Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Best of Both (Mopping) Worlds!

The other day I needed to mop but realized I was all out of those expensive little disposable mop pads. But seriously...the floor NEEDED to be mopped. I wasn't keen on the idea of getting down on my hands and knees to scrub it, so I tried using laundry clips to attach an old cloth diaper to the end of the Swiffer. I was afraid the clips would pop off and was cursing myself for not having safety pins, but I was actually able to scrub pretty hard without it even budging. It was great (and free)! I don't think I'll ever buy a $12 box of mopping pads again.

Air Popped Popcorn with Coconut Oil

This is my kids new favorite after-school snack. I love that it's fast and easy, so I thought I'd pass the idea along. Pop some popcorn using an airpopper. Mix in desired amount of melted coconut oil (I usually use between 1/2 - 1 Tbs. per batch - which I think is about 5 Cups). Salt to taste and enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010


I bought this bracelet over the weekend and my three year old has been asking to hold the hand I'm wearing it on ever since - lol! I'm usually not real big on jewelry but when I saw that Shade carries these bracelets, along with other recycled paper jewelry from Beads of Hope Africa, I wanted one!

Beads of Hope Africa is a fair trade cooperative that teaches and compensates women living in the refugee camps of war-torn Uganda for making beads out of recycled paper. The beads are sold in North America and money from the sales is put back into the Ugandan community by way of educational scholarships for children living in orphanages. Way cool.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Upcoming Giveaway

I am doing my first blog giveaway in the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled :D I'm so excited!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Spanish Quinoa and Beans

This is one of my favorite dishes. It makes a great filling for burrito's, though I usually just eat it out of a bowl as is or with a tablespoon or so of Tofutti sour cream. I always make a full batch so that I can enjoy it for lunch all week long! Mmm...

Spanish Quinoa with Beans

1 Tbs. Olive Oil

1 Cup dry Quinoa, rinsed

1 Cup Salsa

2 Cups Water

1/2 tsp. garlic (fresh or powdered)

1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

1/2 tsp. ground Cumin

2 cans Refried Beans

Put the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the rinsed quinoa and toast until golden (I prefer to use a mix of red quinoa and white/traditional quinoa - I just toast it until the lighter colored quinoa looks lightly toasted). Add all of the other ingredients, stir, and cover the skillet with a lid. Turn to medium-low heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Heat the refried beans. Stir the Spanish quinoa into the refried beans.

One of my favorite poems...

Nobody loves me,

Nobody cares,

Nobody picks me peaches and pears.

Nobody offers me candy and Cokes,

Nobody listens and laughs at my jokes.

Nobody helps when I get in a fight,

Nobody does all my homework at night.

Nobody misses me,

Nobody cries,

Nobody thinks I'm a wonderful guy.

So if you ask me who's my best friend, in a whiz,

I'll stand up and tell you that Nobody is.

But yesterday night I got quite a scare,

I woke up and Nobody just wasn't there.

I called out and reached out for Nobody's hand,

In the darkness where Nobody usually stands.

Then I poked through the house, in each cranny and nook,

But I found somebody each place that I looked.

I've searched til I'm tired, and now with the dawn,

There's no doubt about it-

Nobody's gone!

-Shel Silverstein

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Easy (But Oh, So YUMMY) Vegetable Couscous

This simple dish only takes about 10 minutes to prepare and it is one of my favorites!

Vegetable Couscous
  • 1 Cup Couscous, dry
  • 1 2/3 Cups Water
  • 1 tsp. Vegetable Bouillon
Put the dry couscous in a bowl with a lid. Boil water with bouillon in microwave (about two minutes). Pour the water over the dry couscous and cover with a lid for 10 minutes. In the meantime:
  • 2-3 Cups Fresh or Frozen Vegetables
  • Tofutti Sour Cream

Combine as many different vegetables as you like (I usually use corn, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and green beans) and steam or microwave until thoroughly heated/soft.

