Thursday, March 20, 2014

Kids Crafts- Aquarium Diorama

Another glorious spring Day here in New Mexico. With 6 kids with me today I had to be prepared. I took the time over the past week to make a new Pinterest board of things that would be fun and age appropriate to do this summer. The board is accurately named 'Summer2014'. One of the first things I saw (that I had all materials on hand) was this Aquarium Diorama.

Amazingly, I even had the foam sea stickers! I bought a package of them from amazon that was three times the size I expected. I have enough of these to last 5 more projects! 

I skipped the sand and 2nd color of paint. Too much for these little guys and my patience. ;) 

The painting of the plates was quite time consuming for these kids and gave me lots of time to get a snack ready and feed  the babies. 

I used Dixie plates and wished I had used regular cheep paper plates. The paint was runny on the waxy surface. I added some flour to it to thicken it up.
The kids had a lot of fun doing these and ran out of room for all the fish they wanted. We used tape instead of staples and Saran Wrap for the window 'glass'. 

This is one of the better projects Ive come across for 2 to 4 year olds. They were able to do mostly all of the steps themselves with minimal assistance. They were talking about ocean life and naming all the fish and asking questions about each one. 

And best of all, they were super excited to show their loved ones and take them home to keep enjoying. 

Definitely a success. 

(The middle plate is the 1 year olds) 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Smoothie Recipe

I've had a couple people ask me for some smoothie recipes, since I drink them daily and brag about how awesome they are. ;)

I really only make two variations. One is a copy cat of Keva Juices Ragin' Bull. Which they have changed and is now called ragin' rocker, since they switched to rock star energy drink.

Anyway, the Ragin' Bull is my favorite. If done just right, it tastes like sweet tarts. Measurements are not exact. I really just eye it. It also usually makes enough for two smoothies and are about 300 calories. 

Start with a blender.
8 oz of sugar free red bull 
8 oz of guava juice
Hand full of frozen peaches
Hand full of large frozen strawberries

If your having trouble blending add water or more juice. 

That's it! Sometimes I'll add a scoop of vanilla flavored whey protein, it no longer tastes like a sweet tart, but is still yummy and will keep you fuller longer. 

My second favorite smoothie has stuff I almost always have on hand. (I don't always stock red bull or guava juice) 

Easy peasy.

I use some kind of Naked brand juice. I switch up the brands periodically, but usually green machine, mango or berry. 

Juice 8 to 12 oz
Water 4 to 8 oz
Hand full or two of baby spinach
Hand full of frozen strawberries
Hand full of frozen blueberries
5 hour energy (optional) (I use kirklands brand)

The 5 hour energy gets me motivated. (I don't drink coffee) and I normally use it before workouts or an expected long or strenuous day. 

I also LOVE putting spinach in my smoothies. I will usually make the smoothie first, give some to the kids, then blend again with the 5 hour energy. It's a great way to hide the greens in their food. And since I discovered you can dehydrate spinach, I don't have to worry about having it fresh on hand, Or if its slightly slimy :/. 


You can use fresh fruit if you like, but you'll need to add ice to get the frozen consistency. You can also add plain yogurt for added nutrition. I'm not a big fan of dairy smoothies so we don't do this often. 

Unsuspecting children, drinking delicious spinach smoothie. Bwa ha ha ha!!

I love smoothies! 

I hope this helps you start your own smoothie experimentation. The possibilities are truly endless. And if you have a hard time being creative, just grab a menu from your favorite local smoothie shop and experiment with their ingredients and your measurements. 

Happy blending! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Last minute St Patties Day Activities

I'm not much of a planner when it comes to some things.

Crafting activities is one of them.

I get an idea and wing it. 

So, today is St Patricks Day. I did not prepare anything fun for the kids. I did not wear green. I did not research the history to explain to them. I did not really care. Then, I felt guilty. 

I quickly skimmed Pinterest for visual ideas and saw this:

Perfect. Easy, and I had all the materials. I did not venture into the details, I usually don't. I use Pinterest for visual ideas and then wing it. 

I shredded some construction paper and looked for any green decorations I had on hand. Amazingly and to my surprise I didn't have (or couldn't find) my shamrock stickers. So, green frogs and green foam was all I had. Add markers and glitter, and that's really all I need. 

It kept the kids entertained for a good amount of time and they had a lot of fun. 

'Binoculars for spotting leprechauns! Awesome! ........what are leprechauns?' 

Ah yes, what are leprechauns.......hmmmm. 

A quick google search and a brief explanation is all I gave them. If I was being perfectly honest, I'd tell them it's a holiday to punish your liver like the stereotypical Irishman does. But I won't.

