Friday, May 31, 2013

5 Minute Friday... Imagine

Five Minute Friday The subject for today's 5 minute Friday post is imagine. Here are my 5 minutes.


I would have never imagined I would be where I am today. If someone would have told my 21 year old self that I'd be a semi-crunchy mom of two little boys these days I would have laughed at them. I had my life planned, har har. I was going to write or sing or still be waiting tables, perhaps managing. But absolutely NOT a mommy.

I could have never imagined that that the things that would be fulfilling to me are baking bread with the boys or tending our container garden. I couldn't even imagine owning (well, paying on) a home. I could have never imagined meeting a man as wonderful as the one I met and married.

I imagined I would be some sort of dark Dorothy Parker writer.. Or I would have finished college and saved the world.. Or maybe I would have had some dogs.

I am so glad that my life is better than I imagined. More than I ever could have imagined. A more perfect version of anything I could have ever imagined.

I can't even imagine what the future holds. My life has become much smaller in some ways, much larger in others. I love it.


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Bad Blogger

I'm a bad blogger...

I was going to do the Five Minute Friday post... I was going to blog about my container garden that is starting to produce... And then my Great Aunt, my FAVORITE Great Aunt, had another stroke. So the blogging has fallen to the wayside while I worry. She's a lot to do with the way I am today.

We did manage to hit our local farmer's market this morning and marched against Monsanto today here in Nashville.

I will be back soon. I just haven't felt much like writing the past few days.

I will leave you with an adorable pic of Connor from the march today.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

iPhone Cord Saver... WIN!

Short post here today, the husband is off from work so there will be lots of chores done today! All manner of yard work to do. We've got our back patio garden rocking along with some decorative plants but the front of the house looks awful. (Post to come about how edible landscaping turned into container gardening!)

Our holly bushes (which I despise) are growing out of control and the lawn looks more like a meadow with all of the weeds growing. We're probably going to have to dig up the yard to get rid of the weeds so for this summer, we're just keeping them trimmed. The bushes will eventually be pulled up and replaced with prettier things that don't reach out and bite you when you walk by. I'm thinking blueberry bushes, hydrangeas, roses... I am hoping to mix edibles with pretty flowers.

So today is a crazy easy solution to a problem I have... The kinked iPhone charger cord. I plug in my phone when I go to bed but generally stay up reading for a while on my Kindle app, resulting in a kinked cord where it meets the plugin on the phone. I don't have a before pic because I never planned to use this as a post but I DO have an after! :)

What you will need... A spring from an old ball point click pen and your iPhone cord.

Twist the spring around the cord until it is all onto the charger cord, think putting a new key on a key ring. I will warn you, there was a bit of cursing involved in getting the first couple of spirals onto the cord. Those little springs are tight. All told, it took me about 2 minutes. When you've got it all twisted around, it should look like this!

Now, you can read your Kindle app or text or Facebook all you want with your phone charging and you don't have to worry about the cord kinking or coming apart! A total WIN!

Friday, May 17, 2013

5 Minute Friday: Song

Five Minute FridayI've decided to do a post a week not about Pinterest or knitting... Unless it comes up in the 5 minute Friday posts.. LOL. It's a big link party each Friday where everyone writes about one word for 5 minutes. No editing, no worries... Just writing. I think it will be fun and allow you all to get to know me better!

Here goes nothing!

Today's word is song. I love music. LOVE music. It has gotten me through hard times, lifted me up when I'm blue, and provided a soundtrack to some wonderful and amazing moments. I wish I could say I have a favorite song. I don't. There are so many songs out there that move me. Some classical, some chick rock, some blues. There is no one song that defines me.

Both boys love music intensely and their favorite songs right now are Adele's "Rumor Has It" and most anything Beatles. It is amazing to watch them already relate their feelings to music and find themselves in particular songs. I would imagine right now it's more the sound and less the words.. They're only 4 and almost 2.

Jonathan and I have a song.. It sounds cheesy but it is Etta James' "At Last". We used to sit in his apartment talking all night and listening to blues, he chose that song for us. It was sweet and kind and true. It made me love him all the more. We have another song, when things aren't great.. Patty Griffin's "When it Don't Come Easy". It is absolutely what brings us even closer together.

