Monday, September 22, 2014

Easy Pumpkin Cake with Maple Agave Glaze

We were craving something with pumpkin in it so I searched in the pantry and found
Classic White Cake Mix from Aldi - directions for the cake call for 1 1/4 cups of water, 1/4 of oil & 3 egg whites but I replaced the water with

A 15 oz can of Pumpkin from Libby's
Then added 2 tablespoons of oil (corn), 2 whole eggs, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 'dash' of ground ginger
Mix and bake for 45-50 minutes at 350° F in a bunt pan

Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then glaze. The maple glaze idea is from Noreen's Kitchen.
Glaze is 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon Maple Agave and 1 -2 teaspoons of milk 
Glazed, sliced and enjoyed with cold milk, hot coffee or tea with lemon - whatever your preferred accompaniment. Two thumbs up from hubby!
Want to see it made on video, click below:

Meatless Monday Dinner

I have been dreaming of cooler temps in part so I can make my favorite roasted veggies for #MeatlessMonday. Today we had cauliflower, carrots, potatoes, sweet potato and green and red bell peppers. Once roasted, they were topped with thyme, parsley and baby basil. Only seasoning is Mrs. Dash, fresh cracked black pepper and Grapeseed oil.

In addition, we had the tastiest butternut squash roasted to tenderness then dressed with thyme, parsley and drizzled with Maple Agave. Whoever thinks vegetarians deprive themselves haven't tied these spectacular and satisfying meals.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Healthier Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup Option

I had a shi**y day and found myself craving grilled cheese and tomato soup. All fine and dandy but we have switched to a low sodium diet so the soup from a can is not on the menu and cheese and butter is not good for me either so this is my replacement with a healthy twist. It's a bowl of tomatoes, onions and dill dressed with a homemade buttermilk ranch dressing (no salt) and cheese toast broiled at 500° F for 3 minutes. This was as satisfying as the traditional but without any of the residual guilt. Making better choices each day is what changes a paradyme. On the road to a healthier me!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

13 Bean Soup from Bob's Red Mill Mix

The soup is rich but heart healthy because there is only 5 mg of sodium per serving which is considered 0% of daily allowance. The following recipe is directly from the back of the package.
Start with an overnight soak of 2 cups of beans, then in the morning, drain, rinse, repeat till water runs clear/clean 
The bag is 29 oz so that's approximately two portions (give or take an oz or so) 
I didn't have a ham hock but I did find a thick slice of ham with bone in. I only used about a quarter, which is just shy of 210 mg of sodium but then divided among the 8-10 potions in the finished soup 
Bring to a boil in 2 1/2 quarts of water, then turn to simmer for 3 to 3 1/2 hours 
Finally add - 1 tablespoon of Chilli powders, 1 cup of diced tomatoes (can or fresh), 2 cloves of fresh garlic and simmer another 30 minutes 
I served it in a bowl with fresh parsley from the garde, scallions, a dollop of sour cream and a squeeze of lime juice. Paulie had his with just parsley, scallions and a few dashes of Malt Vinegar. Enough leftovers to have for lunch over the weekend or stash two portions in the freezer for a lazy dinner night during the week.
Easy, tasty and very satisfying.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Simple Project Each Day in September - Day 17 - IKEA Variera Storage Accordion

The packaging is tiny but heavy because it's all stainless steel
Accordion base and screw on posts 
Simple and quick assembly, no tools required 
Only takes minutes to complete 
Super simple instructions 
No words necessary 
Easy to expand to fit the space 
Or collapse to store away or house in a smaller location 
Collapsed size is under 6 inches long
Collapsed size under 3 1/2 inches wide 
Expands to nearly two feet 
Perfect to store various size lids, pots, anything you'd like to keep vertically

Monday, September 15, 2014

Meatless Monday Dinner - Garden Fresh

Meatless Mondays are always fun because we stretch out culinary muscles and try something new. Today it was a Vegetarian Noodle made in Vietnam that contains no eggs or salt. To brighten the light noodles we made a fresh tomato pasta sauce. Paulie prepped all the veggies - peeled the tomatoes, chopped the onions, garlic and peppers. Once he was done I stepped in to cook and flavor up the sauce.
To mix up the textures, in addition to the noodles and sauce I also made sauteed zucchini and eggplant , yup it's the eggplant I confiscated from the wayward squirrel earlier in the week. Topping everything with portobello steak slices, parsley and shavings of parmigiano (only salt element). Our intent was to just make enough sauce for tonight's meal but there was a bonus amount which was cooled and popped in a beauty of a Ball jar to be user later in the week for another meal. 
About 2/3 full with the remainder of the garden fresh parsley on top.
What's Inside:

~ 4 cups peeled tomatoes, combination of whatever is left in the garde - roma, heirloom, beefsteak, cherry
~ 10 cloves of garlic, chopped (we LOVE garlic)
~ 1 cup of chopped red pepper
~ 1 cup of mixed pepper - red, yellow and green bell, jalapeno, cubanelle 
~ 1/4 cup chopped parsley
~ 1/8 cup chopped basil
~ 1 tablespoon Mrs. Dash (we are now salt free)
~ pinch of red pepper flakes - adjust for your taste and the heat of fresh peppers used

Simmer in a heavy bottom pot till all the veggies are tender, then use an immersion blender to the desired chunkiness
The aroma is magical. 
#BallJar full of goodness.

My Facts of Life

I missed my husband while he was in the hospital, even though it was for approximately 32 hours but when he came home it dawned on me that there are mysterious things that occur in the house which he never seems to take notice of. Here are just some of them (I'm sure there are many more but these stuck out):

  • The first mystery of the self regenerating toilet paper roll - he has seen us bring the full packages of it home but has never really replaced them. I've even gone as far as do a video demonstration on how to change the roll in which direction I prefer the paper to unroll.
  • Our kitchen has a water cooler that holds a 5 gallon bottle of water but for some reason only I seem to notice that when you push the button to dispense water it's futile if the bottle is empty. Obviously, I changed it myself after dropping some not so subtle hints without results.
  • We recently began making our own dog treats out of skinless/boneless chicken breast in the food dehydrator. In today's shopping trip to Stop & Shop we picked up a flat of chicken trimmed of all fat, skin and bones which are perfect for treats. Although I just wanted to go to bed and snuggle in the cooling evening, I forced myself to cut the chicken and pop it in to dehydrate overnight so I can use the dehydrator to make myself some yummy kale chips tomorrow.
  • Dishes, sheesh, where do I start. Our kitchen has a cabinet and it's resident fairy only comes out at night to take care of all those nuisance chores that we don't feel like doing, RIGHT! Lets be hones we all know that I am that fairy!
  • As I mentioned we grocery shopped earlier, another one of my little pet peeves is that the food makes it into the house but then there's an expectation that each item sprouts legs and walks themselves over to their storage space... now that I'd like to see.
  • Doors - where do I start - the kitchen cabinets get left open, front and back doors as well but I'm still trying to figure our why... any insight would be greatly appreciated
Do you have any goofy things that occur around your house that make you wonder why you are the only one re-filling, closing, putting away things? Please share, I'd like to think I'm not the only one.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

My Dream Bedroom

This might be my dream bedroom, maybe with a little silver accents throughout the room. Perhaps swap out the night stands with mirror fronts to let in a bit more light and reflection.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wild Orchid Crafts Design Team Call

Wild Orchid Crafts is looking for talented designers to join our design team. Do you have a Youtube channel where you like to showcase your design projects, or do you have a passion for card making with an
 online gallery and blog?  We're looking for both experienced and brand-new artists.

If you have the following skills, we would love to hear from you:
  • Excellent Photography: clear, sharp, bright photos for online media.
  • Strong Design Skills: ability to create stylish and original projects.
  • Social Media Presence (either Youtube, Facebook, blog, or Pinterest)
  • Video Skills for filming project videos (if you do not have video skills and only use a blog or gallery to showcase your work, we are still very interested to hear from you)
  • A desire to work with our great products (2 - 3 projects per month for 6 months)
Craft Activities:
  • Layouts
  • Altered Items
  • Cards and Tags
  • Mixed Media
Please send the following in your DT application to:
1. Subject Line: "WOC DT Call"
2. Contact email address
3. A link to your blog, Youtube, Facebook or Pinterest page
4. List of any design teams you are currently on, or have been on.
5. A recent design project created by you.  Projects do not have to use Wild Orchid Crafts products although we would LOVE to see any work you have done with our products.
The DT call is open immediately and will end on November 12, 2014.  New design team members will be announced on December 1st, 2014.

Simple Project Each Day in September - Day 8

In an attempt to catch up, life put creative things on hold for a few day, I am reexamining some of the clutter in my life that I do have control over - today it's Subscriptions and Auto Deliveries both email and snail mail.

