Wednesday, November 9, 2011

i apologize for my absence here. it hasn't been intentional. i'll admit, we've been busy around here, adjusting to some new developments, dealing with some Asher stuff, and generally enjoying ourselves.

we got ourselves memberships for the Y, and we've been taking full advantage of that. blithe and bram are enrolled in classes (creative dance and tae kwon do, respectively) and swimming lessons, i've been enjoying yoga, and we've all been going swimming a couple times a week. it's actually been really nice. we feel great, we're getting along better, we have more energy, we cope with stress better... it's fantastic!!

the kids are all back at school, which is great. they're doing fairly well, too, so that's really nice.

i've begun pursuing a dream i've had for a long time: last month, i did the make-up for a production of Tuesdays With Morrie. truly, an amazing, life-changing experience. i learned a lot, grew in some friendships, and enjoyed myself thoroughly. in fact, i have actually joined another production, doing make-up and other backstage stuff, for next May. that's going to be a lot of fun, too. SQUEEE!!!! i can't wait!!!! :D

so that's our lives around here lately... but now that you're caught up, i want to post about something else, actually...

our local hydro company has recently made the switch to time of use billing. basically, that means that certain times of the day are cheaper than other times. the idea is to lower energy consumption by making peak-times (like, the middle of the day) less attractive from a financial stand-point.

it works.


as soon as it kicked in on October 1, i became super strict about lights. and i've picked up a few extra tidbits along the way:

  • crockpots. instead of turning on the oven which sucks more energy than i care to think about, thank-you very much, i just throw the makings of stew into the slow cooker and walk away, knowing that in a few hours, i'll have yummy food and a lower hydro bill.
  • vacuum less. yup. i'm blaming TOU on my lack of vacuuming. you'll buy that, right? (wink)
  • wash dishes by - gulp! - hand. but you know what??? it uses way less water, plus doesn't require as much hydro to heat the water in the first place (electric water heater. ugh. but better than gas, i suppose) but it also... wait for it... gets my dishes cleaner than the dishwasher! and faster! i know! shockingly, this only occurred to me the other day. i was just running the dishwasher every night to save hydro. never occurred to me that i can wash the dishes during the day and save money. haha
  • minimizing time on the computer during the day. which is an ironic statement as i'm writing this at 11:30 in the morning. but i've found that, in addition to lowering my hydro usage, i'm also getting more done around the house, and i'm spending more time connecting with people in real life, which is actually more meaningful, anyway. (again, the irony of writing this on a blog is not lost on me.) another benefit to less screen time: my memory is coming back and my attention span is getting a bit longer (insert "ooh! something shiny!" joke here)
  • read more books. you know, those blocks of paper with stuff written all over them? yeah! those things! apparently they're called books!!! :P and i've actually been reading some!! HAHA!!!! ok, i read fairly often anyway. but now i have an actual reason: it's economical. (or maybe i'm just trying to justify my addiction. don't judge me!!!!!!!!!) (ahem. {composes self})
and it's funny, even by doing these small things... somehow... i lowered my hydro bill by almost $30!!! 

and in case you're wondering...

i've been doing laundry during the day.

not every day. but given how tired i am in the evenings, i just can't stay up late at night to do laundry. so i've kept doing it during the day, but cut back on hydro usage in other areas, and yes, managed to lower my hydro bill. significantly. {happy dance}

Monday, August 1, 2011

muffin recipe!!!

... which, granted, i haven't tried yet. haven't even tasted them, to be perfectly honest. but they just sound so good!! so i got the recipe from a friend, and i'm really just gonna cut and paste here, and then i'll review the muffins when i make them. k? good. here we go:

Zu-Key-Ni Dill Muffins TNT
Taken from TASTE OF HOME August 2001

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar 
2 T. Baking powder
1 T. Dill weed
2 t. salt
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Add zucchini and stir until coated. Combine the eggs, milk and oil; stir into zucchini mixture just until moistened. Filled greased or paper-lined muffins cups two-thirds full. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Bake at 400F for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Yield: about two dozen.

thanks, pam! i can't wait to make these!! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

you mean you can MAKE granola bars?!

well, that's odd, because i was under the impression that they just come from the store.

sadly, i'm not joking.

having been raised in a fairly large city, i was always taught that food comes from the store. no, seriously. i remember class trips when i was younger, and we were learning about where food comes from, and we went to the grocery store. a big chain store, too. yeah. so you can imagine my surprise when i learned that you grow peanuts and you grow garlic and you can make cottage cheese... and sadly, the list goes on.

and how pathetic is this... i've been baking just about everything from scratch lately - muffins, pie crust, tortillas, cookies, macaroons, you name it, i've made it - and yet this morning - just 15 scant minutes ago, in fact! - i had another one of those moments when i stood in shock for a moment and thought, "WHA-?! you can make those?!?!"

it's true.

and "those," gentle readers, are... wait for it...

granola bars.

ok, ok, i've been wanting to make them for a long time now. you can even find a few posts about them on this very blog. but, um... how can i put this... uh... {looks away}i've never made them before.

i know, i know. pathetic, right?

