Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My Pinterest Inspired Projects

I Really Do Love Pinterest...

I have found some amazing projects while searching Pinterest.  Oh, no, did I lose you already.  If everything went well when you clicked on that link you went right to my Pinterest Boards (in a separate window of course).  While you are there follow all the boards that interest you, or you can simply "Follow All". 
I am having a super time with my Pinterest account. When you start pinning, don't make the mistake that I did.  I don't even remember at this point how many boards are pre-loaded for you to pin to, however, you will want more or you will never find the items you have pinned.  For example:  Don't pin all recipes on a board called recipes, or you will have to sort them out later when you find that you 300 recipes and you have to go through all of them to find the one you just know you pinned two weeks ago.  Recipes are definitely a hot item,  you will find that DIY Projects are too.  So, if you have a passion for cooking or recipes, you will want to have a board for chicken, fish, soups, snacks, crockpot cooking, etc.  You may want to do the same with other areas too.  On DIY you will find projects from crochet to refinishing furniture to up cycling a pallet.  Below are a couple of my Pinterest inspired projects.

Lemon Tree Sprouts
I have never been able to get a lemon seed to sprout.  Now I have ten, so far.  I tried using the same method with orange seeds.  But no luck yet.  I certainly won't have room for ten lemon trees, guess they will have to go to the "Famer's Market".  I have several containers of spouting mint that was inspired from another pin.  They are headed to the farmers market too.  Gardening is a "True Love" of mine.  I can't wait to get my bare toes in the dirt.  Yes, indeed!!  I tend not to wear garden gloves either.  I just can't get right in there with gloves on.  Needless to say my nails are always in need of a good manicure. 
Mint propagates quite easily.  You won't need to root before planting.  Just put cutting in moist rich soil, keep moist.  You will be able to tell when they take root.  They will begin to grow quite rapidly.   You can see in the picture here that I have placed a couple of pebbles on the stem.  This will cause them to take root at each segment that is touching the soil.  You will have a nice healthy plant.  Mint is a very invasive plant, you can plant it wherever you need ground cover.  Don't plant near your garden... it may take over in fresh turned dirt.  I have seen a few gardening websites that suggest that you plant the whole pot in the ground to keep it contained.  I would still keep an eye on it.  The plant that I have in my kitchen window sends suckers right out of the pot.  Yes, right up and out of the pot, searching for fresh ground to cover.  I will soon be cleaning up my Pinterest board; gardens.  Just like my board for recipes, I should have considered how many different aspects of gardening there is.  A rainy day project.
                                                         Another of my pinning passions is ways to save money.   Homemade laundry soap, homemade dish soap, homemade plant food, etc.  Earlier this spring I started using 2 Tablespoons of Epson Salt to a gallon of water when watering the houseplants.  There are buds all over.  It works!! Just look at how big the leaves are on this plant with the flowers.  I believe that they are a type of Sedum.  I have had this plant for years.  I think in twenty years I have gotten it to flower twice.  I can hardly wait to use it in the garden this summer.  I want to grow more on less ground this year.  If this is any indication of how well it works, then I'm sure to succeed.  Farmer's Market here I come.  :)

Most of the Pinterest projects that I have experimented with have been recipes.  My husband loves all the new foods that we have been trying.  I have expanded our horizons, we are eating a much healthier diet then before.  We had gotten into a routine (I should say rut) that included a lot of unhealthy snacking.  My husband isn't one to eat much fruit.  But he does love a good smoothie.  I can even sneak in some veggies and other ingredients, such as oatmeal.   There are hundreds of recipes for smoothies.  Pick a combination that you like, then try to hide something that you don't especially like inside it.  Soon you will be consuming things that you never thought that you would.  This smoothie is: 1 banana, 1 small apple, 1 cup diced mango, 2 large handfuls of spinach, 4 ounces Chobani Greek yogurt and 4 ounces of water.  Try something new every day!  And Smile!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Chobani Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

Just for Rebecca...

When I first posted my recipe for Applesauce Oatmeal Cookies, Rebecca had commented on the post asking how much was in a can of applesauce.  I didn't give the ounces of the can that I had used.  And since Rebecca had only a large jar of applesauce, she had decided to substitute pumpkin instead.  I had also been thinking about making the recipe with pumpkin.  Great minds think alike you know.  

