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Showing posts from April, 2011

Free Garden Plant Markers

It's almost time to plant (I can barely stand the anticipation!) and every kitchen garden needs adequate plant markers. Why? To help remember where you planted spinach versus lettuce, which seedlings are plants versus weeds, and just for aesthetic reasons.

You could make markers out of paper (or even stick the seed packets right in the ground) but they will get wet, muddy, and torn over time.



My kids came up with an idea to make plant markers for our garden using stones they gathered on a nature walk. I wrote the names (for legibility - lol) and they decorated them. We used sharpies. Will they last all summer? Who knows. If not, that's okay. They'll most likely last until we can tell what everything is and if they don't last, then they'll get to make them again next year.

They always enjoy making things, so it's kind of a win/win. Plus, there are no unnatural products to get broken or lost in the garden. The garden already contains a few rocks. And if we lose a…

Super Boom - Can you make money in the stock market again?

In 1976, Stock Trader’s Almanac Founder Yale Hirsch predicted a 15-year super boom—a move in the stock market of 500% or more. His forecast was amazingly accurate as the market rose and continued upward, eventually posting a gain of 1,447% on the Dow Jones Industrials from the 1982 low to just before the tech crash in 2000. History has a way of repeating itself, especially in the financial markets.
Now his son, Jeffrey Hirsch has predicted a similar rise in the stock market! He's predicting the Dow will climb to 38,820 by 2025! And he's sharing all of this information in Super Boom - Why the Dow will hit 38, 820 and how you can profit from it. 
Jeffrey has spent most of his adult life following the stock market and his insights are intriguing. I read this book, and re-read it (kids running around making random noises....grrr) until I think I understand what might be happening.
I have no idea what will happen in the stock market, but since this book was written in 2010, some of hi…

Graeter's Ice Cream - Oprah's favorite

I can count the times I've actually watched Oprah on one hand, but the few times I have watched, I've learned something......about food. Many years ago, I watched an episode where she discussed her favorite iced chocolate drink. It was excessively expensive, but surprisingly easy to make.

The restaurant even gave out the recipe on the show! It's become our go-to chocolate drink and it's awesome. So when I heard Oprah had a favorite ice cream, I listened.

Maybe you're thinking "ice cream is ice cream." Well, on so many levels you are wrong. Low fat ice cream does not compare to real ice cream. And it's full of other not-so great ingredients. Even the full fat ice creams available are mass produced with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, etc. I have found only one brand sold in all stores that fits the bill of a "good" ice cream.

Is Graeter's in a grocery store near you?  Visit http://graeters.com/locations.aspxto find out. If yo…

A Video Summarizing the Best Way to Eat to be Lean, Healthy (and Green...)

You want a strong, lean, healthy body right? Well.... 80% of your body composition comes from what you eat.

80%

I could talk ad nauseum about what you should or shouldn't eat, but this video summarizes it all quite succinctly. Take a look and then think about what you put in your mouth. (just ignore the lame music)

If you really want to get into the details - I still recommend reading The Ominivore's Dilemma. It's a must read and a life changer. Check it out at your local library (but prepared for a super long waiting list...) or pick it up at Amazon for under $10.

If you don't mind an exhaustive biochemical tome - then check out Good Calories Bad Calories. I was fascinated with this book (but then again I was a biochemistry major and love nutrition research). His other book (Why We Get Fat is more user friendly.) And Yes, I have read all of the above mentioned books (and then some!)

THIS is what we're training for!

In just a few short weeks, my family and I will be running for our life through mud, barbed wire, and fire. Awesome! This is what I'm working toward in the gym. Take a look at the quick video above to get a glimpse of what we'll be doing - I hope to look as strong as the lady crawling under the barbed wire toward the end....like a warrior!

2011 Garden - Phase One

The snow is finally melted (and gone for good?) so we're getting our garden ready to go. This year we are expanding our garden and revamping how it acts, looks, and functions!
This is what my garden looked like last year:


Here's what it looks like today:
We are building four 3x12 raised beds to hold our garden contents safe down the sloping hills of our yard. I transfered my blueberries into the top box (the one finished in the photo) and am hoping we can finish the other 3 boxes soon.

The top left box will be dedicated entirely to blueberries, herbs, and my daughters flowers. The bottom left box will hold all my red raspberries. I'm still dreaming of a good place for golden raspberries to grow, but haven't found it yet.

The other two boxes will be a few feet to right of the current garden - with ample walking space between all the boxes and a fence encircling the whole shebang. They will hold all of my tomatoes, peas, spinach, cucumbers, etc.

