Archive for November, 2011

November 17, 2011

Snack (not so) mixed

As a mom, I’m always looking for healthy after school snacks for my son.

On occasion, I’ll make snack mix.  Typically I’ll try to keep it healthy, using raw nuts, dried fruit and maybe some whole grain cereal, but the favorite in our house is one called Banana Split.  It has almonds, craisins, banana chips, dried pineapple, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips. (Obviously this one doesn’t live on the “healthy” list, but it could be worse.)  I can’t take credit for the recipe or its name.  I actually adopted it from one that we bought in the cafe at the Arboretum over the summer.  I altered the ingredients a little. Theirs had peanuts and the crunchy little marshmallows similar to those in Lucky Charms cereal but since I’m not a huge fan of salted peanuts and because I was trying to make it a little healthier, I opted for raw Almonds and for the life of me I can’t find crunchy marshmallows anywhere, so I used minis in its place.  They work just fine and the combination is far better for us than the alternative, a real banana split!

Banana Split Snack "Mix"

Here’s the thing that cracks me up…  when I make a batch of snack mix, I’m careful to have equal parts of all of the ingredients so you get the full “banana split effect” with every bite. But… when my son eats snack mix, it’s no longer what I would classify as a mix.  He divides everything up into little piles separating out each item and then eats the individual piles.  He starts with the things that rank lower on the list (almonds and craisins) first and works his way up to his favorites.  All I can do is laugh.

Although I don’t remember having snack mix as a kid, I do remember wanting everything separated on my plate as though they each had their own “personal space”.   I would get really upset if say, my peas, migrated from one area of my plate to another or got in the “personal space” of my potatoes. And god forbid if my potatoes touched my salad.  That was a catastrophe.  But, the sky would come crashing down, I would completely lose it, burst into tears and have a complete meltdown if my mom would make the horrible mistake of mixing it all together thinking it would taste better.  Yes, I know, not one of my finer moments.  Thankfully my son’s food separation comes nowhere near that.

Anyway, as I watched him strategically sorting today, it got me wondering… why is it that kids can be so particular about food when they are younger? What makes them want to have everything separate and at what point in life does that transition to “normalcy”?  And what makes them (or any of us) like sweet over salty or vise-verse?  Hmmm… I might have to look into this.  If anyone knows the answer, please pass it on.

In the mean time, I’ll continue my search for healthy snacks (mixed or not) in hopes of raising a healthy, non-finicky eater.


November 16, 2011

Green Gift Fair & Craft Fair – Coming soon!

The other day I sent a list of local, eco-friendly gift ideas for Christmas.  I also mentioned that local craft shows/fairs are a great place to find gifts.

I’m super excited to pass along a couple of great craft fairs that are coming up.  This is not where you’ll find the stuff your grandma used to make, but it is where you’ll find ultra cool, unique, one of a kind gifts!

The 6th Annual Green Gifts Fair.
Saturday, November 19, 2011 • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis

Lake St. & Chicago. Ave. • FREE Event





No Coast Craft-o-Rama

Friday, December 2 (3 p.m. to 8 p.m.)

Saturday, December 3 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis


See you there!


November 15, 2011

Christmas already? Think local, eco friendly gifts!

I’m a huge fan of Halloween.  I love decorating for it, love, love, love dressing up and love to see what other people do.  I think it brings out the creativity in all of us.

This year, however, as I was cruising through a couple of stores looking for some additional items to craft up decorations and costumes, I heard haunting laughter in front of me and Christmas Carols chiming from the aisle behind me.  At the time I was incredibly disturbed by this, I mean seriously, Christmas in October?

Now that Halloween is past and Thanksgiving is approaching, I have to admit my mind has gone there too.  I never let myself decorate, do Christmas cards or begin to shop until after Thanksgiving, but I have to admit.  I’m thinking about it, a lot.  My mind has already moved onto Christmas.

The other day I received an email with a list of gifts to get friends and family that are made in the USA.  The thing I really like about this list of gift ideas is that it is filled with experiences vs. “stuff” which means it won’t be wrapped in boat loads of paper and there’s nothing to throw away, donate or recycle when they get tired of it and eventually want to part with it. The bonus is that the majority of ideas are also local (regardless of where you live) so you can give twice with one gift!  As much as I loved the list that came in that original email, I thought of a few more items so I included those as well.

So here it is…. my list of local, green and eco-friendly gifts.

  • Gift certificate from a local salon or barber.  –   (Almost) everyone gets their hair cut.
  • Massage/Spa/Facial – Who couldn’t use a little tension release after the holidays?
  • Vineyard tour & wine tasting – Assuming of course, that they like wine!
  • Gym membership – It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.
  • Car wash(es) &t detail – Whether you get a gift certificate for one time or a book of gift certificates to last throughout the year, who doesn’t love a clean car
  • Oil changes for car, truck, motorcycle at a local shop
  • Local, independent restaurant gift certificate
  • Half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint
  • Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
  • Local theater (stage, or LOCAL movie theater)
  • Arboretum membership
  • Zoo membership
  • Children’s theater gift certificate
  • Science museum membership
  • Cooking classes
  • Photography classes
  • Orchestra
  • Brew your own (beer or root beer) classes
  • Local garden store gift certificates
  • Gift certificate to a local Co-op
  • Gift certificate for a CSA

Want to something that will last even longer or is more practical?


