Healthy Halloween

This week we had a blast with out all the sugar crash! From fun fall crafts to cute halloween lunches our sprouts enjoyed all the fun of the holiday without all the junk. We got goodie bags from Whole Foods and cannot wait to do the candy trade in at Earthfare tomorrow! We enjoyed a yummy meal with friends before trick or treating which kept the sprouts full and help curb the desire to eat their stash. 

Most parents sort candy only for allergies or open packages (or, let's be honest, our favorite treats) but we also sort for artificial colors and GMO's...which means a lot of things got tossed. (I know some folks will say I should have donated it but I can't in good consise give anyone that junk!) We got left with lots of chocolate and a few real sugar items...but the kids had a blast and no one really needs all that candy, a little square of organic chocolate makes our sprouts very happy! 

So, here's our healthy and spooky lunch boxes from this week: 

Hope you had a healthy, happy eco-halloween! Don't forget to compost those pumpkins! 


I Wonder...

 I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parent seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to know as to feel. If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the emotions and the impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. The years of early childhood are the time to prepare the soil. Once the emotions have been aroused – a sense of the beautiful, the excitement of the new and the unknown, a feeling of sympathy, pity, admiration or love – then we wish for knowledge about the object of our emotional response. Once found, it has lasting meaning. It is more important to pave the way for the child to want to know than to put him on a diet of facts he is not ready to assimilate.” - Rachel Carson, in Sense of Wonder (1965)

All to often we forget the simple joys of discovery. The innate response to desire more knowledge of something is all but lost with the constant need for regurgitation in our modern educations. From the time we are children we are expected the repeat the ABC's, then the states, multiplication, test answers and so on. But what if we were to approach things differently? To look at a child's wondering not as a lazy, day dreaming or grow annoyed with the questions of why? What if we touch and experience, create lasting knowledge? Remind ourselves of the first time we took something apart, just to see how it worked. Or of the time we dug our toes in deep to the sand...and discovered a sand crab! 

"...with children there is greater need for observing than of probing" - Maria Montessori

Let's dare to remind ourselves  how to wonder! With our children, lets discover the new and exciting...and see the desire to know more follow. Our children are so much more than we give them credit for...they are artists, they are philosophers, they are dreamers...they are the future.

"Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment." - Maria Montessori

Do not stifle that since of wonder...instead, dare to do a little wondering of your own; you may be surprised where it may take you! 


How it should be...Let's get cooking!

This is a little more my true style of having my sprouts enjoy (or at least try) various veggies. . .

If you saw my Market update from this week you know that I enjoyed a demo from the fairly new Evanston restaurant FOUND, thanks to the Friends of Evanston Farmers Markets. Well, they shared the recipe used and I just knew this was a PERFECT summer dish! Plus, with little cooking involved I know the sprouts could help out with prep. And we all know if a child helps cook or grow a food/dish = more likely to enjoy or at least try it!

I'm proud to say that our Squash Blossom Quesadillas and Succotash turned out wonderfully! I am not sure if I can legally post the recipe here, but if any wonderful folks from Friends or FOUND give me the okay I will! The youngest sprout LOVED it all (he's easy to please) and the older enjoyed most of it...but, key to me...she tried it all!

Create fun names for veggies and go with it (i.e. we used gorgeous pan patty squash from Lake Breeze Organic Farm (also provider of the squash blossoms in this recipe) and it was "space ship squash" while whole and when sliced on the mandolin, it became "flower squash".

So, seek out summery recipes that are colorful, delicious and nutritious...and EASY! Get your sprouts in the kitchen and eco-live and laugh together; you won't be disappointed with the results!

 FOUND chef, making the real deal :-) 
 snapping green beans and yellow wax beans
 she decided to get her chef on and dress the part; prepping 'dilla's for cooking
 End results: YUM! We used a combo of flour and corn tortillas
End result: No cooking needed! Crunchy, sweet, fresh succotash...I think I could eat this everyday! 


Little White Lie Recipe

I am not a proponent of hiding veggies from kids or lying about food....however my oldest sprout loves cucumbers and (before this recipe) claimed she didn't like zucchini. So, since the two resemble each other...I fibbed and claimed dinner was cucumber. However, after she very quickly enjoyed her dinner, I did come clean that it was in fact, zucchini. And *whew* she was okay with it and dropped the claim to dislike zucchini .

