Sunday, April 26, 2009

Haagen Dazs 5 Ice Cream

OK, I had this recently and since it's natural I wanted to mention it here. This stuff is AWESOME. H-D has this new line of ice creams that are pure and simple--just 5 ingredients in each variety--and oh, what varieties! The brown sugar flavor is, I think, my favorite. The ingredients? SKIM MILK, CREAM, BROWN SUGAR (MOLASSES, SUGAR), SUGAR, EGG YOLKS. That's all.

I'm that kid who used to climb up on the counter to reach the brown sugar that my mom stored up high with all the spices and stuff. You know, that kid who would dig a big spoon into the bag and savor a spoonful of brown sugar all on its own. A guilty pleasure. I am also a huge ice cream fan. Put those two together and I pretty much have to avoid the ice cream aisle for life or else I will get to be the same shape as one of the people from Wall-E.

I would give it a full review but could never do as good a job as Greg from Check it out!

Treadmill vs. Hike Outdoors

I knew I needed some exercise today (ok, every day). I thought about getting on the treadmill. I cleaned house a bit, argued with my steam vac for a while (and I lost the argument and ended up hand-cleaning the sofa), and thought some more. But here's the thing: the treadmill faces the wall/window (it folds up to save space and it's too heavy and pointless for me to turn it to face any other way) and my only entertainment is a magazine or two. That's usually enough, but I have read all my magazines for now.

So, Nature Kid 1 and I decided to take our 2 Nature Dogz to William B. Umstead State Park instead. There we had a good 2-mile hike over hilly, occasionally tough-going, dirt, with a canopy of leafy trees overhead and a babbling brook alongside us. The rocks in the water were large and made nice stepping stones, and the water was so enticing that one of our dogz, who's not really a water loving kind of guy, climbed right in and lay down in the cool water.

It may have been in the 90s today but the hiking trail stayed relatively cool, and we even found a shaded picnic table for the lunch Nature Kid 1 assembled (turkey sandwiches, Kashi cereal, and apple, grape juice, and potato chips for us; water for the doggies).

When we got home we bathed the dogs and decided our next outing would be to the Morrisville Aquatic and Fitness Center for an afternoon splash. I love summer!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Constipated Eggs

Yes, it's a gross title. But this year's Easter craft with my Kidz is blown eggs. We did 2 dozen of these and had friends over to decorate them. While Nature Kid 1 was trying to blow to goo (the scientific name for egg innards) out of an egg, and had trouble, she decided the egg was "constipated." Even at 9 years old she's obsessed with potty talk.

This is a fun craft to do. You simply take a needle and poke holes in the top and bottom of the egg (making the bottom hole a bit larger) and blow out the insides. You can shake the egg before puncturing and also use the needle to break up the yolk to make it come out more easily. Once the insides are out you can set them aside for a nice omelet dinner or for your holiday baking. Wash the eggs off and decorate however you like. I bought paints, an egg coloring kit, stickers, little googly eyes, and the like. A quick google yielded me a Martha Stewart link with fancy schmancy ideas that I thought might be a little out of my Kidz' realm of interest.

To hang your eggs, as I like to do, I used the needle to run a satin ribbon with a knot at one end (smaller than the bottom hole but larger than the top) through the egg. These eggs will keep indefinitely so you can save them for future Easters. Unless your Kidz are like one of mine, who decided it was important to see the inside of the egg.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Green" up your Easter baskets and a book recommendation

First, the book recommendation. The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes is an amazing little book that's been around a long time. First published in 1939, it's about a mother bunny with 21 children who manages to become one of the chosen few Easter Bunnies. Check Amazon for reviews. I absolutely love this story and it's inspiring to me as a mom of a mere two bunnies--I mean Kidz. It speaks for the tremendous work and skill that is unique to mothers. My kidz' godparents gave them this book and we treasure it.

My second item for today is a suggestion or two for greening up the Easter basket. My first is for that ubiquitous plastic grass that the Easter bunny seems compelled to insert in the baskets and that we parents seem to still find wrapped around our vacuum cleaner's roller part six months later. Perhaps the Easter Bunny could borrow your shredder and shred paper scraps--if you're a scrapbooker you can leave out some of your paper scraps to be shredded--and later recycled or reused--and tucked into the basket. If not, perhaps you have some construction paper lying around, or even wrapping paper scraps. Shred them (we have a cross-cut shredder, which tends to make confetti instead of "grass" but it can still work) and leave them out for Ms. Bunny. No more clogged vacuum cleaners, or landfills for that matter!

Another suggestion that we made to our Easter bunny: shop for chocolates at a locally owned chocolate shop. We have one near us: Chocolate Smiles in Cary, NC. The down side is that many of their chocolates contain vanillin, which is a synthetic chemical usually made from petroleum. Ewwww. But I was able to find some beautiful selections of chocolate Easter bunnies that my Kidz would surely enjoy if our Easter bunny stops by there. In this economy, it's always good to shop local, and the treats at this shop are handcrafted right in the store. Sadly, the cookie shop in the same strip center has gone out of business.

Have a wonderful Easter, Nature Kidz and Parentz!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Because a friend asked: Natural Goodies!

My pregnant friend mentioned on Facebook that she loves gummy worms. She is also an organic eater. Since I'm a mom and have a sweet tooth of my own, I've done some research on good sources for natural and organic sweets. Since Easter is coming, perhaps you can use some of the following sites to stock your Easter baskets!

First, I always hit my Whole Foods or Earth Fare locally. They usually have a small section of seasonal yummies. When that strikes out, these are good sites:

Natural Candy Store
Awesome selection of natural and organic goodies. We've used quite a few of the products here, including the candy sprinkles for cookies and the Pure Fun organic lollipops. Don't miss the Easter Candy section!

Squirrels Nest
It's too late to order for Easter, but the selection is great and it's Feingold friendly for those following the Feingold plan.

Sadly, this one is going out of business: In an email, Simon Candy Shop cites "Competition from inexpensive imports, rising costs, and the generally bad economy are all contributing factors." In the meantime, you can get some real deals on natural candies, including this adorable barn tin filled with organic lollipops.

Happy Easter!