Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow!?

I just got in from shoveling snow and cleaning off my car. Man, it's cold out. I had a cup of hot chocolate and sat for a little but I'm still pretty cold. My fingers where half frozen to the snow shovel by the time I was done. On days like this I really want to spend the day baking breads and cookies and the like but unfortunately, I'm due to be at work by noon. I hope all of you that got hit by the snow are warm and safe!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Best Christmas

I personally felt that this was the best Christmas in years. I got a lot of things that I wanted including my family together for dinner.
Last night I got my biggest and best present, a new Brother sewing machine which I've taken the liberty of naming Martha. I can't wait to get on her and sew some long awaited items, such as my fleece throw and apron. Everything that I got was very useful; a frost cover for my car's windshield, cute notecards, soap, a usable bag, s really nice smelling hand car kit, and some money which I've already invested half in a electric blanket and the other half is to join weight watchers. I truly do appreciate the smaller more thoughtful gifts then money.
So Merry Christmas everyone! Tomorrow I'm thinking about hosting another small giveaway since the other was a dud, but I'll have to see what I can dig out.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Last Day

Today is the last day to win a handmade Christmas card. Since no one has entered to try to win it, I'll include a small surprise along with the card. So get your entry in now!
To win a handmade Christmas card click here

Bacon!

Ode to the Salty Sweetness
In my house this pork product is outlawed by my mom not because it's unhealthy but because it makes the house smell like bacon and gets grease everywhere, even if one uses the grease screen and cleans up when done. To her it's alright that she cooks scrapple (for those unfamiliar to this breakfast food, this is a Pennsylvania Dutch treat made of cornmeal and pig 'parts') and that I wake up to the smell of that, which I do not like. My dad did the unthinkable, he purchased some. Of course I had to cook it for breakfast which brought cries of disapproval from my mom. It was a completely substandard product anyway. I'll purchase better stuff from the butcher the next time since I only get to eat it every once in a blue moon, it'll be worth it.
Do any of you have a favorite food that you do not like to cook?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Handmade Holiday: Christmas Cards

I did this last year as well because making cards seems to make that 44 cents to mail it worth every penny. I've also found that many of my friends and family really enjoy getting the handmade ones.
Making cards is really easy. They don't need to be really fancy or full of store bought embellishments. A nice stamp and some scrapbook paper will make a nice card like I sent all of my friend's last year.
This year I spent a little more money and bought embellishments for the for the front of the card. Some decorative ribbon from the clearance pile and some on sale raised decorations. Both only costing me $2 total.
To make your cards look even more perfessional, make lined envelopes out of wrapping paper. It's easy. Trace the envelope on the wrong side of the wrapping paper. Cut it out. Cut about 3/4" off the bottom. Slide it into the envelope. Glue the top flap to the envelope and ta da! A fancy envelope!
If you're in the mood to recycle; take last year's cards, if you saved them and cut them in half at the fold to make postcards. But make sure that you don't send the same card to the person that sent it last year! This will save you on postage as well. Postcards only cost 28 cents to mail within the US so you'll be saving the environment and saving on some postage!

GIVE AWAY!
Please comment below for a chance to win a Christmas card designed and made by me! You can either have me make the card out to you and send it or I can send it blank to you for you to give to someone else. Your choice. The card that will be given away will be a version of the ones pictured on the left. Just comment below and left your e-mail address so I can contact you if you win! The winner will be announced Sunday, December 19 so get those comments in!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finding My Humanity

In this world of fast food, 9-5 jobs, television, and internet, we find ourselves only part human. The other half is controlled by our fascination of things appearing with little or no work required.
After watched a few PBS specials focusing on different time periods, I began to yearn for what they had. Yes, it's hard to let go of the computer for a night and maybe the television for a day. But think about how good you feel afterwards. You feel more apart of the universe then someone trying to control it.
On a personal level, I started what I call "human hour" for myself where I turn my computer and my television off and do something. Read a book, do some crafts, or write a letter. Perhaps if I had a willing participant in my house I would play cards or a board game but unfortunately, my parents revolve around the computer or TV.
When I go to bed at night my brain is tired from all the exercise it did and usually end up falling asleep at 10 pm.
Do you have some sort of 'human hour'?
As for my Christmas gift posts I'll be doing double posts this weekend to make up. I've got some fabulous ideas in mind!

Monday, November 29, 2010

No Sweets Week

I declare next week, Decemeber 5-11 no sweets week. It's going to be hard. It's gonna get messy but no sweets for a week for me! No cake, cookies, candy bars, lollipops, or chocolate bars. I'll, of course, stock up on fruits to keep my sweet tooth happy. But no processed sweets. Zip. Nada. Ziltch. Null.
Who's with me?

Blog Renovation

Please excuse the appearance of my blog. I'm currently renovating and just lost most of my widgets on the left hand side.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Life is a Piece of Pie

Yesterday was prep for the feast today. The stuffing has been made already before my mom and I even had breakfast. And the pies are made. Pies are one of the things that I like making because they are so simple yet very delicious. Here's my favorite pie crust recipe from Jenna Wogenrich's Made from Scratch.
1 1/2 sticks butter, chilled
2 tbs vegetable shortening
1 tbs sugar
2 cups flour
3 tbs ice water

Cut butter into cubes and place into bowl. Add shortening and sugar.
 Add flour and cut into butter mixture with a pastry blender or food processor until it looks like coarse cornmeal.
 Add ice water until it looks like this.
 Place half of the dough onto plastic wrap. Take two edges and press then to the center and repeat until you form disks like.....
 ...This. Chill for at least one hour.

 Roll out and place into pie plate. The easiest way to do this is to place the pie plate upside down onto the pie crust. Grip two edges of the pie crust and hold the pie plate and flip it.
Now I made pumpkin but do whatever filling you want.
The finished product. Yum!

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Handmade Holiday


Last year I ran a short little group of posts about how to make your holiday gifts handmade with a personal touch. After some thought of the topic I've decided to run it again. Expect a few reruns but also a few new things including a really cool way to make greeting cards. Hopefully you'll be inspired! If you have any ideas yourself feel free to e-mail me at elfscuz@/yahoo.com. If you'd like I'll also feature you as a guest blogger.
I'll try to run it every Sunday until Christmas. I hope you enjoy!

Country Girl In the Big Apple

It's been a few days since I went to New York and have delayed writing about it because I was busy.
Early on Wednesday morning we departed the bus station groggy and tired. I did make a coffee run before we left but it hadn't kicked in yet. As we approached the city I perked up excited to actually be around a lot of people.I wouldn't give up living the the country to live in the city but it's refreshing to go once in a while. When we got off the bus we headed to out lunch destination, Carnegie Deli. The portions are huge and the prices expensive but for some reason my grandparents had it in their head that everyone would be going there for lunch even though we past a few nicer, cheaper restaurants on our way. My sandwich alone cost almost $25. We didn't do anything after that because they thought they were going to be late for the show that started in 3 hours. We did visit St. Patrick's Cathedral which is a must see. Unfortunately, since I was rushed around I didn't have time to take any pictures.
The show was great but probably would not see it again anytime soon.
Next time I go to NYC it'll just be too walk around and shop. But hey, I got the New Yorker walk down.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Good bye new york i'll miss you
It's about nine in the morning now and have been on the bus for a hour. At the moment we are in clinton new jersey

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Country Girl In the Big Apple: Anticipating