Like any good "re-u…

ProFlowers Mother's Day Giveaway

When I think Mother's day, I think berries.....and flowers! What a fun surprise it was to open up our door and find All the Frills with 6 dipped strawberries!
I mean, what could be better than getting a beautiful bouquet of flowers and chocolate strawberries! It's possible guys....this could be the best Mother's day for a woman in your life! Really! Pink Roses. Strawberries. 
Of course you could also shop around and find her favorite type of flowers. And right now is the time to do it. If you head to the ProFlowers Coupons Page, you'll find coupon codes that could save you 20% off, get you a Free vase with your bouquet, Free weekday delivery, and more. 
But it gets better. ProFlowers would like to share the holiday cheer with a Suburban Jungle reader. They will be giving one reader a $50 Gift code to use at ProFlowers.com.
To Enter: Visit the Mother's Day Flowers section and tell me what you'd buy with your $50 Gift Code. 
Want Extra Chances to Win?  Take 5 Extr…

Use MyTrak to get YOUR HEALTH ON TRACK!

Have you ever watched a weight loss show like The Biggest Loser and heard the contestants talk about "getting their burn" for the day? I have, and I've always wondered how they were calculating their calorie expenditure.
When I run on the treadmill, it tells me I've burned 600-700 calories. I know that's bogus and that my machine is calibrated for a much heavier person, but how much do I really burn? I had no clue. Not until I tried the MyTrak m2
Like any device, there are pros and cons to the MyTrak. I'll get to those in a moment, but first, let me tell you my story and what I thought of wearing the m2. 
Like most people, I consider myself an active person. Yep, super active. I was wrong. Just like I thought I was eating a reasonable amount until I actually counted calories, I was not nearly as active as I thought.
In fact, I was downright sedentary. All my running around washing dishes, folding laundry, and on and on, only accounted to 10-25 minutes of a…

Cascade Ice - Low calorie water alternative

My family loves flavored drinks. So far, my kids only drink 100% juice every so often, and no soda. But my husband loves flavored waters. Have you ever read the ingredient lists on popular flavored waters? I have and it's scary!!!! 
We recently had the chance to review Cascade Ice. What is Cascade Ice? Sparkling Water with juice. And with less than 2 calories per serving, it's a much better choice than sodas. 
My thoughts? I was surprised that it was fizzy. Yes, it says Sparking Water with juice, but I was still surprised. My husband liked them and I thought they were okay. I don't like carbonated beverages but the flavor was good. 
Bottom line - low calories, no sugar, great soda alternative. Check out this link to find out which stores carry it in your area. 
*No compensation was received for this review. We did receive free products for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.

Twist Water - a healthier alternative to sodas

If you are looking for a healthier alternative to most bottled drinks on the market, I would highly recommend Twist. Not only is it only 9 calories per serving (contrast that to juice or soda!) but it's made with organic ingredients. 
What are the ingredients? Mostly water, organic agave nectar, and whatever juice is offering the twist of flavor. Each flavor (Mandarin White Tea, West Indies Lime, Mango Acai, Wild Strawberry, Lemon, and Pomegranate blueberry) is a bit different. 
They do not contain artificial flavors, ingredients or preservatives.
How did they taste? Great! They were extremely flavorful. My daughter that she was drinking straight juice and my son asked if it was "okay to drink" since he knows how I feel about artificial drinks. I would feel okay with my family drinking Twist. Especially compared to juice, soda, sports drinks, and juice "drinks."
You can find Twist at few select retailers or on Amazon.
*I received samples for review purposes. No…

Cute things that kittens do....

Take a look at some cute cat moments:
Here she is trying to fight with the leaves as they sway in the wind.
She used to jump on my son's backpack every day just seconds before he needs to be out the door.

Today, I'm reminiscing about how cute kittens can be because I'm currently angry at my cat. The scratching. The meowing. The dissidence.  So soft and furry, but yet so unlovable. Phew! I needed to get that off my chest. 
Now I'll go back to cleaning up her fluff piles and she can go back to ignoring me.....

I want to try Spaghettios!

Last week, my son asked me if he could try Spaghettios. What?? I asked him where he had ever even heard of spaghettios, and it turns out a friend at school eats them every day for lunch.

I thought about it and I decided he should be able to try them.

Today was the day!

He wanted to try them for breakfast. Fine by me. I heated them up and gave him a fork. What happened next was actually pretty rewarding.

