Wednesday, December 14, 2011

She's Pretty And Frugal Too!

Do you ever sit around and wish you looked like this?


Or, as my husband says "THOSE kind of outfits."

To which I say "A Vicotria's Secret Model suit?"
He replies "yes"
I say "That's mean!"
Then, he, because he's soooooo funny says "Oh, I just mean you should get an outfit like that."

Uh-huh.

He says the same thing when he watches the Dallas Cowboys and sees the cheerleaders.

Well, I can't make you look like a Victoria's Secret model but I can give you a great tip that will keep you from looking like THIS and you won't have to spend a fortune either.



Don't believe me? Well, I don't look like that, now do I? And I'm about to tell you why.

Look over at my profile picture. Notice my nicely straightened, blonde hair. Yeah, my hair is really curly. I only look like that certain days of the month, usually after having just been to the stylist. Because my hair is curly and I live in north Texas I am constantly battling frizzy hair. Okay, I don't really battle it anymore. I've come to know this about myself and just go with it. For years, since my teens really, I've searched high and low looking for and buying products promising to make my hair shiny and pretty just like a model on a good hair day.

The only time I didn't have to use products galore on my hair to keep the frizz at bay is when I went with a friend to Phoenix to visit her mother and do some Monavie tastings. I took a shower and within an hour my hair was perfectly dry and beautiful. The only thing I did was wash it and put in a little mousse. It was all I had to use since I didn't pack any hair products. I was fully prepared to go all ponytail on its ass. It was truly amazing when I looked in the mirror. I thought 'Man! I'd move here just for THIS!' But, then my skin got all dry and wrinkly. My sinuses dried out and I could hardly breathe so I came home. I'm sure my family is glad. They don't care about my hair as much as I do.

I've spent trillions of dollars on hair care products and I just recently stumbled on this little beauty tidbit that, I kid you not, works way better and is cheap.

Since my hair is curly and *whispering*.....colored it tends to be on the dry side. Then add in the north Texas heat and humidity and you have a recipe for disaster frizzy hair. I only wash it a few times a week. The night before I wash it, I put about 5 drops of jojoba oil in my hand, rub them together and rub it into my hair. I go to sleep and let the oil do its magic. And I wake up to beautiful, princess-like hair! Well, after I wash it of course.



Its not all goopy like leave in conditioners, either. So you don't have to wear a cap and it won't make your pillow all greasy. It won't even turn off your husband when you come to bed in it. Especially if you get yourself a pair of those wings. I'm teasing, of course about the wings,  but you can seriously buy yourself some at this website save-on-crafts.com

See what a resource I am today? Hmmmmm...maybe I CAN help you look like a Victoria's Secret model.

You can buy that Desert Essence jojoba oil at Vitacost.com for less than 5 dollars.

BAM! another resource. I am on a roll today.

You just gotta try it to believe it. It really does work better than any high dollar, fancy shmancy stuff your hair stylist is selling. Believe me, I know. I've tried 'em all!


This post is part of Frugal Days, Frugal Ways and Fight Back Friday

*the photo credit for the ugly dog goes to Josephs Blog-O-Log

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Stress Management


Coming from a "gym -y" background I spent years and years teaching aerobics classes, going to aerobics classes, teaching people how to teach aerobics classes, and I loved it. I still do. I haven't done it in awhile, however, because I got a little burned out. But, I'm starting to come around again. I don't really have time to commit to teaching it and I haven't found an instructor nearby that I like yet.

That being said, I've been teaching yoga for about the last fifteen years. I absolutely ADORE that, in addition to practicing martial arts for the last twelve years. In fact, I just opened a little yoga studio right behind my pool store, Pearson Pools you're one stop pool shop.
The yoga studio has been my dream for awhile now. Its finally coming to fruition. I love it when that happens!

Just the other day, I was reading The Yoga Journal online and came across an article that I found really interesting so I'm sharing it with you. You can read the entire article here Yoga For Health but I'm going to sum it all up for you.

Yoga is a very powerful tool in helping to reduce stress. Yeah, yeah, we all already knew that right? Right. But, what you maybe didn't know is WHY it reduces stress and you have to do it "right".

By "right" I don't mean you have to be proficicient in every pose. I mean you have to be present, focused on your breath and noticing the sensations in your body. When you do that, your body learns how to handle stressful situations in a healthy way. It actually prepares your body for stress, not just reducing it. That's exciting and its not all mental. There are actual physical things going on in your body and your brain making that happen.

The parasympathetic nervous system is the calming system in your brain. The deep breathing in yoga activates this system. The sympathetic nervous system is the active system in your brain. Its the one that kicks in triggering a "flight or fight" mode in your body when stress occurs.

Holding plank pose for an uncomfortable length of time triggers this sympathetic nervous system response. Hence, the feeling of "flight". You want to put your knees down and rest in child's pose. If you hold it and breathe, you trigger the parasympathetic nervous system to calm your mind down. In that single act, you're training your body to overcome challenges in other aspects of your life. In addition to that, you're creating balance in your body.

In 1997, The Newcastle University of England conducted a study on random sedentary adults. They split the group having half of them participate in a yoga program for six weeks while the other half participated in an aerobics program. At the end of the six week period, the yoga group had a lower resting heart rate while the aerobics group showed no significant change.

In another study done in 2007, at the University of Schleswig-Holstein in Germany, the researchers hooked up 11 healthy yoga practitioners to instruments that recorded heart rate variability for 24 hours. They found that during an active class of 60 minutes their heart rate rose. Then, they did 30 minutes of calming, restorative poses and their heart rate dropped even lower. Not only that, but this change was driven by increases in the parasympathetic nervous system with no change occuring in the sympathetic nervous system.
What this means is that the yoga participants were not only calmer after class, but they were in autonomic balance and flexibility which is required to handle stress effectively.

In addition, years ago while at the gym on the treadmill, I read a little blurb in Muscle and Fitness about a study on men. The researchers found that lifting weights increased levels of corisol in the body (sympathetic nervous system response). So they took a group of men lifting weights and split them into three groups. They all lifted weights but one group only stretched after. One group sat quietly and rested. And the third group did 30 minutes of yoga. Only the yoga group had decreased levels of cortisol. The stretching and resting groups had no change.

Now, here's the disclaimer. If you go to yoga and you only focus on mastering poses without any of the breath work or relaxation in savasana (corpse pose). You will not gain any of these benefits. So, if you come in to class rushed, push yourself into poses, and then leave during the relaxation part you aren't any better equipped to handle stress than if you'd lifted weights for that hour.

The key here in helping your body respond to stressful situations calmly is to interchange the harder, more physically challenging poses with calming, restful ones while paying attention to the breath and staying present and aware of the sensations of your body while in the pose.

The other key here is to enjoy savasana at the end of class. It truly is a great gift you can give your body in this rushed, multi-tasking world we live in.


Namaste.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Crash

I was tired, sunburned, bored, and ready to go home. Standing on a small farm to market road in Texas after a week of horseback riding a hard twenty miles each day. I was seventeen and on this road ride with my family, close family friends, and friends that we only see on this ride each year.

We had a wagon pulled by two white mules named Ass and Hole. I didn't name them, lest someone become offended. I'm just telling you that was their names. They were wild and fun much like my hairdo after 5 days on horseback and bathing in water holes with snakes. The two fifteen year old Jasons were sitting in the wagon watching the horses, mules, and ice chests while the adults went into the small bar to relax and celebrate the end of the ride.

I went into the bar with my parents looking forward to the air conditioning, the music, the pool tables, the FUN. I sat there, disappointed at the lack of excitement,  in the dark, quiet bar with a lot of tired adults. I got up to head outside to sit with the boys in the wagon.

