Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Spring Vegetable Garden

Spring Vegetable Garden
Written By Renee Arbia

Spring is in the air. Our spring cleaning is finished, we had a wonderful party for Xavier’s birthday and we had a really fun Easter. Last week we took advantage of the awesome eighty degree weather we have been having and started our Spring Vegetable Garden.

Our garden as it was all fall and winter.

Our Spring Vegetable Garden has been a long time in waiting. We did so good last year with the few small pepper and tomato plants we had. So we decided to try out the Nana and Papa’s Salad for A Year Organic Gardening Kit. However, after going over all the plans we decided to do a Lasagna Garden to try to improve our soil naturally before we plant any of the vegetable seeds. It has been decomposing and sitting all fall and winter so this Spring Vegetable Garden has been our first chance in planting in it. I gave up any flowers this year after last year’s flower fail. We decided to stick with just vegetables.

I made the list of a few vegetables to start and that would fit in a small six foot by six foot square. Usually I tend to over plant and cannot keep up so we decided to try to start small. We were excited to dust off our Roca Garden Tools both for my husband and I and of course Xavier was very excited to be able to get out his Children’s Roca Garden Tool Set. We cleaned out the excess debris and weeds. Xavier was super helpful with pulling and raking weeds. Then we decided to plant the garden. The soil from the Lasagna Garden was really rich and black and seemed to be a great start for any seed. Nick and Xavier did a lot of the planting as it is hard to plant when you are very pregnant. I did the container planting. Here are the vegetables that we decided to plant. Keep in mind this is for a Spring Vegetable Garden in zone 8.

Spring Vegetable Garden Crops
- Arugula

Our Spring Vegetable Garden with all the seeds planted. We decided to label them this time.

For containers we planted

Containers full of tomatoes and cucumbers!

For each vegetable planted we had at least two varieties to see which one would take better to our soil quality. It has been a week and a lot of watering, but we can already see a couple of small sprouts popping up. We already have some Arugula and Kale.

Our small Spring Vegetable Garden!

 I love being able to share gardening with Xavier. Gardening with kids is so much fun. There is so much you can teach them by gardening. He loves gardening so much and will not even let us go out and look at the garden unless he can inspect it as well. It has become a fun hobby for our whole family and we are really excited to see what our first Spring Vegetable Garden will bring!

If you are looking for some fun kid's garden tools check out the Roca Children's Garden Tool Set. They are our favorite! Xavier never gardens without them!

#NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #LasagnaGarden, #gardeningwithkids, #RocaGardenTools, #RocaKidsGardenTools, #gardening, #GreenLiving, #GardenLife, #nextgenerationsahmbloggardening

Monday, March 21, 2016

The 4th Birthday Party

The 4th Birthday Party
Written By Renee Arbia

This past weekend we held Xavier’s 4th birthday party. His birthday is not until this week, but since it is so close to Easter, we decided to do his birthday party the week before so his friends could come and celebrate with him. This was the first year that Xavier made all the decisions on his birthday. I am sorry to report we do not have a cool theme birthday party for you to see. Xavier’s indecisiveness combined with my pregnancy resulted in a thrown together but awesomely fun birthday party.

About a month ago I asked Xavier what kind of theme he wanted for his birthday. I explained to him what a theme was and gave some examples. He chose a “truck” theme. After looking up “truck themes” I had to decide on what kind of truck. I decided on Monster Trucks. We went and bought a monster truck as a favor for each of his friends who came to the party. However, when we were going over the decorations he did not like the colors for the monster trucks as he put it they are too dark and not much fun. He instead wanted rainbows and balloons. We had a ton of rainbow and balloon decorations left over from his birthday last year, the Old Fashioned Birthday Party. I was very happy to save money and use some of the decorations from last year. He also wanted a balloon drop which we put up as well.

Three years in a row it has rained on Xavier’s birthday. For two weeks it was sunny and 80 degrees here. The day before Xavier’s birthday party it said it was going to be 75% chance of thunderstorms and only 66 degrees! I was very disappointed as we had even borrowed a bounce house and some fun outside games and toys for the kids to play with outside. Luckily the day of the party, it was cool and overcast, but the kids got a good hour in before it gently rained. They came in and we fed them and did cake, the balloon drop, and presents. The weather then cleared up enough that they could go back outside and play. It ended up being an awesome day. Xavier had so much fun! He actually loved the decorations and noticed every little detail. His favorite part of the day was his friends singing “Happy Birthday” to him and blowing out the candle. He is not a big fan of cakes, so he requested a giant cookie. I found an awesome Cake Mix Cookie Bars recipe on the blog, Lil Luna. It was a big hit, not just with Xavier but everyone loved it. In fact I think next time I am going to make a double batch.

