Yogurt Fruit Salad That Will Make You Go Mmmm…

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.

#ad @Stonyfield Summer Fruit Salad made with yogurt

Summer time – hot days, cool nights, fresh foods, friends, fun times, beach, picnics and sunsets. All of the wonderful things I love about summer!

There is nothing better than fresh summer fruit. Yesterday, when my groceries arrived at my doorstep, I found the box to be brimming with fresh colorful fruit. “Now this is summer”, I thought and I was ready! Ready to devour the sweet and tart treats that had been brought to me. Mmm.

#ad Washing Berries with Vinegar

The first thing I did was properly wash my berries. To do this I mixed three cups of water with about 1/2 cup of white vinegar (I usually just put in a few cap-fulls and call it good). Next, I added the fruit to the water/vinegar mixture and let them soak for a few minutes. Finally, I rinsed the fruit well in hot water followed by a few moments in cold water to cool them off.
#ad

Normally I would just eat the fruit plain, however, lately I have been trying to find new ways to introduce more yogurt into my families diet. This looked like a perfect opportunity. I had fresh fruit on hand plus I had Stonyfield Greek yogurt in my fridge (like always).

It was a match made in Heaven.

#ad Stonyfield Greek Yogurt Summer Fruit Salad

After washing the fruit, I chopped it up and added it to a bowl. Next I mixed in one container of Stonyfield Plain Greek yogurt; just enough to coat the fruit. Finally, to give it just a little extra kick of sweetness, I sprinkled in a few dashes of sugar to the top.

#ad
The sweet taste of the berries, plus the cool creaminess of the yogurt was the perfect combination. It just screamed “Yeah summer!”
Psst. You can also make this treat “picnic ready” by adding it to small mason jars. They’re easy to pop in a cooler and simple to eat with a spoon. 
#ad Summer Fruit Salad with Yogurt

We decided to take our treat outdoors and have our very first summer picnic right in our own backyard. Everyone adored this fresh fruit yogurt salad and determined that it was going to be a necessity for our next picnic and every one thereafter.

#ad Summer Fruit Salad with Stonyfield Greek Yogurt

Yogurt Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

Strawberries
Grapes
Blueberries
(any other fruit you like)
Stonyfield Greek plain yogurt
Dash of sugar (optional)

Directions: 

Clean and cut your berries.
Mix clean berries with yogurt, just to coat.
Sprinkle sugar on top just before eating. (optional)

What is your favorite thing about summer? Share the thing that makes your heart sing in the comments. 
<3 Dick and Jane

My Mini Succulent Garden

All weekend long I worked on putting my gardens together and creating my cozy outdoor living space once again. I weeded out all of the old garden beds to allow for my tried and true perennials to pop back through. I cleaned out the vegetable gardens in the back and planted tons of new produce for the summer growing season. I also put together a sweet little succulent garden to add a pop of color to my favorite sitting area. 
Something simple, yet lovely. It also had that vintage feel that I love. 

I have always had a place in my heart for succulents. Aside from the fact that they need little to no water or care, they also remind me of cactus and my time spent in the Nevada desert during my younger year travels. During one trip with my sister and our husbands (for my first wedding anniversary) we visited a chocolate factory that had its own cacti gardens. The gardens were lovely. I wandered through them for hours, stopping only to rest on a bench while I ate handmade chocolates filled with liquor. Quite a decadent relaxation session.

I fell in love with cacti during this trip.

So this weekend, as my husband and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary, I planted these succulents as a reminder. Not only as a reminder of the day we wed, but also as a reminder that we need to start traveling again; this time with our kids.

Like this succulent garden, many of the different designs in my home have been inspired by things I’ve found or seen while traveling. Incorporating these things into my everyday life reminds me and makes me happy.

