natural cough remedy

it's that time of year again when coughs linger on keep us awake at night.  i came across this recipe on pinterest, had all of the ingredients and decided to give it a try.  friends, it works.  every time.  when my boys have a cough, i put this on their feet at night, covered with socks, and they are always able to sleep through the night cough free! it is good for daytime use too. 

  • 5 tbsp. extra-virgin coconut oil (a natural anti-viral)
  • 1 tbsp. sweet almond oil (you could use safflower, olive, etc. if you want)
  • 2 tbsp. beeswax
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil (also a natural anti-viral
  • 20 drops rosemary essential oil (aids breathing)
in a small pan, melt the coconut oil and sweet almond oil.  add the beeswax, chopped up (or in granules) and stir until melted.  add the essential oils and stir to combine.  pour into a 4 oz. glass jar and allow to cool.  store at room temperature to make it easier to spread on little feet.  


carrot soup

it's time for rich fall soups!  i was obsessed with pumpkin soup until an unfortunate morning sickness incident 5 years ago.  i STILL cannot eat any kind of heated pumpkin.  that's right...no pumpkin spice lattes, warm pumpkin pie, or my beloved pumpkin soup.  

when i saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, the bleubird blog, i knew i had to try it, and i'm in love. i've missed my warm, creamy soup to go with my grilled cheeses in the fall, and it's just as good to me as this favorite, and nice to have in the rotation.


8-10 unpeeled organic carrots, washed and sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
6 cups chicken broth
4 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 tsp. marjoram
1 1/2 tsp. parsley
1 tsp. thyme
1 1/2 tsp. dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream

melt butter in large pot.  add onion, stirring occasionally until golden.  add carrots, chicken stock and spices. bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and and simmer for 45 minutes.  blend in small batches in a blender until smooth.  (for this step, don't completely seal the top of the blender.  just hold on top with a towel and blend OR use an immersion blender, if you have one.)  return to pot and add the heavy cream and stir until heated through. 


two ingredient breakfast smoothie

THIS and any frozen fruit, blended.
every morning with my egg white omelet. :)
my favorite fruit to use is strawberries...or blueberries.


a lego party

i made a special banner for the birthday boy.  he was so happy when he woke up and saw it.

we rented a water slide and also had a little pool set up for the younger set. 

a "guess how many legos" game.  (there were 222 and the winner won a target gift card.)  
i also printed the original 1962 lego patent. it is one of the only toys that still has its original patent.

a lego head chocolate cupcake pull-apart.

vanilla cupcakes with candy legos and sprinkles on top.

for the guests: bags of lego candy that was buildable and edible. (ordered online)

we had lunch and all of will's friends and family were here.  he had a blast and got some wonderful gifts!  

we had the BEST DAY.


cookies for breakfast

my children eat cookies for breakfast.

horrified?  concerned?  well, don't be! these whole food breakfast cookies are sugar, dairy, and guilt free.

one ripe banana, mashed
1/2 cup quick oats
a dash of cinnamon (optional)

that's really all you need, but i like to mix in just a bit of one (or two) of the following for variety:

dried fruit
peanut butter
chocolate chips
chopped nuts

bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

this makes 6 cookies.  you can easily double this, but i don't like the way they taste after being stored. they are best fresh and warm from the oven, and since they take about 16 minutes to make, i don't mind making a fresh batch every morning.  plus, we like to try different combinations.  (our favorite mix in right now is cranberries.) 

i memorized this recipe a few months ago when EVERYONE pinned it.


"skinny" oreo shake

1 cup 2% milk
3 oreos
1 TBL. instant vanilla pudding (dry mix)
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups ice cubes

add all ingredients and blend until smooth.

i've been drinking a lot of calories lately, so i was happy to find this lighter milkshake recipe in a magazine while i was in a waiting room.  it's simple enough, and everyone in my house likes it.  i like to top it with fat free whipped cream and crushed oreos.  the original recipe calls for fat free oreos, but i like to use the real food oreos from sprouts.  i'm not sure of the calorie count (i didn't write it down), but it's nice to have a refreshing treat that i can make in place of the snow cones that i'm eating my weight in this summer.  :)

makes one shake.


my beauty secrets: aquage + velcro rollers

aquage uplifting foam and my trusty rollers

i have such a love/hate relationship with my hair.  

i gave up fixing it a few years ago and just got extensions.  since taking them out, i've had to learn how to fix my hair all over again.  it's been challenging because my hair has changed since i started wearing them. (2 kids and several years have a way of changing your hair's texture.)  it's whisper thin, and doesn't grow, but i have recently made peace with it, and have actually started to enjoy fixing it again.  

