The Joy of Spring Cleaning

March 31, 2015
by vicki

The Joy of Spring Cleaning! #joyofmom

 

The Joy of Spring Cleaning

Last night, I stayed up until two in the morning – and it wasn’t to do a marathon session of “Empire”!

I was up till the wee hours of the morning inside my tiny pantry, which I know doesn’t sound odd to most moms. Spring-cleaning has sprung and I absolutely couldn’t be any happier.

There is just something about this fresh and new time of year that’s electrifying to me when it comes to cleaning.
Old food…out.
Messy hanging wrappers…gone.
Dusty jar lid…sparkling clean.

Spring-cleaning isn’t for wimps – and I had the urge to purge, wash, and reorganize. Every jar and little nook. As many of you know my hubby had his knee replaced (his recovery is going great btw) and he just got home yesterday from the rehab facility. Although he’s normally super health conscious (sans nibbling on (too many) sweet treats around 930p) he used his recuperation time in between work and marathon physical therapy sessions to dive into and research all things uber healthy! I was getting regular emails on which spices we need to use, which ones that are not good for you (like garlic and black pepper! Hmmm… Didn’t know that!) and even asked me about our making our own spices. That one’s probably well beyond our time and talent. Anyway, he ordered healthy sweetener substitutes (for coffee, baking, etc.) and instead of putting the bags on the shelves I had to put in adorable canning and storage jars I’ve collected over the years just for an occasion like this!

A few of my favorite spring-cleaning tips:

*You don’t have to spend a fortune. If you spend between $10 and $20, it can make a difference. Use that money to buy new canisters, jars and bowls to organize, plus just seeing something new (or revamped) will give you that happy glow inside and out!

*Do go through all drawers and closests shelves. Have a system where you check the expiration dates, decide if you never use it, and fill a box of giveaways and throw-aways. If you haven’t worn it in a year donate it. Your heart will feel good because those back of the closet pieces could be someone else’s new treasures.

*Bring the smells of spring into it. I love buying Mandarin Ginger dishwashing soap from Whole Foods at this time of the year. It just smells so fresh and new to me, and gets me in the spring-cleaning. Give me a good grapefruit cleaner any day as I smell the freshness, plus I love when everything feels so smooth and clean while also delighting my senses.

*Label your way to a smile. You can find beautiful and inexpensive labels, grab a favorite marker and label away. I went to use my label maker (that I’ve had for probably 15 years). The batteries were corroded and as I had just started to clean and replace them, it was clear to me that this label maker had seen it’s better day and felt more of a hazard then a helpful tool. And I much prefer homemade labels.

*Look for pretty pottery bowls at your local grocery store, school, or pop up stands where children make them and 100% of the money is donated to vital causes. I bought this one for $5 at Whole Foods last week (pic above in poster). You can keep the smaller packets of items in your pantry in there. I love looking at it so much that I’ve walked in my pantry just to look at it about 50 times already this morning! Even my husband and 23 year old son thought it was so beautiful, too, and loved that money goes to help others.

*Splurge on a bottle of Aura Cacia Refreshing Tangerine and Grapefruit Mist (aromatherapy for room and body) for only $4.83. Needless to say, my home (and me) are smelling like spring!

*Finally, it’s time to bring the outside inside. I have gorgeous yellow daffodils, hyacinths and tulips in the house in their eye-popping spring yellows and oranges. Whole Foods and only $4 each for the daffodils and hyacinths (I bought the small plants) and a local grocery store for the tulips for $6.

Give me grapefruit scent, a few yellow flowers and a sponge and I’ve never been happier.

Happy Spring, Moms!

p.s. This morning before I dove into work I dove into my corner cabinet and threw out expired vitamins, supplements, and medicine and wiped down the shelves with delish smelling organic tangerine and grapefruit cleaner. Nothing like organizing + cleaning to give you a mental boost!

p.p.s. I just spotted these crazy cute containers while I’m writing this blog and finding links for you to check out some of the items at the lowest prices. I’m definitely going to check these containers out too!

