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Rachel

Salsa and Shirt Skirts

Boys #4 and 5 and I just finished reproducing the Easy Blender Salsa recipe to make a gallon of salsa–yes, you heard me right, a gallon.  Making the small batches that this recipe is for only lasted one day, so when I saw this 6 1/2 gallon can of diced tomatoes and Sam’s, and realized that it was half the price per ounce as the normal 14 1/2 oz can, I decided we were going to go all out this time and make enough salsa to last a week (or two??).  And, adjusting the recipe to be larger made a great math lesson for the boys!

Last night, with the help of this tutorial that I found on Pinterest (where else?), I turned this $2 goodwill t-shirt:

Into this skirt:

What??

I know, that’s what I thought at first.  This was “sew” easy (pun intended) and so fun!  In fact, I had never shirred before last night, but I made three of these skirts before I went to bed–it was that simple!

Check out her tutorial, raid your husband’s closet for the t-shirts he hasn’t worn since college, and get started on one of your own!




Rachel

Easy Blender Salsa

I received the Ninja Kitchen System 1200 for my birthday.  The boys and I pulled it out of the box today and for it’s first test run we whipped up a batch of this salsa recipe I found on Pinterest.  If you’ve been around this blog long, you know that my family doesn’t just eat salsa, we inhale it.  It just so happened that A.T. came home for lunch today, so this one batch was gone in less time than it took to make it.  We didn’t have the ambition to do our salsa garden this year, so I was excited to find this recipe calling for canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones.

Going from my $15 12-year-old Oster blender to the Ninja 1200 was quite the contrast.  The boys and I all crowded around as I pressed the start button for the first time, and when we heard that purring sound as its blades cut through onions, diced tomatoes and garlic like a hot knife through butter, an applause broke out.  Perhaps the boys are mostly just excited to know that they won’t have to listen to their mom cursing the blender under her breath as she beats it against the counter and splatters food all over the cabinets anymore.  Or maybe they’re excited that they won’t find shards of wood and plastic accidentally incorporated in their smoothies when she tried to shove all the frozen fruit down into the blade with wooden spoons and plastic spatulas.  Mostly, they’re probably just happy to see their mom happy–they’re sweet boys like that.

The flagship salsa batch was such a hit that my 10-year-old actually thanked God for the opportunity to make it while blessing the food at dinner tonight.  Then, when A.T. went around the table at dinner asking everybody’s high-low for the day, several people mentioned the homemade salsa as their high.  Did I mention we like salsa in our family?  We definitely like this salsa.

Other things I whipped up in the Ninja 1200 today?  Two batches of salad dressing, one batch of chocolate-banana smoothie, one batch of fudge popsicles, and another batch of salsa for lunch tomorrow.  Hopefully those other recipes will come in another post.  I still haven’t done a frozen fruit smoothie in the Ninja 1200, so I can’t attest to its smoothie skills yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know when I do.

For today, I’m including the salsa recipe, courtesy of Mountain Mama Cooks (pretty fitting name, since I’m a mountain mama myself) and adding a printable recipe for my mini binders.  FYI: I omitted the Rotel, used a teaspoon of jarred garlic instead of fresh, substituted basil and parsley from my herb pot for the cilantro, use hot chili sauce in place of a jalapeno, used curry powder instead of cumin, and used the juice of a lemon instead of a lime.  So, in other words, I used this recipe more as a guideline, but it was just because I didn’t have all these ingredients in my kitchen.  But, now you know just how flexible this salsa can be and still taste good!  Enjoy!

Easy Blender Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 1- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1- 10 oz can orginal Rotel
  • 1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded or not (depends on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
  • juice of 1 lime

Directions:

Put all the ingredients in the base of a food processor or good blender and pulse to combine for 30 seconds or so until all the ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Serve with chips or over tacos.

easy blender salsa printable

Check out this link for my printable recipe dividers that will work in any half sheet binders, including my mini binders.




Rachel

Before and After Homemade Soft Scrub

I’m sure it’s entirely illegal to refer to this stuff as soft scrub, but I can’t seem to come up with anything better to call it and it still be identifiable to people.  Any suggestions?

I’ve been wanting to post a before and after picture of my homemade soft scrub since doing my post with an extensive list of homemade cleaner recipes.  So, here it is.  My white sink, which shows dirt the second it starts to accumulate, gets nice and clean with this stuff, and I love the fresh scent of the peppermint liquid castile soap that I use–so much better than the harsh chemical smell of the commercial stuff.

I also wanted to show you how I’ve been packaging my toilet bowl cleaner.  I mix the baking soda and tea tree oil and keep it in a labeled jar under the bathroom sink.  When I’m ready to clean the toilets, I just sprinkle some of this stuff in, add a little vinegar and do a quick brush around with the toilet brush.

