Monday, March 19, 2012

Candle Re-Making

I had a few old candles that could no longer burn well, but had enough wax left to want to keep.  I read somewhere that it was easy to melt down candles and pour them into new vessels, so I gave it a whirl.
Here are the supplies you need for your new candles: Wicks and wick clips, pliers to crimp the clips and some tape to hold the wick over the jar with a pencil.  You'll also need either new jars or clean and reuse the ones you are taking your old wax out of.
They also sell some kind of wax to stick the clip to the bottom of the jar, but all you need to do is dip it into the hot wax before placing it in the jar.
I melted the wax in its original glass container in one small pan on medium heat, and large chunks of an old pillar candle in a glass bowl over a pan with an inch of water.  Don't let the water boil, it should just be at a low simmer in the pan.

Here is the candle starting to be re-made.  I reused this candle jar since it had Christmas decorations on it, and I was using green, red, and white wax.

I had so little red wax left that the other colors overpowered it!  I ended up mixing together a different green shade and a cream shade for the top layer, thinking it would be lighter green- it unfortunately turned out brown :(  It was my first time doing this, so I'll know better for next time.

The finished first candle, ready for December :)

The second candle I simply filled with plain white wax- my sister decorated this dollar store candle jar years ago for a party favor, and it still looked so cute I decided to reuse it too!

One tip I would offer:  Don't use plastic to melt or pour the wax- all the glass bowls I used cleaned up nicely, but the plastic measuring cup I used to pour the melted was was a pain to clean!  I got it all out, but scratched my Pampered Chef measuring cup in the process :(

New Candles for very little money!
Happy Candle Making

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Day of Hearts

On Valentine's Day this year I had fun creating heart-shaped things during our normal daily living.  Some snapshots:

What says love to a guy more than heart-shaped bacon?

My little display of everything pink and Valentine's Day related that I could find:
The water bottle wasn't meant to be a part of the display

Some sugar cookies-something I've been craving, so I had fun making them and indulged in a few- I could feel the difference in my energy level and mood, though :(

I tried to recreate this beautiful and healthy Greek yogurt-dipped strawberries from Pinterest:

 This is how they REALLY  turned out- kind of hideous!  The yogurt wouldn't stick to the strawberries at all.

Plus, they were rock hard and impossible to eat.  I plan to attempt consumption again after some thaw time.
But, they were redeemed because I used Greek Coconut yogurt, yum!

I hope you had a great Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Crayon Hearts

I found inspiration for these on Pinterest (as usual) and started collecting old broken crayons destined for the garbage.

The Pinterest post I copied

I was about to give up the idea because I didn't want to spend money and time to hunt down silicone heart molds, but then I stumbled across some heart ice cube trays in the Target dollar spot (I think they were $2.50).  Then it was ON!

I love a bargain.  I am my mother's daughter in a lot of ways (but she is the bargain QUEEN).

So, since these cheap molds were not silicone as far as I could tell, I wasn't sure about their heat limits.  I cut the crayons in much smaller pieces and used my toaster oven around 150-200 degrees and it worked just fine.

If I did this again though, I would fill the cups even more.  The crayons are pretty thin and won't last too long.  At least they're cute!

Recovering a Chair Cushion

Last week I walked over to the computer and suddenly noticed the worn-out fabric on the thrift-store chair I bought a year or two back for around $5.  I had always intended on painting and recovering it, but it never happened.  Finally the fabric was in bad shape so it motivated me to do it out of necessity!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spring Felt Flower Yarn Wreath

I felt like making a new wreath a couple weeks ago as I was home with sick kiddos, so I found some inspiration from these two pictures:

I liked the yarn wrapping and while shopping at Goodwill one day, I happened to find a ball of tan yarn and decided to use it to try making one of these.

The process was pretty simple:

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes

Awhile ago I made these Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes.  They were pretty delicious.  I hope to make a healthier version soon (with maybe some almond meal, whole wheat flour, ground oats, things like that to replace the white flour, and of course our favorite stevia!).  I'll let you know if I get around to it.

Did you know that you can replace buttermilk by adding lemon juice to regular milk to sour it?  Just use about 1T per cup of milk and let it sit for a few minutes before using it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

UltraSimple Diet Week Results

The week before this last week I was following Dr. Mark Hyman's UltraSimple Diet.  I wanted
Fresh Salsa with Corn, Black Beans and Jicama
something that was kind of a cleanse and this diet was not only allergy-free, but it spelled every step out for me!  It told me what to eat, when, even down to supplements to take and a special stress-relieving bath to take (with epsom salts, baking soda, and lavender).
The first day was fine, I adjusted to the food and wasn't hungry.  I was craving sugar though.
The second day was more difficult as I had a headache and sluggish digestion (detox symptoms).
The next few days I just kind of got into a groove, although my digestion never really did normalize despite his many recommendations to help that (he's very thorough).
By the sixth day, I found myself craving things like avocados and nuts, which were limited on the diet.  That night I decided to go ahead and have a couple spoonfuls of refried beans, which I was craving!  Instead of sugar!  I was amazed that I thought eating beans was a "binge."  Of course they have fat (and not the right kinds; vegetable oils are being linked to heart disease- not butter and lard like everyone thinks) but they still aren't the worst choice out there.
So, after the weeklong diet my results were great!  I lost 4 pounds and about 6 inches all over my body (I measured my waist, hips, bust, thigh, arm and neck).  I was pleased with the results and so far have kept them off.
We have been still avoiding sugar, but I can tell too many carbs is doing the same things to me as before (affecting my complexion, and bloating which I didn't notice before are two examples).  So I have a good guideline and goals for going onward! 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Onion Dicing, made easy

I have been making lots of food requiring onions lately, which isn't too out of the norm- but I thought I'd share with you a technique to make dicing them as easy as possible!
I originally learned how to do this at Tammy's Recipes, and what a great timesaver and tear-reducer it's been!
First, slice the ends off your onion and remove the outer skin.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Easy Mini Cinnamon Rolls with Stevia

I got the idea for these easy mini cinnamon rolls on Pinterest (where many of my ideas come from these days).  They use store-bought crescent roll dough, some butter, cinnamon, and sugar to create little mini rolls in mini-muffin tins.  This is my version using stevia* instead of sugar, and crescent rolls with no hydrogenated oils (you could also make a simple homemade dough for these, like this recipe, ahead of time and store in the freezer after the first rise (or after your bread machine's dough cycle- just freeze in portions so you can take out however much you want at one time, let thaw, and make these cinnamon rolls).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sewing Project: BHG's Simple Six-Pocket Bag

I have been needing a small and simple tote bag to carry my daughter's pull-ups and extra pants and supplies when we run out on errands or when she's dropped off somewhere, because I was running out of room in my own purse/tote.
I found instructions to make this bag online at Better Homes and Gardens, and decided to give it a whirl.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Healthy Eating: 3 Weeks

It's been over two weeks (almost three, I believe) since my husband and I embarked on healthier eating for 2012.  Low sugar has been our main goal, and obviously no junk food, fast food, or desserts with the occasional less healthy meal (like pizza).  We have been replacing our desserts with things like banana-only ice cream (even chocolate!), and using stevia to sweeten things that would otherwise be full of sugar.
This week I am upping the ante again: I decided to follow Dr. Mark Hyman's Ultrasimple Diet.  It's a 7-day program that helps you detox from allergens and carbs, and helps your system "reset" from all the built up toxins.   He's been a guest on the Dr. Oz Show, but I just found his book somewhere online.
It's my first day on the program and although I'm not hungry, I'm definitely craving my normal carbs since I hadn't yet cut them out.  I was still having mostly whole grains, but now it's meat, veggies, and brown rice for a week (with some fruit and his "Ultrashake" recipe too).  It's helping me to remember it's just one week, and then I can have my oatmeal and other healthy things again that are not included in this cleansing period.  I can do almost anything for a week!  Especially when it's likely that I'll lose up to 10 lbs. and a few inches.  Can't forget to record my measurements tonight!
This was my dinner tonight.  It was chicken breast, lots of veggies, and brown rice followed by some berries.  Healthy and simple, with yummy seasonings (he includes recipes in his book).  I can do that!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ten on Ten: January 2012

Regular Beauty on a Tuesday....
 Cuddling with his favorite thumb and blanket

Ten on Ten

Started by A bit of sunshine, Ten on Ten is a way to capture photos from your everyday surroundings for 10 hours (one photo per hour) on the 10th of the month.

From her site:

Happy tenth everybody I am so looking forward to the first installment of Ten on Ten for 2012! I hope you all have a wonderful day today capturing the beauty you find around you.

If you have never participated all you do is take one photo an hour for ten hours to document a simple + beautiful day in your life. When you are ready come back here and leave the link to your post on the linky party below. I am looking forward to checking out how your days take shape later on, have a wonderful day today friends! xo

I can't wait to post mine later.  Join me and comment with your link!
ten on ten button

Roasting a Chicken

When I first tried roasting a chicken, I was surprised at how easy it was.  It was a bit intimidating but once I figured things out, it's such an easy way to get at least 2 meals out of, it's something I try to do at least monthly if not more often.  It's so easy to pick up those already-roasted chickens at the grocery store, but do you know what they put on those?  I've heard they are some of the unhealthiest foods after all the additives (like MSG) and other bad-for-your things are rubbed on them.  Some are better than others, I'm sure, so I will be checking ingredients next time I am in the store.  But by roasting my own chicken I can choose organic and control what ingredients are put on it.
I bought Coleman Organic chicken at Costco.  The price is high at first glance (around $20 for two chickens) but when I figured out that I got three or more meals out of those two after making homemade stock and chicken noodle soup (after a meal of just plain chicken), it's worth it to me.
First, you want to take the chickens and rinse them, inside and out.  Pull out the bag of giblets that are inside.  You may choose to use those in your stock- especially being organic, they have lots of nutrients in them that you don't want to waste.  I learned a lot about that in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  I rinse those also and save them in a container for when I make chicken stock.

How to Roast a Chicken

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Christmas Storage Organizing Tips

Over the past 10 years of having our own home and yearly decorations, I wanted to share a couple of tips I have discovered to keep things neater for next year.

1. Label bins so you know what is in there
This is the first year I'm labeling the bins, even though I've wanted to for awhile now.  Every year we bring bins and boxes up from the basement without knowing what is where, and we have a whole room taken up with bins while we find everything we need to put the tree up.  It's generally well-organized, but not knowing where the stockings are exactly means more time and digging around.  So this year, I finally just wrote on a piece of paper with a Sharpie and taped it onto the box with packing tape.
If I had more time on my hands, I would try and make it prettier like she does here, but who cares, it's done and labeled and will be under our stairs for 11.8 months of the year, right?

Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream

Healthy Chocolate Ice Cream
All you need are frozen bananas and what I used to make it chocolate:

2-3 c. frozen bananas, slightly thawed
1/4 cup water
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8- 1/4 stevia powder, to taste

As bananas thaw for about 10 minutes or more (and even more if using a food processor), dissolve cocoa powder and stevia in water.  I put it in a container and shook it up really well.

Add to high-powered blender (like a Vita-mix) with bananas, and blend as usual.  Very chocolatey  and delicious.  My whole family loved this.

Get your chocolate fix without the processed sugar  :)

 See Healthy One-Ingredient Ice Cream

Friday, January 6, 2012

Healthy Eating: One Week

It's been a little over a week since we started eating healthier by cutting out the excess sugar, and so far it's going well overall.  The fact that I don't remember exactly how many days it's been is a really good sign for me!  It's been really helpful to find a couple of recipes to transition me out of eating so many sweets.  I was really terrible, I'm realizing now- I was totally addicted!  I made some

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Oat Bran Pancakes with Stevia

On New Year's Day I made some delicious sugar-free pancakes using Stevia (again, I'm sure you are noticing a trend here).  I didn't actually have oat bran but I used ground up oats (using my food processor) instead.

   Ana Gourmet: Oat Bran Pancakes

Caprese Salad

This probably isn't new to any of you, but it's something I've been loving the last month or two. 
I'm not sure if the authentic version is different; I just remember this was how my mom has made it before.  We're not Italian though...

Caprese Salad
Sliced Fresh Mozzarella
Tomato Slices
Whole Fresh Basil leaves
Salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over top to taste

Make sure to get a basil leaf with each bite!  Yum!

Monday, January 2, 2012

One Ingredient "Ice Cream"

Is it too good to be true?  You can make ice cream with just ONE main ingredient?
Yes, and it's gluten, dairy, processed sugar, nut, and soy FREE!

The secret ingredient is

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Yummy Salad Formula

Salads are something that takes more effort to prepare than I usually feel like doing.  Once they are made, though, they are so yummy!  I haven't found very many restaurant salads that are just the right balance of ingredients and yumminess.  I vote for homemade and will be doing much more of these now that I'm sticking to my healthy eating plan.

One salad I made last week is below:

It included Romaine lettuce, cucumbers, dried cranberries, chopped apples, pecans and feta cheese with a homemade balsamic dressing (Mama's Balsamic). 

Love my Tupperware salad dressing shaker with pour spout- store extra dressing for next time in fridge

I think a good rough "formula" for salads would be:

Greens + 1 or 2 veggies + nuts + something sweet (dried or fresh fruit) + homemade or all-natural dressing = a great salad.  

If you can eat dairy some type of cheese on top is yummy too.

Happy Salad Making (and then eating)