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Monday, September 27, 2010

Earth Cafe Cheesecake Giveaway!

Last week I was the lucky recipient of 5 delicious slices of Earth Cafe Cheesecake. When I carried the box into my kitchen, I couldn't wait to taste them. I had already read a few reviews and everyone said they were delicious.

They weren't lying.

The flavors I sampled were:

Who's Your Daddy Cheesecake (delicious smooth chocolately mousse)

Rockin' Raspberry Cheesecake

Cherry Dream Cheesecake

Strawberry Fields Forever Cheesecake

Cali Style Lemon Cheesecake
(sorry-no picture)

Besides their amazing taste, these cheesecakes have some other unique features. They are vegan (no-dairy), gluten free, and cholesterol free.  They are free of refined sugars as well as hydrogenated oils.

These cheesecakes taste just as good (if not better) than other dairy-based cheesecakes that I've tried (and I'm saying that as a huge cheesecake fan). 

The ingredients are whole, natural, and organic. Check out these ingredients from the Cherry Dream Cheesecake: fresh cherries, soaked cashews, coconut, coconut butter, agave nectar, soaked pecans, soaked walnuts, lecithin (extractable from soy beans, non-toxic, with antioxidant properties), vanilla bean extractive, cinnamon, and sea salt. 

There is nothing fake or artificial about these decadent desserts.  They would make a great addition to a family get-together, Thanksgiving celebration, or birthday party.

You can learn more by going to: www.earthcafetogo.com 

Giveaway:
Earth Cafe has generously offered to provide 2 entire cheesecakes (each cheesecake is roughly $35) to a Walk With Me reader.  You will have your choice of cheesecakes and they will ship to you via 1 or 2 day mail dependent upon your location.  They will arrive frozen and just need to sit in the fridge for a few hours before they are ready to be eaten.  If you win this giveaway, your family and friends will love you!

The Giveaway will close on Friday at midnight. The winner will be chosen using random.org and announced Saturday. 

*You must live in the United States and have a valid shipping address.  

How To Win:

1). Please visit the Earth Cafe website and then leave a comment below on the flavor of cheesecake that you would like to sample.

2). Follow this blog or the blog linked below (or both) and then leave me a comment letting me know you followed. Each blog followed counts as an extra entry.

3). Follow me and Earth Cafe on Twitter and leave a comment below letting me know you followed (extra entry for tweeting about this contest and then leaving a comment with the tweet link).

Good luck to everyone who enters. I am jealous already of whoever wins these two delicious cheesecakes. 

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cloth Diapering Celebrities

I love hearing about celebrities who endorse cloth diapering. Since they are huge trendsetters in today's society, it's always great to read about those who are taking steps to better the environment and reduce waste.



Matt Damon, Tiffany Thiessen, and Bethenny Frankel (according to this site) are all fans of GroVia, a popular choice for cloth diapering mamas.


Photo Credit: Cloth diaper baby-Click Here 
Photo Credit: Matt Damon-Click Here 

Friday, September 24, 2010

{This Moment}


In Soule Mama’s words:
{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.




First Steps

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Simple Green Review

A few weeks ago, after reviewing a 2 oz. sample of Simple Green that I received, the awesome staff sent me a variety of products to try.  I was blown away by their generosity when I saw how many products they included.  On top of that, they even provided me with a giveaway of 67 oz of Simple Green concentrate .


Included:
-One of each of the Simple Green Naturals products 
-Simple Green: Car Wash 
-Simple Green: Dish Soap
-Simple Green: Hand Soap

While I haven't gotten a chance to use all of the products, I have used quite a few of them and have fallen in love with the Simple Green Naturals products.  The line includes a multi-surface cleaner, carpet care, floor care, bathroom cleaner, glass and surface care, liquid dish soap, and hand soap.  They are comprised of 100% naturally-derived ingredients, non-toxic and biodegradable, and are made from 100% recyclable bottles with 25% post consumer content.  The labels are printed with soy inks and are made with renewable and sustainable ingredients.  They do not do any sort of animals testing when making these products.  They also meet the "Green Seal environmental standard for household cleaners based on their efforts at reducing toxicity, biodegradability, packaging, and other characteristics."  

Another added benefit of the Simple Green Naturals products is that they smell so good.  The multi-surfaces cleaner, which I use the most, has a lemon scent.  It is such a pleasure to use in the kitchen because afterwards it smells so lemony-fresh.  Most cleaners leave behind a chemical scent.  Simple Green Naturals do not.  Each product contains a unique smell that will definitely have you cleaning longer just to make your house smell good.  The secret to the delicious scents is that each one contains 100% natural essential oils and plant extracts.

