Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How To: Make A Wishing Tree Vase

"A wish tree is an individual tree, usually distinguished by species, position or appearance, which is used as an object of wishes and offerings. Such trees are identified as possessing a special religious or spiritual value. By tradition, believers make votive offerings in order to gain from that nature spirit, saint or goddessfulfillment of a wish."
- Wikipedia

 I think the concept behind a wishing tree is really beautiful. Although this is not a post about wishing trees in their original uses, this simple and easy craft project is meant to emulate the symbolism of wishes as a really basic how-to make a wishing tree vase for sentimental and meaningful decorations at weddings, showers, and birthday parties.

We threw a baby shower for my friend and coworker, Kristie and I helped coordinate decorations. Kristie is having a little girl so we used pink, purple, and yellow.

 Wish trees are very easy to make and super affordable.This kind is basically a bouquet of twigs with notes attached and with a little bit of planning, it is practically free, but priceless in terms of sentimentality! I love things like that! This is proof that you don't need to spend an arm and a leg or be super extravagant  or extremely crafty to do something nice for someone.
How To: Make a Wishing Tree...

1. Simply gather branches, a vase, tags or note cards of some kind.
2. After your guests arrive they can write their well wishes for you and attach to the branches.
3. We used premade cardstock circles and mini clothes pin clips. You can also punch a hole and tie with string or purchase pre-made paper luggage tags.
4. Get creative! Come up with ideas for how to attach the wishes in a unique way that fits the theme of your event. Make it funky. Make it elegant. It is up to you!

Ours turned out beautifully and the best part was that at the end of the day Kristie had all these wonderful note to put in her daughter's baby book.

Would you make a wishing tree vase for your shower?

This post is dedicated to Kristie and little Jenna. Kristie recently brought home her little bundle of joy, Jenna. Congrats!
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Sunday, January 27, 2013

How to Be a Super Mom: Part 2: Morning Routines

Krystal's three beautiful children...
The following is the second in a guest post series by Krystal Taylor my good friend and “Super Mom” of three...

 A few months after her second and third children were born (surprise, twins!), her husband got laid off so she had to go back to work. Here are a few of the life saving tips that she uses to balance work and home life.
Getting ready for school…..the battle of the sleepy kids! My son, like most five year old children, much rather play then to get ready for school. Since I realized (late in life) that being organized and managing time is important I wanted to start teaching him the same thing. I made him a chart he is responsible for each and every morning. Every day he completes his tasks he gets a sticker. He can use them for small rewards (choosing a movie on movie night) or save them up for larger ones (getting a new game or book)
Karson and his morning routine chart

Other Posts By Krystal: 
 Miss How to Be a Super Mom Part 1? Check it out here: What's For Dinner?
Here's some sound financial advice: How to Set Up a House Account

Check out Krystal's Blog: Quest Of A Crazy Mom

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Zero Waste: Citrus Fruits: Part 1

One of my favorite snacks is fresh fruit. I love the taste of a freshly peeled mandarin orange and the scent is divine. A lot of people forget the nutritious value and benefits of citrus rinds, and toss them directly in the trash.

We don't eat citrus rind very much in Western cultures, probably because of the bitter flavor in the white portion of the rind. With access to food, 24/7 who can blame us? But citrus zest is a great addition to desserts and not to mention can be used to make yummy lemon, orange, or lime curd for pies or pudding flavoring.

Clean your fruit first!
Before you can work with the peel, you need to make sure the fruit is clean.
Try my recipe for vinegar fruit and veggi cleaner here.

A diagram of a lemon. Photo by André Karwath aka Aka, creative commons. Diagram by

How to Peel Fruit to Save Citrus Rind:

 1. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, carefully peel away the thin layer of colorful rind, leaving the bitter white flesh intact. 
2. Don't worry you can scratch off any residual white pith if you accidentally peel it too deep. 
3. Continue until the whole fruit is peeled down to the white flesh. Set the peels aside to use or refrigerate or freeze.
4. Peel away the white flesh (pith) and discard. The fruit is ready to eat and there is very little waste.

**Another option: use a zester for finer grating for recipes requiring citrus zest. A zester looks like a cheese grater but has much smaller teeth.

