Fall is my absolute favorite! I'm really enjoying the recent summer to autumn transition weather.
Tuesday, September 18, 2012
I came up w a delicious flavor of protein shake for the fall. This seriously tastes like pumpkin pie.
The recipe makes 8 servings, perfect for freezing and eating through the week.
I used dehydrated pumpkin puree, but canned would work too. Make sure it's 100% pumpkin, not pie filling.
4 cups pumpkin
8 scoops protein powder
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 can evaporated milk
3 Tbl cinnamon
2 Tbl ground ginger
1 Tbl ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cloves
If using dried pumpkin, allow it to soak. Blend all ingredients. If you don't have a big enough blender, this can be done in two batches.
I only had room for my yogurt, pumpkin and protein powder, so I added the evaporated milk to the freezer jars to be shaken in later.
This is a very thick smoothie, so water or tea or coffee should be added as desired to thin it out for drinking.
One shake is about 230 calories.
Monday, September 17, 2012
I finally got up my courage and used my pressure canner for the first time last week. Now that I've done it, I'm addicted!
It's actually so easy and not to scary if you just follow the instructions, and now I can have so many quick and easy, BUT homemade, meals available. Plus, I like canned green beans so much better than frozen.
I've done green beans from the garden, and this past weekend, Ben and I did homemade chili, chicken breasts, and beef stew. I'm very excited to try more things soon! What are your favorite pressure canned products?
Monday, September 10, 2012
Trying to catch up on lots of work in the garden. I've got a pretty bad spotted cucumber beetle infestation this year, so many of the green beans are a bit ragged with bug bites.
I'm trying a little experiment today with dehydrating eggplant bacon. I'm doubtful about it, but I had a ton of eggplant ready all at once, and it seemed like the most promising way to preserve it, so we'll see how it goes
Thursday, September 06, 2012
I finally saved up enough cash in the kitchen envelope to buy a vacuum sealer. So, I recently order my Food Saver, and I've been having so much fun with it. My favorite use for it so far has been vacuum sealing my half gallon jars for storing rice, quinoa, etc in the pantry. The swoosh sound they make when they're opened is so cool!
Monday, August 27, 2012
I saw this on another blog, and I wish I could give credit, but I can't find the link now. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be a great idea for us.
We drink protein shakes every day, either for breakfast or after a workout. They're not too time consuming to make, but when you add up the time each of us spends every day making one, then washing the blender, it's a bit wasteful.
So I started making them in bulk, and freezing them. But the touch that makes this idea really genius is using these Ball freezer containers. They're freezer safe, bpa free, and perfect for transporting and drinking. I wouldn't lay one sideways, they're not that leak proof, but they fit fine in the car cup holder.
The only drawback I've found is that they don't use the same outer threads that the glass jars use, so I can't use my awesome cuppow drinking lid w them.
Friday, August 24, 2012
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
So, I'm pretty sure that when I have an actual mini barn complete w mini livestock, I'm a real mini farmer.
We found this awesome little barn at the Goodwill outlet months ago, and I had picked it up trying to figure out who could use it, because I just couldn't leave it behind. As Ben and I were discussing it, our friend Ken came up and asked, "buying Columbo his own little house? "
Well, that sealed it and it came home with us. I had to doing a little gluing and screw replacing, and fix it up with a felted sweater cushion for the little guy, but he just loves it and is happy w his comfy little place.
Monday, August 06, 2012
I recently discovered how convenient and tasty instant refried beans are. Perfect for a quick snack when I don't have much else ready, and very simple to make in large quantities.
I started by soaking and cooking a big crock pot full of pinto beans, with onions and garlic. After draining them, I mixed it all up with my stick blender, using reserved bean liquid to accretive the right consistency.
I leave out the fat both for caloric reasons and because fats do not dehydrate well.
After I have my mashed beans I spread them onto my trays (lined w non stick sheets) to an even quarter inch thick.