So, I'm standing on the side of this farm to market road, an intersection of two small highways really. I saw one car coming toward me and patiently waited my turn to cross. A few seconds later, I see another car with his blinker on indicating a turn in my direction at the stop sign. Having forgotten the first car momentarily, I had the thought that I should hurry and cross so Blinker Dude can turn. I'm sure that he'll be annoyed at my slowness in crossing. So as not to annoy Blinker Dude I begin skipping across the street. I'm immediately reminded again of the first car because I hear brakes squealing and find myself lying on the street spinning on  my back. The thought I'm having now is 'I'm okay! I'm okay! I have to hurry and get up so they'll know I'm not dead. I bet they are scared and think I'm dead. I would be if I were in their place. I have to get up so they know I'm not dead."

All of this happens in the span of twenty or thirty minutes. In reality, only a few seconds have passed. I jump up as quickly as I can, throwing my hands in the air and screaming "I'm okay! I'm okay!"

On the side of the road is the small car that hit me having been driving at least 55 mph. In the car driving was a teen aged girl with her mother in the passenger seat. The driver was placated by my admissions of good health while the mother was.......no other phrase comes to mind but "FREAKED OUT", unable to let go of the trauma that just occurred to this out of town girl skipping across a highway, understandably so as I look back now as an adult.

The scenes that follow involve my dad calmly jogging out of the bar, my mother sprinting out of the bar, my dad restraining my mother, my mother fighting my dad, my dad yelling at her "She's OKAY! LOOK AT HER! SHE'S OKAY!", the other mother about to cry, the driver bored, waiting for her mother to finally admit that its time to go, ambulances, police, and two fifteen year old boys laughing because they missed the entire thing but saw me run back to the wagon in chest high weeds and I fell down.

More scenes that follow are the late night drive home with four people in a single cab pick up truck pulling a horse trailer with no brake lights, my dad getting pulled over, my dad going to jail due to an outstanding speeding ticket forgotten years ago, my mother, brother, and I waiting all night long in the police station parking lot hot, tired, sunburned, and cranky with a trailer loaded down with horses and camping gear.


Crash

Okay so this was a little different. I procured this word from Lance at My blog can beat up your blog The goal is to look at the word, think about the memory it evokes and write about that experience. Then, link back with your story in the comments.

Your word is Change

Monday, December 5, 2011

Meatloaf


Look at all that meat! Well, you probably can't tell what it is in that basket. The picture just looks like I've been stocking up on boxes and boxes of pork products. I assure you that I have not. That would just be weird. I bought that pork from a man selling meat door to door. Then, I gave meat as Christmas presents last year. Men like meat. See?? Not weird. I didn't give any to the ladies. That would have been weird. Ladies like chocolate. But, I didn't give any ladies chocolate either. I knitted things and you can't wear a chocolate scarf....How fun would a chocolate scarf be? Like those candy necklaces when you were a kid. You could stay warm and nibble on chocolate all day. Someone should totally invent that! I would wear it. Definitely. But, I digress. 

Yesterday, Robbie and I were hauling some hay out to the horses. On the way in, I went out to the freezer to grab some ground beef for chili. It was perfect chili weather here in north Texas, cold and rainy. The freezer door was stuck. That's weird. Its a small upright freezer. I yanked on it and when it finally opened I noticed that the ground beef on the door was thawed. OH NO!!! Then, I started grabbing the meat further in and its thawed too. And there's a big, giant glacier at the top of the freezer. The stupid glacier got so big it pushed open my door. It has a mind of its own. Meanwhile, much like what they had to contend with on the Titanic and their big, stupid glacier, I have to contend with all this meat. 

Okay, okay. I know that my problem is not nearly as big as the problems on the Titanic. I get it. But, it FEELS that big at the moment and that's GOT  to count for something, right?

What you don't see in the picture is about 8 pounds of thawed, grass fed ground beef, 2 pounds of free range chicken breast, 1 whole free range chicken, 2 Amy's Kitchen cheese pizzas, 3 Eating Right frozen dinners (which were thrown away. I don't even know how long they've been in there.) 2 Pork roasts, 2 pork loins, 1 package of grass fed filet mignon, and 4 packages of nitrate/nitrite free bacon, in addition to all the pork you see at the top. Stuck inside the glacier is a free range turkey breast, more chicken, and a few more cheese pizzas. I'm attempting to defrost said glacier in an attempt to free the trapped meat at this moment.

Also, as an aside, what you don't see is that my floors are really a gorgeous, golden, hand hewn, expertly polished, wide plank wood. You just can't see that because its hidden in ugly linoleum. Its really there. Just in my imagination. But, now its in your imagination too, and that's like having the real thing, right? Or is that weird too?

So, at first Robbie couldn't be more excited. He's watching football and looking at the prospect for a meat filled feast. I thought so too at first. Then I calmed down and realized that a lot of that meat was not quite thawed so I cleaned out the freezer in the house and stored it there. Then, I cooked some of the pork for dinner. (It wasn't very good. Don't buy meat from door to door salesmen.) I boiled a package of chicken for a soup later this week, I gave a few questionable packages to the dogs and cats. They were so happy, they acted like it was their last meal on the Titanic. But, I still have 6 pounds of ground beef, the filet mignons, and a small pork loin that needs to be cooked. I'm on the lookout for a pressure canner to can some of the beef.  Meanwhile, I can spread that much meat out over the week, cook it and freeze it for later.

Tonight we'll be having meatloaf. This is my favorite meatloaf recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (6 oz)  tomato paste
  • ½ c dry red wine
  • ½ c water
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried basil leaves
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 c oatmeal
  • 1 egg 
  • ½ c shredded zucchini

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  • Combine the tomato paste, wine, water, garlic, basil, oregano, and salt in a small saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Set aside.
  • Combine the beef, oatmeal, egg , zucchini, and ½ cup of the tomato mixture in a large bowl. Mix well.
  • Shape into 4 small loaves and bake for about 20 minutes.
  • Discard any drippings. Pour  the remaining tomato mixture over the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 15 minutes longer. Remove to a serving platter.
  • If you don't want to use wine, you can substitute the wine and water for 1 cup of beef broth




    I will probably double or even triple it up and freeze it for later. Then, I'll be making the chili, some chicken soup, and...... Oh gosh, I'm already getting tired thinking of it. I'll for sure have to grill up those steaks or else I'll be in trouble and get thrown overboard! Wish me luck because much like the frozen ocean water from the Titanic, its snowing here in north Texas and I won't last long. 

    Okay, okay, I know its not really like the Titanic but in my imagination it kinda is, so that makes it kinda real, right? Is that weird?

    This post is linked to Barn Hop, Real Food 101, Monday Mania, and Fat Tuesday

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Warming Socks



    I've decided. I'm not a winter girl.

    Okay, I like it to be all snowy, cold, and dark for the holidays. I hate going out Christmas shopping in sunny, 70ish degree weather.Its hard to get into the holiday spirit. I don't know what you southern hemisphere people do at Christmas. BUT, other than that, cold is good for nothing. Well, I've heard its good for getting rid of bugs, but I'm becoming a little skeptical of that.

    Last spring we had April  June bugs...in spring, not June....spring!! They were horrible, too. We had some weird, freaky little ants that apparently came from South America and are working their way north. And then we had the greatest fly invasion ever in the history of man. All this after the coldest winter we've had in decades and a record breaking heat wave this summer. So, the next time an old man says to me "Well, at least it'll kill all the bugs!" because he sees me wearing my ski pants around town when the temperature dips to unbearable levels, I'm going to kill him in a horrible knitting accident!

    If you're an english teacher, I apologize. That may have been a run on sentence. I'm just going to say I'm sorry and excuse me instead of researching to see if I need to fix it. I need to tell you about this warming sock and then go hunt down my ski pants.