I got very little notice about my bus trip to New York City tomorrow. I can't believe it myself. I'll be going to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. For those who think it's a little too early to even think about Christmas, tickets only cost $69. After Thanksgiving they go up to $100. I've only been to New York a handful of times. I can count the number of times on one hand and it's an unimpressive three.
Based on that number, you can tell I'm not really use to big cities. They scare me. All the cars. All the people...
I leave my house at 6:30 tomorrow morning to go to the bus station. I'm so excited! I'm also hoping to take plenty of pictures and I've even set up my phone so I can text updates to the blog. I'm such the tourist!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Daylight Savings Time


I can't wait! It's almost like Christmas to me but with out the presents and all of the commotion of all of the major holidays. Daylight savings time has many meanings to other people. An extra day to sleep, an extra day to write for the Nanoers, or maybe and extra hour with that significant  other. Okay, I do like the extra hour of sleep but what I really love is reclaiming my sleep pattern.
Most of the time, I start getting lazy and tired when the sun starts to set and my body pretty much goes into slug mode. Normally I go to bed around 11 and wake up around 7 or when the sun comes out. Waking up is really hard without the sun.
Yesterday, I needed to be in at work by 8:30. When I woke up and looked outside it was rainy and dark. 'It's not time yet', my body said, so I rolled over and snoozed for a bit more. Finally, I thought it was a bit strange and looked at my alarm clock. 7:30 it read. Jumping out of bed, I hurried to ready myself for work.
So you see I can't wait for Daylight Savings. I swear it should be celebrated with more enthusiastic like other holidays. Heck, here in America we have sales on Columbus day.
And who ever thought about making Daylight Savings a week later? I mean come on! It was dark at 8 when I left home and dark when I came home! Even my dogs wouldn't get up.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Making Postcards

One of the swaps that I had signed up for on swap-bot is a homemade Halloween postcard exchange. Thinking was a neat idea, I joined. Before this I never knew what joy paper-crafting was. After looking around for awhile I found a lot of options that I could use to make my postcards.
When making postcards you need to make them sturdy but I didn't have cardstock around the house and wasn't sure that it was really worth buying a pack. The last pack that we bought lasted years and the special postcard paper was expensive. I settled for 4x6 index cards. I made a trip to Joanne's to get scrapbooking paper and stickers. My total cost for this project was $2.19 and it will make a little more than the three I've already made. And they're pretty nice looking too.
I made a few templates out of index cards to make my life easier. Pretty neat, right?


What You'll Need:
Pencil
Pen
Scarpbooking paper
Stickers
Glue stick extra strength
Index cards (4x6)

Trace the index card on the back of the scrapbooking paper you've chosen. Carefully cut it out as straight as you can. Glue paper onto lined side of index card. Decide how much of your backing paper you want to show and cut out and index card template. Trace and cut out then glue centered on top of other scrapbooking paper. Decorate attractively with stickers. Divide back into thirds and draw a black line on the far right third. Write your address here. Scribe message on other side. A fix with 28 cent postage and send.
And now for a giveaway. You can receive one of these postcards yourself! Just leave a comment below by Wednesday, October 27  and I'll randomly choose and mail it in time for Halloween!

Letters Update


This has been a really good mail week. I've received mail everyday so far. A postcard from Taiwan and a post card from Holland came. Postcards for various swap-bot swaps. I'm starting to loose count of the things that I've sent.
Letters: 17
Postcards: 15
I've received:
Letters: 6
Postcards: 9
It seems like everyday I have mail to send. It's fun. And I'm getting to know my locate postal clerks as well.
I'm going to hold a letter writing challenge next month. I'll post details later.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Frugal Struggles

As I washed the windows at work today and chatted with the mother chaperoning her little club scout selling popcorn I wandered "when does frugal become too frugal?" "How do I decide if something's worth it?"
I've been to the deep end of the frugal bin to the point where I was sewing my jeans just to keep them together because they 'fit right'. Because finding a pair of jeans for a big gal like me in a pain in the neck. I mean my thighs aren't that big. So I kept sewing and patching until I had one good pair of jeans. No one can live with one pair of jeans. Therefore, I shrugged of the 'perfect fit' and got something that fit but wasn't the fit.
Sometimes you think you don't need something that you really do, such as my jeans, and think up stupid excuses on why you shouldn't buy them. Well, sometimes you need to take that plunge and just get it.
For months now I've been toying around with buying a laptop. I needed a new computer since my old one was really slow and would sometimes take up to an hour to boot up. I was frustrated and annoyed. Last week I saw an add in the Sunday paper for a HP laptop. I went and got it. I thought up of every reason why not to get it but I thought of an excellent reason why I should. I need for college. Education comes first.
So, how do you decide when something's worth it? We've all seen it. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts alike sell things to you for a reason, to be able to afford things like camping, or maybe going on a day trip. Either way they are benefiting from it. "Well, $3.50 (the price for a box of Girl Scout cookies) is outrageous!" First of all the troop themselves do not get the whole $3.50. The money gets broken down between manufacturing, the council so they can keep the camps up and running, among other things. The troop only gets a very tiny sliver of the pie that equal only a few cents. Here's the break down:


How the Cookie Crumbles at Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana

Below is a breakdown of the proceeds from each $3.50 package of cookies:



  • $1.55 goes to council-subsidized programs (girl and adult recruitment, adult education, programs, camp and camping activities, and program-related staff salaries and expenses)
  • $0.90 goes to troop support (troop profits, girl incentives and Cookie Dough)
  • $0.90 goes to sale-related expenses (cost of cookies, promotional materials, training cookie volunteers, etc.)
  • $0.15 goes to administrative support (office services/supplies, accounting, fund development, administrative salaries, etc.) (Source: http://www.kyanags.org)
The price of a box is worth it. Besides, if you can afford a cup of coffee everyday you can buy a box. Better yet just donate a dollar or two and walk away knowing that you're helping a kid achieve his or her dream. So when it comes to charitable cases just as this, my wallet is always opened.
Especially when the local church makes candy!
P.S. I count Girl Scout and Boy Scout fundraisers as a local good. 100% of the proceeds stay within the community. Can someone say guilt free?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Simple Life

Life's been pretty good lately. Mostly been working, writing letters, and postcards. My day was brightened by a random postcard sent from someone one Sendsomething.net. It was nice to get something unexpected!
I also received a letter from my friend living in South Carolina.
My stats so far:
Letters Sent: 9
Postcards Sent: 4
Letters Recieved: 2
Postcards Recieved: 1
I feel a challenge coming on next month! A letter/postcard writing challenge. Who's with me on this one! We'll go back in time to when long distance calls where expensive, computers hadn't even been invented yet, and cell phones where never heard of. No special equipment required.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Send a smile...

..It only costs 44 cents.
I've been on a letter writing rampage lately. As I've said before, I've gotten a few penpals, wrote to three old friends, and joined a swap site.
In the past two week I've sent three letters over seas to Latvia, Sri Lanka, and Australia, and three letters within the United States. Currently, I have three letters needing to be written and sent within the US.
Now here's the fun part.
My Latvian penpal replied! I did a little dance and opened the envelope. It took about a week to get here.
My Sri Lankan penpal e-mailed me saying that she couldn't make out my address, so that letter was received safely.
And I made my three friends smile.
No word from Australia yet.
From the swap site, I'm currently in five swaps. An Christmas card, Halloween postcard, penpal letter, e-mail message, and a journal entry.
This is going to be fun!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Another Copper Update

He's in the clear! I'm so relieved that he's healing well and back to normal. His staples got removed on Friday. Copper's appetite is returning although I'm sneaking his medicine in soft dog treats, which is an inexpensive alternative to pill pockets.
My mom had her hip replaced last Tuesday. She's home now and I'm taking care of her and the dog. Guess who gets to change the gauze then the visiting nurse isn't here? But it's okay.
I'm hoping that in the next few days that I'll get to posting some recipes. Yum!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stationery Anyone?

