Come in, look around. Let me know what you think! Comments are always welcome and encouraged.

Monday, March 28, 2011

various topics

I've been struggling to find the motivation to blog lately. Work has been more chaotic than usual and when I get home I am just a bit too drained to tap into my creative side.  The ideas are swimming around in my brain but they just cant break the surface. I'm not going to worry about it too much. There will be plenty to blog about when this darn weather starts cooperating.  Most of my seeds have sprouted....
Amish paste and black cherry tomatoes

French breakfast radishes...getting a little leggy. Where are you, sun?
These will be grown indoors. they don't transplant well.
also not shown, my French Alpine Strawberries have come up ahead of schedule
...or they may be volunteer tomatoes from my worm compost bin that sprouted in the pot.
I'll find out sooner or later.

At the top are the radishes
The bottom box was supposed to be spinach and black-seeded lettuce.
Some of it is growing but there is a mysterious empty area where a small animal may have used as a dirt perch.
she looks suspicious
I know this blog post isn't very exciting but I want to be careful not to spend more time blogging about my life than actually living it. So in a nutshell, I've spent the last few weeks enjoying my life. I've read a few good books....
Product DetailsAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life (P.S.)

and spent quality time with my family...

walleye fry

spring clean-up day at my grandparents. the whole konrad side showed up to pitch in. Its impossible for cleaning not to be fun when they're around.
And spending time with my sweetheart. Yesterday he helped me clean, we took a looooong walk at sidecut park and then he took the recycling to the center, and put gas in my car. I love that guy. After that, we had a delicious meal....
My mom canned spaghetti sauce from my grandparents homegrown tomatoes last summer.
I may be sentimental but I swear food that has been made and preserved with love
tastes so much better than anything mass produced.
Greg's vanilla custard from scratch...
Tasted like vanillatopia
Thats pretty much it for now until I have some other hairbrained idea I feel neccesary to share with the world. Oh, by the way..there are seven of us participating in the zuchinni challenge. I'm mailing the seeds this week. Bring it people.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

bonfires and other things that start with b

Saturday turned out to be a really mild sunny day. The last full day of winter, in fact.  Greg and I picked up some burgers and beer and went over to my parents for dinner cooked over a bonfire.

Greg and my bro-in law, Vic. I don't know what they're saying but I have a feeling it has something to do with making the fire bigger
My Nephew Trevor

Dad enjoying some of our home brew. He says its good stuff but this man has never met a beer he didn't get along with

Cooking burgers

why are bonfires so mesmerizing?

had to get a picture of Greg and I in front of the big moon (supposed to be the biggest in years)
  I am looking forward to more days like these. Goodbye Winter!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

homemade deodorant or the anti-stink stick

Several weeks ago I made a batch of homemade deodorant. I had been having problems with some other "natural" brands I had been trying.  They either a.) didn't work. I would end up smelling like garden fresh herbs and b.o or b.) they made my underarms break out into a terrible rash, causing me to itch like crazy and be given multiple disgusted looks from various people.

The reason I started using natural brands in the first place was because I was/am paranoid after reading all sorts of articles about how there is a possible link between breast cancer and aluminum in antiperspirants. I can't sit here and say "if you use antiperspirants, you'll get cancer." It's not my place, and it hasn't been proven. But I can say that I am more comfortable avoiding the aluminum all together to just avoid that possible risk. I am also a firm believer in letting ones body do what its was designed to do. When its hot, we sweat so that we can cool down our bodies.  If I put something that keeps me from sweating, its preventing my body from cooling itself when it need to.

Anyway, since I haven't found an aluminum free brand that doesn't make me stink or cause itchy pits I thought I'd try making my own. I didn't have much to lose since I already had most ingredients on hand from making my lotion and lip balm.

Here is the original recipe
I had to deviate from the original recipe I found online because I didn't have shea butter.  I replaced the shea with half the amount of sweet almond oil since it is a liquid.