In addition, each bottle (recyclable) has a unique foaming feature.  I love that!


                        

I haven't been able to use the stone and stainless steel cleaner, but after researching them, I have found that they also are non-toxic, biodegradable, streak-free, and non-abrasive.  I'll be using these as soon as I get a chance along with the other wonderful products and I'll continue to you let you know how they work.

I hope you'll all check out some of the Simple Green products and website.  I have found them to be the right solution to my desire to use products that aren't harmful to me or the environment, while still doing a superb job in the cleaning department.  


                                

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Top 10 Silly Things I'd Love To Do (Maybe)

Blogger Stephanie from Adventures in Babywearing said in a post today:

There are things my heart wants to do but my head says no, sorry. Or, that doesn't make sense for you right now but if it makes you happy maybe just maybe someday, ok?


She then listed her desires and asked us to do the same.  Here are mine: 


Roadtrip!
1. I'd love to drive to New York and back for the pure joy of seeing new places, having countless hours to listen to the ipod, radio, and podcasts, and many hours just to talk to my husband about mostly nonsense, gossip, and the workings of the world (I'm sure he'd throw some sports in there too).


Tattoo!
2. I'm tattoo-free, but I've had a daydream or two that involves a small, whimsical tattoo of some sort hidden away.  No one would need to know about it.  Maybe someday I'll think about it more, but not today.

Shopping!
3. I'd love to spend an afternoon shopping for earrings, tank tops, and sandals, my go-to outfit any day regardless of the weather.

Writing!
4. I dream about writing. And not just blog writing or homework writing, but the type of writing where I become burdened with a story that I just have to tell.  So I write and write and write without thinking about food, people, or sleep.

Mac!

5. I'd love a brand-new mac laptop even though the one I have is perfectly fine and works perfectly well.

Library!
6. I could sit in a library all day and not think of a better place to be.

Sew!
7. I want to learn to sew but I don't really have the time or the resources to right now.

Europe!
8. It's easy for me to daydream about spending an extended amount of time living in a European country.  Walking down streets lined with markets, eating at an outdoor cafe, and buying fresh flowers for my adorable little apartment that I'd be staying in...ok, enough day dreaming.

Chop it off!
9. I'd love to cut my hair short-short like Ashley Judd's hair, but I've never really been a short-hair kind of gal.  Every time I've convinced myself to cut it short, I chicken out as soon as I sit down in the chair.  When the hairstylist asks me how I'd like my hair cut, I say, "long layers please and just a trim off the back." Maybe someday I'll work up the courage.  But for now, long hair it is.

But In The End...
10. I can daydream all day about the what-if's of life, the frivolous spending I'd love to do, or the exotic places I'd love to see, but I know that if I wasn't living the life I'm living-married and mama to the cutest boy-I'd be daydreaming and wishing for this life.  I'm a very lucky girl in more ways than one.

This post is being linked to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Oh Amanda.

Monday, September 20, 2010

My First Blog Award

I'm so very honored to receive my first blog award from Liz at From Chalk Boards to Strollers.  She leaves wonderful comments on my posts and I have enjoyed reading her blog. Stop by her blog to read about her transition from being a 2nd grade teacher to a stay at home mom.

Thanks Liz!


And now for the rules:

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pay it forward to other bloggers that you have newly discovered.
3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they've been chosen.


And the recipients are:
1. Betty @Cut and Dry for her awesome photos and posts.
2. Design It Chic for her blog tips and tutorials.
3. Stephanie @My New Life As...Mom! because I can totally relate.
4. Cathy @Olds-Ninety-Eight because she posts the cutest pictures of her kids.
5. Mama Needs A Refill for her encouraging posts.
6. Heartwriter's Blog for posts that are honest.
7. Rachel @Small Notebook for posts that motivate me to get things done.
8. Nicole @One Little Mister for her reviews, giveaways, and blog hops.
9. Ashley @AP Freewriting 101 for her "Who & Why Wednesday" posts.
10. Tazim @Being Tazim for her all-around great blog.
11. Sarah @Sarah Goes Organic for her tips on living an organic lifestyle 
(and for being a great sister-in-law).

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I'm Jammin'

A few weeks ago, I posted a picture of all my new canning supplies and then forgot to post pictures of what I made.

I made yummy blackberry jam. It wasn't perfect. Ideally, it would have been just a bit thicker and contain fewer seeds, but it still tasted good and I am extremely proud of it.

