Weekly Roundup

February 27, 2015
by vicki, links i love

Head on over to Joy of Mom for the best of what the internet has to offer in our Weekly Roundup!

 

Joy of Mom’s Weekly Roundup

6 health promoting herbs you should be eating regularly.

~ A trick to end sibling bickering.

~ The most beautiful video of a baby breast feeding for the first time.

~ A Phytonurtrient cheat sheet. – Eat your greens!

~ My current go-to site for floral inspiration.

~ A giveaway not to be missed!

~ Wow, is this romper amazing and artistic. Drooling, coveting.

~ Adorably delicious.

~ An interesting article about the relationship between depression and inflammation.

~ A funny article about dining out with your spouse. {Warning: NSFW language.}

~ The myth about warming up your car on a cold day.

The Joy of Cleaning

February 27, 2015
by vicki

The Joy of Cleaning! #joyofmom

 

The Joy of Cleaning

If you are like me, once you get into the rhythm of a deep home cleaning, you begin to enjoy it. And, most times, actually love it! There is something quite relaxing about washing dishes with some favorite tunes playing in the background, or vacuuming the house while planning dinner in your head, or even cleaning out (and purging!) your closet.

As I get older, I become more and more of a minimalist. I’d rather purchase one thing that I absolutely love than ten things I like – which I will undoubtedly discard after a year when I do another closet purge anyway.

While I love having a clean home, I do not love the smell of bleach or other heavily chemical-based products. For the most part, I actually prefer to make my own cleaning products, made from natural and therefore safe ingredients.

For instance, I can’t imagine spraying my kitchen countertops with a bleach-based product. My kids are constantly setting food down on the counter and then eating it, and the thought of bleach getting into their systems freaks me out. Instead, I mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 2 cups of water and add half a dozen drops of lemon essential oil to make cleaning spray. I mix these ingredients in a glass spray bottle, shake and spray! I prefer to use a rag instead of paper towels because it provides a deeper clean and is better for the environment.

The same white vinegar and water solution can be used for cleaning bathroom tile and counters as well. For the toilet, I combine 3/4 cup borax, 1 cup white vinegar, a dozen drops of lavender essential oil and half a dozen of lemon essential oil. Again, I mix these in a glass spray bottle, shake, and spray all over the inside and outside of the toilet. This mixture cleans just as well as chemical cleaners, but leaves out the nasty smell and harsh chemicals.

I have two fur babies and their health and well-being are extremely important to me. I avoid using harsh products on my floors because of my pets. Instead, I mix 1 gallon of hot water, 3/4 cup olive oil and 1/2 cup lemon juice for a fantastic wood floor cleaner and polish. It works like a charm and is safe for my pups.

While I get pleasure from clean counters and floors, my secret obsession is the refrigerator. Do you ever feel a small triumph after a proper fridge clean like I do? It’s almost alarming how long we hold on to expired food products. I’ll embarrassingly admit to discovering 2 year old (expired) sauces and spreads, as well as moldy produce and sad looking leftovers. While the process of cleaning might be tedious, I love the feeling of accomplishment once I’m finished scouring and scrubbing. I especially feel this way after cleaning out closets. While deciding what belongs in the “donation” pile might sting a bit at first, I thoroughly enjoy the open, less cluttered look and feel of a closet. Space between hangers, no clothes rolled into a ball in the back corner, nothing from my days of “pre-kids”. (You know what I’m talking about, and no, those pants have no plans on fitting again. Time to toss!)

I love this piece about closet purging. Whether it’s your closet, your kitchen, your overall home aesthetic, or your life in general, it’s important to remember to ‘collect moment, not things’. While I am just as fashion-obsessed as the next guy, I think there is something really spectacular about living a minimalistic life: to collect and keep only what you love and cannot live without, and then donate the rest. Don’t hold on to something for the sake of a memory or the idea you might “want to wear it one day”. Once you release the clutter, you will feel amazing and your home will look amazing.