i'm a hoarder of volumizers and root lifters. (i could probably open a hair product museum.) everything pulls my thin locks down.  i achieved the little volume i had with velcro rollers.  yes, just like the ones your grandma or mother uses!  my hair can't tolerate the direct heat of hot rollers, and i've been using this same set of velcro rollers since college.  my recent discovery is from a wonderful blog that has really helped me re-learn how to do hair.  pinterest famous kate bryan over at the small things blog raves about aquage uplifting foam, so of course i had to give it a try.  you can only get it at select salons, but there was one right by my house.  you can find it here. 

i put a small amount on my crown, massage it into my scalp, and comb through.  i blow dry my hair upside down until it is almost dry, then roll.  these stay in my hair and i use all 8.  if you have long, course hair, this may not be for you, but i just wanted to share what's been working for me. :)

i leave them in while i do my makeup, get dressed, and have my second (or third) cup of coffee, until my hair is completely dry.  to date, I HAVE NOT LEFT THE HOUSE in them.  the last thing i do before i leave the house is gently take them out and finger comb my hair.  i use the tiniest amount of hairspray.

the aquage gives me the volume that none of the others could do,
and i don't have to tease it.  it doesn't leave any residue on my hair, only fullness.
*for a tighter curl, i blow dry my hair completely
and curl it with a curling iron on low heat before rolling.*  


easiest summer chicken

ready to roast!

last night it was just TOO HOT to grill.  plus i'm nursing my first big sunburn of the year, and i just couldn't bring myself to go back out in the sun.  i am running low on groceries, so i came up with this little concoction and it ended up being a very refreshing and light main dish.


3-4 chicken breasts
2 lemons, one for juicing, one for slicing
red onion, sliced
1 tbl. olive oil
salt and lemon pepper to taste
1 tsp. basil

place the chicken in a baking dish.  slice one lemon and 1/4 of a red onion over the chicken.  combine the fresh lemon juice, olive oil and spices and drizzle on top.  roast uncovered in 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes.

i can't wait to try this again with oranges and rosemary.
the possibilities are endless!


a superman party

ready to celebrate!

westland ranch petting zoo

plastic shot glasses from kroger

a pull-apart cupcake "cake"

superman treats from the target dollar spot

i hosted a party last weekend for my youngest.  i'm not sure why, but this was my most enjoyable birthday party yet.  i think it had something to do with having the sweetest little baby animals and a gentle little pony at my house, or maybe it was because i kept the food ultra simple with just sandwiches, chips, carrots, and fruit, but it really ended up being a wonderful day.  

(my baby is FOUR?!)


deceptively delicious

i'm cooking my way through this book, and wanted to introduce you to it if you haven't already seen it. i almost didn't get it, the main reason being that i don't like the idea of tricking kids into eating vegetables.  i love that my boys can eat steamed broccoli without having to be bribed or tricked.  God gave us vegetables for our nourishment and i don't have the opinion that they should be something that kids are forced to eat.  

that being said, i am looking for a way to incorporate more veggies into simple meals, and i've always been intrigued by this book.  (there's already a second one out!)  every. single. recipe. is delicious and we are all pretty amazed.  i always tell everyone what "secret ingredient" is in our dinner, and also serve my same vegetable sides, but i have to admit that if you are a mother and your child (OR HUSBAND) won't eat veggies, this is a pretty great concept.

i don't find making the purees to be that big of a task (even though every time i do it, i wince that i didn't make my own baby food).  i am happy to eat the extra veggies myself and i find that they enhance the taste of the food, and add an extra dimension.  for example, i especially enjoy the cous cous, not seasoned with herbs and spices, but sweet potato and butternut squash and the darkest, richest chocolate pudding i've ever tasted, made not with cream, but using avocado as it's creamy base.  pretty crazy!  pretty fantastic. 


accidental vegetarian

 cous cous patties in olive oil

my dinner!  i grilled chicken breasts for the boys.

i didn't really mean to become a vegetarian.  (joke: how do you know if someone is a vegetarian?  oh, they'll TELL YOU.)  i guess it all began when i started to have cramps after i ate and i felt like the hormones were affecting me negatively.  i just wanted to eat as "clean" and healthy as possible so i decided to try it and looked online for recipes and was overwhelmed at the variety!  there are so many great options and ideas out there that i decided to try one new recipe a week and experiment with making up my own on the other days. i've been doing this for quite a while and i have a nice little group of recipes that i'll be sharing in future posts.  

