Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Get to know Sweet! Cake Design

I have a new business advertising on my blog and I’d like to introduce you.


Wedding Dessert Table
Mousse cups, mini cupcakes, regular cupcakes, brownie wedding cakes, mini 3 tier cakes, 14-10-6 cake with pictures & monogram, cake bites and candy.


Something Sweet! awaits you at Sweet! Cake Design of Columbus, Wisconsin. Mandy is a graduate of the San Diego Culinary Institute and she designs unique, artistic and delicious cakes, cupcakes and speciality items to fit any occasion. Sweet! cakes are specifically designed for each customer’s need and are baked fresh to order. The cakes are made with real butter, fresh fruit, pure vanilla extract, the finest espresso, chocolate and real dairy cream. These are just some of the fine ingredients used in Sweet! cakes. Mandy believes in eating with your eyes first, so every Sweet! cake, cupcake and speciality item are not only delicious, but beautiful! Right now her business is growing so she doesn’t have regular hours of operation. All the cakes are custom orders and there are currently no cakes ready to be sold at the store.


My Birthday Cake

I ordered a cake from Sweet! Cake Design for my birthday this year. Mandy was easy to talk to and took the time to understand what I was looking for in a design. My husband went to pick up my cake yesterday and it was gorgeous! It was the coolest birthday cake I’ve ever had. I told Mandy to surprise me with the design after giving her a few options of things that I love and she picked India and elephants. My parents were also over to help me celebrate my birthday and they loved the cake too. It was hard to slice into because we didn’t want to ruin the beautiful cake, so my husband had the difficult job of slicing up pieces for us to eat. Our first taste was heaven....it was the most delicious cake any of us had ever eaten. The cake is moist, flavorful and the buttercream frosting wasn’t sickly sweet. The overall sweetness of the cake was balanced and didn’t leave you with a sugar rush sick feeling. I would highly recommend Sweet! Cake Design for any of your cake needs because it’s now our cake destination. We just need to find more reasons to have cake.

Chocolate Chip Cookie flavored cake

Learn more about Sweet! Cake Design:



Friday, June 25, 2010

Shade Grown Coffee


Would you like to enjoy your morning coffee and protect songbirds? Did you know that wildlife habitat is replaced by coffee plantations and that songbird populations across South & North America are declining?

In the past all coffee was grown in the shade because it was naturally intolerant of direct sunlight. Coffee plants needed the rainforest canopy to provide them with sun-filtered light. When the leaves fall from these trees they gave the plants beneficial nutrients and mulched the soil to retain moisture. The shade trees also provided habitat for songbirds. This was a sustainable method of growing coffee that didn’t require chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides.

A new hybrid coffee plant was introduced in 1972 which could produce higher yields, smaller beans which were easier to harvest and could be grown in direct sunlight. The consequences of the introduction of this new hybrid is that 60% of the 6 million acres of coffee lands have been stripped of shade trees. These new hybrids are also dependent on large doses of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Water runoff, soil depletion and erosion caused many producers to clear large tracts of rainforest so they could have new soil to grow coffee.

The loss of all these shade trees has caused an estimated 20% decline in migratory bird populations in the last 10 years because of habitat loss. This loss can be felt as far as 1500 miles away from the coffee plantations.

Sales of eco-friendly organically grown shade coffee only represents $30 million or 1% of the market here in the United States.

What are the benefits for buying shade grown coffee?

-Provides bird habitat and greater biodiversity--150 species of birds have been identified on shade grown coffee farms.

-Healthier--Along with tobacco, coffee is sprayed with more chemicals than any other product consumed by humans.

-Taste--Coffee beans mature at a slower rate in the shade which causes natural sugars to increase which enhances the flavor of the coffee.

-Promotes Healthy Environment--Coffee that is grown in the shade requires little or no chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. The trees filter carbon dioxide from out atmosphere and aids in soil moisture retention which helps cut down erosion.

-Helps Sustain Rainforests--Rainforests are being destroyed to provide fresh ground to grow coffee plants.

How to buy shade grown coffee:

Look for the wording “shade grown” on the coffee package. The country of origin can also be an indicator as to whether the coffee is shade grown. Coffees which are produced in El Salvador, Peru, Panama, Guatemala, Nicaragua, southern Mexico, Sumatra, Timor, New Guinea and Ethiopia are primarily shade grown. Coffees from Brazil, Costa Rica and Columbia are usually sun coffees but there are a few shade grown farms in these areas.

