Natural Skin Care

Favorite Spring Lip Balms {review and rank by $}

PicsArt_03-29-11.01.44

Spring+lip balm.

I had so much fun with my last lip balm post that I decided to do another. So here we are😃

(If you fancy checking it out, that post is here: My Top 5 Favorite Lip Balms {stocking stuffer ideas}

Two things (before I get to the lipbalms)

1. I like natural stuff. (If you follow along, I’m sure you couldn’t tell 😛😛) So many of my choices here are…

  • all-natural
  • or organic
  • vegan
  • made with free-trade ingredients
  • all of the above, etc.

I like my beauty products crunchy. Not always. But usually. I’m not vegan, but I do appreciate vegan products. And I very much love being earth and people conscious.

Products made with recycled materials. Ingredients that come from companies who give fair wages and don’t exploit poorer workers and resources in other countries. All that good stuff.

I like buying products that go for a good cause. I can’t always afford to. But…I like to.

PicsArt_03-27-04.17.53

2. I’m going to start rating the lip balms I review. The scale will look like this:

Good 💜

Better 💜💜

Very nice 💜💜💜

Really (really) nice 💜💜💜💜

Factors will include flavor, texture, smell, and effectiveness of the product.

 

The Lip Balm Lineup

 

PicsArt_03-29-10.52.57

Smooth Sphere Lip Balm in Blueberry Acai, by EOS

Flavor-nice sweet taste.

Texture-good balance of oil & wax.

Smell-not keen on the smell. I think it smells like a blueberry muffin. Can’t make out the acai very well.

Effectiveness-I feel like I have to keep re-applying, maybe because the sweet taste makes me want to lick my lips.

Other things I love: I love the shape and colors of the eos lip balms. Additionally, my daughter (age 2) really loves this one.

PicsArt_03-30-03.12.49

 

PicsArt_03-29-10.50.46

Mongo Kiss Vanilla Honey Lip Balm, by Eco Lips

Flavor-flavor is ok. Pretty mild.

Texture-Very balanced oil to wax ratio.

Smell-Nice but seems slightly off to me. I think I expected a stronger vanilla smell.

Effectiveness-Wears very well. I especially love to use this lip balm at night.

Other things I love: The ingredients are organic and the company uses fair trade cocoa seed butter.

The ingredients are also non-gmo and cruelty-free.

Also the mongongo oil intrigues me.

PicsArt_03-30-03.05.15

 

PicsArt_03-29-10.48.19

Everyday Coconut Fair Trade Lip Balm in Coconut Mint, by Alaffia

Flavor– Absolutely love. Coconut and mint are subtle but not too subtle. Taste is fresh and clean, but warm.

Texture– Somewhat oily, but waxy enough to protect my lips and wear well.

Smell– Love it.

Effectiveness-Works very well.

Other things I love: It is vegan, has only 5 ingredients and uses fair-trade coconut oil.

PicsArt_03-30-03.07.52

 

PicsArt_03-29-10.46.43

Wildflower Lip Balm (Vanilla and Violet), by GypsyFaeCreations

Flavor– The flavor, to me tasted a tiny bit like grape.

Texture– More oily/buttery.

Smell– Really love. I can totally make out the violet and it is divine.

Effectiveness– I didn’t feel like this balm was super moisturizing, maybe because of the buttery-ness.

Other things I love- This lipbalm is from an etsy shop. The owner, Tierrafae, is very creative and makes mainly soaps. I love supporting small businesses through etsy.

PicsArt_03-30-03.12.49

Pemberley Lip Balm (Rose and Honey), by GypsyFaeCreations

(No picture because in taking a group picture of the lipbalms in water I damaged the label.)

Flavor– The flavor was a bit strong on the rose element.

Texture– A small bit on the waxy side to me.

Smell– Same as above.

Effectiveness– I really wanted to love this lip balm but I found I didn’t enjoy wearing it long enough to really tell how well it worked.

What I loved- I loved the idea and Jane Austen fandom behind this product, which is the main reason I chose to buy it 😊

PicsArt_03-30-03.15.23

 

PicsArt_03-29-10.49.41

Chai Spice Lip Balm, by Hurraw! Balm

Flavor– Love it 100%.

Texture– A bit oily, but still good.

Smell– Love.

Effectiveness– Wears well.

Other things I love- the ingredients are organic, vegan and raw. I love this chai lip balm even better than the one from Primal Pit Paste (Pucker Paste).

PicsArt_03-30-03.05.15

Price comparison: $-$$$

 

Eco Lips (Mongo Kiss)- $1.97, for .25oz

1oz= $7.88


 

Eos$3.49, for .25oz

1oz= $13.96


 

Alaffia (Everyday Coconut)-$2.24, for .15oz

1oz= $14.94


 

GypsyFaeCreations (Wildflower)- $3.00, for .15oz

1oz= $20.01


 

GypsyFaeCreations (Pemberly)$3.00, for .15oz

1oz= $20.01


 

Hurraw! Balm$3.79 for .15oz

1oz= 25.28


 

So from this price comparison you can see that the more product you get for the cheapest price, the better deal you have.

However, it isn’t a deal if you don’t love the product. (Eco lips is an example of a great product for a great price.)

Another good lip balm I mentioned in my previous lip balm post is Smith’s Rosebud Salve. I purchased some when we were on vacation for $5.95. Sounds pricy right? But it’s .8oz, which equates to $7.44/oz…cheaper than even Eco Lips.

Eventually I hope to get into making my own lip balms. Possibly this summer or fall, if certain plants in my garden decide to cooperate. We shall see 😃😃🌱🌱🌈

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Caturday

Stella in the Sunshine

PicsArt_03-24-09.38.00

Ah sweet sunshine. We have had more of it lately. I love to chill out and spend awhile in the afternoons soaking up the sun.

Stella decided it was safe to come out (the kids were distracted playing a game) and she decided that sunbeams are wonderful too.

In fact, she probably knows that better than I do.

PicsArt_03-24-09.39.12

PicsArt_03-24-09.41.00

Cats love sunshine. And somehow, cats and knitting always go together.

I’m knitting another dishcloth here..my 3rd one so far. It’s covered in cat hair by now but of course I’ll wash it first when it’s finished. 😆🐈🐈🐾

Happy Caturday! Tuck into a bit of a sunbeam, if you can find one today😃

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Reflections

Letting Go {amidst the purls and the knits}

coffee-3043424

I must confess…

Letting go has never been easy for me. I hold too tightly, keep myself from change.

But in knitting…

If you hold too tightly, if you don’t let go, then you will never make a stitch. You can’t make any kind of progress at all.

It’s a simple enough concept, but I keep coming back to it. When I started knitting, my kids were sick with the flu. My son got it first. He was so sick. Sick with a high fever every night until Advil calmed it down.

Holding tight to our babies-that’s what mamas do best. I’m not suggesting letting go in any sense. 

But for me, I had to let go of the fear. The worry of, “Will he be ok??”. I wasn’t in charge of his healing. I had to trust that my prayers of petition to God and my limited ministrations would get him through.

And he did. He got over the flu. In spite of my fears and the paranoia fed by constant news updates telling me how horrible the flu is for children. (Thanks NBC.)

PicsArt_03-21-06.27.55

But back to knitting. I know I’ve been talking about knitting a lot. And that’s just because I’ve been doing a lot of it.

On vacation I knit square after square. It’s so grounding and therapeutic and easy to do while riding in the car, visiting with family. As a person who fidgets, knitting is bomb.

When I began learning how to knit, my work was a tangled mess. My stitches were loopy. I couldn’t figure out the direction of the needles. I would get nervous once I had formed thread on the needles, dreading letting go. Dreading the wrong stitch.

Isn’t that just how life is? We don’t want to mess up. So we hold on to things. We hold on and hold on, telling ourselves,”I can’t do that. I don’t want to fail. I don’t have what it takes”. 

But that’s wrong. I’m in the wrong for thinking that. I can’t is powerfully debilitating.

I can’t

It can cripple your life.

Your will.

Your desire to grow.

To be a stronger & better version of you. 

I’m not saying that who you are is not good enough. No, never. 

PicsArt_03-21-06.29.42

What I mean is that you will fulfill whatever prophecy you proclaim for your life.

If it is “I can’t do that“, then you won’t.

If it is “I’m afraid to try“, then it will keep you from new experiences.

I say these things from experience. I say them because I’ve believed “I can’t” about things for far too long. Because I’ve allowed fear instead of a desire to be vulnerable and different and broken to pervade my life. To control me.

I’ve feared letting go.

And I can fear it no more.

It’s time for change.

Bring on spring.

PicsArt_03-21-06.21.48

This poem is my own.

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 4, Dessert & Beverage)

PicsArt_03-16-02.43.37

Welcome back my wonderful readers to this Moroccan edition of Global Eats! It’s been a wonderful journey 😄

Here we are at Part 4, the end of my research and recipes on Morocco, and possibly the end of Global Eats for a time.

You can view parts I-III below, if ya care to:

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2, Condiment)

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 3, Main Dish)

But today, oh today is about….

Dessert! (And tea…but mostly dessert!)

I’m pretty excited for this one. How about you? Today I am sharing pictures from a recipe for Moroccan Coconut and Semolina Cookies, from blog Tajoon.

What I love about this blog is that it is authentic Moroccan food from a Moroccan blogger.

Loubna lives in the states but is from Morocco. One issue I had with this series is that it was difficult to find authentic recipes from Moroccan bloggers. This site has quite a few awesome recipes & I was happy to find it.

Making the Coconut and Semolina Cookies

PicsArt_03-16-03.00.24

Here is the set up for the cookies. I planned to make a 1/2 batch.

I subbed a few ingredients here. I didn’t have much white sugar (I try not to use it too much) so I used part white sugar and part coconut sugar.

Because the coconut flakes I had were on the chunky side, I ground them down a bit with a mortar and pestle to give it a finer texture.

Then lastly, I did not have orange water but I used what rose water I had. That stuff smells so good! 🌹😊

PicsArt_03-16-02.58.23

PicsArt_03-16-02.57.04

A half batch made 12 good-sized cookies.

PicsArt_03-16-02.54.16

PicsArt_03-16-02.52.44

These were messy, oh so messy to make. But fun and pretty easy.

As the cookies cooled, I made a cup of chocolate mint tea and let it steep for a good hour or so.

Then I added some raw honey and poured it into a pretty glass jelly jar.

PicsArt_03-16-02.51.44

What I Love About This Recipe

Several things. First of all…

  • It’s dairy-free.
  • It uses a flour I’ve never worked with before.
  • And you don’t have to chill the dough.

Taste

The taste is unlike anything I’ve ever tasted in a cookie. Like I said, I’ve never used semolina flour. The texture is a bit like fine cornmeal.

Texture

The texture of these cookies is what I would call crunchy. But not crispy. The semolina flour and coconut gave these cookies a good bit of texture. To me they tasted like a crispy waffle.

After letting these cookies sit overnight, I would say that the texture improved. The cookies were less crunchy and softer in texture.

I think this is the same concept as a cake made with oil. The first day it’s a bit dry. So you let it sit and its better the next day.

Taste

Not a whole lot of taste going on. Maybe this is due to the coconut sugar? There is some flavor from the coconut flakes and flour but it’s not like the dramatically flavored and sweetened American cookies I know.

But that’s probably a good thing. More sugar=more cravings=you can’t stop eating them=sugar crash.

These are good cookies and they do go well with the sweetened mint tea. They go well with a hot beverage the same way that biscotti goes well with coffee or whatnot. Although I’ve heard most Italians like their biscotti with wine…

Conclusion

Quick Preserved lemons, Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine and Coconut and Semolina Cookies.

