Sunday, April 22, 2012

Clean & Green: R3 Day

Today is Earth Day!  It is the day when we remember to care for our Earth.  It is a day to do something that beautifies or preserves the land that God gave us.  It is a day to practice the 3R's!

Reduce:   Use less.  Turn off the lights.  Unplug for a day.  Avoid plastic bags.  Consume your leftovers. Use less gas.  Use less water.  Just use less.

Reuse:  Wash out the plastic bags and use them again.  Place coffee grinds and crushed egg shells around a plant as fertilizer.  Use old jars to store leftovers or craft supplies.  Use rinse water for watering plants and kiddie pool water for watering lawn.

Recycle:  Turn your trash into something new. Cut and tape cereal boxes for shipping.  Make art with your old Christmas cards.  Take your paper, plastic, electronics, construction, glass, automotive, construction, garden, and household waste to the appropriate recycling centers.  

Recharge your batteries.
Repurpose a plastic bottle into a plant watering vessel.
Refrain from using disposable towels.
Upcycle old clothes into reusable shopping bags.
Repair broken electronics.

These websites had great R3 ideas:

For more of our Clean & Green series, see these links:
Monday, April 18th: The Earth Plan
Wednesday, April 18th:  Twirly Fairy Craft
Thursday, April 19th:  Wall Garden  Salmoncakes

Friday, April 20, 2012

Clean & Green: Floor Cleaner

This is my go-to cleaner for my floors.  It works great on tile or laminate but I wouldn't try it on wood.  It is also great for wiping down cabinets.  It removes the grime and leaves behind a fresh smell.

Floor Cleaner

1/4 C vinegar
2 Gallons water
8 drops essential lemon oil
8 drops essential tangerine oil

Wipe the floors down with a rag or mop.  I like to go behind and dry my floors, too.  Change the water when dirty to ensure an equally good clean throughout the process.

For more of the Clean & Green series, go to:

Monday, April 18th: The Earth Plan
Wednesday, April 18th:  Twirly Fairy Craft
Thursday, April 19th:  Wall Garden  Salmoncakes

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Clean & Green: Salmoncakes

Well, the wall garden didn't quite make it up yesterday.  The materials are purchased but I just can't seem to get it hung and filled.... I guess it will just have to be a little summer project for later!

Instead of the wall garden, I am sharing my favorite allergy-friendly recycled dinner recipe - Salmoncakes!  If your family is like mine, they don't want to eat the same leftovers every day.  So, I have become an expert in making one dish and using the leftovers to make a second, third, and sometimes fourth dish for later in the week.

Whenever I cook Molasses Grilled Salmon, I am always sure to cook enough for leftovers.  I freeze the leftover pieces and make them into other dishes.  Today's dish is perfect for those leftover salmon fillet.     I make Salmoncakes from the leftover salmon and freeze them for quick meals on busy days.   I love to pack them for lunches but they are really perfect for any meal... even breakfast!


1 salmon fillet, cooked
1 C medium grained rice, cooked
1/2 C rice flour
4 green onions, chopped
1 T dill
3/4 t garlic powder
1/2 t salt (or to taste)
1/4 C water
1 C Rice Chex, crushed
rice oil
  1. Break the salmon fillet up and place it in a bowl.
  2. Add the dry ingredients and mix well.
  3. Add 2 T water and mix again.
  4. Continue adding water 1 T at a time until the mix is just wet enough to stick together.
  5. Place the Rice Chex in a pie plate.
  6. Heat a nonstick skillet on low; add 2 T oil.
  7. Form the salmon dough into patties.
  8. Gently place the patty on top of the rice chex and flip over. 
  9. When the sides are generously coated,  reform the patty.
  10. Place the patty directly in the hot skillet.
  11. Quickly make the remainder of the patties and place in the skillet.
  12. Cook the patties until they are lightly brown and gently flip.  You may need to increase the cooking heat at this point.
  13. Cook the other side until browned and remove to a paper towel lined plate.
  14. Cool slightly and serve.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Clean & Green: Twirly Fairy Craft

My angel came up with this easy idea for making twirly fairies from styrofoam S-shaped peanuts.  These were fun to make but the greatest excitement when we released them and they twirled to the ground!

Twirly Fairy Craft

S-shaped styrofoam peanuts
used paper or children's art
Scotch tape

  1. Color the beans.
  2. Cut out the wings into the shape pictured below:
  3. Color the wings.
  4. Tape the wings to the top side of one "S" curve.