Look for certification seals on the coffee which indicates it has been inspected and grown as shade coffee. Rainforest Alliance & Bird Friendly (see pictures) ensures you that the coffee has been produced in a diverse forest-like environment. The Bird Friendly certification also requires the coffee has to be organic.

Shade grown coffee is more expensive....$8-12 per pound, but they are far less costly to our environment.

Another benefit of shade grown coffee is they are usually fair-trade products. Fair trade is a social movement and market based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability. It advocates the payment of a higher price to producers along with social and environmental standards.

Where to buy shade grown coffee:

These coffees can be purchased online and more stores (Whole Foods, Target) are selling them too.

Audubon Premium Shade Grown Coffee: This coffee is bought directly from farmers at above market prices on long-term contracts. They also spend money on nutrition, health and educational programs. They also build medical clinics and schools in the communities where their partner farmers live. If you join their coffee club they will plant a native tree on their organic coffee farm.

Starbucks Organic Shade Grown Mexico: The only shade grown coffee I could find in Starbucks huge line of coffees...I find that disappointing.

Cafe Mam 100% Organic & Fair Trade Coffee: This coffee is grown by fair trade cooperatives of native Mayan farmers living in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala.

Birds & Beans- 5% of sales are donated to leading bird conservations groups.

Caribou Coffee-Currently 80% of their coffee is Rainforest Alliance Certified. By the end of 2011 all of their coffee will be 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Peace Coffee-They have a green headquarters in Minneapolis, MN. They pride themselves on evolving how they do business while staying true to their passion for good coffee and thriving local communities everywhere they do business. I have bought this coffee for my friend Gwen and she loves it.

Equal Exchange: Fairly Traded Coffee, Tea & Chocolate: They partner with co-operatives of farmers who provide high quality organic teas, coffee, chocolates from all over the world and the United States. I have tried their chocolate bars and they are excellent!




J.R. Watkins July Monthly Specials


Here is a link to J.R. Watkins July Monthly Specials. Shopping is quick & easy on my website. Place your order and it will be shipped directly to your house. Quick & easy!

-July’s featured product...NEW Aloe Vera Moisturizing Sunscreen-

Naturally protect your family from UV, A, B & C rays. This unique formula contains all-natural titanium dioxide to provide your skin protection from harmful damage and premature aging. Natural, plant-based ingredients provide smooth and even coverage in this non-irritating formula that is 95% natural.

-Chemical sunscreen & PABA free
-SPF 30
-Eco-friendly formula & packaging


Thursday, June 24, 2010

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.


'If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.' ~Edward O. Wilson

It is now day 65 of the Gulf oil spill and you can’t help but feel deep despair. We are all asking the same questions.....When will it end? How can we clean up this huge mess? How can I help? What can I do??

"To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed." ~Theodore Roosevelt, seventh annual message, 3 December 1907

I started this blog less then two weeks ago because I wanted to do something. I was sitting home watching AC360 as the disaster continued to unfold in the Gulf, my heart breaking as I watch the innocent animals come to shore covered in oil. What can I do??

"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” ~Aldo Leopold

My family started down the road to becoming green 4 years ago for several reasons. I have always been an animal rights activist, environmentalist and I wanted to take it a step further. I also wanted to be healthier. I have allergies that seem to be worsening each year and our parrot Morgan also suffers from allergies. His nares (nose) would swell up and he’d have sneezing fits after I did a load of laundry or cleaned the house. I did a lot of reading, research and came to the conclusion that I needed to make changes to rid our house of toxic chemicals. We started off by switching all of our cleaning & beauty products. Finding eco-friendly cleaning products at first was a chore because the only store I could find in my area that sold them was Whole Foods in Madison. As the green message has spread over the years more stores are caring eco-friendly products which makes it easier for consumers
to make ‘green’ choices. The only hurdle keeping people from making the eco-friendly decision is cost. On average a bottle of green laundry detergent is $2-5.00 more expensive then Tide, Era or Arm & Hammer. Why is that you wonder? Traditional laundry detergents contain petroleum-based chemicals. The oil industry is heavily subsidized which means products which contain oil like Tide Laundry Detergent can be sold cheaply. You must be wondering once again what can I do??

