Smoothies for Fuel and Energy

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Many years ago, when my almost thirty-year-old son was in grade two, I began to notice that his “bad days” at school were the days I couldn’t persuade him to eat breakfast.  He didn’t and still doesn’t, like to eat breakfast soon after waking up.  He didn’t like school to start with; it was a constant struggle to keep him focused.  It was back in those days that I started making smoothies on a regular basis.

Why Smoothies?

While researching learning disorders, (his teachers suggested testing him for several of these) I found several articles on the correlation between brain function and food.  Basically, without food (the fuel) in his body, my son’s brain (the furnace) wasn’t able to function at full capacity!

I then started making him (and his brothers) a smoothie (they called it “milkshake”) every morning, and kept up this routine pretty much until they moved out!  His teachers and I started noticing a difference almost immediately; he has now graduated high school and college, with successful employment in the workforce.  He still loves his “milkshakes!”

How to Concoct your own Smoothies

You can use any ingredients you have handy; I used strawberries (fresh or frozen), bananas, yogurt, and orange juice as the base for theirs.  One son preferred just these ingredients, the other two liked a bit of chocolate syrup (sugar reduced) added, and one liked some added peanut butter too. Occasionally I put protein powder in too, especially when they had sports (all three played soccer, two curled and two played hockey) scheduled.   I tried (unsuccessfully) to sneak in some greens, but they could always detect them. My blender was not that efficient at that stage.

I just used a regular blender; I have been through quite a few over the years!  For cleanup, I simply filled it with water, added a few drops of dish soap, and pressed blend.  I then put the whole container in the dishwasher.   This routine kept even the small parts clean, without having to take the blender apart to clean each time.

I’ve recently splurged on a new blender from Pampered Chef that really makes a great smoothie, amongst other things. It also makes nut butters, creamy soups, sauces, and more. I plan to try some of those recipes and functions this winter. Cleanup is the same, although it has a pulsing action that I use to make sure the soapy mixture gets up to the lid. I then let it sit on my counter for a few hours before rinsing it out. I bet I could sneak in greens with this baby!

Whip up Smoothies to Lose Weight

Way back then I read an article by the famed Dr. Oz about juicing to increase energy and lose weight and realized it was not a whole lot different than what I was doing for my sons for years.   I thought I’d give it a try since it worked so well for my boys. 

When I first started making smoothies for myself I lost approximately ten pounds and reduced my cholesterol level from slightly high to the mid-normal range in six months.  My energy level also increased.  I also switched to a wheat restricted diet, so not sure which of the two changes (probably a combination of both) contributed to those results.

The good news is I have maintained an ideal weight over the years, including through and after menopause when weight gain is typically hard to control.

My Current Smoothie Recipe

Currently, I use spinach, blueberries, hemp hearts, collagen, flax seeds, broccoli slaw, cucumber, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, avocado, fresh lemon juice, and green tea in my version for my aging health issues although I have tried many variations over the years. In other words, customize your recipe using what you like the taste of and what benefits you the most.

My version doesn’t taste as yummy as theirs did years ago, but it is not bad! 

With the next generation now expanding our family, my grandchildren (at least the three oldest) are willing to try Grandma’s smoothies too…

Stepping Stones, a DIY project for Gardens4me

Stepping Stones DIY

Santa brought me five ceramic stepping stones for Christmas, a DIY craft project for me to paint with my grandchildren. Well, at least the oldest three of five grandchildren, the youngest two are not yet into DIY projects.

We have added their names and the year they were born to the stepping stones too. They are now decorating a fence in Gardens4me as they are much too beautiful to step on. That way I can bring them in for the winter months to protect them from the elements too. These colourful masterpieces will brighten up the area I refer to as my ICU where plants or cuttings I remove from clients’ gardens get rejuvenated.

My oldest granddaughter painted hers and I painted her baby brother’s right after Christmas when she was still coming here for her online school lessons.

My youngest granddaughter painted hers this past week as I painted her baby brother’s while the latter was napping.

I also painted my eldest grandson’s as he had no interest in painting indoors, was keener to go on an outdoor adventure. Appropriately, I had reserved the turtle for him. He’s the grandson that loves to search for turtles at Mud Lake, our frequent adventure spot.

Stepping Stones DIY Project

A Socially Distanced Farm Visit

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I have been promising my grandchildren to take them to the farm where my mother grew up for months. I have also been promising my uncle we would visit, but due to the social distancing rules of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been putting the trip off. My uncle convinced me we could arrange a socially distanced, outdoor visit though, so I packed us a kid-friendly picnic lunch and off we went.

My uncle (my mom’s younger brother) now owns and looks after the property with his wife and daughter. They have done an awesome job renovating and keeping it thriving.  It has always been one of my favourite places to visit, although I don’t get there nearly as often as I would like to.

Enjoy this slideshow of just a few of the pictures…

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In the very last picture you can see writing in the cement where the girls are standing. My mother engraved her name (Eva) way back in 1941 when she was just twelve years old! I tried to explain the connection to the children, but they are too young to understand yet. Someday though I hope they will appreciate and marvel their great grandmother’s autograph as much as I do.

The kids loved their farm visit, in fact when my uncle told us to come back soon, my grandson said “See you tomorrow!”

