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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

How to Afford Real Food


The cost of food has been going up lately, and is expected to go up even more with rising fuel costs.  Most of us agree that we all could eat better so how can we do that with limited time and budget?
For many people who go on a “diet” or make changes to lifestyles it also involves spending more money. So what are some ways we can stay within our budgets and not break the bank on buying higher quality food? 
  1. Don’t Cook Separate Food for each Person - Baring any spherically  needed special diets, everyone in the house eats the same. This means if little Joey needs to be gluten free you make most of the meals gluten free. Really it won’t hurt the rest of the family.
  2. Buy Local – even if you don’t have a farmer’s market near by, you can still buy local. There is always someone who has extra eggs to sell, or more vegetables than they can eat in their garden.
  3. Swap with a friend or neighbor Do you have a bumper crop of squash and your neighbor perhaps has more tomatoes than that small town in Spain that does the tomato fight? If so , then swap with each other, win-win in my book.
  4. Eat within the Season – not only does this help your pocketbook, the food always tastes better in season. Anyone want a January peach? I didn’t think so.
  5. Shop the Farmer’s Market – these are a great resource, we have been known to get free food at the end of a market day because farmers don’t want to load it up and take it home.
  6. Eat Less Meat  - when you eat less meat, you can eat a higher quality of meat and not spend anymore on your food.
  7. Eat more Beans, and Nuts  - It has only been in the last century that Americans have decided that each meal must have meat.
  8. Divert some of your other Budget Items to Food – Really, think how much you need that new pair of shoes, I know they are pretty but do you have more shoes than you wear already? That shoe money can buy a couple of nice grass fed roasts that will make at least two meals each. (I do love shoes, but come on even for a mostly vegan person like myself – I still do want some good steak)
  9. Don’t' buy junk food. There I said it. Junk Food is just that- food that does not nourish the body or soul. Junk Food in my house is defined as any food that is artificially colored or sweetened, or uses hydrogenated anything.
  10. Grow or make more of your own food. We recently started making our own Cliff Bars at home. This takes my dear husband about an hour a week, but we end up with the equivalent of 30 bars. We also put in a small kitchen garden each year.
  11. Eat out Less – how much do you spend on eating out? I cringe at the thought of eating out or having to drive through the drive-thru because I know how much Real Food I could purchase with that money. Hmm $40 on a a meal out for the family or my meat share at the co-op?  Let me think about that.
  12. Eat Leftovers – We regularly have nights where I don’t cook dinner but rather we will clear out the leftovers from the fridge and have a leftover buffet.
What are YOUR favorite ways to say money while eating Real Food?

This post is linked up with Green and Natural MamasYour Green ResourceSimple Lives ThursdaysLiving Well Blog Hop

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Is There Chocolate in Your Hair?


Regular readers probably already know that I use a no-poo method of washing my hair. Most of the time this is namely the Baking Soda ACV method.  But on those mornings I am running behind and think I can push the hair one more day I have a trick.
You may have already guessed what that trick is from the tittle. But you may be wondering how I use chocolate in my hair. I will take some cocoa powder and put it on a bristle brush and then brush it through my hair. Not only does the cocoa absorb the oils in my hair it gives my hair a nice red tint (well at least the white hairs). Someone will comment on my hair and wonder if I have colored it recently.
Why Use Cocoa Powder?
Cocoa is full of anti-oxidants, they are still there in the powder form, The anti oxidants are good for your hair too.  Cocoa is also high in magnesium, a nutrient missing or sorely lacking in most of our diets. Remember what you put on your body does end up in your body.
If you want to go further Crunchy Betty has a great hair mask treatment recipe using cocoa and yogurt. I just might have to give this a try.
Have you tried any interesting things in your hair lately? Let us know how they work here.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Update on New Diets

