Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gifts That Give Back

This Holiday season give a gift that "gives back." Here are my top three picks:

Feed Just One
One Shirt = 30 Meals. Feed Just One funds the food program for Think Humanity's girls hostel in Hoima, Uganda. Every time you buy a shirt, it allows 30 girls to sit down to a nice balanced meal.

Mother Teresa once said, "If you can't feed a hundred people, than feed just one."
Buy a Shirt. Save a Life.
The White Rainbow Project
Mother Teresa also said, "The greatest disease and the greatest suffering is to be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, to be shunned by everybody, to be just nobody."

The White Rainbow Project is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to helping the widows of Vrindavan, India aka, "The City of Widows." In India, widows are considered to be unlucky. There are many demoralizing customs associated with widowhood.

Buy the movie on DVD that inspired The White Rainbow Project or beautiful handmade tunics, jewelry and scarves. Proceeds go to helping the widows of India.
For every toothbrush you buy, Smile Squared donates one to a child in need. Everyday products like toothbrushes can have a big impact on the world.  

Environmentally friendly, hand-crafted with a biodegradable bamboo handle and high quality DuPont Tynex bristles. Only $5.95. Great little stocking stuffers!

Buy One. Give One.
What are some of your favorite "give back" programs?

Happy Holidays.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Black Friday Sale & Cyber Monday Etsy Sale

As a way of saying "thanks," please enjoy a "20% - 50% Off Savings" on select items at Jen's Backyard.  Sale begins Black Friday, November 23 through Cyber Monday, November 26.

Select Button Rings On Sale. Perfect stocking stuffers!
Vintage Brown Button Ring On Sale $6.40
Vintage Anchor Button Ring On Sale $6.40
All Handmade Greeting Cards 20%-50% Off. These make a perfect "Hostess Gift" for the Holidays.
Boho Fabric Greeting Cards, Set of 2. On Sale $3.60


Gift Tags 50% Off. Handmade gift tags, for that added special touch. 
Mid Century Fabric Gift Tags, Set of 6. On Sale $3.60
Select Jewelry On Sale. Find that perfect one-of-a-kind gift.

Teal Rhinestone Filigree Earrings On Sale $9.60
Om Necklace On Sale $12.80
Enjoy the savings at Jen's Backyard.

PS - Start early....sale begins as soon as you read this email.

Happy Thanksgiving.
Jen


Thursday, November 15, 2012

My First Marathon & Bryan's First Cyclocross Race

It's been a year of running. It started with a 10K and then a half marathon. So I said to myself, "why not do a full marathon?!"

I am excited and proud to yell at the top of my lungs, "I ran my first marathon!" 26.2 miles. It took me 4:39. I didn't know it was humanly possible to run that long. Turns out, you can!

Four months of training, a lot of yoga, eating healthy, cutting back on vino, too many Cliff bars to count, a knee injury and one goal in mind...I was ready for race day!

6am ...a cold morning in Santa Barbara!!!
I wanted to play it safe and run with a pacer. I ran with Veronica, the 4:25 pacer (which was my goal time). Veronica is an angel. She had to hold the pacer sign the entire time. She encouraged us along the way, reminded us when to eat our Gu gel and to not get ahead of ourselves. She was awesome! 
Mile 15...still having fun!
I really enjoyed the race and felt great until mile 19.5. I grabbed some water and ran with it. When I drank the water, it went down the wrong pipe and I started choking, so I stopped for a split second. It was then that I saw my race goal slip away. I couldn't catch back up to the pacer and then at mile 20 my knee injury reared its ugly head.

Mile 20...The misery has begun!
I struggled through miles 20 – 23. Those three miles felt like an eternity. It was the most pain I have ever felt. Bryan was on his bike next to me encouraging and cheering me on. My body said, “stop running,” and my Detroit potty mouth was saying all sorts of things I won't repeat. 

Somehow I managed to pull through it. When people say the last 6 miles are a mental thing, I now know what they mean. At mile 23 (someone's sick joke) we had to run up a half mile hill. I faced that hill, ran up it and limped/ran like a zombie pirate (because my knee wouldn't bend) to the finish line. I dug deep, very deep and that's the part I am most proud of.
Mile 25... the End is near!
Look at that beautiful ocean. Who could be miserable while running with that spectacular view?!
I did it! I did it!!!! Where's the Beer Tent?
Thanks to my family and friends for your encouraging words and support. Thanks to Veronica, it was an honor to run with you. Thanks to my husband & son who had to put up with my Saturday long runs and my aches and pains. I am so blessed to have such great people in my life.

