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The Tale of the Beet Smoothie

April 28, 2015

Beets and I have an iffy relationship.  Ok I don’t really like them.  I’ve tried them several different ways over the years and we just haven’t connected yet.  They always taste a little “earthy” to me, in other words they taste like dirt.

We have a subscription to Door to Door Organics and in the last few weeks we got a box that came with three beets.  I had forgotten to go in and edit our order or else I definitely would’ve substituted those beets!  In trying to figure out a way to use them, I had the bright idea to put them in a smoothie.  I am a big fan of smoothies and make them several times a week.  One of my kids is a picky eater so I use smoothies to make sure he’s still getting his fruits and veggies.

So one morning I loaded up the Vitamix with water, two of the beets, a chopped and cored mushy apple, greens and a lot of frozen berries.

I whirred it up like normal and then had a taste.  (Every time we make a smoothie my kids have to taste it first before we pour it out into glasses.  Tantrums ensue otherwise.)

I think my eyes crossed with that tiny sip off the spoon.  I assumed the beets would disappear into the smoothie, much like the greens do, and all I would taste is mixed berry bliss.  Um no.  That was not the case.  All I tasted was beets.  I hated to waste all that produce so I added a ripe banana and a big glug of honey.  Whirred it up again.  It was better….but still beet-y.  I added one more ripe banana and decided we were drinking it no matter what after that.

It was a gorgeous purple color but the taste still wasn’t that great!  As I poured it into cups and served it to my kids I braced myself for their reactions.  And to my COMPLETE surprise, my two little kids (ages almost four and 20 months) drank those smoothies like they were milkshakes.  They sucked them down so fast and made no comment whatsoever about the taste.  Meanwhile Benzo and I were choking it down and hiding the disgusted looks on our faces.

A day or two later I made up another smoothie using the last single beet.  I figured well the first one tasted so “beety” because we used TWO beets.  Surely using only one would be better right?  Wrong.  It was still too earthy for me though I managed to choke it down.  Again my kids happily drank it without question.  Shocker!

So needless to say I will not be making beet smoothies again any time soon.  It was a funny experiment but not one I want to repeat!

If you do like beets and want to try a beet smoothie, here are some recipes I found:

Mixed Berry & Beet Smoothie – NY Times

Pink Power Detox Smoothie – Oh She Glows

Beet Smoothie Recipe Benefits & 5 Reasons Why to Try It – HellaWella (bringing sexy back…? ;) )

Red Beet Vitamix Smoothie & 10 Benefits of Beets – Spinach Tiger (this was the original one I found and loosely followed)

Any suggestions on how I should next try beets?


This post was NOT sponsored in any way by any of the products or companies mentioned above. 


Strawberry Blooms!

April 22, 2015

I am beyond excited to see my strawberry plants blooming.

I planted my strawberry patch last year.  I ordered a set of 25 everbearing strawberry plants from Stark Brothers Nursery for $12 plus shipping.  I think it was the Tristar variety though I am not completely positive (it was a year ago after all).

I had a strawberry patch at my old house that produced tons of berries.  I can’t wait to have that again!

It’s really hard to be patient the first year while the plants are establishing their roots.  You don’t get many berries and the ones you do get are very tiny.

But now the second year is starting and I’m all “bring on the berries!!!”  The plants look great and have even set out a few runners.  Hopefully within another couple years this entire bed will be full!


Cherry Juice Sports Drink

April 4, 2015

If you know me in real life you likely know that I am a runner.  I started running when I was 13 years old and pretty much never stopped.  I went out for the track team in junior high because “everyone was doing it” and the coaches didn’t cut anyone.  I chose distance running over sprinting because I wanted to be different.  And the rest is history.

The past few months I have been training for a couple races that are coming up in May, the main one being a half marathon.  It may sound crazy to some, but I really love long-distance running.  I really look forward to my long runs on the weekends.  I enjoy the planning and anticipation, the actual running and the recovery.  This year as part of my recovery I’ve been drinking a homemade sports drink made out of tart cherry juice.

I’ve never been a big fan of Gatorade or other commercial sports drinks.  They are too sweet for me, not to mention full of artificial colors and other garbage.  If I drink them I usually cut them in half with water, but generally I stay away.  (In long races though I do drink them towards the end when I need more calories and electrolytes.  I take whatever the aid stations are offering.)

