Roses in the garden and on your skin!

We visited the Rose Garden at Exposition Park a few weeks ago. 

The girls and I loved it and Papa did too!  In fact it was his idea to go there for Father's Day.  We are definitely packing a picnic and heading back soon.

While there we also explored the California Science Center.

Infrared mama with baby C in the moby wrap.

Here's Papa in the Hurricane simulator...ha ha!

The girls enjoyed running around the huge structure at the entrance. 

E was sure she'd found Big Boy again!

They were a little young for the exhibits, but they liked the treehouse little nature girls all the way!

Speaking of roses...again...
I thought I'd share one of my favorite herbal salves.

Rose Salve!

I first made this in one of Julie's classes.  I instantly went home and made some and I've been making it ever since.

Why is it so wonderful?  Red roses are considered cooling and astringent, good for skin irritations.  There's also been studies done showing that they have cell-regenerative properties too (yay for under the eyes!).  Here's just a few things we use this for:

  • Make-up remover
  • Under eye moisturizer
  • "ouchy cream" for bumps, scrapes and bruises
  • dry skin
  • dry chapped lips (when more than just my lip balm is necessary)
First we crush the dried red roses (the girls help with this)

and then we add the jojoba oil.

I infuse the oil for 3-4 weeks and then mix it with high quality beeswax to create the salve.

I sold out at the Craft Fair in Spring and promised to make more.  It took me a little longer since I had a baby and all, but it's ready and waiting now! 

I'll be calling those of you who pre-ordered.  This stuff is definitely worth the wait!

Little bit of C love...

Baby C is only 5 weeks old, but has been very busy around here..busy giving everyone a little bit of love and a whole lot of cute!

Lovin on Papa...this was her Father's day present.

Lovin on Mama...or is that Mama lovin on C?

Lovin on F...who is only pretending to sleep so that she doesn't have to get in the bath.

Lovin on E...I know it looks like apprehension, but she loves her wild~n~crazy E!

Ah!  She is just so darn sweet I tell ya!!

Vegan Biscuits-N-Gravy!

Talk about vegan comfort food, eh? :)

The girls and I like to make Papa a special breakfast on Father's Day.  He almost always requests biscuits-n-gravy.  This is a recipe we came up with after our friends made a version for him on his birthday.  It is not healthy and it uses "fake meat" so we only make it 2 or 3 times a year...but it is oh so tasty.  It's also pretty simple to make, so that's a bonus!  I've never really measured the ingredients while I make it, so I took some extra time and wrote down the recipe to share with you folks.

First the biscuits.  These are pretty versatile.  You could definitely make them with white flour or a mix of wheat and white to get them a bit more fluffy, but we only have whole wheat flour, so that's what we use. 

Hearty Vegan Biscuits

4 cups whole wheat flour (or a mix white/wheat)
2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoon coconut sugar (or sucanat or sugar)
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups soy milk plus (you could use almond milk/hemp milk...but it doesn't react as well with the vinegar FYI)
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup canola oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the vinegar to the soy milk and stir well. Add the oil to the soy milk and stir.  Then add the soymilk to the flour mixture and stir until dough forms. Allow to sit for 30 minutes or so.  Then take the dough (no kneading required!) and create little biscuit mounds with your hands and plop them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Alternately you could roll the dough out and use a biscuit cutter shape or a heart shape and be really cute or something!
Pop them into the oven for 10 minutes or until browned.
Guess who's little hand couldn't wait for a biscuit?

