Thursday, November 21, 2013

My Thanksgiving Tradition ....year 2!

So with Thanksgiving fast approaching next week everyone is getting their guest list finalized and their menu dialed in. I must say, I came up with a new family tradition last year and plan on sticking with it, well...forever!

My guest list consists of nobody and my menu consists of nothing! How can that be you ask? Let me explain. Since the birth of my son I never have a day off of HAVE TO's. Even on the most fun days it is full of have to's. When Thanksgiving was rolling around last year we were going over our invite options and looking at nap schedules, eating schedules, etc it just seemed like so much more work to even go to someone elses house for Thanksgiving. That is when the brilliant idea struck. How about we don't go anywhere, don't see anyone, don't do anything and don't really eat! Perfect!!!

Here is the breakdown. I do pretty much all of the cooking at my house, so come holiday meal time.... it's me! I do all of the shopping, I do all of the planning, you see where I am going. Not to mention I run two of my own businesses, all of the accounting and office stuff for the dudes business, most of the big boys everything, most of the house stuff and lets just face reality run the whole deal! You know how it is.

So last year I grabbed some great food, and just put it out in case anyone got hungry. It is amazing how you can live off super yummy finger foods all day long. The best part was I considered it to be my first day OFF all year. Needless to say, next Thursday will be the first day off since LAST Thanksgiving!  So you are understanding why I am loving the new tradition!

The plan for this year:
Appreciatively decline all invites -check
pick up great fruits, crackers, cheeses, dips
wake up whenever (if the boy gets up and wants to eat daddy will handle it or he can go to his approved snack box or the fruit basket)
Hang out, maybe bike ride, maybe the zoo, maybe Fiesta Island with the dog.....maybe none of them.
Maybe some online shopping later in the evening


What about the food you ask. It's just food! If we had gone somewhere I would have to make the meal later in the weekend anyway so we can have leftovers. Saturday or Sunday I will be skipping the turkey and fry up some chicken, do some twice baked sweet potatoes with walnuts, a huge fab salad with some fresh dressing, some hot sauce, pepper jack cheese bread and call it done.

I will spend the Thursday being THANKFUL for what I have, who I have and what I can do with them. Great family traditions that work...THAT'S what's for dinner.

Friday, November 8, 2013

How to prepare for Black Friday shopping!

Okay... I LOVE a deal!
Who doesn't????

Plus I appreciating getting the biggest bang for my buck.

That being said, sometimes I am not finished shopping come this time of year. I do have a handful of gifts yet to get so I am prepping with the black friday momentum. Who else does this?

Sure there is a certain level of crazy, have to get in line, the crowds, the check out lines, the traffic, the limited number of items, the middle of the night, the this really isn't worth it realizations that have come to be associated with black friday shopping.

Now here is the thing, come Thanksgiving I want to relax.  Last year I decided to make a bunch of food that we could graze on throughout the day. This year I am doing the same as I decided that is our new tradition. I am taking the day off from working other than making a baked brie! :-) So the idea of scouring through the paper in search of fantastic deals then coming up with a game plan and strategy has simply no appeal to me. 

I do however want some of the good stuff. So what to do.  Well in case you don't know there is actually a Black Friday website.  It releases ads early! A friend told me about this site maybe five or so years ago. I have been doing my planning for 2 weeks now.

What is even more awesome, you get to see who opens when, what deals you can get online AND you have time to think about it vs. having the shopping panic and then ending up with a bunch of stuff you may have not REALLY wanted to get. We have all been there, you find a deal, get it...wish you really hadn't... too much of a hassle to return it.....give the gifts, pushes you over budget and vow to not do it again next year. Yes my friend, I too have been there!

You will have time to figure out when you need to be where if you do indeed have to leave the house, but I much prefer the midnight deals online when I just walk into my office, order them, have them shipped to the store or pay the nominal holiday shipping vs. all of the yuckiness to get the stuff then standing in line for 1.5 hours. 

So do some research, make your list, shop online, buy unique gifts, have fun and remember this time of year is supposed to be amazing, not stressful!

Just like everything else in life...having a good plan is key! Happy Black Friday!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just Between Friends

I love a great deal! 

Anyone else????

Now when it comes to kids clothes I happily report that I have purchased 1 item for my 3 year old at full price. I figure he grows so quickly and he tends to be ALL BOY that some items get thrashed pretty quickly, why should I pay full price. 