More posts in our Clean & Green series:

Monday, April 18th: The Earth Plan
Wednesday, April 18th:  Twirly Fairy Craft

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Clean & Green: All-Purpose Mild Abrasive Cleasner

I am always taking on new DIY projects in the house in an attempt to save us a little money. For those of us with allergic angels, we spend a lot of time and money to keep our houses clean.  One area where I spend a lot of money is in the kitchen, especially washing dishes.  We make dirty a lot of dishes and pots cooking our from scratch, whole foods.  Recently, after a long day of cooking, I ran out of dishwashing detergent and decided that I would try make my own.  the bloggers online make it sound so easy and effective that I never doubted the challenge.  So, armed with my Borax, Washing Soda, and my computer, I began.

I first tried a recipe by a blogger that swore by her recipe.  I loaded the dishes, mixed the recipe and hit "WASH".  One quick trip to the grocery, the dishes were done.  But... were they?   Not quite!  Cloudy and covered with baked-on food remnants, these dishes had to go another round ... with the a PowerBall from the blue box!

I wasn't going to give up, though.  I had mixed way too many ingredients to just throw them out.  So, I researched, and I tested until I actually came up with a product that washed my dishes as well as the stuff in the green bottle.  But... that was still not as good as the powerball in the blue box.  So, what do I do with all of this mix?

It turns out that my not-as-good-as-the-powerball dishwashing detergent, is a better-than-the-stuff-in-the-can mild abrasive cleaner!  While giving my tile floors a much needed hands and knees cleaning, I poured a little on a hard to clean spot and ... VIOLA! GONE!  Wow... doesn't get better than this...  26 ounces of all-natural- ingredient mild abrasive cleaner for > $.15 per ounce (a $.04/oz savings over the green can cleaner).  And, my kitchen has never smelled brighter!

All-Purpose Mild Abrasive Cleanser

1 1/2 C Borax
1 C Washing Soda
1/2 C Baking Soda
1/4 C coarse Kosher salt
2 T Dawn Dishwashing Liquid
1 C Lemi Shine (optional)
15 drops essential lemon oil (optional)
15 drops essential tangerine oil (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl non-reactive bowl.  To prevent clumping, allow ingredients to remain in the bowl for a few days, store with a silica packet, and/or place a sealed mesh bag of uncooked rice in the mix.  Store in a  repurposed glass jar.  Poke holes in the lid for easier sprinkling.  You may need to give the jar a shake before using to loosen up the mix.
For those with allergies, this recipe does have corn in it, but so do most cleaning products on the market.  In fact, there are additional ingredients in the Lemi-Shine if you sue it.  Be sure to rinse well with clean water to eliminate any residue.

General Purpose Cleanser - Sprinkle on tough to clean spots, scrub and rinse.  As you gently rub the cleanser, the abrasive texture will diminish (the salt dissovlves).  Add a little more cleanser or sprinkle area with kosher salt for a stronger scrubbing power.

Dishwashing Detergent - Place one T in each  of the dispensers in your dishwasher then run as usual.  For hard water, add an additional tablespoon of Lemi-Shine to the washer door.

More posts in our Clean & Green series:

Monday, April 18th: The Earth Plan
Wednesday, April 18th:  Twirly Fairy Craft

Monday, April 16, 2012

Clean & Green: The Earth Plan

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22nd and we will be clean and green all week.   I hope that you will follow along and share all of your great green ideas.

Monday, April 18th: The Earth Plan
Wednesday, April 18th:  Twirly Fairy Craft
Thursday, April 19th:  Wall Garden  Salmoncakes
Friday, April 20th:  DIY Tile Floor Cleaner
Saturday, April 21st:  Upcycled Rags
Sunday, April 22nd:  R3 Day!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chimichurri Sauce

Grilling season seems to have come early this year.  We have already cranked up the grill more times than I can count.  Of course, for the die hard, I guess grilling season never really ends!

This sauce is a Latin American favorite.  It goes great with grilled flank or tritip steak.  But, I personally like it married with a seared or grilled halibut.  Try it and let me know how you like to eat your Chimichurri Sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce
1 bunch fresh cilantro
1 bunch fresh parsley
5 cloves garlic
2T red onion or green onion (optional)
1 T honey
juice of 1 lemon or lime
1/4 t salt
rice oil
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth like a pesto sauce.
  2. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning to your taste.

