Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cuz' I Eats My Spinach......

"I'm Popeye the Sailor Man, I'm Popeye the Sailor Man. I'm strong to the finich cuz I eats my spinach! I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!"


I've been able to get a few kiddos to try spinach just by singing Popeye's song. I haven't met a boy yet who wouldn't like to have bulging muscles like Popeye. I love spinach so I am glad that it is full of nutrients. Here is what can be found in spinach:
  • Loaded with flavonoids ~ antioxidants
  • Vitamins C and A for a healthy heart
  • Rich in potassium (lowers blood pressure)for great cardiovascular health. 
  • Vitamin K, Vitamin A and magnesium which is good for bone health.
  • Beta-carotene and Vitamin C for gastrointestinal health
  • Anti-inflammatory properties help with osteoporosis, arthritis, asthma, and migraines
  • Helps brain heath!
  • Lutein which helps fight eye disease such as cataracts and macular degeneration
  • Full of iron which is good for energy
So eat up your spinach my friends!
Yesterday's lunch

Omelet made from farm fresh eggs (Thank you, Henny Penny and girls), organic baby spinach, tomatoes and cheese. So yummy. My lunch today was almost the same except I substituted toasted bread for the eggs. The Ultimate grilled cheese. 

This morning's smoothie was filled with spinach too.

Green Smoothie 
2 cups milk
2 cups fresh organic baby spinach (could use frozen)
1 - 2 T. GOOD fat (avocado, coconut) I used coconut oil (**See the health benefit below!**)
1 cup frozen (unsweetened) fruit
1/4 cup probiotic (I used yogurt but kefir works too!)

Optional:

"Healthy" Spices ~ cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper (I put cinnamon and ginger in my smoothie this morning and loved the extra flavor!)***See the health benefits below***

Sweeten if needed (I use a little maple syrup)





**Weston Price calls coconut oil a medicine food as it is anti-fungal, antiviral, antibacterial (I'll be talking about oil pulling in days to come). Coconut oil is actually good for the heart, improves digestion, and has many other health benefits. Plus when I get a little on my fingers I can smear it on my wrinkles. Coconut oil benefits both the inside and the outside the body.


***Spices/Seasonings:
  • Cinnamon helps lower cholesterol, prevents colon cancer, and is an anti-inflammatory.
  • Ginger is not only great for upset stomachs but also boosts the immune system. Migraines, morning sickness, ovarian cancer, menstrual cramps, heartburn.....the list really does go on. It's also a "warming" herb which helps bring on healthy sweats. 
  • Turmeric naturally detoxifies, aids in burning fat (WAHOO! Bring on the turmeric!), prevents melanoma, relieves arthritis, prevents cancer, and again this list goes on. The easiest meals to use turmeric in are soups and stews.
  • Cayenne Pepper is another super spice. It's claims include killing prostrate cancer cells, promotes good heart health, anti-allergen, detoxifying, boosts the metabolism, and again the list goes on! 
As you can see, the spices don't just add a bit of flavor. Play around with different fruits and spice combinations. I was amazed at how much the ginger and cinnamon jazzed up my Spinach-Peach Smoothie this morning! 



Check out other GOOD FOR YOU ideas and recipes at Delicious Obsessions blog carnival and Fight Back Friday on Food Renegade.
Posted on Tradition Tuesdays

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Monday, January 30, 2012

My Hero

I am the daughter of a great man. 
7 month old me with my daddy (isn't he handsome??)




While I was growing up I thought my dad knew EVERYTHING. I still do.



I can almost hear the squeal of a happy baby when I look at this picture...and I can hear the very familar sound of my dad's laughter (more of a chuckle)



Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chicken Nuggets and Pizza

This is the year that I am plunging into the effort to only (ok, let's be realistic here. MOSTLY) serve GOOD food in my home. I pledge to serve real food to not only myself but to my family and my daycare family. I've always tried to feed the kiddos well. We have always eaten lots of fruits and vegetables. However, a couple times a week I'd serve kid-friendly meals in order to appease the kids. With my Year of Less I'm taking hot dogs, chick strips and frozen pizza off the menu.

Here's a couple new recipes I've tried this month ~


Homemade Chicken Nuggets
  • Three Chicken Breast cut up into chunks
  • 2-3 T Coconut Oil
  • 1-2 C. Whole Wheat flour
  • A few shakes of salt
  • A shake of pepper
  • A couple pinches of Wildtree Garlic and Herb Blend
Heat coconut oil on medium heat.
Mix dry ingredients
Dredge chicken through flour mix.
Drop into pan. 