This project was short and sweet, mainly because I already had the stand. I made it last year out of odds and ends that I found in the garbage or at yard sales. You can check out how I made the plant stand here
Do you have anything in your home that reminds you of your travels? What is it and where did you go to see it? 
<3 Dick and Jane

Small Business Saturday: Lu Shahrin Coaster Land

Disclosure: Items shown in this post were provided to me free of charge in order to facilitate a review and giveaway. All opinions are my own. 
#ad Small Business Saturday feature: LuShahrinCoasterLand

I find the small business marketplace as a whole to be inspiring and talented. Just the fact that someone can start doing something that they love (usually as a hobby) and turn it into a profitable situation is brilliant. Small businesses have the ability to change lives. This is why I wanted to personally get to know the people behind the shoppes that you commonly see on Etsy, the boutiques and the mom and pop’s. I wanted to know why they started their own business, what personal rewards they gain from owning their own business and even some of the setbacks and failures they’ve experienced along the way. What does it take to step into the world of business ownership? Much of what these people need is support. Each Saturday I will be introducing you to a new small business that is working hard to create amazing products or new opportunities for themselves and those around them. Keep an eye out for your favorites and let’s help give them the support they need.

Since leaving the corporate scene myself several years back, I have had the pleasure of meeting many of the faces behind these small businesses. I have met hardworking and dedicated people who have a passion for what they do every day. People who create what their heart sees and leave a part of themselves with every order that they fill. This is why I believe small businesses produce products  and services that are personal and extraordinary.  

The most brilliant part of small business ownership is the flexibility that it provides. Many of the business owners I have met are parents who started their businesses as a means to stay home with their kids. Some of them are hard working professionals who are looking for a creative outlet or a means of making their own mark on the world. Some are risk takers and jump in with both feet while others want to test the waters, keeping their full time jobs and running their business during the after hours. Each one of them are just as dedicated as the rest to make their dreams work. Each of them find their passion in their own way and for their own reasons. 
#ad Small Business Saturday feature: LuShahrinCoasterLand
Our first Small Business Saturday feature is of a young woman named Lu, the owner and artist behind  the online store Coaster Land. Coaster Land is an Etsy shoppe which offers unique and stylish drink coasters to compliment or accent your unique home decor. Her designs pop with color and each coaster is carefully handcrafted by Lu herself. 
#ad Small Business Saturday feature: LuShahrinCoasterLand
Photo by Lu Shahrin, Coaster Land
Lu created her business as a means to fill a need which she couldn’t fulfill elsewhere. Just over a year ago, Lu and her husband moved into a new house together. Lu was searching for accent items that would compliment her newly decorated rooms. After searching for products that would match her decor and finding her options lacking, she decided to try and make her own. What she ended up with was a functional and stylish product that friends and family were raving about. People started asking her to make some for them and she agreed. After selling locally, Lu decided to open up her very first Etsy shoppe and make her creations available to a larger audience. With continued positive feedback from her buyers, she has been encouraged to keep moving forward hand crafting custom coasters for shoppers around the world. 
#ad handcrafted peacock coasters
During the day Lu still works a 9-5 at an investment company, but during the evening hours she can be found in her home office crafting and fulfilling the countless orders she receives through her shop. What started out for Lu as a hobby has now evolved into her passion. She is excited about what the future holds for her and so are we! Lu does a fabulous job at handcrafting these coasters. The proof is in the details and I am loving my set that I received from her. They are truly impeccably made. 
#ad Small Business Saturday feature: LuShahrinCoasterLand
Photo by Lu Shahrin, Coaster Land
Be sure to help spread the love to Lu and Coaster Land on Etsy
#ad Handcrafted Peacock Coaster Giveaway
Lu has been so generous and has offered to give away one set of coasters (4) to one of my readers so you can see her work first hand! As seen above.
<3 Dick and Jane
Do you know of a small business that we should feature? Submit your suggestions to raisingdickandjane@yahoo.com. 

Creamer and Succulents {My Kind of Morning}

It is so lovely to wake up, open up the windows and feel the sweet summer breeze hit my face. It always puts me in the best mood, even better than my cherished cup of coffee can. I think that the reason I wake up happy in the summer months is because I know that my days are going to be spent outdoors and being active in the sun. Today was no different. Today was the day that I decided to start preparing my gardens for this weekends planting. I almost always plant on Memorial weekend. Memorial weekend usually signals warmer temps here in Michigan and the risk of a frost goes down (slightly).