So, what was the recipe?

Almost-Raw Zucchini "Manicotti", A.K.A Little White Lie  

1 large zucchini, sliced lengthwise
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
     - toss together and set to the side

1 cup organic ricotta
1/8 cup organic Parmesan, grated
1/8 cup basil, chopped (thanks to my oldest sprouts window garden)
Dash of salt & pepper
     - mix it all together, set aside

1 can fire-roasted organic diced tomato, puréed
(You can also sub a good marinara here too!)

Lay out zucchini slices, add ricotta and tomato sauce ( about 2 Tbps ricotta, 1 Tbps sauce) and roll up.

Take a baking pan, line with parchment, put a little sauce on the paper, add each zucchini manicotti.

Top each with a little more Parmesan and mozzarella, place in oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

Serve it up and smile big at your family enjoying tons of veggie goodness!


Little Sprout's Rocketship Popsicles

This 4th Rocket Pop's were everywhere! But I won't purchase one of those super sugary, artificially colored Popsicles even if they are a "childhood classic". My sprouts fond memories (and others for that matter) should not surround unhealthy treats. Memories of food should be about things like berry picking, watermelon seed contests and the joy of cooking with family. And that is why I was on a mission...to make a Rocketship pop for my space loving sprout! 

For the mold, I used Tovolo's BPA-free Rocketship molds, purchased with a random merchandise credit to Pier One. Now anyone who knows me knows I'm not a big plastic fan. However, this company has some of the cutest Popsicle molds and I feel okay since: they are BPA-free, nothing is being placed in them hot or heated in them, and honestly, the pops are so good they aren't in the plastic long at all. 

As for how to make the pops, it's super easy! 

1 cup organic blueberries
1 Tbsp H2O
     - heat in small sauce pan over low heat until "saucy", pour in blender and liquefy 

1 cup mixed of: strawberries, tart cherries and raspberries, organic of course! 
1 Tbsp H2O
     -heat in small sauce pan over low heat until "saucy", pour in blender and liquefy

Refrigerate both to cool.

1 cup organic Greek yogurt, plain
1 tsp organic vanilla extract
    -mix well, refrigerate.

Fill pop mold 1/3 full with blueberry sauce. Freeze without tops on, about an hour (do not wait for it to totally freeze). Add yogurt next, then red berry mixture. There is no need to wait for the last two...the yogurt is thick enough that they don't mix. Insert top, freeze overnight. 

These are super tasty and have a fresh berry taste. You could add a little honey or sugar if you want but I think the fruit is plenty sweet naturally. Honestly, these would be okay for a hot summer breakfast as well...hmmm, I just may do that:-)

Let me know what you think, and remember to eco-live and laugh! 

Godly Play: The Parable of The Sower

Recently I became the children's coordinator at our church, Urban Village Church - Andersonville. I am absolutely LOVING it! Can you say dream job?! Montessori style Godly Play lessons, amazing team, great kids, and working wonderfully with the Children's director and our site pastor...I am so honored to be even a small part of this amazing body and these kids lives.
Urban Village Church
Anyway, today's lesson was on the Parable of The Sower. Let me say it was so cute, the kids had never heard the word sower before...even the older ones. They thought I meant sewing or sewer. So we got an impromptu vocab lesson too. I was able to create our materials thanks to Pinterest and a little creativity...and I just had to share! It was too simple not to!

For the birds and the sower I printed clip art, colored it and gave it my cheap lamination...clear packing tape! The mat is just brown felt laid out. Then I used people's for the rocks, pipe cleaners to make thorns and instant coffee on felt "laminated" for the good soil. Then with a few felt scraps the bushels came to be. I just cut three squares, growing in size, stuffed each with a bit of plastic shopping bag, tied with embossing thread...voila, 30, 60, 100 fold bushels.

For the storage my wonderful hubby painted a shoe box gold for me. The best part? Whether your homeschooling, teach Sunday school, etc. this is every inexpensive (free if you have as much crafty things as this eco-momma) and so worth it!

Hope you enjoy! Remember, an art scrap could just become a bushel in a parable...don't toss it! Repurpose! And eco-live and laugh!


An update on my Veggie journey...

