Mama’s Mocktail Party

Hello, it’s Tera again! This week I thought I would create a post that used more of my creative side. The girls and I brainstormed together, and we came up with the idea for me to create a few “mocktail” recipes, and I am really excited to share them with you!

This was inspired by remembering back to my pregnant days. The girls and I would go out to dinner, and they would order their cocktails, and I, my water. They would give me free smells of their fruity concoctions and some extra pretzel bread, but really, I just wanted someone to bring me a drink that tasted as good as a mojito or margarita without the alcohol in it! Thus, the idea was spurred.

Being a mom to a young one, this post is written especially with the mama’s (and mama’s to be) in mind, but don’t worry, you don’t have to be a mom to enjoy these tasty treats. Sometimes we just need a ‘lil pick me up during the day, ya know? These drinks are perfect for summertime, and are surely as good as the real deal!

Let’s get to the fun part, shall we?

Naptime Blues Colada (for when you are berry ready for nap time, but baby is not.)

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First up, is my spin off a colada! I decided to forego the usual pineapple flavor, and created a combo of fruity and “coconutty” that I think is super refreshing and perfect for a late morning brunch with some friends! This drink is so yummy, you and your friends won’t miss the alcohol at all, not to mention the fact that it is super fast and easy to whip up!

To make this drink, you’ll need: (this makes about 2 servings, perfect for you and a friend, or multiply for larger groups, or seconds, or thirds, or…so on)

  • 1 Cup of blueberry pomegranate juice (I used Tropicana)
  • 1 lime, squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • (about) ½ Cup of Cream of Coconut (sidenote: this is sweet, but you can add more or less depending on how coconutty you want it!)
  • 2 sliced strawberries
  • 2 drops of coconut extract

Start by mixing all ingredients into a blender, and add about a cup of ice (you can add more ice like we did to get a frozen drink). When you have mixed your desired texture, pour into some cute serving glasses, and garnish with a lime wedge! If you want to take it to the next level, sprinkle some local bee pollen on top as a pretty garnish and also fight those stubborn allergies at the same time! Refer back to Christiana’s post on bee pollen and all its perks here: Don’t BEE miserable during spring

We love how this “colada mocktail” turned out, and we hope you do too! If you wanted to add something to enjoy a real cocktail drink, we think some rum (to taste) would be a good addition!

Mama’s Front Porch Mojito

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This drink has got to be my new go-to summer refresher. It’s my take on a mojito, and I think it tastes just as good, or better! I was extra picky on this one, because mojitos are my favorite, and I really wanted the taste to remind me of one! I think we nailed it and it’s just the perfect summertime drink for parties, family picnics, or just sittin’ and sippin’ on the front porch.

For this drink you will need: (again, this will make a couple of servings, so multiply for desired number of servings)

  • 2 Cups of lemonade- tip: if you make a whole batch of lemonade, you can multiply other ingredients to match and make several more mojitos! I used this lemonade recipe, on a smaller scale: Pioneer Woman’s Lemonade
  • 1 Cup club soda
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 6 lime wedges, squeezed
  • 2 teaspoons sweetened lime juice
  • 2-3 sliced strawberries

You’ll have to begin this drink by making your lemonade. I chose a homemade recipe because I wanted to use as many fresh ingredients as I could, and I think the taste is so much better! A little humor and helpful tip: When making your own lemonade, it’s best to make sure you’re using sugar instead of salt. It definitely does not taste the same, and is beyond repair once its done.

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See above pic ^^ that’s salt, folks. Try to avoid this misstep, otherwise you’ll be set back a bit like we were, and there will be laughing at your expense. [Okay, Beth and Chris, it’s funny now] REMEMBER: tiny grains= salt, small grains (but not tiny)= sugar. Another helpful tip: use your teething babies to help you peel some lemon zest! *wink wink*

Re-routing back to the drink now. After your lemonade is done, the rest is pretty easy. Measure out the lemonade (remember, 2 cups for this serving size), and add the club soda, squeezed lime wedges, sweetened lime juice and fresh mint leaves (ours came straight from the garden, courtesy of Christiana). Top the serving dispenser with strawberry slices, and it’s ready to be served! (tip: it is helpful to let the mint leaves seep into the drink before serving, but not required) Pour into a glass, add some ice and garnish with a pretty strawberry slice! I will be making this drink all summer long. I just wish I had this recipe handy when I was pregnant! Perfect mojito mocktail that all the mama’s (and even the not-a-mama’s) will love.

(If you do want to include a little alcohol for a party with friends, try adding a little rum or some amaretto and grenadine to taste!)

