Monday, February 28, 2011

To Sew With Love: Giveaway by Flirty Gems

Check out this awesome giveaway on To Sew With Love for a fabulous pair of earrings from Flirty Gems!

To Sew With Love: Giveaway by Flirty Gems: "*This post supposedly went live yesterday mid-noon. I said 'supposedly' because I actually thought I have already hit the publish post butto..."

Menu Monday!

Gasp! Another Menu Monday actually on Monday. I know, it's amazing. Here's what we'll be cooking up this week:

Breakfast- eggs, toast, oranges, cheese
Lunch- Creamy pesto pasta with toasted walnuts, apples
Dinner- 6 Bean Soup, bread and (fruit to be determined)

Breakfast- Waffles, bananas and blueberries
Lunch- Squash soup, bread and apples(a little bacon sprinkles maybe)
Dinner- Grilled veggie quesadillas, oranges

Breakfast- eggs, toast, oranges, cheese
Lunch- Chicken corn chowder, bread, apples
Dinner- My dad's

Breakfast- waffles, bananas and blueberries
Lunch- Kale goulash, bread, oranges
Dinner- Beet sandwiches, apple

Breakfast- Pancakes, strawberries hopefully!
Lunch- Navy bean soup with added turkey, bread and apples
Dinner- Leftovers

This week's grocery list is a little longer than what I usually like but there are a couple new things I'm trying because we need to shake it up a bit. The bean soup ingredients will leave a large surplus so it will be stretched for many meals. Most of my grocery list is comprised of fresh produce. Might be the need for Spring coming out! This week the Bean Soup, Grilled Veggie Quesadillas, Chicken Corn Chowder and Beet Sandwiches are new for us. Also, the bread I'll be making is a recipe passed on to us by Amie of Kitty Cats and Airplanes- found on Alexandra's Kitchen and adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. Looking forward to sharing some good food with you!

Spring is coming, get out those seeds!

This weekend is one of my favorite weekends all year. Seed starting weekend! Which means, my mom and I get to play a little in dirt and dream up our gardens. Generally speaking, it's best to start some vegetables about 6+ weeks before you'd put them actually into the ground but this year we're testing how things do at about 10 weeks before transplanting. I'll make sure to let you know how it goes!

What is all involved in starting seeds early? Well you'll want some kind of container(s), potting mix or special seed starter mix, markers and your seeds. That's pretty much it. Of course, before you get to this point you'll want to have your garden roughly planned with what kind of vegetables and how many. Tip: I often plant an extra or two in the event one doesn't germinate or grow well.

In the past, my mom has ended up with seed trays scattered around her house that she moves in and out(when the weather warms up). Due to kids and cats, I take advantage of having her close so I don't have to mess with seed trays in my house! This year she purchased this awesome cart at Lowe's for about $50. It will fit 12 trays and has a cover that goes over the whole thing. It's fantastic and worth it if you're planning a large garden.

Here is the mess we start with: boxes and buckets of seeds, our garden plans(love my grid paper!) a bag of potting mix and the seed trays.

 I find it very helpful to have my garden planned on grid paper. That way I can draw it to scale and determine how much of each vegetable I can fit in and where best to locate them. 

Empty seed trays! We saved the containers from last year- some from our local nursery when I bought annual flowers to plant. These are great because they are a little larger than some you'll find at your local home improvement store. Larger well = more space for your seedlings to grow and be healthy. 

After filling the pots with the mix, we set about marking each plant with the variety and who's it is(M = Mom, S = Stacy). This is really important to do with a permanent marker! Pen will fade in the sun and then it is frustrating trying to figure out A. what the plant is and B. who needed it. Ask me how I know. *wink*

Your seed packets will tell you the depth each seed needs planted and how they should be spaced in the garden. That is where it becomes necessary to know your garden's dimensions so as to determine the amount of plants you can fit in the space.  

After the dirt, seeds and markers, all that is left is a drink of water! You'll want to soak the soil and then set the trays in your sunniest, warmest spot in the house. Kids especially enjoy watching them germinate and as they get bigger and the temperatures improve outside, you'll want to put them outside during the day and bring them in at night. We can get into that more later. It's a process called 'hardening off' and helps the seedlings survive transplant shock when they outgrow their little pots and need to be put in the ground. 

What seedlings did we start?

