little leaf life.com

mindful living and parenting

easy fridge pickles

September 7, 2014
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Easy Garlic Dill Fridge Pickles

Ok ya’ll, I’ve been venturing into the world of canning. It was something that had intrigued me for a little while but seemed like it could be complicated. Alright…honestly I’m not always the most proficient in the kitchen and it downright scared me, it just seemed like an awful lot could go wrong, terribly wrong. It seemed like fate when I met a new friend and guess what one of her hobbies was…canning!! Oh My Gosh can you teach me?! Please?!! She said she had actually been thinking about getting a class together for people that wanted to learn but wasn’t sure if anyone would be interested, and if they were how it would all come together. “Perfect”, I said! Practice on me because if you can teach me, the queen of the domestically challenged, you can teach anyone! I’ve had two ‘lessons’ so far (I’ll post more recipes on those later) and I have learned so much!

Easy Fridge pickles

Easy Fridge Pickles

I’ve washed beans and put into jars, I’ve taken LOTS of notes, I’ve watched blueberry pie filling made, I’ve cut cucumbers, I’ve pitted 15 pounds of cherries and watched them be cold packed…next time I’m learning about jams and jellies. I mean come on, I’m an expert now right? So naturally when my local co-op,Crunchy Mom’s Produce  , had a special on pickling cucumbers I jumped right in and bought 5 pounds. I picked up my cucumbers, went home and called my friend for instructions. What I hadn’t planned on was her being out of town and travelling without great cell service or her trusty canning binder with her. As you progress all the ‘pros’ keep a binder with their recipes and tips in it…mental note, gotta get one of those. Oh great, if I wait for her to come back home my cucumbers will be rotten! Alright, I can do this…here we go. Now the final product has come out delicious but don’t laugh at my recipe as I had to adjust along the way since I was winging it on my first solo run!

INGREDIENTS:

Quart size widemouth jars

-Pickling cucumbers

-Garlic cloves

-Fresh dill

Kosher Salt

-Honey

Pickling Spice

Whole peppercorns

-White vinegar

Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar

 

  • Make sure your jars and lids are clean, I just hand washed mine, since they are staying in fridge they don’t technically have to be sanitized

 

  • Cut ends off pickling cucumbers (supposedly helps to keep from getting soggy) and then slice lengthwise into halves or quarters and pack into quart wide-mouth jars

 

  • Peel 3-4 cloves of garlic for each quart, lightly crush and put into jar

 

  • Add 4 sprigs of fresh dill to each jar

 

  • Add ½ tbsp. pickling spice to each jar

 

  • Add ½ tsp whole peppercorn to each jar

 

  • For each quart jar you end up with (I had no idea how many quarts 5 pounds of cucumbers would make) boil 1 cup water, 2/3 cup white vinegar, 1 ½ tbsp. kosher salt, and 1tbsp honey; then COMPLETELY let the mixture cool to room temperature. Once it is cooled pour it evenly into jars.

 

  • Ok here’s where it got tricky, I didn’t have quite enough to completely cover my cucumbers so…I added enough water to the jars to completely cover the cukes AND then added a ½ tbsp. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar to each jar.

 

  • Put the lids on and put in the fridge, NO boiling the jars- perfect!

 

Voila! Fridge Pickles! Supposedly they are ready in 1-4 days but I let mine sit for about a week before I started eating and they are perfect! Ahhhh! I’m so proud of myself! These are super easy and a great recipe to try if you want to get started with canning.

August 18, 2014
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Supermom Syndrome AKA: Adrenal Fatigue

Are you relying on caffeine and sugar to give you the energy you need to get through the day? Are you getting sick more often and growing more impatient? Feel like you have “brain fog” or don’t feel as sharp or clear as you once used to? Lost your sex drive or PMS symptoms seem to be getting worse? Ability to handle stress seem to be decreasing? Even though you may have been to the doctor for one or many issues, didn’t get a diagnosis or sent home without a plan or solution?

So what could possibly be the problem? It’s called adrenal fatigue and if there’s one group that is affected with it the most, it’s the high achieving, driven and ambitious busy mom! Most physicians acknowledge a problem only when there’s a sever diagnosis such as Addison’s, yet adrenal fatigue falls under the radar and impacts more people.

