Kiwi Crate Review: Summer Discovery Series – Nature Explorer Theme

My daughter and I enjoy crafting year round. I was so glad when she finally got old enough to enjoy coloring and painting because it rekindled a creative side of myself that I had locked away over the years. Activities seem to get more and more exciting as she continues to get older and it gives me a chance to “play” again. Over the last year or so, I had seen the Kiwi Crate brand around quite a bit on the internet but I wasn’t too clear on all that they entailed.  In case you are unaware of what Kiwi Crate is as well, it is a monthly subscription for children (with focus on ages 3-7) that sends a box of craft materials needed to complete the themed project(s) of the month. All of the materials required to create the hands-on projects are included. The theme for June, July and August is “Summer Discovery”.

The Kiwi Crate we received was the June box which was the *Nature Explorer Theme*. It came with two projects: My Starlight Lantern and My Collection Box. I broke the projects up over two days to stretch out the excitement a bit and I’m glad we did it that way.

Kiwi Crate - June -

The June Kiwi Crate – Nature Explorer Theme with special gift of a deck of playing cards!

The first project we took on was the Lantern. I actually pulled out the Kiwi Crate mid-melt down and it worked like at charm to snap my daughter back to reality (THANK YOU KIWI CRATE!). I decided to make this exercise extra special by laying a blanket out in the yard and crafting outside. We sat in the shade and the temperature was perfect.

Each project has a booklet that includes step-by-step directions and also some interesting info to read to the kiddies.

Each project has a booklet that includes step-by-step directions and also some interesting info to read to the kiddies.

These are the supplies needed for the Starlight Lantern project

These are the supplies needed for the Starlight Lantern project

My daughter likes to do everything herself these days.

My daughter likes to do everything herself these days.

She took a lot of pride in stamping these sheets on her own.

She took a lot of pride in stamping these sheets on her own.

The project was so kid-friendly that my daughter was able to do almost everything on her own with little instruction from me.

The project was so kid-friendly that my daughter was able to do almost everything on her own with little instruction from me.

The finished product! This crate came with a little flame-less candle too so of course we headed inside to check it out in the dark afterwards. Very fun!

The finished product! This crate came with a little flame-less candle too so of course we headed inside to check it out in the dark afterwards. Very fun!

The next day, we put together the second part of this crate: My Collection Box

The Collection Box

The Collection Box

Look at the jumbo crayons they sent! So great for little hands. My daughter colored stickers and was able to decorate her collection box.

Look at the jumbo crayons they sent! So great for little hands. My daughter colored stickers and was able to decorate her collection box.

There are 4 different scavenger hunt cards: 1. Shapes 2. Colors 3. Physical Items and 4. Create Your Own

There are 4 different scavenger hunt cards: 1. Shapes 2. Colors 3. Physical Items and 4. Create Your Own

We decided to seek out the physical items which required us to find: Clovers, leaves, rocks, sticks, flowers, rocks and grass

We decided to seek out the physical items which required us to find: Clovers, leaves, rocks, sticks, flowers, and grass.

We were able to find several of each just in our own yard!

We were able to find several of each just in our own yard!

Once the collection box was full, we categorized our findings by color.

Once the collection box was full, we categorized our findings by color.

We had such a good time searching around the yard. After colors, we moved on to shapes and finding a natural square object in nature proved to be difficult for us. We are still on the look out!

I thought this Kiwi Crate was awesome! Although we do craft a lot, I loved that all of the materials we needed were right one hand because normally I have to run to 1-2 places to pick up what we need. Plus, what we created offered us some hands-on learning and playtime afterwards. We will be able to use several of the items again for other projects in the future, such as the crayons, star punch and scissors.

Kiwi Crate has worked up a special offer for Minnesota From Scratch readers! Enter Minnesota25 when signing up for a new subscription and save 25% off the first month. This offer is valid until August 15th. Additionally, they are currently running a $10 off sale on their Summer Discovery Pack (value: $60) and free shipping (expires August 30th).

Take care, Stephanie

What were some of your favorite crafts when you were a kid?

Naegleria Fowleri: The Freshwater Amoeba That KILLS – Please Read

Reported cases of PAM by state in 2012.  Source

Reported cases of PAM by state in 2012.