Earlier this year I wrote trying new diets, I adopted Dr. Fuhrman’s  Eat to Live Plan. In summary it is a mostly vegan eating plan with limited meat and no dairy products. I am allotted 12 oz. of meat a week. For the most part I spread this allotment out in 2 oz. portions a day. Some days I choose to be eat completely vegan. I also am following the gluten free version of this plan, as I suspect gluten plays a part in some of underlying auto-immune issues.
I will say this about the plan
  1. I was never hungry.
  2. I almost never eat 1lb of fresh vegetables or 1lb of cooked vegetables, mainly because THAT is a LOT of food.
  3. I have never before lost weight this easily. Without effort I lost 9 lbs. in 6 weeks. (meaning no vigorous work out routine)
  4. The redness in my face has diminished to the point that I no longer need to wear “green makeup” to reduce the appearance of redness in my face
  5. I now crave things like sweet potatoes, lentils and brown rice, seriously.
My 6 weeks was up last Thursday, just in time for me to enjoy the Mardi Gras party at church, but I still kept to the eating plan, however this Sunday and Monday I probably ate 12 oz. of meat in those two days, but hey I figured Lent was coming up and I would be abstaining and fasting so it was okay.
I will be continuing the Fuhrman Eat to Live Plan for the next 6 weeks. The book recommends giving the plan a couple of months to ameliorate issues such as eczema and psoriasis and other auto immune issues. This plan also fits in perfectly for Lent, the fact that it is a vegetable based diet.
Now I do eat meat, but since I eat such a small amount I make sure it is the of the best quality, meaning I do not get my meat from the supermarket.  I do not spend anymore on my groceries than I was before because I am buying less food but of a higher quality.  For example I buy just about the right amount of meat to last two people a week and it works for a family of five for two weeks.
Is this a lifestyle for everyone? Probably not, without knowing it, I have been working towards this lifestyle now for two years. Various health practitioners have been recommending this sort of life style for me for a while.  While some may be able to jump in full on, for me it was easier to make a change stick by going gradually, working on one habit at time.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Get Kids Outside to Play

IMG_2042 - Copy
This is another in the series about Kids and Play - You can read more here and here and here 
Kids desperately need play but they also need time to play outside. Studies have shown that kids who play outside have fewer behavioral problems. Organized sports are good but I am talking about REAL Play, where kids run around and create for themselves.
  1. Encourage outdoor adventures: Reserve time for outdoor play where children can run, climb, find secret hiding places and dream up dramas. Natural materials – sticks, mud, water, rocks – are the raw materials of play..
  2. Bring back the art of real work: Believe it or not, adult activity – cooking, raking, cleaning, washing the car – actually inspires children to play. Children like to help for short periods, then break off and play
  3. Let kids help in the garden and yard, even if they do use Tonka trucks to move the weeds.
  4. Go for a hike with your kids – we are blessed to have 5 acres to romp and explore on but frankly if I do go with them they always stay right around the house.  But if you don’t have woods or trails near by you just get them out in the neighborhood for a walk
  5. Buy some sidewalk chalk – I can’t tell you how much this $5 investment pays off every year. As soon as it is warm enough my kids are outside there drawing roads to drive on, Hop scotch courses and creating art work.  (if you are wondering I buy the biggest bucket of chalk I can get and dole out colors 3 at a time.)
  6. Let kids get dirty, kids need to know that it is okay to get dirty when they are playing. Raise your hand if you had school clothes, and play clothes growing up. I know I did, and my kids do too. When kids know they can play outside and not worry about getting dirty they are more free to play.
  7. Make your backyard child friendly, have a place that kids can play, remember kids like to dig, so you might want to have a sandbox for them to play in, or else they end up in your garden.
  8. Take advantage of local natural areas, go to the lake, the state park or even the botanical garden. One of my kids favorite places to go and play are the gardens or our local Art Museums. Yes my kids play at Art Museums.
  9. Take some of your inside activities outside, let kids paint outside or even just read. Remember they are OUTSIDE
  10. Encourage all sorts of play outside. All outside play is equal, whether it is social play, team sports, creative play, or just running around like an airplane play, or having a contest to see who can jump the jump up the furthest from a park bench.  (yes, they did  in skirts on Mother’s Day) 

this post is linked up to Green and Natural MamasSeasonal Celebrations @ Natural Mothers Network

What the Kids are Saying


Yes my kids have said these things, I am not making this stuff up.

Pi (almost 14) to younger brother (7) – “but my Dragon is organic”
Pi  - again “mom, are those strawberries organic? You know how much pesticides they use right? They are out of season right now, where did they come from?” (I guess your kids DO listen to you)
Peanut “Let’s taco the Taco Truck to China Town”  - seriously I wouldn’t believe it if my kids did not play two feet from me.