The day after my race, was Bryan's first Cyclocross Race. It was 35 minutes of pure hell fun! Four laps around a course featuring dirt, sand pits, grass and pavement. Downhill, uphill, sharp turns and barriers....oh my!
I'm ready to kick ass!
Bryan did great! It takes a lot of strength and endurance to do this type of race. Only bad asses are allowed to ride. He rocked it! I loved watching him race... and I got to use more cow bell. Great job Bryan!!! You look sexy in that bike gear! 


Way to go Bryan! 

Thanks Mom & Fred!
A neighbor asked us if we were pregnant!
Child birth, marathon....similar in pain!
Now it's time to rest and relax through the Holidays....and then do it all over again next year!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Halloween Appetizers

Here's two Halloween Appetizers that are sure to make your guests say, "eww, that's gross!" 

Puking Pumpkin:
Carve a mini pumpkin. Make sure you cut out a large mouth. Put pumpkin on serving tray. Add your favorite guacamole dip, pouring out of the mouth to make it look like the pumpkin is puking.








Meaty Skin Skull:
Add thinly sliced lunch meat to a plastic skull. Cover entire skull. Use small dabs of glue to help it stick. I used sliced jalapenos for the eyes, but you could also use olives with pimentos. Place skull on serving tray with cheese and crackers and "voila!" I made this the other night for a dinner party and the flies kept landing on it....it made it even more disgusting!

As the days go by, the skull becomes grosser and grosser. My husband keeps telling me to throw it out, but I love how it gets nastier each day! I think I will place it on his pillow tonight. 

Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Halloween Kitty Litter Cake Recipe

If you're going to a Halloween party this year, this is the cake to bring! It looks disgusting, but actually tastes really good! 
Here's the one I made.

Ingredients:

- 1 box spice or German chocolate cake mix
- 1 box of white cake mix 
- 1 package white sandwich cookies
- 1 large package vanilla instant pudding mix
- 12 small Tootsie Rolls
  • -  A few drops of green food coloring 
  • What to Serve it in: (I bought all these items at the dollar store)
  • 1 new cat-litter box
  • 1 new cat-litter box liner
  • 1 new pooper scooper
  • How to Make it:
  • 1. Prepare and bake cake mixes, according to directions.
  • 2. Prepare pudding and chill.
  • 3. Crumble cookies in small batches in blender, food processor or mash in bag. 
  • 4. Take 1 cup of cookie crumbs and add a few drops of green food coloring. Mix with a fork. Set aside. You should have white cookie crumbs and a separate bowl of green cookie crumbs.
  • 5. When cakes are at room temperature, crumble them into a large bowl.
  • 6. Toss with half of the remaining white cookie crumbs and enough pudding to make the mixture moist but not soggy.
  • 7. Place liner in litter box and pour in mixture.
  • 8. Unwrap 3 Tootsie Rolls and heat in a microwave until soft and pliable. Shape the blunt ends into slightly curved points. Repeat with three more rolls.
  • 9. Bury the Rolls.
  • 10. Sprinkle remaining white cookie crumbs over the mixture, then scatter green crumbs lightly over top.
  • 12. Heat up remaining Tootsie Rolls until almost melted. Decorate the cake with the rolls, place them on the sides, hang over the edge.
  • 13. Place box on a sheet of newspaper and serve with scooper.
Enjoy. Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Pet Chicken's Birthday

My pet chicken, Turken, turned a year old.  So, I did what any loving, pet owner would do. I gave her a little birthday party....and I'm probably going straight to hell because bbq chicken was on the menu. 

I also made "dirt" birthday cake for the humans and the chickens. I even created Turken a little party hat.

In case you're wondering....I haven't lost my mind. I'm just always looking for creative outlets and to show my son to have fun with life and to not take things so seriously.

My son had fun alright...he was laughing pretty hard when the chicken pee'd all over my fun farm dress while we were singing Happy Birthday. And like any kid, he wanted seconds of that yummy cake!
Freckles gets some bday cake.
Let this inspire you to go and do something different. Be bold, be daring, be unique. Your family (and pets) will thank you for it! 


Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Dragon Fruit

photo from picasaweb.google.com
A recent trip to the local Farmers Market landed an unusual fruit in my produce bag....The Pitaya, more commonly referred to as the Dragon Fruit. The taste and texture is similar to a kiwi, but nothing compares to the beautiful and intense presentation that this fruit delivers!

photo from hort.purdue.edu/newcrop









The Dragon Fruit looks like something the Chiquita Girl would wear on her head. Its hot pink and lime green flames catch your attention and when you slice it open, there's a jaw dropping surprise. Dragon fruit is a type of cactus and can be found in pink and yellow with white flesh, sprinkled with black seeds and if you are lucky, you get one filled with the most brilliant fluorescent fuchsia you've ever seen! It's low in calories and offers nutrients such as Vitamin C, calcium, fiber and antioxidants.

photo from 2.bp.blogspot.com
This exotic fruit is best eaten chilled. Cut the fruit in half and scoop the flesh out. There are many creative ways to use the fruit including using it as a "novelty" dessert, garnish a drink, serve in salads, make into a drink, jam or sorbet. It's a refreshing treat that's sure to impress your dinner guests and wow the kiddos.
photo from whatsforsupper-juno.blogspot.com
photo from seduceyourtastebuds.blogspot.ca
Our family started our own tradition. Each time we have new guests over for dinner, my husband makes a Dragon Fruit after-dinner presentation which includes a magical, make-believe history of the fruit....because, well, "the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree!"

Dragon Fruit, go and get yourself this unique little treat.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Do "Something" About Chick-fil-A


Maybe you agree with Chick-fil-A's views against same sex marriage, maybe you don't. Either way, you should show your support. You can go buy a chicken sandwich today or you can protest outside a Chick-fil-A with all your gay friends.

To all you "pro-chicken anti-gay" folk, I respect your opinion, but I don't have to agree with it. I just ask that you respect my opinion too. Two reasons why I won't be eating at Chick-fil-A anymore...

To be fair, I've only been to Chick-fil-A a few times. The food was good and so was the service. And to be honest, I don't eat a lot of fast food so by me not going to Chick-fil-A isn't going cut into their profits. I'm simply choosing not to eat at Chick-fil-A based on two reasons....gay rights and corporate bullying.

I've never really been one to “stand by and watch” or “follow the crowd.” I've always been one to stand up for what I believe in, even if it's uncomfortable, even if I'm all alone and even if the person to the right of me starts to distant themselves. I'm comfortable enough in my own shoes to speak what's on my mind. To me, it's the right thing to do.

photo by estergoldberg.com
Chick-fil-A has the right to voice their views against same sex marriage, just like I have the right to voice my views for gay rights. I believe we are all equal and should be treated as equals. Chick-fil-A is passing judgment. That doesn't seem very Christian to me. The God I know doesn't judge or discriminate against anyone. The God I know created you, me and gay people. Enough said.

photo from cbsnews.com
My family and I actually started boycotting Chick-fil-A months ago when we found out they were suing Vermont's small business owner Bo Muller-Moore. Bo's eco-friendly t-shirt business promotes sustainable food messages such as “EAT MORE KALE” and has been doing so for more than 10 years. Chick-fil-A claims that Bo's slogan “EAT MORE KALE” is similar to their slogan “EAT MOR CHIKIN” and is confusing its customers. Really? Someone is going to mistake chicken for kale?

As soon as I heard about the lawsuit, I purchased an “EAT MORE KALE” t-shirt for my husband and a bunch of bumper stickers to help support Bo and his business. I get asked all the time, “What's that Kale sticker on your car all about?” And I am ever so happy to explain.

Corporate bullying doesn't sit well with me. Apparently not with others either...In just one month, Bo raised nearly $90,000 to make a film about his ongoing legal battle with the fast food chain.

You too can help Bo by signing his petition and buying some of his products. Put your money towards helping a small business! Go to eatmorekale.com

Chick-fil-A has the right to Free Speech, so do you and so do I. Are you going to stand up for what you believe in? Are you going to show your support? Come on, what are you, chicken?

photo from cagle.com

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

5 Reasons to Become a Locavore


A "Locavore" is someone who commits to eating food that is grown, raised or produced locally, usually within 100 miles. Here are 5 reasons you should start thinking about joining the "Locavore Movement:"


Locally Grown Produce is Fresher
Produce from the grocery store has spent days, sometimes even weeks on a truck. Produce bought from your local Farmer's Market has usually been picked within 24 hours of your purchase and lets not forget to mention the higher nutritional value when buying fresh fruit & veggies!

