Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lavender Laundry Detergent

Making your own cleaning supplies is easy and cost effective. It washes the same as the other detergent we were using. I do not like clothes that smell like perfume after washing. I just like it to smell clean- free of smells! This powdered laundry detergent will not leave perfumed scents. If you haven't used powder detergent before then it may take some adjustments. If residue is left on your clothes then add a cup of vinegar to the wash to help dissolve the powder until you get the hang of it. I use to use powder laundry in college so I already knew that powder works better in warm/hot water. If you using cold water then just make sure it is fully dissolved.

1 cup borax (20 Mule Team)
1 cup washing soda or soda ash (Arm and Hammer)
1 cup baking soda (Arm and Hammer)
2 cups finely grated Dr. Bronners Lavender Castile Soap (can use any scent)
(Will need two .5 oz bars, but will only use one and a quarter)

2 tablespoons per full load

You can use any kind of soap that is not too perfumed (e.g Dove) otherwise it will leave stains. Could also use Fels-Naptha laundry bar soap, which is used for pre-treating stains. Fels-Naptha is especially good for oil based stains. The other ingredients are natural laundry boosters, which are added to your regular laundry detergent to help with stains.


Other uses for borax:
-Soak baby clothes/diapers
-Laundry stains, conditions hard water during laundry and dish washing
-Clean and deodorize toilet bowls/garbage disposals/drains, remove soap scum and hard water, remove stains from rugs/carpet, cleans ovens/refrigerators/microwaves/outdoor furniture/mattress odors/sinks/tile/grout

Other uses for washing soda:
-Remove tough stains before washing items
-Remove kitchen oils/cooking grease/crayon stains
-Clean kitchen walls, countertops, refrigerators, and appliances
-Clean bathroom tile, sinks, tub/shower, toilet bowls
-Cleans traps and drains but do not use on blocked drains.
- Do not use on aluminum surfaces

Other uses for baking soda:
-Cleaner/fresher laundry
-Scratch free cleaning on sinks/showers/refrigerators/pots and pans/counters/etc..
-Absorbs and eliminates odors in trash cans/litter boxes/carpets/dishwasher/drains/garbage disposals

Will post more homemade cleaning supplies once created.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Good Finds

One of my favorite things to do is go to thrift/consignment stores in search of that one great item. Sometimes you find them, sometimes you don't but I love the quest. Lately, I have had a streak of good luck. My husband loves flannel and plaid shirts, but he prefers them not to look so lumberjack and sometimes that is all you find. I got a great navy, teal, and white flannel shirt at the Goodwill the other day. Today he was in search of camo shorts. We walked into Fantastic Thrift and to the mens pants/shorts section, found them in his size for $3 and rejoiced that we found them so fast. They were camo pants that I cut into shorts. He was so stoked. A week ago I was in search of two extra pub style chairs at a thrift store and lo and behold I found them. So exciting to find the stuff you are searching for and cheaper than retail. Sometimes it needs a tad TLC, but it is great when they don't! I need to change out the fabric on the seats, but once done I will post.

Thrift Stores:
Goodwill in Ashland passed VCC Mall
Goodwill on Broad Street
Fantastic Thrift on Main
Diversity Thrift near the Diamond
Books, Bikes, and Beyond on Brookland Park Blvd

Consignment Stores:
Class and Trash on Rt 1 in Ashland
Pass It On on Lakeside Ave
Consignment Connections on Lakeside Ave
Robins Nest on Lakeside Ave

Home Decor Boutiques:
Feathernesters on Lakeside Ave
Keep Good Company on Lakeside Ave
Embellish on Lakeside Ave
Shops at 1812 on Patterson
(All of these also sell local artists soap, linen water, jewelry, totes/bags etc..)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Strawberry Banana Freezer Jam

Freezing is a great way to preserve produce if you do not have the time to go through the canning process. It is also nice way to preserve produce, if you do not have much left over. A lot of canning recipes require many ingredients in large quantities. Ball makes BPA-free plastic freezing containers. The glass mason jars are able to be put in the freezer, but you would still need to pressure cook or use the water bath canning process before placing it in the freezer.