Pi – whackadasical, that’s a real word? No dear the word is lackadaisical
Pi – I wonder what would happened if you ate Mentos then drank diet coke? (of course neither of these are found in my house)

After looking back at these things it is hard to believe that Pi is the brightest kid in her class. Yup, makes you wonder sometimes, seriously though she is a straight A student and in the gifted and talented program, and I always thought it was Peanut who said the "blonde" things.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Preparing for and Observing Lent

Lent for me is a time of renewal. Strangely I look forward to it each year as a reason to simplify my life and renew myself.  For some that may include retreats and acts of service.
For us Lent as a family usually includes stations of the cross on Fridays and adoration. We also give up as a family TV time and enjoy  meatless Wednesdays and Fridays for the family for all of Lent.
In years past I have opted to go vegan for all of Lent as has my husband, who has followed a Raw Food Diet. Regular Readers may remember that I have chosen earlier this year to adopt a diet that is gluten free and vegan, by default my family is enjoying this diet (at least at home).  
While many have plenty of activities they like to do for Lent, I prefer to keep our Lent simple. We eat simple meals on Friday’s no elaborate vegetarian feasts,  spend more time together as a family.
Lent is a time of preparing through fasting, prayer and almsgiving. We fast by abstaining from meat and giving up sweets and other treats, we pray with the community going to stations of the cross, adoration and Solemn Vespers. We practice almsgiving by raising money for the poor or taking on a family service project.

If you are looking for more Ideas for Lent please check out these resources
101 Practical Fasting Ideas for Lent a great list of different ways you can fast and prepare for Lent.  This list is filled with the normal you would expect and then has some you may not have thought of.
Lenten Resources Kitchen Stewardship Style What can I say? Katie is one of my favorite bloggers, and then I discovered that she was Catholic. Be still my heart. She shares not only recipes, but ideas for observing Lent with a family.
Catholic Icing – another of one of my favorite blogs. She has all those great ideas you wish you had for all things Catholic, but especially for kids. This link will take you to a wonderful resource of all sorts of bloggers who are sharing their ideas for Lent.
Now it is YOUR turn. How do YOU like to observe Lent? Share with us here in the comments section below. Come on you know you want to.

this post is linked up with Lent Link UP

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Natural Beauty Routine

(a special thanks to my model – my daughter Pi)
I have always been interested in a natural beauty routine as long as I can remember. When I was a teen my beauty routine consisted of using Neutrogena soap with witch hazel as an astringent, later after I discovered the wonders of aloe Vera while on Spring Break in the Bahamas. I kept up with this very simple beauty routine for many years.
I was always looking for a way to simplify and reduce the toxins n my home and body.
In the last couple of years I have refined my beauty routine. I no longer use shampoo of any kind. I no longer use soap on my face. (I do use a homemade, by someone else soap on the smelly parts of my body). So what do I do?
  1. When my face needs it I wash it with honey. As someone with dry skin this has been a great find for me, but it also works for my teen daughter who tends to have that oily t-zone.
  2. At church the other day I mentioned that I do NOT use shampoo I got some interested looks and some questions. I have been using the No-Poo Method.  While it may take a little effort to wash my hair I don’t wash my hair as often. Now is I work out and get a little sweaty I simply rinse my hair and spray it with a little Apple Cider Vinegar. On days I think I can stretch my hair another day I will simply brush a little cocoa into it. Don’t laugh it smells great and gives a nice red tint to my premature grey streaks.
  3. When my hands need a little TLC I use some Coconut Oil. I just dip my hands in the jar get a little bit and massage it in. My gardener’s hands are very happy.
Do You have any Natural Beauty Secrets?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

5 More Ways to Get Kids to Play More

Click on these links for more on the importance of Play for Kids and Ways to Get Kids to Play More


