Teriyaki Marinade

4 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
1 Tsp Ginger Powder
Salt and Pepper

Directions
Combine all and whisk!

This made enough for marinating a half of a package of tofu.  This would be enough for one or two pieces of meat depending on size.   Multiply for multiple meals!

This was the meal I used it for.  Marinated tofu overnight, then grilled.  Spinach salad with tomato, cucumber, grilled onions, grilled peppers, grilled squash and a little shredded swiss cheese.  Teriyaki and honey mustard is a favorite combination of mine, so I used honey mustard dressing.  Therese used to eat anything, but has been picky lately.  This was no exception, but I loved it!

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Sugarless, Flourless Cookies

1 1/2 Cups Oatmeal
2 Bananas, mashed
1/3 Cup Raisins
3/4 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce (see applesauce recipe)
1 Tsp Cinnamon
1 Tsp Vanilla

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine all.  Form 10 balls and put on a cookie sheet.  Bake 20 minutes.  I sprinkled extra cinnamon on top. It will seem “underdone” in the middle, but I like regular cookies like that so this was no exception!

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Egg Salad

6 eggs
2 Tbsp Mayo
1 Tbsp Mustard
Salt and pepper

Directions
Bake eggs at 350° for 25 minutes.  This method is not as stinky as boiling, and if you live with someone who hates the smell like my hubby, they appreciate the gesture!  Let cool, then peel.  Smash egg and combine with the other ingredients.  Regular mustard is good, but spicy mustard gives it a little zing and honey mustard gives it a hint of sweetness!  Makes about 3-4 servings. 

It is really yummy (and healthier than bread) wrapped in a piece of romaine lettuce! I like spicing my egg salad up sometimes, and throwing in some chopped black olives is really good too!

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Trench and Worm Composting

I have not been gardening long; maybe 4 years.  My paternal grandfather was a gardener, and I always loved his massive backyard with trees and plants always growing! Mine started out as some herbs, grew to a container garden and now I’ve done in-ground gardening (keeping herbs in containers).  To start, it can be expensive, especially if you have sand for dirt like we do.  I only bought seeds and dirt (A LOT OF DIRT) and the wood for the beds you see in the pictures below was picked up from someone’s curb that they were throwing away.  Yes, I am one of those people that sees potential in some of the things people throw away, and NO, I am not a hoarder!  If I don’t use it in ample time, I will throw it away or have a garage sale and sell it after fixing it up.  One man’s trash is another man’s garden bed barrier.

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My new project has been composting.  Anything to avoid having a trash full of garbage attracting bugs.  We try to reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible.  We only go through one trash bag a week, and I’d like to keep decreasing the output. As lucky as we are to live in an age where we can look anything up on the internet and try it, composting has been like my many tried and failed attempts at making peppermint oil…no two people do it the same!  I decided to still try.  My mother-in-law found an article of different ways to compost without purchasing a $100 bin.  I am now trying trench composting.  I knew when composting the ratio is 4:1 for all the kitchen scraps and live matter, you need 4x more dead organic matter. I had raked leaves into a giant pile and decided to use what I had.  Low and behold, as I started shoveling some of the leaves, I found earthworms everywhere!   Most people use red wiggler worms.  They are usually the most efficient at breaking everything down.  The red wigglers are the ones on the top in the graphic below; the ones in our yard are the ones at the bottom.

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The ones at the bottom of the picture break the compost down and reproduce at a slower rate, but I didn’t have an insane amount of compost material to begin with.  I dug two trenches along the long sides in a bed I already used.  I filled it with kitchen scraps like eggshells, coffee grinds, lemon peels, banana peels and other vegetable and fruit scraps.  I then shoveled some dead leaves and more nutritious dirt, ensuring I got enough worms in there, covered it with the rest of the soil I had and let it sit.  I started sifting it every few days, which is the only time you smell it, but then I read the trenching method still aerates enough so you don’t have to do that!  I still plan on planting more lettuce in between the trenches and adopting a new method from now on, which is putting some scraps in a little at a time around the edges of the bed along with some dead leaves and a worm! 

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DIY and Montessori: The best of both worlds!

I love the Montessori program.  For one, my auto-correct tries to change it to “Nontraditional,” which I love.  The main reason I love it is because if this program was around for me, I think I would have done better in school.  Even though the education system in this country surrounds testing, originally understanding the material can help, whether your learning style is condusive to testing or not.  For those not familiar, the main principles are Independence, Observation, Following the Child, Correcting the Child, Prepared Environment and Absorbent Mind.  This is a great go-to website that goes in depth into what each of those entail and the basics of what to expect from each stage of your child’s young life.  http://www.dailymontessori.com/montessori-theory/

I want Therese to go to a Montessori school eventually, but it is never too early to start doing activities that fall under that.  Not only is it easier than you think, it is fun to come up with!  I am big on DIY projects, because it falls under Reduce, Reuse and Recycle AND it saves you from buying new toys. Plus, it is fun to put together!  All the activities are big on motor skills.  The first thing I put together was a container with a slit in the top to put money in.  I recycled an old oatmeal container with the lid.  I had her color a piece of construction paper to cover the container.  I slit a hole in the top, cleaned coins and she LOVES this thing!  Today, I finally emptied another container so I can make the hole smaller and more challenging.