Vegan Sausage Gravy
5 Tbs vegan margarine (like Earth Balance)
5 Tbs flour (we used whole wheat, but white is fine here too)
3 cups soy milk (almond milk and hemp milk do not thicken as well, make sure it's not sweetened or flavored)
2 tsp sea salt
lots of freshly ground pepper (as much as you can really makes for a yummy gravy)
a few shaves of fresh nutmeg (if you do not have a fresh nutmeg seed, skip it, ground nutmeg is not the same)
1 package of the Morningstar Brand sausage links (we've made this with almost every kind of veggie sausage and this is Papa's favorite for this recipe)
Throw the frozen veg sausage into the oven with the biscuits just to defrost them, then chop it and set it aside.  You're going to make a simple roux.  Melt the vegan margarine over med heat, then grab a whisk and sprinkle the flour in while whisking.  Keep whisking until the flour is completely incorporated and the mixture starts to turn golden brown.  Slowly pour the soy milk in, whisking all the while so as not to get lumpy bumpies.  Once all the soy milk is whisked in, turn the heat to low and let it bubble until it's thickened.  Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.  Toss the veg sausage in the gravy for a minute or two.  Feel free to add a bit more soy milk if the mixture gets too thick.  It's done!
Slice open one of those lovely biscuits and slop some gravy on top.
Eat it all up and pretend it's healthy because it's vegan.  Ha!

Happy Summer Solstice!

"Sunny sun shine down on me, fill my heart, my home.
Journey with me through the day, so I'm not alone..."

 Happy Summer Solstice!!

After a nice summer breakfast of piping hot oatmeal (what?!?!) F was anxious to switch out her nature table.  I love how this simple task creates at least an hour of imaginative play.  Whole worlds are created with the little nature table items.  E is old enough now to partake in the role playing.  I love hearing their stories they create together.  Here's the new Summer nature table:

The ladies over at Twig and Toadstool had a "Welcoming the Sun Week" with a new craft tutorial every day.  They were very sweet, but the one that spoke to this family was the giant woven sun!  How cool is that? One of our trees need pruning, I had on old fat quarter pack of fabric in oranges and yellows, and we definitely needed a big beautiful sun to adorn the new nature table.  Perfect!

I really love the way this sun turned out.  F enjoyed the weaving motion.  It's very calming for her, so this mama gets out the old weaving loom when she's all wound up! 

E wasn't very interested in the weaving, but she did dance about the room and play with the fabric pieces.

Out in the garden we had a new sunflower bloom in celebration of the solstice.

How did you welcome summer?


How rad is my Dad? 
I mean look at that hair!! 
Now you know where I get it.

Oh Daddy...I was such your little girl. 
I miss the days of you carrying me up to bed every night (sometimes twice).  I miss our Friday morning donuts and special sushi dinners.  I miss how you used to pat my head and play with my hair when you were on the phone.  I miss our kayak days where I would sit in the cargo hold and you'd paddle all around the canals.  I even miss the irritating way you'd hold my hand (you know, with your pinky wrapped over the side-ugh!).  I know I'll always be your little girl, but sometimes I do miss being your little girl, you know?

While looking through my digital photo library (trying to organize it) I found these old photos my Dad had scanned in a few years ago.  So in keeping with my MOM post, I'd like to share a few old photos of my Dad...

How stinkin cute is he?!?

Thank you for being my Dad.  Thank you for loving me.

Bulk Buying

I get a lot of questions about what/how/when/where we eat, but people are always interested in our bulk buying.

Organic nuts, seeds, produce etc. can get pretty expensive.  We try to get around that by buying in bulk when we can.

One of my favorite bloggers Sheri over at Green and Crunchy often posts her bulk buys and I *heart* those posts.  Not sure why...maybe I just love seeing all that yummy healthy food at once.  I thought I'd post our buy this month and a little info on where we get it.

Here's our haul this month (plus one of our CSA boxes for the week). 

  • Dozen mason jars (we use these for so many things!) 
  • Raw Cacao Powder
  • 5 lbs Quinoa macaroni (Gluten-free, high in protein and tastes good...not mushy)
  • 1 gallon Organic Olive Oil
  • 1 quart bottle of Dr. Bronners soap
  • Nutiva organic hempseeds
  • Hempshakes Choclate
  • Hempshakes Acai
  • 5 lbs Organic whole wheat flour
  • 1 lb organic raw sunflower seeds
  • 5 lbs organic raw sesame seeds
  • 1 gallon organic raw apple cider vinegar
This was actually a smaller order this not pictured is 2 dozen coconut yogurts (holding us over until my homemade coconut kefir is ready) and a whole lot of organic coconut oil.

