Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Chamomile…The Why

She knew about its health because she loved to read and had learned that chamomile tea had been used way before the book Peter Rabbit was written…for thousands of years before…mainly to treat anxiety and digestive problems—such as upset stomach, gas, and diarrhea.

So let’s take a look at why she was so smart…and why we all would also be smart if we started drinking chamomile tea more often.

 

 

 

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Cancer

The antioxidants found in chamomile tea serve as an anti-inflamatory and reduce the risk of several types of cancer….particularly the following…

  • breast
  • cancer of the digestive tract
  • skin cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • thyroid cancer
  • uterine cancer

 

 

 

 

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Controlling Your Blood Sugar Level

Drinking chamomile tea daily with meals for at least eight weeks has been shown to lower blood sugar levels significantly….prevent blood sugar spikes…and prevent damage to the pancreas, the organ that is responsible for producing insulin, the hormone responsible for removing sugar from your blood.

 

 

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Digestive Health

Chamomile tea has been shown to reduce the acidity in your stomach and is soothing to the stomach.

Because chamomile tea is both an antispasmodic and an anti-inflammatory properties, chamomile tea relaxes the muscles that line your stomach and intestines and helps keep your digestive system healthy…meaning that you are less likely to get or improve problems related to digestion—such as diarrhea, stomach ulcers, nausea, heartburn, IBS, and gas,

 

 

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Heart

Chamomile tea contains high levels of flavones, a class of antioxidants that is important for lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels…both of which are important for lowering your risk of getting heart disease.

Drinking chamomile tea with meals can greatly improve your total cholesterol, triglyceride and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels.

 

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Skin

When used topically as a wash, lotion, bath agent, or compress, chamomile can speed the healing of certain  skin conditions…such as eczema, minor burns, rashes,  and sunburn.

 

 

 

 

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Sleep

Drinking chamomile tea right before you go to bedtime can help you fall asleep more easily, improve the “quality” of your sleep, and keep you from waking up during the night for at least two reasons…

First of all…as we probably all can figure out from reading Beatrix’s Potter book…is the fact that chamomile has a mildly sedating and muscle-relaxing effect…just what you need when fears of Mr. McGregor or the Big Bad Wolf or life in general keep you awake at night.

Next, chamomile contains certain antioxidants…including apigenin…that are affect your ability to sleep.

 

 

 

 

 

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Other Health Issues 

Other health issues that chamomile tea have supposedly had an effect on include…

  • allergies
  • anxiety and restlessness
  • asthma
  • back aches
  • common cold
  • depression
  • morning sickness
  • osteoporosis
  • PMS
  • sore muscles and tight joints
  • sore throats

 

 

Food on Fridays, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Better Than the Wish Book Ever Was

So obviously after we’ve gotten our containers for our container gardening, we’re gonna need some plants to stuff in them…empty containers are just not that exciting, right?!

So that’s where the catalog comes in…

 

The seed catalog, that is…

 

 

Seed catalogs offer a colorful glimpse into the past and  have a colorful and important place in history, not only in gardening history.

These publications offer so much of an interesting and informative glimpse into our past, that the Smithsonian Institute has gathered a collection of about 10,000 seed catalogs—dating from 1830 to the present day—which reveal not only details about the history of gardening in the United States…but also a fascinating look at how printing, advertising and fashion trends have also changed throughout these years.

 

 

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Seed Catalogs Way Back When

Seed catalogs have been around a lot longer than most of us would imagine…as far as back as the plant identification books used during the Middle Ages to identify plants to be used for medicinal purposes…books referred to during those times as “herbals.”

 

 

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Florilegia

During the British Colonial era of the 16th century, more and more exotic plants were imported from various British colonies to fill the estates of elite British society.

These British aristocrats quickly became enterprising gardeners with quite the green thumb…and soon began publishing their own personal catalogs, known  as “florilegia,”…catalogs that began to focus not only on the medicinal value of the plants, but also their ornamental value.

 

 

 

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Emmanuel Sweerts

The oldest surviving seed plant catalog is the Florilegium, a catalog that Emmanuel Sweerts, a Dutch merchant and garden prefect for Emperor Rudolf II, brought with him to the 1612 Frankfurt Fair.

The Florilegium was an illustrated list of 560 hand-tinted images of flowering bulbs, plants, and other novelties from distant lands that, like previous botanical publications, contained not only the typical illustrations of plants and their medicinal uses, but also a list of the bulbs that he had available for sale.

In 2010, Christie’s auction house sold a copy of the book for nearly $40,000.

 

 

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Examples of American Seed Catalogs

As more and more American pioneers moved out West, ordering seed through seed catalogs became a vital necessity for these pioneers to bring fruits, vegetables and flowers with them to their new homes.