  1. Get Kids Outside in Nature -  When you get kids outside to play it does wonders for them, heart rates slow, attention spans lengthen. On this particular day at the lake we did not bring any “beach toys”, no problem my kids decided to take a break from swimming and begin building with piles of rocks.
  2. Teach Your Kids to Play -  if your children are not used to having unstructured free playtime you may have to show them how to play, get them started then let them lead the play, before you know it they will be creating their own games.
  3. Make Sure Kids Have Clothes that Allow Them to Play – kids really do like  to keep things simple. They like simple clothes and and often have their favorites. Make sure these are clothes that they can move it and they can get dirty, because kids will get dirty. My girls were able to take advantage of a mild evening this fall, one night after church even though they were wearing a dress and skirt because they had either built in shorts or were wearing bike shorts underneath. The wearing of bike shorts or leggings under a dress or skirt is something I highly encourage for young ladies of all ages.
  4. Encourage the Use of Non Typical Toys – Kids love to play with things that are not toys, think boxes, and blankets and paper towel tubes. Give your kid some free reign to build things and you may be surprised at what they make. Don’t be afraid to let your kids play with non typical toys. This sweet boy above would play with the same “toys” each night as I was cooking dinner.  When he was a toddler he would help himself to a potato a wooden spoon and a metal bowl out of my cupboard and “cook” for himself.  
  5. Make Play a Priority – If you want kids to play more you need to make it a priority, schedule time for it each day. I know we are all busy with work, school, home school, laundry, cooking dinner and shopping. However if you want play to be an important part of your child’s day then you need to make it a priority and set some time aside for it each day. For some families and seasons in life that may work best in the morning for my family play time is for after school. My children are at an extended day school. that means they are in class from 8-4pm. When they get home  they need time to play and just recharge their batteries, homework can wait.

If you give kids the time to play and the tools to play they will soon be teaching you how to play. It is important to remember that play has a purpose even though it is “fun”.
How do you get your kids to play more? Share Your Ideas here.

This post is linked up with Simple Lives Thursdays

Friday, February 17, 2012

7 Quick Takes

When you are the wife of a Catholic Deacon, you never know what will happen. Suddenly, I get the feeling that even casual acquaintances think I am closer to God. I get prayer requests from people for all sorts of things, which I dutifully pass on to my husband “The Deacon”.
This week I was honored to have someone take one of my previous posts and start a meme with it. When I wrote 10 Things You Probably Did Not Know About Me it was my response to realizing that my blog has grown beyond the larger circles of friends and people I know.  I thought is would be nice to share a few tidbits about how I am.
My wonderful husband got me a new camera for Christmas. So you are probably asking yourself where are all the great pictures. Well about the time I got a new camera I lost the last two working ports on laptop. I really don’t want to get a new laptop. You see I don’t like to spend money. I haven’t even looked into getting it fixed because as a rule laptops are not made up of components.
This week marks to the beginning of a 6 month highway construction project within view of my house. The best part is that they are closing down half of the highway to divert traffic, oh joy. This will mean that I have to go at least 2 miles out of my way just to get the kids to school in the mornings, and more like 4 miles out of the way to get them home each day. Did I mention that this is awfully inconvenient? You see, our driveway empties right on to the highway and the bridge is being demolished as I write this.
Dh and I are headed out the Mardi Gras celebration at the Cathedral tonight. Which brings to mind Lent for me, Ash Wednesday is this coming up Wednesday. How are you going to prepare for Easter this year?
When I was growing up Lent meant not only fasting and abstaining from meat on Friday’s but giving up sweets. Not only that it meant taking on some additional act of worship, such as going to to The Stations of The Cross on Fridays. Lent also meant Clam Chowder and Clam Cake dinners made by the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. Each Friday during Lent, they, my brother’s troop or the Girls Scouts, my troop would hold a Clam Cake and Chowder dinner. These dinners were great successes, most likely because after a few weeks of Lent no-one knew what to cook anymore and the state I grew up in (Rhode Island) was more than 80% Catholic at the time, everyone needed a cheap meatless meal to feed the family and being on the ocean meant that clams were cheap all year.  (I even think one of the Dad’s would go clamming to get them)
In Rhode Island all residents of the state have the right to harvest anything that is between the low tide line and high tide line on any beach. That part of the ocean belongs to everyone, even if the beach is private. Many people will go clamming with just a clam rake and dig up the clams just under the sand. One summer my brother and his friend went clamming and sold the clams to local restaurants just to make some extra money.  (True Story)

