Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Larabar Knockoffs

So I've been talking about this for a while.  You how talk is, it's cheap.  Sometimes I talk a lot.  Anyways.  I'm in love with Larabars.  I have forbidden myself from buying them unless they are 10/ $1 at Hy-Vee; which seems to happen not often enough. 
This is why I love them so much:

 •They taste like dessert.
 •They are only made with 5 or so ingredients that I can pronounce and actually have in my pantry.
 •They are snack size.
 •My husband doesn't know how good they are.


 •I hid them from the rest of my family.
 •I cannot eat them in more than one setting.
 •Coconut and Key Lime are my favorites.

Now that you know too much, I must tell you how to make them.  Yesterday while reading a post by Keeper of the Home 10 on-the-go Healthy snacks for Toddlers, there was a link to The Elliott Homestead, there she gave several options to Larabars. So, last night I had to try the Coconut Cream Pie, yum yum.  I ended up having to use more dates than the recipe called for.  Mine were dried and may have needed to be soaked first. 

Now if you are thinking those bars are still too expensive to make, I have an alternative.  I have made these coconut balls.

I food process:

•2 cups dates

•2 cups oats

•1/2 shredded coconut

•a dash of cinnamon

I form them into bite size balls and try not to eat them all, especially at breakfast.

Next, I'll be trying the roasted chickpeas. I have my peas sitting on the stove soaking.  I'll tell you how they turn out.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Potty Training Jester

Yes, that's what you can call me lately.
So if you don't know already, I have a 2 year old.  No, let's clarify; he is a month away from turning 3.  He is beyond wonderful and very smart.  So smart, that now he informs me while I'm changing his poopy diaper that he needs to be potty-trained or "Oh, Bummers, I need to use the potty."- Ha, no kidding. 
Last summer several months after my second son was born we tried potty training.  Things were going pretty well.  We were informed most of the time when he had to go.  On a camping trip he even used the outhouse.  I could see in the near future that our diaper bill beginning to decrease.  Good bye Huggies, Hello Lightning McQueen and Mickey Mouse underwear!
I don't remember the day, or the week, or month, but something went sour.  No more trips to the potty, He didn't even want to go near the Elmo seat.  Going to the bathroom was no longer cool and definitely not necessary.
Since then we have "tried" every once in a while, but nothing consistent.  Until yesterday.  Yesterday I was home from church with a little boy with pink eye.  After breakfast we headed to the bathroom.  Surprisingly he didn't refuse.  Much to my doubting mind within seconds, success!   I was cheered, yelled, high fived, and plain celebrated.  Wait a minute.  (My father told me once, don't count your chickens before they’re hatched).

Plan: I would go get the sucker; he would go to his room and wait for me to put a diaper on him.
I went to the kitchen found a mango sucker- I love mango, they are so succulent- he went his room.  On my up the stairs my mommy ears heard something.  You guessed it- peed all over the floor.  You must be kidding me. Sigh

End of the story, I gave him the sucker and cleaned up the mess. 
What are some of your potty training stories?  Suggestions appreciated.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Kumbucha detox

Here at our house we make it it a priority eat/drink fermented and cultured foods.  A year or two ago I attended a kefir making workshop. The woman  presenting also talked about the benefits of Kumbucha how to make your own.  I thought I wold try it.  Many of you may be asking what is Kumbucha?  Good Question.  Kumbucha is a tea that is fermented with an algae.  This tea has been around for a 1,000 years, it's origin is China. This tea is a natural detox of the liver.  It contains little caffeine and the sugar that is added ferments the drink.  This bubbly drink is a great substitute for pop.  Use caution  when giving this to children and pregnant women.  It is safe to drink in my opinion, but you must take it slow at first until your body gets used to it.   I always add water to it when giving it to my son. 
So you maybe wondering why I don't buy my own.  Well if you have learned anything about me you have noticed that I don't like to pay for things I can make cheaper myself (for the most part).  Kumbucha at the store is about $4 a bottle for a 16oz glass.  Ha! I am not willing to pay that. So I'm going to give you a step by step how to, so you can now make your own for the price of a cup of sugar and 5 tea bags.

