Yoga Journey: 40 Days to a Personal Revolution

Today is Day 1 of my 40 Days to a Personal Revolution. This September day is bright and beautiful. I am so grateful for the abundant harvest that contributes to my energy. This fall I am following Baron Baptiste’s 40 Days to a Personal Revolution guide in preparation for my yoga teacher training this fall. I’m planning to check in and share some of the experience along the way. Here are my thoughts today:

Yoga Journal

 

Tree PoseFollow my #balancebasics journey this month with some amazingly inspiring yogis on Instagram. 

 

#kidsinthekitchen CSA: Join the Food Revolution

This may come as a shock to some people, but I never make my kids eat their vegetables. In our home, vegetables come in such abundance that I have enough on my proverbial plate just eating them myself. You see, we host a Community Shared Agriculture pickup point (CSA), so every Tuesday our home becomes a mini farmers market, per se. The logistics aren’t exactly the same, but the overall goal is to connect families with farms in the area and provide a hearty share of honest to goodness food.

veggie tray

For me, the best part of our CSA is connecting our community of food enthusiasts. Many of us are motivated by such authors as Michael Polan (In Defense of Food) or Barbara Kingsolver (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle) to eat food from local sources. His rules, “If it comes from a Plant, eat it. If it is made in a plant, don’t” certainly apply for us and are easy to follow thanks to the amazing work of our local farmers. We are all benefiting from an abundant harvest of organic veggies like tomatoes, corn, eggplant, onions, potatoes and more. Each week, I am inspired to try new recipes and to forge family favorites that we will pass through the generations. All these recipes carry my personal seal of approval – not a commercial.

CSA pickup

Earlier in the season, Hannah and Audrey were so curious about the food that they climbed the mountainous walls of boxes and tore through my share to inspect every vegetable. Thank heavens for the watermelons that satisfy their appetites every week from our fruit share. Now, the regularity has calmed their eagerness and instead they fall into helpful roles unpacking veggies for our members. Nothing brings me greater joy than to see their curiosity bloom into understanding about nature’s finest offerings.

lancaster farm fresh coop pickup

Since they are such active participants in our CSA activities, I interviewed the girls about our CSA last Monday to give you a child’s perspective on what happens in our backyard.

Me: Tomorrow is Tuesday, our CSA day. It’s my favorite day of the week. What do you think will happen in the morning?

Hannah: First we get boxes from Danny, then we eat them NOM NOM NOM.

Audrey: DANNY! (SQUEEEEL)

M: That’s right girls, Danny is going to bring the truck with all the food to our house. What do you think will come in the boxes?

H: Matoes and watermelons and peppers.

M: What about corn, do you like corn?

H: Yes, I eat them like this NOM NOM NOM.

A: CORN! (SQUEEEL!)

M: Will your friends come get their food?

H: Yes, and I help them pack it in their bag. And then Dan comes and he eats it like this NOM NOM NOM.

M: (Laughing) You know, we sure are lucky to have such great friends and an abundance of food. I’m happy to share it with you girls.

It’s funny to me how naturally I have fallen into a role as an organic food activist. No longer do the challenges of eating apply to this once picky eater. I have such a strong love for food that it is hard not to be grateful for every bite. I truly do count our blessings at every meal, and during every pickup day, because the ability to provide this kind of nurture to my family is what fills my heart with love and vitality.

Do you have questions about joining our CSA in West Bradford? Check out www.lancasterfarmfresh.com to learn more.

Join us for the linky party by sharing your own posts about cooking with your kids. #Kidsinthekitchen strives to encourage learning and loving food. Tune in every Friday for recipes.

Come join my co-hosts, Melinda of LookWhatMomFoundSarah of Play to Learn with Sarah,Paula at Frosted Fingers and Sara at Sensibly Sara, each week linking up a post, new or old, that feature the theme Kids in the Kitchen. It doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are doing it together, enjoying it and learning something along the way.

You’ll find so many more ideas on the #KidsintheKitchen Pinterest Board.

