Monday, June 30, 2014

10 New Ways to Use Lemongrass Essential Oil

using lemongrass essential oil Lemongrass essential oil is my sleeper favorite. I wasn't sure about trying this essential oil for quite some time because of the scent. But it quickly became one of my favorites for rubbing on sore muscles - kind of a poor man's Deep Blue Rub .

I typically use a drop or two per leg, diluted in Fractionated Coconut Oil , when my legs ache. And it's been a blessing for me for when my tendonitis flares up and as my little guy deals with growing pains. But I'm finding more and more interesting uses for lemongrass oil.

Here are 10 new ways to use lemongrass oil:

  1. As a natural fruit and vegetable wash. Add 1-2 drops lemongrass oil in a large bowl of water, wash your produce and it kills bacteria and cleans off pesticides.
  2. Yoga mat cleaner using witch hazel and lemongrass essential oil.
  3. Lowering cholesterol. I've heard anecdotally that using lemongrass essential oil can assist in lowering cholesterol levels.  Marlene Hunt reported on the dōTERRA Facebook page: “I lowered my cholesterol about 15 points- apply on bottom of feet & over my heart.”
  4. As a bug repellant. Mix lemongrass essential oil in a spray bottle of water; or mix with an unscented lotion.
  5. Fighting fleas and ticks.
  6. For stress relief.
  7. As an antiseptic.
  8. Fighting lactose intolerance. Rub lemongrass essential oil on the bottoms of the feet before or immediately after having dairy. 
  9. For a household cleaning spray.
  10. In cooking. I stumbled across this interesting recipe on doTERRA's Facebook page:
Thai Tom Kah soup with lemongrass and lime EOs at the finish; simmer fresh-caught local or regional fish, coconut milk, and fresh, finely chopped or grated garlic, ginger, galangal, coriander, onion, celery, Add prawns and mushrooms 15 minutes prior serving, and cast scallions and cilantro after adding EOs. 

For more great tips on using lemongrass essential oil, visit doTERRA's Facebook page for reader tips.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

40 ideas for 4th of July parties #summerfamilyfunparty

4th of july barbecue ideas
July 4 - give or take a week - usually means a block party in our neighborhood. It's a great pitch-in where neighbors get together, socialize and shoot off firecrackers.

Looking for some ideas to spice up your Fourth of July celebrations?

Here are 40 recipe ideas to get you going:

On the Grill

Super Side Dishes

Sweet Treats


Share your favorite July 4 ideas or other inspiration for the #summerfamilyfunparty below!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What I learned from cheating on my daughter's birthday party

Birthdays in our home have been known as the event. Each year, the kids choose a theme, and I brainstorm crazy ways for the kids to celebrate. It's always within our small budget, and it's creative, and it's a house filled with happy kids.

We've done rock star parties, luaus, dance parties, Fancy Nancy parties, even a Jedi training party for the magical sixth birthday.

Home birthday parties in our family evolved to the point that our neighbor friend asks her mom what she should wear each year. Seriously.

But this year...was different.

We had planned a sleepover for next month. My daughter wanted a Harry Potter theme. Down to broom races in the backyard (her idea). And I had just a bit of fun researching Harry Potter-themed recipes online.

Then the unthinkable happened. We had two injuries within three days - my husband in a sling and my daughter on crutches. My house was already not party-ready by any estimation. And my daughter was feeling pretty puny from her knee sprain. Since our traditional summer fun was out the window, why not bite the bullet and have a party outside the home?

I wound up renting a room at the local frozen yogurt shop. For $50, I had yogurt and toppings for the group, a room to ourselves for nearly two hours, and balloons. We kept the event simple - played one of her favorite CDs, brought out her jewelry making supplies, nail polish and face paint, and let the girls have their fun.

In other words, in my mind, I cheated on my daughter's birthday party. I caved in. I went corporate instead of homemade.

And you know what? No one was disappointed.