Besides tilling the back vegetable gardens, I also had a fun little project that I wanted to work on today. Last week I happened across a yard sale at a sweet old ladies house. She was moving and was really having a hard time letting go of some of her possessions. I could see why; she had the most lovely treasures! My favorite item of hers was a little black cow coffee creamer. There was just something about him! She told me that the creamer came from an old restaurant in Tennessee where she had gone to eat as a kid. It apparently closed down and she purchased this cow and a few others before she moved away.  I love a good story and because of this one I was sold. I promised the lady that I would treasure him just as she had. I paid her and brought my new treasure home; but what to do with him?

I really couldn’t see myself using a coffee creamer except on special occasions and I wanted to be able to see this guy everyday. Instead of putting him away in a cupboard I decided to re-purpose him into an adorable succulent planter. This way he could sit in my kitchen window and I could enjoy him all the time. Perfect!

Since gardening was already on my to-do list today, my son and I decided to put together this little succulent planter before we headed out back to till the veggie gardens. I had thought about painting the cow first, but just couldn’t bring myself to do it. So instead we simply filled him with soil and slipped a small succulent into the open space on his back. Done.

My favorite part of this little guy is his back end. Turn him around and he has the sweetest little blue bow on his tail. Isn’t that cute!

Now that the fun was done we put him in the window sill and headed out back to do the hard job; preparing these gardens for summer. I got one out of four done. Not too bad right? Agh. Back to work.

How are your gardens coming along? Mine are a mess with weeds right now, but I’ll get there. What are you planning on planting this yea? I’m still undecided, but I know that I better choose soon!

<3 Dick and Jane

I FAILED

Last month I challenged myself to stop eating sugar for an entire month. Well, humbly I stand before you and honestly admit that I failed. The pressure to take part in family celebrations and holidays was just too great of a burden for me to bare. I crumbled beneath the cupcakes, chocolates and cookies. While I would like to say that it was a miserable defeat, I can’t. The victor was delicious.

What else should I say? I am human just like the rest of you and unfortunately our society has been trained to use sugar and food as a means of celebration and coming together. Those who choose not partake in the food are looked upon as an outlaw and my attempts at refusal of my MIL’s homemade birthday cake would not have been met with happy remarks. So, I gave in.

However, one of the great things about life is the opportunity for second chances. We all strive for greatness and some of us fall. The difference, however, between the weak and the strong is that the strong get back up and try again.

I am strong.

Let’s give this another try.

Freedom.

I am itching for an adventure. This morning while I was getting ready in the bathroom I opened up the window and the crispest, freshest air came rushing in. It was the kind of cool air that made you want to close your eyes and imagine yourself in another life. The kind of air that dared you to live adventurously; to get back outside into nature. But, you see, adventure and I have a love/hate relationship.

Taking in a deep breath of this air instantly reminded me of my youth when I was a camp counselor. Back then I was truly free. I lived in the woods. I got dirt in my hair and under my nails. I played games with my campers and wouldn’t think twice about pouring a glass of milk over my head if it meant I didn’t have to clear the plates from the dining room after dinner. I was fun. I can remember smearing dirt on my face without thinking twice and hiking down brush covered paths without worrying about the bugs or poison ivy that may be lurking below my feet. I smile when I think back on those days. I wonder where that girl went?

Somewhere in the midst of marriage, parenting and growing up I lost that piece of me. It saddens me to think back on it. Somehow and for some reason I allowed this monster of doubt and fear to creep into my life. This evil force now has the power over me to make me worry. I never used to live with a fear of germs. Now, I think about them often and I hate it. I never used to worry about jumping on the back of a horse and taking off to who knows where. Now, I am cautious. I think about falling off and getting hurt. Why does this happen? How did I allow this?

The other day I happened across a t.v. show on Hulu that was titled “Travel with Kids”. It was a series that followed a mom, dad and two boys as they traveled across the world. In the episode I watched the family took a trip to the Amazon, slept in rooms that were open to nature and hiked through the forest in flip flops. The parents were so open and relaxed as they watched their children run ahead of them to explore nature on their own. Even when one of the boys was stung by a wasp they didn’t panic and call in an air lifted rescue (which is probably what I would have done. . I mean, come on, it could have been a poisonous wasp.) No, they gave his some Benadryl and hugs.