Thus ends the Moroccan edition of my Global Eats series. Hope you’ve enjoyed our journey through the beautiful and uniquely delicious country of Morocco.

It’s been far from a complete culinary experience but I’ve had a lot of fun learning about so many unique dishes and flavors. And I’ve enjoyed sharing some of what I’ve learned with you guys. 🙂

It’s been a fun series but I’m looking forward to writing about other things.

I just finished planning my garden today so perhaps that will be one of the upcoming categories.

Thank-you for following along & God bless!

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Sewing & Repurposing

Whipstitch Wednesday: Large Envelope Style Pillow Covers

PicsArt_03-15-01.37.52

A week or so ago I decided it was finally time.

I needed to make new pillow covers for the livingroom pillows. Like yesterday. We had bought a new couch a year or two ago and it came with matching pillows. I didn’t like them but I also didn’t take the initiative to change them.

So a friend and I went to Wal-Mart and I bought some fabric to match with a large scrap I already had. I ended up blindly picking out a blue Waverly Inspirations print that I loved and it matched beautifully.

To make the pillows, I…

  • Planned the project.
  • Calculated the measurements of all the pieces.
  • Cut the pieces.
  • Sewed.
  • Ironed.
  • Then sewed some more.

Plan

I wanted to make 2 envalope pillow cases for the two large couch pillows. They needed to be easy to get on and off but not easy for the kids to remove.

I had fabric for the front and back and also large fabric pieces to line the inside to make them extra sturdy.

Measurements

Front

Ok. So the pillows were 21″ square. From that I knew that the front pieces would be 22×22″ for a 1/2″ seam allowance.

I cut 2 pieces of the chai print fabric and 2 peices for the lining.

Back

Then I had the pieces for the back which I am not 100% on the size, since I needed 2 pieces, factoring in seam allowance, overlap on the back and the hem on the one open side.

I cut 8 pieces total of this size. 4 from the blue waverly script fabric and 4 from my large piece of scrap fabric.

Cutting the Fabric

To cut out large patterns like this I use a very red neck method. (But it works well!) I get out leftover Christmas wrapping paper, measure and draw my pattern, then cut.

I lay the pattern over top the fabric and draw a straight line, then cut it out.

This method works really well with the wrapping paper that has the grid on the back to help you.

Sewing

Pinning and sewing is the fun part. I pinned the fabric pieces with their linings, wrong sides together and sewed all the way around with all 6 pieces.

Then I did the hem on the back pieces, (ironing first) where the edge envelope opening would be.

Then I put wrong sides together and sewed front pieces to the back pieces, taking care to triple stitch the parts where the edge of the back flap was. Then I turned it rightside out and stuffed in the pillows. I loooove the way they look.

And that’s that!

In the end this was what I had:

PicsArt_04-24-09.46.10

PicsArt_04-24-09.47.54

PicsArt_04-24-09.40.57

 

Cost:

It cost me about $10.40 to make these two pillow cases, or $5.20 per pillow case. That’s because the lining fabric I used was gifted to me from a friend. So I really only paid for roughly 2 yards, since the chai print I purchased as a scrap.

If I did buy that fabric, it would have added about $6 to the cost of the project.

Have you made any interesting home decor projects lately? Or have any plans to do one?

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 3, Main Dish)

PicsArt_03-16-02.43.37

Introduction

Hello and welcome back to the Global Eats series! This is country #2 in my new series.

 

Previously in the series on Morocco I shared:

Post #1-Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

Post #2-Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2, Condiment)

Check it out if you wish! Post #1 will give you a bit of background if you are not familiar with the food/culture of the country.

Goals for the Series

My intent is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1.  How do people in other countries save money on food?
  2.  What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

In my intro post, I covered question #2. I learned a lot about the common foods eaten and grown in Morocco.

And then in my last post, I shared my experience with preserving lemons. Why did I bother? Well because preserved lemons are awesome, obviously (nevermind the fact that I had no idea what they were for until I started reading about Morocco).

But mainly because I wanted to make tagine, and all Moroccan tagines call for preserved lemon.

 

The Main Dish: Moroccan Chicken, Apricot and Almond Tagine

The photos I’m sharing today are guided by the recipe for tagine which was created by The Daring Gormet.

Check out the site {via the link above} for the recipe 😊

And you may be wondering…ok so what is a tagine? Glad you asked!

marrakech-999370_1280

See the pots in the front that look like flower vases with a wide base? Those are tagines. They are cooking pots, for cooking..you guessed it. Tagines. How do they work?

tajines-1626986

A tagine has 2 pieces. The bottom part is a bowl and the top part is the lid. The food is cooked on the stove and then served as is.

The cool part about a tagine pot is that the shape is created so that the moisture rises and drips down back to the food, keeping it moist and tender. Much like a crockpot or a dutch oven. (I used the latter.)

You may be wondering where the tagine pot originally came from and who invented it. I’m not 100% sure on this one. Most sources said that nomads in North Africa used them, although no specific country or person was credited.

It’s a really cool invention huh? Kinda like the predecessor to the modern day crock pot. Super cool.

Cooking it Up

PicsArt_04-24-09.58.02

First of all, this was really good. Second of all there are 3 ingredients here that I want to spend a bit of time talking about.

Preserved Lemon

I talked about this in my previous post. I wasn’t 100% sure on why this was a necessary ingredient in tagine until I actually tried the dish.

I don’t know what the 4-week preserved lemons are supposed to taste like but I think the quick preserved lemons I used turned out well.

The recipe just called for 1/2 of a preserved lemon so I just added 2 pieces of it to the pot. I didn’t cut it up, just left it whole because I wasn’t so sure about eating it, to be honest.

Harissa

PicsArt_04-24-09.56.23

I purchased this harissa hot sauce from Amazon. I thought about making my own, but ended up not doing so because I couldn’t find the right kind of peppers.

The ingredients in the picture are tiny but it says “Rehydrated chilli 52%, water, modified starch corn, salt, garlic, coriander, caraway, acidity regulator: citric acid”.

And yep it is hot. I tried a very small amount and it tasted chock full of cayenne pepper. The recipe called for 1 Tablespoon of it which I thought might be too much…but it ended up being perfect and wonderfully balanced.

Couscous

PicsArt_04-24-09.54.33

I used this kind of couscous instead of following the directions in the recipe because I couldn’t find plain couscous at the store.

It ended up being really good and it went with the recipe pretty well. Garlic couscous is the way to go 😉

PicsArt_04-24-09.59.05

Alright back to the food.

Flavors

What did this dish taste like?

There were a lot, and I mean A LOT of flavors going on here. Let me break it down.

  • Spices. right away I could taste cinnamon, followed by turmeric. Cumin slightly.
  • Spicy. The harissa I could taste, but it wasn’t overly powerful. The spiciness was pleasant & lingered.
  • Sweet. there was definitely a sweet element with the raisins and butternut squash. I couldn’t taste or find the apricot but I’m sure it added to the sweetness as well.
  • Sour. I could taste the preserved lemon in places. I didn’t eat the actual pieces but the lemon flavor was definitely more mellow but still had that bright citrus taste.

Overall this was very good. I loved the complex flavor. The sweet and spicy was balanced. There was great texture with the chickpeas, butternut squash and dried fruit.

The slivered almonds added an unfamiliar crunch that I didn’t especially care for, and yet it didn’t make me want to stop eating 😋😋

Saving Money

The last element I want to briefly mention are the frugal aspects of this dish. Looking at this meal, you wouldn’t think it is frugal at first because it has 25 ingredients. I used 22 and 6 of those are seasonings.

Also, just want to mention that this makes a lot of food. Like 4 generous servings, at least.

Another thing I see here is that the ingredients with the larger amounts are pretty cheap. Butternut squash, couscous and garbanzo beans are all pretty inexpensive. 

Also, there was only 1 pound of chicken in the whole recipe. Adding chickpeas and almonds adds more protein and keeps the cost down.

Basically:

  • Lots of spices & seasonings
  • Small amounts of pricier food.
  • Keep expensive meats at minimum.
  • Add alternate sources of protein.
  • Bulk up on produce.

 

Conclusion

What I love about this series is that I (sometimes) think that people around the world are so different but I am everytime so pleasantly suprised that we are so similar and have so much in common.

There are differences in our surroundings, in our countries. But in the end we all just want good, delicious and frugal food.

Stay tuned for more Moroccan food! The next post will be either a side dish or dessert. Haven’t decided yet 😃

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 2,Condiment)

PicsArt_03-16-02.43.37

On Wednesday (2 days ago) I mentioned that my next post on Moroccan food would be a condiment.

And so here we have…

Preserved Lemons!

I was really super intrigued by this idea of preserving citrus. I had read about the process in a preserving book last summer but didn’t attempt it, due to the fact that I had no real use for or ambition to use preserved lemons.

However, in reading through a lot of recipes for Moroccan tagine (slow cooked stew), almost all of them call for a bit of preserved lemon.

I was thinking, “What’s the big deal? Why does it need to be preserved lemon? Can’t I just use lemon juice or something..you know…easier?”.

But what I’m going for is that authentic Morroccan flavor. And as I learned last time with oyster sauce in the recipe for Philippine Ginisang Togue, flavor and authenticity is key.

And so I set out to find a recipe.

And ran into a problem.

Preserved lemons take 4 weeks to make. What?? Yeah. Regarding my time frame I had for the series, I did not have time to make it that way.

The Recipe

And luckily, I found a recipe for Quick Preserved Lemons, from myrecipes.com which has been a lifesaver.

And so I made the preserved lemons, because I was so wanting to make a tagine.

(Bear with me…my picture settings are being glitchy and not allowing me to write captions.)

PicsArt_04-24-10.05.51

I got 2 organic lemons from the store, cut them into quarters and added 2 Tablespoons sea salt (subbed for Kosher salt) and about 1 cup of water.

PicsArt_04-24-10.06.39

Afterwards. Looked kinda gross but smelled heavenly.

PicsArt_04-24-10.07.22

Right after I made it. I imagined the peels would soften as they sat in the salt and juices. (And they did.)

PicsArt_04-24-10.08.15

 

PicsArt_04-24-10.12.00

After sitting in the fridge for a few days. It looks oily but I think that’s just the mix of lemon pulp and saturated salty lemon juice.

PicsArt_04-24-10.13.05

 

PicsArt_04-24-10.09.15

All that remains here is the peel…the actual fruit part is super soft, almost like a cooked onion.

PicsArt_04-24-10.10.13

 

PicsArt_04-24-10.11.01

Lemony Thoughts

I didn’t actually try the lemons themselves but I did try a bit of the..(sauce?) they were preserved in. And I made a face. Because it was super-salty. And super-sour. Big suprise, right?

But it smelled heavenly. The most amazing, sunny and beautiful lemon fragrance.

And now I think I’m beginning to understand why preserved lemon had value. It’s just a way to prolong the harvest of a plentiful seasonal fruit. Much like we make applesauce or strawberry jam here in the U.S.

And I can also see how these lemons will add a bit of the sour in the sweet & sour cooking that is common in Morocco.

Stay tuned for my main dish post next week! It will hopefully be up on Tuesday.

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Global Eats

Global Eats: Morocco (Part 1, Intro)

morocco-2697354__480

Introduction

Welcome back to the Global Eats series! This is a series I’ve been doing to help myself (and hopefully others) learn more about the value of food from other countries.

This is a…

  • cultural appreciation,
  • history lesson
  • and culinary education all rolled into one.

My last 4 posts were all about the Philippines. I shared my inspiration for the series in my first post Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro).

Long story short, I read a post by another blogger and it inspired me to seek out the unique history, ingredients and flavors that are common in other cultures.

And let’s face it. It’s been a great way to distract from the winter blahs.

