Monday, October 20, 2014

Loofa, Loofah, Loufah, Luffa... that scrubby thing!


Each year I plant a garden I try to pick a plant I wouldn't normally grow.  Last year it was watermelon.  Because it requires so much water and we live on the edge of the desert, it's not easy to grow for a lazy gardener like myself.  Needless to say I didn't have much luck and only had two that were edible, the rest just went into the compost.
This year I tried another vine but this time I wasn't looking for food, but a scrubber.  I trained the plant to go up a tree that shades part of my garden.  Early on the plant did well, I saw lots of flowers, much like you'd see from cucumbers, and then small gourds started to grow.  But early on the base of the vine was stepped on by some 'helpful' 5-year olds.  <sigh>  After that I didn't expect much from the plants and just left them alone.
A few days ago the kids came in asking about the gourds in the trees and I decided maybe I should at least see what became of them.  So Sunday the husband and I pulled out the ladder and started to cut them down one by one.  I had a total of 10 decent sized ones and a few I just added to the growing compost pile.
I went on YouTube to see how and when to open them.  Seems that some of mine had already dried on the vine, so those I opened with pretty good results.  Others I'll let sit outside for a few more days, possibly weeks till they dry out.  

*By the way, this is an edible plant.  If you harvest them early they are used in Chinese and Vietnamese dishes.  

I have this ugly, scraggly tree in the garden that the husband won't let me cut down, so I made it a trellis.

No, they aren't pretty.

This one was a bit green, but you could feel the sides were separated from the fiber so I opened it.  It peeled very easy, but the fibers are still sticky and the seeds weren't dry enough to pour out.  This one will remain outside till it dries more.


The brown gourd was harder to peel, but the fibers were much dryer and the seeds poured right out.  *These are all cell phone photos so my fingers sometimes get in the way.  ;)

To give you a better idea of how it looks as you peel it. 

This is a 3rd, smaller gourd and much dryer than both.  The skin came off in about 20 pieces.  But it was ready to go.  You can see the seeds and that these are just store bought plants.  *I'll be saving the new seeds for next year.

The two on the left will need to dry more and I'll wait to open the others.



The 3rd, smaller gourd I cut into pieces to make soap with.  A bread knife works great.

Once I washed the fiber they fluffed up.

I made several different soaps, these are the scents I like for my gardening soap.

Mercy wanted Lavender in purple.

Justice wanted a sweet smell in pink.
The guys decided they wanted green and a manly smell, of course. 


I used to go all out and make lye and olive oil soap, but the mess and time it took to get it just right wasn't worth it to me.  I don't sell the stuff, I just want to use it, so melt and pour is perfect for me.  This batch is made from olive oil glycerine soap that you can find at Micheal's.  It runs about $10.00 for 2lbs, but if you have their app you can usually get it for $6 to $5.  That makes 7 to 8 good size bars.  *I still have 4 cubes left I'll make a kitchen soap with, lemon and eucalyptus.  Maybe even with yellow dye for fun.

Soon after pouring, the girls wanted glitter added to the hexagon, a paintbrush still wasn't gentle enough so the soap was wampy.  But they don't care.  Also, my molds are 8-years old.  I'd recommend better ones if you're making to sell or gift.  Since these are staying in the family... not an issue. 


I had some purple left so I added a layer to the natural bar.  It now has a nice lavender kick. 

In the sun you can see the shredded loofah pieces.
The pink and green bars have slices of loofah, they look cool up close.

Aren't they purty?!

It's harder to see through the purple and green, but I'm pleased. 

So as I started to type this blog it bothered me that I hadn't finished the block of soap, so I went ahead and made the last kitchen soap.  From start to finish it took all of 10-minutes.  That included melting the soap and clean up.  Which of course is easy since your cleaning up soap.  ;)

 
Simple kitchen soap.

A container, a touch of Vaseline to coat the sides so it releases easier, cut up loofah (hard to see but inside the glass lid), melt and pour with essential oil and color (I heat the soap before I add the scent and color), the alcohol is to spray on the soap after it's poured so the bubbles will pop and the surface is smooth.

Four squares make a small bar of soap, perfect for my sink.  It will take about 40-minutes to harden.  Faster if you set in the fridge. 

So there you go.  Loofa added to melt and pour soap; super easy and useful.  My kind of craft. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dollhouse to Library



Late 1980's; decorated for Christmas to show my aunts I still had it.


2010 I redecorated it for our oldest daughter.


Less than a year later the twins had broken much of the original furntire so I put what was left away. I've used it to separate the oldest books from the twins, but you can see all the wear and tear.
 

This update I decided to chalkboard paint the roof.  Cause you know, why not.


Since the oldest has a Kindle she doesn't have many books these days, but the ones she has she doesn't want her brother and sister to mess with.  Can't say that I blame her.  ;)


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Just Add Water

My Norwex party is closing soon.  If you wanted to place an order, now is the time.  As soon as you place it it'll ship, no waiting till the party closes.

What I recommend:
 
1. Enviro Cloth
2. Window Cloth
3. Dust Mitt


The 'red' (pink really) are the Enviro and Window Clothes.  The Dust Mitt you can figure out.  ;)

I can clean my whole house with those 3.  No cleaners, just add water.