That said I have also bought ahead because as a tiny little one he was a BIG boy. Rather than milk I made cream. From the time he was 1 to 2 he gained 2 lbs…… that tells you what a little chunker he was.  Back then I had no idea that once he grew some he would be a lean and muscular 2.5 to 3 year old…….

Normally I would hit the deep discount stores and was fortunate to stumble upon some store closures.  Twice I have seen $5.99 stores closing and was able to get lots of Baby Gap, Tony Hawk, and Quicksilver shirts  for $1.99 to $3.99. Not bad.  I did have fantastic luck with the Target clearance schedule. I have a pretty close Target that had a lot of clearance, then they remodeled. After that, basically no clearance.  I have not shopped Target in over a year.
A great time to shop online is Midnight Thanksgiving night. Another fantastic online shop I had was Old Navy about January 3rd. I came across TONS of clearance items. I got free shipping and got 24 items for $46.

My score other than a pair of Airwalk shoes and  super cool Crocodile Costume
Now I have never gone to a resale shop…..BUT I have gone to the kids resale event called Just Between Friends. I went six months ago ( they have them every 6 months) and found a handful of items for the like price. I decided I would sell some of Kash’s items at the sale this time around. As a consignor you get 60% of the sale price. You can donate the items or go pick up whatever does not sell. An even more exciting part of this event is that if you are a consignor you get to SHOP EARLY!!!!  The event is a 3 day sale. The first  two days are regular sale days and the third is a half price day. I did not go the first day, but I took advantage of the half price early pass and went after the regular sale had ended the second day.

I have to tell you…… I honestly do not think I will shop retail for my son again! The items go through an inspection process so everything is great. But you can still be choosy. In about 45 minutes of shopping and very through checking of all my items I walked away spending $81.27 for 39 items.  They are all Gymboree, Oshkosh, The Childrens Place, Baby Gap, Dickies, Ralph Lauren, Nautica, Billabong, Levi, Lillian Vernon, Airwalk.  AMAZING!!!!!!!!

Now it looks as if I sold around $65 worth of items.   I only had about 40 items that I offered up for sale and  came home with about 12.  I will just leave them as is for the next sale and add to the pile.

Up to this point I had always just recycled our baby items and given them to people who had a boy who was younger than ours.  I figure I can still do that with some of our things, but I can certainly offset my sale purchases with my sales revenue. So with what I will get from my commission I will essentially have purchased each item for about $1.50.  Once again AAAMMMMAAZZZIIINGG!!!!!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

A new fall homegrown tradition

I have lived in San Diego my entire life…..and NEVER gone apple picking!

You would see things on the internet or in the news and it always seemed like it was basically one weekend and EVERYONE would infiltrate Julian, pick the apples and that would be it.  Turns out it is actually a few weeks long AND there are more things available than just apples. So I picked a day and off we went. We went to a pretty popular farm that used to be an apple pie farm, the way the price of produce shook out they could not even pay the labor for what a case of apples was going for.  So they sold the farm. The new owner switched over to organic practices and opened as a u pick.

Don’t get me wrong, the apple picking was fine. We were not huge fans of the variety of apples available that day but we were able to pick a bag of empire apples in no time.  The farm wasn’t too busy and was set up like a  winery, so it was pretty easy. After the whole drive to get there we wanted to explore a little more so we were actually going to go to the winery down the road when we spotted a sign for an organic pear orchard. So we drove in.

Now this place was DIVINE! There was one other family there when we arrived, rather than having someone standing there at the gate ready to take your money for a picking bag…. I had to go down to the other family there and ask them where they got their picking bag.  The answer… just go up to the house and yell if the dogs don’t tell them you are here. So that is what I did.  This farm used to be a Whole Foods supplier until they tried beating them up on the price.  He hung up on them, opened up his coolers and never picked another pear. Instead that is when they opened up for u pick. They have turkeys, chicken, goats, horses and a beautiful orchard.  They make goat cheese and fabulous goat’s milk soap.

With our beautiful pears I made a huge batch of dried pears, 3 full dehydrator batches. Pear Ginger Applesauce (this is a fantastic thing!) We juiced some with apples and ginger and they were amazing;  I made a big batch of Pear Butter and a lovely Pear Vanilla Jam.