I cannot believe that my little man is four already. Although I have been a stay at home mom his entire life and have not missed a single milestone, it still boggles my mind how fast the time goes. You really cannot be in your child’s life enough. Every second is precious. They are only ours for so little of a time and then they will fly away to their own nest. I am so glad he is finding out how to use his wings, yet he will be in our nest for many more years.

#NextGenerationSAHMBlog, #4thbirthdayparty, #CakeMixCookieBars

Monday, March 14, 2016

Guest Post: Planning Your Block Party

Spring time leads into summer and it is time for parties and barbecues. I know living in the south we start up our grills early and dust off our patio gear before it is even officially springtime. If you are planning on having a block party this year in your neighborhood or a fun barbecue and picnic check out this week's guest post by writer Darci Maxwell. What are your party tips and tricks? 

The Essential Guide For Catering Your Block Party
By: Darci Maxwell

It is time once again to start planning your neighborhood Summer Block Party. If you have been assigned to cater the party, there are a lot of things to think about. This guide will help lighten your load and give you great ideas to make this next block party a tasty delight. Read on for tips and tricks that will save you time, money, and stress.

Ask Essential Questions
Before you begin planning the party, you need to ask yourself the following questions: What food would your guests like to eat? What is your budget? How can you cut costs? Is there a theme for the party? What food can you bring that is both cost effective and fits the theme? Who do you have on your committee to help out? What time will the block party be (catering a lunch is a lot different than catering dinner)? How many people will be there?

Look at All Catering Options
While your first choice for catering might be to go with the biggest and best nearby restaurant, it may not be cost effective. Think about all of your options before pick one. Ask other, smaller restaurants to see if they can cater your party, as they will probably save you money. Ask food truck companies to see if they can cater as well, as that could be a fun way to liven up the party. And of course, don’t forget to consider preparing the food as a neighborhood too.

Feature Your Guests
If someone in your neighborhood owns a specialty shop, have them bring some of their goods to the party. Ask those who are excellent bakers to bring some treats to share. If someone on your block grows an impressive garden, have them bring some of their fresh produce to the party. Or, if you plan far enough ahead, you can grow a community garden. This blog shares some great tips and tricks for creating your own edible landscaping. Using food that people bring or grow themselves can save you quite a bit of money at the end of the day.

Host a Potluck
If you have a small budget, consider hosting a potluck and have guests bring a dish to share. Instead of having everyone just bring something random, create a sign-up sheet so that you make sure that all of the dishes are covered. That way you won’t end up with sixteen tubs of butter for your potatoes but no potatoes! It might be a good idea to supply the main dish, and have the attendees bring desserts and side dishes. A cute idea is to ask every family to bring a picnic basket with a small meal to share. Put half of the family's names in a hat, and have the other guests each draw a name. Those two families will then sit down and share their baskets. Make sure that you have a few extra baskets if someone forgot to bring theirs.

Make Sure There’s Dessert
Don’t forget about dessert! You’ll need something sweet to wash down your meal, and your party will feel incomplete without something tasty. Some block parties serve only desserts at their gathering. This blog suggests that every good party needs plenty of chocolate, and it’s true. Almost everyone loves chocolate. Bring plenty of options to keep your guests satisfied, and make sure that you bring enough for everyone.

Remember Drinks
It is very important to remember to quench the thirst of your guests. The most important thing to supply is water. If you have other games and activities going on, your guests will need plenty of water to keep them hydrated. Plan on 16 ounces per attendee. Offer something sweet like soda or lemonade as well. You should plan that each guest will drink 2 cups of beverages in the first hour of your party, and then one each hour after that. That’s about a 2-liter bottle of soda for every 4-5 people. Of course, you should bring plenty of ice. Have about 2 pounds of ice for every person that will be there to keep the drinks cool.

Go Easy on the Alcohol
Go easy on the alcohol at your next block party, as binge drinking is a serious problem. Create a system to make sure that everyone gets their fair share of booze, but not too much. You can give everyone a punch card, place a mark on their hand, or just assign someone to keep track of people as they come through the alcohol line. You could also just ask everyone to bring their own alcohol to the party, if possible. If there will be young children there, it may be a good idea to forgo it entirely.

