Lilacs – From Bud to Bloom: Their 5 Week Transformation

 

 

 

 

 

I love lilacs. I love how they look and I love how they smell. My only complaint about them is that they do not last longer.  Well, that and I wish that they held up better once cut. If they did, I’d put them in vases all over my home. This year I eagerly anticipated their arrival and decided to snap a weekly photo of their development.  There was a 10 day lapse from picture 6 to 7 and about 6 days of rain as well, so you will see a huge jump in their development.

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002

 

061

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What is your favorite springtime flower?

Take care, Stephanie

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Homemade S’mores, Made From Scratch – No Artificial Flavors, Dyes or Preservatives!

Hello MinnesotaFromScratch readers!  Today I have a very special guest blogger taking over. Rachel owns Capturedtimebooks, which is a wonderful blog about crafting and cooking. Rachel is a digital scrapbooking genius and a culinary wonder in the kitchen. A couple of years ago, Rachel put her daughter on the Feingold Diet and saw a dramatic change in her daughter’s behavior. With Memorial Day weekend coming up, I thought she’d be the perfect person to ask to guest blog about making homemade S’mores from scratch – without artificial flavors, dyes or preservatives.  So taking over the floor is Rachel….

Rachel here from Capturedtimebooks!  I was asked last week by Stephanie  to guest blog about S’mores.

Homemade Smores From Scratch - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

I have a daughter with ADD, whose symptoms have been greatly reduced by eliminating Artificial Colors, Flavors and Preservatives from her diet.  We live on a lake north of Minneapolis so in the summer, bonfires and S’mores are a common experience.  What’s a girl to do when the “go-to” marshmallow ( Kraft Jet Puff) has blue dye in it??  Blue?  Who would have thunk it??

kraft-jet-puffedI had no alternative; I had to make my own.  I found my hero, Alton Brown, had not only made them but made a VIDEO – Yeah Alton!!  I love the video because it provided me with one of my favorite kitchen phrases – “Culinary Napalm”.  Don’t let that scare you though, they are really easy to make, last FOREVER, melt way better than store bought and they taste amazing.  What you will notice about these marshmallows, in contrast to store bought is this:  when you try to “roast” a store bought marshmallow it is HARD work.  You must be very careful not to put the mallow too close to the flame or you end up with a fireball and once blown out, it has a black crust with a cold hard mallow on the inside.  In contrast, with these homemade mallows, you need to only gently put them to the flame, they brown easily and the best part is that they warm throughout.  So you end up with beautiful brown roast, as you want it and an ooey-gooey melty warm marshmallow.  Plus it has the true caramelized sugar flavor that commercial Jet-Puffed marshmallows lack.

Roasted homemade marshmallow - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Alton Brown Marshmallows, with my alterations included:

Ingredients

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup organic light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar * I use Trader Joe’s
  • 1/4 cup organic cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray  *I use spray Coconut Oil

Directions:

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

How to make homemade Marshmallows - Minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240° F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high.

Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.

Homemade Marshmallows - www.MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

Homemade marshmallows - www.MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan.

Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later.

Homemade marshmallows - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Homemade marshmallows - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

For the graham crackers, there are two routes a girl who is avoiding artificial colors, flavors and preservatives can go.  The easy route – which I fancy quite a bit.  Use Trader Joe’s Honey Grahams.IMG_1879 Trader Joe’s is my bestie in this category since they have pledged that anything with their name on it has NO AF, AC or Preservatives.  YEAH!!!  So you can grab these if you have a TJ’s in the area). If Trader Joe’s has not come to your area yet, you can try option two: the homemade graham which I have explained how to make in great detail over at my blog. So head over!

For chocolate, you can use any organic dark chocolate you can find. TJs has a great dark chocolate we use.

The perfect S'more - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Thank you so much for guest blogging today, Rachel!

Take care, Stephanie

Eco-Friendly Beauty: Celadon Road Cream Cleanser Review and Giveaway!

Celadon Road Review -- MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Celedon Road’s Mission Statement

“Celadon Road is dedicated to promoting greener, healthier and more socially responsible living by offering our customers the highest quality natural, eco-friendly products for their everyday needs.  In following our mission, we inspire individuals to discover and explore their shade of green and to purchase with a purpose. We strongly believe if we all make small changes toward a greener lifestyle, collectively we can have a profound impact on our world.”

Last month Amanda Arkans, an independent consultant from Celadon Road, contacted me to see if I’d be interested in trying out an Age Defying Cream Cleanser. I was very excited to give it a try as I’m always looking for great natural, eco-friendly products to incorporate into my regimen.  I have been using the cleanser every time I wash my face now for the last three weeks and I have been very pleased with it.