Our family went swimming at a local lake over the weekend. It was my daughter’s first time swimming in the lake and I made sure she had her nose plug on at all times. Whenever she went in the water I required her to wear it, ESPECIALLY when she was near the shore where the water is warmer. She was the only person on a crowded beach with a nose plug on. Many people laughed and stared. I figured they were looking at her because she looked so darn cute and her little pink nose plug made her resemble Rudolph a tad. But I felt that some of the people were giggling and talking quietly to another was because she was wearing a nose plug.

The water was so warm the day we went swimming. The 6 day heatwave had just ended and my husband made the comment that the water was warmer than bathwater.  I was disappointed to see that not one other person was protecting their nose, but then it dawned on me that perhaps no one else was aware of the potential harm that could lurk in the water. Therefore, I decided to devote a blog post to the deadly freshwater amoeba: Naegleria Fowleri in hopes to bring some awareness to this 100% preventable killer amoeba.

This particular amoeba lives in freshwater: lakes, rivers, ponds and hot springs. But can also live in pool water if it is not chlorinated properly. Have you ever used a neti-pot before? Did you know that you are only supposed to use distilled or boiled water that has been cooled down? Well that is because of the potential harm of this amoeba. When water heats up near 80º F, the amoeba thrives and if it enters through a nose (adult or child), the amoeba travels to the brain and causes a fatal brain infection called Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM).

Initial symptoms are similar to meningitis and the flu and usually occur 5-7 days after contact, but once the symptoms hit, death occurs just 3-5 days later due to the rapid progression of PAM. Symptoms are not limited to, but could include: Fever, changes in taste,  stiff neck, headache, vomiting, confusion, loss of balance, hallucinations or seizures. There is no cure for PAM and it is completely preventable if you are safe. If you look up Naegleria Fowleri on the internet, it is likely that you will find information about it being “rare”, but the truth is that it is common for a misdiagnosis to occur and therefore it is not properly recorded.

When water is warm (I’d say above 70ºF just to be safe, because it can still be present once the water cools), be sure to wear a nose plug or facial mask to keep your nose guarded or just avoid the water all together. The amoeba can enter your nose even without your face being submerged; splashing around in the water can still cause the amoeba to enter your nose.

I first became aware of Naegleria Fowleri when I saw a posting about a family that lost their 7 year old son to this amoeba. They have since dedicated their lives to making people aware of the potential risks of swimming without a nose plug or mask. To read more about this family’s story, visit Kyle Cares. There is also additional info about the amoeba as well.

Currently, there is a 12 year old girl in Arkansas that is suffering from the “rare parasitic meningitis”. Please send positive vibes in her direction, she needs them now more than ever. Here is a link to that story: Kali

Let’s make as many people aware Naegleria Fowleri as possible! Please pin this, share it on facebook, tweet it, blog about it, whatever you have to do to save another person from dying from such a preventable death.

Protect yourself and your family by keeping it plugged!

Take care, Stephanie

Organic Cucumber-Tomato-Red Onion Summer Harvest Salad

cucumber-tomato-salad -

Years ago I used to giveaway or compost many of my garden-produced cucumbers simply because I didn’t know what to do with them!

This salad recipe became my most craved summer salad and eliminated any extra cucumbers from my harvest.

Simple and easy, you can whip this out in the morning for a delicious take-along lunch or for unexpected company that you feel the need to feed!  I don’t measure I just cut and pour, but below is a pretty good guide.

The Ingredients (makes about 2 cups):

  • 1 large Tomato (or 2 small), chopped
  • ½ Cucumber, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/3 C. Red Onion, chopped
  • 2 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 T. Red Wine Vinegar
  • Fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste (optional)

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!  Double, triple, or play with the ingredients to suit your preference.


Start Your Morning Off Right with Cucumber, Kale, Apple and Carrot Juice *Recipe*

Kale, Cucumber, Carrot and Apple Juice-

This morning I put together a new juice for breakfast and it turned out delicious.

Organic Ingredients:

  • 1/2 of a large cucumber
  • 1 apple
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 stalks of kale
  • 10 grapes (optional)

Kale, Cucumber, Carrot and Apple Juice -

I made the juice with just the first four ingredients and tasted it. Then I saw I had some cleaned grapes on the counter so I tossed those in as an afterthought. The grapes gave the juice some additional sweetness that it was lacking, but it definitely had good flavor before the grapes so they are not necessary.

Most of the juices I have made over the years were made with whatever ingredients at I had on hand. I cannot remember a time that I had a juice turn out bad. Please be comfortable with experimenting with your juicer!