Here we go.  Things you will need:
  • kumbucha mother and a cup of kumbucha juice- this you can buy online or contact me.  Every week and a half I have one to give away
  • gallon glass jar- with spigot is the best
  • big steel pot for boiling water
  • dish towel
  • 3 quarts of water
  • 5 tea bags
  • 1 cup sugar
  • glass jars- to store kumbucha in
  • pure juice-optional
After you have purchased your "mother" or "mushroom", whatever you like to call it, you are ready to start.  First boil 3 quarts of water on the stove in a steel pot.  
When the water comes to a boil add the cup of sugar.
Allow the sugar to boil for 5 minutes.  When your timer goes off, remove the pot from the heat.
Now it is time to brew your tea.  Choose the tea of your choice.  When completed, the Kumbucha will not have a strong tea favor, so what tea you choose is really just anything you have on hand.  You will need about 5-6 individual tea bags.  There is no right or wrong way to brew the tea.  Allow the tea to steep for 10-15 minutes.  Now your tea must cool before placing it in the gallon glass jar.  So it doesn't crack or burn the "mother."

While your tea is cooling it is time to get your glasses and your jar washed and ready to go.  You will need about 5 glass small jars to store your Kumbucha in.  I use kumbucha jars form the store.  These are made out of thicker glass than most.  While storing your Kumbucha it will continue to ferment.  The thick glass jars will prevent the unlikely event of them exploding.
Your gallon glass jar should have a large opening at the top.  I use a cheap one that I purchased at Wal-mart a long time ago.  I like it because it has a spigot, which makes it more convenient to dispense the liquid once it's done.
When the tea is no longer hot pour it into the gallon jar.  Pour the mother and cup of kumbucha over the tea.  Place a tea towel over the opening and secure with a large rubber band.  Now you wait.  And wait , and wait a little more.  It may feel like days that you are waiting and it really is days.  6-15 days to be exact.  If you like your kumbucha more sweet, you will want to harvest it around 6.  If you like your kumbucha with more bite you'll be closer to 15.  Or you can be like me and forget and guess.  I think that method works the best.  If your not sure how you like Kumbucha try it from the spigot.  
Place your kumbucha gallon jug in a cool dark spot.  I put my on the courter top out of the way.


Now that you have found time to harvest your Kumbucha get your jars out.  Pour from the spigot until there is an 1 1/2 in head space or more. *****Now you must make a decision.  If you like the way your Kumbucha taste now put it in jars and refrigerate.  Another way to enjoy Kumbucha is to add juice. (I prefer juice it give more variety to the favor).   Here is where I add approximately 2 oz of pure juice (we like using Knudsen).  Ginger is my favorite favor of Kumbucha, but my husband hates it, so I use whatever juice is in the fridge.  This time it was Knudsen organic apple juice.
Now that your juice is in, you can close the lid and put it in the pantry for the second fermentation.  Or you can put it in the refrigerator to use.  You can leave it in the pantry for up to two week, then put it in the refrigerator to use.  Once you put it in the refrigerator the fermentation slows down drastically.  Your pantry should be dark and cool.

Now you are ready to enjoy and repeat. Try all kinds of flavors and tea combinations.   If the instruction are lacking please comment.  I would me more than happy to clarify.
*When you have completed a full cycle of fermentation you will have a "mother" kumbucha left over.  This can be given to a friend or composted.  They are great for your garden. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Brass knuckles, Airplanes, and Boomboxes

One of my new favorite spots is the Blue Radish Coop downtown.  If you don't know where its at look down the alley:)  This cute little shop is not more than 10 feet wide but is jam packed with fabulos finds.  This coop is made up of artist who sell their creations in the ally.  Several also hold classes.  I was lucky enough to snag a spot in recent screen printing class.
  Forgive me I don't remember the guy's name who held the class but he did play against my husband in college football. He kindly didn't mention that he beat him four years straight.

  During this two hours I was taught how screen work and are made.  Most importantly I learned how to do this at home. I brought some shirts that I purchased at Wal-mart to print. Always check the sale rack, these I bought for 1.50( I will rarely buy anything not on sale). All boy shirts to give to my boys or  as gifts. 

This one is one of my favorites!

All the screen were homemade.  He used recycled pastic to attack his screens.  The paint that is used can be from at hobby lobby.  Double bonus! 

When I came home I showed off my t-shirts to my boys.  It suprised as to which ones they choose as their favorite.  My oldest wanted to have the musicbox.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Remodeling The bathroom


Yes, I'm smiling. I'm smiling because soon I will no longer step on little rubber toys to take a shower. My master bath is completing it's remodeling. This fall we decided that our shower needed a make over. So, over winter break my husband tore out the plastic shower.  It was disguising.  It have this gross glass sliding doors and made the bathroom look like a mouse hole.
We have decided to tile it. Tile looks so much better than plastic, don't you think? Well we decided to take the cheap route this time and buy tile at Lowes. Not that all tile at Lowes is cheap, we just chose the cheap kind. So, far so good. We have had some experience in tile prior to this. In our house we have tiled, the entry way, kitchen floor, kitchen backsplash, the bathroom tub area, and the backsplash in the bathroom. All of those projects have been assisted by my brother, the wonder guy. He can remodel almost any thing. More about him later.