If you can't afford all 3, get the Enviro Cloth.  Once you've used it for awhile, you'll want more.  Trust me, I've used microfiber before, love it, but I still had to deal with water spots which meant pulling out a window cleaner with alcohol to get rid of them.

It's not an issue with the Norwex microfiber cloths.  I just wet them, wipe and let air dry.  No spots.  The kitchen table, counters, sink, stainless steel appliances (all of mine sadly) and no streaks.

Paired with the Window Cloth I can wipe down windows that the kids like to smush their faces on and the bathroom mirror they torture me with by spitting toothpaste on every.chance.they.get.   <sigh>

The paste is pretty amazing too, especially for how little you use. 

Check out their website and let me know if you have any questions.  I've been using the products for about 6-months now and LOVE them.  No more chemical cleaners for me!  Link good till 9/30/2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

Motivational Weight Loss Jar

I saw something similar to this on Pinterest and decided to see what I had laying around the house.  I'm a craft nut, have been since I was a kid, so I've lots of "stuff".  
Well organized of course.  ;)



Calculate the amount of weight you'd like to lose, add that to the Must Go jar and as you drop a pound, move the stone over to the Gone jar.  Super simple and a fun visual. 


I’d recommend using colored glass, rocks, marbles or buttons so you can see them better. I used what I had.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Easy Banana Almond Butter Ice Cream

I mean stupid easy!

Cut ripe bananas into small pieces.
Put the bananas in a freezer safe container and freeze for a few hours.
Once frozen toss them in a blender or food processor slowly.  Add a tablespoon of almond butter for each banana you used.  You can eat it right then like a soft serve, or put back in the freezer for a few more hours.

I've a friend who added a bit of almond milk and cinnamon.  
No doubt a touch of cocoa powder would be good too. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Tiki Bar Tutorial

Pallet Tiki Bar Picture Tutorial





First thing you should know, pallets are cheap or free because of this.  (Someone had major frustration issues that day.) 

We started with 2 similar pallets, both in height and width.  (Yes, they come in a variety of both.)


On the first one we left the front boards alone.  Removed just the center boards on back.  And kept the end ones intact. 

The second pallet, we removed all the boards expect the 4 end ones.

We then stood the two pallets up and began attaching them to one another.

Because pallets are made of cheap and usually defective wood, they didn't line up perfect so we had to clamp before screwing them together.  We then added scrap 2X4s that we cut to size as additional support. 

We used 2 of the pallet boards, that we had removed earlier, as shelves.  Rather, to fill in where the two pallets have the forklift joints.  (I've no clue if that's what those are called, but it's what I'm calling them.) 

You can use an additional board on top.  A few years back though, I tore out a faux fireplace in our living room.  I salvaged the slate tiles and finally found a use for them. 


With a bit of gorilla glue and a few hours of dry time, the top was done.

I had a few towel bars from my recent bathroom remodel that I didn't' have the heart to trash, so I reused them on this piece. The grass skirts are from the twin's birthday party.  They help hide the shelves. 

To keep the bar from shifting I used velcro.   

Now we have a place to hang towels, keep flip flops, store sunscreen and goggles, and more importantly, hold our drinks.  ;)  Total cost $0! 



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Whole 30ish Menu


Yes you read that right, I'm still eating whole30ish.  ;)
What does the 'ish' mean?
Well I still don't eat grain, or beans, I try to avoid extra sugar and dairy, but I have brought back my half and half for my morning coffee.  The world looks a little better when I have my coffee. 
And yes, I tried every form of coconut and almond milk and a dozen recipes for homemade faux creams.  No... just no.  I have my limits.  ;)


I still eat bacon and eggs for breakfast, but this day I added purple potatoes from our garden.
Some morning, eggs with chorizo (look for no added sugar or nitrites just like the bacon).
Lunch is usually a salad, but with LOTS of stuff. 

Fruit and nuts with meat from the night before.

Chicken is a favorite for lunch.  Cold or hot.

Strawberries and green olives made a lot of people question our taste-buds, but we actually enjoy the salty sweet combo.

One of my favorite snacks is bananas dipped in almond butter. 

...and fruit salad.  But earlier in the day.  The natural sugars will sit if you eat late at night.  Trust me, we did that for a week and didn't lose a pound.  ARGH!
This was an interesting dinner.  The husband made homemade salsa, and an egg/avocado omelet with a side of cauliflower 'stuffing'.  Doesn't look all that pretty, but was delicious. 

Beef stir fry, instead of soy sauce and traditional rice, we used balsamic vinegar and cauliflower. 

Chicken stir fry...

If you've not made spaghetti squash, do it!  Just cut open, clean out the seeds, drizzle olive oil, salt and pepper, bake at 350 for about an hour, then scrape the insides out with a fork and you'll have what looks like noodles.  It has a bit of crunch, the kids love it!

Many of our meals are simple, the same stuff we ate before the whole30.  Meat, and two veggies.  This time it was okra and asparagus.  (Sad, sad asparagus.)  ;)

We've had a lot of people ask about the cauliflower rice.  I'll do a separate blog on that since there are numerous ways to spice it up and change the taste. 

* We're on week 17 now and I've lost 35lbs, the husband 30lbs.  We splurge, we don't exercise (hoping to change that) and we don't worry too much.  I will go a month and not lose a pound, then one week 5.  So I just keep moving forward because I have more energy, my clothes keep getting looser and my joints feel 100% better.