Why is this so common amongst us moms? Because we’re entirely too capable!

We have the ability to juggle work, family and many responsibilities, tasks and errands within each area. We manage to get things done and get them done well. We can do in a day what it would normally take about 5 people to do in a week. But, it’s not without a price. Your body is letting you know that this pace and lifestyle is unacceptable but we still forge ahead. You notice symptoms and try to ignore them but here’s a quick break down on what’s happening.

Because of the level of stress, (which you probably don’t even realize because this pace is just your new normal), your adrenals become tired, just like you. At first Cortisol, the stress hormone, continuously rages through your system, eventually your adrenals become exhausted. High cortisol also raises your blood sugar level. This leads to insulin resistance, higher cholesterol levels, disrupted sleep and more. ( It doesn’t just affect us mom’s…ever heard of the story of the super healthy businessman that suddenly has a heart attack on the golf course and wonder how does that happen?) Low immunity makes you more susceptible to illness and makes it harder to recover form illness. Your thyroid is suppressed (if you have thyroid issues your adrenals have usually become compromised first) which slows your metabolism…hmm maybe that’s where those few extra pounds came from. The high sugar level also causes inflammation, which is the root cause of just about every illness, condition and disease you can think of.

Keep this up and you’re headed for chronic illness like diabetes, heart disease increased allergies and more while speeding up your aging process and losing your enjoyment and quality of life.

Good news is it is entirely preventable, treatable and curable.

As a busy working mom, I totally get it. I have a husband, a child, a full time job and a home based business. I often bite off more than I can chew. As busy moms often do, I run myself ragged and tend to put myself last. I’ll start to feel overly fatigued, overwhelmed, slightly depressed and even get sick. I’ll think it just doesn’t make sense…how did I get sick? I eat well and try my best to be healthy, which is good because then it allows me to realize that my illness probably has something to do with my level of stress, my mindset, pace and lifestyle! Does this sound like you?

Whether it’s the stress from relationships or toxic thinking, or simply because of a chaotic, overextended jam packed lifestyle the good news is if you’re suffering from any of these symptoms it’s likely treatable and reversible with a combination of rest, taking the stress down a few notches, making changes to your eating and exercise habits and carefully supplementing with the right nutrients to rebuild the adrenals, improve your immunity and more. Please note- I’m just a mom sharing my experiences, it is not my intention to provide medical advice but to provide information for a better understanding of your health.

I know it sounds easier said than done. Trust me I need reminding… when I need coffee in the AM to kickstart me, then more in the afternoon till I get my second wind around 6, then feel tired yet wired and have a hard time getting to sleep, have strong sugar cravings and feel generally overwhelmed I know it’s time to listen to my body. (Gee is that all it takes? Lol What can I say, I’m stubborn.) You’ll become aware of some lifestyle habits that may need changing while listening to what your body is trying to tell you. I encourage you to slowly make the changes you need to in order to improve your health, energy, and quality of life.

Tips to help restore energy and health:

  • Redefine what’s important in your life and make decisions and choices based around what’s important and establish boundaries
  • Eat a real whole food diet that nourishes your body. Avoid the junk and fast food that is so easy to fall back on when we are busy.
  • Drink adequate water
  • Take time to fully breathe, practice relaxation techniques
  • Exercise, you don’t have to run a marathon, but go for a walk or better yet take a yoga class!
  • Find a moment of calm and something to look forward to enjoying each day. It doesn’t have to be big or cost money, it can be as simple as taking a 5 minute walk with your little one or reading a book for 5 minutes at night.
  • Spend some time outside in sunlight each day
  • Get adequate sleep
  • Replace toxic chemical products around the home with non toxic alternatives
  • Investigate and invest in natural ways to support your body with things that help balance your hormonesAn added bonus: Are you feeling stuck? Apply a few drops of EndoFlex over your kidneys to help let go of the fear that might stop you from moving forward.

