Just about every morning for the past 12 years, I’ve had a green smoothie for breakfast. When I was running the rat race in Big D, my smoothie saved me from crashing and burning when Lunchtime was so sporadic that I sometimes had to rename it Early Dinner. Although I am no longer spending my life in traffic, I still rely on my morning smoothie to help me out in the trenches of Homeschooling.
I’m on a mission to feel better and have more energy and so far, it’s working! I have been doing yoga on a regular basis and fitting a little running in when time allows, but mostly, I’ve been making healthier food choices. Over the last few years, I have fallen into a bad habit of letting lunchtime get the best of me. We homeschool so we can exercise healthy food choices, but we don’t always do it. Some days we are knee-deep in schoolwork and don’t allow for a real lunch break. We eat while discussing our latest math concept or history timeline. That’s not always a bad thing, but doing these things over sandwiches and chips is not so great.
I’m not knocking sandwiches. They are what you make them. For the chips, I have no strong argument. I will say, there was a time in my life I didn’t eat chips. I never even bought them. Five years ago, after discovering the need to eat a gluten-free diet, I began substituting the wheat snack crackers I once enjoyed with chips. What was I thinking? I wasn’t. It wasn’t thinking about the extra fat and empty calories until the extra pounds began layering themselves on my person. It isn’t a daily thing, but I put chips on my plate more often than I care to admit and my thighs are angry about it. They’re not gonna take it anymore! (You’re singing Twisted Sister in your head right now, aren’t you? Sorry.) Continue reading “Healthy Lunch Ideas”→
As Spring is quickly making way for Summer, I find that I am needing a push to get to the end of our homeschool year. So much has been happening, seemingly all at once, and I feel the need to detox and renew. I also feel the need for a long vacation, but that’s not happening anytime soon.
I’m not talking about the need to wring out my liver, although after the large family get-together we just had, that shoe might fit. What I need is gentle and natural approach to clearing out what is slowing me down and zapping my desperately needed energy. Continue reading “Natural Ways to Detox”→
I love yoga. I love yoga. I love yoga. I almost typed “I love Yoda.” That’s a totally different love, and a little weird, but one I will not deny. I just want to put him in a baby sling and carry him around all day while he dispenses sage advice. He might not appreciate being treated like an infant. Maybe a piggyback is more his speed. That post is for another day.
Today, I’m feeling the love of yoga.
I have been practicing it on and off for over 20 years. Lately, it’s more off than on. Whenever I start up after a hiatus, I always look back and wonder why on earth I ever put it on hold. Nothing feels better than beginning and ending the day with core-strengthening and muscle-lengthening stretches. It makes all the chaos of the world manageable, invites deep sleep and helps define a time for prayer, so that I can go about my life in a state of rest and reassurance. Why not do something that awesome everyday?
Because life gets in the way sometimes, that’s why. It shouldn’t get in the way of being healthy since ignoring your health will shorten and diminish your quality of life. I’m guilty of putting my health on the back burner. You?
For me, yoga happens at home when I can fit it in between teaching, cleaning, cooking, sewing, gardening and blogging, among other obligations. I enjoy yoga mat simplicity, but I sometimes feel I’m missing out on some deep stretching and strengthening.
Because I’m over forty and don’t want to feel like it, I’m trying to be good about taking care of myself. Just about every morning for the past 10 years, I have a green smoothie for breakfast. It’s a good start, but lately, I’ve been adding Matcha green tea powder to it for an added energy and I love the calm boost it gives me in the morning. Because I like this boost, I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate it into other foods.
One delicious way to consume more matcha is to make a healthy, vegan Shamrock Shake. It’s loaded with goodies and tastes like chocolate-mint ice cream!
Ice cream for breakfast! I’ll do it. I’m not afraid.
As I was browsing the internets, I came across some convincing reasons to consume matcha. Because I want us all to enjoy good health, and jiggle less, I’m sharing the love.
This happens to me all the time. I’ll be in the middle of my prayers and suddenly a random thought crashes through the front gates of my mind like a runaway train and steals all my concentration as it leaves.
I have used prayer holding crosses with some good results in the past, but they didn’t get me deeply into where I wanted to be.
As I was reading “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert, I remembered I once saw some Christian prayer beads, sometimes called Protestant prayer beads, that caught my attention. Since I’m Methodist and not Catholic, I have never used a rosary in prayer, but I like the idea of a tool that helps guide the way through prayer.
This post contains affiliate links. Whenever you click on a link and purchase anything at all, I receive a small compensation. This helps the hive to thrive. Thank you!
I’m not mentioning any names, but one of my dear family members brought a cold virus into my safe haven. Last week, everyone else in the house was miserable, except for me. I was the last one standing.
This morning, I awoke with scratchy throat that was dying to betray me.
I can’t get sick. I’m a homeschool mom. If I get sick, it can turn into Lord of the Flies around here pretty quickly. So, I turned to kitchen from which all things comforting and good come and made an herbal cough syrup to sooth my ravaged throat.
