Wednesday, July 17, 2013

One Pot Pasta In A Flash

Since we are eating bigger lunches and itty bitty dinners these days, I was looking for a good, quick pasta dish to make the other day (I will not live in a world without pasta, I don't care how healthy I am trying to be), and I came across this one.  After tweaking it a bit for my family, I tested it, and it was a hit!

I hope it is for your family too!

Here goes:

In a good sized pot, dump a bunch of uncooked pasta.  I used roughly 12 oz, and I think I will be eating it all week.  Also, I used penne.  Because I love penne.  Feel free to use whatever you love.  Here it is:

To the uncooked pasta add a handful of fresh basil:

Just chop it up and throw it in there.  It's pretty.  See:

Guess what?  I got that basil right off of my own basil plant.  Grew it right on my porch.  I guess I can grow something after all. *Stands back in amazement, nearly collapses*

Than add a can of diced tomatoes:

You could use fresh tomatoes too, if you have the time.  I didn't, so canned it was.  Would it help if they were low sodium?  In the interest of full disclosure, they weren't.  Oh well.

A whole lot of fresh garlic.  Really.  A. Whole. Lot.  Because garlic is good:

About a 1/4 cup of white wine, give or take (mostly give, of course.  Duh.):

And 1/2 a sliced onion:

Now give it all a good mix...

...And add about 3 1/2 - 4 cups of broth.  I used chicken, but you could use veggie if that is your thing:

A drizzle of olive oil:

And a pinch of Oregano, which I forgot to take a picture of.  *Sigh*

Give it all another good stir, bring it to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and let it go for about 7-10 minutes, stirring it every few minutes.  Remember, it is going to keep cooking after you turn off the heat, so better to stop a little underdone than to get it just perfect and have it be mushy 5 minutes later. 

That's it.  Seriously.  The pasta cooks in the broth, and what you are left with is a saucy pasta dish chock full of flavor.  Add whatever you want from there.  I plan to add some grilled chicken next time.  Oh, and sprinkle some parmesan over it.  That would probably make it perfect.

Quick.  Easy.  One pot.  What more could I want?

Except maybe some bread to go with it.  Because we all know how I feel about bread.  Very similar to how I feel about coffee.

What is your favorite fast lunch?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Best Stain Remover Ever!

 Lately, Noodle has been loving having smoothies for breakfast.  Smoothies with blueberries and strawberries in them.  Smoothies that look awfully purple just sitting in a glass.

The other morning it was a bit chaotic around these parts, and I let Noodle drink her breakfast smoothie while sitting on my bed watching something extremely educational, like Word Girl.

When I finally got around to making my bed that morning, want to know what I found?  You guessed it.  Smoothie splorp.  In. My. Bed.

I have cream colored sheets.

The smoothie was purple.

And had dried.

You can guess my reaction.

Now, if I had had my wits about me, I would have started taking pictures of what happened next, but I didn't so any pictures you see in this post are a recreation.  Sorry about that.

Here is a recreation of what my sheet looked like, using a white (not cream, WHITE) tea towel that I have:

Need to see that a little closer?

Yeah, I know.  Ick.

Contrary to what you might think, I didn't panic.  Or scream.  Or throw things.  No, I very calmly stripped the sheets from my bed and took them into the laundry room where I keep a bottle that looks like this:

The bottle says Basic H on it, but that isn't what's in it.  It also says Windows on it.  It isn't for windows.  It was just an extra that I had sitting around, and I mixed up some powdered Nature Bright and water in it about, oh, maybe 3 or 4 months ago. 

Nature Bright is a natural laundry booster along the lines of Oxiclean, but all natural, biodegradable, phosphate free and bleach free.  Oh, and awesome.  It's that, too.

By the way, if you try mixing up Nature Bright and water for a stain remover, be sure to leave the lid off of the bottle for a while.  A good, long while.  And don't fill it too full.  See Nature Bright reacts in water, and bubbles are formed, which may or may not have an interesting reaction if you store it with the lid closed too tightly. 

I had sort of forgotten about it, since I haven't had any really impressive stains to get out lately.  Pretty much everything has come out just with my Shaklee laundry detergent.  But I was pretty sure that the smoothie stain was a keeper if I didn't do more than just detergent.  So out came the Nature Bright mixture.