I like EndoFlex essential oil. (see how to order here ) It is an incredible blend of oils that is uplifting. It was designed specifically to help bring balance to the endocrine system. It supports the pineal and pituitary glands as well as the adrenals, thymus and parathyroid glands. It helps bring hormonal balance to the body and may help alleviate hot flashes, ease cramps, and provide relief for PMS. Because it help to support metabolic function it may help to stimulate weight loss as well. Balancing hormones depends on many factors so you may need to experiment with several oil blends to see what works best for you.

 

An added bonus: Are you feeling stuck? Apply a few drops of EndoFlex over your kidneys to help let go of the fear that might stop you from moving forward.

  • And last SMILE and LAUGH!

June 29, 2014
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Simple Homemade Foaming Handsoap

We love foaming hand soap and now that I’ve discovered how to make it this incredibly easy way, for less than half of what it would cost to buy in the store, I’m excited! Making your own foaming hand soap is a quick, easy and frugal way to have a safe and green hand soap, and avoid store bought antibacterial soap that contains triclosan.

Simple Homemade Foaming Handsoap

Simple Homemade Foaming Handsoap

Supplies:

  1. Pour 2 TBSP liquid Castile soap into the container
  2. Add 4 drops of Thieves oil and 3 drops of Lavender oil
  3. Fill the rest of the way with water
  4. Put the top on and shake

That’s it, really easy! I can’t believe I haven’t done this before! I might try substituting the lavender for lemon and making one for our kitchen next!

 

 

backyard chickens

June 29, 2014
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Pickin’ Up Chickens

We decided to get backyard chickens for 2 reasons: 1. we eat a lot of eggs and thought it would be a good learning experience to raise chickens for fresh eggs for the entire family and 2. every little boy needs a pet, and honestly I’m a little OCD about germs, and pet hair, and pet slobber and…yeah you get it lol, and chickens stay outside so…perfect! Except I have no clue about raising chickens, ha! So where do we begin?

We all hopped in the car with a cardboard box and drove out to our local feed store.  I thought we’d be bringing home chickens that day but apparently they are only kept in stock around Easter time, dang it! I was so disappointed. BUT we can order them, awesome! They then brought out these 3 HUGE binders of all different kinds of chickens that they could order for us. Wow, I really had no idea there were so many varieties of chickens and had no clue as to where to begin. Luckily, they were very helpful and made a few recommendations.

backyard chickens backyard chickens

They also recommended a few books that might help get us started.

Chick Days: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens from Hatching to Laying

My Pet Chicken Handbook: Sensible Advice and Savvy Answers for Raising Backyard Chickens

Young Chicken Farmers – Tips for Kids Raising Backyard Chickens

Since it was the weekend anyway and they said it would take about 2 weeks to get in, I decided to go home and do what I do best…research. I found it was important to consider a few things when picking what type of chicken is best for your backyard. Climate tolerance: we live in Florida so it was important for ours to be heat tolerant since it’s 90 degrees here most of the time.  If you live up north you would look for ones that are more cold tolerant. Temperment: if we are going to handling these chickens and they are going to be my 16 months old’s pets, I wanted ones that were known for being docile. How they bear confinement:  we do not live on enough land to allow free range so they will be kept in a coop and chicken run. Some other factors that weighed in on my decision were egg productivity and whether they were broody (which I learned is when a hen wants to hatch her eggs).  And ok, honestly, a friend sent me a picture of a silkie she has and it was just too cute to pass up. The good thing is that it fit almost all my criteria anyway. So she won’t lay as many eggs as the others, but she’ll sure look cute! On Monday morning I called and ordered our flock: 2 white silkies, 2 Easter eggers, 1 javas and 1California white. And yes I ordered 2 silkies because they don’t sex that breed so I’m hoping that at least one of the 2 will be a female. Then to my surprise they said they would be there Thursday! Uh oh, I guess I need to hurry and figure out what we will keep them in!