Mommy & Me

February 26, 2015
by vicki

Mommy & Me... Something You Want, Something You Need, Something To Wear, Something To Read! #joyofmom

 

Mommy & Me

Something You Want, Something You Need, Something To Wear, Something To Read

 

Mommy

Want: Avarcas Sandals: Footwear that we’ve been drooling over for years. Handmade in Spain with top quality leather and materials, these sandals are the epitome of style and comfort. Step into Spring in these gorgeous flats!

Need: Barr & Co. Lotion: A natural and sensational lotion that will heal your skin and make you smell like a summer’s day. With ingredients such as aloe, shea butter, cucumber and colloidal oatmeal, this soothing cream will leave your skin feeling soft and hydrated throughout the day. Plus, we love anything that comes in a glass jar.

Wear: Moulton Horseshoe Hook Earrings: We are obsessed with the minimalist beauty of these earrings. Upside down “U” shaped hook earrings handmade in silver, gold-filled and rose gold-filled are perfect for day or night, and are sure to make a statement.

Read: Mind in the Making: A research-based advice book for parents on how to raise their children to be well rounded and achieve their full potential. This book provides advice about helping them learn to take on life’s challenges, communicate well, and be passionate about learning. While every child is different and therefore no “one way” of parenting is the “right” way, it’s always helpful and beneficial to read research-based literature to help you, as the parent, decide how you want to parent long-term.

 

Me

Want: Thomas the Train set: Thomas & Friends are long-time loved toys, dating back to their creation in the 1940s. Created by a father for his son, Thomas & Friends started out as books and then developed into physical toys. They are well-crafted trains and train sets that provide countless hours of play for boys and girls.

Need: Lollacup: Stylish, modern and whimsical straw sippy cups that both children and parents will love. These are made from high-quality materials, BPA-free, and equipped with a flexible straw that is weighted to ensure ideal drinking at any angle.

Wear: Little Pom Pom Pretender Tunic: I think our hearts just skipped a beat! Have you ever seen a cuter dress for a little girl? Made from 100% cotton, this little number is beyond adorable, perfect for a night out with the family or to wear on an adventure to the beach.

Read: We All Went On Safari: Kids learn to count the animals in English and Swahili as they trek the Tanzanian plains. Colorful scenes of animals and friends exploring the land, kids will love the rhythmic story and the counting fun. This book won the “Child Magazine’s 2003 Best book of the Year”.

Joy of Mom and Little Dream Bird Giveaway!

February 25, 2015
by vicki, family, motherhood

Joy of Mom and Little Dream Bird Giveaway! #joyofmom

 Joy of Mom and Little Dream Bird Giveaway!

Have you heard of Little Dream Bird yet? Well if you haven’t, today is your lucky day! We love this brand and we love their products. Designed and owned by Barb Mackenzie, LDB is the answer to the prayers from moms-on-the-go.

Barb has two children of her own, and was struggling to find something what would keep her sleeping babies sheltered while she was constantly on the go. She wanted to make stroller and carseat covers that were functional, safe, and fashionable. Her covers feature details such as reflective trim, zippered pockets, hidden magnetic strips, and more.

I know that my mom friends and I were constantly looking for a way to keep our babies shaded and to block out noise while running errands and such. Blankets were simply not cutting it, and I can tell you from experience that LDB’s covers are perfection and work like a charm.

Designing and operating LDB is an undertaking in itself, let alone doing it while raising two children. We recently chatted with Barb about how she makes it all work, and she shared some amazing insight on how to juggle being a working mom. Barb explained that she gets a lot of her work done while her kiddos nap and go down for bed at night, but that she also values her “alone time” and “social time” as much as anything else, and we applaud her for that. It is so easy for us moms to forget about having some fun moments for ourselves, and we need them to recharge!

When it comes to being a mom, Barb loves watching her babies grow, learn and experience new things, especially interacting with other kids. I know us mamas can relate to that. Every stage of our children’s lives is just as emotional, inspiring and impressive as the next.