What is your favorite juice?

Take care, Stephanie

More Roasted Beets Please!

How to Roast Beets -

Beets (pH 4.9 – 6.6) are one of nature’s best bodily cleansers and provide the following healthy benefits:

  • dissolve and eliminate acid crystals from the kidneys
  • eliminate blood toxemia
  • enrich the red corpuscles (building strong blood)
  • detoxify the liver and gallbladder
  • eliminate pocket acid material (what?) in the bowel
  • the list goes on and on…

As you can imagine, roasting beets is pretty simple.  Find a nice firm beet that feels heavy for its size, scrub it clean and preheat the oven to 375°F .

Using a covered roasting dish or tin foil (closed tight), place the cleaned beet (or beets) in the middle and drizzle with olive oil.  Roast them covered tightly until they are tender, depending on the size of the beet that timeframe can range; large beets can take up to an hour to roast.  Start checking their tenderness with a fork after about 20 minutes.

Once done, allow them to cool and then remove the skin.  They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

A simple side dish:

For an easy to make side dish just slice the beets, drizzle with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.  Enjoy!

What’s your favorite beet recipe?


RosieMADE Organic Handscrub: Lavender Oatmeal & Zesty Lemongrass *Review*

rosieMade Soap review -

Have you heard of rosieMADE before? It is one of my new favorite companies. They provide an assortment of all-American made products by women-friendly companies.  All of the products offered on their website are either handmade or are made in small batches to ensure that the ingredients are quality and that the products are outstanding.  This is a women-owned business that launched in 2012 and their focus is to help other women-owned businesses and small companies grow. How admirable is that? Love ’em!

For this review, I was sent two bars of 3.75 oz handmade organic handscrub bars in the scents: Lavender Oatmeal and Zesty Lemongrass.

rosieMade Soap review --

The soap is made by the Oregon Soap Company, using renewable energy and it is certified organic. Both soap bars smell really wonderful! When it comes to cleaning, the natural lemon scent always makes me think “clean” so I have kept this soap bar in my kitchen.  After digging around in the garden, I have come to love using this particular soap to scrub my hands with. I decided that the lavender scent would be more fitting in my bathroom. What I really love about both of the soap bars is that they are aesthetically beautiful, unlike some handmade soap I have seen in the past and I really like the pieces of oatmeal and bran embedded within the soap – for a little added scrubbing action.

Check out the pure and natural ingredients:

rosieMade Soap review ---

The soap not only smells great, but it lathers up nicely and leaves your hands feeling moisturized and clean after. The best part for me is that I can feel comfortable letting my daughter use it, knowing that the ingredients are safe for the entire family! She actually washes her hands better with the bar soap I have noticed, she really likes lathering up with the bar soap vs. our usual pump soap!

RosieMADE soap review -

Would you like to try out this soap yourself? RosieMADE is making it easy! RosieMADE is offering a free bar of any Oregon Soap Company organic bar soap with a $15 minimum purchase on  Be sure to enter the coupon code: SoapBlog – This offier expires 7/31/13.

Take care, Stephanie

The review of these soaps are all my own, honest opinions.

Five Eco-Friendly Stain Removal Tips for Carpeting

Today Ben Clark is taking over the blog to give you five eco-friendly spot removal tips. I would definitely recommend trying out these options before breaking out the harsh chemical strain removers. 

Hi, my name is Ben Clark. I am the owner of the world’s greatest company (at least I think so). I own Kern Carpet Cleaning. Additionally, I am a dad. This means that I am either cleaning up messes at work or I am cleaning up messes at home.

I think we can all agree that we envy our kids’ limitless-supply of energy. However that same energy often results in spills, stains and food covered floors. Today, I am going to talk about five eco-friendly carpet cleaning secrets. These tricks will show you how to use common household items to clean stains out of your carpet.

1. Baking Soda

Eco-friendly spot cleaning tips -

Let’s start with one of my favorites:  Baking Soda. Most of you grew up with this in your spice cabinet. Personally, my mom kept Baking Soda in the refrigerator, but that is beside the point. This pasty powder can be used to remove some of your toughest stains.

Start by mixing baking soda and water together until you form a thick paste.  Massage the paste into your carpet and let the mixture sit for a few minutes. After the paste has had time to soak into your carpet, use a tooth-brush to scrub the stain.  This will work on most stains.