How to Get Kids More Playtime

this is a follow up to the post Kids Need Play Time

How Can We Help our Kids Get More Play Time?
Play time is not just for toddlers and preschoolers, kids of all ages benefit from free unstructured play time, so how can we help our kids get more playtime?
  1. Limit the Toys Your Kids Have IMG_8380_thumbThere is something to be said for having a few choice toys.  When it comes to toys Less is More.  If a child has too many toys, they may not know where to start when you tell them to go play.  The benefits of having fewer toys are numerous, but in general fewer toys lead to more creativity, longer attention spans, and a greater resourcefulness. (as exhibited by the impromptu game of acorn golf shown here)
  2. Schedule less structured activities- While we all want our little ones to experience as much as they can art, dance, baseball, swimming, scouts, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Around here we like to limit the kids to one activity at a time per kid, even still that is a lot of time spent on the road going to and fro, Just this past fall we were able to whittle down our activities to just one night a week. Yes that does make for a crazy night were we often don’t get home to dinner till 8pm but that frees up the rest of week for us. The benefit of all this free time is that my kids  have more time to create and invent and just play. The result of the free time, my daughters have learned how to crochet, make bows and cook new dishes, while son is out building emergency shelters in the woods.
  3. Have open ended toys I have always been a fan of Real Toys, real toys are those great toys like blocks, baby dolls, bikes, dress up clothes, recyclables and art supplies, for a more complete list see Real Toys for Real Kids, yes this list is rather long but the best part about open ended toys is that you don’t need all of them at once.
  4. Limit Screen Time   This one is a given,IMG_8780_thumb doctors recommend limiting children to no more than 1-2 hours of screen time a day. Screen time includes, time watching television, playing video games and being on the computer. Yes I realize that some kids are playing educational games, watching educational television shows/videos, but play has it’s own benefits too.
  5. Schedule less structured activities- While we all want our little ones to experience as much as they can art, dance, baseball, swimming, scouts, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Around here we like to limit the kids to one activity at a time per kid, even still that is a lot of time spent on the road going to and fro, Just this past fall we were able to whittle down our activities to just one night a week. Yes that does make for a crazy night were we often don’t get home to dinner till 8pm but that frees up the rest of week for us. The benefit of all this free time is that my kids  have more time to create and invent and just play. The result of the free time, my daughters have learned how to crochet, make bows and cook new dishes, while son is out building emergency shelters in the woods
If you give kids the time to play and the tools to play they will soon be teaching you how to play. It is important to remember that play has a purpose even though it is “fun”.
How do you get your kids to play more? Share Your Ideas here.

This post is linked up to Living Life Intentionally

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Kids need Playtime

I am a firm believer in Playtime for kids. Now what does that mean, you ask? Well I define Play Time as unstructured play with other kids or by themselves. Unstructured Play is defined as play that is open ended without a purpose, in other words Playtime is not going to a dance class or an art lesson, or a soccer practice.
When I was a kid my mother would send me outside to “Go Play” My brothers and I were not the only kids in the neighborhood sent out side to play. Often there would be a whole cadre of kids. We would play together, neighborhood games of baseball, or capture the flag, tag that went across yards and through the woods, putting on plays- just for ourselves.
Why is Free Play Important?
According to Peter Gray evolutionary psychologist at Boston College, says that  unstructured play helps children learn how to get along with others and control their emotions, and it also lets them develop their imagination.
Gray says  “free play is a marvelous biological solution to the big problem that human beings have, which is that we are both selfish and social. We depend on cooperating with other people, and yet we are also looking out for number one. Children are constantly negotiating that balance in their play.”
But since the 1950s, , there’s been a steady decline in the time American children spend playing on their own. A study by the University of Maryland’s  which found that from 1981 to 1997, American kids ages six to eight spent 25 percent less time engaged in free play, this while their time in the classroom was up by 18 percent. Their homework time increased by 145 percent, while time spent shopping with parents was up by 168 percent. When Hofferth updated her research in 2003, free time continued to decline, while study time increased another 32 percent. Kids are busier than ever today with less time to play, often what FREE TIME they do have they spend in front of TV.
and yes that is my son in the dog crate playing, I don’t remember why he climbed in there but he was happy with that decision.
Tune in tomorrow to see how we can encourage our kids to have more playtime.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Coconut Oil in the Bathroom?


