Friday, January 30, 2015

When life gives you limes DO This!

Quite awhile ago I had TWO more limes than I knew what to do with. I juiced one and froze the juice. The other I dehydrated. I thought they may turn out a vibrant green. Instead they were a brownish color but still I thought they may be fine for potpourri.

Flash forward, I finally made the mujadara recipe my friend Ashley is always cooking up that makes my mouth water so. It is a simple meal made of items you nearly always have on hand: lentils, onions, rice. Really though the flavors are so deep and smoky you don't miss the meat (we are a carnivorous family indeed!).

So I made it last week and right away The Ogre and I decided to make it again. The only trouble was I had given Boo the bag of rice to practice funneling into a mason jar and much of it ended on the floor (leading to practicing sweeping, practicing pouring dirty rice into a Tupperware container, and practicing driving miniature construction vehicles about in the 'rice world.'

Anyhow, we were low on rice, but my cupboard are stocked with quinoa due to a bulk purchase last summer so I promptly googled "quinoa mujadara" and came across this recipe:

I was out of lemons so I swapped out for a dried lime slice. Excited to give the final product a try but the Ogre seemed to enjoy it when I was only halfway through (no caramelized onions yet) so I imagine it to be decent.

Any other ideas for my dried limes? (Bonus points if they involve quinoa)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Something is Missing in My Life

In selling our house the buyer's inspection concluded our microwave needed to be moved. Not enough clearance over the stove. The Ogre planned to move it back until closing but I think it will be good practice for microwave free living. The house we are moving into doesn't have a microwave and I am not about to spend money on an appliance that duplicates what the stove and oven can do for me, perhaps even in a healthier manner.

This is taking some getting used to. I drink instant coffee, one mug that lasts me the morning and I am known to nuke it four times. This week I traded out for organic chai and goat milk on the stove. A couple times I have poured my mug back in the pot and reheated.

We made French toast this week and I can't stand cold syrup. I put the little pitcher of syrup right on the skillet and it heated well.

Then there is getting food on our plates and to the table still warm. The kids like lukewarm food while The Ogre and I like it hot. Often we would just nuke our plates again right after sitting down. This is one area I have to perfect. With cleaning and setting the table, getting drinks, washing hands and saying prayers, those plates can be pretty chilly by the time the first forkful reaches my mouth. I realize I could set the plate in the oven for a bit however I am also trying to be mindful of my energy consumption.

I am enjoying this new challenge and The Ogre is surprisingly on board (unlike my anti fridge campaign from a few years back!).

So do you live without a microwave? Why or why not? Looking for punters on how you make it work for you.

Friday, January 23, 2015

If you find yourself at a Pampered Chef party ... or, how to stop lugging those plastic jugs of laundry detergent home from Target

One scoop of this bad ish is all you need!
If you ask me to go to a party where I "don't have to buy anything" I probably won't go, because I know I am really supposed to buy something. My frivolous spending budget is close to zero. Well, the truth is that any spare cent I have I tend to drop on Monday night tacos, enchiladas at La Cabana or a hard cider at Ward 6. So, if you want me to drop $50 on Tupperware please know that I am mentally doing the math that $50 could buy a month's worth of Monday night tacos for my entire fam, which in turn equals a lot less dishes for me.

That said,  There is one awesome tool my friend Charity picked up for me at a Pampered Chef party. It is a hand held grater. Exactly like they use at Olive Garden,  and it has saved me a bill on laundry soap.

I mix a 1:1:1 ratio of grated bar soap (bought free or cheap with coupons) and the already reasonably priced Arm and Hammer washing soap (watch for sales to stock up AND the occasional coupon) and the again reasonably priced Borax. The machine requires a small amount, like a Tablespoon of the mixed ingredients for a whole wash.

The grating can get to your wrists if you have wrist troubles like I do, but since the recipe requires such a small amount you can grate it bit by bit. I have been known to bring the grater to social gatherings, along with some soap, and created a competition between the fellas as to who has the greatest soap grating machismo. This is the easiest way to grate it fast. Remember to act really impressed, and it can't hurt to bring your friend Gina with to bat her lashes (Thanks Gyn!).

I have started to save my soap ends and grate them in too. I used to use these little bits up until the last wash, but my brother in law gave me a hard time about it and I decided he was right (the only time THAT ever happened). (Love you Jarred!)

