In the garden with a Happy Caterpillar

Gardening is a wonderfully messy way for children to engage in an enlightening and healthy pastime. It is also one of the most important skills a child can obtain, period. As a family, it is a bonding and rewarding experience which starts with the excitement of choosing the plants from seed, then learning how to nurture and manage the ground as plants grow, and ending with a harvest of homegrown goodness which all can sit down to enjoy as a meal together.

My almost-4-year-old Son has been in our food garden each summer since he was born. I am very proud to write that he recognizes many flowers and plants, being able to point them out quiet easily; kale, mint, rosemary, red clover, tomatoes, dandelion, chicory, chamomile, basil, corn and sunflowers are all familiar to him. Some of those plants he will even be able to tell you what they are good for, such as red clover is good to drink in a tea. As his Mother, I spend as much time as I can passing my growing knowledge of plants on to him. I think it is so important, especially after I read this disturbing article about how preschoolers are able to recognize corporate signs before they are able to read and I just have to wonder, how many of those children recognize as many plants. Unfortunately, probably not many.

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Unlike previous Summers, where Miles Storm was content just being with my husband and I pottering around looking at things while we were working in the garden, this year he expressed that he wanted to participate in the garden with us. Huge Step, but we did not have any gardening tools for him to use, so I started researching brands to find him the perfect set.

I eventually found, an Australian company Happy Caterpillar, who make a really cute gardening set which is made of natural products; I am very anti-plastic. The Green Fingers Gardening Set comes with a canvas tote, which is resistant to UV light, stretching, shrinking, and mildew, to carry the tools to and from the garden (plus any extra toys my Son wants to take with him). The 3 mini tools (shovel, trowel, and cultivator) have blunt edges — very important — and are perfect for little hands.

We believe that children need to explore the world around them, and gardening in the backyard is a great and safe way to start the adventure. By exploring the world for themselves, children gain confidence and learn that they can be independent and can tackle challenges. Gardening also teaches children about nature, the seasons, and the bugs and plants that inhabit their backyard and that it’s also fun to play in the dirt and get messy — Happy Caterpillar

IMG_1106I was especially comforted to know, that Happy Caterpillar was started by Father. James Robinson, who has 2 adorable daughters of his own spends a lot of time in the garden with his young family. He believes, and I wholeheartedly agree, that “it’s really important for kids to get their hands dirty in the backyard, and dig holes, plant flowers and veggies”.

Our budding gardener, was very excited when his gardening set came in the mail, like really excited! And, as you can see from the photos, is out in the sunshine very focused and confident, digging holes and planting sunflowers. I am very excited also, as it means less work for his Father and I!

 

GIVEAWAY TIME

81CIIVcEONL._SL1500_Want to win a Happy Caterpillar Green Fingers Gardening Set for the Little One/s in your life? Enter below to win our giveaway of 1 of 2 Gardening Sets which include 3 tools and a canvas tote. Valued at about $19. If you are one of the 2 winners, we will ship you the prize as soon as possible.

This giveaway ends at 12AM on Wednesday the 30th of July and is open to USA residents only. Otherwise, no matter what part of the World, you can order online from Amazon HERE.

Good Luck, and thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum.

Peace, Love and Plants Make the World Go Around!

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Keeping Safe in the Great Outdoors of New York State

Now that summer is here, we look for ways to spend time with our children and our families. Getting out in nature is a refreshing way to re-energize, re-center, and re-engage with our loved ones. New York City offers a wide variety of settings where you can feel a little bit closer to nature. However, go just outside the city’s gates and you will find rich landscapes blanketed with forests and sprinkled with lakes.

New York State hosts a variety of flora and fauna. To a novice this may make journeying into the great outdoors somewhat daunting, especially when we read news about the danger of ticks, mosquitos, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!). It’s amazing that anyone would take their family into such wild and unpredictable places. However with a little ole fashioned know-how, you can leave your worries behind. Being prepared is the best way to ensure a safe and fun family experience.

Bartolozzi_NycAdventureMom-excited mom and remThe big three…

1. Ticks:
Keep it simple. Treat all ticks the same.  The reality is that ticks carry harmful “stuff” that they can transmit to people. Prevention is best. Wear long pants tucked into your socks, or high socks. The lighter the color the better so you can see them. Spray your shoes with insect repellent. I use Badgers Anti-Bug Sunscreen for my daughter because it has natural Citronella and Cedar to repel insects. Ticks like to crawl up, so frequently check yourself along the way.