When the couscous is done, add the vegetables. Stir in Tofutti sour cream to taste.

The creaminess of this dish reminds me of stroganoff - so yummy! And it's an easy way to get in a variety of veggies :)

*Pics to come...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

FAVORITE Ignorant Comment for the Day

I couldn't fit this on facebook, so I just HAD to post it here! My favorite ignorant comment for the day:

"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."

—South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R), arguing that government food assistance to lower-income residents, including food stamps or free school lunches, encourages a culture of dependence, Jan 24. 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Whole Wheat Waffles

I'm not a big fan of pancakes or waffles. I was...back when I consumed white flour and refined sugar by the fist fulls, but "healthy" waffles just don't taste the same. IHOP knows it, Village Inn knows it, Denny's knows it - they all advertise whole wheat or multi-grain waffles but really they just add extra cinnamon, nuts, or a couple of tablespoons of whole wheat flour to the regular mix so that we can think we are eating healthy but still swallow the food and tip our servers.

My six year old has been requesting pancakes/waffles for dinner for two days in a row, so tonight I begrudingly agreed to make them. Unable to bring myself to look at the bland, heavy whole wheat mix that I usually use, I looked through my recipe books and online in search of a winner. The original recipe (which is very close to the one I'm posting below) can be found at - one of my favorite sites.

Whole Wheat Vegan Waffle Mix

2 Tbs. powdered Egg Substitute + 6 Tbs. Water
1 3/4 C. Almond, Soy, Rice, or Grain Milk

1/4 Cup Vegetable Oil

1/4 Cup Applesauce, unsweetened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour

1/4 Cup Wheat Germ

1/2 Cup Flaxseeds, whole or ground

4 tsp. baking powder

1 Tbs. Turbinado Sugar (or sweetener of choice)

1/4 tsp. sea salt

Wisk the wet ingredients (egg substitutes, milk, oil, applesauce, and vanilla) together in a bowl. Add the dry ingredients and blend together just until mixed.

Using a pastry brush, apply a thin coat of coconut oil to a hot waffle iron. Pour batter into hot waffle iron (about 1/3 Cup per waffle).

These were great with pure maple syrup (they really didn't need much) or fruit sweetened jelly.

*Sorry the pictures aren't the greatest - I wasn't originally planning to blog about them, but they ended up being SO yummy that I had to share!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vegan Cake Using a Mix

Back when I made wedding cakes (a short lived phase), I wish I would have known how to use a cake mix without using eggs. I tried pretty much every egg substitute out there, but my cakes always fell while they were baking (cake and brownie mixes don't really ever do well with egg substitutes).

I ended up making all of my cakes from scratch using expensive vegan recipe's or, on occassion, I bought eggs from a local farm (which I didn't feel the greatest about). Since I wasn't neccessarily catering to vegan clients, I couldn't increase my prices to cover the extra costs and still compete with other cake decorators. *Sigh*

But NOW (ha, ha, ha!) I have found something that while being totally unhealthy, is inexpensive, vegan, and oh, so yummy!

Vegan Cake Mix Cake
  • Using a cake mix that doesn't have eggs, milk products, or lard in it (such as Duncan Hines, Cherrybrook Kitchens, or Dr. Oetker Organics), omit the eggs and water and add 12 ounces of lemon-lime diet soda instead. Bake as usual.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Beautiful Blogger Award

Valerie, a fellow blogger who I like more than anyone I've never met before, generously presented me with this blog award and instructions to share 7 things about myself. Thank you, Valerie! Like Valerie's daughter said on her blog, the seven things don't necessarily have to be interesting (even though Valerie's were) so here we go:

1. I adore daffodils. I am amazed at how the sight of a daffodil transports me to the best place in my childhood, every time.

2. I love animals - even bugs, yet I have a pervasive and totally irrational fear that I will be eaten by a shark one day :/

3. I cry harder at movies and commercials than I ever cry about real life - embarrassing, hiccuping, gulping sobs. I have had to forfeit my $8 seat at the movies more than once.

