Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mint Sun Tea


I can't make it through summer without my homemade sun tea! And growing up with tons of mint in my Mom's garden as a child we always had mint in our tea and I think I always will!

Sun Tea

1 glass pitcher
Fill with water
Add fresh mint stalks
Add tea bag (1 lg or 2 small)
Sit outside in direct sun for at least 4hrs
Remove mint from pitcher
Add sugar to taste


Friday, August 21, 2009

Handmade instruments

I've been pondering how the human race is so dependent on music. From the beginning we are told to let the baby hear classical music or the rhythm of their parents voice. Babies are sung to and as infants most everyone had some sort of mobile w/music, musical toy or stuffed animal, and even when they are old enough for television, every children's show has song in it for them to dance to or try to sing along with.

From the get-go kids are born with a love for music and enjoy discovering music by banging on things and making their own. There's even the fact that throughout our life here every household has a radio, every car, every store, even some bushes outside a store play music... Our life truly revolves around music!

Here's a link I found for those of us with little ones to help with their discovery and love for music without having to take them to classes to channel something that is so inertly wound in their DNA; it'll come on it's own, just give them some neat stuff to work with and you'll be amazed at the results!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

For all you party planners

For all you party planners out there, I have to send you to this blog, it is AWSOME! I am always planning way in advance for any party I give and always up for new ideas. If you're like me, crafty but have no real time to make everything yourself and no budget to go hog wild at a party store, check this out!!!! I'm totally using some of her ideas! She even posts some free downloadable stuff, like a daily planner or my favorite, the party favor cone!

I'm so addicted!

Green Cleaning

"Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there." ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

How true is that quote! Unfortunately the same thing applies to the house too when trying to keep it clean! You never know what's lurking in fibers of the couch that has had dog pee, kid pee, milk, Cheerios, crumbs of all sort and who know what else on it when you're not looking! Pretty scary sometimes. Especially since seeing those creepy pictures of dust mites and bed bugs that can form all on their own over time w/ some of the best cleaning around, yuck!


There's been a big movement here lately for Green Living. From hybrids and solar panels to light bulbs and cleaning products. For the most part I would do any of the new ideas if money weren't an object. Little by little we've switched out our light bulbs to the energy saving ones and if I get a coupon I'll try a 'green' household cleaning spray; though they take more elbow grease than Lysol or the like, the air smells fresher and less intoxicating.

Last month I was mentioning to my mom about having to literally clean the kitchen floor 3 times a day, if not more sometimes, b/c of my lovely angels just learning to use utensils or someone having a fit and plates go a flying like Frisbees. I don't have time for a mop job so it's usually Clorox wipes or a paper towel w/ some sort of spray on it. The thing is, because I wanted to not only get up the mess but also sanitize the area in case something else came in contact with that area again I ended up using disinfectant on everything, from the floor to the highchair; not thinking anything about it.

Well, she recommended I borrow her steam mop H2O, it did the job of cleaning and sanitizing w/o chemicals, just water. That truly blew me away! Mankind is pure genius! I instantly had thoughts of me wiping the floor down, Carter dropping his snack, getting the cleaner on it and him putting the cleaner in his mouth...what was I thinking! Well, probably over thinking about it but I'm sure they'll ingest things they're not supposed to at some point, just not by my doing if I can help it.


Her mop was great, but she was right, it didn't dry that fast and the pad on the end was a pain to use so she was looking into getting the Shark mop, now ever so popular on infomercials. So by chance that evening I caught QVC and they were demoing a steam mop by Hann. I had no clue about this stuff so decided to research about it online and found that this Hann mop was the best around. So b/c of their one day special pricing with easy-payment, I splurged and got the best mop around!

Watch the video, it's so true, it'll get you hooked!

Cleans tile and linoleum floors

Also cleans hardwood w/o damage and w/ an attachment that comes with it, it will de-sanitize rugs, carpet, couches, bedding... it's awesome!

On that same 'green' cleaning kick, Mike is the grill master in the summer's as we are outside more often, but with him working so much this year I've taken over the grill most times because he's not home for dinner, let alone for the cooking part. About mid season when I went to use the grill I noticed how grimy it was, not even fit for a hot dog. At that point I realized I didn't know how he cleaned the grill and wasn't too sure what to do myself. So, using the same method inside the house, I brought the cleaning supplies outside to de-grease the grill and had the same thought... cleaner on the fresh chicken I slaved to prep, what was I thinking??

Wouldn't you know the next day I was doing a Tastefully Simple party for a dear friend of the family and she had QVC on (she's addicted, where I might scroll channels, see something I like and wish I had the means to get it and keep channel surfing) and they had 'The Grill Daddy' on demo. She said she got one for her son and he loved it. Again, cleaning w/ no chemicals, just water and the heat of the grill sanitizes it and the brush gets the gunk off, brilliant! So, it was Mike's early birthday present!


This other blog I came across also gives advice about 'green' cleaning reusing what we have on hand to help save money too!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer fun

Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity. ~John Ruskin

Summer with the boys has been tons of fun! I can't believe it's almost September in a few weeks! Really looking forward to apple picking, pumpkin patches and the cool weather autumn has to offer. But right now we're focused on staying cool in the heat, whether it's water-play outside or going to happenings at the library, we're staying busy!

We haven't traveled to the beach this year, gone to visit family in North Carolina or New Jersey like I hoped we would, but we've made our own fun here at home and it's full of ordinary memories I'll always cherish!