Green, orange and red bell peppers, jalapeños, eggplant, parsley, cilantro, basil, kale, cucumbers, summer squash, zucchini, baby bok choy, brussel sprouts, cantelopes and tomatoes. Some would argue a few of these can go right in the ground as seeds when the last frost date has passed- and that is true. But we're experimenting this year both in starting seeds earlier and in starting some varieties indoors. My hope is that this will lengthen our growing season and increase our yields. Gardening is one big experiment; don't be afraid to try new things!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Good Reads: Chocolate

I'm not sure where I first learned about The Dark Side of Chocolate. Chocolate is a food group in my house, even my 3 year old prefers it over other special treats. But after discovering the human struggle behind how some of it gets to me- especially the thought that someone's kidnapped child might have been involved- I no longer blithely grab whatever is available.

As with any crop production, there are also concerns about sustainable practices. Meet Your Sustainable Chocolate Farmers is a great article to read on efforts being made in Ghana.

Not sure where to find Fair Trade Chocolate? Check out this link here.

(Guittard is my favorite- both bittersweet for cookies and milk drops for plain eating- and available at my local grocery!)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sponsored Blogging- Would you like some Ethics with your fries?

Blogging is fun but work! Any blogger will tell you, we do it for a variety of reasons. Keeping in touch with family and friends, chronicling our family's life, connecting with other families in the blog-o-sphere, learning, sharing different products or how-to's.

Some of us receive product so that we can write about our experiences with it. Please don't think that this means we get product for 'free'. It takes time(skill and money) to write, take photos, network and amass a reader following. In all honesty I could devote a full work day to my blog if I so chose. But it wouldn't exactly pay the bills at this point! Unless the mortgage companies start accepting cloth diapers...

You may come across the word 'sponsor' while out an about on various blogs. What does it mean? I've had some wonderful sponsors in the past that agreed to donate their product so that I could in turn give it away to my readers. Blogs with larger followings sometimes even get paid to write posts or sent on sponsored trips(Can someone tell me where I sign up for one of those!?). As blogging is an extremely effective way of marketing and I can attest to it being a job, I see nothing wrong with being compensated.

To a certain extent.

With any blog post, I'd hope honesty would be present despite the addition of money(or product). And maybe a dash of ethics if it's not asking too much. 'That sounds so interesting, please explain!' It would be my pleasure! Take the following fake post for example:

The dangers of over the counter medicines to our children is something I take very seriously. More studies are coming out all the time of potential side effects we never dreamed about when giving Little Timmy something to ease his teething pain. Specifically, we know fevers are our bodies' way of working out the bugs- and it's better to leave them alone unless they get dangerously high.
But guess what? I'm now a sponsored blogger of (over the counter medicine)! Because I feel more secure knowing I have (over the counter medicine) in my closet in the event Little Timmy has a fever. It works quickly and effectively so that I can sleep through the night knowing he is ok.

Confused? What exactly am I in support of? You might be left wondering if I really meant what I said about not giving my kids over the counter medicines. Or maybe I just sold out to the sponsoring company. Either way, would you continue to trust me when I reviewed future products for you?

Really, I'd love to know. Do you trust sponsored posts and the writers behind them?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- New Toothbrush Fun!

Amazing the motivation one can find to brush your teeth when a spinning Cinderella is involved!
Little Brother just wants to be like Big Sis!

French Bread recipe

With all of the organic, toxic, gmo type material I've been reading lately, I found myself a little angry in the grocery store at 7am Monday morning. Upon picking up a healthy(er) sounding loaf of bread, I read the label to discover not only was it made with enriched flour but it also had high fructose corn syrup in it.

I was mad.

So I decided I'd get serious again about making my own breads. No longer will I consider it something I do when I feel like it, it will be something I do every week. If we want bread. Haha. I'll be testing out some recipes to share with in the event you'd like to join me on this journey to 'stick it to the man' (aka, cut out more processed food).