You can find further information: HERE

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2. Poison Ivy:
Poison Ivy grows almost anywhere and comes in many different sizes and colors, which can make identification difficult. However, like I tell my mommies and kiddies “Leaves of three, let it be. Hairy vine, no friend of mine.” Color can range from pale to deep green, dull or shiny, even reddish in the spring and fall. On some plants, you will see a reddish color in the center where the three leaves join. Vines can trail along the ground or meander up tree trunks, ranging in thickness from pencils to forearms. Poison Ivy is the only vine-covered in reddish hairs. Recognizing Poison Ivy can save you from an itchy rash, which is an allergic reaction caused by oils in the plant. Oils can linger on shoes, clothes, or even pets (!) that may have rubbed against the plant, so be sure to wash with soapy, warm water as it will break down the oils.

For additional information click HERE

3. Snakes:
The majority of outdoor enthusiasts will not encounter a snake. If you do happen to have a run in, it may be reassuring to know that most snakes in New York State are not venomous. In our area there are two exceptions: the Timber Rattlesnake and the Copperhead. Snakes are exothermic meaning they cannot regulate their own body temperature, so a sun-filled rocky cliff or “look out point” is an ideal location. Snakes also spend much of their time under logs or leaves and beneath rocks. The vibrations of a walking stick can alert a snake to move out of our way. If you know you are in an area where snakes reside, it may be best to keep your canine companion on a leash.

Click HERE for further information

Bartolozzi_NycAdventureMom-legs in carrierTaking a minute or two to familiarize yourself with “the big three” will prepare you and make you more confident on your next outdoor adventure.  Sharing these tips with your children can be a way to engage in nature together, while teaching them about safety and awareness. And who better to hear it from than you.

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum!

head shotLori LaBorde is the Founder and Master Adventure Guide of NYC Adventure Moms – Guided nature day hikes for adventurous moms who want to get out in the fresh air with their little ones.
She has a B.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of New Hampshire and a M.A. in Teaching Biology from New York University.
Keep up with Lori on instagram and twitter @nycadventuremom

 

Ice-climbing; not for the faint hearted

Ice-Climbing having evolved out of rock climbing is not for the faint of heart, and surely ascending a vertical surface of slippery ice does exhilarate the soul. Ice-Climbing is an adrenalin-rushing extreme sport, demanding your whole attention, which is rapidly growing as a Winter activity.

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Being part of an active family with my husband, has its perks; I am healthier, fitter and stronger than I have ever been in my life, and I love that! We have also bonded, on a new level as a couple seeing our love of exercise as a daily necessity.

This winter just past, as a Christmas present, I organized a full day ice-climbing expedition for my husband. Having skied since he was a child, he enjoys nothing more than to be out on the snowy slopes. A friend suggested the idea; to develop his survival skills in such conditions. Lately he has been hiking by himself, up mountains in the dangerous off-limit areas, to ski down again, so this kind of experience was only going to compliment the time he spends doing so.

Being Australian, and growing up in a desert country, I am not a fan of the cold weather, put me on a beach any day, and I will be happiest. So, my heart kind of sank a little when my husband asked me to accompany him. A full day outdoors in the cold mountain ranges is definitely not my cup of tea, but I had to agree to go to keep him happy.

To back track; 6 years ago I committed to the sport of snowboarding. I loved the idea of it and was hoping to be able to spend time doing this while my husband skied. Unfortunately I kept experiencing circulation issues with my feet. After a short period, they became very cold to the point that they numbed and I would have to go back indoors. With this in mind, my main concern on this day trip was not how frightening it was going to be, but whether I was going to be warm enough to be outdoors in the snow all day, at a higher-than-normal altitude.

Preparing for sub-freezing temperatures, and wearing the right gear is so important in these conditions and knowing what could happen, I made sure I was well rugged up.
What I wore;SONY DSC

 

 

Once we were at our destination

My husband and I met our guide in the closest town, signed a mandatory death waiver, and then hiked up the mountain range to where we were going to learn to ice-climb. Yes, we had to sign a death waiver, which was not so comforting!

The hike was very demanding physically, as the paths you create to walk up are so small, slippery and high up. My adrenalin was peaking and I really wanted to climb down the mountain, get in the car and just wait till my husband was done. I really was okay with that! But, alas there was no turning back!

Once we were at the base of the mountain, our guide strapped crampons onto our boots which are metal plates with spikes enabling you to get a sturdy foot hold, gave us a tutorial on the basics of ice climbing and we were off.

