Saturday, May 31, 2008

Home!

We arrived back home today. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by photos from me this coming week!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Amazing Day

The day was amazing in more ways than one, but yesterday I went rock climbing here in Moab with Matt's cousin Hannah and Amanda, the same awesome, rock climbing guide I used last year (she guides with Cliffs and Canyons and really is the best rock climbing guide/teacher ever!).

I learned to rock climb on a women's beginning rock climbing weekend over my 34th birthday almost 2 years ago. I was very proud of myself for taking up the sport "later" in life and after having 2 children. I've been a few times a year (not enough!)since then including the outdoor sport climbing I did with Amanda (and a larger group) last year. Amanda really taught me a lot last year. We exchanged phone numbers and emails and have exchanged several emails since last year.

So this year when I told her we were coming back to Utah, she suggested that we do a tower climb together. I was a bit doubtful, but she assured me that the climb is more about attitude than technical ability. So I signed Hannah and myself up to do the trip. We left early yesterday morning and headed out to the Ancient Art tower. All I can say is, "Holy Cow!" See those yellow dots in the photo? That is the route we followed. See that yellow dot at the tippy top of that funky shaped tower? I sat up there! It was a crazy adrenaline rush, and I am so impressed with myself. I am really glad that Hannah was with me otherwise I might have chickened out. I can't wait to get home and post my own photos!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Last Day!

Last week was Kate and Jack's last day of preschool. Seems like they have both changed so much since the first day of preschool last September. I admit that I am looking forward to next year when I'll have several mornings a week with both kids in preschool. What will I do with myself? More importantly, what am I going to do to keep two preschoolers busy all summer?!?


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Organic Weed Killer?

Yup. I always thought it was a contradiction in terms. I'm willing to pull up most easy weeds, but we have bindweed around our home. It is a noxious weed, and the stuff is actually supposed to be stimulated by being pulled out! So I admit it. I've been spraying it with synthetic chemicals because I haven't found anything else that works. And, yes, I know about vinegar (regular household vinegar won't work - it has to be a stronger concentration to kill weeks) and blackout fabric (it grows around the fabric!) and goats (LOL for those in the know!) I'm telling you that none of it has worked on this crazy bindweed.

So when I heard about Nature's Avenger, I immediately wanted to try it. It is made with a citrus oil that strips off the plants waxy cuticle and causes dehydration. It is approved for organic use and listed with ORMI. I'll let you know how it works on my bindweed!

If you want to see if Nature's Avenger works on your weeds, use discount code wwmag for 15% off your purchase on the Nature's Avenger website.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Family Vacation

How can you top a seven hour car trip with 2 preschoolers? How about arriving to your hotel in a tiny town with no late night pharmacy and your 3 year complaining about ear pain? That complaining quickly turned to flat out screaming and writhing in pain. Fortunately the urgent care in town had some open antibiotic that they were willing to donate to our cause. Keep your fingers crossed that the antibiotic plus Tylenol and homeopathic ear drops will bide us until morning.

So starts our second annual family vacation in Moab, Utah. Hopefully the ear infection is a minor speedbump. Looking forward to a week of biking, climbing, hiking, and playing.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Tree Man

We went to a local festival today and saw one of our favorite neighbors in his new gig as the Tree Man. We have watched over the last several months as he has created his amazing costume, but today was the first time we have seen the whole costume in action. He looks just like a giant tree lumbering around! Even though Kate and Jack knew who was under there, they still were a bit cautious. He is really TALL. For reference, Matt is 6'2" and didn't even come up to Tree Man's chest.

Colorado moms - Tree Man is planning to be at the Boulder Creek Festival in Boulder tomorrow (Sunday) and possibly Monday. Give him some love and tell him you saw him first on Greenstylemom!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Clean Skin

I've been meaning to post this for awhile, but I always say that, don't I? With a few moments to myself tonight, a little nudging from a friend and the topic being brought up a number of times around the blogosphere, I thought it was a good time to share.

I had fine skin as a teenager. It wasn't until I was in my 20's that I started breaking out, and it continued into my 30's. The only time I had great skin was when I was pregnant - everything else felt lousy, but I had great skin! Then we moved to Colorado. It is SO DRY here. One would think that your breakouts would get better in a dry climate, but mine got worse. Apparently your skin starts over producing oil to acclimate to the dryness. Then you break out more. Then you wash your face with more soap, which dries your skin out, which causes you to produce more oils, etc. Vicious cycle. Vicious.

