Tiny Red Kitchen: Never Buy Another McDonald's Shamrock Shake AKA Kids Eat Spinach?

Would you like a sneaky and fun way to turn a sweet treat into a leafy green vegetable surprise? My kids do well eating vegetables.  I know a lot of kids don't, so this discovery could be key for the parents trying to cram something green into those kiddos.  My littlest is a bit leery of my "shakes" because I do put a lot of healthy goodness into them and she isn't a huge fan.  But this, this Healthy Shamrock Shake, she loves it.  And the Huffington Post shared what actually goes into McDonald's Shamrock Shake: GROSS!

It all started with my friend Sharon's Facebook post, "Just made my own Shamrock Shake: Suck it, McDonald's!"  I contacted her immediately.  I went to her house for the first time, drawn by the fantasy of making my own natural, yummy and Healthy Shamrock Shake. She used milk and Shaklee Vanilla Protein powder as a base and it was AWESOME. I was ELATED.  I made them weekly for a long while, the kids and I sucking them down like...milkshakes. 

Today as we slurped down minty green goodness, I realized: This.Should.Be.Blogged.  You are welcome.

Take the milk of your choice, non dairy or otherwise.  Take the unflavored or vanilla flavored protein powder of your choice.  Add mint extract or peppermint extract or I've even used mint leaves.  Add stevia or sugar to taste.  Add THREE HUGE HANDFULS OF RAW SPINACH.  More to get the color you want.  Blend well in any old blender till smooth.  Add frozen bananas or ice cubes or ice-cream to get a thicker consistency and more sweetness, again to taste.  

Serve with a straw.  Straws make everything better.  

Yeah...like that.  

For those of you who are sticklers for a RECIPE, Here ya go: 

For three adult sized Healthy Shamrock Shakes 

3 cups milk of your choice(cow, almond,soy etc.) 
2-3 Servings  of Vanilla or unflavored protein powder shake mix 
1-2 teaspoons, mint extract, to taste
1+Tablespoon Stevia or sugar, to taste
3 large handfuls raw SPINACH leaves
1 Frozen banana (or icecream, or vanilla yogurt...in a pinch just ice cubes are fine) to add body to shake.

Blend in a blender (Any blender, nothing fancy!) till all leafy bits have dissolved into a gorgeous minty evillllly Healthy Shamrock Shake.  Add straw & slurp.


"Dreaming of Other Seasons" NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles

Listen to the NPR audio of this by clicking HERE!

I'm melting!  I'm melting!  If you listened carefully,  did you hear that this week coming from our streets and sidewalks and yards?  The nasty stuff was everywhere.  White or brown, or even worse: yellow.  I'm glad to see it go, even just for now.  The piles.

I'm good with the seasons, one of the things I love about living in northern Indiana: Seasons. About the time I am sick of the cold, wet, slushiness, along comes that fresh breath of Spring with its hopeful sunshine, crocus and thoughts of the earth to come.  My little girls and I eat our breakfast on our tiny front porch every chance we get as it warms.  Still in our pjs, covered with blankets and robes against the chill in the air, we we dine alfresco!  After breakfast we wander around the front or back yard  in our wellies.  We admire the mud, we try to decide if the green shoots are weeds or some kind of lovely plant. We decide it is most likely weeds.  We leave the poor thing alone and wander on.  We look at our grass, the bird feeders,  the birdbaths.   We may consider doing a bit of yard work as we wander but most likely we won't.   Our mornings are lazy and it is difficult to pull weeds or tidy a yard with a coffee cup in hand.  

Soon it becomes hot. Misty wet hot, or dry warmth, and I love basking in the sunshine.  Once again, we are breakfasting on the tiny porch.  When the three of us are sitting there is barely enough room to let the dog inside, or outside for that matter.  Tiny. Porch.  I have too much furniture for the 20 square foot space: A red metal vintage battleship of a glider couch . One adult clamshell chair in scarlet red.  Two children's chairs, one also a scarlet clamshell style, another a red rocker we rescued from a neighbors trash pile.  We spend our summer mornings out there on the tiny porch but then hurry inside to the cool air-conditioning.  Occasionally we wander through the yard and admire the weeds and occasional flower.  If I've stashed the gardening gloves and a trowel on the porch, I may pull a few weeds.  Most likely I'll will wander about with my coffee cup looking but not tending that garden.  Those weeds. Sometimes we go to spend our day at the lake where it is cooler.  Other days we sit in our little back yard on the patio.  I sit in shade or sun as is my mood that day.  The girls play in the yard and I can see them in the sandbox or falling off of bikes or balls or the hammock.  Sweat pools in places I'd rather not mention. 

