Dreams Do Come True: I’m Writing a Book!

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Next summer, in July or August of 2017, you’ll be able to buy my book! I’m writing a book! I cannot believe it. I wrote my first 4,000 words over the weekend and although it feels good, I have a lot ahead of me. It’s an awesome feeling but also so, so scary. It’s easy to let my insecurities creep into my mind but I will continue to be positive and keep my eyes on the prize, THIS BOOK IS GOING TO ROCK.

I began canning about ten years ago and it quickly became an obsession, I’m sure many of you know exactly what I mean. After a lifelong love affair with kimchi, I decided it was time to start fermenting as well (I finally mastered my recipe two years ago). As the years go by, I’ve come to realize that most people stick to one hobby or the other, not enough of you can and ferment food. That’s when the idea came to me and I decided that I needed to write a book with both canning AND fermentation recipes, for the same produce item. Now you will be able to easily reference recipes for both canning and fermenting for the same fruit or vegetable in one amazingly resourceful book, my book!

I’m going to be laser focused over the next 9 months and do my best to produce the most delicious recipes I can come up with.

Thanks for all the love and support over the years on this blog, twitter and instagram. ❤

10 Ways to Incorporate Hydrosols in Your Life

(Photo: Pop Tika/Shutterstock)

(Photo: Pop Tika/Shutterstock)

Have you used hydrosols yet? Hydrosols are also known as “Flower Water”. If you like essential oils you’ll want to be sure to add these to your daily regimen. If you aren’t familiar with what a hydrosol is, it’s a water solution that contains micro-molecules of essential oils. The plants used in the hydrosols are steam-distilled to release the oils. So when you spray the hydrosol, each droplet of water includes some essential oil as well. They are refreshing, smell amazing and are very versatile!

Here is a list of my ten favorite ways to use Hydrosols:

  1. Mist on my face after I wash it, using the hydrosol as a skin toner.
  2. 2-3 sprays on my face perks me up if I’m feeling tired and sluggish.
  3. Spray in the air to give a fresh smell to a room and it disinfects the air as well.
  4. Spitz on minor wounds to help sooth the scratch/cut, as the hydrosol helps kill germs and aids in healing.
  5. They are even used as surface cleaners, but I only use it to clean off my cell phone and key board. I save the larger surfaces for other cleaning products. 😉
  6. Spray on my daughter’s pillow before bed to aid in peaceful rest (lavender hydrosol).
  7. I mist it on my face, neck and feet if I’m feeling hot and it instantly cools me down.
  8. It feels great on the skin after a day in the sun!
  9. In the bath! Add just 1/2 cup of hydrosol to a tub of water.
  10. Mix it in a drink, but make sure it’s safe to consume. My lavender hydrosol has a recipe for relaxing drink: Mix 1 tablespoon of lavender hydrosol, with 8oz of mineral water. ❤

I’ve also heard of people using the spray on pets for minor abrasions.

Hydrosol

 

 

A portion of these products were generously provided by  Lakewinds Food Co-op.

Safe Sunscreen Options: Part 2 of 2

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We are back from our Bahamian trip and I’m happy to report that none of us got sun burned! Unfortunately my daughter had a high fever our entire trip, beginning with our very first night so this put a damper on our activity level. Additionally, the weather was in the 70’s and very windy, so we were not in the sun as much as last year. However we did manage to spend a couple of days with the sunshine and we maintained a healthy relationship with the sun while doing it!

First off, I liked all of the lotions we tried. They all went on white but once rubbed in, the white color was more faint and after minutes it was soaked in and not noticeable. My favorite of them all was the Alba 45 SPF. My husband preferred the Goddess Garden spray lotion SPF 30. But he doesn’t need to apply the lotion as diligently as I do, since he’s hairy…haha… sounds funny, but it’s true. His hair offers some defense against the sun.

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Straight out of the bottles. The lotion closest to my hand is Think Sport 50, next is the Mineral Fusion SPF 30, then the Alba SPF 45 and finally Goddess Garden SPF 30.

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After I gently rubbed it in.

Though none of us in my household burned, my father-in-law did burn the back of his hands on a boat excursion. I offered him the Alba Hawaiian after-sun lotion, which he commented on as smelling great (it really does!), though he noted that it doesn’t squeeze out of the bottle easily. I agree with him, you have to twist off the cap and dig into the bottle to get out the lotion, but it’s worth it. My father-in law-also used the Lily of the Desert 99% Aloe Vera Gelly, which  helped soothe the blistering.