I had been saving up samples from the DHC catalogs that I get in the mail meaning to try out their products, when Crunchy with Style blogged that she was going to start trying the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM). That was the impetus that I needed. I pulled out all my samples, tried them, loved it, and decided to buy some product. That is when I realized that many of their products contain parabens which is a no-no in my products.

Bummed that it wasn't going to be as easy as ordering products, I started to do some more online research. There was a lot of info on homemade products, and I finally found one that seemed to suit me. I made a batch, started using it, and immediately my skin got better. I didn't feel dry nor oily. While my skin still isn't perfect, it is a million times better.

I use my homemade products most mornings and nights. I apply my OCM cleanser to my dry face, massage it in a bit, sometimes let it sit for a few minutes, apply a warm, wet washcloth to my face, and wipe it off with the washcloth and follow with my homemade apple cider vinegar (ACV) toner. I love the toner even more than the cleanser! If I am taking a shower, I apply the cleanser before I hop in and use the toner when I get out. I don't need moisturizer anymore and only apply a bit of sunscreen in the mornings.

They are super easy to make, and I have mine in old oil/vinegar jars in the bathroom. Makes it really easy to dispense. Next I am going to start making a facial scrub and a body moisture spray, but first I want to use up the commercial ones that I have.

OCM Cleanser
1 1/4 cup Castor oil (supposed to be good for drawing out dirt)
3/4 cup jojoba oil (others use olive oil or grapeseed oil, but jojoba is supposed to closely mimic your skins natural oils)
few drops of tea tree oil

Mix well.

ACV Toner
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Water
4 bags of Green Tea
1 bag of Chamomile Tea
10-15 drops of Tea Tree oil
10-15 drops of Jojoba oil (I use a bit more for extra moisturizing effect)
10 plain aspirin pills

Boil water and and steep the tea bags in it for at least 30 minutes.
When cool, remove tea bags. It helps to squeeze all the liquid out of the bags.
Mix the ACV, tea, tea tree oil, and jojoba oil.
Crush the aspirin pills into a fine powder and mix well into toner.
Shake well before each use.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Moms' Knitting Night

Some moms from my playgroup got together for a moms' knitting group tonight. We've done it several times, but this was the best. The only way I can really describe it...

Moms - 5
Kids - 0
Dogs - 1
Bottles of Wine - 3
Brownies - 20
Hours - 4
Knitted Boobies - 2
Knitting Accomplished - 0
Laughs - uncountable

Finally...

Have I mentioned that I am a procrastinator? Well, I am. In a bad way. About everything. Email is certainly bad (I'm at least 75 emails behind, and that is just my blog email! It doesn't include my personal email!) Making phone calls is probably my worst offence, but I even procrastinate going to bed!*

Well, after procrastinating about it for at least 6 months, I have finally updated my blogroll! And it wasn't too difficult a task. Not really sure why I put it off so long! I was feeling horrible because I have good friends with blogs that I hadn't added, other bloggers I agreed to exchange links with that I flaked on, plus lots of blogs that I just enjoy and want to share! But now it is done. I'm afraid I missed some blogs that I meant to add because of stupid Blogger. I thought blogs were added when I clicked "add" but you also have to click "save." And if you navigate away before clicking save, it doesn't warn you. So if I missed yours, it was purely accidental. Let me know and I'll try to add it during this decade.

Speaking of Blogger, I'm thinking about making a switch. I'm also thinking about changing up my look if I make a switch. Any ideas? Suggestions?

*Not only am I a procrastinator, but I am also easily side tracked. All in all, it is just a bad combination for getting anything accomplished!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Friday Night for the Kids

Last Friday evening my friend Shannon came over with her kids. Both husbands were working late so we decided to combat dinner together. I had been meaning to try a recipe for "pizza muffins" that I tore out of a magazine years ago, and Shannon and her kids were the perfect excuse.

The kids seemed to like the pizza muffins, but I think Shannon and I liked them more. We also had a strawberry-avocado salad topped with leftover roasted chicken. After dinner, everyone taste-tested a new recipe for teff peanut butter cookies that I've been adjusting.

