Friday, April 8, 2016

At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen

Eating healthy is something that is important to me, and something I sometimes have a hard time doing.  When we joined a CSA, I would often find myself with ingredients I was unsure what to do with.  While we do eat meat, I have strong vegetarian and vegan leanings.  I need to make sure that what I make is appetizing and enticing enough to tempt my staunch meat-eating family.  I love vegetables and with the CSA, we have an abundance year round.  At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen by Amy Chaplin really does "celebrate the art of eating well." It is a winner of the prestigious "James Beard Foundation Book Award."

With her love of whole food and knowledge as a chef, Amy Chaplin has written a book that will inspire you to eat well at every meal, every day, year round.If you are an omnivore, you will delight in this book for its playful use of produce and know-how in balancing food groups. If you are a vegetarian, this book will become your best friend, always there for you when you’re on your own, and ready to lend a hand when you’re sharing food with family and friends. If you are a vegan, you can cook nearly every recipe in this book and feed your body well in the truest sense. This is whole food for everyone. 

We have already enjoyed many recipes from this book.  The Tempeh Portobello burgers had my daughter asking for seconds.  I take the Shaved Fennel and Beet salad for lunch.  When we received a celery root, I made a delicious Creamy Cauliflower and Celery Root Soup that warmed both body and soul on a snow day.

At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen is full of recipes for the kind of food you and your family want to be eating.  It has stayed in my cookbook stand for weeks now and I plunder it for new delights to enjoy.


Any toy that inspires creativity and STEM education is always a plus in my book.  I have not seen my daughter as excited as she was when she received her Geomag building set in a very long time.  It has inspired hours of creativity and play.
Geomagworld SA is a company where creativity and learning have been working side by side since 2008. Our Classic toys that exploit the incredible potential of magnetism for play and education.Our products help children of all ages develop and train their minds, imagination and curiosity through the science of magnetic construction. Geomag has received several international awards for quality and play value.These awards include: Dr. Toy “Best Classic Toys” Award, Parents Choice Award “Magnetic Challenge, Dr. Toys “Best Children’s Products”, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio “Gold Seal”, Toy of the Year “Specialty Toy”, Creative Child Magazine “Preferred Choice Award: Construction”, National Parenting Awards “Gold Winner”, and Scholastic Parent & Child “Gold Star Award”.

Children are able to really use their imaginations to build structures.   We have the Glitter set which is so fun and looks so space-age.  By connecting everything with magnetic little balls, the possibilities of play are really endless.  It teaches children about magnets and structure.  A certain husband was even found playing away and building too.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Plant-Powered Families

Eating vegan does not have to be all beans and tofu.  It is surprisingly easy to get the whole family enjoying wonderful vegan meals together.  Plant-Powered Families by Dreena Burton is an amazing way to eat vegan everyday.
Veteran cookbook author Dreena Burton shows a whole foods, plant-based diet can be easy, delicious, and healthy for your entire family. In Plant-Powered Families, Burton shares over 100 whole-food, vegan recipes—tested and approved by her own three children. With tips for handling challenges that come with every age and stage—from toddler to teen years —Plant-Powered Families is a perfect reference for parents raising “weegans” or families looking to transition to a vegan diet.Burton shares advice and solutions from her own experience for everything from pleasing picky eaters and stocking a vegan pantry to packing school lunches and dealing with challenging social situations.Plant-Powered Families also includes nutritionist-approved references for dietary concerns that will ensure a smooth and successful transition for your own plant-powered family!

I was super-excited when I got this book.  The recipes are easy to follow, healthy and most importantly they taste wonderful.  The Chickpea Salad is not only a great way to pack some protein into a sandwich for lunch, I use it on a bed of lettuce to spice up a boring salad.  Shipshape Joes' are fun, tasty alternative to the Sloppy Joes we all ate and loved.  I actually like this healthy version even better.  For sweet tooths, there are plenty of great recipes (we are huge fans of the Fudgesicles made with cashew butter).  I find myself grabbing this every day and both my body and my taste buds have not looked back.  Added bonus: my skin and hair suddenly feel amazing....coincidence?  I think not!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Aromatherapy was something I started embracing as a teenager.  I happened to take a meditation class and it came up how useful aromatherapy really is.  I was pretty excited when I learned about Tazeka AromatherapyTazeka Aromatherapy blends holistically, while considering the therapeutic, scientific and historical uses for the oils.  The lipstick-tube-sized cases fit into your handbag and can really go anywhere you need them.  By inhaling these delicious scents, your olfactory bulb signals the cortex in your brain and really affects your bodies stress response.

