Friday, January 27, 2012

Quick Clean up Toy Storage

A friend gave me this tip years ago, but I have never seen it online, so I thought I would post it here even though it is completelty unrelated to my usual blog topic - organic food. 

Get an old large sheet (Queen size or larger works best).  Lay it out on the ground.  Dump all your legos, matchbox cars, blocks, anything with lots of little pieces that is played with over a large area.  Have you kids play with them on the sheet.  When it is time to clean up, they only have to put the pieces that feel off the sheet back on it, and you grab the sheet up by the corners (they can do this by themselves as they get older) and put it back in your storage box.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 Advent Activities

I am so excited for this year's Advent season.  We are going to try a few new things this year.  The last two years have been very fun so I am incorporating the best activities from those years with the activities in a new advent activity book, a new advent storybook, and instead of stockings we will be using an Advent spiral to track what we are doing each day.

The Activities
We will use The Christmas Countdown book.  Some of the activities the book suggests won't fit the ages and/or schedule for our family so we will replace those days with some of our favorite things from last two years such as making our gingerbread house, buying a chicken through World Vision, and others.  What I like about this book is there is a section for the adults to read and reflect on, along with the activity you complete as a family,

The Story
We will also be using a new Advent storybook this year, Jotham's Journey.  This is a book that the pastor at my Mom's church recommended and I am really looking forward to reading each night!

The Countdown
Previous years we have used stockings to track what we do each day, but this year we will use an advent spiral.  I will be using these picture holders to travel along each day's hole.  The picture holder will hold an index card with each day's activity in that we will replace with a candle once we have done the activity.
Our Advent Spiral.  All ready to get started on December 1!

We will start this on December 1st, because the spiral has 24 holes in it.  I am looking forward to adding to the spiral in the coming years with the other characters from the Ostheimer nativity collection, first on my wish list is Mary on the Donkey and Joseph so they can walk with our candles.  
Here is what we did in 2010 and 2009.  What does your family do to celebrate and prepare your hearts for Christmas?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Maple Creek Share Photos Weeks 5-10

Ok, so if you can't tell by the title of this post, I am a little behind on posting these pictures.  Other years I have posted these pictures week-by-week as I get them, but blogging for the farm this year has kept me really busy and my own posting has been sporadic.  Nonetheless, here are the pictures for each week.

Week #10
Week #10 Maple Creek Farm Share

Week #9
Week #9 Maple Creek Farm Share

Week #8
Week #8 Maple Creek Farm Share

Week #7
Week #7 Maple Creek Farm Share

Week #6
Week #6 Maple Creek Farm Share

Week #5
Week #5 Maple Creek Farm Share

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Maple Creek Share Weeks 3 & 4

Week #3
Week #3 Maple Creek Farm Share

Week #4
Week #4 Maple Creek Farm Share

My mouth couldn't stop watering as I picked up our share today.

The basil smelled so good!  All the things I wanted to use it for went running through my mind all at once when I smelled that sweet smell.  I see bruschetta and caprese salads in our futures!  I am glad I have been researching storage tips over on the Maple Creek blog because I will store that beautiful basil differently now.

I am really looking forward to trying the raw zucchini crudo and my simple cabbage salad that I mentioned on the blog.  Not sure what I will do with the swiss chard yet, but I really like having it for breakfast, so I am leaning toward that.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Slow Cooker Zucchini Bisque

Looking for something to do with all the zucchini showing up in your garden/farmer's market/CSA box?  This is one of my favorite recipes because it is EASY!  Freezes well and tastes amazing!  This recipe is from my favorite slow cooker cookbook, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Slow Cooker Zucchini Bisque Soup
my notes are in ( )

6 Tablespoons of butter cut into 3 or 4 pieces
1 large onion (2-3 leeks work well too)
1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
1 1/2 pounds of zucchini (I have used up to 2 lbs before)
2 heaping tablespoons of white basmati rice
1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
3 cups of chicken broth (homemade broth makes this soup extra good)
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of half-and-half

1. Put the butter, onion, curry powder, and zucchini in the slow cooker, cover, and cook on HIGH for 30 minutes.
2. Add the rice, basil and broth.  Cover, cook on low for 5-6 hours (I have stretched it out longer)
3. Puree soup with an immersion blender.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in half-n-half and cover continuing to heat on low until heated through.  Do not boil.