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCWhat happened over the course of the day was completely unexpected. I really excelled while my husband did not do so well. I easily adapted to the cold (if I was not dressed properly I do not think that this would have been the case), and managed to conquer my fear and climb to the top of our mountain. On the other hand, my husband really struggled with the exercise, almost giving up a few times. He eventually climbed to the top of the mountain but he needed a lot of encouragement and support to do so.

The whole experience was continually heart pounding and so so petrifying. We had to put complete trust into our equipment – ropes, crampons and ice picks – and our judgement on deciding which way was the best way to climb. It was so slippery, and ice breaks off so easily, it was just really demanding emotionally and physically.

However, once the daylight started to fade and we headed back down the mountain, I thought to myself — “Wow Libby that was so unbelievable”. Checking in with my husband it appeared he was of the same mindset, we both felt so invigorated, amazed and accomplished. It was so beautiful to be outdoors all day in the snow; for me this was a first. Nature truly is a beautiful thing whether hot or cold, and so is having a husband I have much to share with. I am truly so lucky! It was a phenomenal experience.

Readers – Would you ever try ice-climbing?

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum.

Spring Pea Soup from CookBook – Sylvia’s Table

One of my favorite fruits, or vegetables (depending on your train of thought) are the little green bundles of joy; peas. When I was a child growing up, my parents always bought peas in their pods, and somebody in my family would shell them to eat each night; this is a fond memory. In Australia, I remember the staple of boiled peas and carrots accompanying most home cooked dinners.

These days, and living in the United States, sadly it seems more commonplace to buy them as loose peas in the freezer department of a supermarket. However, if in season you should be able to get them as-is from a Farmers Market. We have them in abundance at our local spot at the moment, so this Spring Pea Soup is perfectly doable.

Personally, I do prefer them as I remember as a child, and I especially fancy this recipe as it uses both the pea and the pod. This deliciously wholesome soup is taken from the farm-to-table style cookbook – Sylvia’s Table

Every year children flock to the Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farm in upstate New York to learn firsthand about where fresh food comes from, —how to grow it, how to harvest it, and how to use it to prepare great-tasting meals. Now Sylvia’’s Table brings these lessons and recipes straight from the farm to your kitchen in a deliciously unique cookbook for families — greatperformances.com

Organic peas in the pod from the Rhinebeck Farmers Market, upstate New York

Organic peas in the pod from the Rhinebeck Farmers Market, upstate New York

We are so inspired by the happenings at Katchkie Farm; such a wonderful organization who, every day, are creating bright futures for our children. If you are ever Upstate New York in the Kinderhook area, you should stop by!

What You Need

  • 1 bunch Scallions or 2 small cleaned Leeks, white and 2 inches of the green parts, thinly sliced
  • 5 large sprigs Parsley
  • Sea Salt
  • 1.5 pounds bright green Peas in their Pods
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced Onion or young Leek
  • Freshly ground White Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Black or white Truffle Oil (optional)

What To Do

  • Bring 1 quart of water to a boil
  • While the water is heating, add the scallions, parsley, and 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Shell the peas, setting them aside, and add about 3 cups of the pods to the boiling water
  • Once the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain the stock into a bowl and discard the cooked vegetables
  • Pour olive oil in a soup pot and add the sliced onion. Cook over medium heat for about a minute, then add 1/2 cup of the stock to let the onion stew without browning
  • After 4 to 5 minutes, add the shelled peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and the sugar
  • Add 2 1/2 cups of the stock, bring just to a boil, then simmer for 3 minutes
  • Transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and purée at high-speed for 1 minute until smooth, adding additional stock to achieve your desired consistency
  • Reheat briefly, if necessary
  • Pour the soup into small bowls and serve immediately, with drops of truffle oil, if desired

Pea soup2222)Readers; What do you of peas, do you prefer them in their pods, or loose and from the freezer section of a supermarket?

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum.

Peace, Love and Plants Make the World Go Around!

**This recipe was used with permission

Moroccan Carrot Salad with MINA Pepper Sauce

Growing up in Australia, the carrot made appearances in most dinners I enjoyed as a child. They were right there next to the peas; the two vegetables being a favorite combination in many homes in the Land Down Under.