Lazy Lavender Bedtime Tea

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This last drink isn’t really a mocktail, but we thought it would be fun to include a recipe that is perfect for when the kids are in bed, and you’re ready to kick back and relax for some “me” time, or maybe even enjoy a bubble bath for yourself. This is probably the most no-brainer recipe and has very few steps, so it requires little brainwork after yours has been fried from a day of a thousand “what’s that?”, “are we there yet?”, “mama, can I have this?” questions and the constant errand runs, cleaning, cooking, and working you’ve been doing!

For the Lazy Lavender, you’ll simply need:

  • Lavender honey tea bag (I used Yogi brand)
  • About 2 tablespoons (give or take a little) of Silk Coconut Almond Milk [unsweetened]
  • 1 teaspoon of agave (or fresh honey)
  • ½ tsp lemon zest, a small basil leaf, and orange slice for garnishing

Boil some water either over the stove top or in a microwave, add the tea bag and let it steep for about 5 minutes. Once the tea bag’s flavor is rich, add the milk (you can steam the milk or add it cold), the agave, lemon zest and basil. Garnish with a pretty orange slice, and enjoy a few quiet hours to yourself! I am usually not a big fan of hot tea, but I really liked the taste of this one, and could see myself drinking this for a little relaxation time!

These mocktail recipes are sure to be a big hit with your friends and family this summer, and they’re great pick-me-ups that will refresh you, rejuvenate you, and give you the energy for all of the fun summertime projects you’ve been meaning tackle all year! We hope you enjoy making them, and enjoy drinking them even more! Be sure to keep up with Oak and Earth weekly, as we have some really fun posts planned for the summer! Also keep up to date with me through my instagram feed @terapianalto, and hashtag your Oak and Earth pics  #OakandEarthblog!

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Live healthy, love hard, root deep! Cheers!

xo- Tera

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Here's looking at you, Succulents

Hey y’all,  It’s Shelby! I know what you’re thinking… not another post about succulents! What can you possibly say about them that isn’t already public knowledge?! Well, maybe a lot if you’re anything like me. Whenever I see something I want to try, a place I want to go, or inspiration hits, I have to act immediately. More often than not, this results in me not doing my research and plunging into something headfirst, headless of whether there are rocks at the bottom. So here is my contribution to the sea of succulent info floating about the blogosphere. May it be a life raft for you to cling to when you find your plants are stretching rather than expanding, shriveling or wrinkling (underwatering vs. overwatering ), or generally fairing poorly. Since I don’t claim to be an expert on succulent care, I will reference those who are and I would highly advise checking out what they have to say. I will also give you my top 10 indoor succulents for beginners, and share a bit about my own experience with these gorgeous plants, as well as the experiences of my friend (and pen-pal of 13 years) Becca.

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A freshly potted Jamie, Claire, Arwen, Hermione, Lizzy, and Katniss.

I purchased my first succulents in the summer of 2013 after graduating from Ouachita with my BA in Biology. I suppose my time spent studying Botany made me want to try my hand at gardening, but of course I wanted to start small…very small. I purchased three small succulents at my local farmer’s market in Siloam Springs and took them home and potted them. Although renowned for being hardy plants, I am here to tell you IT IS POSSIBLE to kill a succulent. I successfully murdered 2/3 of these beauties, much to my dismay. I later found out that I did just about everything wrong. In addition to not using the correct soil or type of pot, I basically drowned these poor babies to death. The sole survivor is the little yellow one, featured in the photograph below – middle center – which I now believe is a succulent of the genus Crassula; the popular “Jade Plant” is a species of this genus. The furry one on left hand side only recently bit the dust, while the lovely echeveria or sempervivum (not sure which!) on the right, is long since dead and gone.

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My first succulents!

Discouraged, but not ready to give up, I purchased a new bundle of succulents at the Dogwood Festival (Check out Bethany’s recent post for more on our hometown’s annual festival!) this year. I drilled the poor vendor at the succulent booth who did not seem daunted by my endless questions. She told me that many beginners make the mistake of overwatering their succulents and that the best way to water them is by spraying/misting them once the soil is dry, rather than using a typical watering can. After almost a year of succulent care, I can tell you that misting is really not the best thing for your plants. Instead, give them a good soak every time the soil gets completely dry. DO NOT OVERWATER, but realize that soaking is better than spritzing. Succulents are designed to absorb a large quantity of water in a short period of time (because they like well draining soil) and thus have shallow root systems, so you just want to water enough to get the soil damp; don’t drown them!