No one cared that it wasn't the event. Don't get me wrong, themed parties are fun, but they are a lot of work. Sometimes, kids just want to get together though and be kids. They giggled when they played spin the bottle with nail polish. They made jewelry and talked with each other. And strangers became friends by the end of the afternoon.

Kids just want to have their time, not want everything planned and packaged for them. Like the year we had my son's party on a obscenely warm December day, and instead of playing the planned stuff, they had an impromptu soccer game in the backyard.

While planning activities is fun, you do have the internal pressure to squeeze them in just because you planned and purchased the supplies. And as a parent, you have to let that go, and simply enjoy the moment.

Will this change the landscape of how we handle birthdays in our home? Perhaps. I will never be a parent who shells out money for a party at Monkey Joe's, Incredible Pizza or the Children's Museum, but maybe, just maybe, I may be open to not having the party-ready house one afternoon and let someone else do the cleaning for me!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Mineral Sunscreen: Reviewing Block Island Organics

Summer camp was approaching, which meant the dreaded question: What should my child wear?

Not clothing, mind you. Sunscreen.

As I've become more and more conscious of what we put in and on our bodies, I realized that one area we haven't truly touched in our family is the kind of sunscreens we put on our bodies. Frankly, I relied mostly on price.

Recently, I had the chance to review a mineral suncare brand called Block Island OrganicsThey are introducing a line of sunscreen products for babies, children and adults, and I was excited to try it for our week at Girl Scout camp. 

Block Island Organics sunscreens are promoted as being non-toxic and mineral-based (zinc and titanium), as opposed to chemical based, and include a zinc-only Baby SPF 30, an SPF 15, SPF 30 and SPF 40 product.  I also appreciated the products are non-comedogenic, vegan formulated, paraben-free, phthalate free, nano particle free, artificial fragrance free, non-eye irritating, not tested on animals, made in the United States and highly rated by the Environmental Working Group.

The kids and I tested the sunscreen through sweat, swimming and sun. It didn't have the greasy feeling a number of sunscreens do, and while if we weren't careful in rubbing it in we were a bit whitish, we didn't come home with a sunburn.

While it was a bit more than what I've typically paid for sunscreens in the past, Block Island Organics gave me the freedom from worry about whether my children would be sunburnt and about what I was putting on their skin.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Freezer Cookbook Review: Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead & Freeze Cookbook

Freezer cooking recipes are often a tough find. I might find the occasional blog or a random recipe in a 15-year-old cookbook, but rarely do I find a must-have book on make-ahead meals.

Enter Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook by Jessica Fisher of the popular blogs Life as Mom and Good Cheap Eats. This is a must-have on every working mom's kitchen bookshelf - whether you're working out of the home or working at home 24 hours a day!

I love how Fisher doesn't make freezer cooking An Event. Freezer cooking can be as complicated or quick as your schedule and budget allows. (Personally, I always try the recipe with the family first before I begin freezer cooking a particular dish!) The shopping lists and cooking plans are great for when you do have additional time to invest in a freezer cooking session at home.

Even better, these aren't yesterday's casseroles or tired slow cooker recipes either. Our family loved recipes like sesame chicken with snow peas and mushrooms and easy cheese enchiladas.

And yes, dear library, I will return the book. Someday....

What are your favorite recipes for freezer cooking? Share them below.

Summer fun on crutches #summerfamilyfunparty

Last Wednesday I got the call from camp that no mom wants to hear: An ambulance was coming for my daughter, who couldn't move her leg after a fall at camp.

This comes just days after my dear husband wound up in a sling after moving his arm just right (or wrong) while playing with our son.

And then this weekend my friend posts her photo of date night with hubby gone horribly wrong when she fell:

So summer fun - which usually looks like pools, long hikes and bike rides - has suddenly taken a significant turn.

Injuries happen. Life happens. But as a parent, how can you keep your summer from evolving into weeks in front of the television or computer when your child is hurt?

A little creativity is what counts.

Does being on crutches mean my daughter can't enjoy summer day camp? Hardly. The day after her knee strain, she was on the way to the zoo. I checked online, and wheelchairs were available. The kids fought over who would push her that day, and she had a blast.

