Friday, August 15, 2014

Simple 4 Ingredient Strawberry Vinaigrette

This salad dressing is simple to make and light and fresh to the taste.

*1/4 cup soy sauce
*1/3 cup rice vinegar
*1 cup of sugar (less if you prefer)
* 3/4 cup strawberries, sweetened

All you have to do is throw all for ingredients into a blender, pulse it a few times, and you have a fresh compliment to many a salad. This is an especially tasty dressing for salads with bitter greens in it, like arugula or mustard greens.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

DIY Wood Stain Using Food Coloring

My husband is the king of the 'Honey Do' list. Not only does he do everything on his 'list', he also proactively searches for projects. "Want me to mow the lawn? How's the disposal? Do you need me to build anything today?" Very productive. So, when I asked him to build me a spice shelf on Monday, I shouldn't have been surprised that by Tuesday, I had two, with the only difference being their length, so that I could decide which was a better fit for over my stove.

After paint, after sand, before stain

Now it was my turn. You know- to sand, paint, and decorate it as I wanted. This, however, took several months, as it just sat in my garage with me contemplating what paints or varnishes I might want to purchase. I finally decided that I didn't need to run to the craft store but would take care of it with what I had at home, which ended up being cheap craft paint, food coloring, and clear spray paint. After all, "Necessity is the mother of invention"- and I NEEDED to get this darn shelf finished!

*four food coloring vials (red, blue, green, yellow)
*paper towels
*gloves (!)

For my project, I simply painted my shelf turquoise and then sanded off the corners/sides to make it look 'shabby chic and rustic'.

I squirted
1/2 tsp red
1/2 tsp blue and
THIS is why you use gloves..
1/2 tsp green into
1/8 cup of water.

Once mixed together, I used a paper towel to soak up the concoction and apply to my sanded, raw corners (USE GLOVES HERE). Once it had dried, I used my spray paint to coat the stain, keep it from bleeding/running, and protect my shelf. You can use any kind of clear paint or polyurethane.

And guess what? That's it. The fun thing, though, is that, depending on what color of stain you want, you can create almost anything with food coloring just by mixing and matching, then applying the stain to an extra piece of wood to make sure it is your desired hue.

Look at that lovely, cost-effective stain

Only downside of this stain is that you do need a clear spray paint/polyurethane to protect the color from transferring to another surface, but once it's protected... BOOM. You are ready to go! And since you can't argue with the price... (what are we talking here, three cents on this project?) it'll be my new go-to for staining wood!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Why/How I Don't Scream at My Kids

We all want to live life without regret. We all, I think, have this wonderful, sunset picture of the end of our life, where we want to be able to look back on our actions and say, "Yeah, I  rocked it up. Good life."

I want to die without major regrets. Sure, I'll make stupid, dumb choices (ask my husband about that~!) but I don't want to reach the end of my life and yearn for the ability to un-do something.

I remember the first time I yelled at my daughter. She was a few weeks old and had terrible colic. Screaming. From 11:00 at night  until 7:00 or 8:00 the next morning. Just screaming. There was nothing I could to do to stop it. It pushed me to my limits and then some. And one night, I just screamed. "WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU!? JUST STOP CRYING! I'M SO TIRED! I JUST WANT TO SLEEP! PLEASE  STOP!!!" Of course, she didn't stop, I just started crying, and once she finally did fall asleep some four hours later, I hated myself. My daughter was pure, precious, and innocent. Literally incapable of doing wrong. Yet I, in all of my imperfections, screamed at her. Lost my patience. How could I, the one who birthed her and promised to protect her, do something so heartless?

I decided that screaming at my kids was just something I couldn't live with. I could make other mistakes in life and get over them, but I just couldn't get over screaming at my kids.

(Here, screaming at your kids is defined as shouting/yelling out of frustration/anger. Not to be confused with a totally separate scream to warn them of danger, etc.)

Not Screaming.

When I see this picture, I can imagine my
daughter saying, "Mama, how could
you yell at little old me?" ;)
It seemed impossible. "Do I even know a single mother who doesn't scream at her kids? Probably not. And if no one else in the whole world can seem to do it, why would I be able to?" I thought doubtfully to myself. But then I thought about my actions in public. Had I ever 'lost it' when there were others to watch me? Or did I somehow magically control myself when I had an audience?  The truth is, my kids have tried my patience to a level 10 in public and I hadn't screamed at them, but at home, when pushed only to a 7 or 8, I lost my patience. I figured if I could hold myself together in public, why couldn't I hold myself together at home?