one of my favorite recipes is one that i made up:


2 cups prepared cous cous 
one diced tomato
1/4 cup grated parmesan
one egg
salt & pepper

combine and form into patties.  saute in olive oil for a few minutes
on each side until heated through and lightly browned.

if you want to try a vegetarian diet, but don't think you can with a family, i have an easy way to try it out.  cook a vegetarian side with your dinner and have that as your main course.  as an added bonus, you can serve it to your family as an extra side and they might like even like it!   all three of my boys like the above recipe.

update:  i have incorporated a little meat back into my diet, but i make sure it's organic and the best i can buy.  expensive much?  YES, but it's our body's fuel.  i see it as in investment into my family's future health.  i love the idea of food as preventative medicine.


ninjago cookies

two things we love in our house:  lego ninjago and sweets.

i got this idea from an etsy shop.  they are basic sugar cookies cut with a gingerbread man cutter.  i let the boys decorate these and i thought they did a great job!  (i helped with the belts and eyes.)

next time, we'll make superheroes. :)


coconut rice pudding

1 1/2 cups cooked rice (i've used plain, brown, and jasmine and of the three, 
jasmine is the best by far.)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 cups 2% (or whole) milk
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp. vanilla

combine all ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for 40 minutes. this is best when it's warm, and my oldest and i are addicted to it.  it makes a perfect breakfast, snack or dessert!  i sprinkle it with cinnamon for him, but i like it plain so that i taste nothing but the coconut.  

from ffffood.


almond butter and larabars

almond butter and an apple: a perfect after school snack!

i had no idea that nut butters were so easy to make.  (thanks again, melissa!)  i've made peanut, cashew and my new favorite, which is almond.  all you do is roast 1 or 2 cups of raw nuts in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  (i just stock up on whatever nut is on sale in the bulk bins at sprouts.) put in the food processor and let it run and run and run. at first you don't think it will make it, but as the oils are released from the nuts, it becomes creamy and wonderful!  it took about 10 minutes for me.  i did have to transfer it to my small processor because it kept sticking to the sides on my large one.  no other ingredients are needed, just salt to taste.  i add less than 1/2 tsp per 1 cup nuts.

this led me to something else i've been wanting to try:
aren't these good...and expensive? :)  they make a perfect little breakfast.

i had leftover almonds, almond butter and a huge bag of dates from sam's.  i love dates as a snack or chopped into a salad, but no one else in the house will eat them, and i have a 3 pound bag.  what was i thinking?  so to help use up my dates, i decided to experiment with homemade larabars.  i think larabars really might be just the 3 or 4 ingredients listed on the wrapper (i've always been VERY suspicious) because these homemade ones taste like the real thing for a fraction of the price!

dates, raisins and almonds

1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 cup raw almonds
1/4 cup homemade almond butter (any nut butter will do)
drizzle of honey to bind
*makes 8 bars*

add all ingredients to the food processor and mix for 1-2 minutes until the nuts are finely chopped.  spread to about 1/2" thickness on wax paper, wrap, and freeze for 30 minutes.  
cut into bars and store in the refrigerator.

i can't wait to play around with this recipe!  other varieties could include cashews, nutella, dried prunes, coconut, dried cranberries, apricots or blueberries...

i made this recipe up with a little pinspiration.  :)


healthy hearts

have you ever googled the benefits of coconut oil? if it really does all that it's supposed to, shouldn't we be bathing in it and ingesting it daily? it's apparently a miracle substance, and since i've been using it in my beauty regimen, i've really noticed an improvement in my skin and hair.

i've been wanting to find a way to incorporate it into my diet, but i am really partial to cooking with olive oil.  my friend melissa came over the other day and whipped up these little cuties for me.  they are made with 4 TBL. melted coconut oil, 4 TBL. unsweetened cocoa and 1 TBL. honey, mixed well and frozen in my little heart candy molds.  it made about 8.  if you don't have a candy mold, just spread on wax paper and freeze for 15 minutes, then break apart and store in the fridge.

it's a nice way to have a "little something" that's 100% healthy and extremely high in antioxidants.  
disclaimer:  if you do not like DARK chocolate, these aren't for you.  


