Saturday, November 19, 2016

Spicy NingXia Red Soup

This recipe comes from the kitchen of Lindsey Elmore.

This nourishing soup is spicy yet savory and delicious.  

1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium tomatoes, diced
100 g wolfberry
1 small red chili, diced
1 and half cup Vegetable stock
Olive oil
1 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Garam Marsala
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1 tbsp Cilantro + more for garnish
Salt & Pepper

Soak wolfberries overnight in water.  Strain reserving the water to make tea.  

In saucepan sautee onion and garlic in oil until soft.  

Add chili, wolfberry and cumin. Simmer for 10 minutes.  

Add tomatoes and vegetable stock.  Simmer some more. 

Season to taste with spices.  

Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and blend in blender. Garnish with more cilantro.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The Many Uses Of Essential Oil Toothpaste

I have been working on decluttering my home.  In doing so, I have been working on cutting down on the number of products I use and buy.  I am trying to find products with multiple uses.  Recently I discovered that toothpaste can be used for a number of things.

It all started with a tub of Thieves Aromabright Toothpaste.  Here are a few of the ingredients.

Calcium carbonate                                 Coconut oil                        Sodium bicarbonate
Peppermint oil                                    Spearmint leaf oil                          Clove oil
Ocotea oil                                         Cinnamon Bark oil                         Lemon oil
Eucalyptus Radiata oil                           Rosemary oil

This started me thinking about what else I could use these ingredients for.  I began by using this toothpaste in a few areas of my home.  To my surprise it worked wonderfully. Over time, I started  adding additional oils to the toothpaste and eventually began to make my own multi-purpose paste.

Here are a few things I use my paste for:

1. Brush my teeth of course.

2.  Deodorant! 

3.  Splinter Remover

4.  Bathtub scrub

5.  Bites & Poison Ivy

6.  Stain remover on clothing

7.  Immune booster 
    (I apply to the feet and neck.)

Keep an eye out for post on how to make your own multi-purpose past and a discussion on what oils should be on your list to consider for this paste.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Quality Time

How long does it take to make popcorn?  Ask any kid and they can tell you.  Three minutes is all it takes! First you remove the cellophane.  Then you place the bag in the microwave.  Cook for three minutes.  Now you can enjoy your popcorn.

Making popcorn wasn't quite like this when I was younger.  Making popcorn was a family event. It took time!  This was quality together time.  The invention of the microwave has made cooking easier in many respects.  However, it has also eliminated some great bonding experiences and quality family time.

Why are we always in such a rush?  Why not take a few extra minutes today to spend with your family?  Make some popcorn!


1 Cooking Pot with Lid
Cooking Oil
Popcorn Kernels
Brown Grocery Bag


Pour cooking enough oil into your pot to cover the bottom of the pot.
cover the bottom of the pot with popcorn kernels
Cook over medium heat
Popping subsides, pour into brown bag and shake.
This removes any oil that remains.
Add salt to the bag and shake some more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Market Basket by Clever Container

The Insulated Market Basket by Clever Container is amazing.  I was shocked by its size.  This basket is 18 inches wide and stands 12 inches tall.  I was really expecting something so much smaller.

The outside of the bag is made of a sturdy canvas.  This durable canvas is waterproof and is easy to wipe clean.  The inside of the bag is an insulated plastic. This too is easy to wipe clean and is waterproof.  A metal bar lines the outer top rim of this bag and provides stability. This metal rim keeps the mouth of the bag open for easy access.  The remainder of the bag does not have support bars so if not full, the bag does collapse onto itself.  There is a zipper closure on the top as well as a sturdy metal handle for carrying. The metal handle folds down for storage when not in use.

What really makes this bag useful is that it can handle hot or cold foods.  This bag can fit most standard size crockpots.  I was shocked that with a little manipulation it was able to hold my over-sized crockpot too.

When not transporting pot luck dinners, I keep this bag in my car.  Hot summer days require extra attention.  I pack drinks in it as I run around town.  I use it for my refrigerator items on my grocery trip and leftovers when we go out to eat.

This bag is so versatile.  I love it and highly recommend it. You can purchase this as well as other Clever Container items here Clever Container.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Farm Stay Vacation

My family loves to travel.  We enjoy seeing new places & learning about new cultures.  Though with a young child this can be challenging at times.  This year one of our vacations was a Farm Stay.  This turned out to be the best family vacation we have ever taken.

