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Archives for April 2012

Sage, from the garden to the bath

I love gardening…. It is a great time to clear my head and just get down and dirty… literally… there is nothing as satisfying as growing a plant from a tiny seedling and watching it bloom and being able to use it in so many ways.

This year I decided that I was going to create a “Sage Garden” for Hadley. Through Hadley’s Conductive Education we learned that sage is a wonderful muscle relaxant if used to soak in a tub. I have to say I was a big skeptic for years and years about “herbal therapy” and what “good” it can do but this to me was next to amazing!

hadley's sage garden

Hadley has cerebral palsy which causes her arms and legs to tighten up to the point where she balls her feet up and one of her hands. It amazes me that she can actually stand on her feet and bear weight and walk while doing this. Try it… Tighten your feet so tight you feel all the muscles cramp… it hurts huh? Uncomfortable… yes! And somehow due to the spasticity she can keep her feet like this for hours, me a few minutes and I’m going nuts… but how do you “undue” this?

A few years ago Dora who is Hadley’s current Conductor (therapist) asked if we could give Hadley a Sage bath, she explained that the Sage acts a muscle relaxant. So with my eyebrow raised I went and boiled a large pot of water and put a bunch of fresh Sage in it…. The smell was divine!! Almost tea like however, the bundle I used was large enough to send the fragrance through the whole first floor of our home. After boiling it for about 20 minutes, we let it cool a bit and then brought the pot into Hadley’s bath and added it to her bath water. We gently put Hadley in her bath chair and down she went into the warm, tea smelling water… and we soaked her and let her sit for 30 minutes. When the half hour was up, we got her out and dried off and it was amazing the difference in all of her muscles… Her legs and hand were actually “relaxed” and this then made her working with Dora much easier. I strongly recommend you giving it a try if you have painful leg muscles or if your child has cerebral palsy.

So this year we decided to create a large Sage garden so we never run out for the summer when Dora comes back! I can smell it now…

Chic Recipe Binder

I know I know I have been going “binder crazy” with my Major Spring Cleaning, but it is just such a great way to organize one’s self, and with so many wonderful and pretty designs of binders these days, which as a designer I love, I just can’t help myself…

So do you have a “pile” of recipes that you have ripped out while reading food magazines? I can sit for hours and ponder as I daydream about all the wonderful recipes I’d like to make… and usually I do try them and when I “love” them I keep them in my “recipe pile” so now…. Organization Queen to the rescue…

food magazines

I give you my Recipe binder!

my chic recipe binder

My binder is divided into sections of food that I actually make, a lot of cookbooks always have a section I just never have used, as much as I love perusing through them and “dreaming,” I’m not going to make pasta from scratch-that just isn’t me.

So, I made tabbed sections with stylish folders and file tabs for the food that I would spend time on. Surprising one of them being “holiday food” whose pile is getting larger by the holiday!

recipe binder

 

I also put an empty pocket at the beginning of each section for, “recipes I’d like to try” and when I try one of those new recipes out  should our family “love” it, that recipe would get their own shiny page!

I used 2 types of clear plastic protectors for my pages. One that is the full size 8 ½ x 10 sheets and also one that is for photo’s but I can use them to hold up to 6 recipe cards (front and back). *A note about plastic protectors, I have tried just about everyone on the market and it is best to use the heavyweight page, others are just to flimsy and you won’t be happy, I know I’ve thrown a bunch out… shhh, don’t tell my hubby, he won’t be to happy!

Do you have a way to organize your recipes? I’d love to see your binder if you have one! Let me know if I have “inspired” you to make one, really it is so simple and cleans up just one more “big” pile in my house and I’m sure yours too!

Fun School Files

I have been hitting up Spring Cleaning in a very serious way this year, a lot of my projects are in the mid phase and as I complete each one not only will I get a great sense of pride for getting it “done” but I will be sharing with you what I did to “organize” our household to be a little more efficient.

Today I am going to share with you my girls “education files.” Now that Sarah has graduated from college I have years and years of paperwork to organize and Hadley is going into her last year of high school and that translates to 18 years of IEP’s and mounds of paperwork… Being the “pack rat” that I am I’d like to keep these papers in an organized way so that I can look at them from time to time when I want a good cry-*sap alert, but isn’t that what all mom’s do?

So I started by organizing each of the girls paperwork by grade and I made a cover sheet where I added their school photo’s of that year and basic information, not only did this help organize the school work for each grade that I saved but also helped me organize the girl’s school photo’s; and now I’m ready to crop a new album of “School Days…”

hadley's cover page

Each year there were a few assignments I just couldn’t part with and oh yes, we must keep all of the report cards! For Hadley keeping all of her IEP’s is a great way to go back and read how/when she hit her developmental milestones since her educational years where much different then Sarah’s.

school files

I looked around for “colorful” boxes that I could use for this and I think I came up with a great choice. I love the color “red” it screams “education” to me!

school boxes

Being the organizational diva that I am I labeled files for each year of school starting with Pre-K for both and went up to grade 12, for Hadley it goes to grade 12+ since she is in Special Ed which goes till her 21rst birthday.. However, I’m still thinking of adding a few folders to Sarah’s to cover her College years.

I’m thrilled with the outcome!! Project #1 Complete…. So what do you think?

