Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Beautiful Things

This past weekend my family and I went on a camping trip to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  You can read all about our trip and see some pretty amazing pictures on my family blog, The Farnsworth Chronicles.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

20 Ways I Use Vinegar

There are hundreds of ways to use vinegar.  You might have seen articles floating around Pinterest about all of these fabulous uses.  Since moving away from using toxins and chemicals in our house, I have found vinegar to be a staple. We go through gallons of this stuff.  Literally.  I buy a gallon almost every time I go grocery shopping.  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Farmers Market Meals

This post has been sitting my queue for a while.  I've just has so many other things to blog about so I never quite got it finished until now.  A few weeks back - or maybe more like a few months back - we decided to head to the farmers market in Downtown Golden.  I haven't been to a farmers market in years and given our new found love of veggies we decided it was time to check it out.  I guess I had visions of super cheap, delicious looking veggies at booth after booth.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

What could be better on a hot summer day (especially with no air conditioner) than a tall glass of strawberry lemonade? The last time I went to the grocery store to buy this sugary goodness I picked up a can of Country Time because on the label is said it big bold letters, "No Artificial Sweeteners of Flavors."  I should have known better.  It's about as processed as you can get but I was in a hurry and it was for my 4 year old's birthday party.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Commercial Break Workouts

We haven't had cable in our house for years now.  Hulu Plus and Netflix have long since replaced it and we've never looked back.  That is not to say we don't watch TV.  On the contrary - we watch PLENTY.  Maybe too much sometimes!  Now, Netflix doesn't have commercials but Hulu has these perfect little (sometimes annoying... OK highly annoying) one to three minute commercial breaks.  I've discovered this is the perfect time to get some strength building in. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Make No Sew Reusable Swiffer Pads

This tutorial is how to make reusable Swiffer Pads.  I would love to own a sewing machine someday but as of now I do not have one.  So I went in search of way I could make these without actually sewing.  I found THIS site with a great tutorial on how to sew some if you would rather do it that way.  And I threw in my own creativity with a much cheaper means of sticking it your Swiffer.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Swiffer Solution

I ran out of Swiffer solution a long time ago.  I'm embarrassed to admit just how long it has been since I've actually mopped in our kitchen or bathrooms.  Yikes!  We have a traditional mop and bucket but it gets stinky quickly and quite frankly it's just a hassle right?  I mean filling the bucket and wringing out the mop.  Who wants to do that?!  Ha!  We bought a Swiffer years ago to avoid this cumbersome process.  It was nice to spray and push.  But then you had the nasty pads that just get thrown away and the super expensive refills to buy once you run out of the solution.  And they are smart too.  The refills are not made to be refilled at home.  They want you to keep coming back for more.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Homemade Dish Soap and Dishwasher Tabs

DIY and save money!
In my house, if the kitchen is clean than I am much less likely to be stressed out.  I love to cook and bake and since we don't use many paper products anymore (napkins, paper towels, paper plates, etc.) the dishes tend to pile up.  Fast.  I run the dishwasher twice a day usually and still have to hand wash some things.  So as you may have guessed we go through dish soap and dishwasher detergent pretty quickly.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Homemade Natural Pain Relieving Cream (aka "Icy Hot")

Teaching Zumba and Aqua Zumba six or seven times a week, you would think I would get sore muscles from that.  Nope.  This week I happened to get horrible neck and shoulder pain from sleeping funny.  Have you ever done that?  My guess is yes.  So what do you do when you strain a muscle or wake up with a painful ache?  I know what is my first response.  Ibuprofen and Icy Hot!  While I'm not quite sure how to give up the Ibuprofen, when I realized I was out of Icy Hot, I figured I could learn to make my own. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Fruit Icy's (Healthy Bribery)

I'm not above bribing my kids for things.  Bribes, rewards, prizes, treats - whatever you want to call it.  Sometimes a good treat is the best way to get something done.  One of the things that drives me nuts is when it's time to go.  Time to leave the pool.  Time to leave the playground.  The splash pad.  The dirt pile.  The backyard.  You name it!  Dragging them to car is the worst.  You try reasoning with a 2 and 4 year old!

Enter bribery.

Candy? Too much sugar. Toys? Too expensive. Snacks? Doesn't always work.  The trick is finding something that they both really like.  How about Popsicles?  My kids live for popsicles in the summertime.  Of course they are a very hard item to pack.  I came up with a way to bring those tasty frozen treats with us on fun outings.  I use them as a way to haul them back to the car.  We call them "icy's" and they are perfect for shorter trips (about 2 hours is the max).  Bonus:  they are mess free!! Not to mention healthy.

On the Go Fruit Icy's

1 cup Frozen (or fresh) fruit of your choice.  I like to buy the large bag of frozen mixed fruit from Sam's club
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp simple syrup *optional*

Blend ingredients together.  Pour into a refillable pouch.  We use Squeeze em's and I really love them.  The top pops up so you can easily fill it (and clean it) and then it has a small spout at the top for the kids to suck on.  I use ours for applesauce and yogurt and now for our summertime fruit icy's.  Store in the freezer until fully frozen.

To use:  Pack them in a small lunch box and keep in your car for up to 2 hours.  They will slowly get a little mushy and make the perfect fruit icy!  They also make great lunch bag coolers.  Pack it along side the kids lunch to keep everything nice and cool and then enjoy them as dessert.