It was a good evening, and I hope we repeat it again soon. I just wish I had remember to pull out a bottle of wine!

For anyone who wants to try them...
(I'll try to post the other recipes I mentioned later this week)

Pizza Muffins
Your favorite pizza dough - I use this recipe
1 cup pizza sauce - I use Newman's Marinara Sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Pepperoni slice - we used the veggie version

Preheat oven to 350. Coat muffin tins with cooking spray. Roll out pizza dough and cut out 3in circles with a cookie cutter (or if, like me, you don't have a round cookie cutter, then a small glass bowl or jar lid works just fine!). Press each circle in bottom of muffin tins and bake 10-12 min (I'm going to cook them a little longer next time!). Remove from oven.

Top each piece of dough with 1 tablespoon of pizza sauce, cheese, and pepperoni (next time I'll probably add a little spinach also!). Increase oven temp to 400 and bake for 5 to 10 min until cheese is melted and dough is golden brown.

Bike Riding

Guess what my just-turned-four-year-old did today for the first time? Ride a bike! On her own! I didn't actually get to see her ride. She was at the bike store with Matt, and they took a bike out to the parking lot. She is so proud of herself, and I can't wait to see her.

I always joke that she was a precocious pedaler. She started pedaling on her tricycle not long after her second birthday. She is a maniac on her tricycle. Seriously. Her little legs go so fast that they are just a blur. Sorta like the roadrunner!

One of the reasons I love our cohousing community is that all the homes face inward on each other into three "pods" of homes. The sidewalks connecting all the homes and pods make roundabouts that are perfect for biking. The cohousing kids and their friends use it like a racetrack (much to the chagrin - and sometimes pure annoyance - of the adults in cohousing!). I don't mind because my kids can ride all over, and I don't have to worry about riding into the street.

So Kate has been quite content riding her tricycle the last two years. Then last summer, Matt saw a family on the nearby bike path using LIKEaBIKEs and immediately wanted to get them for our kids. It was pricier than I wanted to pay, but I found that Kettler (which is the brand of our tricycles and scooters - I love 'em!) made a similar Sprint bike for much less (there are actually a bunch more brands/versions out for this summer than last summer). We got them, but the kids really lacked interest and just wanted to ride their tricycles. So we put them away for the winter. BUT when we got them back out a few months ago, Kate really took to the little bike.

The concept of these small two wheeled bicycles with no pedals is that you learn to balance without having to worry about pedaling. You use your feet to gain speed, lift your legs, and balance. Theoretically learning to balance will help transition to riding a regular bike.

A few weeks ago Kate started telling us that she wanted a "two wheel bike with pedals and a kickstand." She was pretty specific. Occasionally she'll add that she wants a basket or a bell, but mostly she wants the pedals and the kickstand. This weekend a neighbor had an old, retro children's bike that she was planning on selling at a garage sale. She offered it to us first, and we took it (that's it in the pic at the top of the post). It needs a bunch of work, but Matt loves getting bikes fixed up. He took it in this morning to have all the "parts" taken off the frame. The frame goes someplace else to be repainted, and then back to the bike shop for replacement parts. In less than 2 weeks, Kate should have a two wheel bike to race around on.

Only problem? No kickstand. But I think with a cute basket and a noisy bell, she won't even notice!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Coupons for Natural & Organic Products

Do you get the coupons from Mambo Sprouts? I get them in the mail once every few months. The coupons are for natural and organic products. Some I use, some I don't. It isn't going to make a huge dent in the grocery bill, but every little bit counts, right?

Usually the booklets contain coupons for Organic Valley butter, milk, and eggs. The current booklet has a coupon for Rudi's organic bread. Even though I am now making our bread, I'll probably buy a loaf to stick in the freezer for an "emergency" loaf. There are also usually coupons for Kashi cereal, Clif products, salad dressing, soy sauce, etc.

You can sign up to receive the coupons via their website or in the checkout lanes at places like Whole Foods.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cost of Eating

Matt sent me this article today about rising food costs hurting the organic food industry. I found it very apropos since I had just returned from the grocery store. I was still in a bit of sticker shock over the price of an organic green pepper - $3.99 EACH. I had to read the sign a few times. I thought maybe it was $3.99/lb. Nope. $3.99 each. And they were pretty scrawny peppers at that. The conventional green peppers were also expensive at $1.99 each. I stood there mulling over what to do for as long as the kids could tolerate.