Well, I am about 3 weeks into my return to vegetarianism and you know, it's been easier than I remember. I think it's living in a more urban area where there are so many different eating habits; it sure wides my choices! I don't miss meat and my hubby has even gotten on board with a reduction in his meat habits. I hope to start sharing family favorite recipes more here as we experiment.

But for now, I will share a picture from our July 4th fun and hope you all had as green and lovely a celebration as us!

Eco-Live and Laugh!


Sunday's Eco-inspiration: Rooted

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Ephesians 3:17-19


Think Goldfish are a good choice? Think again...

I have never been a pepperidge farm purchaser...except Goldfish. They seem innocent enough, right? Well, one of my favorite bloggers, Food Babe, gives you the truth behind these deceptively smirked little fish... And as removed them from our "ok if offered" list for good! Click here for her insightful report.

But wait?! What an I replace these beloved cheese crackers with? Here's our favorite picks and even a recipe for you to make your own:

Annie's Cheddar bunnies
365 Organic duckies
Late July cheese squares

And for super mom's and dad's: check out this recipe to make your own!

Remember, eco-live and laugh!


Sweet & Tart berry trip/treat

What a wonderful day! I've always found it important to know where you food comes from and that's especially true with kids. So today we headed out of the city to Olive Berry Acres. 

Upon arrival we were a bit worried about rain, with thunder in the distance. However (thankfully!) the radar proved correct that it was moving the other direction. It made for PERFECT berry picking weather! No sun beating down on our necks, a nice breeze blowing, and the best part... Happy children, getting dirty in the fields. 

My oldest sprout took pride in teaching they youngest which berries to pick and which berries were now ready yet. Both loved picking raspberries and discovering how the berries that are ripe and ready let you know by easily being picked while ones not yet ready still held on. Of course, taste-testing was the favorite with the oldest claiming she would only eat the "funny looking ones". 

The raspberry field was nice and muddy (so much that we stopped for $1 flip flops) but getting dirty was half the fun! Plus, our shoes can be washed but memories are forever. 

I cannot wait to make strawberry jam this week, and will share my favorite recipe here. I've already frozen half the raspberries and made raspberry whipped cream. I can't wait to do even more berry-licious recipes this week...salads, smoothies, muffins, ENDLESS possibilities! 

Head out of the city, get some mud on your tires and eco-live and laugh


Apitherapy Honey

This week at the market I picked up a jar of local apitherapy honey, it's SO delicious! Plus there are a TON of health benefits. I'd love to share a few with you in tribute to yet another wonder from our friends, the bees!

- this honey if raw and unfiltered; it contains propolis, pollen, bits of wax, etc. it's creamy and delicious alone or spread on everything!

- pollen in honey from your local area does wonders to help curb seasonal allergies

- this stimulates the function of the immune system

- great for: coughs, sore throats, some ulcers, bad breath and reduces inflammation of mucus membranes. All because of the propolis!

- see what Dr. Weil says here 
- see what Living Green says here
- check out the brand I purchased here ( it's AMAZING! I got the clover but the buckwheat is great too)


Protect our Bees Please!

Ah, the gentle background of summer: kids laughing, a gentle breeze and the hum of bees. But wait? I don't here the hum anymore and have heard less of it each year of my life. More common is the photo I took just this morning of a bee, not squished or mutilated from human hand...but simply dead on the side walk. And this is not an isolated incidence. Just last week I found a large bumble bee upside down on the sidewalk struggling for it's life. Again, no human hand involved (directly at least). I gently flipped him over in the grass and said a little prayer that this fighter would survive. I couldn't bring myself to "put it out of misery" when there was no injury.

These types of occurrences should make us all stop and take a long, hard look at what the cause is and what we can do to help. Sure, you may be allergic to stings, you may find bees to be a nuisance but a world without bees would be far less lovely. Not only do bees provide beeswax and honey they also pollinate...FOR FREE! According to one article I recently read that service is values at $1 billion per year in Australia. I repeat, $1 BILLION. And I'm not just talking about flowers here...kiwi, apples, brazil nuts, watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, pumpkin, zucchini, cocoa, vanilla, and that's only the essential ones! See a list here. I can't help but wonder if the drop in the bee population is related to the drastic increase in the price of my favorite summer fruit...watermelon.

So what are some of the causes? There are three main reasons I have found in my research: chemicals, radiation and global warming. I'll give you a brief summary of each:

Chemicals - Build up of chemicals from fumigation (in commercial hives) as well as the drastic increase in genetically modified crop pollen (btw, say NO to GMO!) is stressing the bees to the point of hive collapse.

