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Making Composting Easy and Fun

We all know the earth feeds our families, but we can feed the earth too. Read today's post to learn how!

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The purpose of composting is pretty simple: to reuse your organic trash and renew your soil. Adding compost to your yard can make your soil, plants, trees and lawn healthier. Plus, you’ll cut down trash headed for the landfill by 30%.

We chatted with two Plum District Moms to see how they incorporated composting in their homes.

Ginger, of Los Angeles,  says ever since installing the compost bin and utilizing a “food scraps” container (a small metal bin right near the sink), she’s amazed at how much less trash she’s producing and how good it feels to re-cycle. Her family’s daily routine includes a trip to the backyard with their food-scrap-filled canister to “feed” the compost bin.

Liz, of Denver, recommends a simple black trash can ($12) with the bottom cut out and air holes punched in the sides. You can also Google the word “composting” to see if your city offers free containers. The Department of Sanitation in your town just may surprise you!

Here’s what to put in your new compost bin (it’s an easy equation):

Half green, half brown, a little water, a little air flow, and heat.

  • Green is your vegetable and green plant scraps, or your nitrogen: carrot peels, apple cores, lettuce scraps, pepper cores, orange peels, potato skins, celery tops, grass clippings.
  • Brown is your dead plant matter, or carbon: last fall’s leaves, deadheads and old twigs from your bushes, grass clippings that you let dry in the sun for a day or two.

The key is getting the mix right. Water the bin until the mix is moist like a sponge. Then make sure there are some air holes, put the lid on and let it heat up! If you have the mix right (the 50/50 split) it shouldn’t smell at all. If it does start to smell like ammonia, you’ve got too much green stuff. Add some brown.

(Note! Here’s what you should not put in the bin: No meat, no fats. No steak bones, or cheese rinds, or leftover bacon, or last night’s salad with blue cheese dressing).

Now that you’ve collected your bin, you can keep it right in your garden. The sun heats it up, and the good compost-making worms and bugs will crawl right in. When it’s time to harvest, just lift up the trash can, and that handy hole in the bottom lets the rich brown compost fall out! You can distribute the compost through your soil to increase its richness and feed our earth!

Composting is a great daily activity for you and the kids. It teaches the whole gang to be conscious of the earth and reinforces how even the littlest effort makes the biggest difference.

Liz Easterly writes StapletonMoms.com in Denver, where she keeps a little backyard garden and a $12 trash can compost bin that her two boys help care for. Ginger lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles, CA and loves working for Plum District.  Since starting composting a year ago, she feels a little better about doing her small part to leave a healthier planet behind for the next generation. 

Green-Design salad

A Greek-Inspired Healthy Dish

Easy and delicious for the whole family

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Here’s a GREAT Mom dish brought to you by Las Vegas District Consultant, Maria Oakes! It’s quick, easy, tasty and healthy – all things we moms look for in every meal we make!

Pick any Taverna, Cafe, or restaurant anywhere in all of Greece and you will find a “Horiatiki” salad on every menu. The Greek-style salad is a staple in Maria’s home. It can be served as a side dish when you’re missing that healthy extra- oomph or even as a meal in itself! Prep time is just about 5 minutes….literally as long as takes to cut the vegetables and drizzle the Olive Oil.

Maria’s favorite veggies are always (1st) from the garden, (2nd) from the farmer’s market and/or even the local grocer around the corner. Here are all the ingredients:
  • Tomatoes (as close to home grown as you can, is the best)
  • English Cucumbers preferably (but other Cucumbers work just as well)
  • Red Onions give the most flavor (but white or even green are great in a pinch too)
  • Green peppers (or get crazy and throw in yellow, orange or red too)
  • Kalamata olives (or whatever olive you might fancy)
  • Feta Cheese – the favorite is FRENCH Feta (shhh, don’t tell the family)- mainly because it’s creamier and doesn’t have the bite that some of the others have!
  • Freshly baked bread- French Loaf, Baguette or Italian Round all work great!
So let’s do it!
  • Simply chop your veggies up to bite size pieces
  • Drizzle Extra Virgin Olive Oil (yes, always Extra Virgin – you can find some that are very tasty AND inexpensive)
  • Season with salt, pepper and Oregano to taste
Then enjoy! Maria typically serve this “family-style” – so break bread, dip in and munch right off of the platter!
94777926_2_ Skin Care Pastels for Spring Face Easter Brunch for Under $30

