April 27, 2013

10 Alternative Purposes for Dryer Lint

Ha! I lied, I only have one.

 Some very dear friends of mine loaned me a sewing machine a few weeks ago and they also gave me this adorable book about making sock animals for my birthday!

Obviously, I had to try this out. I picked up some super cheap socks from the thrift store and decided that a fish would be my very first project. (Cause the book says it's one of the easiest.) I got right to work, making my own fish shape and cutting it out of a sock; trying to figure out how on earth you're suppose to feed a stretchy sock through a sewing machine at all. That part was pretty hilarious. I would just put the pedal down and let it run until it choked up/tried to go over an edge then I would stop it, lift the needle, turn the sock, and let it go some more. That poor sock. Then I realized I hadn't left a big enough for turning it right side out and stuffing it! But I worked through all that, did a little bit of hand sewing where I apparently managed to miss sewing on the sock at *all*, and finally had a whole (funny looking) fish.  I stepped back to look at it and thought to myself, "Huh... I thought this would be fluffier. Oh wait." You have to stuff these things! Duh. I however, am not a sewer, and I don't remember the last time I had stuffing materials.

Something you might need to know about me is that I am a flash-in-the-pan crafter. I do things a few times to see if I like it, and then something new pops up that piques my curiosity so off I go to try that out. So I knew that it was vitally important to finish this project once I had started it; who can tell how long it will take me to get back around to things once they go in the "to-do" bin upstairs!

  So I raced upstairs (quietly, or course, because Addie was napping) and dug through all my bins of craft supplies on the off chance that I had stashed some stuffing of Mom's. (Love you, momma!) No such luck though. What I did find was a bit of fluff that I had saved from when I was doing the initial cleaning washes for Addie's cloth diapers and, to borrow from Despicable Me, "Light-bulb...".  I didn't have enough of that fluff to stuff a whole fish but (!) my washer and dryer are in the basement and there is no trash can down there so I've just been cleaning the dryer lint trap off into a plastic bag. Score! So I brought up the bag of dryer lint and I was back in business. (Now, I do not recommend this method if you have dust allergies, that would just be mean-spirited.) It was pretty short work, although I was amazed at how much the dryer lint packed down. And here is the end result!

At this point we just call it Fish. Addie loves it though! 
I know, the tail looks *so* weird. That's what happens when you try to use a stretchy sock, and you stuff the fish with dryer lint.

Still pretty cute.
And yes, that is a hair sticking out from underneath the button. I took this picture before I spent 20 minutes pulling all the stray hairs out of the fish. (Bet you've never seen a hairy fish before!) All in all I think it was fairly successful and I will definitely try again, with a less stretchy sock, once I have some real stuffing.

Happy Saturday to y'all!

April 18, 2013

You've Gotta Read Your Labels

To be sung to the tune of "You've gotta eat your spinach" from that Shirley Temple movie I watched all the time when I was little. (Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm if I remember correctly.)

"You've gotta read your labels, BaaaAAAaaby,
That's the only thing to do...."

Sure thing. So the other day I was at the store picking up sour cream and as I went to reach for my usual pick, Tillamook Premium sour cream, I spotted something on the next rack down, tucked back in a corner spot; Tillamook Natural Sour Cream. Say what, you say? Say what? How is sour cream not natural? Isn't it just milk/cream that's been soured? That's what I thought it was. So I scooped up both tubs and read the labels. My jaw just about hit the floor.

They both *look* fine...
For the sour cream on the left the ingredients are as follows: Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Cream and Milk, Grade A Nonfat Dry Milk, Modified Corn Starch, Sodium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Carrageenan, Calcium Sulfate, Locust Bean Gum, Maltodextrin.

Let me just stop here and say, "What?!". Dry Milk, Phosphate, Sulfate, Carrageenan... I mean what is Carrageenan? It turns out it's made from red seaweed (sounds harmless, right?) but it has been linked to some pretty serious inflammation issues (no thanks!).

For the sour cream on the right the ingredients are as follows: Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Cream and Milk, Enzymes.

Now that's more like it! The other thing that was interesting to me, was that these tubs of sour cream were the exact same price. raises eyebrow Why even make the first, if you can make the second for the same price? The point of all this: Read your food labels, folks! 