Carrots are a chock-o-block vitamin dense root vegetable which are traditionally orange, but can also be other colors like red, purple or yellow. Inside each carrot there is vitamin A, which helps maintain the health of one’s eyes, and is clearly why parents tell children they will see better in the dark if they eat them. There is potassium, which is necessary for the body to hydrate efficiently. As well as regulating a healthy heart, muscles and nervous system. Vitamin K which helps with strong bones and kidney health. Vitamin C which is fantastic for the immune system. Not forgetting Fiber, which helps keep the body regular. Moral of the story; eat more carrots.

Locally grown carrots from the Rhinebeck Farmer's Market upstate NY

Locally grown carrots from the Rhinebeck Farmer’s Market upstate NY

MINA Pepper Sauce

MINA fiery harissa pepper sauce is made in our local Brooklyn NY area by a Moroccan woman named Mina. She created the recipe herself, (having learned the art of cooking from her mother when she was a girl), carefully blending only 6 simple all-natural ingredients; red chilli pepper, red bell (capsicum) pepper, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, vinegar and salt. So simple and so perfect. Apparently, nearly all homes have a jar of this central condiment in North Africa where it is used as a spread or drizzled on top of meals. Sounds as Vegemite on toast, is to people in my home country of Australia!

Moroccan Carrot Salad

I must admit, besides either having raw carrots with hummus, blended in a raw juice, or as a side dish like the Australian tradition of steamed peas and carrots, I have not really ventured far with them in my diet. So, I was really excited to try this Moroccan classic, as suggested by MINA. This dish (which can be eaten hot or cold) is definitely on the easy side with minimal prep time before you are sitting down to enjoy all this orange-deliciousness.

IMG_0849What You Need

  • 1 lb fresh carrots peeled and cut into 1/8″ slices
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoon of Mina Harissa
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped or minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt (to taste)

IMG_0854What To Do

  • Steam or boil the carrots until cooked but don’t over cook (slightly al dente is perfect)
  • Drain carrots then run under cold water to stop the cooking process
  • Dry the carrots and set aside
  • In a medium size pan over low heat, sauté the garlic in the olive oil for a few minutes (don’t let the garlic burn)
  • Discard the garlic
  • Add the carrots, lemon juice, harissa, herbs and spices
  • Cook on low heat mixing gently for a few minutes
  • Take off heat
  • Garnish with chopped coriander or parsley
  • Serve

This recipe is a base dish and open to interpretation, feel free to add your own twist if you like; maybe adding some dried cherries/cranberries, or vegan/goat cheese?

Giveaway Time

Mina_Harissa_GROUP Want to win a variety 3 pack of MINA pepper sauce to try out for yourself? Enter below to win our giveaway including the Spicy Red, Mild Red and Spicy Green pepper sauces. Valued at about $27. If you are the winner, MINA will ship you the prize direct from their warehouse.

Otherwise, MINA can be ordered online from Farm to People HERE, or from select retailers.

Good Luck, and thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum.

Peace, Love and Plants Make the World Go Around!

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Let’s talk Facial Masques & Keeping it Greentastic with Balanced Guru

Facial masques have been used for thousands of years as part of beauty regiments by people the world over looking to better or maintain the health and appearance of one’s skin. Thankfully I have been hip to this since I was a little girl, using them mostly as part of a 2 step process, after steaming my face to open my pores. There really is no comparison when using a facial cleanser in the shower, to the super-clean rejuvenating feeling achieved after using a masque.

Generally speaking, masques are either a peel-off kind or a wash-off kind. Extremely versatile, accommodating all skin types, they can be made from a variety of ingredients like yogurt, mud/clay, fruit/vegetable and grains. Masques help with a variety of skin concerns encompassing – moisturization, exfoliation, correcting conditions like blemishes, soothing conditions like sunburn, minimizing wrinkles and fine lines, drawing out impurities and refining pores.

Personally, I love the way my face looks and feels after using a facial masque. I just wish I could remember to use them on a regular basis, rather than just a random 3 times a year, or there about!

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My husband really thinks I look hot-to-trot in my Balanced Guru Masque

What Are We Putting On Our Skin

I strongly believe that it is just as important to be aware about what you put on your skin as to what you put inside of your body. Many of us Mummies, go to considerably effort to be healthy and strong in many ways; exercising regularly, drinking alcohol in moderation or maybe eating a special diet? I know I want to be as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I possibly can be, so I can be a focused Mother to my beautiful little boy who is the apple of my eye! However, even though we go to great lengths, it seems to be somewhat commonplace to overlook all the chemicals and toxins in the personal products we use on a daily basis, which with continual exposure are said to be linked to all kinds of conditions with one example being breast cancer.