"And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried:"Look at this Godawful mess.”
~Art Buchwald, 1970

There are a few groups on Facebook calling for the boycott of BP gas stations but boycotting these businesses won’t change our oil addiction. You aren’t hurting BP you are hurting a small business owner who’s under contract. What can I do??

"The insufferable arrogance of human beings to think that Nature was made solely for their benefit, as if it was conceivable that the sun had been set afire merely to ripen men's apples and head their cabbages." ~Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, États et empires de la lune, 1656

First you need to be honest with yourself and admit that we are all responsible for the BP oil spill. Our insatiable desire for oil is the reason why millions of gallons of oil has been spilling into the Gulf of Mexico for the past 65 days. Each time we decide to drive 5 blocks instead of walking or biking means BP gets richer and our Mother the Earth is getting sicker. We need to give up conveniences for a chance to stop the rapid climate change. We need to stop the relentless march of the 6th mass extinction which is occurring while you read this blog. We need to prevent future oil spills and leave a planet that is habitable for our children, grandchildren and future generations.

What can I do?

Make your own cleaning/beauty products--If you can’t afford to buy green products you can make your own beauty and cleaning products. They are super cheap and a great way to cut your oil consumption.

Drive less---We Americans burn 20 million barrels of oil a day. When you can use public transit, carpool, walk, bike or telecommute.

Meatless Monday---Raising one cow on a factory farm uses 35 gallons of oil. Cutting down your meat consumption just one day a week is equivalent to driving 1,000 miles less a year. Buy local, grass-fed & organic meat.

Eat Local---The average dinner travels 1,500 miles to get to your table. Chose to eat locally, support local farmers, eat seasonal fruits/vegetables.....eat food that is fresh all while cutting down on your oil consumption.

Go Organic--Yes I know that organic food is more expensive but consider the costs of eating non-organic. Conventional foods are coated in a slew of toxic oil-derived pesticides. Pesticides have recently been linked to ADHD in children. By choosing to eat organic you are helping to keep our environment cleaner, protecting the health of farmers/farm laborers and the health of your family....along with cutting down your oil consumption.

Say no to plastic and STOP littering--8% of the world’s total oil use goes into plastic production and all that plastic will be around long after we are dead......they take anywhere from 1,000 to 1 million years to degrade. The result of our love of plastic has resulted in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In 2009 photographer Chris Jordan visited Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean and took photographs of dead albatross chicks. Why did these chicks die? Their parents fed them plastic debris which they had mistaken for being food. The result---each year hundreds of thousands albatross babies each year are choked, poisoned and suffer from deadly blockages. Please stop littering....please dispose of your plastics responsibly.....please cut down your plastic consumption. We share this Earth with other animals who deserve a chance at life.....they don’t deserve to die because of our selfish need for cheap plastic.

Say no to plastic & paper bags---Plastic bags......or as I like to call them disgusting outdoor tree ornaments......begin their very long life as natural gas or other petrochemical substances. Factories across the world manufacture 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags each year. Most of these bags can be recycled at stores but sadly only 0.6% of the 100 billion plastic bags used each year are recycled while the rest fill up landfills or become plastic bag tumbleweeds or those disgusting tree ornaments along the side of the road. Paper bags are more likely to be recycled but their environmental impact is stunning. 14 million trees were chopped down in 1999 to manufacture the 10 billion paper grocery bags. The best choice is a strong, washable and reliable canvas bag. They can hold A LOT more then a plastic bag and won’t tip over. The next time the bagger at the store asks “Paper or Plastic” please reply “No thank you...I brought my own canvas bags.”

Raise your voice---Support national/global climate change legislation. Call your senator, congressman/woman and tell them to do their part to cut down our oil consumption. Tell them to support policies that will provide us with real long-term solutions. If your representatives aren’t listening to you vote them out of office during election season. Stop voting Democrat and Republican. Stop voting in the same people over and over again who do NOTHING and are nothing more then puppets for big corporations and lobbyists. Support and vote for Green Party candidates who aren’t puppets!

"It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment.”
~Ansel Adams

Say NO to more offshore drilling---More drilling in the Gulf is not the answer and we can’t afford another Gulf of Mexico disaster. Tell President Obama to end all new offshore drilling and to bring an end to our selfish addiction to oil.

"You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your Grandfathers.
So that they respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.
Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the Earth is our Mother.
Whatever befalls the Earth, befalls the sons of the Earth.
If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.”