Back to the bathroom. I'm realizing now that I don't think I have any pictures our bathroom before. I know I didnt take any before photos. It's rare to take pictures in the bathroom. Unless it is of children in the tub and there isn't a tub hence, no bathroom pictures. So you will have to live with the now photos instead. The "afters"are coming soon!!!

Did I mention that this was a small bathroom/shower. I dont like calling this a master bath because there is nothing master about it. It's more of an after thought.  The bathroom is so small that it is difficult to get a good veiw of the shower.  We decided not to put up the glass doors after finishing the tile.  I feel like having a shower curtain will open up the little space the best. 
I'll leave you with that.

Move to come on the progress of this after thought.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Stock: Update

When I posted about stock the other day I was informed that I was descriptive enough.  So here is an addition to the post.  Below are the detailed instructions on how to make beef stock.

Adapted from: The Grassfed Goumet cookbook: Beef Stock

 4-5 pounds of beef bones 
 4 large carrots, cut into large chunks
 3 ribs of celery, cut into large chunks
 2 onions quartered
 7-8 quarts water
 5 cloves of garlic unpeeled
 1 tsp salt
 1 tablespoon vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Place bones in a roasting pan.  Cook in for 30-45 minutes or until bones have browned.  Every 15 minutes or so flip over the bones.  Place bones into a large stockpot or crockpot (I like to do both so that I can make more stock). Add the water and vegetables.  Bring water to a boil. Add salt and vinegar.  Simmer the stock until the marrow and the meat falls of the bones.  I normally will simmer the stock all day put the stockpot in the refrigerator overnight and continue cooking it the next day.  If you are using a crockpot it will take longer for the stock to simmer. If the amount of water gets too low in the pots add when necessary.  If I have cooked my stock for a few days I often times will add water so that the stock is not quite so concentrated in the end. 
Before storing remember to remove all bones and vegetables. Allow the stock to rest until cooled.  Skim the layer of fat off the top of the stock and discard.
Remember making stock is not a science it can be as creative or simple as you make it.  Add or subtract whatever you need, want, or have.  My stock ingredients are always different and that makes each batch taste different, which I love.

Happy soup making:)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Bones, Bones, Bones

Don't worry my house is not burning down.  The smoke detectors will quit sounding soon.  It is  butchering time again.  In my husbands' family, we butcher cattle every other year.  This is the year and now is the time.  It has hardly been cold enough.  I will spare you the lovely details of butchering.  Instead I will talk about stock.  Yes, I make my own. For many reasons:

1. It's cheaper.
2. It's healthier.
3. It tastes better.
4.We have to do something with all the bones left over.

I know you're dying to know.  So I won't make you wait any longer.

There are a couple ways to make stock.  I have chosen a recipe from the  Grassfed Gourmet cookbook.  This a book that my husband and I got as a wedding present.  Some friends of ours from church who raise grassfed animals gave it to use, fittingly.  I would recommend the book.  The pork chop recipe is also good. 

Basically all you have to do is brown the bones, stick them in water, add any veggie scraps you can find and let it simmer.  Simmer it a long time. Oh, and add a little vinegar and salt.   This can also be done with chicken also.  Often times when I buy those nice salty whole rotisserie chickens I'll take the bones and make stock.

Storing the stock. 
The easiest thing to do is use up first.  But then you wont have any for later.  Cannning it is nice because you can store it anywhere forever, but you have to use pressure cooker.  This takes a while and heats up your house (good in the winter, bad in the summer.)  I prefer to freeze my stock if I have the freezer space.  This time I am just making room for it anyway.  As seen in the photo above, spoon the stock in mason jars.  First strain the liquid with a strainer.  (Anything left over makes great dog food and anything after that goes to the compost.)
REMEMBER to leave a good inch or more of head space.  I didn't and four of my jars cracked in the freezer.  When liquids freeze they expand. It's nature.
That's about it for stock.  Now when you need stock for soup or cooking your grains in, you have a healthier alternative to the salty water from the store.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