Radiation- With the growth of technology comes a price. Cell phone and wireless towers have increased radiation emitted and this may interfere with bees ability to navigate. Germany's Landau University conducted a study that found bees would not return to hives when mobile phones where placed nearby. There are other studies being conducted in the US now to see if this is affecting more than just the bees but other insect populations as well.

Global Warming- with higher heat comes more mites, viruses and fungi that can wreck havoc on bee colonies.

But you may ask...what can I do? I'm not going to become a backyard beekeeper. While that is one solution, there are many other things you can do to assist the bee populations.
-grow plants that are "bee-friendly" and if you cannot grow at your home, talk to your town about the plants grown in local parks AND WHAT THEY ARE TREATED WITH
-eliminate garden pesticides and use only organic, non-gmo seeds
-provide a bee habitat...you don't have to be a keeper to give bees a place. They love a mound of loose earth near water or old trees too.
-if you garden, leave a few veggies to go to seed after harvest. This is a way for bees to "fill their pantry" before cold winter months.
-purchase local, raw honey. Not only are you supporting your local beekeepers and their hives but it's also GREAT during allergy season, a spoon full of local, raw honey a day keeps the allergies at bay!

So next time you take a swing at a bee, think twice. And remember, Eco-Live and Laugh and help protect our bees!

Here's some additional books/documentaries/websites on the topic:
Who Killed the Honeybee? BBC documentary on YouTube
A Spring Without Bees by Michael Schacker
The Honey Trail: In Pursuit of Liquid Gold and Vanishing Bees by Grace Pundyk
The Beekeeper's Lament by Hannah Nordhaus
Toward Saving the Honeybee by Gunther Hauk


Oregano...how I love thee!

I am FINALLY ready for sandal season! I have my feet back!

This may be TMI but for the past year or so I have struggled with warts. On my big toe, on my heel and the bottom of my foot. I have no clue how it started but man, it was embarrassing! I would only wear flip flops with jeans that covered my heels, etc. 

I knew that oregano oil was great for warts so I tried it. But I made the mistake of not continuing the oil once they started to go away. So they returned with a vengeance. I tried over the counter stuff, duct tape, everything! Why I didn't go back to what worked? Who knows! However, NOTHING worked! 

So, back to the oil. In the morning and at night. Adding Frankincense at night. And they are finally gone! I'm still oiling the spots (like I should have all along) to make sure the root is truly dead but yet another success story for essential oils! I can't wait to get some cute new sandals to show off my renewed feet!

My journey with oils began with my son was a baby with GI issues. They helped heal him when doctors couldn't figure out what was up. And I have continuously been amazed by them ever sense! 

Here's some other uses/benefits of Oregano oil: 
Cold and Flu

Sore Throat
Throat Infection
Yeast Infection

It's so powerful! Just be careful to use a carrier oil (like coconut oil) it is a hot oil. 

If you're interested in getting some oils of your own please visit my online shop at www.mydoterra.com/simplyeco. Not all oils are created equal! I would love to encourage everyone to realize they can take control of their health and their families health...nature has sure healing properties!

And remember to Eco-Live and Laugh! 


Sunday's Eco Inspiration- What environment are you creating?

“Education is a natural process carried out by the child and is not acquired by listening to words but by experiences in the environment.” -Maria Montessori

If we want them to listen we first must listen to them. I know I need this inspiration almost daily. Especially if that listening involves whining! I've learned though, that the better environment you've created, the more your sprouts are comfortable testing both you and that environment.

Take that as encouragement! You're doing something right!

An education not gained thru experiences is not a strong foundation. And if you're like me you want your children to be rooted deeply in the basic understandings of life. And to have an environment where they are free to experience and test...that's just priceless!


Rediscovering health in a almost-veggie lifestyle, a little about my journey so far...

Yup, I did the college, eco-girl thing...I went vegetarian. And it stuck. For about 4 years. And I was in the BEST SHAPE/HEALTH OF MY LIFE! 150 lb., toned and limber. So why did I stop? What was the change? Honestly, I'm not quite sure. But reflecting back I think it could have been two things: moving to a new place and discovering humane meats. Yup, that's right, my beloved South Carolina. Until you can reflect back it's really hard to see but I now realize how much comfort I found in food...and fat. Which is a slippery slope (for me at least).