 

Thanks for joining our weekly link up of the fun and educational experiences our kids can have in the kitchen.  Exploring creativity with food, crafts, activities and lessons not only expands your child’s learning and imagination, it provides quality time together for family bonding.

By linking up you are agreeing to be added to the #kidsinthekitchen email list. You will only receive a weekly reminder of the link party and possibly any special announcements that we think you’d enjoy or benefit from.

Your email address will NOT be shared with anyone else.

 

Thanks for joining our weekly link up of the fun and educational experiences our kids can have in the kitchen.  Exploring creativity with food, crafts, activities and lessons not only expands your childs learning and imagination it provides quality time together for family bonding.

By linking up you are agreeing to be added to the #kidsinthekitchen email list. You will only receive a weekly reminder of the link party and possibly any special announcements that we think you’d enjoy or benefit from.

Your email address will NOT be shared with anyone else.

 

 


#Envirokids Contest with Sea Turtles in Coast Rica from Nature’s Path

A few weeks ago I found out about an amazing contest from Nature’s Path to visit Costa Rica in March 2015. Imagine working side by side with a team of researchers to help these sea turtles by restoring their natural habitat on the beautiful Costa Rican coast. I, for one, would love to have an opportunity like this so I’m sharing it with you in the hopes that someone I know will be walking those sandy beaches next spring. The best part of the trip is that it includes a stop at a chocolate farm!

Are you interested in entering the contest? Read more to find out how.

EnviroKidz Envirotrip contest graphic

Let’s face it, we’d all love to hang out with these guys, right?

Green_Turtle

I find sea turtles incredibly adorable. The way they coast through the water brings me such a sense of peace. I have only ever seen them in captivity, but I would love to see them in their natural habitat.

When I think of all the other amazing wildlife present in that ecosystem, I can’t help but image I’ll get to see these adorable guys, too.

Sloths

I sincerely hope that you have a chance to take this trip or at the very least you have a chance to enjoy some delicious Nature’s Path treats. This company, primarily focused on providing organic food, offers a great array of breakfast and snack bars. We thoroughly enjoyed our gift basket. There is nothing sweeter than waking up to my two year old asking for her breakfast by the animal on the box. “Mama, want some monkeys!”

EnviroKidz Back to School Snacks Giveaway - prize graphic (1)

Check it out… EnviroKidz is sending three lucky families on an EnviroTrip to Costa Rica to help save the sea turtles at SEE Turtles, a non-profit wildlife conservation travel operator in the beautiful OSA peninsula.  Three lucky winners and their families (three groups of 4 people) will get an all-expense paid trip to Costa Rica in March 2015.  They will spend three days working with Costa Rican organization Latin American Sea Turtles to catch endangered green and hawksbill sea turtles in the Golfo Dulce, a beautiful gulf located alongside the Osa Peninsula. They will help researchers set out nets, measure the turtles, and collect important data before releasing them back to the water. In addition, the winners will participate in a mangrove restoration project, helping to plant two species of mangrove trees that are critical to turtles and other wildlife of the Gulf. Finally, the winners will visit a chocolate farm to see how the world’s favorite treat is made!

Ten runner-ups will receive EnviroKidz gift baskets.
To enter and find official contest rules, visit www.EnviroKidz.com.
Disclaimer: Compensation was provided by Nature’s Path via MomTrends.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Nature’s Path or MomTrends. 

Namas Day: A Yoga and Wellness Festival in West Chester

Join me in West Chester on Sunday October 19 for a full-day yoga experience. Namas Day comes to the Sykes Student Union to offer an array of workshops to yoga enthusiasts of all levels.

Namas Day

One of my greatest joys in yoga is experiencing the practice with others. Think of the difference between listening to a CD or going to a concert with your favorite band. We need these group experiences to share and celebrate our collective love of the practice. I remember the first time I truly felt and acknowledged the energy between a yoga peer. I had been attending yoga classes at Power Yoga Works for the better part of a year when a woman settled into the mat next to me with a vibrant energy. We exchanged names and smiles before starting the class. The energy that carried her through our rigorous asanas motivated me to deepen my regular practice. After class she let me know that she had just returned from a yoga retreat with Baron Baptiste. For her, the experience was transformative and I am so grateful that she radiated that light to me in our shared practice.