Dehydrate at 125 degrees for about six hours. The beans crack and break apart while they dry, like a mud puddle.
I ran the crumbles through the blender, to make them fine. To re-hydrate, I just mix boiling water into some bean crumbles until it seems to be the right consistency, and let it stand, covered, for ten minutes or so. Delicious!
Friday, August 03, 2012
Call me crazy (my husband did), but when I saw this broom for $6 at Rural King, I knew it's enchanting cuteness would work magic on my desire to sweep floors.
In the end it hasn't quite made me want to sweep, but it sure has made having to sweep a lot more fun.
Wednesday, August 01, 2012
I like hanging out the laundry for a million reasons, one of which is that when there's even the slightest breeze, the clothes all come out wrinkle free, saving ironing time.
I was having to touch up Ben's collars though, since they'd dry all bumped up from hanging down. Then I hit on this solution! I just clip the collars and anything else that needs it down flat and smooth where they belong and they dry that way. Saves me tons of ironing board time.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
I've been trying to keep things going in the garden despite the heat and drought. I've been managing so far by getting up very early and working outside before it gets too hot. I've also been watering most of the vegetables every day.
Not everything is thriving though, and the onions all gave up, laid down and died back before they'd gotten very large. I cured them all anyway, and plan to get what I can from them.
This is the first year I've tried braiding them, so I experimented w a few of the red onions today. We grow mostly yellow onions because they are much better keepers.
I just braided the tops together, adding new onions with each twist or so. I think it'll be nice and convenient to have them right there in the kitchen and ready while I'm cooking. And it looks kind of nice in an old fashioned homey kind of way.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Spent some time this morning trimming all the garlic to store in mesh bags that I'll hang in the garage for the winter.
Unfortunately, I think a lot of the garlic got roasted instead of curing because of the extreme heat. There have been a number of heads w translucent, cooked looking cloves.
Monday, July 09, 2012
This is my quick solution to the problem. I just knocked a slit into an old canning lid w a chisel, flattened the sharp edges back w pliers, hit it and the ring w a dose of white spray paint, and screwed it on to one of those tiny four ounce jars.
Perfect to keep in my counter file box, and easy to just slip them right in, so they're gathered up and have an actual place they belong.
Friday, July 06, 2012
My grandmother informed me on my last trip home that I wasn't making a baby sweater, because you would not dress a baby in orange. Infant sartorial statements aside, I love how this project is turning out. This cute little top down raglan is coming out to look like something really special in the self-striping yarn complete w faux fair isle specks.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
1300 calories a day doesn't leave a toon of room for junk food, but I love tacos. Here's a snack/lunch I like to put together that's suitable for every day.
LaTortilla factory tortilla 50 calories
75 grams of from scratch refried beans (just pintos and seasoning, no oils) 100 calories
1 Oz cheddar cheese 100 calories
30 grams guacamole or avocado 60 calories
Lots of chopped onion, pepper slices and shredded lettuce as desired
So yummy! I like to put the tortilla in the oven and get it crunchy first, and serve the whole thing like a toastada, but it would be yummy add a wrap to go as well.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Just wanted to mention, I've changed my comments from moderated to word verification. Even though I personally have a hard time reading the verification thing sometimes, there were a couple of reasons for this. One, I want you all to feel heard and I think setting comments in real time is much better for this. Also, I was getting tons of spam comments on my email through the moderation setting, which was a distracting time waster. Hope you all like the change.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
I'm back at home and back at work now. I've been working on getting the garden beds in shape, and one of the first orders of business was to get the garlic up out of the ground. I'm afraid it went too long, but we'll just have to see how well it keeps.