Easy, yummy, and most the kids like it.

At Laurie's Little Sprouts we do two things on Pizza Friday. As the name suggests, we eat pizza. We also do the Friday song and dance. All day. It goes like this (loud and full of enthusiasm) IT'S FRIDAY! IT'S FRIDAY! PRAISE THE LORD IT'S FRIDAY! Sometimes we'd have homemade pizza but mostly I would resort to frozen pizza. Not anymore. Haven't had a frozen pizza since 2011 and we're almost through January. Although I like the Wildtree Pizza Dough, I found another recipe for pizza dough that I really like. I have to plan a head a little bit to get the dough going but other than that it is quite simple. It's also quite yummy.

 Recipe for pizza dough can be found here...is lost. I hate it when I do that. I've made this pizza for the last three weeks however I'm at a loss. I do know that I used organic whole wheat flour, yeast, and although the recipe called for olive oil I used Wildtree Tuscan European Dipping Oil (grapeseed oil) which gave the pizza crust great flavor!
 Next I add Wildtree Perfect Pizza Blend seasonings to a can of tomato paste.
 Spread on the pizza sauce. Add a few artichoke on MY slice and topped with cheese.
 My plate! Doesn't it look wonderful? It was delicious!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Super Duper Power Smoothie on Traditional Tuesdays

Part of my less in 2012 is eating and serving my family and extended family (meaning my daycare family) less processed foods. I have a few favorite blogs which I subscribe to that provide not only recipes but also motivation in obtaining this goal.


Delicious Obsessions is one such blog that educates, motivates and inspires me to eat REAL food. Delicious Obsessions also hosts a blog party featuring traditional foods and today's Traditional Tuesday's Nutritional and Delicious Blog Carnival not only features my Smoothie recipe but also has quite a few recipes that I am anxious to try. 


I haven't made my own Super Duper Power Smoothie in awhile and am in dire need of a "pick-me-up". 


I can't wait to try the breakfast rice pudding, sourdough starter and the savory hummus recipe. Check out the other great traditional food ideas or submit your own at Delicious Obsessions Tradition Tuesdays.









Monday, January 23, 2012

Felted Toys

In my hopes to give homemade gifts this year, I contemplated what I could possibly make for the birthday of a one-year old boy. Since he loves throwing things, usually toys not meant for throwing, I decided to make him felted balls. These balls are great in that they bounce and even better......they don't hurt when one bonks you in the head! 
I used wool to form the ball and then added wool roving for a bit of color.

After needling the ball a bit to bind the fibers, I put the ball into a old knee high stocking.
3-4 balls can be fit into each stocking, just tie in between each ball. Wash on hot - the hot water will shrink up the fibers and fuse them together.


Tada! 
Soft, washable and homemade.


Shared on Polly Want 2 PARTY! Mondays
 Polly Want a Crafter

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Homemade Furniture Polish is Not Just for Furniture

Last week I was "detailing" my dining room. As part of my "LESS in 2012",  my goal is to get every room (even the laundry room) detailed clean and clutter free. Last week I picked the easiest room in the house. It's always good to feel a little success when the project before you seems a bit overwhelming.  While cleaning, I pulled out my homemade polish to shine up my pie safe/craft cupboard, my antique clock and my dusty plant. 

The polish is simply olive oil and lemon juice.


 I took a feather dust to my plant first but that did little in removing the dust. I poured a little oil on a polishing cloth and gently wipe the leaves.


 The little crevices in my clock are impossible to get to with a polishing cloth so I grabbed a stiff painting brush, dipped it in oil and gently brushed away the dust! After dusting/oiling the crevices, I wiped the excess oil with the polishing cloth.

With all my "pretties" dusted and shiny it was time to polish up the craft cupboard. Same polishing cloth, same polishing oil.