Okay I will admit it I am slow to start using coconut oil. While I have know of the some of the benefits of coconut oil for some time now. However because I am NOT a fan the taste of coconut I have been reluctant to try it. Much to my surprise I discovered that Unrefined Coconut Oil has little to no taste. If I had to describe the smell or taste I would have to say it smells more nutty than anything.
I have yet to use my coconut oil for cooking yet, but that is because I have found so many uses for it in the Bathroom. Yes, you read that right, the bathroom.
  • coconut oil can be used on skin irritations, such as eczema, psoriasis, burns, cuts and scrapes. Simply apply it 2-3 times a day as you would lotion, you can even take a couple of teaspoons orally to help it out.
  • I like to use it my hair, as a styling aid. Just a smaller than a pea amount between your hands and smooth away those flyaway, so important in the winter.
  • Athlete’s foot – do you work out at  gym? Have teenagers? Then you know the hazards of athlete’s foot. Put the coconut oil on your feet after before you put your socks on, bonus your feet will get nice and soft.
  • Make up remover, because it is an oil it will safely and gently remove your make up for you. Mix it with some honey for a double dose of goodness.
  • Use it as a deodorant. Crunchy Betty has a great recipe on her site.
  • You can use it as a tooth paste, here is a real easy recipe I hope to try soon.  Best part is you don’t have to worry about any nasty ingredients in your toothpaste, like tricololsan or sodium lauryl sulfate.

Do you use coconut oil in your bathroom? What is your favorite use for it?

Green and Natural Mamas,  Living Well Blog HopYour Green ResourceFresh Bites FridayFight Back Friday

Do You Pinterest?


Are you on Pinterest? I have been on there for a while now, I like to use it more like a virtual bulletin board, pinning all the great stuff I read out there. Sometimes I forget to share those things with my followers, You can find me here on Pinterest. Oh and if you are not on there and want to be shoot me an email at granolacatholic (at) gmail(dot)com and I will send you an invite.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

10 Things You Probably Did not Know About Me

  1. I have a degrees in French and Linguistics, really. I also have a B.S. in Business. I loved college and learning.
  2. When I was younger I wanted to be an archeologist or a anthropologist. My role models were the Leakey’s and Indiana Jones.
  3. I was turned on to the world of herbs and natural healing by reading the  Clan of the Cave Bear Book, I read the series sometime in college and quickly started using herbs first in cooking and then branched out into other natural cures.
  4. I met my husband while working a summer job, he walked into the local store I was working at then he turned up the next day at the Boy Scout Camp, he was my brother’s boss that summer, definitely some divine intervention in that one.
  5. I have worked in non profit management, retail management, education and sales. but by far the most rewarding job I have had is being a mother, really, I know it is a cliché but it is true.
  6. I am an introvert. Some who know me, may not believe this, even those of you who only know me via my blog or Facebook page, as I am a bit outspoken on topics I am passionate about but truth be told I am happy at home or in a small group, I crave alone time, and time to be quiet.For those of you are familiar with Meyers Briggs I am an INTJ, this explains why I love to research some the topics that I cover on this blog
  7. I have swum in a hurricane and walked across the cauldron of an active volcano but I will not skydive or bungee jump.
  8. I had other career aspirations in addition to anthropologist when I was younger, I wanted to be writer in the vein of Laura Ingalls, of Louisa May Alcott.
  9. I also wanted to be an architect, I would design house and fill them with furniture  at least on paper.
  10. I am reluctant to try new things, but once I have made the decision to commit to something I commit all the way. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

7 Quick Takes

When it rains it pours, our in other words when I am busy I am super busy. This last Tuesday I not only had a full day of teaching but we had scouts, and dance, but add to that Peanut’s debut as a Cheerleader and you have a 14 hour day away from home. Yesh!
that would be my Peanut in the middle with the big white bow.