Now, it is time for West Chester to experience that energy and positivity that comes from more than 400 people joining together to share a day of yoga. This fall’s lineup features 17 workshop leaders, including Prana Flow® instructor Deanne Caputo providing insights on the ancient healing art of Ayurveda; Baptiste Certified Teachers Colleen Devirgiliis, Robyn Freeman, Don Myer lending instruction of their art of vinyasa and assisting; and ashtanga warrior Alison Donley, director of West Chester University’s student yoga curriculum, leading students through breath and mind connection. Athletes will benefit too with practices led separately by sports coaches Ed Harrold and Cara Bradley. For those into the edgier side of yoga, check out Christine Hebestadt and Lex Peters’ acrobatic yoga and “the tattooed yogi” Justin Reilly’s spiritual lift off into arm balances and inversions. View more at namasdayphilly.com/presenters/.

 

Festival-goers can expect to visit an array of local wellness businesses in the marketplace and receive “swag bag” giveaways. Businesses interested in supporting Namas Day can join sponsors like Whole Foods Market, for which a portion of the proceeds will support the Transformation Yoga Project.

 

Namas Day registration is currently open, and early bird discounts are available through September 7. Sessions will close when they are filled. For registration info and complete festival details, visit www.namasdayphilly.com To get the low down on the big day, please “like” Philly Area Yoga on Facebook and with Namas Day on Facebook.

Mason Jar Milk Shake #kidsinthekitchen

simple homemade ice creamHold onto your aprons. This recipe is going to knock the socks off anyone in your kitchen. When I wrote my 2014 Summer Bucket List a few months ago, I eagerly included homemade ice cream in the scope of memorable activities for our family to complete. My earliest childhood memory is of finding $20 and using it to buy ice cream, so I reflect a lot on my favorite frozen summer treat. This year I was inspired to make our own after a series of events led me to a greater understanding of milk and the ways we use it.

Our family drinks a lot of milk. So much, in fact, that we make weekly trips to the farm to collect 2-3 gallons. When I first started researching raw milk and then the processes of culturing it into yogurt or cheese, I hungrily thought of all the ways to use the liquid gold. Until my family drank it all.

One of the things that intrigues me the most is watching the separation take place as milk turns to cream or butter. This is a process that I’ve watched unfold a dozen times in abandoned sippy cups around the swing set. From time to time, when the milk set out for a few too many hours, I wondered what I could do since it seemed a shame to waste that milk. The fact is, it is great for cooking, so I reserve it to make pancakes or pour into soup for a rich flavor.

Milk experiments aside, the joy of ice cream making is one of the simplest pleasures to experience on a hot summer day. Call it ice cream, call it gelato, call it a milk shake; the end result is sugar milk and you really can’t mess it up. There is even a nifty freezer attachment for the kitchenaid that will do the work for you. But, if you are looking for a way to while away that last half hour before dinner, what better way than to shake up some ice cream?

Here’s what I discovered in our mason jar ice cream experiment:

First, it is possible to freeze ice cream in a mason jar. Second, the consistency is different than store bought, but on a hot day it’s hard not to love it. Thirdly, this didn’t work as well as I had hoped. There is truly magic in the kitchenaid attachment, so I recommend using a true ice cream maker instead of a mason jar. All in all, I loved the ease of just using a few simple ingredients and making something my kids really enjoy. Of course they loved pre-sampling the mix-ins of pecans and chocolate carob chips.

To make your own ice cream, simply freeze a mason jar for 24 hours.

mason jar ice creamPour in 2 Tbsp of sugar and 1 cup of milk into the frozen cup.

kid shaking ice creamShake for a few minutes, then return to the freezer and intermittently shake it.

ice cream in a jarIt will freeze in less than 1 hour.

ice cream in a jarEnjoy!

Join us for the linky party by sharing your own posts about cooking with your kids. #Kidsinthekitchen strives to encourage learning and loving food. Tune in every Friday for recipes.