Another critical factor she informed me of that had contributed to the untimely end of my succulents was the soil I planted them in. If you scan the internet for info on planting succulents the main two things you will see are do not overwater, and use well draining soil. Some links I would definitely check out for more info on watering, soil, and general care can be found here:

http://www.succulentsandsunshine.com/how-to-water-succulent-plants/

http://www.succulentsandsunshine.com/well-draining-soil-for-succulent-container-gardens/

http://www.succulentsandsunshine.com/succulent-care/

So, after much discussion with the Dogwood Festival’s resident succulent “expert,” I lugged my new beauties home and began the process of re-potting. After buying adorable containers and perfectly arranging my succulents to my exacting aesthetic specifications, I found (after a bit of research) that glass containers really aren’t the best idea for these plants because of the whole drainage issue. I know what you’re thinking, why do I see so many beautiful pictures of succulents in teacups and other intriguing vessels? I am afraid I don’t have an answer for you. The experts at Succulents and Sunshine say it is possible if you are very careful with your watering habits so I am going to give it some time and see how they do. Don’t worry! I will keep you guys posted!

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Mid-repotting; from strange duck to cute glass cups!

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Freshly potted! Soaking up some sun.

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Jamie and Claire. Jamie is the sole survivor of the succulent massacre of 2013.

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Arwen. My Echeveria beauty.

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Hermione, Lizzy, and Katniss. The fearsome heroines.

When I asked Becca, who lives in Boston, if she had any helpful hints etc. regarding her own experience with succulents she had this to say:

“I definitely have noticed that when I use pots with drain holes and 3/4 of the pot filled with succulent soil and the top filled with sand it helps stabilize them and allows them to grow so much better. I have never lived in a place where I could keep them outdoors or where they get significant sun so I constantly have to “dehead” them and propagate them. It’s such a time consuming process though to propagate the little buds, but my little propagate leaves are finally working!”

What is she talking about propagating, you might ask? Well in short, when the succulents start to multiply (which they do, and frequently!) it is relatively easy to take a cutting and root the cuttings, AKA, propagation! For a really great how-to, try here!

Becca also said:

“So because of the lack of sun, I definitely prefer succulents that grow tall with leaves all along them as opposed to ones that theoretically grow wide because mine just grow tall seeking sun and don’t thrive.”

This is a perfect example of the whole stretching vs. expanding phenomenon I mentioned at the beginning of the post. In this case, propagating would be a good solution.

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Thriving…

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vs. Struggling

Becca is an AMAZING illustrator and just an all around interesting human. For more on Becca and her work, please visit http://beccacahan.com

So that leaves us with my top 10 indoor succulents for beginners! Now, nerd that I am, I am going to give you the genus names of which there are many species. I will also list the common names if I know them and some interesting facts! Here they are!

  1. Echeveria – referred to as “Hen & Chicks” by many, this is one of my favorite succulents
  2. Aloe – most common species is aloe vera, often used in herbal medicines
  3. Sansevieria – also known as “snake plant”
  4. Sedum – a favorite species is “burrows tail”, a cascading succulent
  5. Hawthoria – these are very hardy plants! Forgiving of low light levels and overwatering
  6. Agave – mezcal and tequila are made from this plant
  7. Crassula – includes the popular “Jade Plant”
  8. Sempervivum – also known as “Hen & Chicks”
  9. Cotyledon – native to South Africa
  10. Kalanchoe – ever-popular species is the Thyrsiflora, aka “Paddle Plant”

So there you have it; my ode to succulents. I may or may not have purchased two new babies at the farmers market last week… I foresee a problematic obsession in my future.

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I’m going to call this one Neytiri.

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And this one Lucy.

If you want more pictures of succulents from around the globe, try my Instagram, or search #shelbylovessucculents on instagram.

As always, live healthy and love hard!

– Shelby


 

*Update (3/7/16):


Those of you who keep up with my Instagram will recognize the photo on the left. About twenty weeks ago I tried my hand at propagating! Unfortunately, my beautiful Arwen started “stretching,” so I took the opportunity to experiment with propagation. Several of my cutting are FINALLY producing baby plants! I cannot figure out what took them so long and I’m honestly stunned that they are still alive after such a long time! Maybe winter?Many of them rooted but didn’t ever start growing. As you can see in the photo, this is a TINY baby plant and I really hope it survives because I absolutely love Echeveria and it would be really neat to see what it looks like a little bigger! If anyone has any hints or tips for me, I’d love to hear them!