Tazeka Aromatherapy is really meant to go wherever you may need them.  You use these little bottles of joy and roll the delicious scents on to your pulse points and let the oils do their work.  Currently there are 17 gorgeous blends.  I am a personal fan of the Peaceful Slumber and Optimism.  Peaceful Slumber is one I use every single night.  It contains Cedarwood, Lavender and Bergamot, among other oils and it relaxes my spinning mind.  Optimism has permanent place in my bag.  It gives me energy and helps me take on the day with a blend of Sage, Orange and Jasmine.  It should be called "happy mama oil."

Tazeka Aromatherapy are really works of art both inside and out.  Stop and smell the oils and let your mind take a well-needed respite.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Artful Year

We are a crafting family.   My daughter and I are always making something.  We are also a family that quite honestly loves to celebrate every season and decorate our home accordingly.  No fancy art here, our daughter's art adorns our home and makes it feel like exactly that...our home.  I hang her masterpieces with pride and even frame certain pieces.  The Artful Year by Jean Van't Hul is another wonderful book by the same author of The Artful Parent.

Celebrating the seasons provides a wonderful opportunity to embrace creativity together as a family. It’s also a fun way to decorate for, prepare for, and learn about the holidays we celebrate. In The Artful Year, you’ll find a year’s worth of art activities, crafts, recipes, and more to help make each season special. These artful explorations are more than just craft projects—they are ways for your family to create memories and mementos and develop creatively, all while exploring nature, new ideas, and traditions. The book includes:
  • Arts and crafts, using the materials, colors, and themes of the season
  • Ideas and decorations for celebrating the holidays together
  • Favorite seasonal recipes that are fun for children to help make (and eat!)
  • Suggested reading lists of children’s picture books about the seasons and holidays
The 175+ activities in this book are perfect for children ages one to eight, and for creating traditions that appeal to all ages.

The Artful Year has proven to be a great way to get us creating together and really celebrating the season.  We have made the nature ice wreath (which melted before silly me remembered to take a snap), as well as the 3-D Stained glass wreath for which we chose snowflake tissue paper.

The book is separated by the four seasons and has wonderful ideas for crafts inspired by the holidays during those seasons and the seasons themselves.  We look forward to creating more wonderful pieces and cooking up some of the delicious recipes that pay homage to each season.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Brackitz for Building Little Minds

Sorry for the long break readers!  We had a family loss, and now we are back and better than ever.  I was super excited when we were asked to review Brackitz.  Brackitz are connecting toys that leave open-ended play for your child to create whatever they want.  Their own imagination is the only limit!

Unique, connect-anywhere Brackitz attach to traditional planks at any point, any angle, enabling builders to design any structure they can imagine. Seriously. Anything! From simple to complex, small scale to larger-than-life, gravity-defying, 3D structures, Brackitz award-winning family of construction toys puts real-life art, math, science, architectural, and engineering principles into play. Intentionally open ended toys, brackitz encourages imagination, unrestricted by step-by-step instructions. The possibilities truly are endless!

As we read more and more about the importance of STEM for success, this kind of toy is perfect for budding scientists and engineers alike!  My daughter had hours of fun configuring her set into different arrangements that she could then use with her other toys.   The colors are enticing and she can also use Brackitz to connect with other plank toys she already owns.  They are even great to travel with and are just as fun for mom and dad to join in and create with.  Brackitz are causing a big buzz for good reason.  Brackitz encourage your child to think and do.  The possibilities really are endless.  This is a toy I see making a huge difference not only in the home but in schools where more and more teachers are pushing that kids need to do and play to really learn.  Build away!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Scent for the Loved

If you read this blog, then you are well aware of my infatuation with Kahina Giving Beauty.  I use so many of their products, and each one is a true luxurious treat.  Recently, they released a Fez Perfume Oil.   Fez Perfume Oil is scented with the same amazing scent as their Fez Body Oil and the Fez balm.  It is a scent I adore. 

Tantalizing rose and orange blossoms are layered over the scents of antiquity; patchouli, vetiver and ylang-ylang with lingering hints of cumin and clove from the spice market. FEZ’s ethereal but lasting fragrance is an earthy, warm blend to calm the senses and ground the spirit. • Based upon the scent of Kahina’s beloved FEZ Body Serum inspired by the sacred Imperial city of Fez, Morocco. • Fragrance blend made from 100% steam distilled essential oils • Stainless steel roller ball applicator Exotic and sensual, the warm, grounding fragrance evokes the spirit of the ancient Moroccan city.