When I notice that my toilets are getting that musty, yucky smell that comes with the territory of having five boys who rarely pay attention to what they’re doing at the toilet, I spray it down with my all purpose cleaner, sprinkle the baking soda and vinegar in the bowl, then let it all sit for a few minutes.  I come back, wipe everything down with a paper towel, and voila!  The odors are absorbed, and all without the use of any chemicals!  Essential tea tree oil is a natural disinfectant and helps to leave a nice, fresh scent.  You could easily add it to the all purpose cleaner too, to give it a fresh scent and help eliminate bacteria.  To learn more about the benefits of tea tree oil, check out this article.

Check out my previous post for a list of the printable cleaner recipes and happy cleaning!




Rachel

Homemade Chocolate Pudding

It’s been such a busy week that I nearly forgot to share this recipe with you.  I’ve never embarked on making pudding from scratch before because I always thought that it required using raw eggs.  But, I stumbled upon this recipe last week and was intrigued because it didn’t use eggs.  The real name of the recipe is  Chocolate Cornstarch Pudding–I decided cornstarch isn’t an ingredient you want to highlight in a recipe, so I’m changing the name to Homemade Chocolate Pudding instead, it sounds much yummier.  The best part about homemade pudding to me is that it’s another way to cut packaged food out of our kitchen.  Once you try this recipe, I promise you’ll never want the instant stuff in your house again.

This takes about ten minutes to make and most likely, you have all the ingredients you need in your kitchen.  We chose to chill it before serving–it was a huge hit in our family.  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe and enjoy!

Homemade Chocolate Pudding (from allrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 3/4 cups milk
  • 2 Tbs margarine or butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa, cornstarch and salt. Place over medium heat, and stir in milk. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. Remove from heat, and stir in margarine and vanilla. Let cool briefly, and serve warm, or chill in refrigerator until serving.

Printable version:

homemade chocolate pudding




Rachel

Homemade All-Purpose Mix Recipe

A pantry full of homemade mixes

Just to clarify any possible misunderstandings, the picture above is not my pantry.  I stumbled across another Pinteresting find recently–a list of homemade mixes you can keep on hand for baking and cooking.  I try to keep a homemade pancake mix and waffle mix always on hand, and have always aspired to keeping more mixes in the cabinets, but hadn’t gotten that far yet.  This list of many mixes is nearly complete, and a great resource.  It includes: biscuit mix, cornbread mix, maple brown sugar oatmeal mix (a personal favorite for me, we love instant oatmeal around here, but don’t love the cost or the long list of ingredients that we can’t pronounce), pancake mix, tortilla mix, brownie mix and more.

As I take the baby steps towards cutting processed foods out of our house, this is a logical next step.  When you make a mix yourself, it gives you complete control over what you’re eating, saves money, and you can usually pronounce every ingredient in it–that’s always a good thing.  Besides all that, since I’m not a morning person (that’s an understatement), having pancake mix available means my boys can just grab it out of the cabinet and make up their own pancakes in a jiffy in the mornings.  (Yes, my older boys make their own pancakes–unless it’s a Saturday morning and A.T. is in town, it’s survival of the fittest around here before 8 o’clock in the morning and my boys have learned to adapt.)

A quick word about vegetable shortening, which this mix calls for: if you, like me, have your doubts about the health benefits of shortening, consider using coconut oil (a solid form, like shortening, at room temperature) or lard.  Yes, you heard me right, there are some who say that lard is actually better for you than shortening and butter (check out this article).  And, you an find it on the grocery store isles in large tubs, though still not in it’s purest form…

I made a printable recipe card for the quick all-purpose mix, along with recipes that she includes that use the quick mix.  (I am excited to try the self-crusting quiche.)  I hope to add more printables of her other mix recipes in the coming days.

Enjoy the printable version, add it your your mini recipe book, I’m about to!  If you enjoy it, make sure to stop by her site and let her know–it’s always nice to know you’re appreciated!

quick mix recipes

 




Rachel

Whole Wheat Bread Recipes adapted for bread machines

We are taking baby steps over here to cut processed foods and preservatives from our vocabulary.  We haven’t started a chicken farm yet, and don’t own any goats or cows, but I’m trying to identify simple things that I can do to reduce our dependence on grocery store supply chains and  ingredients in our foods that I can’t pronounce.

Along those lines, I’ve found 100 Days of Real Food to be an inspiring website.  I’m not feeling as ambitious as her yet, but have appreciated some of her tips and recipes to taking the small steps towards processed-free foods.  One take-away I got from her was the idea of returning to the good old-fashioned bread machine.  I think when bread machines first came out, people appreciated them for the creative freedom they offered to experiment with yummy, homemade bread without all the sweat equity that traditionally went into it.  Recently we’ve also started to recognize the health benefits.  With only five minutes of preparation, you end up with complete control over the ingredients going into your bread.  I mean, I can pronounce the words flour, yeast, salt and water.  So, when my boys bite into a piece of bread with only those ingredients in it, I can feel good about what’s going into their bodies.