We are in the fortunate position that we decided long ago not to compare prices on organic vs conventional foods. We buy organics whenever they are available in order to use our dollars to demonstrate what is important to us. Now I haven't stuck to this always. Sometimes when I am buying large amounts of food (like for a community meal), I have a difficult time with the price differences. Or when there is a big price difference. Or when they have the organic price right next to the conventional price. Difficult to ignore that! Still I try to buy organic and not fret over the price differences. However, as food prices rise, I can understand how difficult it must be for a family on a stricter food budget not be able to justify organics.
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In the article, I was very pleased with the quote from the Stonyfield Farm CEO about not increasing prices in order to protect their mission of increasing organic consumption. It just reinforced my commitment to buy their products.
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Although we will continue to purchase organic foods whenever available, our family is making some adjustments to keep our food budget down. I am going to continue to try to plan and cook meals to avoid eating out too much. Hopefully we'll get a decent crop from our garden this summer. I have also started making my own bread. I've been experimenting with it already, but this weekend I pulled out my dusty bread machine. I want to find a good, healthy sandwich bread recipe. Plus I have a whole wheat sourdough starter fermenting. Like the karate instructor, we are also going to continue to be mindful of serving sizes in our house.
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And which green pepper did I get? Neither. I don't have a specific meal planned using a green pepper. If I need one later this week, I'll have Matt stop at the store on the way home and let him decide!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Monday Menu Plan

Gotta get back into the swing of cooking! Here is my tentative plan for the week...

Monday - Italian Tofu Sticks with marinara dipping sauce, krispy kale
Tuesday - Community Meal
Wednesday - Baked Chicken, Broccoli, Whole Wheat muffins
Thursday - Leftover Chicken
Friday - Dinner out with the kids

Plus we are cooking the community meal next Sunday! Yikes! Gotta start planning!

I'll report back next week on how well we stuck to the plan plus I'll add some of the recipes.

Friday, May 09, 2008

What I've Been Doing Instead of Blogging...

Some I want to blog, some not so blog-worthy!
  1. Going to my dentist appointment - with 2 preschoolers in tow since the babysitter cancelled at the last minute. Kate had a lot of fun looking in my mouth.
  2. Enjoying my mom's visit
  3. Getting the carpets cleaned. They were really gross.
  4. Reading my Hey Mr. Green book (fun book - I have a spare to give away soon!)
  5. Starting the kids in gymnastics class for the summer
  6. Dealing with the electrician and our messed up electricity that only affected Kate and Jack's rooms.
  7. Finishing up a crochet baby blanket for a baby shower. Working on another project with the leftover yarn.
  8. Enjoying a night away with Matt. Included a really nice dinner that included a full bottle of wine.
  9. Fretting over the roof leak in our mountain place that caused the ceiling to start falling in our living room.
  10. Carving away at ice on roof with a screwdriver as a chisel.
  11. Hiking with playgroup.
  12. Getting our worm composting going. The kids love it.
  13. Checking out our local zoo's new exhibit - the moose is still too shy to come out, the grizzly bears are awesome, and the mountain lions made me not want to go outside ever again!
  14. Ignoring my ever-growing email inbox.
  15. Reading a great parenting book.
  16. Working out regularly! Woohoo!
  17. Not cooking meals like I should.
  18. Ignoring the computer.
  19. Reading books with the kids outside on a blanket in the sun.
  20. Being a good mom. Mostly.

Hope you have a great Mother's Day Weekend.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Camelbak Winners!!

Hello, my name is Kristen, and I am a procrastinator. Okay, so I've had a lot going on the week, but I still should have gotten to this sooner... the winners of the 6 sets of Camelbaks!

Dawn
Lynne
Kristen
Monk5
AnnieM
Tamara

I admit to being excited when regular readers win a giveaway, and I had a few of them this time! If you are a winner, send me your address, and I'll get the bottles to you soon. Hopefully I won't procrastinate as much on that! LOL

I have another giveaway that I was planning for this week, but it going to have to wait until next week (you know... that procrastinator thing again...). So check back!