4. I think I'm hilarious. I'm not sure how many people share that opinion, but I crack myself up all the time :D

5. I find it extraordinarily frustrating that I will never learn all there is to learn

6. My older sister is quite possibly the coolest person I know

7. Sometimes I have dreams that I can breath under water and they are so convincing that it takes several minutes of self-questioning after I wake up in order for me to believe that I really can't and shouldn't try :)

I plan to pass this award on to Morgan for her blog Ordinary? Why, Nothing is Ordinary. You can't be around Morgan without having a greater appreciation for life and I enjoy her blog.

Thanks again, Valerie!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vegan/Non-Dairy Ranch Dressing

There are only a few things that I REALLY missed when I went vegan and ranch was one of them. I don't know if it's a family thing or if it's just because I have spent so much of my life in Utah, but I love ranch dressing. I have tried several vegan ranch recipe's over the past few years and this one is definitely my top pick:

Vegan/Non-Dairy Ranch Dressing
1 Cup Vegenaise (vegan mayonnaise)
1 Cup Silken Tofu
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1 tsp. Onion Powder
1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
2 Tbs. Parsley (chopped fresh or dried flakes)
1/4 Cup Soy or Almond Milk
*Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Store in the refrigerator.
**If you prefer a smoother texture, you can substitue 1 Cup of Tofutti sour cream in place of the silken tofu

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cold Pressed Homemade Bar Soap

I just started using a bar from my first batch of cold pressed homemade bar soap. It's been quite awhile since I've used "regular" store-bought soap to compare it to, but it lathers as well as my liquid castile soap. The scent is pretty boring - next time I will add some essential oils. Here is the recipe that I used if anyone is interested in giving it a try. Before batching, please refer to the safety tips at the bottom of this post.

The supplies you will need for making bar soap include:
  • Food or postal scale
  • Candy thermometer
  • Pot (for oil/soap mixture)
  • Heat resistant glass jar or pot (for lye/water solution)
  • Soap mold (storebought or ANY kind of non-metalic container)
  • Rubber scraper or wooden spoons (I used a wooden paint stirrer that I got for free at the hardware store)
  • Safety goggles, gloves, and other desired (apron, surgical mask, etc.)

Homemade Cold Press Bar Soap
Lye solution:
  • 6 ounces sodium hydroxide lye crystals
  • 12.5 ounces cold water

*Slowly add the lye crystals to the cold water (NEVER the other way around). Set it aside in a safe place away from kids and animals and allow it to cool to a temperature of 100-120 degree's F.

Oil mixture:

  • 12 ounces Coconut Oil
  • 12 ounces Olive Oil
  • 9 ounces Canola or Soybean Oil
  • 8 ounces Palm Oil

*Carefully weigh solid oils in a pot and stir/heat over stove just until melted. Add the carefully weighed liquid oils. Allow the oils to cool to 100 degree's F before adding lye solution.

Carefully add the lye solution to the oil mixture. The oils will turn cloudy right away. Stir until lye solution and oils are blended. Using short bursts (less than 1 minute at a time), use the stick blender to mix the soap until it reaches trace.

To see if the soap has reached trace, pull the stick blender straight out and watch for beads of the solution to drip back into the pot. If the beads are very slow to drip (or they don't drip at all), you've reached trace (I know it doesn't sound helpful now, but you will know it when you see it!). If you continue mixing beyond this point, the oils will start to separate from the soap mixture.

Pour the soap into a mold (anything but metal or aluminum). For my soap, I pulled a greeting card box out of my recyling. Put the soap in a safe place away from children and animals and allow it to set. After 24 hours, pull the soap out and cut it (it is still very soft at this stage and it's easier to cut and there is less waste than if you wait the 3-4 weeks for the soap to finish curing). Put the soap back in a safe place and let it continue to cure for 3-4 weeks (I lined a non-aluminum baking sheet with waxed paper to finish curing my soap on).