Since my pen pal post I've written five postal letters. Two to pen pals in Latvia and Sri Lanka, one to a friend in Montana, one to blogger that write about letters in Australia, and one to a friend that lives only a few miles away. I haven't received letters back from any of them so far. Okay, the one to Australia was sent yesterday and the one to a friend that lives closer to me was sent today. Of my pen pals I know for a fact that the one from Sri Lanka is replying only because she e-mailed me about not being about to read my address.
Now, I know there are tons for free stationery websites but it's just not the same as a preprinted piece. I've been looking high and low for some good stationery. I found a nice set at the Hallmark store but I want a little more variety.  So if anyone has a few tips on finding stationery I'd appriecate it.
And, if you want you may write to me. For my address e-mail me at elfscuz@yahoo.com .

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Herbalious Chicken Noodle Soup

The other night I made the most scrumptious soup never. Who ever new chicken noodle soup could be this good? I sort of had my own way to the recipe in the Better Homes cookbook adding oil, more veggies, parsley,  and more noodles. The more I cook the more I get a sense of what goes with what and how much of that ingredient I like. I'm more of a "to taste" sort of person than following a recipe to the T. Well, for baking I follow it! So, I reworked some of the ingredients to suite me and even how to prepare it.
Someone really needs to start working on scratch and sniff computer screens.
Let's start with the soup backbone. Onions and celery. Soup wouldn't be soup with out these two things. Add to the backbone a little support with herbs then add the body. Your finished product is a masterpiece.

Rachel's Chicken Noodle Soup
2 c cubed chicken (cooked or uncooked)
1 1/2 tbs oil
1/2 c celery
1/2 c onion
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried parsley
48 oz can chicken stock
16 oz. package of frozen veggies
1 c egg noodles
pepper to taste

Pour about 1 1/2 tbs of oil into pot and cooked chicken in it.(Skip if already cooked) Remove chicken and place onions, celery, and herbs into pot and cook until onions start to appear translucent. Add in chicken stock and veggies. Wait until it boils then add noodles. Wait for it to return to boiling and turn the heat down to low and cover for 8 minutes. Add in chicken and heat until chicken is warm.
Serve on a nice chilly Autumn day.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Copper Update

I let out a sigh of relief this morning when I checked his temperature.
101.5. Normal.
I can't wait to see him get back to his old self. I miss that annoying bark of his.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Trialling Week and Another Starting

Let me start off by saying, agh.....
It's been emotionally exhausting. Copper, one of my dogs, became sick a week ago due to a blockage in his intestines. Of course we waited a day to see how things turned out. Well, we played the waiting game to see if it would come out on it's own. The vet pumped him full of fluids and something to lubricate his bowels. By Thursday he was still sick so Friday, the vet had a very good idea where the blockage was so they operated. Out came a 2 inch piece of what seems to be clumping cat litter. Yes, we have cats but don't use clumping litter for this very reason! Nor does he have any access to the litter boxes inside.
There was the whole worry that it was cancer or something that they couldn't fix. Mom called me at work Thursday crying to me.
He came through surgery okay. Tired, of course. But not eating. We have to force feed him. He gets an antibiotic and the stuff to lubricate his bowels. Today he seems a little bit better even bearing his teeth at me if I pissed him off. But this morning my mom's grip slipped at she was giving him his antibiotic and sprayed it into his fur. He needs this shot twice a day so she used the last one to give him the antibiotic this morning therefore he couldn't have one tonight.
She's blaming herself for the fever of 103.7 he has at the moment because she didn't say anything when the vet called to check up on him. She could have gotten another shot. I'm praying that his fever will go down and he'll get more antibiotics tomorrow with his vet check up. I hate seeing him suffer.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Close Call

That was close! The more I think about the more I think I have a guardian angel.
In short, I was coming home from work. The traffic heavy and to top it off it was raining lightly. After I waited at the light going out of the parking lot at work I headed home. Stereo on, singing badly to it to try to keep my mind off of the uncertainty of my dog, Copper's, health. All I remember seeing is me looking at the green light but not the vehicles in front of me which were stopped.
I noticed it and try to brake slowly, I fished tail and was able to stop. Evidently, I made it safely to the side of the road to calm down. No one stopped to see if I was alright.
I got my nerve up to drive home, stopping for a few seconds at a parking lot to check my car out. As I was getting out onto the main road my car wont get up to speed doing 30 mph and a strange smell wafted through the compartment. I immediately stopped. The person behind me didn't even blink an eye, nor did the 50 + other people plus a POLICE car passed. I sat there for about 30 minutes before I called my mom to come.
Only then did one person stopped. Someone from school. And then another person stopped after she left. After leaving the car rest for awhile my mom drove it home as I drove her car.
No problems at all.
I guess I scared my car some as well. Ha!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pen Pals

I've always have loved writing to pen pals and receiving letters. In elementary school I have a few pen pals that I mostly exchanged e-mails with but a few that we actually wrote to. In middle school I got a German pen pal through my German class but we stopped writing to each other because I lacked my skill to write more than one letter in German and my partner barely could write a word in English.
Now, my friend from work in a pen pal letter writing machine! She has at least 10 pen pals from all different countries of the world. This makes me a little jealous.
So, I signed up for a few pen pal oriented websites and with in a few hours I got at least 10 e-mails from people wanting to be my pen pal. Most just want to e-mail but I got two so far that want to go the 'snail mail' route. Their letters go out today! One is from Latvia and the other's from Sri Lanka both countries that I know so little about. It'll be interesting to get to know some new people!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Walking?

Wow, I actually enjoyed walking today. I went to Doylestown with my mom. While she was getting her teeth pulled I wanted to do something so I walked to a cheese place I wanted to try. Of course it was closed. Walked over to favorite bagel place. Close. 'What now?' I thought. 'I'll walk to the library!' It was a nice walk took me probably 15 minutes. By the time I go in my mom calls that she's done, or rather mumbles to me that she's done. After a few calls she picked me up but I actually wanted to walk back.
Being interested in how far I walked I went onto yahoo maps and found it was only .42 miles! I nearly died. I was hoping for more in the 1 mile range. I'm thinking about getting my bike fixed up so I can go pretty much no where faster.
That's one thing I like about the city. You have a wider selection of destinations.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Great Soda Challenge: Update #4 and Conclusion

Week four as ended and so has my challenge. I drank my first can of soda in a month yesterday. It actually turned my stomach sour so I can't fathom ever drinking it again. However, I may take another stab at making my own to be more like a dessert instead of an all day drink. It contains way less sugar than the commercial stuff and I have a book that tells you have to make all natural soda as well.
So what's my next challenge? Candy bars. I love candy bars. Will I have enough will power to quit these as well? Stay tuned!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Microwave Popcorn is Good?!