I don't recall any "homesick" feelings when we moved from NC to SC. But I guess food must have taken that place for me. Just a little at a time. Okay, I eat fish/seafood. Okay, a little chicken...but only hormone/antibiotic free. Well, that BBQ pork DOES smell divine. . . And so it goes.

Fast forward 5 years...moving to IL I was homesick for SC. For my friends. But with a healthy lifestyle so much easier here (walking everywhere...it's awesome!) my meat choices again became stricter. Local, Organic, Pasture raised, etc. But after two children and 5 years of veggie backsliding I was still 80 lbs. heavier than I should be.

Now? I may be friend-sick for folks but not homesick, I'm loving where we are! I love that my tree hugging nature is "normal" here. The things I miss other than people? Strawberry season starts earlier, lighting bugs are already out and about there, and the beach...the REAL beach, is just hours away.

Like I said, I walk to work. We live on the third floor of a no-elevator building. Talk about instant health boosters! Not to mention an AMAZING farmers market just blocks from our door. But this week I made a conscious switch. To eat almost all vegetarian. And my body is rejoicing! I have so much more energy...I just FEEL GOOD. Now I still think that a little meat is okay, as in maybe twice a week. But not as the focus of my meal. It seems I have discovered what my body showed me so long ago. It's just healthier and happier on a whole foods, plant based diet. None of that over processed "fake meat" either. But that's a post for another time...

As a family we have always chosen organic and tried to make the healthiest choices. Does that mean my children never have sugar or pizza? No. But we do try to teach them the healthier habits. And the best teachers are the actions we take, not the words we speak.

Recently my oldest sprout and I started talking about meat. She didn't realize how we got it. I didn't want to freak or gross her out. She has to make her own choices. However, I think I may have another future veggie on my hands...

I hope that everyone will continue to follow our family on our green living/eating journey. I'll be here, sharing!

Please share your successes, favorite veggie recipes, etc.

And remember to eco-live and laugh!


A wonderful day of play, discovery and frittata!

A clean and comfortable 67 today...yup, that's right on June 4th it's in the 60's....and we are loving every minute of it!
Since I had the day off today and the sprouts don't start summer camp until Monday it was wonderful to enjoy a family day in the middle of the week. And it wouldn't be an eco-family day without the great outdoors!
After a granola breakfast we headed out toward the lighthouse lakefront park; it's not the quick, easy park next door but for a good 15-20 minute walk its so worth it! And there was no need to rush...we stopped to smell flowers, pick dandelions, tossed up "helicopters" (maple seed pods), and pretended we could fly! Once at the park, imagination was the name of the game! Pirates was the favorite, complete with walking the plank. Then, slides, swings and wishing to go out on the beach...gotta get those tokens! My oldest sprout is loving spotting birds right know so she announced cardinals and robins left and right.
After about 1 1/2 hours we ventured home...not taking the same path we ventured right across a field full of clover flowers that smelled wonderful! The kids proceeded to make bouquets of dandelions, clover and grasses along the way...even giving me a flower or two for my hair. Isn't it wonderful how kids don't see weeds but rather a plethora of beauty?!
After a little rest we got out two mini schnauzers and went to the park by our home because the sprouts never tire of outside time. I love that they go straight to imagining with sticks and running around. In fact, it would be amazing to see a natural playground appear here!  The best was hearing them "hiking" with walking sticks looking for monkeys in the "jungle" (our park is plant/tree/bush lined so its perfect!)
For dinner I played off of a great recipe I found on Pinterest and made a frittata. Here's the ingredients I used but all the cooking times were the same:
- Lake Breeze Organics eggs (I just love seeing all the shell colors when I open the carton!)
- Lake Breeze Organics kale & asparagus
- Henry's Organic Farm spinach & green garlic
- River Valley Kitchen baby portobello mushrooms
- 365 organic shredded fiesta cheese
- fresh ground black pepper and Himalayan salt
- olive oil

Here's a picture (though its an iPad pic so quality is lacking...) share your day and dinner with me, how did you green up your day?


