Gifts from Bend, OR

Live in Bend, Oregon and want to give a gift from Bend, Oregon? Follow my local gift giving series!

Green your coffee routine

Save 23 lbs of waste this year and start using a reusable coffee cup to keep you caffeinated.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Product review: Happy Family Organic Super Foods

This post is sponsored by Happy Family Organic Super Foods. Happy Family supplied me with some of their product to try in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own.

I generally don't buy packaged baby food for my children. By one year's old, they are mostly eating what we eat but there are occasions when I do:
1) When traveling
2) When mom isn't home to feed the children and dad is in charge

When buying packaged foods, I look carefully at ingredients so when Happy Family supplied me with a few products, I was super stoked to give them a whirl. 

In the past, we've been know to buy brands like Gerber Organics, Plum Organics and Ella's Kitchen along with some items at Trader Joe's like macaroni and cheese and their nitrate free beef hot dogs and turkey corn dogs. 

Happy Family specializes in items that are organic, contain no preservatives or artificial flavors and giving back. My kind of product.

First up, I made EmmyLu the Happy Tot Meal Bowl in vegetable ravioli. Best judge if she liked it? It's all gone and she's using the rest as finger paint. 

Next up, Ben tried the Veggie Pals and Happy Creamies. When I opened the Veggies Pals, I gave one to EmmyLu and quickly realized they were geared towards the 2 & up kiddos but Benjamin was suspect of them because of the carrot on the box. The Veggie Pals are organic carrot, orange, and apple chews shaped like oranges. He looked past the carrot after tasting them and begged me to put them in his lunch.

He was also a big fan of the carrot, mango & orange Happy Creamies. These dairy free treats made out of coconut milk are for the toddler set but my son ate them all up before his sister ever got a chance to try them.

I'm a big fan of fruit and veggies blends for the kids. I make a few myself with yogurt, spinach and apples for their Squooshi's  but Happy Tot Plus is great for on the go. EmmyLu had no problems wolfing down kale, apple and mango from Happy Tot Plus.

Since our Target is small, they don't have a big variety of Happy Family products, which is sad because their stuff is good.

As a working green mom, products like the ones Happy Family produces are great snacks for when your traveling, out on a play date or when dad is in charge of the meals.

Thanks Happy Family for providing families with great organic choices for kid snacks.

This post is sponsored by Happy Family Organic Super Foods. Happy Family supplied me with some of their product to try in exchange for an honest review. Opinions are my own.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Month 3 Shaklee update: What I like about myself

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating. My opinions are my own. People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

You'll have to watch the video to see my unflattering (but not as unflattering as month 1) photo. Shaklee 180™ Program continues ... 90 days down. 90 days to go.


Rhubarb cherry pecan bread

Yes, it's that time a year again when I search the web high and low for the best rhubarb recipes and flood my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds with mouth watering photos of my tasty treats.

The usual recipes have made a come back, including  Martha Stewart's rhubarb crumble bars and braised short ribs in rhubarb wine sauce (modified recipe to come on this one).

First recipe I'll share is a modified Smitten Kitchen recipe. We all know rhubarb and strawberries go together like peanut butter and jelly but you know what goes better with rhubarb -- cherries.

Cherries are hard to find this time of year and maybe that marriage of strawberries and rhubarb go together better because they're on the same growing season but the grocery store had some California Bing Cherries and I decided to take a risk, which ended up being a very tasty risk.

The original recipe called for rum, which I didn't have so I used butter instead. I also doubled the batch and made two loaves. The original recipe also called for a streusel topping which I skipped.

Rhubarb cherry pecan bread
modified from Smitten Kitchen

Makes one loaf

3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup diced rhubarb
1/2 cup sliced cherries
1/4 cup chopped pecans


Beat together the brown sugar, vegetable oil, egg, vanilla and rum. Combine the flours, salt and baking soda; stir. Add dry ingredients to first mixture with the sour cream. Stir in cherries, rhubarb and pecans.

Spread into a greased 9×5-inch loaf pan — the batter will be very thick

Bake at 350° for about 55 to 65 minutes, or until a wooden pick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Friday, May 24, 2013

I like this about myself: CROSSFIT


If you would have told me six months ago that I’d be a crossfit junkie, I would have laughed at you because if you know me, you know that I don’t have one athletic competitive bone in my body. Or at least that’s what I have thought all this time.  

I've always been intrigued by crossfit. A few of my former co-workers swore by it but they were the super duper athletic types and well, there is me, not athletic. Ask my dad, I used to skip down the soccer field as a kid.

