Tuesday, August 31, 2010

One of a kind threads

Just before I went out of town last week, I was in touch with Erin over at One of a Kind Threads on Opensky.  I was interested in her product because it's 100% natural and it's priced so reasonably!   She sent me this little sample of her all purpose cleaner along with one of her tubs of laundry detergent.

The first thing I cleaned with the all purpose cleaner was my entire kitchen.  This effective cleaner even took on my oven top, and the inside of my microwave.  I wish I had had something like this when my children were younger.  What a great alternative to cleaning their toys with instead of products with harsh chemicals.  The scent left behind is minimal, so if you're looking for something that's going to leave a strong lingering scent, this is not for you.  Your much much larger bottle is only $11, definitely worth it.

When I opened the laundry detergent container, at first I was worried that there wasn't a scoop inside.  It was there, and it was so very tiny.  It took one tiny little scoop to do a large load of laundry.  At only $14, this laundry detergent can compete with name brands, and can say that there are no other chemicals or synthetic perfumes.  There is a light fragrance while the clothes are in the washing machine, but it doesn't remain on the clothes like conventional perfumed detergents can.  It just comes out smelling clean and wonderful.  If your interested in trying her laundry detergent you can find it here.

Linking back to:

Monday, August 30, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Getting home in the middle of the week last week left me so unorganized.  I'm glad to be able to get my menu plan back out. I've started back on my workout too.  Working out in the mornings when the hubs takes the kids to school.  Anyway, here's the menu plan for this week:

Monday: Spaghetti with home made garlic bread
Tuesday: Broccoli and Cheese Quiche
Wednesday: Chicken and Penne with tomato/basil sauce
Thursday: Breakfast! (or leftovers)
Friday: Home-made pizza
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Out?

Recipes to come this week.  I'm focusing a bit more on vegetarian dishes since fruits and veggies are in season and delicious.  I'll be heading to the local farm to get all sorts of stuff this week.  Have a great week everyone!

Friday, August 27, 2010

I'm back!

I've been back for a few days, but I've been readjusting to the time change, jet lag, and all that.  The crazy tenants are out of my house, and clean up begins.  I did some work outside while there, but I have to replace all the carpets, and she ruined my driveway with her moving truck.  As soon as someone's moved into the house, my property manager and I are moving forward with a lawsuit.  Apparently this woman has been evicted some 16 times, she's got to be using different socials because we did a background check and these didn't come up.

Anyway, I'm going to be researching in the next few weeks about gluten free diets.  My mother experimented with it because of her own digestion issues.  Recovering from rectal cancer has made her system very delicate.  What does gluten have to do with being green?  It's the healthy eating that's green, it's the history of wheat, and the thought that gluten sensitivities and Celiac disease are on the rise due to the environment.   My own eating philosophy is driven through what is natural for us to eat.   In my family we try to base our diets along the lines of what our Western European ancestors ate.  I'm rambling. Eeek!

I also have found some awesome suppliers that Open Sky that sell green products on the cheap.  One product I've been using for about a week now and it's awesome, another is on it's way for me to try out.  Happy Friday everyone!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Out of town

I'll be flying home this morning to take care of the crazy lady who rented my house.  She hasn't paid any rent since she's been there, so she's being evicted today.  The good side of the trip is I'll get to see my parents, and some friends that I've been missing since I've moved to Colorado.

Anyway, have a fantastic weekend everyone.

-- Kim

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Crabapple Jelly

The other day I found an ad on Craigslist from a lady saying she had a bumper crabapple crop and anyone wanting to come pick was welcome to take all they could...for free!  Stoked, I e-mailed her and set up a time to come visiting.  She ended up having two trees, and I may be back to pick her tree some more.  I had considered making relish, but I settled on some spiced crab apple jelly.  Maybe settled is the wrong word, because I think this is the best jelly I've ever made.

I've never made crabapple jelly before, so I losely followed these instructions.  I needed about 8 cups of cut up crabapples.  I had to inspect every apple cut up for worms, and other yuckies.  I only kept the most perfect looking ones for the jelly.  If you maximize the picture to the left, you'll see plenty of apples that have worm holes, and bad spots.  All of those were tossed out.