Shiny and clean. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Gratitude for New Tricks

I grate soap to use in  laundry soap, liquid hand soap and shampoo. Usually I give this dreaded job to The Boy and take over when he tires of it. Today, as I was grating cheese in my Salad Shooter, I was eyeing my soap which was "curing" on the counter.  As the cheese shredded and shot out onto the chips (Nachos were requested for lunch today), I was thinking about the dreaded task of grating soap.  Like magic, a light bulb switched on in my head. Why hadn't I thought of this before?  I cleaned the cheese out of the Salad Shooter, popped in a hunk of soap and VIOLA! Beautifully grated soap! Ah, my days of scraping my knuckles against the grater is over. Time will be saved.  Four bars of soap grated in two minutes vs. four bars of soap in two hours (that may be a slight exaggeration). Life is just a little bit easier all because a friend showed up at my house one day last fall and said, "Hey, I bet you could find a use for this".  At the time I had no idea how much I'd fall in love with this little appliance.

Today I am thankful. Thankful for kitchen tools, thankful for AHA moments and thankful for thoughtful friends.

Thank you, Sarah, for making my life a little bit easier. You are thought of fondly every time I use the Salad Shooter.....and then some.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What was that word?

Today, as I was reading one of my favorite blogs (I have many), An Oregon Cottage, I was excited to read that she too had a "word" and so do several others who have joined a link party dedicated to Words for 2012. Jami's word was eliminate which seemed vaguely familiar. What was my word? I was completely stumped. I had to go back to my blog post to find out.

Simple? Abundance? What was it? It hasn't even been a month when I chose that word. The word that would guide me and my decisions through 2012. LESS. Oh yes, that was it. LESS. Hmm...how have I been doing on that?

  •  LESS refined, processed, fake food. So far so good. I've been baking bread, making healthy meals and reading labels with a vengeance.
  •  LESS spending...still working on that. I started tracking my money spending on "The Birdy" I didn't think I spent money carelessly. I've found that I do. I have room to grow in this category.
  •  LESS stuff. I've been making slow progress. One garbage bag of stuff to donate. Slow progress is still progress. 
  •  Less exhaustion...still tired. 
 What else was on my less list? Time to re-evaluate so that my focus can remain on LESS. As with all goals, it needs to be put in writing. Maybe I need make a pretty sign to post on my refrigerator.


Check out what others have chosen for their 2012 WORD
The Lettered Cottage

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Mama Knits

Watch out, I've moved from crocheting dish clothes to trying my hand at knitting a scarf. I've decided that this scarf is my practice scarf. I do a few rows of knitting, a row or two of purling. I'm not keeping track so it will be a haphazard pattern and I'm ok with that.

Like crocheting, the first hour of learning this new skill was difficult. The thought of my hands working together with the long, awkward needles seemed like an impossibility. Eventually it did come. The other night I knit while watching a so-so movie with a really great soundtrack ("The Tree of Life"... beautiful yet bizarre and lacking of something I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe it's the lack of dialogue.). The music along with the rhythmic motion of my fingers was so calming. I'm hooked.

Cooper is peeking in here. I think he is confused, and a little put off, with all the attention I'm giving my yarn. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Shortcuts

As my chili is cooking on the stove, I am thankful. Thankful that I've learned to use my time wisely (well, kinda wisely....let's not even talk about my facebook problem or my addiction to reading blogs). See, ten minutes ago I was racking my brain as to what I'd feed hubby for lunch. He gets home from work in half an hour. The thought of running to Subway was appealing but then that defeats my desire to feed my family well. My lazy Saturday morning of reading didn't want to be disturbed with time spent in the kitchen. During the week I prepare and serve meals for my family and daycare kiddos. That's five breakfasts, five lunches, five dinners, and ten snacks (yes, those little ones are ALWAYS hungry), not to mention the loads and loads of dishes. I'm not whining, I'm only trying to create an excuse for the reason I don't care to spend any time in the kitchen during the weekends. But back to today's lunch.

At 10:45 I was thinking, "Oh shucks, I have 45 minutes until hubs is home! What am I going to make??" In denial of my time crunch I dismiss this thought and read a few more pages of "one thousand gifts" (excellent book by the way).

At 10:50 I am brought back to reality as I realize I can't put it off. If I do, I'll be likely to eat something that isn't on my 2012 "diet plan". Hmmm.....what do I have to work with? I go through the list of ingredients that I know are in the pantry and freezer. AH, CHILI!

At 10:55 I take out the beans and meat that I prepared AHEAD of time from the freezer (see below). Toss into the pan on the stove to heat while I run downstairs to my scary basement to grab a can of tomatoes which I canned last fall. Add tomatoes to the pot and add a few spoonfuls of Wildtree's "Leslie's Chili Blend" seasoning. Cover.