About a year ago I posted about how I hate microwave pop corn because it just doesn't taste very good. I preferred the stove top method a lot better. But now, after searching for recipes that you can cook in a dorm (as a little cookbook present to a friend) I found another way to make delicious popcorn.

Things You'll Need:
Brown paper lunch bag
Stapler
1/4 c popcorn kernels
1 tsp oil
Salt or other seasonings

Place all of the ingredients into the paper bag. Swirl to distribute. Refold bag getting all of the air out. Fold top of bag down twice and staple. Place in microwave for 3 minutes. Don't worry about the staple sparking in the microwave just keep the staple away from the edges of the microwave.
You can bet I wont be buying microwave popcorn again! And the best thing is no box, to plastic, and the bag is reusable and recyclable!

Note: The recipes and video do not match.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Word on Road Rage

If you are ever in a situation were you want to straggle the driver in front of you:
Take two deep breaths....
Maybe a few more...
Imagine the offender in his underwear...
And laugh.

If you encounter a aggressive driver behind you. Relax and pull over where ever possible and lock your doors until he passes. It's not worth it to left him bother you and risk your life.

Drive Safely.

Note: Long story short, I pissed someone off and they were tailgating me and revving the engine of their truck. It was ironic that it was a tow truck. What the heck?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Great Soda Challenge: Update #3

I almost forgot about doing the update. I've been sick for the past few days so bear with me.
I don't think about passing up soda anymore and when I'm thirsty tea or water seems to be the thing that I grab first. This experiment is going well. I can't believe how much better I feel with out drinking it. Other than that there's nothing much to report on.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Finished Bag!


Me modeling my new crochet bag! It holds tons
of stuff!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Please Help!

Go to the Cold Antler Farm blog to help a family in need!

The Great Soda Challenge! Drink Recipe # 3: Ye Ole Fashioned Iced Tea

To make 2 quarts

6 tea bags*
1/4 c sugar
2 quarts water

In a pot combine sugar and 1 cup of water. On high heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Turn burner off and place tea bags in pot. Steep covered for 20 minutes making a concentrated brew. Pour concentrate into pitcher and fill the rest of the way with water. Chill. Serve with ice and enjoy.

*At the supermarket this is a huge variety of teas. Black, green, white, oolong, and pu erh are the five categories of teas. You will most likely find the first four listed in your supermarket. A few brands make life easy and put flavoring in their teas. To make things interesting choose a few flavors and use them instead or with your standard tea bags. Get experimental and switch it up! Also, instead of ice, try frozen fruits.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Great Soda Challenge! Update #2

I'm starting to not think about drinking soda, only when the new cashier cracked one open in front of my face. Oh, the smell of Pepsi after a little over a week of being clean!
I've been mostly drinking iced teas and water and occasionally milk. I'm looking at all the possibilities for iced tea and even considering buying a box of flavored black tea. Also, I'm finding that I really don't have much of a sweet tooth when it comes to sugar in my tea. At first I tried 3/4 c which was almost like liquid sugar. At 1/2 c it was better but 1/4 c seems to be the sweetness that I want.
This is still way better than the amount in soda. There's about 12 teaspoons in two quarts of iced tea that has 1/4 c sugar compared to 59.22 in soda. Knowing this I doubt that I'll go back to drinking soda as an everyday beverage but more of a 'once in a blue moon' beverage.
Now, on to week three!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Food for Thought: People and Stuff

As a cashier I see many things left at the check out counter. One would think that a person would come back in for their glasses. And one must also hope that they really didn't need their glasses to see the road. But what of they never come back? Do they really need the things that left behind?
Think about it. Sunglasses. Keys. Stuffed toy animals. If you leave somewhere and don't return for them, how much do they really mean to you? A few months ago we even had someone leave their cane resting on the counter.
In the case of the keys, they can all be replaced easily if you have a spare. A child will cry over her hot pink dog but it can easily be replaced. Yes, the girl will mourn the lost for awhile but she'll get over it.
Think about all of the things that you left somewhere. Did you go back to claim it or leave it there?
This has been a message from a ranting cashier.
P.S. It is helpful, if the store has a club card, to give them your phone number and address. This makes it easier for people to find owners to objects that they found. By the way. Who even left the pocket knife. Thanks. It's a really good one.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Crochet Projects!

Lately I've been digging through my crafty roots and decided to set knitting aside for crochet, the first yarn art that I learned. I couldn't begin to tell you how long ago I learned but it's been years since I've really done anything with it.
I learned from my mom how to crochet at every young age. Beginning with making scarfs and baby blankets. However, that has been the extent of it. My edges were always untidy and uneven. Eventually I gave up and didn't crochet for a long while. Meanwhile I took up knitting a year ago and just a few weeks ago crochet was back into my life.
I still consider myself a beginner because of my tendencies for uneven edges.
Crochet is really my comfort zone. One does not need circular needles and such to crochet in a circle, just the hook that you need. You're more flexible how you create your work where as knitting is very constrictive, at least what I know of it.
Above, Max is modeling the scarf I made. The pattern's from Stitch 'N' Bitch: The Happy Hooker by Debbie Stroller (e-mail me and I'll be happy to send you a copy of the pattern if you're interested).
This is the market bag that I started. The pattern's from LionBrand.com. All you need to do to get the free pattern is sign up. Instead of using Lion Brand yarn I used Lily Sugar'n Cream yarn. It's nice a strong and works very well with the pattern. If you use this yarn for it buy three or four balls of the solid color. It's still a lot cheaper than using the recommended yarn. If you make this bag make sure you read the reviews for some tips.
My next project will be this throw. I can crochet it up nice and quick before winter gets here!
What are your current projects?

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Great Soda Challenge! Drink Recipe # 2

Honey Lemonade

1/2 c water
1 1/2 c lemon juice
2/3 c honey
6 c water

Heat 1/2 c water, lemon juice, and honey in a sauce pan until the honey dissolves in with the water and lemon juice. Pour in to pitcher and add 6 c of water. Chill and serve with ice.

This definatly tastes a lot better than commerical lemonades!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Dear My Future Man

Worry not about food for I make it from scratch! You will never go hungry.

Baked chicken fingers. Flaky buttermilk biscuits. Garden fresh green beans from my garden. Can a girl ask for more?
Including buttermilk biscuits in the menu was inspired by the Mobile Home Woman when she was determined to make biscuits. They were so easy! But one BIG tip. Make sure your baking powder isn't old! My biscuits barely rose and were dense.
As for the breading for the chicken I used about four palms full of plain bread crumbs, about 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp parsley flakes, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 2 tbs parmesan cheese. Then I dredged the strips of chicken through milk, flour, milk, then the breadcrumb mixture. Don't forget to lightly grease your pan!
Edit Note: To cut my biscuits I did not use a biscuit cutter. Instead I used a glass cup dipped in a little flour to cut them.

How To Sew A Button by Erin Bried

For those looking for a nifty new book on homemaking. Look no further. I recently checked out How to Sew a Button out of the library and I'm really impressed! It tells you how to do anything you might ever wish to do regarding homemaking. How to unclog a toilet. How to make pie. The list goes on. This is definatly going onto my bookshelf right next to Made From Scratch.
The author starts out her introduction on how she moved to New York and became the senior staff writer of SELF magazine. But one day she made strawberry rhubarb pie for a few of her friends only to discover, as they ate it, she bought swiss chard instead! Motivated by this incident she put together a collection of how to's based off of women who went through the Great Depression.
So if haven't taken a look at this book see if your local library has it. It's worth a look!