Taco assembly line ~ Foodie Friday

Cooking with your children is so important! Not only is it a great life skill for the future, but preparing meals as a family and sitting down to enjoy together can: teach healthy eating habits and the benefits of local/organic, kids are more open to trying new things when they are involved, if the attitude remains positive its a great self confidence builder, and kids are not stuck in front of the TV or Internet while the adults prepare them food.

Tonight we had a delicious taco bar with:

-shredded organic rotisserie chicken
-Lake Breeze Organics kale, shredded
- 365 Organics fiesta cheese blend
- Organic Valley sour cream
- Henry's Farm spring garlic and red onions, diced
- tomatillo salsa
- organic avocado with Himalayan salt, black pepper and 4 drops DoTerra Lime essential oil, mashed together (the kids and I could eat this alone SO yummy!)
- 365 Organics corn tortillas, room temperature

Everyone got to assemble their own dinner and really enjoyed it! And they each willingly put everything on their taco without the dreaded "eat your veggies comment" you may expect with things like kale on the table:-)

What did your family have for dinner? How do you get the kids involved? I'd love to hear!


Scrumptious beet and greens pasta

I came across this recipe on Pinterest and just knew I had to try my own version with all the amazing produce at our local market. So here's my version:

1 Henry's Organic spring garlic, chopped
1 Henry's Organic red onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons 365 Organic Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Organic Valley grass fed butter
Henry's Organic Small bunch beets with greens attached...remove and wash greens, wash, peel and chop beets (I used golden and red)
Lake Breeze Organics baby carrots
365 Organic Farfalle pasta
Himalayan salt, to taste

Boil water in pasta pot, add beets and carrots, boil about 10 minutes. At same, sauté spring garlic and red onion in 2Tbsp olive oil, about ten minutes on med-low. Add beet greens and butter, sauté about 5-8 minutes. Remove beets and carrots, bring water bake to boil. Add pasta, cook until al dente, about 12 minutes for the kid I used. ( don't worry, the pasta won't turn pink from the water) Drain pasta, mix everything together, add a dash of Himalayan salt (see benefits for this salt here) and enjoy!


Sunday's Eco Inspiration

Job 12:7-10 

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
    or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
    or let the fish in the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
    that the hand of the Lord has done this?
In his hand is the life of every creature
    and the breath of all mankind."

Take a hike!

In the woods, that is:-) our family kicked off Memorial Day weekend by visiting the forest preserve near our home. So many teaching moments naturally arise while in nature: examining deer and horse tracks, spotting mushrooms on the side of tree stumps, hearing woodpeckers and a near by stream, counting tree rings to see how old it is, and so much more! Plus, at the entrance the field is full of dandelions and those wonderful seed puffs...so fun for even the adults to blow and see where the seeds may land.
The importance of our children really experiencing nature is summered best in the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv. It can truly make or break their physical and emotional health. Another two great books to give you ideas for getting out in nature are I Love Dirt! And 15 Minutes Outside.
Get a little nature in everyday! Don't be afraid to jump in puddles and get a little dirt under your nails...it's healthy, I promise.


DIY Clay Diffuser Necklace

Recently a fellow colleague and I held a clay diffuser necklace make&take class on essential oils. We had a blast! It is so healing to get you hands dirty and really work and create something with your own hands. And, since the clay used is air dry it's not difficult at all!
There are so many benefits to essential oils and with this method we are able to take advantage of the aromatic benefits. Not only are there emotional pros (mood elevation, calming, etc) certain oils can also purify the air and kill air borne pathogens. Why wouldn't everyone want a diffuser necklace, right?
I know I am loving using mine! My children wore them with a drop of the calming blend on a family outing and what a wonderful difference! I wore mine to work with the purifying blend to help with the aroma my office has from a recent flood...and I would much rather be smelling my necklace that's for sure!
So, here's what we did:
Air dry terra cotta clay
Cording for finish necklaces
Various small cookie cutters
Old spice jars ( they acted as mini rolling pins)
Parchment paper (helped keep the table clean)
Stamps (for imprinting designs)
Straws and skewers ( to make hole for cording and make designs in the clay)

How To-
Let your creativity flow! There is no "right" shape. We all made different but beautiful creations, even clay beads...the possibilities are limitless. Once complete let the "charms" dry completely (mine took about two days but this may range with size) add cording and a single drop of the oil you've chosen (rubbed to the surface of your necklace). Enjoy the effects of your oil!
WARNING: don't be alarmed if others ask about your aroma, the olfactory system is an amazing thing:-)

I hope you'll enjoy some photos of our groups great creations and be inspired to attempt this on your own. For any inquiries or for more information on essential oils feel free to message me or visit my website, www.mydoterra.com/simplyeco
Essential Oils have changed our family and our health for the better and sharing is always so fulfilling.