Our Farm Stay was to Amish Country in Lancaster, PA.  Though there are many wonderful farms you could stay at all over the country.  I'm sure you can find a similar farm stay experience close to you.

Never heard of a farm stay!  Well you are in for a treat.  A farm stay is exactly what it sounds like. You get to stay on the farm.  No, this is not just a stay in an old farmhouse on an abandoned farm. This is a real working farm with animals, machines and farmers.  Generally farm stays offer B&B type accommodations.  Sometimes it is in the farmhouse or other buildings on the grounds.

Each farm is different with what they offer.  So look around.   A farmers breakfast is usually served. Chores are generally not require though participation is always welcome.  Many places offer classes like making cheese or other cooking classes, sheep sheering  or gardening.  It truly is an experience for all.

We stayed at Verdant View Farm which is currently an active dairy farm.  They offer rooms in the main farmhouse or in a farmhand home that was build in the 50s.  We stayed in the main house.  Our room was small but comfortable.  We rose early to go help milk the cows and gather eggs.  Morning breakfast is served family style at the long farmers table in the living room.  We were served a multi-course meal that included fresh items from the farm and surrounding area.  While there we experienced yogurt, eggs, raw milk, fresh baked muffins, and beef sausage.  The freshness was amazing!

The rest of our day was spent playing on the farm.  They have a dog, numerous cats, goats, bunnies, chickens, pigs and cows.  We played in the barn and climbed on the farm equipment. We wandered through the gardens and played with the animals.  We even sat and watched the old steam engine that rumbles through the pasture.  Running in the wide open space was even exciting.

Verdant View is surrounded by Amish culture.  So we did go off the grounds a few times to eat, shop and sight see.  JJ was not happy about this.  He continually asked "Can we go back to Old McDonald's farm now?"  I'm still amazed at how much fun he had doing what seemed like nothing.
Lucky for us there were tons of children his age there.  They all ran around together and I was able to sit and watch.  So, even I got to vacation!

If you decide to head out to Lancaster for one of their farm stays, don't forget to take a look into a ride on the Strasburg Steam Engine.  It was well worth it.  Tickets can be booked online in advance. We went with the dinning car and ordered a Hobo lunch.  We also visited the Train Museum across the street. Inside they have old trains that you can touch and view.  A trip to see the trains is an experience I highly recommend.

If you are looking for a family friendly vacation that includes cheap entertainment for your children and relaxation for you, take a look at a Farm Stay.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Storage Tote Bag

My Never Ending Battle With The Toys!

JJ is such a boy.  He has more cars and trucks than a toy store.  I just can't keep up with all of them, they are all over the house.  No matter how I separate and organize them they are still everywhere. We have so many containers filled with them I just can't take it any more.

Last week I saw a new item.  There is was, a dream come true.  A large tote bag with handle, a must since we have to carry all our vehicles up and down the stairs and from room to room.  The best part, it had emergency vehicles all over it.  A favorite in our house. There was no question about it, I had to have this tote.

Our tote arrived today!  It is so much better than I had expected.  It is made of a nice sturdy canvas. This will make it easy to wipe down and clean.  There are 2 long straps that are securely fastened. Upon opening it, there are 2 metal rods.  One on either end of the bag.  These fold down into the tote and are attached to the bottom of the tote with velcro straps These rods are what give the tote the support it needs to stand open on its own.

This tote measures about 24x12x12.  It is huge!  It is so big that JJ can fit in it.  I especially love that it can hold some of his bigger sized trucks as these are what we really have a hard time storing.  Today we emptied 4 bins of trucks into this tote and there is still room for more.  I highly recommend getting one.

This tote is not just for children.  They have many patters to choose from.  You can order yours here:

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Let Your Imagination Run Wild In The Sandbox

Today is Father's Day!  So in honor of Grandpa, I made JJ a "real" sandbox today.  JJ has one of those plastic turtle sandboxes.  Each summer we get him a bag or two of sand to go into it.  Though the sand never seems to stay in the box.

This year, JJ is really into his construction vehicles.  So he pours the sand onto the patio to create a construction site.  This gives him room to move around freely.  However, it leaves a big mess all over the place.  Especially in the house as we have to walk through the construction site to get in and out of the backyard.