I made extra for Popsicle too to eat at home!

In addition to the park and pool, I use them when I teach Zumba sometimes - just leave them in the car and then the kids have something to look forward to after mommy gets done teaching class.  We've taken them to church to enjoy on the way home too.  They are so easy to make!  The kids enjoy it and I love that they are healthy.  I've made strawberry, pineapple, and peach flavors.  And they're not just for kids!  John and I have enjoyed them too!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cool Natural Hair Trick

While experimenting different ways to use baking soda, I discovered a handy trick for my hair.  Since it's not healthy to shampoo your hair everyday sometimes I deal with greasy hair.  OK, I'll level with you, maybe sometimes I just don't wash my hair for a few days out of shear laziness.  Just being honest here!

In the past I have turned to baby powder to soak up some of the oily-ness if I had to go someplace public and didn't have time to shower.  In fact, I would keep a small container of it in my car or in my gym bag.  I was getting my hair cut the other day and while I waited my turn I picked up Cosmo Magazine.  Not a read I normally go for but the cover intrigued me.  While flipping pages I read this article about what to keep in your desk drawer at work for when you stay out all night and need to freshen up the next day.  Obviously not my world, but one of the tricks was an aerosol can of "dry" shampoo.  I can only imagine what chemicals may be hiding in that little can.  Why not use this trick instead?

Baking soda.  That's it.

I had some seriously oily hair the other night.  Before showering I thought I'd give this trick a try.  Simply rub some baking soda into your scalp until the white disappears.  I did not brush it out, just fluffed a bit with my fingers.  So simple.  Here are the results.

Not bad for a quick fix!  I think I'll keep some of  this in my car and gym bag from now on!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Growing Your Groceries Update

A while back I blogged about growing your groceries.  You can read that post HERE.  Here is an update on some of things we tried to grow from the grocery store.


Well the lettuce works fantastic when you let it sit in water and harvest the leaves after a few weeks.  Once.  maybe twice. However, I decided to plant it in the ground just to see what it would do.  Turns out it just grows, and grows, and grows upward.  It continued to grow small leaves so I let it just keep going until it stopped producing anymore leaves and some of them fell over from the weight.  They even started budding on top and looked like pretty wild flowers!  I wanted to plant some lettuce from seed in the row they were in so I went ahead and dug them up.  I wish I would have taken a picture while they were still standing but I forgot.  Here is what they looked like and the harvest we got from them.  Unfortunately they tasted very bitter and we probably won't eat it.  Bummer!

Green Onion

Our green onions however have FAR exceeded my expectations.  We started them out in water and once they had roots a few inches long, planted them in window boxes.  We haven't bought any since! I've harvested them over and over again - at least 5 or more times each - and they keep growing!  It's an endless supply of green onion.  I'm having to find ways to cook with it to keep up!  We now have 3 boxes total and just rotate which one I cut from.


Our celery was a complete flop.  It would turn a beautiful color green and grow lots of leaves - even grow some stalks a little bit.  But ultimately it always started growing some kind of mold or fungus and then died.  I don't know if there is a trick or maybe it just doesn't work well with celery.  Either way, we were never able to harvest and eat any celery we tried to regrow.


We love those little mini colorful peppers in yellow, orange, and red.  They don't have a lot of seeds in them but I wondered what would happen if we save them and try to grow them.  There are probably better ways to do it, but we just simply took the seeds straight from the peppers and planted them in seed starter soil in our basement.  We weren't sure if they would germinate but sure enough, in a few weeks we had foliage.  When it was time to put the rest of the plants outside, we transplanted the baby plants into a Topsy Turvy pepper planter.  While we still do not have peppers, we have lots of strong leaves and are even starting to see some buds.  Here's hoping we actually get to eat some peppers later this summer!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Morning after the Storm

Last night we got some much needed rain.  In fact, at one point John and I were looking outside and saying it hasn't rained like this here in a long time.  Torrential rain.  Refreshing and healing rain.  Winds violent enough to blow trash cans around and send our pool next door, yet God protected our plants.  In fact, this morning when I went to check on the garden I was moved to see the plants healthier than they've ever looked.  They were standing taller with branches stretched upwards as if praising God for the much needed rain.  Though they had been tossed around the night before they were grateful for the life giving water.  Not just the kind of water that comes from the hose, the readily available quick fixes, but the root-drenching, soul-quenching kind that can only come from God himself.

While out grocery shopping yesterday I heard this great song on K-Love that I haven't heard in a while.  It's by the group Need to Breath and is called Washed by the Water.  The chorus struck me.

Even when the rain falls
Even when the flood starts rising
Even when the storm comes
I am washed by the water

We all go through stuff that seems bigger than we can handle or know how to deal with.  On a personal note, sometimes I feel we are just trying to keep our heads above water with our finances.  One paycheck from going under.  As a stay at home mom, living on one income is a struggle sometimes. But God is good and He provides.  I get such joy from grocery shopping because it means I can feed my family even if I have to crunch the numbers to make it work.  I hurt for mothers across the world who cannot experience that same joy.

This morning God taught me to raise my arms and praise Him just like my plants.  Despite the storm, the wind, the heavy rain.   The sun comes up in the morning and a new day begins.  There is so much to be thankful for.

If you are in a tough season of life or just having a rough day, remember my plants.  Let all creation rejoice before the Lord.