Native American Wisdom

Our children....Pugsley, Morgan & Samuel say thank you for making a difference to make the world a better place for all creatures big and small.

Our Mother Earth....treat her kindly.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Natural Pest Control


Today’s post is a request from Deb, who is looking for natural ways to control pests. She wants to keep ants & bugs out her house along with stopping her outdoor plants from being munched on. Thanks for the question and email Deb and I hope you find the information helpful.

Dear Readers...please report back if any of these ideas do or don’t work. If you know of any ideas or tips that have worked for you please let us know.

Ants:

-First way to rid yourself of ants is to remove what is luring them into your house. Keep counters free of sticky spots & crumbs. Put covers on sugar & store honey bear/jar in a plastic bag. Remove sources of water by fixing that dripping faucet or don’t let dishes soak overnight.

-Fill a small spray bottle with soap water to spray the ants with.

-Set out bitter cucumber peels and slices in the kitchen or their point of entry. A lot of ants of a natural dislike of cucumber.

-Put mint tea bags, crushed dry mint leaves or cloves in areas where the ants seem most active.

-Slip sliced up garlic cloves between the cracks on your wooden deck.

-If you are able to find where the ants are coming in you can place a line of cayenne pepper, lemon juice, cinnamon or coffee grounds and the ants will not cross over it.

-Mix one teaspoon of Borax (another use for Borax), one liter of water and 1 cup of sugar. Soak cotton balls in the mixture and place them in small yogurt containers with holes punched in the lids to allow the ants access. Set the containers in a location where you have seen the ants. They will bring this ‘food’ back to their colony and they will eventually kill the entire colony. Please use indoors only and keep away from children and pets.

Flies

A really annoying pest here in Wisconsin during the summer!

-Place small sachets of mint around your house to discourage flies.

-Wrap bay leaves, eucalyptus and cloves into cheesecloth squares and hang by open windows and doors.

-Place a small open container of clover and sweet basil next to pet food dishes in your house.

Homemade Fly Strips:

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
strips of brown kraft paper

Combine the sugars and syrup and soak the strips of kraft paper. Let them dry overnight. To hang them put a hole in the top of each strip and hang with a thread or string.

Silverfish

-Vacuum the area to remove food particles and insect eggs. Fill a glass container 1/4 full of soapy water. Wrap the container with tape so they can climb up and fall in. The silverfish will drown because they will be unable to climb up the slippery sides of the glass.

Earwigs

-Lightly spray a newspaper with water and roll it up loosely securing it with a rubber band or string. Place on the ground where you have seen earwig activity and let it sit overnight. In the morning pick it up, discard in a seal container.

-Fill a tuna fish can half full with vegetable oil and clean it out daily.

Mosquitoes

-Despite popular belief citronella doesn’t work well for deterring mosquitoes. The New England Journal of Medicine found that 30% concentration of oil of eucalyptus was more efficient at deterring mosquitoes. The eucalyptus oil must have a minimum of 70% cineole content which is an active therapeutic ingredient.

-When you are grilling throw some rosemary or sage onto the coals.

-Mix 5 parts of water with 1 part garlic juice in a spray bottle. Shake well before using and spray lightly onto exposed skin. This repellent will last 5-6 hours. You can also dip strips of cloth into the mixture and hang around decks, patios and camping areas. Eat lots of garlic in the summer it seems to help people avoid getting bitten.

-Plant marigolds around your patio, deck and yard.

-Mosquitoes are attracted to colors that remind them of mammal flesh and nectar. Don’t wear bright floral colors and dark colored clothing. Light colored clothes like khaki, beige and olive are colors mosquitoes find boring.

-They are attracted to body odors so avoid fragrances in shampoos, lotions perfumes and soaps.

-Where loose, long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

-Look for Neem oil based repellents when shopping for bug spray. The leaves, seeds and seed oil of the Neem tree contain sallanin which has been effective for repelling mosquitoes.

Rabbits......Puggy takes great offense to this

Bunnies are cute but they can be very naughty by eating your garden.

Natural Rabbit Deterrent

1 tablespoon baby shampoo
1 tablespoon ammonia
1 quart of water

Pour ingredients into a NEW squirt bottle or garden sprayer and shake well to make sure it’s mixed together. Spray your plants every third evening until you are sure the bunnies have found something else to nibble on. Store the unused mixture for when they return.

