertilize the soil, and very possibly cover it with a weed block.  I'm starting some of my cold weather crop seeds this week.  Give them a few extra weeks to grow before putting them in the ground.  Things I'm going to start include, Kale, Cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage.  I also will be starting carrots, but those go directly in the ground.

Anyone else really feeling the need to get out and play in the dirt?


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