    That little beauty in the picture above is going to be your very best friend in the whole wide world if you're a summer girl stuck in winter like me! If you get cold easily this is wonderful and super easy to make. I just grabbed an old sock. A long one is best. Then I filled it up 3/4 way full of rice. Use the white rice. You probably have some lying around and now that you're a real foodie, you aren't going to eat it anyway. And its cheap! Then, just because I love it so much and I have it lying around too, I added a little lavender. Then ,I just tied the end of the sock in a knot and bada boom, bada bing, all done.

    Put it in the microwave for a minute or two and you have a homemade, moist heating pad. You should be using moist heat for muscular aches and pains anyway. Dry heat actually makes it worse.

    You could also take it a step further and use some pretty or fleecy fabric and give them as gifts! I would totally love one as a gift. In fact, Melanie gave me a really nice one last year that was about 2 feet long with handles on it so you could hang on to it and warm up your back. I had to get rid of it though because my puppy pee'd on it. I washed it but.........its hard to relax thinking your warming yourself with puppy pee.

    Hence the sock.

    Alright, that's it for today. I have to go dig out my ski pants. Its only supposed to get into the 60's today. Brrrrrrrrr......

    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    Its Like Buttah!!


    Oh CRAP!!

    I'm looking in the refrigerator and see that I only have about 1/4 cup of butter left and I still need to make a pie crust AND have some for buttering rolls! We can't have Thanksgiving with no pie and we for sure can't have Thanksgiving with unbuttered rolls, even though they are the crappy, stupid Brown n Serve!

    I know, I know....Brown n Serve! pfffft!

    Robbie specifically asked for those. I said "Seriously? Cuz I could make some really good ones homemade, some really good yeast rolls."
    Nope. Brown N Serve. Fine. At least it'll save me some time. Okay.

    Jake specifically asked for "Thanksgiving mac & cheese" which in reality is my mother in law's recipe. This is the recipe: She whips open a box of Velveeta Shells and Cheese every Thanksgiving for the kids that may or may not want her store bought potatoes and dressing to go along with her opened cans of corn and green beans.
    Again I said "Seriously? Cuz I could make some homemade that'll be really awesome."
    Nope. Velveeta. Okay, at least it'll save me some more time.

    And then, I'm back in the fridge wondering what to do about the butter situation. We live 20 minutes outside of town and I'm not about to stop cooking to make a trip in and I know that nobody else will either. Hmmmmm....I wonder if I can make that quarter cup be enough for both? All I need to do is divide it smartly. I was a science major in college. I should be able to figure this out. Also, just FYI, I was secretary of the math club in high school. That's not really pertinent to this story or anything else in life really. But, I just like to throw that out there every now and then, when the opportunity presents itself. Otherwise, being secretary of the math club has no real benefits.

    But, back to the butter. I tried different divisions. Maybe if I cut it THIS way? Nope. How about THAT way? Nope. No matter what I do or how I divide it, I STILL only have 1/4 cup of butter and it STILL isn't enough. *sigh* Thanksgiving is ruined.........But, wait!!!!!

    I've heard of people making their own butter. And they weren't even amish!

    I was in an antique store last spring with a friend and saw these cute, little, wooden butter churns. I said "oooooh, I need to get one and try making butter!" My friend said "......yeah, OR you could just use your blender. Its way faster."

    In light of my current butter crisis, I pulled out some cream. Coffee be damned, we're in crisis mode here! I poured it into a bowl and used my whisk attachment on my mixer. All I did was whisk up the cream * take a little taste...don't judge...I dare you NOT to taste some freshly whipped cream! You can't, can you?* until it turns really crumbly and yellow. Then, I whisked it a little more until it turned into a solid lump.

    You have to pour out the buttermilk.

    PSA -  Please don't throw it away. Pour it into a clean jar for use in a recipe. Its not as acidic as the buttermilk you get at the store, so don't use it in place of buttermilk. Use it in place of regular milk.

    After you pour out the buttermilk, dunk your lump of butter into an ice cold water bath. Then, massage the butter to try and get out some more of the buttermilk. If you skip this step, your butter will be rancid in a couple of days.

    The whole thing only took about ten minutes! It was a miracle I tell you. A Thanksgiving miracle. I turned cream into butter. Not quite as impressive as Jesus turning water into wine, but hey! I'll take it.

    So, what happened next? Well. Then angels started singing, Robbie said "Are you almost done with that? I'm trying to hear the game." and I yelled "Yeeee-Haww! I just made my own butter!!!!" and he said "Were they out at the store??"

    He just doesn't get me. But, he DOES love a good, buttery Brown n Serve roll.

    Brown n Serve! pffffffftttt!


    And THAT is the story of how I saved Thanksgiving!

    I must say....I'm feeling very super-heroish. Go try it and we can be super heroes together.

    This post is linked to Fight Back FridayFarmgirl FridayHomestead Revival's Barn Hop, and Monday Mania Although, they'll probably kick me out because my husband made me heat up those stupid rolls!!

    Sunday, November 20, 2011

    Love Is In The Air

    Listen to this while you read the rest of this post.



    The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the bees are buzzing. There is love in the air. Its warm, springtime weather.......

    Except its not.

    Its overcast. The birds are all hunkered down (which reminds me, I need to put out birdseed later.), I haven't seen a bee in awhile, and Thanksgiving is later this week. BUT.......There is love in the air.

    Just yesterday, this girl was just a baby.


    Her name is Harley and she was sweet, cute, obnoxious, hyperactive, and beating up on this guy.


    His name is Festus and he is literally hiding from her. He's a big lug. Not smart enough to realize he's not hidden in my lush, trumpet vine. Except its not. Don't judge my poor trumpet vine. We had a horrible drought this summer. In its defense though, this IS the lushest its been all summer.


    Just yesterday, for real, I came home and saw a few strange dogs hanging around. I thought, 'hmmm...that's weird.' and Festus looked like we was guarding her. He was circling her with low growls coming from his throat, following her every movement. hmmmm....curious. Usually, he's good heartedly trying to get her off of him while she's pouncing on him.

    Robbie was already home. When I walked in he said "I think somethings wrong with Harley. She looked funny." I immediately walked outside, worried,  to look at her and saw Festus licking her and rubbing his head on her like he was hugging her. Uh-Oh. She growled at him and he immediately backed up and sat down very attentively. Uh-Oh. That's different.

    I walked back in and said "I think Festus is in love."

    He doesn't leave her side. They are very cute little lovebirds.



    (They've been swimming in our stock tank. They usually look much cleaner than this. Nah, not really. They are ALWAYS swimming in the tank.)
    And I don't even KNOW who this little Casanova that just started hanging around is.


    Since its not springtime and even though love is in the air, its cool out and a girls gotta feed the family! Its chilly outside and that made me think of chili.

    Lucky for you, I'm posting it, cuz its gooooood!

    You need:

    1# of ground beef (grass fed of course)
    1/2 chopped onion
    1 can diced tomatoes
    1 can beans (any beans will do. just pick your favorite)
    1 container of V8 Bold and Spicy
    2T buckwheat flour (you could use any flour or thickening agent or none. Its up to you)
    1/2 C water

    spices to taste:
    garlic
    salt
    pepper
    chipotle chili powder
    ground red pepper
    cumin

    In a semi large pot, brown ground beef (if you use grass fed, you won't have any grease to drain.) and saute the onion with it. Add everything else, except the flour and water, in the pot and let it simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the flour with the water to make a roux. Add into the pot. stir it in and simmer, stirring occasionally until its the thickness you want.

    Eat it while its hot.....like my dogs.

    ....Too far?

    Yeah, I thought so.  Oh well, try the chili while I mourn the loss of my dog's innocence. It really is like having a teen aged daughter. Except its not. But, how would I know. I have boys. There's probably a girls mom somewhere right now blogging a picture of my son with a mustache calling him a casanova.....deep, huh?

    This is linked to Sunday Night Soup Night, Barn Hop, and Monday Mania.  Check em out!

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Homemade Yogurt



    Bam!!! That JUST happened!!