I think in my search for homemade energy gels I stumbled upon some recipes for homemade energy drinks on Daily Burn.  I decided to try an easy one that was made out of tart cherry juice.  Tart cherry juice has been shown to aid in muscle recovery due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Here’s what I’ve been mixing up for my post-long run recovery on the weekends:

Tart Cherry Juice Sports Drink

  • 8 oz tart cherry juice
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Scant 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 12 oz cold water

Combine all ingredients in a 20 oz water bottle and shake to combine.  I usually mix it up pre-workout and leave it in the fridge so it’s nice and cold and ready for me when I get back.

I upped the amount of cherry juice from the other recipes I saw because the recommendation on the Choose Cherries website said to drink 10 oz before your workout and another 10 oz after.  So the 2.5 oz in the other recipes just didn’t seem like enough to me.  Bring on the cherries I say!

I can’t really say one way or the other whether this drink has helped my recovery.  Maybe if I drank it for every workout I might notice a difference, but I am really only drinking it after long runs on the weekends.  I can say though that it is really refreshing after working hard and it is a nice change of pace from water.  And way better than commercial sports drinks!

The first time you try it the tartness of the cherries takes some getting used to.  You can up the honey or decrease the amount of juice to start.  Then adjust the proportions as you get used to it.  Same with the salt.  After I made this a couple times I stopped measuring and now I just guesstimate and pour everything straight into my water bottle.  First the juice, a squirt of honey, a dash of salt and then fill the rest up with cold water.  Done!

I’ll be mixing this up this morning before I head out for a 10-11 miler sometime today.  Miles are getting higher as the race day is getting closer!


Kool-Aid Dyed Play Silks

April 1, 2015

Play silks are exactly what they sound like – big pieces of silk you play with.  I ran into the idea when I was searching for non-toy gift ideas for toddlers and preschoolers in December.  I found a great list on Nourishing Minimalism, and #16 was play silks.  I had never heard of play silks before but they sounded really fun and a great way for kids to use their imagination.  With two boys, I imagined we would use them as capes, pirate head scarves, tents, blankets, etc.

Nourishing Minimalism linked to Sarah’s Silks on Amazon.  They looked beautiful but a little pricey at $14.50 a pop.  I figured we would want at least four of them in various colors.  So I took to Pinterest and found several blogs explaining how to dye plain silk with Kool-Aid.


I ended up going with the method on Tao of Craft.  First I had to acquire some silk.  I ordered the 35 x 35 machine hemmed 8mm Habotai scarves from Dharma Trading Company.  I ordered six of them and at $6.09 each they were much cheaper than the ones on Amazon.  And shipping was really fast!

The method is simple and you can get the instructions on Tao of Craft.  All you need is hot water, white vinegar and dye.  You can use either Kool-Aid or Wilton gel paste to dye your silks.  I already had blue and green Wilton gel paste on hand so I used them for two of the silks and then I bought red, purple, orange and yellow Kool-Aid for the remaining four silks.  I went with Kool-Aid for the rest just because it is cheaper, but if I were to do this again I would use the gel paste for some of the colors as you’ll read below.

You have to hang the silks to dry once you are all done so due to space limitations, I dyed three silks one night and three the next night. The process was really easy and it was fun to try something new.

But I will say that during the cold water rinsing part, I never actually got the water to run clear.  I finally just got tired and gave up, squeezing as much water out as I could before hanging them up to dry.  I hung them in my unfinished basement so if any colored water dripped on the floor it was no big deal.

Since this was a gift, I didn’t do this with my kids, but I think it would be a fun project to do together.  Here are all six getting wrapped up for Christmas:

All folded up they look great, but when you spread them out, each silk has a somewhat mottled or “tie dye” appearance.  This was not intentional but it doesn’t bother me.  I hung up the silks in the sun to try to get some good pictures of the colors.

I was very happy with how the red turned out using red Kool-Aid.  The color is very vibrant.  Don’t mind the cloth diapers sunning in the background…

I didn’t really care for how the purple turned out though.  It’s hard to tell in the picture but the purple is a much duller color.  Think of grape Kool-Aid.  It’s not a bright, vibrant purple when you mix it up in a pitcher.  It’s more of a dull, dark purple.  That’s exactly how this silk turned out.  If I were to do this again I would use the gel paste for purple.  The sun makes it look better than it really is.