Roast Sticky Chicken- Rotisserie Style recipe

I have a couple recipes to share today that I made this week and enjoyed. First up is the amazing Roast Sticky Chicken. As almost always, I get many recipes from and tweak them a bit. Trust me- you want to try this. You won't feel the need to buy an expensive grocery store rotisserie chicken after you see how easy it is to do at home!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Good Reads- All about Gardening

Gardening is obviously in the forefront of my mind with Spring around the corner- so today's (belated) Good Reads Friday is all about gardening. We have one on GMOs. Have you been keeping up with what Monsanto has pushed through our government? Very troubling. I'm embarrassed to claim Vilsack as an Iowan.
Protect Your Home Garden from New GMO Threats

Also have one today that links to a fun blog on gardening in a small space. Even if you have copious amounts of space, these techniques can really help to make the best use of your space and maximize harvest.
Intensive Gardening Methods- A Learning Series for the Small Space Gardener

Lastly, there's a great little article from Organic Gardening on cold frames that I wanted to share. My mom used a cold frame at our house growing up. I'd love to build one, too, just as soon as I figure where it would go.
Cold Frames

Hope everyone had a lovely Saturday! As always, feel free to link to something you enjoyed reading this week, as well!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Turkey Garbanzo Bean and Kale Soup with Pasta recipe

This is a favorite around our house and is customizable to taste! We love rosemary and a lot of kale. Thanks to Liana for posting it on!

Outside at Last!

It was one. long. week. (Note my use of periods to back that statement up) By Wednesday, I had visions of breaking all of my plates. Oh yes. Thursday, it was quitting my job. Friday, running away for the weekend just to be by myself.

Yet, here I sit. Still holding on to a shred of sanity(and my plates). Was it the full moon that caused the little people in my life to act like possessed children of the corn? I don't know. All I know is, I got to go outside 2 days in a row! Which is probably why I still have some sanity, didn't run away or quit my job.

Giveaways ending tonight! Tomslitehouse and CSN!

We have two great giveaways closing tonight- they are low entry so enter if you haven't! Either one would be great for a gift. Start planning ahead for Easter, Mother's Day, May Day, end of school teacher gifts, etc.


CSN $35

Have a great weekend and I'll post the winners on Monday if they confirm by then!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Menu.. Tuesday?

I'm slacking. My apologies. For some reason I haven't quite gotten my energy back after that lovely sinus cold I had 2 weekends ago! Maybe it's because that sinus cold followed the flu... Anyone else just getting beat by all of these germs this winter? Although energy is finally coming; today I finally kicked some house cleaning booty that was overdue.

Moving on! Food for the week!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tomslitehouse Natural Hand Poured Soy Candles- review and giveaway!

This past week I've had the pleasure of working with Karen of Tomslitehouse. I was sent some clamshell tarts to review, but first let me tell you about their company. They really know their stuff!

Tomslitehouse is a home based business founded in 2007. Their motto is 'Go Green- Try Soy!' Karen and Tom turned to soy after realizing all of the black soot left by the traditional paraffin candles. Upon taking a candle-making class, Karen began crafting her own for friends and family. They were such a hit they began selling out at craft fairs, too. Tomslitehouse candles are 100% natural, hand poured soy candles. This isn't just a marketing ploy, they truly use no chemicals or additives of any kind! The fragrances used are all organic and body safe. So why soy instead of traditional paraffin? 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Milk-Free, Egg-Free Pancakes recipe

Last week I went to make pancakes and... had no milk. So I googled(we google a lot for cooking!) and found this great recipe for milk and egg free pancakes. Now, we had plenty of eggs thanks to our farm trip and I did use one. To spice them up I used our ebelskiver pan and added blueberries. Yum!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Menu Monday!

I'm not sure what happened to Menu Monday last week, but we're back again this week! This week is about stretch out of my comfort zone and trying some new things. Add in a freezer meal, crockpot meal and a couple family approved dishes, we have the fixin's for a great menu!

Getting to Know Me

I'm a nerd, or nosy, and love reading 'Get to Know Me' posts. Maybe you do, too! So here you go, 100 61 things about me you probably never wanted to know. Cheers!

Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash recipe

This past week I tried a new dish for us- a risotto. Although I'm sure it wasn't a 'true' risotto due to the manner in which I made it(with leftovers) the dish still turned out tasty and even earned a 'It's yummy!' from one of my daughter's 3yr old friends. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Frugal 101 at The King's Court IV: Create Your Own Frugal Spa

I've been remiss at posting reminders, but it is Friday Frugal 101 at The King's Court IV! Cristi of King's Court and myself share frugal tips each Friday. Of course being frugal, they're also generally eco-friendly(funny how that works). We also love to have guest writers, so if you have some tips you'd like to share please let me know in the comments or email either one of us!