Weekly Roundup

March 28, 2015
links i love

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

 

Joy of Mom’s Weekly Roundup

~ Every Kid’s Dream.

~ A carried baby is a happy baby.

~ Parents, it might be time to put the phone down.

~ Tom Hanks rocks!

~ A high protein diet: A myth or true?

~ Truly moving photographs of the human race.

~ How to make all-natural toothpaste and toothpowder.

~ 16 times calories just literally don’t count.

~ The magic of daddy & daughter dates.

~ These are so cute for a little girl.

~ An awesome outside kids toy for spring.

Tips for Planning a Birthday Party on a Budget

March 26, 2015
by vicki, family, motherhood

Tips for Planning a Birthday Party on a Budget! #joyofmom

 

Tips for Planning a Birthday Party on a Budget

My daughter’s best friend’s (since kindergarten) daughter paid me the ultimate compliment the other day. “Vicki,” she said in her ever so sweet (and tiny) voice with an ear-to-ear smile, “You’re so nice. I’m inviting you to my birthday party!”

I melted…

As moms, we know that our child’s birthday party is huge deal for them (and for us!) My daughter is 22 years old and I remember (like yesterday) all the handmade invitations, personalized DYI bingo boards filled with sweet little stickers that marked all her favorite interests and things! (ballet shoes, puppies, kittens, love and friendship stickers).

To most children, there are 364 days of the year and that one very special me day!

How can we, as moms, make that day extra, extra special…on a reasonable budget? It’s true that with so many bills to cover each month, it’s hard to spend much on a birthday party. The good news is there are ways to throw that blowout birthday bash that will make your kiddos super happy without breaking the budget.

A few ways to “party on” without the high price:

Location, location, location: You don’t need to rent out an expensive trampoline center or reserve half a bowling establishment. Check out a beautiful neighborhood public park where you will have the room to have some great games, spread out, and end the party with some fun time on the playground surrounded by all your friends and family. Price: Zero. Seeing grandma on the swings: priceless.

Invitations: In the weeks leading up to the birthday, get the excitement going by making them. You can send out free Evites or a simple E-mail will do. Even better is asking your child to get creative and make a personalized invite on the computer that you simply print out and then hand out at school to save on postage. Facetime, Skype or call the older relatives who not only get an invite, but a special chance to say hello!

Guest list: You never want to leave anyone out, but sometimes it’s best (and necessary) to keep a party to just close friends and family. The less people you invite, the more you can keep costs down. Don’t ask your child to choose. As the mom, you can make a list of five friends and then ask your child if there is anyone else who needs to be on the list, but give them a limit. “You can ask two more friends,” you might suggest. I’d rather cut costs elsewhere than limit the guest list. The more the merrier!

Decor: If you go to the store and pile your cart high with balloons, streamers and piñatas, it can easily add. Remember that anything with a licensed character on it costs more. Try the dollar store for these things or vow to buy them once, carefully take them down and then reuse them. I’m still using the “Happy Birthday” banners that I (literally) bought 20 years ago! You can make your own piñata. You can also ask your kids to make colorful pictures to cover the walls for the party. Once, again, priceless artwork and personalized bday decorations!

Food: If you throw a “dessert party,” at 2 or 3 p.m., you can easily bypass lunch as guests come with full tummies. It’s also easy to make your own cupcakes and serve with ice cream and toppings. One great idea came from a mom who purchased 15 doughnuts when her daughter turned that age. She arranged them in a tower on a platter and then put sparklers in the middle instead of candles. (She did this outside on a hot summer day….I wouldn’t do this inside the house!) Make sure to cut up some fruit for the adults or kids who don’t want or need all the sugar. If you want a full meal then check the paper for coupons for the local pizza parlor. Ask another mom or dad, aunt or uncle, to pick up the food to avoid delivery charges. Or take aunt Chelsea up on her offer to make her world famous (aka family fave!) chili. You do the cornbread and the cake.