I did use a “sky” gel paste for the blue silk and it turned out great.  We use this silk as “water” when playing a fishing or camping make-believe game.

The orange silk was the best one of the bunch.  It has the least amount mottling and is very nice and bright.  The Kool-Aid worked great for orange.

The yellow silk turned out to be a very, very pale yellow.  Again when you think about lemonade Kool-Aid mixed up in a pitcher, it’s not a bright yellow color.  If I were to do yellow again I would splurge on the gel paste in a nice bright yellow color.

The green silk turned out beautiful!  This was another one that used the gel paste and I love the way it looks.  The green silk is our “grass” in make-believe games.

My boys have enjoyed the play silks over the past few months.  We frequently use them as superhero capes (including Mom and Dad) and run around the house in them.  Then just the other night we tied them all together in a big long rope and drug it around the house.  It’s fun to see their little minds come up with different ideas for the silks.

I think these would make a fun DIY birthday gift for a cousin or friend or a party favor for guests!  And it would be a great project to do in the spring or summer because you could dye them outside (no fear of spills or stains!) and you can also hang them to dry outside on the line in the sun.



Homemade Cold Remedies

March 18, 2015

I battled the WORST cold I have had in a long time the past few weeks.  It lasted a good two weeks before I was feeling better and even today almost another week later I still have some lingering affects (effects?  I can never get those straight…).

During that period I tried several different homemade cold remedies that I thought I would share on the blog and also so I can remember them for next time.

Ginger Tea

One of the first things I tried was ginger tea.  Ginger is really good for nausea and upset stomach.  I swear I read somewhere that it was good for colds too but of course I can’t find that site now.  I am not a huge fan of ginger but I actually liked this tea.  To make ginger tea, mince an inch or half inch piece of peeled ginger and steep with boiling water for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add honey to taste if desired.  I then let the ginger settle to the bottom and drank without straining.  I wish I would’ve tried this for morning sickness back when I was pregnant!

Raw Honey

Raw honey is supposed to be anti-viral and anti-bacterial.  Stir raw honey into hot tea or do what I did and use this as an excuse to eat it by the spoonful.  It really soothed my sore throat.  I also had toast with honey and cinnamon for breakfast as cinnamon is supposedly anti-bacterial and anti-viral as well.

Apple Cider Bomb

Apple cider vinegar drinks are all over the interwebs whether they be for fighting off colds or increasing weight loss or giving you clear skin or shiny hair.  For my cold, I mixed up two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon lemon juice and one tablespoon honey.  I then diluted that mixture in a glass of water and drank if before breakfast one morning.  It was a little rough going down and actually made my stomach upset almost immediately.  I had to eat a piece of toast quickly to calm it down.

Apple cider vinegar supposedly puts the body in an alkaline state, which helps the body kill off a cold virus.  Since it was a bit unpleasant going down I didn’t try it more than once.  BUT I will say that Benzo started to feel some sinus pressure about a week after I got sick so I made him drink this for a few days in a row.  He claimed it was allergies but I wasn’t so sure.  He did not end up getting sick.  Could be coincidence, could be that it worked.  Who knows for sure.  But I will try to remember this the next time I feel a cold coming on to see if I can ward it off faster.

Neti-Pot with Homemade Mix

I also used the neti-pot regularly with my homemade neti-pot mix.  This provided more relief in the later stages of my cold when I could actually breathe a little and get the solution to run all the way through.

And then there was the remedy that finally helped me get some sleep…..

The Hot Toddy

I couldn’t sleep for several nights since I couldn’t breathe and was coughing so much.  Benzo kept telling me to take a shot of whiskey but I thought he was crazy.  When you’re sick, alcohol is the last thing that sounds good.  Nothing was helping me sleep, not even nighttime cold medicine, so I gave in and had him make me a hot toddy.  It was just a cup of hot chamomile tea with a tablespoon of whiskey and honey to taste.  The first night I drank it I slept almost ten hours straight.  Benzo was kind enough to refrain from saying, “I told you so.”

I also drank tons of hot tea as well as lemon water for extra vitamin C.  I did take some day time cold medicine and lots of ibuprofen, so I don’t want anyone to think I was only fighting this thing naturally.