Come join my co-hosts, Melinda of LookWhatMomFoundSarah of Play to Learn with Sarah,Paula at Frosted Fingers and Sara at Sensibly Sara, each week linking up a post, new or old, that feature the theme Kids in the Kitchen. It doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are doing it together, enjoying it and learning something along the way.

You’ll find so many more ideas on the #KidsintheKitchen Pinterest Board.

 

Thanks for joining our weekly link up of the fun and educational experiences our kids can have in the kitchen.  Exploring creativity with food, crafts, activities and lessons not only expands your child’s learning and imagination, it provides quality time together for family bonding.

By linking up you are agreeing to be added to the #kidsinthekitchen email list. You will only receive a weekly reminder of the link party and possibly any special announcements that we think you’d enjoy or benefit from.

Your email address will NOT be shared with anyone else.

 

Thanks for joining our weekly link up of the fun and educational experiences our kids can have in the kitchen.  Exploring creativity with food, crafts, activities and lessons not only expands your childs learning and imagination it provides quality time together for family bonding.

By linking up you are agreeing to be added to the #kidsinthekitchen email list. You will only receive a weekly reminder of the link party and possibly any special announcements that we think you’d enjoy or benefit from.

Your email address will NOT be shared with anyone else.

 



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Baking Bread #kidsinthekitchen

Welcome to my first contribution to #kidsinthekitchen. I’m starting with a sweet bread which is so yummy it may just become a daily bread in our kitchen. We’ve been rolling in dough through trial-and-error for the past few months and this one finally brought rave reviews. I am excited to share this tutorial on bread making with you to help you get acquainted with my kitchen. I think it perfectly exemplifies what my kitchen is all about. This is my hearth. It is the foundation of my home. I love food and sharing that joy with my children. The strength I have to plug through recipes and to keep coming back to my kitchen each day comes from the hope and experience that I have seen in wholesome recipes from inspired parents like Lisa from 100 Days of Real Food or Beth Aldrich from Real Moms Love to Eat. Thank you, dear reader, for joining me in my food journey to give the next generation a nourishing start.

Eco Incognito #kidsinthekitchen

If you’re new here, I’m so glad you found me! I started writing about food over a year ago when I made the bold decision to transition my home into a hearth of whole foods. It has been an ongoing experience that started with a green fast and has recently taken the turn into becoming a Farm Stand outpost for the Lancaster Farm Fresh co-op. At first I was way in over my head. I felt completely isolated in a sea of packaged sugar with no way out except to build a wall around my kitchen. Over time, however, I have learned to incorporate the 80/20 plan into my life. It is reasonable to provide my family with nutritionally sound meals from ingredients I know and trust 80% of the time. This takes a huge weight off my shoulder when we’re in group settings or when I really want my kids to eat something (anything!!) so I throw a little sugar in it to make it go down easier. Now I can accept all food with gratitude and practice mindful eating with my little ones. That gratitude, and that transition is what brought me to the idea to share a bread recipe for my debut #kidsinthekitchen post.

A few months ago, I enrolled Hannah in Vacation Bible School and immediately began to worry about snack time. I’ve seen the stuff on top of the cabinets in the nursery. Nabisco and Capri Sun are usually the front runners, which are processed foods that I strive to avoid now. (Read: GMOs Gross Me Out) After I decided that it was necessary for her to go to camp to support our church, I thought about ways to deal with my concern. I wanted to valiantly wave an organic flag and donate all the snacks myself, but that’s not really an option. Plus, changes like these need to take time. They need to happen at the source, and I believe they will happen as more and more people learn the benefits of Real Food. I decided to offer to help with snacks and to put my attention on the 80/20 rule. I’ll do as much as a can for my family at home, but when they are sharing a group meal I will return to thoughts of gratitude. It’s not like any of the disciples would have turned around and asked Jesus if his body was gluten free.

One of my friends at Church asked if I would like to bake a bread of Ancient Grains since the kids would be learning about it in class. She shared a recipe that included kamut, spelt, yeast, and water. I knew that I’d be better off making paste for the class because the kids would enjoy eating that more. Still, I happily accepted the charge. I just had to update the recipe a little. Luckily, I was in the middle of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I saw my inspiration. Pan de Muerto. Something about the recipe, namely the sugar, let me know that this would be exactly the bread to serve.