Barb has designed a slew of stroller and carseat covers, all functional and truly pieces of art. Lightweight in texture and easy store, these pieces are a must-have for moms with little ones in carseats and strollers. And, because we love this brand so much, we are awarding one lucky Joy of Mom reader with a piece of their choice from the LDB collection!

To enter this amazing giveaway, simply subscribe to Joy of Mom here, follow us on Instagram and tag two friends, and follow Little Dream Bird on Instagram. The lucky winner will be announced on Monday, March 2nd. Good luck!

{Be sure to check out Little Dream Bird on Facebook and Twitter as well.}

A 10 Minute Meditation Routine

February 24, 2015
by vicki

A 10 Minute Meditation Routine That Will Change Your Life! #joyofmom

 

A 10 Minute Meditation Routine That Will Change Your Life

Meditation is one of those practices with which most of us wish we could incorporate into our lives on a daily basis. Maybe we don’t know how to, maybe we don’t think we have time, or maybe we don’t necessarily believe it will make much of a difference.

But we say to you, you’ll never know until you try.

There’s no doubt that meditation can help one relax and feel calm, possibly even help with falling and staying asleep. Did you know there are more benefits than just stress reduction? Studies have shown that meditation can help improve concentration, increase self-awareness, increase happiness, slow down the aging process, benefit cardiovascular and immune health, and so on.

Whether you are feeling overwhelmed with daily life, going through a tough time, feeling agitated, or simply just interested in boosting your overall happiness and well-being, we encourage you to try to meditate every day for one week. All you need to do is carve out 10 minutes of your day for one week, and find a simple and easy (and so very soothing!) meditation practice. If 10 minutes feels too long, start with 5 and work your way up. Our favorite technique is called “Ocean Breathing”, and it is incredibly zen-invoking. If you don’t have a method in mind, we encourage you to try the “Ocean Breathing” technique.

Execution: Find a quiet spot, possibly by a window or outside in a garden. A space where you feel comfortable. Sit in a cross-legged position with your hands on your knees, or lie down on a mat with your hands on your stomach, and close your eyes. Begin by taking deep slow breaths. In for 5-7 seconds, hold the breath for a few more seconds, then slowly breathe out. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. While you are drawing your breath in, visualize a wave drawing back in the ocean. When you release the breath, imagine the wave crashing down and rolling up on the shore. Birds are flying by, the sun is setting off into the distance, and you are alone, and at peace, sitting on the sand, watching the waves pull back, curl and crash.

In with positivity, out with negativity. In with love and peace, out with pain and turmoil. Visualize the life you want for yourself, and with every breath, disperse these hopes and dreams into the universe.

Looking for other technique ideas? Try these 3 beginner meditation techniques.

We hope that after one week of meditation, you will begin feel the incredible benefits. Allow this to be a time for you. Thoughts might come into your mind during your practice, simply acknowledge them and then let them pass. Try not to “not think” too hard – just be silent and still. Enjoy and welcome the inner bliss. Heal, rejuvenate, recharge, and love yourself and your practice. Namaste.

For The Love of Lemon

February 23, 2015
by vicki

For The Love Of Lemon! #joyofmom

 For The Love of Lemon

Lemons are a magical gift from the Earth. Found in almost every kitchen across the world, they are rich in nutrients and healing properties. Lemons are alkalizing for the body, packed with vitamin C and antibacterial properties, benefit the liver, and so much more.

They smell amazing, look beautiful in a bowl for a table’s centerpiece, and can even give your hair highlights. We love cooking with lemons, and use them multiple times a week when preparing dinner. Squeeze their delicious juice over steamed vegetables, fish, or chicken breast for a refreshing alternative to sauces and rubs.

Recently we have been experimenting with our beloved lemons and have created a few recipes that we know you’ll love to try. Spring is quickly approaching, and these refreshing recipes are sure to delight.