I loved the little Mineral Fusion SPF 30 face stick. It’s shaped like a tiny deodorant stick that glides on gracefully over the skin. I did make sure to exfoliate my face because after the first time I used it, I noticed the dry skin on my face was accentuated by the white lotion. But that’s more of a personal problem than a flaw of the product. 😉 I love that it’s small enough to toss in my bag without weighing it down. My forehead is prone to burning so I’m always re-applying and this made it very convenient for me.

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I love the little 21 SPF chap stick. As  mentioned in my first post that it doesn’t leave any residue on my lips whatsoever and it is so smooth that it’s comparable to lip gloss! I’m replacing my current chap stick brand with this one.

I’m thankful all of the sunscreens worked this year but in addition to the products, I know a large part of not burning was knowing how to protect myself effectively when visiting a place where the sun is much stronger than in Minnesota. Here are a few more tips on how to protect yourself from burning:

  • Apply sun screen at least 15 minutes before going into the sun
  • Read the application directions on each bottle and re-apply as needed, usually once an hour or after swimming/perspiring.
  • Avoid being in the sun over the hottest time of day (10am-2pm) and if you are, seek shade as relief.
  • Apply lotion liberally, if you rub it in too much you reduce the effectiveness.
  • SPF over 50 offers a false sense of security.
  • You need sunscreen even on cloudy days.
  • Don’t breathe in while using spray sunscreens and always apply them outdoors.

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All products used in this post were generously provided by Lakewinds Food Co-op.

Safe Sunscreen Options: Part 1 of 2

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Soon I’m heading back to the Bahamas. We are going to the same location we went last year in Nassau. I love taking off to the islands in the spring, but I always worry about my skin. When I was a kid I got burned badly a few times and because of that I have to visit the dermatologist annually to check my skin. GoThinkbaby.com published an article that stated that one bad burn before the age of 16 will double your chances of skin cancer. DAMN IT. But that’s why I’m so careful with my daughter’s skin. The last two times we’ve gone on vacation I’ve gotten burned and it’s frustrating because I do my very best to be careful while in the sun. Last year we had a full-day excursion on the ocean and as a result, I burned worse than I have to date, despite reapplying sunscreen all day. I was the only one in my family to burn so I figured it must be something about me and my skin.  So now that we are heading back, I am very cautious and am feeling nervous about being in the strong sun again. The burn last year really put a damper on the enjoyment of the rest of the trip for me. My skin blistered and it was so incredibly uncomfortable. This year I’m taking every precaution to NOT BURN.

Last week I stopped at the co-op I’m apart of (I talk about it a lot but I love it and I’m so happy they joined our city) and spoke to the wellness department manager. He took the time to explain the different products to me and helped me select the best options for myself and my family. I explained my unfortunate burn from last year to him and he told me something I never  knew before… he told me that even if I’m using a sunscreen with an SPF 50, but apply it too thinly, it could be comparable to using an SPF 5! That’s crazy and horrifying and quite possibly why I fried! I am so much more diligent when applying sunscreen to my daughter. We use the natural brands, that often times leave a white coating from the zinc oxide on our skin. I don’t mind leaving the thick whiteness on my child, but I do try to rub it in thoroughly on me – I don’t want to go around looking like a clown. 🙂  That would really explain why I burned so badly… I was essentially rubbing the sunscreen OFF of myself. How horrible?!

It’s important to me to use skincare products that are safe and not full of harmful chemicals. The Environmental Working Group is a great resource for checking which products are safe and I always check their sunscreen list before I purchase any. Part of the reason I love picking items up at the co-op is because they do a lot of the research for me by not stocking brands that include a lot of the unsafe ingredients. Your skin is your largest organ and what you put on it soaks into your system.

Here is a list of ingredients that are banned from the co-op’s wellness section:

  • Synthetic preservatives: Parabens, EDTA
  • Formaldehyde donors: Urea
  • Petrochemicals: petroleum, propylene glycol
  • Ethanolamines: TEA, DEA, MEA
  • Synthetic sunscreens: Oxybenzone, Avobenzone
  • Ethoxylated ingredients: PEG/PPG
  • Anti-bacterial: Triclosan
  • Antiperspirant: aluminum Phthalates/synthetic fragrances

Many of the ingredients have a common theme of being linked to one or more types of cancer. For complete details on the hazards of these ingredients, check out Lakewind’s Body Care List of Unacceptable Ingredients.

Here’s what I decided to take with me on our trip.