Enlist Help
Planning, preparing, and bringing all of the food to the block party is quite the task. Enlist help whenever possible. Ask your other committee members to pitch in, ask your neighbors to help, and involve your family. Don’t be afraid to delegate. Assign specific jobs to people so that they know exactly what they are expected to do.

Think About Tableware
Make sure that you bring plenty of tableware to your party. The nice thing about tableware is that you can save it and use it the next time you throw a party, so it doesn’t hurt to have too much. Have one full service of tableware for each person at the party, and 10% extra in case anyone drops their fork or breaks their spoon. Supply an extra fork or spoon for each person to use when they eat dessert, as chances are they won’t save theirs. Have at least 2-3 napkins for each person. 

Darci Maxwell is a walking contradiction, and she loves it. You are just as likely to find her outside tearing up a mountain as you are to discover her curled up at home with a steamy cup of herbal tea watching Dr. Who. She is terrified of heights, yet she is the first one to run to the edge and marvel at the spellbinding sight. As an introverted extrovert, writing is her favorite way to connect with many people while still enjoying the comforts of her own home. Her favorite quote is “Here’s to the movers, the shakers, and the mischief-makers.”

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sponsored: Shielo Restoration Hair Mask

I wrote this post while participating in a campaign and received a gift to thank me for my time. All views and opinions with regard to the products or company itself are my own and were not influenced or reviewed by the company prior to posting. I am disclosing this according to the FTC guidelines.

Sponsored: Shielo Restoration Hair Mask
Written By Renee Arbia

When you are a mom you end up putting everyone else in your life before yourself. Even though I do value myself and try to have “me-time” it can be hard. However, what I always try to do is take care of myself in the best way I can. Lately, we have been going much greener on everything we use in the house. Greener is better for the environment and for our health, plus we have found most of the time it ends up cheaper than the alternative. One area it can be tricky to find green products in is the cosmetics area. I am getting better at a green skincare regime, but as far as hair I have been lacking. I have been having a hard time finding hair products that happen to be green and eco-friendly. Then, I was introduced to Shielo. Since I have found Shielo, my hair has never looked or felt better and I am so happy with the wonderful company that they are.

Shielo is a small company based in New York City. Their philosophy is to create products with integrity and to ensure that they preserve the future well-being of our environment. Shielo has been around since 2001 and all of their products are made from plant botanicals. They use local farms and ingredients. All of their plants are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides or chemicals. There are no parabens, formaldehyde or preservatives. Their ingredients are certified organic by Organic Certifiers in Ventura California. They are against animal cruelty and testing. In fact, all of their products are vegan friendly. Even their packaging is made of HDPE #2 plastics which are recycled and BPA free. Sure to please even the most eco-conscious consumer.

Shielo makes great hair care products for every type of hair. From smoothing, hydration, volume, color protection to leave in conditioners there is something for every hair type. Products are in large bottles and a little product goes a long way. No more squeezing half a bottle of conditioner for your long hair, with Shielo you can get a small nickel size and you are on your way. They also offer skincare for your complexion that is extremely gentle and all natural.

I first tried out their Restoration Hair Oil which is now part of my regular routine. It makes my hair smooth and shiny and just a dime size amount goes a very long way. Recently, I was introduced to their Restoration Hair Mask. What is so great about their Restoration Hair Mask is that it comes in a 4 ounce container and you need only a little to go a long way. Also, you apply it to clean; wet hair and you only have to leave it on for about five minutes and then rinse out. It works perfectly in the shower. Most masks you have to leave on for fifteen minutes and then rinse, making it hard to have it in your routine. Shielo’s Restoration Hair Mask is designed to be used once a week or twice a week if you have very damaged hair and thanks to their natural ingredients it is completely safe to use on colored or processed hair. The Restoration Hair Mask is an intensive treatment for hair that restores elasticity, freshness and suppleness to dry, chemically treated or damaged hair. The mask instantly repairs to make hair look fresh, moisturized and free flowing. It is a concentrated formula of organic ingredients, complex peptides and highly moisturizing agents that make hair manageable and beautiful. Let’s just say this is now a part of my hair routine as well and it has made my hair so much more manageable and easy to take care of so I can focus on more important things like my family without feeling like I sacrifice myself.

Be sure to treat yourself with a hair care product that reflects real values and makes your hair sparkle like your personality. You can purchase Shielo products from their website Shielo.com

#sponsored, #haircare, #Shielo, #NextGenerationSAHM


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