3 large bananas, yellow but not too over ripe
3 cups crushed strawberries (two 16 oz packs)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 pouch freezer jam pectin

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum. Place bananas on baking sheet; do not peel. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool then peel and crush bananas with potato masher. I cut the strawberries in quarters and mashed a handful together in a separate bowl until I got a cup and then added it to the banana bowl. Do this until you have 3 cups. Combine sugar and pectin in a different bowl until well mixed. Add fruit to sugar/pectin combo. Stir for a good 3 minutes. Ladle jam into jars. Fill to line leaving 1/2 inch headspace, wipe clean and top with lid. Makes 5 half-pints. Let stand for 30 minutes to thicken. Label then freeze.


419 calories per jar.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Tiered Platter

I saw this in a store and thought it was pretty neat, but refused to pay the mark up cost. So, I headed to consignment and thrift stores in search of the perfect plate. You want to find a glass that has a flat bottom and a wider mouth. This will help support the plate and anything you put on it. Flip the plate over and mark the center. Hot glue the glass bottom down on to the plate. The mouth of the glass will be the base. Let dry before use.

I am working on a two tiered plate. I could not find two plates that went together/matched (that I also liked) for a two tiered version. You want a wide mouthed based that is short in stature for the bigger plate. Short wine style glasses or even short candlestick holders will work for the base for the second tier.

I think it would be fun to do a holiday two tier for parties and family occasions. We love Halloween and Christmas in this house and I may do one for one of those holidays. Depending what kind of plates you use, you could use it solely for decorating purposes.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Garlic Broccoli with Goat Cheese

Bored with plain butter on my broccoli led to digging through the fridge to spice it up. While scarfing it down, I thought of my dear friend, Melissa, who I feel would love this easy addition to her already extra garlicky broccoli rendition.

I use one small head of broccoli since my husband is not a big fan. Fill steamer with water and add fresh herbs to water such as rosemary, basil leaves, thyme sprigs. Place broccoli in steamer and sprinkle with minced garlic. I did about a tablespoon and then threw in some more. My steamer takes about 10 minutes for broccoli. When it is almost done, cut a slice of goat cheese and place in small bowl. The goat cheese is soft and will crumble. You do not a whole lot. Place in microwave for about 5-7 seconds just so it can get a tad softer so it spreads better. Put garlic broccoli on plate, butter, and top with cheese.

I ate it all before I remembered to take a picture.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Bread


3 cups sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
5 over ripe bananas, mashed
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup water
1 cup oil
1 tsp pumpkin spice plus a pinch extra
1 cup walnuts, toasted
3/4 to 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add all the wet into one bowl and the dry in another and mix thoroughly. I mashed the bananas first with a potato masher then added the rest of the wet ingredients. I slowly added some wet to dry and mixed. I know it is usually the other way around, but the bowl I was using for the wet was too small. Grease two loaf pans and split batter between the two. Bake for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you use less bananas it will take less time. To toast walnuts place to baking pan and place in oven for 5-10 minutes or so. They can burn easily so keep an eye out. Can also toast them in skillet as well. I wasn't going to add the chocolate chips, but my husband really wanted them.

Blueberry Salsa


I got this from a magazine and then I altered it a bit.

1 cup whole blueberries
2 cups coarsely chopped blueberries
(together is 2 pints)
2 seeded and minced hot banana peppers
1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
3-4 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt

You could do jalapenos/anaheim peppers or mix two different peppers. You only need 1 lemon for the juice if if it a pretty good sized lemon otherwise you may need two. Comine in bowl and chill til ready to serve. I use the blue corn tortillas to scoop salsa.

45 calories without the chips

Purple Kind of Day

My husband's friend, Matt, made this chair in high school. He is in the middle of trying to move to Brooklyn in NYC and is getting rid of a lot of things he will not be able to take with him. When he offered, I graciously accepted and decided to paint it dark purple.


That Creative Spark

I love weekends that inspire creativity. Whether it be cooking, home decor, crafting... etc, I love it when I get that urge to create. So I urge you to create something.. anything! Start small and then try to take on bigger projects. Take classes, seek out people, and read books that can teach you something new. This weekend has been full of consignment/thrift shopping, blueberry muffins, blueberry salsa, visiting with old friends, comforting family, and crab cakes.