Just as I am so very tired of sweating, of feeling lazy in the heat.  Of sand everywhere even if we haven't gone to the lake yet that week.  The air cools and shifts and it is different.  The  air even smells business like and leaves die and fall and I love it.  Shuffling through the brown and gold leaves on the sidewalk makes such a scraping shushing sound it can feel deafening.  The start of school and darkening of days reminds all of us to get serious.  We spend fewer mornings on the tiny porch.  Instead there is oatmeal for breakfast, too sloppy to eat in our laps and so we are inside, at the dinner table.  If I walk through the yard or garden it is to go somewhere else.  I'll wind up a hose, perhaps.  Maybe I will refill a bird feeder.  I'll gaze at the weeds and promise them...."Next year!"

And then it gets colder still.  The first precious snow falls and I love that.  I love it even more watching my girls love it.  I frisk about between the car and the garage.  If feel annoyed and intruded upon when snow encroaches on my tiny porch.  Maybe I forgot to put the last clamshell chair in the garage for the season.  There is dirt and snow on it and I feel sad.  

When we do spend actual time outside, there are layers.  So many layers and when we drive in the  snow we are so very careful.  We slip and slide and fall when walking in it.  Me because I am clumsy, the little girls because they are naive to the ways of snow and ice.  
Little Libby tries snow angels...but face down.  I cannot help her up because I am laughing so hard I am crying.  Later, we try hitching our huge dog named Steve to the girls' sled.  He pulls them like the Shephard Husky Mastiff he is and even the neighbor kids get rides.  All through the blizzardy winter he pulls little children amidst peals of laughter.

Then more snow.  Piles, weather reports and school closings.  Cold.  Brittle painful cold.  And just as I am tired of it, my friend Tess tells my little girls this story:  "Everyone was complaining about the snow this morning, I felt grumbly about it until I looked around and saw it glittering!  God gave me all this beautiful sparkling snow!  I found it so beautiful, and I felt like a Fairy Snow Princess!"  I smile at her sweetness, the joy and energy she has in telling her little story to my little people.  Later that day, and the next and the next I too admire the glittering beauty and feel like a Fairy Snow Princess.  I decide to be grateful for the beauty of it.   I am grateful for our warm home, warm food and warm clothes.    

And yet.  I'm glad to see the snow melting too.  The dirty snow, the yellow snow, the icy snow.  I look forward to mornings on our tiny porch, wandering the garden and ignoring the weeds.  I drink coffee at the dinner table and I dream of the coming seasons.

DIY Frozen Movie Birthday Party

Like everyone else on the face of the Earth under 13 years old, my two little girls LOVED Disney's "Frozen" movie.  Even my husband John said he wanted the opening song on a mix CD.   He said Frozen will be this generation's "Annie" movie, with every girl singing the songs and playing the parts for every talent show, audition and empty moment in time.  I don't usually fall prey to commercialization, I was annoyed by all the things you could buy months before the movie opened.  So much stuff for a movie I'd never heard of.

Now I understand.  I bought the soundtrack from ITunes after we got home from the movie and were singing the songs already.  I bought an interactive Frozen audiobook  for the girl's nook.  And when it came to Portia's 5th Birthday party theme, Cinderella was out, Elsa and Anna were in!  I quickly found out most birthday decor times were already sold out.  OOPS.

I had purchased Frozen stickers from a place on line called Smile Makers to make our own Valentines.  I saved a bunch of those (the pack of 75 was generous!) and did a few other things to decorate for her party I thought you might enjoy.  

First off: your Grandma's doilies are SNOWFLAKES, people!  I have  a jajillion of them.  

Blue, white and silver  look like snow and ice.  

And instead of streamers or balloons, get your preschooler artistic team together to make cutout paper snowflakes & hang them from the ceiling.  Easy Peasy and CUTE!

I also have enjoyed making banners from my card making stash and I've used both my AWESOME new laminator and also the basic laminating pages you do not need an AWESOME LAMINATING machine for.  The girls get  a banner or their name in the party's theme and then it goes in their room after the party.  I'm having a lot of fun doing these.  You cannot really tell the colors but they are wintery purples, lavender & blue with embossed snowflakes and GLITTER of course!