What a great process, right?! After 3-4 weeks your soap is ready for use and you are slightly cooler than you were before you started this process ;)

*By the way, my soap has "character" because I had to rebatch it. Normally, you would get a creamy uniform color soap with this recipe.

SAFETY: While making soap and cleaning up your work area/supplies afterwards, you should ALWAYS wear gloves and goggles (I also wore a heavy apron and a surgical mask). Keep white vinegar handy - if your skin comes in contact with the lye or the soap solution, the vinegar will neutralize the reaction and prevent it from burning your skin. Do NOT reuse utensils and containers for food. Do not allow children or animals access to any of your soap making supplies or, when you are batching, your work area. Thoroughly clean your work area with white vinegar when you are done making soap. Always add the lye crystals to cold water - do NOT add the water to the lye crystals. It's not as horrible as it sounds - the lye just demands a little respect.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On a personal note...

I finally have a diagnosis: Polymorphous light eruption (PMLE). Translation? I am allergic to the sun. Which explains why my skin is so sensitive to everything (it's always dealing with an allergic reaction to light). The reaction is thought to be caused by UVA rays, but UVB rays have also been shown to contribute in some cases. More common in women than men, it affects up to 10% of the American population. It usually manifests in early adulthood (before age 30) and the flare-ups are at their worst during the spring and summer months. Huh.

Olive Oil Update

I have been using olive oil as a moisturizer for my face and body for two weeks now and I'm really liking it! Although it doesn't have as many antioxidants as coconut oil, I find that it's easier to apply, absorbs well into my skin, and seems to be a little better at moisturizing - my heels are so soft! I apply a light layer to my face in the morning (which I never thought I would say - my skin tends to be more acne prone) and a heavier layer at night. I apply it to my body every day after my shower. Oh, yeah, and I can't ever smell it on my skin (another surprise). I think I'm gonna stick with it :D

Monday, April 12, 2010

Homemade Granola

This granola recipe is definitely my favorite of the many that I have tried over the last several weeks! It is healthy, delicious, and very versatile. I have tried making it with several different kinds of seeds and nuts and a variety of sweeteners and it turns out every time! It makes a very large batch, but it can easily be halved. I probably ought to half mine because if it's in the house, I have a tendency to eat it for every meal until it's gone :)

Homemade Granola

In a very large bowl, combine:

8 Cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats

1 1/2 Cups Wheat Germ

1 1/2 Cups Steel Cut Oats

1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds

1/2 Cup Pumpkin Seeds

1 Cup crushed Almonds

1 Cup crushed Cashews (or cashew pieces)

1 Cup crushed Walnuts or Pecans

*Set dry mixture aside.

In a small saucepan, combine:

1 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

1/4 Cup unsulphured Molasses

1/4 Cup pure Maple Syrup

1/2 Cup brown rice syrup (non-vegans can substitute honey)

1/2 Cup Olive or Vegetable Oil

1/2 Cup Applesauce

1 Tbs. ground cinnamon

1 Tbs. Vanilla

*Bring mixture to a boil. Pour boiling mixture over dry mixture and mix well.

After mixing all of your ingredients, spread the granola mixture onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper, silicone liners, or tinfoil. Bake in the oven at 200 degree's F for 35-40 minutes.
If you're impatient or in a hurry, you can bake it at 325 degree's F for 15-20 minutes, but you really have to watch it closely; it may be fine one minute and totally burnt the next!

After the granola has cooled completely, store it in an airtight container; but it's too good to resist, so don't expect it to last long!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Olive Oil?

So...I have decided to experiment with using olive oil as a body moisturizer instead of coconut oil. Since I can't imagine walking around smelling like the deep, rich olive oil that I cook with, I am using a bottle of extra light olive oil.

