Wednesday, July 30, 2014

GO OUTSIDE!! #CleanItForward {Sponsored}

For my final post in the #CleanItForward Campaign by Finish Power & Free Alliance of Moms (which is a network that explores a new product line, Finish Power & Free, featuring less harsh chemical formulas, without sacrificing the power of Finish results – a win for even the tiniest members of your family! ), I want to discuss my family's favorite thing. Something I think all families should spend time doing. That is, playing outside.


I really truly and completely believe there is a lot to learn from the outdoors. I am 25 years old and I'm STILL learning things almost every time our family goes on an adventure. If not about the adventure itself, then it's something about my surroundings. Take my 25 years in comparison to my daughter's (almost) two years (which makes me want to cry) and you know that there is a wealth of knowledge for her to attain just by stepping outside. And when we DO get outside, it's almost PAINFUL to come back inside! From the minute the weather is bearable after a long cold winter to the moment our snot starts to freeze, we get out as often as possible.


We do several things outside as a family. Baseball, the zoo, parks, picnics, camping... The one that comes to mind immediately is gardening! Now I will say this, it takes several years to decide what you do and don't want to plant and what you will and will not eat. For example: I HATE lettuce from my garden. It tastes limp and gritty. Not my cup of tea. But I LOVE snap peas and fresh beans. Heck, even my baby tomatoes have yet to see indoors this year because they are DELICIOUS and so easy to just pop in my mouth right when they are picked. The food is heavenly. More than anything though, I LOVE watching my daughter's shock and surprise when she sees the garden after a day or two. She's astounded that her PEAS keep growing! Gardening has been such a great experience for us all.



Also, because I can't do a post without thinking about food or sharing a recipe, try this:

Sauteed Bacon Beans



1lb fresh green beans rinsed and ends snapped off
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/4 c fresh bacon bits OR chopped bacon (browned)

Heat up skillet (medium heat) and simmer garlic in olive oil until JUST browned. Toss in beans and cover, stirring every couple of minutes until the beans soften. Add bacon and continue simmering (covered) until beans JUST start to brown. Serve HOT! Soooooooooo good. Last time we made it (late last week) the main course was blackened salmon served over brown rice. Excuse me, my mouth is watering.

Speaking of blackened salmon, have you TRIED it?! Oh my word. My recipe is here. Get that grill out and make it. While you're at it, take off your shoes and run around in the grass. Nothing like the soft green blades of grass between your toes. And what a SENSORY experience for your tiny tot!

Moving on. (And you have to move on like Kylie is (with style) in the top right photo below.)


Our family also loves CAMPING! Even Kylie! We have been campers ever since I've known my husband and we hope that Kylie loves it as much as we do. It's great exercise and (as I have been saying) she's learned SO much! Last year she learned that eating sticks was not OK and I imagine that when we go camping this next weekend, she'll learn new, more valuable lessons. Like starting a fire or hunting for food. I'm totally kidding. But really, I hope she sees things that will amaze her. Like waterfalls and rivers and lakes and trails. Man, sometimes I really wish I could see things through her eyes.



I really believe that fresh air is good for the soul. If you don't have a yard or a garden, simply take a walk. I would suffice to say that at least 3 days a week, we pop Kylie into the jogging stroller and take her for a walk around town, often stopping at a park (or ice cream shop) or two. It makes for the very best memories (and pictures).


You'll never see today again, so the least you can do is appreciate it, learn from it, and remember it. Get outside, people!


To clean our grilling supplies and camping (food) gear, I have switched to Finish® Quantum. It has been SEVERAL months now since I made the switch and it was such a SIMPLE transition. In fact I rarely think about it anymore as all I have do is grab a tablet and toss it into the dishwasher! That easily I can control (and limit) the harsh chemicals I am using to keep my dishes AND Kylie's eating necessities clean. That's right - Finish® Quantum is mild enough to use on NUKs and bottles!!!  I like to say that I (try to) keep my kitchen a germ-free zone and Finish® Quantum has been an integral part in that.

You can help put Finish Power & Free to the #FinishMoms test! Share the news of a "less harsh chemical formulas" dish washing product and help us #CleanItForward!!

Learn more about the Finish brand from my previous Alliance of Moms post and my SMART SNACKING post!!!

Now, because this is the FINAL  post in the #CleanItForward Campaign by Finish Power & Free Alliance of Moms,  Finish® has decided to host a GIVEAWAY! Probably the best one I have ever done on my site. One lucky winner will receive a $100 Visa Gift Card!!!! Entry options are simple.

  1. Comment on this post with your favorite outdoor activity AND what you would use the gift card for. (Leave your e-mail in the comment so I can let you know if you've WON!)
  2. For extra entries follow the listed social media sites below. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A winner will be chosen at random on August 6th. This contest is open to US residents only. Entries will be verified. If I do not hear from the winner within 24 hours of announcing (and e-mailing them), a new winner will be selected at random. GOOD LUCK!

disclosure: i received product and payment in exchange for my open and honest opinions/review of Finish Quantum products. These opinions were not swayed in any way, but simply reflect my experience with the product.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Toughest Times Shine The Most Light

It's been a really tough couple of months and thank goodness, things are starting to improve. As Elsa says, "The past is in the PAAAAAAAAAAAST. LET IT GOOOOOoOoOoOoOoOo!". Can you tell we watch that movie too much?

Over the course of the last two months, my perspective of people and events has changed. While I have become more closed off and secluded from some, I learned who I can truly let in and who I can talk to and trust. To say I am grateful for these people is an understatement. I love you all.

Things are getting more and more exciting around here with a little girl who loves to talk and run and laugh and play. With that comes cooties. We seem to have a never ending cycle of some kind of germ or health issue and I will be glad when every one of us is healthy again. Most recently, our little nugget got Hand Foot and Mouth. Poor thing. Fever, fuss, the works. It's been a blast. (Sidenote: it's nearly impossible to express sarcasm in writing unless you really know me.)

I have a lot of things I want to say in this space that has been so neglected lately, but am having difficulty coming up with ways to say them. I'll work on that. In the meantime, know that we are all busy, working on getting healthy, and most importantly, we are happy.

XO

Melissa

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