Drinks: Yes, milk and water are healthier, but there are kids who will beg for soda pop and juice. If they’re not there, most won’t miss them. If you serve large jugs instead of cans or boxes, you save money and create less trash, which is good for the environment. Most kids are very conscious of drinking water, so fill up big pitchers with your own purified water, add some (well washed) strawberries on top and other fruit and have festive and naturally fruit flavored healthy beverages.

Party favors: Stickers, puzzles, books, treats, an eco-friend craft, and so on make for great favors and can all be found at those discount or dollars stores. Also try small writing books, puzzles, a green craft or a tiny (safe) plant that’s eco-friendly. One mom gave a watering can and seeds, so the kids could grow their own flowers and veggies after the party.

Entertainment: Instead of hiring professional entertainment, gather costumes from friends and family to host a giant dress-up party. A second-hand store is a great resource for finding discount costumes, too. Pile all of the dress-up clothes in a trunk and let the kids’ imaginations run wild.

Set up different arts-n-crafts tables around the house for a crafting party. Have each child bring a white pillowcase to decorate with stamps, fabric markers, and patches for a fun activity.

Have the little ones (4 years and under) make an “all about me” book with handprints, drawings, and a Polaroid photos from the party. For the older kids, have them make popsicle stick photo frames to put their Polaroid party picture inside of as a keepsake.

Older kids also love making videos. Break the older kids into groups and give them a topic. Ask them to make their own “commercial” and then later you can have “screenings” of all the videos. Plus, they’ll love it if you send the videos to their parents.

You can also provide the kids with materials to make DYI bingo games. Instead of numbers on the board, use fun stickers of your child’s favorite characters and colors – such as baseballs, puppies, hearts, Sesame Street characters, and so on.

The important thing is the feeling of love and togetherness from a birthday party. It’s a gathering of friends and loved ones to celebrate the most special present of all time: Your child.

Party on!

Xo,
Vicki

Easy Recipes for Moms On-The-Go

March 25, 2015
motherhood

Easy Recipes for Moms On-The-Go! #joyofmom

 

Easy Recipes for Moms On-The-Go

Us mamas have a to-do list as long as the Declaration of Independence. And just as we think we are crossing off the final chore on the list, somehow more chores magically appear. I know you know what I mean, Moms! We are constantly in search of tips and tricks to help us cut down prep time when it comes to cooking meals and snacks for our families. We often find amazing recipes online, but the prep time is 45 minutes or more, yikes! Like you, we just don’t have that kind of free time right now. In the essence of saving time, but preserving quality and health benefits, we’ve put together our three favorite quick snack recipes for on-the-go moms. We hope your kiddos love them as much as ours do.

Hummus and veggie sticks: Hummus is a delicious snack that is super healthy. Hummus is made from chick peas, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and tahini, which is sesame seed paste. It is packed with protein, fiber, folate, and various vitamins and minerals. Our personal favorite is Sabra hummus. It is so tasty and has a great texture that kids love. To start the snack packing process, grab a container like this. In the big compartment, fill it with veggie slices and sticks like carrots, bell peppers, cucumber, or any other veggies your child likes. In one small compartment, scoop in the hummus. In the other small compartment, throw in a few olives or whole wheat crackers to top off the delicious snack. This is a complete snack that is full of nutrients, very filling, and it will take no longer than 5 minutes to prepare. Plus, the handy little container is perfect to take on-the-go!

Fruit salad plus: Fruit makes for the perfect snack. Cut up apples, oranges, strawberries, banana – whatever your child prefers. Use the same container and place the cut up fruit in the larger section. In the smaller compartments, scoop in cottage cheese and yogurt. Cottage cheese is packed with protein, calcium, and vitamin B-12 for energy. Yogurt also has lots of protein and calcium, which children need. It’s best to pack this fruit salad in a larger lunch pail so you can add an ice pack to keep the cottage cheese and yogurt fresh. Throw in a spoon and your kiddo has a healthy and delicious snack, that took no time at all to prepare.