On a side note, if small soap ends bother you too AND you don't want to go so far as to make your own laundry detergent, then here is another use. Take some produce mesh, the kind grape tomatoes are stored in work best, and tie the soap ends in there.  This way you aren't dropping bits of soap out of your hands and you can work up an excellent lather. Kids love these for a bubbly bath experience. Don't buy grape tomatoes, our any produce packaged like that? Add it to the list of wasteful items you don't buy but others do (and toss) and ask them to pass it on to you instead.
Action shot snitches!
P.S. In an effort to keep up with laundry during house showings I started putting EVERYTHING together in one load. As soon as I have enough for a load (TWICE PER DAY!!!) I pile it in there and turn it on. If there are a lot of gentles I use the gentle cycle otherwise I just click it on 'colors' and wash away. I am really more concerned about the drying. If something is too gentle I hang dry, unless it is most of the load, then I use the gentle cycle. Sweaters and bras tend to be laid out to dry too.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Glow2GO Review and GIVEAWAY

Ugh, trying to take pictures of self tanners is hard. I feel like you need physical proof of the color change, but then it looks all orange and it isn't! Or maybe I am just being overly critical. Anyhow, I was provided with a 20 pack of on the go self tanner called Glow2Go. When I went to meet a few fellow pasty friends for dinner I threw the pack in my purse. The box is small so it fit fine. 

After finishing a massive plate of nachos we loitered a bit and I remembered the wipes. I passed then around and we gave them a try. 

The first quality we noticed is that it doesn't stink! No fake beach smell. The wipe is soft and you almost can't tell you are putting something on. We took a before picture, wiped the product on our and, and cleaned off our hands for fear they would turn orange. Then we took an street picture. There was NO difference. A bit bummed we quickly moved on to another topic.

The next morning as I was making my coffee I noticed something strange. My arms were TAN! Now the package says 'streak free' but I don't think they tested it in bar lighting, or perhaps I washed my hands too well after the application, because there was blotchiness around my wrist. I honestly chalk it up to super sloppy bar application.
Awkward wrist pics
I asked my friend Stacey how her tan turned out. She said that she ended up getting lots of comments about her tan. No one knew it was fake.

I thought about redoing an application for better pictures but I honestly liked the look so much that I want to save the packets for when I can show off my 'tan' (as in when it is no longer freezing outside and I return to wearing less than fifteen layers each day).

If you think a little color would bring some sunshine into your life be sure to enter my giveaway.

2/9/2015: Randomly generated winner was Mrs. Crista 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Body Merry Review

The following post contains a review of a product I was given for free. All opinions are my own.

I was given two Body Merry products to review. The Pro-a Serum and the Age Defense Eye Cream. I have used both once or twice a day for the last week. My skin feels softer especially on my forehead where I really focused the application. I think that baby soft effect is what lessens the fine lines.

The Pro-a Serum is thicker than I expected and takes a moment to soak in so I always wait a few minutes before applying my make up in the morning. I found I did not need to apply a moisturizer in addition to the serum.

The Eye Cream looks more like a lotion. I used my ring fingers to gently apply it around both eyes. Of course I stayed away from my actual eye but it was helpful to have a specific eye serum as I realized I don't usually get anywhere near the skin around my eyes and that skin is aging too!

I still have trouble with blemishes and these serums seemed to throw off my skin's balance a bit so if you have issues with clogged pores or acne I may steer clear of this product, however it likely had more to do with the time of month I trialled the serums.

I AM Radiant!

The following post contains a review of a product I was given for free. All opinions are my own.
Some days you need a pick me up, a reminder, you need someone to compliment you, yes even if that 'someone' is a bottle of facial serum meant to bring youth to your face.
A few weeks ago my whole house was brought down by Influenza Type A. It clung on to me searching for any remnant of a soul. I hated missing work and so was trying to convince The Ogre I was better when I simultaneously 'didn't make it to the toilet on time' and the doorbell rang. Aw the flu, gotta love it.
But seriously God has some excellent comic relief because opening the package there was that message: "I am radiant."
Um, okay, I suppose the glisten of a 103 fever could be mistaken as radiance.
Needless to say I didn't touch this stuff until I was REALLY good enough to return to work.

'I am radiant' is a triple serum, containing argan oil (you already KNOW I love the argan), hyaluronic acid, and Vitamin C. Quick note, that H.Acid actually moisturizes your skin. The word acid had me googling the stuff to make sure it wouldn't leave my face red, dry and peeling.
Quite the opposite I noticed my face stayed soft while using the serum. 

Most impressively I noticed the pores on my nose shrink to nonexistence. Well they weren't visibly existent. And my skin looked overall healthy!

I love the effects of argan oil, which this had, but argan oil doesn't close up your pores like this!