My intent in this series is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1. How do people in other cultures save money on food?
  2. What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

Question #2 will be answered in this post. The others I hope to answer by the end of this series on Morocco.

I am very excited to begin learning as much as I can about the foods that are popular and loved in different countries around the globe.

Disclaimer: I am not Moroccan but I will try my best to share what I have learned. To anyone who is Moroccan or is more knowledgeable on the topic, please feel free to share info or correct me if I am in error at any point in my posts.

 

History of Food & Melding of Cultures

morocco-2525290

Question: what is the history that shaped present day food dishes in Morocco?

Morocco is located in Northern Africa and borders the nations of Western Sahara and Algeria. Spain and Portugal lie quite close to it’s northern shores.

It has the Atlantic ocean on it’s western coast and a small part of the Mediterranean Sea on it’s northeastern side.

The food history of the country is a complex blend of the Berber people with Arabic, Moorish and French influences.

 

Berbers

As far as we know, the Berber people were the first to make their home in present-day Morocco. However, most peoples in the country today are a mix of Berber and Arabic ethnicities. The origin of the Berber people is difficult to trace. But we do know they ate things like olives, figs, dates, couscous and chickpeas (or garbanzo beans). All of these things are still staples today.

 

Arabs

The Arabs arrived next and their prominence lasted a little over 1,000 years, from about the 600’s A.D. to the 1700s. Morocco is still largely Berber/Arabic but influence-wise there was a break in political power.

From the Arabs, foods like spices from India and Asia were introduced (cinnamon, ginger, cumin, etc.). Also nuts and dried fruits along with a sweet and sour flavor common in Persian cooking.

 

photo-1517314815091-85f25384be22

Moores

The Moores came from Spain around 700 A.D. and were largely responsible for upping the consumption of olives, plus introducing olive oil and citrus trees and fruit.

 

The French

This part was new to me. In the early 1900s, the country of Morocco declared bankruptcy. This led to The Treaty of Fes, under which Morocco became a French colony until it’s independence in 1956. Oddly there wasn’t a lot of French culinary influence aside from the dessert and the whole café experience. Who doesn’t love French pastries? 😋😋

That covers the food history. So if you were to walk through Morocco today, what are some foods and ingredients that would stand out?

 

Common & Unique Ingredients

In my reading, there were 4 foods (plus a beverage) that I thought were rather unique. They were:

  • Argan oil
  • preserved lemons
  • harissa
  • and Ras El Hanout.
  • (Plus the very popular mint tea.)

What are these things and how are they eaten in Morocco?

photo-1474979266404-7eaacbcd87c5

 

Argan oil is made from the kernels of the argan tree. Argan trees are common in Morocco. So common that people will use the oil as a dip for bread.

I find this interesting because I use Argan oil as a facial moisturizer and it is neither easy to find nor cheap to buy in my particular area of the U.S.

 

photo-1518990371602-03cbe178adc8

 

Another common ingredient in Moroccan cooking is preserved lemons. I first heard of this from a canning and preserving book last summer. Now I know what it can be used in and where in the globe it is a common ingredient.

Preserved lemons are in various recipes but I think especially so in tagine, which is a special slow cooked stew.

 

photo-1506368249639-73a05d6f6488

 

Harissa and Ras El Hanout are two ingredients that add a bit of a spicy kick. Although they are popular in Morocco, they are also used overall in North African cusine.

Harissa is a thick, spicy sauce made from fresh and dried hot chili peppers and spices like caraway and cumin, among other ingredients.

Ras El Hanout translated means “top of shop”. It is a blend of as few as 10 and as many as 100 spices. I found a few recipes online but none that had more than 22 ingredients. I wouldn’t have thought to combine spices like cinnamon and allspice with coriander and turmeric but that is exactly what this recipe does.

 

mint-tea-1623112_1280
Mint tea is also a big deal in this country. It is served daily and  always served sweetened.

 

Tying it All Together

How to explain Moroccan food? From reading and research only I can see that this food as a whole is rich and complex.

I see sweet mixed with savory and lots of seasonings. Spices like ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg are combined with hot spices like cayenne and spices used in Indian cooking like turmeric and cumin. I think that this will make for some interesting flavors.

Besides spices, other common ingredients that I observed were things like chicken, almonds, carrots, chickpeas, raisins, lentils and onions.

 

Plans for the Moroccan Series

So what’s next? Next I am planning on writing 4 posts based on recipes for authentic Moroccan dishes. As of now, one will be a condiment, then a main dish, a side dish and finally a dessert with a beverage.

I am excited to begin this series and I look forward to the new recipes and flavors I will encounter.

The condiment dish I am planning on having up on the blog later this week. See you then!

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Photo credit: All photos from pixabay and Unsplash.


 

Sources:

The Multicultural Cookbook for Students, by Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb

~~

www.fescooking.com

The Art of Moroccan Cuisine: A Culture of Eating, Drinking, and Being Hospitable

~~

www.foodbycountry.com

Food in Every Country/Kazakhstan to South Africa/Morocco

~~

www.bbc.com

Africa-Morocco country profile

~~

www.infoplease.com

Morocco

~~

www.foodal.com

The Magic of Moroccan Cuisine

~~

http://www.thespruce.com

Collection of Authentic Moroccan Comfort Food Recipes

10 Famous Moroccan Dishes You Should Try

~~

www.mymoroccanfood.com

~~~

Desserts, Food

Yummy Fudgy Brownies {quick and healthy-ish}

PicsArt_04-06-10.24.00

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted any new recipes. I made these wonderful brownies yesterday because of my brownie-loving children. And ok, I’m guilty too.

I made them because the only way I could get my son to come inside was by bribing him with brownies. (It was in the 70s yesterday. Not common for February, but we weren’t complaining!)

So when we came inside, I needed something fast. And delicious of course. I looked up Rachael Ray’s Fast Fudgy Brownies but had to substitute and finangle a few things.

PicsArt_04-06-10.28.49

The end result turned out really well. My son didn’t seem bothered at all with the changes. All he wanted was brownies 🙂

These brownies have a dense, slightly chewy texture. The chia seeds add another element to the texture that I found myself enjoying. These brownies are wonderfully moist and delicious.

I will say these are a tad more salty than what I’m used to on account of the coconut sugar. Less sweetness means the saltiness isn’t as balanced. So I may try less coconut sugar or just use unsalted butter next time.

Still. We loved them 😊

PicsArt_04-06-10.29.47


 

Yummy Fudgy Brownies

Servings: about 8

Prep time: 15 minutes or less.

Bake time: 25 minutes.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tablespoons/50g. butter
  • 6 Tablespoons/53g. cocoa powder
  • 2 Tablespoons/25g. shortening
  • 3/4 cup/105g. coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup/35g. white/granulated sugar
  • 2 chia eggs**
  • 1/2 teaspoon/2mL vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup+2 Tablespoons/53g. white flour
  • 2 Tablespoons/18g. whole wheat flour

**I made 2 chia eggs following the directions from minimalist baker: 2 TBS/19g. chia seeds, 5 TBS/75mL water. Mix and let set till goopy.

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°/200°C. Grease and flour a 5×8″/12.5×20cm pan. (Or similar size.)
  2. Melt shortening, butter and cocoa powder in a small pan. Stir till smooth and melted.
  3. Add melted chocolate mixture to a bowl, along with sugars, chia eggs, vanilla and salt.
  4. Stir in flour. Empty thick batter into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake at 400°/200°C for about 25 minutes. Check for donness by inserting a thin knife, skewer or toothpick into the center. A clean utensil indicates doneness.

 

Cost:

This recipe cost me $2.97 to make. That’s 37¢ per serving (1 brownie).

Enjoy!

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

***I wanted to do the measurements and baking temperature in metric because I know I have quite a few international readers and I wanted to make things easier. Let me know if any of my calculations are off if you find any errors, please and thank-you 😄

Sewing & Repurposing

Whipstitch Wednesday: Kitchen Cupboard Closures {using fabric scraps & buckles}

PicsArt_02-15-06.18.03

Hi guys and welcome to Whipstitch Wednesday 😊 True, just like last time I’m posting on Thursday. But oh well. Maybe I’ll just do it that way from now on.

Anyways. So today I finished up my latest kitchen project, which was making buckle closures for my kitchen cabinets. I had sewn one for one set of cabinets but still needed to sew another.

The deal with kitchen cabinets is that young children need to be kept out of them because of various cleaning chemicals and such. But. The way in which these cabinets are sealed off from the kids needs to be kid-proof, yet easy for the adult to open.

In the past, we’ve been frustrated with the methods we’ve used so I brainstormed and decided on a buckle attached to a fabric strap.

So I made one and it’s worked marvelously. My youngest (nearly 2) cannot unbuckle the strap (so far), and it’s easy for my husband and I to undo. I don’t think my 4-year-old can do buckles yet either, now that I think of it.

So here is a tutorial of how I made these kitchen cupboard closures.


 

Kitchen Cupboard Closures

Difficulty: Easy (-ish)

Materials: Fabric scrap, matching thread, sewing machine (or sewing needle), pins, clothes iron, plastic buckle.

 

Instructions:

 

1. Cut out the fabric.

PicsArt_04-24-10.40.04

PicsArt_04-24-10.20.40

The dimensions of your fabric scrap will depend on the measurement around the handles of your kitchen cabinets. After you measure, add about 4 inches, plus 1 inch for turning down the ends.

So for example: 10″+4″+1″=15″.

This is the length.

The width will be 2.5-3″, fitting the slots in the buckle when ironed and doubled over.

 

2. Iron your fabric.

 

PicsArt_04-24-10.21.50

PicsArt_04-24-10.53.49

PicsArt_04-24-10.30.12

 

Place fabric right side down. Turn down fabric about 1/2″ on one long side. Iron down and repeat with other side.

Pin fabric, wrong sides together and slip into the buckle to ensure it fits. Un-pin and iron.

Then lastly, iron the short width ends, about 1/2″.

 

3. Sew it.

 

PicsArt_04-24-10.57.15

Sew the fabric on the long side that has the opening, about an 1/8″ from the edge. Repeat with other long side.

Turn short width end over and sew. Repeat with the other short end.

 

3. Buckle time.

 

PicsArt_04-24-10.33.36

PicsArt_04-24-10.34.45

Insert one buckle onto the finished strap. Sew as far away from the buckle as possible.

Check your measurements by sliding the strap through the kitchen cabinet handles. Pin the other buckle so that the strap will be tight but not too tight when buckled.

Now sew the other half of the buckle onto the strap.

PicsArt_04-24-10.36.18

PicsArt_04-24-10.39.00

All done! Good job 😄😄😄 Now you have a homemade kitchen cabinet closure that looks great and keeps out the little kiddos (we hope!)

If you do try this out, let me know if it works for you. Thanks! 😎

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Travel

5 Favorite Things {on our FL vacation}

PicsArt_02-09-04.56.13

 

1. The beach, of course!

PicsArt_04-24-11.11.22

We did a beach day yesterday and everyone absolutely loved it. How could we not? Sure there was sand everywhere and we all got a little burnt. But what is that compared to nature’s loveliness?

Something about the beach soothes my soul in a deep way. Beautiful, beautiful beach. We will miss you!

 

2. Knitting squares.

PicsArt_04-24-11.08.31

In my last post I mentioned that I was just learning to knit. For our vacation I decided to bring my knitting supplies so that I could knit on the long drive. I do have some traveling anxiety and this has been awesome to help with that. Knitting is very therapeutic 😊

 

3. A favorite read.

I’ve been reading quite a few different books on vacation but one of my most favorites has been Gift from the Sea, by Anne Morrow Lindbergh.

It is absolutely wonderful the way she combines the beachscape and different kinds of shells with just life and motherhood. It sounds like a simple concept and it is. I just really fell in love with her soothing, yet relevant writing style.

 

4. Local flora.

PicsArt_04-24-11.07.21

Some of you know I love looking at plants and studying them. This one seems to be very common in Florida. It is a weed but I still think it’s lovely.

After a quick bit of research I believe this is Bidens alba, also known as Spanish needles. Wikipedia says that the leaves are edible but I didn’t test that one out.

 

5. This salad.

PicsArt_04-24-11.10.23

This salad was 100% wonderful. We walked down to a produce stand where I bought beet greens and Florida strawberries and oranges, among quite a few other things. So good and way better than anything up north where I live.

I wish I would have taken a picture of the aloe vera leaf (for our sunburns) I bought before I cut it up. It was as long as my arm…and only 90¢!

Wishing you all warm and happy thoughts!

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Sewing & Repurposing

Whipstitch Wednesday: Learning to Knit {winter goals}

PicsArt_02-01-04.40.05

I originally planned to post this yesterday, on Wednesday but a number of factors had a hand in the delay. Hope you enjoy it all the same! 😊

My Brief Absence & A Blogging Update

Hello everyone 🙂 First let me say sorry for my absence here on the blog and WordPress in general. I’m behind reading your posts and behind on my blogging schedule as well.

And it’s all because we got totally sick. It was so immensely not fun. The flu is no joke. I hope none of you get it but if you do you have my complete sympathy.

But anyways. Back to blogging stuff.

 

First of all, I wanted to say…

thank-you-944086_1280

A big thank-you to all of my readers because I made it to 100 followers 😊😊😊 Yay! Thanks so much you guys. You inspire me with your likes, your comments, your encouragement here on the blog (and some of you in real-life have been blog-encouragers as well). Many thanks. And here’s to more posts in the days ahead!

 

Introducing Whipstitch Wednesday

Today I’d like to introduce a new category I’m calling Whipstitch Wednesday.

I’ve been doing a ton of different sewing/stitchery projects and thought this would be a fun way to share things I’m doing, learning and any other helpful tips I’ve found.

One thing I’ve been doing lately is (trying) to learn to knit. It’s been a long-time goal of mine.

 

Found a New Hobby at the Hobby Lobby…

So a few weeks ago I went out with a friend to Hobby Lobby and bought some knitting needles. Then I got out some yarn (I’ve been using it for non-knitting projects) and attempted to started to knit. I consulted a ton of books btw, didn’t just pull this out of my brain of course.

PicsArt_04-24-11.15.32

PicsArt_04-24-11.16.40

After awhile, I got the knit stitch down. Although it looked too loose and I couldn’t figure out why…then just recently I learned that the big needles go with the big (thick) yarn. This was part of the reason I was so frusterated with my knitting.

PicsArt_04-24-11.23.24 PicsArt_04-24-11.26.31

Sweet Success

PicsArt_04-24-11.29.01

PicsArt_04-24-11.30.49

I’m so happy 👏👏😄😄 It was hard to get the hang of it but I’m proud of my efforts.

The yarn I used is Red Heart Super Saver in Monet. I think it would be classified as a “worsted” yarn. So better suited for size 6 needles, from what I’ve read, instead of my size 13 needles.

I happened upon a yarn site (loveknitting.com) that was having a sale soooo….yeah I’m hooked. Planning tons of projects. As if I need any more sewing projects haha. Oh well can never have too many. It’s great therapy and perfect for these icky winter days.

Have you been doing any winter sewing projects to de-stress? Do you knit or want to learn someday?

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05


 

P.s.- I found these two videos helpful for learning how to purl.

~*~

How To Do a Purl Stitch Knitting, by Howcast

 

~*~

How to Purl – p Stitch Beginner, by GoodKnitKisses

Reflections

The pain in the quiet, healing flow

photo-1502298627803-72ee3e0b4f54

Good afternoon everyone! I mentioned in my last poem post that I wanted to share some more recent poetry.

So today I’m opening up and sharing some of the difficult moments and emotions of motherhood.

Motherhood isn’t all hard days. But then wow. Some days hit you and the emotions are through the roof.

I wrote this last November when I was going through some very hard moments. Internally all these emotions were fighting to get out. To be heard and dealt with.

I never write to be pitied. I write to put struggle to page. Sorrow to ink. I write so that what is broken can begin to be mended.

Maybe this will strike a cord with someone. I hope this sharing of personal struggle can minister to someone’s soul and spirit.

photo-1493895373845-e29753c52043

Still Mother

 

In real pain

Do we mother.

Do we act

And do we slumber.

 

A hot tear dashed away

When no one can see

The pain that it is

To mother.

 

When the days stick

Together.

Mind wrapped in fog

Thicker and thick.

 

Yelling names

Crushing my heart

Over and over

I endeavor to teach.

To teach what it means

To be kind.

 

Be kind to me.

For my job is not easy.

I’m full of wounds

But I know how

To heal.

 

He taught me once

He teaches still.

 

The pain that it is to mother.

Oh child, be still.

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

This poem is my own. All pictures are from Unsplash.

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 4, Dessert)

PicsArt_01-12-05.33.36

Welcome to Part 4 of my Global Eats series! This has been a series of posts focused on the food and culture of the Philippines.

Brief Re-cap

Previously in this series I shared:

Post #1-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro)

Post #2-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 2, Main Dish)

Post #3-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 3, Sauce & Side Dish)

Feel free to check out the other posts, if you wish. Part 1 is an introduction post to the series, with some background info on the food of the Philippines. Last Saturday I shared Part 3, which proved to be unexpectedly delicious.

Today we have…..

Filipino-Style Flan (Leche Flan)

If you google flan, you will soon see there are many different types of it. So what makes Filipino flan unique?

From what I’ve read, it is the eggs. Filipino flan calls for egg yolks only, not the whole eggs. This makes a richer and denser dessert. To me this makes it more like a custard-style dessert.

(Side note: Flan came to the Philippines from Spain because Spain colonized the country from 1565-1898.)

Making the Flan

Psst….

I have never made flan before. 😝

It was a bit tricky. In this post you will see some imperfect flans. But this isn’t a cooking show..no competition here. Just lots of learning and fun 🙂

Recipe

Most recipes for flan call for evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk. Since I cannot have dairy milk, I sought out a recipe that gave a substitute.

The recipe I used is from the blog Grain-Free Belle.

(Yep. This flan is gluten-free and dairy-free.)

The recipe called for 3 beaten eggs and 4 egg yolks. It made a ton of filling. It also called for rice or hemp milk, but I decided to try something different.

