Thursday, July 31, 2014

Garden: A Surprise Visitor or Ten!

I wanted to post monthly garden updates, but time has gotten away from me and the garden is a bit overgrown. I have had this problem for a few years. I carefully plan what goes into each location, practicing the square foot gardening method, loosely. Somehow, within a few months, plants starts to crowd each other.

This year, I left a path so that I could get to the back of the garden cage. The seeds in the compost that my husband added decided to sprout and bless us with about 10 tomato plants. The tomato plants are growing in random spots: at the entrance, in the middle of the carrot rows, and of course, in the path that I left for myself.

Nonetheless, I am thrilled! I have avoided planting tomatoes in the garden because of the black walnut tree right beside the garden. The black walnut tree gives off a chemical that is toxic to some plants, including tomatoes. When I discovered tomato seedlings in the garden, I thought it would be a great experiment to see if tomatoes would actually grow.

Today, there are about 10+ tomatoes, 4 different varieties, growing on about 6 plants that have grown enough to put out blossoms. I have identified them as heirloom tomatoes that we received from last year's organic CSA and some seeds from our homegrown tomatoes.

Here are some photos of the garden cage (lots of critters around here) and the herb garden that desperately needs to be harvested. Also, excuse the wilted plants, it was a hot day and I had not watered yet.

>> Do you have a garden?? How is it doing this year??

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ark Survival Seeds: Heirloom Non-GMO Seeds [Review]

This past weekend, my husband and toddler sat on the grass while I harvested vegetables from the garden. My husband helped me find the peppers hiding underneath the leaves, the tomatoes on the volunteer vines that are starting to take over and the sugar snap that are starting to brown in the heat of the summer. The 16 month old toddler walked around and tried to pick a small jalapeno pepper he has had his eye on for one week. Gardening has become one of my passions and my hobbies. I love the ability to grow my own food. I love being able to go into the yard and pick out a ripe pepper, sugar snap pea or tomato to eat on the spot. Though I do buy seedlings and starter plants at the store, I prefer to sow seeds directly in the ground or start seeds indoors in the winter. I focus on organic and heirloom seeds when available. Ark Survival Seeds are 100% non-GMO, non-hybrid, heirloom, chemical-free produce seeds that are perfect for the average American home garden or storing for self-reliance needs.

Ark Survival Seeds    
   ($24.95, purchase on Amazon)
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
Heirloom, non-hybrid



Extended life breathable paper storage

One of the first things I noticed is that the packaging is made from paper. Paper storage for seeds is preferred because it is breathable and prevents moisture from accumulating. Ark Survival Seeds are stored in individual paper packets within the larger resealable paper bag. I store seeds that I will use in the near future in the fridge and seeds that I store for self-reliance needs in the freezer (they will keep longer this way).

Since the growing season is already under way, sowing the seeds would not have been prudent. I do plan on sowing the cold weather crop seeds in a few weeks. These include: radishes, beets and lettuce. I will sow the Ark Survival Seeds directly in the ground, following the instructions that are indicated on each seed packet.

I love the variety of vegetables that I can grow with Ark Survival Seeds. If my family had to grow our own produce (without the option of going to the grocery store), Ark Survival Seeds offer a great variety that will keep us satisfied and also offer options for canning and saving seeds. I would feel confident to save the seeds are they are non-GMO, non-hybrid and GMO. The open pollination keeps the seeds true to the original ones and offers us the best option for high quality vegetables.

I plan on starting some of the seeds indoors during the winter months and then transplanting to the garden. I will also add some of the seed packets to my long-term self-reliance storage. Ark Survival Seeds are an affordable and high quality option for growing your own food or adding to your long-term food storage. The sampler pack is perfect for the beginner gardener or a master gardener.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Healthy Whole Wheat Date Muffins [Recipe]

Ever since I have become a mom, a healthy breakfast or healthy snack that I can grab on-the-go ensures I have enough energy to make it through the day. Being able to give my child the same snack is even better! This muffin recipe originally started out as a bread that I made for years. I came across the Whole Wheat Date Nut Bread recipe in Whole Living magazine. After a while, I started experimenting with different additions and substitutions. I love the versatility and ease of this recipe. Everything I added or substituted made the bread even better. The bread is always delicious and moist.