So if you still have time head on up to Julian and be sure to hit the O’dells Organic Orchard. If you can’t make it now be sure to put it on the calendar for next year.  It is AWESOME!!!!!

this was when it was all steamy in the crock pot!
Pear Butter
8 lbs pears
1c sugar
1c water
3t cinnamon
½ t cloves
1t all spice

Peel, quarter, core pears. Put into a large pot. Add all spices, sugar and water. Bring this mixture to a boil then let simmer 20-30 minutes. At this point the pears should be a little soft.  Transfer the mixture to a crock pot and put on low for 4 hours. After about an hour or two grab a potato masher or immersion blender and get them a little smoother. Then just enjoy the smell, it will become super amazing and if you are not sure, leave the house for half an hour then come back in to smell deliciousness!

As you approach the 4 hour mark get your canning supplies ready and be sure to follow safe canning practices. This recipe will make just over 4 pints. I canned mine in 8 half pint jars and probably could have stretched it into 9, but instead I just put the extra in a bowl and we ate it!

Enjoy…once you taste it you will realize you are a genius ( I did the same thing) ;-)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Home Grown Kombucha!

Ahhh, Kombucha!

If you have never tried Kombucha, well you should!  This stuff is awesome. If you are a farmers market shopper you may have tried a sample from an overzealous vendor or gotten some misleading information that caused you to think "okay...".  You see in the world of fermentation there are a lot of misleading/confusing things that happen due to the different levels of information people have.

Mushroom, Mother, Starter.... theses are all terms that people use for the SCOBY.  Well what is a SCOBY you ask.  Symbiotic Colony Of  Bacteria & Yeast. Now that makes more sense! This is the little magic jellyfish like blob that turns your tea into kombucha.

Here is how you do it:
-acquire a SCOBY (you can contact me to purchase one) or look around online. They usually run around $10
 loose leaf tea
Get some lovely tea and organic sugar

-large glass jar (gallon is best, but 1/2 gallon will work)

-clean towel or coffee filer and rubber band

Now it's time to get started.

*Boil some fresh water and brew your tea. I use just 3 cups of water in this process....the tea will brew no matter what, just use enough tea for a gallon.
*let the tea steep for the proper amount of time, be sure to google this as you don't want too many tannins

released and your tea to get bitter. (it is usually anywhere from 1-3 minutes)
*take 1 cup of organic sugar and dissolve it in  your super strong tea. (the only sugar that has NOT worked is date sugar)
*fill your jar 3/4 of the way with COLD water.
*once sugar is dissolved add the tea into the cold water.
*wait until this mixture is room temp or colder and add the  'starter tea' and SCOBY
*cover with a towel or coffee filter.

at day 5 start tasting the tea......if it is still super sweet it is not ready, every day it will become more tangy, so be sure to stop brewing when it is at a tang you like.
This is what the SCOBY looks like at day 3... still fermenting

Time to pull your SCOBY.  You can leave the new little baby attached or separate them and start a SCOBY hotel.  Google that to find out how.  You will take 1 cup of tea and put it with each SCOBY.  That becomes your 'starter tea' that you use with your next batch.

Now it is time to flavor it. My favorite is lemon ginger. But the possibilities are endless, so think about what you like and go from there.  I use 2 fresh lemons, squeeze the juice in. Slice up about 1 inch of ginger and cover with a lid.  Let ferment again for at least 24 hours.  If it is airtight it will also start to get fizzy. Strain out your fruit or herbs and then refrigerate OR add to pop top bottle and leave on the counter for another 24 hours to really get fizzy.

This is how it looks as it brews
Why drink Kombucha?  It is FULL of probiotics and detoxifying properties. Throughout history there are claims of it being a cure all, some of my client friends who have purchased SCOBYS have said when they start feeling ill they drink their kombucha and within a couple of hours... all better.

Regardless, kombucha is a great fermented food to add to your home, it tastes great and makes you feel good. Give it a try... super easy!  and way less expensive than the $4+ you pay in the store!

A couple of side notes:
- the SCOBY eats most of the sugar, so it does not have much sugar left int he actual drink

- the SCOBY eats a lot of the caffeine
- if you want to decaf it, use 1 cup of hot water on your tea, let it steep for 1 minute, pull the tea and toss the water then brew accordingly. Most of the caffeine is released in the first 30-60 seconds of brewing.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

How to teach your baby about death

So I have not posted anything for a few weeks. Guessing you can probably tell by the title why.