I carry this in my purse.  I love how exotic it makes me feel.  I also love that it does not have that synthetic scent that everyone seems to be wearing these days.  I  imagine myself at the souks and making my way across the Moroccan deserts.  I imagine watching Berber women preparing the argan oil.  In a word: luxury.  If you love the scent of the other Fez items, you have to grab this!  It makes a wonderful gift for anyone.  I think a man or women could wear this equally as well.  To be honest, this may be the perfect gift!

Advent and a Magical Toy Garden

Finding unique and wonderful gifts for your loved ones during the holiday season can seem like an impossible mission.  I love finding gifts that are not "dime a dozen" and owned by every kid and their uncle. A Toy Garden has long been one of my favorite shops for fabulous gifts for my daughter (and hey, even I enjoy them).  This year we were lucky enough to get an Advent Wooden Spiral. 

This beautiful wooden wreath is a great way to mark off the days in advent.  The spiral has 24 holes to move along in the month of December up to the eve of Christmas.  You get four 100% beeswax, tapered candles and four brass candle holders allowing you to move the candle of the week along the path.  It also comes with a flower on a peg, a squirrel on a peg, and an angel on a peg who can also move along the path. Add a few greens, a fresh flower or two, and it's a beautiful centerpiece for a dining table or nature table.  Children will love watching the movement from the outside to that inside day!

We are able to mark the days of advent together in such a special way.  My daughter plans on spending her weekend making more decorations to surround our spiral.  It is so incredibly crafted and so fun.  After advent, this amazing gift is going to be a birthday ring as well; a special way to celebrate the years of your child's life.  We could not be more overjoyed.  My daughter looks forward to this ritual every night and it has opened some important dialogue about the true meaning of the holidays in our home. 

A Toy Garden  is truly a magical site that allows you to step outside of the plastic, tacky toy box and bring home a special treat for any special occasion.  Be sure to check out the dazzling array of stocking stuffers.  I have my eye on quite a few things for my little one's stocking. They are gifts I know will last the test of time, and ones she will always treasure.

Classics for Baby

As someone who read to her little one in the womb, I cannot stress enough how important books are for children.  Are you looking for great gift ideas for little ones?  Even babies are enchanted with pictures and words.  Once my daughter was born, I would hold her at night and read her story or look through pictures with her.  Fast-forward eight years later and our personal library hardly can fit on the floor to ceiling shelves.  What can I say?  We are book lovers.  BabyLit has come out with a charming array of board books based on the classics like Pride and Prejudice, Treasure Island, Emma etc.  These adorable books boast colorful pictures and simple one word phrases and names on each page.  They are shape primers, emotional primers, counting primers and color primers.

This is an amazing way to start early on introducing your baby to the classics, and more importantly it instill an early love of reading.  These books are simply beautiful and I cannot get enough.  I love giving them as gifts as well.  Your baby and you will fall in love these are sure to become "classics" in your home library.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

August Uncommon Teas

I am a tea drinker through and through.  I drink it iced all summer and hot all fall and winter.  I love when I find artisan teas.  August Uncommon Tea is an amazing company that will surely change even the most skeptical mind about how amazing tea is.  The tea flavors are anything but conventional and these loose-leaf teas are works of art.  With names like Cocteau, Midnight in the Garden and A Field in Innsbruck, you know you are drinking something amazing.

I can only describe the delicious brews I sampled, but hopefully you get the idea and order immediately.

Midnight in the Garden is a delicate pu-erh tea.  To me this tasted like early, early fall, like fresh hay and even a few grassy notes.

A Field in Innsbruck is a refreshing black tea with juniper and thyme.  This is herbal and pine.  It is a walk through a freshly iced wood.

Jet Black is a very bold tea with roasted mate and espresso bean.  Drops of milk make this a heavenly treat and will convert even the most staunch coffee drinker.

Cocteau is a rooibos tea with vanilla, grapefruit and mint.  It is refreshing and a little sweet from the rooibos.  Excellent warm, but I prefer this iced.  This is a lazy summer night in a cup for me.

My favorite of the ones I got to try was the Dolomite.  It is a green tea that is floral with almond notes.  Full disclosure, I love jasmine and I love green tea.  The floral notes in this are boosted by the almond and I find myself sipping slowly to make it last.  This is a love affair with tea.  It is spring and magic in a cup.

