Pony Beads and Pipe Cleaners

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Sometimes I try and get really creative with activity ideas for Jbird.


I had the brilliant idea to put some assorted seeds into a jar and have her scoop and sort the seeds. (when I say it out loud, I can see how boring that probably is. BUT THE KIDS ON PINTEREST SEEMED TO LOVE IT)

Yea, that went over like a lead balloon.

She looked at it and said “Seeds?!”…then walked away totally offended.

My bad.


Then there were the marbles. Lord help me…how stupid could I be!


Look! It’s marbles! and numbers! Counting! Sorting! I’m so clever!


Nope. I was given a stare that is pretty much the toddler equivalent of flipping someone off.

Try again.


If there’s one thing parenting has taught me, it’s this: Keep It Simple.


Frustrated, I pulled out a few pipe cleaners from the closet; along with a jar of pony beads.


Here! Play with these!


…and she did. For HOURS.


Carefully choosing colors that would look nice next to each other.

Carefully threading them on to the pipe cleaner.

Then, once a pipe cleaner was totally filled with beads, it was my job to join the 2 ends and make it a proper bracelet.


I even got some new jewelry out of the deal.

Maybe one day I’ll learn.

Far From Perfect

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Sometimes, our house is an organic bounty of local goodies from the co-op.

Sometimes it’s fueled by $1.50 hotdogs from Costco.

Sometimes our house is filled with the beautiful sounds of classical music.

Sometimes the house is silent because a child is engrossed in the glowing screen of an iPad.

Sometimes 6 whole servings of fruits and vegetables are consumed in a day (this is a rarity…but it does happen).

Some days it seem like her diet consists of bunny crackers and string cheese.

Some days sharing and compromises make my heart sing.

Some days are perpetual meltdowns.

Some days we go outside.

Some days we don’t.

Some days I have the patience of a saint.

Some days I really really want to yell and scream and flail about.

Some days we go at a slower toddler pace; letting her lead the way.

Some days tiny bodies are hurriedly put into car seats.

Some days I encourage and embrace the messes.

Some days I get frustrated with the messy chaos.

Some days I come up with endless games and activities.

Some days I just want to lock myself in my room because my brain has shut down for the day…at 10am.

Some days I work out during nap.

Some days I eat a dozen cookies during nap.

Some days naps don’t exist and I eat 2 dozen cookies.

Some days we win.

Some days we keep winning.

I don’t let the burden of parental perfection weigh me down anymore.

I’m over the guilt.

We do the best we can each day.

5 Months Old

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Today, we celebrated 5 glorious months with our Baby Love.


She is so incredibly sweet and happy. This mama is blessed beyond words.




Plus, the chub. Seriously, I am in love with the chub.



Those rolls. They kills me.



She is so lovey and snuggly. Again, I’m a blessed mama.


Even Big Sister (who half the time pretends that Baby Love isn’t around) can’t help but get the giggles when this fat little baby starts laughing. So cute.


Life is absolutely perfect. Can’t get much better than this.


Can It Be Friday Yet?

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It’s only Tuesday, but it feels like it should be Friday.

DSC_0962I’m solo parenting while Daddy Bear is away on business, our washing machine died mid-load today, and my head strong toddler is being particularly stubborn about everything.

DSC_0921I’m tired and cranky.

DSC_0973I’m planning my dream spa getaway when the day finally comes when I can actually getaway (I predict 2 years from now, give or take).

DSC_0922Did I mention that I’m tired?


But, despite these not so great turn of events, I still get to spend my days with this crazy crew.

DSC_0924Still better than a 9-5 job.


Now, I just need to muster up the mental strength to survive until Friday. Piece of cake, right?

…famous last words.




Blueberry Hand Pies (on 3.14)

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blueberry-hand-piesHappy Pi Day!

I nearly forgot that today was 3.14 (March 14th).

I threw together these hand pies in a matter of minutes (thanks to my trusty kitchen helper and napping baby)


Here’s What You’ll Need:

For the filling:

-2 cups fresh blueberries

-1/2 cup water

-1/2 cup raw cane sugar

-3 tbs cornstarch or arrowroot powder (This is what I used. FYI: it can get a bit gummy if you heat it too rapidly and for too long. Don’t worry if this happened, It’ll still taste fine.)

-1/2 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp vanilla

-dash of cinnamon

-zest of one lemon (optional) *I didn’t have a lemon on hand, so I skipped this bit*

For the crust:

-2 cups all purpose flour

-1 tsp salt

-1 tbs raw cane sugar

-1/2 cup coconut oil; room temperature

-5 tbs unsalted butter; chilled and cut into pieces

-1/2 cup of ice water (plus more if the dough seems too dry)

-1 egg: beaten (this will be used to brush the tops of the pies after they are assembled)

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Start with the pie filling: In a medium sauce pan, add water, sugar, and cornstarch. Over medium heat, stir mixture until sugar is dissolved. Add blueberries, salt, vanilla, lemon zest, and cinnamon to the pan. Cook until the filling mixture begins to boil; stirring often. Once the mixture begins to boil, it should resemble pie filling (that’s how you know you’re doing it right!). Remove from heat and set aside.

Now for the pie crust: In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt, Add coconut oil and butter. “Cut In” using a pastry cutter; until there are no more large pieces of butter or coconut oil. Add 8 tablespoons of ice cold water. Gently work the dough until a soft and crumbly dough forms (take care not to over work the dough). If the dough feels dry, add another tablespoon of cold water. Form into a disc, place between 2 pieces of saran wrap, and roll out the dough until it’s your desired thickness (somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch..or about 14 inches in diameter).