 

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Burpee

Another major seed catalog that people have looked forwarded to getting each year is the catalog put out by the Burpee Company, a company that was founded in Philadelphia in 1876 by W. Atlee Burpee.

In 1915 the Burpee Company was mailing over a million catalogs per year across the country…..and the Burpee catalog was the first catalog to offer yellow seed corn.

 

 

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Breck’s Bulbs

Joseph Breck & Co. seed company was established in Boston in 1818 and published its first seed catalog in 1840..,.known as “The New England Agricultural Warehouse and Seed Store Catalogue”….an 84-page publication that included illustrations and horticultural details next to product listings.

 

 

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D. Landreth Seed Co.

Perhaps the first “true” seed catalog, the sort of publication that we think of whenever we think of seed catalogs, was published in the United States by 18th century horticulturist David Landreth, founder of the D. Landreth Seed Co., which was founded in 1784 in Philadelphia and still exists today as one of the oldest companies in the nation.

D. Landreth Seed Co. has made such important contributions to gardening as we know it today by introducing, through the pages of its catalog, several flowers and vegetables that no true garden of today would be without—such as the zinnia, the white potato, and various breeds of tomatoes.

 

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The Turn of the Century 

Seed catalogs had been little more than printed price lists, used mostly for wholesale and not retail sale up until the late-18th and early-19th centuries.

Gardeners simply saved and traded seeds, or bought things locally as needed, and most plants were grown strictly for food or medicinal purposes….not just for the heck of it.

 

But, boy was this fixing to change…

 

Seed catalogs would soon become an elaborate affair as the dozens of seed companies in the seed company business fought hard for the business of their new mail order audience.

 

Only now did North Americans begin growing flowers and ornamental plants,  as the Victorian-obsessed American population became inspired by traditional British gardens.

Gardening was becoming not only a way to get food on the table, but was also starting to be enjoyed for its many other benefits also.

 

Seed and bulb merchants also began using their catalogs to promote gardening as a respectable and desirable endeavor of the emerging middle class. Editors encouraged their readers to pursue this new hobby by telling them things like…

  • Nothing more conspicuously bespeaks the good taste of the possessor than a well cultivated flower garden,”
  • “When we behold a humble tenement surrounded with ornamental plants, the possessor is a man of correct habits, and possesses domestic comforts.”
  • “A neglected, weed-strewn garden…or the lack of a garden at all…is a mark of indolence and an “unhappy state.”

The turn of the century was an exciting time here in America…a time just right for such publications as mail order catalogs…thanks to the latest and greatest “apps” of that day…”apps” such as…

  • Better printing presses that would for the first take make it econimically produce nice, thick catalogs filled with color illustrations
  • Cross-country rail travel
  • Improved agriculture, botany, and plant breeding methods
  • Improved commercial and postal networks
  • Introduction of cultivated home gardens
  • Shifting consumer preferences and cultural trends

 

Newly developed mail-order services meant that the previously isolated individual was no longer limited to  whatever fruit and vegetable seeds the local merchant had in stock, but could expand his horizons by buying products from all over the country and having the items shipped directly to his own home….(a novel concept in that day…long, long, long ago from our current days of Amazon Prime)

 

Increased competition meant that the previously boring lists of what seeds plants were available and at what price would now have to become more appealing to the newly liberated farmer…meaning that catalogs would now not only have to provide basic information, but also need to start using marketing gizmos for the first time if they were going to stay competitive…gizmos such as…

  • an introduction or message of greeting from the company owner
  • articles from gardening experts across the country
  • contests
  • detailed descriptions of how to cultivate the seeds and bulbs
  • lists of awards that the nursery’s plants had won at recent horticultural fairs or exhibitions
  • more and more ornate illustrations
  • more detailed descriptions…such as more use of superlatives like “Superb”, “Majestic”, “Giant” or “Perfection”
  • more elaborate and artistic catalog covers
  • more space given to illustrations and descriptions
  • novelty varieties
  • quirky art. hand drawings, and romanticized illustrations
  • special offers
  • testimonials

 

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WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII

World War I, the Great Depression and World War II impacted the gardening industry in several ways.

The fact that a dramatically fewer number plants were now being exported meant that the farmer was once more turning to local sources for their seeds.

The focus once again shifted to finding the basic staple foods—such as corn and potatoes—at the lowest cost possible…instead of exploring the novelty fruits and veggies from around the world that mail order catalogs had previously given him.

Exotic seed catalogs during this time frame were once again replaced with simple, boring  lists…especially given the fact that many countries put a ration on paper during World War II.