    Did you see the movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby? If you did then you know what I'm saying. If you didn't well, then never mind. Its not really relevant. A funny movie for sure, but not relevant to this particular post.
    I do find myself thanking the baby Jesus a lot after seeing that movie. Again, sorry for the reference if you haven't seen it. So just go see it already. In fact....don't go see it. Its not at the movies anymore. Go rent it or better still, download it from Netflix and watch it right now. Then, come back and read this post about yogurt.

    Okay. So you're back! Funny movie, huh?

    I made my own yogurt!!!

    It worked!!!

    Okay, so here's how I did it so you can make your own yogurt too. I bought some raw milk from a local dairy. Let me send a shout out to ma homies at the Dry Valley Dairy in Forestburg, TX. Their milk is from Jersey cows so its full of grass fed, fatty goodness. And they're great people too. And the milk is only $4/gallon. Can you believe it?? There is another dairy in town too. They're closer to me and also great people but their cows are Holstein and not quite as fatty and its $6/gallon. Its called the Neu Dairy. I like me some fatty milk, yo.

     Sorry, Robbie and I have been watching Breaking Bad on Netflix and I find myself talking like a Madskills Drug Dealer. I can't help it. A drug dealer that likes raw dairy...without drugs in it...whatever.

    Anyway, I also have some yogurt starter that I got from our local co-op. Its called Yogourmet. I also have a kefir starter. In each box there are 6 packets of probiotics ready to be made into yogurt. When I ordered it, I said "I want one of each yogurt and kefir starter" thinking I was going to get a box of each. But, no....I got a CASE of each!

    So, if you want some, leave a comment with your email. I will email you to get your mailing address and send it to you for FREE!!! Then, you can make your own yogurt or kefir if you'd rather. I'll tell you that kefir making is much easier. I'll share later in another post.

    Okay, so here's how it works. I took a quart of milk and heated it up to about 150 degrees F over a medium, low heat stirring occasionally. Then, I filled my sink about halfway with ice water and carefully lowered the pan into the sink to cool it off. Once it reaches about 78 degrees F, remove about 1 cup. Mix in the yogurt starter (you can also use yogurt you have on hand as a starter. I wouldn't use any yogurt thats full of sugar and junk. Kind of defeats the purpose I think.) Mix it in really well and add it back into the pot.
    Then, pour your yogurt into clean jars.

    This is the cool part. I got this idea from laurelofleaves. She's right. Its almost so easy its scary.
    I filled up a hot water bottle, put it on the bottom of a regular, old Igloo cooler (any insulated cooler will do.) placed my yogurt on top of it. I wrapped a couple of big towels around them to keep them from tipping off  the water bottle. I placed an old pillow on top of them, tucked them all in, shut the cooler and went about the rest of my day. You can let it stay there as long as you want. I started mine at about noon yesterday and pulled it out this morning at about 8:00. I put two of them back in, because they seemed a little too liquidy.

    I put this little jar of awesomeness in the fridge to stop the process. You have to do that. But, before I did, I took a teeny, tiny, little taste of it. Guess what it tastes like.

    Go on, guess!

    It tastes like YOGURT!!! Yay!!!

    Go try it. Its fun!

    This post is linked to Barn Hop and Monday Mania

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Granny P's Dumplings


    In the south, dumplings are a staple in the winter diet. In addition to that, southern women take pride in their dumplings more than anything else. You can tell a southern woman that her children are unruly and she will "yank a knot in their butt". But, you tell her that her dumplings suck and well....I almost don't want to tell you its so scary. Just....run. Beware...and..RUN!!!

    My Granny P has 'em all beat. Hands down. They are the best. Her last name is Pitman. That's where the P comes from. I didn't know that all going up. In fact, I never even questioned it. Honestly, as a kid I thought her name was Granny Pee. Like she had bladder issues or something. She doesn't. Well...I don't know. She's no spring chicken, so she might. But, I do know that back then she didn't. My other Granny's name was Granny Grunt. I never questioned that either up until a few years ago. I mentioned something about my granny and Robbie said "which one?" and I said "Granny Grunt". He asked "Doesn't it bother her that ya'll call her that?" to which I replied all annoyed "Pffft! No. Why would it bother her??? That's her name." Then, I thought about it a minute and thought 'hmmmmm....I never thought about.....I wonder if it DOES bother her. We've been calling her that for 40 years and she's never said anything.' So I asked my mom. She giggled and said "It used to bother her but not anymore." to which I asked "Soooo...if it bothered her, why did we start calling her that?" and she said "Cuz your dad and I thought it was funny."

    Well, okay then.

    It reminds me of my first job out of high school. I worked at a daycare center with 3 and 4 year olds. We had a substitute come in and ask a little boy who lived with his dad and grandma about his family. She asked him his dad's name. He told her. She asked him his mom's name. He said "I don't have a mom. I have a Nana." She said "What's your Nana's name?" to which he replied "She doesn't have a name......that's why we call her Nana."

    My friend Melanie has her grandkids call her Bubbles. How fun is that???

    My mom's name is Betty Jo. She doesn't like to be called Betty so everyone calls her Jo or Jody. My brother and I have our kids call her Mammy Jo. We think its cute. In light of the Granny Grunt issue though maybe we should have had them call her Betty Poop!! Its called karma. Its a........well, you know. Oh well. She lucked out because we're such great kids.

    Whether you have a Granny, a Nana, a Wicked Stepmother, or a Labrador Retriever.....You're gonna love this!

    Granny P's Dumplings

    (This makes a lot, so you need a big pot)


    1 whole chicken

    6C flour
    2t baking powder
    3T salt
    1C butter
    6 eggs
     up to 1C water

    In a big pot, boil your chicken in water. When the chicken is cooked pull it out and let it cool. shred loosely the meat from the chicken, season with salt and pepper to be added back in later.

    In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until it looks like pea sized grains in the flour. Make a well in the center. Add eggs and about 1/3c of the water. Use a fork to beat the eggs and water pulling in the flour mixture from the sides. Continue mixing and adding more water as needed. If it gets too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour. Once its in a ball, knead the dough until its easy to work by hand, just a few minutes. You don't want it too sticky or too dry. Its very forgiving though. You can add more water or flour as needed to make it "kneadable".  Pinch off  marble sized pieces, roll it longways, so its about the size of your finger. Then flatten them out, lay them out until they're all done. Its a little time consuming but worth it. Have the kids help. They love it.

    Bring your chicken broth to a boil. Drop in dumplings without overcrowding the pot. They need room to "roll". Stir, cover, lower the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

    My favorite part is they are not creamy. They are very brothy and delicious. My family's favorite.

    Thanks Granny P!!! :)

    Tell me what you call your grandma and your favorite thing she makes.

    This is linked to Sunday Night Soup Night

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    New Danger In Fried Foods


    Check out the label on this Happy Meal box.

    Its crazy!!! Its like the label on cigarettes. I once saw a comedian talk about the cigarette industry being cocky. They can put a label on their product telling you its gonna kill you and you shouldn't buy their product but they know people will buy them anyway. He said it much funnier. You had to be there.

    That's what I thought of when I saw this Happy Meal picture. People will still feed this to their children.

    I'm not a fan of McDonald's foods by any means but I say Kudos to them for putting that on the label. They didn't have to. As they've stated, the FDA doesn't tell us that there's anything wrong with fried foods other than saturated fat causing cholesterol.

    *as an aside, it occurs to me that maybe the FDA is really trying to slowly kill us off with food....hmmmmm....makes ya think.*

    I was reading another article somewhere about this very issue...fried foods, not the FDA conspiracy that I don't have time to prove. In the article, it stated that a by product of turning foods, mostly starchy foods, into a  golden brown is acrylamide, a chemical thats been shown to cause cancer. I know....that really sucks. I just wrote an article a few weeks ago about which oils are safe to cook with and then I wrote about some super delicious homemade eggrolls. Now, I can't eat them anymore. They were really good too!!! I even bought some duck fat (very expensive by the way and not nearly as tasty as bacon grease!)