I spent most of 2012 either pregnant, recovering from a c-section, breastfeeding and just flat out saying I didn't have time to work out. I had a lot of excuses. I also spent most of 2012 watching a couple of friends transform their lives with crossfit (Debbie & Collin, I’m looking at you). 

I had a vague idea of what I thought crossfit actually was. From watching videos on YouTube, I thought it was similar to circuit training or a bootcamp style class. I kept hearing it was for everyone but looking at the workout of the day (aka WODs), I still was skeptical. Handstand pushups – ha, hilarious. I can’t do those. Burpees! Yuck. Running – fat chance!

What’s crossfit? Wikipedia has a great description:
Crossfit advocates a mix of aerobic exercise, body weight exercise, gymnastics and Olympic weight lifting. CrossFit describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement," with the stated goal of improving fitness (and therefore general physical preparedness), which it defines as "work capacity across broad time and modal domains."


I'm holding a sign that says "I love this about myself = CROSSFIT"
On my first day at Crossfit Type 44, I seriously thought “why do people like this?” but since I bought a month of classes, I still had 29 days to go. I couldn't  even do modified pull ups with bands so they had me jumping up to do them. Jumping rope was a pain in the butt. I could barely run but after a month of making a routine out of going three days a week,  I started to see small improvements. I moved from jumping pull ups to assisted pull ups with a band. Jumping rope was easier – I can belt out 200 no problem. I got the hang of kettle bells swings. I still hated burpees but running 800 meters wasn't a pain like it used to be.

I started the Shaklee Blogger program two months after I got my crossfit habit down. The two together have been a winning combination.   The main thing about both of these programs is the support you receive.

The crossfit coaches and other folks in my classes are cheering me on (and I cheer them on too). It’s like a small close family. I’m always reminded when I get frustrated with a WOD that “I’ve come a long way” and to never forget that.

With Shaklee, seeing the scale and inches come off with amazing products, keeps me motivated to stay away from cupcakes, ice cream and stress eating. In fact, my routine of early morning workouts has really helped keep the stress levels down. Even though I’m in competition with the Shaklee Bloggers, there are always nice comments on my blog posts, Facebook page and instagram photos to keep me encouraged. And it helps that none of my clothes from the beginning of the year fit me. What a great motivation to keep going!

Let's RUN!
As for being competitive, I started running. If you know me, I used to run years ago and I hated it. The combo of crossfit and Shaklee 180 has given me the push to start the Couch 2 5K program. I’ve signed up for several 5K races this summer and fall so I have a goal to work for.  Who knows, I may just keep going and run a 10K.

It’s hard for me to take a rest day. Crossfit and running have become routine in my life at 5:30 am each morning. Someone commented on Facebook “that’s when you know you’re addicted.”

I’m Shannon and I’m a crossfit addict. But I still hate burpees. 

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating. My opinions are my own. People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Happy 5th Birthday Benjamin

May 24, 2008

Ben,
Where does the time go? I can't believe 5 years ago we were blessed with being your parents.  You steal my heart everyday and it's been amazing to watch your personality grow over the past year. You love anything that has to do with the ocean. You will spend hours drawing and coloring. Swimming is your favorite sport and you're gentle with your sister, EmmyLu. 

May 12, 2013

You've made amazing strides in your speech therapy and now talk up a storm. You're excited for Kindergarten but nervous about leaving all your friends at Kid Works (so are we). Your favorite TV show is "My Little Pony," you insist on wearing black Spiderman to bed every night,  Mr. Anglerfish had to be in our family photos and your favorite food is still carrot applesauce. 

May 19,  2013

I'm excited and nervous for the next year, little buddy.

Love, 
Mommy



Tuesday, May 21, 2013

How to make safe, chemical free deodorant [Video]

safe, chemical free deodorant
Folks are baffled when I tell them that I make my own deodorant (recipe here). Why make your own? It's simple, the ingredients used in commercial deodorant MAY cause cancer.

Since this is something I use everyday, I felt I had to find something that was chemical free and safe to use on a daily basis.

I tried MANY natural, chemical free deodorants. The best I found was Soapwalla BUT you can't use it right after you shave because it irritates the skin. No bueno.

Two years later, I'm still making my own and using it daily. Watch the video and you'll be making it yourself too!




I'm venturing into videos. I might as well put that good ole state university broadcasting degree to good use, right? I used that broadcasting degree for a whole 9 months right out of college (while I was in college, I worked in television for two years though). Luckily, I learned how to edit video the old school way and the new school way -- on the computer. 



Monday, May 20, 2013

Meatless Monday: Baked eggs in marinara

How often do you have eggs for dinner? As we sat down and enjoyed this meal last Monday my husband said "We don't have eggs enough for dinner. We need to do this more often."

Simple and quick meatless Mondays go far in our family and I'm pretty sure, this simple, quick and easy recipe will find it's way back soon into our tummies soon (well, maybe tonight even).
The recipe basically calls for four ingredients: eggs, marinara sauce, cheese of your choice and herb of choice. We used goat cheese and basil (it's what we had on hand) but I'm sure the sky is the limit. I may try feta and dill next or pepperjack, cilantro and salsa. Is it dinner time yet?

Baked eggs in marina 
adapted from Linda Wagner 


4  eggs
1/2 cup good quality marinara sauce
cheese of choice
herbs of choice

Place a small, non-stick saucepan on your stove top over med-high heat. Add 1/2 cup marinara and crack 4 eggs – one in each corner -over the sauce. Cover with lid and let cook for about 5-7mins or until eggs are slightly firm.

At this time, preheat your oven and set to “Broil” at 500 degrees.

Once the eggs are starting to set, remove pan from heat. Remove lid and add a few dollops of cheese to the top of your eggs and place the pan under the broiler and cook until just slightly brown. About 1-2 mins.

Top with fresh herbs and serve.




Monday, May 13, 2013

Meatless Monday: Roasted Vegetable Tacos

I love Mexican food. I could eat a plate of loaded nachos all by myself. When I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I had to make that for meatless Monday!

By looking at the photo, you can see, it's very colorful and combine that with cumin, garlic and olive oil roasted for about 25 mins, this almost replaces my standby ground beef taco.

I roasted the vegetable on Sunday to save time on Monday night after I got home along with making the super easy avocado cream sauce in my small food processor.

I usually don't like corn tortillas but Trader Joe's has these amazing  corn and wheat tortillas that are quite tasty. Pick them up -- I wouldn't sway you wrong.

These tacos were a huge hit with my husband, myself and the baby. My son is hard to please and he opted for a cheese quesadilla.
Delicious!
Roasted Vegetable Tacos
from Naturally Ella


Ingredients
Filling:
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small summer squash, diced
½ medium red onion, diced
1 ear sweet corn, removed from cob
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 medium red pepper, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
Feta or Goat Cheese
4-6 corn tortillas
Cilantro

Avocado Cream:
1 ripe avocado
⅓ cup full fat, plain greek yogurt
¼ cup cilantro
1 tablespoons lime juice


Instructions
Preheat oven to 400˚. Prepare all the veggies as described and toss with olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and cumin. Roast in a pan in a single layer for 20-30 mins until tender and lightly browning.

While veggies are roasting, whip together avocado, greek yogurt, cilantro, and lime juice.

To assemble tacos, warm up tortillas (in the microwave wrapped in a damp paper towel or a oven with a damp tea towel) and assemble with roasted veggies, avocado cream, and a sprinkle of feta.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Green your lunch: get a reusable fork

I often eat snacks at my desk as I work almost 55 hour weeks.  I was noticing that I was using a lot of plastic forks and spoons one day and then remembered my trusty camping spoon from Light My Fire.

Slowly, my family has stopped using plastic bags, paper coffee cups, plastic sandwich bags so it's a natural fit I either bring utensils from home or use my camping spork.

How do you green your lunch routine?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Journey to finding a new, fuel efficient car

For the next 12 months we'll be researching cars so we can purchase two in the spring of 2014.

We'll be saying goodbye to our trusty and faithful 1997 Honda Civic and our gas guzzling Jeep Liberty.

The goal, to buy one reliable commuter car for my husband with cash and have payments on another car that gets better gas mileage than our Jeep (currently gets 15 mpg in the city) for me.

Buying a car, for me, has always been an exhaustive search -- with the exception of our Jeep -- the car we shared busted a head gasket and we needed a car NOW. My husband was more into looks rather than fuel efficiency and "just needed that Jeep." Since he drives 60 miles a day roundtrip, he drives the Honda.

Prior to marriage, I'd research consumer report and ask friends and test drive 15 cars.  My dad was quite annoyed by the process. I have never been into flashy cars but functional and reliable. Our Jeep has been reliable as well as our Honda but our Honda is getting up there in miles though 1990s Honda have been known to run forever.

I don't need an SUV -- mainly, I just want something that gets better gas mileage.

Anyone have any suggestions? On our list are Subarus, KIAs and Hondas but I'd love your input! What you like or don't like! We have a whole year to make this happen.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Month 2 Shaklee update

We're 60 days in ... watch how I'm doing!

This is a sponsored post as part of the Shaklee Corporation blogger program. I have received free products, online support and incentives for participating. My opinions are my own. People following the weight-loss portion of the Shaklee 180™ Program can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.

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