By the time I had gathered all the ingredients and started to work out a formula for the pumpkin recipe.  I realized that I didn't have any milk and only a 1/4 cup of brown sugar.  Hmmmm...  I didn't want to run to the store, so the brainstorming began.  It was looking like a totally new creature.  This is what I came up with.  And if I may say so myself.... Yummy!    These are very moist I would suggest refrigeration.  This one is for you Rebecca! 

This recipe made 18 small to medium muffins.  They are packed full of protein.  A sure way to get your morning started.  Two of these is all that you will need with your morning coffee.  It will fill you up and keep you going.  I started with combining all of the wet ingredients. 

1 small can of pumpkin (15 oz.)
1 1/2 cups of plain Chobani Greek Yogurt
2 eggs
Then I added the sugar. 1/4 cup of each white and brown sugar. (I think next time I will use 1/2 honey instead)  Combine in a separate bowl all of the dry ingredients so that you can add them all at once.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups quick oats
1 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
3 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt

The batter is quite moist.  Spray muffin tins with non-stick oil. Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full.  Before baking, make a mixture of 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, sprinkle a little on the top of each muffin.  Bake until golden brown, about 22-25 minutes.  Immediately remove from pan.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Eating Healthier To Get Fit

We Are What We Eat

Or so the old saying goes. I haven't always been so aware of what I was eating.  As I look back, I can see periods of my life where I was quite in tune with my body, or so I thought.  I've always been careful to eat whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. And to stay away from the sugary drinks like soda pop and the cool-aid type drinks.  My children always drank; 2% milk, 100% juice and water.  I always felt that my children had the best nutrition possible on the budget that I had to work with.  Corners where cut here and there, but never on the food budget.

Today as I write my blog I am sipping on infused water.  I have come up with a recipe that I love.  You can experiment with your favorite fruit and vegetable flavors or find some suggestions here.   Give mine a try it is quite refreshing and filled with metabolism boosting ingredients.  The infused water at the right has:  1 lemon cut into wedges, 1/2 cucumber (sliced), 1 1/2 inch of fresh ginger root (sliced thin) and several sprigs of fresh mint.  I can usually use the same fruit for 4-5 days.  In the morning I top it off with ice and water, stir with a wooden spoon enough to bruise the fruits/veggies to cause a release of flavor.  Enjoy!  I try to drink a whole gallon everyday.  We all need to drink more water.  First step to getting fit, get hydrated and stay that way.  People who drink more water lose more weight.

Second step is... Never skip breakfast, or any meal.  If you choose to count calories, or points like they do with Weight Watchers, then you will really want to take my advise on this one.  Make your points or calories count.  This is the meal that sets the mood for the whole day.  Don't start the day hungry!  All of the sources that I have read on the subject say to eat within an hour of rising.  When you skip breakfast it tells your body that there is a famine and to store fat.  I haven't always followed this rule, it may be the reason that I am needing to lose over 60 lbs.  I am sure that it is not the only reason.... but I do know it is one of them.  I have been eating oatmeal with cinnamon and honey topped with mango or blueberries.  Excellent way to start your day, and it will stick with you for the entire morning.

Step three... Snack.... Yup you heard it!  Snacking tells your body that there is plenty to  eat.  Don't store fat!   Now, come on.... be reasonable, not ice cream, not chips, not donuts.  Nuts are good snacks though, so are raw fruits and veggies.  You can use this link to find some healthy high protein snacks that will keep you full longer.

I shouldn't have to say it, but don't skip lunch either.  I really like to enjoy a large salad for lunch.  Yes, I do like my salad huge.  Lots of greens, does a body good.  This is the salad that I had for lunch today.  It was so yummy.  This salad has romaine, spring mix and baby spinach, some shaved carrots, sliced cucumber and a small tomato.   Then I topped it with blue cheese crumbles, walnuts and balsamic vinaigrette.  Get creative with your salads.  I usually add some type of fruit in my salads as well.  Grapes, oranges and apples are wonderful in salads.  Dried cranberries, black beans, raisins, red or green onions and olives as toppers are excellent too.  Comment below with some of your favorite salad toppers. 

Don't forget to have an afternoon snack, remember to grab healthy snacks.  Snacks that will help power you through until dinner.  If I don't have my afternoon snack, then I will snack the whole time that I am cooking dinner.  (You know girls... munch on this carrot, some of that cheese, test the sauce, test the sauce, test the sauce again.  You can almost get a whole meal in just testing. Or at least I can.)