These parents aren’t the only ones either. There are many other families who travel the world with their kids and keep blogs to document it. As I read their stories I am jealous of their ability to be free and adventurous. I cannot help but feel a tugging in my heart to embark on the same adventure. However, no sooner do the words pop into my head that the self doubt starts and I tell myself that I am thinking foolishly.

This morning, however, when I took that deep breath of fresh air, I found that the carefree and adventurous girl does still live within me. She has just somehow been bound by this crippling fear of life, but she is STILL THERE. Who I am inside no longer matches who I am on the outside and that needs to change. I need to free myself from the fear of germs, the fear of pain, the fear of the unknown and just start doing. I am working towards a goal in life which I am calling “freedom”.

I don’t know if any of you have dealt with OCD or other panic attacks after growing up, but it is rough. I really can’t pinpoint when it started. It has just slowly taken hold over me like a black fog. It is a heavy stress that sits right on my shoulders making it sometimes hard to move. It is a burden that I am bearing unwantedly. My goal is to break free from the hold that it has on me right now and DO adventurously. This fearful, cautious person is not me and I don’t want to raise my children to be scared of life either.

This story has yet to have a happy ending, only because I am still writing it. I am working my way back to find that girl that lives within me. I hope someday to fill these pages with stories of grand adventure and freedom just like the other bloggers that I follow.

Still, this freedom that I am after doesn’t always have to include a big adventure; that is just my ultimate goal. Everyday I am making choices to free myself from worry and doubt. The worry that I feel wont make a difference in the world, so I need to learn to let it go and move forward. Slowly, as I do this and open myself up to new things, I will find that part of me that I am missing. I am confident that one day I will take in a deep breath and open my eyes to find myself right where I want to be.

Thinking about traveling with your kids? Check these great resources out.  

Travel with Bender – blog
Travel with Kids tv
Have Baby, Will Travel – blog

Easy Hummingbird Nectar & My Little Friends

This is one of my favorite first sights of spring; a little hummingbird family that has been visiting me for years comes back once again to visit for the summer months. They come back every spring and I never know when they will arrive.  However, when they do arrive back, they always come up to my windows and peek in as to tell me “Hello, were here. . feed us!” These fascinating little birds are quite friendly and definitely one of my favorite summer time guests. Yesterday morning, they arrived back at my window and I quickly got to work making them something to eat after their long journey back.

Each summer I make sure to keep them fed and happy (this may be why they come back faithfully every year). I take care of them in quite a few ways. First, I planted several natural food sources for them and created a small hummingbird area in my yard which includes Rose of Sharon, wisteria, hibiscus, and columbine. These are all plants and shrubs which produce flowers that they like to drink from. Hummingbirds also need high places to nest and fresh water to drink.

I like to feed my hummingbirds as naturally as possible with plants and shrubs. However, while their natural food sources are still waking up from winter, I like to create a nectar like drink for them made of water and sugar and put it in my hanging feeder within their section of my yard. Once the natural sources are flowering, I discontinue use of the homemade nectar and let them feed naturally.

Easy Hummingbird Nectar

1 cup tap water
1/4 cup granulated pure cane sugar

Bring a pot of 1 cup tap water to a boil on the stove. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar and dissolve. Allow the mixture to completely cool before adding it to your feeder. Unused portions may be kept in the refrigerator for up to one week.

When feeding your hummingbirds NEVER:
– add food coloring to your water!
– use unrefined sugar or sugar substitutes.
– use honey, molasses or brown sugar.
These can be harmful to your hummingbird friends.

Do you have hummingbirds visit your home? You can easily create a hummingbird and butterfly garden together in your yard and enjoy these sweet little birds and the beautiful colors of the plants for years to come. Last year I wrote about attracting butterflies, you can read more about that here.

<3 Dick and Jane

A Time Out for Tea {Plus a Smore’s Scones Recipe!} #TrendTea #shop #cbias

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser. #TrendTea #CollectiveBias
S'mores Scones Recipe  #TrendTea #CollectiveBias #shop

Today I decided to take time out of my day for tea, and what better way is there to have tea than with friends? Recently I have challenged myself to take a look at my life and determine what is really important to me. Through looking at what is really important, I have made it my goal to learn to:

  • slow down
  • enjoy life more
  • form deeper and more meaningful relationships with those around me

I feel that these three things are key elements to having a more full and rich life.

