Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Update: Strawberry Patch

I just wanted to post a picture of one of our first ripe strawberries!  They are so juicy and sweet! Athan has eaten a few already and I'm happy I got a chance to take a picture of this one before we picked it. 

Jumbo Salads - A Litchfield Favorite

John and I love big, fresh salads for dinner. We probably have this meal at least once a week. 90% of the time we make them with quinoa, but I didn't have any left, so I used organic brown rice as a base instead.  I also cooked up 2 large organic portobello mushroom caps that I found on Manager's Special (Kroger) for $2.19 and mixed that in with the rice for some extra veggies and flavor.

Our garden is producing some amazing greens this time of year- we are swimming in spinach, kale, and many different varieties of lettuce. This meal is great for enjoying fresh garden greens!

1 cup uncooked organic quinoa or organic brown rice (cook according to directions)
2 large organic portobello mushroom caps (sliced)
organic spinach
organic lettuce
organic kale
organic sprouted Mung Beans (I will write a how-to post soon!)
avocado chunks
sesame sticks
raw organic sunflower seeds
raw organic pumpkin seeds

Directions- Cook rice or quinoa and set aside. Cook mushrooms on medium heat with coconut oil, black pepper, and a few small splashes of Braggs Liquid Aminos.

Combine cooked rice and mushrooms and heap into two large bowls. You'll want the bowls to be big because this is a large meal by volume (The bowls in the pictures don't look big but they are - one is a serving bowl and the other a Pyrex bowl; both hold about 2 quarts each).

Fluff washed greens on top of rice/mushroom mixture. Sprinkle nuts, sprouted beans, sesame sticks, and avocado on top (you can also add shredded carrots or small chunks of baked sweet potato). Enjoy with favorite salad dressing.

We enjoyed this salad with Annie's Goddess Dressing. We also love having these jumbo salads with my "dupe" for Annie's Woodstock Dressing which can be found HERE or an Easy Strawberry Balsamic Salad Dressing which can be found HERE.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Jessica Simpson Heels

I love Jessica Simpson shoes & clothing. I just seem to gravitate towards her designs and color choices. My friend, Gina, and I were out thrift store shopping and she found these very lightly worn heels! I tried them on, they fit perfectly, so I bought them for $4.50! What a score (thanks Gina)! Using a soft cloth, I cleaned them with a water/vinegar/essential oil mixture and then put them out in the sun for a few days.

Side Note: I purchased the jeans in the top photo a few weeks back at a thrift store as well. They are Express Design Studio- Editor Stretch. They were capri pants that had a slight flare at the calf. I've noticed that this style doesn't flatter me as well as a pair of above the knee shorts, so I asked my friend, who also tailors my clothing, if she could lop off a bit and make the capris into shorts. Viola! Amanda worked her magic and the above picture shows the result.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Vegan Pie

This is one of my go-to recipes for a chocolate dessert.  I've been making this for years and I don't remember where I found this recipe (this is not my recipe).

People always comment on how tasty this pie is (I never tell them there is tofu in it until after they eat it!)

1 package of Mori-Nu Silken Tofu (sometimes I use 1.5 packages) This tofu is not refrigerated. I have found the refrigerated tofu to have a funny taste if used in this recipe.

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
3/4 package of 12 oz vegan chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips in the gold bag).
1/2 to 1 cup of Smuckers creamy Peanut Butter (add to taste)
1 Arrow Head Mills graham cracker pie crust

Directions- Blend tofu and vanilla extract in a blender or food processor until silky smooth (I like using the food processor better). Heat chocolate chips over low- medium heat on the stove top and stir constantly so that the chocolate doesn't burn. Add desired amount of PB to melted chocolate. Stir well.
Spoon out chocolate/PB mixture into the food processor (or blender) where the tofu is chillin' and blend everything together. Once it is really whipped up well, scoop out into the graham cracker crust and smooth over the top. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I like to let mine sit overnight. It becomes really thick, almost like a fudge pie. *Nom nom nom nom nom= me making cookie monster like noises!

This is not a good choice if you are trying to lose weight or avoiding sugar. It is vegan but certainly not healthy (a lot of sugar in it). As a special treat, I think this is a great dessert to bring to a party or have on a special occasion.