Usually I get the girls in a costume of some sort for the theme, and in effort to be less of a consumer I just had her wear the Cinderella dress up dress.  It was hard not to just buy consumes for both girls, but we want to live simply and it really doesn't need to be as important as I want it to be.  

Favors for kids and adults thanks to Disney at Home and Hewlett Packard!

Birthday Girl Portia is FIVE!

Whitney got a great picture of the table!
Corinna and Libby indulge in cupcake goodness!

Mumbling Mommy: Are You Dummies Making Your Kids Dumb?

Today I am over at Mumbling Mommy talking about what a lot of parents, myself included, are doing to help our kids be dumber.  More Dumb.  Stupid?  Less smart...Uh...

If this topic is as interesting to you as it should be, you may enjoy reading or hearing my NPR radio post "Bored".  You can find that here.  Or listen to it Here.

Or simply head over to Mumbling Mommy and see if you are as daft as I am.

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A More Beautiful Bible: DIY Decoupaged Book Cover

I used to hide my bible under my bed.  When I first started reading it, I was so embarrassed and worried I had "turned into one of Them".  I didn't want anyone to know I was actually reading the bible.  How dull.  My life at the at time (ten years ago now) let's just say wasn't the life of a person who reads that kind of stuff.   My life was awesome, I had everything I wanted but I knew something was missing.  If all that stuff about God was true, I wanted to believe it.  I struggled with believing it.  Just ask anyone who has known me "Before".

When I chose to dig into God and what that kind of life was going to mean to me, my best friend Jenny bought me a bible.  I had a New King James version of the bible, but if you have ever looked one of those over it isn't exactly  a gripping read.  (No offense, God, but you know us peoples need things simple...)  Jenny gave me a "New Believer's Bible" in the New Living Translation.  I couldn't put it down.  

I read that bible almost every day for a year or two.  I've since gotten over being embarrassed about it.  I've bought several others.  I've bought bibles to give away to other people.  I just did that again this week:  I bought two "New Believer's" Bibles just this week for friends who have recently mentioned they didn't have a bible, didn't read their bible or wanted to be closer to God.  There are all kinds of side notes and action steps sprinkled throughout the book that I just found it so educational and inspiring.  

I don't like everything I read in my bible.  I choose to interpret some things literally, some things culturally, and some things I believe are not culturally relevant any more.  But I read it.  I love it.  I apply it as best I am able to my daily life.   I'm honest and open about my frailties and failures.  I just love God.  But lately I don't love the look of my Bible.  

I'm embarrassed now to carry a New Believer's Bible when I have been a die hard believer for over a decade.  I'm tempted to consume by buying more bibles, prettier bibles and different versions of the bible.  Then last week in church God showed me what to do:  I could decorate my bible instead of buying a new one.  AHA!  

I decided to decoupage my bible and thus strengthen the cover at the same time I was beautifying it.  My first bible has so many highlights and notes and prayers in it from my devotion over the years....a new one would take so much time to build up a relationship, a history with it.  This way I just make it look prettier.  God is pretty awesome, y'all!

I had just decoupaged a stool with great results, except for some bubbling.  I found  this You Tube Video  How to Decoupage without bubbles and wrinkles  and the main tip was to only put a minimal layer of glue down, let it be a little dry! (previously I'd slopped lots of glue down and then slopped on the top layer of glue; the paper was bubbling from all the moisture!)  So I started to work on my bible.

I used scrapbook paper cut to fit, worked slowly, and added some things from Brave Girl's Club Truth Cards that I love.  I do their "Truth Cards" and give them away, send them to Brave Girls Club for them to give away, and so I had pieces laying around to use.  My friend Lori introduced me to Brave Girl's Club and it has continued to bless me by reminding me to be encouraged, and then to also be an encourager.  Check them out!

I finished my bible cover with spray acrylic gloss, just like I do with furniture.  It made the cover harder and more durable.  Stinky, but a light coat seals in everything else.  I'm going to read this book a lot, friends, I want it to last.  And I want it to be as beautiful on the outside as it is on the inside.  

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Makeup Tip for Mamas: Try Birchbox!

Are you "Just a mom?"  (Boy is that a loaded question!)  Growing older and becoming a mama has changed me so deeply in good and bad ways.  I love being a mother, watching my girls grow and watching myself grow in the process.  My heart breaks with joy often the same day I have already cried in frustration.  
Feeling Gorgeous in Professional Makeup & Hair for the "Little Black Dress" Runway!