Speaking of bows, my middle daughter has started making them. When she found out how much they cost and how easy it was to make them, she started making them not only for herself but to sell.
We continue to work on Pumpkin’s shelter, it has been a great bonding experience and a great way for us to spend time outside. He and his Dad have great plans to camp out overnight in it, sometime soon.
This past week I had one of those moments where I thought I had bought something, I was positive I had bought a big multi pack of Lara Bars. When I went to look for them, they had disappeared. I was a bit perturbed as they were supposedly put in the pantry and never made it to the kitchen. I ranted something about them costing $18. Not the right price, but my husband had sticker shock. He decided to take matter into his own hands and solve my problem in his own way. He developed his own recipe. Might I say this is a work in process but so far my family has eaten 2 plus batches of these bars. My favorite is made with cherry and chocolate chips.

no bake cliff bars small
Many Thanks to all of you who have been praying for my mother in law, Judy, she is doing much better, better than what all the Doctors said she would ever be. She will soon be moving on to the next step of her recovery. We know this is truly a miracle.
I have started back up with walking/jogging again. I am only doing a mile right now but I would like to do a 5k with kids later this year. The other day when I was jogging with my son he commented that he was walking just as fast as I was jogging. Thanks for the encouragement Pumpkin
And just because I could not find anything else to say I will leave you with this parting picture of my oldest and this potato she found, just in time for Valentine’s Day

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Family Ideas for Valentines Day


Valentines for the Whole Family
I used to be that Valentine’s Day was a day for couples, but some time in the last 10-20 years it has become as much a holiday for children and others important people in your life as it is for couples.
When I was a kid we had the normal Valentine’s Day party in school, moms brought in home made cookies and we made valentines and mailboxes for them to go into. Now you can hardly walk into a store from the Gas Station to the Biggest Store without seeing aisles of cheap trinkets for everyone in your life from your child’s teacher to your neighbor. Now there is nothing wrong with giving people who are important a token of our esteem, but since many of us did that barely two months ago, do we really have to do it again now in February?
Valentine’s is a big spending day. In the last two years the average person spent over $100 on Valentine’s Day merchandise, that is Stuff people, not a dinner out with your sweetheart.  By all estimates I would have to say my family has been guilty of that too. My husband and I would each by the kids a small token of our affection, usually I would send balloons or flowers or whatever the high school kids were doing for a fundraiser at school. The kids would end up with a stuffed animal. It was all so much stuff. Balloons and flowers fade or blow away.
This year instead of spending our $10-$15 per kid on a holiday that was not originally a kid holiday but rather a solemn day to commemorate a martyr we will be doing something with the kids. 
Some of the plans in the works are
  • see a movie with the kids with a lunch out
  • go to Incredible Pizza
  • Go to the Zoo
  • Make something at a Paint & Pottery Place
  • Do something for a family less fortunate than us, buy them some gifts and deliver them
  • Take socks and mittens to the Homeless Shelter
It is time we made Valentine’s Day less about buying trinkets and more about true LOVE. Valentine’s Day was started as a Christian Holiday to commemorate a martyr who against Roman Law married young Romans. He broke the law. Now we don’t need to break the law to celebrate Valentine’s Day but how about breaking with the new normal? 
How do you plan on celebrating Valentine’s Day with your family?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Basic Homemade “Cliff Bars”

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no bake cliff bars small
This recipe was developed by my dear husband after he learned just how much a box of protein bars goes for.  You see somehow last week an 18 count box of Lara Bars disappeared in my house.  When I complained that $18 worth of food was missing my husband realized just how much protein bars cost.
In a true man fashion he decided to come up with a solution.  Make our own, the best part it was all from ingredients we already had in the house. It pays to have a well stocked pantry.
This is a basic recipe, we are still tweaking it. But from this basic recipe we have made two different versions. Those of you who know me, know that I am a little of this, little of that sort of cook.  Please feel free to use this recipe as a jumping off point for your own combinations.
Basic Peanut Butter “Cliff Bar” Recipe
no bake cliff bars
  • 2 cups of a cereal grain like oatmeal or brown rice puffs
  • 2 cups of peanut butter or other nut butter, we like nutella but it has diary in it
  •  1 cup  dried fruit (optional)
  • optional – chocolate chips, cinnamon, other spices, nuts
  • 1/2 cup of honey
Combine the honey and peanut butter and heat on stove or in microwave until peanut butter is melted and honey is thoroughly combined.
In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients and mix well, my husband recommends using a butter knife. It will start to come together like dough when it is mixed well.
Pour mixture in a wax paper lined pan, tap down with a flat object, like a cast iron pan  and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or until firm.
Cut into bar size piece and wrap in wax paper, they may be sticky.