I took a chance and used coconut milk. I thought it would be neat to use coconut milk in a Filipino recipe because coconut is a popular ingredient there.

20170718_160241-1
Aroy-D is the brand that I used. It is the same brand that I used for my coconut yogurt.

Flan Batch #1

20180111_145110

For my first batch, I made the carmel syrup and my custard far too thick. Of course I didn’t know this until the end…and the recipe didn’t really extrapolate on how full to fill the molds.

It did say to use ramekins, which I did not have, wasn’t going to buy. So I used 8oz mason jars.

20180111_161431
The result: a rather thick, half-formed flan.

20180111_161419

 

Flan Batch #2

20180112_140825
Lesson learned…thinner flan.
20180112_151248-1
One of the better looking ones…looks kinda like a scallop.

20180112_151307-1

20180112_151031
This was my best-formed flan. The top cracked but the shape was good 🙂

20180112_151434

 

Taste

Ok but what did it taste like? Well, T.R. you are right. Flan is a bit bland. To me, this flan tasted fairly similar to custard pie. The caramel sauce added a nice element to the dessert.

Texture

Rich tasting. Smooth. A bit of a velvety texture.

It was a bit like sweetened scrambled eggs. But smoother, if that makes sense. It was good, but not particularly my cup of tea.

Flavor

Sooo sweet. For me it was an almost overpowering sweetness. Creamy, sweet desserts are not really my thing. Unless it’s chocolate! Haha.

A bit of carmel taste, a smidge of vanilla. But mostly a rich creamy flavor. I couldn’t especially taste the coconut.

 

Conclusion

Ginisang Togue. Banana Sauce with Rice and Leche Flan.

Thus ends the Filipino edition of my Global Eats series. Hope you’ve enjoyed our journey through the Philippines!

It’s been far from a complete culinary experience but I’ve had a lot of fun learning about so many unique dishes and flavors. And I’ve enjoyed sharing some of what I’ve learned with you guys. 🙂

The next country will probably not begin until 2 weeks from now. I’m still deciding if I want to do a European or Middle-Eastern country. And you know. Preparation and all that fun stuff.

 

Take care & stay warm!

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 3, Sauce & Side Dish)

PicsArt_01-12-05.33.36

Welcome to Part 3 of my Global Eats series! This has been a series of posts focused on the food and culture of the Philippines.

Previously in this series I shared:

Post #1-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro)

Post #2-Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 2, Main Dish)

Check it out if you wish! Post #1 will give you a bit of background if you are not familiar with the food/culture of the Philippines.

Today’s post is all about…..

Banana sauce!

I talked a little bit about banana sauce (also known as banana ketchup) in post #1. I mentioned 3 foods unique to the Philippines: ube (purple yam), calamansi (citrus fruit) and banana sauce.

I’ve read that one of the things that banana sauce goes really well with is rice. 

Ok. No problem.

I made the banana sauce first. (Recipe from Serious Eats) It wasn’t too difficult to make. There were quite a few ingredients and about 20 minutes cook time but nothing too hard.

I did leave out the jalapeno and substituted the rum for water. And after cooking, cooling and blending I got this:

20180112_120700-1
I think it looks like peanut butter.

Then I made up some brown Basmati rice. I think steamed rice is more of a thing in Asian countries but I don’t have the proper equipment for that so the rice was cooked my usual way.

20180112_171243-1

 

20180112_171309-1

 

20180112_171501-1

 

And you know, I won’t lie…I was fully expecting to not like this.

The sweet banana flavor, mixed with savory, salty, tomato paste, vinegar and ginger? Plus seasonings like allspice? I was not too sure about this.

But you guys…guess what?

20180112_171508-1

It was incredibly delicious. I had 2 bowls. Seriously.

I’m not sure what it was. It truly did have a ketchupy taste to it. The sweetness I could taste right away, then a combination of flavors, the vinegar and then I could definitely taste a tiny bit of the cloves in the aftertaste.

It is amazing. On its own it was ok. But with rice somehow it was really delicious.

What a cheap and easy way to spruce up a cheap bowl of rice, right? I usually just have butter and salt on mine, or the usual serve it with stir-fry (the Americanized version) or whatnot.

Yum.

Ever had banana sauce on rice? 100% recommend 😄

Stay warm out there!

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

p.s.-Next post (and last from this country) will be a special Filipino style dessert 🍮 I’m planning on having it up on Tuesday. Enjoy your weekend!

Food, Snacks

Easy Strawberry-Apple Fruit Leather

PicsArt_01-10-05.34.42

Howdy ya’ll 🙂 Just checking in on this fine Wednesday evening from my beautiful corner of the globe here in the midwestern U.S. Its been super cold lately…one evening it was even -16 with the windchill. Way too cold.

Some of you guys might have even colder winters than that though. I follow a Canadian blogger who said it was like -34 where she lives. What?? How do you even?! Yikes. It’s no wonder people are so incredibly happy come Spring.

Oh Spring! Come early this year! Please do!

Alright enough of my belly-aching and onto the real stuff.

20170918_160309

I don’t know if you remember my post on preserving apples, but in it I included the above picture.

Know what I did with all the peels and leftover bits of puree? Yep I put it all in the blender, made a puree and froze it.

Because I knew I wanted to make fruit leather with my dehydrator.

However…I couldn’t at the time because I had lost my fruit leather tray and was too lazy to find/think up/buy a replacement. So I found it. Yay! That’s what happens when you deep clean 🙂

Now I could finally make some! I took a big tub of apple puree and added it, along with some frozen organic strawberries to my blender to mix it. My ratio was 3 cups apple to 1 cup chopped frozen strawberries.

20180104_140350

20180110_132627-1
This is the puree about halfway through the 4-6 hour drying process.
20180109_182954-1
Dry texture ontop when finished.
20180109_183317-1
Shiny texture on bottom when done. My edges were a bit too thick and didn’t dry properly.
20180109_184140-1
Cut off the underdone parts and the remainder into strips with kitchen scissors.

20180109_184247

20180110_131817-1

These make for a super-delicious snack. My almost 2-year-old daughter agrees. And why not? These fruit strips taste just like candy. They store well too. But that point is irrelevant because they won’t last long!

Do you like fruit leather? Have you ever tried it or maybe made your own at home? If so, what flavors are your favorite? I’d love to try some different flavor combos 😋 🍏🍓🍑🍒

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Sewing & Repurposing

Repurposing Receiving Blankets to Make a Toddler Quilt {for Under $35}

20171128_232242-1

Ever wanted to make a baby or toddler quilt but don’t know quite where to start? How about with something you probably already have…

I made my first-ever quilt last month. First. ever. And guess what? It cost me less than $35 to make. 

But the best part is that this toddler quilt is not only a sewing project but a repurposing one as well.

I looked at a huge stack of flannel receiving blankets awhile ago and wondered what on earth to do with them. I thought about throwing them out…using them as rags. But no. They still had some use. A lot of them were cute prints.

Then I thought…

Quilt.

Yes I will make my daughter a toddler quilt. She will be transitioning to a toddler bed soon and a new quilt will be nice to have.

I wanted to share the process I went through to make this quilt. So the following post will be largely composed of pictures for your viewing pleasure.

So here you go. 2 ½ months of work squeezed into just a few minutes! Enjoy fellow sewers, crafters, repurposing junkies and lovers of art!

20171011_225450
To begin, I cut out 300 little 4″ squares and laid them out in a design. The quilt will be 20 squares long and 15 squares wide.

 

20171116_163009-1
Then I stacked up the rows and labeled each row.

 

20171116_163042-1

 

20171116_163934
They were pinned, 2 at a time.

 

20171126_180919-1
Then those groups of 2’s were sewn together till each row of 20 was sewn. This part was pretty time consuming.

 

20171126_182355-1
Now I’m ready to start sewing rows together.

 

20171126_182426-1
I started with row 1 and 2 and pinned right sides together.

20171126_190313

 

20171126_232832
Yeah woot look at that!

 

20171126_232817
Except the backside was totally messed up. And I only realized about halfway through sewing ALL of the rows. Time to re-do 😦

 

20171128_220328-1
Now 2 rows have been sewn together for rows 1-20.

 

20171128_232242-1

 

20171129_113453-1
Then those rows of 2 were sewn together, giving me rows of 4. At this point, the quilt top is in 5 peices.

 

20171129_123135-1
One more seam will complete the quilt top, joining the 2 peices.

 

20171129_124129
Sewing the last seam!

 

20171129_131600
Completed quilt top.

 

20171129_131659
The back.

 

20171129_132913
At this point I got out my flannel backing and the pieces of the old quilt I had cut apart and assembled the quilt.

 

20171129_132920
Then I took out the quilt top and ironed the back peices down flat.

 

20171203_223212-1
About to cut the inner layers to size right against the quilt top. (Notice my cat in the bottom right hand corner. Cats love it when you lay a quilt on the floor.)

 

20171203_234933-2
Complete!

 

20171208_183731-1
Then one of the most nerve-wrecking parts, cutting the flannel piece to the proper size and pinning. I had to cut, fold, pin and then re-do to get it right.

 

20171208_183741-1
Notice my daughter trying to pick out the pins. She did that the whoooolllee time!

 

20171208_190817
Finally. Here I am sewing the last side of the quilt.

 

20180104_124437-1
The last step was tying the ties. About 150 of them, which took longer than I anticipated. And yep the quilt has been well loved and thus the wrinkles.

 

20180104_124607-1
Back of the quilt. The ties go through all layers of the quilt and hold everything together. It also makes for a more “flexible” blanket.

 

20180104_124648-1
I love the swirling pattern.

 

20180104_124950-1
Close-up of the nursery print with a tie.

 

20180104_125102-1

 

20180104_125120-1
Love this print.

 

It was a relief to finally finish this project just a few days before Christmas. I made a few flukes but I don’t really care. The proof is in the pudding, as they say and I think I have a good one.


 

Price breakdown

 

Thread

4 spools beige thread @ $2.90 each= $11.60

2 embroidery floss (60¢ each)=$1.20

Fabric (all new)

-Flannel fabric, for backing, 53″ wide× 64 ½” long= $12.90

(This was from a 110″×54″ peice, or 1 ½ yards.)

-Nursery print flannel fabric, 1 yd= $7.50

Free stuff

-Roughly 8yds (1 yd each color/pattern) of flannel solids & prints.

-inner layer of the quilt from 2 layers of an old quilt.

 

Total cost= $33.20


 

God Bless & stay warm! It’s a cold one out there for sure…it’s been 20 or below here in the midwest for for-ev-er. (So it seems. Probably 10 days at most.) I can not wait for it to warm up!

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

***Measurements: This finished quilt measures 49″ wide × 60 ½” long

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 2, Main Dish)

PicsArt_01-12-05.33.36

Welcome back to the Global Eats series! Last week I posted Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro).

This is Part 2, out of 3 or 4 total posts.

Re-cap

To re-hash, this is what inspired the series:

I wrote in my latest blogging update post that I wanted to make a variety of dishes that are common in other countries and cultures. This idea was inspired in part by a post from the blog My No-Fuss Kitchen.

The blogger shared how she saved money by making Chinese-Malaysian stir fry dishes out of leftover ingredients.

My intent is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1. How do people in other cultures save money on food?
  2. What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

So in my last post I covered #2. I learned a lot about the foods of the Philippines and I still have more to learn! I’m amazed at just how much there is to learn.

And I just love it. I love learning this stuff.

The Main Dish: Ginisang Togue

20171219_173631

Ok so the photos I am sharing today are guided by the recipe for Ginisang Togue which is from the website Authentic Filipino Recipes.

So check out the site for the recipe 🙂

The words “Ginisang Togue” mean “sauteed mung bean sprouts” in Tagalog. So that must be the main ingredient, right?

Right.

I hadn’t made sprouts before but I heard it was easy. Can I get mung beans in the US? Yes I could.

Making the sprouts

I purchased a sprouting jar lid for $4.75 and 4oz organic mung bean sprouts seeds for $3.79 from iherb.com.

20171213_165515-1
All you need to make sprouts: quart mason jar, sprouting lid, sprouting seeds and water. (Plus a bowl and a towel.)
20171218_124826-1
I wanted some longer sprouts so I rinsed and drained every 12 hours for 5 days.
20171218_125003-1
Ta-da! Sprouts!

 

Time to Cook!

20171219_171245-1

 

The recipe called for a lot of veggies. Garlic, onions, red and green bell peppers, sprouts and carrots.

It also called for tofu, which I didn’t use. I just used extra shrimp because I try to stay away from soy products.

20171219_171329

So a little bit about these ingredients. The recipe called for a large tomato, cubed. I didn’t have one and wasn’t about to run to the store just for that. So I used part of a can of my homemade crushed tomatoes.

I also used a bit of chicken flavored soup base instead of the chicken cube.

What is oyster sauce? 

According to The Spruce, “Oyster sauce is a thick, brown sauce with a sweet, salty, and earthy flavor. Oyster sauce is a popular ingredient in Vietnamese, Thai, and Cantonese cuisine.”

A good kind will be something like a combo of oysters, salt and soy sauce.

Mine was not high-quality and did not contain oysters. However, being many miles from acquiring good quality oysters, and also not seeing these recipes till just now, bottled “oyster” sauce was what happened.

To me, it just tasted like thick, slightly sweet soy sauce. Boo. Still, it made for decent flavor.

20171219_173615
The final product.

Flavors

What did this dish taste like?