When we go on our summer vacation and hit the St. Louis Zoo and other St. Louis attractions, we'll take the same tactic. Renting a wheelchair for your injured child - even if there is a fee - allows your child to still enjoy most of the experience, and it prevents them from overuse injuries and tiredness as a result.

Bring out the forgotten gifts and toys. As going up and down the stairs is a one-time-a-day activity right now, I've had a chance to take advantage of this "special time" and go through her room. I've found several arts and crafts activities and kits from Christmas and birthday gifts that I'm bringing out to help her pass the time.

Rethink your summer child care options if and when you can. The day I got the call about the ambulance, I was planning to drop off camp fees for tae kwon do camp. Obviously that's out. So I've been creative in filling in the last of the empty weeks for child care, including finding Vacation Bible Schools in the morning - an opportunity to meet new kids - and hiring a high school student to watch them in the afternoon. That being said, I have no concerns about sending her to the camps she's already scheduled for; it's just a matter of her being able to balance rest time too.

Rethink their socialization ideas. Play dates at the park, needless to say, are going to be limited the next few weeks. Instead, we changed her Harry Potter sleepover party (for which she was actively planning things like broom races!) to a low-key party at the local frozen yogurt shop. We'll probably have movie dates with buddies rather than invite them to the pool as she heals.

Check out the summer reading program. Even if you don't have a bookworm, encourage your child to explore new ideas through the library's summer reading program. Many times the local library offers programs for children and teens, and they are all wheelchair-accessible per the ADA. Encourage your budding reader with prizes for reading a certain number of minutes. (Our library offered haunted house passes!) And I'm not above a little healthy competition among siblings either. You could also encourage your child to read on a certain theme with a family outing tied to it if they reach the goal. (Space junkies could go to the planetarium, etc.)

Explore new ideas. Buy a science kit. Look up projects on Pinterest. Teach your kids to bake cookies. Earn a Scout badge. Take advantage of this time and the usual summer boredom to try a new activity.

Don't forget the well kids. It's not their fault their sibling is injured. Prevent resentment by allowing them special times to do the things they enjoy. Taking my first-grader on a bike ride, just the two of us, was just what was needed to turn his attitude about his sister's situation around.

What are your favorite indoor summer survival tactics? Join our Link-Up here.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Frittata with Sundried Tomatoes recipe

Frittatas are a fast and simple way to create a breakfast, brunch or dinner option. This frittata recipe was born out of a last-minute need to come up with an idea for a meatless dish for our Monday work lunches.

Meatless recipe | Frittata with Sundried Tomatoes | Lent Meals

Frittata with Sundried Tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bunch green onions, whites sliced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup fresh parsley
8 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper


Heat olive oil in cast-iron skillet. Add onions and cook on medium-low for about 10 minutes. Stir in sundried tomatoes and parsley; season with salt and pepper.

Heat broiler to high. Pour eggs over the vegetables in the skillet. Stir to mix.

Cook eggs on low, scraping bottom of pan towards middle as it sets and letting uncooked egg run underneath. Continue until bottom is firm but top is still moist (about 10 minutes).

Place frittata under the broiler and cook for five minutes, or until frittata is cooked throughout and golden on top.

Serve in skillet warm or at room temperature. Garnish with parsley.

Serving ideas: Pair the frittata with crusty bread or salad.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Treat boxes: DIY from party cups

My daughter's birthday is fast approaching, and, following an accident that left her on crutches, we abandoned the idea of our traditional at-home parties with games in lieu of (gasp) a party at the local frozen yogurt store.

We had already purchased cute little nail polishes for the girls to do pedicures (thanks to an amazing clearance sale at Justice - 60 cents each!) and I needed some way to package them since we were no longer doing pedicures. 

Plastic gift bags just weren't an option in my book. I struggle with the idea of tossable cellophane bags. 

Instead, I turned to Pinterest and got a brainstorm. My daughter is into pink and blue - and cheetah prints - so this was a perfect solution.