August 17th we lost one of our good friends, we have known our friend Craig since we were 15 and 19 respectively. And how cool is that to know the same person once we got together. Over the years Craig has been a great friend to our family and has provided our son with 2 of his favorite things.  One was a helicopter that Craig brought him for his frist birthday and the second, so much sand that we had to make a sandbox.

Anyhow skip to August 22nd, this is the day we found out as his family had discovered what had happened the evening before. Not only are you dealing with your emotions, you are dealing with your spouses emotions, you are full of questions as to why someone who is 47 is no longer here...then it hits you. What am I going to tell this little 2 year old in the back seat.

All of a sudden as we pulled up to the house I realized I needed to say something as my emotions were all starting to surface and I knew things were not going to be easy once we saw daddy. So this is how it started: "when we go into the house we want to give dad a big hug because he is going to be sad". 'why is he sad mom?' " I am going to tell you that while I get you out of the car" -hoping that the few seconds it took me to close the door and walk around to the other side would bring me an Epiphany- "You know our friend Craig" 'yes' "he died. Do you remember what that means?"  'tell me mom' "It means we won't get to see his body anymore and he is going to become a fossil" That is when daddy showed up as he wanted that hug.

As I stepped away from the car I heard: 'You sad dad? you sad about Craig because he is going to be a fossil?'

And just like that the understanding of death began.

Over the next couple of weeks he watched as we lived through our emotions. He would ask us questions and we would answer them. We talked about angels, we talked about bodies and spirits. We talked about pretty big life stuff that so many people as adults don't always deal with well and he processed everything in amazing fashion.

Craig doing a wheelie in his blue & black riding gear with his bike getting dirty from the sand with the sun & a sunset. Great 2 year old decisions for a pic.
He was the only child at the funeral. He gave Craig's sister the picture he drew for Craig and told her about what he had drawn and why. As far as I know this was the only thing put in the coffin with Craig and I'm sure it made him so happy that this is what Kash is thinking of when he thinks about him. He was a great little boy and even though it was an incredibly hot day he did a fantastic job. He told his dad what a good job he had done after he was done speaking and as things were wrapping up something amazing/unbelievable/ heart warming...I'm not quite sure what the word is to describe it, happened.

I had walked him to the end of the cemetery to go look at all the horses at the horse farm next door. As people and cars started pulling away he turned and looked back toward the grave site. Keep in mind we never went over specifics as to what happens when someone dies. As he was looking at the site he said to me 'mom I want to go watch them put Craig in the ground' And so we went. We did stop at a tree on the way and sat in the shade for a few minutes while the rest of the people left, we got up as one of the family cars drove off and we saw the grounds keepers start making their way down the hill.

When we got back over there the remaining family members said they were leaving as they did not want to witness what was going to happen next. Andy agreed until I told him what Kash had said. So we waited for the family to drive off, gave the men a nod, watched them put our friend in the ground and walked over to say goodbye.

Last Friday there was a party to celebrate the life of our friend. Kash called it 'Craig's party'. The next day he talked about how Craig's party was 'nice and fun and it made Craig happy but Craig wasn't there'. Tonight I walked in the house after cleaning up dinner outside and he was saying 'we're sad because Craig is a fossil now and we no see him anymore'.

There are other amazing things that have happened over that last few weeks but I won't go into all of it. One of the things we always try as parents is to do the right thing, help our children and guide them. Never did I imagine at 2 I would be explaining death.... but one more thing I have to be thankful to our friend Craig, you helped me teach our son about death, bodies, spirits, how they all work together and brought him an amazing understanding. 

We will miss you, miss all of the adventures that were to come, but know that you are always welcome for a visit!

Kash riding one of  Craig's  'motorcycles'

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Blueberry Jam (and it is sugar free)

Wholly blue berries batman!
I totally don't talk that way, but man this jam is good!

So here is the deal, it has no sugar added to it...but it does have a sweetener so don't freak out. It has one of my fav ingredients....CHIA SEEDS.  Yes, it is ch-ch chia. And in case you have not been anywhere and didn't know, berries are everywhere.

Let me just say this to you.  MAKE THIS JAM!!!!!  Don't think about it, don't wonder if you should...MAKE THE JAM!!!! you don't even have to can it.

Here is what you do:
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup honey (I did half honey, half agave)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla

This is how it looks RIGHT after it is all blended
So you blend it all up, let it sit there for 15 minutes then pour into a jar and pop in the fridge.  Eat it within a week or freeze up to a year. I divided mine into 3 small canning jars and filled each about 3/4 of the way full.  One into the fridge and 2 into the freezer.  Let me just tell you SOOOOO  GOOODDD!!!!

