A blog about family, food and fun!

Oscoey

Oscoey

A blog about family, food and fun!


Blog

Easy Rainbow Flowers Science Activity

Easy Rainbow Flowers Science Activity

A few weeks ago we had our three year old help us pick out flowers to give to our friends when we ate dinner at their house.  Being three, she was instantly lured to the artificially colored daisies in rainbow hues.  She absolutely loved them […]

Garden Update April 23, 2017

Garden Update April 23, 2017

We have finally been able to make some progress on our garden this week.  Our pumpkin and sunflower seedlings are growing well and are almost ready for hardening off and transplant.  I checked this morning and the watermelon seedlings are just starting to peek through […]

Earth Day Every Day

Earth Day Every Day

April 22nd is Earth Day. As we were poking about in the garden I thought about posting a bunch of activities for Earth Day like making stuff out of other stuff or coloring pictures of earth and discussing pollution but then I asked myself what would that accomplish. I mean we would be creating yet another craft out of materials that will not last and I will eventually will end up having to secretly throw out because the copious amounts of glue/glitter/whatever junk we put together is not recyclable and I am not spending my limited free time pulling out all of the recyclable pieces from the project. Coloring pages are great but there are so many other ways to educate kids about reducing waste, recycling and “saving the planet” than printing out a new sheet of (bleached) white paper with a few lines that my kid may or may not actually color all the way and will eventually will end up in the recycling bin. It seems like that would defeat the purpose. Isn’t Earth Day all about finding ways to make the earth a better place and to reduce our waste?

Then I thought well maybe I can somehow reuse some materials that most people would not have thought of in a new way like instead of going and buying grass seed to make grass for my kids to cut I could just pull some of the many, many, many (did I say many?) freeloading grass seedlings out of my garden beds and kill two birds with one stone. But why on earth would I bring a bucket of grass (which I am HIGHLY allergic to BTW) into my house so that my three year old can cut it once and get bored. Guess what? She could easily do this activity outside with our actual grass. She just needs to take her scissors out there, cut away and there will be no mess to clean up, my edges will be trimmed and we will all benefit from being outdoors for a bit.

 

Gathering Treasure

 

So I really thought about it and guess what? Our family celebrates Earth Day every day in many little ways that add up to big changes over a lifetime and that has more impact overall than gluing leaves/twigs/flowers on a piece of paper or any other crafty type activity once a year that will eventually end up in the trash. Yes, planting trees, picking up garbage, volunteering for restoration projects on Earth Day are excellent ways to bring awareness to how we can contribute but to truly have an impact we need to incorporate Earth Day type principles into everyday life. We are by no means the spitting image of a family that does everything they can to reduce, reuse and recycle but we do what we can. My kids love to play with found materials such as rocks and old garden containers outside but they also love to play with their toys so after writing this post I am going to think up some more ways we can change our ways for the better.

 

Here are 5 ways our family reduces waste:

    1. We take advantage of our local Buy Nothing group for as many items as possible. I was really nervous about this at first but we have gotten some really great items out of it like most of my son’s 2t clothes for next fall and a large chunk of my daughter’s summer clothes for this year.  I also absolutely love that what I give to people they actually need and I am not contributing to the inequality that Goodwill practices with it’s pay scale for disabled workers. Other groups to try are Freecycle or local mom’s groups.  I found some on Facebook in my area by searching for my city.  
    2. When our Buy Nothing group doesn’t have what I need for the kids I turn to my local thrift shops (Not Goodwill! truly local, one owner shops) or attend one of the periodic used kids consignment sales.  Some of the ones in our area are Jack and Jill, Just Between Friends and Moms of Multiples.   If you google “Jack and Jill sale” of “Moms of Multiples sale” and your city it will pop up with ones in your area.  If you are going to the sales you need to go early, leave the kids at home and be prepared for crowds.  People get a little crazy sometimes but I have found some great bargains and some of the items have ended up being our favorite clothes.  
    3. The number one best way to reduce waste is to simply buy less stuff.  We really ask ourselves “Do we need this item or can something else work instead” and then we sit on the decision for a while.  Sometimes we wait a few days, sometimes a few weeks and other times we are still waiting a few years later. Many times you can find something in your house that will make do.  This spring I needed extra containers to plant my seeds but instead of going out and buying flimsy seed trays that would only last a season or two I rummaged in the garage and found two plastic tubs I have told myself I needed to throw out a million times because they are ancient and were taking up space but guess what? They work perfectly for my seed starts and I will be using them for many more years to come.
    4. Buy quality items that will last.  Quality does not always mean expensive either.  We bought our dishes from IKEA and they were something like $10 on clearance for a set of six but they were a good solid weight ceramic in a basic color we could live with for many years.  We bought two sets about 6 or 7 years ago and they are still going strong.  Don’t give in to the temptation of buying a new set of dishes in every few years because you want a new color! My mother-in-law just replaced the basic white dishes she bought when my husband was little.  I am pretty amazed at her ability to resist temptation!
    5. Avoid buying processed food at all cost and reduce your food waste as much as possible.  We used to be much better about not buying processed food but then we had our third child and suddenly everything was thrown out of balance. I am trying to get back into the swing of things and cook 90% of our own food. It has been hard though because the baby will only eat fruit from a pouch and cooking with him around is nearly impossible, let alone canning stuff on the stove with a one year old walking around.  I have been making my own pear sauce though and freezing it in reusable food pouches which has greatly reduced our waste. Another way to reduce your food waste is to buy your ingredients in bulk and use them in several different recipes throughout the week. This will save you money up front and exercise your creative muscle when it comes to leftovers. This week we bought Brussels sprouts from Costco and we ate on three different days, shaved Brussels sprouts salad (princess salad), roasted sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts, and more princess salad. The one 4 pound bag of Brussels sprouts lasted for 3 dinners and a few lunches and cost only about $5.00 so not only did we save money, we ate healthier and there was very little waste.

 

My goal this year is to continue to find ways to reduce waste.  We were doing tulip art today and I was thinking of what I was going to write and I realized that yes, we were reusing items but I probably could do better and buy those multi purpose trays instead of using up extra paper plates from parties. I will have to be more conscious of how we are using items in our home.

 

 

 

Those are some ways we make Earth Day every day in our home by reducing our waste.  What are some ways you make Earth Day every day in your house?

 

 

North Side Fern Discovery

North Side Fern Discovery

To say the north side of my house was a hot mess is an understatement.  The previous owners planted a bunch of bushes and some ivy along the property line and I honestly barely did any gardening back there last year so the weeds were […]

Hilarious Japanese Toilet Candy

Hilarious Japanese Toilet Candy

For Christmas I bought this  Takoyaki candy from Japan for my teenager. Takoyaki is one of her favorite foods and she found it online and wanted to try it.  It was ok and I wish I had gotten pictures of it but she had fun […]

Easy Dairy-Free Grandma’s Fruit Salad

Easy Dairy-Free Grandma’s Fruit Salad

My grandma made fruit salad for us growing up and it was always my favorite because she put a few marshmallows in there.  My mom was always trying to eat healthy so marshmallows were a rare treat in our house.  I made this yummy salad with my three year old today because she ate most of it last time we made it and I needed to use up both rainbow marshmallows (bought by the oldest on a whim) and coconut cream from when I made Cauliflower Coconut Curry earlier in the week.

 

Ingredients

 

One of the best ways to save money on groceries is to reduce your wasted food to almost nothing.  So many people forget about food in their pantry/fridge and don’t find it until after it has gone bad.  I always try to use up ingredients by using them in multiple meals throughout the week and to use leftovers from recipes right away.  We also have a smaller fridge in our kitchen so that we can’t store too many leftovers at once and have leftovers for lunch every day and a couple of nights a week for dinner.  We have gotten way better about reducing our food waste over the years using these strategies.

 

Leftover Coconut Cream

 

I had my daughter help me make the salad because she loves to cook and this recipe is great for kids to help with. There really isn’t a way to mess it up and mixing is my daughter’s favorite cooking task right now so it was right up her alley.  Since the baby can’t help I found something for him to do while we made fruit salad.  He has gotten better at using a spoon over the last month so I set him up with some sensory play using dried beans, dried peas, a couple of bowls and a spoon.  This sort of activity requires that the kid does not put the small pieces in their mouths so it is important to wait until they are able to keep things out of their mouth without constant supervision if you are giving it to them while you are preoccupied.  My son just turned 14 months and I am just starting to be able to do these types of things with him.  He loved it and didn’t start throwing beans on the floor until near the end so it worked out perfectly. I have reused these beans and peas many times with my daughter so there were a few paper clips in there. Ha! I also gave him one of these scoopers  because he wanted to be like his sister but he was a little young for it.