Here is mine:

1 1/2 Tablespoons sweet almond oil
3 Tablespoons baking soda

2 Tablespoons corn starch

2 Tablespoons cocoa butter

Essential Oil (I used  20 drops of lavender)

I melted the oil and cocoa butter in a Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave ( 30 sec at time until totally melted) then I mixed in the dry ingredients and essential oil. Eessential oil should go in last so the heat will not cause the scent to vaporize. Then I  poured the mixture into an empty deodorant tube that I had saved and cleaned. If you want to try making this, any empty plastic jar or small metal tin will do. You could even use a small jelly jar like the lady used in the original recipe link above.

I sat the container in the fridge overnight to cool and set. It looked like it would be too runny and I was afraid that it wouldn't have the right consistency but it hardened and I was able to use it the next morning. You use it just like you would a regular stick of deodorant.  Rub it on your pits.

It works pretty well! Not GREAT, but well.  It absolutely does not keep you from sweating but it does a fantastic job keeping you from stinking.  It does have a bit of a gritty texture and I didn't really like the lavender smell mixed with the cocoa butter smell. I think next time I make this I will fragrance it with a different oil or not at all.  The very best part is that I don't have the itchy pit syndrome anymore.
The second very best  part is that it cost me less than 1 dollar in supplies and will probably last me about four months.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I've always been a competitive person. Years ago when I worked at a daycare I would challenge the 5 year olds to occasional nail-biting games of candy land. Sometimes I won and sometimes I didn't. I will not confirm or deny stacking the deck so to draw Queen Frosteen and the little one's to draw Plumpy therefore having to go
back to the starting line. Like I said, I am very competitive.

Now that spring is almost here and veggie gardening is on my mind, I thought I'd see if any of you blog readers would be up for a friendly competition.  This will be a great little incentive for anyone who wants to start a vegetable garden but just hasn't gotten around to it. It is also a great way for beginners to get their feet wet!

Before I get into the details I want everyone to know that in order to participate, they do not need a huge yard. All you need is a 3x3 foot plot of dirt or at the very least a 5 gallon flower pot (which you can find very cheaply at the local walmart or garden store) and a sunny spot on a patio or by a window. Yes, you can even do this indoors.

Green Thumb Contest !!!!!(haven't come up with a more catchy name yet-happy to hear suggestions) 

It will then be your challenge to try to grow the 1.) largest quantity of zucchini in pounds 2.) the largest single zucchini in pounds and 3.) be the person who comes up with the most unique way to cook and eat thier harvest by July 30th, 2011.  If you would like to participate in this contest, I will supply you the seeds so that everyone has the same platform to start from and everyone must plant thier seeds on the same day. No cheating, this isn't candy land..

The reason I picked zucchini is because it is a very versatile and easy to grow vegetable, it produces well and there are so many ways you can cook it.  I am trying to make this as easy as possible to encourage folks to supplement their diets with good, healthy homegrown food. I am going to do a little research and find a good hearty variety of zucchini. There are all different kinds but I will be looking for a compact (will take up less space) variety that will be well suited for various soils and conditions.  If you absolutely hate zucchini, this may not be the contest for you.

I am still working out the details but everyone that wants to participate will receive the same amount of seeds to start at home. I will mail the seeds (or drop them off if you are local) free of charge. All you have to do is nurture your zucchini and keep track of the total pounds you harvest from your plant. You do need to already have a digital bathroom scale or kitchen scale in order to accurately weigh your zucs. You can do whatever you want in order to get your zucchini to grow. You can fertilize them, sing to them, heck, go ahead and cast magic spells on them if you want. As far as strategy, anything goes. You will just have to choose one plant for the challenge. If you only have the space for one zucchini plant, you can pick out the biggest, healthiest looking of your seedlings and toss the others, or give them away to friends (which is what I would recommend). If you do have room for the others, by all means plant them, nurture them and eat them but you can only use one plant for the competition-the others don't count.

The three winners will receive a basket of homemade beeswax bath and body products or a gardening book and the full glory of being a champion courtesy of yours truly!