Who wouldn't love deep dish pasta?

I created a delicious dish last night with almost all farmers market, local, organic ingredients... Best of all? Everyone loved it!
My eldest helped choose many of the ingredients at the market so she was very proud to have contributed. It's so rewarding to find those teachable moments in everyday life. And it's totally worth it to give up a little control (ie she chose a different fresh pasta than I would have) to see that confident smile! 
My hubby named it since he said it had the complex and delicious flavors of deep dish without all the fat and carbs.

So, here's the recipe: 
*BONUS: it's WAY healthier than deep dish* 
Olive Oil, 2 Tbsp
Crushed organic garlic, 2 cloves
Dried organic oregano, 1 tsp
Organic Large Onion, 1/2, diced
River Valley Kitchens baby portabello, about ten, diced
Organic yellow bell pepper, diced
Kinnikinnick Farms Italian ground Berkshire pork, cooked & crumbled
1/2 jar 365 organic Italian seasoned pasta sauce

Pasta Puttana, seasonal herb pasta (parsley and ramps I believe), 1 package ( says enough for 2 adults but was plenty for our family of four with this hearty yet light sauce) 

Lake Breeze Organics Arugula, to top

Add oil and garlic to medium size sauté pan over medium heat. Keep garlic moving, you don't want to burn it! Once garlic is realizing that wonderful, slightly nutty aroma add onion, pepper, portabellos and oregano. Sauté low and slow for about ten to twenty minutes to really develop the flavor. Add sausage, sauté a bit longer. Add sauce, reduce to simmer and let flavors blend as salted pasta water comes to a roaring boil. Cook pasta for 45 seconds (the joy of fresh pasta!), remove from water. Remove sauce from heat. Plate! For us we divided two kids portions and two adult portions, topped with sauce and arugula and a lite dusting of Parmesano Regiano. Bon Appetit! 

Side note: this would be delicious as a vegetarian dish as well, just leave out the pork. 


Green Festival - Chicago 2013

Since college I have wanted to attend the green festival, but, alas, I did not live near a large enough city. So I was SUPER STOKED to be able to attend this year now that we are in a host city!
I was not disappointed! We made a family event of it, enjoying some delicious vegan food too! For those of you in the Chicagoland area I highly recommend both Chicago Diner and B' Gabs Goodies. The table favorite (even with my 2 year old) was B'Gabs raw taco...yum!
All of the many vendors had lots to share and sample. Free Dr. Bronner Soaps and Vegetarian Times magazine?! This green family was in heaven! It was also a great teaching moment for my 4 year old about the attempt to make as little waste possible at the festival by the way they had the waste areas set. There was a compost, recycle and landfill bin and she was fascinated to see so many things that could be composted. (I feel a future family project coming on...)
Ford was a sponsor as well and they had and electric hybrid demoed. I just loved the visual of all the products the car door is made from...yet another teaching moment:-)
Oh! And I discovered ORETHICS brand: menstruation products, cloth diapers, swim diapers, etc. please check out and support this business. Her products are not only green, they are crazy cute too! Feminine hygiene is an area that really needs greening and I'll back her for making a step in the right direction. But hygiene is a post all it's own...we'll get there!

So, if you are ever in the Chicago area, or any of the Green Festival locations, check it out! It's well worth it and great for the family:-)


Go wild! Stay local!

Browsing Pinterest the other day I happened across a recipe for ramp spread. I have known about ramps for a while but have never gotten to taste them since along with there seasonality the are not a grocery store or southern farmers market staple. But to the joy! The benefit of a Midwest spring! At the farmers market this morning I found wild ramps at one of my favorite stands, Kinnikinnick Farms. And I must say, delicious! I could eat this spread by the spoonful (but practiced restraint and saved it for yummy toasted bread in the a.m.) the flavor is so delicate, and the smell while chopping them was enough to make me salivate.
Do you have access to ramps at your local market? If so, try them...you won't be disappointed! And give this great recipe a shot too! Great to extend the life on enjoyment from your ramps.