 

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Post World War II Seed Catalogs

Catalogs from 1945 celebrated the end of the World War II with colorful pictures and the advice that soldiers returning home from the war should now settle down and celebrate by decorating their homes with flowers bearing victory-related names. …such as the ‘Purple Heart’ viola shown on the back cover of the Jackson & Perkins catalog in 1945…or the V-For-Victory red Swiss chard plant displayed in the 1945 Burpee Seeds catalog.

After World War II, the soldiers return back home…and seed catalogs also returned to home mailboxes—in full size and color…as they still are today.

 

 

 

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Or are they?!

Actually, sad to say, seed catalogs may quickly become dinosaurs of the past only seen in museums…

Kinda like the real pianos that every single living room in America, both “in town” and “out of town,” but don’t get me started…oh yeah, kinda like hymnals in Southern Baptist churches…definitely don’t get me started on that one…

Seed catalogs seem to become few and far between as we are turn to our closest friend and companion, the internet, to order everything under the sun…(no pun intended)…

Thanks to our new BFF…the internet, though…printed seed and nursery catalogs are an endangered species these days, as almost all of us rely on the convenience of online browsing and same-day or next-day delivery.

Fewer and fewer seed companies are publishing seed catalogs at all any more because they can’t justify the increasing costs of printing and postage…given that the typical consumer is driven more by online shopping.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Baked Cod

Ever since my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I have tried not only to add antioxidants to our diet, but also choose foods that supposedly are diabetic-friendly.

The perfect baked cod is has a mild taste and is smothered with with the perfect amounts of butter and lemon juice,

 

 

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Ingredients

  • ¼C melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 slices lemon
  • 4 portions cod fish
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon basil

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Prepping to Cook

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease a baking dish.

 

 

 

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Seasoning the Fish

Combine melted butter, Parmesan, flour, garlic, basil,  onion powder, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice in a bowl.

In another bowl combine flour, spices, salt and pepper.
Pat fish fillet dry.

 

Dip fish in the lemon juice mixture…and then in the flour mixture.

Shake off excess flour.
Lay fish in prepared dish.
Top each piece of fish with a slice of lemon,

 

 

 

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Baking the Fish

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Brisk Breakfasts to Brag About

I feel like I have gone on so many tangents while writing this blog that they couldn’t possibly be counted.

 

I have gone all the way from learning to live a cruelty-free lifestyle and clean eating…to making scones with lots and lots of sugar and butter.

This latest tangent has been a result of “the resident five year old” going back to school.

Realizing that he never eats his lunch at school, I have learned the importance of making him a good breakfast instead.

So I have wanted to build myself an arsenal of breakfast recipes to keep him well fed…and hopefully well behaved at school.

 

So before we go on, let’s give our “breakfast cookbook” a Table of Contents…

 

 

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Table of Contents

Getting Healthy

Book Review…Essential Oils: The Complete Guide: Essential Oils for Beginners, Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Recipes

 

 

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Essential Oils: The Complete Guide: Essential Oils for Beginners, Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Recipes is a guide book about essential oils written to “introduce you to the world of essential oils and aromatherapy.”

The book was written primarily for beginners who have absolutely no prior knowledge about using essential oils and carrier oils.to show how to use them properly…

This book sparked my interest because so many of the natural body care and skincare products that I will be making and sharing in the near future contain them.

The title, Essential Oils: The Complete Guide: Essential Oils for Beginners, Aromatherapy and Essential Oil Recipes, is appropriate for the book because the book explains everything in simple, easy to understand steps..

The purpose of the book–showing how to use essential oils  properly-is carried out throughout the book as evident by the fact that the book tells the reader how to store your essential oils and carrier oils, and the fact that It is important to know what you are doing when you are using essential oils because some essential oils can do things such as increase UV light/sunlight sensitivity and affect your hormones.

According to the introduction, this book promises to teach you a natural treatment that takes care of both your mental and physical health at the same time…how to cure your common cold without the use of drugand how to start the day exploding with motivation and energy, whilst finishing the day calm, content and stress-free.all through the proper application of essential oils.

The author of the book is Amy Joyson.

The main idea of the book is that both your health and vitality can be improved through the use of essential oils.

My favorite part of the book was definitely the over 100 recipes for natural body and skincare products, as well as home cleaning products because this is something that I am focusing on right now in both my life and my blog…recipes to enhance your calm or self-esteem and confidence, to uplift your mood, to support your detox and many, many more.

Other topics discussed include what aromatherapy is and how you can use aromatherapy at home for stress relief and weight loss, what carrier oils are and how to use them, and what exactly essential oils are and how they work in the body.