Here’s how I decided to make the bread, since I changed the recipe A LOT. 

Daily Bread Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 1/2 Cups Organic Bread Flour
  • 6 Free-range Eggs
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 5 TBSP Water
  • 1 TBSP Honey
  • 1 TBSP Yeast

Instructions

  1. The secret to this recipe is TIME. Let everything sit a while, sing a song while you knead, or make something else while you wait for the ingredients to do the work for you.
  2. On the day before you want to bake your bread, prepare the dough as follows.
  3. Allow the eggs and milk to come to room temperature.
  4. Boil water, then let it cool until tepid (about 105 degrees)
  5. Add the honey and stir.
  6. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the honey water and allow to sit for 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, sift the flour into a large bowl and create a well.
  8. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them for about a minute.
  9. Pour the milk and eggs into the flour and begin to stir with a wooden spoon.
  10. When the mixture is well combined, add the yeast and continue to stir.
  11. Stir as long as you can, then knead by hand. Overall it takes about 10 minutes for this process to yield a ball of dough.
  12. Place in a warm spot in the kitchen and cover. Then allow to raise for 2 1/2 hours. Afterwards, this dough can stay in the fridge overnight and up to 3 days.
  13. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Punch it down, then separate into fist-sized balls. Use your fingers to tap down the dough as though you are playing heart and soul on the piano. You don't want to break through the bread, but you do want to make some dents.
  14. Set out the bread for another 1 1/2 hours to raise.
  15. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  16. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.
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Overall the bread was a huge success. Not only did my kids each get to take a part in helping prepare it, but we also loved the taste. Hannah combined the ingredients and stirred. Later in the day our conversation went like this:

M: What was you favorite part of baking bread?

H: When we stirred it around and around Mama.

toddler baking bread

 

Then Audrey punched down the loafs and shaped the dough balls. Both girls offered tasting expertise.

baby bread

 

Ingredients do matter! You’ve also gotta put a little love in the kneading process to make the bread taste great. I recommend using these brands unless you can source bulk ingredients locally. (Hint for Chesco readers: Try Swanns market)

Whole Wheat Flour – Bobs Red Mill Whole Wheat Flour – Buy it now on Amazon

Yeast – Red Star Active Dry Yeast – Buy it now on Amazon

Sugar – Wholesome Sweetners Organic Cane Sugar – Buy it now on Amazon

pre-baked bread fresh baked whole wheat breadThe finished product looked great in quarters served with an eggplant hummus.

fresh baked flatbread

Join us for the linky party by sharing your own posts about cooking with your kids. #Kidsinthekitchen strives to encourage learning and loving food. Tune in every Friday for recipes.

Come join my co-hosts, Melinda of LookWhatMomFound, Sarah of Play to Learn with Sarah, Paula at Frosted Fingers and Sara at Sensibly Sara, each week linking up a post, new or old, that feature the theme Kids in the Kitchen. It doesn’t matter what you are doing as long as you are doing it together, enjoying it and learning something along the way.

You’ll find so many more ideas on the #KidsintheKitchen Pinterest Board.

 

Thanks for joining our weekly link up of the fun and educational experiences our kids can have in the kitchen.  Exploring creativity with food, crafts, activities and lessons not only expands your child’s learning and imagination, it provides quality time together for family bonding.

By linking up you are agreeing to be added to the #kidsinthekitchen email list. You will only receive a weekly reminder of the link party and possibly any special announcements that we think you’d enjoy or benefit from.

Your email address will NOT be shared with anyone else.


 

Essential Oils from Young Living

Essential Oils are the key to health and wellness in my home. In fact, my small pocket of the mystical elixirs is nothing short of an apothecary for all the qualities they provide in our household. From cleaning supplies to beauty regimens, they boost nearly every aspect of our lives with delightful scents. I’m going to share how I switched from a perpetual commercial shopper to a self-sufficient medicine woman in a few short months with the help of essential oils.