I am sharing the original bread recipe and my adaptations (in blue). I also list some of the additions/substitutions I use every time and some that I sometimes use. My recent favorite addition (to add more nuts to my 16 month old son's diet) is to grind up nuts to a meal and add them into the batter.

Note: I have reduced the amount of sugar in the recipe by 1/4 cup and it can potentially be reduced to 1/2 cup. Sugar does play a role in baking, so be careful how much you reduce it.

Whole Wheat Date Nut Muffins

Yield: 18-24 muffins (depending on how full you fill the cups)
Bake time: 15 minutes

Vegan (sub flax egg or banana)
Dairy Free (sub flax egg or banana)
Nut Free (leave out nuts)

1 1/2 cups hot water
1 cup pitted dates, chopped (can also sub other dried fruit)
1 large egg (sometimes I use 2 small eggs; can sub flax egg or banana)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I use coconut oil; can sub apple sauce (2-4 tbsp))
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (I sub buckwheat flour or other whole grain flours)
1 cup whole-wheat flour (can sub other whole grain flours)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup pecans, chopped (can sub any other nuts or leave out, whole or ground to a meal)
3/4 cup brown sugar (can reduce to 1/2 cup, can sub turbinado)

My Additions (I usually put in)
Nuts of any varieties (whole or ground)
Spices (1 tsp nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, or ginger, 1/2 tsp cloves, all or some)
Hemp protein powder (2 tbsp)
Nutritional yeast (1 tbsp)

Other Additions (I sometimes put in)
Flax meal (2 tbsp)
Hemp seeds (2 tbsp)
Dried fruit (like raisins)
Molasses (1 tbsp)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, pour hot water over dates (and any other dried fruit) and let stand until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk in egg (or flax egg or banana), oil (or apple sauce), and vanilla (and any other wet ingredients).
  4. In another bowl, stir together flours, baking soda, salt, nuts, and sugar (and any other dry ingredients).
  5. Fold wet mixture into dry until just combined.
  6. Fill muffin pan about 3/4 full and smooth the top with a spatula.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes for both regular and mini muffins, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. (bread bakes for about 65 minutes)
  8. Let rest 10 minutes, then remove and move to a cooling rack.

Friday, July 18, 2014

SckoonCup Reusable Menstrual Cup [Giveaway]

SckoonCup is giving away a free SckoonCup reusable menstrual cup to a lucky winner and her 3 friends!

SckoonCup is one of my favorite cups because of the design and the fit. Read more about my experience with SckoonCup

SckoonCup July Giveaway Rules:

To enter Sckoon's Facebook/Instagram giveaway:
1. Like one of their daily posts on Facebook and/or Instagram.
2. Tag up to three friends in the comment area and state why you want to win SckoonCup for you and your 3 friends!
3. Giveaway for US Residents Only.
Contest is from July 15 through July 31, 10pm ET
(No purchase is necessary. This promotion is for US RESIDENTS ONLY).
Disclaimer: No compensation was received to promote this giveaway. All Natural Katie is not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations. All opinions are my own. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Replacing Plastic with Glass and Stainless Steel [#CTWW]

Now that my baby is a toddler, he is on the move. As he is able to play more on his own, I can get a few chores done around the house. I have realized that I spend a lot of time doing chores and activities in the kitchen. From doing dishes to prepping food, the kitchen has become my most important room. I want to create an environment where family time means cooking and eating together. This week's challenge fits perfectly with creating a safe and loving environment in the kitchen.

This week's challenge:

This week, go into your kitchen and look for at least one way to make it greener. You might choose to do something simple like add an aerator to the faucet, convert to cloth towels instead of paper, replace a light bulb with a CFL or LED, or unplug an appliance (especially those with clocks). Maybe you are in the market for new cookware, dishes, etc. and could look for green options. Does your kitchen need paint? Perhaps you grab a brush and use non-VOC colors. You might even be considering a kitchen remodel and could search out the most appropriate Eco-friendly cabinets, counter tops, flooring, etc. The idea, this week, is to look around your kitchen and make a green improvement.