I highly recommend this book, and feel that you will also be happy that you bought it.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Book Review…Essential Glow

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Essential Glow: Recipes & Tips for Using Essential Oils is an all-inclusive guide to natural beauty written for people who would like to learn how to use essential oils in their daily lives to boost their beauty, home, and general wellness.

This book sparked my interest because I am just now starting to use essential oils in my home now that I have started this journey to a happier and healthier lifestyle.

The title, Essential Glow, is appropriate for the book because the book was written by the same people who host the popular Hello Glow website—the ultimate source for daily inspiration, recipes, projects, and tips for living a healthy, mindful life and learning more about natural beauty and wellness.

The author of the book is Stephanie Gerber, a Nashville-based natural living blogger, who has also written…Stephanie Gerber says that she believes that “the journey to well-being can and should be, simple and beautiful, natural and stylish.”

The book is filled with over two hundred simple recipes and tutorials for making organic skincare and haircare-products, household cleaners, and even cosmetics at home…all using essential oils…including recipes for laundry softeners, all purpose cleaners, steam tablets, masks, bath oils, and invigorating scrubs.

Bibliophiles, Sewing a Straight Seam

Books, Books, Books Galore

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As far as your friends and family that absolutely can’t put a book down and would much rather be holding a leather bound book than a brand new cell phone or Ipad, here are some great sources for book suggestions as to which book to buy for what person…

Blogs can be excellent sources of information. A few blogs about books are Book RiotBustle BooksOmnivoraciousThe Millions, and The New York Review of Books.

Book clubs can also be useful as you embrace a literary lifestyle. Four of the better known book clubs are DoubleDayOprahGoodreads, and Book of the Month.

Book lists can also be found with reviews on sites like Book List OnlineList ChallengesGoodreadsBook RiotNew York Public Library, and Reading Group Choices.

Book reviews can also be read on pages with Book Challenges. Several challenges that I have been following this year are…

All About Austen…Read or watch anything inspired by Jane Austen.

Back to the Classics…Discover and enjoy classic books you might not have tried, or just never got around to reading.

Christian Reading Challenge.

Foodies Read…”Do you read books about food? There are books about food in so many different genres…

  • Cozy mysteries set in bakeries…
  • Romance books set in tea shops..
  • Nonfiction books about the history of ingredients…
  • Cookbooks
  • Memoirs from chefs or waiters or people who just love to eat…

Full House Reading Challenge ...Complete the Bingo card of challenges with fiction or non-fiction books

Netflix and Books Challenge. This is going to be a yearly challenge focused on watching television shows we’ve been wanting to get to (both new and old), and reading books we’ve been wanting to read that match some fun challenge prompts

Reading Assignment Challenge... Commit to reading 1, 2, 3 or 4 books a month and make a list of the specific books you will read each month.

Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge...This challenge is about QUALITY and not quantity. It’s not about reading fifty books or even twelve books. This is an anti-rush reading challenge. Enjoy where you are in a book, and, engage fully in it. Live in the book.

Victorian Reading Challenge…More than any other time in modern history, the Victorian Age saw the most change to European and American societies. Many agrarian, rural communities transitioned to urban centers of industry. Men and women began to talk about and take steps toward redefining their traditional roles. Theories about God, the origin of man, and the practice of religion began to be publicly put forth, challenged, refuted, or solidified. The Victorian Age saw a great revolution in the western world and it’s a topic that fascinates me endlessly.  

Pinterest Boards may also prove to be a great asset a few worth noting are

  • Book Community Board
  • Goodreads
  • Penguin Random House Boards
  • Random House Official Pinterest Board

Websites can obviously give you reviews, reading guides, interviews with authors, and so forth. A few websites worth investing your time in are…

 

Dropping the Kids Off

How to Help Your Children Experience Christmas All Year Long

Never thought that I would be nearly fifty chasing a three year old 24/7…but life happens…

And so many of us are raising, or even adopting, our own grandchildren these days…(so not getting on my soapbox about different generations right now)…
But there are several advantages of spending lots and lots of time with your grandchildren.

1. Assurance–-Knowing that your child is safe and well taken care of while your kids, aka their parents, are at work or school is so important…do you really want to entrust the maintenance and upkeep of your most precious investments with just anybody who puts up a sign and calls themselves a daycare center…

2. Example—You have a unique position to serve as a role model for your grandkids that they might not otherwise get. they watch how you go through the day and how you interact with other people. You set the precedent for how they will treat their own kids…and they will treat their own kids…and they will treat their own kids…hopefully producing generation after generation of people who make a positive difference in the lives ariund them.