Last month, I ordered some bulk herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs to help heal us when we are sick and avoid over-the-counter medications whenever possible.
Say what?! How can peanut sauce not have peanuts? By simple definition, it would be a sauce made with, or containing, peanuts.
Not in this house, it doesn’t. And…it’s gluten-free!
Three of my four children are peanut allergic so “peanut” is a four-letter word in our house. Yes, I know the word peanut actually has six letters, but you know what I mean. Or, maybe you don’t. Maybe I’m confusing you. I’m confusing myself. It happens all the time.
Before I completely loose my marbles, let me pass along one of the tastiest UNpeanut sauce recipes that I have ever tasted. I should have titled this post “Unpeanut Sauce”. That way people would be buzzing about the new unpeanut sauce in town. It’d be all the rage. I’m sure it would go viral.
To clarify, I have tried many different variations of sauces to mimic peanut sauce for my gluten-free chicken imperial roll recipe, which was recently pinned by BlogHer on Pinterest, by the way (*cough*shameless plug). Actually, they pinned the old blog post, but whatever, I’ll take it!
Since sunflower seed butter is our go-to replacement for peanut butter, I tried subbing it, but the sauce always fell short of my expectations. For the most part, I settled into thinking I would be stuck with only plum sauce in which to dunk the delicious rolls.
Last night, I was a woman on a mission. I blended and tweaked until I came up something that took me back in time to my peanut-eating glory days!
I didn’t take pictures of the process because it was really very simple. I threw all the ingredients in a regular mason jar, screwed on the blender blade and ring and let it whirl. I did stop once to scrape the sunflower seed butter off the sides and then blended it again.
Here’s what you need to make the “unpeanut” sauce:
2/3 c. gluten-free soy sauce or tamari
2 TBSP. rice vinegar
2 TBSP. apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. grated ginger
1/4 c. brown sugar
2/3 c. sunflower seed butter
Sriracha to taste*
Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth and there are no visible chunks of garlic.
*If you have many people in your home with varying tastes for spicy, the Sriracha can be left out of the original blend. When serving, add a dollop of Sriracha on top of the sauce in individual bowls.
Serve it up with these lovely rolls, which were pinned by Blogher on Pinterest. Did ya hear?
When I tell people I make my own soap, I’m sure many of them think it’s a waste of time. After all, soap is readily available in just about every grocery, drug, convenience and dollar store and it’s inexpensive. So why do I make my own? I’m glad you asked.
Your skin is your largest organ. Some adults carry around 8 pounds or about 22 square feet of it. While it does a good job at regulating temperatures and keeping our insides on the inside, it’s porous, and that means it is penetrable. Some of the stuff we put on the surface of our skin can make it’s way into our bodies. If you are not convinced, think about the medication patch delivery system.
Because my girls suffer from food allergies and psoriasis, we spend more time than I would like traveling to and fro and sitting in the office of our allergist. On his advice, we have been removing fragrances from the cleaning, laundry and toiletry supplies we use. We have completely omitted dryer sheets (replaced with dryer balls) and said sayonara to store-bought liquid fabric softener in favor of homemade fabric softener and cleaning concentrate. Our cleaning supplies are baking soda, vinegar and a few essential oils like tea tree and eucalyptus. When extra cleaning power is needed, I break out the big guns like borax and washing soda.
Now, back to why I make my own soap. I don’t know what is in the mass-produced soap. The “fragrance” on the list of ingredients doesn’t have to be disclosed. It can be a dangerous cocktail of chemicals that have been linked to cancer and phthalates that can lead to asthma and allergies. Not in my bath water. No thanks.
If you are a homeschooling family, like we are, a lesson in soap-making is a great way to connect chemistry and real life. Do a unit study of organic chemistry and make something useful in the process. Embrace your inner geek! We all have one!
There are other goat’s milk soaps on the market that are safe and lovely, but at 5-6 dollars a bar, it’s not doable for my family of six.
So that’s why I make my own soap. I get to design the soap with the cleansing, lathering and moisturizing properties I want. Fragrance and color can be added by using essential oils and natural pigments. Although, my favorite unscented “scent” comes naturally from goat’s milk and honey.
Here’s how it came to be.
A few years ago, I made my very first batch of cold-process soap. It was unscented and made with goat’s milk. It was mild and even though it did not contain any added fragrance, it smelled heavenly. There is something about the scent of goat’s milk when it “cooks” in the soap that I find irresistible. If you don’t have any idea what I mean, then you need this soap in your life!
Today, because I needed mild soap and didn’t want to wait, I made that same goat’s milk soap by the hot process method. This is the first time I have used this method and I have to say, I’m a convert. You see, with the cold process method the bars require a curing period to make sure that the oils are completely saponified and the lye is no longer present. The curing period can last for several weeks and is difficult if you want it now! With the hot process method, the lye “cooks” away in the crock pot (yes, you can make soap in the crock pot!) and the soap is ready to use in as little as 12 hours.
