Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Say Goodbye to Sneezing

Spring has sprung and so has allergy season.  I suffer from seasonal allergies (along with many non seasonal ones).  When I had my skin prick allergy testing done, my arms looked like something out of a horror movie.  Unfortunately I am allergic to every grass and tree in our area, but I digress.  All my life I have spent February to October taking daily pills or eye drops or nasal sprays and so on in hopes of alleviating my allergy symptoms, and even that didn't completely eliminate them.  While browsing around Saje one day I came across the Allergy Release Soothing Face and Body Mist and thought that it could be my alternative.

It uses plant based essential oils to support your immune system and minimize allergy symptoms.  It can also be sprayed onto skin to treat rashes due to allergies.

I have yet to experience any allergy symptoms this season.  I was skeptical about the potency that this mist would have, but it is all I need.  At first I couldn't believe how effective it was, now I am just thrilled.  I spray the Allergy Release above my head and breathe it in every morning, and that's it!  I am also still using my nebulizer at night with the Immune Diffuser Blend, which I am sure helps as well.  If you are tired of taking allergy pills everyday to no avail, I highly recommend the Allergy Release product.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Treat for the Long Weekend

As I've mentioned before, Brad and I have decided to try out unusual fruits we have seen at the grocery store.  Our first experience was with star fruit, now today we will be talking about dragon fruit (or pitaya if you want to get technical).  Interestingly, dragon fruits are actually the fruit of cactus plants.  Nutritionally speaking, red dragon fruit is a good source of vitamin C, rich in fibre and minerals, and low in calories and saturated fat.  It supposedly even lowers cholesterol and blood pressure and increases the excretion of heavy metal toxins.

A ripe, red dragon fruit.

Slice in half and cut out the flesh.

Cube the flesh into bite-sized pieces and place back into the skin for a decorative bowl.

Yum!  The dragon fruit has a mildly sweet flavour.  The texture is soft and reminded me somewhat of a kiwi, especially with all those seeds.  Brad and I each ate half, and I probably could have eaten more.  This is something I would be willing to buy again and would enjoy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You Can't Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

This spring has been full of new arrivals.  At a baby shower last weekend, a friend and I decided we want to make our gift.  I scoured the internet for homemade shower gifts.  The one that caught my eye was a diaper cake.  I had never heard of one before, but apparently everyone else has.  Regardless, this is how we made ours.

The finished product!  Our earthy, natural themed diaper cake.

Sorry I didn't take more pictures.  I thought it was going to be a lot harder than it was.  Turns out it was really simple, so I think most anyone could do it just from the directions anyways.

You will need:
-a pack of diapers (we used an 84 pack and had quite a few left over)
-as many cake pans as tiers you want in different sizes
-fishing wire/string/large rubber bands
-some sort of cake tray

1. Place a handful of the diapers inside the first cake pan.
2. Fan the diapers along the side of the cake pan, adding more diapers until it is full.
3. Tie fishing wire/string/use a rubber band around the diapers to secure them.
4. Continue steps 1-3 with any other tiers.  For larger tiers, you may need to roll up diapers to place in the centre to keep it solid.
5. Flip the cake pans over and lift off the diapers.
6. Stack the tiers and decorate.  We wanted a natural themed diaper cake for a baby boy, so we used twine and tissue paper colours that matched.  Other options would be ribbon, bows, cellophane or small gifts such as bottles, soothers, or bibs.

It was a real hit at the shower, and we think the mother-to-be liked it as well.  If you want a great looking, handmade gift, try it out!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Make Your Mark

This was a big gardening week for Brad and I.  We began planting in our own little garden at home, then had a nearly a full day of gardening in a huge garden a group of us are working on together at our friends' house.  For our home garden, we made our own garden markers, and here's how we (well, Brad) did it.

Begin with cut branches.

Shave bark off one section at the top.

Print names of garden items.

Place in the garden.

 Ta da!