There were a few different flavors going on. There was sweet, from the red bell peppers and carrots. Salty, from the soy sauce, oyster sauce and chicken soup base. And the sprouts, to me were a bit bitter, but just from the seed part. There wasn’t any big pop of flavor but I think all of the ingredients complimented each other.

Definitely an interesting flavor combo and a wonderful texture. I tried to keep the veggies slightly raw and that made for a nice crunch. I enjoyed eating this and I would make it again.

Saving money

To me, this recipe is frugal because…

  • Lots of veggies are added. And veggies are cheap. The ones used here I can buy year-round.
  • Sprouts are also easy to make yourself and cheap. Mine cost me about 95¢ for this recipe.
  • Rice is always a frugal ingredient that can feed a crowd.
  • Protein, starch and veggie in one dish makes for an easy meal. Yay easy!

Just a tiny peek into the flavors and ingredients of a Filipino dish 🙂 Not 100% authentic but a fun experience all the same.

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05


 

Resources:

www.tagaloglang.com

Toge

~

www.recipeland.com

Homemade Oyster Sauce

~

www.thespruce.com

What Is Oyster Sauce?

Motherhood

Stinky, Poopy Diapers {and what they’ve taught me about being a mom}

alex-pasarelu-223684

I really hate poopy diapers. Not always, mind, but much of the time.

It happens at inconvenient times. At least, inconvenient to me.

As if to prove this point my daughter, reeking of dirty diaper, sat down right next to me as I began this post.

So I got up to change her, as I always do. As must be done. As is my duty as a mother.

But let me ask you. As a mother, do you ever feel resentment when confronted with this? Frusteration? Feel inconvenienced?

Sometimes I forget that my daughter is not toliet-trained like her brother. And giving her the care she needs seems hard.

Maybe that’s the seasonal depression talking. It happens in the winter. I know I’m not the only one in that. I know that January is a hard month to be a mom. Fyi It’s often difficult to blog during this month. When its cold and when isolation and sickness bring challenges.

daniel-watson-75027

But that is not the point of this post.

Awhile ago I started reading Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe, by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. I fought with the idea of reading it. I knew reading would push me, change me. And I didn’t know if I was ready for that.

But finally, 10 chapters in I feel like I am getting somewhere. And I feel like I’m maybe beginning to learn.

Ok, but what’s that to do with poopy diapers?

“The ability to last in motherhood requires giving up expectations for our own lives, deciding that sacrificing our desires and wants for the sake of our family is our gift of worship to our heavenly Father.”

-from Desperate, Chapter 10 by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson

One day after reading the bulk of chapter 10, I looked at my daughter who had decided to fill up her britches. I was im the middle of something, but instead of feeling inconvenienced I felt a mental shift. I found I could manage a smile instead of a frown.

This is not always the way of things. I am no Mary Poppins. Human I am, human I will remain. But that brief blip. That small, slight shift. I hope it will become more and more a part of me as I seek to treasure my children. Treasure not just the happy and the beautiful moments but also the difficult, the hard times.

Not because I’m some kind of higher-than-thou person. But because to learn to treasure my role as a mother I need to continually learn the art that is shining light where there is dark. A smile in the face of a challenge. Gladness of heart in the face of trying circumstances.

roses-2604270

Motherhood is balance. And I think what I’ve most struggled with is the idea that to be a good mom, I need to give up on taking care of me. Which is misplaced. I don’t have to give that up to be a good mom. It’s not my time or my self-care that needs to go but my negative thinking that damages my relationship with these sweet babies I love so much.

Perfect mom syndrome? Haha far from it! (A fly on the wall today would have seen something else entirely.) But I’m learning. One step at a time 🙂

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

 

All photos are from Unsplash.

Food, Global Eats

Global Eats: The Philippines (Part 1, Intro)

PicsArt_01-12-05.33.36

Introduction

Welcome to the first post of my Global Eats series! This is a series I’ve been planning to help myself (and hopefully others) learn more about the value of food from other countries. This is a cultural appreciation, history lesson and culinary education all rolled into one.

I wrote in my latest blogging update post that I wanted to make a variety of dishes that are common in other countries and cultures. This idea was inspired in part by a post from the blog My No-Fuss Kitchen.

The blogger shared how she saved money by making Chinese-Malaysian stir fry dishes out of leftover ingredients.

My intent is to answer 3 basic questions:

  1. How do people in other cultures save money on food?
  2. What ingredients are staples in other countries?
  3. What new flavors will I learn about?

Question #2 will be answered in this post. The others I hope to answer by the end of this series on the Philippines.

I am very excited to begin learning as much as I can about the foods that are popular and loved in different countries around the globe.

Disclaimer: I am not Filipino but I will try my best to share what I have learned. To anyone who is Filipino or is more knowledgeable on the topic, please feel free to share info or correct me if I am in error at any point in my posts.

 

History of Food & Melding of Cultures

rice-fields-2806859

Question: what is the history that shaped present day food dishes in the Philippines?

Because the Philippines has a tropical climate, and because of its location in the Pacific and southeast Asia there are foods like coconut, bananas and rice that were well established in the country.

Then there are influences from neighboring countries. The Philippines are close to China, especially but also Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Trade and the mixing of cultures helped introduce new foods to the Filipino people.

Filipino-Chinese Food

From China there was an introduction to noodles, vegetables in a wrapper (like spring rolls or eggrolls), also things like steamed and filled buns and dumplings were incorporated into the Filipino diet.

Fil-Hispanic Food

One of the most unexpected things I found was that certain types of food have Spanish and even Mexican influences.

The Philippines were colonized by Spain for 333 years (1565-1898). Throughout this time dishes like flan (a custard-like dessert) and Paella (a seasoned rice dish with meat/seafood) were introduced and recipes were slightly modified.

flowers-274820

When I think of food in a specific country, I tend to (wrongly) think that the food there will be unique to and consistent throughout the country.

What I’ve found instead is that a country typically has many dishes that are not initially from that particular country. And within that country, dishes will vary by region.

That being said, there are a few foods that are unique specifically to the Philippines.

Common & Unique Ingredients in the Philippines

Three totally unique ingredients I’ve learned about:

  • banana ketchup
  • calamansi
  • ube

What are these things??

220px-Banana_ketchup
Banana ketchup (advertised as banana sauce). source: Wikipedia

The story here is that when the US “met” with the Philippines, certain foods like ketchup were introduced. Tomatoes are not as common there, so a sauce was made using bananas. The ingredients are similar, but banana ketchup is sweeter. Read more here if you’re curious.

 

calamansi-2312164
Calamansi. Called calamondin in the US. Said to be similar to a lemon or lime in flavor. source: Pixabay

Calamansi fruit or juice was one ingredient that I saw in Filipino recipes over and over. It is available in the country in all seasons and has a pleasantly tart taste (like a lemon-lime combo), I’ve heard.

Most recipes I saw had pictures of the green fruit but when calamansi are ripe, they look like a tangerine. Very unique, beautiful fruit.

 

Kaachil_cut
Ube. Also called purple yam. source: Wikipedia

Another incredibly gorgeous food found in the Philippines is ube. It is naturally colored purple yam that is found most often in desserts. Google ube ice cream. Gorgeous. I totally want to grow some!

 

Tying it All Together

How to explain the flavors of Filipino food? I’m not Filipino and my knowledge is limited. I only know what I’ve read from others that are Filipino and have tried those foods they have written about.

I saw ingredients like rice, shrimp, onions, bell peppers, garlic, soy sauce, carrots, pork and fish sauce over and over. 

My general impression is that there is a lot of pork, chicken or shrimp cooked along with a lot of veggies in a somewhat simple sauce. There wasn’t a lot of the seasonings I’m used to, like oregano and thyme.

What I’ve read is that Filipino food doesn’t have heavy seasonings like we might have here in the US. Flavor comes from liquid sauces..not often made of tomatoes either.

 

Plans For the Series

As I go on in this series on Filipino food, I hope to more accurately describe the flavors I taste. The textures. The new ingredients I’ve used and the fun that I’ve had trying it all out.

Currently I plan on making and posting about 2-3 Filipino dishes. At least one will be a main dish and the other 1-2 will be a side, sauce or dessert.

This is as close as I can get to physically trying Filipino food in the Philippines. I am not a global food expert, but in doing this Global Eats series I hope to educate myself and learn a bit about the good food from other countries around the world.

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

All photos unless otherwise noted are from Pixabay.


 

Sources:

The Multicultural Cookbook for Students, by Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb

~

www.buzzfeed.com

24 Delicious Filipino Foods You Need In Your Life

~

www.foodrepublic.com

Banana Ketchup: The Philippines’ Answer To A Lack Of TomatoesCondiment of the Week: Filipino Banana Ketchup

~

www.asian-recipe.com

The Philippines-Then and Now

~

Wikipedia

Calamondin

Yam (vegetable)

~

www.authenticfilipinorecipes.com

~

Junblog

~

Books, Celebrated Authors

25 Reasons Why Jane Austen Is Awesome

people-2593631

“Know your own happiness.

You want nothing but patience-

or give it a more fascinating name,

call it hope.”

-from Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 19, by Jane Austen

Oh I have been looking forward to this post for quite some time. This day, today, was the day Jane Austen was born 242 years ago in Steventon, Hampshire, England.

She is one of the most famous, most beloved, and most intelligent writers in all of history.

Most people have heard of her, but maybe don’t really know exactly why she was such a sensation. Why her works are so important.

To be honest, I couldn’t formulate such reasons myself. So I endeavored to read up on her life and write up a few reasons why I think Jane Austen is awesome.

Enjoy, fellow Jane Austen fans!


 

25 Reasons Why Jane Austen Is Awesome

 

 

A. Her Life

 

1. She was a woman disappointed in love.

But she was also a woman who said no to at least one proposal of marriage. Because of lack of love, maybe. But also because it gave her the freedom to write.

 

2. But thwarted love didn’t derail her.

She could have let her disappointed romantic hope lead her into a life of bitterness and depression. Instead, I believe it motivated and inspired her work.

 

home-3015086

3. She possesed the loyalty of a most beloved sister.

She was best friend to her older sister Cassandra all her life. Her sister lost her fiance to yellow fever and, same as Jane, never married. They had an unshakable bond and I imagine we owe Jane Austen’s novels in part to the encouragement of her sister.

 

4. I suspect her relationships weren’t perfect.

I’m sure her mother must have scolded her at some point. A “Mrs. Bennet style” scolding. Had she married, could she have saved her mother and sister from (supposed) destitution? And yet, she still wrote.

 

tree-316479

 

5. Her life wasn’t always easy.

She was human. During the time she lived in Bath (1801-1806), she could write nothing.

 

6. She preferred walking.

She was fond of walking, especially throughout the countryside. I think that this was admirable in an age when physical fitness was not particularly encouraged.

 

“I walk: I prefer walking.”

-from Persuasion, Chapter 19, by Jane Austen

 

B. Her Writing Style

 

1. Her witty descriptions of people make me laugh.

They are so on point. And so ridiculous. But true. 200 years later and we still know silly people, meddling people, etc. Which is what makes them so funny.

 

2. The Palmers, of Sense and Sensibility.

Still hilarious, every time I read. Check out Hugh Laurie and Imelda Staunton in the 1995 version of Sense and Sensibility. Guarantee it will make you laugh.

 

Sense_and_sensibility

3. A woman ahead of her time.

As most great artists/writers are. Her characters were not appreciated by her critics. I find that hard to believe…what’s not to like about Elizabeth Bennet?

 

4. Her heroines.

She produced strong, intelligent female characters. Elinor Dashwood. Elizabeth Bennet. Fanny Price (strong in her own way). Emma Woodhouse. Catherine Morland. Anne Elliot.

 

5. She urged love over comfort in a time when comfort, money, was highly prized.

 

6. Jane Austen wrote of true love over social duty.

Which we applaud today (mostly). Yet in her time people did not appreciate or understand this way of thinking.

 

7. She wrote what she knew.

She wrote about women. Their thoughts, desires, struggles, conversations, joys and amusements. From this, we get a brilliant picture of the life of a woman in the 18th and early 19th century.

people-2567915

8. Austen fine-tuned her craft.

Like all great writers, she grew and developed. She took what talent she had and built upon it.

 

9. Her books are relatable.

She infused real-life family issues into her books. This is another big reason why her books are so loved. Ever been ignored and underappreciated like Anne Elliot? Trampled on, like Fanny Price? Been a rock for your family and hid your own struggles like Elinor Dashwood?

 

10. A unique style.

