Monday, January 31, 2011

Beautiful. Good for you. Good for the planet.

I love soap - add in the fact these soaps are organic, packaged beautifully, and smell heavenly and it is a slam dunk.

These beautiful soaps from LEAP Organics are so wonderful that you will not even want to gift wrap them. The illustrations are works of art and the packaging is recyclable, recycled and made from renewable materials. It's really a win-win.

They were featured on Daily Grommet - one of my new favorite websites. If you love unique gifts and fun finds, Daily Grommet serves them up in your e-mail daily. They offer a video to demo the product or to talk about the features. I love hearing the story behind the stuff.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Citrus - my favorite!

My dear friend brought me tons and tons of lemons before Christmas. Her uncle grew these in his backyard - not in Kansas, of course! I have said this before, but we are so very lucky to have such generous friends.

Nothing takes the edge off winter like freshly-made lemonade. We used the recipe below with a very simple simple syrup, lemon juice and water. We had so many lemons that we froze some lemon juice for future baking and lemonade making. We also gave some away to the FACS teacher for her lemon poppyseed bread.

Perfect Lemonade Recipe

1 cup sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
1 cup lemon juice
3 to 4 cups cold water (to dilute)

1 Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.
2 While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 4 to 6 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.
3 Add the juice and the sugar water to a pitcher. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength. Refrigerate 30 to 40 minutes. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.

Serve with ice, sliced lemons.

Serves 6.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Remembering Chicago

My yearly winter break ritual includes organizing my backlog of photos and scrapbooking projects. Some of my favorite pictures of the year came from our Chicago trip. We found some farmer's markets and ate amazing food. Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip.

Quartino features Italian pizza and small plates, affordable wine and really great atmosphere. I love eating at sidewalk cafes in the city.

This mural of bread was along the sidewalk when we were walking between Farmer's Markets on Saturday. Loved the vibrant image!

These small urban gardens were fun to see along our walk. I had just read a great book about gardening in small spaces and loved to see this example.

Look at these lovely heirloom tomatoes! Seeing them in December makes me long for fresh tomatoes.

Love the colors and shapes on this table.

I wanted the Cambell's Soup box, and the squash looked good, too.

This Kansas girl loves sunflowers. The markets were full of these beauties last July.

Love the cart that held the sunflowers and the bucket of glads in the front.

This is my favorite photo of the day. It had rained that morning and the flowers still had some raindrops. It was worth it to brave the mud at the largest market to see some great displays.

We love Chicago and cannot wait to go back! You can bet we will hit the Farmer's Markets again.

A giving heart

My parents are really amazing people. There are two examples of their kindness and generosity have helped people this winter that I hold dear.

My mom likes to buy gloves on discount. She usually finds them for around $1 in a giant bin at the grocery store. She carries them in her car and looks for kids who need gloves and passes them out. I think about how cold it can be in Kansas during the winter and what a small comfort it is to have some protection from the elements.

My dad is the luckiest guy I know. He wins virtually every raffle he enters. Right before Christmas this year, he won a turkey as part of a raffle the high school marching band was holding. He of course won. When they tried to give him the turkey, he gave it back to the school administration and said that he was sure there was a family that could use it this holiday. He told me this story with a mischievous smile, like he was letting me in on a secret plan.

I get a little teary thinking about these little things my parents do to help others. Small and unassuming, but big those they help.

If you are looking for a great read on altruism, try In a Heartbeat: Sharing the power of cheerful giving by Leigh Anne Tuohy. I love this quote from the book.

Do small things with great love.
- Leigh Anne Tuohy