    So now we need to be careful eating any starchy foods that have been either fried or baked to a golden brown color. Yes, even baked!! Baked and boiled potatoes are still healthy to eat, but not fried. No baked breads either. This is all pretty new information, I think. So it takes me a minute to wrap my head around it. I'm sure more research is on the way and I'll be looking it into further.

    Just know that its out there

    Lurking behind your mama's fried potatoes and dinner rolls (And biscuits!!!! Crap, I forgot about biscuits...Dangit!)

    Offering up a worse punishment than having to graduate up into your fat pants!

    Beware. Seriously. Be aware.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    Luxury Soaps

    Is there anything more luxurious than hand made soaps, mildly scented, softly lathered and creamy?

    Fur undies, maybe but I don't know where to get those and even if I could, I wouldn't wear fur down there........It would make my butt look big.

    I buy Caldrea hand soap and lotion from a little shop here in Gainesville called Bella Matiz. Check out their facebook page here Bella Matiz.


    They come in wonderful scents like Sea Salt Neroli, Lavender Pine, Basil Blue Sage, and more. All of their products are earth friendly and biodegradable, as well as being scented with essential oils. They even have products for laundry, kitchen counters, dishes, and babies. The scent I currently have in my kitchen at work is Sandalwood Riceflower. My favorite one, they don't make anymore, is Green Tea Patchouli.

    The prompt for this post happened when I went to the kitchen to wash my hands and make myself and my darling husband a RVL shake for breakfast. I love the warm water really steamy as I'm a summer girl and its frigidly cold here in north Texas. I think its probably gonna snow, maybe get icy, maybe a blizzard. Its 60 degrees out..... brrrrrrrr.....Okay, maybe its just the shake. Nevertheless, I really do enjoy the really warm water. Its not so friendly on the hands though. They need a little lotion. Okay, a lot of lotion. My husband likes it when I rub his back because it rubs and scratches at the same time..I wan't trying to be scratchy...

    So, I went in there to get some lotion and I came back to the front and he said "Man, I HATE the smell of that soap!!" I said "Its my hand lotion." He said "I HATE the smell of that hand lotion. Can't you find some that's more neutral smelling with no scent or some that smells like chicken wings?"

    Since I love Caldrea, I'm going to write them a letter and tell them they need to institute of line of Man friendly scents like chicken wings or dog's breath or fish bait or man toots. I know the last one seems like I went a little too far. But, I know men...and I don't think I went too far at all. I think I probably didn't go quite as far as I could have.

    Here's one of the products from the new line:



    Okay, maybe that was a little too far.

    But, I don't think so. I probably could have gone much further....but, since I'm lady, I won't.
    

    

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Mocha Frappuccino

    Who doesn't love THIS?



    Well, I can tell you how to make THAT only a whole lot healthier with THIS.


    This is so amazingly simple I'm almost embarassed to tell you how to do it.....ALMOST.

    Seriously, I see so many people running to Starbuck's to get their coffee fix and I just think NOOOO! WHY?? Well. I KNOW why. A friend of mine works there and the poor girl who is a tiny, little, waif of sweetness gets berated by angry coffee drinkers ALL THE TIME! I'm amazed. Apparently people get cranky before they've had coffee. I think she should keep a spray bottle of water (or hydrochloric acid...um...just kidding...or am I?) to spray those angry fools in the face when their manners are bad. Don't say anything, just smile sweetly and spray every time they say something rude. Then only respond verbally when they behave themselves. I think it could work. I would do it. In fact, I want to go get a job at Starbuck's right now so I can try it out and see if it works. Purely as a scientific endeavor of course.

    All that being said, I love the ambience of Starbuck's too. I love the music, the lighting, the lure of the fresh pastries, and the smell. OH! The Smell!! Is there anything more heavenly smelling than freshly brewed coffee? I think not. Well, okay, freshly bathed babies smell pretty darn good too. Its a draw.

    What I don't like about Starbuck's is the coffee. Sorry, but true. It tastes burnt to me. I like their Mocha Frappuccinos though. They are super delicious but  loaded with all kinds of sugars and calories. Very occassionally, I would go in and buy one, but only if I skipped dinner or lunch or a weeks worth of meals to account for all the calories. Who am I kidding. I can't skip a meal. Now, this song comes to mind:


    I can't help it. Sorry.

    Lets pretend that didn't just happen.

    Because what I REALLY got up to tell you this morning is how you can make the lovely mocha frappuccino at home and its really very healthy. I've seen lots of recipes on the net for diy concoctions and they are less expensive for sure. But, they are loaded with sugar as well. In fact, really its just espresso, sugar, milk, and whipped cream. That makes my tummy hurt just telling you about it.

    My way is actually a meal replacement. It tastes good, you can give it to your kids, minus the coffee of course. Or...with the coffee...your call......but I don't think....its a good idea.....But, hey! I don't judge.

    So, here's what you do:
    In a blender, mix 8 oz water, 5 ice cubes, 1 packet Monavie RVL, 1 packet Stevia, and 1 packet of Starbuck's Via. Blend it all up until its frothy and creamy. I kid you not, it's delicious. Plus, it only has 190 Calories with the anti-oxidant equivalent of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables. You can't get that at Starbuck's or even your own diy version with milk and sugar.
    And because its loaded with nutrients you really can give it to your kids! Especially if they are like my kid and are picky eaters that think vegetables are in the same food group as rat poison.

    If you want to try some, leave a comment with a way to contact you and I'll send you a packet of RVL for free. It also comes in vanilla. The vanilla mixed with a little PB2 powdered peanut butter is absolutely to die for. It tastes like a pb milkshake and still full of nutrients without a lot of added calories. In your comment let me know if you want to try Chocolate Berry or Vanilla.

    If you want to learn more about RVL and the ingredients go to this website Monaviervl.com. If you want to order some, go to my website on the right hand side.

    Have your Mocha Frappuccino, be a little healthier, and don't listen to the Chipmunk's. They're Chipmunks for Pete's sake! What do they know about beauty trends? They don't even wear pants!!!


    This is linked to Monday Mania and Barn Hop. A couple of other healthy living blog carnivals. Go check em out!!

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Creating Jobs


    This is soo great!

    BlogHer.com has partnered with Starbucks and Opportunity Finance Network to get the word out about Create Jobs for USA

    Here's the deal. Everyone is worried about jobs and the economy. This organization is collecting and then donating money to help small businesses and entrepreneurs. I absolutely love this and will gladly donate to this very worthy cause.

    As an entrepreneur and small business owner myself, I can totally relate.

    About 8 years ago, my husband, Robbie, and I decided to start a swimming pool service business. Because he was working at an auto dealership selling cars and I was staying at home and home schooling our son, we decided I would get it started part time while he continued to sell cars. We literally started from nothing. We learned the legal issues necessary for our industry and since we were too late to be entered in the local phone book, we ran an ad in the paper. We then got set up with a distributor, bought about $300 in supplies and home office equipment, and became official business owners. We worked from home for about 5 years gradually growing our service business.

    In addition to that, we found a network marketing business that we just loved, Monavie. We really weren't looking for a network marketing business at the time, but Robbie was having some serious health issues and this worked for us miraculously. We really only started that business to get our products free. We fell in love with the company and decided to work that business part time while we build our pool business and Robbie's car selling job.

    Right around that time, the car business really started to tank. He worked for a GM dealer and we all know where that went. They kept re-structuring his pay plan so that every time he started to make some really good money, they would basically take it from him. We learned that some companies don't like to give too much money to their employees, even though he was working on straight commission. Every day he would tell me how much he hated his job.
    Meanwhile, the pool business was growing and I began to notice that there are a lot of swimming pools in our area with homeowners taking care of them themselves. To buy supplies, they had to drive at least 30 miles in either direction to the nearest pool store. Every time he told me how he hated his job, I suggested he quit. He wasn't making any money anyway and working really long hours. He wouldn't quit. He was afraid. He was afraid that a pool store would cost too much money and couldn't support itself. I assured him that the store would make more money than the service business but his insecurity outweighed his desire for job freedom.