When your 2 year old is asking for jam a couple times a day and when he gets it even eats the crust from his know it is good!!!! Plus with no refined sugar you are totally good to go.
After 15 minutes of the chia seeds setting the jam

So like I said..... MAKE THIS JAM!!!!   You will probably send me flowers because this stuff will be loved by all ;-)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Obsessed with glass!

Are any of you out there obsessed with glass???? I am OBSESSED with glass!

I think glass should be what we use for everything all of the time. I have bought up tons of mason jars from craigslist. Had people pick up jars for me local to them and bring them the next time we see each other. Hit all of the local TJ MAXX stores to buy glass flip top bottles at a crazy low price. Bought a bottle capper  and home brew bottles so that I can bottle up my kombucha and kefir water in little bottles so that we can take them places with us a little more easily.

Not to mention the saving of pretty much every glass jar that comes into my home. Glass straws....not yet due to the fact we have a toddler. But I do have stainless and am in the process of eliminating all of his BPA free cups and going to switch over to small mason jars with lids that have an o ring in the top to hold my stainless straw.

So as you can tell, I have a LOT of glass.  But what all do I use it for???? No offense to all of the plastic lovers out there and all of the plastic co.'s out there...... but I REALLY don't like plastic.  Ever since my first 'party' I went to, paid a bunch of $ for a super great piece of whatever, heated something up in it and viola.... it had the food etched into the side and smelled of that food for what seemed like forever. Not to mention the new color it had! Back to it.... I use glass for everything! Fermenting foods and drinks, storing crackers, pretzels, pasta, popcorn, seeds, nuts, power balls, dried fruit, anything that has been opened, home made everything from yogurt to kefir, cut fruit, greens, herbs, roots, everything in my apothecary, oils, tinctures, frozen berries, frozen soup, frozen garden grown items, sauces, juice and that is all I can think of off the top of my head. Of course all of the things I put up from my garden to eat throughout the year are in glass as well.

Magic potions are kept in glass, my remineralizing fluoride free toothpaste is in glass, deodorant is in glass, home made fabric, home made laundry soap... glass.  You get the idea.

Glass is something that can be passed down through the generations, some of my favorite jars are the vintage ones. And things to the Kerr and Ball companies they keep their lid sizes the same! So you can always get new lids and rings. There is way less carbon footprint from glass. Remind me again what the decomposition time is for plastic....... Plus no toxic chemicals that leach out. You can have something gross and grosser in glass after a tad bit of soap and some hot water it is like new!!!! For sure that is not the case with plastic.

I hope you love glass too, and if you have never really thought about it try something that will give you a great experience with glass .  Like a frozen mason jar filled with your fav beer, or a  ice filled mason jar filled with a coke-coke always tastes better in glass-, or fill one up with your frozen blueberries and appreciate how easy it is to pour those puppies out. Give it a whirl and see what you think!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

How I feed my family of 5 on $100 a week

I imagine just like anyone reading this... I prefer to hang on to as much of my own money as possible! Sometimes the local grocery stores and markets are good at helping us, and sometimes they are not.

So here are a couple of the tricks I use.

First off I LOVE to order through my co-op Azure Standard. They delivery once a month, the products are high quality and you can pick from a HUGE selection. There is no sales tax and as long as you have a minimum order of $50 there is no shipping fee.  You just show up at your drop point at the designated time and everyone there helps unload the truck and you go home.  You can even have a check for the driver if you don't want to pay securely online. I mean really a check, how awesome is that?

Zaycon Foods is a cool way to get some great deals. Check them out here:  Lots of options, the things I am interested in from these guys are all fresh and never frozen.  That means you do have to get it ready for the freezer once it arrives, but you are all set for a good bit of time.

Next, I like to take advantage of Whole Foods one or three day sales.  They have all different things on these sales and you can get some great deals to stock up on. I did a mommy meet up tour of WF and learned about all the best ways to save there.  Bulk produce is a HUGE money saver. Their store brands are all GMO free and a ton of organic.

Another great savings is The Grocery Game. Here is a link and you can check it out AND try it for 4 weeks FREE! This still saves me money, but nothing like it used to.  Not the grocery games is my local stores and our eating choices. If you go a more traditional route you can probably do really well in the money saving are with this. If you decide to do a free trial, be sure to check ALL of the stores so you can see what is best in your area.