So I don't remember what got me started but now I can't stop. The garden, I just can't stop thinking about it. Maybe it's all the canned and preserved vegetables we have been enjoying?( Have I mentioned the tomato soup we have been devouring.  Yummy.  There is nothing better than canned tomato soup.) 
Maybe it's because of the warm weather or the news of the new magazine about living closer to the land, coming out from soulemama, Taproot. 
I guess it doesn't matter. 
Yesterday my son and I went outside for a little vitamin D.  I also was thinking that my youngest would be joining us out there soon and that I didn't want him to be crawling around all the dog droppings.   So I did a little yard cleaning.  When doing a dirty job like that I like to look at the bright side; picking up poop is a great way to stretch out your legs or break in your jeans either way, they both were accomplished.

After yard duty I went into the garden check it out.  Nothing spectacular, a few toys, a dog ball stuck under wire, and mis-placed tools. I pick up a rake and began to move some leaves.  Much to my surprise I found life.  Excited I picked and put the green in my mouth.  Of course my son was watching and what to try.  He is learning the best way to identify vegetation in the garden. 
 My first guess was green onions, but I tasted more meat to it.  Garlic!  We have garlic popping up in one corner.   I quickly covered the up lightly with leaves and put up some fencing to keep out the dog and the mini gardener.  Ha. We'll see how that goes.

 This will be our 6th year with a garden.  We have had a list of veggies which include: Brussel sprouts, chives, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, arugula, lettuce, green bean, tomatillos, zucchini, squash, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, green peppers, jalapenos, peas, strawberries, blueberries, asparagus, kale, swiss chard, onions, okra, cucumbers, beets:), carrots, turnips, parsnips, and potatoes.  Not all were successful, but part of the experience. This year I can't wait for lettuce, beets, and chives to show their faces.

What are you excited to plant in your garden this year? 

Friday, February 17, 2012

More Chocolate Please...

                   Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate.
I am a fan of chocolate. Mostly dark. With espresso.
So recently my best friend and a few other close friends decided to adventure out in the drizzling rain for the 7th annual chocolate tour.. My best friend and I grew up there and the downtown has become a fun place to hangout. I had never had the honor of touring this event. This year something about it excited me. 15 businesses in the downtown were part of the tour. We paid $10 a piece for our tickets. With that each ticket we got a couple ounces of chocolate at each Shop and a chance to be entered into the grand prize drawing. Exciting!

After picking up our bag we headed to eat lunch at our favorite little "hole" in the wall that was also part of the tour. We ate homemade tomato basil soup.  Mercantile is known for its broad selection of Missouri wines, we come for the amazing homemade,ever changing menu.  I wish they were open later.  Brunch/lunch is their main focus. A light lunch was just what I needed before we headed out to eat chocolate, and more chocolate.

Did I mention that we were carrying two under two. Toting two strollers is always a joy. Especially in crowded narrow stores with expensive merchandise;) They were wonderful and we couldn't have asked for more well behaved friends.

The best part of the tour actually came after the tour was over.  On the way back to my car I heard a peep from the backseat.  My son was telling on his cousin.  She was attempting to eat a mini cupcake, paper and all.  By the time I realized what was happening it was too late.  The paper became fiber.  

Happy Chocolate Eating Everywhere!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Special Dinner

When you think about Valentine's Day you usually think of long stem roses, chocolate, or a romantic dinner with the one you love.  You usually don't think about having a feverish baby ( He's the one who is crying in the background).  Well as you might have guessed I  spent my Valentine's night holding a sick boy.  My children very rarely fall asleep on my chest, so having my baby drift off into dreamland   was a delight.   

 While I was enjoying a meal the entire family helped to make my baby sweetly slept.  He was so sleepy he didn't even mind the noodle that fell down his shirt.  I confessed to my husband after dinner that this was the best Valentine's Day yet.
  What did you do for Valentine's Day?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Welcome to blogging!!

So here is my first post. How exciting!!
I have been dreaming, wondering, thinking, talking about doing this for over a year now.
For months, I have been thinking in blog mode.
Taking pictures, narratoring post, and cooking my favorite recipes on this blog.

I am blogging to give me away to document my life, my thought, my dreams. You're probably wondering about the name of my blog. I  choose this name because I run. I run to relieve stress and to keep myself in shape. While on a run I do my best thinking.  A day with a run is a good day. My hope is that this blog can do the same thing for me.

I'm not sure what direction this blog will go. For now sit back, laugh, smile, and enjoy!

Until we meet again-