peanut butter cup trifle

1 batch brownies, cooled and cut into cubes (i used ghiradelli.)
1 large box (5-ounce) of instant chocolate fudge pudding, prepared and chilled
1 bag of peanut butter cups, chopped
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup of creamy peanut butter
1 cup of powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk
8 ounces of whipped cream cheese, at room temperature

beat heavy cream and sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form. transfer the whipped cream to a separate bowl and stick in the fridge until ready to use. i didn't even clean the bowl of my electric mixer and just began mixing the peanut butter mixture.

add the peanut butter and cream cheese to the bowl and beat at medium speed, until creamy. add in powdered sugar and mix until combined, then mix in 2 tablespoons of milk. remove the whipped cream from the fridge and add 1 cup of it to the peanut butter, folding it in until the mixture turns lighter in color and is just combined.

grab your trifle dish and begin to layer your ingredients however you’d like. i did a layer of brownies, then peanut butter, then a handful of chopped peanut butter cups, chocolate pudding, whipped cream, and so on. i repeated it until I got to the top, then piped the remaining whipped cream on top and sprinkled the candy on. you really can’t go wrong with layering – just use a long spoon to serve.  (use small bowls.  this is the richest. dessert. ever.)  


my beauty secrets: baby powder

i made it all the way through this holiday season without wearing my false eyelashes.  (i'm really not sure when the need to attach fake hair to my head for every special occasion started.)  ANYWAY, i saw a pin early last fall that showed how to enhance your eyelashes with baby powder.  they suggested dipping a q-tip in the powder and lightly dusting the tips of your lashes between coats.  well, if a little is good, wouldn't a lot be great?  i put a some baby powder in a small container and after the first coat of mascara (i use maybelline's lash stiletto) i dip my finger in the powder and "push" it onto my lashes.  i do this about 5 times, or until the top lashes are fully coated.  then i apply my second coat of the same mascara.

i love using two mascaras.  the second one seems to build on where the first one left off.  for an evening out, i apply a THIRD coat (but no more baby powder) of another mascara. (i use maybelline's falsies.) i don't use an eyelash curler because of the "check mark" shape that it creates, but at this point i push up on my lashes with my finger to create a little lift.  i also separate any clumps with a straight pin.  apply a fourth coat if desired...

clockwise from top left: bare lashes, after one coat, pushing the powder onto my lashes, my trusty tools

the result:

i stopped at 2 coats here, and one light coat on the bottom lashes.
after all, i'm just going to the post office today. 


the sunrise smoothie

good morning!  wake up!!  this will help:

one small peeled orange
1/2 frozen banana
1 peeled, diced organic carrot
1/4 cup uncooked oats
1/2 cup crushed ice
honey, sweetened to taste
orange juice to blend

add the carrots to the blender first, as they are the hardest to puree.  add remaining ingredients and blend well.  this recipe is only a starting point, and you can easily add more or less of anything that you like.  


my beauty secrets: biotin

i am a little hesitant mentioning a supplement as a beauty secret.  the world of supplements and vitamins is a slippery slope and an expensive habit.  it is a HUGE industry, and i believe that God really gives all that we need to sustain us in our food, granted we choose it wisely.  that being said (and stepping down from my soapbox), i have found two that WORK FOR ME.  they may not work for everyone and i have heard of biotin affecting some people's skin adversely, but it is the first thing in years that has given my poor hair its first sign of growth and thickness, and i've tried pretty much everything.  i've been taking it for about 4 months.  

i take four of these a day the week before my period, and my pms is GONE.  i call it a beauty secret, because bloating and breakouts were my two main issues and they are no more.  i've only been using this for 3 months, but i'm very happy with the results.  

these can be found at any drugstore and are relatively inexpensive. 


my beauty secrets: argan oil

the static electricity that my hair generates could power a small device.  argan oil is my trick to tame the beast. i do not have the type of hair that would normally do well with any type of oil, but i put the TINIEST bit on my outer layer and on my ends after styling, and i stay static free (and shiny) all day. this little bottle from sally's is NOT the moroccan oil that everyone seems to be using these days. i should probably bite the bullet and buy myself an expensive bottle of 100% moroccan oil, but i am absolutely obsessed with the scent of this one.  i use it on my hands and cuticles when they are dry and it has done for them what no lotion could during this cold winter. the smell fades quickly, but i enjoy it until it does...

UPDATE 3/9/13:  i would not recommend this product for bleached hair.  i recently had blond highlights put in my brunette hair, and they turned orange after about a week.  i went back to my stylist in dismay, and the first question she asked me was "are you using argan oil?"  i had been, every day.  she was able to strip out the buildup with a special shampoo that returned my blond to the original platinum.
so be careful!  it's wonderful, but best on natural dark hair.