Garlic is quickly becoming one of my favorite things to grow. It's so easy, and does really well for me here so far. I'll have to weigh this after I've cured and trimmed it and find out my yield. It definitely looks like a good one.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Oh my goodness, has it been a challenging couple of months. I've been traveling, first home to help my parents when my dad had his surgery, then on a vacation Ben had planned for our tenth anniversary. We had a great time. We went to Colonial Williamsburg and road tripped back home touring distilleries as we went. At Williamsburg we took a drop spindle spinning class, during which I learned the basics of spinning and managed to totally hurt myself, poking a hole in my arm w the spindle.
I've been working long days trying to get the house and yard and garden into some kind of order because I'm headed back to MI again soon for my little brother's wedding and my oldest nephew's graduation party. My tomato seedlings are frightened that they'll never actually get put in the ground.
I'm switching the spring veggies in the raised beds over to summer things, snap peas to green beans, etc. We're working diligently to get better at keeping up with the weeding and landscaping. I have to say, all the weight we lost last fall (and we're still improving our fitness and health too, though it had taken sort of a backseat w everything else going on) has made it much easier to have the stamina and strength for the outdoor work. That's what I set out for in the first place w seeing the trainer and I'm so glad to be enjoying the results.
Monday, May 14, 2012
After two weeks away, there are TONS of things to catch up. Not sure enter to start and slightly overwhelmed, I've gone with something straightforward that will show immediate results. I guess sometimes having weeding chores can be an advantage.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Waiting around at the hospital time provided good knitting time, at least.
My dad is home from the hospital after emergency triple bypass surgery. I'm staying in mi for the rest of the week to keep him company and help with everything. Feeling grateful for so many things, mostly that my dad is still with us! And also that I'm in the position to be away from home and able to help for a while. More trivially, I'm also very grateful for my parents' dvr. I'm having lots of fun taping and watching history channel shows. :)
Friday, April 27, 2012
Due to a family emergency, I'll be away from home and away from the computer for a while. I will post w my phone if I'm able. If you think of it, please keep my dad, who is ill, and the rest of my family in your prayers. Thanks everyone for understanding.
P.S. Mrs. Mordecai, whole roasted won @$3.30 per edible pound when purchased at $.89 a pound raw. But I trimmed the breasts and my husband is way better at it, so we might need to have a rematch some time in the future.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Here's Smudgie being kind of adorable. A couple of people have asked how he's been. I'm sure he appreciates the well wishes. He's been doing fine, no apparent problems and the plumbing seems to be running fine. We hang out a couple of hours a day. He gets lots of snuggles and I'm glad for the excuse to suit down for some quiet time reading and having devotionals. I have the seedlings in the upstairs bathroom, so it's convenient to take care off them atty the same time and water them with his day old water dish.
"Drink water more than 24 hrs untapped? I am a cat of distinction and standards, madam. Please do all you can to provide fresh."
It's great blogging time as well, thanks to my fancy new phone upgrade from Sprint. :)
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Friday, March 30, 2012
I finally got the mess of bakery buckets that's been languishing in the no mans land between the kitchen and the dining room for a year organized and labeled.
This closet is in our hall and I suppose the builder might call it a coat closet, but for it not actually being near a door. I had random scrap booking and office supplies in there, but those found a new home that will be revealed at a future time.
These are buckets from the grocery store bakery. They used to be free for the asking but I guess too many people were bothering them for buckets and now they charge a dollar for the smaller ones and two for the big ones.
I used chalkboard contact paper for the labels. I found it on Amazon and just love using it to label things. Especially for jars and things where the contents will change regularly. Convenient, plus it's cute!
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
I realized something recently, and I just have to share my new found wisdom.
If there's a chore or job you're not getting to as regularly as you'd like, think about what might be getting in the way.
And if there's something keeping you from the task, change that something!
My stove top has been perpetually grimy. It has seemed like such a big job to get it scrubbed clean so I put off doing so. I knew it wouldn't be such a big scrubbing job if I just wiped it off every night, but we store the cast iron there since it's too much for the pantry shelves and it was always stacked heavily in the way. It dawned on me that if I just start keeping those pans in the oven, wiping down the stove is super simple.