There are literally hundreds of kinds of masques available on the market today, but are they safe? I am going to jump right in here and say – No, Unfortunately the majority of them are Not. Mainstream beauty Products are riddled with parabens, sulfates, phthalates, petroleum, GMO’s and pesticide sprayed ingredients. And, that’s not pretty!

For me it is very clear-cut; heightened and constant exposure to such toxins, in the form of synthetic lab made ingredients, are harmful to one’s health and should be avoided at all costs. Period.

So what can you do to avoid this kind of exposure?

Well, you can either make your own facial masque, which is surely rewarding but also a time-consuming project considering the research and preparation time. Or, you can buy a masque from a brand honestly providing a safe product which you can be assured using, like Balanced Guru.

Balanced Guru (don’t you love the name) make a full line of products including facial masques, body balm, body oil, exfoliators, cleansers, toners, hair oils, scalp treatments and energy blends and mists. Not just that, this company REALLY cares about OUR Planet, and we cannot rave about that enough! All their products are certified organic being sustainably and responsibly harvested, they are cruelty free and their bottles and jars are made with post-consumer resin (PCR), which means they are recycled and 100% recyclable. LOVE that!

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Let’s chat about the Spiced Berry Masque

Colorful berries are a great way to feed your skin with antioxidants. Clove and Cinnamon are also loaded with antioxidants to help fight free radicals. In case that wasn’t enough; vitamin C will give this masque and extra boost to also brighten your complexion — Balanced Guru

The first thing I experienced opening Balanced Guru’s Spiced Berry Masque is the overwhelming spicy warm comforting smell. It takes you to a whole new world, just really wonderful.

The masque comes in a dry loose powder. This means that you can play around and get creative with the liquid you use to mix in to activate it. Mixer suggestions, as per the packaging, are either water, raw honey or yogurt. But, how do you know which one suits you best? I wondered the same thing myself, so I did a little research!

If you use water you will just be absorbing the benefits of the ingredients; feeling frisky, add a small amount of apple cider vinegar to help regulate your skin’s PH levels. If you use raw honey the masque will include antiseptic, healing, soothing and antibacterial properties. If you use yogurt (I used my all time favorite Anita’s Coconut Vegan variety) you will topically take in the probiotic, the lactic acid can also help to soften skin and reduce fine lines! Just a note about the yogurt, using a sugar and hormone free kind is best, and you want to make sure that it contains live and active cultures to receive the greatest benefits.

My 3-year-old Son, graciously, mixed my masque for me. He delights in helping out with anything kitchen related, however he was not game enough to try the masque himself! Maybe next time?

I put the masque on using my hands and then went outside, enjoying the sunshine letting it naturally dry for around 25 minutes. I easily washed it off with cold water in the sink, and voilà my skin was super squeaky clean. And, I had complete peace of mind knowing I had used what I consider to be a wonderful product.

My little rainbow mixing my masque up for me with some vegan coconut yogurt

My little rainbow mixing my masque up for me with some vegan coconut yogurt

The antioxidant Spiced Organic masque comes in 2 sizes; a 4 oz which retails for $45, and a convenient 1 oz travel size which retails for $12. Balanced Guru also offer an astringent masque, moisturizing masque and a calming masque. You can see them all HERE.

Readers – Do you use facial masques, if so what kind do you like to use?

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum. Peace, Love and Plants Make the World Go Around!

Raw Juice and Smoothie Recipes just in time for Summer

In my family home, we love to juice fresh raw organic fruits, herbs and vegetables. During the winter months we do not do it so much, but during the warmer part of the year when our vegetable garden upstate New York is flourishing, we juice a lot! With summer finally here in the Northern Hemisphere, our juicer is officially out of the cupboard and back on the kitchen bench where it will stay, for now.

Juicing is a quick way to get your daily dose of fruit and veggies, a wonderful way to start the day and flood your body with essential nutrients. Juicing on a regular basis has been credited to a better immune system, weight loss, glowing hair and skin and increased energy (among other things).

I like to throw whatever produce we have into the Juicer (including scraps like apple cores and beetroot and carrot stalks), and hope for the best!  Unfortunately though, I can admit it, sometimes it does not taste so good. This is why unless you are a juicing genius (like my husband) following a recipe is a wonderful idea.

Today, we have 3 recipes to inspire you to start juicing. If you do not have a juicer, I suggest checking out the Omega website; they sell all kinds of different kinds HERE. They also have a ton of other juice and smoothie recipes, like this Raw Cacao Avocado Smoothie; which I must try soon. It looks so delicious! I love avocado.