This is what I heard:

"Why does this look like soup?"
"It smells kind of weird"
"Yuck. This doesn't taste like spaghetti at all"
"Well, at least there are meatballs"
"I don't like this"
"Can I stop eating it?"
"Is it okay if I throw this away?"
"I don't want to ever eat this again!"

I tried not to taint his judgement. I gave it to him and left the room. He already knows how I feel about "food in a can" or "food in a box."  Some of the time, I laughed to myself. But through m…

The Perfect Mother's Day Gift!

It's almost Mother's day, and let's just be honest. Having Chocolate Covered Strawberries Delivered is the best gift EVER!


My family knows that if they want to make me happy, all they need is berries. And berries with chocolate are even better. I had the chance to peruse the fine selection of berries at Shari's Berries and was sent a Plush Easter Bunny & 12 Swizzled Berries for review. 


Like a typical mom, I thought the bunny would be great to slip into one of my kids' Easter baskets and of course I shared the berries. 


They were wonderful! I love that these berries came swizzled so beautifully with chocolate. The best (by far) were the dark chocolate covered berries, but my family loved the variety. 


If you're at all leery of ordering berries online, don't be. These berries arrived fresh, well packed, and chilled. They were covered in chocolate all the way to the top and were delicious. It's hard to go wrong with good chocolate and fresh, ripe berries …

Crest Pro-Health Invigorating Clean Multi-Protection Rinse Test Drive Results

It's been a few weeks since I first started using Crest Pro-Health Invigorating Clean Multi-Protection Rinse during the Test Drive Program.

Initially, I found it difficult to remember to use the mouth rinse. I'd find myself running back into the bathroom to be sure and use it. Eventually, it became routine. I used it while I brushed my hair in the morning and when I while I washed my face at night. That way, it didn't take any extra time. It was easier to remember this way too.

At first, I wasn't a huge fan of the taste. It tasted a lot like medicine to me, but it really did it's job. My mouth felt clean and fresh for hours after use. And in the morning, my mouth wasn't quite as yucky.

I haven't noticed any other changes; just fresher breath. But believe me, that is it's own good reason!

I wrote this review while participating in a test drive campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Crest and received a sample to facilitate my candid review. Mom …

Cheerios - Spoonfuls of Stories Giveaway

Have you ever dreamed of writing a children's book? I know I have. If you're like me, then it may be time to get to it! Right now, Cheerios® cereal is holding their New Author Contest - with a grand prize of $5,000 in cash and a possible publishing deal with Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. And your book could be featured inside Cheerios cereal boxes nationwide.


Ready to make your dream a reality? From March 22 through July 15, 2011 - visit www.spoonfulsofstoriescontest.com.


To help you get started General Mills and MyBlogSpark are offering one Suburban Jungle reader the chance to win a Spoonfuls of Stories Prize pack.
You'll receive a box of Cheerios and a "create your own" book kit for kids that contains two hard cover books and all the necessary materials to creatively fill the pages inside. 



To Enter: Leave me a comment sharing what type of story you'd most like to write. 
Extra Entries:  -5- Extra Entries for blogging about this contest (leave y…

Manhattan Toy - Boysterous Extreme Sports Action Figures Giveaway

Boys love imaginative play just as much as girls do...but most of their toys are limited to violent action figures or building toys. Not that those are bad...my son loves them. But what about sports action figures?

Manhattan Toy has created a line of boys Extreme Sports Action Figures called Boysterous! When I first saw them, I thought they were cute but I was surprised how much my son actually liked them! He adored them!

He carried them around, made the "guys" play sports together, and zipped them up in their case to put away at night (arguably, the best part...from a mom's perspective.)
See what I mean? There are 4 different action figures. Check them out - There's Slope Shreddin Sean:

Slap Shot Sam Touch Down Dillon Goalie Gavin and Half Pipe Pete


The action figures are great. Their accessories (snowboard, football, soccer ball, etc) magnet to their feet. To a young boy, magnets are awesome! So my son loved this aspect. All of their body parts bend (again awesome!) a…

Pulling Your Own Weight

How strong is strong enough? This is a question I've asked myself since starting my fitness routine 7 months ago. I want to get stronger at each workout, but how do you know when you're done... you've made it?

Judging by what I've seen, I decided that I needed to at least be able to pull my own weight. What does that mean? Respectable sets of real push ups, pull ups, squats, sprints....

Just two years ago, I couldn't do a single real push up. And many of my friends that have worked out at gyms and with personal trainers for years still can't do a single push up. To me, that's insane. If you're going to workout, then really workout and make some progress!

Well I've been able to do pushups for sometime now and can bust out a seemingly endless number of reps/sets and have graduated to weighted pushups. Yay!