What set her apart as a writer was not what she wrote about but how she wrote it. It was her style that made her unique. So many people wrote about the same things she did. Yet she stood out. Why? One reason is that she was more concerned with the psychology of her characters, how they thought, than in describing how they looked.

 

C. Her Works

 

1. She had 4 books published in 4 years.

It took her 13+ years to reach this level, but once she started, she never stopped until illness forced her to.

 

2. Sense and Sensibility. (1811)

Two sisters. One ruled by her heart, the other ruled by her mind. Their lack of fortune becomes an element closely tied to the futures with the men they love.

3. Pride and Prejudice. (1813)

Four sisters. Headstrong Lizzy (Elizabeth, the main character) and sweet Jane (the eldest) find love where it is unexpected. Their sisters have their shares of adventures as well. A very happy and balanced story.

4. Mansfield Park. (1814)

This is the story of Fanny, a shy and poor girl who in a sense is adopted by wealthy relatives. She is timid, but in other ways brave. In my eyes, this is Austen’s most complex novel.

5. Emma. (1815)

Emma is the one novel I have not read through completely. I couldn’t like the main character, which is something Jane herself expected from her readers. Emma is somewhat strong-willed and delights in matchmaking…even though she makes a mess of it.

6. Northanger Abbey. (1817)

A satire on the Gothic novel. A story about a girl named Catherine, as she is grows up and finds her true purpose in life.

7. Persuasion. (1817)

Anne’s story of how others can persuade a person which path to take in life and of second chances with past love.

8. Her books have been translated into 35 languages

 

9. She was proud of her novels.

Particularly Pride and Prejudice, which she referred to as “my own darling Child”.

 

Thanks for tuning in to my long Austen-themed post! 😃😃😃

What do you love most about Jane Austen? Which of her works are your favorite, or least favorite?

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05


 

Sources:

www.stylist.co.uk

Jane Austen: An Influental Woman

~

www.bbc.com

Why Is Jane Austen Trending 200 Years After Her Death?

~

www.famousauthors.org

Jane Austen

Food

What to Eat for Breakfast When You Would Rather Have a Donut {6 ideas}

PicsArt_12-12-03.10.17

 

Honestly, some mornings I’m dragging. Like hardcore dragging and the only thing I want to grab is something super-easy. And what is easier than reaching for sweet tasting baked goods from the store?

I mostly do pretty well when it comes to my first meal of the day. But other days begin poorly when I’ve convinced myself that I can eat something deficient in nutrition just because it pleases my taste buds.

The result is always, inevitably a sugar crash which leaves me feeling ick. Never a good idea. But somehow I always have those moments when I think, “hey…maybe sugar for breakfast will be ok today.”

ba87400863c5063c5f305c170a6b0062--alter-ego-grumpy-cat
Source: Pinterest

6 Healthier Breakfast Ideas (When You Would Rather Have a Donut)

 

1. Whip up a colorful fruit salad.

20171208_104721

I made this simple fruit salad last week from sliced/diced kiwis and mangos. Try to make a fruit salad that has as much color as possible for visual interest and nutrient value. The natural sugars will help curb the cravings.

 

2. Bake some good muffins.

20171207_134353

Muffins are always my go-to when we need a healthy breakfast food or healthy snack. I’ve been using the same ole recipe for like 4 years so recently I decided to try a new one.

The muffin pictured above is from a batch of Applesauce Oat Bran Muffins, from the back of a box of Hodgson Mill Old Fashioned Oat Bran Cereal. I tried it out and they were good! The kids liked them too. Even my pickier child (my son) ate them up.

Here is the recipe for the muffins I tried:

20171212_152642-1

A good muffin recipe will give you fiber, will be low in sugar and include some sort of mashed or pureed fruit or veggie.

3. Make some healthier donuts.

20171116_113708-1
My first attempt at making chocolate donuts…I think I filled the molds a bit too full.

These Chocolate Donuts from The Nutty RD are absolutely the bomb. (Lol do people still use that phrase?) No refined sugar, gluten-free and dairy-free. They also have healthy fat that will help you get your energy back. And not in a dramatic way like the other kind of donuts.

And if you don’t have a donut pan no worries 🙂 Check out this tutorial and video from Tip Hero on how to make your own makeshift donut pan with tinfoil and a muffin tin.

 

4. A big ole old fashioned breakfast. (Or a hot breakfast that appeals to you.)

Sometimes what your body really needs is a veratible smorgasboard of hot, yummy food. I do not do this very often. We are a small family and no one person seems to like the same thing. Except french toast. We are lovers of french toast 😋

Usually a hot breakfast for us is things like buttered toast and tea, scrambled eggs with lots of stir fried veggies, or my favorite…sweet potato hash. These things are super easy to whip up and will leave your body feeling satisfied. The protein/fat/fiber combo that will keep you feeling full for longer.

 

5. Oat bran cereal with apples, raisins and cinnamon.

20171204_112813-2

This is a new favorite for me and a change from my usual oatmeal and raisins. I cook the oat bran in a mix of water and almond milk. I will also cook up some apple chunks and raisins in a bit of cinnamon and water. I add the fruit, some of the liquid and a bit more almond milk over top the cooked oat bran.

The texture is smoother than cooked oatmeal and tastier, I think. Pleanty of fiber and the cinnamon and fruit will help tame your sweet tooth.

 

6. Homemade granola bars.

These are great because you can make them beforehand and just grab one when you wake up.

I finally found a recipe that I love…the Rock-n-Rolled Oats and Quinoa Energy bars from Sadie Nardini’s book The 21-Day Yoga Body are my absolute favorite. Ok so yeah they aren’t technically granola bars but might as well be.

They are full of awesome ingredients like cooked quiona, ground flaxseed, raw almonds and dried fruit. They hold together pretty well and its not because of a massive amount of sugar. Yay!

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Caturday

Welcome Home, You

20171124_163222

I have the best welcome home kitty in the world. Shadow is always so good at being right there by my car door whenever I come home. Last month I came home and the kids had fallen asleep in the car, as they usually do. It was just me and Shadow and the sunshine was beautiful.

20171124_163031

He is so good at being welcoming. I think its probably 80% he wants fed and 20% happy to see me…but I’ll take what I can get!

The poor guy has been out in the cold lately. Really wish I could let him in but he has fleas and such so I (ok yes it was mostly my husband, with a bit of prodding) just made him a little box, and then insulated it as best I could with newspaper.

His little “house” needs a bit of straw to make it nice but at least he has a spot to block the wind. I’m not sure if he’s using it or not but maybe he will get the hint eventually. Cats are funny about new things.

Shadow (or Begheera as my husband calls him) has a very thick coat of fur so I know he’s warmer than I think he is. Still, I feel bad for animals that are out in the cold like that 😦

There are a lot of cats around here though. They all stay outside so they’ve all made it through the cold winters somehow. I expect they have their little nooks where they like to stay and sleep sheltered from the weather 🙂

Do you have any furry friends to welcome you home? How do you keep them warm in the winter (if they stay outside)?

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Natural Skin Care

My Top 5 Favorite Lip Balms {stocking stuffer ideas}

20171207_125943

Lip balm, anyone? Lip balm, to me, is life. I’m a bit obsessed, yes. But who doesn’t need a bit of lip balm in their life? And it’s a super-easy and cheap way to pamper yourself.

Or, as we scoot closer to Christmas, giving away lip balm is a simple way to bless others.

I’ve rounded up my top 5 favorite lip balms that make great little gifts or stocking stuffers for the special people in your life.

PicsArt_12-07-01.41.41
My favs!

 

1. Aubrey Organics. Treat em Right Lip Balm, Raspberry flavor.

This is the best raspberry flavored lip balm I have ever tried. The eos Pomegranate-Raspberry lipbalm is similar but not quite as good.

What I love:

I love it that this product is organic (not vegan because of the beeswax though).

It has rose seed oil and vitamin e in addition to the 4 other oils listed.

~

This product is currently $5.03 on Amazon.


2. Burt’s Bees. 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm, Beeswax.

This one is a true classic. I use quite often. I have yet to find another minty lip balm that holds a candle to Burt’s Bees.

What I love:

The flavor and texture of this lip balm is perfect. Beautifully minty, but with a touch of rosemary to give it that extra layer of flavor.

Lanolin has been added to it, which is great for chapped skin.

~

This lip balm is $8.62 for a 4-pack on Amazon but can be purchased in single at just about any store or drugstore.


 

3. Covergirl. Natureluxe Gloss Balm, in anemone.

This lip balm is a cross between lip gloss and lip balm. Although to me, it is more like a sheer lipstick.

What I love:

This lip gloss/balm isn’t as natural as most of my other lip balms, but it does have slightly better ingredients than most lipsticks..like lanolin, calendula wax and shea butter.

Plus I love the colors. I have one in anemone (coralish red color) and hibiscus (a mauve-ish berry shade).

~

I’ll tell you a secret. These are typically $9 at places like Wal-Mart but I bought mine from a discount store (Odd Lots) for $1!


 

4. Primal Pit Paste. Chai Pucker Paste Lip Balm.

This is a new lip balm that I ordered with my deodorant from Primal Pit Paste just to try it out. I’m a sucker for chai flavors and I was very pleasantly surprised with this one.

What I love:

I love pretty much everything about this stuff. It has 6 ingredients, 4 of them organic. There are no harsh chemicals, propylene glycol, aluminum, parabans or synthetic fragrances in this product. Sweet!

The texture is nice, a tad on the buttery side and the fragrance is wonderful. I’m not sure what they’ve used as fragrance but I imagine it has cinnamon and cloves, which gives off a slight tinglyness.

~

Primal Pit Paste is currently having a 6-day sale on their products and this lip balm is currently $3.96.


 

5. Smith’s Rosebud Salve.

This salve I tried for the first time 5+ years ago and it is everything they say! A true beauty classic. And versatile! A salve can be used on any dry skin, not just lips.

What I loved:

The smell is lovely and the texture is similar to Vaseline. It does work very well. The ingredients are somewhat mysterious so I’m not 100% sure what makes this stuff so awesome. I like it that this product comes in a tin or tube, because the tin is super hard to open.

Because I do not currently own any, this is what it looks like⤵⤵⤵

61s5P8X0roL._SY400_
photo credit: Amazon

I first purchased this product at Bath & Body Works. It is available on Amazon for $6.50.


 

Found any new favorite lip balms lately? Or have any old favorites that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear all about it, I’m always looking for more lip balms to try 😊 And, er, gift. 😉

PicsArt_03-05-12.26.05

Note: I did not receive compensation for my reviews of these products. I just really like them!

Books, Celebrated Authors

Marilla’s Famous Plum Preserves {from author L.M. Montgomery}

plum-blossom-89535-1

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on this day in history, 143 years ago, in Clifton, Prince Edward Island.

She was a brilliant author and one of my favorites. And because I am such a nerd of all things AOGG, I wanted to bring a particular aspect of the books to life.

So I will share a few of my favorite plummy quotes about Marilla’s famous plum preserves.

And why plum preserves? Well, I guess you’ll just have to wait and see 😉

 

Yellow Plum Preserves

The rarer of the two types of preserves was the yellow plum preserves. Reserved more for special company, and for Davey, apparently.

yellow-plums-1389438

“We’re to have two kinds of jelly…and fruitcake, and Marilla’s famous yellow plum preserves that she keeps especially for ministers…”

-from Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 22


 

“Anne had came home from school the previous evening, to find Marilla away at an Aide meeting, Dora asleep on the kitchen sofa, and Davy in the sitting room closet, blissfully absorbing the contents of a jar of Marilla’s famous yellow plum preserves…”company jam, ” Davy called it…which he had been forbidden to touch.”

-from Anne of Avonlea, Chapter 14

 

Blue Plum Preserves

More of the regular sort, these blue plum preserves were still fit for a king. Or even an Earl, as Anne points out. I imagine that these plums were picked by Marilla from her own tree on the Green Gables farm.

PicsArt_11-30-06.20.13

“Your dinner is in the oven, Anne, and you can get yourself some blue plum preserve out of the pantry.”

-from Anne of Green Gables, Chapter 18


“I daresay even the English earl himself wouldn’t have turned up his aristocratic nose at Marilla’s plum preserves,” said Anne proudly.

-from Anne of Avonlea, Chapter 2


“Anne’s laugh, as blithe and irresistible as of yore, with an added note of sweetness and maturity, rang through the garret. Marilla in the kitchen below, compounding blue plum preserve, heard it and smiled…”

-from Anne’s House of Dreams, Chapter 1


So…what about Marilla’s plum preserves? Well…I happen to have some. Ok I admit it. I cooked and canned them on purpose because of the particular reference to it in the Anne of Green Gables books.

And folks, it was divine.

20171130_164431

Preserves aren’t jam exactly. They are thicker, with peices of fruit left unmashed. Not chunky but not smooth. Very rich, flavorful and good.

PicsArt_11-30-04.48.53

I had a cup of Celestial Seasonings Sugar Plum Spice tea with my toast and preserves, keeping with the plum theme.

What do you think? Do you like plum preserves? Have you ever tried it? Have you ever made any particular book-themed treat?

~Rachel

Books, Celebrated Authors

Remembering Louisa May Alcott with Favorite Quotes from “Little Women”

tee-1210704

Happy Birthday, Louisa May Alcott! She was born 185 years ago *today, in Germantown, Pennsylvania. She was the second oldest of four daughters. Anna, Louisa, Elizabeth and Abigail were the four girls born to Amos and Abigail Alcott.