At 11:00 I blog while the chili is cooking. Hurray! Lunch will be ready! All because of a few steps that I took in the past month. If it had been any harder, my lazy Saturday mentality may have even suggested McDonald's <gasp> if I didn't have something easy to prepare. I'm thankful that our tiny town doesn't have a McDonald's.

I am thankful for my spooky basement stock. Tomatoes that I canned in the fall keep me out of the grocery store. I also find comfort in knowing exactly what is in my cans of tomatoes. No extra salt. No aluminum cans leaching whatever into my produce (can't speak more intelligently about this as I haven't done my thorough research on this topic. I just know that it doesn't sound good). The hours that I put into canning tomatoes last fall should keep me well stocked through the winter and will be used for pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, salsa and chili. This is a blessing.

A month ago I bought a bag of dried kidney beans after reading the ingredients on canned kidney beans. Did you know they add sugar to canned kidney beans?? I didn't. I wrestled with the ease of canned over dried and finally chose the dried beans with the label that stated it contained only ONE ingredient, kidney beans. So instead of soaking only what I needed, I did up the whole bag. I soaked the beans overnight and cooked them the next day. I put some into that nights chili and separated the remaining into containers for the freezer. Today I am blessed with beans that are ready for the chili pot!

A couple of weeks ago I was making spaghetti sauce and decided to make a meat combo which included 1 lb. of venison, 1 lb. of Italian Sausage, and 1.5 lbs of ground beef. After browning the meat, I used what I needed in my spaghetti and the remaining meat was divided in containers for the freezer. Today I am blessed to have meat that is also ready for the chili pot!

Other than the canning, preparing the beans and meat ahead of time did not cost me extra time in the kitchen. And today I am so thankful that these little steps helped keep me out of the kitchen!

Ah, look at that! 11:25 Publish blog post, set the table, lunch is ready for hubs to come home!
I almost have time to shower.........

Friday, January 13, 2012

New Uses for Old T-Shirts

Last summer, after thinking that weaving t-shirt rugs was a great idea, I enlisted the help of family and friends to obtain used t-shirts. I was excited about all the rugs that I'd make with the SIX garbage bags full of tees...until I found that weaving rugs just wasn't my "thing". I've been slowly going through these bags and finding other ways to re purpose the clothing. Today, I decided to make a few bibs! The striped shirt on the top of my pile shows that I simply cut from the shoulder to the bottom of the shirt making an easy slip over the head bib. Nothing fancy. Simple and useful. Not pretty but practical. On the right side of my pile is a stack of shirts that I cut into various sizes and will be used for runny noses and baby bottoms. (Don't worry, I keep these separated). I hate spending money on supplies that are disposable. Sometimes I wash my cloth wipes/Kleenexes to use again but occasionally I will throw my wipes away after one use. Poop wipes get thrown out because quite honestly poop grosses me out (poop has been keeping me from using cloth diapers all of the time). An especially gross booger nose (moms and daycare providers know what I mean) can result in a tossed nose wipe too. Something deep inside me tells me that I don't want poo or slimy yellow-green boogers washed with my sweaters. I don't know. Maybe once I go full fledged in my pursuit of cloth diapers I will have a large enough load of clothes everyday to warrant a special "gross load". We'll see. Baby steps. Meanwhile I'm still reducing my carbon footprint by using these tees a few more times....and of course it saves me $$. I LOVE that. :)


Photobucket

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Whole Wheat Recipes ~ Chocolate Cake and French Bread!

One of my goals for 2012 (yes, I have many) is to eliminate my home of processed foods and do most, if not all, my baking at home. Although most my baked goods, such as cake, cookie, etc. are homemade made. But I'd like to strive to have everything not only homemade but also with REAL, unprocessed ingredients. No bleached flour in my I cupboard!

Yesterday I found (and made) a recipe for French Bread. The recipe is PERFECT. Perfect explanations, perfect tutorial pictures and perfect results so other than showing the ingredients that I changed, I'm sending you on to the blog in which I found the recipe. I know that I will be returning to Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes again to try more of her recipes! 