Over the last three months I have introduced more fish and chicken into our diet and totally eliminated pork and all the bad oils (corn oil, canola, vegetable oil and margarine).  I use olive oil, grape seed oil and butter.  The only beef that we have been eating is very lean.  I would like to find a local source for lamb.  Maybe next year my husband will get a deer so that we will have venison too.  Protein doesn't always have to be meat.  Try making a meat free dinner sometime soon.   One of our favorites  is restaurant style tortilla chips with black beans and cheddar cheese topped with black or green olives, jalapenos, and fresh salsa, pico-de-gio or guacamole.   Try one of these recipes for salsa, pico and or guacamole, I'm sure that your family will love them.  They are quick and easy too.   So, step four.... No testing (eating) while cooking.

+Bob Harper's skinny rules have really helped me to get my perspective.  That is why I am going to say that step five is... Go to bed hungry.  Never eat less than 3 hours before going to bed.  Night snackers?  Stop it!!  Yup that's right, get some self-control, you can do it!  You know there is a skinny girl stuck in there! 

Step six... Get up and move!  This is the hardest one for me.  I was diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) a year ago in April.  Really, I believe the diagnosis came two years earlier in 2009 when I had a severe case of pneumonia and pleurisy, but I just wasn't hearing it.  Exercising with COPD can be very difficult.  I can't speak for everyone with the disease, but when I try to exercise anything that raises the heart rate also raises the difficulty breathing.   As I lose weight it is becoming easier to get up and move. 

I have a set of 3 lb. weights that I use for my arms and shoulders.  I also use them for stretching the waist area.  Stretching is very important.  You want to have long lean muscles.  I stretch my legs and waist with all sorts of leg lifts and stretches.  I find it impossible at this point to do a push-up, however, I can do them against the kitchen counter.  Running is out of the question, but walking at a pace that is comfortable for me without getting out of breath is what I am doing.  I have pinned some inspirational quotes on my Pinterest boards, the one that really keeps me going is:  Just do it...  no matter how slow you go... you are still lapping those on the couch!!

Oh, yea, forgot to tell you I have lost 16 lbs. in less than 3 months just eating healthier.   To sum it all up...  Drink lots of water, always eat breakfast, healthy snacks, only eat dinner when it is ready, get up and move, and go to bed hungry.  Enjoy life!!  Smile!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Baking Day - Chocolate Chip Cookies & Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins


Yesterday I promised the cookie and muffin recipes.  Everyone really loved everything. My grandson had an exhausting day of baking.  We spend a lot of time together.  I'm not just the Mimi, I'm daycare too. Yesterday we were working the clean as you go method.  Teach'em young.  I think that he had more fun playing in the sink then baking.  Although he really loved the tasting.  :)


Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies 

These cookies turned out chewy and delicious, I was pleasantly surprised. The last few times I made whole wheat cookies they where quite dry.  But I think that I have figured out the trick.  See what you think!

Cream together:

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 sticks of butter
2 eggs

Then add the dry ingredients.

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 package semisweet chocolate chips

At this point it was quite dry the dough was not sticking to the chocolate chips.  So I drizzled some water on the mixture very little... just enough to make the dough sticky.  I would say that in all I probably used a tablespoon.  This is the trick and I think that the amount may vary... so a little at a time until the dough is sticky, the chocolate chips will begin to stay in the dough. 

Drop by spoonful (I used a tablespoon, I like my cookies bigger than a quarter) about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake in preheated 350 oven for 8-10 minutes.  Cool slightly before removing from cookie sheet.  Makes about 5 dozen 3 inch cookies.

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins 

I wanted to make something with a little less butter and sugar so I re-created a muffin recipe.  I have reduced my intake of sugar, so just making cookies at all was a treat.  As much as I loved the cookies, I think I liked these muffins even more.  I substituted applesauce for the oil and eggs, and a little extra for good measure.  Not all the recipes I have created turn out so good. But I would say that these are one of my success stories.  The muffins turned out so moist and rich.  Enjoy!

Preheat oven to 400,  Spray muffin tins, I used olive oil spray.  This batch made 18 muffins.


1 small can (@15-16ounces) unsweetened applesauce
3/4 cup light sour cream
3/4 cup 2% milk
2/3 cup brown sugar

Stir in the dry ingredients all at once, just until flour is moistened.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cups quick oats
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

Fill muffin tins about 3/4 full.  Before baking, make a mixture of 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, sprinkle a little on the top of each muffin.  Bake until golden brown, about 22 minutes.  Immediately remove from pan.