The Great Soda Challenge! Update #1

I made it a week! Thank goodness. Several times I was so tempted and almost did. My mom and I went out to lunch at a fast food resturant. I wanted it so bad but declined and got water instead. When I went to pick up some cat litter after work I was so tempted to grab a bottle of the fizzy stuff but told myself no.
So what have I been drinking?
Water.
Mostly water and tea. Every now and then I'll have a glass of diluted cranberry grape juice, milk, or orange juice but that's about it.
Tomorrow starts week two with another sugar free drink idea.

P.S. Don't worry! I'm cooking up some projects as well. I just need to retrieve it from work to finish it. Hopefully I'll post about it by Tuesday. And I'll be canning soon!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Olde Time Entertainment

When I saw old I mean one the oldest things to do while you're bored.
Reading.
Now that I've been out of school for over a year, book have nudged themselves into the little nooks and crannies of my life. Okay, there have been days were I haven't read a book but no matter how far I distance myself from reading I'm drawn back to it.
As one can imagine the hobby of reading can be both expensive and the most cheapest form of entertainment. Let's look at the math:
Going to the movie theater: $7 for 2 hours
$3.50 per hour

Reading a book you bought:
$8 for a mass market book
2 hours of reading per day
7 days to complete book
14 hours a week
$0.60 per hour

Reading book from library:
Free

See? It is probably one of the most cheapest forms of entertainment. I don't know about you but I enjoy reading more then watching a movie and you can take it anywhere.
If you like to read free book online, here's a list of some websites that offer free online books.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My Blog Book 2009

I found this really neat website that will convert your blog into a book! If you're interested here's the 2009 blog post. Enjoy.
2009 Blog Posts

The Great Soda Challenge! Drink Recipe # 1

Every Monday of the Great Soda Challenge I will post a recipe.

Drink recipe #1

Easy Minty Iced Tea
2 quarts water
6 regular sized tea bags
1 sprig of mint
2 tsp honey

Fill a 2 quart pitcher with water.  You can boil water for a quicker brewing time but who wants to heat up the house? Place six tea bags in water and leave at room temperature for two to three hours until water takes on an amber brown color. Remove tea bags. Take a sprig of mint a bruise it gentle in your hands. Place mint in pitcher and drizzle in 2 teapsoon of honey in mixture

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Great Soda Challenge!

It is August and pretty soon the leaves are going to change and the wheather will get cool. Thank goodness. But until then it's time to adapt a heathier habit. It's time to get rid of soda for good.
I use to go through a 2 liter bottle of soda in a day or two, regular or diet. Either way, soda is not so great for you even if it's diet.
Yesterday I started a little experiment that I like to call The Great Soda Challenge. It's simple.
Drink a cup/can/bottle of soda and record the date. For example I drank an approximate 15 oz or soda yesterday 7/31. Now all you need to do is not drink soda for the rest of the month. If you slip up record the date, the approximate amount you drank, and a good reason why you drank it.
Now that you're on your way to quit drinking soda now is a good time to think about other drinks that aren't as bad.
Even if you have well water you might want to invest in a pitcher with a filter such as Pur and Britia. To add a little flavor add some lemon juice.
Consider making iced tea from stratch. This isn't any harder than making powdered iced tea and you don't get the powder all over the place. Fill a pitcher with 2 quarts of water and add six tea bags. Let it steep for a few hours. Remove the tea bags and add sweetener, lemon, and mint if you want.
100% fruit juice is another good choice but you should dilute it. It'll not only cut down the sugar but make it last longer. Try adding seltzer water instead of plain water to satisfy your bubbly craving.
Milk can give you vitamins such as A & D that you need just pass up on the chocolate milk but that doesn't mean you shouldn't treat yourself to it every once in awhile.
If you're interested in joining me, please comment. I'll be posting progess reports as well through out the month.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why Pay for Something That I'm Already Paying For?

I can't believe I'm torturing myself like this. So I had this brilliant idea so get rid of the books in my small collection that I didn't want and trade them for new ones. It was great. I have no idea how much I have spent on postage. Don't even remind me. Then I got into thinking. What am I doing? I pay taxes and you can get almost anything from the library. This relization was followed by several thumping of palm to forehead.
What had gotten into me? Did the captialistic monster creep inside me and rip out my fugality? What the heck was wrong with me! This was also followed by vacation holds on all swapping accounts. There are a few things that I want to keep, which I'll certainly get from those systems but it's stupid to get books that I'll only read once and send out again.
Ugh...I started going to the library again, one closer to work. Man, I missed it.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

To Keep a Journal

For the past two weeks or so I've been writing in a seperate journal. There's a lot that I was to wrtie down but it's not really appropiate for this blog nor do I want it on my blog. It's a  great way to express yourself and to keep in touch with yourself. The idea maybe considered old fashioned in the world on today where everyone twitters, blogs, and has other social networking connections. But a journal gives you a certain sense of privacy that the internet will never give you.
The notebook that you choose to write in doesn't have to be some fancy leather bound volume purchased at a sationary shop. A simple composition books that cost about $1 will do but there are endless varieties out there to choose one so you can have a journal that truely is you. Another thing that you may want to purchase is a good pen or stick with the same pen day after day. If you choose a special pen to write with in your journal then that connection between you and your journal will be stronger. Another thing to consider using is a bookmarker to keep track of where you are in your journal.
I hope this inspires to start journaling!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Revison

It has come to my attention that I haven't been so...eco friendly lately. I have no idea how I began to slip but figures could point to water.
In an attempt to cut high fuctose corn syrup from my diet, I started to drink more water. Somewhere along the line I had forgotten about using my reusable water bottle in favor of the disposable plastic bottles. You can pattle my behind for this but I honestly do not know how this managed to manifest itself to the point where I just simply just didn't care.
Everything changes now. I purchased a plastic reuseable water bottle a little while back fir $0.50 at the local thift shop. So, I have well water and it's alright. It's not as bad as 'city' water but it's tolerable. So, for my water consumption at home I purchased a Pur water pitcher which is GREAT!
Yesterday, I filled my plastic bottle with water but forgot it in the fridge at home. I'm going to push this effort more at eliminate ALL disposible forms of drinking vessals. It would be even better if I elminate eating out altogether, in fact, that's what I'll do.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Getting Organized

If you've read my blog enought I'd know that I like a clean room. Well, what about an organized one? I thought I'd never see the day where my socks were folded and I could easily find a pair.
Before:

After:
That took about 15 minutes to go through, throw out some old socks and fold everything. I'm going to see if I can track down some sock boxes to make it looke more organized.
Next I organized my junk drawer. I spent $2 and bought some little drawer organizer baskets. To make it easier I categorized everything to make it easier to find. Sorry, I forgot to take a before picture. The drawer was filled and you could hardly open it. Note, I didn't throw out much from this drawer.

My next organization project is my closet. It desperatly needs some shelves. How are you organized?