I sprayed it right on the stain:

And check out what happened when I sprayed it right on the stain:

I about had a heart attack.  I was pretty sure I had just made the biggest mistake ever.

But I kept spraying, really saturating the fabric.  And I let it sit for a bit, then sprayed some more.  Then just for good measure, I rubbed a little detergent on it and let it sit for even longer.  Then I sprayed some more, and went to do something else.

And forgot about it.


When I went back to it a few hours later it had dried.

And the stain was completely gone.


So I threw it in the washer and dryer, and ended up with this:

I repeat:

It's actually good that I had to recreate it on my white tea towel to see if it was a fluke, but no.  It happened exactly the same way.  Right down to forgetting about it, which we won't discuss, because that says more about me than I care to admit.

If you haven't guessed by now, I am completely thrilled with my Shaklee products.  So much so, that I can't encourage you enough to try it for yourself.  And to make that easier, I am offering a free Shaklee membership to anyone that wants to try it out in the month of July.  That's a $19.95 value for free, and that membership lets you save 15% on all products!  Oh, and there is no minimum purchase for the free membership, and no monthly commitment after you buy (but be warned, you will keep buying.  It's just that good!).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sock Dryer Balls With Essential Oils

Want something to do with your socks once they get a hole in them and are of no use to you anymore?  Try this:

Take a pair of socks with holes:

Why, yes, it does look like they are different sizes.  I don't know if that is because they are different sizes, or because they are stretched from being rolled.  Keep reading.  You'll understand what I mean.

Take some essential oils of your choice.  I use Lemon and Lavendar.  Sometimes.  Sometimes I use Wild Orange all by it's little self.  And sometimes I use Lime.  Because I love lime and pretty much use it for everything.  And sometimes I use Citrus Bliss, because it has all the scents I love and smells a little bit like the recovery drink that I have after I work out.  When I work out, because it's pretty hit and miss, and my recovery drink is all that gets me through my workout.  Because it is so, so yummy.  In fact, let's use Citrus Bliss for our purposes today, wanna?  Because I do.

Now, put several drops of essential oil on your first sock.

Drop it right around where the ball of your foot would be.  How many drops?  How much do you want your laundry to smell?  Because if you want the scent to stick with your laundry, you need to put a pretty good amount on there.  I am happy just having my dryer smell amazing every time I open the door so I just use about 10 drops or so.

Now roll the sock up from the toes to the top, as tight as you can (you want it to be dense)...

...and fold the top of the sock over the roll to hold it in place.

Now take the second sock and put several more drops of essential oil on the ball of the foot of that sock.

Place the rolled up sock on the toe of the flat sock...

...and roll it all up, just like you did with the first sock...

...and fold the top of the sock over the whole roll to hold it in place.

Voila!  There you have your new sock dryer ball.  If the socks were big enough, you should have a little heavyish bundle that can bounce around in your laundry and help your clothes (or anything else you are drying) both dry faster and smell better.  Do this with a few pairs of socks and you have a little army of dryer efficiency.

Hooray for no more thrown away socks!

What essential oils would you like your dryer/laundry room to smell like?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Detox Foot Soak

Okay, we are going to start things off today by reminding everyone that I am not a doctor, so anything I use and love on here might be great for me, but not great for you.  There is no medical advice being dispensed here at N&N.  I am just a mama that worries about pretty much everything in life, leading to a lot of stress.  So I like to find things that give me moments to relax and hopefully do something good for my body at the same time.

Like yoga, but without all the pain.  And the breathing through the pain.  I want the benefits of yoga, with minimal breathing through the pain.

Like I said, I'm a worrier.  A stresser.  Give me a situation and I can always find something to worry about.  It's a bad habit, one that I am constantly trying to work on, but I'm pretty sure there is a little rung on that DNA ladder that is labeled stress, and in my makeup that rung is close to the top.  And we all know that worry pollutes your body and your mind and robs you of precious minutes of life that will never be gotten back.

So when I started researching detox baths about a year ago, I was all over it.  Finding a way to pull toxins from food and stress and, well, LIFE out of my body?  Yes, please. 

It isn't like I'm overflowing with toxins from food.  I eat relatively well, if you can get past the Skittles.  And the coffee.

(Full disclosure: I have all but given up the Skittles.  I don't remember the last time I had some.  Coffee, on the other hand, is never going away, so get used to that, people.  A world without coffee is a sad and soulless place.  Kind of like a world without bread.)

