Wednesday, May 22, 2013
I am a rag mop girl. Really. I prefer the old time rag mops to anything on the market today. I just feel they do a better job. Yes, you get your hands wet. It's not the end of the world. But ever since moving into a new place, I've struggled with keeping the 'engineered wood flooring' clean without stripping it of its protective surface.
I broke down the other day and bought a knock-off Swiffer and wet mopping floor cloths. For two reasons- 1) my kitchen is small and 2) the rag mop doesn't get into the corners well without me having to rag-in- hand-and-knee them clean. Pain in the arse. Or lower back. You choose.
Now as we all know, I love nature. I love earthy and wood and fire and water. However, this doesn't extend to flowers. Or rather, flower smells. Ok, so I like walking in nature and breathing in all the scents together. It's stress-reducing and invigorating. But individually? Not so much. I've never been a flower person. I like the idea of receiving flowers, but not the practical application (they're going to die in three days- why did you give me death???) I much prefer a flowering plant or a single flower (that can be saved and preserved in a scrapbook) to a dozen costly pretty red roses of death.
But I digress.
So- I broke down and bought the wet mop cloths. First off, in my ignorance, I didn't realize it was even scented until I opened the package at home. THAT'S how ignorant I was of the whole Swiffer style. (I hear they've been around since 1999. Imagine that.)
Once I opened it, I immediately looked at the box.. It said, 'Clean Fresh Scent!' argh...but I went with it. Alrighty then. And I proceeded to mop my kitchen floor. It worked incredibly well on the engineered wood floor. And I was able to get into the corners to my satisfaction. I did notice their description of a 'clean, fresh scent' was a little off. It smelled more like flowers on a hot, humid day.
Except, for the rest of the day, every time I walked into the kitchen I smelled flowers. I thought, "huh. this doesn't bode well.'
And the next morning. I walked into the kitchen.....and smelled flowers.
EWWWW.....yuck. gross. I can't handle that.
And because of this, I thought, I wonder if I can change the smell instead of going back to the store and trying to exchange something that works perfectly well, I just don't like the way it smells.???
I googled. I searched. I Pinterested. Nada. Zip. Zilch. I did find a way to make your own cleaning solution for the WetJet. But I didn't have a wetjet thingy. I just had the wet mop clothes in a plastic box.
Well, I decided to try my hand at making a new smell / cleaning solution for the mopping clothes I already had. And was I amazed it worked!
Here's what I did:
Rinse. Rinse. and rinse some more.
Basically, I took the top off the moping cloths box, and poured in hot water. Let sit a minute, then poured it out. I did this about 10 times. No joke. Apparently, they really like to 'scent' their stuff.
When I could barely smell their 'fresh clean scent' any longer, I got to working on MY scent.
I decided why reinvent the wheel? I adapted the wetjet recipe from the link above. Except- that recipe used a 50-50 mix of water to vinegar. And I had to make sure that the vinegar was involved, but not overpowering. So I used a 1:2 ratio. I used 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar to 1/2 cup water.
Then I added 20 drops of essential oil (in my case, I used cedarwood) and stirred really, really well. Pour immediately over the rinse mop cloths and you're done.
I then used one cloth and mopped my floor. Ahhhh....immediately a light, cedarwood scent filled my kitchen, my floor got clean, and no streaks! And if the scent lingers like the bad flower smell did, I'm okay with that because I like this scent!
However, I really dislike the disposable nature of the wet cloths, so I'm going to work on making my own. Something I can use and toss into the washer. I've read you can use cheap chenille socks for sweeping. But they don't exactly fit into the plastic container for wet mopping.
Overall, I would call this a WIN!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
I've always considered myself a naturalist. I prefer woods, fires, water and earth to anything man-made. The earth was made to provide everything we need in which to survive. Yes, even the animals for food. I could never be a vegetarian. Not because I disagree with them, but because I really prefer meat to veggies. Nothing beats a good piece of bacon!
However, when it comes to my health, I try to be as natural and earthy as possible.
I much prefer eating pineapple to sooth my tummy than taking a slimy pink muck that tastes like chalk.
|Chamomile and Peppermint tinctures|
So, I read. And I read a lot. I take in as many resources and references to herbs that I can at any given time, and not jumble to information around in my head. One does have to be careful with information on the interwebs, though. Not all of it is accurate or true.
I've ordered books on natural herbs and tinctures and home health. I would much rather take something all-natural I made myself, than pop a pill full of chemical-laden ingredients I know not what they do.