Sweet Potato “Fries”: A recipe that takes only 10 minutes to prep, (but 25 minutes to bake), and is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. You’ll need 2 pounds of sweet potatoes (about 4 small ones), 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 1/2 tsp chili powder, and 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt. Preheat the over to 425 degrees F. Cut each sweet potato in half lengthwise, and place it flat side down on the cutting board. Cut the potato halves into 1 inch wide wedges. In a small bowl, combine oil, chili powder and 1 tsp of the salt. Place the potatoes on the roasting pan and brush with the mixture. Lay the potatoes flesh side down on the pan and place in the oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes, turning once. Remove the pan and season with the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt. Let the wedges cool for a bit before eating. You can serve immediately for an at-home snack, or pack them in this stainless steal container to keep warm while on the go.

We always try to promote healthy eating here on joyofmom.com. When you know you are going to have a busy morning, try packing snacks the night before. Freshness is key, so when you can, try to serve fresh fruits, veggies, and other foods over boxed or bagged. Let us know what your kids love to snack on over on Instagram, we’d love to hear from you!

Gorgeous Maternity Pieces

March 24, 2015
motherhood

Gorgeous Maternity Pieces! #joyofmom

Gorgeous Maternity Pieces, That Can Also Be Worn Postpartum

Just because you are pregnant, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your personal style. Gone are the days of wearing muumuus and stretch pants because nothing else fits. There are many beautiful maternity brands on the scene that are creating stylish pieces that can also be worn postpartum.

One of our favorite maternity brands is Hatch. Their collection is full of simple and elegant dresses, easy bottoms, cute tops, and even gorgeous coats! While this label is on the pricier side, we like to think of their items as investment pieces because they can be worn during pregnancy and after baby is born. This Bateau Dress caught our eye immediately. We love the light chambray color-block design, perfect for trips to the farmer’s market or to be worn on your baby-moon.

We are jumper-obsessed right now and this Walkabout Jumper does not disappoint. The short sleeves, slit-seam pockets and tapered leg makes this jumper a must-have, for casual events or a romantic dinner with the soon-to-be-daddy. We think this piece is truly perfect to wear during and after pregnancy – it is just so chic!

Asos has also designed a line of maternity clothes that are cute, fun and well-priced. This Skater Dress is one of our favorite pieces from their collection for it’s awesome style, stretch jersey fabric (so comfy!), and versatile design. This dress can be worn to the office or out for lunch with friends, day to night. Pair it with some converse sneakers and sunnies for an ultra-stylish look.

Every woman has a go-to pair of cozy jeans in their closet. Now that you’re pregnant, you can transition into these adorable ripped boyfriend jeans. We love the distressed denim and jersey waistband for maximum comfort and support. These are definitely a staple piece for every expecting mama.

A Pea in the Pod is a long-time favorite shopping destination for pregnant women. They consistently curate great maternity brands on their site season after season. With an array of guest designers and labels, there is something for everyone. We particularly love this Moto Jacket by Rachel Zoe. The exposed zipper adds a little edge while the structure is effortlessly cool. This too can be worn postpartum.

Check out this Splendid skirt! The design and color combo are perfection. Splendid is known for their soft and comfortable fabrics, which makes them perfect for maternity wear. Paired with a white tank and denim jacket and you are instantly fashion fabulous.

When shopping for maternity wear, make sure to find pieces that are comfortable, fit your frame, and will grow with you as your belly grows. If it can be worn after baby, that is an extra awesome bonus. Stick to staple pieces that can be mixed and matched with other items in your maternity wardrobe, and you’ll be ready to rock for your entire pregnancy. Plus, no one will notice your outfit much, as they will be too distracted by your mommy glow.

And for all of our pregnant friends: Congratulations on the upcoming arrival of your little one, mama!

Daddy & Daughter Dates

March 23, 2015
family

The Beautiful Importance of Daddy & Daughter Dates! #joyofmom

 

The Beautiful Importance of Daddy & Daughter Dates

Growing up, I went on a “date” with my father every other Friday night. It was an occasion I so passionately looked forward to. I would slip into my prettiest dress, my shiniest shoes, made my hair look pretty, and anxiously waited by the front door for my date to arrive.