    Every night he went to bed afraid. He told me through all 3 rounds "I think I'm gonna lose my job tomorrow." Then on the 4th round, he called me that morning and said "I just lost my job." While that scared me a little too, I said "THAT'S GREAT!!! We can open our store now. This is really the best thing that can happen to us." I didn't want him to know that I was a little scared too, but I knew in my heart that I was right.  He didn't really believe me but went along anyway.

    *As an aside: Its my belief that in a marriage or partnership, only one person can freak out. The other person is responsible for being the calming influence. Every now and then, I have to remind my husband that its MY turn to freak out!! He's a good sport about it. :)*

    That was 3 years ago and our business has continued to grow and expand. In fact, this winter we're going to be selling 2 lines of hot tubs. That's in addition to the fact that we've also just recently partnered with a local pool builder as well as selling above ground pools.

    Every now and then, as he tallies up the total income for the day, he says "Man!!! Who knew it would could be this great?"  I slowly raise my hand. :)

    I feel blessed that we decided to start the business before we needed to while we didn't really need the money. I also feel like God has been guiding our path each step of the way. I feel blessed for the Monavie business, because the extra income there has been HUGE as well as the health benefits we've received. I truly don't think we could have done this while Robbie was in such poor health. Because of all that, we were able to start our pool business without having to borrow money. In addition to all that, I haven't really noticed any drop in business due to the economy. However, we did open the store in a bad economy and it's never really come back yet. So, who knows how great it could be when the economy DOES turn around.

    I'm listening to an audio book right now written by Donald Trump and Robert Kiyosaki entitled The Midas Touch: Why Some Entrepreneurs Get Rich - And Why Most Don't.   I recommend everyone considering business ownership read that book.
    One of my favorite things in the book is when they talk about how too much education is actually detrimental to effective business ownership. Too much education leads to too much specialization. In business, one needs to know a little bit about every aspect of their business. So a person would be better off learning all they can about business, sales, marketing, technology, legal aspects specific to their industry, and accounting instead of focusing only on their talent or specialization.

    My philosophy has been from the get-go, if you don't have a job...make one! Create Jobs For USA is helping people do just that. Go check it out and if you feel called, give em a donation. Its a heckuva lot better than waiting for the government to take care of us all!

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    Best Ever Cheeseburger Soup


    Okay, I have the absolute best soup recipe EVER!!!  That includes my chicken tortilla soup, which my family just loves. There are loads of chicken tortilla soup recipes so I'm not posting that one.

    THIS, though.....THIS is amazing!

    I could hurt myself eating it. I crave it. I gots to have it.

    So... my darlings, here it is.

    2T butter
    1# ground beef
    1C diced onion
    1C diced tomatoes (I used fresh)
    1C diced carrots (I used pureed bc I have to sneak it into my family's food. They are babies. Baby men)
    3 cloves minced garlic
    1T basil
    salt and pepper to taste

    Melt the butter in a large pot. Brown the beef and sautee the veggies and spices.
    Add

    3C chicken broth
    2C cubed potatoes

    Bring to a boil. Let simmer until potatoes are just done.

    Add 1 1/2C milk

    simmer and add

    2C cheese (I used 1C velveeta and 1C cheddar)
    1/2C sour cream
    1/4C ketchup
    2T mustard

    Then, enjoy this warm, steaming pot of autumnal love!

    Okay you may be sitting there thinking 'That sounds really good, buuuuuut......what's with the freaky, bloody gnome????'
    Well, I took a picture of the soup and tried to upload it. But, I deleted it before it was actually finished loading. I'm no photographer. I tried, I really did. Im the person that always snaps the picture just a fraction of a second too late. Always.

    So, I don't have a picture of the soup.

    Because we ate it.

    Its gone.

    I told you it was delicious.

    So, since its Halloween and I don't have a soup picture, you get to see the bloody gnome that makes me laugh and laugh. Mwaahahhaahhaa!!!

    (that was my scary Halloween laugh)

    If you want to know more about the bloody gnome and his misadventures at my workplace, read this My honey and I work together...with zombies....

    This post is linked to Monday Mania and Barn Hop  and Sunday Night Soup Night check em out!!

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Summer Purse

    When my son was about 10 or 11 he was on the swim team in our area. Our area only had a swim team for one summer. It was a great summer with a winning team, the Red River Racers. Before that, my son had played some t-ball, some coach pitch, a little b-ball. He is VERY big for his age. He was also very non-competitive..

    Because he was so big, coaches would drool when they saw him. They almost begged him to be on their teams. He always said yes because he is also very social. The lure of playing with other boys was his siren song. His job in basketball ended up being to just stand in front of the goal and hold his arms up. "Don't do anything else!"

     Well, that's not fun so that didn't last long.

    He became a little chubby. So, when another homeschool mom started talking swim team, I immediately signed him up. He could swim since he was 2, but this summer I thought it would be great for him to get out from in front of the video games, interact with other kids, clean up his stroke, and maybe lose a little baby fat. I did not care at all if he ever won a race.

    Every morning, he got in the water, swam a few leisurely laps and played dolphin with another kid. Oh yeah, he would also walk the lane pretending to swim with his arms. So, they put him in the slow lane. Then every Saturday he would go to a swim meet, somewhere far away and leisurely swim a few laps while the other kids churned up the water. Needless to say he was always last. He was a huge frustration to his teammates, but Jake didn't even notice. He had a great time hanging out at the pool with his friends, running around, and enjoying snacks.

    At one meet, he came up and asked me if I had any duct tape in my bag.
    "No, why would I have duct tape?"
    "My shoe broke and I want to fix it." It was  $2 flip flop from Walmart. The glue came loose so the strap came off.
    I said "Oh Jake, that's okay, I got those at Wal-Mart. I'll just get you some more when we leave. Just go barefoot for now." So, I took his shoe and pressed the strap back onto the sole. Hmmmmm...that worked. Hey, it might hold. So I didn't go to Wal-Mart for more flip flops.
    They lasted 2 more meets.

    Then....the last meet.

    Jake is swimming and......wait.....what is he doing? Oh My Gosh!!! He's actually competing! All the other parents are cheering for him. I'm screaming. Another dad is looking at me and says "Did you SEE that??????" "YES!!!" and he won. It was greatness...

    A little later, he asks me for tape. Of course I don't have tape. So, I say "Just don't worry about it, right now. I promise we'll stop after the meet." He walks away. I don't see him again for about 30 minutes  and he has masking tape holding his shoe together. Its taped up like only a child can do. I laugh because I know he's been making the rounds asking other parents in a strange town if they have any tape. He must do this because his mother is negligent and doesn't carry tape around after she buys $2 shoes for her son and then makes him wear them even after he's told her they're dysfunctional.

    ahhhh...tomato/tomotto

    negligent/thrifty

    So, I'm laughing at his redneckedness, but I'm also proud of his win so for a celebration lunch we stop at Chick-Fil-A, his choice. Now, we live out in the country, in a small town. We do not have a Chick-Fil-A. For this meet, we were in a big city. A city big enough for an indoor natatorium. My town is so small, I don't think the majority of people in it even know what the WORD natatorium is! That may sound mean. Come to my town and you'll see.

    So, we're walking across the crowded parking lot on a Saturday afternoon. Him, in his taped up flip flops, and me carrying that very stylish handbag in the picture above. I bought it specifically for the summer. It was quite stylish in the day. Its a leather hobo bag with inlaid little jewels on either side of the handle. Its light in color and perfect for summer.