A Refreshing Lemon, Cucumber & Basil Lemonade
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
  • 4 cups of cold water
  • 2 organic cucumbers, sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Natural Stevia to taste, about

Directions:

  • Place basil in the bottom of a pitcher and muddle by slightly crushing the leaves. Combine lemon juice and water together and pour over basil. Add Stevia to taste.
  • Place the cucumber slices in a blender or food processor, blend until mashed into a pulp. Pour the pulp into a fine mesh strainer into a bowl to catch the liquid, and allow to sit until you collect about 1/2 cups of cucumber juice, about 15 minutes.
  • Combine cucumber juice with the lemonade, mix together, chill and serve over ice.

*Tip for Stevia: Use 1/4 tsp for every 1/2 cup of granulated sugar you’d use.

 

A Light Lemon & Herb Quinoa
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 3/4 tsp oregano
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp crumbled rosemary
  • 2 tbsp fresh organic lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 chopped organic cilantro
  • 1/8 cup chopped organic red bell pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp grated fresh organic lemon rind

Directions:

  • Place the quinoa in a large bowl
  • Fill with cold water
  • Drain into a strainer, rinse the quinoa a second time, and drain it four more times
  • Over medium-high heat, heat the oil in a saucepan
  • Add the rinsed quinoa and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes, or until making popping noises
  • Stir in the 2 cups of water, oregano, thyme, and rosemary
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes
  • Stir in the parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, lemon rind, red bell pepper, and black pepper
  • Simmer, covered, 5 minutes longer
  • Fluff with fork and serve

 

Tart & Yummy Lemon Mint Sorbet
Serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 lemon peel, washed and finely diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup carbonated mineral water
  • A handful of chopped and muddled mint leaves {or to personal taste}
  • 6 strips of lemon zest for topping garnish

Directions:

  • In a saucepan, stir together diced lemon peel, mint water and sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • In a pitcher or bowl, stir together the completed lemon syrup with peel and mint, lemon juice and mineral water. Pour into an ice cream maker, freeze (according to maker’s instructions). Garnish each service with the twisted lemon peel.
  • If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can freeze it in a tall canister. Freeze for 1 1/2 hours. Remove after 90 minutes and stir with a whisk. Return to freezer and stir about once every hour for 4 hours. The more times you stir, the more air will be incorporated, resulting in a lighter sorbet.

Lemon is not only delicious and refreshing, it has other surprising uses too. Dab lemon juice on a cotton ball or sponge and leave it in the fridge for several hours to remove odors, cut in half and rub all over cutting boards to refresh them, dab on liver spots or freckles to lighten, blot on blemishes for clear skin, add 1 cup lemon juice to laundry washing too boost detergent, and so much more! A lemon a day keeps the chemical products away.

Weekly Roundup

February 20, 2015
by vicki

Head on over to Joy of Mom for the best of what the internet has to offer in our Weekly Roundup!

 

Joy of Mom’s Weekly Roundup

Looks like an awesome first date to us. {Even if it is a promotional tool.}

Adorable boyfriend creates heart-warming Valentine’s gift for his lucky girlfriend.

This video warmed our hearts and made us cry.

It’s tough being a Dad, but totally worth it. {Get ready to laugh!}

What a sweet young man! His parents must be so proud.

Loving these natural beauty tips.

15 things all Dads of daughters should know.

The love of a partner never dies.

This cute dress got us excited for Spring.

Burning this right now and it’s intoxicating.

A piece about limiting screen time and promoting imagination play.

Beautiful and Healthy Hair

February 20, 2015
by vicki

An Easy and Healthy Beauty Routine For Your Hair! #joyofmom

 

An Easy and Healthy Beauty Routine For Your Hair

If you’re having a good hair day, chances are the rest of your day will be good as well. {Funny how that happens, right?} Hair care is something that is pretty universally important to woman across the board. Whether you have long or short hair, curly or straight here, whether you dye it or leave your color natural, most women are constantly on the hunt for the best routine and products that make for great hair days.