3. Relationship–Having the privilege of getting to spend both quantity time and quality time with your grandchildren is a privilege that many grandparents never get. my husband was active duty military when my kids were little…and we never lived closer than eight hours from our own parents.

4. Trust—Develop a relationship that allows you to be that You are that one person, or often one of the very few people that a child can tell or count on if there is a challenge that she is at first unwilling to approach with a parent. spending quality time and quantity time with your grandchildren teaches intimacy, trust, and commitment.

5. Success...Finally, active grandarenting gives you unstructured time to build the foundation for academics and real life that lie ahead. These early years can create a love of learning in your child and give him the confidence to try new things.
Instilling a love of reading in your kids at a young age doesn’t always have to mean cracking a book. If you can find a children’s magazine that is the right fit for your child, it can be the ticket that turns your child into an enthusiastic reader.

 

 

Anyway, enough of my rambling on about being a full-time grandmother-“mother”…

Let’s look at some ideas as far as what to get them for Christmas, without encouraging their screen time any more than it already is…

 

Surrounding your kids with a variety of reading material and exposing them to different types of writing—fiction and nonfiction, poems and recipes—can make reading so much more exciting.

Book experts and bloggers from around the world agree that magazines can inspire a love of art, crafts, nature, reading, writing, comics, puzzles, cooking, and hands-on experiments.

If you too remember the thrill of your very own magazine arriving in the mail with your name on it,here are a few options to spurn a whole new generation of readers.

 
1.  Babybug Magazine..

  • Cost…9 Issues: $33.95
  • Contents…brightly illustrated action rhymes, Mother Goose and other traditional nursery rhymes, basic concepts, and simple stories that are perfect for parents and grandparents to read aloud…featuring a variety of art styles and media, including paint, watercolors, woodblock prints, tapestry, collages, and pastels.
  • Geared towards…children ages 6 months to 3 years
  • Published…9 times a year, every month except for combined May/June, July/August, and November/December issues
  • Publisher…The Cricket Magazine Group
  • Started…1995

 
2.  Chirp Magazine..

  • Cost…$34.95
  • Contents…colorful pages, stories, puzzles, silly jokes, engaging stories, crafts, recipes,  and early-learning activities
  • Geared towards...3- to 6-year-olds
  • Published…10 issues per year
  • Publisher…Owl Media, Canada
  • Started…1997

3.  Click

  • Cost…$36.95
  • Content…takes children on a journey of discovery about the world around them…science, art, nature, and environmental issues…one intriguing topic at at time
  • Geared towards...3-6 years
  • Published…9 issues per year
  • Publisher…Cricket Media


4.  Clubhouse Jr.

  • Cost...$23.99
  • Content…faith-filled fun and biblical values for young children
  • Geared towards...3-7 years
  • Published…12 issues per year
  • Publisher…Focus on the Family

5.  Disney Junior

  • Cost…$18.00
  • Content…magical storytelling and playful activities, featuring the best-loved Disney characters. From the delights of Mickey Mouse, Sofia the First, Doc McStuffins, and the swashbuckling adventures of Jake
  • Geared toward…ages 2 – 7
  • Published…six times per year
  • Publisher…Disney Magazines

6.  Family Fun Magazine.

  • Cost…$10.99
  • Content…ideas for family cooking, vacations, creativity, traveling, parties, holidays, crafts, fun, and much more to get the whole family interacting
  • Geared toward…parents with kids from the ages of 3 to 12
  • Published…monthly
  • Publisher…Meredith Corporation
  • Started…1991

7.  Fun To Learn Friends

  • Cost…$19.97
  • Content…join characters such as Curious George, PAW Patrol, Clifford, and Peppa Pig in activities designed to make learning fun, while helping to develop key skills in math, reading and creativity…each issue includes a 12 page workbook to encourage and develop early learning skills
  • Geared toward…age 2 – 7yrs
  • Published…six times per year
  • Publisher…Redan Publishing


8.  Highlights High Five

  • Cost…$39.96
  • Content…free online audio stories, matching games and other puzzles, easy recipes and crafts, action rhymes, stories from other lands and cultures to expand children’s empathy
  • Geared toward…ages 2 to 6
  • Publisher…Highlights for Children, Inc.
  • Started…2007

CRAFTS

Art should also play a role in the development of your kids. There are many benefits For children being given the opportumity to do arts and crafts during their formative years. these include self-confidence and problem solving ability,

Taking time to be creative at an early age will help them during their actual school years and later in their careers.

In the business world, these children will be be valuable employees who are able to embrace diversity, envision  innovative and valuable ideas and solutions to a problem, take risks and feel comfortable with the outcome and any mistakes, see other points of view, and think outside of the box.