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Tinicum Arts Festival

I could just kick myself in the rear for not taking my camera! I'm sure that most of you are unfamiliar with my little township in the middle of nowhere where even I, a girl that was born and raised in this mountains, still get lost on the winding back roads.
The Tinicum Arts Festival is put together every year by the Tinicum Civic Association, that gives money to the non-profits and clubs of the area (ei. Girl Scouts, historical places, parks ect.). The Festival is huge with over 50 vendors from the local area and food and fun to boot. At the center of it all is the "Art Barn" where they display art from the local artists.
First, before I could do anything I had to travel to Frenchtown to get some cash, which is a pain and a half to get and nearly got me into an accident because of lack of knowledge of parking close to the curb. I will restrain from making a snide remark about New Jersey drivers.
I arrived around 11 am when the grounds opened and it was already packed. My sole mission was get purge any books from the "book wagon" that I could (at 3 for a $1 for mass market paperbacks, 3 for $5 for trade paperback and hardcover who could complain?). All the proceeds from the sales and booths rental to local craftsman, go to the Tinicum Civic Association.
Since I went by myself it wasn't as fun but would have been better if I had brought my camera.
A got to see one of my friends from school whom I haven't seen in a year and I knew she would be there because she helps out with a booth for her church. After that reunion, a bag of books in one hand and a steamy hot funnel cake in the other it was already 12:15 so I high tailed it out of there. By then I counted my lucky stars because the field that they had us parking in was nearly full.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Another Poll

Look at the side bar for another poll!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Two Interesting Clippin's

My county puts out a edition of a newspaper called The Bucks County Herald every week. I find myself flipping through it at work. I'm going to try to post something from it agricultural/homestead related every week. You're more than welcomed to read the rest of the newspaper online.
Here are this week's clippings:
"Anything sugar can do, honey can do better"
"'Take Back Your Kitchen' about growing and buying local"

Friday, July 9, 2010

New Favorite Place

So with the end of my old favorite place, the natural food store that I visited on breaks during work, I found another place to enjoy. It's a place called The Larder. It's pretty much what the name describes. It's a small shop on Rt 611 near Doylestown that sells dry goods.
From candies to flour to pretzels to spices, this place is a foodie's dream come true. Everything's sold in bulk and good prices and can choose from filling a bag yourself in whatever measurement you need or selected a prepacked item. It's not that far from where I work so it'll be a good place to go after work. Of course I went when I couldn't think of anything I needed to I got some ginger balls and anise bears. Yum!
So raspberry seasons here as well and hopfully I will get around to either picking some or just picking up two quarter containers from Trauger's. If anyone out there knows where Trauger's is and wants to pick raspberries, let me know! I'd love to join you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Birthday!?

How on earth could I foget my own blog's birthday? I feel like such an idiot. No worries. I still would love to do a small give away probably with in the next week.
I went by Trauger's yesterday and saw people picking raspberries! I'll have to get my friend to come with me next week to pick for jam. Yum. Canning will be done a little differently this year and I hope it works out great.
Updates:
The pickles are almost gone and I have one more jar of blackberry jam in the pantry and not so apple butter, which will be turned into apple bread.
Beans are doing great! So are the pumpkins, or at least the ones I didn't plant of course.
I haven't really watched cable TV for a few weeks now so it's decided that once I move out I will not have cable.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Sad Sad Time

One of my favorite local natural food stores is closing its doors this Saturday after almos two years of my patronage. I've come to know the owners and the workers there. They're all too kind. It's only a minute down the side walk from work and made the perfect place to drop in and get a healthy snack. Now, it's nearly gone. They're out of business sale has left almost nothing left of my favorite place. Shelves and shelves were empty of it's once nutruious splendor. It makes me sad to see it go.
Although one door shuts another opens. Right next door to my work a consignment shop is opening and I'm excited to see what they will offer. Now all I need to do is start bringing my own snacks and such to work.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rhu-berry Pie!

For reason I can not pronounce Rhubarb strawberry pie, hence rhu-berry. I've been planning on making this scrumptious pie back when rhubarb first came in season but I somehow forgot. A week ago I remembered my longing and went on a search for late season rhubarb. After purchasing nearly two pounds on the ruby stalks from a local produce stand, I planned my pie date. Now, for this pie not just any strawberries would be good enough. Oh no! I picked my own at Trauger's. For $1.50 a pound, who wouldn't? I made the top crust myself but the bottom is a premade pie crust that was taking up space in my freezer.
The recipe that I used is adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook. I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone that likes to cook.

Ingrediants:
Pie crust enough for bottom and top
2 cups rhubarb peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups strawberries sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl mix everything together. A poor into pie crust lined pie pan. Put other crust on top and "pinch" it down. Poke ventalation holes on top. Cover edge with tin foil. Bake for 40-50 minutes taking the tin foil off for the last 15 minutes of baking.

Your end product should look something like this.



Sunday, June 13, 2010

Homesteading Fever

I've been very lazy lately. I have no idea why. Suddenly, I have no desire to cook, clean, or work in the garden. I'm calling it Homesteading Fever. It's where you stick to homesteading then slowly you begin to get tired of it then end of doing nothing. I'm trying hard to counter the effects on me. To help I made two rhubarb-strawberry pies.
It' nothing like a pie bakin' to git yer 'omesteadin' feet o gin! I'll post pictures soon. I found my camera chord!
I've been reading a lot lately, mostly trying to hid from the ugly muggy, humid weather we have been having.
I managed to plant my pumpkins and green bean but nothing else. Oh well. They say to start small anyway and after all of this year's short comings, I don't blame myself. Shit happens, right?
As much as I hate summer's mugginess, I'm going to try to keep pulling my ideas together.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer Conditioning


With highs reaching the mid 80s this past weekend it's time to start summer conditioning. Now, with most people this means cranking up the A/C. This is not the case here. In previous years I was in a downstairs bedroom that had A/C but in the fall of 2008 I moved up to my sister's old bedroom. When she was in this room the A/C was always cranked up and the windows closed. I'm just the opposit. I booted the A/C to the curb for a more energy approch and, besides, I only have two windows in my room, might as well make the most of it. So summer conditioning is not making the temperature suit you but making you suit the temperature. We humans are warm blooded animals and our body temperature flucuates with the temperature around us. Ever wonder why you still wear jackets in 70 degree weather? You're body has not adjusted yet.
The first step to summer conditioning is to drink plenty of cold water, ice cold if possible. We need water to perspire and perspiring is our "cooling system". Also do not wear anti-perpirant deoderant as it inhibits our natural cooling system.
Wear light clothing. For this you want to go with natural fabrics such as cotton and silk. Wearing light colors helps as well.
Open your windows and turn on fans. In my room I have three fans; a window fan, a box fan, and a regular fan that I can turn towards the ceiling in hopes of creating a cross breeze.
You have any more ideas on how to keep cool during the summer without an A/C please comment! I would love yo hear your advice!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's getting hot in here!

Progress on the garden is slow. This weekend I plan to plant my crops, try to deal with the weeds between the rows, and reinforce the compost pile.
I've been busy with other things, mostly reading and books. I've been trading and buying books. It's a good addiction that really doesn't that much if you know were to look for great deals. If any of you decide to join paperbackswap.com use my username catsnbooks as a referance. I've got about 15 new books to read.
I have really done that much cooking because my mom deciedes to cook certain things on the nights that I plan to cook dinner. That needs to be worked out.
I'll update this weekend and see how far I get with my garden.
Almost forgot! Tomorrow is opening day for my town's farmer's market. I'll check it out before I go to work.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

UGH! NO!

