Thursday, April 21, 2016

3 Ways to Educate and Celebrate Earth Day With Your Kids




The other day I was planning out my daughter's homeschool lesson for this week.  I tend to look at any upcoming "important" days, such as National Chocolate Day or something like that so we can do a fun activity for that particular day.  When I realized that Earth Day was this week, I knew we had to do something fun, yet educational.

Now conveying the importance of Earth Day to a five year old without giving them the gloom and doom of "if you don't clean up our act, the Earth will not be a nice place to live" speech isn't easy.  So, I did what most moms (and possibly dads) do - turn to Pinterest to find activities and information (well, at least that is what I do most of the time).

It was amazing (and at times overwhelming) the amount of ideas and information you can find on Earth Day activities to do and information to learn about.  Not to mention, learning that Earth Day isn't just about planting trees or learning about recycling, but also focusing on simple things such as planting your own food and using fewer chemicals.

So I chose five general topics that were both fun and educational (even for me too) to focus on that involved crafts and/or learning about : Recycling, Gardening, Food, Home and Personal Products.


1.  Recycling

When looking for ideas about recycling, I wanted to look at something that wasn't mainly about how to recycle (only because she knows why we recycle), but what you could do to products that are recyclable.  Basically turning something used into something new and different.



I found a great post by Mom's Messy Miracles, 5 Ways Preschoolers Can Go Green, post, which was perfect for ideas on turning common household food containers into something new and fun. The upcycled jar to vase and recycled milk jug planter are just two of the projects that will be added to our Earth Day fun.


2.  Gardening

My daughter loves to help me garden, but I wanted to do something different than just planting seeds (which we have already done in preparation for this year's gardening season).  So why not talk about how vital good bugs are to the garden, which is a perfect into to teaching about the use of pesticides.  

But then the thought of bugs, especially ones that fly, well, let's just say that it would become a disaster REAL quick.  But for some reason, she thinks worms are cool (as long as she doesn't have to touch one).  

Now, growing up, we had a worm composting bin.  I must say it was pretty cool to just dig around for worms in the bin and not get in trouble for digging a hole in the yard looking for worms.  But I also wanted to teach about the importance of good soil condition and the benefits of worms in your garden, not to mention how and why we compost.



So I turned to my friend and fellow blogger at Do-It-Yourself Danielle and her excellent tutorial on Worm Composting.  I must admit that this project will be fun and even one that my 11 month old can enjoy too.


Growing Safe Foods




Now the idea of growing safe foods isn't necessarily something that is probably considered an Earth Day project or learning experience, but since we will be working outside on our worm composting, it would be the perfect time to touch on the aspect of keeping our foods in a more "natural" state and learn about GMO crops and how they are not healthy for us.


3.  Healthy Living



On Earth Day we focus on keeping Mother Earth clean.  But I wanted to take it one step further and discuss how using chemicals to shampoo with or even wash our clothes can be harmful to us.  I plan on using the information in my guest post that I wrote a guest post for Whole Life Service, Are you Living Healthy?, which discusses how you can eat organic, non-GMO foods, but if you are still using chemical laden shampoos, laundry detergents or even room deodorizers, then you are still exposing your body (and others around you) to dangerous, toxic chemicals.  


Cleaning the Home 


In keeping with the Earth Day theme, my daughter will learn about using homemade cleaners and even essential oils in keeping the home clean.  Since one of her chores is to help clean the house, we can use this opportunity to learn about why we use chemical free products and instead use ones with essential oils for not only disinfecting, but also making the home smell good.  

When talking about essential oils, I contact my friend Angel at Whole Life Services.  She knows a ton about essential oils and what they can be used for.  


These are just a few of the things that we are going to learn about and do as part of our Earth Day celebration.  How are you going to celebrate Earth Day?

For all You Moms (and Dads) - Here is an Awesome BONUS




Whole Life Services has so graciously offered a discount on her Try It and Love It - Green Home collection at a 22% off savings for Earth Day.  Just use the promo - EARTHDAY.   I use a lot of her products and trust me, you won't be disappointed.  



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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Zucchini and Sweet Potato Hash {Paleo, AIP}






Coming up with new recipes while on an already limited allowed foods you can eat isn't easy.  Not to mention when you have a toddler and 5 year old constantly needing your attention, having too cook three meals a day is not ideal, which means that at times, you skip or miss a meal and which can lead to cheating and eating foods you are not supposed to eat.

One way to conquer the temptations is to always have something readily at hand, either by making all your meals one day of the week, or doubling (or even tripling) meals when you prepare them.  I typically will prepare a few meals one day a week, but will also triple meals so that there are plenty leftovers for at least a day or two.

Zucchini and Sweet Potato Hash is just one of those meals.  It is so easy to prepare, requires a little preparation and takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish.