Okay, so that was 6 minutes. But now you know a bit more about me! If you want to join in the fun, click either of the links to 5 minute Friday and come play!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

DIY Eye Cream... WIN!

Do you ever feel like the more you learn, the more you wish you wouldn't have gone out looking for information? I have those feelings about learning to live more naturally lately. I feel like everything I buy is just a horrible, toxin-laden, chemical nightmare. I especially feel this way about skin care products.. And then I see the commercials for Oil of Olay or Clinique and their promises of satiny smooth age spot free skin.. And then I look in the mirror. I'm starting to get crows feet, I have an age spot on my cheek. And I think, how can I possibly reconcile my intense desire to slather my face in toxic sludge just to look like I did when I was 20 with the fact that I am terrified that if I use said product, I may grow gills? Okay, I exaggerate for effect, but you get the point.

Ladies, we all know how it is. First, we notice tiny little lines around our eyes. Then, we raise our arms up for whatever reason and our boobs go back where they belong... And then, KIDS... Stretch marks and sagging skin and dark circles under our eyes... And there seems to be no way to stop it! I will honestly say, I have had the thought, "I am in my 30s, I am happily married, I have had babies... Do I really have to look good? Maybe I'll just give up, I mean I'm past my prime anyhow..." And then some 15 year old boy calls me ma'am at the grocery store and it makes me want to cry. All the poor kid did was have good manners.

So, I am determined to find ways to keep my youthful beauty. Without gill-causing chemicals. I found this on Pinterest... Imagine that! And I am pretty impressed with how it is working for my crow's feet! You're going to have to trust me on this one, I can't get a good pic of the side of my face with my phone.

It is insanely easy! Two ingredients according to the recipe or three if you make it like me!

This is from Ramblings of a Happy Homemaker, as the pic below!

All you need is coconut oil and vitamin E oil. I added a little lavender essential oil because it is good for your skin. I think I am going to use frankincense next time because it is also wonderful for skin!

Before you freak out about all of the OILS I just mentioned, oils are good for your skin. The right oils are even better for your skin. Herehere, and here are some fun links about using oil for better skin health!

Pic from Ramblings of a Happy Homemaker

So, back to business, you find a jar. Any small jar will work, the jar you see here looks like a room service sized jelly jar. I picked up a small baby food sized jar at a craft store. 
Melt your coconut oil, you can let it sit in a warm room, warm it with a double boiler setup, microwave it... Whatever method YOU feel comfortable with. 
Remove from heat if you are using a heat source to liquefy the coconut oil.
Then add your Vitamin E oil. You can either use capsules that you squeeze the gel from or a liquid Vitamin E oil. You just add a little. Maybe about a teaspoon for a 4 ounce jar. 
Stir it until it is completely mixed and add your essential oils if you are including them. Pour into your container. 
**NOTE: if you are using essential oils in your eye cream, make sure you are using a glass jar. EOs can change chemical composition of plastics and leech chemicals into the cream or dissolve the plastic. This does not make them dangerous to skin, we are not made of plastic and good essential oils will be ONLY plant material** 
I like to put it in the fridge to get it to solidify completely and quickly.

It is completely fine to store on your bathroom counter, but do be aware that coconut oil liquefies at 76* so if you live in a warm climate, your cream may become oil. In either state, it is wonderful to use on crows feet and areas of dryness. I use a tiny amount on the tip of my ring finger to make sure that I don't apply too much pressure to the tender skin around my eyes. 

I have a girlfriend that was struggling with eczema patches and she found this blend to be quite effective on them!

Have you tried this? Going to try it? Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New York Cheesecake...... WIN!!!

You know when you realize two days before Mother's Day that you're short on money and time and have gotten exactly nothing for your mom? That's when you hop on to Pinterest and start looking at things to bake. Like me, my Mom enjoys sweet things so I immediately looked for desserts. And then I was stuck. I know she likes chocolate but chocolate seems overdone sometimes. I know she likes pies but I am not ready to make pies... I'm still a wee cook. And then it hit me.... CHEESECAKE. My Dad refuses to eat cheesecake. I don't get it but it works out because it leaves more for Mom and I. She really doesn't get to eat cheesecake much because only she likes it. So, PERFECT MOTHER'S DAY GIFT!