Whole-Wheat French Bread

3 cups of durum whole-wheat flour ->-> I used 5 cups organic, whole wheat flour

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tbsp + 1 tsp vital wheat gluten
I skipped the gluten

(If you don't have vital wheat gluten, use 3 cups all-purpose and 2 cups whole-wheat flour and skip the gluten)

1 1/2 tbsp salt

2 cups of mildly warm water

2 1/2 tsp yeast
I started slicing the bread for dinner before remembering to take a picture! ;)






Today I'm making:

WHOLE WHEAT CHOCOLATE CAKE from 100 Days of Real Food

2 c. organic, whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cup raw sugar
4 t. baking powder
sprinkle of sea salt
1/2 c. cocoa powder

2 eggs
2 T. vanilla (pure, homemade)
1 1/2 c. water
3/4 c. coconut oil

Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes.



Tuesday, January 10, 2012

YUMMY Buns

2 T. yeast
1/2 c. warm water
1 t. honey


2 eggs
1/2 c. oil (I used 1/4 c. coconut oil and 1/4 c. Wildtree Grapeseed Oil - Tuscan European Dipping Oil)
1/2 c. honey
1 t. sea salt
1/2 c. warm water
1/2 c. milk
4 cups of Prairie Gold Whole Wheat Flour

Mix first three ingredients and set aside to "fester".

In another bowl, beat egg and mix in oil, honey, salt, water and milk. Add yeast ingredients and mix. Add flour and knead (or let your kitchen aide do it for you).

Let dough rest for 10 min. Knead again, cover with a towel and let rise (1/2 hour or a tad more).

Punch down and knead again on floured surface. Let rise until double in size.

Form into desired size - small for dinner rolls, big for hamburger buns, etc. Let buns rest/rise for 10 minutes before putting into the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tutu Creations

There are bunches of tutu tutorials on the web, (I know, I looked at many of them) but I thought I'd share some tips and shortcuts that I learned along the way. If you haven't already guessed by my previous posts, I'm all about finding a faster and less complicated way to do EVERYTHING. I'm short on time and often short on patience. My first tutu was a flop even though I followed the directions. It took a lot of time, I was using more tulle than what was recommended (meaning my inexpensive Christmas gifts were becoming quite expensive), it was ugly and I had less than a month to make eleven tutus. Before giving up, I took my first tutu apart and tried again....and I found some tricks to help me accomplish my goal!

THE SUPPLY LIST:

The waist can be made from ribbon (something wide ~ I used ribbon with a 4 in width) OR elastic (this will need to be sewn ~ I did mine by hand) OR elastic headbands. I loved the ribbon because I left long tails to be tied around the waist (making it adjustable) and it was SO PRETTY! But the easiest to work with was the elastic headbands.

TULLE: can either be purchased by the yard from a bolt at the fabric store or purchased in "spools"
The spools were EASIER but much more expensive. Cutting the fabric into the right widths, and then lengths, took more time but was much CHEAPER. I did both as I tried to find what worked best.

Good scissors are a plus. A tape measure is handy but this project can be "eye balled". :)
Ribbon (both for waist and for adding bows to the elastic-made tutus) and spools of tulle (6in width/25 yds)

Cutting mat and rotary cutter made cutting my big pieces of tulle much easier.

Elastic Headband

Elastic

Cutting my yard of tulle...found that 2-3 in strips were too narrow. 5-6 in works better.

Length of tulle approximately 24 in. this can be shorter or longer depending on your preference for the length of tutu. I found that holding one end in my hand and taking the other end to my shoulder was the perfect length.


TIP: Cut all of the tulle FIRST. Don't cut a piece and then tie it on. This will slow down the process.
To tie on the tulle:
*Fold piece of tulle in half, make a loop.
*Put loop end under the waistband
*Bring tails up over the waistband and through the tulle loop.
*Tighten....but NOT too tight.

TIP: If you tie the tulle too tightly AND space each strip too close to one another you won't only have a very expensive tutu (you'll use 2-3 times more tulle than you need) and spend 2-3 times longer to complete it, but you will also have a very full and UGLY tutu. Believe me. I know.

TIP: Make sure to tie each strip in the same direction....or the tutu will be a chaos of tulle. Not attractive. Again, I know.




EASY TIP: If the tutu is on an elastic waistband, put the elastic on your leg!! This makes is easy and FAST! I did two tutus while watching "Castle" (hubs favorite tv show) one night. I sat in my favorite chair with a bag of "pre-cut" tulle next to me and my elastic band around my leg.


Mission Accomplished!