The baby chicks are kept in a brood box. We made our own out of clear storage bins and some screening  we had left in the garage. We cut the center out of the lid and used a staple gun to put the screening on. We lined the bottom of the bin with aspen shavings so that it would be easy to dump out and clean. It was also important for the chicks not to just be on the plastic, they need traction such as paper towels or shavings to avoid spraddle leg.

backyard chickens

The chickens need to be kept at about 90-95 degrees the first week and from what I’ve read you lower the temperature about 5 degrees a week until around 70 degrees and then you no longer have to provide additional heat. In our case the feed store told us that once we were down around 80 degrees that they would be fine (maybe since it’s always warm here). I have heard great reviews about the Ecoglow, but since we already had a light fixture with clamp we decided to just get a red heat lamp. The red color helps to keep them from pecking each other and helps them sleep better.

 

We also grabbed a chick feeder, a chick waterer and the jars that went with them. There were glass models but I think plastic was the safer option with a 16 month old helping to clean and feed his pets, or cheeps as he calls them. For food we originally picked up a bulk bag from a different store because it was such a good deal. Well, luckily the guys at the feed store saw it in the back of our car and kindly pointed out it was full of bugs and wouldn’t be safe to give to our little chickies. Yuck! No wonder it was such a good deal, ugh.  We found a different organic and non medicated chicken starter that was sealed well to give them.  That was important to me since we were raising them for eggs for our family.  The guys told us we would go through about 1 bag of that a week.  I didn’t believe them but man those little chicks sure do eat a lot!

backyard chickens

The phone rang early Thursday morning…our chickens had arrived! We all hopped back in the car again and drove over to the feed store. I honestly can say I haven’t been quite this excited in a long time and I’m really not a pet person.  When we got to the store we paid for our 6 chicks and headed outside. They were not able to get a Java with this order so we went back and forth between another Easter egger and a buff orpington that had almost made my list, but finally settled on the orpington.  They pointed out which ones in their brooder were the breeds we had ordered and asked if I’d like to pick them out myself. Sure?! I guess if we’re bringing them home I might as well get used to handling them! I kept picking out chickens and putting them in our box, when I had put the last one in the guy asked which one I wanted to put back. What do you mean put one back? Apparently I only bought six and had picked seven. Oh no! I had been so careful in my choices but I guess in going back in forth between a third Easter egger and the orpington I had plucked both  from the brooder.  I really could not leave one behind so we ended up with seven little chicks to bring home. I’m honestly not sure who was more excited, Leaf or myself. Seeing the look on his face was priceless as the chicks were put into our car to come home!

backyard chickens backyard chickens

Now that our little babies have been home a few days we have finally picked names for them…well all but one and that’s where you’ll come in. So are you ready to meet the chickies?

ch11 ch44 ch77kawai1khema1peep1

But wait that’s only 6! We can’t decide on the 7th name and need your help! Here’s our poor little California white that has no name yet:

ch3

We need your help and are going to have a contest. We can’t decide between the names of: Rosie, Lucy or Cali. Vote which one you like best, or if you can think of a better one let us know! We’ll announce the winning chickie name and pick a winner. The winner will receive a free copy of the book  Chick Days: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Raising Chickens from Hatching to Laying. To enter follow our page here (enter email address at top), visit our facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/littleleaflife  like our page and find this post to vote in the comments, be sure to share the post too!

June 22, 2014
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Dairy Free Blueberry Cream Popsicle

There’s no better way to celebrate the beginning of summer than with the ultimate summer treat…POPSICLES! While looking for a morning snack I saw the blueberries sitting in our fridge that my hubby often says go bad after they’re only half eaten.  Not wanting to waste another batch of berries, I decided to make a cool snack for the afternoon when we’d be playing outside in the hot Florida sun. This recipe has only a few simple ingredients and is super easy, literally took about 5 minutes!  Making your own popsicles allows you to control the ingredients and beat the summer heat without the excess sugar and chemicals of store-bought treats.

Dairy Free Blueberry Cream Popsicle

Leaf’s first popsicle!

Dairy Free Blueberry Cream Popsicle

Ingredients

1 can full fat unsweetened coconut milk

1 1/2 cups blueberries

2 tbs maple syrup or local honey

Simply toss all the ingredients into the blender for about 60 seconds. Pour into your popsicle mold and put into freezer until set.

Dairy Free Blueberry Cream Popsicle

We hope you enjoy your treats as much as we did!