So, I challenged myself. To never scream at my children. I began in the Bible and Book of Mormon, studying model (and less than model) parenting. I read about what children are, their inherent value, and their sweet innocence. And I most certainly prayed, morning and night, for help from God to be able to act well.

Today, my daughter pooped (the nasty toddler diarrhea kind) all over me, herself, and several rooms. I was in the middle of putting together a roast for company that night, making breakfast for picky kids, packing a lunch and diaper bag, and had a timeline of 30 minutes to get my entire to do list done before I got out the door. It was not a pristine morning. And though my daughter screamed for several minutes straight because she wasn't allowed to wear her flip flops on our hike, I didn't lose it.


I definitely think this in my head sometimes...
I have learned to recognize the emotion. When you feel anger or frustration boiling up inside you, step back inside your head and say, "Wow. I'm mad." By simply being able to recognize the emotion, you are giving your logical side a leg up on your crazy emotional side. Just recognize it. Once you've done that, take another step back in your mind (usually at this point, I have to just pretend there is no crying or screaming going on, though there normally is) and say, "I AM mad- but I won't act out of that emotion."

It's pretty simple in method, though difficult in implementation. Recognize your emotion, state inside your head (or out loud if it helps) and say "YES! I AM frustrated/mad/going crazy. And that's ok. This is a rough situation. I do want to blow a gasket.  BUT EVEN THOUGH I FEEL THIS WAY, I HAVE THE POWER TO HOLD BACK. I won't act out of anger."

The truth is, we DO have control over ourselves. I can assure you, there have been times in my life when I have been around others that had done something so wrong that I wanted to smack them across the face- but as a logical, rational adult, I held back. If I can hold back from physically or vocally abusing an adult that has done something quite wrong, surely I can have the wherewithal to keep it in when dealing with my children who, being young and still learning, often are not in the wrong at all or else don't quite understand what/how they were wrong.

Just a cute pic of my little girl  goin to sleep
with her cowboy boots

Please know that I mean none of this unkindly or cruelly. I am a mother. I know it is hard. I have more compassion for mothers (single mothers especially!) than nearly any other group on earth. Please don't read this as a statement of judgement. I simply want to convey that we all can be the kind of mothers we want to be. And from those few times in the beginning when I did lose it and just scream at my babies, I can assure you, it much easier to not scream at my kids than it is to live with that awful pit in my stomach that inherently accompanies losing my temper.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

DIY Frozen Pizza

My husband, for one reason or another, loves frozen pizzas. And not even fancy Freschetta or DiGorno pizzas, but like the crap, made-from-cardboard, less-than-a-dollar ones. They are made from about a million ingredients and have basically zero nutritional value. (I was  curious and actually counted- it had a total of 119 ingredients) Anything that has over 100 ingredients probably isn't the most natural, so I decided to just make my own. And in addition to the fact that my own frozen pizzas had a much smaller list of ingredients and was more wholesome, they were also half the price of the 'el crapo' pizzas that my hubby loves.
(this is totally a thin crust lovers pizza. If you don't like thin crust, you probalby won't love this recipe.)

*4 cups flour (wheat/white- doesn't matter)
*1 Tb salt
*2 tsp dried oregano
*1/2 tsp black pepper
*1/2 Tb garlic powder
*1/2 Tb onion powder
*4 eggs
*1 1/3 cup milk

*2 small cans of tomato sauce
*1 Tb garlic powder
*1 Tb onion salt
*1 Tb oregano
*1 Tb dried basil

*as you like! Cheese/pepperoni/peppers/onions/olives/tomatoes/etc.
Rolled out on the tray 

12 gallon baggies

Step 1
preheat oven to 350 
Mix dry ingredients (add or take out spices as you prefer), then mix in the eggs and milk. The dough should be well mixed and slightly sticky (too dry and you will have some gross crust). If you find it dry, add milk as necessary to moisten up the crust.

Step 2
Using a measuring cup, portion out the dough into 1/2 cup chunks of dough. Roll each 1/2 cup portion of dough to a little less than 1/4 of an inch, and prick the crust all over with a fork.

Bubbles, but not browned
Step 3
Lightly grease cookie sheets and put two crusts on each tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until the crust bubbles but hasn't browned at all.