Here's how I pulled off the look: 
  1. I'd purchased extra paper party cups, so my packaging was 90% there! (I used 8 or 9 ounce paper party cups).
  2. I trimmed off the rim off the paper cups.
  3. I made eight cuts, about 1 - 1 1/2 inches down, from the top of the cup. It helps to loosely fold in half, make the cuts on each fold, then turn and cut, repeat. 
  4. I put the gifts in the cup.
  5. Each of the eight cuts were folded over each other and finally held together with clear tape.
  6. The flowers on top were made with my Cricut (thanks, Mom!) and adhered with the sticky circles repurposed from the nail polish packaging. Alternately, stickers could be used on top.
I though it was a great grown-up but fun alternative for my pre-teen to be!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Searching for smoothie ideas? (Free ebooks June 14, 2014)

Searching for new smoothie ideas?

I lean heavily on making smoothies for breakfast, and am always on the search for new inspiration.

Here are some free e-books on smoothie recipes available right now through Amazon. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Council's Own Badges and Patch Programs (2014)

girl scout council's own badges updated list
Girl Scout Council's Own badges and patch programs offer just another way for troops to explore activities and for girls on vacation to explore where they are visiting.

Many of the Girl Scout councils have radically revamped their Council's Own patches, so an updated resource list is here.

Council's Own Badges and Patches

Alaska (Farthest North)

Central Alabama (Shop here)

Central Illinois

Central Indiana

Central and Southern New Jersey

(Shop here. Instructions are in the store links under each product.)
  • Lighthouse Try-It
  • Ocean Discovery Badge

Central Maryland Council

(Shop here. Instructions are in the store links under each product)

  • Forestry
  • Racial Justice

Chesapeake Bay 

(Shop here. Instructions for the badges are in the store links under each product)
  • Archery
  • Roots & Shoots
  • Miniatures
  • Campfire
  • Speaking in Sign
  • Clowning Around
  • Nurses Exploration
  • Insects ABC


(Shop here. Instructions for the badges are in the store links under each product)
  • Dinosaurs
  • Disability Awareness
  • Discover Chicago
  • Making Girl Scout History
  • Passport to Religions
  • Sisters in Scouting
  • Why Tease


(Shop here.)

  • Amistad

Eastern Oklahoma 

(Shop here. Instructions for the badges are in the store links under each product).
  • Discover Oklahoma
  • Oklahoma Indian Heritage

Eastern Massachusetts (Shop here. Instructions are in the store links under each product)

  • JFK Museum
  • Freedom Trail
  • Plymouth Plantation

    Greater Atlanta (Shop here. Instructions are in the store links under each product)

    • Georgia on My Mind
    • Go Fish
    • Butterfly
    • Georgia Native People

      Heart of Michigan (Shop here)

      • Archery
      • Geocaching
      • Roller Skating
      • Michigan Mosaic patch

      Historic Georgia (Shop here. Instructions are in the store links under each product)

      • Hometown Hero
      • Daisy's Neighborhood
      • Recycler
      • Coastal Georgia

      Maine (Shop here.)

      Montana & Wyoming

      (Shop here. Instructions for the badges are in the store links under each product)

      • Montana badge
      • Wyoming badge
      • American Sign Language
      • Geocaching

        Nation's Capital

        (Shop here. Instructions for the badges and patches are in the store links under each product)

        • Discover the Nation's Capital
        • Be a Pal - Food Allergy Patch
        • Be Prepared
        • Sun Safety
        • Gift of Trees - Cherry Blossoms

        Northern Illinois

        (Shop here. Instructions for the badges are in the store links under each product)

        • Stitch in Time
        • Best Bones
        • Trail of Mystery
        • Illinois Violets
        • Illinois Cardinal
        • Totally Teamwork
        • Maple Syrup
        • Martial Arts (Junior badge)
        • Backyard Chicken (Junior badge)
        • Shopportunity (Junior badge)
        • Trailblazer

          San Diego

          (Shop here. Instructions for the badges  are in the store links under each product)

          • Archery
          • Native Americans
          • World of Whales
          • Old Town San Diego

          Virginia Skyline

          Western Washington

          (Shop here. Instructions are in the store links under each product)

          • Explore Engineering
          • Hands Across the Border
          • Discover Port Townsend

          Council's Own - No online ordering information available.