I cut the apples all up and stuck them in a pot and covered them with water.  I didn't fill the pot up, only just so they were covered, and not floating.  I added a few sticks of cinnamon and a few cloves from a mulling spice blend I had and let it boil for about 15 minutes.  I went light on the spice, a little can go a long way.  Then I set up my cheese cloth and a colander.  The directions I linked said you could also use old pantyhose...I really don't recommend it.  Get cheesecloth from the grocery store.  You'll need a few layers.  I tried to get my jelly to be as clear as I could, so I didn't stir this mixture, or smash the cooked apples to get the juice out.

Here is one view of the set up I had.  I allowed the juice to just drip through the cheese cloth and into the bowl.

Here's another shot of how I drained the fruit.  If you want good and clear jelly, let it drip on it's own.  I let it sit for about an hour and a half.  The juice cooled, then I started the jelly making itself.

Add the juice back into your pot, and get the heat up going again.  I added two cups of sugar to this mixture and cooked it while I sterilized the jars.  I brought the sugar juice mixture to a rapid boil for fifteen minutes, and stirred it almost constantly while waiting.  Once the glass jars were ready, I poured them right in. I did do a freezer test to make sure the jelly got the right consistency.  I didn't use store pectin because apples naturally have so much pectin in them.  Testing for me was important because of that.

In the end I had some very pretty jars of some almost clear jelly.  I have plenty more apples to go, so I'm going to try to make some more before they go bad.  In the end, this cost me the equivalent of two cups of sugar, since the apples were free. Yay craigslist. :)

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This week's menu has to be simple.  It's going to be an insane week.  My son starts school tomorrow, my daughter on Thursday.  I'm flying out to Virginia on Friday to evict my insane non-paying tenants. That's probably going to be a very ugly situation.  I won't be back until the following Tuesday night.

We had an awesome weekend though this passed weekend.  I took many pictures of things and I"ll be sharing with you guys some of the fun we had.  Anyway, here's our menu plan for the week.

Monday: Chicken wings and corn on the cob (can I say, hello cheap easy meal?)
Tuesday: Shrimp Alfredo with roasted garlic and tomatoes
Wednesday: Potato Cheese Casserole
Thursday: Spaghetti with home made garlic bread
Friday: Hopefully not something incredibly unhealthy, since I'll be out of town!

Have a great week everyone.  I'm going to need prayers and well wishes to get this crazy woman out of my house next weekend.  Uplifting thoughts and prayers welcomed!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Birthday

Today's subject is simple: My mother.

She always walks with grace and wisdom.  Her compassionate heart leads her.

There's nothing that means more to her then her family.  For many years, she was my pillar.  My start in life was easier because I had her close to me.

She's an amazing grandmother, who gives her grandchildren all the love and spoiling they could hope for.  My kids are better people because they have her in their lives.  She is an amazing daughter to her own mother, even though she never hears it from her enough. 

Happy Birthday Mom.  You're amazing, and you deserve every bit of happiness.
Love you

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Bento Lunch Boxes

The other day at wholefoods, I broke down and bought a Bento Laptop Lunch Box.  So far, I'm super glad I did.  My son wanted a Star Wars lunch box to take to school this year since he's actually going and not staying home.  I went back and forth on this, and settled on the Bento Box.  I urged  him use his imagination a little bit, I got the black box with the red inner boxes so he can still have "dark side" colors.  I even dug  up some star wars stickers and let him decorate it himself.  He was happy.

One thing I like about this box is  it's made of plastic that is BPA free, so I don't have to worry about the chemicals that could be leaching into my son's food.  Secondly, because of all the cool little boxes that come inside the box, I don't have to add to the landfill with my ziplock baggies.  Getting rid of any disposable things is one of the most simple green things you can do.  It's easier said then done, I know.