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Life, Better Health: Playground Fitness

Thera-Band Exercise Bands
Most of the time, my blog focuses on the food and events that we face as parents of allergic children.  However, the plight of a "normal" child isn't always so different from ours.  And, the challenges for parents of those children often parallel the challenges that we face, allergic or otherwise.  The health of our families, our children, and ourselves is one such area.  As parents and children, we all strive to eat foods that are healthy for us and, although what is healthy for you may not be the same thing that is healthy for me, we all share the same goal to eat healthy.  Fitness is another such area.  Experts agree on the benefits of exercise for both children and adults alike.  But, while we may readily take our kids to the park or send them out to play, as parents, we often sell ourselves short in the area of fitness.  Today's post is for those of you who, like I, struggle to find the time and the willpower to make fitness a priority.

In our house, we make pretty sound food choices.  Fresh fruits, garden veggies, and almost nothing manufactured.  There are always the occasional cookies and the coffees with milk or sugar but on the whole, we eat healthy.  However, it is time for a confession.  While my family lives to sweat, I do not!  I am quite happy to be the mom that stands near the kids, watching them safely play while never joining in to kick the ball or run the race, myself.  THIS HAS TO CHANGE!

Many months ago, around Jan 1st, I believe...  I vowed to do better.  I vowed to take my angel with me on walks and to participate more at the playground.  It never happened.  Oh, I tried.  But between sickness and laziness, well, it just never happened.  But, Easter is a time of new life; a time for our past sins to be forgiven and the dead to live again.  So, this Easter, I began my quest to live again; I began my quest for better health.   My body is my temple and I want it to honor God.  (1 Cor. 6:19-20)  Rise up with me and let's make a change together.  Let's lay our sins of laziness at the cross and take up the habits which lead to a better life.  Let's make our hearts healthy and happy.

Exercise seems like the best place to start so today I begin my quest for a better body, a holier temple , and a healthier me with a walk in the park and an exercise to strengthen those "posture" muscles.  I am excited because these exercises can be done at the playground while I watch my little ones play.  Today's post by Jon Ham of Fitness on the RunBody Weight Back Exercises: Don't Get Bullied off the Playground is perfect.  It has easily varied levels of difficulty and I don't need any fancy equipment.  Since I don't have the equipment used in the video, I am going to try my elastic exercise bands or a rope thrown over the branch of a shaded tree along the walking path.

Cheer me on!  Rise up and join me!  Let's build a healthy body for ourselves and our kids!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oh-So-Delicious Rice Salad

A dear friend sent me a recipe for Rice Salad.  I had honestly never heard of such a thing but we both thought that this sounded like something that my angel could eat.  Sadly, the recipe that I received was not safe, but the inspiration was something that led me to create this recipe.

I have been asked numerous times for this recipe but have never given it out until now.  This salad is as perfect for Sunday brunch as it is for a family picnic.  This year, I am whipping up a batch for our family Easter Egg hunt.  I just love that I can make the dish on Saturday and take it out of the fridge, ready to serve, after church on Sunday.  The flavors of this salad really blend and bloom with time.  So, use leftover rice, vegetables that you love and make this ahead.  It really is best that way!

For those with food sensitivities, the recipe below does contain peppers and squash, both of which can cause problems for my angel.  Although, I prefer the dish with the ingredients used below, I also know that this is not always possible.  Here is how I adapt this: I parboil the squash since my angel reacts to raw squash but small amounts of cooked squash are tolerated.  I also replace the peppers with safe ingredients like finely diced cucumber, par-boiled chopped asparagus, or finely diced cooked beets (these are fun because they turn the rice into a fun pink color).

I hope that you find this recipe enjoyable and are able to find your own blend of vegetables that make your family say, "Can I have some more of that Oh-So-Delicious Rice Salad, please?