Another one to keep the bunnies from sampling your garden is to not put weed killer on your yard. We have a yard full of white and purple clover and this keeps the bunnies satisfied. Container gardening is another great idea to avoid critters from eating your crops. If they can’t reach it they can’t eat it. This works well if you are only growing a few plants. If you have a large scale garden I would use the spray to keep the bunnies from enjoying a nightly buffet. If you dislike the smell of ammonia you can purchase Havahart DeFense Rabbit/Deer Repellent. It’s a natural deterrent that mimics the smell of decaying protein which makes the bunnies thick a predator is nearby. It also dries odorless to humans.

Homemade Frozen Dog Treats

Why spend the money at the store to buy your dog frozen treats when you can make them at home. Make these homemade treats for your best friend to enjoy during the dog days of summer. Enjoy!





Frozen Peanut Butter Yogurt Treats

1-32 oz container of vanilla yogurt
1 cup peanut butter

Place the peanut butter in a microwave safe dish. Place in the microwave and heat the peanut butter until it has melted. Mix with the yogurt, pour into cupcake papers and freeze.

Puppy Pops

1 cube low sodium chicken or beef bouillon
1 cup water
4 small pieces of chicken, turkey or beef

Dissolve the bouillon in water and tear meat into 1/2 inch squares. Mix together and freeze overnight.

Doggie Fruit Bars

1 mashed banana
1/2 cup yogurt
1 quart fruit juice (NOT grape)

Stir together the ingredients and then freeze over night. People enjoy these too. :)

Peanut Butter Doggie Ice Cream

1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup carob chips
32 oz plain low fat yogurt

-Divide the yogurt between a 6 cup muffin tin.
-Into a small bowl pour the peanut butter.
-Use a double-boiler to slowly melt the carob chips.
-Pour the melted carob chips into the peanut butter and stir to combine.
-Pour a spoonful of the mixture onto the yogurt in the muffin cups. Use a toothpick to swirl the peanut butter mixture into the yogurt.
-Freeze until solid.

Will keep for about 2 months in the freezer...if they last that long. :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Homemade Spice Blends

Recipes for making your own homemade seasonings. A great way to cut down your salt intake and way to use spices you have in your cupboard. Click here if you need to purchase herbs or spices to make these spice blend recipes.

Happy Cooking!

T ---- tablespoons
t------teaspoons
All recipes use dried herbs & spices.
Store all spice mixes out of direct sunlight and tightly sealed to preserve flavor.

Lemon Pepper Seasoning

4 1/2 T basil
3 3/4 T oregano
1 1/2 T finely ground black pepper
1 1/2 T dried onion flakes
1 1/2 T whole celery seed
1 1/4 T dried powdered basil
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t grated lemon rind

Combine spices in a jar, cover and shake to combine.

Italian Seasoning

1/3 cup crushed oregano
1/3 cup basil
2 T rosemary
1/4 cup each thyme, sage and marjoram
powdered garlic (to your taste)

Combine spices in a jar, cover and shake to combine.

Les Fines Herbes Seasoning

1 T sweet basil
6 T chervil
1 t sweet marjoram
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t rosemary
1 T tarragon

Combine spices in a jar, cover and shake to combine.

Apple Pie Spice

1/4 cup cinnamon
2 t nutmeg
1 t allspice
1 t ground ginger

Combine all spices in a jar, cover and shake to combine.

Herbes De Provence Seasoning Mix

Combine the following in a blender or coffee mill until it becomes a fine powder.

2 T basil
4 t oregano
2 t marjoram
2 t thyme
2 t savory
1 1/2 t bay leaves--crushed
1 t fennel seed
1 t mint
1 t ground sage
1 t rosemary
1 t lavender

Fantastic on roasted chicken & root vegetables.

Garam Masala

1 T ground coriander
1 T ground cumin
1 T freshly ground black pepper
1 T ground cayenne pepper
1 T ground fennel seeds
1 T ground ginger
1 T ground cardamon
1 t ground cloves
1 T ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a jar, cover and shake to combine. Store at room temperature up to 1 month.

Jerk Seasoning

2 T minced onion
2 1/2 t thyme
2 t ground allspice
2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t cayenne pepper

Combine in a jar, cover and shake to combine. To use coat chicken with olive oil, rub on spice blend and grill.


