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Monday, April 9, 2012

Simple Sunday Brunch

I love making brunch! There's just something soothing about a leisurely afternoon meal that includes coffee and mimosas. You can make a delicious meal without all of those boxed mixes in a snap.

Here are the recipes for my favorite midmorning spread:


1 Cup Flour
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp salt (Omit this if you use salted butter)
1 Egg
1 Cup Buttermilk
3 Tbsp Melted Butter (I prefer this to Vegetable Oil)
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Mix dry ingredients then add buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla. Combine until lumps are mostly gone.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and coat with butter if needed. Pour 1/4 cupfuls of batter onto the skillet, and cook until bubbles appear on the surface. Flip with a spatula, and cook until browned on the other side.

Next comes this nummy, buttery syrup. **Please use a tall pot for heating, as the baking soda creates a very big bubbley foam at first:

Butter/Cinnamon Syrup

1/2 Cup Butter
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Buttermilk
1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar
1/4 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda

Bring butter, sugar, buttermilk, vanilla extract, agave nectar, and cinnamon to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Once simmering, whisk in baking soda. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, before removing from heat. Serve warm.

Then I always add my favorite scrambled egg recipe. It's crazy easy. The kids and I often have this, with whole wheat toast, for a quick dinner:

Fancy Scrambled Eggs

Scramble and cook as many eggs as desired. Once eggs are no longer runny, top with lots of fresh spinach. Use as much spinach as you can fit in the pan. Cook until spinach is wilted and add enough cream cheese to lightly coat everything.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Laundry Continued...

For information on how to make your own laundry detergent and fabric softener, please view my very first blog post.  I wanted to follow up with a few more ways to keep your clothes clean and green.

Vinegar Fabric Softener 

Vinegar kills germs and odors.  It also softens your clothes and reduces static electricity.  Try adding this to your Downy Ball:

1/2 water 1/2 distilled white vinegar
Essential oils if desired

I just pour a 1/2 water 1/2 vinegar mixture into an empty vinegar jug and keep it beside my washing machine.  Use it as you would liquid fabric softener.

CAUTION!!  This is not good for elastic.  I wash my kiddos underthings in a load without vinegar. 

Hang Drying

I live in Minnesota and it gets so cold here that your teeth hurt when you walk outside.  Does this mean that I use my dryer during the frigid winter months??  Nope.  I almost never use it!!!  I hang dry everything that I can manage to drape somewhere in the house.  My townhome is tiny (think two bedroom apartment) but our laundry system works pretty well.  I just use collapsible drying racks.  I purchased mine at Ikea for $20 each.  I've seen them at Costco as well.  If you have to pay for laundry, imagine how much money you would save.   You also save a ton of wear and tear on your clothes.  It usually just takes a day for everything to dry.  I do a load or two every few days and it's very manageable.

Wool Dryer Balls

 You've probably seen seen those plastic spikey-looking dryer balls sold in stores.  They're supposed to eliminate static electricity and reduce drying time.  Some people save money by using in a few tennis balls instead.  I personally think the idea of heating up plastic and tumbling it around with my family's clothes isn't exactly the healthiest thing to do.

On the other hand...  Liquid fabric softener is full of preservatives.  Dryer sheets are made out of fiberglass and contain who knows what chemicals.  So, what's a parent to do?  You felt your own wool dryer balls!  All you need is some wool yarn and some old nylons or a sock.  You'll want pure wool yarn, the kind that shrinks in the wash.  You can buy some at a local knitting store or just unravel an ugly old sweater sold in abundance at any thrift store.  You could even try posting on Freecycle for supplies. 

To start, just make a ball of yarn.  Begin by wrapping the yarn over two fingers.  Pull your fingers out and wrap the yarn around itself, making the shape as close to round as possible.  Perfection is not necessary.  Once you have your desired size, cut the yarn and tightly tuck the end into the ball.  I make the core about 2 inches in diameter, but you can make any size you would like.  If you're making multiple balls, make all of your cores and felt them all at once.