Check your city to see if there is a LDS Bishops Store House.  I bought in bulk, borrowed their canner and was able to get a boat load of dry goods ( oats, different types of beans, and wheat berries) for super inexpensive, plus got to can them in #10 cans to preserve them. AWESOME!!!!! Not to mention when I went in to check it all out and took pics of the bulk bags and googled them all when I came home, all of the growers are organic and most of them are part of the LDS church. I am not a member, so don't let that keep you from looking. You do not have to be a member to purchase their items or check out their canner, just have a valid ID.  Like I said AWESOME!

Next is garden! Growing your own food is amazing, plus you can trade out with others who do the same.

If you have any local international markets go in and check them out.  You will not believe some of the amazing deals. Sometimes their regular price is 60%-70% less than a traditional grocery store.

I am right about $100 a week on my grocery bill and that includes EVERYTHING to feed and clean everyone and everything in my house. That is 4 people and 1 dog.  Buying in bulk is awesome but it is even better to team up with your friends or neighbors so that everyone can get some and save. 

Check it all out, see what works for you.  Tell your friends!  Hey ..... we work hard for our money, let's try to keep more of it!

Friday, July 12, 2013

4th of July- A Home Grown Tradition

So our 4th of July family tradition is a lot like so many families across the country. Food, good friends, fun and some fireworks.

The difference is our fireworks are REALLY FIREWORKS! We do a 4th of July show for a local hotel every year and it is AWESOME!
here is the good farmer ready for a 4th of july bike ride.
How did this start you ask?  Well it all started with my dad who I lost on July 13th, 2001. Since I was a little girl my dad would take off and go do fireworks.  He was good childhood friends with boys who's dad started San Diego Fireworks and after helping them once in a while decided to get licensed as a pyrotechnician. So every year on the 4th we would all come together for a show.  Work, have lunch, work, have dinner, have an amazing show, work, go home and go to bed. We had great locations over the years, a national park that was super fun, the jetty at Marina Del Ray, the OB pier, and the last couple of years this hotel (formerly known as the four seasons).

When we lost my dad it was HORRIBLE! The closest person to me in life, loved by so many people, and needless to say with him being only 52 years old it left a huge void in a lot of lives. Andy decided he wanted to carry on the tradition. So he worked with some of the same guys my dad did and they all hopped on board right away to make sure Andy could get licensed and we wouldn't loose 'our' show. 

some of our hard working crew
Over the years some have retired or moved away, some new ones have come...but no matter what we spend our 4th with good friends and family. Lots of food, lots of fun, and the more people...the less work! It is awesome when people come for the first time, they always want to come back again and usually bring people with them. You know it is a good time when that happens. Plus you get a private show less that 50 yards away and no problems parking or traffic!!!

Every year we thank my dad for making sure we had a great show and we carry on the tradition of breaking down as fast as possible and getting on the road. There is nothing better than spending time with people who really want to be with you. And trust me, sometimes it is hot, sometimes there are just a couple handfuls of us so there is more work... so thank you to all of our friends who come support us and share our homegrown holiday!

Hope you have some great holiday traditions that will carry on through time!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Strawberry Picking!

So we went out and had the most fun strawberry picking!  We had never done this other than picked strawberries that we grow, and our biggest daily yield has been 3. ( we have a lot of strawberries growing, but they are never ready at the same time)

So we headed up to Carlsbad and grabbed a bucket. My good farmer said he wanted a big bucket, so a movie sized popcorn bucket it was. Then we hit the fields.

It is super fun for anyone, but at this toddler age it is perfect. They are down in the ditch between rows so the plants and berries are basically at head level. Some are squishy, some are perfect, some are super gooey and some you might just have to eat right then!

You know it is a HUGE hit when in the hour we spent picking my good farmer yelled out "this is so much fun mom!!!" ten different times.

So look around, look online and try to find a local strawberry field that you can go pick yourself, family fun for everyone!!!

What do you do with that many strawberries you ask? Well..... you eat a BUNCH!!! Some on their own, some dipped in coconut yogurt. What about the rest????

This is what we did.

Strawberry Freezer Jam
1 pound fresh strawberries, stems removed
2/3 cups of xylitol
2 tablespoons Ball Real Fruit Instant Pectin

Measure and blend the xylitol and pectin. Blend or mash the strawberries. Add the xylitol and pectin mixture to the strawberries and whisk for 3-4 minutes.