          I did not include names of available badges and patches here, as there is no online ordering information available. You can click through these links for available resources.

          Monthly Patch Programs

          Did I miss one? Has a council retired the patch? Please let me know in the comments below.
          Follow my Girl Scout Projects board on Pinterest.

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

          Saturday, June 7, 2014

          Survivor: My week at Girl Scout Camp

          Wolf spiders and little girl screams. Torrential downpour. Sunburns. Bug bites. Sleeplessness. And tears.

          And that's just the adults...

          But Girl Scout Camp was the best week ever.

          Sure us leaders have that moment, mid-day Friday, when we look at ourselves and whisper "Three more hours." But in nearly the same breath, we're talking about the T-shirts we're making to wear next year.

          A friend told me last night, after the bags were unpacked, how impressed she was that I volunteer at camp each year. But the reality is, we do it for the girls.

          We have jobs. We are moms. We are the shuttle for our kids and housekeepers for our homes. But we carve out time to come up with crazy projects and suffer sunburn and downpours because the kids are worth it.

          It's worth it to hear your daughter talk about will she see this girl or that girl again this year in the weeks before camp week. Some of these girls have been camp friends for three years now and are already looking forward to next year.

          It's worth it to see the girls develop new friendships that may last a week, or may last years.

          It's worth it to see the girls try something new and get excited about exploring creeks, pitching tents or trying out a new project.

          It's worth it to hear the cheers of camp mates when a girl makes it to the top of the rockwall or is so close to passing her swimming test to go in the deep end of the pool.

          It's worth it to watch the girls come up with their own impromptu skit night just because.

          It's worth it to see the smile break out on the face of the shiest girl in the group because she won the all-camp contest.

          And it's worth it to hear your kids say "See you next year!"

          Thursday, June 5, 2014

          Breakfast Frittata with Parmesan Quinoa and Mushrooms

          This breakfast frittata recipe was inspired by two sources: 5 Easy Steps to Healthy Cooking: 500 Recipes for Lifelong Wellness and my leftover Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa. Put this together, and it's a great combination!

          Breakfast Frittata with Parmesan Quinoa and Mushrooms
          8 eggs
          salt and pepper
          1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
          8 oz. baby portobello or other mushrooms, sliced
          1/2 cup chopped green onions
          1 1/2 cups Creamy Parmesan-Garlic Quinoa (or cooked quinoa)
          1/2 cup grated Parmesan

          Whisk together eggs, salt and pepper. Set aside.

          In a large skillet, Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Cook mushrooms and green onions until softened.

          Stir in quinoa and cook, stirring, for one minute. Spread mixture in prepared casserole dish.

          Pour eggs over quinoa. Top with cheese.

          Bake at 350 degree for 25-30 minutes or until set. Serve warm or completely cooled.

          Sunday, June 1, 2014

          doTERRA specials for June

          I love sharing specials on essential oils! Here are money-saving options for June.

          The biggest one is for both new and returning customers/wellness advocates. Any 200PV order this month gets you a free bottle of Breathe (for what it says!) and OnGuard (cold/flu protective blend). These are two of my favorites in my family and I'll be sure to stock up!
          The second is a special on TerraShield - 10% off this month. This makes for an inexpensive bug spray -- a few drops per use goes a long way!
          Finally, product of the month for those on the Loyalty Rewards program with a 125PV order (which you'd have if you took advantage of the first offer!) is Balance. This is a great grounding blend. At first I was not fond of it, but it's truly became one of my favorites for stressful times!

          If you're interested in ordering but don't have a resource already, please feel free to use my affilliate link. I can also help you set you up as a wellness advocate to get the largest discounts.

          Have a great summer!