These cool little boxes that come with it make sectioning off a healthy lunch easy.  There's even this tiny box for ketchup or candy or whatever you want to put in there.  It also came with silverware.  My son now has his very own set of silverware to take to school with him every day.

This particular set I got at wholefoods also came with a book with lunch ideas. When my son went to kindergarten, I found it so difficult to make him unique lunches every day.  Sifting through this book, I know it will help me come up with some pretty good ideas to give him unique lunches every day.

I paid about $25 for this set, and I know it's a bit pricey for a lunch box.  In my mind though, I won't be spending money on sandwich bags and plastic ware over and over again.  Its a one time cost that I think in the end will end up being cheaper.  You can purchase replacement inner containers online too.  If you don't have time to clean them every day, or if one gets tossed out accidentally you can just get what you need.

I think we're ready for school to start now.  Colorado starts so early.  He'll be in school next Tuesday. :(

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Open Sky -- Pilar Tote

I'm sure my regular readers noticed the countdown going on for the last week or so.  I decided to open a new shop to help support my blogging habit.  Opensky allowed me the freedom to choose the items that I felt drawn to.

What you will find in my store are only items that I have handled, researched and reviewed.  I will only promote items I love and would purchase myself on my middle-class income.  What you won't find are pricey, or over-priced items, like $300 solar stoves, or $2000 repurposed furniture.  You also won't find food items.  I believe in purchasing food locally, and I strongly support this movement.

The first item I'm supporting is the Kingdom Adventures Pilar Tote.  Open sky sent me this tote about a month ago for me to try out.  What I first noticed about the bag was how well it was made.  It's not just a grocery tote.  It can easily be your every day handbag with all your normal goodies.  It fits comfortably on my shoulder, and with it's reinforced shoulder strap, it will last.

The inside has a zippered pocket for your change and any other loose bits.  The bag is made of recycled rice and feed bags, and the inside is double lined with more of your recycled feed bags.  It's big enough to be a small diaper bag, hand bag, or occasionally a shopping bag.  There is a warning on the bag about fading.  So I'm not sure if I'd use it as a grocery tote because it says to only wash it with water.

What really made me fall in love with this though was the human impact.  Right on the tag it says: "Your purchase of this product enables men, women and children who have been trafficked, impoverished or abandoned to be reintegrated back into society."

This is what free trade is all about people!!  This item has everything I believe in, it's repurposed/recycled material that was made and sold in a fair way.  It doesn't get greener then this, and it's only fifteen bucks to boot.  Regular purses are generally more expensive then this, so this is definitely a bargain.

The tote is availble in blue, olive, and pink.  Oh, use the coupon code EXCITE25 up until August 16th, and you'll receive 25% off your bags.

Linking back to:

Monday, August 9, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This is my last week before the kids start school.  Last year I home schooled, but since moving out here I've heard nothing but amazing things about the school district, so I figured I'd give it a try.  I can always pull them out should I/they/we hate it.

This week we're continuing our diet.  Hubs has been completely committed to the work out, where I've started having issues working out at night with him.  I think I'm going to take a pause and begin my work outs in the morning when they kids go off to school.

Monday: Spaghetti and homemade garlic bread
Tuesday: Rosemary/Pepper chicken drumsticks and corn on the cob.
Wednesday: Dinner at church
Thursday: Spanish Tortilla
Friday: Homemade Pizza and herb salads

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday in My City

We've been doing some house hunting lately, and although this wouldn't be the view from my kitchen window, this would be hubs view on his way to work. Now we're wondering if it's worth getting out of a lease early to buy a house. Did I mention I hate apartment living?

Ni Hao Y'all

Unknown Mami

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Button -- Apologies for the bad link

Any readers who may have snatched my button before, I made a new one today. I tried my best to not have to change the html so you wouldn't have to bother with editing your old link, but I couldn't manage it.

Anyway, here is the new button. What do you think?

Green Momma

Dill Pickles

This time of year I can't help but to try to preserve summer's bounty. Last year was the first year I started canning and the very first thing I tried was refrigerator pickles. They require no processing, and they are by far better then anything you'd get in the store. There is a lot to be said for refrigerator pickles too. Because they skip the processing, they retain their crispness. They will safely last up to two months in your fridge too. Trust me though, use this recipe and they won't last two months.