I know, you're probably wishing I'd wrap this post up so you could run to the store, grab some tasty sour cream, and eat it with a spoon! Which is fine! But while you're at the store make sure to pick up some yogurt  so you whip up some of this *amazing* dressing.  (Heck, if it's been one of *those* days you could eat the sour cream with some of this dressing on top of it.)

In A Hurry Curry Dressing
 In A Hurry Curry Dressing - The Naked Foods Cookbook 
 Makes a little more than 1/2 cup

 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
 1 TBSP lemon juice
 1 tsp raw honey
 1/2 tsp curry powder (spice blends can vary wildly so find one you love!)
 1/2 tsp thyme
 1/2 tsp ground cumin
 1/2 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a pint-sized mason jar. Shake vigorously to mix. Either use immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to use. Keeps for up to 1 week. Shake well before using.

Ta da! Super easy and super yummy! I made a batch the other day when I was wheeling around figuring out how to spruce up Noel's lunch and I've been trying it on just about everything since then. Eggs, a tortilla, peas, chicken, and avocado if you want an exact list. Also, in case you missed my other review of this cookbook I highly recommend it! The recipes range from "In a rush" to "Impress the neighbors" and so far, everything I've made has been delish.

April 4, 2013

Dinner (It's a wonderful thing!)

I found "The Naked Foods Cookbook" by Margaret Floyd and James Barry at the library and I am so happy with it! I really love cookbooks like this, I like feeling quite at home in other peoples' kitchens. I've tried four different recipes so far and they have all been delicious. The one I'm sharing with you tonight is called "Quick and Dirty Beef Stir-Fry" and it is so tasty. While I was eating it I was wondering when I would be able to eat it again because it was just that good. It was also impressively easy to make, which is another thing I adore in recipes as it seems Addie can sense when my hands are completely occupied doing other things and chooses those times to need me desperately.

Quick And Dirty Beef Stir-Fry
Makes 4 servings

2 TBSP coconut oil
1 clove garlic, thinly cut into rounds
1 heaping cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (I didn't use these, as I'm not a fan)
10-ounce grass-fed beef steak, frozen and left out to defrost 10 to 15 minutes (I used pork I had in the freezer)
5 leaves of large bok choy, thinly sliced, stems separated from leaves (I used two whole shoots of baby bok choy but it could have used more I think)
1 carrot, grated
½ tsp finely grated ginger (I used at least a whole teaspoon)
3 TBSP gluten-free tamari soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime (about 1 TBSP)
½ cup store-bought or homemade Coconut Milk
2 tsp coconut sugar (optional) (I didn't include this)
1 TBSP sesame seeds (optional)

    Heat coconut oil in a large skillet or wok. Add garlic and mushrooms, stirring to coat with oil. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
    While garlic and mushrooms, slice the beef against the grain as thinly as possible. This is easier to do when it’s still frozen. Add the beef to the skillet and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the bok choy stems (don’t add the greens yet), grated carrot, and grated ginger, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Every time you add more veggies, turn the heat up slightly to keep the pan hot.
     Mix together the tamari, lime, coconut milk, and coconut sugar (if using) and add it to the pan along with the bok choy leaves. Stir, and cook for another 2 minutes until bok choy leaves have just wilted. Serve alone or on a bed of whole-grain rice, sprinkled with sesame seeds. (I served it over quinoa.)

Can I just say "Yum!" one more time? I might have to make more than one batch of it next time, because Addie managed to eat a whole serving so there was only enough left over for Noel's lunch 
tomorrow. (But not his and mine). I plan on making this again next week, and maybe even the week after that. Give it a try and let me know what you think! 

Happy Cooking,

April 2, 2013

It's Like A Coma. (Or a comma...)

Addie enjoying a rare fit of sunshine on the back porch.
Okay, I wasn't in a coma, I promise. It just felt like it. Life picks up speed at a dizzying pace around here as Addie gets closer and closer to walking places (she's pretty stinking speedy at scooting, which is what's keeping her from walking I think), I stumble on new books to read, dream up new projects for the house, or simply set ridiculous goals for my personal schedule. (I was that kid who, when asked to make a schedule, had stuff blocked off for every minute, but I have since learned that it is better for me to prioritize than schedule otherwise I am prone to much crabbiness and stress.) And after a week or two of running around like a crazy lady I wake up one morning thinking, "Where am I? How long have I been out of it?!" Then I get out of bed and get back to work.