 

Sensory play with beans and peas.

 

I opened the can of fruit cocktail and drained it over a bowl so that my daughter could drink the juice.

 

 

 

Next I had her practice scooping by transferring the fruit cocktail into a mixing bowl with a large spoon.  She loved doing scooping with her brother!

 

 

 

Next we added the marshmallows and my daughter stirred.

 

 

 

 

I scooped about a half cup of the coconut cream into the bowl and had her stir.  Make sure to mix the coconut cream first so it isn’t lumpy. I was a little sleepy so I also put some in my coffee which is a great dairy-free substitute for cream.

 

 

 

Then we added a bit more coconut cream and stirred it really well to complete the fruit salad.

 

 

It was lunch time so I made wraps with leftover pork loin sliced thin, lettuce, mayo and mustard.  The fruit salad was a refreshing end of the week treat to go with our lunch.  To change things up you could also use cool whip/whip cream if you can do dairy. You could also add some coconut flakes or fresh cut fruit to the salad.  I made it with fruit cocktail because it was fast and easy and my daughter didn’t have to wait for me to cut up a bunch of fruit.  Having a bit of canned fruit on hand is also great for an emergency kit or for if you can’t make it to the store but be sure to use it before it goes bad or it will just be money down the drain!

 

 

Happy cooking!

 

Grandma's Fruit Salad

April 15, 2017
: 4
: 15 min
:
: 15 min
: Easy

Fruit salad like my grandma used to make, only dairy-free!

By:

Ingredients
  • 1 can of fruit cocktail
  • 1/2 to 1 c coconut cream
  • 1/2 c rainbow mini marshmallows
Directions
  • Step 1 Open the can of fruit cocktail and drain for about 10 minutes.
  • Step 2 Transfer fruit cocktail to a medium sized bowl and add the marshmallows.
  • Step 3 * Optional * Using a hand mixer, mix the coconut cream until smooth. This should only take a couple of minutes.
  • Step 4 Stir in about 1/2 cup of the coconut cream, add more until all of the fruit cocktail is covered but it isn’t soupy.
  • Step 5 Serve immediately. If you want your salad a little colder you can always pop the can of fruit cocktail into the fridge ahead of time to cool it down but you may need to drain it longer if you do this step. Alternately you could drain the fruit cocktail in the fridge if you have room!
  • Step 6 Enjoy!

 

 

Easy Slow Cooker Cauliflower Coconut Curry (Dairy-Free/Vegan Option)

Easy Slow Cooker Cauliflower Coconut Curry (Dairy-Free/Vegan Option)

I love mild coconut curry with potatoes.  My mother-in-law makes a chicken coconut curry that is my absolute favorite but she doesn’t ever give up her real recipes so I created this cauliflower coconut curry recipe based on the many curry recipes I found.  Since […]

2017 Seed Starts

2017 Seed Starts

We are a bit late starting seeds this year.  We have been dealing with back to back sickness for months and a lot of our projects have been pushed aside. Last week I started some watermelons, sunflowers, pumpkins and ground cherries. Next week I am […]

5 Tools for Making it Through the New Puppy Stage

5 Tools for Making it Through the New Puppy Stage

We added a puppy to our family last fall and even though we have owned dogs for many years, we have never had a young puppy.  We got our dachshund Zoey at 6 months and by then she had outgrown many of her young puppy traits.  We came into our puppy through close friends whose Golden Retriever we had loved for many years.  We had always said we would want one of his puppies and since their neighbor’s Giant Schnauzer had gotten out just at the right time the opportunity presented itself.

 

Adding a puppy with two young children, a teenager heading off to college in a year and without a fenced yard was a slightly crazy decision on our part but we decided to take the plunge and he is a member of the family now.