It might sound “gross”, but the less you wash your hair, the healthier your hair will be. Here’s the deal: The longer, thicker, curlier and more processed your hair, the longer it can go between washings. Over-brushing causes breakage and over-washing causes drying out, which also leads to breakage. And as we all know, breakage is not our friend.

We recommend to wash your hair once, maybe twice, a week max. At first you might think your hair feels oily, but your hair will quickly adapt to the fewer washing and will no longer feel oily so soon after a wash. If you want a quick rinse in between washings to help with hair styling, simply rinse with water but no soap. It’s important to use a shampoo and conditioner with as little chemicals as possible. We recommend this shampoo for it’s low chemical count and green ingredients, as well as these products for the same reason.

You don’t have to purchase expensive products to have healthy, shiny hair. A great hair mask can be made by avocado and eggs. Simply pit and mash a ripe avocado and mix with one egg, apply to hair and leave for 20 minutes, and voila! Repeat once a week for damaged hair and once a month for healthy hair, and you’ll quickly see an improvement.

Omega-3 fatty acids are the key to healthy hair and nails. These are found in fish oil, borage oil, evening primrose oil, or flaxseed oil. Load up on these supplements for hair that will become noticeably stronger and healthier.

Another great tool for adding life back into your hair is bathing it in botanical oils. Available at most health food stores, olive, sweet almond oil and jojoba are amazing for the health of your hair. Dampen hair first, then apply small amounts of the oil until your hair is completely covered. Cover with a shower cap and warm towel for 30 minutes, then rinse and wash. If you have thick hair, coconut oil will be your best mate to nourish your locks.

The best thing you can do for your hair is to remove heat styling products from your routine, or at least use them as little as possible. If you must blow dry your hair, let it dry naturally for as long as possible, then blow dry but only until your hair is about 90% dry. This allows for a bit of moisture to stay in tact which will help reduce breakage.

A major player in having healthy hair is to use a comb, not a brush, when your hair is wet. Brushing your hair when wet typically yanks out more hair than a comb, and causes a lot more breakage and split ends. Gently comb out your hair after a shower after you’ve let it dry some. When styling, try to be as gentle as possible with wooden brushes to avoid pulling our your hair.

Supplements are a great way to help improve your hair health from within. Iron is an ideal supplement to take because without it, your hair can become dull, thin and dry. If you want to skin an iron pill, it can also be found in foods like spinach, oysters and cashews.

Vitamin C can improve hair growth, ward off dandruff and stop hair loss. Load up on citrus fruits or chew on a vitamin C tablet. Biotin is another great supplement to add to your routine, as it also aids in healthy hair growth and can help in hair loss prevention.

*Bonus tip: Did you know that certain hair accessories, such as hairpins, clips and rubber bands, can cause extensive breakage when used to hold your hair tightly in place? To avoid these issues, use hair accessories sparingly and try to avoid accessories with metal.

In review, the ideal hair routine is really no routine at all. The more you can leave your hair alone, the better off you’ll be. Visit your hair stylish regularly for trims, let your hair air-dry, brush with a comb, avoid chemical-heavy products, and load up on your supplements and healthy foods. A natural you is a beautiful you!

There’s Nothing Like a Neighborhood Spot

February 19, 2015
by vicki, lovely

There’s Nothing Like a Neighborhood Spot! #joyofmom

 

There’s Nothing Like a Neighborhood Spot

I live in a small town. The kind of town where during any given season − and any sort of weather for that matter − the whole downtown takes on the energy, the spirit, of all that surrounds it… from big snowflakes that fall just outside paned windows dusting worn cobblestone streets, to tiny green buds that break through the earth declaring spring. Local families − and those from a distance − come here, I think, to get a feel of days gone by… of simpler, less complicated times.