Healthy green juice recipe made with spinach, collard greens, cucumber, lemon and fresh herbs.
What You Need for 1 serving at 500 ml

  • 4 cups spinach
  • 1/2 head of collard green or swiss chard (about 6 leaves)
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley (about 1 cup lightly packed)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro (about 1/2 cup lightly packed)
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon

If you have a ‘low’ setting on your juicer, juice all items in the recipe but the lemon juice. When complete, add lemon juice, stir and enjoy

2 green glasses

Tropical Beetroot Juice
What You Need for 1 serving at 500 ml

  • 1 beet
  • 100 grams (1/4 of the fruit) fresh pineapple, skin removed
  • 1 pear
  • 1 inch ginger root
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon

If you have a ‘low’ setting on your juicer, begin with the softer items first – pear and lemon. Then turn to ‘high’ and juice the remaining ingredients

red juice

Green Energy Smoothie
What You Need for 1 serving at 1000 ml

  • 1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
  • 3 cups raw spinach
  • 1/2 medium-sized honey-dew (cubed)
  • 1 cup organic green tea
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup of ice cubes
  • 1/2 fresh ginger root

Blend and Enjoy

Garnish with fresh berries for added if you like

Garnish with fresh berries if you like

We suggest using only organic produce if possible, as eating foods which have been sprayed with chemicals is not advisable for anybody. If you cannot afford, or do not have organic produce available in your area, try your best to avoid these foods which are on the Environmental Working Group’s list known affectionately as “The Dirty Dozen”. These foods are sprayed severely with pesticides – apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, capsicum, nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and snap peas. Instead, choose fruits or vegetables with thick skins as the chemicals do not affect them as much.

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum. We hope this posting has inspired you to live a healthier lifestyle.

Peace, Love and Plants Make the World Go Around!

 

Just a morning workout session with Supermodel & Mum, Adriana Lima

This morning I woke up a little earlier than usual, as, rather than getting ready for my regular morning CKO kickboxing class which is close by here in Brooklyn, I was getting ready to head into Manhattan to workout with Supermodel (of Victoria’s Secret fame) and fellow Mother, Adriana Lima.

I was part of select group invited to experience Adriana’s fitness regimen and take part in a  workout challenge, hosted by AMAZONIA Beverages, while also raising awareness for one of Adriana’s causes she holds close to her heart – St. Luke Foundation for Haiti. Founded in 2001, this Haitian non-profit organization provides essential education, medical care and humanitarian outreach to 150,000 locals a year, and employs around 900 locals to help with that feat. If you would like to donate to this cause you can do so HERE.

The “Urban Jungle Workout” was instructed by Adriana’s personal trainer, Michael “Silk” Olajide Junior, at his Chelsea gym – AEROSPACE NYC. Michael is no joke, in his career as a professional boxer he won nearly all of his matches with not many losses and is a former #1 ranked middleweight Champ. That is pretty impressive! On the other hand, he is also a highly esteemed trainer with models, celebrities and general folk alike. Adriana clearly loves him, and has trained with him for around the 10 year mark! If that is not proof in the pudding I do not know what is.

USA05282014-AMAZONIA-1005USAAMAZONIA Beverages are coconut-water and tea-based drinks which are enhanced with vitamin-rich Amazon Rainforest super fruit extracts. Some of which I had excitedly never heard of before like Camu CamuCupuaçu, and Pfaffia. And others which I have like, guarana and açaí. The power of plants really fascinates me. I am a firm believer that nature has provided all we need for every condition on this Earth, just over the years, we have become dependent on synthetic ingredients and lost the ways of old. AMAZONIA Beverages are blended with organic, low-calorie ingredients to help consumers be able to achieve a high level vibe of mind, body, fitness and energy. Perfect for Mummies on the Go, like me!

This event was to also launch AMAZONIA Beverages, Urban Jungle Campaign, which features gorgeous jungle themed visuals of Adriana Lima and fellow Brazilian model Cintia Dicker, on a mobile hydration truck which is canvassing New York City all summer long! So, thirsty New Yorkers look out for the truck, especially if you have not tried the beverages as yet; it surely is very hard to miss! Want a tip? You can also follow the AMAZONIA twitter feed for daily locations HERE.

That’s Willy B Mum at the back in the pink gloves. So much FUN even if drenched in sweat!05282014-AMAZONIA-1015

So how hard was the workout?