 

George (L) and Zoey (R) the day they met

 

He was tiny and he was cute and he slept through the night in his crate from the very beginning with no accidents.  Zoey our temperamental dachshund that does not like any other dogs took to him immediately. That being said there were many crazy days when George’s high energy lead to some less desirable behaviors.  Here are five things that we discovered along that way that helped immensely.

 

1. Crate Training

 

I can’t emphasize this enough. Puppies need their rest time otherwise they turn into crazy, bitey, squiggly beasts that are unable to listen to a word you say.  It turns out that when you have loud, high energy children and a high energy puppy they will feed off of each other and the puppy will not rest so creating a calm safe environment for George was a must.  He loves his crate and most mornings when the children get loud he asks to go sleep in it so he can nap in peace.  We bought this  Double-Door Folding Metal Dog Crate from Amazon and it works really well.

 

2. Special Kong for Crate Time

 

We wanted crate time to be happy time so we rewarded George for being in the crate with a KONG puppy.  Now that he is older and has all of his adult teeth we bought him the KONG extreme  which he loves to have treats stuffed in while he chews.  We bought hard biscuit type treats from our local pet store but some people use foam spray or small pieces of dog food for their dogs to eat. At some point we will try making our own treats which is something the kids would love to help with.

 

3. Daily Exercise

 

Physical activity is required for any dog, especially high energy ones. It is very important not to overdo it the first year though, especially with larger breeds of dogs because they can develop hip dysplasia later in life. We started out walking George up and down our street at about 12 weeks.  That is the age our vet said we could take him outside but not interact with other dogs yet.  At 16 weeks we were able to take him to puppy play time at Petco which I highly recommend. They have a trainer there that helps with the play time and gives you tips on how the dogs are interacting.  You can look up times for your local Petco here.

 

 

4. Mental Stimulation

 

Working your puppy’s brain out will also help with boredom and chewing.  We went through many toys trying to figure out what would keep George busy playing independently.  The best investment for us was hands down this treat ball .  Both of our dogs love it and will play with it for hours.  We fill it with our regular dog food and let him at it.  There are a couple of different settings you can place it on depending on how difficult you want to make. it.

 

 

5. Lots of Safe Toys for Chewing

 

If you provide several safe options for you puppy to chew on they will be less likely to chew on your furniture.  Variety is key and just like with my kids, I rotate toys with the puppy.  I wash them about once a week with color-safe bleach which gets all of the stinky dog slobber smell out and to him they smell new.  If you don’t have time to wash them that often you could just keep some in a box and switch them out every few days.  I give George one or two “new” to him toys every day and it seems to keep him more engaged.  We were having a problem with George ripping off chunks of his soft toys and then eating them on the sly so I went out and bought a Georgia Gator Tuff Dog Toy and man has this thing lasted.  We were going through a toy a day from George’s strong teeth and this one he can’t rip through so even though it cost more money it is a better deal in the end.  So far it has lasted about 3 weeks with no tears.  I spent a whopping $30 on it but the two weeks prior I had been desperately buying toys left and right and spent about $60. None of the cheaper toys are in the rotation any more. They have all bit the dust.

 

A worn out pup!

 

Whew I am really glad we are past the young puppy stage and George has started to calm down a bit.  We are dealing with a teenager puppy but now that we have gotten the hang of things it is going much smoother.  Have fun snuggling your puppies!

 

 

 

Quick and Easy Soup and Sandwiches for a Tight Timeline

Quick and Easy Soup and Sandwiches for a Tight Timeline

My family has been pretty sick this winter and we have been eating a lot of soup.  We prefer to make our own chicken broth and use that to create our own soup but sometimes I just don’t have the time.  The solution I found […]


All Time Favorites

Hilarious Japanese Toilet Candy

Hilarious Japanese Toilet Candy

For Christmas I bought this  Takoyaki candy from Japan for my teenager. Takoyaki is one of her favorite foods and she found it online and wanted to try it.  It was ok and I wish I had gotten pictures of it but she had fun […]

Easy Dairy-Free Grandma’s Fruit Salad

Easy Dairy-Free Grandma’s Fruit Salad

My grandma made fruit salad for us growing up and it was always my favorite because she put a few marshmallows in there.  My mom was always trying to eat healthy so marshmallows were a rare treat in our house.  I made this yummy salad […]