I used blogger Marisa Mclellan's Blackberry Jam recipe.  She is the author of the wonderful canning blog, Food In Jars . She has go-to recipes for nearly everything you can think of, as well as some things you'd never dream up.

The only part of her recipe that I didn't follow was the nutmeg part.  I didn't have any available, but I think the jam turned out well without it. 

If you have ever thought about canning, but are a bit intimidated, don't be! It is easier and requires fewer materials than you might think.  There are at least 20 good websites devoted to helping beginners. 

Here are a few great beginning resources:

And don't forget to check out youtube.  Many canners have posted some fabulous videos that give step by step instructions. 

Are you a canner? I'd love if you left me a link to a picture of something you've canned in the comments section or just tell me about it. 

Do you follow me on Twitter? I hope so! If not, I'd love for you to follow me so we can chat! 
Follow me HERE 


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Priorities, Time, and Blessings

Right after Nate was born, I made a commitment to myself that I would always show Nate how happy am that he is awake. Even if he wakes up an hour earlier than normal in the morning.  Even if he only naps for 20 minutes.  I want him to always know that I am so excited and happy to see him and play with him.

It was real easy to do that in the beginning. He slept all the time. I was able to get everything I needed done during his naps and even have some time left over to relax.

As he started getting older and I began committing to more projects, sleep time became precious.

There are times when I'm in the middle of a project and I hear Nate wake up from his nap and I think "Already? Just sleep 10 more minutes so I can finish this." It's easy for me to get frustrated. Other times, I make the choice to stay up later than I should have. Of course it is on those mornings that he chooses to wake up a half hour early or, even worse, he just happens to wake up every hour and a half wanting to nurse.

During moments like these, it is easy to get frustrated or upset.  As a mom, my daily routine and free time/work time is structured around Nate's schedule. Rather than get frustrated, there are a few other steps I can choose to take to help make our day better.

Think about my priorities: When I take the time to slow down and think about my priorities, I realize that what I'm working on does not come even close to Nate. He is above my blog work, homework, house cleaning, Twitter, Google Reader, Facebook, email and everything else that I might possibly be working on. When I choose to remember this, it is easier to abandon the task at hand and greet my son with excitement.

There will always be more time: I do not have to finish what I'm working on during his nap time. There will always be more time to finish that project later. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 says:

            There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

There is a time for me to be productive and a time for me to be a mama. There is time for me to be a wife and a time for me to be a student. Achieving balance, although it is a constant struggle, is the ultimate goal. 

A happy mama can mean a happy baby: If I am happy and playful, there is a better chance that Nate will be happy as well.  Of course there are times that Nate is cranky no matter what I do, but for the most part, if I'm happy and focused on Nate, he is happy. And a happy baby means a happy mama. See how it is a continual cycle? 

Remember the tremendous blessing: I am beyond incredibly blessed to have a healthy and beautiful baby boy. I want to remember that during every moment spent with him. When he's happy, sad, cranky, awake at 3 am, making a mess during lunch time, being incredibly cute and flirting with the ladies at the next table, learning to walk, and all the moments in between, I want to remember how blessed I am.  Keeping that blessing in mind will help me greet Nate the way I want to regardless of whether his timing is bad.

If all else fails...Have a great husband like mine who volunteers to get up early on most weekends.  By the time I wake up, Nate has been changed twice, fed breakfast, and has spent some great quality time with his Dad, who just might be able to snag the Greatest Dad in America award.


The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.  ~Mark Twain

Nobody really cares if you're miserable, so you might as well be happy.  ~Cynthia Nelms

Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.  ~Abraham Lincoln

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery while on a detour.  ~Author Unknown


Thursday, September 16, 2010

{This Moment}

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.



Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Breast 'Em Up

Of all the decisions I've made during this first year of parenting, choosing to breastfeed Nate has been one of the best and most rewarding.  Even though it hasn't been without challenges (those first few teeth weren't painful just for him!), it has definitely been a bonding experience and makes me feel good to know that I'm choosing to give him the best.  

Here are the benefits:

1). Easier digestion: Breast milk is meant to be digested by babies' tiny and fragile system.  Formula has made some major advancements in this area, but nothing can compare to mother's milk. 

2). Easier breathing: Breast fed babies develop a larger nasal space, which leads to better sleeping at night and less snoring.  In addition, breast fed babies are less likely to develop sleep apnea later on in life than formula fed babies. 