Well, I consider myself to be very active, I do some kind of exercise every day, yes I said every single day! I usually take a high-intensity 60 minute cardio kickboxing class 4 mornings a week, and on other days I either run, play tennis or do Crossfit.

For me, it was not a walk in the park, but I did keep up!

Michael has incorporated a skipping rope component to his tailored workouts and his one-legged squat jumps were so challenging. But, as they say in Crossfit, if you want to see results - get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I loved the workout, I really pushed myself and I felt very accomplished after it had finished. I plan on going back to AEROSPACE NYC soon to do it all over again!

USAJust remember Mummies with hard work, being regular exercise and eating right, you too can be in fighting fit shape. Maybe, just like you never had a baby/babies in the first place? I know first hand this to be true! I was told when pregnant by so many people; “you will never get your body back”. However, I am now, without a doubt, in the best shape of my life, and I am so proud and happy with that. Up and At Em Mummies!

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum!

**Photo CREDIT: Gary He for Insider Images, used with permission on Willy B Mum.

The wonder of the sunny little Dandelion

Some see a weed, and some see a wish.

What do you see when you see a beautiful yellow dandelion flower blowing in the breeze? If you had asked me this a year ago, I would have surely said a wish, but I also thought the dandelion plant was a weed and nothing of such importance. But, fast forward to now as I continue on with my nature studies, and boy was I wrong!

My little munchkin running through the dandelions

My little munchkin running through the dandelions

What some may consider a pesky weed, and thus claim open-war on by pulling up out of their garden from day-to-day, is actually a super food which is jam-packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to help us live a healthier life. Dandelions have been eaten as a food, consumed as a drink, prescribed as a medicine, used as a dye and as an ingredient in apothecary products probably, since the beginning of time. Every part of the dandelion plant can be used for something! In actual fact, according to history books, the plant is believed to have lived on Planet Earth for around 30 million years.

The health benefits of dandelion include relief from liver disorders, diabetes, urinary disorders, acne, jaundice, cancer and anemia. It also helps in maintaining bone health, skin care and is a benefit to weight loss programs — Organic Facts

One of the first signs that Spring is here, is the influx of pretty yellow things beautifying the sides of roads and grasslands. Personally, I was so excited when all our dandelions first came up on our family property Upstate New York. Fairly so, as we experienced a brutal, long and cold winter this past season; I am glad to be on to longer and sunnier warmer days. However, I was in a bit of dilemma. Dandelion flowers are one of the first foods of Spring for our dwindling bee population, and that bothered me. I have never been a big fan of cut flowers either, but as now I had learned that they were so magical, it was either have our gardener cut them down when mowing the lawns, or harvest them for personal use. Either way, they were not going to be around long for the bees. I decided, that I did not want to see these precious little things go to waste, so I wild harvested as many of them as I could.

The dandelion plant can be eaten in entirely; leaves, buds and flowers

The dandelion plant can be eaten in entirely; leaves, buds, roots and flowers

It took me a few hours to gather as many of the plants as I did, which I then separated into 3 different bowls – buds, leaves and flowers. You can also harvest the root for a coffee substitute and as a tea but this is not suggested until the end of Autumn. The repetitive movement working with the plants on a hands-on level really gave me firsthand experience on how the dandelion plant feels, looks and is. Unless, you are a farmer, you are not exposed to that understanding when you pick food up from the market, so I was grateful for that.

So what did I do with my wild harvested dandelion plants?

The flowers
I dried the flowers in the sun to make infused oils when I play apothecary. Infused oils are a wonderful addition to homemade creams and beauty products. I also plan on using the flowers in tea. Aren’t they pretty!
The leaves of dandelion flowers can also be used in salads, and some people like to make a Mead or Wine from them.

I dried these flowers in the sun & am actually selling them on my Etsy page HERE

I dried these flowers in the sun & am actually selling them on my Etsy page HERE

The buds
Apparently, the buds are the cream of the crop if you are lucky enough to be able to find them. Fortunately for me, I found a ton as I harvested the plants as soon as they popped up out of the ground.
I love capers, so the idea of pickling the buds, really took my fancy. While I was doing recipe research online I kept finding recipes using Tamari sauce so I decided to try it out for myself. What I did is fairly straight forward. I took a large mason jar, and filled it up with the buds which put them at half full. I then added half a chopped yellow onion, a few fresh ginger slices and 15 cloves of sliced garlic. I filled the jar a third of the way up with tamari sauce, and the rest with apple cider vinegar. I will shake the mixture every few days, and open it up in 4 weeks from now to see how it tastes!
But, if tamari sauce is not your thing, here are 3 different bud pickling recipes for consideration.