(more…)




Rachel

Making Mini Recipe Books

Some of you have heard me talk a lot about my oilcloth mini binders already and may be tired of it.  But, now that I’ve been using mine for a while, I had some updates I wanted to share with you–also, I created some new recipe tab dividers that I want to make available to my Etsy customers.  For those of you just joining us, these binders are a unique, spill proof way to store  recipe collections. We will show you here some ways to use them for your recipe books.

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Rachel

Slow Cooker Applesauce

I have so many Pinteresting finds to share lately, I don’t know where to start!

So, today’s pinteresting find is crock pot applesauce–or, I guess technically it should be “slow cooker applesauce,” because not all of us are using name brand Crock Pots.  All credit goes to All Things Mama for this recipe.  The only thing I did differently than her was to pull out my submersion blender (best $20 I spent at Walmart EVER) and blend it till their were no chunks–though I like a good, chunky applesauce, I was afraid my boys wouldn’t.  Maybe I’ll get more brave in the future and leave a few chunks here and there.

apples in the slow cooker

The boys devoured it when I made it for dinner last week.  I managed to salvage enough of it for A.T. and I to have a couple spoonfuls, but that’s par for the course around here–A.T. and I scrape plates to get our share of the food.  Yes, I added the sugar, but in the future I may slowly wean us off the sugar and see if my boys still like it.

I’ve included a printable recipe below, as usual, made to fit in my oilcloth mini binders.  Enjoy, and don’t forget to leave a comment if you print out any of my printable recipes, we love to hear from you!

slow cooker apple sauce




Rachel

Homemade Cleaner Recipes

Homemade cleaners--add the recipe to the outside of your bottle and they will always be there when you are ready to make more!

A few months ago, I would’ve called you crazy if you told me that three months from now, I’d be making all my own cleaners.  But, here we are, a few months later, and I’m making my own hand soap, laundry detergent, fabric softener, soft scrub, all-purpose cleaner, oven cleaner, window cleaner, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, body wash and toilet bowl cleaner–and I don’t ever plan to go back!

If you get on Pinterest these days, homemade cleaner recipes are a dime a dozen.  But, most of the work involved in the transition to homemade cleaners for me was the research that went into collecting recipes for different cleaners and the trial and error of testing them and figuring what worked best.  Since I’ve done all that work now, I thought, why not go ahead and share them with all of you?  Maybe I can take the guess work out of it for you and make it even easier for you to make the switch.  

So, I will do a list of cleaners and detergent recipes in this post, tested and approved by yours truly.  For those of you who know my cleaning habits, that may not give you much assurance.  I don’t keep a spic and span house, and you would never want to eat food off my floor, but I do have a decent standard of cleanliness.  Mostly, I don’t like to spend a lot of time cleaning, so when I do, I want my cleaners to work well and make my job easier.  All these recipes fit this bill.  As well, I’ve made sure these recipes are as all-natural as possible, that the base ingredients overlap as much as possible, and that the ingredients are as easily accessible as possible–this way, these recipes are good for the environment, your family, your time, and your budget!

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Rachel

DIY 10-Minute Cardigan

Cardigan made from a sweater

Spring came in like a lion around here, and then summer arrived the next day.  We are having some crazy warm weather, so I may have already missed my chance to sport my new DIY 10 min cardigan.  But, I discovered this pinteresting find a couple weeks ago.  I really like cardigans for the layering option they provide and the flexibility to take it off if I get warm without having to pull it over my head and mess up my hair (that last part was a joke, you can hardly mess my hair up more than it already is).  I stumbled across these clearance sweaters at Old Navy last week for $10 each and was pretty excited to give the 10 min cardigan a try, since I really could use a couple extra cardigans.

Kelsey at Vanilla Joy did a great job with this tutorial, so I’ll just refer you to her site for the complete tutorial.  Essentially, you take a sweater, cut it down the center, do a couple more simple steps involving an iron, some iron-on adhesive tape, and a sewing machine, and voila!  Pictured here is my finished product with the gray sweater.  I haven’t done the white one yet that I purchased, but will add a picture when I do that one too.

You won’t have the option to button it up since there isn’t enough fabric left over to overlap once you’re done.  But, it stills makes a great top layer, just with a little more restrictions than a real cardigan.  For the price, and the short amount of time that it took to make it, it’s worth its limitations.  I highly recommend this project!

My two ON clearance sweaters

 

Finished gray cardigan




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