The downtown spans two charming intersections. And this little neighborhood spot has been my constant through changing times. When my children were just toddlers, this is where we popped in to smell the tea-filled mason jars. To this day, when I dash in to get a latte I still stop to smell each jar of tea, no matter how busy I am. Five years ago when our home flooded, we had to find a place to live for almost 11 months. All I wanted was for my family to all be together − which included my husband, kids, three doggies, two cats, and one ten-year-old goldfish. When we, at first, couldn’t take the fish with us it was the proprietor of this little coffee shop who offered to watch our goldfish, Lucky − along with his ten-gallon tank. (All fared well tho and we figured out how to bring Lucky with us!)

Once, early on, she told me the reason she and her girlfriend opened up their shops, a coffee shop and a popcorn & fudge shop, right next door to one other. It was so they could visit together throughout the day, two friends living out their childhood dreams. And although their shops are indeed connected by a common wall with the perfect doorway for popping back and forth, it was never used. They were just too busy.

I was supposed to meet my post-college-pre-first-marriage roomie at this coffee spot last week. We reconnected a few months ago via Facebook and are so looking forward to sharing our stories from the past twenty years. Unfortunately, my schedule got too crazy, and I had to cancel. But we’ll be here sooner than we know − talking, reminiscing, crying, filling in the spaces between divorces, challenges, tragedies, and triumphs. Right here. Real and in the moment.

Because… there is nothing like a neighborhood spot.

A Delicious and Healthy Tomato Sauce Recipe

February 18, 2015
by vicki, family, motherhood

A Delicious and Healthy Tomato Sauce Recipe! #joyofmom

 

A Delicious and Healthy Tomato Sauce Recipe

My family loves tomato sauce, and I bet yours does too. We use it for cooking more than just pasta dishes. It’s fantastic over baked chicken, we love adding it while making bolognese sauce, and it’s divine over a medley of sautéed vegetables.

But we cant help but be horrified with the amount of sodium and sugar in bottled tomato sauce. Even the organic “healthier” bottles at health food stores are loaded with salt. Have you ever actually read the label? Yikes!

After many attempts, we believe we have perfected a truly healthy and organic tomato sauce recipe, and we are excited to share it with you!

Serves 6-8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time on stove: 2-3 hours

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds of fresh organic tomatoes, peeled and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup organic olive oil
  • 3 medium organic sweet onions, diced
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 6-8 cloves or fresh organic garlic, finely minced {amount depending on your taste preference}
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 bay leaves {to be removed when finished with cooking}
  • 1/2 organic green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/2 organic red, orange or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 sprigs of organic parsley
  • 1/2 carrot, grated
  • 1 tablespoon organic honey

Instructions

  • Pour the olive oil into a large pot over medium heat
  • Add diced onions, peppers, garlic and grated carrots
  • Sauté for 7 minutes or until onions are translucent and soft
  • Add tomatoes, chopped basil, oregano, bay leaves, parsley, thyme, and sea salt
  • Simmer on low heat for 2-3 hours or until sauce is starting to darken
  • Remove sprigs of herbs
  • Serve fresh

{Have any leftovers? Will stay good in fridge up to a week, then freeze.}

*Need a tip for peeling tomatoes? Simply bring a large pot of water to a boil, remove the stems from the tomatoes and slice a shallow “X” in the bottom. Fill a bowl with ice and water and set aside. Working in batches {since you’ll have 5 lbs worth to work with}, drop several tomatoes into the boiling water, watch for the skins to wrinkle and split {45-60 seconds}, scoop out with a slotted spoon and place in the ice bath. Continue working the batch of tomatoes into the boiling water, and repeat the process. Once cooled, transfer to a cutting board, use your fingers or a paring knife to peel back the skins.

This sauce is high in nutrients, low in sodium, and bursting with flavor! Enjoy over spinach pasta, chicken breast, veggie medley, or whatever you love pouring yummy tomato sauce over. The options are endless. Bon appetit friends!

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