Okay, 4 weeks to go before we get to taste these pickled dandelion buds

Okay, 4 weeks to go before we get to taste these pickled dandelion buds

The leaves
Once gathered, my Son helped me to put them in a big bowl of water to soak overnight, as apparently this helps with the bitterness. He loves to help in the kitchen. Our bulldog Mohawk looked on hoping to get some scrapes, I swear all she does all day is think about food!
My father-in-law told me, that as a boy growing up in Croatia, his Mother would take him into the grasslands to gather dandelion greens so they could eat them as food. So being the resident dandelion expert, he sautéed them traditionally in olive and garlic. I will say that the whole bowl you see in the picture reduced to the smallest fist-size serving after cooking. It was really crazy, and only enough to feed one person (if that). So, I was nominated the lucky duck to do so.
The dandelions tasted bitter, but refreshingly so. I am assuming that eating dandelion greens are something that you have get used to, and are more of an acquired taste.

Little munchkin helping me soak the leaves overnight

Little munchkin helping me soak the leaves overnight

Dandelions are high in calcium and vitamin A & K. Being one of the most nutritionally dense greens a person can eat, they are also a good sources of iron, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E and manganese. As mentioned, the dandelion is used to treat acne in skin, reducing the risk of cancer and urinary tract issues, strengthening bones, promoting digestion, weight loss and stimulating insulin production which lowers blood sugar levels in diabetics. Not forgetting though, that you can also make pretty little dandelion chains to wear around your neck from them too!

What about you, do you have something special that you like to do with the wonderful dandelion plant?

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum, I hope this posting has led you on to a new discovery, created some new ideas.

Peace, Love and Plants Make the World Go Around!

What Bra Size are you?

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 2.17.28 PMWhat Bra Size Are You?

For many years I have thought I was the same bra size. Excuse my naïvety, but I thought that one, pretty much, stayed the same bra size always? But, I was wrong.

Last week, I attended an event by New York City based, Momtrends which was hosted by and at the stone and mortar; Intimacy on Madison Avenue, on the Island of Manhattan.

Intimacy is a national lingerie chain, here in the United States, who, besides selling the most beautiful lingerie, excel as bra fit stylists. You can find stores in 11 states across the country; Georgia, Texas, California, Massachusetts, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New York, Washington D.C and Florida.

I was fitted by a wonderful woman by the name of Angela, who taught me so much about wearing a bra. First of all, a women’s bra size does change. Women lose weight, and gain weight especially during pregnancy and breast feeding, and it is important to be fitted once a year to make sure you are wearing a bra which is supportive to your current size.

To put into perspective; for so many years I have thought I was a size 36D but I am actually a 32DD at the moment – which was news to me!

332DD I am

 

Let’s talk Sport Bras

I am an extremely active Mother, with most mornings being dedicated to exercise. Whether that be crossfit, kickboxing or running I am always on the go. At the moment, I have a chest injury and have to limit movement for the upper part of my body, so I am running a lot and far. On average 5 miles a day! Or, 8KM for the Aussies out there.

I have always worn sport bras which I have bought at a local active store. No brainer right, this is what I have always done and really I have not known any better? While I was at Intimacy, I was fitted for a sport bra. And, wow, what a difference it has made wearing it out on my morning runs. Before hand, while wearing one of my conventional sport bras, I was flopping around everywhere and squashed flat, but with my new sport bra my breasts stay nice and snug and do not move at all! This is a whole new experience to me. So much so, that as I only bought one fitted sport bra when I shopped at Intimacy, I now rinse it out in the shower post run to make sure I can wear it again the next morning. I will never buy conventional run-of-the-mill sport bras again, that is for sure!

What I used to wear…. colorful sure but not that supportive.

Colorful sure, but not that supportive

And, what I am wearing now…. such a difference.

IMG_9950If you are interested in getting fitted by a professional in-the-know bra stylist, Intimacy offers a complimentary fitting which you can sign up for HERE. With over 90 different bra sizes available for women, it is worth a visit, as there is a lot of room to move there (no pun intended)!

I just know that you will leave the store feeling a lot more beautiful in the chest area, and as a result more confident; just like me.

Thanks for stopping by Willy B Mum. We hope this posting has made you think, and lead you on to a new discovery!