Friday, January 30, 2015

Simple Pleasures Are A Big Deal

Simple pleasures ARE a big deal.. particularly when you're a parent. After the little ones bedtimes.. when peace restores itself to the house and all of the squeaky, squawky toys that make you feel like you broke a toe off when you step on them are all neatly put away again, for the 3255466 time..  yes, after all of that.. sometimes you just need a simple pleasure to sit down and relax with.
Could be a nice glass of wine, could be a long bath, could be mopping the kitchen floor.. I don't know, sometimes cleaning helps me unwind.
Last night, as I plopped down for a few episodes of one of my favorite shows, I decided to do it with an italian soda.. or rather, my simplified take on it. 
These things:
  • milk or half/half - i think heavy whipping would be too much but ya never know
  • soda of your choice, i prefer something dark like plain coke
  • ice 
Now I think traditionally italian sodas are made with seltzer water, flavored syrup and milk or half & half  but this is just as yummy in my opinion and quite simple if you don't keep some of those other things on hand.

Things to note: always pour your milk or cream first, if you pour your soda first, it tends to separate the milk and looks kinda gross.. and probably throws the taste a bit too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Too Easy

I feel like the richest person in the world. I feel like I've unlocked some secret knowledge about the world of cooking.

How so? Well, my husband bought me a food processor for Christmas. Now, she's not the biggest or the baddest, but for me? Perfect.

I feel like the world of cooking has just been leveled for me.. in terms of ease, variety and option. I am sure anyone that actually has a food processor is rolling their eyes at me... they already know.

Anyhow, in the few short weeks I've had it, I have used it a ton already, trying out stuff that would have kind of been a pain the rear without it or trying stuff that is just different..and maybe better sometimes with it.

One of those things is salsa.. restaurant style salsa. Don't get me wrong, I love chunky salsa too but there is something about restaurant salsa that unmistakeable and for whatever reason, up to this point in my life I kind of assumed it wouldn't be all that simple to throw together and perhaps it's not without a food processor, who knows? What I do know is I made, it was great, I patted myself on the back, I can have restaurant salsa any-damn-day-of-the-week now. Check.

Tossed these things in processor:
  • half teaspoon of chopped garlic (probably could've used a bit more)
  • small handful of fresh cilantro
  • nearly drained can of diced tomatoes
  • s&p
  • quarter of a red onion
  • few squirts of lime (equal to about half a lime)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of hot sauce (you could of course use any hot pepper, didn't have any)
I started off with the onion and garlic, once they were combine in the processor (2 or 3 pulses) - I added everything else and it was done as quick as it started.

I was almost surprised how yummy it tasted, I never expect anything to be near perfect on my first try. I think next time I will add a bit more salt, a bit more garlic and use a hot pepper. Here's to experimenting!

These photos aren't the best but it was night time and I was in the middle of getting dinner of the table and trying to capture this :]

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Clean Your Candle Jars

Decided to jump on the candle upcycling wagon and clean out a few of mine from the holidays. It was a fairly simple process for the most part and since most of my bigger candles have lids, I am sure I can find a variety of uses for them. 

Here is how I went about it: (once candles have completely burned down the wick)
  • pour boiling water into the jar
  • wait for it to cool, it will bring the remaining wax to the top of the jar in one piece, some of mine (the little pucks) still had great smell to them so I threw them in my electric warmers to get a few more hours out of them
  • repeat - for me, the boiling water trick didn't get it all the first time, think I did it maybe three times total
  • pry out the wickstickers at the bottom of the jars, I used an old butter knife for one and pliers for the other. ha
  • soak them in soapy water, then scrub and pick off the labels, they come off fairly easy for the most part - rubbing alcohol also helps get some of the sticky off.
  • throw in the dishwasher - they should come out crystal clear.
That's it.

I don't think I would use them for any food related items unless they were pre wrapped, but that's just me.

 boiling the wax out.

 cooling process

  the little "pucks"

ta-da. clean.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Energy Bites

I was perusing Pinterest the other day for some simple, healthy snacks to make for a quick bite in between meals on workdays..  or anyday really. I decided on these adapted No Bake Energy Bites from Gimmie Some Oven - a great site btw! Original recipe created by Smashed Peas and Carrots.

I made these exactly as described however I didn't have flax or chia on hand, I think the chia is neither here nor there = your own preference but I think maybe the flax would've helped a bit, I added a bit more oat to compensate for the lack of flax.