I am not sure how healthy the recipe is but it has to be better than a cup of vegetable oil, 2 eggs and 1 1/2 cups of whole milk.  :)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Making Homemade Wheat Bread

Making an old favorite, I have had this recipe for wheat bread for years.  I substituted coconut oil for vegetable oil and honey for the brown sugar.  Yea!  Healthy substitutions and we’re just getting started.   This time whole-wheat flour, next time I think I will try rye flour.  I've had a craving for rye bread.

Here is the recipe as I made it today:

2 cups warm water (@85-100 degrees F)
1 package fast acting yeast
2 tablespoons organic sugar
2 teaspoons salt (I use iodized)
4 cups unbleached bread flour (I did not sift)

In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast on the warm water, wait, add the sugar, then the salt. Stirring after each, now start adding the white flour one cup at a time.  Keep the dough in a warm place in a large bowl, cover, (I use my pastry towel).  Let stand until light and bubbly, about an hour. It may take longer if the room is too cool. (Ideal is 82 degrees F)

Next combine:

½ cup hot water
½ cup honey
3 tablespoons coconut oil 
Stir; cool to lukewarm, add to the yeast flour mixture, then add the whole wheat flour.
4 cups whole wheat flour

Knead until smooth, about 10 minutes.  Place in greased bowl, grease top of dough, cover, and let rise in a warm location.  Let rise, about an hour, maybe more, depends on temperature.   When the dough has doubled in size, punch down then knead dough to get most of the air out.  Cut dough in half; turn out onto floured pastry towel.  I use corn meal instead of flour it adds a bit of another grain to the bread and makes for a nice crust.  Knead each half; form into two balls then let rest for 15 minutes or until dough starts rising again. 
Now use rolling pin to roll out dough to about 1/2 inch thickness.   This gets all the air out of the dough. You will hear the air bubbles snapping.  Then roll up as if you are making cinnamon rolls.  Now roll out each end… (Looks like a beaver tail) fold them under and place loaves into greased bread pans.  Let rise for about 1 hour.  Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.
Whenever I make bread I try to plan a few things to bake while it is rising.  Then you are sure to have a nice warm kitchen and the bread rises fast and well.  So we are going to make chocolate chip cookies and some muffins while the bread is rising.  Recipes to follow.  :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chicks are Peeping

Last night I didn't wake until 4:15 a.m.  "Oh, my!" was my reaction as became aware of my surroundings.  The chicks hadn't awakened me all night.  Hope everything was going well and no one was starving or dying thirst.  That instant of panic.... all you moms know the feeling... you know, when the baby sleeps thru the night for the first time.  I rushed to the chick nursery... Everyone was fast asleep. 

Water needed to be freshened and the feed needed to be topped off.  Of course, I sent everyone into a tizzy as I pulled out all the containers and started to fill and return them. I try to always have fresh cool water for them to drink.  The lights that keep the chicks warm also tend to warm the water.  I like to change it at least 3 times a day, sometimes more. 

If you give them to much food they just seem to waist it.  So, my rule tends to be a little, more often.  This evening I am planning to make a bigger area for them.  All of the chicks will then be together.  I have the bantams separated at this time but they seem to be doing really well.  I think the time has come to introduce them to the other chicks.  I want to have them together and acclimated to each other before I introduce them to the coop.  That will be a little while.... remember it was snowing here yesterday.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Baby Ducks and Chicks


Although there is snow still gently falling....

Spring is in the air... 

The news of chicks is a sure sign of spring.  Even when everything all around you is doubting the presence of spring.  New life always signals new beginnings.  It warms my heart to see my grandchildren with the chicks and baby ducks.  It is a whole new clutch for Garden of Eden Farm.  The sound of peeping is sure to have this grandma rising early.  Oh, and yes there is a feeding during the night... usually about 2-3 a.m.  Babies in the house again!   
It has been a couple years since we have had chickens or ducks.  My grandson seems to be pretty excited about these.  We didn't get any of the Americana (Easter Eggers).  They are my favorite breed.  The eggs that they lay are from light blue to olive green.  Maybe we can find some locally.  Or we might have to wait until next spring.  We picked up our chicks from Tractor Supply.  It was such a fast trip in, pick chicks and a couple ducks and out we went.  Now I will have to investigate what type of chickens we did get.  I know that they will lay brown eggs.  Silly Mimi. 
We also have a few bantams too so maybe we will get a couple hens who will hatch out a clutch or two.  Oops, getting ahead of myself here.  Wouldn't want to start counting chickens before they hatch.