Most importantly, these kids will never losing touch with the creative child inside of them.

Here are some of the best blogs that I have found that we, as parents and teachers, can use to gather ideas and inspiration to encourage creativity in our children.

1.  Art Bar Blog… This blog is written by a former graphic designer who now teaches art from her home in Connecticut.

She believes that providing a space, time, a table, a willing parent, and art materials for children to create, explore, invent, and tinker develops their ability to flourish into a lifelong creative thinker.

Her art projects have been featured in publications, such as Real Simple.


2.  Art for Kids and Robots…Jeanette Nyberg, author of Tangle Art & Drawing Games for Kids, finds both art and kids to be creative, interesting, and fun. She also believes that art is not fostered nearly enough in American public schools and offers art projects for kids on her blog to hopefully fill in that gap.


3.  Elise Gets Crafty…Elise Blaha Cripe, author of the Get to Work Book, started a blog in 2005 and began sharing craft projects and tutorials. In 2008, she opened her first online shop, where she has made and sold everything from letterpress prints to wooden plant stands.
Fun at Home with Kids…Asia Citro, Author of 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids, The Curious Kid’s Science Book, A Little Bit of Dirt, and the Zoey and Sassafras seri

4.  Hands Free Mama…Rachel Macy Stafford, author of Hands Free Mama, Hands Free Life, and Only Love Today…started this blog in 2010 and now has 98,000 followers on her Hands Free Revolution facebook page.

Her goal is to provide strategies that will allow for parents to be less distracted and more fully present in the moments spent with family.

5.  Hands On As We Grow...Jamie Reimer, uses the blog “Hands On As We Grow” to post simple “hands on” activities…such as crafts, art projects, gross motor activities, and fine motor activities…that are simple to put together for your kids.


6.  hello, Wonderful…Agnes Hsuan, author of My Color is Rainbowoffers the best ideas to create, celebrate, and enjoy those magical everyday moments and create memories  with your kids, saving you hours of sorting through endless websites and inspiration boards.

7.  Meri Cherry…Meri Cherry is a reggio inspired atelierista and private art teacher in Los Angeles with nearly twenty years experience. she believes that creativity is not only fun, but also a great source of self-confidence. Her mission is to inspire both the  young and the old to be creative, think outside the box, and go for their dreams.


8.  Picklebums…This blog was started in 2005 by a former early childhood teacher from Victoria, Australia.

9.  Pink Stripey Socks…Leslie Manlapig, co-author of STEAM Kids- 50+ Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, and Math Activities for kidsSTEAM Kids Christmas- 25 Activities for kids, and Happy Handmade, is a minimalist who believes that crafts can encourage others.

10.  Red Ted Art…Maggy Woodley, author of Red Ted Art: Cute and Easy Crafts for Kids..is a blogger who loves all things crafty  and desires to share easy, do-able, and fun craft ideas and how-tos for all ages.

11. Simple as That Blog…Rebecca, a professional photographer and mother of four, from Alberta, Canada, has been sharing easy-to-follow crafts and recipes, organization tips, mom-hacks that will help your home and your life run a little more smoothly, photography tutorials, and ways to save your family’s story since founding this site in 2005

She enjoys putting together simple DIY projects using easy-to-find materials and a few basic supplies, and believes that…

Fewer elaborate projects means easier-to-organize supplies.
Fewer distractions means more focused attention for my kids.
Fewer to-do’s and less stress means more joy in the everyday.


12.  The Art Pantry…The Art Pantry is a design studio specializing in children’s creative play spaces, founded by Megan Schiller. Her mission is to design organized and functional spaces dedicated to creativity and quality art supplies in order to foster children’s independence, investigation, and creative play.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Book Review—The First Mess by Laura Wright

The book The First Mess by Laura Wright is a book about the accessibility and joys of plant-based wellness.

This book first appealed to me because lately I have been looking for healthier ways for our family to cook and eat…especially since my husband has been diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic.

This book will be especially of interest to people who are interested in learning how to prepare simple, seasonal vegan and plant-based meals that my family will enjoy

The central themes carried out throughout the book are the love for fresh ingredients, a respect towards the process of prepping and cooking them, and an overall approach to keeping it simple.

The author of the book is Laura Wright, the blogger behind the Saveur award-winning blog The First Mess.

Laura grew up working at her family’s local food market and vegetable patch in southern Ontario, where fully stocked root cellars in the winter and armfuls of fresh produce in the spring and summer were the norm. After attending culinary school and working for one of Canada’s original local food chefs, she launched The First Mess at the urging of her friends in order to share the delicious, no-fuss, healthy, seasonal meals she grew up eating, and she quickly attracted a large, international following.