Playing with Gavin

Finding simple joys in nature with Carter


Experiencing Carter's 1st Carnival ride with him

Gavin's 1st carnival ride
Being a security blanket for Gavin's 1st Carnival ride

Having a blast with water balloons

Ridding in the Mule with neighbors Sue-Sue and Emma

Fun times at Annapolis Mall on rainy days

Getting messy with friends who come to visit

Playing on Daddy's lawnmower

Couldn't ask for a better summer with my wildflowers in the country!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Update to Picky Wildflowers: Playing with your food

Alright, last time the boys wouldn't eat their eggs, So I tried something that seemed to work-egg sandwiches. But not just any egg sandwich- Carter was the one to poke a pretzel stick into his sandwich and it stuck- thus, giving me the idea- a 'happy birthday sandwich.' They both love to sing that song so I'll try anything once! This kind of playing with food is acceptable around here as long as you eat!

Gavin pretending his sandwich is 'happy' (his word for cake)

Carter blowing out his 'candle'

I've also concluded that the more independent the eater, the more willing they are to try new things. I usually load their plate with a little of everything and hope they accidentally pick up something 'good for you' on their way to grab a piece of fruit or bread- it's happened before, but now their little fingers have a direct brain connection and it must tell them that whenever is waxy, green, orange, squishy, or hard- the fingers automatically release it. Darn that brain sometimes!

But now I've tried letting them take a spoonful of every bowl on the table and put it on their plate, they love to scoop and pour at this stage too, and they seem to have a little bit of satisfaction since they worked to put it on their plate themselves. But, again, like any best laid plan, we'll have to see how long this lasts and then maybe I'll have to move on to them helping to actually prepare the meal and then see if the satisfaction of cooking holds true too.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Picky Wildflowers

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed also the soul. ~The Koran


Getting kids to eat healthy is always a real challenge! When mine were in the baby food jar days and just tasting food for the first time they didn't know any better and ate anything they were given. But I know I went wrong when I, or family members, introduced them to sweets early on. Once they got a taste, that's all it took, no more plain veggies around here! And I can't really blame them, boiled, salted vegetables globbed down next to a flavorful entree' is truly unappetizing if you ask me. I know they're good for you and I myself have grown a taste for them, but I can't help remember hiding my veggies as a kid and gagging at some of them b/c of the potent stench, chewy, waxy exterior and awful flavor they left in my mouth. Now I feel I have to do better for my kids sake, I don't want to have to find dried up pieces of cauliflower and mixed veggies hiding around my house when I clean one day as my parents did. So here's hoping that getting creative in the kitchen will still get the boys, and Mike and I, the right amount of nutrients in a meal but not sacrifice on the taste.

Last year when Gavin was eating table food he entered the stage of the picky-eater. I had to make sure to put applesauce or purred fruit on his waffle instead of syrup, mix veggies in a casserole or soup so he wouldn't see them; trying to keep the sugar down and nutrients up. Then he really became the wiser and started to pick out the vegetables in the casserole and using his tongue he would swallow the broth and noodle but ultimately spit out the green bean or piece of corn in his spoonful of soup. I was at my whits end and started really worrying at his doctors appointments if the doctor would give me grief that he was only eating chicken nuggets, bread and applesauce all day, not like I wasn't trying. Of course I was recommended to use the Pediasure drinks for kids so he wouldn't be deficient in nutrients, as he was, and still is, too young to have actual vitamins.

To help me in this battle of the vegetables I armed myself with the cookbook, Deceptively Delicious, written by Jessica Seinfeld; Jerry Seinfeld's wife. I remember seeing her on Oprah a few years ago but I didn't see myself using her puree' techniques in my everyday cooking, well, that is until I started making my own baby food 2 years ago for Gavin. Her book relies on pureeing every and any veggie and 'sneaking' it into your everyday meals. From pureed butternut squash mixed into mac-n-cheese to purred cauliflower in an icing, you really cannot taste the difference and are adding nutrients into your meal you wouldn't be getting otherwise.

I remember when I first thought of the idea. I was pureeing some squash for Carter's meal that day at the same time I was trying to fix pancakes for Gavin and Mike one morning. I took about half a cup of squash and added it into the pancake mix and then added the house staple, applesauce. The pancakes turned out a little orange in color but looked like pancakes none the less. I served them for breakfast and then held my breath... both Mike and Gavin wolfed them down, no questions asked. I was relieved to find out that they tasted almost no different, still yummy but with a slightly firmer texture. I remember thinking if it's this easy I can't wait to try it in more things!

Now it's Carter's turn this year for strictly solid foods and so far he's been a champ, but I can tell that he's turning into that picky eater we all have inside us as a toddler, and just today he refused to eat his eggs, just like his big brother does from time to time.


After (of course the bread and strawberries are gone on both plates!)

I've mastered making desserts a 'good for you' food...

Yogurt and blueberrry smoothie pop

Sprucing up a vegetable's flavor or hiding it in another food all together...


Now it looks like I have to work on eggs as my next challenge; guess cheese and bacon bits aren't cutting it anymore...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Carter's first taste of summer


This was Carter's first summer to experience our local farmers veggies and he did great at trying new things! Tomaotes, red and green peppers, zuchinni and sweet corn. I had to catch some of his cuteness on camera, the way he tries to say corn just melts my heart!