And then I kind of freaked out.. There are a lot of cheesecake recipes out there. From just cream cheese to incredibly complicated (or so I thought). I tend to be a go big or go home kind of chick so I went for the more complex recipe (Here's the pin!). I was pretty positive I was going to botch it. But, the kind baking gods smiled down on me and a delicious, beautiful cheesecake would be mine.

I will say, the recipe looks more complicated than it really is. It's all about timing and making sure you do not open your oven.

Here it is!
Annie's Eats ( New York Cheesecake:
For the crust:
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 additional tbsp, melted for greasing the pan
4 oz (approx 8 whole) graham crackers, broken into rough pieces and processed into fine, even crumbs (I think I actually used 9 because it was what was in the package)
1 tbsp sugar

For the cheesecake:
2 1/2 lb (5 8oz packages) cream cheese, cut into rough 1 in chunks, at room temperature
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large egg yolks, plus 6 large eggs, at room temperature

To make the crust, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325*. Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan with 1/2 tblsp of the melted butter. In a medium bowl combine the graham cracker crumbs, 5 tbsp melted butter, and sugar. Toss with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Transfer the crumbs to the springform pan and use the bottom of a ramekin to firmly press the crumbs evenly into the pan bottom. Bake until fragrant and beginning to brown around the edges, about 13 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while preparing the filling.

Funny story about the crust.. I don't have a processor big enough to process that many crackers at once. So, I used this fun stress relieving technique, the boys really got a kick out of watching me pound their favorite snack food with a hammer....

Increase the oven temperature to 500*. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese at medium-low speed to break up and soften it slightly, about 1 minute. Scrape the beater and the bottom and sides of the bowl well with a rubber spatula; add the salt and about half of the sugar and beat at same speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; beat in the remaining sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla. Beat at low speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the egg yolks and beat at medium-low speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Scrape the bowl; add the remaining eggs 2 at a time, beating until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl between additions. Make sure you are scraping the bowl after each addition!

Brush the sides of the springform pan with the remaining 1/2 tbsp melted butter. Set the pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any spills in case the pan leaks. Pour the filling into the cooled crust and bake 10 minutes, without opening the door, reduce the oven temperature to 200* and continue to bake until the cheesecake reads about 150* on an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and let cool until barely warm, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Run a paring knife between the cake and the springform pan sides. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 3 hours.

To unmold the cheesecake, remove the sides of the pan. Slide a thin metal spatula between the crust and the bottom of the pan to loosen, then slide the cake onto a serving plate.

At Mom's house, we did macerated strawberries for the topping. Cut up strawberries, sprinkle sugar over the top, put in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and voila! macerated strawberries!

At home, I did hot fudge. Because I am addicted to chocolate. :)

This cheesecake was so wonderful, it was dense but not too rich, it was light but not lacking in flavor. The top didn't crack, which apparently is a problem with homemade cheesecakes... It was perfection! My Mom LOVED it and that's what matters. I think it was as good or better than anything store bought.

Coming up in the next few days will be a few work in progress posts, I will show the afghan I am working on and probably a post on tincturing.

Now, GO! Make cheesecake!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mail Center.... WIN!

I have been so incredibly busy this week! It was the boys' last week of Mother's Day Out for the week, Connor decided that napping was for sissies... The husband has been working crazy hours.. Just all in all busy! Oh, and I am still working on Manic Mama's award. My brain has been too scrambled to think up questions to ask the people I pass the award on to.

OH, and I had a dead ear this week, resulting in an unplanned trip to the doctor's office to have my ears irrigated. SOME people said that this was an incredible feeling and that it would just make my day... They were WRONG. Let me tell you, I have this horrible (inherited from my Mom) phobia about water in my ears. I can take an entire shower without getting my ears all full of water. So, when one of my ears stopped up early in the week I just thought it would fix itself like stopped up ears often do. It went on for days, by Thursday evening it was starting to hurt. All I could think was NO ANTIBIOTICS! NO EAR INFECTION! So I went to the doc yesterday. One peep in my ear revealed that it was all clogged with wax. GROSS! So they irrigated them. It was like being waterboarded in my ear. I wanted to cry. I actually frantically facebooked to my best friends that I was pretty sure I was drowning. They totally talked me through it, while probably laughing at me since I could neither see faces or hear voices.. lol.