I grew up in a different generation.  We didn't have all these plastic toys.  Grandpa made us everything we needed.  I would say he built us a sandbox but that is an understatement.  I'm guessing it was about 24 feet by 24 feet.  Seriously it took a whole dump truck of sand to fill.  Growing up we lived in this sandbox.  There was plenty of room for everyone.  So I truly understand JJ's need for space while working in the sandbox.

No being that handy I did what I could with what I had.  Thankfully I found enough wood in the shed that was already cut to size.  All I had to do was nail it all together.  The boards were even painted. They may need a little touch up here and there but for now they will do.

I placed an umbrella holder in the middle then lined the sandbox with foam play mats. The box got four 50 pound bags of sand.  JJ was in heaven!  He climbed right in with his steam roller and started making roads.

The sandbox is a great learning activity for young children.  It incorporates fine motor skill like scooping and pouring with cognitive skills like problem solving.  It also fosters imagination which is a skill many of today's children lack.  I'm hoping JJ spends hours in his sandbox like I did at his age.

Happy Father's Day Grandpa!  Thank you for the wonderful experience that I can now pass on to JJ.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Gardening with Children

Every summer I plant an herb and vegetable garden in the backyard.  The past 2 years have been a little difficult with JJ running around.  My gardens have not turned out as I had intended but they have grown and produced.

Children learn by seeing and doing.  So why not give your child their own garden to tend to. Give them a small section of your garden or find a small place where they can start their own.

The first step in acknowledging the importance of the work they are doing in the garden by providing the appropriate tools. This is not the same as playing in the sandbox.  So go out and get them a "real" set of gardening tools of their own. There is nothing worse than using cheap plastics sandbox toys for gardening tools. 

The first phase of the garden will be fun.  Your child will enjoy clearing the ground and planting the seeds.  The second phase will start out with a bang but your child may fizzle out as the growing process is slow.  Pulling weeds and watering dirt can get boring after a few days.  Don’t give up on your child’s garden.  Tend to it for them during this lull.  Once the plants begin to grow and your child can physically observe the changes, they will be drawn back in.  The final stage where they can reap the rewards of their labor will have them rushing to the garden each day.  Show them how to determine what is ready to pick and what needs to wait a little longer.  But don’t stop there. Continue on to the kitchen and learn how to use your crops.

What are some good things to grow with children?

I find it good to either start with things they like.  Strawberries are easy and have a short cycle and will not grow all summer.  Or with a theme.  We enjoy the pizza theme, tomatoes, scallions, peppers, basil and oregano.  Once everything is ready, we make a pizza with all your ingredients.  Pumpkins are fun as well.  They grow big and are ready right around Halloween.  There are just so many options with gardening.  Most of all have fun and let them do.

Friday, June 17, 2016

No More Tears

Does Chopping Onions Get You Teary-Eyed?

Tearing while cutting onions is a natural occurrence.  When cut, onions eliminate a gas that mixes with the enzymes already in the onion.  These two together create a sulfuric gas that is released into the air.  It is this gas that irritates our eyes.

When your eyes come in contact with the sulfuric gas, the body responds trying to clean the eye.  Tears are produced in an effort to wash away the gas.

One way to assist your body through this process is to add Thieves essential oils to a small glass bowl of water, 2 or 3 drops is all you need.  Place the bowl beside you when shop onions No More Tears!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Picked Beets

Beets are not high on my list of favorite foods.  Though the health benefits are undeniable so I'm doing my best to add them to my family's menu.

Beets are in season all year long.  The part of the beet we will be looking at today is the deep purple root.  Beets have an distinctive earthy taste and numerous health benefits.  Some of their health benefits that I like are:

  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Detoxifying 
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber
  • Diuretic
  • Anti-fungal
  • Anti-bacterial
While away for the weekend in Lancaster, Pa we visit many Amish shops and sampled lots of fresh foods.  Once home, Mama Jo missed the pickled beets she was eating all weekend long.  So she decided to make some for herself.  It being the middle of the week, Mama Jo decided to go with the quick version of pickled beet and used canned beats.

Recipe: Pickled Beets

2 cans sliced beets
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2/4 cup sugar
1 sliced or diced onion (optional)

In a sauce pan, combine water, vinegar and sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved.  Place beets and onions if you choose into a mason jar.  Pour vinegar mixture over the top. Let cool and refrigerate overnight.  


Please note that the beet color is not processed by the body.  Thus it is eliminated by the body.  Don't be surprised if your eliminations are a little redder than usual.

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