We buy our bulk orders through a company called Azure Standard.  They are an organic farm located in Darfur, OR and seem to be a great company.  We've had a few bumps with our orders along the way and their customer service has always been easy and pleasant to deal with.  They grow and package a lot of their own food but also have hard to find natural foods and ingredients.  They have a lot of products, so it takes a while to navigate their website, but once you're signed in it's very easy to create a favorites list for faster ordering.  I like a good deal as much as the next frugal mama and I've found their prices to be great for bulk items like flour, nuts, seeds, and their own packaged label, as well as their produce.  Unless something is on sale (the have monthly specials) then the other normal grocery items are comparable with the local health food grocery stores.

How does it work?  Well, you call the company and see if they have a "drop point" near you.  Then you sign up for an account online and you can see the prices and start ordering.  They deliver once a month using a semi-truck (we love our driver, Ken...he's sweet).  It's always the 3rd Wed of the month and we get a rough time frame as to when he'll be at the pick up spot.

See?  It's easy!

So go check them out if you're interested, and now you all know how we buy our bulk items.  Ha!

Rainbow Quinoa Cups

So, we love quinoa 'round here.
It's easily digestible and high in protein.  It's also faster to cook than rice and can be eaten sweet or savory.
Yay quinoa!!

I usually just cook quinoa in plain water, but sometimes I change it up and use a fresh veggie juice.  It adds color, flavor and nutrition.  Here's quinoa cooked in 1/2 fresh carrot juice 1/2 water. 

It's orange!  It's fun already!  Yes, I know I'm lame. Want to make pink quinoa?  Use beet juice!  Word of caution - do not serve to those who do not like beets as it definitely imparts a beety flavor to the quinoa.  I do not recommend using any green juice to cook the quinoa.  It oxidizes far too rapidly and would probably make it bitter.  Root veggie juices are your best bet.

I thought I'd share this easy recipe for another veggie loaf type meal like this one here.

These little cakes are a nutritional powerhouse.  Lots of protein, fiber and B vitamins.  The veggies can be easily switched out for whatever you have on hand.  I like garbanzo beans in this, but you could sub white beans, black beans or even kidney beans if that's what you've got.  These also freeze really well and make great cold/room temp lunch basket meals.  Ok, on to the recipe!

Rainbow Quinoa Cups

1 cup fresh squeezed carrot juice
1/2 cup carrot pulp (from your fresh squeezed juice)
1 cup water
1 cup quinoa (rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
1/2 cup flat rolled oats
1/4 flax seeds
2 Tbs olive oil
3 cloves garlic diced
1 red bell pepper diced
1 ear of fresh corn (corn sliced off the ear- about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup green peas (fresh shelled would be yummy, but frozen is fine)
1 cup diced baby portobello mushrooms
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1/3 fresh parsley chopped fine
sea salt
fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Oil a muffin tin.  Combine the quinoa, carrot juice and water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Add the carrot pulp, mixing it in well, then turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow to sit on the stove for another 10-15 minutes while you prepare the veggies.  **This makes a bit more than you need for the recipe, so be sure you have some little helpers to eat the leftovers out of the bowl...ahem...**

In a skillet heat the olive oil and add the garlic, mushrooms, corn, bell pepper, fresh peas (if using frozen add them only for the last 2-3 minutes), pinch of sea salt, freshly ground pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. You want them softened, but not all mushy!  While they're cooking combine the oats, flax and beans in a food processor and add 1/2 cup of water.  Whirl it around until it's nice and smooth.  In a large bowl combine bean mixture, veggies and 2 cups of your carrot quinoa.  Mix it all together and add the nutritional yeast, parsley and salt/pepper to taste. 

Spoon mixture into muffin tins to the very top and pat down with the back of the spoon.  Unless you have freakishly large muffin tins, this recipe should fill all 12 cups.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes, then let cool and set in the tins for another 10 minutes.  Pop them out and eat them!


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