They were so simple and quick to make, not to mention free.  Plus, I really love the natural look they have in the garden.

PS - As I mentioned, our home garden has begun.  We decided to plant zucchini, green beans, lettuce, peas, and snow peas.  We were quite limited in our options since we get very little sunlight.  It turned out well though as those are some of my favourite vegetables.  Oh, and they're mostly organic!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Superhero Foods

This is a two for one entry!  We tried 2 new, healthy foods for dinner recently: cod and quinoa.

I know fish is the healthier option over beef and other land animal meats, but I have never been a seafood lover. Since being with Brad though, I have been more willing to broaden my horizons.  Cod is a fish I would recommend to those who don't really like fish as the taste is not too strong.  Nutritionally speaking, it is commendable as well.  Cod is a low calorie, low fat source of complete protein.  Research shows that it also provides significant heart health improvements.

Quinoa, on the other hand, was a food I was excited to try.  As I've mentioned before, I love white rice, but I know it's not food for me.  I hoped that this would provide a healthy alternative.  Quinoa is being labeled a super food.  Quinoa is one of the rare plant foods that is a complete protein, and a great source of it, also containing all 8 of the amino acids.  As well, it is an excellent source of calcium and iron.  These facts have made it popular especially with vegetarians and vegans.  It also a complex carbohydrate that keeps you fuller longer and is even gluten-free.  I could go on and on about the health benefits I have read about, but I will stop here and show you how it went.

Quinoa is prepared the same way as rice with a 2:1 ratio for water to grain.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes.

 Cod is baking in the toaster oven, an energy saving alternative to the oven when preparing meals for only 2 people.

Bon appetit!

The meal was delicious.  I would say one of the best tasting and most grown up meals that Brad and I have prepared since getting married.  I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the cod.  I would certainly have it again.  I am especially excited to look for new ways to use quinoa in our meals.  You might get to hear about it again!

PS - Happy Mother's Day to all the moms reading!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quiz Master

I recently came across this great website Together Green, and their purpose is "helping you help the environment through community conservation projects and environmental volunteer programs."  They also just have great ideas for individuals with changes they can make in their daily lives to live a greener life.  I was particularly interested in their personality profile quiz, which you can take here.  The quiz is designed to find the conservation actions that will best fit with who you are.  I love that idea of relating the actions to the personalities and interests that different people have.

My result was Professor Green aka The Teacher:

It gave me a profile summary talking about my personality and interests and how those can relate to conservation.  Then it gave me a list of 6 actions I could take that relate to my personality.  Because I was Professor Green, my actions included things like becoming an expert on local issue and organizing support for it, subscribing to an environmental magazine or email newsletter, writing to editors about local issues, telling others about the issues and coming up with changes, teaching children about nature, and so on. I found my results to be quite fitting since I am doing this blog and working with children is my career.

I encourage you to take the quiz too (it's quick) and become inspired in ways you can help the environment as well.  There are 5 different personalities in total you could end up as, and I would also love it if you left a comment with your results!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hang In There

Another birthday was upon us in April, this time for my father in law.  I don't know about all of you, but I have a really hard time coming up with homemade gifts for men.  This took some extra time and research to find a great gift, and I think it worked out well.  Here is how to make your very own belt rack.

Drill equally spaced holes into the bar of a wooden coat hanger.
Measure the width of the bar and be sure to cut off the excess of the screw so it doesn't poke through the top.  Hopefully you have something sharper than we did to do this.
Gently screw the hooks into the holes.  Take extra care to prevent the wood from splitting or the screws from poking through.

 Hang it in your closet and hang up your belts.  There you  have it!

As you can see, Brad did most of the work for this one.  We were happy with the end result, and I believe the birthday boy was also.  He told us the very next day that his belts were hung up and it worked well.  To customize this you could hang up as few or as many hooks of whatever size you like.  It could also be painted or decorated.  I bet it would even work well as a tie or scarf rack too.  If you need a little organization in your closet, this is a great do it yourself solution.