28
May

Bear Naked Granola

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

healthy family food reviews

Awhile back the good people at Bear Naked sent us a couple packs of their Granola Cereals. Little did they know…or perhaps they did, those sneaky fiends, that our family would fall in love with them. Specifically we LOVE, with huge slobbery kisses, the Bear Naked All-Natural Granola in Banana Nut.

My husband will often take a bag of the Banana Nut Granola and bento box full of dehydrated blueberries and eat them throughout his 12 hour shift. My kids like to have the granola (any of the flavors) sprinkled on their fruit salad.

The Bear Naked cereals are made with real, whole grains and they have a unique, soft-baked texture. They are vegetarian-friendly and kosher-certified. They are also hand-crafted in small batches in Darien, Conn. They are called Bear Naked because their cereals and other products are minimally processed….which is always a good thing. They get a big thumbs up from us! They finally got my hubby taking healthy foods to work!

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

6 Comments on Bear Naked Granola

28
May

Schools Out for Summer…

by Tiffany in parenting

Goofy Smile

Well, almost. My daughter graduated from preschool last week and my son only has two days left. We have had some discussions about homeschool versus public but both seem to want to go public at this time. My daughter insists she that must learn to read this summer, before she starts Kindergarten, so she wants a homeschooling summer. ;)

During her graduation ceremony all the students were called up to receive their completion certificates and my daughter was one of only 2 that got the certificate along with a long speech from the teacher about how amazing they were. The teacher raved about how she was beyond her years and that her vocabulary was better than many adults. All her classmates love her and apparently several of the boys in her class share her as a “girlfriend”. Oh boy…

But I was most proud of how she has really gone out of her way to befriend the only disadvantaged child in their immersion school. Right as we walked in she ran of up to this little girl, who has down’s syndrome, and hugged her several times. Know I see why the school was pairing them together on field trips so much… they get along like peas in a pod and I am sad that they won’t be together next year.

My son has really enjoyed this year at his new school. If you recall, he homeschooled until just before the holidays. Unlike his last school, which was VERY bad for his self esteem and self worth, this school has been wonderful. The teacher makes all the difference and he had a great one this year. Today for instance she has asked my son to teach the kids how to do hand sewing. He brought in all his supplies so he can teach them today before field day kicks off. She has really helped to try and make him confident in his abilities and has asked for his assistance in several school projects.

He has also turned into quite the little athlete. He won some prizes yesterday in field and track and he is blowing me away with how good he is getting at baseball and basketball. I am not very big on team sports so this is going to be an adjustment for me.

I hope, hope, hope that the school in our new city will be as good as this one. It has really helped me see that what communities consider good schools to be, is a load of crap. Last year my son attended the school in our own district which is the most affluent area and school system in the county. It is also the highest rated and people get put on waiting lists to atttend. Well, I think their school sucks.

This year he attended a low rated, city school in a the poorest area of the county and we love it. It is full of really good people and they go out of their way to organize fun stuff for the kids. My son went on a half dozen field trips and several organized fun nights… like Skate Night and Bowling Night. They also had waaay less homework than his other school. I despise schools that send 4-5 pages of homework home each night…grrr.

In the fall it will just be me and the toddler. I am not sure if we will continue the speech therapy after we move. I think I am helping him talk more than the therapist is. Taking him to therapy feels like a monumental waste of time and he doesn’t enjoy it. It has even prompted him to learn to say “Let’s go home”. ;)

And talking about all this kinda has me sad that my babies are growing up. There won’t be any more… it is no longer physically possible. BUT in a few days all my babies will be home full time for summer. I think I am more exicted about it then they are…. a new city, a new home, a new adventure. Three months to spend together and worry about nothing but having fun. I will pretend they aren’t growing up faster than the blink of an eye. :(

26
May

10 Ways to Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning

by Tiffany in A Green Home

10 Ways to Stay Cool in Summer Without the AC

I have an AC unit in my house and chances are you do to. But if you are anything like me you would rather spend your money on some serious summer fun rather than serious summer electric bills. Blah!

To keep costs down we always try to figure out how we can get away with using the AC as little as possible and there are many ways to keep cool without cranking it up. You just have to get creative and be vigilant. Here are some of the ways I recommend staying cool without relying on the AC. If you have some too I would love to hear about them…comment below!

Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning

1. Open windows – Buy an indoor/outdoor thermometer. When the temperature at night dips below your optimal indoor temperature, open as many windows in the house as you can and leave them open all night. Keep them open until the outdoor temperature starts to climb and then shut them. Open closet doors and cabinets at night too so they can release heat they are holding in.

2. Use blinds and heavy, dark colored curtains if you can, to keep sunlight and heat out of the house during the hottest months. The window quilts we use in the winter are great for this purpose. I also saw some curtains at Costco that claim to reduce your energy bills by 30% in the summer and winter…I may check those out.

3. Turn off the lights because they create heat. I try not to use lights at all during the day and we use them sparingly at night. Make sure you have CFL or LED bulbs too.

One neat way trick I learned from a college friend who had no money to pay high electric bills, is to buy cheap solar lights at a home improvement store. Sit them outside all day to charge and then bring them inside at night to use. They give off a lot of light and they do not create heat.