Seventh Generation

Earth teach me quiet--as the grasses are still with new light.

Earth teach me suffering--as old stones suffer with memory.

Earth teach me humility--as blossoms are humble with beginning.

Earth teach me caring--as mothers nurture their young.

Earth teach me courage--as the tree that stands alone.

Earth teach me limitation--as the ant that crawls on the ground.

Earth teach me freedom--as the eagle that soars in the sky.

Earth teach me acceptance--as the leaves that die each fall.

Earth teach me renewal--as the seed that rises in the spring.

Earth teach me to forget myself--as melted snow forgets its life.

Earth teach me to remember kindness--as dry fields weep with rain.

An Ute Prayer

“You have noticed that everything an Indian does in a circle and that is because the Power of the World always works in circles, and everything and everything tries to be round.

In the old days all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people flourished. The flowering tree was the living center of the hoop, and the circle of the four quarters nourished it. The East gave peace and light, the South gave warmth, the West game rain and the North with its cold and mighty wind gave strength and endurance. This knowledge came to us from the outer world with our religion.

Everything the power of the world does is in a circle. The sky is round and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball and so are the stars. The wind, in its greatest power, whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing and always come back again to where they were.

The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop, a nest of many nests, where the Great Spirit meant for us to hatch our children.”

Black Elk, Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux 1863-1950

Over a hundred years ago Black Elk had a vision of the time when Indian people would heal from the devastating effects of European migration. In his vision the Sacred Hoop which had been broken would be mended in 7 generations. The children born into this decade will be the Seventh Generation.

Parrot Manicotti

I enjoy cooking for my two parrots. Picture on the right is of our sun conure Samuel. He enjoys trying new things and but his true love is corn. Our other parrot Morgan is a pasta freak. Here is a recipe for manicotti that my birds really enjoy. When feeding your parrots you should stick to organic fruits and vegetables. They are very sensitive to pesticides. Grow your own fruits and vegetables whenever possible if not please buy them organic.

Parrot Manicotti

Ingredients:

4 wheat manicotti pasta shells
1/4 cup organic small curd cottage cheese
1/8 cup steamed broccoli pieces
1/8 cup shredded carrot
1/4 cup organic frozen corn
2 large cage-free eggs with shell
3 medium organic tomatoes

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Very lightly grease with olive oil a 8x8 glass casserole dish (no non-stick or Teflon coated) and set aside. Boil the manicotti shells until they are slightly tender but still firm enough to fill. Drain and allow to cool.

Scramble the eggs with crushed shells and set aside. Combine cottage cheese, broccoli, carrots and corn in a medium mixing bowl. Add the egg mixture and mix until blended. Using a small spoon fill each manicotti shell with the egg, cheese and veggie mixture. Line the manicotti shells in a row in the already greased pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Wash the tomatoes, cut out stems and remove leaves (toxic to birds). Slice the tomatoes and then put in a cereal bowl. Crush the tomatoes using a fork into a fine pulp. After the 15 minutes is up for the manicotti remove it from the oven and spoon the crushed tomatoes and juice over the noodles. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes remove from oven and allow it to cool. Serve the meal to your parrots when it is at room temperature. Never serve a parrot food that is piping hot because they can burn their crop which can lead to a serious infection.

Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3-5 days. I have also cut up the shells, placed them in an ice cube tray, froze them and then placed them in individual sandwich bags.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Homemade Floor Cleaners & Dryer Sheets

Today’s blog post idea comes from questions posted by Deb. She is looking for homemade floor cleaner and dryer sheets. I have found floor cleaner recipes for several different types of flooring.

Safety Tip: NEVER mix ammonia and bleach because the fumes are toxic. None of following nor will any of my recipes call for the use of bleach. I know there are people out there who love their bleach. I beg you to please learn why you should stop using bleach. I grew up with a Mom who was and continues to be a bleach lover. I personally refuse to use it because the smell makes me gag and I always hated how my clothes stunk of bleach. To me that is not a clean smell....it’s nasty! I decided when I moved out on my own to go bleach free because I want my family to be healthy and we LOVE being stink free! :)


Homemade Floor Cleaner

1/3 cup Borax
1 gallon warm water
1 teaspoon homemade liquid dishwashing detergent
1 tablespoon ammonia

This is a basic floor cleaner that will work well at disinfecting your bathrooms and kitchen along with removing tough stains. Also can be used with a bare floor cleaning machine.