Tonight was my first night using it and I really can't smell it (pleasant surprise!). It went on smoothly and easily and it didn't take much (maybe a Tablespoon or so?). I have VERY sensitive skin, so if you can hear me screaming as I chug down a bottle of hydroxyzine tonight, you will know it didn't go well :D Otherwise, I'll let you know!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Rebatching (soap)

My friend, Kathleen, reminded me that you can rebatch soap. I should have researched it a little more before doing it, but I figured it was a already a loss and a little expiramenting wouldn't do any harm. I expected it to turn to liquid when I "melted" it down, but it never did. I later read that that was normal. I finally gave up and, in my impatience, added the olive oil that I had left out when originally batching the soap. I stirred it until I was confident it had chemically reacted with the lye (large amounts of smoky fumes poured out of the pot) and put the lumpy mixture back in the mold.

Today I took it out and cut it. The residual that I washed off of my hands lathered well and didn't melt my hands off, so I figure it must have worked :D Now that it's cut I'm going to let it finish curing (another three weeks) and see how it acts. If all else fails, I can still use it in my homemade laundry detergent recipe. I'm really excited that it's working out afterall!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What I Learned About Making Bar Soap

So here's what I learned about making bar soap today:

#1. Don't mess it up

While this step may seem obvious to many of you, I apparently missed the memo. I was so satisfied with myself for getting past my feelings of intimidation enough to try making bar soap today and I mentally congratulated myself several times as I put away the ingredients. Then I noticed that my bottle of olive oil looked full. Surprisingly full. I never added it to the soap that was curing on the top shelf of my closet. That's a big mistake - I'd advise against it.

#2. Safety, safety, safety!

I felt like a big nerd putting on my goggles, HUGE rubber gloves, heavy apron, and later, a surgical mask...until I splashed a few drops of lye in my face. No matter how over the top you think you look, WEAR APPROPRIATE SAFETY GEAR! And keep your safety gear on until everything is completely cleaned up and put away.

#3. Try, try again

The only thing I regret about my experience today was the $$ I lost out on by making such a big mistake and ruining my soap - luckily it was a half batch! It was really fun to watch the chemical processes of making soap and I learned a lot! I'm also glad to have gotten past the unknown - I will definitely try again (probably mid-April) and I feel like I have a much better idea of what to do and what to expect.

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
~ Thomas Alva Edison

Friday, March 19, 2010

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent

FINALLY! I first started trying to make homemade laundry detergent late last summer, but with no success. My worst recipe resulted in pitting on my metal dishes and my best recipe left a heavy white residue on my glassware. I knew that I needed something with enzymatic action (commercial dishwashing detergent generally contains digestive enzymes from cow and pig stomachs) but I couldn't think of a vegetarian source that was economically practical - everything I could think of, I would have to order online (and pay more in shipping than the product cost).

Then I had a "duh" moment and realized I could use citric acid! I found it at my local health food store for $2.10/four ounce bag (1/2 Cup) - I dare say it works better than the commercial detergent I was using! I haven't broken down the total cost, but I'm pretty confident that it works out to be around around $5 for 100 loads (about $0.05 per load). I will post the actual breakdown and the price comparison to what I was paying for my generic commercial detergent later.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
  • 1 Cup Borax
  • 1 Cup Washing Soda (sodium carbonate)

  • 1/2 Cup Citric Acid

  • 1/2 Cup Kosher Salt

Add one tablespoon to the detergent cup.

I put the detergent into an empty Vegenaise jar (like a mayonaise jar) but any plastic, glass, or cardboard container will do. I also keep a tablespoon measurer in there that I got as part of a set from the dollar store - that way I never have to search for a proper measuring spoon and I don't have to worry about reusing it for a food item. If you are unsure of what washing soda is or where to find it, please refer to my post about homemade laundry detergent here.

I also refilled my rinse aid compartment with vinegar, which really seems to help prevent spotting on the dishes (I have really hard water).
*This detergent will clump, but you don't have to break the clumps up or anything - just use "as is"