Using a small bowl (I used a soup crock), cut circles for your hand pies. 6 inches in diameter is a good size (since you will be folding them in half). Place circles on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Spoon a dollop of pie filling on to one side to the dough circle (about 2 oversized tablespoons). You want enough filling to be a tasty hand pie, but not so much that it oozes out the sides.

Fold the circle in half and crimp shut with a fork. Repeat until all the circles are filled and folded.

Brush tops of hand pies with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon and sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes; or until lightly browned. Allow to cool before eating.

Makes 6 hand pies (with leftover filling ftp top pancakes, waffles, or ice cream.)


Busy Busy Busy

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Well, February seems to have gone by in the blink of an eye.

I feel like I’ve been out of touch this month from all my bloggy-duties. Apologies.

To say I’ve been “busy” this month, would be a gross understatement.

After several big signs from the universe, I finally took the plunge and started my own photography business

Everything is still in the very early stages, but you’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Most of my free time has been spent tweaking the website, looking into photo labs, wrapping my head around marketing and packaging, and setting up introductory meetings with potential clients.

It’s a bit terrifying, but I feel like the timing is kind of perfect.

I never imagined I would consider myself “good enough” to  be an actual photographer (you know, the kind that people actually hire); but if I don’t believe in myself, who will?

I still have a lot of growing to do. I’m looking forward to where this year will take me; as far as professional development is concerned. I’m excited for the journey.

Since we’re in the final stretch (month) of winter, I find myself needing to keep busy in order for my cabin fever to stay at bay.

These cold days are driving us all a bit stir-crazy. JBird and I have been doing copious amounts of painting and baking to help make our days a bit more enjoyable.

This week, I’ve been motivated to really clean and organize the house.

I dragged bookcases around the downstairs, went through most of our rooms and filled several garbage bags to the brim with items to be donated. I’m in full-on Spring Cleaning mode.

On top of the new business, and all the cleaning, I’ve also been working on bringing together an Alternative Schooling Panel for this year’s Natural Parenting Expo.

I’ll check back in, in the beginning of March.

Until then, there’s much more work to be done! (like about 7 loads of laundry)

Homemade Fruit Snacks

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I’ve always been a bit of a fruit snack addict.

Now that I’m older, my teeth cannot handle all the sticky sugar (and my body can’t handle the junk).

A good friend made a batch of these in the summer and they totally blew my mind. So simple, and so tasty.

I used to use the standard Knox gelatin, but I recently switched to Green Lakes brand (which is a high quality gelatin made from grass-fed animals). I made the switch because I wanted to get the full benefit that gelatin has to offer, without any added junk (or even low quality ingredients).

Gelatin has NUMEROUS health benefits (I highly recommend a quick Google search on the matter); joint health, collagen boosting, immunity boosting, etc.


If you want gelatin, skip the yucky stuff that’s in Jell-O, and just make your own using fruit and juice!

Here’s What You’ll Need:

-1 cup of juice (I use pomegranate juice)

-3 cups of frozen berries

-5-6 tablespoons of gelatin (I use Green Lakes gelatin)

-coconut oil for greasing your dish/mold

In a medium saucepan, add the juice and berries. Heat for several minutes; until the berries soften. Add to a blender and purée until mixture is a smooth consistency. Add the powdered gelatin and blend for 15-30 seconds until it is fully incorporated in the fruit purée. Pour into greased dish and let chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Once the gel has set, cut into pieces or with a shaped cutter. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.




Raw Chocolate and Peanut Butter Fudge

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Welcome to your newest addiction.


Oh, fudge.

This recipe for “raw” (buzzword of the moment) fudge is divine. If you’re from the tiny slice of heaven known as Upstate NY/Northeast PA, then you’ll love how much these chocolatey treats taste like Gertrude Hawk Smidgens. Seriously; except these are totally “clean” and free of any junk.


The other wonderful and amazing thing about this recipe? It takes about 2 minutes to make.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

-1/2 cup all natural peanut butter (or any other nut butter)

-1/2 cup coconut oil

-1/2 cup cocoa powder

-1/4 cup raw honey

-1 tsp pure vanilla extract

In the food processor, combine ingredients and blend until everything is a uniform consistency. Spoon out into silicone molds and place in the freezer to “set-up”; about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the freezer.


**No silicone molds? Use a muffin tin! I love the silicone molds because it makes it feel like you’re eating candy hearts.**


*Use this recipe to make peanut butter fudge too! Just skip the cocoa powder!*







Making Ice Ornaments

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Winters in Wisconsin are cold, but this year feels almost unbearably frigid (thanks, Polar Vortex).

Staying cooped up in the house because of the temperatures has begun to make us a bit stir crazy.


Luckily, we’ve been keeping busy with simple winter crafts.

One of our favorites this year is simple ice ornaments.


We assembled them in our kitchen, then placed the mold outside to freeze (since it’s colder outside than in our freezer).

Within a few hours, we have a solid ice ornament to hang in the front yard.

Even in winter, we can still connect with the natural world outside.

We chose food items for our ornaments that the squirrels and birds would enjoy: nuts, orange and lemon slices, seeds, etc


Here’s what you’ll need to make your own ice ornaments:

-a mold of some sort. We used a thrifted bundt pan. It’s small, which is perfect for this project.

-items to add to the ornament (we used oranges, lemons, and nuts. Herbs and evergreens would also be beautiful)

-water (about 2 cups)

-kitchen twine

Assemble the ornaments on a flat work surface (like the kitchen floor). Set outside (or in the freezer) for several hours; until it has frozen solid. Hang on a tree branch, preferably near a window, and enjoy the beauty.


Once the sun melts the ice, the contents will fall to the ground; feeding your neighborhood birds and squirrels. They’ll thank you.

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