Perfect Treats for the Family

I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to try some products I’ve never used before and to even get the familiar products we  love to review on.

I’ve received my first TastyVoxBox via Influenster for free and I was thrilled to discover what was inside and begin my reviews.

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Tasty VoxBox Included:

1- Full size bottle of Frank’s Red Hot Original Hot Sauce
1- Full size can of French’s Crispy Fried Onions2- Yogi Tea Bags
1- Bag of Kashi Dark Cocoa Power – Plant Shake
2- Packets of Splenda Naturals (Sugar Substitute)
1- Country Crock Recipe
Coupon for Country Crock and Smart Ones

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Now I’m still in the process of testing these products, but I’ve gotten a few under way already.

Splenda Natuals
I’ve had pre-existing experience with this product and though it’s not my go-to, it’s tolerable to me in some instances, like for instance running out of coffee creamer. I enjoyed a cup of coffee with milk and Splenda last night to quench my craving. It’s definitely an acquired taste in my opinion, especially when you are used to using granulated sugar.

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Frank’s Red Hot

This was already one of my favorite hot sauce brands. My husband and I pretty much can put hot sauce on everything. Chili, BBQ, Pizza, Stews, Tacos, Quesadillas, etc. It’s the perfect amount of spicy with excellent flavor. We love it.

redhot

French’s Crispy Fried Onions

My husband and I enjoy these on many things. Him and the kids can eat them straight out of the can. Hubby also likes them on Green Bean Casserole. We also eat them on our hamburgers, inside our diced home-style potatoes and mixed with green peppers for steak toppings. Today I enjoyed them on top of my BBQ burger sliders!

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Country Crock

We use this for oiling a pan prior to cooking to add great flavor to food. I’ve also used it in baking and absolutely love the easement of it’s packaging and the flavor it brings out in our treats. I’ll have to use the coupon to get some more because when using it for baking and cooking a lot, it doesn’t last long here. I’ll probably bake some holiday cookies soon!

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The other items in the box I’ve never tried but will definitely get around to them so I can review them for this campaign with Influenster. I’m glad I got the chance to help spread the word and get some of these product names out there. For those who are already fans, cool; If you’re just discovering some of them like I am, I hope you’ll continue to try new things as I do!

 

Perfect Treats for the Family

First Time Pickler

I followed an online recipe for dill pickles and I really hope it turns out alright. I made a dozen jars with this recipe. For the next dozen though, I’m going to follow a different recipe just in case.

We were given a bunch of pickling cucumbers fresh from the farm. We went through and found all the cucumbers that could be baby dills. I found some good looking ones to make spears and slices. After putting some away for our own use. I sorted through the cucumbers to share with family, neighbors and husband’s co-workers.

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Then I set out to brew the brine from a few different recipes I found. Some didn’t exactly have a length of time to set. When I used this recipe, I just bulked it up to fill more jars. This one alone only filled 2 small jars.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. spices (dill seed, peppercorns, ­coriander seeds, ­mustard seeds)
  • 2 cups water

STEPS:

  1. Cut the cucumbers the way you want them.
  2. Place them in the jars. (I put the jars in the sink to make less mess)
    If you are making spears make sure they are 1/2 inch from the jar lid.
  3. Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a saucepan.
  4. Pour the brine over vegetables in jars.
  5. Close the lid to seal.
  6. Let cool
  7. Label and store

 

With this recipe I’m going to let them ferment for about 6 weeks before testing. I’m really hoping they turn out delicious. My husband and kids are addicted to pickles.

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If you have a good recipe to recommend for my next batch, feel free to share in the comments. Thank you.

First Time Pickler

First Day of Summer

It’s officially the first day of Summer as well as a full moon. We celebrate Litha, the Summer Solstice.

The kids and I colored pretty Sunflower pictures because I didn’t have any means to the real flowers. I’ve been trying to grow Sunflowers, but they haven’t sprouted at all. It’s fine though because coloring allowed us time together, allowing us stress relief and bond our energies.

coloring sunflowers

This evening we set out the pictures to help with our ceremony’s energy. We laid out our crystals to provide strength. We wrote down our wishes and each of us read them before placing them in the flames “blessed be”. After we finished we had smores over the flame which represented Sun/Fire in celebration of Summer and how the Sun provides for us and everything. Once we were through adoring the blaze, we headed inside for the night. Leaving our crystals outside to cleanse in the Full Moon.

crystal cleansingchants

full moon

We thank our mother earth and we are grateful for the sun and it’s entirety. We are trying to grow our own garden. It is our first garden at our house. I failed my first couple seedlings last month. I redid them and they are successful so far. My husband and I are currently in the process of building my garden space for the plants and I hope they grow plentiful. So far we have 4 sprouting corn, 6 cucumber and 2 watermelon. We also need to move our tomato plants because they are not getting enough Sun where they are. Next year I want to have a lot more in our garden, so this year is full of trial and error and first attempts.