Here are links to some of the sites I checked out when looking for homemade cold remedies:

30 Homemade, Natural Cold & Flu Remedies

10 Natural Remedies for Conquering the Common Cold

Honey & Cinnamon – A Simple Cold Remedy That Kids Love

14 Powerful Natural Remedies for a Sinus Infection

I think natural remedies are great and can definitely help, but it’s important to know your own body and know when you need to seek medical help.  Hopefully we are moving out of cold & flu season now and can tuck these ideas away until next year!


Sweet Potato-Egg-Black Bean Skillet

March 6, 2015

I’ve been sick, sick, sick this week with a terrible cold.  It was really bad earlier in the week and now it’s tapered off and I’m feeling more human again.  I plan to share some homemade cold remedies soon, but for now I thought I’d share an easy dinner we had on Tuesday night.

We had a bunch of leftover cooked black beans and sweet potatoes from sweet potato-black bean quesadillas the night before.  I was trying to think of a way to use them up that wasn’t more quesadillas.  I also thought eggs sounded good for some reason.  So I googled “sweet potatoes black beans eggs” and found the following recipe on Eat Live Run:

Southwestern Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet

It looked really good and I’ve always been intrigued by those skillets where you cook the eggs on top of everything.  I showed it to Benzo who said “I’ve got this” and I entertained my children while he cooked.

He made a modified version since we didn’t have a lot of time nor all the ingredients.  Basically he warmed up the leftover black beans (probably half a can) and about half a cup of frozen corn in some oil in a big skillet with some dried onions, smoked paprika and cumin.  The sweet potatoes were already cubed and cooked from the night before, so they went in a little later to warm up.

Then he realized that the pan he was using couldn’t go in the broiler so he fried up some eggs on the side instead.  To serve we put the sweet potato mixture on a plate, topped with a fried egg and grated cheese.

The lighting in my kitchen is atrocious.  I wish I could post better photographs but if the picture isn’t on my phone it will never make it to the blog.  I just don’t have time to edit photos for every blog post!

Anywho this meal turned out really delicious!  We all liked it and decided we’d definitely make it again.  I’d like to try the full out recipe on Eat Live Run next time when we can plan in advance.  Our family likes the sweet potato/black bean combo a lot and it was nice to have something different instead of just quesadillas or tacos all the time.

I am so happy it’s Friday and I’m feeling better enough to enjoy the weekend.  We are finally getting some nice weather and I can’t wait to get my munchkins outside to burn off some of their cabin fever!


Velcro Stick Art

March 2, 2015

I mentioned a few weeks ago that for this past Christmas Benzo and I did a lot of DIY gifts for our kids.  One of them was velcro stick art.  We’ve been playing with it a lot lately so I thought I would share the project on the blog.  It is literally the EASIEST project ever.

I found the idea on Pinterest on the blog How Does She:

Stick Art Kit with Free Printables

You can probably guess how to put it together by the picture below.

All you need is BIG popsicle sticks, self-adhesive round velcro and something to put it all in.  I bought the zippered pouch below at the dollar store.  It works perfectly.

The stick art is a great quiet activity for little hands.  It is also a great opportunity to talk about shapes and letters as you try to build them out of the sticks.  And with lots of sticks you can build the more complicated shapes like hexagon and octagon and easily count the sides.  I think I made around 6-8 of each color.

I didn’t originally intend on getting the colored sticks but when I went to the craft store that was all they had.  I had my toddler with me and wasn’t about to make a second stop so colored sticks it was.  I ended up being really happy I made it with colored sticks because it gives you more opportunities to talk about colors in addition to shapes.  The other day while I was making dinner I asked my older son to make a purple house with a yellow roof.  The extra element of color captured his interest (instead of just “make a house”).  He also gets creative and makes “pizza” or really big, crazy shapes using all the sticks at once.  It’s fun to see what he comes up with that’s not on the cards.

I printed the printables front and back on white cardstock.  I meant to “laminate” them with clear contact paper so they would last longer, but I never got around to it.  I’m sure it won’t be long before they are destroyed and I will have to replace them with new prints.

Here are the sticks in action at a church service not long ago.  They did a decent job of keeping our kids busy and quiet!  The kit fits easily in the diaper bag.

Again this is the easiest DIY project you will ever do.  It takes literally 10 minutes to stick the velcro on the sticks and then print out the printable cards.  With the colored sticks I think this would make a great DIY gift for Easter baskets next month!

For the official instructions and the free printables (!) please see the following link:

Stick Art Kit with Free Printables

Thanks How Does She for such a great idea!



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