But first, I want to let you know that you can purchase your own essential oils from Young Living right now by clicking this link.

Three short years ago, I left the workforce with the intent to return after a year raising my newborn at home. One new baby quickly turned into two, and I happily accepted the more permanent role of stay-at-home Mother with the new caveat of curbing costs and cutting expenses at every corner. Somehow, we had to make a single income work for our small, but growing family, and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice our health any longer.

My biggest problem with shopping at the big-box retailers, aside from the overwhelming sticker shock that hit me each week, was the fact that everything I purchased from food to clothing to cleaning goods was riddled with ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce, let alone identify. All of a sudden as I looked at the sweet face of my newborn and her shriveled nose as it sneezed in recoil to the toxins, I knew something about our habits had to change. I began by addressing our kitchen first.

 

Join me in the quest to a healthier home by incorporating Essential Oils into your daily life. Email jeannettebezinque@ecoincognito.com for a FREE CONSULTATION on using Essential Oils.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Images source: Young Living

10-reasons-to-choose-Young-Living-oils-Fieldstone-Hill-Design-1413674

 

Opportunity Cost

Simple math shows that organic food costs more than conventional food. But, when it comes to all good things in life, we tend to get what we pay for. After a lifetime of nickle and diming my nutrition, I finally put my money where my mouth is in an effort to find out what all the organic hype is about. My ongoing food journey is now rich in flavor and full from a wealth of community spirit. I truly believe that quality ingredients are worth every penny and the resources that provide them are worth their weight in gold.

Finance experts caution that, “There is no such thing as a free lunch.” Factor in the value of time at the meeting or the cost of transportation and price adds up before the pitch even comes about for a return favor. I began to apply this concept to food and, at first, I discovered that cheap and easy food rarely had a noticeable payoff. At first, the value is high because the hunger pangs subside almost immediately, plus my kids play around so it’s generally a rainy-day savior. But, generally within an hour I feel bloated and de-energized. Four hours later I’m cranky and the next day I feel weighty and run down. The physical tax in the long run comes in the form of elements within my body that are difficult to flush out and portions of my portions that I just can’t control. By simply noticing the physical responses, I can motivate myself to curb my cravings and work different habits into my life to avoid fast food.

Now, the opportunity cost of fast food doesn’t necessarily stop at the last french fry. After all, the cost of that bag, the trash service to remove the bag, the process involved in recycling plastic elements, and the operational costs of managing the building skyrocket the costs associated with the business of food. But, if it still packages into a $6 value meal; where is the value? The truth is, there is no value in fast food. None. Whatsoever. Other than a fast fix for curbing cravings, there is less nutritional value in a fast food meal than in a rotten organic banana peel.

My beefs with fast food are many. But they are still not enough to keep me out of the chic-fil-a on a desperate and rainy day, so I need your help to popularize REAL FOOD. Together, we can support local farms, businesses, and purveyors of real food to make those options the forefront for our children. First of all, gaining an understanding of REAL FOOD will help quickly demonstrate that fast food is not food.

We are alive. When we eat foods that are alive, we bring life into our body. Anything that has been processed, cooked, pesticized, treated, deep fried, or homogenized is dead. Over time, those cells cause blockages in our bodies that lead to disease, illness, or even death. The biggest problem is that these false foods take a deep emotional toll on our wellness that is nearly impossible to discover until a lengthy separation allows healing from within. I’m making a sweeping statement against a lot of my favorite foods (forgive me Cheddar Bunnies) because we have to know the radical options on each side of the food spectrum in order to gain a full understanding of wholesome nutrition. Ever hear the phrase, “Only know the sun when it starts to rain”? Think about that when the refrigerator opens. How can we possibly know the benefits of an apple a day if we dip it in caramel and serve it alongside a heaping stack of pancakes?