It was horrific, but I now can hear the grass growing. No infection, thankfully.

Okay, but y'all don't come around to hear about my gross health issues.. So on to the organizational fun times!!! One look at this pin and I swooned. LOOK how organized and beautiful that is! I mean, a huge calendar that you can read, places for mail, and inspirational quotes!? SOLD!

Mine isn't quite as fancy as hers but it's totally functional and makes me oh-so-happy!

Here are the quotes I used:
Be humble, for you are made of earth.
Be noble, for you are made of stars.

The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

I bought the picture frames at the dollar store, and picked up scrapbook paper to print on. The possibilities are endless! These just struck a chord with me. :)

I then added a really cool magnetic dry erase calendar, I found super cute dry erase markers that are attached to magnets so I can hang them ON the calendar. Joy of joys! No lost markers! Directly under the calender I put a row of hooks for our keys. The plan was so that the keys would dangle into the mail tray, keeping them away from little fingers. Parker shows that our plan was not perfect. Kitchen chairs make a whole world of things possible for kids.
I picked up a simple black hanging file holder from Target to complete the mail center. It was so easy to do! Now everyone knows where their keys are, what is going on for the month, and can find that bill that needs to be paid! And each time I look up at the quotes, it inspires me to work a little harder on being awesome that day. I would say that altogether I spent about $25 on the whole thing. The calendar was most expensive at $16.99 but I had a 40% off coupon for Joann so I only paid half price for it!

Pardon the gigantic fingerprint on the picture, I didn't see that until just now! :/

Couponers, have you heard of Snip Snap? It's an app for iPhone (maybe for others too but I'm not sure). It allows you to search a database of coupons. All you do is search for it, "snip it", and it is saved on your phone. Then when you check out, just present your phone with the coupon bar code to the cashier. It is so great and there's coupons for everything on it! Joann is my favorite place to use it, because you can use more than one coupon so long as the barcode is different!

There you have it! A cute, organized place for your mail and plans! Do you have a central location for things or are they all scattered about?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Soft Sugar Cookies....WIN!

Let me start by saying, I have a horrible sweet tooth. I could consume nothing but cookies and cake and pastries and chocolate and candy... But I am insanely picky about sugar cookies. Insane. They have to be soft. If I wanted a cracker, I'd eat a cracker. They have to be sweet but not overly so. I don't care for frosting on my sugar cookies (or my pop-tarts, one of my processed food vices). I want the perfect sugar cookie. And I found it. First try, folks. It's gotta be a record.

Parker had been pestering asking me to make cookies for days. I hate baking cookies. I hate chilling and then rolling dough. It never works for me. I don't know how many batches of cookie dough I have flung into the trashcan, flinging profanity right along with it. I love baking cakes and biscuits, just not cookies. I searched until I found the least labor intensive cookie recipe I could find... This one, by Robin at saved my life. I could totally make these! The total time to make them?? Seventeen minutes. Seventeen minutes?? It takes me longer than that to get Connor dressed in the morning!!

Let's do this!! You can have cookies made before lunchtime!

A couple of notes... The recipe is for a cookie cake but she does include cook times for cookies. I made my cookies too big the first try so they were huge and floppy, so pardon the funny picture. Next batch will be smaller and prettier. :)

Frosted Soft Sugar Cookies:
See? My cookies are huge! Next time, they'll be smaller.

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoons vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time and combine well. Increase speed of mixer after both eggs have been incorporated. Add in vanilla.

In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients through salt with a whisk. Using the paddle attachment of mixer, gradually incorporate dry ingredients into butter mixture until all has been combined.

To make cookies, preheat oven to 400*.

Scoop one tablespoon of cookie dough onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Gently press with palm of your hand to flatten.

Bake for 7-8 minutes being careful not to over bake.

We may or may not have gobbled them all down within 24 hours... They are that dang good.

Oh and Manic Mama, I'm getting to your award... I'm trying to think up interesting stuff about myself. LOL.