Ingredients


2-3 sweet potatoes
2-3 zucchini
1 pound ground turkey 
Sea salt

Directions

  1. Brown ground turkey in a slightly oiled pan on medium.
  2. While turkey is cooking, peel and cut sweet potatoes and zucchini into cubes.
  3. Once turkey meat is cooked, add sweet potatoes and zucchini and add in a pinch of sea salt.
  4. Mix in the sweet potatoes and zucchini and cover pan.
  5. Occassionaly stir mixture every few minutes.  
  6. Cook for 20 minutes or until sweet potatoes are soft.
  7. Remove from heat and allow to cook before serving.
This mixture will feed 3-4 people.  You will want to double the recipe to use as leftovers.  

There are many variations in terms of ingredients that you can add to this basic recipe, such as cooked bacon, yellow squash and even spinach (added to the mix once it is removed from heat).  You can also substitute ground turkey for any type of ground meat, such as beef or chicken.  I've even used leftover cooked chicken breasts, shredded and used in place of ground meat.

I'd love to hear what your thoughts are as to what your favorite vegetables you are considering adding to this recipe?  


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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Plantain Taco Shells {Paleo, AIP}




Tacos are a staple food item in our household.  But when you start eating Paleo (or more specifically AIP like I am currently doing), any grains, including corn, are out of the picture.  And yes, you can have "tacos" with a lettuce wrap instead of a shell, but seriously, sometimes you just need that crunch - you know the crunch of the shell and all the meat and lettuce falls out onto you lap kind of crunch.

So after looking at Pinterest for different types of foods to make while on the AIP way of eating, I stumbled across using plantains as tacos.  Now I had never heard of plantains and were not easy to find in the grocery store.  However, the Super Target (of all places) sells them, but you can also find them at most ethnic grocery stores too. They tend to last a few weeks in the refrigerator so by them in large quantities.


When using plantains, you want to buy them when they are green - the greener the better.  As plantains ripen to a yellow then black, the sugar content also increases.  So when you substitute plantains for things like corn shells, you do not want a sugar taste at all.  Green plantains are also hard to open unlike a banana.  You will need a sharp knife to slice it open.

Now I must mention that this is the first time I have made plantain taco shells, so this was more like an experiment than anything.  Honestly, they were not hard to make, just a little dangerous (as you will see why below).  In fact, they were quite tasty and very filling.

Ingredients


3 green plantains
1/2 cup of oil (olive, avocado, or coconut)
1 tsp sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Peel and cut plantains into chunks. 
  3. Put cut plantains, oil and salt into blender or food processor.
  4. Blend ingredients until you get a smooth, creamy mixture. 
  5. Take 1/2 cup of mixture and place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
  6. Smooth the mixture out until it is about the size of your hand.
  7. Continue to do the same with the remaining mixture.  
  8. Place in oven and bake for 25-35 minutes until the "shells" are cooked, but not burnt and remove from oven.

             

Now the tricky part.

You will need to be very, very, very careful on this step

    

  • Take one of the "shells" and form the shell by folding it over gently.  Place the "shell" upside down on your oven rack (see picture below).  DO NOT TOUCH THE RACK!  IT IS HOT!!!

Please disregard how dirty my oven is.

TIP:  Place baking sheets under the "shells" so that if there is any oil that drips off, it does not drip onto your oven and cause a potential fire.

TIP:  Do not worry if your "shells" do not form to be like tacos at this point.


  • Bake for another 20 to 25 minutes, being careful not to burn the "shells".


Remove from the oven very carefully and set aside to cool.  The "shells" will cool and harden.

Stuff with your favorite taco stuffing.

Now Its Your Turn

I would love to hear what you think about using plantains to make taco shells.  I personally liked the taste and texture of them - my husband even liked them (which is a shock). 

I plan on trying to make them next time using a taco rack to save myself from burning myself on the oven and getting a more uniform shape and even trying to make them as "nachos" and even taco salad shells.




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Friday, March 25, 2016

101 Easy Homemade Products for the Skin, Health & Home {Review & Giveaway}



Let's face it, going natural in every part of your life isn't easy.  In fact, it is hard.  We have become accustom to just going to the store and buying whatever we need and not think twice about where it came from or how it was made.  Moreover, we don't even give it a second thought about what all those chemicals and wonderful scents like Ocean Breeze or Pumpkin Pie have in them that give them that nostalgic smell and the lovely, colorful packaging.

But I want you to stop for a minute and think: What is in the Ocean Breeze candle that gives it that "ocean" smell?  What is in that spray bottle that actually kills bacteria off your kitchen counter?  What is in the bottle of lotion that you put slather on your hands and body daily? Or how about the detergent cleaning your clothes?  Read the back of the package of any of these items and tell me if you can read any of those ingredients without having a degree in chemistry or some other scientific education.   Go ahead, I will wait for you to come back....

All those chemicals that you wash your clothes with, put on  your skin and clean your house with are harmful to the human body and, in fact, most are known to cause diseases such as cancer.  Now I don't know about you, but I am watchful what I put into my body, so I'm not going to go and put harmful chemicals on my body either.

So now you are probably asking the questions - What do I wash my clothes with?  What do I use for soap?  What can I use to clean the house?  Well, you can either buy expensive natural cleaners, soaps and detergents or make them yourself.