August Uncommon Tea makes it easy to brew on the go with their one cup infuser.  You are allowed to control the strength and flavor of your tea.  This is tea as an art-form.  The masters behind this vision are even offering up seasonal blends.  I find myself back on their site constantly.  Get yourself ready for this culinary tea journey.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Edgar for kids?!

The season of ghouls and goblins is upon us.  What better way to Usher in this wonderful time of year than with a fabulous new book.  Edgar and The Tree House of Usher by Jennifer Adams is another fun take on the famous Edgar Allen Poe raven and Poe's Fall of the House of Usher.
"It was a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year ... " when the mischievous raven Edgar heads to his friend Roderick's house to work on their tree house. Edgar dashes his sister Lenore's hopes with the ever-popular phrase "sisters are not allowed," until a storm starts to brew and the two boys realize that sometimes the best things happen when you decide to stick together. The third picture book in the popular Edgar series is sure to warm the hearts of kids and parents alike.

The story is delightful and parents get a kick out of introducing this "dark bird" to their children.  This book is one in a current series of three.  We enjoyed the story and its message.  I loved that my daughter and I could talk about where this funny raven originated from.  Perfect for Halloween and spending time with your little one doing the most important thing of all...reading.  Nevermore!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Time for fall activities

Apologies to my readers, between school and traveling, this writer has taken a break.  I am back to the blogging scene with some exciting reviews coming up.  We ushered out summer slowly this year (warm weather and cold are in a fight daily here on the East Coast).  One of my favorite companies released a new product, and I fell in love.  We use Hydro Flask products in our family, religiously.  I love how they keep my drinks nice and cool on hot summer days and warm on the cool ones.  My daughter thinks they are "magic cups."   Hydro Flask released a new 64 oz. bottle called the Growler.

This little gem was love at first site.  I used ours all summer and this fall to bring drinks to soccer games, the beach and even school.  Of course mine only contained water, but this jewel is perfect for bringing any beverage of your choice to the hayrides, cookouts and tailgating you may be contemplating participating in this fall. 

  • The first insulated growler in the market
  • Able to keep beer fresher, longer
  • Universal Benefits
  • TempShieldTM Protected
  • Keeps cold up to 24 hours
  • Keeps hot up to 6 hours
  • 18/8 Pro Grade Stainless Steel
  • BPA-Free and Phalate Free
  • Durable, sweat-free powder coat finish (or our Classic Stainless option)
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Wide mouth opening fits many third-party water filters
  • Compatible with Wide Flat CapHydro Flip Lid and Wide Straw Lid, and of course the Hydro Flask True Pint
I am not sure what could be better than this!  Maybe some hot cocoa filled Growler, a loved one and a blanket to gaze at the stars. Happy fall!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Butter Elixir Baby

I am a big fan of the entire BUTTER Elixir line.  So, when I found out they were making a body and hair oil for babies, I was the first one on board to try it out.  Devoted readers may have noticed that this is a line I have raved about before.  The new BUTTER Elixir Baby Body and Hair Oil is a treat for the senses and the body.

Light and ingenuous, BUTTERelixir baby is a concise and delicate formula that was designed to be gentle enough for the skin of everyone, including little ones. A trifecta of skin soothers work in tandem to soften, and invigorate the skin and the senses. Avocado Oil, embedded with a high ratio of proteins, fats, sterolin, lecithin and potassium, is a powerful carrier of hydration and stimulation that liberally supplies nutrients topically. The oil from this fruit is absorbed by the skins derma layer and is capable of penetrating much deeper than the surface. A powerful oil on its own, when paired with Calendula oil it tenderly addresses the skin and scalp with its comforting touch. Together the dynamic duo of Avocado oil and Calendula oil are pious enough to envelope the skin of oneself and those we love the most. The enlivening notes of tangerine dance subtly in the divine formula to uplift the spirit and senses. The scent of citrus rounds out the spirit leaving the skin not only refreshed and hydrated, but happy. The soothing qualities of the oil will pay off for both parent and child… Especially around nap time. BUTTERelixir baby is for all, without exception.

This little bottle packs a big punch.  It smells so fresh and uplifting and is a nice break from the influx of lavender scented products. It is perfect for infant massages (which do wonders for helping your new bundle of joy sleep).   I love how moisturizing it is and I use it on both my daughter and myself.   It moisturized without clogging our skin and the fresh, orange scent lingers in a non-obtrusive way.  This is a product I know we will use and love for years.

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