Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Love/Hate Relationship With Laundry Detergent

About a year ago my skin irritation got really bad and started driving my crazy.  With a capital C.  I started changing the products I was using, thinking that something was making the irritation worse, and the product I had the hardest time with was laundry detergent.

I tried all the free and clear type products I could find.  And I wasn't impressed.  Everything seemed dingy to me.  And the lack of smell just felt wrong, which is completely backwards, I know, but between the dingy and the no smell thing I felt like my clothes weren't clean.  And it wasn't helping my skin!

So I started making my own detergent.  I found the recipe at One Good Thing By Jilly, and it was cheap, and effective, and didn't irritate my skin any more than it already was.  I love my homemade detergent.

But I don't like making it.  It isn't hard or anything.  It isn't even that time consuming.  But I make smaller batches, because I don't have a good place to store it (my laundry room is TINY... I'll post pictures someday.), and it makes a lot of dust and walking into my kitchen after making a batch is reminiscent of having my mouth washed out with soap.

Not that I ever had my mouth washed out with soap.  I haven't.  But if I had, my kitchen after making laundry detergent is what I imagine it tastes like.  Blech!

But I love my homemade detergent!  What's a girl with bad skin to do?

When I got my Get Clean Kit from Shaklee, one of the items was Shaklee's Fresh HE Liquid Laundry Detergent.  According to the bottle, it is nontoxic, natural, fragrance free, biodegradable, concentrated, hypoallergenic, has no phosphates, and is chlorine free.  But does it work?

Yes!  It works well!  No dingy clothes.  Hooray!  And as an added bonus, it acts as a stain remover too.  Here is an example:  Noodle has a shirt that she somehow dropped spaghetti sauce on a long time ago.  I say "somehow" because the splotch was on THE BACK of the shirt!  How does one get spaghetti sauce on the back of one's shirt?  I don't know.  But she did.  And I have washed it many times since then, because she insists on wearing it, stain or no stain.  At least the stain is on the back.

It looked like this:

I think the word you are looking for is SPLORP!

Here is a close up:

Huh.  In the close up it actually looks smaller.  It's not.  It's big.  Just saying.

So, I put a drop of my Shaklee laundry detergent on it, and scrubbed it in.  Kind of scratched it in with my fingernail, you know?  And I let it sit for a few minutes while I put the rest of the laundry in and got things going.  And I meant to let it sit until the next load, but kind of forgot what I was doing and just threw it in with everything else.  Oops.  Then I just washed and dried it.

And I got this:

Well hey now!  Let's look closer:

I'm actually not sure if that is closer or just a different angle, but what I do know is that the stain is gone.  Gone gone.

A stain I had washed and dried multiple times is gone.  I can tell you, that makes laundry a whole lot more bearable, having stains actually go away.

So here is what I know:  I still love my homemade laundry detergent.  I also know I am lazy.  And if I can get a natural, nontoxic, biodegradable alternative that I don't have to mix up in my kitchen, I am all for that.  And because it is super concentrated and acts as a stain remover, I am still saving money.  Win/win!  What's more, there is also a powder version of Shaklee's Fresh detergent, and I am definitely going to try that.  I like powder detergent for some reason.  I'm pretty sure it isn't a rational reason, I just do.

What laundry detergent do you use?

Do you love your homemade laundry detergent but are sick of your kitchen tasting like soap?  CLICK HERE TO TRY SHAKLEE'S FRESH HE LAUNDRY DETERGENT FOR YOURSELF NOW!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kitchen Sink Cookies... Just Throw It All In

I cleaned out the pantry the other day.  It was shocking how many mostly used packages of stuff I found in there!  There were so many that it was only prudent to make a batch of something or other to use it all up.

I mean, it would be a shame to waste, right?  If everyone ran around throwing away a 1/2 cup of m&ms here, or a 1/4 cup of white chocolate chips there, it would be absolute chaos.  And we can't have chaos, people.

Which is why I am doing my part.  Kitchen Sink Cookies.

The thing that I love about Kitchen Sink Cookies is that I can use up pretty much whatever I have hanging around.  Seriously, everything.  I use up baking goods, nuts, candy, peanut butter,  all the other candy, marshmallows, pretzels, and the rest of the candy.

I like candy.

Sorry Mom.

So as I eyed the pile of mostly used up bits and pieces, vision of cookies danced in my head and I thought, "Eh.  Why not?"  With a mental shrug, of course.

So I did.  And it goes like this:

 As all truly good things do, it starts with butter and sugar:

2 Sticks of butter, 1/2 cup white sugar, and 1 1/2 cups brown sugar. Yum.

Mix it:

Add two eggs, and when you do, remember to take a picture of it.  I didn't.

Then mix some more...

... and add 1 Tbsp of Vanilla.  I used organic vanilla.  I have to tell you that because I'm hoping it cancels out all the other junk that I am going to be putting in here momentarily.

In another bowl mix together 1 1/2 cups flour:

1/2 tsp baking soda:

1 tsp baking powder:

And 2 tsp kosher salt:

Mix all that up and add it to the mixer:

Now the fun starts.  Here is where you start adding whatever you have.

I started with 1 1/2 cups of oats:

And added 3/4 cup white chocolate chips:

3/4 cup of M&Ms:

Let's get a closer look, shall we?

I love M&Ms.

And lastly I added 2 1/2 cups Rice Krispies:

I scooped out half of the mix into balls, and then, as an experiment, I added marshmallows to the rest of the mix:

I don't even know how much I added.  Just until it looked yummy.  Which is laughable, because it all looks yummy.  See:

It's actually a miracle that I didn't just stop there and start eating.  That is what I wanted to do.  But I held out, and was rewarded with these:

And these:

Oh, and these:


The ones that I added marshmallows to were even better, because the marshmallow melted and made little crunchy carmelized edges on the other batch of the cookies, like this:

Good grief.  Those are so good!

And with that, I have to go stuff my face.  Thanks for stopping by!

What is your favorite cookie recipe?



 2 sticks of Butter
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tbsp Vanilla
1 1/2 Cups Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 Cups Oats
2 1/2 Cups Rice Krispies (add last so they don't get all crunched up)
Add whatever you have on hand, in whatever amounts you deem appropriate.
Some ideas?
Chocolate Chips
White Chocolate Chips
Peanut Butter Chips
Cinnamon Chips
Nuts (chopped up)
Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Caramel Bits
Crunched Up Candy Bars
Chocolate Covered Pretzels (even better!)


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In stand mixer, mix together Butter and Sugars.

When fully combined, add two eggs and blend well.

Add Vanilla, and blend again.

In separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Add dry ingredients to mixer, and mix well.

Add oats to Mixer.  Mix well.

Add whatever extras you have on hand.  Go big!

Lastly, add Rice Krispies, and mix just until combined.  Don't mix too much, or the Krispies will become Krispy Mush.

Spoon into balls onto parchment lined cookie sheet.  Or no parchment.  It's your call.  I hate cleaning cookie sheets.  Also, they'll spread out quite a lot, so give some space.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Cool and enjoy!  Or don't cool, just enjoy!  Either way, they are amazing!

This post was featured on these amazing blogs:

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Monday, May 20, 2013

I'm So Glad We Have Grocery Stores


Our growing season starts late and ends early around here.  Which is my excuse for just now showing you the little seedlings that I have started for my veggie garden.

One of my goals is to get to the point where I am making most of our food from scratch, and growing as much of what we eat as possible.  Which will lead to canning a lot of what we grow.  Which leads me to feeling like I'm in an episode of Little House on the Prairie except it's more like Little House in the Sage Field.  Whatever.

The point is, I have seedlings.  Which is a feat in and of itself, since I have a notoriously brown thumb.  Not green.  A brown thumb.  As in the color plants turn when they die.

But I have gotten them this far, so let's all just give a small round of applause.  Thank you.

Here is what I started with:

Those weird little things are peat pods.  Dry peat pods.  When I add water to the pods they absorb the water and expand to look like this:

A little army of peat pods.  You can't see it from this angle, but those pods are a couple inches high.  The perfect little home for seeds to sprout.

Then I took these:

For the gardening impaired like myself, those are seeds.

Well, I guess to be more specific:

...those are seeds.

Want a closer look?

Ugh!  Not only seeds, but very dry hands.  Let's move on.

Eventually I want to use non-hybrid heirloom seeds.  Did you know that the produce that we get in the regular ole grocery is mostly grown from hybrid seeds, which means that they combine two types of a certain fruit or veggie to get traits from each.  This gives growers a piece of produce that looks good, tastes right (sort of), and is resistant to pest invasion and all manner of other things, I'm sure (anyone who has grown their own tomatoes and eaten them right off the vine knows that the tomatoes we get from the store don't taste like tomatoes.  They taste like a black and white copy of a tomato.  That is all.).  But if I kept the seeds from that produce and tried to grow it, it wouldn't work.  They might sprout, but they probably wouldn't get you much after that.  Which admittedly, leads one to wonder where they get the seeds in the first place.  So people who actually know what they are doing in a veggie garden often use non-hybrid heirloom.  With heirloom seeds, the seeds can be saved from the produce each year, and used the next year.  And that is my overly simplified, probably only semi correct version of hybrid vs non-hybrid seeds.

And someday, when I'm not killing every plant in a 3 mile radius, I'll try planting heirloom seeds.  But here in the beginning, I'm not wasting my money.  I'm just learning to grow.

So, I opened the pods a little, and dropped 2-3 seeds in each pod, then covered the seeds just very lightly with the peat.  I used a fork to do that because using my fingers was a mess.  For both me and the seeds.

Then I covered them up with the little plastic cover provided:

Why yes, the lid is upside down.  Let's keep that between us, okay?

Which makes a little greenhouse.  Cute.  I planted three trays of seeds.  Two of tomatoes and one of green peppers.  And I set them in the appropriate place in my house, where they would be warm enough but not to warm, get light but not too much direct light.  And do you know what I had 6 days later?

Nothing.  I had nothing.

So rather than throwing the whole thing out the window, which was, of course, my first reaction, I hopped on the internet to see if I could find out what I was doing wrong. And I read on a couple of sites that seeds respond well to "bottom heat".

Bottom heat.  Okay, I can do that.

So I dug out an old heating pad that I had and put two of my three greenhouse thingys on it.

Because only two would fit, that's why.  I had to rotate.

And I kid you not, not an hour later I had sprouts.  And that night, I had these:

And the next morning I had these:

Those are both tomato sprouts.

The poor pepper sprouts didn't fair quite as well.  I had these:

Yeeeaaaahhhhh.  So, I waited patiently.  And then I waited maybe not quite so patiently.  And I was rewarded!  With these perfect little pepper sprouts:

Those are from Saturday morning.  And my tomato sprouts are going gangbusters.  Wanna see?

Gangbusters.  Look at their little leaves!

I am easily impressed.


I like this last shot because they look like a tiny forest of tiny palm trees to me.  Do you see that?  No?

Did I mention that I'm from California?  And that I like palm trees?  And that we don't have those in the mountains?

So anyway, I have a couple more weeks to get these suckers to a plantable size without killing them entirely when I plant them in the ground at the end of may.  I'm only going to plant the heartiest sprouts.  Hopefully some will be hearty.  Good grief, let's all just keep our fingers crossed.

Then the real fun starts, because I get to prep my little plot of land and plant the rest of my seeds.  I am going to have my tomatoes and peppers plus carrots, peas, green beans, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, radishes, and maybe some corn but probably not.  Oh, and some raspberry and blackberry bushes.  And a couple blueberry bushes.  And I want to plant onions and potatoes, but I'm pretty sure I'm late for that.  Or maybe not.  I don't know.  I've never done this before and I'm pretty sure I'll screw it up and my harvest will be tiny, but I am determined to learn.  Because I'm sick of paying for organic stuff. 

Do you have a summer garden?  What do you grow?  Seriously, any tips you have are greatly appreciated.  And I promise to keep you posted.

Even if I kill it all.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Weeknight Soup In A Jar


Yesterday was one of those days.  You know the kind, where you roll out of bed, hit the ground running and just never stop.  It was crazy.  And when I finally got around to making dinner, I realized I had nothing planned, and very little desire to get creative.

Oh, wait.  That's pretty much everyday.

Lucky for me, I have a stash of soup in a jar.  A reasonably hefty stash of soup in a jar.  So I grabbed a jar, and the ingredients that go with it, threw it on the stove, went and started some laundry, took the dog for a walk, and voila!  Soup.

What is soup in a jar, you ask.  It's just what it sounds like - soup mix that I make and store in jars for nights when I haven't planned any dinner.  Healthier than any pre-made soup mix you might buy off the shelf, and just as convenient.  I keep several of them on hand, because they are not only easy, healthy dinners for my family, but great to grab for a hostess gift, a housewarming gift, a hey-you-just-had-a-baby-and-aren't-sleeping-and-can't-see-straight-much-less-make-dinner gift.

Here is how it goes:

I take a half pint canning jar, and in it I layer 1/4 cup of split peas:

And on top of those I add 1/8 cup of chicken boullion:

1/8 cup of pearl barley:

1/4 cup of dry lentils:

1/8 cup of onion flakes:

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning:

and 1/4 cup white rice:

If I have some time on my hands (hahahahahahahahaha... phew, thanks.  I needed that!)... oh, where was I?  Right.  If I have some time on my hands (snort) I will line all my little jars up and make a soup jar assembly line.  

When I have the rice in, I slap a lid on it and stuff it in my pantry until a night when I have nothing planned for dinner.  The end result, by the way, looks like this:

Isn't that cute?!  Yes.  Yes it is.

When that night comes that I have nothing planned, I pull out the following ingredients:

I have the soup mix, a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes, and a 1/2 - 1 pound of meat.  I use smoked turkey sausage.  Pretty much any meat will work in here, but trust me when I say that smoked sausage is the way to go.  YUM!

From there, it couldn't be easier.  Slice the sausage:

Put the sliced sausage in a large pot with a can of tomatoes, the soup mix, and 6 cups of water:

That's it.  Bring it to a boil, turn down and cover, and simmer for 45 minutes.

Then add my favorite ingredient - pasta.  Any pasta will do.  Alphabet pasta, macaroni, shells, or these:

Those puppies are Trader Joe's Mini Ravioli.  The. Best.


Add about 1/4 cup of the pasta, and simmer for another 15 or 20 minutes.  Then eat it.  Careful, it's been cooking for a bit so it's like lava at this point.  

So, I bet you are hoping for a picture of this soup when it's all finished, right?

Well I don't have one.  I was so ready to eat, and the family just sat down and ate, before I even thought to snap a single photo of the finished product.  It wasn't until I was in a full blown food coma that I realized I probably should have taken a photo.  Sorry about that.  Would it help if I promise to take a pic the next time I make this?  

So there you go.  If you are like me and pretty sure that the zombie apocalypse is right around the corner, this is a great one to keep stocked on your shelves.  Never know when a hearty soup might come in handy. 

Just kidding about the zombie apocalypse. Sort of.

What is your favorite soup recipe?  Can it be made and kept for a day when you really need it?


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