It's always best to start off with fresh ingredients, and if you don't garden head off to your local farm to get what you need.  I went to a farm close by here, and they were so helpful.  They reduced the price of my cukes because I bought so many, and they even ran out to their herb garden and clipped me fresh dill right on the spot.  I took it home, and treated them like I would a bunch of flowers. I clipped the bottoms off and stuck them in cold water.  Two days later, they're still looking very fresh.

When picking cukes, you want to make sure they're bright green like these fellas.  Warts are good too.  If the cuke is smooth with yellow on it, then it's been allowed to get too ripe and the seeds will be huge.  You don't want seedy cukes.  Try to find some that are straight too, they're easier to slide into your jars.

Now, I had two resources guiding me through this whole process.  The first was Pickyourown.org.  This website is a treasure trove for the earthy mom (or dad).  Not only does it have how to's, but you can also find local farms where you can...pick your own food. :) The second was a book I highly recommend called, Preserving Summer's Bounty.

When making pickles you want to avoid getting mushy pickles.  That happens for two reasons: an over ripe cuke, and over processing.  I live in a high altitude, so my processing time is increased.  So when I started cutting my cukes, I only cut them in half, instead of fourths.

I shoved them in with my fresh dill, some spices and some garlic, and sealed them up to get ready for processing.  I did have to cut the tops off them so they'd fit in the jar.  Nothing was wasted though, because those cut ones got shoved in a jar too for sliced sandwich pickles.

After processing, I set them out to cool.  I didn't process all of them because I wanted to have my fresh crispies.  The pickles should all be ready to eat in about two weeks, once the flavor has had a chance to settle in.  Take a note at the difference in color of the pre-processed pickles, and the post-processed.   Your refrigerator pickles will stay that crisp green, while the processed ones have yellowed a bit.

Here is my recipe that I use.  You are welcome to share it, but please link back if you do.

4 1/2 cups vinegar
4 1/2 cups of water
14 garlic cloves

Bring to a fast boil.

After cukes are cut and put in their jars, put two cloves of garlic in each jar along with:

1 whole clove
3 peppercorns or 1/4 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp. mustard seed
1 tsp. dill seed
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Then seal up the jars and processes them according to your elevation.  My elevation is about 5000 feet here in Boulder, Colorado so I had to do a wopping 15 minutes.  I've read if you do straight vinegar and not water, then you can take 5 minutes off your processing time.  If you don't want to deal with processing or if it just scares you (respectfully so!) then stick them in the fridge and wait two weeks.  You'll have some seriously yummy pickles.


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Organically Raised -- Winner!

We have a winner!!

Congratulations to Melissa over at Green Frugal Mama.  An e-mail has been sent, so please get in touch with me as soon as possible so I can get the book sent out to you.  I hope you enjoy this book as much as I have!

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway.  I hope you'll consider purchasing Anni's book.  It's definitely a must have for any earthy mom.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Today is the last day to enter my giveaway and with only 29 comments, your chances to win are very good!  Get in there and win an awesome children's cook book, Organically Raised by Anni Daulter.

This passed week hubs and I have been working hard on our diet and work out and in total, he's lost 8lbs, and I've lost about 10lbs total.  I'm trying to encourage him to weigh every morning instead of every few days.  That way we know if we blew it for a day, or if we did something really good.  Our bodies are recovering quicker, but now and then we stray and eat too many carbs.

Anyway, here is the plan for this week.

Monday:  Vegetarian Eggplant Casserole: sounds gross, but my kids practically party when I make this.  They celebrate "Eggplant Day!"
Tuesday: Grilled Marinated Chicken and fresh corn on the cob
Wednesday: Gazpacho with grilled shrimp
Thursday:  Mac n' Cheese with a twist (from Anni Daulter's Book)
Friday: Homemade Pizza and fresh salads

Have a fantastic week everyone!


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