Starter plants

 

First Day of Summer

The Chicken Scoop

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We got our chicks when they were 5 days old. We’d never raised chickens before and honestly didn’t even know where to start but we did some online research and did the best we could. These 5 chicks are now six weeks old! They have grown so much! They are beautiful, some have timid and some have spunky personalities, but all of them are wonderful to be around.

Lucky

We built them a nice chicken coop out of an old cabinet, well my husband did – I helped, it includes laying boxes for when they lay in the future and a roost for them to perch on. We also built their run which is a decent size for just 5 chickens (hoping that all of them end up being female, but we have yet to figure it out)
Here’s a video of the chicken coop tour on my YouTube Channel.

Here’s a video of the chicken coop tour on my YouTube Channel.

Here’s a video of the chicken coop tour on my YouTube Channel.

I still need to finish painting it (ran out of spray paint) I used Rustolieum sage and black colors from a home improvement store. Since these pictures my husband has added waterproofing on the roof, so I no longer need to paint that. I’ll just paint the beams and the walls of the coop.

These are our girlies. At least so far we haven’t been able to figure out if any are not girls. They have quite the personalities and everything I read was right. They are VERY stress relieving. My husband and I love to sit down there and watch them. I already love birds and I’m fascinated with birds. To me, chickens are just a really large breed of bird that I find intriguing. It really is therapeutic to go down there and sit with them, talk to them and interact with them because they really do make me feel better.

The benefits I found in raising chickens:
1. Added more responsibility to our home, the children see and understand the cause and effect from being responsible.
2. The children love going down and seeing the chickens (which in turn could help with their own emotional distresses)
3. They are good therapy for me. I found that I feel better when I go spend time with them and I enjoy watching them. They are a huge stress reliever for me.
4. I already get outside every day at some point but this helps me have even more of a reason to go outside at different parts of the day when I normally may have stayed inside.
5. They are easy to take care of. I thought chickens were going to be the biggest messiest animals that were too much to take care of. I know they are still small, but our setup is really easy to clean and maintain.
6. They are fun to watch and if you actually take the time to handle and raise your chickens from babies, they tend to be quite fond of human interaction and are fun to be around.

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left Nugget, right Sunshine13413722_1716832041920062_6530415513530146531_n
Me and Speckles13435572_1716831525253447_5898512398897237820_n
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Me and my girl Lucky (she’s the sweetest)13428409_1716832168586716_5315460764596026892_n
Chicken Selfie

I never really thought I’d ever have Backyard Chickens, but now that I do, I couldn’t imagine not having them. They are 6 weeks old now and are so neat and full of personality. Eventually going to be generating eggs and will have a purpose other than for our entertainment and therapy.

The Chicken Scoop

Shared – How to Store Fruits & Vegetables

Below I’m sharing this information (copy & paste) from a page I came across via scrolling through Facebook. I do not take credit for the information provided. I wanted to let you all see these great tips! Ways to store your fruits and vegetables to keep them fresher longer!!

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via http://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-store-fruits-vegetables-to-last/

Fruits

  1. Bananas – To extend freshness, separate bananas after purchasing and store in a well-ventilated basket.
  2. Apples – Away from heat, these will keep for about two weeks. For longer storage, place in a cardboard box and refrigerate.
  3. Grapes – Store in the fridge, but only wash when ready to use to avoid mushiness.
  4. Peaches – Only refrigerate when fully ripe.
  5. Pears – A cool environment or brown paper bag is best. Pears will keep for a few weeks on the counter.
  6. Watermelon – Let ripen at room temperature for 7-10 days. After that, sliced watermelon can be stored in the fridge for several days.
  7. Pineapples – Can be stored whole in the fridge (cut off the top) or sliced and put in an airtight container (don’t use aluminum foil, as this will alter the flavor).
  8. Strawberries – Keep away from damp, wet places. Refrigerated strawberries placed in a brown paper bag will keep for a week if the bag is kept dry.
  9. Oranges – Oranges lose juiciness when refrigerated. For freshest fruit, place in a ventilated basket and keep on the counter.
  10. Cherries – Store in an airtight container and avoid washing until ready to eat. Keep cherries refrigerated.
  11. Plums – Store at room temperature until they are ripe, and then keep them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.
  12. Blueberries – Store dry in a shallow plastic container in the refrigerator. Do not wash them until you are ready to eat them, because they will quickly mold if they are stored wet.