Don’t ‘BEE’ Miserable During Spring: The Magic of Bee Pollen and Green Things

Spring can be the best and the worst for me personally, in so many ways. Springtime brings both a sense of renewal as well as (unfortunately), a seriously case of the sneezies.

But let’s begin with the praise of primavera, shall we?

REASONS THAT SPRING IS THE HONEY TO MY OATMEAL:

1) All Things Green.

I don’t know about you, but the bare branches and turtle necks start to wear on my soul near the end of March and the first sprouts of green grass or leaves on the trees appear like a breath of fresh air to thaw my winter blues! I’m convinced that velvety green grass underneath your feet can improve your mood, no matter how sour a day.

2) FLOWERS and more FLOWERS

Peonies, daisies, daffodils, even dandelions. (So what if they are a weed.) I love them all. Flowers may hold no practical or vital function to humans, yet they do SO much. They are a life boat for the existence of bees and plant life. Not to mention each type of flower is different. Can you just take a moment and think about how cool it is that flowers exist? God was the perfect scientist, chemist, and mathematician when he created the world, but was he not also the most exquisite artist? Flowers are so visually wonderful to the human senses that they seem to trigger an emotional response of pleasure as well. (Not to mention they smell fantastic.) And I choose to believe the last bit was added in just for us.

3) Vegging Out

Spring is the perfect time to start your garden, and you don’t have to be jack and the bean stock for something magic to occur! Whether you have a green thumb and start from the seed or prefer to by the plants to place in your garden plot, April and May are the two prime months for revving up your garden for a summer bounty. According to Saveur’s Spring Produce guide (which I’m only slightly obsessed with) here are a few of the veggies that are seasonal in Spring:

-Spinach, Asparagus, Arugula, Morels, Peas, Leeks, Radishes and Rhubarb.

All of the above are delicious in salads, sauteed, or even a rhubarb pie (or two, or three.) So get groovy with some dirt therapy and get that garden going!

And now…..

REASON THAT SPRING MAKES MY EYES FEEL LIKE AN ITCHY WOOL SWEATER AND MY NOSE ERUPT LIKE A VERY UNFLATTERING VOLCANO:

1) ALLERGIES. (A.K.A. The Bane of My Existence.)

According to the Asthma and Allergy foundation of America, over 45 million Americans are affected by Seasonal Allergies. YIKES!

Whether it be grass, flowers, or just being out in the fresh air, it seems as though the very things that make spring so lovely have an alter-ego evil side.

But Alas, Never Fear for BEE POLLEN Is Here!

Bee pollen, the yellow and unassuming substance created by honeybees turns out to be one of the most amazing, nutritious, and itchy-eye saving productions on earth! Who knew? The bees seem to have one-upped us on this one.

Although it may seem crazy to ingest a substance such as bee pollen, don’t worry, it’s totally amazing (and you should totally jump on the pollen train as quickly as your car can make it to the local co-op.)

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Shelby, discussing the benefits of bee pollen with the vendor at our local Dogwood Festival

REASONS WHY POLLEN IS THE BEES-KNEES:

(Information sourced from MindBodyGreen)

1) Taking a daily dose of bee pollen can help build immunity in your system to certain allergies!

2) Pollen is a nutrient (A.K.A. it’s great for you) packed with vitamins, antioxidants and protein.

3) It’s perfect sprinkled in most foods/smoothies and creates an added sprinkle of gorgeous color. (All you need is a spoonful!)

If this allergy season is getting to you as much is it is affecting me, I urge and plead for you to give a daily dose of bee pollen a try.

If possible, buy local pollen from your town or cities’ co-op, grocery store, or farmer’s market. That goes for honey too! (I snagged my pollen and honey this year from a local Arkansas beekeeper.)

HOW I BECAME POLLEN-IZED:

I have now been taking my daily dose of pollen for two weeks and these are the results that I have noticed:

WEEK 1: moderate decrease in itchy-eyes and frequency of sneezing.

WEEK 2- considerably decreased itchy-eyes, sneezing, and reduced irritation.                I’m not buzzing you on this one!!!!  I’m convinced of the power and I hope that this has at least peaked your interest and that you may even give it a try!                    Remember it just takes a spoonful day 🙂    If you do try it, please let me know your own comments/thoughts/results!               Get your daily dose of golden goodness so you can get outside and enjoy the beauty of all things green.

–Christiana

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Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: http://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id=9&sub=33

Food Matters: http://foodmatters.tv/articles-1/10-amazing-health-benefits-of-bee-pollen

MindBodyGreen: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12765/how-bee-pollen-could-cure-your-allergies.html

Saveur: http://www.saveur.com/