Where to Look for "Recipes"


When I set out to find "recipes" for making these products myself, of course I turned Pinterest and find hundreds of homemade "recipes" for everything from soap to lip balm to cleaning products for every room in the house.  But honestly, it was overwhelming and I soon had printed out a lot of recipes that, well, quite frankly, ended up being forgot about or thrown into the recycle bin.



Well, you could imagine when I was asked to review 101 Easy Homemade Products For Your Skin, Health & Home, by Jan Berry.  I mean, this book has every, and I mean EVERY recipe you could imagine for everything you could possibly want to make and then some.

Orange Pine Floor Cleaner


I have tried a few recipes so far and I must say, the Orange Pine Floor Cleaner smells so good.  And I actually had the ingredients at home to make this - yep, nothing fancy needed at all, just three ingredients is all it took to make this.  Yes, it is just that simple.

Here is a list of just a few of the other recipes that are available in the book:

:
Oh, and did I mention that there are even recipes for our furbabies too?!?


I can honestly say that this book will now be my "go to" resource for all homemade cleaners, beauty needs and everything in between.




How to Get Your Own Copy of This Book



You can pre-order (the book will be released March 29, 2016) through through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound and Amazon UK.

Or you can enter to win one of 7 copies of 101 Easy Homemade Products below.



Giveaway Rules:

This giveaway is in no way endorsed, affiliated, or associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Media Networking Site. This Giveaway is valid World Wide and Entrants must be 18+ years of age to enter. This giveaway event will end at 12:00 am (EST) 4/3/16. The winners will have 48 hours to email their information back to thaleia.maher at gmail dot com or a new winner will be drawn, you may want to put this email address as safe as it could go to spam. The publishing company and author are each responsible for shipping of the above prizes. No blog associated with this contest are responsible for prize fulfillment. If you would like to be a sponsor in a giveaway or hold a virtual launch  like this please email Thaleia Maher at thaleia.maher at gmail dot com .


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Disclaimer:  I received this product for free from Page Street Publishing Co.  As a blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog.  My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Page Street Publishing Co. or Jan Berry of this product.


Health Information Disclaimer: The information in 101 Easy Homemade Products for Your Skin, Health & Home: A Nerdy Farm Wife's All-Natural DIY Projects Using Commonly Found Herbs, Flowers & Other Plants is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be substituted for the advice provided by your doctor or other health care professional. If you rely upon any programs or techniques, or use any of the products and services made available by or through the use of the book or our website for decision making, without obtaining the advice of a physician or other health care professional, you do so at your own risk. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Bible Belles Series: The Adventures of Rooney Cruz {Review and Giveaway}


As a mom, we always want what is best for our children - clothes, education, music lessons, dance classes - and everything else in between.  But as a mom raising 3 girls, I also want what is best for them in their relationship with God.

Now reading the bible can sometimes seem like it was always the men who were the center of the story.  However, that is not always the case when you dig deep in the Word.  But trying to find stories suitable for young girls to read (and understand) about the women of the Bible and how important they were seemed to be tricky.

Enter the Bible Belles series.  I was excited to learn more about the series and was honored to be able to review Book One in the Bible Belles.  The series was created for girls to learn about not only the women of the Bible and the trials and tribulations that they went through, but also how to be their own hero in today's world.

The first book in the Bible Belles series, The Adventures of Rooney Cruz - Hannah The Belle of Prayer" is about a girl named Rooney Cruz, who is bullied by other girls at her school.  She runs and hides from their teasing and is visited by her angel, Mari.  Mari confides in Rooney and teaches her about a woman named Hannah who is also being teased by her husband's first wife, Pininnah, because Hannah did not have any children.

Rooney watches Hannah's story unfold and learns that by believing and talking to God, telling him the truth an asking for help, he will listen and answer your prayers, just like Hannah prayed to God for a child and her prayer was answered with the birth of a baby boy.  Rooney finally understands that the power of prayer is a powerful thing - by trusting and talking to God, he will provide and answer your prayers.

The story of Rooney in how she is bullied at school is one that is all too common these days.  However, as told in the story of Hannah, she too was bullied, but chose to have faith and believe that God will help to see you through and has a plan for you.



My 5 year old daughter enjoyed The Adventures of Rooney.  The story line was perfect for her age, the photos were beautifully drawn and the message was on spot.  I thought that the story was great and was a great way to get the message of the power of prayer no matter what situation you are in in life. I know that the Bible Belles series will be a part of our daily readings.



To learn more about Hannah and the Bible Belles series, visit the Bible Belles website.  There are also fun printables and learning materials that correlate to the Bible Belles books for extra learning and fun.


Just For You


You now have the opportunity to enjoy your own Bible Belles story by entering in the chance to win The Adventures of Rooney below.



But even if you do not win the giveaway, and as an added bonus, I have been given the opportunity for my readers to enjoy a discount on any Bible Belles book for 10% off when purchased between March 17 - March 23 by using the code: JTS10 




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Disclaimer:  I received this product for free from Front Gate Medica, who received it directly from the manufacturer.  As a Front Gate Media blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog.  My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Front Gate Media or the manufacturer of this product.


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