I consider myself to have pretty sensitive skin so I was a little nervous that switching to a new cleanser might cause my skin to breakout during the adjustment period. Surprisingly did not at all and that tells me that this is an extremely gentle product. The cleanser is creamy and smooth and does not suds up, it feels very moisturizing as it is massaged into the skin and the scent is a very, very light citrus scent. If you have a weak sense of smell, you may not even smell anything.  I loved that about the cleanser because too much scent can give me a headache. After washing, my face is left feeling clean, smooth and hydrated.

Here are a few of the ingredients you can find in this face wash: organic coconut oil, organic jojoba seed oil, organic grape seed oil, organic carrot juice, organic lemon juice and organic hibiscus flower. Sounds great, right? It really is.

Other perks about Celadon Road: Gluten-free, Member of the Organic Trade Association, Not Animal Tested, Vegan and made in the USA.

Celedon Road is a direct marketing company. Consultants enjoy generous commissions and get to set their own schedules. If you are interested, let Amanda know you learned about this opportunity from Minnesota From Scratch and you’ll get a free cleanser of your choice if  you become a qualified consultant!

Would you like to win a facial cleanser for yourself? Amanda has generously offered to giveaway a full-sized facial cleanser OF YOUR CHOICE to one lucky reader. Follow the directions below to enter this giveaway. You must leave a comment for each action performed. Each comment counts as one entry for up to six entries possible.

Congratulations to comment number 86 – Bonnie. You have won the Celadon Road Facial Cleanser Giveaway!

Celadon Road giveaway winner

To Enter:

Earn 1 entry by visiting Amanda’s Celadon Road website, click the “Shop Online” tab and leave a comment below letting me know which other product you’d like to try.

Earn 1 entry by signing up to follow MinnesotaFromScratch’s blog (Free entry if you are already a follower).  The sign up box is on the right side of this webpage. Leave a comment letting me know.

Earn 1 entry for signing up for Amanda’s newsletter.

Earn 1 entry for following MinnesotaFromScratch on facebook. (Free entry if you are already a follower).  Leave a comment letting me know.

Earn 1 entry for following me on Twitter.

Earn 1 entry for following Celadon Road by, Amanda Moser Arkans on Facebook.

Don’t forget to leave a comment for each action performed, as that is your entry into the contest!

The giveaway begins May 20th, 2013 and ends at 11:59pm CST on May 24th, 2013. A winner will be chosen and contacted on May 25th, 2013 via e-mail and will have 48 hours to respond to my e-mail. Non-response is a forfeit and another winner will be chosen. Winner will be chosen by a random number generator on Random.org. All entries will be verified before granting the prize.

Amanda provided the cleanser for this review and all opinions are my own.

Are you a Glutton for Gluten?

whole wheat

I think it’s fair to say that most people love, LOVE their breads, pastas, pizzas, pastries, and… (dare I say) beer.   I recently read a short article in the Taste for Life magazine that I picked up at a Whole Foods Store I frequent.  Although the article was short, it really got me thinking about the foods I am consuming and more concerning is what I’m feeding my son.   Keep in mind that I buy all organic, and assumed I was avoiding all the ‘bad stuff’.  And I’ve been gluten ‘curious’ for some time, but not really curious enough to endeavor.

What struck me was that the article stated whole-wheat bread when compared to white bread was like selecting filtered rather than non-filtered cigarettes – WHAT!

The problem lies in the crossbreeding and hybridization of the wheat which introduces chemicals to our diet leading to high blood sugar levels (diabetes), overeating (obesity), inflammation, irritable bowel, cancer, the list goes on…

So what’s the answer you ask?  Heritage wheat is available and is more like the whole wheat your grandmother (or your grandmother’s grandmother) used to bake with.  For me?  I have switched our sandwich bread and tortillas out for gluten-free products and plan to make my own gluten-free flour to bake with.  I’m not suffering from celiac disease or a wheat allergy, but I do believe that introducing gluten-free into our diet is an easy way to make our diets more diverse.  (Gluten is found in wheat, rye, and barley.)

I’m considering going gluten-free entirely for a month to see if I feel different.  In researching the subject it seems many people find they have more energy, are less bloated and just ‘feel’ better.  The challenge has been to find products that are both gluten-free AND organic.

What’s your experience with a gluten-free diet?

Kristin (not a doctor)

101 Things I Love About My Mother

mom2

I love….