This is working quite well for me now because we switched to eating mostly fresh raw foods and I don't do much baking. Moving the pans once or twice a week to use the oven isn't much trouble and my stove top is shining!
I suppose that if I baked every day I'd need a different solution, but now I've learned to make sure my "solutions" don't get in the way.
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Monday, March 26, 2012
This is Speckle. She's one of the only chickens that has a name. We can't tell the rest of them apart well enough to name any of them. She came running to greet me this afternoon as I came back from my walk. They all like to hang out in the front beds, but Speckle is a real front door hen.
Things have been going pretty well here. My birthday was Saturday and we had lots of fun going to St. Louis to have lunch and get fancy cupcakes. We shopped every aisle at the international foods market and I came away with some pretty interesting things to try out and experiment with. And lots of great looking snow peas to snack on this week.
I'm not sure if my own peas will produce much, since it's been such a quick warm spring. Spring is always kind of non-existent here but I'm guessing it'll get hotter more quickly than usual this year and stay that way. My potatoes are supposed to come this week, and I have onion sets all ready as well. I'm feeling good about the garden this year. My main goals are tons of tomatoes, garlic and onions. Sounds yummy just thinking about it!
Saturday, March 24, 2012
I got a new phone yesterday, and I'm having so much fun playing around w it! Almost makes waiting four years to replace my horrible Samsung moment worth it. It's also my birthday, so we went to see the hunger games yesterday and today Ben's taking me off on an adventure. Hope everyone is having a great weekend!
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Yesterday I got around to a project that was a long time coming. I've been saving juice bottle for a while now, intending to use them for water storage. I wanted to be sure to sanitize them inside and out though, so waited till I had quite a few to make it worth filling the sink with bleach water. As per the FEMA website, I used one teaspoon of bleach per one quart of water for my sanitizing solution. Then I rinsed them well, and filled them with cold tap water. Our water is chlorinated since it's from a municiple source, so it needed no more treatment before being tightly capped (with sanitized caps!) and stored.
Storing water in plastic does raise some questions concerning the leaching of chemicals. Generally, I try not to drink water from plastic, especially any that's gotten hot, like a bottle of water sitting all day in a car. In an emergency situation, however, I don't imagine I'd think twice about drinking water that's been stored in plastic in a cool dark environment, especially for a short term situation, like a power outage.
I am planning to learn about storing water by processing it in canning jars, especially since I have so many, and they take up the exact same amount of space filled or empty.
With tornado season upon us, I wanted to be sure I had at least three days' worth in place now, and I'll work on longer term, longer duration water storage as I go.
Monday, March 05, 2012
I re-organized the counter that I tend to think of as our "breakfast counter". It's the counter with the coffee maker, blender, toaster and all the various coffee, protien shake, toast accoutrement. It was getting a bit overcrowded, leaving very little room for any actual prep work. After streamlining everything and decluttering, I turned my attention to the big protien powder tub.
Ben likes it to stay out on the counter since he uses it every morning and really, it's too big for the cabinets anyway. I don't care for the screaming loud type on the label, so I took that off a while back. This afternoon, I decided to spruce up the plain white a bit with my own label.
I put this together with inkscape, and sized it so printing two and putting them together would wrap all the way around. I'm pleased with how well it turned out. MUCH better than the black and yellow lightning bolt pattern on the original plastic shrink wrapping.
Thursday, March 01, 2012
I've been working on surprises the last couple weeks, and haven't been able to post any of them so as not to ruin the surprises!
My little brother is getting married in June, and we're throwing a bridal shower for our new sister in April, so a lot of the surprises are not big ones, just little details I'm working on and don't want them seeing too much of before the day.
I put together some graphics using Inkscape and have been designing invitations, favors, etc. I'm starting to really enjoy using Inkscape. It's taken me quite a while and I've had to watch tons of tutorials (thank God for youtube and the kindness of strangers when it comes to learning new things), but I've begun to know my way around the program well enough that it doesn't take me forever to draw something.