Under $30 – Easter Brunch for 8

Don’t let Easter brunch take a bite out of your budget

Easter Brunch for Under $30

There are endless wallet-friendly recipes you could make for Easter brunch, and the most befitting ingredient is obviously eggs. You need a solid meal between tearing through the Easter egg baskets and waiting for the Easter egg hunt to begin. Have some fun by making dishes that the kids can pitch in with, but keep the cleanup minimal by going for a “one pot” approach. Forget made-to-order eggs, here is an easy family-style brunch for under $30.

The Main Dish: Egg & Chorizo (or Soyrizo) Casserole

Cost of ingredients: $12

  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 12 oz chorizo or Soyrizo, crumbled
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 3 oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 12 oz pre-shredded hash browns
  • 1 small container of sour cream
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat eggs in large bowl and combine with bell pepper (or any vegetable you like), milk, pepper jack cheese and Soyrizo or chorizo. (Soyrizo is a delicious vegetarian alternative to chorizo available at all Trader Joe’s for about $4.) Evenly scatter hash browns in bottom of greased 9×13-inch rectangular casserole dish and pour egg mixture over them. Bake for 45 minutes until eggs are set and sprinkle remaining cheddar cheese on top. Bake for additional 15 minutes or until cheese has melted. Great garnished with a dollop of sour cream or your favorite hot sauce. You’ll love the crispy potato crust on the bottom.

Something Sweet: Ooey Gooey Monkey … err … Bunny Bread

Cost of ingredients: $10

  • 2 cans of pre-made buttermilk biscuits
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour the granulated sugar and cinnamon into a large bowl and remove the biscuit dough from the cans. Separate each biscuit into four pieces and roll into balls (this is a great job for the kids). Place all of the dough balls in the bowl and use your hands to coat them in sugar. Add more granulated sugar if necessary. Arrange the dough balls and pecans in a greased Bundt pan, making sure nuts are evenly distributed. Combine melted butter and brown sugar in a bowl and pour mixture over the dough. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool. Remove from pan and place in center of table. Kids have so much fun pulling apart the sticky sweet monkey bread.

*This meal is about 8 adult servings.

TIp: Use your remaining budget to buy some fresh fruit to slice up, or sneak a bottle of champagne for the grownups!

 

 

 

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Fun With Peeps

Orange County District Consultant Stephanie shares three great arts and crafts projects using Peeps

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A note from Stephanie: Peeps are the delicious and absolutely adorable marshmallow candies! You’ll be thrilled to create these easy crafts with your kids. I have surrounded my home with these tasty delights and I actually enjoy Peeps even more once they’ve sat out for a while, rather than fresh out of the box!

Peep Wine Charms

  • Tie a colorful string or thin ribbon onto the middle of a toothpick and insert through the center of a Peep chick or bunny.
  • Pull string through to the other side and tie a bow around the base of a wine or champagne glass.
  • Choose different shapes and colors for the most variety, depending on how many guests you will be entertaining.
  • Keep your eye on your Peep charm during your special celebration and never lose your glass!

Easter Tree decorated with Yellow Peeps

  • Find some dried branches on the ground around your neighborhood, or your own backyard.
  • Spray paint and let dry overnight, or keep au natural.
  • Arrange branches in a tall vase.
  • Prop colorful Peeps on the branches and decorate the table for added festive flair.

Peep Straws

  • Grab a box of Peep chicks or bunnies and insert a festive plastic straw through the center of the Peep – then wipe the straw clean with a damp paper towel.
  • Decorate your favorite plastic cups with these playful straws and set the kids table for sweet fun!

About Stephanie:

Stephanie is a Huntington Beach native and mother of two. She enjoys jazz music, wine, food, writing, reading, good times, and anything creative.