If you have never bought any of the ingredients I've mentioned above, here are some images to help you locate them in the store:

Friday, May 24, 2013

Spring Time Nails: Pretty Pink Sparkles

I found this vegan nail polish at TJMaxx for $3.99! SpaRitual is sold at my local health food store for around $12, so I wanted to scoop this up.  $3.99 is such a good deal! SpaRitual nail colors are vegan and "three free" meaning they don't contain Formaldehyde, Dibutyl Phthalate, or Toluene (three icky chemicals found in many run-of-the-mill nail colors).

The polish didn't last very long on my nails (I've been washing dishes without rubber gloves- *shame on me*).  The color, Knowledge Diamond Glitter, was super cute while it lasted though.

Below is a picture of the same polish from a blog called Lipglossiping.com (the image is not mine). Okay, so the blogger's nails are long, gorgeous, and she probably put 4 coats of the color on (I only put 2 coats). But doesn't the color look cool?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Strawberry Patch

I purchased a cute little strawberry plant at my local farmers market last year and planted it in our flowerbed, not expecting too much.  During the fall I mulched around it with some dried leaves and this spring the plant has really taken off!  The vines are going everywhere.  They flowered a few weeks ago and now we have tons of little green fruits popping up.  We had some of the strawberries last fall and they were small but super sweet! I cannot wait until these ripen!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fashion Bandaids = So Adorable!

I came across these Collector's Series Band-Aids on www.beauty.com.  The site was having a 20% off deal and I had to spend a few more dollars to qualify for free shipping.  I came across these bad boys and knew I had to buy them.  I ended up paying $2.39 for the box.

My one complaint: I wish Band-Aid took the design all the way to the edge. I think the white boarder detracts from the cute factor.

My favorite design: the sequins

Monday, May 20, 2013

Nacho Time

I made these nachos up super quick one afternoon. I was so hungry and wanted a salty/savory snack!

Organic Corn Chips
1/2 of an avocado - smushed
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (or lime juice, I only had lemon on hand when I made these)
pinch of celtic sea salt
Newman's Own Black Bean and Corn Salsa
Daiya Cheese - cheddar (shredded)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix avocado, lemon juice, and salt together in a small bowl (make guacamole).  Place tinfoil on a cookie sheet. Scatter chips on top. Put dollops of the salsa and guacamole on as many chips as possible.  Sprinkle the Daiya on top of everything. Bake for 5-8 minutes. Check at 5 minutes to make sure they don't get too crispy.

Before the melting:

After the melting (yum!):

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Make Your Own Protein Bars

There are some great tasting protein bars out there and some that taste like cardboard, sawdust, and fake chocolate.  Either way, I don't really like consuming 30+ ingredients and hydrogenated oils from one little bar (some ingredients I cannot even pronounce!).  The recipe below was given to me by Nana, one of my best friends (I did make some minor adjustments).  I can't remember who she got the recipe from though. These are so yummy!

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups oatmeal
3/4 cup vegan protein powder ( I used Garden of Life Raw Protein, but I may try the chocolate Vega one next time)
1/4 cup chopped, raw almonds
1/3 cup organic raisins (or 1/3 cup dried cranberries)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup peanut butter (I ran out of PB and supplemented with sunflower seed butter)
1/4 cup agave nectar (or brown rice syrup or raw honey)
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce (I used homemade pear butter I canned last august)
1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
1/3 cup Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (or any other vegan chocolate chips) You can get these bad boys at Walmart for only $2.99!

Melt the wet ingredients in a microwave for 20 seconds. Stir and melt for 15 more seconds or until melted.  Or you can use a stovetop to melt the wet ingredients.

Mix wet and dry ingredients together.
Line an 8X8 baking pan with wax paper. Pour mixture into the pan and spread it out so it's flat and even. Place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Turn the pan upside-down, pull off the wax paper and cut into 8 bars. Store in the refrigerator and gobble them up one at a time!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Highlights @ Home

I have been bleaching and toning about 10-15 small but noticeable highlights at home. I find this even trickier at times than an all over bleach and tone/platinum blonde root touch up.  The foiling itself is hard to do in the mirror and the fear of plopping bleach on my dark brown hair stresses me out at times.