But I've been behind on pull ups. To be fair, most women cannot perform a single pull up. Even my bodybuilding friends have trouble with it. I…

How to Make Raw Almond Butter using a Blender (Vitamix)

You CAN make your own almond butter (peanut, cashew, sunflower, or ANY nut butter.) It's fast and easy - and you can do it in a blender!

If you love almond butter, then I'd highly recommend learning how to make it yourself. I buy raw almondsfor about $3 a pound, so the savings aren't huge, but knowing what goes into my almond butter is priceless. 
What goes in? Nothing but almonds. You can certainly add salt, cocoa powder, sugar, honey, or whatever floats your boat - but the truth is - you don't have to! 
You can roast the almonds and have a rich nutty flavored almond butter or you can make it raw (which to me - tastes more like cookie dough mixed with peanut butter, yums.)
Here's the deal: you don't need to add oils or anything else. A vitamix blender
(or other similarly powerful blender) can handle it.  
Here's a video of me making raw almond butter. I used about 3 cups (measured by a 5 year old - so about 3 cups is fine). 

You will notice a lot of icky …

Ultimate You - A 4-Phase Total Body Makeover

If you've been reading about fitness for any length of time, you know that the general recommendations have changed. It's not just about eating less and moving more. It's about moving smarter and eating better.

Ultimate You - A 4-Phase Total Body Makeover is all about eating better and moving smarter. With a detailed plan on how to do it (exactly!)

I've read a lot of fitness books (5 or 6 in the last month!) and in my opinion this is a book that will help you get results. It's a synopsis of all the information that's out there (saving you from reading 4 or 5 heavily scientific books) and it's a detailed fitness and eating plan.

I personally agree 100% with the fitness recommendations, though I would skip phase 1-3 entirely and only focus on phase 4. I'm at a high fitness level and I'd be angry if I started at level 1, 2, or 3. The workouts are just too easy. But they are a good set up for gaining strength and endurance. If your'e new to fitness …

Growing at the Speed of Life

If the weather hasn't piqued your interest in gardening, maybe reading a few good gardening books might? I just finished reading Growing At The Speed of Life by Graham Kerr and would recommend it to anyone interested in gardening.

The book starts out sharing details of how the author and his wife began gardening. Graham Kerr states that he's "cooked just about everything that grows - but never grown a thing [he's] cooked." So he tells his story from chef to gardener. It's a fun and informative section, especially if you're a new gardener.

My favorite part of the book is the middle - all about plants and recipes. I love reading through advice, tips, and plant details. Each plant's section contains recipes specific to that plant. Gotta love it.

 Every time I got to an exciting one (lemon tree, artichoke, etc.) I'd get so jazzed, and then I'd read the growing zone... and remember why they are so exciting to me in the first place.

Growing zone 4 …

The Joy of Hobby Farming

If you have spring fever like I do, then you'll probably enjoy "The Joy of Hobby Farming," by Michael and Aubrey Levatino. It's equal parts guide book, instruction manual, and gardening memoir. And it's full of great lessons and insights.

When I first starting reading the book, I remembered everything I love about gardening. And why I want a hobby farm in the first place! They cover every topic: selecting a farm, growing food and flowers, raising chickens and livestock, maintaining honeybees, growing mushrooms....all of it. They cover the good and the bad.

This book is extremely helpful. I tend to romanticize nature. I show pictures of all the tasty blueberries I picked, come up with tasty tomato recipes, and give away endless herbs. What you don't see is the hours spent digging in the hot sun, the time our compost bin rolled over my leg and one if it's rusty bolts deeply cut my leg from below my knee all the way up my thigh, or the time bunnies ate my b…

Tropical Traditions Oxygen Bleach Review

When I hear the word bleach, I immediately think toxin. I prefer to use safer ingredients in our home, and recently had the opportunity to review Tropical Tradition's Oxygen Bleach.

What is it? It's an all purpose cleaner made from sodium percarbonate. In most applications, it's a more environmentally friendly bleach alternative.

Here's where I used it - I used it as a toilet cleaner. I used 1/2 a scoop per toilet and then scrubbed it as usual. No smells, no mess. It worked great.

I used it to clean up cat vomit (thank you Reya!) by mixing a bit with water and scrubbing it into the carpet. It's tough to get the smell of vomit to leave, so I was glad to have another product in my arsenal.

I also used it when I washed towels and sheets. I added 1/2 a scoop to the washing machine and washed them as usual.

I've been happy with the results, the lack of offensive smell, and the convenient application.

Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this produc…