With this in mind- here are a couple tinctures I've made, and what they are used for. Feel free to make your own. They are simple, easy, natural and economical. Please keep in mind that some tinctures work faster than OTC pills, and that's because the OTC version are concentrated to work in a certain way. Herbal remedies, including tinctures, usually do take a bit longer to work. But in my experience, end up working better with less side effects. (There's no need to take a second pill to counteract the unwanted side-effects of the first pill when you use tinctures and natural remedies.)
A tincture is an herb steeped in a solution, usually grain alcohol, for a set amount of time and then used by dropperful to alleviate symptoms. Of course, symptoms could be reduced or eliminated altogether if a person eats the right foods and avoids the bad ones. But where's the fun in that all the time? (Side note- I do eat healthy, homemade foods and very little processed food. Processed is bad! Minimal processing is OK as a lot of food must be minimally processed, like cheese.)
Chamomile is a naturally calming herb usually found in teas. Most people use Chamomile to improve sleep, calm nerves, add to relaxation, relieve headaches, reduce menstrual cramps, settle the stomach or even calm fussy babies.
A jar with a tight fitting lid. I use Mason jars.
Fresh herbs (or dried)
80 proof grain alcohol. I use vodka.
NOTE- If using fresh herbs, the above is all you need. If you choose to use dried herbs, you'll need boiling water to pour over the dried herbs to release the oils and essence of the herb.
NOTE-NOTE- I use 80 proof grain alcohol. Some herbalists use 100 proof. I find that using such a high proof damages the delicate leaves of herbs and their flowers.
Label the jar with the herb, and add the date equal to 6-weeks in the future.
Put fresh herbs into the jar. You'll need about 1 cup of herbs.
(If using dried herbs, pour about 1 cup boiling water over the herbs and let set about 5 minutes.)
Pour 1 cup alcohol over the herbs (yes, same amount of water if you're using dried herbs)
Cover tightly. Shake. Set in semi-dark location where you will remember to shake the jar every day (or at least every other day) until 6 weeks is up.
Using a second jar (preferably an amber or blue jar to keep light out), Label with the current date and name of herb tincture- then strain tincture through cheesecloth, paper towel or coffee filter into labelled dark jar.
The process is much the same for any herbal tincture you make. The basics are: you want enough alcohol to cover the herb fully. You don't want to pack the herb tightly. It should be able to move freely when shaken. Use boiling water to release a dried herbs oils. Label label label! and shake daily.
You can also make double and triple tinctures. You do this much the same way you made the original tincture, except you use the existing tincture as your alcohol base.
HOW TO USE CHAMOMILE TINCTURE:
The basic dosage is 1 teaspoon for adults, one to three times a day.
For toddlers or children use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon.
For infants use a couple drops only, preferably on their gums.
The alcohol taste can be masked by adding to a beverage like hot tea. Some people prefer adding a pinch of sugar to the teaspoon to help mask the taste.
I also make Thyme tincture. It's awesome for acne! Proven better than OTC medications and creams.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
A friend of mine went to a cozy Mexican restaurant near where she lives and told me about this dish. I've never tried it, nor have I been to that particular establishment. But the dish sounded intriguing.
I asked her to send me the pictures she took, and anything she could remember about the dish.
My parameters were-
- Cooked in a pineapple
- Name of it was Pina Ranchera
- Had steak, chicken, shrimp and chorizo, with onions, red peppers and banana peppers topped with Chihuahua cheese.
That's all I had to go on. It took me a minute (or 70) to realize that it wasn't adobo sauce my friend was describing, it was ranchero sauce....as in the name Pina Ranchera.
And I had none. I had adobo, but no ranchero. So I also had to set out and make my own ranchero sauce.
So- here's what I did:
I used half a LARGE can of diced tomatoes (ranchero sauce is traditionally roasted tomatoes, but I had no tomatoes at the time). Tossed them into a small pot on the stove. Added a teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of cumin (in retrospect, I should have gone with 1 or 1.5 tsp cumin). Cooked that until hot. Used a blender and blended it till smooth.
Added the ranchero sauce to the meat mixture, filled the pineapples-
added Oaxaca cheese and baked at 400 for 20 minutes, then broiled the tops for 10 minutes.
Done. Add shredded lettuce and sliced tomato for presentation. And the pineapple gives it a *hint* of sweetness without being overpowering.
You can even eat the pineapple as a 'dessert' when you're done with the meal. Of course, I couldn't. I could barely finish one. Grau ended up eating his and the second half of mine. He's such a keeper!
Friday, March 22, 2013
I came across a recipe for stromboli many, many years ago. Me being me, I had to alter the recipe because well, there were things in it I just didn't like. What you find below is my wonderful concoction.