I have no idea how many people will be interested in participating in this fun little challenge and since I am cheap and don't want to have to buy truckloads of seeds, so I have to cover my butt and  limit the challenge to ten people.  If you are interested, you have to leave a comment below with your email address so that I can contact you regarding details/rules and arrange for you to get your seeds. First come, first serve, but  anyone that lives here in the US can enter, Even clowns. Even if I don't know you and you secretly follow my blog. Even if you are my Mom. Anyone. If you happen to read my blog and aren't in the US I might be shocked adn amazed enough that you actually read or found my blog to let you enter so you should comment too. I'll give everyone until March 18th to get your comment in and enter the contest. Let me know if you have questions!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

what to do with your homegrown mushrooms

So you may be sick of hearing about the mushrooms so this is the last post on this topic,  I swear. At least until the next crop is due a few weeks from now.

We harvested our mushrooms last night and got a whopping 13.8 ounces. 

please pay no attention to the messy apartment behind me or my messy hair. Your focus should be on the giant shroom in my hand. Well, I guess its okay to admire my collection of leather bound books.

I said don't look at my messy hair. Gosh.

Pay no attention to the cat sleeping on a towel on the couch behind Greg. Your attention should be on the mushroom collection on the cluttered coffee table.
We thought the best way to enjoy them and not cover up that wonderful fresh mushroom flavor was to prepare them simply-sauteed with butter, salt and pepper.. and put them on a big fat steak. It was glorious.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


I guess I have ADD today. I couldn't decide on one single topic to write about so there are several.

1.) Use It or Lose It.
I hate wasting things. It makes me feel guilty. Even though I live fairly frugal, there are so many people out there that have to live on less than me and when I have to toss food that I've neglected in the fridge, I feel like not only am I dishonoring those people, but that I am dishonoring our earth as well. Think of all the resources it took to get that item into your home; time, soil, labor, fuel, etc. So when I can find some good use for anything that otherwise would end up in the trash or compost, I am a happy girl.

The Lemon.
I found this guy at the very back of the veggie bin. It had shrunk to about half its original size, it had been in there so long. I can't compost citrus in my worm bin. They don't like the acid. The juice wasn't quite at its prime anymore so no lemonade.  I thought about zesting it and saving the peel for recipes but the skin was so dried out that it was almost impossible to do.  I cut the lemon in half to see what it looked like on the inside. It was a little discolored but otherwise okay. Then it hit me. I've used bottled lemon juice to clean my stove top before and was really surprised how well it worked. So I just used the lemon half as I would a scrubber and voila! Clean stove top.

let the juice hang out on there for a few minutes when you have stubborn spots.

The Parmesan Rind.
Saw this on a cooking show. Instead of throwing away the hard rind of Parmesan cheese, freeze it and throw it in when you're making soup. Mine went into a pot of vegetable soup and it was delicious. It adds a salty, cheesy flavor, just as you'd expect. Just don't plan on eating it. It tastes like a wet rubberband after its cooked. Trust me on this. Take it out before you serve.

If anyone has other ideas on this topic. please share!

2.) Mushroom Madness II
Monday evening I came home to find our mushroom patch finally sprouting. Here it is 6 days later. I am hoping for a bumper crop so I can dehydrate some like I talked about in a previous post.

some of them are a little deformed. oh well, a mushroom is a mushroom.

3.) Vanilla Extract.
Its not quite ready yet. Not strong enough. Ordered more beans from MRH and will toss in a couple more, wait a few more weeks and see how it goes.  I thought I 'd have to get my vanilla from the grocery store and pay a fortune after a order mix up and an "issue" with their customer service but they ended up shipping my entire order to me for free so all is right with the world.  I would have been devistated if I had to stop ordering from them since they have the best stuff. The day that package comes will be like Christmas day.

day one of vanilla extract

several weeks in
Even though the vanilla extract is not as strong as I'd like yet (still smells more like alcohol than vanilla) you can see its come a long way since the first day. I have some pretty little recycled glass bottles to put it in when its finished.

4.) Got my heirloom organic seeds. Very happy.

5.) And in case you were wondering how my weightwachers diet was going for me....

Have a great weekend!