Matilda’s Beet Popsicles

Beet it. Just beet it. No one wants to be defeated!

Beets are incredibly nutritionally sound.  Whether you enjoy them steamed, roasted, shredded, or juiced, you will benefit from them.  High in potassium, magnesium, A, B, and C, beets are a great staple to add to your diet. For women in particular, they help with maintaining iron, and folic acid levels.  Both the beet and the beet greens are beneficial for helping reduce cancer cells, used as a natural energy source, and even said to be a source for increasing your immune system.

While preparing meals for my family, I try to think ahead and determine how I can use every bit of an item.  So much gets thrown away in most homes and restaurants; things that can provide substance and another meal.

So when I blanched some beets the other evening, I saved the brilliant red water for two reasons. One, as a refreshing iced drink on the 90 degree 4th of July afternoon, and to also prepare beet based popsicles for my kiddos.  My youngest, Matilda, helped to prepare these.  I’m a huge advocate of allowing children to help prepare meals, and snacks so they become more interested in food and take part in creating something delicious that they want to taste just out of being proud they were able to get creative making it.

Matilda and her sisters devoured these, exclaiming “These are SO good!”

Matilda’s Beet Popsicles:

2 cups blanched beet juice water, chilled

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 heaping cup of fresh blueberries

2 bananas

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

6 leaves peppermint

1/8 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a blender, and blend until completely smooth. Transfer into popsicle makers, and then freeze overnight.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Image

Sully and His Bike

As a parent, my time is super valuable in everything I choose to fit into all the minutes in the day.  The time invested in my children is such a huge deal, that I often times put myself last in order for getting personal time or taking care of my own needs. If you are a parent, I am sure you can relate.  Not to sound cheesy, but our children are our future scientists, our doctors, our teachers, our engineers, etc. The time you put into motivating your children, building their character, or even challenging them to grow in other ways, is worth more than anything.  It is one of their basic necessities, in my mind.

My husband, author of “Oh, Sully!” is currently raising funds through a social campaign network called Kickstarter. In his first book, his moral based story addressed self acceptance and acceptance in others. With this book, Sully and His Bike, his aim is to motivate kids to never give up.  His illustrations are so profoundly entertaining, and his story so emotionally connective.  I just ask that you please take a look at the video in hopes that he can be funded for his new book. Even sharing the link helps more than you can understand; it gets the word out to people we have yet to connect with on a personal level.  This world runs better when we help strangers, friends, family.  It is our goal to share these wonderful stories with children outside of our own.

This cute new book also meets a personal/business goal of ours.  Through our business Tree Swing Press (http://www.treeswingpress.com), we recently started a campaign to give back to the community; to children in need.  For every book sold online, a book is donated to a child in need.  This campaign is called Book-for-Book. His first donation will be in January while he is on a month-long tour visiting schools, stores, and an annual author’s event.  Additionally, he is currently training for our second campaign we call Border-to-Border. In the spring, he will be running from the Canada border to the Mexico border in hopes to promote literacy.  So your help allows Sully and His Bike to created, along with bigger aspirations of donating to kids, and spreading literacy.

We are hoping that your enthusiasm towards this book is contagious and your willingness to share the link helps us to meet our goals.

Please help us spread literacy.

Kindly,

Sommer Gard and Tree Swing Press

Sully and His Bike

IMG_7432

 

 

Gallery

CONTEST!!! “Oh, Sully!”, an Adventurous Whale, by author Kevin Gard

 

IMG_3136

I met my husband when I was 17.  At the time, I had no clue we’d end up marrying 9 years later.  He has been my rock.  He has seen my good sides, my bad sides, and helped to keep me motivated with personal endeavors during the 20+ years we have been best of friends.

IMG_3481

Kevin is truly one extremely talented guy; and so wonderfully grounded as a person with a gift of humor that keeps giving.  From diaper bags, to mommy-and-me apron sets, to quilts, to inventing Mattress Masseuse, re-doing our entire “fixer” home, and making time to write & illustrate a children’s book, and still maintain his deep commitment to our daughters & I, I’d say he is quite the catch!

IMG_4831

IMG_3224

This catch of mine, is doing a wonderful collaborative book give-away with Sue  (blog.sueparke.com)

Sue’s blog is wonderfully written.  I thoroughly enjoy her honest approach and  feel I can relate to her as a reader. Please visit her site and explore her stories. If you get a chance, please help by voting for her as one of the best Mommy blogs of 2014.  You can vote several times.

 

IMG_0975

This Friday, tune into Tree Swing Press @ Facebook to enter to win an autographed copy of “Oh, Sully!”, free of charge.

IMG_5680

Kevin and I are such huge advocates of literacy and truly want children to be inspired to create their own books, and to enjoy reading.  Please share this contest with your friends.  This contest starts this Friday, August 15th and ends in one week.  Winners will be announced Friday, August 22nd. at blog.sueparke.com, on Facebook, http://treeswingpress.com

 

Giveaway Terms & Conditions

* You must be awesome!