The location of our date would always be my choice – dinner, a magic show, a walk along Main Street, whatever my heart desired. We often went to “our spot”, a local Mexican restaurant, for delicious bean burritos and root bear. After all, I was a child, and this was what an ideal date looked like to me.

Now that I have a daughter, I delight in watching my husband date my daughter. She, too, puts on her best dress and anxiously waits for her date to arrive and take her to a restaurant or activity of her choosing.

Who knows what they talk about it? What they do? But truly, I don’t want to know. I want it to stay special between them. The conversations about the future, reminiscing about past memories, the giggles and the tears – the building blocks of their unbreakable bond. Just like I had with my father.

If you have a daughter, does she date your husband? Do you date your son? What about planning a ‘girls night out’ with your daughter? It is so special to have that one-on-one time with your children, at any age of their lives, whether 2 or 20 years old. It might not seem like much to take them for a simple dinner or an ice cream cone, but those are the memories that they will remember forever.

To inspire you to plan one-on-one dates with your children, we have three fun and love filled dates for you! Our first favorite date is dinner and a movie. A classic, guaranteed-to-please date. Pick a small, local spot where the waiters know your name and the dishes are delicious. It wouldn’t hurt to make sure they have a brownie sundae for two on the dessert menu. After dinner, head to the theatre to enjoy the latest age-appropriate film together.

Our second ideal date night includes a stroll down Main Street, meaningful conversation, a quick snack and root beer floats. Walk hand-in-hand, breathe in the springtime air, and share stories with each other. It’s important to have an open and honest relationship with your children, so set up moments that encourage these types of conversations.

A third date night idea we love is ice skating and pizza. We haven’t met a kid who didn’t love to ice skate! While it might be a bit of a painful date for us adults, there isn’t much we wont do to please our kids. After a fun night of skating, head to your favorite pizza joint for a pizza pie and shared laughter.

It isn’t what you do, or how much money you spend, but the effort you put forth. Your children will only be young once, so make the effort and don’t let the time pass you by. After all, “the best thing to spend on your children is your time”.

xo,

Joy of Mom

Weekly Roundup

March 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! #joyofmom

 

Joy of Mom’s Weekly Roundup

Your body’s reaction to water.

A sad loss. A wonderful man.

14 of Dr. Seuss’s Greatest Quotes. These are sure to make you smile!

These are gorgeous! Just in time for warmer weather.

You better get on it, California!

Wow, what a beautiful gesture for a heartbreaking situation.

Ha! Dads are awesome.

This little raglan is so adorable for Spring.

Oh, hello baby!

These are so cute for a little one.

For fur parents: Everyday items that are dangerous for pets.

Our Quick Tips For Relaxing This Weekend

March 20, 2015
by vicki

Our Quick Tips For Relaxing This Weekend! #joyofmom

 

Our Quick Tips For Relaxing This Weekend

It’s Friday, which means the weekend is almost here! Through the countless loads of laundry, packed lunches, baseball games, homework help, and, for many of us, a full work week on top of it all, we’ve made it through the week. While of course there are still 8am soccer games, science projects and play dates, we are gifted with two whole days to search for 10 minutes to carve out for ourselves, to relax and recharge.

I don’t know about you, but I need my “me” time. Even if it’s just for a few minutes. These days, even taking a long shower counts. Grocery shopping alone, running an errand without kids in toe, and folding laundry in peace with some jazz spinning on the record player also counts as a break, to me. But, those things aren’t proper relaxation techniques, no.

Some of us may not be blessed with a four hour relaxation window this weekend where no one will be home. But we can all find 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, right?

It’s important to carve out time for yourself so you can recharge, reflect, and start anew. Something bothering you? Feeling emotionally exhausted? Feeling not like yourself? It’s amazing what 10 minutes of utter silence and decompression can do for a person!

Feeling frustrated or stressed out about something? Make yourself a fresh cup of green tea. Green tea is a good source of L-Theanine, a chemical that helps to calm stress and anger. Take your cup of tea and sit on your balcony or porch, and just sip. Sip and release, sip and release.