I then made glorious plans to bake green sugar cookies, but, after nap I was in no mood for a big mess. Soooooo I whipped up the easiest St. Patrick's Day snack ever. I pulled out the individual store bought rice crispy treats and painted them (water and food coloring) green, added green sprinkles and BAM! Best mom ever. ;) 

Ha ha yeah right. But it was satisfying enough for me, and the kids had fun. At least I did SOMETHING. 

The water made the tops a wee bit soggy.  The kids did not notice, at all. And the sprinkles almost made up for it. :)

Well, that's it for St Patricks Day here. Thanks, Pinterest, for once again saving this mom's ass. ;)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Dehydrating Spinach

So I just recently found out you can dehydrate spinach!! 

Why have I not know about this!?! I swear I waste more spinach than I use. I always buy the Costco size organic baby spinach. It comes in a thin plastic tub with lid. I use some about every other day, but in the end, feed about half the container to the rabbits. (So it's not really a waste, either) 

Anyways, recently a friend asked me why I didn't just dehydrate it and explained this is how she makes her green juice powder at home. She takes all her unused greens and dries them out and powders them and makes her morning green smoothie with the powder.

I'm pretty sure my jaw dropped. This thought had never crossed my mind. 

I immediately pulled out my dehydrator and put half the container of spinach in it to test this out. 

Half the container filled all four of my trays.

I set the heat at about 125*. After about 7 hours I started to checked every 2 to 3 hours, in total it took close to 8 hours to fully dehydrate. 

Once don't I shuffled all of the dried spinach into the food processor.

And processed! 

The end result was slightly grainy, but very powdery, and smelled somewhat awful, but close to the smell of canned spinach. (Which I despise) 

The half container of spinach dried down to about 5 oz of powder.

I used it the very next day in my favorite green chile stew recipe, something I normally would not put spinach in. It was fantastic! You could not taste it at all, but it was visible and gave a nice seasoned look to the stew. 

I also used it in my sons smoothie, which I normally put fresh spinach in, however, I was able to put about 5 times more of the dehydrated version in one smoothie than fresh without any change in flavor. 

Hells. Yes.

This was such a fantastic success. I'm sure ill be doing this about every two or three weeks. 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Fairy Garden Additions

With some neglect happening to my fairy garden, I was feeling guilty. A trip to hobby lobby with a Christmas gift card quickly changed my rut. I was wondering around with my son when I stumbled into an isle filled with 30% off fairy/gnome garden accessories. 

Hot damn.

There went my gift certificate. 

I bought this tiny, cheap birdhouse. (A couple of them, actually) and began to think of designs. A little inspiration from Pinterest, and supplies i (mostly) had on hand, and I whipped this baby out in 24 hours. 

Last year I attempted to build a stone stacked cottage. It was a mess. I used unsanded grout hoping to get a mortar look, but it just looked sloppy. I then let it sit in my craft room for several months until the boy knocked it over and broke an entire wall. At this point I said F* it and dismantled the whole thing, which was far easier than putting it together. 

Anyways. I had my heart set on a stone cottage. After having (or obtaining, I don't  remember) the idea of a birdhouse base, the domino effect of ideas consumed me. 
The variety of inexpensive birdhouses surprised me. There were bird barns, gazebos, wrap around porches, double deckers, castles, etc. I almost got carried away, but remembered the funniest part is being thrifty and creative. Not just painting a birdhouse. I may still upgrade later on to a 'fancy' barn. ;)

Here is what I chose. (Minus the hanging rope, this was a stock photo as I forgot to photograph my own :( )

I chose three. 
I only had plans for one, but knew I wanted to do more. I have space for a while village sectioned off. 

As for supplies I asked my husband what glue he thought best. Wood glue came to my mind, silicone to his. Silicone was awesome. 

I had the rock on hand. I have several bags of varying sizes for the fairy garden already. 

I had no idea what to do for the roof. I entertained the idea of black river washed rocks, same rocks as the walls, or pine cone shingles as I had seen on Pinterest. I left it open for suggestions. As for a grout look I pondered dirt, unsanded grout, and settled on beach sand I acquired from our vacation to Oceanside last year. It turned out great. 

My husband cut the bottom bird hole into a door for me. (He's so handy!)

I got started on my stone laying as soon as I washed some rocks and fetched the silicone, thinking I'd only do a wall a night or something to let it dry. Nope. Finished all four walls within 3 hours. 
I silicones the crap out of each wall (one side at a time) and laid the rock out. It was similar to a puzzle, but easier since you could make it up as you go along. I was glad to have so many shapes and sizes. Once done laying I sprinkled the beach sand into all the cracks. It only took about 20 minutes each side to dry enough to move on. 

Once all four walls were covered I brushed off the extra sand with a painting brush and let dry over night. 