Projects I am working on: finishing the (other) outdoor chair, constructing a pub table, oil cloth cushions, converting the wicker chest into an ottoman, reupholstering two pub chairs from a consignment, creating tiered platters, canning produce, and multiple new recipes.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pesto Pasta Salad

This is a new recipe for me and I love it. A much needed break from regular Italian dressing style pasta salad.

First we need to make the pesto. After making your own pesto and realizing how easy is it, you will not need to buy pesto again! For those who grow a lot of basil, you can double/triple this recipe and freeze it in small containers.


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup extra virgin olive
1/3 cup of nutritional yeast or Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Pluck off basil leaves and measure 2 cups packed. Add to processor along with pine nuts. Pulse a few times until basil is chopped. Add garlic and pulse a few more times. Combine a little oil and pulse. Keep doing so until you used 1/2 cup of oil. Add yeast/cheese and pulse until blended.

If you are dairy-free then nutritional yeast is good to have on hand. When kept in a cool dark place and in an air tight container, it can last indefinitely. It is an inactive yeast and found in the bulk aisle of natural food markets. It is a complete protein and has some the of B-complex vitamins too. It has a cheesy/nutty flavor and can be used in many recipes to thicken or add that cheese flavor.

This can be frozen in an air tight container as well.

Now for the pasta. I use rotini pasta because the pesto get tucked into the little spirals. I cook the pasta, drain, place in a bowl, set in refrigerator and then move on to making the pesto.


Almost a full box of pasta which is about 4 cups and some will be left over
1 cup pesto
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 cup frozen peas, cooked
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a few drops extra
12 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta and refrigerate. Make pesto. Add pesto to pasta along with pine nuts, and tomatoes. Mix. If you feel it is a bit dry then add a few drops of oil and mix again. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and refrigerate. You could also add olives, but we aren't fans. I was going to add goat cheese since it has a low lactose count, but I got the wrong kind. This serves about 6-8 people. I am in a family with big eaters so if they were all coming to dinner I would double it. I had an uncle who could eat about 5 dinner rolls so when planning out the food, you always had to count him as 2-3 extra people.

Zucchini Nut Bread


This is my mother's recipe and it is quite good. I never liked zucchini growing up, but always loved this bread. You can make it with or without nuts, but I prefer nuts.

2 cups grated zucchini, skin on (3-5 depending on size)
2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs lightly beaten
3 cups flour
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup chopped nuts (I use walnuts or pecans)

Slice zucchini and place in food processor. Grind until smooth. I add all the dry in a bowl then I add all the wet including the zucchini. Mix until creamy. Divide between two small loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

I usually freeze one so we can have it for later. I made this recipe (sans nuts) for my friend, Tiffany, since she was so kind and made us banana bread. Then I made it again (with nuts)!

Thai Iced Coffee

This was easy and fun to do. I got this recipe from my friend, Megan. I am not a coffee drinker, but I thought my husband would like this. I did try a lactose-free version which is much different and I still do not like it because of the coffee. However, if you enjoy coffee then by all means please give this one a whirl.

3/4 of a cup of a medium/dark roast coffee (whole bean)
5 green cardamom pods
4 1/2 cups water
14 oz sweetened condensed milk

Put the coffee and cardamom pods in a coffee grinder and pulse until a fine ground. Empty into coffee maker. Add 4 1/2 cups of water and brew. Pour into a pitcher and add the condensed milk. Let it come to room temperature, place in refrigerator and cool for about 2 hours or overnight.

I did two batches. One following the recipe above and the other substituting the condensed milk for vanilla soy milk and some soy french vanilla creamer. It is not as sweet and will taste different, but if you like coffee you may enjoy it.

I used a medium organic Ethiopian roast. My husband is not a huge fan of dark roast coffees and someone will have to finish the rest of the unused coffee beans. You can definitely double this recipe if having people over since this will only make a small batch. Most natural food markets will have the cardamom pods. I called ahead just to be sure.