 Check Out Part 2 for a tasty sugar free chocolate orange tea recipe!
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Life Hack: Cheap Fruit Cleaner

How to Make Cheap Fruit Cleaner:

Photo by Byrdiegryl  under Creative Commons

Vinegar is a natural cleanser. There are no harsh chemicals or soaps in this recipe.

Try my recipe for vinegar fruit and veggi cleaner:
Add 1C Vinegar to 1 Gallon Water in a bowl or in the sink, and let fruits and veggies sit for 10-15 minutes in the water.
Agitate occasionally.
 Remove and rise.

If the fruit are not that dirty you can use this over again, otherwise, carefully dispose of it. Be warned that pouring this on you plants will kill them! Vinegar is also a natural weed killer! Don't say I didn't warn you! ;)

If you have citrus fruit, remember to zest or peel before tossing the pith and save the good parts of the rind for recipes or tea!

For other cleaning uses check out my vinegar cleaning spray recipe!

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Zero Waste: Citrus Fruits Part 2

I like  to zest all of my citrus fruit to save it for cooking and baking.Whenever I eat an orange or use fresh lemons or limes, I always zest the fruit first. This also makes peeling it much easier.

Remember to zest only the colored portions and leave the bitter white rind alone.

Citrus zest, which is full of healthy citrus oils, is also great for making citrus flavored teas. Here's a good hot drink recipe for the cold winter months:

Photo by Albadawn under Creative Commons.

 Selena's Spicy Chocolate Orange Herbal Tea (no refined sugar)

1 Tablespoon orange zest
1/2 to 1 tablespoon  powdered cinnamon
1/2 to 1 tablespoon powdered cloves
1/2 to 1 tablespoon powdered nutmeg
1/2 to 1tablespoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons dry cocoa powder

Steep in boiling water for a few minutes, strain and serve. You can also add a little bit of orange juice or lemon juice, and honey if you need a little bit of sweetness.

*It may have small traces of caffeine. I would not know the amounts. My understanding is that chocolate or cocoa may have caffeine.

*Make sure to strain well  with a mesh sieve or you will have goo and orange bits on the bottom!*


Didn't get to see part 1? Check it out here.

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Monday, January 7, 2013

How to Be a Super Mom: Part 1: What's For Dinner?

The following is the first in a guest post series by Krystal Taylor my good friend, “Super Mom” of three, and blogger…

Krystal, and her beautiful family. Photo courtesy of questofacrazymom.com 
Our family first began with one beautiful little baby boy. We were blessed and happy, life was easy. Around the time our son, Karson, was about one, my husband and I decided we were ready for another baby. Boy, oh, boy did life change! All I can remember from the day of the ultrasound was my doctor saying, “Congratulations, you are having twins,” and my husband saying, “Now we need a minivan.” All I wanted to do was cry! I was happy, sad, overwhelmed, and scared all at once; what a rush of emotions. Time went on and I soon go to meet my two precious babies. Life was good, staying at home raising my children.
Then a few months later, my husband got laid off! As if life with three children was not time consuming enough, I had to go back to work. This meant I had to do everything at home and manage a job. Well, to my pleasant surprise, my husband was a big help.  I also learned that in order to be somewhat successful at this parenting thing, I was really going to have to get organized and manage my time better. Every parent knows how hard being a parent is…. but I thought, “What if I can make my life easier?” so I tried. Here are a few things I have learned along the way. They may not work for everyone, but they sure are life savers for me. J
Krystals DIY Meal Planning Chalkboard

What is for dinner!!?!?!?  
Even if you don’t have children, this is something most people don’t know until a few hours, or even one hour before its time to eat. So I decided to plan ahead with a menu for the whole week. It’s easy…no thinking necessary! I first shop for whatever meat is on sale (I buy in bulk). I then plan my meals around the sales and figure out side dishes! I cannot tell you what I lifesaver this has been for me!
To help keep my family organized and informed, I made a chalkboard to hang in my kitchen so everyone knows what’s for dinner- and it helps me!
Here's the best part: I made it for only $10.00!!!
I bought a cheap framed picture for $6.00 from the store. Used chalkboard paint to paint over the glass. I simply use the kid’s sidewalk chalk to write on it ;)
Want to hear more from Krystal? Look out for the next installment of her guest posts and check out her blog at: Quest Of A Crazy Mom!
Looking for other posts like it?

February seed starting is just around the corner!
Now is the perfect time to start a seed train!