4. Use fans – It is amazing how much cooler you feel if the air around you is circulating. When the temperature is cooler outside (mornings and night) we place a fan right next to the window to blow cool air inside. We also put them in front of our beds at night because we HATE to be hot and sticky when we are trying to go to sleep.

5. Air dry sheets and towels by hanging them inside, in front of an open door. As the air blows them dry, cool air passes through them and into the house. You also save money by not using an electric dryer.

6. Get a haircut – I will use ANY excuse to cut all my hair off, LOL. Many summers I have kept my hair about 1-2 inches in total length during the summer months…I have even been known to shave the back completely off. Even if you don’t want to get THAT drastic it is still a good idea to get a shorter, summer cut.

7. Get wet – Take a short shower in the heat of the afternoon or hose yourself off. Often times I will take my t-shirt off and get it wet in the sink, wring it out, and then put it back on. Then I wear a damp shirt for a few hours and keep cool. I repeat as much as needed. A wet bandanna is a life saver too and you can put it in the freezer for a couple minutes to really get it cold.

I have also been known to stick my head under the sink a couple times to wet my hair. I learned that technique in Arizona when we would go to the zoo in the summer. Every 20 minutes or so I would douse myself in the drinking fountain and wear wet clothes around. Sometimes I would stand in front of the elephant fans too, hehe. You can also take a dip in the pool a couple times a day if you have one.

8. Eat homemade popsicles and other frozen treats and drink smoothies. We always keep plenty of these on hand and they don’t have to be super sugary either. Ours are usually smoothie pops or juice pops with the juice coming straight from the juicer with no sugar added. We also like fruit kebabs with grapes, berries, and pineapple skewered and frozen.

9. Drink water. It really helps you stay cool to drink cool water. I fill up my water purifying pitcher several times a day and let it chill in the fridge.

10. Don’t use the oven or stove if at all possible. Now might be a great time to experiment with raw foods that don’t need to be cooked. In the summer months a green smoothie and fresh fruit plate makes a wonderful lunch and a fresh green salad is a simple and delicious dinner! An instant pot makes meals quickly. You can also cook in the morning, perhaps making pasta for a cold pasta salad that evening. Outdoor cooking is also a great way to eat without the heat.

Stay Cool Without Air Conditioning

25
May

The Meaning of Red Poppies

by Tiffany in Photography

These lovely red poppies bloomed in our backyard just in time for Memorial Day.. fitting since they are the official Memorial Day flower. For two years I wondered what they were… huge red flowers with petals as thin as paper. Now I know. They are symbols of remembrance. Makes me wonder about the people who lived here before us and if they planted these to remember someone who died in service. 

Have a good one all… spend it with the ones you love.

Red Poppy

24
May

Ready to Relax and Slow Down

by Tiffany in Tidbits

Swinging on Hammock

I am dog tired these days. I seem to be spending too much time getting ready to move or worrying about the move and various other things (yeah, I am a worrier), lifting heavy boxes, and not getting to spend a quality fun time with the family.  We haven’t been eating great lately because we have been mostly eating out which is also a big reason why I am tired. I even got some sort of 12 hour flu. Two of my three kids also got colds because of the lack of good food nourishing their little bodies. Add to this the stress of life lately and I just need a break…  I hope time flies next week and we get settled in our new place fast so I can veg out on the back patio with a big bowl of fresh strawberries and a good book while the kids play on their water slide. I don’t like feeling like I am on zombie autopilot.

Remember my rave about loving my used car? Well, this week I have to shell out $1,800 to have the clutches fixed before my whole transmission goes out. Even with this output of money I am still paying way less then people who have new cars and car loans but sudden expenses like that still hurt. And because we cannot drive it my hubby has been staying at our new place in the city to be close to work, so he wouldn’t have to drive a motorcycle in the rain… so I have been a single and car-less parent all week. My parents have been driving us around wherever we need to go though.

I am feeling relieved that we have gotten rid of MOST of our belongings. We have REALLY downsized so that we can comfortably fit in a 1000 square foot house. A lucky local lady got most of my books and was thrilled to get them. They filled up the back of her SUV. I went from several hundred books to about 50. We also got rid of all furniture except the bare minimum. We have beds, dressers, two couches, a coffee table, a kitchen table, and that is about it. I still have a bunch of kids stuff that needs to go but I think I will drop it all off at a consignment shop and get some credit for school clothes. I am still kinda worried that we have too much sewing and art stuff but hopefully it will work out. I managed to get a nice washer and dryer and a stand alone freezer, USED off of Craigslist. Love getting deals and not having to buy new. Living clutter free is going to be amazing I think.

The kids are pretty unphased by the move. It was hot enough to drag out their waterslide (a gift from their grandparents last summer) and they have been playing on it everyday. Look at my oldest boy’s face below. Every muscle in his face and neck is working that smile. Have you ever been that joyful in your adult life? I am not sure that I have. Ah… to be a kid again. ;) Sometimes it takes seeing a smile like that to remember that you can just slow down and be happy with the small things in life… all you have to do is learn a thing or two from your kids.

Water Slide