3).  Nutrients: Because breast milk is made to be digested by babies, it is absorbed into the baby's system at a higher rate.  According to The World Breastfeeding Organization,  "World renowned pediatrician, Dr. Frank Oski, of the John Hopkins school of medicine said he discovered more than four hundred nutrients in human milk not available in formula."

4).  Breast milk is loaded with immunoglobulin A and white blood cells.  These fight against germs that can be found in every day situations, such as airborne viruses and bacteria.  This means you will have a healthier baby and a healthier baby is a happier baby.  



5).  Lower chance of diabetes: Nursing lowers the amount of insulin that is released in babies.  This leads to a lower chance of juvenile diabetes. 

6). Higher IQ: Breast milk is packed with DHA which boosts the brain's development.  While some formula manufacturers have started to include it in formula recipes, the real thing is always better. 



7).  Lower chance of SIDS: While all the reasons for SIDS are yet to be known, "winter-born, male, formula-fed babies" are at the greatest risk (according to the SIDS institute).  If you are already pregnant or have delivered, which of these factors are you able to control?

8).  Tastes better: I haven't done a taste test to confirm, but I've read and heard that breast milk is sweeter and more appealing to the baby.

9).  Healthier skin: DHA and other omega 3 fatty acids contribute to this. Skin conditions, such a eczema are seen less frequently in breast fed babies.

10).  Heightened senses: Since breast milk changes depending on what the mother eats, breast fed babies are exposed to a variety of flavors at a very early age and are likely to be more willing to try new foods when exposed to solids. 



Of course, there are other benefits such as immediate bonding between mother and the baby. Those first few moments of breastfeeding in the hospital, which was a learning experience for both of us, are moments that I will never forget.  

Want More Information?


Disclaimer:
I realize that breastfeeding is not practical or possible for every mother.  This post is in no way intended to make anyone feel bad, but to make those who are in the decision process aware of the benefits.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

An Apple A Day...

Last weekend, (seems like it was month ago) we visited family in Montana.  Everyone loves a getaway now and then and we were no exception.  My husband's sister and her family live right outside of a small town, surrounded by the mountains, a stream, and deer who venture into her yard without fear until the dogs are let loose to chase after them.

They have room to plant and harvest their own vegetables and even have a few apple trees.

There were a lot of things Nate loved about being there, including the dogs (he actually had a love-hate relationship with them), his cousins, and the apple trees.  We picked apples (more to come on what we did with them) and Nate just couldn't get enough.  He loved pulling them off the trees.  I'm grateful that my husband was able to capture some photos of that time because it is definitely a moment I don't want to forget.






Thanks to Jerry, Teresa, Ben, and Atticus for the wonderful memories.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Green Onion Growin'

Did you know that you can re-grow green onions and rarely have to buy them at the grocery store?

It's really easy and will save you a few bucks since you won't need to buy them every time you go to the store.

Here is the before picture.  We had used up the onions in salads and other dishes.  Before I learned this little trick, I would have thrown the roots away and bought more during my next visit to the grocery store.


I kept the rubber band around the bottom of the bunch and then filled a glass with about 2 inches of water.  Every 2 or 3 days you should dump out the old water and refill it with new water.  The onions need to be in a place of moderate sunshine.  

Onions don't grow at the rate of other plants.  These can easily grow 1/2 an inch every day.  

4 days later, this is what I had: 



I'd say that this is enough onions to last me a week or so.  I've already cut off those onions and have new ones growing.  

Here are some useful references:


Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Big One!

Yesterday, we celebrated Nate's first birthday.

How do you celebrate the birth of the most precious gift you have ever been given?

I'm not going to get all mushy and try and describe what it feels like to have your baby turn a year old.  If you have a child, you know how I feel.  It's amazing how fast time flies.

Here are some favorite pics from the first year of his life.

     










Happy Birthday, Nate.  You have enriched our lives in so many ways and truly are our "Gift From God."



      

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Top 10 Reasons I Love My Cloth Diapers

This weekend I visited family in Montana.  It was a wonderful trip full of apple picking, deer watching, carousel riding, and even some Notre Dame football.  Living hundreds of miles away from family has really caused me to appreciate any time I get to spend with them.  I'll post some pictures soon.

There was one part of the trip I didn't like.  And maybe I'm a bit ashamed to admit this, but here it is.  We do not travel with cloth diapers.  It's something I secretly (well, not so secretly anymore) feel really guilty about.  But the thought of driving 500 plus miles with a bag full of poopy-urine filled diapers is enough to send me running for the disposables.  After using disposables all weekend, I feel inspired to write about my top 10 reasons for loving cloth.