The book features more than 125 whole-food recipes that showcase the best produce that each season has to offer.

The book begins with a guide for stocking your pantry and buying kitchen equipment, and then features over a hundred recipes organized into the following categories…

Mornings & Breakfast, such as Fluffy Whole Grain Pancakes

Soups & Stews, such as Garlicky Winter Vegetable and White Bean Mash with Mushroom Miso Gravy

Salads & Dressings, such as Romanesco Confetti Salad with Meyer Lemon Dressing

Hearty Mains & Big Plates, such as Butternut and Pesto Cream Lasagna

Vegetables & A Couple of Grains, such as Burrito-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Energizing Drinks & Small Bites

Desserts & Small Treats, such as Earl Grey and Vanilla Bean Tiramisu

Each seasonal, wholesome, and delicious recipe includes a photograph…gluten-free, sugar-free, oil-free, and nut-free options…and the amount of time that recipe will require.

 I didn’t find the recipes too complicated or too “extra.”  These plant-centric recipes will allow you to use up what you already have, encourage you to try something new, and create your own basics instead of buying them.

I found this book to be very organized, especially because it contains an easy-to-use index and informative table of contents.

I also found the book to be encouraging and fun to read because Laura shares interesting stories about specific ingredient and dishes, memories from childhood about harvesting and preparing it certain foods, and her decision to become a vegan.

The book is beautifully designed and laid out. The fonts are easy to read, and the ingredients and instructions are listed side-by-side in a very user-friendly way.

Each and every recipe has a beautiful color picture (almost always full-page)…a series of icons at the top for nut-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, etc….and the amount of time that the recipe will require.

Heading Off to Work

Be Purposeful

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As you set goals and decide to incorporate newer and better habits into your daily routine, it is important that you be purposeful. Questions to ask yourself what this new habit will give you or help you know, what this new habit might help prevent, and how this new habit will help you both short-term and long-term.

For example, my habit of writing has given me the opportunity to learn more about topics that I am interested in, given me a creative outlet in which to express myself, and become a part of my daily routine that I truly look forward to.

As another example, recently my husband was diagnosed with diabetes, so I want to begin this battle with an introduction of more “raw foods” into our diet. Incorporating raw and healthier foods into our diet will help me know what I am eating instead of eating mindlessly, prevent further health problems, and help us both maintain and improve our health, both short-term and long-term.

As you begin making this new habit a part of your daily routine, regardless of what that habit may be, there are a few things that you should consider…

First, is important to figure out where you can best complete this task. For example, if you are beginning a new exercise program, would you be better off working at home by yourself, at a gym with other motivated people, or at the park.

 

 

Next, it is important to block off specific times to focus on this new habit. For example, I typically write for an hour once I wake up, but before I get out of bed…plus a couple of hours each week at a local coffee shop where I am surrounded by other people drinking coffee and working on their computers…practically free from distractions, and very close to high-quality coffee.

Make the most of your writing time by have a basic idea of what you need to do, what your plans are, and what task needs to be completed next

Use a timer. Decide a minimum amount of time that you want to spend on your goal  each day. Setting a timer forces you to stay focused, get to the point, and keep the schedule you’ve set for yourself.

 

Name your destination. Know which direction you are headed.

Using a planner will help you stay on track of goals for the week, month, and any other long term goals…as well as what needs to be done and when.

Start your work day by making a ‘to do’ list and going through your planner to see what you have scheduled for the day.

Set up routines where you can. Routines enable you to complete certain tasks automatically and helps reduce stress.

 

4.  Track your time. Know how you have spent your time—what you’re doing, when, and for how long. This will help you evaluate and change habits, eliminate wasted time, and increase your productivity.

 

 

 

5. Work smart. Plan out your work sessions. Know what you’re going to get done, so you don’t waste part of your work time figuring out what you need to do.

 

5. Know who you can turn to for advice or facts. Know where to find whatever it is that you are looking for, how to get your creative juices and inner drive pumping, and how your brain works.

 

6. Group your daily ‘to do’ list and tasks. Not having to constantly switch from one type of task to another helps you knock out an entire category of work in no time. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking may seem like a good way to get more done in less time, but it actually slows you down because your attention is divided between two activities.

 

7.  Know your limits. Learn to say “no” to things you don’t have to do. Limit time spent on social media. Turn off social media notifications.

 

6. Neighbor your neighborhood…Each of us has something to offer each individual they come in contact with. Learn from those around you. Take time to actually meet and find people with the same interests, goals, and ambitions as you yourself. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals will help you have a good support system, help you learn more—and more quickly, result in long-lasting friendships, help you feel like you belong to a group, and help others see your development from another perspective.