    As we walk across the lot, Jake says to me very disdainfully..."We look like a couple of rednecks walking in here."
    "WHAT??? Speak for yourself mr tape up man......How do you figure we look like rednecks? I, myself, am looking very stylish. Thank you very much."

    "Well, my shoes have tape on them.... and you're carrying that PURSE!"

    Does this make me a bad mom? I don't think so. It makes me laugh. Anything that makes me laugh can't be bad for my child....can it?

    I just found that purse in my closet. That's what reminded me of that story......I think I'll start carrying it again. But, its fall so it probably WILL look rednecky...I think I will just keep it and carry it to his wedding.

    That will make me laugh....so it must not be bad...right?

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    The Exotic Lands of Forestburg, TX

    This is linked to Soulemama's This Moment  a single moment from the week. No words, just a photo to capture the moment. Here's mine from this week.


    Thursday, October 27, 2011

    Hammock Fun

    This Guy



    enjoys a nice afternoon in  a hammock.





    And this girl



    ALSO enjoys a rousing hammock romp.





    And betwixt the two, I fear there will be no more of this




    *sigh*

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    Homemade Egg Rolls = Better Than Restaurant


    All day yesterday, I felt like I wasn't getting anything done.

    Here's what I did:

    3 loads of laundry
    fed and watered all the animals
    washed 2 loads of dishes
    made 4 acai bead bracelets (They're beautiful! I'll share later this week)
    blogged about preparing Emergency Meals, Preparedness
    knitted a few rows of a cashmere scarf I'm making for a Christmas present
    prepared meals
    made chicken stock in the crock pot with a leftover chicken
    made a pumpkin pie with homemade crust
    used the extra crust to make homemade apricot toaster pastries (There are none left!!)
    whipped up some whipped cream with fresh, organic cream to go on said pie
    bought and hooked up a new Blue-Ray, DVD player
    AND I made those little beauties in the picture above!!

    That seems like a lot! I was feeling bothered yesterday wondering how I could have done all that and still be feeling like I needed to do more. I think I figured it out. It could be one of two things.
    1 -  There is still so much more that NEEDS to be done and maybe I should be doing those things instead of pinning on pinterest, blogging, and checking my facebook updates. To be fair, though, since fb changed I don't get on there as much as I used to. And even more so, since pinterest!! Pinterest is waaaaay more fun than facebook and its actually useful! The eggroll recipe I'm about to share came from there.

    or

    2 - I work so hard at my job (We work 6 days a week in the spring and summer balls to the wall. In the fall and winter it slows down and we are closed now on Sundays and Mondays. This is the first Monday that I haven't had to go in to work to do something.) maybe I have a hard time turning that off! I'm not sure. I'm hoping its this. Because if it is, then that will eventually go away. Probably right about the time when spring hits!! The whole not having everything done gives me a little anxiety.

    Okay enough of that. I teased you with the intriguing headline (because honestly...who DOESN'T love a good eggroll? Especially if you can make them yourself without all the preservatives that comes from the restaurants.) then held you hostage and made you listen read my little anxiety disordered filled day. Sometimes a girl just needs a hug..even if you have to force someone to give it to you! :)

    I found this recipe on pinterest and I just have to say WOW! I am not exxagerating when I say that they really are better than restaurant egg rolls. Here is the link to the original recipe. I tweaked it just a little to make it a little healthier. I didn't tweak it much, though, as its pretty perfect just like it is.

    Ingredients:

    1# ground pork
    4C finely shredded cabbage
    2C matchstick carrots
    8oz pkg bean sprouts
    6 chopped green onions
    1 clove garlic, finely chopped
    2T freshly chopped cilantro
    1t freshly grated ginger
    1T oyster sauce
    1T hoisin sauce
    1 pkg egg roll wrappers

    Fat for frying them

    I used ghee because thats what I had. I would definitely plan ahead and use lard next time, though. A good lard, not the junk from the grocery store. I'm on the lookout for duck fat and pastured pork lard. When I find it, I'll let you know. I'm told that Central Market has duck fat. The nearest one to me is about 60 miles so I haven't checked it out yet.

    Take about 2T of the fat and swirl it around in a big pot, add the pork and brown it. Then add your vegetables, Cook about 10 minutes until softened. Add the spices and cook another 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat to cool a little.

    Heat up your fat.

    Lay out your wrappers with one corner facing you like a diamond. Put about 2 spoonfuls of filling close to your end of the diamond. Roll your corner over the filling. Then, roll the 2 outside corners in and roll so you're only left with the last corner at the top (like an envelope flap) brush water over the flap so it will seal. Finish rolling. Then use your brush (or your finger) to wet the seams to seal the whole thing.

    Place your egg rolls in the hot oil and fry about 3 minutes until they're a nice golden color.
    Drain on paper towels.

    Here's the last and most important piece of this recipe......

    BE CAREFUL!! They're hot! and delicious! and addicitive! and your family won't be able to stop hugging you.

    So, there's my little eggrolly hug for you!


    This post is linked to Homestead Revivals Barn Hop  and The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania and Fight Back Friday

    Sunday, October 23, 2011

    Preparedness



    My motto is: Its better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

    I've been thinking about preparedness lately. What prompted that was a friend of mine, who seriously keeps up on all things political, told me a while back that food prices were going to rise drastically. Gas and corn prices are going up and those two things are interconnected with everything we eat. Well, I started noticing it coming true!! I'm sure you have too. So, I bought a small freezer and started gradually filling it up. My thoughts on this were solely to save money on groceries in the event of a depression or food lines like they had in Russia during the cold war. (That may sound crazy and paranoid, but it COULD happen....because at one time in history it DID happen.  Refer back to the first sentence in this post.)

    Last night, I was reading another blog, Homestead Revival and she issued a challenge that really made me think and take my preparedness a step further. The challenge is basically to have a 3 day "stash" of ready to prepare meals in case of emergency. It really has nothing to do with anything political but more in the event of a natural or even a man made disaster. Its not unreasonable to think that a tornado (where I live), a hurricane, an earthquake, blizzard, or flood could knock out the power and water for a few days (or more!).  The reason for having 3 days of food set aside from the rest of the pantry is because its been shown that when a disaster occurs it takes about 3 days to overcome the emotional shock of it all. In those 3 days, a family still needs to eat and drink. So, the meals should be in their own containers, labeled, easy to find, and not touched until ready for use. They should be shelf stable and last at least 6 months. In fact, just to insure the food stays fresh, you should eat the food every 6 months and immediately re-stock. You wouldn't want to find out in the middle of a crisis that your food expired 2 years ago!!

    In Amy's original post, the link I just shared with you, she challenges everyone to post just one meal they would put in their box.  You really should go check it out. Its really interesting to read the other entries. They are full of great ideas!

    So, here are my ideas. 

    First of all, in the event that I had no electricity, I would feel the need to quickly use up things from the freezer and the fridge. Also, I have chickens and a garden. So, depending on the time of the year, I would have eggs, veggies, and herbs available, maybe fruit too. We have some fruit and pecan trees on our place. I also use a propane stove so I can't imagine not having that available to use just because we may not have power or water.

    All that being said, just to be fair and in the spirit of the exercise, I will assume none of those would be available. Not only that, if in fact, I was "shell shocked", I may need the comfort and simplicity of a meal at my fingertips that required no thought.  Assuming for whatever reason, my propane was unavailable or just being conserved I would build a fire outside. We have an abundance of wood that needs to be burned anyway. And it would probably add a fun, campy element that might help alleviate the stress.

