Sunday, May 22, 2011

Garden Update

     Our garden is progressing nicely since I first shared pictures with you.  We have been enjoying fresh strawberries  and cherry tomatoes a few at a time.  Sometimes I wish that we would get one great big harvest so we don't have to figure out how to split them four ways.  For a while we were having some trouble with our tomatoes getting blossom end rot.  I picked off those bad tomatoes and decided to add a layer of straw mulch to the entire garden.  That seemed to help and now we have some beautiful, healthy, but still green tomatoes growing.  I realize now that gardening requires a lot of patience.  I have a lot of patience with many things, including children, but being patient for my garden to grow is extremely difficult. Here's some pics from our garden today:

I couldn't quite get the angle right to include the entire garden.  
Our blueberry bush is just to the left of this view.


Raspberry Bush

We have a few raspberries on the canes from last year.

Bell Peppers


Strawberry patch, catnip, mints, and you can see the onions in this view as well.

Mini pumpkins and corn

Three kinds of potatoes planted with Alyssum


LOADS of grapes all over the grapevine

Beefsteak tomatoes

Cherry tomatoes

Our biggest Beefsteak yet

More Beefsteaks

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Android Apps I Use

     My friend, Lisa, suggested I blog about the android apps I use and why.  I must tell you that I'm addicted to apps on my phone. Recently I had over 90 apps, but have since cleared out some that I don't use only to find more.  I like to play with different apps for the same thing until I decide on ones I like over all, but many times it's hard to find what I need and I'm seriously considering learning how to create my own apps for my purposes.  I only choose FREE apps, because there is no sense in spending money when you can find a free app that is just as good or better.

    First, I'd like to share with you the apps that I use that are geared more toward the nature of this blog, health and fitness. Actually, I found one app, Noom Weight Loss, which is a combination of 3 in 1.  With Noom you can track your weight and see your progress. You can set a workout schedule and track your calories burned using Cardio Trainer, which includes a pedometer and the ability to share your exercises and calories burned on Facebook.  And you can log your meals with Calorific by taking a photo and selecting the portion sizes to guesstimate your calorie intake.  It's not completely accurate, but it does help you think about your food choices. I also like True Food Network Center For Food Safety shopping guide.  It includes lists of brands that contain no GMO ingredients as well as contact information for companies that do use GMO ingredients if you would like to take action. CPR-Choking and First Aid are two great apps for emergencies with step by step instructions on what to do.  This is handy in case the children need to use it since they have not taken CPR or First Aid courses yet.

     I absolutely must have a Bible on my phone and I use YouVersion Bible, which allows you to choose what translation and to search for scriptures, use bookmarks, set reading plans, and take notes. I also use Daily Bible, which has a daily verse, daily plan, devotions and more. Each morning I give my students the daily verse to memorize for merits in school.  Our church even created an app for android called COTM, which is great for keeping up with news and watching services right on the phone. You could even use the mobile giving option to pay your tithe, we haven't played with that feature yet. I love the Bible Trivia game and have used it on long road trips with the kids. Remember Me is a Bible verse memory app to help you commit God's Word to your heart.

     Because I am a teacher, I try to find many educational apps that will be helpful for my students. This is probably the area I have the most apps.  Here's the list I keep just for them: 50 States, Algebra Tutor, Brain Genius, Google Sky Map, Kaka Flashcards (allows you to create your own flashcards on the phone), L&M Guitar (includes a metronome, guitar tuner, chord guide, and even links to youtube video lessons), Math Maiac, Math Tricks Lite, Memory Trainer, Music Sheet (helps you practice reading notes), Paint Joy (for creating animated art work), SBMX (Sketchbook for drawing), Sight Word Flash Cards, Speed Anatomy, The Periodic Table, The US Presidents, Ultrachron Lite (which is a timer and stopwatch- I use this daily with the kids), as well as a few fun thinking games like Blow Up and Slice It. I also have an app called Behavior Status which allows me to enter in all of the student's names, I can set up different classes, which isn't necessary for me right now. When I click on a student's name I can select red, yellow, or green from the stop light which will bring up the current time and allow me to add notes.  I can pull up the student's history and even email the parents. I also plan to use Glympse to share our location with parents when we are out on field trips.

     One great app for our family is Cozi, which allows me to share a calendar, grocery lists, and to do lists with my hubby.  I love that it emails the calendar for the week and that updates can be made on my phone or on the computer in real time. If we were both out shopping at different stores we can cross off items from the grocery lists as we get them and the other person can see it crossed off as well so we wouldn't double up on purchases. There is also the ability to keep a journal by jotting down notes and even taking photos. This is an AMAZING tool and I highly recommend it.  We also use Family GPS Tracker for when we are out and about in different placed.  It includes a panic button that will send a phone call, email, and a text message to your emergency contacts. It also includes a check in button to notify your family members that you have arrived at your destination safely. This is helpful late at night when Brandon is on his way home from work. Sometimes I worry when it seems it's taking longer than it should. I can see right where he's at through the GPS tracker.