I want my soap now! My winter-ravaged skin needs it. I’ll bet many of you feel the same way, so I’ll tell you how I did it!
You will need:
a kitchen scale that measures ounces or grams
spoon for stirring
glass container for mixing milk and lye
olive oil (22.4 ounces or 635.029 grams)
coconut oil (8.96 ounces or 254.012 grams)
castor oil (0.64 ounces or 18.144 grams)
goat’s milk (12.16 ounces or 344.73 grams)
honey (2 Tbsp)
lye (4.521 ounces or 128.158 grams)
pH strips (or phenolphthalein )
You also need 2 Pringles cans to use as molds (my kids thought I was the bees knees for buying Pringles) or a soap mold that accommodates 2 pounds of soap.
Warning: Lye is a caustic substance. Failure to follow safety precautions and to wear proper safety gear can result in injury.
This recipe is for two pounds of soap. It fills two Pringles cans about 3/4 of the way. It’s important to note that Pringles can may only be used during the hot-process soap method because the soap being put into the cans is already soap. Do not use Pringles cans with cold-process soap as it still contains lye until it is cured.
Safety first: If you make any changes to the oils, run your oils of choice through a soap calculator. SoapCalc.net is the one I used.
When using goat’s milk or any other milk in soap making, it must be ice cold to keep the sugars from caramelizing too much and creating an off-putting scent. On the morning I make soap, I measure out the amount of milk needed for the recipe into a container and place it in the freezer. Within a couple of hours, the milk is slushy and ready for the lye.
Weigh each oil and place in the crock pot on low. While the oils are melting, measure out your lye (I used a disposable paper cup). Be sure to wear your safety goggles, mask and gloves when handling lye.
Turn off the crock pot when the oils have melted.
Transfer your slushy goat’s milk into a large glass measuring cup, or pitcher. Wearing all you safety gear (long sleeves are a good idea here, too) sprinkle the lye slowly into the milk and stir gently until completely dissolved. I add the lye to the liquid outside to avoid breathing in any fumes. I recommend doing this. Always.
Safety note: (This post is full of them!) Never pour your liquids into the lye. It can make a very dangerous volcano-like situation.
Once the lye is fully dissolved in the milk, slowly pour into the oils. Stir gently with a spoon to mix, then break out the stick blender! I wouldn’t think of making soap without one. I’m pretty sure by the time I stirred the oil/milk/lye mixture to trace, my arms would fall off. I’m pretty attached to my arms, so I use a stick blender. You should, too.
With the stick blender, immersion blender or whatever you want to call it (call it Hank, if you want) blend until the mixture looks like a soft-set pudding. This is called “trace” because your blender (or Hank) will leave a trace of a trail when pulled through the mixture. This stage usually takes 8-12 minutes, depending on the oils being used.
When trace happens, turn on the crock pot to low and cover with the lid. I offset the lid slightly so the heat stays in, but the lid does cause condensation.
As the soap cooks, it will bubble along the edges. Stir with a spoon occasionally to keep the mixture cooking evenly. While cooking, the soap mixture looks like applesauce. Resist the temptation to taste it. When the soap is ready, it will resemble waxy mashed potatoes. At this point, use a pH test strip to make sure the lye is cooked out. Remove a small blob of soap mixture and test it with your pH strips or phenolphthalein, whichever one you’re using. Your goal is a pH of 8.2-10. Some soap makers use the zap test. If lye is still present, the soap will zap your tongue like a 9-volt battery. When the soap is fully cooked, it just tastes like soap. Using pH strips or phenolphthalein is more accurate and the recommended way to go. Do that.
This recipe took about an hour and 15 minutes to cook.
When you have determined that your soap is fully cooked, turn off the crock pot and add the honey.
Stir until the honey is fully incorporated. If using any other additives, such as coloring or essential oils, add them at this point.
Spoon the mixture into the Pringles cans. (You do not need to line them with parchment or freezer paper. Beautiful, isn’t it?) Work quickly and tap the cans on the counter occasionally to avoid air bubbles. Fill the cans no more than 3/4 of the way. You need a little space to cut and tear the can away when the soap has hardened.
The soap needs at least 12 hours to cool and harden in the molds. When ready to unmold, take a sharp knife and cut straight down and then tear the can off the rest of the way. Slice into bars.
Congratulations! You made soap!
I usually let my bars sit on a wire rack to continue to harden after I cut them into bars. By allowing them to dry out, they last longer in the shower.
This recipe yields 12-14 bars (3/4″-1″ in thickness).
As soon as I force more Pringles on my kids and the youth group (or I make my own wooden soap mold), I’ll be making more soap in the crock pot. I’m see Lime-Basil or Lavender-Mint in my near future!
What about you? I’m curious. What is your favorite soap scent?
(I am also curious how many people have the urge to watch “Fight Club” after making soap. Is it just me? Please tell me I’m not alone.)