    So, here goes:

    Breakfast is easy. I would have in my boxes instant oatmeal, cereal, almond milk, Nature's Path toaster pastries, canned or dried fruit, bottled water, tea bags and instant coffee. I would also add some shelf stable bacon for protein (Im not sure of the brand, but I get it from our health food co-op and its pretty good!) The protein is important. Otherwise, the rest of it is all carby ensuring sugar crashes and crankiness later. Crankiness is not conducive to survival!! :)

    Lunch and Dinner are interchangeable. I'll have to think a little more on these. But, I know for a fact that one meal would be bean burritos. I got that idea from reading another post. And my family LOVES burritos. In that box, I would have a can of refried beans, flour tortillas, a can of enchilada sauce, canned cheese, a bag of tortilla chips and salsa.
    Another meal will be a dutch oven chicken noodle soup. My husband has been bucking for a dutch oven for years anyway ever since he watched the movie Lonesome Dove the FIRST time. He wanted to be like Robert Duvall and cook biscuits in the ground and be surrounded by pot belly pigs. Number 1, I told him "Honey, maybe you should start off by learning to cook bisuits in the oven!!!" Number 2, he wanted these pigs to live with us in the house!! (His culinary experience currently consists of velveeta/rotel dip in the microwave and "cooking" pop tarts in the toaster.) He pushed hard for the pigs in the house. I told him he was welcome to have whatever animal his heart desires but none of them will be allowed to live in the house. He continued on to tell me that pot belly pigs are delicate and NEED to be in the house. All this until one day at the feed store buying horse feed, he saw a pen of baby pigs. He made a bee line over to the feed store worker and said "I see here that you have pot belly pigs. Now, they need to live in the house don't they?" as he glanced over at me smugly. The man replied "NO man! They're PIGS!" as I walked away snickering. After that, there was no more talk of biscuits and pigs. Now he just wants me to let him call me Lori Darling. I won't do that either........

    Back to the soup. I found a good recipe for Dutch Oven Chicken Noodle Soup here The Survival Mom.  It was kind of hard to find dutch oven recipes using only canned or dried foods. She has it all figured out already.

    And one other thing I KNOW I will have in a box for a dessert is s'mores. We'll have the fire going and a stressful situation calls for a little fun and comfort food. S'mores are easy keepers, just a box of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate bars.

    Have you given thought to "disaster meal kits"? What would yours be?

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Herbal Medicine Cabinet


    As I've done more and more research on the effects of drugs...

    .....No, not recreational drugs.....I wish!

    Not really. I won't put NutraSweet in my body much less something some dude with no teeth cooked up in his trailer house! As a funny aside, I live in a small, rural town. The weekly county paper had a report about a kid that was injured when his house blew up in a hair coloring accident.

    Hair coloring accident?!?!?!??
    I was thinking 'What the heck was that kid coloring his hair with anyway??? THAT'S the news report right there!! THIS JUST IN Ladies stop coloring your hair until we figure out what's making it blow up your house!!'
    Turns out as I'm sure you've already figured out, that was no hair coloring accident. Kid was cookin up some meth.

    I know, I know all you english teachers out there are about to have a hyperventilation fit because I left a sentence fragment at the beginning of this post so I can tell you about the meth kid with funky looking hair.

    Its okay, seriously. I'm coming back to it *looking at my watch* right about......NOW!

    As I do more and more research about the effects of drugs it makes me realize that I want to use them less and less. (Whew! feeling better?) So I put together the staples from my medicine cabinet which really arent in my medical cabinet at all! These things are scattered all about my house, mostly in the kitchen. These are the basics and with them you can treat almost any malady you have.

    Let me first tell you what you don't see.

    Bandaids - of course we should all have bandaids and I don't think I need to tell you how to use them....right?

    Apirin or Ibuprofen - We do occasionally use them. In fact, I thought I was getting sick yesterday. I was achy all day. It started with a stiff neck and shoulders and moved into a headache. I think I just slept funny because it was cold. In fact, I'm wearing ski bibs today and everyone is making fun of me asking if we're going skiing. I can't help it. I live in Texas. I'm a summer girl! Anyway, I took an Ibuprofen and BAM! achiness gone.

    Monavie - We drink Monavie everyday for the anti-oxidants and it makes my knees feel good. If we feel like we're coming down with something we chug it. If you want to try it, we're distributors. You can order it from my website on the right hand side bar.

    Thats really it for what I didn't take a picture of.

    Heres what the rest of it is.

    Neti Pot - You use it to rinse out the nasal passages and sinuses with salt water. Salt water is also great to gargle with if you have a sore throat. If you want to know more about the neti pot click Here.

    Aloe Vera - I use the plant when I burn myself (which oddly, I do frequently when I'm cooking.) I break the leaves and rub the juice on the burn. It works wonderfully!

    Calendula ointment - Same as with the aloe. Its great for scrapes, burns, rashes, and other skin irritations

    Arnica Cream - You're gonna love me for this one! Its like IcyHot, but without the Icy and the Hot. It really works great for muscle and joint aches and pains. You can't really feel anything when you rub it on but it really works. I fractured my pelvis when I was thrown from an unbroke horse. I used the heck out of my arnica and I continued to teach yoga and Tae Kwon Do (even sparred!) and continued to work cleaning pools. A nurse friend found out about it and screamed "You're supposed to be on bedrest!!" I said, as I was down blocking waiting to be thrown by her to the ground in TKD "Yeah, well, good luck to me, because that was weeks ago!"

    Gas Stop - Uhhhhh, yeah.....I think you got that one, right? Shall I explain? I don't think I really need to but here goes.......It. uh. stops. gassiness....If you need more than that, leave a comment.

    Crystallized Ginger - I like to take a little piece and nibble it if I'm feeling queasy. It just takes a little to work. Ginger is also good for other things as well. If you want to know more about the benefits of ginger click Here.

    Traditional Medicinals Ginger Aid tea - Same principle as the crystallized ginger but in a tea form.

    Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat tea - Good for minor throat irritations. These are what's in it:
    Medicinal ingredients: Each tea bag (2.0g) contains: organic licorice root* (Glycyrrhiza glabra) 420 mg, organic wild cherry bark (Prunus serotina) 340 mg, organic bitter fennel fruit (Foeniculum vulgare) 300 mg, organic marshmallow root (Althaea officinalis) 120 mg, organic slippery elm bark (Ulmus rubra) 100 mg.

    Non-medicinal ingredients: organic cinnamon bark (Cinnamomum spp.), organic sweet orange peel (Citrus sinensis).
    I like Traditional Medicinals because they are fair trade and organic.

    Yogi Stress Relief tea - It has kava kava in it. It helps reduce anxiety. I live with a Type A personality and this helps me to relax so I don't kill him in a horrible, knitting accident. Its okay, he knows. In fact, I'm now thinking that maybe it should be HIM drinking it, not me. One of these days, he's going to disappear and "I'm not going to know what happened". Its okay. He knows that too. We've been married for 21 years and we work together. If you want to know how that works read This. But, back to the kava kava, its a little hard on the liver. So, don't drink it a lot. If, like me, you live with a Type A personality, do what I do, Yoga and martial arts where you can relax and beat the crap out of bags, and then go home to your loving spouse. They'll be spared the horrible knitting accident and you'll be spared years of inprisonment. Of course, I won't be inprisoned because as I've stated "I won't know what happened."

    Yogi Bedtime tea - This is fantastic if you have trouble sleeping, It contains valerian, chamomile, hops and other calming herbs. Chamomile helps you fall asleep while valerian helps you stay asleep. Honey before bed helps too, as does a shot of Monavie. It has to do with blood sugars. You can also learn more about that Right Here.

    I also use Burts Bees lip balm for chapped lips.

    That's about all we use to stay healthy. Its so much more body friendly than using drugs. Did you know that according to FoodMatters, prescription drugs AS PRESCRIBED BY YOUR DOCTOR is the number one killer of people. Not to mention all the nasty side effects of pharmaceuticals.

    If you're looking to create an herbal medicine cabinet or just supplement whatcha got, this is a good start. If you have anything to add let me know.

    This post is linked to Food Renegade's Fight Back Friday, Farmgirl Hop, and frugally sustainable.