A lot of eco-friendly improvements have been made in the kitchen over the past few years. Let's recount:
  1. Natural dish soap (Tropical Traditions Dish Liquid)
  2. Natural dishwasher tablets
  3. Glass food storage containers
  4. Organic cotton towels
  5. Stainless steel and 100% silicone utensils
  6. Stainless steel and cast iron enameled cookware
  7. Unplugging most appliances when not in use (aside from oven and microwave)
As with any effort to improve our lives, becoming eco-friendly and green in the kitchen is a continuous effort for us. Yet, this effort also presents challenges and needs for compromise. After a couple of years of trying to transition away from paper towels, I have come to accept that it is just not going to happen. The paper towel roll still hides in the cabinet above the stove. I still put out small towels for wiping up spills. And I purchase recycled paper towels. Since converting to cloth towels is not in our future, I am currently focusing on food storage containers.

I have acquired a good collection of glass storage containers for storing leftovers and reheating. The beauty of glass storage containers is that they can be used to reheat food in the microwave, oven, or toaster oven. No need to dirty another dish. Since glass tends to get heavy, I have started purchasing stainless steel containers. Though these cannot be used in the microwave, they provide a lighter eco-friendly option for storing and transporting food. Next on my list is to purchase 3+ cup containers for storing food. This will eliminate the need for plastic storage containers that I currently use.

The plastic storage container cabinet is still overflowing. This cabinet has become one of my toddler's favorite play areas. He loves taking out the containers and lids, stacking them, banging on them, etc. Some of the containers and lids have cracked. These will be repurposed for other storage uses (nails, small toys, etc.), donated (if in good shape), or recycled. I try to repurpose and upcycle items before recycling. However, you can only have so many plastic containers.

>> What is one eco-friendly improvement that you can make to your kitchen??

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Lambie & Me Swaddle Blankets [Review]

I love baby items that can be used for more one purpose. Swaddle blankets made from cotton muslin, which a mesh or gauze-type open weave allow for breathability, movement and comfort. Swaddle blankets can be used for swaddling a baby, a nursing cover, a car seat or stroller cover, a changing or play mat, a travel blanket and for many other purposes. Muslin swaddle blankets become softer with each wash. They are easy to fold up and take with you wherever you may go. Lambie and Me Swaddle Blankets are a required accessory for your baby registry.

Swaddle Blankets    
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
100% Cotton

Meets GOTS organic standard


I received the Lambie & Me Swaddle Blankets in the Just Dots design. I love that this design is gender neutral, which means that I can use them well into the future if my husband and I have more children. The fabric right out of the box was a little bit stiff, but softened up after washing and drying on medium heat. Cotton  muslin gets softer with each wash, which means that the blankets get better with age.

When the toddler was a baby, we only used muslin swaddle blankets to swaddle him for sleep. The cotton muslin allows for stretching, which makes it easier to get a good, tight swaddle. We have since used swaddle blankets for just about anything. Covering the stroller when he is sleeping is a great way to ensure that air flow gets inside. I always make sure I have a swaddle blanket in the diaper bag when I leave the house. The most common way I have been using swaddle blankets outside the home is as a lap cover for my toddler when we eat at restaurants. I have even used the swaddle blankets as a bib by trying two ends loosely around his neck.

Lambie & Me Swaddle Blankets are a big size, measuring 47" x 47". They did shrink a little bit after being washed and dried; this is expected with cotton muslin. The cotton meets the Global Organic Textile Standards for certified organic products. Lambie & Me have submitted for USDA Organic certification and are waiting on approval. I love that this product is made from organic cotton because it reduces the amount of pesticides and chemicals that my child gets exposed to.

Lambie & Me Swaddle Blankets would make a great gift for someone who is expecting or just gave birth. The design, size and quality are comparable to the top brands that you usually see at stores. For the only blankets you will ever need, choose Lambie & Me Swaddle Blankets.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Willamy Wrap Bracelet [Giveaway]

Welcome to the Willamy Wrap Bracelet Giveaway! 

Sponsored By: Willamy

Mami;'s 3 Little Monkey's reviewed the Neapolitan Willamy Wrap Bracelet. Willamy has fashionable genuine leather wrap bracelets for women and children and bracelets for men as well.
Prize: Willamy Wrap Bracelet of winner's choice up to $115 value!
Open to US residents only
Ends on July 16th at 11:59pm CST

  Disclosure: This blog and all other bloggers are not responsible for the fulfillment of the above prize nor have they been compensated.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Rachel Roundabout Diaper Bag [Giveaway]

Welcome to The Bumble Collection - Rachel Roundabout Diaper Bag Giveaway! 

Sponsored By: The Bumble Collection

The Rachel Roundabout Diaper Bag is very roomy with many generously sized pockets! This diaper is perfect for any mom of multiples! Pack everything you might need for a day out with your little ones in one bag! You can read Mami's 3 Little Monkeys full review of the Rachel Roundabout in Royal Ruby Montage here.

One lucky reader will win a Rachel Roundabout Diaper Bag ($99.99ARV) in the print of their choice. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents whom are at least 18 years of age at the time of entrance. Giveaway will end on July 23rd at 11:59pm CST. All Canadian entrants must answer the skills test question in order to be eligible for winning this prize. To enter, simply complete one or multiple of the entries in the entry form below. Winners entries will be verified. A winner will be chosen at random and notified via the email address provided in the Giveaway Tools entry form. Winner will have 48 hours in which to respond or a new winner will be chosen. 

Disclosure: This blog and all other participating blogs are not responsible for the fulfillment of the above prize, nor have the blogs been compensated for this post. Mami's 3 Little Monkeys blog received a Rachel Roundabout Diaper Bag in exchange for her honest review. The Bumble Collection will be responsible for the fulfillment of the prize. If you have any questions, comments or concerns please contact Sarh at

Saturday, July 5, 2014

PRO Compression Marathon Socks [Review]

Running has become one of my favorite stress reduction and energy boosting activities. Though I am a minimalist when it comes to running accessories, I do enjoy a few key running accessories to support my running. A great pair of running shoes is essential to support the feet, the legs and the spine. A great pair of compression socks is beneficial for reducing lactic acid build up and sore muscles.

Compression Marathon Socks    
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

Coupon Code: use COMP40 to receive 40% off marathon socks and sleeves.

The Good
The Not So Good
Sized, non-slip design
Might need to supplement with sock
Moisture control

Help to reduce muscle soreness

Made in the USA

Marathon full-length compression socks encompass the whole bottom of the leg, the foot, the ankle, and the calf up to the knee. PRO compression marathon socks use graduated technology to improve blood flow, which results in better and more consistent performance. The compression socks also help to reduce the amount of fatigue experienced and help to recover quicker. Compression socks support muscles and tendons to reduce inflammation, swelling and soreness.

I was looking toward trying full-length marathon compression socks because I always battle calf soreness and aches after long runs and after hard runs. I was looking for something that would reduce the need for me to get up in the middle of the night and stretch my calves because the cramps would wake me up.

Being a little worried about being too hot in the full-length socks, I chose a cooler day to run on. PRO Compression Marathon Socks are made from a blended synthetic material that is lightweight and provides moisture control. I prefer to wear the minimal amount of clothing required when running, especially on days where the temperatures are above 80 degrees. I did not think that wearing full-length socks was going to be easy.

On today's run, I chose to go a longer distance on a hilly route. My calves get a good workout when running up and down hills. Perfect for trying out the compression socks!

One of the downsides to the socks for me is that I need a thicker sock for my current running shoes. I had to wear a thinner sock on top of the compression sock to comfortably fit in my running shoe. If I purchase new running shoes, I would probably be able to wear the compression socks on their own.

I got over the fear of being too hot in the socks once I realized that the moisture control helped to keep my calves and feet cool. I liked the support that the socks provided for my calves. The sensations is a bit different when wearing full-length compression socks. I became used to it after a few minutes and focused on how good my calves were going to feel afterwards.

That evening and during the night, my calves felt better than they usually do. A little soreness, but not the usual aches and cramps in the middle of the night. Success! The PRO Compression Marathon Socks did their job! If you are looking for a way to increase your performance and reduce pain and aches, try a pair of compression socks.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Silicone Mini Muffin Pan [Review]

I have really gotten into making muffins over the past few months. I play around with the ingredients and substitute ingredients for healthier ones like stone ground whole wheat flour, hempseed protein powder, grass-fed butter and dates, among other nutritious foods. I also like to make savory muffins from foods like quinoa and shredded cauliflower. Muffins are an easy breakfast food, snack food, or supplement to a meal. Whether I am making sweet or savory muffins, I look for muffin tins that are easy to use and easy to clean. Grazia 100% silicone 24 cup mini muffin pan is extremely easy to use and clean and creates the perfect bite size muffins for my toddler.
Silicone Mini Muffin Pan    
Rating: total green check marks out of 5.

The Good
The Not So Good
100% pure food grade silicone
A bit flimsy when handling
Heat resistant up to 450 F

No sticking

Grazia silicone mini muffin pans are made from 100% pure food grade silicone that is resistant up to 450 degrees F. The particular muffin pan that I received has 24 mini muffin cups that are about 1 ounce in volume. I prepped the pan by washing with water and soap and rubbing a bit of organic coconut oil to oil the surface before scooping the muffin batter into the cups. I left one cup un-oiled because I wanted to test the non-stickiness of silicone. I have several different types of metal muffin pans and even the non-stick pans need to be oiled before use.

I filled each mini muffin cup about 3/4 of the way, placed the pan on a metal cookie sheet and placed in the oven. Grazia recommends using a metal cookie sheet underneath the silicone muffin pan to add more stability. The metal cookie sheet does not get dirty, so I do not have to worry about cleaning it. The silicone pan by itself is a bit flimsy because it is flexible and bendable. It's made from silicone! I do not see this as a negative because 100% silicone is going to be flexible. Otherwise, the pan would need to be very thick or would need to have other chemical additives that I do not want in my bakeware.

Once the muffins were baked, I let them cool in the silicone muffin pan for a few minutes and then started to remove them. I love that I was able to bend the silicone muffin pan to help pop the muffins out. Even the muffin that was in the un-oiled muffin cup popped right out. I did not experience the plastic taste that some of the other Amazon reviewers mentioned.

I have used the silicone muffin pan several times now and stopped oiling after the first time. This pan does not need it!

I kept the same cooking times and temperatures. The muffins turned out delicious, as they have in the metal muffin pans. With the easy muffin removal and easy cleanup (always have issues with cleaning metal mini muffin pans), I love Grazia Silicone Mini Muffin Pan. My husband's tip for cleaning is to invert each cup, brush over with soap and a brush/sponge, rinse, and pop back in. I am not going back to using my supposedly non-stick metal muffin pan any longer, unless I need to make a huge match of mini muffins. I look forward to adding more silicone bake ware to my collection.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Zoey's Attic $35 Gift Cert [Giveaway]

Welcome to the Zoey's Attic Personalized Gifts $35 eGC Giveaway! 

Sponsored By: Zoey's Attic
Hosted By: Mami's 3 Little Monkeys
Co-Hosted By: Barbara's Beat

Zoey's Attic Personalized Gifts has items from Big Brother/Big Sister shirts to Back to School and Teacher shirts and gifts and everything in between! I don't think it's possible to not find what you may be looking for at Zoey's Attic! 

You can read Mami's 3 Little Monkeys full review of Zoey's Attic and the Choo Choo Train Personalized Pillow Case and Kindergarten Rocks T-Shirt that they reviewed here

Enter for your chance to win a $35 eGC to Zoey's Attic! Open to US residents whom are at least 18 years of age at the time of entrance. This giveaway will end on July 15th at 11:59pm CST. Winner's entries will be verified, winner will be notified via email and will have 48 hours in which to respond or a new winner will be chosen. To enter, complete one, five or all of the entries that you wish in the Giveaway Tools entry form below. You do not have to complete all entries to be eligible, but the more entries you complete, the better chance you have of winning. 


Disclosure: Mami's 3 Little Monkeys received the product found in the review in exchange for our honest review, we were not compensated in any other way for this giveaway nor are we or any other blogs participating in this giveaway responsible for the fulfillment of the giveaway prize.

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