  1. Her thirst for travel
  2. Her ability to talk to anyone
  3. Her fearless attitude toward adventure
  4. Her laugh
  5. Her strength
  6. Her resilience
  7. Her bond with my daughter
  8. The way she can connect with other people
  9. Her always super soft skin
  10. Her sense of humor
  11. Her motivation
  12. Her cooking without recipes
  13. Her wittiness
  14. Her knowledge about natural remedies
  15. Her love for zip-up fleece vests… haha
  16. Angie
  17. Her willingness to always kick someone’s ass for me, lucky she has never had to 😉   …yet.
  18. That she was the first mate on the Nina
  19. That she raised tigers
  20. That she can be happy in luxury or a hole in a hill
  21. Her green thumb
  22. How when I need her, she is there
  23. How she is always looking for a way to help others
  24. How she can whip up a feast in 10 minutes when you think the cupboards are bare
  25. Her honesty
  26. That she has everything but needs nothing
  27. How some of her awesomeness rubbed off onto me
  28. Her creative side
  29. Her handmade pottery
  30. Her beauty, inside and out
  31. How she bribes my daughter with Jelly Beans
  32. How she will not put up with crap from anyone, ever
  33. That I know she always has my back
  34. How she gets along with my friends
  35. How forgiving she is
  36. Her stories, she should write a book – seriously, Ma
  37. How she listens to what her dreams are telling her
  38. That she believes in the other side
  39. The way she dances, arms and all 😉
  40. That she knows how to sail
  41. How she can tie knots that will not come undone
  42. Card night
  43. Her magnetic personality
  44. How she loves to have a good time
  45. How we have the same feet
  46. How we both have the same wrinkly palms too
  47. Our shared love for Asian food, Mexican food, Seafood and pretty much all food
  48. How she supports me and my family
  49. How she comments on every single blog post of mine
  50. That even when she lived far away, I still felt close to her
  51. That she moved back to MN
  52. Enjoying apps and wine with her
  53. How she helped my daughter learn her colors
  54. That she does not give up
  55. That she respects my opinions
  56. That she always sides with my husband (jk… dislike!) But I do like that they have a good relationship
  57. That she kayaks
  58. That she can rig fishing poles up like a pro
  59. That she knows how to do almost everything (at least it seems that way to me)
  60. Her thriftiness
  61. Her helpfulness with the family
  62. Her love for animals
  63. That she is not afraid of bugs, specifically spiders
  64. That she eats off of tiny plates but will have 5 servings, cracks me up
  65. That she is comfortable in her own skin
  66. That she tells it like it is
  67. Her intuitiveness
  68. That we have 4 generations of Geminis
  69. That she was a young mother
  70. Our tightknit family
  71. That she kept the subs in the car and occasionally enjoys rap music… grandma
  72. That she admits her weaknesses
  73. How she got me interested in homeopathy
  74. Her generosity
  75. Her optimism
  76. Her bluntness
  77. How I can tell her ANYTHING and I mean anything
  78. How she pronounces Twitter “Tweeter” and WiFi “WeeFee”
  79. How handy she is
  80. Her blue eyes
  81. That she has friends all over the world
  82. That her friends are from all different walks of life
  83. Her wild side
  84. Her one of a kind qualities
  85. How she makes hard tasks look so easy
  86. How on April 27th, 2005 she did not give up
  87. How at her weakest moment, she was still positive
  88. How we know firsthand Reiki works
  89. Our connection
  90. That we are Gemini’s
  91. Kisses for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… remember?
  92. How good she is at Scrabble
  93. Her hospitality
  94. Her jerk chicken
  95. Making gingerbread cookies
  96. Talking to her every day
  97. What a hard worker she is
  98. Her healthy habits
  99. Her uniqueness
  100. Our friendship
  101. That she is my mother

I love you, Mom!

 

Take care, Stephanie

Homemade Organic Clove and Sweet Orange Lip Balm

Homemade organic  lip gloss - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Here’s a great simple and quick lip balm you can make for yourself and others.  I found the recipe on Mountain Rose Herbs website a few years back.  They described it as “A warming lip balm with a delightful scent reminiscent of Orange and Clove Pomander Balls”.  All of the ingredients can be found at your local natural foods store or you can order them online at Mountain Rose Herbs (like I did). You only need a little of the ingredients to make 10 tubes or tins, but you can also use the beeswax and essential oils for making your own chemical-free lotion, all you need is some added  oil. I halved the recipe for this post; those measurements are in (parentheses).  Enjoy!

The Organic Ingredients:lipingredients
Makes 10 lip balms (recipe halved)

1 TBSP Shea Butter (1 ½ tsp)

3 TBSP Sunflower Oil (1 T + 1 ½ tsp)

1 TBSP plus 1 teaspoon Beeswax (1 ½ tsp)

15 drops Sweet Orange essential oil (7 drops)

5 drops Clove essential oil (2 drops)

Coarsely chop the beeswax or use beeswax pastilles. Place beeswax, butter, and oils in a small pot or glass Pyrex measuring cup and gently heat in the top of a double boiler until the beeswax and butters have melted. Once melted, remove from the stovetop and add essential oils.

lipcook

lipdrops

Immediately pour the mixture into lip balm containers. You can purchase lip balm tubes and jars, or you can reuse glass or plastic containers. I reused my night cream jar.