This morning We went out for our daily walk and I planned to keep my eye out for inspiration, and gather pine cones, just in case. 
The park turned out to be a Mecca. I gathered up some 'itch ball' tree bark and other materials and headed home. The bark did a great job as roofing shingles. The wood was thin and curvy, but not unmanageable. It took a lot of silicone to get it all to fit tightly. 

While that was drying I co templates the door. Several ideas later I settled on Popsicle sticks. The rocks were a bit in the way, (should have done the door first!) so I couldn't really get a sense of how to make it fit just right. Then, I remembered that this was just a fairy garden and I doubt anyone would care if the door had a gap or was not level. 

I cut the sticks, glued them together, painted it red and stuck a upholstery tack as the door knob. The fight to get it inside the frame was not as bad as i had anticipated. the rocks were a little bit flexible on the silicone. I added silicone to known contact points of the door and house and shoved it in. 

Dun du nu Na nah!!! 

I then couldn't contain myself and ruined a small portion of  my carpet by wood staining the next bird/fairy house while trying to fit too many projects in a day. 

But that's another story....

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Trials, Errors, & Loss

This summer has been frustrating.
And depressing.
Thus, the lack of posts.  

My beloved little greenhouse got wind blown straight over and snapped 1/2 my beautiful tomato plants in half. I lost about half of my seedlings. :( 

The soil I purchased for my raised beds was from a trusted source, so I did not test it. BIG fail. I didn't realize anything was wrong until people were picking ripe tomatoes from their garden and mine had not even bloomed. The PH level was through the roof. I amended the soil with gypsum salt and within a week I had blooms. The tomatoes were cracked at harvest though. The carrots never made it, most never even sprouting. I planted 2 packets of seeds and harvested maybe 10. The eggplants did AMAZING! I have never seen bigger eggplants in my life. Alas, my family did not enjoy eating them. We did eggplant lasagna and eggplant Parmesan.  Maybe when my kid isn't I-don't-like-anything-but-candy years old, we will try again. The green chile, jalapeƱos and habaneros all did fantastic. We harvested 20 lbs total. Bell peppers did ok, they were all very funky looking, they never developed the bottoms 'bumps' and sort of grew to a tip. Still delicious though. Lettuce and spins he did great but I felt like a lot of it went to waste as we were not eating it fast enough. The rabbits enjoyed it though. 

My computer had a freak out moment while transferring ALL of my garden photos of the season and I lost them all. Thus, no pictures, only fabulous tales of harvests. 

Finally, the worst of the summer experiences.

 (and a WARNING, the following is Personal with 'tmi' and is slightly graphic)  

I lost a pregnancy.

 We discovered I was pregnant, two weeks before Mother's Day. It was unplanned and a very big surprise. We had just enough time for the news to sink in, and start to be really excited about it when I became very ill one day. I was just over 8 weeks pregnant and had told our mothers the news for Mother's Day,  but were not revealing it to anyone else just yet. 

May 29th was a typical day. The kids were down for their nap and I was enjoying some quiet time on the couch when I felt an incredibly sharp pain in my abdomen, on the left side. It brought instant tears to my eyes, and felt like I was being stabbed from the inside. This was about 2pm. After an urge to poop I went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet for an hour in pain. My mind, in denial, thought it was just gas as I had just eaten the first hamburger (1st of any meat at all since before Christmas as we had been eating vegan for several months) and was sure my tummy was not happy. I threw up repeatedly in my sons step stool while still on the toilet, and began texting any family member I could think was available to come help me watch the kids. One by one they began to wake up, wanting snacks and attention that I was unable to give. I finally reached my mom who came over as fast as she could. I made my way to the couch and could only double over in pain. I spoke to my midwife who said it could be many things including miscarriage, ectopic or maybe gas, and recommended an ultrasound. Problem was I would have to get there in 20 minutes before they closed. 

Not possible. 

I had parents of 4 kids coming to pick them up and none had met my mom before. Besides, this was just gas, right? I'm fine. The baby's fine. It will pass. 

I hid in the bathroom in pain when their parents came. All the while I was texting a dear friend who had been through several miscarriages. She assures me, none had caused her this much pain and there would most likely be blood. It's got to be just gas.
 I didn't have insurance at the time and was fearful of how much a visit would cost. 

My husband came home and my mom left, assuring me it was just gas. Everything was fine. 

We were sure it was going to be a girl. 

It was 6 o'clock. I couldn't eat. The pain would waver off and then come back. Just gas. 
Spoke to my midwife again and she urged me to go to the hospital and get looked at, but left the decision up to me. 
It's just gas. That damn greasy hamburger. 

At 6:30 I started to bleed, fresh red blood. It's gone, I thought. The baby is gone. I was having a miscarriage. I texted my friend. At this point she also urged me to go to the hospital. None of her miscarriages caused this much pain or vomiting. Something's wrong. I looked up 'ectopic pregnancies' online. I had only briefly heard of them before. When I was done reading the Wikipedia description, I told my husband I needed to go to the hospital. 