Plus, I've finally figured out how to design and draw things so that it can be printed exact size. Important for favor cards and stickers, etc! And in case anyone ends up here doing a google search looking for the info, here's what you do: set design page properties for letter sized page, do your layout. Use the transform dialogue box to make rectangles (or whatever you're drawing) the size you'd like it to be in the end (object>transform). Scale tab, choose inches in the drop down box and set the dimensions how you'd like the to be. When you're finished designing, save as a pdf and print that file with no scaling, and you should come up with printed materials exactly the size you need.
Figuring that out sure will help in designing print and cut favor boxes and party supplies, like I've been wanting to do for ages! I was so glad last week when I discovered what to do for that.
Pictured above is a tiny snippet of yet another project that I can't brag about in its entirety yet. After the shower in April, I'll have tons to show and tell!
Monday, February 20, 2012
I've been pretty distracted the last week or so. We'd been treating Smudge on and off for a few months now for urinary spasming and he seemed to be doing okay. On Tuesday though, he ended up straining and in pain again, so we brought him in and they monitored overnight. They said he was fine, so Ben picked him up Wednesday evening, and by Thursday he was completely blocked again.
He spent the next couple of days in the hospital, with a catheter and iv, being tested. He had formed crystals in his urine, the first time they found any. They prescribed special food and some anti-anxiety medicine, an anti-inflammatory and some calming spray.
He's home now, and he seems to be doing okay. I set him up with the upstairs all to himself, since they have diagnosed stress and competition with the other cats as a big part of the problem. We've been spending lots of cuddling time with him, and the isolation situation has been working out better than I expected it would. He's delighted and so happy to have us all to himself for a couple of hours every day.
For now, whether he'll make it is really just a matter of whether the food works to help dissolve the crystals he formed and whether the anti-inflammatory and anxiety meds work to keep his bladder from spasming.
I've put St. Francis in charge of praying for him.
Thursday, February 09, 2012
I started a new top on Monday. I've been in meetings for the county extension since then though, so it's still exactly at this stage in it's (non)construction. I have today all to myself though, so I'm hoping to make lots of progress with it.
The fabric is a red and pink check that I thought would be just perfect for a Valentine's Day blouse. I'm a little low on clothes lately and would so much rather sew than clothes shop!
Monday, January 30, 2012
My house was getting grubby, people! With the combo of being closed up over the winter, and Christmas travel and some very calculated blind spots on my part, there's cat fut collecting in the corners and dust on the door jambs. Coming home and putting away the Christmas decorations at the beginning of the month really brought it home.
My first instinct was to pitch right in, and do a deep, deep clean. Spring cleaning a couple of months early, and have done with it. But I know me, and tempting as it is to just get it all done at once, I also have the terrible habit of then thinking I don't have to clean again, since "I just did all that heavy cleaning last week...month...season". lol
So, instead of marathoning it and then ignoring it till I break down again in July, I've implemented a different solution.
I broke the house into different areas; living room, guest bath, sewing room, hallway, laundry room/closet, bedroom, master bath, stairway, upstairs, kitchen, dining room, garage, and front porch.
Everyday, I set a timer for 5 minutes, and clean for five minutes in each area. Whatever is out of place or needs doing (dusting, etc) that catches my eye first, I just pitch into. I haven't been doing the porch, stairs, garage or upstairs every day because it's been cold!
I've been doing this for a month or so, just about every day, and I've been shocked at how effective it's been! It really keeps things nicer around here if I work a little every day, instead of doing certain jobs on certain days of the week or month.
Of course, this new plan is in addition to the regular daily chores of dishes and dinner and cleaning the stove and counters, etc. I'd never keep the kitchen completely clean in just five minutes! The five minutes I spend in the kitchen with this cleaning, I do some things that are easy for me to miss, which usually means looking up. Being on the short side, I just don't notice sometimes when the upper cabinets and tops of things get dusty!