  • Lawn mowing service for the summer
  • Snow removal (shovel or driveway plowing) for the winter
  • House cleaning by the local “cleaning lady” for a day
  • Golf at a local golf course
  • Computer tune-up through an independent business

What else can you do over the holidays?

  • Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip (they typically get paid just a little over minimum wage and rely on their tips to make a living).
  • Shop at local stores – you’ll find unique gifts!
  • Buy  a few holiday goodies from your local bakery.
  • Don’t forget to give your mail carrier, trash handler, stylist, massage therapist and babysitter a nice BIG tip (or gift card – some businesses don’t allow cash).

If you still want to get something more unique or personal?  Check out local craft shows and buy from local artists.  You will find everything from people who spin their own wool and knit them into scarves, mittens, hats, to homemade soaps, handmade jewelry, pottery, clothing, paintings and photography.

Just remember, Christmas is about caring.  When you buy local you support small businesses so they can keep following their dreams.  And, when we care about the people in our communities the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

Have an idea I missed?  Post a comment!


November 13, 2011

Living today for tomorrow’s generation

When I started Walnuts and Pears my goal was to create a place to share thoughts, observations and tidbits of information on landscaping, gardening, harvesting, cooking, eating, preserving, and healthy, mindful living.  A place with purpose, passion, caring, love and respect for self, others and Mother Nature.

While a lot of my energy with my posts has gone into gardening, I’ve tried to touch on some of the other subjects now and again.  In the fall I tend to focus inward and pay closer attention to what I’m eating, exercise and spirituality.  I also focus on what I can be doing beyond the realm of myself, my family and close friends.

Yesterday I attended the Northland Bioneers Conference (which is actually a condensed version of the Bioneers Conference which was held in California in October).  Although this was the 6th event, it is the first one I’ve attended.  What I can say is, wow!  It started at 9:00am and went until 9:00pm.  It was a full day, packed with information on sustainable living covering everything from a local level to a global level.  Some of what I heard reinforced what I already know, but a lot of it was truly eye-opening on what is going on in the world today.

The most impactful thing for me was that even though we hear nearly every other day that we’ve completely destroyed the planet and there’s no turning back,  I was incredibly encouraged to find out is that what we’ve been doing to correct the damage is working!  It’s working on both on the local and global levels.  To summarize what I learned very briefly, yes, we’ve done some absolutely incredible damage to our planet, most of which cannot be repaired quickly, but we’ve also set a lot of change in motion, which is on the path to help reverse some of the damage.

I’m definitely not saying that everything is good now or that any of us can start to sit back and relax and let other people do it for us, or that any of us have a choice as to whether or not to keep trying.  What I’m saying is that if we all continue to be present in our lives and be present when we make decisions regarding what we buy, what we eat, how and what we reuse, recycle and compost, what we drive, whether we drive, carpool, bike or walk, if we are conscious that everything we do, every choice we make has an impact on the future, whether it’s the immediate future or for that of future generations, it will continue to get better.  Every day we have choices as to whether we support companies that are gearing themselves to continue into the 21st century as responsible leaders or chose to support companies that continue on the old path of using and depleting our natural resources (which is another conversation all together) and eventually die out.   We all need to continue to make good choices.  We need to continue to inform ourselves.  We need to continually pay attention to how we can do things even better.  Don’t get discouraged, it’s not a race, it’s a process.  This is the beginning and there is no end point.  It’s a journey we’re all on together.  A journey of learning to live differently than we used to or than perhaps we’re comfortable with.  But we’re all in this together.  Some of us are going to be really good in one area and not know so much about another and vise versa.  It’s okay.  We can learn from each other. We need to be more open and become more of a community now than we ever have before.  We need to ask each other questions and there can be no shunning, judging, preaching just helping each other live a better more sustainable life.

I know “green”, “environment” and “sustainable” get tagged or stereotyped in many ways and are commonly associated with hippie, tree-hugger and liberal, but forget the tags, the labels and the stereotypes for a moment and focus on the goal.  We all want to be here, breathing clean air, drinking clean water, enjoying life.  Whether your views fall to the left or to the right, whether you’re into the green revolution, the environment, sustainability or not so much, we all care for the people in our lives.  Our job is simply to make sure that these basic things that we all take for granted continue to be available not only for us and for our children, but for future generations.

Please take a minute to watch this clip from Four Years. Go. Then, if you’re inclined,  follow my link to the Four Years. Go. site to take a stand and make your own committment to change the course of history.

Together we can do it.