Teaching Children to Love Nature

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Because I am a nature lover, I assume that my grandchildren will automatically be nature lovers too. What I have come to realize is that teaching children to love nature is all about immersing them in it. This practice does not have to be an expensive endeavour, more of a shared lifestyle, that can and should begin very early in life. One of my fondest memories of both of my grandmothers is their love of gardening.

I love all things garden-related, so I make sure my grandchildren tour my gardens, patio, and veranda plantings when they visit. I have added a few whimsical features throughout my yard to pique their interest, in my way of teaching children. I love their sweet reactions!

I also have a few nature-inspired features in my home décor that the kids love…

Teaching children has to be age-appropriate or your students quickly lose interest. As my grandkids get older, the teaching or mentoring gets easier. In the spring they help me plant some decorations on my back deck. Then they water them throughout the summer to keep them thriving. I haven’t met a child yet that does not like to water flowers! Morning glories and sunflowers are easy to plant and grow quickly…

A word of caution when teaching children though, make sure you don’t care if they break your touches of nature. For example, the resin bunny has a broken tail and foot from two separate, accidental drops. And, one of my birdies cracked after my grandson threw it on a hard floor attempting to make it fly. I have to keep a close eye on the elephant as it is a sentimental (and very old) souvenir their great-grandpa brought their grandfather back from a trip to Africa.

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Patience and Cheerios

I have to admit patience is a virtue I do not possess, but I’m working on it. That’s because I’m learning that grandchildren are great teachers, but require unlimited patience.

This morning was another lesson learned in the patience department. My two year old grandson and five year old granddaughter slept over last night and although she slept well, he did not. He was up several times during the night and then up for good, bouncing around with a seemingly endless supply of energy at 6am.

“Grumble, grumble, ok Grandma is up, but I won’t be dancing with Elmo or to Baby Shark within the next few hours, at least until I have a cup of coffee.”

Checking out his choices for breakfast, this (always adorable) grandson grabbed a box of Cheerios and promptly dumped (most of) its contents onto the kitchen floor. Luckily the box was not full. After I grabbed the broom and swept up the mess (with him helping of course) he repeated the process. Dump, scatter, sweep….at least five more times. After the second sequence, I realized he was having fun. No real harm done, and other than relocating breakable objects within the swinging radius of the broom handle as he “tidied up,” it was fun to watch his concentration. The cheerios were going in the garbage anyway; each time I threw some out (without him noticing of course) so there were fewer to clean up each time.

Planting Seeds Encourages Kids’ Green Thumbs

Encouraging kids to develop green thumbs is a great outdoor activity, especially for this garden loving Grandma.  Recently I taught my two oldest grandchildren (1.5 and 4.8 yrs old) the fine (very simple) art of planting seeds.  I filled some large pots with soil and added bamboo trellises shaped like teepees for the plantings to climb on.   I chose pole beans and morning glories to plant as they are both fast-growing seeds, perfect for impatient children.  In fact, our seeds sprouted within a few days, and in less than three weeks their tendrils had started to climb the teepees…

A few weeks after planting seeds and the beans have climbed up, around, and through the teepee-shaped trellis, producing purple pole beans.  No sign of the morning glories yet…

Now, if I could only get the kids to eat the pole beans.  Grandma certainly will…


I must admit that I have never planted purple pole beans before and did not realize they turn green when they are cooked….

You can entice children to enjoy gardening by getting them their own gloves, tools, and watering can. I also let them choose the seeds we plant. My grandchildren love the little “critters” and other whimsical touches I have on my back deck and front veranda too…

Happy Thanksgiving

It is Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada.  We celebrate the second Monday in October, while other countries celebrate in November.  I believe the reason for that is the fact that our winters arrive sooner here, so our harvests are earlier.   After all, Thanksgiving did originate as a celebration after harvest was complete.

Regardless of when you celebrate Thanksgiving, be sure to remember all the things you are grateful for.  This previous post listed the things I was grateful for two years ago.  All of these still apply, with the wonderful addition of my sons’ significant others and two (with a third one on the way) grandchildren.

With the arrival of grandchildren comes a new addition to my dining room furniture, just in time for Thanksgiving…

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On Being a Grandma

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I have always claimed that my greatest accomplishments in life are my three sons. Now that I am a Grandma too, I am discovering that this being a Grandma experience is right up there with being a mom, although I cannot claim it as an accomplishment.

I so envy the current generation having children with their parents willing and able to help with their grandchildren.  And, I admire the grandparents willing to spend quality time with their grandchildren.  I am also very grateful that my two eldest sons have settled close to home, so any grandchildren they produce will be close by.  In my generation, we went to visit our grandparents once in a while, but always as a family (mine had 8 members) and usually for special occasions where the house was full of cousins and other relatives.

Spending the last few days with my grandson I am reminded of how miraculous a new baby is.  From the moment they are conceived to the time they are full-grown, their progress is an amazing accomplishment, one we as humans should be incredibly proud of and grateful for.

It is such a joy to spend quality time with a grandchild, even a tiny one that spends most of the day eating, sleeping, spitting up, and pooping with bouts of unexplained wailing.  Even my gardens have taken a back seat this week as I babysit (that’s what the parents call it, I call it bonding with) my grandson.