 I also wasn't stuck in a comma. But it felt like. Blogging just ended up being put on pause for a bit as I got caught up with other things. Like accounting homework. (Our local library system offers free online classes at around college level and I decided to take an accounting class; it's been very informative and only gives me small headaches/panic attacks.)

So! Here's the deal.
  •  I went gluten/processed sugar free for two weeks. I specify processed sugar because I did have raw honey and fruit; some people think that's cheating, I think it's sanity. But I digress. It was really good! While I was actually doing it I didn't realize how much better I felt, but afterwards I really noticed how much *less* well I felt while eating sugar and gluten. Really, you can blame the whole blogging absence on this little experiment! During the process, I had so much more energy, my brain was able to focus easily (or at least, more easily than usual), and I just had that drive to get stuff done. It was awesome. Then, after two weeks of get-up-and-go-ing, I had a white flour/sugar laden cinnamon roll and needed to take a nap. Immediately. After eating the cinnamon roll I thought I could just avoid bringing the bad stuff home and only eat it if I was out and some was offered to me (no sense in torturing myself in public, right?) but it turns out that I'm around sugar a *lot* when I'm out of the house so I'm currently considering having a designated day where I can have a *little* bit of sugar and/or flour.

  • I'm reading five different books at the same time.
    Your's, Jack -C.S. Lewis. It's a collection of his letters. Fantastic! (I've mentioned this one before, I know, but it's a big book!)
    The 4-Hour Chef - Timothy Ferris. Different, but interesting. He is ridiculously smart, but not a Christian as far as I can tell so you have to kind of sift through all the hoopla in the first chapter or so, but the actual cooking process he describes is so fascinating!
    Surprised By Joy - C.S. Lewis. (This really has nothing to do with the point of the book but did you know that Lewis went to a school for about ten years where he was pretty much taught NOTHING? I didn't.)
    The Bible - Working my way through the new testament before heading off to the old, I'm just starting Galatians.
    Jesus + Nothing = Everything - Tullian Tchividjian. First, I love this guy's name, I mean really, how awesome is that? Second, this is what I'm reading for the ladies book group that I go to on Wednesdays. I feel like my vocabulary is too limited to tell you how great this book is. My favorite quote so far, "Whatever progress we make in our Christian lives -- whatever going onward, whatever pressing forward --  the direction will always be deeper into the gospel, not apart from it, or aside from it. Growth in the Christian life is the process of receiving Christ's "It is finished" into new and deeper parts of our being every day, and it happens as the Holy Spirit daily carries God's good word of justification into our regions of unbelief..."

  • I'm taking an accounting class. It's eight weeks long and there are only two left (yay!); it's been helpful i.e. I can now use a double entry system for keeping track of all sorts of accounts, but it definitely reminded me how much homework freaks me out so I will probably stick to reading books from the library for any future learning needs.
  • There is a GIANT piece of paper in my room waiting for me to cut it down to size and tack it to wall, where I plan to fill it with really great marriage quotes. Things like, "Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave." - Martin Luther. And, "The bed is the heart of the home, the arena of love, the seedbed of life, and the one constant point of meeting. It is the place where, night by night, forgiveness and fair speech return that the sun go not down upon our wrath; where the perfunctory kiss and the entirely ceremonial pot on the backside become unction and grace. It is the oldest, friendliest thing, in anybody's marriage, the first used and the last left and no one can praise it enough." - Robert Farrar Capon
  • I have letters that spell out the first part of Psalm 34:8, waiting to be painted and stuck on the wall above my kitchen sink.

And then there's this:

My lovely family, that I am so privileged to care for! I'm always amazed at how much laundry and dishes we manage to generate as a family of three, but it's all worth it as we continue to strive to mirror the relationship of Christ and the Church for the world around us. (That thought is not mine, I read it in that really awesome book "Seven Virtues of A Godly Wife And Mother" but it's been such an encouragement to me on the days where I ask myself, "Why do I do this?!")