I don't drink a lot of soda.  I try to keep to foods made from ingredients that I can pronounce.  Maybe even ingredients I can find in my own kitchen.  I eat lots and lots of fruits and vegetables.  But I also know that between the worrying and stress, and the bit of junk that I do eat, there are plenty of toxins hanging out in my system that are slowing me down, making me less healthy.

And detox baths seemed to help with that a fair amount.  I mean, I think they did.  Who am I to say (not a doctor, remember?)?  My skin was better.  My energy level was better.  But it took a chunk of time to do it.  If I want to soak in a bath for half an hour, I have to wait until Noodle and Nugget are both in bed and asleep.  And I had better have all my blog stuff done, and the kitchen cleaned up before attempting a detox bath because I am quite literally useless after one of those things.  I can pretty much roll myself into bed and that is it.  Seriously.  That.  Is.  It.

So when I found Tidy Mom's Lime and Mint Foot Soak on Pinterest, it inspired me to try scaling down my detox bath to a detox foot soak!  The bath recipe that I was using is perfect as a foot soak too, and we all know that feet are a great portal to the systems of your body.  So, without further ado, here is the recipe I use for a detox foot soak.

It starts with one cup of Epsom Salts:

To the salts I add several drops of Grapefruit essential oil. 

I use grapefruit for a lot of reasons, but the main reason is because it makes me smile.  When we were building the house, and I was stressing like a fiend, I used to put grapefruit oil on my pillow at night to keep my anxiety down while I slept.  Otherwise, I was a mess.  I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to get back to sleep.  It was awful.  Grapefruit made it less awful, more happy.  Because grapefruit is a happy smell.

Unless you hate grapefruit.  Then it's a terrible smell.  Sorry about that.

For detox purposes, it would probably be more useful to use Lemon or Rosemary or Helichrysm, but I like grapefruit.  End of story.

Then, the thing that makes it a serious detox soak - clay.

Bentonite clay, to draw the impurities from my body.  Because, seriously, bentonite clay can be used for so many things, and a detox foot soak is just one of them.  It can be mixed with water to make a paste that can be used on cuts, bites, stings, burns, rashes... you name it.  I got turned on to it over at One Good Thing By Jillee, and that woman knows a good thing when she finds it!

So, adding clay to my foot soak seems like a great way to get some detox into my relaxation.  I added about 1/4 cup of clay to my mix.

Now, here's where it becomes a little bit of a fail.

To make it pretty I decided to add some citrus zest, like Tidy Mom did.

See, isn't that pretty.  Problem?  When you add it to the clay/salt mixture, the clay coats the zest, making it not so pretty, just kinda lumpy.

Which makes it really rather unappealing.  And the zest is totally useless if it's going to get coated and ugly, so feel free to leave that out.

Oh well!  Moving on!

I filled a tub with some warm water.  Actually, let's be real here.  It was blazing hot water, and I might have scalded my feet a fair amount in this process.  But when doing a detox bath, it is recommended to have the water as hot as you can stand it, to make you sweat all the ick out.  (Totally technical explanation, yes?)  So I just went with that, and came away with lobster red, fully detoxed, feet.

I added my clay/salt mixture to the water...

 ...and stirred and stirred until I was reasonably sure the epsom salts had dissolved.  

The whole thing was a cloudy mess, thanks to the clay, but I knew that for my purposes it didn't have to be pretty.  It just had to work.

I hauled the whole thing out to the front porch to enjoy my soak for as long as I could before Noodle and Nugget descended on me. 

Please note the clay already dried to my ankles and lower legs.  Attractive.

Which turned out to be about 3.7 blissful seconds.  Then I was barraged with questions.

"Ewwww!  What is that?!"

"Can I try it?"

"Why are your eyes closed?"

"Are you asleep?"

"Why are you sitting out here?"

"Will you get me some water?"

"I have to pee!"  (Less of a question, more of a warning).


So, while I managed to pull off soaking for about 10 minutes, it was neither quiet nor relaxing.  But even that short period of time did yield some detox results.  How do I know?  Because I had a feeling of noodleness similar to what I experience when I take a full detox bath.  Of barely being able to drag myself through the rest of the day, but on a lesser level. If this had been a full blown detox bath, I would have been completely unable to stay awake, much less upright, until bedtime.