In order to reach for my goals, I decided to stage a mini tea party yesterday for some of the wonderful ladies in my life. With life becoming more and more virtual, it is more important than ever to make time for face to face interaction. The internet has made it easier than ever to keep up to date on what our friends are doing on a daily basis that we often forget to make time to be together in reality; to talk about our lives personally and strengthen our more intimate bonds.

S'mores Scones Recipe  #TrendTea #CollectiveBias #shop

A tea party is such a lovely way to re-connect with old friends, make new friends, relax and enjoy life. We had such a hilarious time at our tea party pretending to be proper, sipping Bigelow tea and eating fresh baked s’mores scones.

There is nothing better than a little bit of laughter in the morning to help brighten your day.

S'mores Scones Recipe  #TrendTea #CollectiveBias #shop

My dream tea party would be one set up out in my garden, but since summer has not yet shined upon us, we decided to throw a fun and fancy tea party indoors.

Here are a few pictures on how I set it all up!

S'mores Scones Recipe  #TrendTea #CollectiveBias #shop
S'mores Scones Recipe  #TrendTea #CollectiveBias #shop

Now, A tea party is not complete without having a few tasty scones to snack on. And with summer on my mind (just having my first s’more a few days ago) I decided to prepare a few homemade s’mores inspired scones. <- Oh yes I did!

If you have never made scones before and are feeling a little bit intimidated, don’t be! This recipe for scones is one of the easiest, fool-proof recipes I know. They are quick to make and taste amazing. Just the right hint of sweetness.

S'mores Scones Recipe  #TrendTea #CollectiveBias #shop


Ingredients: 

1/2 bag of mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup of crushed graham cracker
2 cups of flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 & 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream

S'mores Scones Recipe  #TrendTea #CollectiveBias #shop

Directions: 

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and chocolate chips in a large bowl just until blended. Slowly fold in the heavy cream.

Begin the knead the dough in the bowl until combined, about 5-7 kneads.

S'mores Scones Recipe  #TrendTea #CollectiveBias #shop

Toss a little bit of flour and graham crackers onto a flat surface and place your ball of dough in the center. Begin the flatten the dough out into an 8 inch circle. The purpose is to allow the flour and graham cracker to coat the bottom, not to mix into the dough.

Next, cut your dough into slices and transfer them to a lined baking sheet.

S'mores Scones Recipe  #TrendTea #CollectiveBias #shop

Bake the scones at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes or until slightly browned and centers are no longer goowey.  Remove from heat and allow to cool on the pan.

Serve with a dollop of marshmallow creme and garnish with crushed graham cracker crumbs (*optional).

Enjoy!

At our tea party we chose to enjoy Bigelow tea (my favorite). To learn more about this brand, check them out : 

 #TrendTea #CollectiveBias #shop
Find Bigelow Tea at Target.

What goals have you set for yourself recently? How have you worked towards making them a reality? 


<3 Dick and Jane

Summer Pasta Salad {To Go}

While it’s still pretty cold outside, my mind is already in summer mode. When I think of summer I think of pasta salad. It’s light, cold and refreshing. Plus, its portable (well, it can be!). 

Think of summer. What comes to mind? When I think of summer I think of lazy days spent at the park and picnic lunches on a red flannel blanket. What do I eat at picnic lunches? I enjoy my favorite summer pasta salad and here is how I make it. 
Summer Pasta Salad
Ingredients: 
1 box of cooked pasta
1 block of mozzarella cheese, cubed
1 can of sliced black olives, drained
1 bag of mini pepperoni
2 cups of Italian dressing
1 green pepper
1 cucumber 
Directions:
Prepare your pasta according to the directions. Combine Italian dressing with cooked pasta and place into a storage container. Place the pasta in the fridge to cool. Meanwhile clean and chop your veggies into small pieces. Once the pasta has chilled, mix in the rest of your ingredients and enjoy. Store your leftover pasta in the fridge for 1-2 days. 
How to take it on the go: 
Small mason jars make the perfect containers for portion controlled pasta lunches. They remove the need to bring plates along and can easily be tossed into a cooler to keep fresh. The jars wont leek in any of the water from the ice. Plus, you can eat right out of the jar and write your name on the lid to keep them from being mixed up. 
Whats your favorite summer treat? Share with us! 
<3 Dick and Jane