* You must be 5 or older to enter the contest

* Only one submission per person

* Publisher agrees to pay for the cost of shipping the autographed book

* To submit your entry for the contest, please draw/paint/or use other art media of your interpretation of an amazing whale on a grand adventure, and post to the Tree Swing Press FB  page, by liking the page and posting your comment.

* Two winners will be chosen by a strict panel of children ranging from ages 4-9.

* Winner will be notified on http://www.slparke.com,  http://www.treeswingpress.com, and https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tree-Swing-Press

* No purchase necessary, unless you want an extra signed copy by an incredible author/illustrator and all around good guy.

 

Image

Lavender Lemon Bundt Cake

What a whirlwind of a month this has been!  Renting out our home, quitting our jobs, and moving to Washington State.  I’d say, it has been a grand adventure; one definitely worth it.  As we adjust to our new setting, and begin working away at building our businesses, it’s has been utterly lovely having ample fresh food at our fingertips.  My mom has quite a green thumb when it comes to gardening, and my dad’s woodworking and photography is pretty impressive.  It is pretty wonderful being in their guest quarters; though we are hardly guests.

I’ve busied myself with getting acquainted to my “new” kitchen; the one my dad built from scratch. It’s cabinets are a great hue of cobalt blue, and reminds me of my new-found love; Crater Lake.

Today the girls and I broke in the oven.  The four of us diligently set to task preparing and baking a lovely vegan lavender and lemon bundt cake with honey lemon icing.  It’s flavoring is so exquisite, that I need write about it while whisking away the mosquitoes that are circling my head.

INGREDIENTS:

Cake:

3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

8 Tbsp spectrum palm shortening

8 Tbsp. earth balance

1 1/2 cups of granulated organic cane sugar

1 Tbsp. of herbs de provence

4  tsp. egg replacer  (by EnerG)

1/4 cup almond milk

1 1/2 tsp. of lemon extract

1 cup of plain coconut yogurt

1 Tbsp. of finely grated lemon zest

1 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice

Glaze:

2 Tbsp. honey

1/2 cup organic powdered sugar

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Have all the ingredients at room temp. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan; tap out excess flour

2. To make the cake: Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a bowl, with an electric mixer, cream together the shortening, and butter along with the sugar, herbs de province, eggs, extract, and yogurt.  Add the lemon zest and lemon juice and for a short 30 seconds, whisk again.

4.  Make a well in the dry mix, and fold the wet into the dry.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the batter so the sides are higher than the center.   Bake until the cake comes out clean or begins to pull away from the sides of the pan or a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

5. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

6. To make the glaze: in a small saucepan over low heat, warm the honey until runny.  Place the 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a small bowl along with the lemon juice and mix the honey with the two. Using a pastry brush, brush the cake with the glaze. Let the cake cool completely; at least 2 hours before serving.  Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Garnish with fresh lemon zest or lavender.

 

 

 

 

 

Image

Movie or Swim?

As parents know, a day can either go good or bad depending on your children’s moods.  I was pleasantly surprised by my eager to help oldest today for our last garage sale. Doing solo parenting and trying to do a garage sale can be stressful, to say the least.  The other parent, dad, is busy unpacking our belongings in our new home.

He called me after his torturous drive, which he left for on Thursday evening after 11 pm, and arrived Friday at 9 pm, after waking up Thursday am at 5. You do the math!  The only pit stops were pee stops for he and the dog.  Insane!  He was deservingly lying down, and feasting on freshly picked raspberries, cuddled up with our veteran heeler, and resting for his second wind to unpack the Budget rental amongst the chill and light sprinkle.  I on the other hand, was a tad jealous he was there enjoying those conditions while I was sweating like a summer pig in this sticky California heat.

The garage sale did little.  It was so slow that I discounted everything by 1/2 and gave most of it away for free. At least I earned us some gas money, and was able to chat with old friends and new.  As I mentioned in my last post, we have incredible neighbors. Seriously, I wish we could take them with us. Our neighbor Mike woke at 6:30 am to help me pull things out to set up. Honestly, that was so valuable. Our neighbor Marde made us a platter full of cut fruit; the peaches were perfect.  Then, to top off her already thoughtful ways, she later brought freshly made hummus along with persian cucumbers, red bells, pistachios, and pretzel crisps. I could not have been more delighted!  As I said, parenting alone; my mind was in two spots, and a snack was needed and severely appreciated.

So, I followed up that lackluster garage sale, pleased to have it slow and be able to visit with friends.  The girls and I celebrated the end of the sale with some much needed frozen yogurt, a Goodwill donation, and picking up signs.  It was then I realized why there was no foot traffic; the signs had fallen.  Oh well!

So as I prep to paint for the tenants, I allowed my kiddos a choice to swim or watch a video.  I guess their fatigue is a tell all. They chose to relax.  I don’t blame them in the slightest. I can hardly wait to do the same!