Louisa May Alcott wrote quite a few books and short stories in her lifetime. Little Women is the most well known of her works and is followed by the books Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

Her contemporaries were such authors as Charles Dickens (1812-70), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), Alexandre Dumas (1802-70) and Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821-81). One of my favorite time periods for literature for sure.

Since I posted an in-depth e-book review on The Courtship of Jo March last week, I thought it would be fun to write up a simpler post full of my favorite quotes from Little Women.

Enjoy!

Favorite Quotes from Little Women

From Part 1 (Chapters 1-23)

rose-2378156

“Meg’s high heeled slippers were very tight and hurt her, though she would not own it, and Jo’s nineteen hairpins all seemed stuck straight into her head, which was not exactly comfortable; but dear me, let us be elegant or die!”

-from Chapter 3


You don’t look a bit like yourself, but you are very nice.”

-from Chapter 9, Sallie to Meg.


I don’t like fuss and feathers.”

-from Chapter 9, Laurie to Meg.

horse-2065831.jpg

You’d have nothing but horses, inkstands and novels in yours,” answered Meg petulantly.

Wouldn’t I, though? I’d have a stable full of Arabian steeds, rooms piled high with books, and I’d write out of a magic inkstand, so that my works should be as famous as Laurie’s music. I want to do something splendid before I go into my castle-something heroic or wonderful that won’t be forgotten after I’m dead. I don’t know what, but I’m on the watch for it, and mean to astonish you all some day.”

-from Chapter 13


From Part 2 (Chapters 24-47)

“By-and-by Jo roamed away upstairs, for it was rainy, and she could not walk. A restless spirit possessed her, and the old feeling came again, not bitter as it once was, but a sorrowfully patient wonder why one sister should have all she asked, the other nothing.”

-from Chapter 42

vintage-1047275

“The boy early developed a mechanical genius which delighted his father and distracted his mother, for he tried to imitate every machine he saw, and kept the nursery in a chaotic condition, with his “sewin-sheen”-a mysterious structure of string, chairs, clothespins, and spools, for wheels to go “wound and wound”; also a basket hung over the back of a chair, in which he vainly tried to hoist his too confiding sister, who, with feminine devotion, allowed her little head to be bumped till rescued, when the young inventor indignantly remarked, “Why, Marmar, dat’s my lellywaiter, and me’s trying to pull her up.”

-from Chapter 45 (the antics of John and Meg’s twin children Daisy and Demi).


 

Have you read any books by or about Louisa May Alcott lately? Which novel is your favorite? I’d love to hear about it 😊

~Rachel

*For some reason, WordPress marked my post as 11/30, when I wrote it at 8pm on 11/29, which is Louisa May Alcott’s birthday. Not the 30th.

Caturday

Eater of tape and other things…

**11/26/17-This post has been edited. I was super busy cooking a Thanksgiving dinner (yesterday) and that contributed to the quality of the post. So here is the edited version 🙂

20171125_084849

I like boxes,

I like tape.

Lick, raspy lick.

Crinkle, crackle crink

In the middle of 

The night.

~*~

Stella has this lovely habit of eating random things at night. Not completely random, I suppose. Said thing must be box-like, or tape-like, or string-like for her to be interested.

 

20171125_085109
I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m shocked you would even think such a thing of me.
  • Licking boxes=fun!
  • Chewing tape=super fun!
  • Eating a long peice of string and freaking me out=the best!

I do not know. Why she does it. It’s not like we have tons of boxes lying around. But if she finds one and fancies she needs fed or fresh water…she will definitely let me know. This is one of her quirks. I still love her for it.

But I wish she wouldn’t do it at night. Ah well. Who needs sleep anyway? (Says the tired Mom, who dearly loves her sleep.)

I still love you Stella, in spite of your quirks 😊❤🐱

Happy Caturday!

~Rachel

Books

Book Review: The Courtship of Jo March

Trix Wilkins 003

Introduction

In October, I purchased the e-book anniversary edition of The Courtship of Jo March. It was written by Trix Wilkins and released in August of 2017. Before reading, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I don’t like it when my view of a classic is altered. However, I was looking forward to an alternate ending, one that myself and other readers craved.

In this post, I will share a summary, my initial thoughts, as well as my opinion of the major characters, plot and writing style.

You may encounter some spoilers. Fair warning! 🙂

Summary

From GoodReads:

“It’s the classic story of four sisters we’ve come to love, and yet we can’t help but wonder. Why did Jo refuse Laurie? What might Laurie have done on the European Grand Tour? What became of Jo’s writing, Amy’s art, Laurie’s music? Would a school have existed without Aunt March? And could Beth possibly have been saved?

This re-imagining of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is for all who have ever wondered how things might have worked out differently for the beloved March sisters – the life Beth might have led, the books Jo might have written, the friends they might have made, and the courtship that might have been.”

First Thoughts & Background

First off, I loved the cover design on this anniversary edition. And as I started to read, I was impressed with how the book began and how well the characters almost seamlessly resemble their counterparts in Little Women

Characters (Spoilers)

The characters in this novel are very well done. They were consistent, with only a few exceptions. Trix has 100% done her research here and I was impressed.

Jo

Jo and especially Laurie had very consistent and detailed characters. I thought that Jo appeared softer and less brash, even than her adult self in Little Women.

The way Jo behaved in chapter 11 doesn’t sit well with me. Jo came off as very flirtatious, which is not consistent with the Jo I know. Maybe it was too sudden for me as well. The shift from “just friends” to something a little more seemed a bit over the top for me in the way it was expressed.

So Jo’s dress I am kind of in love with. At first I thought red was a scandalous choice, but recently researched it and found that a deep red color was highly fashionable in the 1870s. But was it entirely proper for Laurie to buy her a dress? All the same, I think it is highly romantic.

It made me smile, and think of the scene when Amy and Laurie are picking roses at Valrosa in Nice, France.

PicsArt_11-23-07.10.34

Laurie

Laurie’s character was portrayed very well. I enjoyed seeing more of how he acted around Jo and away from her (and away from Amy as well). His motives, his speeches and everyday activities matched what I knew of him. I loved what Trix has done here to expand upon his character.

Beth

Beth’s story was beautifully done. Certain parts I wasn’t so sure about, but I did so enjoy her story.

Beth approaching Frank at the concert was not something I expected of Beth. That Beth went to the concert at all suprises me, but Beth could sometimes do surprising things. She possesses a quiet strength.

I still wondered at some of her decisions in the book. Beth was not physically a strong person and she was exceedingly shy. I wonder at the wisdom of her decision.

Would Beth have been so brave as to talk to Frank, alone, in a crowded concert? To accept his hand when Jo dissaproves and her family cautions?

Yet I do see that if Beth’s story changes, every one else’s would come apart.

Plot

As a whole, I thought that the story flowed together nicely. However, the sisters, I felt, were married too soon. Within the first few chapters, all but Jo have been married. It seemed almost too rushed and left me with questions about the husbands that weren’t answered until later.

A Favorite Chapter

There is a proposal in Chapter 6, after Laurie’s graduation, just as it is in the original.

I love the way the proposal scene happened. Much, much, so much better. It ended as I anticipated but the wording was much softer and much more satisfying. My heart didn’t feel ripped out of my chest.

Writing Style

I agree with other reviewers on GoodReads who said there was slightly more modernity here than there would have been in the 1870s. However, for me it wasn’t a deal breaker. I thought the particular instances added to the romance of the story.

On my kindle, the e-book was 243 pages long. Some of the chapters were a bit long, which made it a bit difficult for me to finish a chapter in one sitting.

Also of note is the Pride and Prejudice references tucked away in a few places, like pretty flowers hidden in the pages.

I am a huge Austen fan, as some of you probably know 🙂 🙂

PicsArt_11-23-07.48.41

Conclusion

I really enjoyed reading this book and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone. Regarding rating, I would give this book 4/5 stars.

I had mild problems with only a few parts of the book, such as portions of Jo and Beth’s stories and the longer chapters.

Overall I was impressed with the level of care and detail that is apparent in the way the characters are portrayed. There are many powerful, romantic and humorous moments which made this book an enjoyable read 🙂

~*~   ~*~   ~*~   ~*~   ~*~   ~*~   ~*~   ~*~

Visit Trix Wilkin’s blog here to read more about her, her book and view purchasing info for The Courtship of Jo March.

~Rachel

Blog Updates

Blogging Update #3 {goals for the winter}

sunrise-2624402

The best cure for writer’s block is to write through it. And so I shall try. Thus this blog post serves a dual purpose. Planning for the blog, and writing my way out of Stumpville.

 

Caturday

Later this month, I plan to post my November Caturday post, most likely featuring Stella.

book-2572015.jpg

Books

1) Book Reviews

In the books category, I’ve found I really enjoy reviewing e-book(s) from bloggers I follow. I’ve written a review of Kate Singh’s e-book The Homemade Housewife so far and I can’t wait to add more reviews to the category.

If all goes well I should have another e-book review up next week. I’ll give you a hint: it may have something to do with Louisa May Alcott 😉

2) Celebrated Authors

A few of my favorite authors have birthdays later this month, so I plan to do at least a small post about them next week.

food-2362678

Food

In the food category, which people seem to be loving lately (which is great!) I aim to make a new, slight change to my posts this winter.

I was looking at this blog, My No-Fuss Kitchen, which I thought was really cool, as she, the blogger, saves money on food by making stir fry dishes of leftover ingredients. Her dishes are also inspired in part by her Chinese Malaysian heritage. There were a lot of ingredients in her dishes that both intrigued and suprised me.

I’ve been looking at more ethnically diverse food dishes lately and really appreciating the variety and different flavors that these dishes all have.

So this winter I want to make it a goal of mine to make a variety of dishes that are more common in other cultures.

I’m excited to learn…how do people in other cultures save money on food? What ingredients are staples in other countries? What new flavors will I learn about? I’m looking forward to it.

Will you join me on the journey? I hope to post one new dish I’ve tried each month, starting in December (next month).

I will share a photo of the dish I make and make reference to the book or blog post where the recipe can be found.

tree-1716885.jpg

Other Categories

So *counts on fingers* Caturday, Books, Food, and of course there will be some posts in the Motherhood and Reflections category (those categories where I share deep thoughts and lessons learned).

Oh and maybe some sewing projects will make it to a post or two. Sewing is one winter indoor activity that I’m learning to love more these days.

And maybe some more Nature posts if we manage to brave the cooler air to explore outside. Can you see me tapping my fingers, waiting for my kids to get over their colds?

 

Until then,

~Rachel

 

Beverages, Food

Mama Chia {Copycat Recipe}

PicsArt_11-14-04.48.44

Finally. I have finally concocted a cheaper version of the Raspberry Passion Mama Chia beverage my daughter and I love so much.

It was much easier than I expected it would be. I’m not sure why I kept putting it off.

I began by looking at the ingredients list.

20171114_170542-1

Already I had decided to use pomegranate juice. Odd that that isn’t one of the ingredients listed. Pomegranate juice to me tastes like a combination of juices…like a raspberry/grape/cranberry combo maybe?…so I was confident that this would work.

20171114_094109-1
Raw honey, soaked chia seeds, pomegranate juice and lime juice.

First I prepped the chia seeds. I took about 1 ¼ cups of dry seeds and poured them into a mason jar along with about 30 or so ounces of water.

I actually miscalculated the amount of water I would need initially. I filled my glass bottle (see pictures below) 3/4 full with chia seeds, then added water.

That is not the way to do it.

Chia seeds absorb a lot of water. Like 3 times as much as the actual seeds. 

So after that sat in the fridge for awhile I was ready to throw it all together.

20171114_095606-2

One teaspoon of honey was just right, once I figured out how to stir it up (stir with a metal skewer then shake vigorously).

A bit of lime juice added to the pomegranate juice added another element to the flavor that made it pitch-perfect, and just like the Mama Chia beverage I remembered.

20171114_095626-1


 

Rachel’s Copycat Mama Chia Recipe

Makes about 10oz (1 serving).

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup soaked chia seeds*
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime juice

Directions:

  1. Combine ingredients in liquid measuring cup.
  2. Pour into desired container.

*To make about 25oz/3c. of soaked chia seeds, I put about 1 ¼ cups dry chia seeds into a quart (32oz) mason jar. I filled the jar with water, shook up the jar and let it sit in the fridge about 24 hours.

Cost:

For 10oz of this Mama Chia brand drink from Aldi, it was $2.29. My version was only $1.28 for the same amount.

Granted, my recipe doesn’t have the same exact ingredients. But the taste is very similar and still delicious.

Enjoy!

~Rachel