well, no more, gentle readers! because as of this very morning, i,


have made

{cue 2001: Space Odyssey music}


and yes, i'm going to give you the recipe. and yes, i actually have pictures this time!! :) (i was planning this post whilst i baked... usually i don't, hence the lack of pics on this site. haha)

so, here you go, my friends: i give you

2 1/2 cups quick rolled oats
1/2 cup Rice Krispies (or nameless equivalent)
1/4 cup coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup honey
1/2 tsp vanilla

simplest directions ever: preheat the oven to 350F. 
mix all the ingredients together until combined. press the mixture into an 8x8 pan.
bake it for 18 to 20 minutes.
let it cool for 10 minutes, and score into bars. then let it set completely, and cut into bars.

seriously, it's that easy. i'm not even joking.

now, there was one glitch in the following of this recipe: somehow, i am out of chocolate chips. i didn't realize that until i got to that line in the recipe. (note to self: pull out ingredients before starting the recipe.) so instead of choco chips, i chopped up an apple and added a little bit (less than 1/2 tsp) of cinnamon. to be honest, i don't know how much i used. the 1/2 tsp spoon was the one i grabbed, and i didn't fill it because cinnamon can be pretty strong sometimes, and i didn't want to overpower the rest of the goodness.

and i as was typing that last sentence the timer beeped and so i pulled the pan out of the oven. and wow!! it looks and smells amazing!! kind of like apple crisp, actually, thanks to my handy-dandy last-minute, semi-panicked substitution. {wink}

ok, a couple tips before you make these: 
  1. score the bars after they've cooled for 10 minutes. seriously. use the timer on the oven if you have to, but make sure it cools for at least 10 minutes.
  2. let the bars set completely before cutting and removing them from the pan. if they haven't set, they'll fall apart. so wait patiently.
  3. once you remove them from the pan, wrap them in cling wrap. this will help them to keep their shape and stay fresh. 
  4. this is not a "make in the morning before the kids go to school" recipe. trust me on this one. make these the night before, so you can be sure they're completely ready for the lunch rush in the morning. (that being said, the bars had not completely set when i put them in the kids' lunches today. but i wrapped them up tight - the bars, not the kids - and gave strict instructions that they are to be eaten at second nutrition break. again, the bars, not the kids. here's hoping the bars will be ready by then. {crosses fingers})
  5. another thing you could try: score the bars after 10 minutes. wait another 15 or so... then cut them up, wrap them individually in cling wrap, and put them in the freezer for a while. this helps.
they still smell divine. between the bars and my coffee, this house smells like heaven right now. {choir of angels} asher is already begging for a granola bar. it's actually getting a little frustrating. haha but that might be because he's asking in a 4-year-old voice what i'm asking in my head. {wink}

k, i just had one of these bars, and WOW!!!! they're AMAZING!!!! they are chewy, not crunchy, so they're sticky on your fingers, but who cares?! also, next time i might use a little less brown sugar, like 1/3 cup instead of half. with the honey in there, it gets to be a bit too sweet... but then again, i prefer salty over sweet, so maybe it's just me.

in fact, i'm pretty sure it is just me, because asher had one, too, and he said it was really good. but he also said it was a little sticky. i have a recipe for crunchy granola bars, so i might try those next. but these are really good, and i highly recommend them... say... 4 out of 5 yummy sounds. :)

(ps - i'll post pics later... blogger's acting up this morning and won't let me post pics. boourns!!)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

best. bread. ever.

well, from a machine, anyway.

i have to share this recipe with you because it's just that awesome. it's beautiful. i could honestly eat the entire loaf by myself. with nothing on it. just straight bread. ok, maybe some honey, or cheese, or tons and tons of butter... or lots of ham or roast beef and cheese, or as a toasted tomato sandwich or... oh, wow, i'm actually drooling. excuse me for just a moment. {wipes chin} k, i'm back now.

anyhoo, i suppose you'd like the recipe for this wonder, wouldn't you? well, brace yourselves, gentle readers, because here it is:

Honey Oat Bread

1 cup water
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp oil
3 cups bread flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast

put the ingredients into the breadmaker. i set it on "grain" with regular crust (as opposed to dark), and it turned out perfectly.

with this recipe, there is a little room for creativity. instead of using oatmeal, you can use granola. i've done this in the past, and it was lovely. however, since granola (at least the stuff i have) contains almonds, it's not school -friendly. so today, i decided to try something a little different again, and used 12-grain cereal. WOW!!!! it's so good!

and yes, i wanted to post pics, but um... yeah... the bread's all gone now. {sheepish grin} so you'll just have to take my word on this... it was wonderful!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

best. wreck. ever!!!!!!!

it's my birthday in 5 days. my mom is here right now, but she won't be on tuesday (the 22nd... my birthday... hint hint), so she and the kids made me a b-day cake today.

and i have to say....

best. cake. ever!!!

 after i blew out the candles, blithe said, "wow! it smells like smoke in here!!!" um... i'm not that old... i'm turning 33. not 133!!!
 the proud wreckorators. note that the bottom of the cake is square, and the top is round. and note the crazy angles of some of the candles. 
there it is, in all it's wrecky glory. including, "mome" instead of "mommy." {sniff} it's just... just... so beautiful! {wipes tears}

could i be more proud?? could i be any happier???