Once you have all your core balls rolled, tuck them into the nylons.  Use small pieces of acrylic yarn, ribbon, or whatever you have on hand to separate each ball and to tie the ends of the nylons closed.  Add the nylon/ball creature to the next load of laundry you wash on the hot setting.  Put it in the dryer afterward as well.  I usually wash and dry the balls twice to ensure they are properly felted.

After the cores have been felted, just wrap another layer of yarn over the core.  I make my dryer balls about 3 inches across, but any size that works for you will be just fine.  Just like before, tuck in the ends, place the balls in the old pantyhose, wash, and dry twice.

That's it!  I use 2-4 dryer balls at a time and they really do reduce drying time.  I still have a little bit of static electricity with our fleece blankets, but not enough to make me use a more conventional fabric softener.  If your dryer balls every unravel, just re-roll and felt them again.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Have you ever read the ingredients on a bag of microwave popcorn??  Can you even pronounce half of what you're eating??  Why not try making popcorn on the stove?  It takes just a few minutes and tastes absolutely delicious.  Not only is it healthier, but think about how much less waste you're producing by forgoing the cardboard box, plastic wrapper, and paper bag that contain your movie time snack...

Supplies Needed:

A tall pot with a  lid.
Cooking Oil*
Popcorn **

Salt and Butter

You know the pot you use to make mac n cheese?  That's probably the one you want to use here.  You just want it to be tall enough to let you make a big tasty batch of popcorn.  Start with about 2 Tbsp of oil and a few (2 or 3) kernels of popcorn.  Cover and cook over medium high heat until you hear your test kernels pop.  Add roughly 1/3 to 1/2 Cup of popcorn and replace lid.  Constantly swirl your pan over the burner while the corn pops away.  It doesn't matter how you move the pan, back and forth, side to side, or around the world.  The big thing is just to keep the kernels in motion.  Once the popping slows down (when you would usually take the bag out of your microwave)  remove from heat and put the popcorn in a bowl.

If you want to add butter, simply cut up 1/4 to 1/2 a stick of butter and place it into the hot pan to melt.  You may or may not need to use low heat to melt the butter.  Once the butter is melted, pour it over the popcorn and shake the bowl to mix.  I don't have a cover for my popcorn bowl, so I just wrap a clean dishtowel tightly over the top of the bowl and give everything a good shake.  Add a pinch or two of salt before shaking if you so desire.

*For cooking oil, I prefer coconut oil.  It's rich in medium-chain fatty acids (AKA the good fats) and adds a wonderful nutty taste to your popcorn.  This oil will be sold in a glass jar in the natural food section of your grocery store.  It is solid at room temperature.  I also use coconut oil quite often for stir fry.  My boys love adding pineapple to our stir fry and the two flavors blend together very well.  

**Corn is one of the most common genetically modified foods (GMOs).  GMOs are not labeled.  The only way to ensure you are not eating genetically modified corn is to buy organic.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Brown Sugar Scrub

You probably have some brown sugar around the house for your holiday baking.  Try making this sweet treat for your skin:

  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Light Oil*
  • 1 tsp Vitamin E (I cut open a couple Vitamin E liquid gel caps)
  • 1/2-1 tsp Vanilla Extract or Preferred Essential Oil
Combine ingredients in a plastic container.  That's it!  This should last for up to six months if kept sealed.  If the mixture seems to dry or too wet for your personal tastes, add more oil or sugar as needed.

The sugar will gently exfoliate your skin while the oil adds light moisture.  Please use caution as your tub may become slippery due to the oil. 

Olive oil is a great option for this recipe because most of us have some sitting around the house.  Sweet Almond and Sunflower oil are great choices as well.  I usually use any of these three oils for the bulk of the oil and then add a small amount of a specialty oil such as hemp, avocado, or pumpkin seed to give my skin an extra special treat. 