Pour the mixture in freezer safe containers leaving at least half an inch for expansion. Let it sit on the counter for 30 minutes then pop it in the freezer. Guess what.... you have freezer jam! About 4 cups. Pull one out and put in the fridge as needed.
straight out of the freezer!

Just poured freezer jam

Super simple, family fun and lasting results!

Friday, June 28, 2013

How to make a GREAT burger!

Let's face it.  We all like good burgers!

So many times we are disappointed with the outcome.  I have friends who went on a summer time quest last year for San Diego's best burger. I mean really.... people are into burgers. Once in a while it is nice to go out for a great burger. If you do 99.9% of the cooking for your family you TOTALLY understand what I am saying.  No prep, no cooking, no clean up, nothing but eating and having someone take your plate away.

But as the warm weather is upon for for a few more months we are spending more time outside and will certainly cook and eat more meals outdoors. So I have to admit......I  make an AWESOME hamburger. And today my friends, I will share how I do it. It is simple, everyone I have ever shared the recipe with is amazed at how good it is and how simple to create pure grill greatness.

So here it is. Get a nice big bowl and add ginger powder, garlic powder, tumeric, dry mustard powder and celery seed. Mix this all up (as much as your taste buds like, I use about 2 T of each per 2lbs of meat) add about 2 lbs of ground meat (grass fed beef and bison are my faves) then squirt on 2T of your favorite BBQ sauce and mix with your hands. THEN it is time for the cheese. Pull out some slices of pepper jack cheese and build 2 small patties. Put 2 small cheese slices on top of one of the burgers, top with the other. 

open flame burgers in cast iron cookers!
NOW THE IMPORTANT PART! Hold them in your hand and start crimping the edges together until there are no seams.  This will give you a stuffed burger that WILL NOT ooze out and will stay super moist.

Hit the grill and cook however you like. One more secret of mine. On my buns I use mustard, lettuce, cilantro, pickles, onion, DANDELION and SWEET POTATO PUREE.  Those last 2 will make it even more amazing.

Good luck grilling this beautiful summer, and give the above a try, guaranteed hit!

Friday, June 21, 2013

My best home remedies part 1

I have people ask all the time: "April, I am having a huge issue with ________!  What should I do????" I have facebook friends who post questions that need help and I always have people thanking me for my more 'natural' solution that helps or allows the body to heal itself vs. the pharmaceutical companies getting a little richer.

With the sunny slightly breezy days we have had I decided to talk about my favorite allergy  remedies. The first one is....... LOCAL HONEY AND CINNAMON. Seems a little simple, right? Well it is. They key is good ingredients, so I don't recommend the standard grocery store stuff. Find a good cinnamon, I use one from Indonesia. It is c/o and it is good!!!!! The I use any honey I get from the local farmers markets.

The key with this mixture is it puts the LOCAL allergens back into your system. And as you know if you have ever had an allergy issues it is the LOCAL allergens that are getting you. This is the whole principle of homeopathy. Not sure what that is? The basic explanation is a little of what makes you sick to make you better. FROM NATURE!!!! (so don't confuse what I am saying to what the pharma companies tell you about vaccines.)

The recipe 1T local honey to 1/2t cinnamon, mix and eat. If it is weird to you add it to hot water, hot tea (no sugar in the tea)  or cut up a lovely apple and dip. You see this makes it so easy to give your kids as well. Do this 3-5 times a day and withing a day or two you should be good to go. This also works when you are starting a cold! Same procedure and it will help clean you right up.

My next favorite thing to keep allergies away, you know the saying about an ounce of prevention..... BEE POLLEN. About a year ago I started taking bee pollen on a semi regular basis (once a week in a smoothie), needless to say this spring I have not had any allergy attacks.

Now you have to figure there is a reason I know about all of these allergy relieving things, right? Literally just take 1t of the pollen and add it to a smoothie, or sprinkle over yogurt filled with your favorite fruit. Here is interesting info from Dr. Leo Conway, M.D of Denver Colorado. He reported that 94 percent of his patients were completely free from allergy symptoms once treated with oral feeding of pollen. Everything from asthma to allergies to sinus problems were cleared, confirming that bee pollen is wonderfully effective against a wide range of respiratory diseases.