I'm not sure why this is working better for me, considering that I would spend an hour or two cleaning most days before this, but I think the timer and the fact that I'm cleaning in every room every day helps me to keep more focused and get more done in the same time frame. I don't just wander around "deciding" what to clean I guess. I suppose I am actually putting more time in with this method too, since the regular things, like laundry or cleaning up after dinner aren't in the "five minutes time". I use the timed sessions for the things that are easy to forget or overlook, like fan blades, etc.
It's also been easier for me to stay motivated, since the timer makes time seem to go more quickly, so it's not a big deal to do "just" five minutes.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
I've been happily stitchinng and cleaning. I love winter because it gives me so much time for the fun indoor things that I love.
I'm working out a design for a tutorial for felt flower pins, pictured up above. I've been sketching and refining some embroidery designs. And knitting! I've been knitting away at my Elizabeth Zimmermann Suspender Sweater every day, but it seems sisyphian, because the rows are so long, from front bottom hem to back bottom hem. I am starting to see a little progress though, and I've been switching back and forth between the two sides, so that the stripe pattern would match. I can never remember that kind of thing, though I think I will. At least I've learned not to trust that feeling!
The felt flower was a fun little break from knitting. I love working with wool felt so much! There's just something so satisfying about the way it feels and looks. For some reason, it reminds me of crayons and I'm sure I've mentioned my love affair with Crayola before. Anyway, this is a little gift for a friend whose birthday is coming up. I wasn't sure about how to finish it, because the whole thing began with the idea of making her a "Birthday Girl" corsage, because she's big birthday lover and wants people to celebrate with her. But then I decided it made more sense to make something that can be worn more often. I might make a detachable ribbon or something with "It's my birthday!" on it.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
I hope all of you had a beautiful Christmas season! We had a very nice holiday. I was very glad to get to go home to MI and visit family. We picked up some kind of bug while we were travelling though, and have both spent the last couple of weeks all gunked up and sick.
I think I'm starting to shake it though, and get to feeling normal again. I'll be glad to start my regular workouts again. I've been walking, because it's more gentle. The walking has been nice, very relaxing and the weather has been so gorgeous lately! But I have to get back on track and really burn the calories if I'm going to earn myself anymore weight loss milestone rewards. And I have my eye on a new mp3 player, so I won't have to tape the earphone cords down in order to hear (out of just one ear, lol) anymore.
We were careful not to overindulge during the travel and holiday feasting, so neither of us gained any weight. I'm very pleased about that, because gaining weight in the middle of training and getting healthy seems like such a backward thing to do.
I've had my mind full of new year plans and habits lately. I don't do resolutions in general, because I always figure that waiting to change things only at a certain time of year and putting so much pressure on yourself is a recipe for terrible disaster. But this is also a natural time of year for me to do some planning, since it's time to plan the garden, and I also have more time on my hands than any other season gives. I'm working on establishing some routines now that I hope will lend success to a lot of the projects I'm planning for the year.
I've been thinking about household routines, mostly cleaning and organizing. I also have a lot of plans to step up my Etsy shop. Since they've gone to a default relavancy search, I've made so many more sales of my patterns, and I really enjoy selling the pdf files. I would love to put together some more tutorials or patterns to sell as well. I'm still in charge of the county newsletter for the homemaking club I'm in, and I'd like to establish a more organized and standard routine for getting it put together, now that I've gotten a few issues under my belt. The garden, of course, is on my mind, and I want to get it planned, but also to make sure that I have systems in place for everything else before the busy garden work starts up again, so I can try to stay on top of the weeds this year!
So, that's what I've been up to lately. I'm also planning my 2012 blogging year, and I hope I can continue and increase the amount of information and projects and fun I try to share here!