'cause the kidley-winks made me my very own wreck for my birthday. i have the best. kids. ever. 

oh! it just occured to me that some readers might not know why i'd be so excited about a hideous, misspelled cake. check out this website, Cake Wrecks, and you'll understand. :)

Friday, March 11, 2011

DIY haircuts... unless they're "not" DIY

well, blithe and i were sitting on the couch this evening watching iCarly or something, and i looked over at her and thought, hey, her bangs look shorter in one spot. so i says to her, i says,

"hey, your bangs look shorter in one spot."

"wha-?!" she asks, "incredulously." (by the way, you're going to see a lot of quotation marks in this post. you'll understand as we go on.)

"did you cut your bangs or something?" now, to be clear, i'm not upset. i used to do the same thing. heck, i still cut my own hair! so i understand, i really do. i just think it's amusing because while she is following in my shoes with the DIY haircut... she hasn't picked up the importance of a mirror. haha

"um... no..." she replies, avoiding my gaze and messing up her bangs.  awful suspicious, don't you think? {wink}

we keep this up for a moment, and i change my FB status to "so, girlie got A- in drama, but can't lie to save her life. don't tell me you didn't cut your bangs... i'm looking right at you!!! ROFL"

and then it was bedtime. so, upstairs we go. the kidley-winks get themselves into their jammies and i go into her room. we sing along with justin bieber (apparently, it should be him. who knew?!) and then she says, "i didn't cut my bangs, mom."

hmm... interesting... i wasn't saying anything about it... funny she should bring it up, don't you think??? {wink}

"oh, i know," i "reassured" her, "'mom, remember this afternoon when it was staticky so i wet it? yeah, well, i think... i mean, i know that, um, yeah. as my hair dried, it shrank. but just in that one spot. yeah. that's what happened. yup. it shrank. that sounds good.'" and we laughed.

"i don't know," she exclaims, laughing. "maybe it was invisible aliens who sneaked in here and cut my bangs!"

invisible aliens?!?!?!?!

i'm so proud. because that is a story i can get behind. and i did. {wink} here's how it went down, according to me, with some laughing input from girlie:

so, i was sitting in my room, on my bed, you know, right here, and i was singing along with justin bieber, 'cause he's, like, soooo awesome and i love him but who doesn't really i mean come on look at those eyes squeeee!!!! ahem... anyhoo... so i'm sitting here, just minding my own business, and then this alien spaceship, this, like, flying saucer thing, swoops down into my room, with all the lights and stuff, and these little green alien martian people came out and pinned me down on my bed and cut off some of my bangs because they were doing some DNA experiments or something i don't know because i couldn't really talk for some reason i think they drugged me or something and that's why you didn't hear anything even though you were right across the hall. so yeah, then the alien guys climbed back up into their ship and there were the lights and the smoke and then they were gone... with my bangs!!!!! i mean, really, can you believe that?!?!?!?!
that, gentle readers, is the story your children need to memorize. if they pull that out when they think they're in trouble, you're just gonna have to laugh and let it go, because really, if they're going to pull that story off, and they're going to be the kid who had aliens invading their bedroom and cut their hair or whatever... yeah. just stand back, smile, and say, "kid, that was fan. freaking. tastic."

and so, blithe, on this night when, for the first time in your entire life you came up with a most ridiculous explanation for something i wasn't even upset about in the first place, i applaud you. i am so proud. but next time, you need to believe it, then it might be somewhat plausible. at least to someone on tv or something. {wink}


well, it is yet another snow day around here. that's right, the last day of school before march break, and we get a snow storm. i'm not joking.

and so... what do you do when school is cancelled and you're exhausted and low on funds and low on groceries and therefore also low on snackables? you find an easy recipe online and open the back door. {wink}

i looked up a recipe online, and since there were four ingredients, and there's four of us, we each had to remember one ingredient:
blithe: 1 cup sugar
bram: 1 tbsp vanilla
asher: 2 cups milk (although when i asked him what he was supposed to remember, he said, "2." "two what?" i asked. "too much!" so helpful. thanks. haha)
me: 3L (1 gallon) snow

basically, mix it all together in a bowl. dish it out. enjoy. :)

the verdict? from the mouths of babes....

this makes my mouff freezing!
this tastes good!
this tastes like outside!
this makes my taste buds freeze!
dat's why it is snow!
diss makes me shiver why it's so good!
and i would add, it tastes like christmas. you know... if christmas was, um... edible?? is that right? somehow i don't think so... please tell me you know what i mean, though. haha

that all means it's good. :)

gotta love snow days!!!!

Why I Write Here

i like this blog. this is where i write about homelife. my kids, my pets, recipes, natural cleaning products, gardening, cool finds... that's what i write about here. this is the hands-on part of my personal journey. i'm reclaiming myself, a self i lost in a hospital somewhere, among all the meds, plastic, waste and complexity that comes with Special Needs parenting. i crave simplicity, and this is my journey to create it for my family and me.

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