Are you noticing that your mind is racing and you are starting to feel overwhelmed? Breathe. Take slow, deep breaths in a rhythmic pattern. This kind of breathing can help lower your blood pressure and heart rate. For more insight into the benefits of deep breathing, read here.

Have 10-15 minutes to spare in between errands? Stop in for a quick reflexology massage. Reflexology can be deeply relaxing and therapeutic, especially when performed on the feet. A short reflexology massage can have a positive and relaxing affect on the head, heart, chest, and overall body, due to the various pressure points being massages. Because it’s done primarily on the feet, it’s an easy appointment to make, and typically not very expensive. We highly recommend trying this!

If you’re looking for a free way to relax, we’ve got a great relaxation method for you. It may be the best one on the list. Ready? Find the sun. Sit, lay, walk, or nap – in the sun. Bright lights can help treat the blues, and the vitamin D is great for us. The sun’s warmth is very calming and can feel like a warm hug from nature. Plus, we all look a little better with a glowing tan.

Exercise is a great way to shed anything weighing on our hearts. Take 10 minutes to stretch, run in place, or do some yoga. These exercises can relieve muscle tension and help us relax after a stressful week. We personally love chest-opening stretches, which can be done anywhere and feel amazing. Yoga is truly one of the most relaxing activities one can do, at any level and any age.

This might sound a little offbeat, but we find doing crossword and sudoku puzzles incredibly relaxing. Brain games that require lots of concentration can help take our mind off whatever might be worrying us. Keep a few in your purse and break them out whenever you find you have a few minutes to yourself. (Also a great way to pass the time on airplanes!)

We received this tip from a naturopath friend of ours: Sniff citrus. The smell of citrus can help us relax by increasing levels of norepinephrine, which is a hormone that affects our mood. For a quick pick-me-up, dab a little orange or lemon essential oils on your wrists or on a handkerchief and tuck it away in your pocket.

While we all have our own unique ways of relaxing and unwinding, the importance of this practice is consistent for everyone. Our days are packed with errands, household chores, business meetings, play dates, carpool, extracurricular activities, homework, the works! Please remember that your needs are important too, and that a relaxed mama is a happy mama, therefore a happy family!

Our Favorite Independent Kid’s Fashion Brands

March 19, 2015
by vicki, links i love, motherhood

Our Favorite Independent Kid’s Fashion Brands! #joyofmom

 

Our Favorite Independent Kid’s Fashion Brands

We love independent fashion brands, especially for children. We appreciate what they stand for, the quality of their products, how they are made, and who makes them – creative entrepreneurs with a vision! In no particular order, we’d like to introduce you to some of our favorite toddler and kid brands on the market. They are stylish, unique, energetic, and ethically made.

Brand: Thief & Bandit is a line of hand-printed apparel out of Nova Scotia, Canada. Designer and owner Amie Cunningham, mother of three, uses organic fabrics and non-toxic water based ink for her printing. We love Amie’s style of wild, outgoing prints and bright colors.

Currently crushing on: We are digging their Lazy Snake Suspender Shorts. They remind us of a throw-back to the 80’s (one of our favorite times for fun fashion). Can’t you imagine a cute little 4 year old, bopping around in these with a simple little white tank underneath? Loving these!

Brand: Kira Kids: Kira Kids is a fun brand that celebrates whimsy and delight. Popping with bold colors and laid-back designs, this collection is really giving us “Saved by the Bell” and we love it!

Currently crushing on: Banana Rama Raglan: This banana print is so beyond awesome! Loving every piece it comes in, especially this raglan. Silly, cute and fun – what more could a kid want?

Brand: Ultraviolet Kids: This brand is all about fashion-forward clothing for the sophisticated child. Owner and designer, Michelle, is creating clothing that parents will love and that their kids will love to wear, with everything made in Los Angeles.

Currently crushing on: Tropical Circus Jumper: Isn’t this jumper so very Carrie Bradshaw? Throwback designs are on trend right now, and this piece does not disappoint. Toss your girl’s hair in a topknot, whip on a pair of Salt Water sandals, and you’ve got yourself one adorable outfit.