Freezer Notes: If you want to freeze this, omit the half-n-half step.  Freeze without the half-n-half, but add it back in when you defrost the soup to heat it up and eat it.

Products Mentioned in this Post:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Maple Creek Farm Share Weeks 1 & 2

Week #1

 Week #1 - Maple Creek Farm Share 2011

Last week we were on vacation, so my friend Jayna picked up my share for me and took the photo.  Thanks Jayna!

Week #2
This week, I was so excited to pick up MY first share and taste some Maple Creek goodness!  I didn't realize how much I missed the routine of picking up my share each week until I was able to do it again today.  To come back to my pick-up location, see what was in my box, break down the box, stick my produce in my bag and bring it back home to store and eat.  Doesn't that look amazing?

Week #2 - Maple Creek Farm Share 2011

Here is what I plan to do with this week's share.  I will lightly saute the swiss chard and have it with eggs & chives in the morning for breakfast (I better do it on Saturday, or my husband will be sad he missed out on such a wonderful breakfast). I will make some zucchini soup with the summer squash.  When I stop at the grocery store I will make sure to pick up some Brie so I can make my favorite cucumber and Brie sandwiches.  The lettuce I will use for our daily lunch salads.  And for those delicious looking peas, well half of one of the bags is already gone because we gobbled it up before dinner tonight and I think I will stir fry the other half with some Bok Choy for a veggie stir fry from the Simple Baby Bok Choy and Snow Peas recipe in the Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

This is our 4th year having the our share (2006, 2009, 2010, 2011) and over the past week I have been noticing what a healthy impact it has had on our family.  My kids eat things I NEVER ate as a kid and look forward to it.  Picking up in-season food each week has taught us what is in season when and how to recognize truly fresh produce.  And anticipating what will be in our box each week has made us appreciate and look forward to eating foods that were previously unknown to us, and at first we weren't even sure we liked.  Thanks Maple Creek Farm!

Products Mentioned in this Post:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Whole Foods Fast: Sugar Free Taco Seasoning Mix

Everyone is happy on Taco Day in our house.  I am happy because it is a healthy meal with little prep work or clean-up work that can be made ahead that our kids love to eat.  The kids are happy because they love the taste and have fun making their own tacos.


Sugar Free Taco Seasoning Mix
Adapted from Family Feasts for $75 per week

1/2 cup of dried minced onion
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup organic corn starch
3 Tablespoons Chili Powder
2 Tablespoons of Salt
2 Tablespoons of Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon of Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon of Dried Oregano

1. ) Place all the ingredients in a pint-size canning jar.  Put lid on and shake to combine.  Use 1/4 cup for every 1 pound of ground beef.

* You will thank yourself over-and-over again if you cook 4-6 pounds of ground beef and use what you need the first day and put the rest in freezable Pyrex containers (I find the 3 1/2 cup rectangular size is the perfect serving size for our family of four)
* This is my go-to meal when we get a last minute invite out on an afternoon when I haven't made dinner yet, but I want to eat at our usual 5/6PM time.  I pop one of these out of the freezer, take the meat out of the pyrex, put it in my slow cooker on high, chop up some tomatoes, shred the cheese and go have some fun.  Then when we get back home a dinner everyone likes is waiting for us.
* If you want to have this every week, alternate between tacos and taco salads every week.  That way you won't feel like you are serving the same thing every week.

Products Mentioned in this Post:

Monday, May 09, 2011

CSA Options in the Rochester Area

Residents in the Rochester Area interested in joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program have a few options to choose from for the 2011 season.  May is the time to decide what CSA is right for your family because most CSAs begin distribution in June.  Below I have detailed a few of the bigger CSAs in the Rochester Area.

Maple Creek Farm


How you Get Your Food: You drive to one of the 25 drop-off points around Metro Detroit and pick up your box.  There are two drop off locations in Rochester to choose from.