  • Unsubscribe to all unnecessary/unwanted newsletters - so many are forced when you enter a contest or drawing that over time you'll find that you get emails that go mostly unread.  Why keep subscribed, click on that Unsubscribe at the end of the email message and I bet you over a course of a months you'll thin out all those auto deliveries and only keep those that will actually be read.
  • Remember to opt out of auto deliveries, check the fine print particularly in sweepstake entries (both email and Facebook) for a chance to not receive emails either from the company or worse - third party individuals.
  • As painful as it might have been, I am glad that I contacted the two local papers and asked them to stop sending us their weekly samples that were nothing more then filtered from the front door's mailbox directly into the recycler in the mud room to be hauled away every two weeks by the Waste Management to the sorting center. Talk about waste!
  • Keep an eye on sudden influx of advertising mail - we recently started receiving all sorts of letters on how a company can help us pay medical bills, which I deduced was due to Paulie's recent hospital stay and the hospital neglecting to accurately put in his insurance information which generated full bills. I even went as far as call the hospital and inquire how that's possible, obviously too much of a coincidence, but they were not able to tell me if they sell patient name/address information. This ticked me off and I'm still working on getting an acceptable answer so I'll keep you all posted here.
  • Speaking of unnecessary/unwanted paper, I really wish there was a way to only receive coupons on Sunday, not the entire paper or even all the circulars which for many stores are available online and for some even a few days ahead of start dates.
  • Sadly the only mailing we have absolutely no control over is Political in nature although this would be my first wish to change - I've even considered contacting each of these 'parties' and letting them  know that I can't vote hoping that would help plead my case to stop them arriving at our house. A work in progress.
These are a good start but by no means all that can be done, I will surely revisit this list to make additions and update on the work in progress points but it's a good start.

Simple Project Each Day in September - Day 7

Time for some cleanup, today it's my email and folders filled with messages I mean to reply or keep which are now obsolete.

Here's what it looks like now:
148 emails in my inbox that need to be files, deleted or replied to, then off to clean up each of the 27 folders
There is absolutely no reason to have 178 emails for coupons, deleting all expired down to just 35
Cleaning up even more clutter by removing unnecessary folders entirely
Time to also create some new folders to better organize the new categories, like my iPhotography course emails
This is also a great opportunity to re-evaluate your Newsletter subscriptions, I recently cleared up by unsubscribing to quite a few that were of no interest to me.
Last but not least, clear out the Delete folder! Easy, Peasy :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Simple Project Each Day in September - Day 6

I look at this mess every time I open the medicine cabinet in the downstairs bath and hate it so much that I haven't opened it in months. Today I am tackling this mess and taking care of it once & for all!

  • I checked every script, all but one went in the trash (if you have any narcotics it's best to dispose of them at a local drive or flush them rather than toss in the garbage). Everything expired was disposed of. I used one of those Dollar Tree storage containers (white thing on the middle shelf on the right that looks like an open pencil case) to store all of Paulie's replacement razors and handles. It's a great way to create an additional boarder within the storage unit for those smaller items that have a tendency to avalanch each time the door is opened. Did I mention that this is the original 1942 cabinet with lights on either side from the original house build? It has some dinged spots inside from years of use so it's not pretty and new but absolutely functional, for now.
  • On the left hand side on the center shelf are three packs of cough drops but I think they might be better stored in the fridge so they don't go through temp changes. The sugar content in them would essentially turn them in to a glucose bolder from fluctuating humidity.
  • Notice there are no more medications, well that's because I have them in a silver box and to keep them out of the prying eyes of guests, you know everyone looks inside the medicine cabinet when at someone else's house. Have you?
  • There are also no bandages visible because I have transferred all of those related supplies to the Wound Box <- li="" video="">
  • This will change slightly over the next few days only because I will check what's in the cabinet upstairs and whatever else is floating throughout the house that should be returned to the bathroom but I really like having some blank spaces for those migrating items.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Simple Project Each Day in September - Day 5

Today I'm organizing my seeds, keeping track of what was planted this past season along with comments and results so that next planting season I know which to re-plant vs. which to bypass entirely. I chose to use a star system with a key what each color means at the beginning of the booklet.
I started with a 4x6 pocket photo album from Dollar Tree, saved seed packets from this past growing season and some star stickers also from Dollar Tree (the key is shown below along with some extra stickers)
I'll add more photos tomorrow in natural light but one more project completed.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Simple Project Each Day in September - Day 4

Garlic carnage, just kidding, but it is all the skins removed from 5 heads of garlic 

Peeled cloves are stored in a screw lid container, from #DollarTree, in the fridge and can easily be grabbed for meals this month. You can break down the garlic further by picking out those tiny mild ones into Garlic Butter or shopping a bunch in a mini food processor and placing them in a small baby food container jar (or other small recycled glass jar) and top with your favorite oil - grapeseed, olive, peanut, sunflower.  This will provide you not only shopped garlic but also flavored oil that can be used in vinaigrettes or to sear some fresh fish. One hour of work will save me time each meal that includes garlic.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Simple Project Each Day in September - Day 3

The moment I saw the tiny images of the sheet designs for Project Life I knew I wanted to make this 
Saved a logo off one of the packages and fussy cut it then edged it with silver metallic Sharpie marker 
Now I just need to add the Design letter to keep these identified 
Once I start using the various designs I can also see adding a rating to denote which I like best 
Keeping the cover decoration to a minimum still allows the cover to like semi-flat for use 
Lots of designs to add - these are from sample packs 
The mini gardenias from Wild Orchid Crafts 
And Baby rose leaves 
Simple but effective #SimpleProjectEachDay