The act of feeding children has opened my eyes in so many ways to the state of food in the union. I am constantly weighing options and debating how to meet their needs for nutrition and satisfaction. In the epic battle between sugar and salads, sugar always wins. Personally, today, I’m ok with that. It’s important to me that my children enjoy the act of eating. That they learn to calmly savor something for more than 3 minutes. I need them to know that it’s just as reasonable to get dirty in the middle of a meal or during the prep work as it is for them to make a mess on the playground even when this means I have to slice out caked-in food bits from crevices on the table with a butter knife. The opportunity cost of an emotional display of weakness in front of my kids no longer outweighs the value of saving dessert for last. Our progress on meal manners is slow, but they are consistently observant of me eating fresh leafy greens and creative, nutritious options so I know the future is bright.

A turning point for me in understanding the real opportunities in the value of food happened when I started to grow my own. The backbreaking effort of creating a garden coupled with the daily effort of tending the plants was tantamount compared to the yield in my backyard. I tried to incorporate a meager bite or two each day into my green intentions and I felt an immense richness from even the smallest cherry tomato fresh off the vine. I set my mind on a bounty and that has finally come full circle for me.

In the past year, I threw out my food receipts and washed away the concept of a budget. Focusing only on the needs of myself and my family, I found ways to look beyond the dollar signs on my meals and to truly appreciate the spirit behind the food. Time slowed down. Recipes no longer take 30 minutes or less. I now regularly spend hours in the kitchen, savoring the stolen bites my toddlers grab from the cutting board. I am literally watching my food grow. Second by second, day by day. I have seen a blossom erupt and a green pea shoot spring up from the ground overnight. In my opinion, nothing tastes better than an apple picked directly from the tree, but I never would have found that out if I hadn’t sprung for every apple along the way.

Earlier this year, I put all my eggs into one basket and focused heavily on the opportunity to host a CSA pickup location. I felt compelled to bring farm fresh food into my neighborhood, so I worked with Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op to establish a site in my backyard. This was a hard year to join in. Without the support of my husband, I tried to reach out to friends and neighbors, but came up short on my efforts to get enough participants for the group. Still, I prayed that I wanted to be a helper to others and I visualized the harvest market each day in my backyard with the hope that somehow it would all work out. I dedicated many thoughts in my mind to food and I dedicated many of my thoughts about food to gratitude. When I got the message that another site would combine with mine so that I could be a new host this year, my heart leaped with joy.

To describe the excitement I felt when the pallet of greens arrived in my backyard on Tuesday would be hard to express, except that I can say, “you kind of have to do it yourself to understand.” The CSA cost me nothing but time. However, from that time planting seeds of love, I am receiving more benefits than I can count. We are making new friends who come to our backyard rain or shine. I am inspired to provide fresh food for my family each day. Passing along the gift of over-abundant greens to friends is something that feels like it could easily become my second nature. The difference between joining a CSA and taking a trip to the grocery store is that this is an investment. I am investing in my nutrition by making a direct contact with the farms that provide healthful food near my home. I am investing in wide-open spaces and non-polluting business entities. Most importantly, I am investing today in an idea that says, “Good food is worth it” and passing that knowledge along to the next generation.

I am grateful for every meal that has nourished my heart and soul. To the people that have shared recipes, grown food, and taught generations of farmers the secrets of the land, I will always be eternally appreciative. It is very humbling to know how closely food relates us all when we allow ourselves to connect. Some day, I will be dirt again, but I am leaving behind a trail of creativity, inspired by the very food from which I thrive. To me, that is priceless.

Just Between Friends Consignment Sale

Just Between Friends is the area’s biggest and fastest growing Consignment Sale. I sent my friend Jodi on assignment to party with Joey Fortman of Real Mom Media at the VIP presale for bloggers. She received $25 to find the #bestdeal. Now she shares her experience and several valuable tips for future shoppers.