Cost: 20 Week Distribution.  Single Share Size $400.  Family Share Size $750 (my pictures represent the family share size)

How to Sign-up: OR they are at the Royal Oak Farmer's Market on Saturdays if you would like to meet your farmer in person.

What does a Share Look Like?:  This is the CSA that I have been doing for the past 2 years.  You can see all the produce that I received each week throughout 2009 and 2010 the pictures I put together on Flickr.

Upland Hills Farm


How you Get Your Food: You pick up at the farm on a Tuesday or Thursday at a specified time.

Cost: 16 Week Share.
They have several pricing options based on if you work on the farm or not.
1. Non-working Full Share   ($580 Pickup once a week)
2. Working Full Share           ($400 Pickup and 2 hours work once a week)
3. Non-working 1/2 Share    ($340 Pickup every other week)
4. Working 1/2 Share            ($250 Pickup and 2 hours work every other week)

How to Sign-up: Fill out their application form (pdf)

What does a Share Look Like?:  They list these photos on their website.

Blue Water Organics

How you Get Your Food: Pick up at the Rochester Farmer's Market.

Cost: 18 week season.  $375 for a small share.  

How to Sign-up: Go to the Rochester Farmer's Market, they are there every week or email:

What does a Share Look Like?:  There are no photos posted on the website, but I am familiar with their high quality of their produce because I frequently purchase food from them at the Rochester Farmer's Market.  

Other Options
Antaya Acres - I found this CSA mentioned on Craigs list, although I have no experience with them:

* Door to Door Organics Michigan offered a CSA last summer.  Not sure if they will do the same for 2011.  You can still sign-up for their non-CSA option for weekly delivery of organic food (not always local).

* Raub-Rae Farm is at the Rochester Farmer's Market weekly and offer very good organic produce, and in my opinion the best eggs in town. So good, that I get up at 7AM to make it to the farmer's market in time to buy them, because they run out later in the morning.  They are a great alternative for someone who doesn't want the commitment for a CSA for a full summer, but wants fresh, organic food.  Connect with them on Facebook:

* Local Harvest ( is a great website to find farms selling the products you are looking for close to your home.

* Dobrasevic Food Company offers weekly delivery of local food (not organic) throughout Metro Detroit.  Check their website for more details:

Are you a Rochester Area resident with experience with a different farm?  If so, please include the information in the comments.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Marlene's Sugar Free Experience

After a whole week last week of eating way more sugar than I normally do, Sunday I started  "Kick the Sugar."  Julie posted that she wanted others to join with her for a month-long sugar fast.  I decided I needed to try this and see if my headaches would improve, if my cholesterol would lower and my over-all energy and mood would get better.  

We came home Saturday afternoon from visiting the grandchildren in two states, so I didn't have a lot of food in the house.  This was good for one reason-no treats or goodies; and bad  for another reason,  because I had no substitutes to help with the diet.  I am planning on some hummus and- more veggies and fruit- only jam.  I plan to watch what is in the packaged food I eat, but that will be easy since I don't eat too much pre-packaged food.

I will do it a little differently than Julie in that I am not going to cut out fruit from my diet for now, but just cut back to 2-3 servings a day.  My lo-carb sprouted bread from Trader Joes lists honey and molasses at the end of the ingredient list but shows no measureable grams of sugar.  I also plan to eat 1 to 2 pieces of very dark thin Ghirardelli chocolate which is 72% Cacoa.  I just need it; at some point I may be able to cut that out. I read Julie's blog recommendation  and ordered the book "Sugar Shock."

Sunday the only sugar I had was:
*a little regular jam on my toast
*1/2 apple
*2 rings of fresh pineapple
*2 dark chocolate squares
*1 cup of hot milk with plain cocoa in it- whippped.

Oh, and I have to mention that I gained 2 1/4 lbs last week.  I am hoping the swimming I do everyday and cutting the sugar will help me lose those pounds and a few more.  This is a challange and discipline that I think will be good for me.  We need to nuture ourselves sometimes and I think this is a good way to do it.   Thanks Julie for starting me on this program.

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