I came home from work yesterday and checked on my lettuce. The window box of lettuce that I grew from seed fell on my other lettuce plants. The box was on a sort of surdy surface and had held up nice during the really windy weather we had a little while a go. My thought are that a car had play a role in this.
Lucky, the green lettuce will survive. They're not crushed too bad. The endives in the window boxes flowered so I had to pull those. I think is actually will benifit the lettuces so they can get bigger. We'll see.
I still need to plant the garden very soon!
P.S. The farmer's market opens next Friday so maybe I'll go and get some pictures.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Compost Pile Completed

It may have taken me way longer than I thought it would because of lack of proper supplies, but I fininished it on Sunday with zip ties. There's one slight modification that I want to do. The door is rather long right now so I'm going to put another stake in the ground to make it half the size that it currently is. I started the pile off with some of that wild grass, that took over the garden last year, and some kitchen scrapes. I'll post a picture later once I find my camera chord.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Don't Sell it Swap it!

Are you done with your copy of Twilight or finished listening to Ke$ha, but want to get rid of it those items and want to advoid the hassel of selling it or taking to the thift store? Look no further. Swaptree.com is a website that lets your swap books, CDs, DVDs, and games for free. All you have to pay is the shipping cost.
Swaptree.com utilizes two lists, what you have and want to trade, and what you want. Once you have a good amount of items on both lists you can either browse or wait until Swaptree sets you up with a trade. From there you can either accept the trade or reject it. There is also a time limit you have to accept or reject the item. Letting that time run out will freeze your account. Don't worry. Just log in and unfreeze by answering why you didn't do anything.
There are three kinds of trades; two way, three way, and four way. This makes it easier to get what you want and allows more flexiblity for trading. Instead of you sending your book to someone who's sending you a book, you send your book to person #1 who sends their item to person #2 and person #2 send the item you want to you. It's pretty simple because Swaptree does most of the work in setting up trades.
Swaptree.com makes it easy for applying postage, as well, with their prepaid postage labels, but be warned. To use their postage they raise the price a few cents and they charge you a $1 each month you use it. If you plan to swap a lot, this is ideal and better than waiting in line at the post office. All you need to do is print out the label, drop in the mailbox, and it's done! The only down side to this system is that they automatically give you media mail for books and first class for DVDs. If you know you can get cheaper postage, go to the post office.
Here's my challenge to you. Select at least ten books, DVDs, CDs, or games that you will never read again, and don't want hanging around. Set up a free account on Swaptree.com. List your ten books, DVDs, CDs, or games and make your 'want' list. By the end of the week, trade at least one item and report back here and tell me want you traded and what you got or getting (some traders are really slow at mailing the item).
Happy swapping!
P.S. If sending books to strangers doesn't tickle your fancy, hold a swap party with friends. I'll tell you more about this later because I maybe holding my own.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Homestead Pantry Essentials

The list is complete! Head over to the Homestead Pantry Essentials and have a look see. If you think I'm missing anything feel free to e-mail me at elfscuz at yahoo.com

Too Cute to Not Post

I was browsing YouTube and found this.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Cookie Day

I love to bake. Infact, when I move out I plan to bake at least every two weeks, making multipule loaves of bread and such then freezing them. There use to be a time where I loved baking more than cooking but now the tables are starting to turn. But, of course, I still enjoy baking.
Today's baked good was oatmeal rasin nut cookies. I wanted something a little but more wholesome then chocolate chip cookies but with a little spice. So I found Beth's Spicy Oatmeal Rasin Cookies. I recommend following a reviewer's suggestion and added 1/2 teaspoon more of cinnamon and adding 1/4 teaspoon ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg. I also added walnuts and I wish I had some whole wheat pastery flour to pack in the while grains. I also used half rasins and half golden rasins. They turned out vey good!
Stay tuned for a Pantry Esstential list. I've been browsing them online and find that non of them reflect what one really needs.
P.S. Food picture quality has definatly improved. Who would have thought to use the Cusine setting on my camera without the flash?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Polling Time!

So, right now I have a poll on my side bar that I would liked everyone to answer.
How am I doing with this blog?
You have until Monday to vote!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Breakfast Cereal Can Kill Me?

So, here I sit munching on a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats, one of my favorite cold cereals. Curiously, I read the ingrediants.
Whole Grain Wheat, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Gelatin, Vitamins and Minerals: Reduced Iron, Niacinamide, Zinc Oxide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6)Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1)Folic Acid and Vitamin B12. To Maintain Quality, BHT Has Been Added to the Packaging.

My first reaction was that I knew most if the ingrediants, vitamins are vitamins but what the heack is BHT? With a little research into the internet world I found that BHT stood for Butlyated Hydroxytoluene. The full name gave me little clue as to what this was besides a chemical additive to an otherwise 'healthy' breakfast food. The wikipedia artical read further saying that it was an 'organtic compound...used as antioxidant food additive'. But this little chemical additive has links to cancer and 'hyperactivity in children'.
More research found this:
However, the same chemical properties which make BHA and BHT excellent preservatives may also be implicated in health effects. The oxidative characteristics and/or metabolites of BHA and BHT may contribute to carcinogenicity or tumorigenicity; however the same reactions may combat oxidative stress. There is evidence that certain persons may have difficulty metabolizing BHA and BHT, resulting in health and behavior changes. BHA and BHT may have antiviral and antimicrobial activities.
To go even further with this another sources reports:
BHA and BHT could lead to a full range of reactions such as asthma, insomnia, depression, fatigue, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems.
For now, I'm saying 'No thank you' to BHT and BHA. There are a few more food presevatives that are like BHT so watch the labels for ingrediants that are acronyms!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Review: The Omnivorie's Dilemma by Michael Pollan


Yes, I read the young adult edition of this. But this shouldn't reflect my level of reading. At first I picked up the adult edition, but while I could read it Michael Pollan used words that an average person probably could not understand. While I thought the content of this book was important. Throwing away all notions that young adult books are inferior and dived into this. I'm glad I did. If the goal of the adult edition was to get his ideas acrossed as clearly as possible I would have continued to read it. Pollan was preaching from the mountian top. It was sort of like reading a shakespear play; you know what the words mean but in that order it makes no sense.
With readablity of the adult book aside, I believed that the young adult struck the right tone with me. It was easy to understand and the illisatations and side blurbs made it fun to read and understand fully what Pollan is trying to say. The book shows you four seperate food chains; industrial, industrial organic, local sutainable, and the do-it-yourself meal. While all four food systems where entertaining to read about, I found that the local sutainable and the do-it-youself systems were very informing. People know little about these two systems so it was nice to have them detailed. The systems that we hear most about at the industrial and industrial organtic.
I'm fortunate enough to be able to utilize all four of these systems, but it might be a shock to the average reader in the city and hard to wrap the idea of eating mushrooms from a forest around their mind.
I mostly enjoyed reading about Joel Salatin and Polyface farm. It shows that animals don't need to be handled like a piece of meat just because they are going to become meat and that all of the animals died a honorable death.
Overall, I believe Omnivore's Dilemma was a very informative and entertaining read and I highly recommend it to anyone that wants to learn more about food systems and how what you buy is like a vote.
A little side note: Customers do have a say in what products a company produces. If a company sees a decline in sales because customers do not want high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in their foods, companies will cater to their needs. For example, a few companies, such as Hunt, are going to switch to sugar from HFCS. So cast your vote at  the check out.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Join Jamie's Quest and Sign the Petition!