Vegetables

  1. Tomatoes – Always keep at room temperature.
  2. Cucumbers – If you need to keep these fresh for more than a day or two after buying, wrap in a moist towel and refrigerate.
  3. Peppers – Store in a plastic bag for 1-2 weeks in the fridge. If flash frozen, peppers will last up to 10 months.
  4. Green Beans – These keep well with humidity (drape a damp cloth over them) but not wetness.
  5. Carrots – Keep in a closed contained and wrapped in a damp towel or dip in cold water every few days. For lasting freshness, cut off the tops.
  6. Squash – Will keep at room temperature for a few days if out of direct sunlight.
  7. Peas – Place in an open container and refrigerate.
  8. Onions – Keep in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place.
  9. Broccoli – Store in the fridge: either wrapped in a damp towel or in an open container.
  10. Corn – Best to leave these in the husk until ready to be eaten, but more flavorful if eaten sooner. Keep corn refrigerated.
  11. Garlic – Keep away from humidity, dampness, or direct sunlight.
  12. Celery – Wrap in foil and place in the fridge or keep in a bowl of shallow water on the counter.
  13. Lettuce – Keep lettuce damp and refrigerated, preferably in an airtight container.
  14. Mushroom – These are best stored in their original container. Uncooked leftovers should be covered with more plastic wrap before going back in the fridge.
  15. Potatoes – Store in a dark and dry place or a brown paper bag.

via http://www.gardeningchannel.com/how-to-store-fruits-vegetables-to-last/

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I wish I would have known about some of these tips a long time ago, would have wasted less food failing to store properly. I’m glad I came across this which is why I am sharing it, so hopefully it can help others. I’ve linked the origin of this information and I do not portray rights to the information I’ve posted. There are also some comments from other people on the original post that may also be helpful. My post here is simply to spread the helpful word from one parent/person to another.

Shared – How to Store Fruits & Vegetables

Sprouts and Our Growing Garden

I can’t say for sure that I’ve ever really had a green thumb per say. I have only bought slightly matured flowering plants/trees for our yard, so I’ve never started anything from seeds until our Flower Moon planting day when we sowed our seeds. I am super excited that the watermelon seeds we planted are now sprouting.

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The corn has also shown signs of rooting. I’m waiting on the cucumbers and peppers to show signs, but so far nothing. We have 4 tomato plants in the yard also and so far only 1 tomato is forming.

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We also have several berries popping up on our premature blackberry bush around the side of the house.

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I was waiting to build our raised garden until I had some success at the sowing the seeds part. I didn’t want to waste time and money on that project until I could prove to myself I could do it. I’m still not even confident enough. I really want our food garden to strive.

As far as our flowers go, they are doing great. We’ve been here a tad over a year and we have 2 mature day lily plants about to bloom for their 2nd year and a third we just bought has bloomed it’s first year and looks good. I love lily’s and we plan on planting many different color varieties from bulbs next year. I’m excited. I still need to lay weed fabric down and add mulch to the addition of this flower bed, so you can see a lot of grass around this plant for now.

We also just added rocks in a circle around out front water fountain (which is green because we need to replace the pump) and transplanted 4 Hostas (from my mother’s yard, so one of them is a little snipped from a lawn mower) in this section, it will also have weed fabric laid down and mulch added when we get a chance. The rocks in the center at the base of the fountain are positioned looking at picture North (behind fountain) South (front) West (left) and East (right), that information will help us with certain gardening aspects.

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We had to replace two of our Lavender plants on the hill the other week. Not sure what happened but out of our transfer of 6 plants, two didn’t make it. They are all looking very healthy now and growing taller and taller.

Our Flowering Pear Trees have grown about 6 inches too. They are looking great. I can’t wait to see them matured in several years. Our Pink Magnolia is looking great too. It only got one bloom on it earlier this Spring, but I’m hoping next Spring it will have many more blooms on it so I can get pictures. The yard is going to transform so much once everything is matured. We plan to have many plants that stay green all year and some that bloom in spring, summer and autumn so we have color all year round. Eventually for esthetic purposes I want a PVC picket fence across the front and on left and right of yard.

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One day we’re going to aerate the yard and put down some weed killer and grass seed because honestly about 97% of our yard is nothing but weeds.