Oh well, at least the view was good while I was failing to relax!

Do you have a quick detox method?  Share it with me!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

What I Learned While Camping In My Front Yard

Happy Monday!!

Just kidding.  I'm not a fan of Monday.  Though I do hope you have a good one.  But I did have a great weekend, so let's talk about that, wanna?

What did you do this weekend?  We did all manner of things.  First I have a quiz for you.

What do you get when you combine a water balloon filler:

Water balloons:

A Noodle and a Nugget:

(What can I say?  The kid just likes to wear a life jacket)

And a trampoline:


You get hours of entertainment, that is what you get!  And it looks like this:

Throw in a crazy dog and a kiddie pool, and you get complete chaos.

At least that's what you get at my house.  Chaos.  On pretty much any day, actually.

Don't let the puppy dog eyes fool you.  It's chaos.

So, we camped out in our front yard on Saturday night.  Yup, I did say FRONT yard.  Now, just so that you don't get the idea that we are weirdos that are bent on attracting trouble by basically sleeping in public rather than the obscurity of our BACKyard, let me remind you about where I live:

See all that nothing behind Noodle and Nugget?  Just picture it all around us.  ALL around us.

Right.  And let me just tell you about the fact that while we managed to throw in some landscaping in the front yard so that we don't look entirely like we just plopped a house out in the middle of a sage field, the backyard is still a dirt pit, that has no business housing either tents or people.

So, naturally, we camped in the front yard.  And so, for slightly less than 12 hours, this was our home:

In front of our real home, see that?  Which is kind of ideal, as we got the benefits of nature while having indoor plumbing and a truly fabulous coffee maker mere steps from the entrance of our tent.

Noodle and Nugget were so excited about this turn of events that they immediately went inside to gather "supplies".  Here are some things that my kids consider essential when camping in the front yard.  First off, books:

 Then there are the fuzzy slippers:

 And the stuffed animals:

 And camp chairs, naturally:

 And, my personal favorites, the pop gun...

...and wooden sword... protect us from zombies coyotes.  And anything else that might come snooping.  Good thinking, kiddos!

And I learned a few things while camping in my front yard, which include but are not limited to:

1.  Small Nuggets and fully grown husbands would do well to bring both hoodies and beanies into the tent at bedtime to prevent getting up for them in the wee hours of the morning to keep their shaved heads and naked necks from freezing in our mountain air.

2.  A double wide sleeping bag, while roomy and kind of cute, is not the warmest place to sleep if you want to roll over at any point in the night.

3.  When your cold Nugget climbs into your double wide sleeping bag with you and your husband, just accept the fact that you won't be turning over for the rest of the night, because every time you do you will let the cold air into the bag, waking up Nugget and launching him on a 5 minute tirade about how FREEZING he is.  It will involve crying.  Possibly for you both.

4.  Twister will bark at pretty much anything.  He'll bark at the wind, at the sound of you trying to roll over without waking up Nugget (which will wake up Nugget), at the sound of any person in the tent snoring or breathing audibly, at crickets chirping, at the cat meowing from the house window closest to the tent, he'll even bark at the sound his tail makes when he wags it in his sleep.  He won't, apparently, bark at actual animals in the area.  He will, though, bark at your neighbor 100 yards away the second he walks out his back door in the morning.

5.  No matter how pathetic the cat sounds, don't try to bring him in the tent with the rest of you.  He will be completely freaked out over the fact that he can see the outdoors but not actually walk into it, and will pace the tent, going from sheer panel to sheer panel trying to figure out how to get into the outside.  This will culminate with him making a flying leap at the topmost sheer panel thinking it's a way out, sinking his front claws into the sheerness of the panel, and hanging there, dangling over a sleeping Noodle, completely confused as what to do next.  Which means you will leave the warmth of your sleeping bag to rescue the cat (and by extension, Noodle) and pass him off to husband to take back into the house, because everyone and their brother knows that cats have no business camping, front yard or elsewhere.

Just for the record, you won't hear a peep from your cat after this experience.  He now knows you are nuts sleeping out there and thinks you deserve what you get.

6.  Backs will hurt about halfway through the night.  You will actually be crippled by morning.

Yup, that pretty much sums it up.  Camping out front was a blast.  And completely hilarious, once morning brought a bit of perspective.

The cat has started speaking to us again, in case you were wondering.

What did you do this weekend?