Mommy’s Little Pick Me Up with the Best Coffee Maker #CoffeeJourneys #Cbias #shop

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias, Millstone® Coffee, and Mr. Coffee®.
#CoffeeJourneys #CollectiveBias #shop

Life can be hard. Juggling two jobs, your home, your kids, schedules, meals and the day to day. Mom’s really do have a lot on their plates. According to the United States Department of Labor, 70.5% of mothers in the workforce have kids under the age of 18 and 61.4% have children under the age of 3. Life can be stressful. Trust me, I know. I too fall within these statistics. And I’m not discounting men’s roles in parenting and work. They too carry a heavy load everyday and deserve a little relaxation with their morning coffee.

#CoffeeJourneys #CollectiveBias #shop

This morning was different for me. This morning was unlike most mornings in the fact that I woke up without the loud screams of children jumping on my bed and the chaotic rush of trying to get everyone out the door before 8 am. Last night my kids were out having a fun sleepover at their grandparents house and that meant that this morning I was alone. I woke on my own about 8 am, rolled over and stretched out my arms and legs. Agh. It felt good. As I stumbled into the kitchen I peacefully made myself a cup of coffee and decided that with no kids around I could treat myself to a “special” cup of Millstone® chocolate velvet coffee topped with whipped cream and sprinkles. I never get to do that. Normally I am grabbing a cup to go in the morning and rarely getting to take my first sip before it is cold. This was a very special treat.

#CoffeeJourneys #CollectiveBias #shop

I sat down on my couch, I drank my coffee and I listened to the birds chirp outside my window. It was serene. I closed my eyes and sank down into my favorite chair, taking in big whiffs of the chocolaty aroma cascading from my coffee cup. Deep breaths.

Sometimes it is really great to just calm down, slow down and relax. It is amazing what a little bit of relaxation can do for ones soul. Of course, I like to pair my relaxation time with coffee, and after doing some research this morning I found that I am not the only one who finds respite in their morning coffee. Here’s what I found:

#CoffeeJourneys #CollectiveBias #shop

The Huffington Post recently released an article that named 11 reasons why you should drink coffee everyday. One of the reasons listed was that even the simple act of smelling coffee in the morning can help to reduce stress. That’s great because being a busy mother of two, I will take all of the stress relief I can get!

Another reason listed about why you should drink coffee was that our bodies seem to absorb the most of our daily antioxidants through coffee. Trust me, if you’ve got kids you probably need all of the antioxidants you can get! They always seems to have a runny nose or something.

Another great reason listed was that coffee makes you feel happier. I can attest to that because right now I am feeling mighty happy! 🙂

There are several other great tips about why you should drink coffee found on the Huffington Post article. Check them out. They are very interesting and I learned several new things this morning by reading them.

{Giveaway time!}

I think that every parent needs a little bit of special time to relax so today I have decided to give away a brand new Mr. Coffee® 10 cup Optimal Brew™  Thermal coffee maker just like mine, PLUS a bag of Millstone® coffee to one of my readers. Lucky you!!!

#CoffeeJourneys #CollectiveBias #shop

The Mr. Coffee® 10 cup Thermal coffee maker is sleek, stylish and makes a great cup of coffee. You can even set it to brew before you get up in the morning so you can utilize the tip above and start your day off with reduced stress. 🙂 I absolutely love mine.

Want to know where you can get one? I bought both my coffee maker and the coffee at Walmart. Look for them in the home appliance section.

#CoffeeJourneys #CollectiveBias #shop

Be sure to enter below and share with your friends. They might need a little “pick me up” too! 

Interested in learning more about where coffee comes from? Visit Journey the Bean from Millstone® coffee and learn all about the life cycle of coffee. Very interesting!

When is your favorite time to enjoy your coffee? In the morning, afternoon “pick me up” or as a special treat? Share with us your #CoffeeJourneys in the comments.

<3 Dick and Jane