The Clean Fifteen

The Clean 15photo credit: The Digitel Myrtle Beach

In my last post we discussed The Dirty Dozen which is the list of the top culprits of food with the most pesticides so that you had an idea of what to splurge on from the Organic section. Today we are giving you The Clean fifteen, meaning the list of those you can buy that are not organic.

The Clean Fifteen:
These items contain the lowest levels of pesticides when grown conventionally. Listed from least to greatest, onion scored the lowest for pesticide content.

1.    Onions
2.    Avocados
3.    Sweet corn
4.    Pineapples
5.    Mango
6.    Asparagus
7.    Sweet Peas
8.    Kiwi
9.    Cabbage
10.  Eggplant
11.  Papaya
12.  Watermelon
13.  Broccoli
14.  Tomatoes
15.  Sweet Potatoes

Anything on your shopping list?

The Dirty Dozen

whole foods producephoto credit: miamism

Organic Smorganic is what my grandmother would have probably have said if you told her we now label foods. However she was the first to run to every market to buy what was fresh from the farm, so maybe she was just a lady a head of her time.

When Sarah was little her best friends mom was from California where everyone always seemed to care about fresh food and what they put in their bodies. Her friends mom’s brother owned a Grocery chain out there and she was the first person to introduce me to the “organic lifestyle” but that was almost 22 years ago and we only had one organic market in the area; then a second popped up, then Fresh Fields came to town to become Whole Foods, and then the grocery stores got hit with the bug and began to carry organic foods. Organic foods are harvested without pesticides and for some reason are more costly, actually I’m not sure why if they are grown in “pure” soil and meats don’t use hormones’, however that is another discussion, the fact is they are more costly but the question is does one need to pay the premium to buy everything organic?

After a bit of research I’m letting you know which you should spend the extra dollars on and which foods you can buy from the good old veggie/fruit section..

The Dirty Dozen:
These are the top 12 fruit-and-veggie offenders for pesticide residue.

1.    Peaches
2.    Apples
3.    Bell Peppers
4.    Celery
5.    Nectarines
6.    Strawberries
7.    Cherries
8.    Kale
9.    Lettuce
10.  Grapes (imported)
11.  Carrots
12.  Pears

Kitchen Tip: Since organic foods can be pricey, offset the cost by buying these fruits and veggies when they are “in season”.

Run ups:
Other veggies that ranked high are:

  • collard greens
  • spinach
  • potatoes.

Some Food for Thought:

Hit up your local farmers markets- often times smaller farms don’t have to use the same types or amounts of pesticides as large farms that service grocery stores. Talk to your local farmer at farm markets to find out how he or she uses pesticides.

Kitchen Tip: To decrease the amount of pesticide residue even further wash produce well before using.

This is just another reason to love local farmers markets. What do you splurge on?

Coupon Binder or Bible?

One of the first things that I did was create an organized Coupon Binder or for better words Bible which I got the help of from The Krazy Coupon Lady, she has it already laid out for you section by section all you need to do is spend the time and gather the goods to create your Bible and assemble. This is one of those times I say “why reinvent the wheel” when she has done it so well and nicely designed too!

You will need:

1 Binder: I chose a 2” thick binder which I think is a good size and mine has a little clipboard on the side for anything extra I might want to bring or a pad of paper.

41 Heavyweight Sheet Protectors: I will tell you I had bought some at Target which were very flimsy so I used some others I had from Staples which were much better. I figure these will take a pretty good beating being flipped back and forth, sorry Target but this product of yours wasn’t up to par.

60 Pages of Baseball Card inserts for the clipped coupons

Assembly is as easy as 1, 2, 3~

Love love love bright designs from Target

couponing bible

There are even a few pages for you to customize should you have the need. You should organize by category to keep things easy to find.

Hadley's Page

Clipboard good for extra coupons and pad for notes

clipboard

Clip coupons and add to Baseball Card inserts in each area. I think it is best to add them in date order that way you can have what expires up first and duplicates behind.

OK, your turn, shoot me your link when you have it done, i’d love to see yours!

My new life as a Couponista!

couponing 101

Being a special needs mom my budget sometimes gets stretched a little tight due to unforeseen medical expenses and I have been trying to figure out a way to cut back and recently became very interested and intrigued after watching shows on TV about “extreme couponing”. I don’t know about extreme or fully understand how those ladies purchase 10 full carts of food for $50 but I sure got the bug to figure it out and save what I can. So I’m proud to say that today is the first day of the rest of my “couponing” life. I will no longer be a coupon virgin!  So after studying and reading everything I could from a number of “experts”…What have I learned? A LOT (!) which I will be sharing and carrying forward with you.

The Basic Rules of Couponing

  1. Cook according to what you have “in stock” do NOT go out and buy food based on making weekly recipes; which is how I have shopped most of my adult life.
  2. Lose the membership to Warehouse clubs they are not worth the expense, and who needs a 10 gallon bottle of ketchup really?
  3. The way to really save is to visit ALL of the stores in your area NOT just the one around the corner that is the most convenient; sorry Giant; “Hello” Safeway, Harris Teeter, and Whole Foods, which will also force to get in the car and drive more which for me right now is also a “good thing!”
  4. Build what I will call “The Coupon Bible” which will house all of my weekly coupons, circulars, and store coupons *hello Balducci’s 10% off coupons which I often left at home.

I’m ready to “do this” I feel like I have my game hat on and I’m ready to play the game of math, which wasn’t my best subject, so here I go and I hope to help you along the way. I’d love to hear any of your tips you might have too!