One of the challenges I have written about is maintaining  my "Inner Bombshell" as a mama--heck as a grown up!  I see makeup tutorials with detailed steps and I harrumpf.  I usually wear makeup out of the house these days, and at least lipstick...but the attention to detail these young lovelies have before children...HA!    If only I had endless time to devote to me, myself and my loveliness.  Then I may just use two kinds of eyeliner, or do something with my eyebrows, or use a lip liner, lipstick AND lip gloss all at the same time to "create a look". But no.  

I use a BB or CC Cream, eyeliner, eyeshadow, mascara and ALWAYS Lipstick.  If I am gittin' all fancy, I may add blush or highlighter, or concealer.

My latest Birchbox Box!
One thing I have REALLY been enjoying is Birchbox.  I am not super into makeup and I do not spend a lot of time or money on it.  But I do like learning new things when I am in the mood.  With a ten dollar monthly Birchbox subscription you get a little box of fun.  The Birchbox box is usually filled with generously sized samples and often a full sized sample too. I've found a heavenly face cream, nibbled chocolate, tried a nail polish I'd never heard of, and enjoyed trying several new lipsticks.  I just LOVE Birchbox!!!  

For me I really enjoy getting a little SURPRISE in the mail every month. I rarely even buy the products, I just enjoy trying all the fancy little things. Check out this video of the fun things coming in my box...I expect to see either a full size eyeliner or a mini polish..Ruby Wing is THE BEST...I already own some.  This is one small way I pamper myself as a woman...even if I do not choose to spend a lot of time on my makeup on a daily basis.
Opera Outing with my Dad!

Also, for you frugal gals, when you post reviews of products you try or buy (or already love) on Birchbox, you get points for credit on your account.  I certainly do not knock myself out to leave reviews, but even I made $30 to spending the Birchbox shop!

Plus you get other freebies and deals on special extra sample boxes, gift with purchases and contests.  I even like their beauty videos and sneak peeks of the monthly box before it arrives.  It is just a little fun for me amidst the daily "momness" of my days.  I get a little selfish Bombshell Mama time, and that is PRICELESS for me. You know my marriage gets an OOMPH too!  

Please try it out for yourselves.  You would spend as much on a lipstick you would get home with and try on  and realize it is the wrong color.  You would spend as much on two fancy Starbucks coffee drinks.  Try out Birchbox and let me know what you think.  If you click on this link you will give me credit for sending you, and I sure would love that!

I know many of you already enjoy Birchbox...any product tips for us? 

Unattractive Bathrobe On Fire (and other too late meanderings)

(NOTE: This post was lost in my blogger drafts, a melancholy and random post I feel sad was not posted...here ya go!)

I think dryer fires are a leading cause of house fires. Or maybe it is coffee pots left on, grease fires or some such random daily event gone very wrong. I am bleary eyed and ready to tumble into my bed with brand new clean sheets but I won't.

After a week of she said he said battles with the flu in our house and a night of too much Desperate Housewives on Netflix via ROKU I am up. Instead of taking my glass of icy cold Brita filtered water up with me to bed I am here. Eating leftover Girl Scout cookies from my Lia Sofia party I would have sent with my husband to work today(so I wouldn't be sitting here eating them) but with the aforementioned flu he never went. So they are here and I am not in bed and I am eating them. Tagalongs and Thin Mints with their second rate waxy chocolate coating that reminds me why I was sending them away.

My eyes are tired and I look forward to a hot washcloth and Boots cleanser to scrape and rub the makeup from my face. I love washing it off as much as putting it on...my new MAC liquid eyeliner that FINALLY gives me that cat's eye look I have struggled after, the Sephora shadow, blush, liner that I just got for Christmas. I will wash it off soon. I will brush my teeth again. After I sit here a bit longer.

I like to be in bed around nine. I stay up until ten because my husband does and I prefer to go to bed with him. Tonight he is in bed long ago after a day of flu...he will be better tomorrow.

I hear the click click click down below in the basement. I think of my hideously unattractive but so silky spongy cozy warm fuzzy white bathrobe that is drying in the dryer. It is a gift from the hospital where I gave birth to our second daughter a year ago. It is in the dryer after being washed and bleached to get freshened up again after flu and little grubby hands and crumbs and stink.

I will be waiting for it to not accidentally start my house on fire. Instead of going to bed I will be waiting up; not for a child or my mate, but for the bathrobe of my domestic delight. There will be no dryer fire in this house tonight. But there will be a very white, very warm bathrobe.

Any Obsessions you care to share?  How many products did I mention in my wanderings?  Did you notice?

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