1.  They smell good.  My cloth diapers, currently being washed with lavender laundry soap, smells better than any chemical, paper/plastic disposable.

2. A cute, colorful cloth diaper looks way cuter on Nate than any sagging, cheap disposable ever could.

3. No guilt! Every time I tossed a disposable diaper into the trash can, I cringed with guilt.  Another addition to an already over-flowing landfill.

4. The cost.  A 31 pack of store-brand disposables cost me about $8.  It doesn't cost me anything (except  a bit of soap and water to wash them) to reuse my cloth diapers.

5. Nate seems more comfortable in cloth.  He's just starting to try to walk, so he falls on his butt a lot.  Cloth diapers provide more cushion and padding for those unexpected falls.

6. No poop-leakage.  This one is kind of gross, but this weekend, Nate had an exceptionally full diaper and some spread up his back and onto his cute, white onesie.  Not so cute.  I've never had that happen with cloth because of the elastic that hugs his back.

7.  For some reason, Nate starts to get a little red when using disposables.  I'm always worried that he is going to get a diaper rash at any second.

8.  My cloth diapers are chemical-free.  Disposables contain a bunch of chemicals (known and unknown).  I'd rather him not be exposed to them.

9.  Call me crazy, but cloth diapering is fun.  I can color-coordinate his diaper to match the t-shirt he's wearing.  It's silly but it's more than I can do with disposables (unless you count those weird jean disposables).

10. Did I mention that I don't feel guilty when using cloth? A guilty conscience is one of the worst feelings ever.  Cloth lets me skip the guilt and do my part to make the environment a little better.

It's a win-win situation for me,  Nate, and the environment.

This post is being linked to Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by Oh Amanda.



Sunday, September 5, 2010

Get Thicker Skin

I've been learning a lot from Jessica, at Life as MOM.  She has been writing an ongoing series titled 14 Ways to Be More Joyful. Today's post talks about having thicker skin and not getting hurt so easily, which is definitely a weakness of mine.  

To read more, go HERE.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

{This Moment}

In Soule Mama’s words:
{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you’re inspired to do the same, leave a link to your ‘moment’ in the comments for all to find and see.
Standing


Edmonds Embraces Plastic Bag Ban Law

The city of Edmonds in Washington is an absolutely beautiful place to visit.  It's right on the Puget Sound with views of the Olympic Mountains and the ferry that takes residents to Kingston.  The shops in downtown Edmonds are charming and offer wonderful window shopping.  C'est La Vie is a must-see.



But now there is an even better reason to like Edmonds.  They are the first city in the state of Washington to ban plastic bags.  The main grocery store, Petosa's Family Grocer, has already stopped using them.  They have also stopped using paper bags with handles.

Of course some people don't like the idea of forcing people to go green, but I'm all for it.  I'm guilty of forgetting to take my reusable bags into the store with me so I end up getting plastic bags (I reuse them around the house). If laws like this were in effect everywhere, I doubt I'd forget my shopping bags.

Last week, I thought that California was going to be the first state to ban plastic bags, but unfortunately, California legislation (thanks to Sarah for correcting me) did not pass the bill.

Regardless, Seattle residents now have one reason to think even more highly of Edmonds.  Hopefully this will start a trend in Washington.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Canning Stash

I'm so excited to have some new canning equipment.  This should give me something fun and productive to do during Nate's nap time (like I don't already have enough to do, right?).

Here's my new stash:

I have 12 jars, extra lids, a pair of tongs, a funnel, bubble releaser, pectin, and a magnet for removing the lids out of hot water.

I made my first batch of jam today and then used the water bath method to seal them.  I think they turned out really well (I tasted it enough during the process to know-probably too much).

I'll post some pictures of the finished product sometime tomorrow.

Have you ever read Marissa McClellan's blog, Food In Jars? If you haven't, you should really check it out.  She cans almost every single type of fruit and vegetable that you can imagine.  Sometimes I'll read a post and think That can be canned? And then I read on and she explains exactly how she did it.  And then I wonder How did she ever come up with that?

Yesterday, she wrote a post on how to make watermelon jelly.  Being a watermelon fan, I know I'm going to have to try this at some point.  I never seem to see anything that is truly watermelon flavored. Usually it is some weird artificial version of watermelon.  Anyway, her recipe and pictures look absolutely amazing.

I'm always looking for new inspiration.  Do you can? What do you can? Any tips?