Today's post is on Creating Your Own Frugal Spa. Doesn't that sound nice after all of this nasty weather we've been having?

On the Farm- Eggs! A story in pictures

Thursday, February 3, 2011 Swing Sets and more! $35 giveaway

I know after the recent blizzard conditions across the United States, the following statement may be hard to believe: The first day of Spring will be here in less than TWO months. Are you ready? I know I am! We're already planning our gardens and the kids' play area- which we hope will include an awesome wooden swing set like the ones you can find at

Whether your yard is big or small, there's a swing set that can fit your family's needs. Ours is fairly small, so we will probably go with something simple like this Gorilla Playset:

CSN Stores is a great one-stop shop for just about anything you could need or want. We've gotten cloth diapers, toys and even a bathtub toy organizer from them. I've been having fun lately looking at their cast iron and stainless steel cookware as I finally tossed our nonstick cookware out! They even carry Le Creuset, one of my favorite brands.

Mama wants this 3-quart sauce pan from Le Creuset!

CSN Stores is graciously providing one of our readers with a $35 gift certificate towards anything in their stores!

Mandatory Entry:
Go to CSN Stores and come back with a link to something you might buy with the $35 gift card!
(must follow me publicly on GFC, as well)

Extra Entries:
Follow Adventures in Green Living on networked blogs(one entry)
Sign up to get AIGL emails(one entry)
Like CSN Stores on facebook(one entry)
Follow CSN Stores on twitter(one entry)

One Entry= one comment each below this post. Please include your email so that I can easily contact the winner! You can put it in bigbird AT gmail DOT com form if you'd like. Giveaway ends 2/18/11 11:59 pm EST. I was not compensated for this post; the opinions provided are mine alone. 

Muttaqin Diapers review

We've been cloth diapering in our family now for about 3 1/2 years. Along the way I've literally tried a hundred different kinds of diapers on both my daughter(who's almost 4 and potty learned since 2 1/2) and son(13 months). One of my favorites I've tried in every size is a Muttaqin diaper- fondly referred to as 'mutts'  by diaper enthusiasts.

bumGenius Elemental Cloth Diaper Giveaway- Winner!

Wow, lucky number 13 came up yet again! Crazy! Congrats to Lindsey G. She has been emailed.

Just a little side note to everyone- when following via GFC it is helpful to make your profile public. Also, make sure to check your junk folders. I've had to redraw on the last two giveaways despite attempts at reaching people through their email addresses(and even facebook!) 

Good Reads: Recycling, Pampering, Shopping Guides

I have so many things to share! I'm trying to put them together by subject, but there might be a few others mixed in. Enjoy and learn! This is a great resource for recycling and information on everything 'green.' Confused about GMOs? I'll have to do some research on them myself. But I found this helpful.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Birthday Extravaganza!

So this is super belated- by almost a month now- but wanted to share some pictures from my son's birthday adventure in January. We went to a local indoor hotel/waterpark that has a pirate theme. It was a lot of fun, great break from the cold and the kids had a blast!

Podsshoes and Patterns review

A few weeks ago I noticed my sweet prince's tiny toes pushing against his soft shoes. Time for a new pair! Now that he is a walker(and so proud of himself) I think it important he have something more than socks on his feet while walking at the store, church, mall, etc., but also don't want to impede the natural forming of his foot and gait with an improper shoe. After much debate I decided to stick with a traditional soft shoe with no padding or cushion until the next pair. 

Wordless Wednesday- My daughter

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Moo Custom Business Cards review

A couple weeks ago a friend told me about this company she was getting business cards through- Moo. Curiosity- in part due to their name- got me to check them out. And then I had to upload a picture and test out their program. Which led me to, of course, buy some. And I don't regret it! Check out my sweet business cards:

Get Your Seed On!

Ah, seeds. Nothing helps get me over the winter blah's quite like a few of my favorite seed catalogs! Even better when pouring over them with my mom and grandpa while at my his farm in northern Iowa. Which is precisely what I did this past weekend as it snowed buckets of the fluffy stuff outside.

Stacy, really? It's not even into February! Why are you looking at seeds now?

The early bird catches the worm in several ways if you start planning now!
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