Keep in mind one of the things I AM allergic to is bee sting. So when I started taking the pollen I introduced it at a very small amount and increased each time I took it. I did not want to trigger an allergic reaction and all has been fine. If you are uncertain for yourself or anyone in your family I would recommend you trying it out the same way.

Friday, June 14, 2013

I love balls!

Who loves balls? Everyone in my house loves them......especially CHOCOLATE BALLS!

That is what we call them. Some people call them power balls, some people call them protein balls, some people call them energy balls. Regardless of what you call them, they are awesome!

Super easy to make, super good. Here is how to do it.

1C Almonds
1C pitted dates
2T cocoa powder
2T maca powder
melted coconut oil

Throw the almonds in a great blender or food processor. Once they are finely chopped add the dates until they are finely chopped and the mixture is sticky.  Next add the cocoa and maca and mix until blended.

Great oil and the best deal on this is at Costco.
Check to see how well the mixture holds together, if needed start adding coconut oil 1/2 t at a time. Once it can hold together... you're done. Form into balls and pop into the freezer. We eat them straight out of the freezer and they are SUPER GOOD!!!

What if you have extra coconut oil....don't fret, just rub it into the ends of your hair for a bonus deep conditioning treatment. ;-)

Chocolate Balls!

This recipe makes about 25 if no 2 year olds get their hands on them before freezing!

Saturday, June 8, 2013


The magic of compost gardening! Do you do it, should you do you know why?

For years I have composted. Last year however I got a new larger composter that is a tumbler. For those of you who don't's the kind you turn. It has always been amazing to me that your everyday food scraps breakdown and go right back into the soil feeding it lovely nutrients and making everything so happy.

In March we spread out the compost and topped all of the planting beds before we put seeds in the ground. WELL, we then decided to get some more reclaimed wood and build 3 more long planting beds for a small area between our garage and neighbors fence. So on mothers day after our lovely breakfast we started working. We finished off (3) 9 foot long beds and let them sit. If you remember IT WAS HOT that day, so we had a backyard picnic took showers and called it a day. The next day it was hot too. But the next evening we all started filling up buckets and loading the wagon to get our finished compost to those beds. With 2 beds almost full Andy was vigorously working over by the composter and I wasn't paying any attention to what he was doing as I was laying down straw and dumping the buckets of happy black dirt into our new beds.

Well my next wagon load was YUUUUUUCCCKKYYYY! And I mean YUCKY! He had emptied out all of the 'raw' compost from the bin and said 'let's just try it and see what happens". So I started dumping all of the squishy gooiness into the final bed. Then topped it off with finished compost. That was enough work for the evening.

The next day was warm again, so I just watered the beds and decided to seed the following evening. All the seeds went in well, I decided to run a soaker hose system over there to not have to hassle with hoses or watering cans etc. And figured would give it water and in a few weeks see what things were looking like.

The timeline is as follows: sunday- build beds; tuesday -fill with straw and compost; wednesday- water; thursday-seed; saturday- do hose system. Here is where it starts getting a little crazy. Tuesday when I went to check on our new little beds there was growth. In the first 2 beds each had one little sprout. BUT in the bed with the fresh compost.... it was amazing!!!! Keep in mind, the pictures you see here are planted seeds 5 days old. The last pic you see is 10 days old.

So the answer to the question, is YES! Do I do it, YES! Should you do it, YES! Will I always do it, YES! It is totally amazing!!!

Some of us compost because we don't want so much stuff going in the landfill. That is a great reason to start! You can take it one step farther by topping off some of your house plants, then if you decide to grow food, top of the food, then you will see the cycle gets bigger and goes faster and the next thing you know you are actually GROWING things in compost. Compost improves your soil structure, it becomes light and fluffy so air and water can move around. Compost increases the nutrient content of your soil, so you create a little Eco-system that give back to your soil what your plants are taking from it to grow, live and thrive. Compost allows your soil to hold more water meaning it can provide it to your plants in a longer more plentiful way. Compost allows your soil and plants to fight off disease more readily.  Think of it just like your body with a healthy alkaline bad cells can thrive in an alkaline human, your soil is the same.

So get out there and start composting! TOTALLY WORTH IT!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

It's starting!

So I have finally done it....

For over a year and a half people have been saying "you should do a blog".  Well here it is.

The blog will have info on everything in my life that is Home Grown! Everything from that sweet baby boy to the seed on my counter ready to go in the ground.  Can't wait for the ride this will be!

I know, it's short and sweet, but that is how we start! ~A