     A few fun games I like to play are the different Angry Birds, Jewels Deluxe, Ninjump, Roller (it's like the ticket redemption game, Skii Ball), Words With Friends (my name on WWF is Sparklykttn if you would like to play with me), and YooNinja, as well as the games I have for my students to play. I also have Opera Mini for internet, Facebook, TweetCaster for Twitter, Youtube, Gmail, PicSay Pro for editing photos, and CamScanner for scanning photos and documents. ShopKick is one of my favorite apps. I don't really know why I like it so much, but it's kind of fun.  With ShopKick you can earn kick points for "logging in" to different stores, sometimes they have scavenger hunts to find things and scan them in the stores for more points.  You can trade in your points for different rewards.  I also like Animated Weather, for up to date weather forecast and the graphics are awesome! A few more random apps are: Antivirus Free, App 2 SD Free, Apps Organizer, Elixir, Hebrew Calendar, and Amazon Appstore,

     Of course my phone came preloaded with many apps that I cannot remove even though I don't use them, but some are useful. As you can see, I have a LOT of apps and not enough space for more. However, If I could create an app, I would make one that would allow me to keep track of my students by taking attendance, tracking test scores, tracking behavior, as well as keeping notes and emergency info on each one of them all in one app. I hope this information has been helpful to some of you.  Tell me, what apps can you just not live without?


Friday, May 13, 2011

Catching Up...

     I've been so busy the past few weeks that I've not had much time to blog, or do anything really. I've not been exercising, or even weighing myself regularly. I have dropped a few inches off my waist and hips and my clothes are continuing to fit loosely, so I'm not too worried about it right now.  We have been eating very healthy, with the exception of a few fast food meals here and there. I try to make the healthiest choices when we go out to eat, but I will admit that I'm still munching on Easter candies.  Some habits are just too hard to break.

     In the past few weeks I've added a few new students to my school, 3 brothers to be precise. My son is so excited that he's no longer outnumbered by girls. So far these boys are great, if not a little shy. But everyone seems to get along and they are very respectful. We have one week left of school, then a one week break before our Summer Session starts. I have two more students coming this summer.  We plan to spend some time throughout the summer building new offices to make room for even more students in the Fall. When I'm busy, it's usually with my school. The school consumes so much of my time, but I LOVE every minute of it!
      Just a few days ago I finally convinced Brandon to take me to Whole Foods to get our groceries.  We bought a ton of fresh fruits and veggies and actually spent less than our shopping trips to Walmart. The produce section at Whole Foods is phenomenal! I only wish there was a location closer to home. We have to drive a good 30 minutes out, but right now with construction it's almost 45 minutes. CRAZY!

     I have come up with a few new recipes that I would like to post soon.  We altered our Tomato Soup recipe just a tad and grilled the fresh vegetables that went into it first. It came out very good.  I've also made some breakfast smoothies as well as a few other things. I'm still reading a few books as I have time that I'd like to blog about and my friend, Lisa, suggested that I blog about the apps I use on my phone and why. Some are relevant to health and fitness, and some geared more toward my school use.  I guess I need to prepare a list of things to blog about and hope that I find the time to post them.  I guess I should be asking you all what you want me to blog about next.  Any suggestions?


A Few New Kitchen Toys

     Making changes in the kitchen is happening gradually. As you may already know, kitchen tools can be expensive.  We haven't purchased new knives in YEARS! You know it's time to replace your knives when they break while cutting something. It's pretty scary when your kids are using them and they break. Our knife "collection" was full of mismatched pieces, mostly with cheap plastic handles. They were unreliable and often I'd go through a few different knives to get a simple task done.  Then just a few weeks ago, Brandon brought home a beautiful set of Farberware one-piece stainless steel knives in a knife block. The set includes 8 steak knives, a 3.5" parer, an 8" bread knife, an 8" chef knife, shears, sharpener, a 5" serrated utility knife, a 5" fine edge utility knife, and a 5" santoku knife, all in a labeled knife block to keep them organized. I absolutely LOVE these knives! They sing like a sword being unsheathed as you pull them from the block and they slice through anything like butter. Pretty impressive compared to our old dull knives.  Brandon said he purchased them at Target and they were a decent price, not the most expensive. I cannot find them on Target's website to link them, but here they are...

     Another new kitchen toy we've added is the Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Duo Food Processor.  This is going to be a workhorse in our kitchen now that we are eating more fruits and veggies.  This thing can slice, dice, chop, and puree A LOT of food! It's HUGE! We purchased this at Target on sale yesterday and put it to good use when we made Grilled Tomato Soup for dinner last night. I'm already dreaming up new things to try with this.  I've named HER "Stevena"! (Brandon has a habit of naming all our new "powerful" appliances "Steve". (ie. our vacuum, carpet shampooer, our grill, etc.)   I just figured I better beat him to the punch this time. =) 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Raw Honey GOODNESS!!!

     Last month I entered a giveaway on another blog (Mama Chocolate) for Tropical Traditions Organic Canadian Raw Honey.  I was so excited when she emailed me and told me that I was the winner. I have been eying several products on the Tropical Traditions website for quite some time now, and this was on the top of my list. Today my honey arrived and it didn't take me but two seconds to pry off the lid and dip a spoon into it. I have to say this is the most AMAZING honey I have ever tasted! It's solid instead of liquid like the honey I'm used to purchasing at the local grocery store, but it just melts in your mouth. It has the consistency of a thick spread.  I toasted a piece of 9 grain bread that I made in the bread machine and spread peanut butter and this honey on it and it was sooo good! Now I need to find some good recipes to include this.

     In addition to Organic Canadian Raw Honey, Tropical Traditions also sells a lot of organic foods, cleaners, body care products, even pet food and many, many other items. On my list of MUST TRY items is the Organic Coconut Peanut ButterOrganic Gold Label Virgin Coconut OilPowdered Dish Washer Detergent,  and Bug Arrest (for my garden). Their website is very informative and they even have some very tasty recipes that I'm dying to try. I also enjoy reading articles on their blog Created 4 Health.

     Tropical Traditions also has a great referral program. You will be able to acquire your own complimentary copy of  their Virgin Coconut Oil book.   When you choose “Referred by a Friend” and enter my User ID: 7454309 on your first online order, the book will be automatically added to your order.