If you’re anything like our family we LOVE being outdoors.  With the warm weather we are spending more and more time outside, soaking up the Vitamin D.  Over exposure to the sun can cause a number of health problems such as skin cancer, sunspots and premature aging of your skin. So how do we protect ourselves when most of the commercial sunscreens contain harmful chemicals? How do we protect our little ones when the bottles say do not use under 6 months of age?

  • There have been a lot of posts lately about using coconut oil (and other oils) for suncreens – isn’t it amazing that plants have natural sun protection?! There are a few things to know before slathering on the coconut oil and popping into the sun all day. Not all oils’ SPF factors are equal and not all will be strong enough for everyone.

There are several oils that have natural SPF factors and they will vary depending on quality of oil

Macadamia Oil- SPF 6

Avocado Oil – SPF 4-10

Olive Oil -SPF 2-8

Shea Butter -SPF 3-6

Almond Oil -SPF 5

Sesame Seed Oil -SPF 4

Hemp Seed Oil -SPF 6

Jojoba Oil -SPF 4

Coconut Oil – SPF 2-8

Carrot Seed Essential Oil has a high SPF factor. According to a study in “Pharmacognosy Magazine”, products containing carrot seed oil have a natural SPF between 38 and 40!

Here is a great DIY recipe for sun protection without any chemicals:

Natural Sun Protection

Natural Sun Protection

You can order Carrot Seed oil here

  • Another great product to look into is Baby Badger Balm . It is my favorite store bought sunscreen as it is a non-nano zinc oxide (meaning: does not soak into your blood stream) sunscreen. I find it to be very effective.  It is worth mentioning that because it does not sink in it can leave a whitish tint on your skin but it doesn’t bother me too much.
  • We also wear protective clothing. I’ve found that some clothing even has UPF built into the fabric. My favorite’s for my little Leaf are the bathing suitshats
    and rash guards from i Play. (The bathing suit even has a built in swim diaper, Score!)
  •  Make sure to find a shady spot to rest in periodically, like under your beach umbrella. Always drink lots of water and have fun!

me beach

Please share your pics of your fun in the sun with me!

In my recipes I am referring only to Young Living’s Essential Oils as they are clinically tested to be 100% pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Oils. I trust Young Living’s products for my family and you may not get the same results using other oils.

 

December 11, 2013
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The Story Behind Little Leaf Life

Where to start… well I guess at the beginning.

As a first time mom I wanted to make sure I did it “right”. I’ve always been a perfectionist and a researcher (I can find anything, my sister calls me Nancy Drew).  So why would having a child, the most important thing I could probably do in my life, be any different.  I never would have imagined all the decisions you need to make and the vast amounts of information available. I’m sure if you’re reading this that you know how I feel, that I want to be sure to make the “right” decision regarding everything. It’s a big responsibilty.. a life…who wants to screw that up right?

I also feel it’s my job as a mom to do THE BEST that I can when it comes to raising my child and I’m finding alot of times that seems to go against what’s considered ‘normal’. My family calls it ‘crunchy or granola’…I prefer to believe I’m an independent thinker. I hear “Well that’s how I did it and my kids all survived/were fine”. I’m not trying to imply that how anyone else did or does it is wrong, I just feel like I’m striving for my baby to turn out more than ‘just fine’ or ‘survive’ his childhood. In my mind I’m shooting for supermom and superbaby and hopefully at least even if I stumble I can help teach him to have everything he wants out of life and be happy.

I scour the internet, local resources and dig for opinions from other moms and contemplate very carefully how to go about things. I was surprised that there wasn’t one place to look that had a lot of the information I was looking for. It was all very scattered and that’s when I started thinking… “wouldn’t it be great to have all this information I’m learning in one place? It would make it so much easier.” That’s when I decided if I was looking that there has to be other people out there like me, surely I can’t be alone, well at least I hope not. So why not start a blog about all these topics I’ve been researching and help some other moms and dads out.

I’m not perfect (though I strive to be, haha), I don’t have all the answers but I’m learning A LOT along the way. So I hope you enjoy reading about the things I’m discovering and the lessons I’m learning about consciously having and raising kids.

This is my Little Leaf Life.