If you're able to plan ahead, infuse your oil with tea, herbs, or flower petals.  Calendula petals are wonderful for the skin.  To infuse your oil, begin with roughly 1/2 cup of dry herbs and 1 cup of oil.  Heat the herbs and oil in a double boiler over low hear for 1 hour.  Make sure to add water to the bottom of your double boiler as needed.  After 1 hour, pour mixture into a sterilized container.  Canning jars are perfect for this!  Cover with a cheese cloth or other lightweight cloth and secure with a rubber band.  Then seal tightly with a lid.  Store in a sunny place for two weeks.  Strain the herbs from your jar.  This mixture should keep for up to 18 months if stored in a cool dark place.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Scented Rocks

Who needs potpourri that you're not supposed to touch, or chemical-filled air fresheners? Make your own non-toxic scented rocks! Place these fragrant rocks in a bowl or dish to scent a room.

These are a great gift for the kiddos to make for friends and family.


  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon essential oil (your favorite scent)
  • 2/3 cups boiling water
  • Food coloring, if desired

  1. In bowl, mix dry ingredients well.
  2. Add essential oil, and boiling water to dry ingredients. (Scent will be strong, but will fade slightly when dry.)
  3. For colored stones, blend in food coloring, one drop at a time until desired shade is reached.
  4. Blend ingredients, and form balls into different shape and sizes to look like stones.
  5. Allow stones to dry.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Facial Cleansing Oil

This is like giving yourself a spa facial treatment in your own home. The oils involved will not clog your pores, but will purify your skin and provide natural moisture. Since you're making your own personal blend, you can find a combination that works perfectly for your skin. This does mean that there will be some trial and error involved, but I promise the end result will be worth it!


You're going to need two oils. The first oil is castor oil. This oil will draw out any impurities in your skin. The second oil can be any oil you choose. I think it's great to start with olive oil because most people already have it around the house. I've also used grapeseed and sunflower oil. My personal favorite is sunflower oil. I recommend avoiding any oils with a strong scent such as hemp or jojoba.


Basically, you'll want to figure out the right balance of oils for your skin. People with oily skin will want more castor oil. Those with dry skin will want to use more of the base oil. Start with something like 75% base oil and 25% castor oil and adjust as needed until you find the best mix for you.  For your first batch, just go with 3 teaspoons of base oil and 1 teaspoon of castor oil. 

How To

After you've mixed your oils, pour a quarter-sized amount of into your hand. Apply oil to dry unwashed face and gently massage for a minute or two. Soak a washcloth in clean steamy water and drape this over your face. Leave the washcloth over your face until it has cooled to room temperature. Remove and rinse the washcloth in the hot water and repeat two more times. After the 3rd application and cooling of the steamed cloth, gently wipe your face to remove any remaining oil.

That's it. You shouldn't need any additional moisturizer, but if you do, apply a small amount of your oil blend to your face.

Once you've mastered your personal oil blend, you can add healing essential oils. For my somewhat acne-prone skin, lavender and tea tree essential oils have been very helpful.

I do this once or twice a week.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lotion Bars

I just made a fresh batch of lotion bars in preparation for another Minnesota winter. These bars are great for elbows, knees, and feet. I've used them pretty much anywhere other than my face. Here's another simple recipe that is just measure, melt, mix, and pour.

Your basic proportions will be really easy on this recipe. 1:1:1.  I used roughly 1/3 cup of each ingredient to make 4 bars.


1 part oil
1 part butter
1 part beeswax.
Essential oils if desired

I personally prefer shea butter and coconut oil for this recipe.


Melt ingredients over a double boiler. Once melted, continue to heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add essential oils if desired. Quickly pour into molds* and allow to cool for several hours. Store in container of your choice.

*I use a silicone muffin pan for this and any molded other project. I ordered some 4 oz tins from Mountain Rose Herbs to store my lotion bars.