When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Worth Keeping In Your Pockets -- March 2014

Today something very exciting happened, something that we haven't seen around here in a really long time: outside it was actually both sunny and warm(-ish)!!!  The snow mountain at the end of our driveway is slowly but surely starting to melt away, and Matt and the boys and I even managed to dig our Christmas lights out of the ice that has kept them buried in our trees for much longer than is acceptable, so that today we were finally able to put the last of them away. These are simple little pleasures, certainly, but they're very welcome ones after the long, cold winter we've experienced this year, and I think all four of us are feeling much more cheerful now that it seems spring might actually come.

With change finally in the air, it feels like a good day for a spring-themed edition of Worth Keeping In Your Pockets.  Here are some fun, useful, or interesting things I've discovered that I think you might enjoy, too.

A new favourite cookbook:  I pre-ordered Angela Liddon's Oh She Glows Cookbook just after Christmas, and I was so excited when her beautiful book recently arrived in my mailbox that I actually sat and read it cover to cover that evening (something I don't usually do with a cookbook).  The book is filled with delicious-sounding recipes and gorgeous food photographs that will inspire you to get in your kitchen immediately and whip up one of her tasty and good-for-you creations.  Angela's recipes are all vegan, but you don't need to be vegan to appreciate them; her book (and her blog, which I refer to often for food ideas) appeal to anyone who wants to enjoy vibrant and healthy meals.

Getting organized:  The transition to a new spring season always puts me in a cleaning and organizing mood.  I suddenly notice areas in our home that have been a certain way for a long time but could be done better, and I find it very satisfying to transform them.  Recently I got fed up with the metal bin we had on our kitchen counter that was being used to hold things like notepads and forms from school, pens, and other miscellaneous stuff.  We have limited counter space in our kitchen as it is, and that bin was often crammed to the point of overflowing, which was making me feel claustrophobic when I was cooking.  I finally got rid of the bin, and replaced it with a wall-mounted letter holder which we tucked away in an unused sliver of wall between a tall cabinet and the kitchen window.  (The letter holder was a great deal from Sears, and looks very much like the more costly version I'd been admiring in the Pottery Barn catalogue.)  All of the papers we need to keep at close reach are now neatly organized in there in some pretty file folders I found in the dollar bins at Target, and my kitchen counter suddenly seems bigger and less cluttered.  Hooray!

A pop of colour:  One of the easiest ways to bring the feeling of spring indoors this time of year is by switching out some heavier winter home accessories for some brightly-coloured, lighter ones.  I recently replaced some tired-looking old throw cushions on our living room furniture with some fresh new ones, and the room suddenly looks much more cheerful and inviting.  (Maggie the cat approves, too, as she now spends most of her day curled up with these new cushions, sleeping.)  I found many great spring patterned pillows to choose from in stores like Pier One, Bouclair, and HomeSense.

Natural laundry soap:  Our family switched to using all-natural laundry soap several years ago.  We all have sensitive skin, and some of us are also sensitive to scents, so it was important to me to find a chemical- free soap that would be gentle and still do a good job of cleaning our clothes.  Nellie's All-Natural Laundry Soda is my hands-down favourite now (although for some reason, Noah calls it "Margaret Soap".)  It's a powder that dissolves well, cleans effectively, and rinses thoroughly out of our clothes so there is no residue left behind.  I love that a relatively small tin of Nellie's does 100 loads of laundry and is good for both our sensitive skin and the environment.  You can find Nellie's products at health food stores (I also buy the Oxygen Brightener, which is great for keeping whites white and for removing stains), or sometimes at Winners or HomeSense (where you can get it for a very good price when they have it).

Photo credit:  FamilyFun Magazine

April Fool's Day fun:  April 1st is just a couple of days away, and if you have kids who love getting pranked, you might have some fun with this cute idea I used to trick Noah and Will a few years ago.  Simply print out this little doughnut seed packet and assemble it, then fill it with an O-shaped cereal.  When I gave these little seed packets to the boys at breakfast, telling them I had found the perfect thing to plant in our garden that summer, their faces were a priceless mixture of disbelief and delight.

A homemade sports drink:  With warmer weather in sight, kids will soon be running around playing outdoor sports again and training for the school track-and-field season.  Here's a great idea for keeping them hydrated, suggested to me by our ND, Anita Kieswetter:  You can make your own sports drink by simply mixing eight ounces of water, one tablespoon of orange juice, and a pinch of sea salt.  This natural version does all the work of a store-bought sports drink, without all of the added sugar and artificial colours.

Signs of spring:  There is grass outside in some places once again; a sweet pair of mourning doves returned to our yard last week, and I recently heard the unmistakable laugh of a robin.  The boys have swapped out hockey sticks for tennis racquets in the driveway, and the sun feels wonderfully warm upon our faces, even though there's still a chill in the air.  If winter hasn't let go of its grip where you are yet, have hope... spring really is coming.

That's all I've got in my pockets for today!  Wishing you all a happy week.

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