Don't waste your money on expensive spa treatments, this serum can leave you RADIANT for much less!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Hemp House

A great on-the-go cheap and healthy snack: homemade yogurt with hemp seeds in a mason jar


 I received a 1 lb bonus pack of Super Hemp Raw Shelled Organic Hemp Seeds w/ Omega 3 & 6 to review. My family eats plenty of flax and chia but had never tried the hemp. When it arrived I had whipped up a batch of yogurt so we used it as a topping to our breakfast parfaits. When I opened the package I noticed the seeds smelled fresh and buttery.  They are soft and small and Moo pushed aside her parfait and ate the seeds straight from the bag by the handful. 

This hummus was half gone by the time The Ogre informed me of the secret ingredient: HEMP!

My by far favorite use for them was as an addition to The Ogre's homemade hummus.  He had made up a batch and I snuck a taste to see how it turned out before we brought it to our friend's party. I kid you not I ended up eating several spoonfuls of the hummus straight, something I am not known to do, it was just good! 

The secret to getting Moo to eat anything: add hemp seed!

This morning I added hemp seeds to our oatmeal. It was delicious and certainly lowered the glycemic index. I can't tolerate sugary breakfasts so hemp seed definately wins over brown sugar!
Action shot!

Ooh, and I almost forgot, use coupon code BUY4HALF to get the pack for half off. That is less than ten bucks for a hefty pound of organic fresh hemp seed. Delivery is free with Amazon Prime. ENJOY!

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Moo and boo don't seem to notice a difference between the yeast flakes and powdered cheese
When I was breastfeeding my son I had to cut out dairy. I missed popcorn and my friend Pat suggested I try coconut oil instead of butter. Since then I have yet to go back. It turns out the alternative was better than the original! I seem to remember her suggesting adding nutritional yeast also. Supposedly it makes the popcorn cheesy. A butter substitute was one thing, but a cheese substitute? ! I had tried those before.  yuck. And yeast? I Took a rain check.

This past month I cashed in on that rain check when I was given free product to review. I received an 8 oz bag of nutritional yeast flakes from Sari Foods. Let me tell you, 8 oz of nutritional yeast flakes is much more than 8 oz of cheese because this stuff is powder light. Right away I tried it on popcorn as my friend Pat, and every health food junkie I know, had recommended. I did not like it. It was dry. I added olive oil and then it tasted like, well, olive oil. The kids gobbled it up though.
At first, a bit frightened, I covered only a few bites with the flakes

I went to the internet in search of a good recipe. I saw people claiming you could use it anywhere you use parmesan. I also read several sites saying it didn't really work on tomato pasta sauce because the "cheez" flavor was overpowered by the tomato flavor. One guy said you just needed to add a ton. We were having leftover pasta for lunch, so I poured a bunch on one side, took a deep breath and... LOVED IT! I poured the "cheez" all over the bowl, just like I want to with parmesan but have to hold back. This was nutritional! I could go all out. Man, I am getting hungry just thinking of it.
Once I realized how yummy it was I smothered the sauce in the yeast

 Next I was ready to try a bigger recipe. I was starting to get sold. This next recipe is mother-in-law approved scalloped-Cheez potatoes.

 I used this recipe but flexed the ingredients a bit. My ingredients were:

4 lb potatoes, sliced thin in food processor
I love to set all my ingredients out before starting!
1.5 C homemade broth (I say you could sub this with a milk/water combo, I have also heard apple     
          juice or beer are good broth substitutes)
2.5 C goat milk (use any dairy your gut can stand, original recipe uses coconut)
1/4 C butter (use any fat)
1/4 C tapioca starch (again any starch)
1/4 C sweet rice flour (get me in the ethnic section of the grocery store!)
1/4 C nutritional yeast flakes
1 t onion powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t dry mustard powder
1/2 t white pepper
1/2 t nutmeg

This was what it looked like before I tossed it in the oven
Stir, stir, stir...
Pretty sure I stopped there as I didn't have any white wine and the mayo seemed unneccesary as did the lemon juice.

Oh, and I cut up bits of ham to add. So not vegan anymore, but an upgrade from the usual cheese heavy scalloped potatoes.

I loved how this turned out. The Ogre loved how this turned out. Moo and Boo loved how this turned out. MY mother in law loved how this turned out. Nobody recognized it as anything other than good ol' scalloped taters.

Straight out of the oven. You sure there isn't cheese in this?
Now I am ready to try the popcorn again. This time I will use my own popper (I have an air popper and had used the microwave popper my mother had, I think this is where the dryer flavor came from?). I will try it with a bit of coconut oil or butter and see if I need to add any salt. Nutritional yeast has definately earned its place in my pantry!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Influenster: Rock the Lunchbox

Times have been busy. My house was hit with Influenza this past week at the same time as we were ironing out an offer on our home and making an offer on another home.   Amazing that there IS NOT a number on the thermometer that makes your demands melt away.