All-Purpose Floor Cleaner

1/4 cup dish soap
2 cups white vinegar
1 cup lemon juice
1-2 cups water


Wood Floor Cleaners

10 tea bags
1/2 gallon water

Step the tea bags until it’s very strong. Use a sponge mop and then wipe dry.

Or....

1/2 cup white vinegar
1 gallon warm water

Use a sponge mop. Rinse and squeeze the mop until almost dry several times while mopping. No need to rinse after mopping but you might want to dry up any damp areas with a cloth towel.

Laminate Floor Cleaner

1/3 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup rubbing alcohol
3 drops of dishwashing liquid

This recipe can be used in your bare floor cleaner or with a mop.

Linoleum or Tile Floor Cleaner

1 tablespoon liquid soap
quarter cup of baking soda
2 gallons of hot water
1/4 cup white vinegar

Mix together the liquid soap, baking soda, water and then add white vinegar.

Scented Floor Cleaner

1/3 cup white vinegar
2 gallons hot water
drops of orange or lemon essential oil

Disinfectant Floor Cleaner

1/2 cup borax
2 gallons hot water

This works great for disinfecting bathrooms and doesn’t need to be rinsed after application.

The Truth about Dryer Sheets...

A lot of people like using dryer sheets to control static. Static cling is a result of over drying your laundry. Experiment with shortening the length of time your clothes are in the dryer or turning down the temperature will stop static cling.

Dryer sheets contain a lot of harmful chemicals that stick to your clothes and they are not good for your dryer because they gunk them up and leave behind a chemical residue. Dryer sheets are not recommended by most reputable appliance repairmen. Dryer sheets also leave chemical residue that contain carcinogens on fabrics that get inhaled or absorbed into your skin via clothes and bed linens. Instead of using dryer sheets try one of those blue dryer balls you can find at Target or the grocery store. If you would like your clothes to have a nice scent try using natural dryer sheets using essential oils. Adding 1/4 cup vinegar or Borax to your wash cycle or 1/4 cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle will also help with static cling.

Natural Dryer Sheets

Dampened rag or washcloth
10 drops of therapeutic grade essential oil (lavender, lemon, orange, strawberry etc)

Drop this in with a load of laundry to give your clothes fresh scent. This will not remove static cling though.

If you would still like to use dryer sheets you can make your own with a non-toxic eco-friendly fabric softener made by Seventh Generation or Ecover which can be purchased at Whole Foods or from online retailers.

Homemade Dryer Sheets

1 gallon water
1 cup concentrated eco-friendly fabric softener

In an old ice cream bucket mix the water and fabric softener. Label the pail and keep the lid on when not in use. When you do laundry dip an old wash cloth or rag into the mixture, wring it out and dry it with your clothes.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Favorite Eco-Friendly Personal Care Products

Like all women I enjoy shopping and trying new products. When my family switched to buying eco-friendly products a few years ago I tried many products before I found ones that worked great for my family. Here are a few of our favorite products I can’t live without.

Why I love it---no animal testing, paraben free, 100% natural


I tried many shampoos and conditioners before I found Yes To. The
‘green’ shampoos I first tried were runny, barely created any suds and left my hair feeling heavy. One day I was searching at Walgreens and found Yes To shampoo & conditioner. Yes To was founded in 2006 and is a consumer inspired line of skin and hair products. They are made from high-quality organic fruits, vegetables and a special
mineral elixir derived from the Dead Sea to help hydrate and nourish naturally. There are four collections--Yes To Carrots (normal-dry hair), Yes to Tomatoes (fine, limp or thin hair) and Yes to Cucumbers (color treated). The shampoos and conditioners smell fantastic and are affordable too. You can purchase Yes To products at Walgreens, Target, Whole Foods, Hyvee, and online.

Why I love it....no animal testing or ingredients, sustainable practices, no artificial colors, flavors, fragrance or preservatives.

I love, love, love my Tom’s of Maine Cinnamon-Clove toothpaste. I searched for an alternative to my cinnamon Crest toothpaste I was using for a few years. I wanted an earth-friendly, non-toxic, animal friendly toothpaste and I found it in Tom’s of Maine. They use only natural ingredients, recycled packaging and give back 10% of profits and 5% of paid employee time to communities. Best of all it’s made in the U.S.A. Toothpaste can be purchased online or in stores like Walgreens & Whole Foods.