Local Food Tastes Better
Ever eat a tomato or cucumber straight from your own garden? Need I say more?

Buying Local, Supports Local Farmers
When Farmers sell directly to the customer, they don't need a "middle man." They save money and you save money. When you support your local farm, you are helping the livelihood of your neighborhood farm. When you shop today, you help ensure that there will be a farm tomorrow!

Larger Variety
Local Farmers offer a larger variety of produce compared to supermarkets.

It's Safer
Consumers as a whole are growing more and more concerned about the quality and cleanliness of the foods they eat. When you buy your fruits and veggies from the supermarket, you are running the risk of eating contaminated food and knowingly putting chemicals in your body.

Our family joined the "locavore movement" and we haven't looked back. We grow our own fruits and vegetables, raise chickens, support our local Farmer's Market, Locavore Restaurants, Brew Pubs and Wineries. It's much easier than you think....give it a try.

Go to localharvest.com to find farmers' markets, family farms, and other sources of sustainably grown food in your area, where you can buy produce, grass-fed meats, and many other goodies.

Want to eat out? Just type in "Locavore Restaurants" in Google Search and you'll find a list of local restaurants in your area that support the "Locavore Movement."

I'd love to hear if you too have joined the movement?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Watermelon Margaritas



Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • lime wedge 
  • 3 1/2 cups cubed seeded watermelon
  • 1/2 cup tequila 
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice 
  • 1 tablespoon Triple Sec (orange-flavored liqueur
  • Lime wedges or watermelon balls (optional) 
  • Preparation
  • 1. Place 2 teaspoons sugar in a saucer. Rub the rims of 6 glasses with 1 lime wedge; spin rim of each glass in sugar to coat. Set prepared glasses aside.
  • 2. Combine watermelon and next 4 ingredients (through Triple Sec) in a blender; process until smooth. Fill each prepared glass with 1/2 cup crushed ice. Add 1/2 cup margarita to each glass. Garnish with lime wedges or melon balls, if desired.
  • Recipe from cookinglight.com
  • Happy 4th of July! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

All Things Terrarium


What is a Terrarium? A terrarium is a miniature landscape with living plants and even sometimes turtles and lizards.

Once very popular in the late 70s, terrariums have made an evolved come-back. From fish bowls to necklace terrariums, an explosion of creative ideas have sprouted.

You can make your own terrarium or you can purchase one. Another idea is to have a "Terrarium-Making Party." They make great gifts, even for your plant-challenged friends.  

I've seen all types of terrariums in unique containers, such as:
- salt & pepper shakers
- jewelry (miniature bottle necklaces, rings, lockets)
- fish bowls
- light bulbs
- jars (baby, mason, cookie)
- spice racks
- christmas ornaments
- candy jars

Terrariums are living pieces of art for the world to admire...or at least your friends and family.

Feeling inspired to create your own terrarium or have questions about the one you already have on display, check out The Fern & Mossery at www.thefernandmossery.com. Here you'll find all the information and inspiration you need to make your own moss terrarium and details about maintaining and caring for your little piece of art!



Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My First Half Marathon


“It's Not How Fast You Finish, It's Why.”

I wish I could remember where I saw this quote, but I don't. It was probably in a magazine or on-line somewhere. I love it.

This past Sunday, I ran in the San Diego Rock -N- Roll Half Marathon, my very first.

Why? Five reasons:
  1. I turned 41.
  2. I was inspired by three of my girlfriends (Kristen, Melissa and DeeDee).
  3. I wanted to set a goal and stick to it!
  4. To raise money for cancer.
  5. I wanted to show my son that “anything is possible” with hard work, determination and remaining positive.
I've never been a long distance runner, that's why this was such a big deal to me. I also haven't set a goal for myself in years. Setting a goal that was out of my comfort zone, working hard towards it, never giving up and then accomplishing it...was an exhilarating experience.

When race day arrived, I was excited. I was ready! I felt blessed that my husband, son and mom dropped me off at the start line and then stayed to cheer me on. I really wasn't sure where exactly I'd see them during the 13.1 mile run as there were about 30,000 runners and thousands of spectators. Both the half marathon and the marathon runners ran at the same time. It was crowded!!