Brand: Emerson Apparel: This brand is all about creating clothing that your children will love to live in. Emerson Apparel is owned and designed by a fellow mama with your child in mind. These are pieces to play in, to explore nature in, to have adventures in. This brand is for the free-spirited child who lives a bohemian lifestyle of ocean swims, nature walks, and sunshine play. Out of Vancouver, BC.

Currently crushing on: Heck Yeah Harem Pants: Man are these pants cool. The fit is perfect: a harem silhouette, with an awesome contrasted cuff – maximizing longevity. Most pieces in the collection are unisex (major score for siblings), bringing fun fashion to boys and girls which is hard to find.

Brand: Popupshop: This brand is like taking a trip to the zoo! Super wild and super fun!

Currently crushing on: Tiger Swimsuit by Popupshop: We’ve never seen a bathing suit so fun and quirky! This tiger-tastic suit is sure to be the hit of any pool party. Summer is right around the corner, and we say – snag this killer suit!

Brand: Whistle & Flute: This brand has a been a favorite of ours for years! Designed and operated by a husband-and-wife team out of Canada, Whistle & Flute is creating stylish and contemporary unisex clothing for children (and adults!). Their graphics are printed on sweatshop-free apparel and feature original artwork by the couple.

Currently crushing on: Kawaii Cloud Sweatshirt: This piece is probably one of the most popular pieces in their collection, and is definitely one of our favorites. It is so adorable, we love it for boys and girls. (We also love the same image printed on their tees!)

Brand: Miki Miette: A brand for kids that focuses on sporty, comfortable threads for every day wear. Miki Miette is designed and owned by mom Sawako Yamaguchi, and made in Los Angeles. We love the assortment of easy pieces for both boys and girls that can be worn to the park and school.

Currently crushing on: James Surf Tee: This retro-inspired tee for boys is fantastic. We love the pop of royal blue with the contrasting heather-grey stripe sleeves. This is definitely a tee that all boys would love to wear. (It can sometimes be a challenge to find cute clothes for boys – luckily Miki Miette has a great assortment!)

Brand: Little Hip Squeaks: A fun collection of dresses, blankets, headbands and more. A mixture of soft and bright fabrics that are darling on little ones, designed and manufactured in Brooklyn, NY.

Currently crushing on: Mint Bow Swing Dress: We love anything that comes in the color mint, especially this swing dress. Anyone with a little girl knows, if it twirls, it’s a keeper! Pair it with a denim jacket and little flats, then take your lady to tea!

Brand: Candy Kirby Designs: A mom of three bringing us beautiful prints and functional designs. Created with high quality materials and non-toxic inks, this brand creates not only lovely clothing but great crib sheets, blankets, quilts, and more. (We love the quilts!)

Currently crushing on: Signature Sweats: We are grooving on these sweats for a rough-and-tumble boy. The fabric looks so soft and comfortable – a must for little dudes. Feeling these would be great for springtime soccer games and shooting hoops with dad.

Everyone can agree that shopping for kids is so much fun. What is more adorable than a little lady in a twirling dress or a little dude rocking some awesome harem pants? Please check out and support these amazing independent shops, who are bringing us the best in kids apparel. Happy shopping!

Three Leafy Green Recipes

March 18, 2015
by vicki

Three Leafy Green Recipes to Knock Your Socks Off! #joyofmom

 

Three Leafy Green Recipes to Knock Your Socks Off

Leafy greens have a great reputation when it comes to nutrients and benefits for your health, but a bad rap when it comes to taste. We often read and hear from friends about their distaste for the flavor of leafy greens. We are here to end the misconceptions!

Our three favorite leafy green vegetables are kale, spinach and collard greens. They are jam packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and other essential nutrients. While raw kale might be bitter to some, it loses a lot of its bitterness once cooked. Same goes for collard greens. Spinach has a light and refreshing taste, that is pleasing raw or cooked.