I used to make my version of Stromboli at least once a week. The kids loved it, and if their friends knew I was making it, they were there, too! It's a big hit with everyone. It's like having chicken parmesan and garlic bread all rolled into one. Enjoy!
|Chicken Parmesan Stromboli|
CHICKEN PARMESAN STROMBOLI
1 really large chicken breast (or two small), sliced in half lengthwise, cooked and diced.
1/2 jar any type Marinara sauce (I make my own, but I started out using store-bought)
8 ozs Shredded Mozzarella
6 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
4 ozs Shredded Parmesan (use the shredded, as the grated tends to mush-up the sauce too much)
1 tsp + 1 pinch Italian Seasoning (again, I make my own, but use whatever you wish)
1 loaf frozen Rhodes Bread, thawed
Set the frozen dough out the morning you plan to cook this. Coat with a tad bit of olive oil so it doesn't develop a crust, and let rise for 4 hours (give or take). Once ready to roll, preheat oven to 350- then roll dough out into largest rectangle you can muster. It doesn't have to be perfect. I usually make mine about 1/4" thick and around a 9" x 6" (or 8") rectangle.
Place a little bit of shredded mozzarella lengthwise down the center of dough.
Add diced cooked chicken.
Add diced garlic (if you want toasted garlic, toss it in some olive oil and heat in a pan for a couple minutes prior to adding on top of the chicken.
Add Shredded Parmesan. I like to use the three cheese blend. At least until Grau learns how to make asiago and romano, that is. :)
Add marinara sauce. For this tutorial, I just used a generic bottled spaghetti sauce. It still tastes fabulous!
Then add the rest of the shredded Mozzarella on top. As you can tell, I added the spices on top of the mozzarella:
Then you wan to fold the sides IN:
Then fold the top DOWN:
And then fold the bottom UP:
I like to flip my stromboli over at this point. But do it carefully. I put parchment paper down and roll the stromboli over the top of it until it sits in the middle of the parchment paper, and the bread seam is on the bottom. Add a little Olive oil, parmesan and a pinch of spices to the top and make a couple 'breathing' holes:
Bake at 350 until the bread is nice and golden. Let sit about 5 minutes or so before cutting open.
Serve warm with a nice salad.
You can add spinach, or any number of other items to this dish. Really it is that versatile!
Have fun with it!
Monday, March 18, 2013
Have you heard about the Common Core problem? Basically, it's an initiative between the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers meant to 'prepare our children for college and the workforce'. Sounds great, right? Not so fast.
Apparently, this Common Core Initiative has circumvented the Legislature Branch and comes straight from the Executive Branch (funded by Obama's Stimulus package) to bribe states into constructing 'longitudinal data systems (LDS) to collect data on public-school students." Common Core's technological project is "merely one part of a much broader plan by the federal government to track individuals from birth through their participation in the workforce."
Figure it out yet?
What they are doing is tracking your child.
Health care history. Income information. Religious affiliation. Nicknames. Bus stop times. Disciplinary history Voting status. Blood type. And whether or not your child finished their homework.
Invasive enough for you? Over 400 data points they want collected! And the possible methods? Creepy.
Oh, and not only did money for this invasion of privacy program come from Obama's stimulus, it also came from grants from the Gates Foundation. Yup- Bill & Melinda Gates are getting in on the action too. Oh, and so is Google. And even a division of the conservative Rupert Murdoch's News Corp built the database infrastructure. A non-profit start-up, inBloom, Inc. will operate this database and monitor everything from health-care history to voter registration status and homework completion.
And the way the initiative is written, parental permission to track your child is not needed. Nope. The way it is worded, (because the DEA went behind Congress's back to alter the FERPA privacy laws) they only need permission from an 'authorized representative' or 'specified officials for audit or evaluation purposes.'
School districts and state governments are pimping out highly personal data. From Michelle Malkin:
Edu-tech nosy-bodies are using the Common Core assessment boondoggle as a Trojan horse to collect and crunch massive amounts of personal student data for their own social justice or moneymaking ends. Reminder: Nine states have entered into contracts with inBloom: Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Louisiana and New York. Countless other vendors are salivating at the business possibilities in exploiting public school students.
Do you want you child's personal information bought and sold online?
No- then there is a way to opt-out.
Ask for it.
A grass-roots movement is springing up across the country to stop this massive information data collection.
Oklahoma's House of Representatives (HB 1989) recently unanimously voted to prohibit the release of confidential student data. (Go Go Oklahoma!)
Go- now- download the opt-out form. Get knowledgeable about what is going on. Then stop it.
Unless you like your information and privacy...not so private.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
I haven't gone anywhere. I'm still here. I know you've been wondering lately if I've fallen off a cliff or something, right?