Why I love it....No animal
testing, 100% vegan, organic

This is one of the best smelling scrubs I have purchased. It’s a gentle warming exfoliator that contains crushed cocoa beans, organic sugar, honey, shea butter, vitamin E, safflower seed oil and walnut shells. It’s reasonable priced and can be purchased at Target and online.




As bunny friends, buying cruelty-free products is very important to our family. Rabbits are one of the many animals who suffer and die each year in animal testing labs across the world. It’s cruel, immoral and needs to be stopped. No animals should have to suffer so we can look, smell and feel beautiful. Our greatest weapon is our pocketbooks when we buy cruelty-free products.

If you would like to understand the issues surrounding animal testing, what is being done to stop it and what you can do as a caring consumer...check out these websites......

Pugsley says thank you! :)



Homemade Stain Remover for clothes

Here is a recipe for a homemade version of “Oxy-Clean”. Always pre-test all stain remover solutions on an inconspicuous part of the garment for color-fastness. This recipe is to be made as you need it because it will lose strength over time.

Ingredients:

1 cup hot water
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide
1/2 cup baking soda

Directions:

Mix together the ingredients in a large bowl or sink, add clothes and soak for 20 minutes or overnight. Rinse and then wash as usual.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Get to know Springvale Soap, Red Thimble and West James Gallery


Two local business women are advertising on my blog and I would like to introduce them to you.

Springvale Handcrafted Goat Milk Soap

Deb from Brandon, WI is a wife and
mother who decided to start making her own soap in 2009. There are no fancy ingredients or claims...just simple, homemade soap made in a farm-house kitchen by a small-town girl. Deb is a real nice lady and her customer service is outstanding.

A bit more about Deb....

My name is Deb. I'm married, have two teenage sons, work full-time, and am Wisconsin-born and -raised. I've spent my whole life in the same south-central Wisconsin area. Yes, friends, Springvale is a real place.

My interest in handcrafted soap began accidentally. As I grow older, I find myself taking more interest in all-natural, earth friendly and local products. While grocery shopping one day, I noticed a bottle of hand soap and did not recognize the brand. Thinking it might be local, I stopped to have a look. It was not local, but when I got home I decided to look it up online anyway. One of the Google results took me to the blog of a woman who was reviewing that soap. There was a mention in her post about another soap she'd been trying . . . goat milk soap.

I'd never heard of goat milk soap! I was intrigued. I followed her link to the site she ordered her soap from, did a little reading, and was so curious I ordered a bar for myself. While waiting for my soap to arrive I read more and more about handcrafted soap. I was hooked. Using my newly arrived bar sealed the deal. As I continued to read about soap I was amazed to find how many people actually make their own. I was equally amazed by how easy it seemed to be. Relatively quickly, I was diving in with an 'I can make soap!' attitude . . . and learning as I went.

I dove into this curious new hobby with
both feet. Almost instantly I had too much soap and started handing it out to family, friends, and coworkers to try. I needed feedback and it was overwhelmingly good. Seems most people around me are as curious and amazed by handcrafted soap as I was! People were almost immediately telling me to sell, and after a lot of dragging my feet on *that* part ot it . . . here I am.

Whether you try my soap or not, I thank you for stopping by.

Have a wonderful day!

~Deb

Interested in buying Springvale Soap:







Red Thimble & West James Gallery

Red Thimble.....

Kim Bates is from Columbus, WI and she is a fiber artist and owner of West James Gallery. She uses vintage tablecloths and fabrics to design hand bags, quilts, pillows, aprons, jackets and other fun items. She loves to sew and collects thimbles.

West James Gallery.....

West James Gallery is located in historic downtown Columbus, Wisconsin. It’s a fun gallery featuring arts and crafts by local and area artists. The gallery is a great place for shopping and you can find a unique and fun gift for a special someone. There are so many beautiful items you’ll find for sale including framed photography, jewelry, candles, hand-carved walking sticks, paintings and alpaca products to name a few. Kathy is always a joy to talk to, knowledgeable and helpful with finding just the right gift for a friend or for yourself.

Location: 128 West James Street, Columbus, Wisconsin
920-623-9096
Store Hours
Tuesday-Friday 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Saturday 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Closed Sunday & Monday

Find out more about Red Thimble and West James Gallery...