As I was running down the 163 Freeway, about mile 6, I spotted my family on an overpass. As we waved back and forth to each other I noticed my son was beaming...was he proud of me?! ...it's always the other way around! What a great feeling it was to have my family there.

Most of the race seems like a blur now, but I do remember seeing a t-shirt that read, “F*** Cancer!” and then me saying that in my head over and over during mile 8. I want one of those shirts! I remember thinking my knee caps are gonna pop off at mile 9. I remember mile 11 seemed long and mile 12 seemed even longer...I kept thinking, “Is this a hoax? Is there no finish line?” I remember holding back puke several times during mile 12 and what I won't forget is me crossing the finish line a half hour earlier than my goal time!

My son, me and husband

I set a goal to run a half marathon without walking and finishing it in 2 ½ hours. I did it in 2 hours flat, not ever stopping or walking! There are a few times in my life that I have been really proud of myself...this is for sure one of them.

If you haven't set a goal for yourself lately, set one. Set a goal that's outside your comfort zone and accomplish it. It's the best feeling in the world! I promise.

Thanks to all of you who donated money to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and thanks to all of you who supported me along the way. A "shout-out" to my friend DeeDee who also ran the race...her 12th Half Marathon!!! Congrats DeeDee!! And a special thanks to my husband, son and mom who had to wake up at 3am on the day of the race and then practically walk the course just to see me for a brief moment as I ran by....thank you! 

Oh....and a BIG thanks to Doug who served DeeDee and I a delicious cheese burger and margarita for our post run lunch!



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Fried Green Tomato BLT Recipe


serves 4 sandwiches


3-4 medium green tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
8 slices of cooked bacon
8 slices of bread
8 pieces of lettuce
mayonnaise
canola oil
kosher salt
pepper
avocado (optional)

Season the sliced tomatoes with salt and pepper then soak the tomatoes in the buttermilk.

In a bowl, combine the flour and cornmeal. Coat each tomato slice with the cornmeal/flour mixture.

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan on medium high heat and cook the tomatoes a few minutes on each side, until golden and crisp. Drain on paper towels.

Assemble your sandwiches! Toast the bread, add mayo, cooked bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomatoes.

As a side dish, I usually make cole slaw and fries with malt vinegar.

**Green Tomatoes can be hard to find. If you don't have your own garden, try looking for them at your local farmer's market or request them from a vendor. Trader Joe's and Barron's usually carry the green heirloom (my personal favorite). I also grow "green zebra" tomatoes, which work well too.

Enjoy one of my summertime favorites!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Mother's Day Gifts on Etsy


As the years go by, sometimes it becomes harder and harder to buy for Mom....she has everything and she wants nothing! She'll tell you she just wants to spend time with you or to make her something. Now that I am a mom, I too say the same thing to my son. But, what if you really want to give her a unique gift, something she doesn't have and she'll really appreciate?

Etsy has what you are looking for!

Here a few items that any mother would be delighted to receive (click on product title to link directly to item or click on shop name to link directly to each shop):




This year my family and I are going camping at Joshua Tree for Mother's Day weekend. I can't think of a better way to spend the weekend with my family (kids, grandparents and friends). We look forward to hiking, BBQing and the warmth of the camp fire. Secretly, I am hoping my family gives me the gift of not complaining, helping out more and that the boys, just this once, won't fart in the tent!

Happy Mother's Day!

What's the best Mother's Day gift you ever gave or received?

Friday, April 27, 2012

50% Off Sale on All Cards


Don't Miss the Upcoming 50% off Card Sale!

Spring Sale! All cards will be on sale for one week only. I need to make room for more inventory, so don't miss out!

Where:    etsy.com/shop/jensbackyard (click on the "card" section)
When:     Sat., April 28 – Sat., May 5 PST

Starting this Saturday, this $8.00 set of 4 “Bamboo Fabric” cards will only be $4.00! That's $1.00 a card!

And this one too! This $6.00 set of 3 "Chinese Paper Lantern Fabric" cards will only be $3.00! That's a $1.00 a card!

Don't miss the upcoming sale! Visit etsy.com/shop/jensbackyard (click on the "card" section)http://etsy.com/shop/jensbackyard