Ectopic Pegnancy;
An ectopic pregnancy, or eccysis, is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo implants outside the uterine cavity.

The catchy line was;

'An ectopic pregnancy is a potential medical emergency, and, if not treated properly, can lead to death'

The symptoms were described as exactly what I was experiencing. The pain was getting worse. I was at the hospital by 7 looking a hot mess. Uncontrollable sobbing, snot leaking from my face at a rate I couldn't wipe away because I was keeling over in pain, holding on to my abdomen. I was rolled through the door while my 3 year old watched. They knew what it was immediately when I said I was 8 weeks along. 

They gave me three doses of pain killers before the pain started to subside. I had to pee in a cup in a wheeled chair-potty with help from an incredibly hot male nurse.

Just shoot me already. 

It was shift change. Chaos. 
Every male employee of that hospital belonged on General Hospital. Maybe it was the drugs, but good gravy, they were so good looking. Which made every part of this experience more painful and somewhat embarrassing. I had 5 vaginal ultrasounds and two surface ones. I had to show my dirty, bloody underwear to a 22 year old hot student nurse with my legs spread, butt on a pillow, 10 feet away from 35 other people with only a sheet separating us. 

And I was losing my baby. 

We had just chosen a girls name, two days earlier. 

My phone was dying, my husband was not allowed in the ER, and the last time I saw my son was when I was being wheeled in. 

I had so much fluid the doctors could not find the fetus. Three different doctors examined me. The ER doctor, twice, the On Call OBGYN, the two of them together, and then the sonographer. Where was it? Was there one heartbeat or two? Was there a rupture? No one could give an answer. 
What was certain was that it was the left side, and there was fluid, and there was at least one heartbeat. They could not say 100% if there was a rupture but they were pretty sure. Surgery was required. If the tube was ruptured they may have to remove it.

 Please sign these forms. 

They finally let my husband sneak in at 10pm. My son was with my mom for the night. 

At 11pm they wheeled me to the operating floor. Arrangements were made with the hubs for an end/pick up time and we asked any questions we had for the surgeon. Anesthesia was given and I faded into black. 

I woke up at 2am. Twelve hours had passed since my baby had grown too large for my left fallopian tube, where it had implanted just two weeks earlier. The tube had ruptured causing me to bleed internally. The fetus was removed and the tube was able to be repaired. The surgery was microscopic, so I had three 10mm incisions on my stomach. One was inside my belly button. 

There was a plump nurse sitting next to me with a sympathetic and kind face. We were in a desolate recovery room. Eight beds and one patient, one nurse. My lips were swollen and chapped, but only on the right side. I immediately attempted to wet them with my tongue. It felt like sandpaper on a fresh wound. Tearing the soft, tender skin of my puffy lips. The nurse was ready with a stick of Chapstick and applied it. Next, ice chips. My throat was on fire. I had had cotton and tubes in my mouth, down my throat. I sobbed silently. She was kind and held my hand in silence.

Very shortly after, the only person who could feel my pain walked in. 

We went over after care and I had to pee before I could leave due to the catheter. I was given a prescription for pain killers and stool softeners, and sent home. 

At 4am I climbed the stairs to my bed. 

At 6am I finally slept. 

I lost my baby. I'm pretty sure it was a girl. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Garden Update and squash bug fury

Just a quick shot of my beautiful garden beds with plants abounding!

We've had some trouble with learning process' and soil, this summer, but I'll get into those later.

I grew my first squash this year. I love summer squash boiled and smashed with cream cheese.


I was able to harvest 5 beautiful large squash from two of my plants before the one on the west side of the bed just.... Died. Out of the blue with a half squash grown it was shriveled and wilted overnight. OVERNIGHT! I kid you not. I have no idea what happened.

The second, east side squash plant was eventually overrun with squash bugs. Little pesky bitches. I fought the good fight, dutifully going out every evening and hunting those little fuckers down and squashing them and their eggs. Every. Day. So, I think it's needless to say when I found a cluster of squash bug eggs that had hat he'd I three hissy fit/personal tantrums. Ugh they are the Bain of my existence.  

I really did my research this summer too. I asked every gardener I knew, what is the solution. I tried many things this summer, every suggestion I've heard. 

Cayenne pepper
Red chile powder
Diotomatious earth
Organic spray
Blending up and smearing their carcasses on the plant
Planting hot peppers around
Daily hunting

Nothing worked. 

At least once a week I found new babies. At least twice a month I found hatched eggs. Daily, I found adults and multiple egg clusters. The damn bugs were laying eggs on my green chile plants! Under the leaves and on the actual peppers! 

What. The. Fuck.

I hate these bugs. 

Any suggestions?