Because of this chaos (let's be honest there is a new chaos every week) I was super pleased to receive my first VoxBox in the mail from Influenster. It is part of the #RockTheLunchbox campaign and contained coupons for all sorts of food my kids are going to love. No lie, I am going to gobble this up too. Can't wait to get my hands on some Annie's chocolate and vanilla bunny crackers. They are gluten free and delicious. So excited for the excuse to go simple.

If you want the opportunity to review your own VoxBoxes in future campaigns sign up with

A Step Above Coconut Oil: my newfound love for Argan Oil

My feet embarrass me. They shouldn't.  As feet they are functional.  They help me dance. They carry me as I carry my children. They have never thrown in the hat no matter how hard I push them through aches and pains.  Through the cold, thick with fascia, they are known to stretch up to the sky in the middle of the night and karate kick randomly in the hallway. Occasionally they blast me in the morning for getting up and berate me at night to give it a rest already, but still we travel on.
So I should love my feet. But I didn't. I let them get dry. So dry that I was embarrassed when they would brush against The Ogres legs at night.  Occasionally, I slathered them with lotion and put on socks but trouble spots remained.
Then I heard about Argan Oil. I Ordered a bottle of the pure stuff, Havens Arc Argan Oil You ever read the side of a lotion bottle? Filler city! My feet needed the real stuff. Havens Arc Argan Oil contains ONLY one ingredient. This stuff is pure! And 4oz Is a generous sized bottle. The bottle itself is tinted to protect the oil. One sniff told me this oil was fresh. The oil itself is a golden color with a earthy, nutty scent, nothing perfumed but nothing you would want to gobble up either. I hear there are fakes out there making dreamy smelling argan oil, best to stick with the real stuff. 
I am going to let you be the judge based on these pictures, but I will tell you this stuff holds up! 

For problem feet such as mine I recommend applying after every other shower. If you have dry legs apply on them too. And Keratosis Pilaris be damned! My friend Crista refuses to purchase special lotion for K.P. She refuses to pay for someone else's pee (uric acid), but I can't see anything she'd have against this! This (argan oil) scores a toxicity level of ZERO on  the 'Skin Deep' data base, whereas my prior go to lotion for treating MN winter skin, Amlactin, scores a 3-5 on the ten point scale. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

DIY Goldfish Grahams

Which cracker would you rather eat? 

Cracker A consists of whole wheat flour, unbleached enriched wheat flour, sugar, partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening, high fructose corn syrup, less than 2%: cinnamon, calcium carbonate, salt, baking soda, ascorbic acid, iron, vitamin A palmitate and niacin. It is made in a factory and packaged mechanically. 

Cracker B consists of whole wheat flour, unbleached all-purpose flour, milk, butter, brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, baking powder and baking soda. It is made in a galley kitchen by a mother and son duo and packaged with love. 

Several weeks ago I asked Boo what he would like to give The Ogre and Moo for Christmas. "I been thinkin' " he began, "when I am in line for breakfast at school I thought maybe (they) would like to try one of those fishy crackers. "

The crackers he referred to are the Goldfish Giant Grahams and although for a moment I was relieved he picked something easy we could purchase (in bulk! ) I knew that is not how are memories are made, and not what Boo had in mind either.

How could we justify dropping five or ten bucks on cracker A when we had everything for (a triple batch! ) of cracker B in our cupboards at home.

I found this recipe online and decided it would work great to cut the dough in fish shapes with a cookie cutter, only our 100+ set of cutters is stowed away. So I purchased one on sale on Amazon.

I am kidding! I wanted to see if you were paying attention. Buying a cookie cutter for a one time recipe? Buying something I may already have I just cannot locate? No!  Naturally we made one. 

I read that you can form a cookie cutter out of a slice of pop can or a disposable metal baking tray. When I mentioned it to my mom she cringed in her mother way as though I would lose a finger. Indeed after I formed a fish, out of metal tape I pilfered from the ogre's tool box, it was rather sharp!  So we wrapped it in electrical tape, similarly pilfered.
Now I know electrical tape may not be food service quality, but this was a one time use cutter, and I washed it!

Here is the cookie making process:

The day before baking we mixed the dough from this recipe.

We rolled the cookies out with a glass jar because the rolling pin was packed away. Left my hands with bruises!
Check out that concentration!

And then we cut them out, sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar, and baked them per the recipe.

Boo stuffed them two in a bag, just like the grahams at school.

Boo stuffed them in a bag in the bottom of the freezer until Christmas day, when he presented them to Moo and The Ogre. I didn't sneak a taste due to the gluten contained, but they were well received and have been munched on each day since Christmas. We store them in the freezer to keep them fresh and take them out a bag at a time. Yum!