Well, I am still here. All the standards still apply- I've been busy. School is taking up a lot of my time. yadda yadda yadda.
I could tell you about the yummy salsa I canned today. Oh so delicious and easy! Or maybe about the 1950's style corn relish I canned? Bright and sweet and tangy!
Or I could tell you about my fabulous slow-cooked Apricot Mustard Ham I have in the oven?
Maybe I've just been lazy?
Maybe it's not that at all.
|Photo by Jennifer Moore|
Basically, I find it hard to keep up with the blog. I'm not sure whether I am losing interest, or just going through a down cycle concerning the blog. I don't know.
Who knows. Maybe I'll start another blog with a totally different theme to invigorate my brain and capture my attention?
Maybe I won't.
It's all still up in the air right now.
How are YOU doing?
Sunday, February 3, 2013
Okay- so if you've seen one chocolate covered strawberry, you've seen them all, right? Not so! Some have dark chocolate. Some have white chocolate. Some have drizzles of both. And what a decadent treat, right? The tangy sweetness of fresh, ripe strawberries with the creamy warmth of smooth chocolate....
ah, the cravings are getting to me already. How about you? Okay- go...get your strawberries. I'll wait.
Got them? Okay. Now. I'm going to tell you something that will change your life forever. Are you ready for it? Here it comes-
Yes! Hallelujah and sing to the sky, you have been saved from boring strawberries!
Oh.My.Goodness! Doesn't that look divine? And just absolutely mouth watering, sweet and savory and seriously? Better than sex. Okay, not really because sex is pretty grand. But these are close. These are redemption on a stick. These are surprise your boss at work to get a raise. These are finding all the matches to your socks in the same load!
Yes, they are that fabulous.
I bet you can't wait to hear how I did this, right? Well, it was a labor of love. No, really...okay. So that's not entirely true. It was basically being tired of plain ol' chocolate covered strawberries and needing something to take to a superbowl party. I know it's traditional to take food, mini-meal kind of thing. But I thought, why not do a dessert? Why not make something light and refreshing and then smother it with hundreds of fattening calories! Yes!
So I did. And the result of my invention is the Strawberry S'more on a Stick!
Behold- the goodness- Love the berry- Savor the chocolate- Crunch the marshmallow!
And to be plainly honest- they were a breeze to make. A tad time consuming. But easy. And the best part? My father is writing a cookbook- and asked me to come up with recipes so I made up this dessert for him! He's going to feature it in his book! How awesome is that?
Strawberry S'mores on a Stick
2 pounds Fresh Strawberries (small to medium sized)
1 package Semi-Sweet Special Dark Chocolate Chips.
2 Tbs Shortening
1 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs (in shallow bowl)
1 Jar Marshmallow Fluff stuff
Blow torch or gas burner stove
Begin by placing toothpicks into the stem ends of your strawberries.
Place chocolate and shortening together in microwave safe bowl. Zap on medium-high for 30 seconds. Stir and zap for another 30 seconds and stir. Continue until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Dip strawberries into chocolate.
Shake off excess chocolate, then dip into graham cracker crumbs:
Then place on waxed paper to set up (about 2 hours):
Once set up, grab your spoon and cover the tip of your dipped strawberry in the marshmallow fluff- Don't try to dip the strawberry into it....the fluff just steals all the chocolate and graham crumbs. Trust me.
Use a spoon, and then wet your finger and smooth the marshmallow around your strawberry:
Immediately hand your strawberry to your partner and have him blow torch the marshmallow. No partner? That's okay- you can use the torch yourself (watch your digits! Don't burn them!) or use the gas burner on your stove. You get the same result:
Once you torched your strawberry, place it on clean waxed paper to set, once again.
Now, you might think about skipping the marshmallow part. And that's okay, too. You can. Your berries will look like so:
And they are perfectly tasty like that.
But trust me when I say that adding the marshmallow and toasting them just pushes this treat over the top. It's like doing something you didn't think you could adrenaline rush GOOD!
You do it any way you wish. Don't let me influence you....
But a word of caution- once you chocolate dip the strawberries - do not refrigerate them. The coldness might cause condensation on the chocolate, and or when you take them out of the fridge, the chocolate could go soft and not re-harden properly. Unless of course, you plan to eat them cold. Then I guess it wouldn't matter.
And don't do the marshmallow torching until just before you plan to serve these little red jewels, because the marshmallow 'sinks' in a way. And you want these babies to be bright, and perky and gorgeous for the unveiling of your talent! Seriously. You are good. Take the compliment. :)
Have fun with it.
And look for my father's cookbook to be out in about a year. I'll let you know when it's on the shelves!