Saturday, June 18, 2011

First Detailed Sewing Project

A handy way to design what you want, the way you want, and for less is to do it yourself. I had always wanted to learn how to sew and I figured there was no better time than now. I can finally put to use the sewing machine that I got for Christmas a few years ago. As I self-teach, I have done some basic sewing such as the diaper wipes, but have finally completed my first detailed project. With a great tutorial from Prudent Baby, my first pillowcase dress for my sweet little girl is done. I cannot wait to complete more projects.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Pudding Pops

Here are some very yummy cold treats! As I try to control what is in our food, making our own freeze pops seems not only logical but also saves money. It also allows for some creativity and engagement with kiddos.
One great one that is adored in our home is pudding pops. This recipe will follow a box pudding mix with a future post of making your own pudding.

Banana Pudding Pops
1 small box instant vanilla pudding
1 3/4 C milk
1 ripe banana

Blend all ingredients until smooth then place in mold.
*Note: Use ripe sweet bananas to avoid having bitter pudding pops

Blueberry Cheesecake Pudding Pops
1 small box cheesecake instant pudding
1 3/4 C half and half
1 C blueberries
1 t lemon zest

In a blender mix cheesecake pudding mix and half and half until smooth. Add in lemon zest and blueberries and pulse a couple of times to break up the blueberries. Place in molds and freeze.

Simple Vanilla Pudding Pops
1 small box vanilla pudding

Blend with milk and freeze. We sometimes add crushed up graham crackers for added fun.

Don't want to forget the chocolate ...

Mint-Chocolate Pudding Pops
1 small box instant chocolate pudding
1 3/4 C half and half
10 Oreo cookies, crushed (about 1 heaping cup)
1/4 t peppermint extract

Blend pudding mix, extract, and half and half in a blender until smooth. Stir in crushed cookies by hand. Place in molds and freeze.

What kind of creations can you invent?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Upcycled: Box into car track

Summer is finally on the way here in the northeast! Trying to avoid putting the air conditioner in as long as possible, though being in the third trimester of pregnancy during the hot summer days, I might not make it without, we have been using a fan - until it died. I broke down and bought a new one when the humidity was making it difficult to function. Anyway, it came in a box that Little A was quite intrigued by. Never letting a good box go to waste, we got creative with crayons and markers and upcycled the box.

Little A has a very active interest in cars and trucks. Since getting some cars for her, she would enjoy going "BRUUUUUM", pushing them along the floor. Now, she has some added excitement pushing the cars along the roads and down the ramp, through the ponds - you know, 18 month old joys!

Monday, June 6, 2011

What is in your produce?

June: National Fruit and Vegetable Month

After reading the book “Living Downstream” by Sandra Steingraber, it has provided an ever changing effect on the knowledge regarding carcinogens that surround us. As a brief overview, Steingraber has a Ph.D in biology and after being diagnosed with bladder cancer, she went on a personal investigation of cancer and the environment. She reviewed the many different carcinogens in our environment and the effects on the environment and human health. One of the series of carcinogens is pesticides used on produce.

Did you know?

Pesticides can cause changes in both hormone and nervous system functioning? Especially in children?

The EPA’s mandate to study and moderate pesticide dangers and usage, protecting the public against such hazards, is very minimal.

On average, 91 toxic chemicals can be found in an “average” person.

Infants 6-12 months old, commercial baby food is the main source of unsafe levels of pesticides in food. This includes apple juice, apple sauce, pears, and peaches. 

istock photo

How to limit / avoid this?

The Dirty Dozen - The 12 foods that have the most risk and amount of pesticides:

1. Celery                    7. Bell Peppers
2. Peaches                  8. Spinach
3. Strawberries           9. Cherries
4. Apples                   10. Kale / Collard Greens
5. Blueberries            11. Potatoes
6. Nectarines             12. Grapes (Imported)

The Clean 15 - The 15 foods that are lowest in pesticides:

1. Onions               9. Cabbage
2. Avocado            10. Eggplant
3. Sweet Corn       11. Cantaloupe
4. Pineapple          12. Watermelon
5. Mango               13. Grapefruit
6. Sweet Peas        14. Sweet Potato
7. Asparagus         15. Honeydew Melon
8. Kiwi

Pesticides can never be fully removed from produce, but washing will always decrease the amount of exposure, as well as remove any dirt and wash off (along with those grimy hands that touched it in the produce counter before you) .
How to wash your produce: Add a few tablespoons of baking soda to a sink of warm water.
Rinse with clean water and pat dry.

As for commercial baby food, there are different options available such as using the dirty dozen as your guide of buying regular versus organic commercial baby food, buying only organic, OR the most economical, making your own baby food.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Crockpot Yogurt

In our home we go through a fair amount of yogurt, all of which can be quite expensive - along with having trouble to control the extra “stuff” in it. I was introduced by A Simple Wife With A Simple Life how to make homemade yogurt, I could not wait to try it!
This is best done as an overnight project.

All you need is:
A crockpot
1/2 gallon of whole milk
1/2 cup of plain yogurt (this will be your starter and will never need to buy again, I’ll explain more later)

How to:
Putting your crockpot on LOW, warm the 1/2 gallon of milk, for 2 hours.

Unplug the crockpot and let it sit for 3 hours. Do not remove cover.

After 3 hours, remove two cups of the crockpot milk and whisk together with 1/2 cup of plain yogurt (it does come out a bit 'runny', using 1/4 cup will make it thicker).

Stir the milk/yogurt mix into the crockpot with the rest of the milk.

Cover the crockpot with a thick bath towel and let sit for 8-10 hours.

After sitting, it is ready to eat, though warm.
I scooped it into Mason Jars and refrigerated for a few hours.

It is not as thick as store bought yogurt, but oh-so-yummy! You can strain it through some cheesecloth to remove some of the extra liquid if preferred.
I just make sure to enjoy it with a little bit of caution to not wear it - and sometimes thicken it up with flax seed.

Some ways to flavorize the yogurt. (I know it isn’t a real word, but still fun)

For natural sweeteners you can add: maple syrup, honey, or agave
Mix in some of your favorite fruits, granola, or flax seed
*It is best to mix flavors into individual servings to keep it from not getting too watery as well as add some variety of flavor options to suit your taste buds in the moment.

Note: You can use low-fat milk for this recipe. As this is a new endeavor for me, I have not yet experimented with it. From what I have reviewed you can mix in a packet of unflavored gelatin or powdered milk during the step of mixing in the yogurt.