 

So who are the “right” people?!

Those people…

  • who are always ready to support you any time you need help
  • who are passionately doing creative works and great things that will inspire you
  • who can help us can gain new perspectives and information about experiences you never knew existed
  • who provide an overall support system.

These include…

  • The closest people in your life—your family and friends…
  • Children…Children are one of the best sources of inspiration. Spending time with children helps us realize how many of us have lost the “inner child within us” and prompt us to reconsider our values and priorities.
  • “Random” people  around us…Giving to those around us without expecting anything in return, but simply with the goal of showing compassion, even if only holding the door open for someone, helps us make a difference in their lives and restore a glimmer of hope in their eyes,
  • Colleagues…Attending conferences and workshops, joining different industry-related groups, and exchanging ideas with people on forums will help you understand the latest trends and let the innovative ideas of creative people become your inspiration. The “right” colleagues within your career field should share the same…Audience—should have large, active and engaged audiences…Influence—should be seen as influential or somewhat influential…Relevance—should be relevant to your niche.

Fox example, the neighborhood of blogging and writing might include…

1. Actual Blogs...The most obvious way to find other bloggers is through their own blogs. Leave comments. Start reading their blogs regularly. Send them an email asking them about a previous post. The main thing is “to see and be seen.

1.  2017 Blog Conferences…at least those held in Texas

2.  Blog Engage…Blog Engage is a blogging community where bloggers submit articles to be read and voted on by other members. As a blogger trying to meet other bloggers, it is important that you find the right Group for yourself. These Groups allow users to share articles with other members who specifically share a common interest in a topic.

3.  Blogger Meetups-–Meetup offers a database of local groups that meet together in “real life” to talk about a given topic or support a given cause.

3. Blog Engage ..Blog Engage is a blogging community where bloggers submit articles to be read and voted on by other members. As a blogger trying to meet other bloggers, it is important that you find the right Group for yourself. These Groups allow users to share articles with other members who specifically share a common interest in a topic.

4. Blogger Forums…A list of the ten best discussion forums for bloggers can be found on the Mint Blogger site. My ADHD self honestly had trouble focusing on any of these forums, but this is always an option for meeting other bloggers…

5. Blogger Meetups…Meetup offers a database of local groups that meet together in “real life” to talk about a given topic or support a given cause

6. Facebook Groups…Facebook Groups can be a great way to connect with various groups of people in the blogging world. Whether you are looking for design help, for connections to cross promote, or for Pinterest boards to collaborate on, Facebook groups are a great place to start looking. They are free and really easy to use and see right in your newsfeed.

  • Blog + Biz BFFs
  • Blog and Business: Moms Who do it All;
  • Bloggertunities
  • Blogger Perks
  • Bloggers United
  • Blogging Newbs
  • Christian Women Bloggers Network
  • Christian Women Blogs
  • Christian Bloggers Network
  • Grow Your Blog
  • Inspired Bloggers Network
  • Mommyhood Media Bloggers
  • SITS Girls
  • Social Media Network Group
  • The Blog Loft
  • The Blogger Life
  • WordPress Help for Beginners
  • WordPress Help & Share
  • Writers/Bloggers Network

7. Inbound.org…Inbound.org is a bookmarking website and learning tool that gives you a large community of active top industry influencers that can help you find inspiration for blogging.

8. Local Colleges and Universities...Local colleges and universities are another group of people that can be added to your team. Not only will these provide you with access to other bloggers, but obviously professionals and faculty. I am seriously considering this OMCA® Social Media Associate program from the University of Texas at Arlington, my alma mater…and thisSocial Media class from Tarrant Community College.

9. Triberr…Triberr is a social platform that helps bloggers work together to share each other’s content. The site is built around various “tribes” or communities of interest. Once you join a tribe, the idea is that you share the blog content of fellow tribemates to your social following and they do they same.

?. Writing for Sites such as Ezinearticles.com and Hubpages…These are both article networks that allow experts to share original, short, easy-to-read articles about basically any of a couple hundred topics in which that person feels they have knowledge, expertise, and wisdom. These articles can be informative, educational, and/or entertaining.

The goal for writing for any of these platforms is to write something sensible so that your readers keep on reading, to establish your own expertise and credibility, and to make the reader want to visit your website or blog for further information.

Potential problems with writing for one of these sites include the fact that these platforms appeal to only a particular segment of the market and may seem “unprofessional” to others, may defeat any claims that your site climbed to #1 on Google based on its own credit alone, can be an incredible waste of time—even though you may think that you’re making incremental progress by writing ten articles a day about your favorite long-tail keywords…only to discover thar your effort has only been wasted time.