2. Cornmeal

Eco-friendly spot removal - -

If you are anything like me, you won’t use this method. I happen to LOVE corn muffins, so naturally, I wouldn’t dream of pouring cornmeal all over my carpet. However, for those of you who are less-attached to the worlds most delicious muffin, this will work wonders on carpet stains. This can even remove grease stains.

Use cornmeal by simply pouring all over a grease stain. Let the meal sit for 30 minutes. Next, vacuum up the mixture and scrub out any remaining stains with soap and water.

3. Table Salt

Eco-friendly cleaning tips -

Salt is similar to corn meal as in it absorbed stains. This works best for liquid stains like spilled juices. Soon after your child spills their fruit punch on your white carpet,  pour salt over the stain.Wait 15-30 minutes to let the salt absorb most of the stain, after which you can vacuum up the salt particles.

If you are able to see remaining of the stain, you can repeat this two or three times. Lastly, you can use soap and water to scrub-out any remaining spots.

4. Vinegar

Vinegar is admittedly pungent, but ironically it works miracles on smelly carpets. If you have a stain that smells (like urine), pour vinegar over it.

I recommend you pour a healthy dose on your stain and let it sit in your carpet for 20 minutes. After the vinegar has had enough time to interact with your stain, soak up the vinegar with dry towels.

Lastly, wait until your floor is 100% dry and use a vacuum to suck up the particles that will have formed on top of your carpet. This will remove most smelly stains. There are some, like cat urine, that will need something specially created to fight off cat urine bacteria.

5. Blot and Keep it clean

Remember that stains are typically not set as soon as they touch your carpet. More often, they are set when people mishandled them. The first thing you should do to a stain is blot it with a dry towel. Try to remove as much liquid as possible from your carpet without pressing the stain deeper into your floor.

Secondly, use dye-free, unscented soap and warm water. This is not only eco-friendly but it is also better of your carpets. You don’t want to a colored soap into your stain because that will make it harder to remove. An unscented bar of soap can be used to remove basic stains out of your carpet.

I hope these tips will help you keep your house stain free.


Ben Clark

 Leave a comment below if you know of any eco-friendly carpet cleaning tricks.  

Yum-o Organic Energy/Protein Bites

Energy Bites -

A few months ago, a co-worker brought these healthy snacks into work to share her delicious discovery.  They were so good I immediately requested her source and put them on my “to make” list.  The great thing about these amazing bites is that they are no-bake, easy to make, and kids love them!

This versatile recipe can include a plethora of different ingredients, whether it’s dried fruit replacing the chocolate chips or honey replacing the syrup.  I left out the coconut flakes and added in hemp hearts.  Below is my version of the recipe using all available organic ingredients.

The Ingredients (makes 20 balls):

  • 1 C. Old-Fashioned Oats
  • ½ C. Peanut Butter
  • ½ C. Ground Flaxseed
  • ½ C. Chocolate Chips (next time I’ll use mini chips)
  • 1/3 C. Maple Syrup
  • ¼ C. Hemp Hearts (additional information)
  • 1 T. Chia Seeds (additional information)
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla extract

Mix everything together well, place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, and then roll into 1” bites.  Store them in the refrigerator and they will keep for up to a week!



Quick Spinach and Cheese Quiche with Onions and Garlic – MmmMmmm

Spinach and Cheese quiche recipe -

Yesterday I thawed out a package of frozen, chopped spinach but didn’t have time to make what I wanted to with it. On the carton is says that once thawed, do not re-freeze, so I decided to make a Quiche for the morning. Since it turned out well, I decided to share the recipe with you:


  • 10 oz frozen, chopped organic spinach
  • 1 frozen pie crust (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 organic eggs
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 1.5 cups of grated cheese of choice (I used 1 cup Monterey Jack and half a cup of Parmesan)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic for 3-5 minutes, until fragrant and translucent. Then add in the spinach and season with some salt and pepper. Cook until heated thoroughly.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 °.

In a bowl, beat the five eggs together and then add in the cheese and mix that in as well. Then combine the spinach mixture with the egg and stir together.

At this point you can either pour the mixture into a frozen pie crust or just pour it directly into a lightly oiled pie pan. Cook for 30-35 minutes and remove when the center of the Quiche seems firm to the touch and the edges slightly begin to brown. Let the Quiche sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting into.

This was super easy to make and it tasted great. Other cheese options are Cheddar, Muenster or Feta.

What is your favorite kind of quiche?

Take care, Stephanie

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