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This past weekend, I finished a more elaborate one.  I used recycled cans that I painted different colors.  I also used hot glue to buffer the tops of any metal that might cut her.  There was only a tiny bit on each, but I did a ring around it just to be safe.I found little toys around the house for each color to use.  At first, you introduce the toy/activity and let them play.  I just set it on the floor, did each color to show her and then left it alone.  After they get acquainted, you can start helping them separate by color more.  I have started just doing one color at a time, and then we’ll work up to all at once.  The last step is observing, but letting them do it themselves.  She is at that stage with the coin and container activity, but not quite with this.  She’ll get it!

Before:

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After:

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Pinterest, as always, is a great resources for making these activities.  I didn’t find this exact one, I just found ideas and made it my own!

Hippie Parenting 1: Breastfeeding

I have not always been a “hippie.”  Maybe the definition of the word is different for everyone.  In the dictionary, it is defined as what it originally was created for; a stylish, hip person from the 60s who was a freethinker and anti-establishment. They had a specific style, like flowing fabrics and beads and flowers as accessories. Sounds great to have your own mind and simple, natural style, right?  Nowadays, the term has broadened to people who are in touch with natural and earthy ways of doing things.  It is also used as slander, although the person using it as such doesn’t realize the original meaning or that it isn’t bad to be loving, peaceful, compassionate, empathetic, accepting of all people and cultures, natural and a critical thinker.  Yes, you can still shower and no, you don’t have to use patchoiuli!  What is sad to me is things like breastfeeding, making homemade food (especially for baby), cloth diapering, co-sleeping and baby-wearing are not more popular.  They are looked at as a new fad, yet they are things that were originally done before our society became a people of wanting things quick and easy in the WRONG ways.  A lot of my blog is about making things quick, easy and cheap while still doing things the right way.  Parenting is no exception.

I understand breastfeeding isn’t always possible.  Some women can’t produce enough, which is why years ago women had wet nurses.  Did you know a lot of women who have an abundance sell their milk?  Some people think that is weird.  If you feed your kids processed formula or cow’s milk, how can you think another woman’s breast milk is weird?  At least it is the same species!  Oh how I wish I could have taken advantage of that!  I made the mistake of not pumping right away after my little one was born. I was scared if I pumped and she needed to eat, I wouldn’t have enough and would need a bottle.  I went back to work when she was 2 months old and was working 3-4 nights a week and was pumping like a mad woman with little success.  I fought it, but finally caved to supplementing with formula when she was 4 months old.  I first tried organic, when I was still on that kick, but something in it made her break out!  I found a giant canister for $16 at Costco. By 6 months old, I was producing less and less although I kept pumping, hoping I could increase my supply.  I’ll never forget the morning she stopped wanting me.  By then, I was only feeding her in the morning, and one morning she realized she could get more from the bottle and pushed me away.  I cried so hard that day.  I’m getting misty-eyed thinking about it!  I wasn’t ready to stop completely and I realized right then and there that our special bonding time was over and it killed me.  So for awhile, we were going through 4-5 canisters of formula a month…do the math!  So expensive!  Even when it went down as she ate more regular food, it is an added expense. Even for working moms, pumping is still cheaper in the long run, and you have the pump forever.  I was lucky enough to be given the Medela system, the Cadillac of pumps!  I mixed BM with the formula for a while, but your body knows when you aren’t breastfeeding and your supply goes down.  I tried tricks to increase my supply and even after I was done found more tricks and products that increase your supply, so here’s to the next kid.  I beat myself up over it because even her birth wasn’t as natural as I had wanted.  I thought I was a hypocrite who talked all this stuff about being natural and couldn’t live it 100%.  Do you know what though?  I TRIED! Do you know what else?  My little one is healthy, happy and growing up beautifully. I have to be proud of that, right? 

It is so hard to be 100% natural and ecofriendly in the world we live in.  I know most people like me with the best intentions can’t do it 100%. Buying and using natural isn’t always easy, effective or feasible and sometimes we want to satisfy a craving over being mindful of health…that’s okay.  We only live once, so splurging should not be frowned upon, as long as everything is in moderation .  We must all try and influence society and companies to do the right thing, so when we want to splurge or have to buy things like formula and diapers to be quick and easy, there are better options.  We will leave our little ones a great legacy: do what you can and speak up for what is right, even if it is unpopular or “weird.”  Things can and will change.  Steve Jobs said it best:

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