We are sharing our favorite recipes with you today, having each of these leafy greens as the star of the dish. For those who are already on board with greens, we are sure you will love these recipes. For those that are hesitant, please give these recipes a try. They are super tasty and loaded with healthy ingredients, two key components for any dish that you serve to your family.

 
Kale & Pan-Seared Tilapia
(original recipe from foodandwine.com)

This dish is healthy, refreshing, light and perfect for a springtime dinner party. The major nutritional benefits found in kale are protein, vitamins A, C & K, fiber, and folate, just to name a few.

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

Two 4-ounce tilapia fillets
Sea salt
Fresh cracked pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 cups lightly packed chopped kale

Directions:

  • Rinse & pat dry tilapia fillets. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt 1 tbsp of butter and add tilapia. Cook 1-2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Remove tilapia and set aside.
  • In the same pan over medium heat, add remaining butter and stir in onion. Cook from 1-2 minutes or until soft.
  • Pour in the wine, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a simmer and then stir in the kale. Cover the pan and cook from about 2 minutes or until the kale is tender.
  • On the serving plates, make a bed of two-thirds kale and onion. Top with the tilapia, then garnish with remaining kale and onions, pouring any remaining sauce over fillets.

 
Spinach, Beans & Avocado Quesadilla

This recipe is a tried-and-true crowd pleaser! The nutritional benefits found in spinach are vitamin K, A, C & B12, iron, calcium, zinc, fiber, plus many more.

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

4-5 ounces of baby spinach
One 15 ounce can of refried beans (try a vegan variety!)
2 medium, firm tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1 bunch washed & diced cilantro
4 spinach tortillas
1 cup salsa (try & make your own!)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F
  • Rinse the greens and steam in a skillet or Dutch over, just for one minute or until wilted. Transfer to colander and drain.
  • Combine refried beans with small amount of water in a mixing bowl (just enough to make the beans easier to spread).
  • Lay a tortilla on a baking sheet. Using only one half of the tortilla, spread tomato pieces, greens and beans evenly. Fold over to cover. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.
  • Bake for ten minutes, or until the tortillas begin to turn golden and crisp. (Watch carefully!)
  • Remove, cool for one minute, then top with avocado slices, cilantro and side salsa.

 
Stuffed Collard Greens
(original recipe from marthastewart.com)

This recipe is down-right delicious. The incredible benefits of collard greens are their cholesterol-lowering abilities, vitamin K & A, manganese, iron, copper, and omega-3 fats, among many other nutrients.

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

1 can (28oz) whole peeled tomatoes with juices
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Coarse sea salt & fresh ground pepper
1 cup spelt
1 pound collard greens
1 1/2 cup cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp finely grated Ptarmigan-Reggiano
2 tsp shopped fresh sage leaves

Directions:

  • Pulse tomatoes with juices in a food processor until chopped. Heat 2 tbsp oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender, about 6 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer, cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt. Let cool.
  • Stir spelt into a saucepan of salted boiling water. Reduce to a simmer, cook uncovered for about 40 minutes. Drain and let cool.
  • Meanwhile, add collard greens into a pot of salted boiling water and cook until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. (May we recommend you do this in batches, to allow the greens to have the proper space to cook.)
  • Remove with tongs and let cook. Trim off stems and thick ribs. Reserve 12 large leaves, and chop what remains.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coarsely mash beans in a bowl, add cooked spelt, remaining 2 tbsp oil, cheese, sage, and any chopped collard greens. Stir to combine. Season with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste.
  • Working with one collard leaf at a time, arrange 1/4 cup filling in the center. Fold stem end over the filling. Fold in sides. Roll collard over to form a bundle, overlapping ends to seal it. Transfer, steam-side down, to a 9×13” baking dish.
  • Spread the sauce evenly over stuffed collards. Cover with parchment, then foil, and bake until sauce is bubbling and collards are tending, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

 
We hope you enjoy these recipes, and make the effort to incorporate more leafy greens into your daily diet. Bon appetit!

All rights reserved © Joy of Mom · Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie