Saturday, May 31, 2014

Free e-books on Paleo Cooking (May 31, 2014)

Paleo cooking is one of the themes I'm beginning to explore in my quest to take better care of my health.

Today I'm sharing these free e-books on paleo cooking on Amazon. Hopefully you can find a recipe or two to add to your repertoire. Enjoy!

Monday, May 26, 2014

5 Ways to Save Money on Summer Child Care and Camps

Summer vacation is already in full swing for our school, and with it brings the parental panic of what to do with the kids.

If you've ever priced out summer child care or summer camp, be prepared for sticker shock. I've found day camps as costly as $400 a week - per kid. Even tougher is my soon-to-be first grader isn't quite old enough for some of the local camp options. And I felt strongly enough that I didn't want to try to find a babysitter after losing three sitters for spring break who had committed and then backed out.

What's a working parent to do?

Here are a few ways we saved money on summer camps and summer child care:

1) Shop around. While the YMCA spring break camp close to home was $165 a week, we found another YMCA camp that was a 20-minute drive for a mere $100 a week. Multiply it by multiple kids, and throw in a carpool, and suddenly that deal looks even sweeter. And yes, I'm planning to take advantage of the summer drive for a week or so this summer, too, since that Y is in a district with a longer summer calendar than our local kids.

2) Volunteer. If you're blessed with patience and some extra vacation time, why not volunteer to offset the costs of a camp experience? This will be my third summer volunteering as a leader at Girl Scout camp, and by doing so - I send my daughter to Girl Scout camp for FREE, and my son goes to "little brother camp" for a mere $25. A steal.

3) Make a trade. There are a few weeks that, rather than spending hundreds on a camp experience, I am trading with a few of my stay-at-home friends. I take the kids to a Vacation Bible School in the morning and take care of the lunches, and they will watch the kids in the afternoon. Instant playdates for them, day care for me, without a summer-long commitment for either.

4) If you're patient, wait for a deal on Groupon, Deal Chicken or Living Social. My kids are going to a Pacers basketball camp for half the cost this summer. Groupon and like deals make camps affordable - particularly if the camp isn't quite a "full day" and you either have to take time off or pay for the "extended care."

5) Take advantage of wierd work schedules. My husband works retail hours, so on those weeks when our school isn't in session but the rest of the world is, my husband is planning to request days off during the week/trade so he works on weekends instead. The kids will hang out with Dad part-time, and I'll fill in the gaps with vacation time.

Also, we make a point of having a weekly budget for camp fees. If we went short one week we could justify spending a bit more on a camp we knew our children would love (i.e. tae kwon do camp) because we were still under our budget for the summer.

What works for you in lowering your summer day care options without sacrificing quality?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Girl Scout Camp Planning

Girl Scout camp starts in three weeks! I feel like we haven't even  had spring yet!

Volunteering at Girl Scout camp is one of the highlights of the summer for my family. This will be my third year that my daughter and I have gone to camp together - and as a bonus, someone gets to attend scout camp in the "little brother unit!"

Our planning meeting is tomorrow night, which means I've been pinning activity ideas like crazy.
For those on a quick search for Girl Scout camp activities, here's a recap of some posts in the past:

Especially For Brownies:
Earning the Brownies Senses badge at camp
Earning the Brownies Bugs badge at camp
Brownie Snacks badge campout menu

Other camping posts:
Edible Fire Safety Tutorial
Sit-upon tutorial
Everything I knew about diabetes I re-learned at Girl Scout camp

Looking for more Girl Scout ideas? Visit my new scout leader resource site, Use Resources Wisely. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Multi-Level Girl Scout Bridging Ceremony (That's Not Campy)

Girl Scout bridging is a rite of passage, but often the rite feels more like a game than a celebration of accomplishments.

When having to coordinate our service unit's bridging ceremony, I was surprised that I couldn't easily find one that didn't involve rituals like stepping on stones or bringing pieces to a tree a la pin the tail... I wanted something that made it feel like the girls were actually celebrating an accomplishment - and have an event that families who were attending could actually feel like they 1) could see something and 2) not go away with the impression that this was a goofy affair, especially since several girls (parents?) were unsure about continuing into Juniors.

Our troop is actually based out of a church, so we held the ceremony at the parish's reception hall. This is a brief program but you certainly could add to it based on your group's traditions and needs.

Multi-Level Girl Scout Bridging Program Outline 

Welcome to Service Unit bridging ceremony.

  • Pledge of allegiance
  • Girl Scout Promise 
  • “As each girl cross the bridge today, you will receive a candle. This symbolizes the light you carry to the world as Girl Scouts.” 
  • Each leader will introduce their troop and say 2-3 things they accomplished, then name girls one by one as they cross bridge.
    •  Daisies bridge – receive unlit candle; welcomed by Brownies
    • Brownies bridge– receive unlit candle; welcomed by Juniors (siblings)
    • Ambassadors bridge - – receive unlit candle; welcomed by adults.
  • Ask girls to join us at the front of the stage. Candles are lit.
  • Girls sing Make New Friends. 
  • Close with leaders reading Girl Scout Prayer.

A Girl Scout's Prayer
Lord, help us to be good Girl Scouts
Ones whom the world can trust,
Help us respect our neighbor's rights
And never be unjust.

Help us as Americans
To be worthy of the flag we bear.
Then help us as real Girl Scouts
To be proud of the uniform we wear.

Help us to be clean, Dear Lord,
In thought, word, and deed
And help us to follow the law
That is in the Girl Scout creed.

Teach us to love our fellow man
And then to serve him, too
Help our actions to count, Dear Lord,
In everything we do.

Give us strength to carry on
And do our part each day,
Make a place in this world for us
And help us fill it, I pray.

Make us what we ought to be
And in Thy footsteps fall,
Help us to live for others
O great Scout Leader of us all.

(Candles blown out and collected.) Refreshments/gifts downstairs.Follow Robbie @'s board Girl Scout Projects on Pinterest.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cooking with essential oils: 50 recipes to try

Essential oils are derived from plants - why couldn't - or shouldn't - you use it in cooking?

If you've used it as a dried or fresh herb or spice form, you can likely use an essential oil alternative - which is great in a pinch. I've managed to drizzle some dill essential oil on my salmon as it roasts, drop in lemon essential oils in my drinks and use it to substitute for buttermilk in recipes.

Be warned, though. Essential oils can't be simply substituted for fresh or dried herbs in a 1-to-1 ratio. Here is a great guide for substituting herbs with essential oils:
A good rule of thumb is: 1 tablespoon citrus zest = 8 to 14 drops of essential oil 1 tablespoon dried spice or herb = ½ – 1 drop of essential oil ½ – 1 teaspoon dried spice or herb  =  1 toothpick dip* *Dip a toothpick in the center of the dripper cap and then swirl the toothpick in your recipe or beverage.
For stronger oils such as cilantro, cinnamon bark, lavender, oregano, and thyme make sure to always start with a lesser amount and add to taste. 

If you have a little more time, check out this online cooking class featuring essential oils:

Eat up! Here are some recipes using essential oils to get you started:


Whole-grain blueberry muffins
Granola blueberry crisp
Power bites
Peanut butter protein bars
Lavender blueberry banana bread
"Birdseed" bars
Wild orange and cinnamon pumpkin muffins
Cinnamon almond granola
On Guard pumpkin smoothie

Main dishes

Baked chicken taquitos
Cajun chicken pasta
Almond-crusted orange chicken
Ginger stir-fry
Sun-dried tomato pizza
Grilled halibut with cilantro lime butter
Lemon-orange shrimp kabobs
Roasted marinara sauce
Honey glazed ham
Vegetarian black bean burgers
Basted holiday turkey
Lime chicken and quinoa salad
Healing soup with cilantro and ginger
Roasted marinara sauce

Side dishes

Pasta salad
Garlic & herb canapes
Black  beans and Lime cilantro rice
Roasted garlic mashed potatoes
Lemon broiled asparagus
Winter On Guard Quinoa Salad
Rosemary roasted red potatoes
Herbed pasta salad

Dressings & Dips

Citrus vinaigrette
Apple-walnut vinaigrette
Basil dill veggie dip
Italian bread dip
Wild Orange vinaigrette
Dill vegetable dip
Strawberry-lime fruit dip
Pico de gallo with lime essential oil
Lavender balsalmic vinaigrette

Treats & Sweets

Lemon bark
Honey peanut butter popcorn with Essential Oils
Honey lemon cake with lavender icing
Peppermint patties
Strawberry Coconut Cremes
Chocolate bliss raspberry parfait
Luscious lemon bars
Wild Orange Truffles
Whole wheat gingerbread cutouts
Pumpkin pie
Guilt-free apple pie
Strawberry orange sorbet


Strawberry citrus slush
Holiday wassail
Hot cocoa
Strawberry lemonade
Peppermint iced tea

Looking for a source for essential oils? Please consider using my online store with doTERRA essential oils. Email me at goinggreenmama at gmail if you'd like to know about saving 25% off of retail prices.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Use Up Your Granola: Chocolate Chunk Granola Cookies

use up granola recipes
I had granola to use up, and was not interested in yet another yogurt granola parfait.

Instead we added a little sweetness to our day with this Chocolate Chunk Granola Cookie recipe. I based this off a recipe for Copycat  Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies I had found on Pinterest, and it was a great way to use up not only the stale granola I had on hand but the chocolate bunnies from Easter. (Yes, it's the same chocolate as those prebagged chocolate chunks you'll buy the rest of the year - just much cheaper after Easter in that packaging!)

Even better, this was portion-controlled, only making two dozen. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chunk Granola Cookies

1 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup vanilla almond granola
2/3 cup chocolate chunks (or chopped chocolate bunnies or bars)

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix flour, baking soda, salt, butter, egg and vanilla extract together. Add egg and mix until batter is smooth. Mix in granola and chocolate. Drop by heaping tablespoons on greased cookie sheet.

Bake 8-10 minutes. Makes about two dozen.

Find more ideas at Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Recipe Writers and Party in Your PJs Linkups.

Southport Farmers Market

The amazing looking asparagus I landed
at the Southport Farmers Market.
Yesterday I had my first look at the Southport Farmers Market, located next to the Southport Antique Mall near Madison Avenue on the Indianapolis south side. The market opened late last year and is opening for its first full season this week.

The Southport Market has untraditional market hours: 9 a.m to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and 3 to 7 p.m. Fridays. 

After this long winter, I'm not surprised that there wasn't much for produce available when we stopped by for a late lunch hour Friday at 3. There were three bunches of think, locally grown asparagus (which we quickly snatched up) and a tub full of rhubarb to test. There were cheeses and meats, breads and a few crafts folks. But what was sorely missing were plants! I'm hoping it was because of the threat of rain, and I'm more than willing to give it another lunch-hour look.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Don't take anything for granted

"Don't take anything for granted," the woman on the sidewalk said as I admired the cross in her hand.

She knew. This elderly woman, cleanly dressed, was wandering the streets of Fountain Square and trying to gather her courage to ask for a handout. Having no cash on hand, my husband went back to the car to get the leftovers of the anniversary dinner we had just celebrated.

"Don't take anything for granted."

A week later, my husband announced that after five years, he was going to cease attending church. He has yet to give a reason. The days of our family attending together, not to mention the example he is setting for the kids, changed in minutes.

"Don't take anything for granted."

A week ago, I get a cryptic email from my mother, who said she had a heart attack, drove to the emergency room and had surgery. By the grace of God, no one was hurt while she was driving, and she was released from the hospital last week.

"Don't take anything for granted."
It's so easy in this flurry of activities: the sports, work, the housework, family...that anything would upheave the patterns. But the reality is it can.

This morning, the local news shared of construction crews killed at work and a boy who had died after running in front of an ATV. In minutes, a person's life can change unexpectedly.

So this small word of warning, from a stranger on the street, is a grave reminder to take each moment for the blessing it is.