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The wellness expert suggested these products as they do not leave a white film on the skin as the brands I’ve used in the past. I ended up with: Thinksport Sunscreen SPF 50+, Alba Botanica Hawaiian After-SunLotion – it  smells so good I’m almost impulsed to taste it, Super Lysine coldstick SPF 21, Aloe Gel, Mineral Fusion SPF 30 Sun Stick, which is for my face and Organic Lavendar Hydrosol because hydrosol offers a wonderful refreshing spritz for the skin and it smells beautiful.

It can be intimidating and expensive to try to figure out which lotions are the best bang for your buck, so I am going to report back after my trip and let you know what I thought about my selection. Don’t mind the hangover formula… that was an impulse buy as I was checking out and you just never know. 😉

Here are some other interesting tidbits of info I learned while speaking to the wellness manager that day… he said that though people say coconut oil is a safe sunscreen, it isn’t. It only contains 1-5% SPF and that won’t do much as you are supposed to use 15-50 SPF for skin protection. However he said that it’s a GREAT after-sun moisturizer. He also told me that many of the sunscreens for lips contain petroleum and that’s bad, the best option at the store was the cold-sore chap stick called Lysine (pictured above). I have used it a couple times since last week and love it. It even makes my lips shiny and smooth as if I’m using lip gloss and there is absolutely no white residue leftover. He also mentioned that while spray lotions are convenient, they waste a lot when spraying vs. rubbing lotion directly on the body. Though I’m a fan of spray lotions when I’m on vacation and need a quick re-application and that’s why I decided to give Goddess Garden a try.

I’ll report back with my findings! Wish me luck to not burn this year!

 

 

Many products used in this post were generously provided by Lakewinds Food Co-op.

MinnesotaFromScratch Turns 2 Today! {Party Time!}

2 years

It’s hard to believe that two years ago today, I sat down and wrote my very first blog post. It feels like yesterday that I was publishing our one year birthday post. It’s really incredible to think back two years and realize how much life has changed. My daughter was 2 when I started the blog and our crafts included painting and gluing and now she is 4 and can bead and sew! It’s been fun to document the last two years over the blog and I’m so overjoyed that so many of you are interested in our lives and enjoy our posts. Thank you!

Here are the top 5 posts that repeatedly keep new visitors coming:

#5.  Baked Zucchini with Mozzarella Cheese AKA “The New Garlic Cheese Bread” Mmmm it’s so yummy, I might need to make some tonight!

#4. Homemade Organic Strawberry Jam – No Powdered or Liquid Pectin Added Having this on hand in the winter brings a little taste of summer to your palate during the deep freeze!

#3. Chunky Cream of Broccoli Soup Recipe – No Blender Needed Ugh YUM, this is one of our favorite recipes and it’s SO easy.

#2. 101 Things I love About My Mother Who knew this would be so popular?? I definitely didn’t, but I’m glad it is 🙂 Love you, Mom.

#1. Picked California Mixed Veggies – Spicy Pickled Cauliflower with Carrots, Celery and Red Bell Pepper Mmm, Mmmm good!

Thanks for all of your support. If there are certain topics/recipes you’d like me to cover this year just let me know in the comments!

Happy 2015 everyone! Let’s make it great!

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar Transformation in Photos

Monarch MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

When we bought our home six years ago, the previous homeowner had milkweed plants growing near the back door. At the time, I had no idea that milkweed was a huge part of Monarch caterpillars’ diet, but I was sure happy when I saw my first little caterpillar on the plant! I had never seen one in nature before, it was so much fun to watch.

This year, we had 3 caterpillars munching away at our milkweed plants and one in particular stayed the entire transformation from larva stage until pupa stage. Here is the transformation in photos I took:

This is when we first found our little buddy. My daughter spotted it somehow with her hawk-like eyesight. I cannot express how tiny this little bugger was; Less than 1mm!

Monarch Caterpillar - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

This was about 3-5 days later. The size has increased by 5 or 6 times the size when we first found it.

Monarch Caterpillar - day 5 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

And this was the last time we saw the caterpillar… about 14 days after first noticing him. All grown up and ready for the next stage:

Monarch Butterfly - day 9 - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

Unfortunately we don’t know where he  made his chrysalis, but it would be so neat to see that stage as well. Next year we might try building something that will hopefully appeal to the caterpillars to stick around.

Monarchs feed almost exclusively on Milkweed plants and as adult butterflies, they get a lot of their nutrients from the milkweed flowers. Consider planting some in your garden if you haven’t already!

Each year, millions of Monarchs make their way down to Mexico because it’s too cold in Minnesota for them to survive. We celebrate the kick off of this 1500 mile migration at Lake Nokomis at the Minneapolis Monarch Festival which takes place at the beginning of September. It’s a great opportunity to learn tons of interesting facts about Monarch Butterflies and learn why they are so essential to our environment, plus there are great vendors with delicious food and amazing entertainers as well. I love the awareness this spreads throughout the community. Do you have a similar event in your neck of the woods?

A few facts about Monarch Butterflies:

  • Their number one most important job is pollinating and they are great at it!
  • They eat destructive bugs from other plants.
  • Once their life is over, they play an important role by being a beneficial food source to others, such as bats, birds, lizards, monkeys and snakes.
  • They are beautiful and bring joy to those that see them. 🙂
  • Average lifespan is 6-8 months.
  • Male Monarchs have a black spot on the bottom quarter of each wing, which females don’t so they are easy to distinguish between.
  • The prevalence of Monarchs in our environment give scientists great insight on our ecosystem and how it is changing.

So consider what plants you have in your yard and think about making a butterfly-friendly area.

Monarch Sculpture - MinnesotaFromScratch.wordpress.com

What is your favorite type of butterfly?

Asbestos Awareness Week (April 1-7): Mesothelioma

April 1st – 7th is Asbestos Awareness Week. Most people aren’t familiar with the harmful side effects that are linked to exposure of asbestos, a naturally occurring fibrous material which was once commonly used in construction. Prolonged inhalation of the fibers can lead to lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma.

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Recently I learned about Heather, a beautiful woman that was diagnosed with Mesothelioma back in 2005, just three and a half months after giving birth to her precious baby girl. Heather was only 36 years old at the time. Most people don’t live beyond fifteen months after diagnosis and on average, are only given ten months to live. Fortunately, Heather got the treatment she needed and many years later, Heather is doing great. Now her mission is to spread awareness of this rare cancer.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the Mesothelium, the lining that covers several of the internal organs. Usually the cause of Mesotheloma is asbestos. Heather had never worked with asbestos, but her father had and she was victim of second hand exposure. If someone has been exposed to asbestos or the airborne dust/fibers, then there is a risk. If your home was built before 1978, there is a chance that asbestos was used as insulation. If you are considering remodeling your home, please have a professional check for asbestos before beginning your project.

This particular cancer has a latency period of 10-50 years. Commonly, the cancer grows in the outer lining of the lungs and internal chest wall. Signs of the cancer include shortness of breath, chest pain, fatigue, cough/hoarseness/wheezing, coughing up blood and weight loss.

To learn more about Heather, you can find her story here. Please help spread the word and help more people become aware of this rare cancer. Knowledge is power. Learn more here:  www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org

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Please post to Facebook, Twitter, g+, etc… each share is appreciated. I know Cameron, Lily and Heather would definitely appreciate your help in spreading the word.

The Paleo Diet: Our 30-Day Update

When we began the diet just over a month ago, I had intended to post a weekly recap of what we ate and how we were doing, etc… Well, life and illness got in the way and I never got past the first week summary – my apologies.  But now I’m here to give you a re-cap of the last three weeks and share some of our favorite meals from the last few weeks.

My favorite part of the Paleo diet has been all of the new recipes I have tried. Before this, we were stuck in a rut of making the same things month after month and this diet has altered the way I cook almost everything. I definitely wouldn’t consider myself an unhealthy eater before, but being very aware of the ingredients in each and everything I put in my mouth has made me more aware of how many things I was eating before that weren’t necessarily beneficial to me.

We decided to give this diet a try to see if would help my husband’s disease: Ulcerative Colitis. I explain more in detail here. Over the last thirty days, I cannot say that he has seen any changes other than in his waistline. My already-slim-husband dropped 12 lbs over the last 30 days, and most of the weight dropped within the first two weeks. I was told that this could be due to inflammation and water-weight so it could have been a good sign that there was some healing going on inside of his body. Other than that, there has not been really any improvement. I have met a lot of great people over the last 30-days, mostly on Instagram, that have seen success from eating clean and time and time again, I am told that it typically takes more like 45-60 days before they noticed any changes. I’m hoping I can keep my husband on board that long.

I, myself, dropped 9 pounds on the diet but my weight-loss was gradual. I lost a couple of pounds a week and I feel great. I’m less bloated, my energy is up,  my skin is clearer and my pores even are smaller and I intend to keep eating this way.

Here are some of the things we ate over the last three weeks:

Spaghetti and Zucchini Noodles with homemade Italian sausage and a tomato sauce. This is one of my favorite meals from the diet.

Spaghetti and Zoodles - minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

For the sausage, I used Melissa Joulwan’s Italian sausage spice recipe. Her book, Well Fed has tons of other great recipes as well.  I love this spice recipe and followed it exactly.

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We had tons of whipped coconut cream. We ate it on pancakes, waffles, mixed with fruit, by the spoonful… yeah, we love this stuff.

Whipped Coconut Cream - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

I experimented with Paleo – Pho. I used zucchini noodles as my rice noodles. I had a pho spice packet (paleo friendly) that I made broth with. Added poached eggs, kimchi, fish sauce, scallions and sriracha sauce. I had this for several meals.

Paleo Pho - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

We made juice several times. Veggie juice in the afternoon and occasionally a fruit juice in the morning.

Juicing recipe - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Juicing - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Paleo friendly pizza… this was our Valentine’s Day dinner. The pizza crust displayed below was not good. It tasted fine alone, but once we added the pizza toppings, the flavors did not mesh well.

Paleo pizza - www.minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

A couple days later we made a cauliflower crust recipe and enjoyed it VERY much.

Paleo cauliflower pizza crust - minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Paleo waffles, with strawberries we heated on the stove until they made a sauce and coconut whipped cream.

Paleo waffles - minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Zucchini Brownies – These were a Super Bowl treat. Of course that is coconut whipped cream on top! YUM! These were great and very moist – more like a cake than a brownie though.

Brownies - minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Chicken Bone Broth

Chicken bone broth - minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Chicken bone broth with poached eggs and homemade kimchi

Bone broth with kimchee - minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Eggs with sausage and homemade sauerkraut. We have eaten tons of eggs of the last 30 days. More eggs than I would have ever imagined I’d eat, but hey, I’m not even sick of them yet!

Spaghetti pie. There are lots of versions out there. It was decent, I’d make it again.

Spaghetti pie

Paleo deviled eggs – we added avocado, mustard powder, homemade pickles, paprika and some leftover guacamole. They were good!

Paleo deviled eggs - minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

Sweet potato fries – The following morning we chopped up the rest with some leftover steak and made a hash. We had fried eggs over the hash. Mmmm that was my favorite breakfast. Sorry, I forgot to take a pic!

Sweet potato fries

Smoothies with homemade yogurt, frozen organic fruit and bee pollen.

Smoothies with homemade yogurt - minnesotafromscratch.wordpress.com

We ate many more meals over the 30 days as well, but these were some of my favorites. I made a calendar and attached it to the refrigerator door. I marked down what we ate for each meal so I could remember. I found this helpful, especially for meal planning.

If you have any favorite Paleo meals, please share them with me in the comments section below!

Disney on Ice Presents Let’s Celebrate! at Target Center 2/27-3/2 + GIVEAWAY!

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Disney on Ice is bringing a brand new show to the Target Center in Minneapolis Feb. 27th–March 2, 2014. Make your child’s dreams come true at this magical event! There will be over 50 characters in this all-new, action packed show. You can expect to hear some of your favorite Disney songs, as well as a blend of contemporary music.

For the very first time in the Twin Cities, join Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse as they celebrate a Very Merry Unbirthday Party with Alice and the Mad Hatter; Mardi Gras with Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen; a Royal Valentine’s Day Ball with the Disney Princesses; a Hawaiian luau with Lio and Stitch; a winter wonderland with Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear; a Halloween haunt with the Disney Villians and more in the celebration of the century!

Disney on Ice

Produced by Feld Entertainment, Disney on Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! will host eight performances at Target Center.

Show times

Thursday, Feb. 27th – 10:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Friday, Feb. 28th —  7:00 p.m.

Saturday, March 1st — 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 2nd — 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

We took our daughter, who was two at the time, to a Disney on Ice show in St. Paul last winter and it was entertaining not only for her but also for us, the adults. I found myself carried away and singing along to several songs, taken back to my childhood. The ice skating is very impressive and the props are fabulous as well — it really is magical.

The folks at Feld Entertainment have been SO generous to GIVEAWAY 2 FAMILY4-PACKS to the opening night show in Minneapolis on Feb. 27th at 7:00 p.m.  Follow the link below to get signed up! Please double check your calendar before entering! GOOD LUCK!

 —-> CLICK HERE TO ENTER TO WIN! <—-

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To discover more about Disney on Ice, go to www.disneyonice.com, or visit on Facebook and YouTube. Ticket prices vary from $16 to $70, with Opening Night tickets (Feb 27th, 7:00 p.m.) available for just $10 (not valid on front row VIP seating). Additional handling and service charges may apply. Tickets are available at Target Center’s Box Office, online at AXS.com or by calling 888.9.AXS.TIX (888-929-7849).

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