Allow to cool completely before placing caps onto the lip balm containers.

lipcenter

Your lip balm is finished!  Add labels and or decorate if you wish!

Thanks for reading!

-Kristin

A New Breakfast Juice Recipe, Enjoyed From A “Hillbilly Wine Glass”

Breakfast Juice in a Hillbilly Wine Glass - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

A couple of weeks ago my friend showed me a photo of these “Hillbilly Wine Glasses” for sale online. They were on sale for  $25 for a set of two.  I couldn’t believe what they were charging!  I told him I could make them myself and so I did. I made him a set of 4 glasses, for a quarter of the cost of what he would have paid for 2 glasses and it took me about 3 minutes, literally.

Before I gave them away for good, I decided to enjoy my morning juice from a glass and they are actually pretty awesome to drink from. I thought they’d feel awkward but they didn’t at all. I am going to make two more for myself and drink out of them when I am canning from now on.

Here are the ingredients for the juice I made:

  • 1 whole large cucumber
  • 1 grapefruit
  • 1 orange
  • 1 apple

It made two servings and had a nice flavor. All produce was organic.

Take care, Stephanie

Painted Flower Pots – A Great Craft for Kids and A Thoughtful Gift Idea!

Painted flower pots with flowers - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Last month I bought some terracotta flowerpots from our local hardware store in anticipation of Mother’s Day.  Over the last 6 weeks, I have let my daughter slowly work her magic on these pots that we will be giving as gifts for Mother’s Day.  She had a good time painting and I had fun helping.

Supplies:

  • Terracotta pots
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes or foam brushes
  • Foam stamps (optional)
  • Glitter Glue (optional)
  • A sealant for pots that are intended for the outdoors, such as Mod Podge – outside

Painted Flower Pots - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

On sunny days, we took this craft outside and that made it even more enjoyable.

Painted flower pots--- - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

I found some insect and flower stamps at the $1 store, as well as glitter glue.  I find that the foam brushes work best for covering the pot evenly with paint. The acrylic paint dries pretty quickly and then you can go back for a second or third coat.

We bought the flowers from a nearby flower shop and planted them. She is very excited to pass them out over the weekend!

Happy Mother’s day!
Take care, Stephanie

Celebrate National Train Day – Saturday May 11, 2013

Kids love model trains!

Kids love model trains!

Young children (both boys and girls) are enamored by trains, as well as they should be.  Trains are fascinating and a big part of our history.  Trains, even model ones, are pretty cool for adults as well.  This Saturday is National Train Day (Amtrak). A fun way to celebrate this *holiday* with the kids is to visit your local model train museum.  If you’re not sure if you have one located near you, I’d be willing to bet that you do.  Train museums are typically all-volunteer -ran by model train enthusiasts and the layouts are donated for our enjoyment!

If you are feeling adventurous you could look for an actual rail to ride in your neighborhood!  Check out all of the celebrations happening in your area and make a point to celebrate part of history with your little ones!

The photos here are from the Twin Cities Model Train Museum’s Toy Train Division in Minnesota, which is a regular hang out for my son and I on a Saturday morning when we don’t have much else to do.  It’s always a hit!

trains1

trains3

trains

Happy Train Day!

Kristin

Painted Rocks for Mother’s Day! A Craft Kids and Adults Will Enjoy!

Ladybug Rock, painted by my mom a few years ago

Ladybug Rock, painted by my mom a few years ago

Another cute gift idea for Mom or Grandma (or the important motherly-figure in your life) is painted rocks. They are great to set on window sills as decoration, or to feature in a potted plant or even the garden!

Supplies:

  • Rocks
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Water to clean brushes
  • Plate for paint
  • Paper towels for clean up
  • A sealant or Mod Podge for outdoor rocks

In my home, any craft that involves paint is a hit.  For this craft, we found a couple smooth rocks in the yard, grabbed a couple of our favorite acrylic paint colors and headed outside. I let my daughter go at it and she had a blast.

Don't forget a smock - she's totally dipping her shirt in paint here...

Don’t forget a smock – she’s totally dipping her shirt in paint here…

Here are some other very beautiful painted rocks that I found online to give you an idea of how creative these rocks can get:

Source: http://www.etsy.com/listing/121471753/breathegently-painted-rock-sandi-pike?ref=sr_gallery_26&ga_search_query=painted+rocks&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_page=2&ga_search_type=all

Picture source

Source: http://www.etsy.com/listing/119464115/painted-rocks-made-to-order-by-shelli?ref=sr_gallery_11&ga_search_query=painted+rocks&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=all

Photo source

Source: http://www.etsy.com/listing/125770681/original-landscape-painting-painted?ref=sr_gallery_26&ga_search_query=painted+rocks&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=all

Photo source

Happy crafting!

Take care, Stephanie

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