These turned out perfectly yummy AND were fairly quick to put together. They do get a bit crumbly when putting together, I recommend maybe rubbing a little bit of coconut oil on your hands before rolling or just rinsing your hands in between every 3-5 balls or so, otherwise, the peanut butter sticks to your hands pulls the balls apart while you're trying to roll them. I also ended up letting these chill closer to an hour, I felt they were still too "soft" at a half hour but that might have been the lack of one ingredient, not sure?

I am looking forward to making more of these (with flax) and trying some of Gimmie's other creations and coming up with some of my own.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Crockpot Oatmeal

Decided to give this a shot the other day, based off of this recipe. It was relatively easy to put together as most crockpot meals are and it has been nice to pop a container in the microwave in the morning while I've got a toddler super glued to my leg. 

It turned out pretty tasty, though this is the first time I've "made" oatmeal and I think I'll try it again and make a few tweaks..

Here's my thoughts on this specific batch I whipped up:

I made this recipe with the apples on the bottom to make it more caramel like - I think I'd mix it all next time and maybe make a small batch of apples/butter/brown sugar in a saute pan to put on top to give a little more oomph.

I used all spice instead of nutmeg (I didn't have any), don't think this made too much of a difference.

I used less sugars than called for as I am trying to cut back on sugar and slim down in general, it definitely didn't turn out very sweet so I did sprinkle a tiny bit of brown sugar on my individual servings, I think this is where the sauteed apples would be really yummy and you wouldn't really have to go overboard, just a good heaping tablespoon would really be yummy.

I think I will add nuts the next time around to give it a little more bite.

Looking forward to making another batch and topping with different fruits.

I've always had oatmeal with a dash of milk..  my breakfast buddy approved!

prepped for the hubs on his way out the door in the mornings.

precious little guys.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Small Luxury

There is nothing like simple pleasures.. true wealth without wealth itself. Some of the things that I find as true pleasure and am so grateful for is..
  • hot, sweet, creamy coffee
  • a clean bed
  • clean, hot water
All of these things are incredibly simple for most of us and I'd say a lot of us take pleasure in them without giving them a second thought which is natural when it's all you know but take a moment to truly be appreciative and grateful for the "necessities" we can enjoy daily without so much as turning a knob or pushing a button. Don't get me wrong, I'm not preaching.. just taking a moment out of my day to be conscious of the things I am allowed to revel in and yet be humble about them as there are plenty of folks on my own turf as well as far across this world that cannot.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Beginning Again

Dearest World,

I underestimated being a parent.

I don't mean I underestimated all the love, sacrifice, adjusting, etc..  ok, yea, I kinda did.

I did underestimate how fast and how sneakily time would get away from me, I quickly set aside all of my personal endeavors to focus on being a Mom and a homemaker.. which I don't at all regret, I felt that was the center of my life at that point and while, quite obviously, my daughter is still the center of my life, I need not completely forget myself and what makes

Tennessee & I had Pink (not her real name, but her fiercely used nickname) back in June of 2013..which seems like a LONG time ago now.. since then, as you can imagine, there's been a tsunami of adjustments. Don't get me wrong, this kid is easy and goes with the flow practically all the time but you can't help but adjust as you reach each stage and once they are crawling, the game changes and once they walk, the game is never the same.

I work from home, have for some time and the game plan was (is) my husband watched her during the day and I took over around 3 or so as he worked nights. This worked pretty solidly for the first 5-7 months until she started getting really active and my husband started getting really tired from working 7 days a week, running on little sleep, working nights and doing his best to entertain a tiny one fascinated with the world.

We scrapped that plan decided that at the end of the day, it would be simpler if he moved to first shift, I watched our daughter all day and we all convened at night like a normal type family for dinner and such.

Currently, this is still the beat we drum to and most days = it works. Somedays? Yea, I'd rather not mention.

But, pre-preschool is on the horizon and in general, we are a happier family than before by a long shot.

I have definitely figured out a good groove at this point but getting here was a bit tough and I have had some low personal moments up to this but I've decided this year I am going to be in more control of my time, use it more wisely, start to get back to some of the things I enjoy now that my daughter is a little bit older and can participate or can self-entertain a bit better and regain some my things..  one of these things is this, blogging.. I do miss it..and my photography..and cooking new things..and exploring.

At this point, I think parenting is going to be a non-stop learning process and I need to remember to keep my mind open at all times, for what worked yesterday isn't necessarily granted to work for you today..   and that is ok.

So, here we go.

My sunshine: