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Showing posts from August, 2009

In Review: Handmade Home by Amanda Blake Soule


Handmade Home: Simple Ways to Repurpose Old Materials into New Family Treasures by Amanda Blake Souleis probably one of my favorite craft books of 2009. Since I've been following her blog, Soulemama, for a few years, I have been inspired day after day of her wonderful photos, superb choice of aesthetic in her creations, and the drive she has to get it all done with four small unschooled kiddos.
This book is specifically how to repurpose or "recycle" materials you don't use anymore like old clothing, junk mail, and scrap wood into beautiful new treasures your family can enjoy and keep out of the landfill. She breaks the book into different sections, with specific projects for the home in each. For example, one of my favorite sections was "Retreat: Projects to Inspire Calm and Peace" with a memory tree quilt artwork piece, and a one word banner, which is the project I decided to work.
Her directions are very clear in each project, and she even puts i…

How To: Homemade & Healthier Fried Rice

Fried rice wasn't something I was always crazy about. Sure, I would have it as a side at my favorite take-out Chinese Restaurant, Fortune Palace, but I wasn't really eyeballing it the way I was their Peanut-Butter Chicken. I could devour that stuff within minutes! Stefan and I almost never eat at fast food anymore, (maybe Subway once this year?) but I've been craving this bizarre side order for awhile. That and I really didn't like just plain rice. I needed to pump it up a bit, so to speak. I am very happy with my homemade version of fried rice, and although I won't add salt & pepper to the recipe, I generally put a bit on once in my dish, to make the flavor pop a bit more. Enjoy!
4 eggs
1/3 or 1/2 c. of soy nuts & cashews
chopped carrots
long grain brown rice
peanut oil
garlic (optional)
green onion (optional)

Now don't be too stressed out at this picture, I could minimize the pot usage to about 2, but I made enough for a few days, so I had to u…

At Play

If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom
like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society,
will benefit from our peace.
Thich Nhat Hanh found in Handmade Homeby Amanda Blake Soule, review to soon follow...

In Review: Veganomicon

Since going vegetarian a few months ago and cutting back a lot of our diary & egg intake, I've been struggling the past few weeks with being creative with our meals. It is something I have had to go out and research, looking up substitutes, ordering cookbooks through InterLibraryLoan I've heard about, and just generally thinking outside the box (ha! Okay, lame, I know...) with what we have in our cupboards.
A solution? Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero.
Although this book has minimal pictures, which is something I usually require in a cookbook, it has a few awesome sections on stocking your pantry vegan-style (i.e. agave nectar, arrowroot powder, and different oils) which I would have been endlessly roaming isles looking for on the day of making a dish. It also has a great intro in grains. From how to do a basic cooking of a specific grain, to where they came from and how they are harvested. Very interesting stuff to me…

Me = Excited

I have been feeling in a funk lately, and can't seem to get my creative "umph" going, even though I have started on Christmas gifts back in July. I needed something to give me a good art kick in the pants, so to speak. A few weeks ago I heard Racheland Elsiewere teaching another class (they usually do 1-2 a year) and this was the first time since I've been following them that I've had a chance to put aside my 'day job' and do something that I love-Make Things!

My babies are sleeping 12 hours a day and we are on a good routine, the last few times they've had classes this has not been the case, once I had a newborn, then was really pregnant and tired, and then, another newborn! So much for getting an online class in!
I'm happy to report I will be taking their online art class for two months-Sept 15-Nov. 15th and creating 30 + awesome and unique gifts for others and myself in their Autumn Class! From time to time during these two months I wi…

How To: Homemade (slightly healthier) Onion Strings

Would you believe I hated onion rings until I made my own homemade version adapted from The Pioneer Woman's recipe? They are SO good, and making them from scratch is a cinch, just follow these simple steps:
1) Chop Onion to desired length (rings or strings, basically)
2) we give em' a milk bath + a bit of yogurt mixed in for at least 1 hour
2) strain milk mixture in sink
3) in a seprate bowl, toss around onion strips into all-purpose flour and set into strainer *IMPORTANT STEP*
I don't think Pioneer Woman strains her flour, but this is a must for us, it gets all the clumps of flour (which would otherwise sink to the bottom of the pan and burn and *stink*). It also helps them get crunchy on the outside if there is just enough batter, but not too much!
4) Toss in powdered onion strings & let fry in veg. oil until golden brown (a few minutes per batch)
Use slotted spoon to drain oil & set aside on paper towel to absorb moisture.
5) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy! You…

In Review: The China Study


The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II
This is by far the most important book I've read this year, and no doubt it will hold that place through the rest of Fall and Winter. It is not a 'fad diet' book, but a very thourough and detailed account of a 27 year study done on the link between nutrition and disease.
In a nutshell, eating a whole, plant -based diet is the key to avoiding obesity, heart disease, diabetes, most autoimmune diseases and even cancer.
People, this is important, as we all know at least one person who has one of the above, and obesity is literally now taking its toll on our nation's children along with the adults it always plagued, some of whom are now at serious risk and being diagnosed with diabetes.
The author has sat on numerous national boards for nutrition and is one of the most knowledgable in the field. He even writes in his book that this information will be very hard to convey in his lifetime. It will take a …

How To: Simple Christmas Tree Garland

Here is a sneak peak of a little Christmas garland I made, inspired by Soulemama'sgarland on her ravelry site. It is just a simple i-cord, which is basically a knit rope. I made it about 12 feet, so it will easily wrap around a small-medium size tree. I like simple decorations at all holidays, and it will fit nicely next to our small braided German ornaments(like this). I might even be making these for some special families this holiday!

In Review: Soap Nuts

In Review: Soap Nuts from Laundry Tree
All over blogland I have heard rave reviews of Soap Nuts, the natural detergent grown from a tree! They were very interesting to learn about, and a very good, thorough review is found here, from the blog Passionate Homemaking.
These are a great idea if you have someone with sensitive skin in your family, as they are the most natural product you can use as a detergent. They are the fruit of a tree found in the Himilayas, the Sapindus Mukorossi. The soap nuts I tried were from the website, who was giving away a trial-size bag for one cent (+ shipping). You get a small sachet with about 8-12 'nuts' and you use 3-5 per load, 3 times. I did about 12 loads of laundry with them before mine were used up. To see if they still have any use in them, just squeeze the sides when damp and if suds form, they will still be effective! These do not leave any scent whatsoever, so if you like your laundry to have a certain smell, I …

Upcoming Posts and Link Love

Hey All,
We had been without internet for about 5 days this week. We had a virus on our computer and we had to "Nuke" it so to speak. Luckily before it crashed we were able to buy a big hard drive to save all our files. Even though I had my (rather large) collection of music on our computer along with a lot of written files from college that I was proud of, I was most anxious to save all of our family pictures!
I have about five posts I'll be writing up this weekend, including a book review of The China Study, a how to on tips for making different ice creams, my favorite flavor of the week being Cocunut French Mocha. YUM! A review on Soap Nutsand a few new BabyMast posts including a book review or two, and some more pictures, along with a few craft projects (Christmas!) I've been working on!

In my absence, feel free to peruse some of my favorite posts from the last few weeks!
Soulemama reveals her second book, Handmade Home, of which I'll be doing a review on in upco…