I've had these highlights for about 3 months now and have done a root touch up once. The root touch up was a breeze compared to the initial highlights (although digging through my hair to find EACH individual highlight and separating it out was cumbersome).

Going into this I knew I didn't want a lot of highlights/color. I am not a fan of white/light blonde strips of hair against dark hair look and I just wanted a few dark blonde/warm brown pieces for spring/summer.

First I put on old clothes that I wouldn't mind getting bleach on. I also wait at least 2 days of not showering before bleaching or coloring. My skin/scalp is sensitive and when I wait, I have almost zero reaction to bleach or color. The natural oils on my scalp protect my skin from being harmed. I have colored my hair 12 hours after a shower and my scalp itched/burned- never again.  Also, foiling the highlights is better for me because I can cover some gray hair without directly having the bleach/color on my scalp.

I used regular ol' tin foil and folded it so there was a solid edge. I made about 10 folded foils (each foil holds about 2-3 "highlights" or separate pieces of hair). Once that was prepped, I mixed my bleach and developer.  I wove a rat tail comb in between my hair to pick up small sections of brown hair. I placed the foil underneath and then applied the bleach with a bleach tint brush.  Then I folded the foil and moved on to another piece. I only colored pieces in the front of my hair and did NOT highlight any right on my hair line (sometimes this creates a look of missing hair if the rest of your hair is dark).  My highlights started at least 3/4 of an inch from my hair line and have created a very natural looking highlight (when my hair is in a pony tail it looks really subtle- not like skunk stripes).

If a piece or two over processed (causing it to be lighter than the other highlights) I went back a few days later and colored those pieces with a demi-permanent creme hair color with no ammonia (I used Ion in 7NB Medium Neutral Blonde) to tone it down.

The first two photos are right after I highlighted my hair for the first time.  I am still in my "bleach" clothes :)

Below are pictures of what I use and also of my hair about 3 weeks after my last touch up (I also added 4 new full size highlights). I keep all my supplies in an old box up high on a dresser where Athan cannot reach them- in the black plastic bag: gloves and extra hair clips are in the clear plastic bag.

This last picture is how I part my hair 90% of the time. I love the highlights on this side.

For root touch up, I use foils but they are really small. I just apply bleach to the regrowth and NOT to the already bleached part. Fold them up and process.

Each person's hair is different so processing time can be drastically different person to person. I did a few test strands with different level developers and timed them to see how long the highlights should stay processing before rinsing.

This is my first spring doing my own highlights and it has been fun so far. I had very light blonde hair for a little over a year so I knew which products to use for my hair and which ones not to.  I don't recommend anyone to do this at home.  This post is not intended to provide any kind of advice, but just reveals what I have done.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Kickin Sickness in the Pants

Uh Oh! When I feel a tickle/sore throat coming on... here are a few of the steps I take to ward off a cold or other illnesses/viruses. (This is not meant to give any medical advice, this is simply what I do for myself).

Some of my first lines of defense include:

Drinking Emergen-C ( I drink only 1/2 a serving at a time)

Warm baths with epsom salts and essential oils


Gargling with sea salt and a small splash of white vinegar (3-5 times a day)

Drinking Green Drink

Staying away from refined sugars ( I do miss my chocolate chip cookies)

I also like to drink a lot of hot tea. My favorite is Traditional Medicinals Organic Echinacea Plus. I try to drink at least two cups of this a day if I am feeling run down.

Eating foods that are rich in vitamin C (like grapefruit & kiwi).

If the above measures aren't quite cutting it, I have to pull out some big guns:

Some herbal remedies I use:

I have used Goldenseal Root and Olive Leaf before for various bacterial infections.  These are powerful! If you do decide to use herbal remedies, make sure to follow all directions, read up about each herb from various reliable sources, know about any contra-indications, and speak with your physician before using them (as some herbs inhibit medications you may be taking).

I always take probiotics after Goldenseal and/or Olive Leaf. This helps rebuild any good flora/bacteria that may have been damaged when the herb was fighting the bad bacteria.

Again, this post is NOT dispensing medical advice, I am merely stating what I personally do to help fight off sickness.