Oh-So-Delicious Rice Salad
1 C long grain rice
2 C chicken broth
1/3 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 yellow squash, finely diced
2 T chives, chopped
2 t dry dill
Dill Vinaigrette Dressing
  1. Place 1 C rice and 2 C chicken broth in a pot and bring to a boil on medium heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook until the water is fully absorbed, about 20 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and let rest 10 minutes.  Careful not to open the lid during cooking or resting.  The heat and steam are what make the rice fully bloom.
  4. Using a fork, fluff the rice and place in a mixing bowl.
  5. Allow to cool to room temp.
  6. Add the bell pepper, squash, chives and dill to the rice, then gently toss. 
  7. Add 1/4 C Dill vinaigrette Dressing and toss.
  8. Allow salad to chill for at least 2 hours, although 6 -8 hours is better. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dill Vinaigrette Dressing

I came up with this idea for a dressing because I wanted to make a rice salad.  I always hear about these and a dear friend even sent me a recipe in hopes that it was safe for my angel.  It was not safe, but it did inspire me to create a recipe of my own.  This dressing is delicious on salad, salmon and all sorts of foods... but, it is especially delicious on my Oh-So-Delicious Rice Salad.

Dill Vinaigrette Dressing
2 t dried dill
2T rice oil
2 T rice vinegar
2 T honey
1/8 t salt
  1. Place all ingredients in a mason jar or dressing shaker.
  2. Close the lid tightly and shake until combined.
  3. Taste and adjust ingredients to your taste.  My angel likes it more sweet, my hubby likes it more salty, and I am a fan of extra dill!
  4. For best results, let rest 30 minutes for dill to hydrate and flavors to blend.
  5. Keep chilled in refrigerator but serve at room temp.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Easter Potluck Picnic and Egg-Free Hunt

Every Easter, we fill plastic eggs with spare change and small goodies like bouncy balls, plastic animals, rings, stickers, and essentially whatever we can find on sale throughout the month.  We ask friends and family to bring 12 candy-free filled plastic eggs for a children's egg hunt, a dish to share and have an Easter Potluck Picnic and Egg-Free Hunt. 

We begin the day with Sunday service then head home to meet friends and family for a fun day of food and egg hunting for all.  I have asked everyone ahead of time to bring either a side dish, salad, or dessert and we supply the paper products, drinks, and main dish.  It is always fun to see what everyone brings as their family's favorite Easter dish.

Our Easter Potluck Picnic Menu
Apricot Glazed Cornish Hens
Oh-So-Delicious Rice Salad
Lettuce Salad with Dill Vinaigrette Dressing
Fresh Fruit Tray
Fruity Jello Jigglers from Easter-shaped jello molds

After lunch, we gather the children and entertain them with a craft while the men in the group hide the Easter eggs.  Why do the men hide?  Tradition.  Then, the boundaries of the hunt are established, rules for respecting the tiny tots are explained, and a whistle is blown.   If there are toddlers in the bunch, we usually let them go out for a little while first and we make clear that the eggs in plain sight are for them.  Once the hunt starts, the parents sit back and giggle as the kids search high and low for the plastic eggs.  For those who are concerned with fairness, we sometimes let the kids gather as many eggs as they can then give each child a goodie bag instead of filling the eggs.  While I think that it is good for the kids to learn that they may not always have the most, it is certainly nice when we do not have to fill all of those eggs!

But, the fun does not end here... the adults hunt, too.  Oh, and this is the best hunt of the day!  Sometimes, we let the men hide for the women and the women for the men (and the kids help hide for both).  Other times, we allow one person from each family to hide and one to hunt... the family must decide who.  And, what adult is motivated to hunt for rubber dinosaurs?!  Certainly not this one!  So, we make it interesting.  Each adult plastic egg is worth an small amount of change (written on the egg or on a paper inside).  But, one egg... THE GOLDEN EGG... is worth a large amount.  Each family is asked to contribute $5 or $10 dollars per adult who will hunt.  The adult who finds THE GOLDEN EGG gets all of the money in the mystery pot.  (Basically, this is the amount of money left over after deducting the value of the small change used in the other eggs.)  If you decide to do this, please realize that often times, some eggs are never found.  That means, there will be money hidden out there is you decide to place the money in the egg.  For this reason, we like to write the amount inside of the egg.

One last element of the egg hunt that I have not mentioned.... the Resurretion Eggs.  I felt a burden that, during the most important of the Christian holidays, we are obsessed with money, eggs, and food.  So, I decided to add Resurrection Eggs to the hunt.  Resurrection Eggs are eggs that contain an item which symbolizes something related to the Easter story.  You may buy these online or make your own.  Either way, as the children find these eggs among the other eggs in the hunt, they hold them until story time.  Then, when I ask for certain eggs, the will open them.  The items in each egg will guide me through the story.  I found this activity to be a highlight for the kids and a great activity to restore a deeper meaning to the traditional egg hunt.

I hope that your Easter is full of family, fun, and the blessings of Christ!