I have been a yard sale junkie since I was a kid. What’s not to love? The seller unloads what has become unwanted in their home, reducing their clutter and preventing unnecessary waste and the buyer has paid a small fraction of the retail price for an item they (hopefully) have a use for. Also it’s fun because you really never know what you are going to find and you never know what someone may buy from you. Now at 33, I still get excited to go “sailing” but I have found a new retail love as a mom. Consignment Sales. Same benefits as yard sales but a really good consignment sale is much more efficient. Just last week I sold, consigned and worked at the Just Between Friends (JBF) sale in Oaks, PA to triple my benefits. “JBF” is definitely the biggest children’s consignment sale in the area and probably our entire state.
No matter how you spend your days, us moms need to be efficient with our time, resources and our money, and consigning is one way we can do just that. At one big biannual sale like JBF, you can get everything your child(ren) needs for that season, or if you are a planner, you can buy future sizes and be set for the next three summers. You will spend more at a consignment sale but a sale like JBF has multiples of the same item and many items are new or gently used which is typically not the case at your typical yard sale.
As a stay at home mom, I consider the small amount of time I spend cutting coupons, and selling and buying at consignment and yard sales to be one of my biggest financial contributions to our household. You should join me if you dislike paying full price at the mall and big box stores. If you aren’t sure about selling and tagging, consider that JBF offers sellers 60% of the sale price (50% is typical at many stores) and 70% when you work the sale for 4 hours. Also consignors and workers get to shop a whole day before the sale is public giving you the pick of the lot. This year I tagged everything the day before drop off (do NOT do this) and promised my husband I would not sell again. What I really meant was I will never again wait until the day before the sale. The tagging process for JBF is done on their website. You type up each item, print out the tags and affix them to 127 items. Because everything is online, I already know 92 items sold and my cut is $239.73!! I will receive a check in the mail along with a tax deduction form for the remaining 35 items which I chose to donate rather than spend time and gas picking them up. Whether you are new to these sales or refining your skills, follow these tips to be a more efficient thrifty mama at your local consignment sales:
Two new Pete the Cat Books for $4

Two new Pete the Cat Books for $4

Converse Sneaks for 50 cents! #bestdeal

Converse Sneaks for 50 cents! #bestdeal

Rudy Bouncy Toys $20

Rudy Bouncy Toys $20

The loot: Total $26

The loot: Total $26

4 Aiden and Anais blankets: $11

4 Aiden and Anais blankets: $11

 

 

 

Jodi Sheehan is a Stay at Home Mama to toddler Ben. A self-proclaimed “Thrifty Mama”, she prides herself on finding any and all ways to stretch a dollar for bargains. Her Etsy Shop ‘Gems from Before’ features natural, handmade toys.

Consignment Sale Shopping Tips

As soon as Baby outgrows the newborn phase and you discover that baby clothes last for about as long as it takes to say “oooo” and “ahhh”, you will quickly find that consignment sales offer peace of mind for budget-conscious parents. Today, Jodi shares her top tips for finding the best consignment items.

consignmentshopping

Consignment Shopping Tips:

  1. Check what you have and bring a list of what you need
  2. If you need shoes, bring one shoe that currently fits your child since ‘sizing be crazy’
  3. Bring Cash (but if you are going to a serious sale like JBF, credit is good too)
  4. Make friends with your fellow shopper – it makes the browsing much more fun and you never know when the nice generous mama next to you may find that cloth swim diaper you mentioned you were scouring for and hand it over to you
  5. Get in, stay focused and get out. Get in line before it gets out of hand. I am pleased to say the lines are JBF were surprising short throughout both pre-sales
  6. Shop with a buddy who can help check things off your wish list, spot an item you missed, piece through clothes and even hold a spot in line to check out. If you have an infant or young toddler, wear them in a carrier during the sale. If you have an older toddler, consider leaving them at home or bringing a helper. Both big and small sales are cramped spaces so try to leave your stroller at home.
  7. Be informed and get to know your local sales. I like to go to a few small church sales close to home where the prices are lower and lines are shorter. Then I go to one big sale each season where the quality and quantity make it worth the extra time and money because I can fill any gaps in my son’s wardrobe. I recommend getting to a sale a few minutes before it starts to be the first in or get there a few minutes late so you can walk right in and get to work. Find out if the sale has a 50% off hour or day and whether it’s worth waiting for that.

Jodi Sheehan is a Stay at Home Mama to toddler Ben. A self-proclaimed “Thrifty Mama”, she prides herself on finding any and all ways to stretch a dollar for bargains. Her Etsy Shop ‘Gems from Before’ features natural, handmade toys.