Step 4
Mix the sauce together (again, adding or omitting spices as you prefer). Spread the sauce evenly over the entire pizza crust, all the way to the edge. Sprinkle your non-cheese toppings on the pizza, THEN the cheese on top of it.

Sauce to the edge!
Step 5
Throw the whole tray right into the freezer and wait for the pizza to freeze entirely (3-4 hours). Once the pizzas have frozen through, take them out and, using a spatula, remove the pizzas from the tray and place them individually into gallon size baggies. Now you can put them right back into the freezer and stack them up in a corner.
Check out how cleverly I stacked
multiple trays of pizzas in my freezer!
It was a stacking adventure- that's
6 pizzas right there

Step 6
Now what?! Just bake the pizzas for an additional 10 minutes or until the pizza crusts are lightly browned.

I love this, because by doing one afternoon of mixing and baking, I can have several weeks of snacks that I don't feel guilty about giving my hubby. It's cheaper than crap pizzas and definitely more wholesome.
Pizza stack!

Monday, February 17, 2014

10 Reasons Muffin Tins Rock

Now, we all love ourselves a good muffin, right? It is, afterall, the only time you can refer to a muffin top with a smile, not a frown, on your face. BUT! Our wonderful friend the muffin tin is so much more than just a muffin-baker. Here are nine other, non-muffin ways to use that old pan in your pantry.

1. They work wonderfully when making a crumbly pastry, like a butter muffin, which easily crumbles when formed onto a tray.

2. They are great for starting plants in your home. I recently did my entire herb garden, all started in various muffin cups. They are especially great if you want to plant just a few of each type of plant so that they are eassily distinguishable.

3. Bake, don't fry, your meatballs. They keep their shape really well (mini muffin tin) and you pick them up and leave LOTS of grease behind.

4. (Not Pictured) Eggs IN Ham. You use a piece of thin sliced ham as a 'muffin cup', then crack one egg into each cup. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes and you have a beautiful all-in-one breakfast cup- see more at Pollyanna Reinvents.

5. Of course, smack dab in the middle, come blueberry muffins! And if you want to take the effort to bake them from scratch, may as well use the BEST recipe and make the BEST muffins ever.

6. Fancy Jello desserts! Use the tin to tip your cups while the gelatin sets for surprisingly attractive parfaits! Thanks William Recipes for a fun idea!

7. Mini pie shells. You can use pie crust or even just a ball of cookie dough, smashed down in the center, to make your own mini pie shells.

8. Paint projects! So perfect when you have more than one kiddo painting at the table- it helps to divide up (and keep divided!) your paints.

9. Condiment holder at a barbeque. Everything you need for your burger in one easy, display-worthy stop.

10. And, to finish out.... Use your muffin tin for big, fat cinnamon rolls! Cut them extra thick and place into your tin to bake. Baking times are slightly shorter in the muffin tin and if you are lucky... your cinnamon roll will have a muffin top of its own.

There you have it. Ten reasons to justify you having multiple muffin tins. I know I do!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Avocado Salsa Salad- Fresh AND Refreshing

I love avocado season, when the prices drop from 1.09 and up to.... 3 or 4 for 1.00! I always buy a dozen or so and go on kind of an avocado binge- I make guacamole, put it in my DIY Sushi- and, perhaps most frequently, this avocado salsa salad. I call it a salsa salad, because I eat it as both. It is mild enough that it can be eaten by the bowlful as a mid-day snack but is also great with tortilla chips or on a grilled tortilla. Bonus? Perfectly vegan.

*4 cups tomatoes, diced
*2 cups onions, diced (Walla Walla or Vidaila are best because they are sweet and mild)
*1/2 bunch cilantro, diced
*7 medium avocados
*juice of 3 limes
*1 Tb garlic salt
*1/2 Tb pepper
*1/2 Tb onion salt

All but the avocado...
Step 1
Mix together everything EXCEPT the avocados into a large bowl.

Step 2
Half the avocados, remove the pit (of course) and cut it horizontally and vertically (see the pic). Run your finger between the flesh of the avocado and the skin in order to remove it directly into the bowl. Once all of the avocados have been added, mix them in very gently, in a folding motion, with a wooden spoon.

Step 3
Enjoy! It's just a perfect balance of mixed veggies and seasoning.