Above, picture on the left is the part of the yard where we will most likely have the raised garden for the watermelons and the picture on the right side is where we want to build some layered raised garden beds about 1-2 feet wide down the side of the house so that we can plant strawberries and other plants in there.

I really enjoy being in the yard and gardening with my husband and our kids. Being outside is so serene for us, watching the kids play and just enjoying the fresh air. We want to create an oasis for us and a fun space for the kids to enjoy as well and so we’ll have a beautiful view all year round. Which means that there is so much we want to do, there’s just no way of knowing what we’ll do next.

Sprouts and Our Growing Garden

Fruits,Vegetables and Our Kids

I’m 26 years old and not ashamed of having been a picky eater most of my life, but I give myself credit for actually trying foods before saying I don’t like them… for instance today while I was at my mothers house she was eating Brussels Sprouts. I’d never had them before and I’ll tell you right now, I’ll never have them again. I couldn’t even force myself to finish chewing, let alone swallow the darn thing. I couldn’t see how people actually enjoyed them, yet her and my husband kept popping them in their mouth. Gross.

We don’t raise picky eaters… at least in the sense that we make them try something at least once or twice before making a final decision. We don’t let them say they don’t like something having never tried it and then allow them to refuse to eat it forever. After trying it we’ll go a while, a few months or so, before we’ll introduce it again, because surprisingly in some cases they end up liking it. I’ll give an example in just a bit.

fruits and veggies

My oldest (10 years old) eats onions raw and cooked, she eats corn,lettuce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, asparagus, beans, celery, cucumber, pickles, she eats raw bell peppers, carrots, broccoli, and more. So far there hasn’t been many vegetables (that we eat often) that she hasn’t ended up liking after trying them. Some of the ones she doesn’t like are zucchini, tomatoes or peas. Plus side, she likes every fruit we’ve put in front of her.

My oldest son (7 years old) likes potatoes, sweet potatoes, celery, cucumbers, and beans. He’s been working on trying more things like bell peppers, zucchini, asparagus, squash and onions. He doesn’t like lettuce (except for salad), corn (except corn on the cob), carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, peas or green beans either. He’ll also eat every fruit put in front of him.

My middle son (5 years old) loves corn, grape tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pickles, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, beans, celery. So far not a fan of peas, asparagus, onions, peppers, squash, lettuce (except a salad) or zucchini. He will eat all fruits.

My youngest daughter (4 years old) likes corn, lettuce, potatoes, sweet potatoes, pickles, cucumbers, carrots, broccoli, beans, celery. She does not like tomatoes, peas, asparagus, onions, peppers, squash, or zucchini. She’s a big fan of fruits of course.

My youngest son (almost 3 years old) loves pretty much all foods put in front of him. He will eat anything. He’ll eat onions, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, asparagus, beans, celery, cucumber, pickles, peas, peppers, carrots, broccoli, and more. He devours all fruits put in front of him, when he was littler he didn’t like the texture of blueberries, but he’s gotten over that.

The tricky part is getting all the plates ready at dinner. My husband and I juggle the who doesn’t want what and who will eat what to decode the algorithm for who gets what portions and of what foods. It’s entertaining though in a way.

Like I mentioned a little above, the kids have tried many varieties of veggies (both raw and cooked versions) over time. We’ve learned what they’ll eat and what they won’t (for now). Sometimes they will ask to try something again on their own and sometimes we’ll just have them try something again to be sure they don’t end up really wanting it on their plate at dinner. In many cases they ended up liking it after a 4th or 5th attempt versus the first few tries. Pickles being one of those feats. We had 3 kids that would not finishing eating a pickle after the first bite and now they can’t get enough. My husband and I eat a lot of fresh vegetables & fruits throughout the day as healthy snack choices, the kids love it too so they gnaw on them along side us.

fruits and veggies

I think trying new things is beneficial and I wish my parents had been more enforcing when it came to trying foods as a child because I probably would end up liking more things today. For the past 9 years of my life I’ve been a firm believer in trying something before concluding distaste indefinitely. To the point where even if it’s prepared a different way, I’ll try it again. I’ve surprised myself with the things I did really end up liking. The kids are the same way, they will truly think they won’t like something because of the way it looks, sounds (the name) or smell… but then they end up loving it and not getting enough. It’s struck such an interest in them that they wanted to grow their own vegetables in our garden. So far we’re rooting potatoes, we have 4 tomato plants, and we’ve planted corn and peppers. We also have 2 berry bushes and have planted watermelons. Hoping that all that has successful growth. We’re looking forward to having our own fresh grown food for the table and plan on creating a better vegetable garden next year.

 

Fruits,Vegetables and Our Kids