What I love about this recipe is the ability to change the flavors and use whatever is on hand. If you want to increase the protein level you could add your favorite protein powder to this mix, but as it is it delivers more protein than a pb sandwich.

this post is linked up to Green and Natural MamasSimple Lives ThursdayPenny Wise PlatterLiving Well Blog Hop,Fresh Bites FridayHomestead Barn HopHearth and Soul Blog HopTraditional TuesdaysHealthy 2Day WednesdayThe Green Phone Booth

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sh*t Granola Catholics Say

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This post is inspired by the very funny Sh*t Girls Say videos, since I don’t have the time to make my own video you will have to imagine my running around and staging all the scenes. Instead I am going to share my take on this very funny trend going on.
  • Try some tea tree oil on that
  • Where do you keep the honey? I need to wash my face.
  • Where do you keep the baking soda, I need to wash my hair.  
  • I get my honey from a neighbor
  • My kids don’t drink juice, they however LOVE Kombucha
  • It’s time for Mass
  • It’s time for Vespers
  • Have you been to confession lately ?
  • I love going to Fr. Incognito, he only assigns 3 Hail Mary’s for confession, Fr. Finnagin makes me do community service
  • Make sure you fill your water bottle before we leave the house.
  • I am eating gluten free now
  • I only eat meat I know the farmer/ranchers
  • The ugly fruit always tastes better
  • No you can not put the holy water in your water gun
  • We go through so much baking soda we buy it by the 5lb bag
  • Where do you keep the compost pile?
  • Where do you put your recyclables?
  • Did you hear she named her new baby John Paul?

What things do you catch yourself saying?

this post is linked up to Saints and Scripture Sundays
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Friday, February 3, 2012

7 Quick Takes

mother miriam
We are certainly blessed to know some great people in our family. Just this week our favorite Nun, Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God was named One of the Top Ten People to Watch by Inside Vatican Magazine. She is an amazing woman. I love her straight forwardness and she has been nothing but welcoming to me and my family.
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In other news we are going to miss “our” Monks. Recently my dear husband became a Benedictine Oblate at the Monastery of Our Lady  of the Cenacle, however our dear monks including Fr. Kirby will be moving the monastery to Ireland in the next couple of months. Our family has come to enjoy our visits with them. My youngest even made his first communion at the Monastery, without me being present I might add. (but that is a story for another time)
My 8th grade daughter is already making life plans, she is planning on becoming a Naturopathic Doctor, but in order to do so she is lining up not only her courses for high school, planning concurrent enrollment her junior and senior year but where she will go for under grad and graduate school. As of me writing this she is hoping to go to The North American College in Rome, YES! Rome, Italy! People.  I was planning on her going to grad school on the East or West Coast, we live in the middle of the country, but now she wants to go to Rome?
Remember when my daughter’s both auditioned for the same role in the school musical? Well Pi, got the solo. She is beyond thrilled, Peanut is only in 6th grade and it is her first semester in drama so she has plenty of time to grow into roles.
Food is important to me at our house, as I am sure it is at your house. Recently I changed how I eat, I have been vegan in the past and I have been gluten free for at least 6 months, well I have combined the two in the last month. I will be truthful, it is not as hard as it sounds when you eat Real Food, I eat plenty of food just not bread, cheese, diary or meat, nor do I eat pasta’s (most gluten free are not that good). I do eat up to 1 lb. of fresh veggies a day and 1lb. of cooked veggies. Friends that is a LOT of food.
Given that I am eating so much green food lately I have been working on the garden, I am getting ready to plant some early greens. Using a cold frame I can start growing my kale and spinach in February very easily. My only problem is that my favorite store to get seeds at was out of them this week when I went. I guess there are other gardeners who are taking advantage of this mild weather we are having. So tell me if you garden what are your favorite early crops? I have onions coming up already and I am planning on spinach and kale what else do you like to put in for spring?
My son, Pumpkin, and I have been working on a project this week. After clearing out some dead limbs from around our pond my son decided to build a fort, but this is not just any fort. It is big enough for the whole family and a shelter worthy of Bear Grylls. It is still a work in progress and he has plans to fill in the sides with hay and mud to make it water tight.


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