Come fellow food loves and join us! Show your support and love by signing Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution petition or by texting "Jamie" to 222888 to help change the way we eat. I'm not asking for money or a date to the prom, just a few moments of your time to sign it. By signing it your mind will rest, assured that the children of America will have balanced diets in the school system. Please show that you care and sign!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Heads Up

Just to give you a little idea about what is in store.
I haven't been posting a lot because there isn't much to post about right now. I'll be posting a review for the book that I've been, slowly, reading and a movie review for Food Inc. Rhubarb is coming into season so I'll be making a nice pie out it. I'm hoping to comeplete the compost pile soon, next week I hope, so I'll post details on that. Pepper and lettuce updates as well. The lettuce should be ready to harvest next month. I'll so detail on making succulant chicken gyros. Lecker! Lecker! (translation Yum Yum)
So stayed tuned!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bethlehem, Cars, and Cats

There's is just so much stuff that has happened in the last few days. Some good, but, unfortunatly, some bad. I'll tell you the good first.
I got a car! For the past eight months I've been using my dad and mom's cars to go to work and the occasional trip to a friend's house or for alone time. We've been looking for awhile for a good canidate that could be my or my mom's car. Unfortunatly, in October, our car's, Gumby, struts in the rear rusted and we were forced to part with it because it cost too much to repair. A few weeks later we bought Jewel, a '95 Ford Escort. Man, she is a Jewel! Lately, I've been giving up what I want to go around my mom's schedule. What pushed this even farther is Monday night I forgot to switch the car seat to the other car so my mom was stuck with my nephew for a few more hours than nesscary.
Today, we drive down the road and there she is! A red '94 Mercury Tracer wagon. If you know a thing or two about cars, Mercury Tracers are like cousins to Ford Escorts, so the switch would be a breeze. Call the owner up and it turns out that a family friend is selling it. They wanted about $3,000 for it but we managed to talk them to $2,300 and tomorrow the car will be...my mom's, I'm keeping my Jewel. I'm so happy! Next year, I can go to college!
In other good news, I went to Bethlehem, PA today. I had a good time, except for the reason that my mom and I were there (long story). But, man! If I could spend a day there! Coincidentally, our destination was located two doors down from the brew supply store or I bought some champange yeast and more extract.
So, now for the sad news.
Juno, one of our Tuxedo cats, passed away today. It's weird, really. Literally one second he was fine then...Boom...he's crawling on the floor unable to support himself with it back legs. His appeite was good and so was his will to live, but his feet were as cold as ice. We rushed him to the vet. There was nothing that financially we could do. Juno, had a blood clot that was cutting off cruclation to his back legs. We had no choice but to put him down.
Truthfully, I was never really a fan of the cat. He would stupidly follow my sister and I around. Don't get me wrong, he was a good cat, but there wasn't something right about him. We had a strong belief that he was an inbred.
So, I'm exhausted and need time to process everything. Too much at once.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beginnings of Beautiful Relationship

I believe Wednesdays are going to start to be my days to cook. To cook what ever I want for dinner. Why not? I'm itching to get in the kitchen a learn. Why stop me? I'm so much different than I was a year ago. It amazes me. Heck, I year ago I still wasn't cleaning up after myself properly. Now, dishes get done and the kitchen is cleaned. Not to mention good foo made.
Above was tonights dinner. Panko crusted chicken, oven fries, and a mixed green salad with leaf lettuce, carrots, broccoli, green peppers, cucumbers, and radishs. See? I can make a well balanced meal. The only thing that I would change is the ketchup.
I love ketchup and eat it with just about everything. Fries, hot dogs, hamburgers, almost anything chicken, meat loaf, ect. But the high fructose corn syrup in it just makes me uncomfortable. According to Dietfacts.com, Heiz ketchup has 15 calories per tablespoon. It's really not bad but the third ingrediant is HFCS (high frutose corn syrup) and then after that corn syrup. Wasn't the HFCS enough? Just pump it for of more sugar! Four grams, in fact, of it.
On one of my trips to Lancaster last year I picked up a bottle of ketchup that was made by the local Amish. It just wasn't my thing. So I'm now on the search for a good commerical ketcup. Now, Annie's Naturals ketchup sounds like a winner. No HFCS just sugar. The nutritional facts state the same 15 calories per tablespoon but only 2 grams of sugar.
Wait...so both products are 15 calories per tablespoon but the one with corn syrup is higher in sugar content than the other. Interesting. Can this be the answer to why American hinies are getting larger? I think this calls for farther investigation.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Eat More Veg

Veg. That has a nice ring to it. Better than vegetables and more trendy than veggies. Maybe if we call it 'veg' more kiddies will eat it? Doubt it. But maybe if we were different, if we thre caution to the wind and prepared it differently surely there would be more takers. Instead of boiling and steaming carrots how about roasting it. Such foreign words these are for most people.
I'm tired of the same old same old steaming corn, green beans, carrots and such. Let's take veg to the next level. Veg does not have to be boring and, honestly, we all could eat a little more of them.
Above, is a picture of what lunch was today; a ham and coleslaw sandwich on dark german wheat bread. Good? You bet! I used purple and green cabbage with carrots in a light mayonassie, dijon mustard, vinegar sauce.
In one of my recent posts I talk about the roasted chicken dinner I had made with roasted carrots, onions, and potatoes. Try coating aspargus in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper before roasting in the oven at 350 degrees until tender.
See, veg doesn't have to be boring. It just takes a little effort to create something different.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Seedlings and Such

About two weeks ago I started my California Wonder sweet peppers. They are doing excellent! I'll have to rig a plant light for them elsewhere when I start my cabbage. I need to check my lettuce tomorrow and continue working on getting the garden in working order. There is plenty of wood to be collected and stacked. Only then will I be able to start other projects. First things first, I need to built the compost pile. Then we'll do the fence. I can't wait, but I'll believe it when I see it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Where I'm Headed


That's it. I'm done. No more. I can't take this lifestyle anymore. I'm hurting myself.
Jamie Oliver
Michael Pollan
Barbara Kingsolver
They speak for what's wrong in society today. How were's hurting ourselves by what we eat.
Deep fried
Slathered in sauces
Burgers dripping with cheese
Pizza
There are better things. Much better things to eat then those mentioned. Food doesn't have to be slathered in sauces containing high fuctose corn syrup and mystery spices. The meal above is just one of the many possiblities.
Herbed roasted chicken with roasted root vegetables. It's amazing what you can do to food. I swear, this was the best meal that I've had in months. So, I wont be winning the Noble Peace prize or getting a call from Jamie Oliver. But being content with what I'm trying to do is good enough for me. Last night's dinner is the step in the right direction. I know that I can't switch totally over home cooked meals every night, yet, but this is enough for now.
This is where I'm headed. And that's where I'll stay.
For those interested here's the recipe for the chicken.

From Cook This, Not That
Herb Roast Chicken with Root Vegetables
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 large russet potato, sliced into 1/8" round
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 onions, quartered
1 Tbsp olive oil 4 large carrots, cut into large chunks
1 chicken (4 lbs)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, lemon juice, and half of the olive oil.Working on the chicken, gently separate the skin from the flest at the bottom of the breat and spoon in half of the rosemary mixture; use your hands to spread it around as throughly as possible. Spread the remaining half over the top of the chicken and then season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Mix the potato, onions, carrots, remaining olive oil, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables on the bottom of the pan and place the chicken on top, breast side up. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until skin is lightly brown.

Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and roast for another 30 minutes or so. The chicken is done when the juices between the breast and leg run clear and an instant-read thermometer instered deep into the thigh reads 155 degrees.Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the vegetables.