Homemade Gifts in a Jar Ideas
For some reason, I had been feeling really inspired to make some homemade gifts in a jar for friends this year. I didn't really know what to put in the jar...just think anything in a jar makes a cute present.
I really think a "Me Day" is in order! I'm starting to get a little bit of that Christmas panic feeling. I have so much to do, so many Christmas presents to buy, I haven't finished decorating, I haven't made one cookie yet, and every day is getting closer and closer to Christmas! I'm running out of time!! AHHHHH!!!!!
Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Austin and I are celebrating Valentine's Day tonight because he won't be around on February 14th. I wanted to make a really decadent chocolate dessert. I wouldn't say my favorite dessert is cake so I rarely make them. And I definitely have never made one from scratch before. But there is something fancy about cake so I thought it would be a good thing to make for a fancy dinner at home. Out of all cakes chocolate is probably my least favorite (gasp! I know). But this one might very well change all that! It is so moist, rich, chocolaty and just incredible! I kinda wanted to cry a little the first bite I took. I couldn't believe I made it! Definitely keep this one in your recipe file!
Double Chocolate Layer Cake Recipe
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Do you guys, like me, just love the feeling of Valentine's Day? Well besides the obvious, it is a day you get to celebrate you and your hunny! But even as a kid there was just something about it. I loved all the bright, clashing colors, the yummy treats, and all the fun crafts. Maybe it had something to do with all the love in the air! Of course as a kid I didn't really have much of a concept of love, but I did always kinda wonder if the boy I had a crush on would give me a Valentine. Oh my gosh I almost forgot about Valentine's Day cards! Those cute, corny little things with cartoon characters on them that we would pass out in class. And I always had to make sure I didn't give the boys anything that was too mushy!
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Sometime I feel like I get more done when I just give into an off-day. Let me explain. When I try to be productive when I'm really not feeling it, I tend to waste so much time trying to get myself motivated. I'll drink coffee while I play on the internet, procrastinate while making phone calls, slowly get myself dressed, drink more coffee and play on my computer a little more... before I know it I have wasted hours doing pretty much nothing. If I had just given into the off-day, or as mom likes to call it a "mental health day", I could have at least been doing something to better myself in some small way.
For example on a mental health day (we will now call it, sounds more optimistic), I might curl up and relax with some magazines I have been wanting to read, or work on something artistic, maybe finally accomplish some project I have been trying to work on for months.
Now, the biggest issue to work on here, is to have a mental health day without feeling guilty about it! Tiff & Steph, I know you have problems with this like I do! It makes us feel lazy because there is always soooooo much we could be working on. We need to tell yourselves, "It is okay for me to have a day to relax and re-charge!" Chances are you will only feel extra rejuvenated for tomorrow!
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Monday, January 24, 2011
The first thing I do every morning while I'm still waking up, is make my warm lemon water and sip it as I read e-mails and check my usual web sites. Lemon water is such a great feel-good thing to do first thing in the morning. I drink it mainly for stomach and digestive purposes but it has so many other health benefits as well. Drink it first thing in the morning, before you eat anything, and it helps to cleanse and detox your body. I found a website that lists the top 10 benefits of lemon water. After reading it you'll be drinking lemon water every day too!
Go here for more detailed information: Top Ten Health Benefits of Lemon Water
- Good for stomach
- Excellent for Skin Care
- Aids in Dental Care
- Cures Throat Infections
- Good for Weight Loss
- Controls High Blood Pressure
- Assist in curing Respiratory Disorders
- Good for treating Rheumatism
- Reduces Fever
- Acts as a blood purifier
Sunday, January 23, 2011
"I want to be joyful instead."
Read the rest of the 14 Ways to be more Joyful series here.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Tiffany's post about baking made me want to share this awesome recipe again. I made these Healthy Double Chocolate Muffins the other day and they were soooo good. Even better than the first time I made them. The recipe is from Tiffany's blog HERE. I love this recipe because it's almost impossible to mess up as long as you follow the basic guidelines. I will put the recipe below and tell you what changes I made in red at the bottom
1 1/2 cup almond meal (finely ground almonds)
•1/4 cup spelt flour
•1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
•1 T baking powder
•1/4 tsp Sea Salt
•1/2 cup agave nectar (or other form of sugar)
• 2 whole mashed bananas
•1/4 cup organic almond milk
•2 organic eggs
•1/4 cup organic coconut oil* (warm first, it's a solid at room temp).
•1/2 tsp vanilla
•1/3 cup Dark Chocolate Chips
Grease muffin pan (makes 12 muffins)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix agave nectar, mashed banana, milk, eggs, oil and other wet ingredient. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Fold in chocolate/walnuts. Spoon into well greased muffin tin. Bake about 13-15 minutes or until the center of the muffins springs back when touched. Let cool on a wire rack. Freeze really well.
3/4 Cup Almonds I ground in a food processor
1/4 Cup Spelt Flour
1/2 Cup Brown Rice Flour
1/4 Cup Coconut Flour (I found this at Whole Foods)
* I recommend sifting dry ingredients together
* I used 1 banana instead of 2, and it was perfect. Not too strong on the banana flavor but just enough so you know it's there.
I'm going to use this blog to help me get motivated to do Baking Days again. Helps with accountability. I've gone over the Freezing Cooking basics here already and how it helps me with preparing regular, homecooked meals and keeping our grocery budget to around $40/week. Freezer Cooking is only one part of this strategy, which also involves regular Baking Days as well as Menu Planning. I'll go over Menu Planning in another post.
What are Baking Days and Why?
I guess the name is pretty self explanatory, but on Baking Days I make large batches of homemade baked good to use throughout the month.
For months before I was pregnant I was baking pretty much everything from scratch...bread, bagels, rolls, pizza dough, english muffins, soft pretzels, pita bread, muffins, granola, granola bars, etc. and it was really fun, frugal, easy, satisfying, and everything tasted SO much better than store bought. It's so great knowing and controlling everything that's going into your baked goods..and scary when you realize how basic everything should be and all the junk added to everything in the stores.
By dedicating a few hours once or twice a month, I get the mess all over with at once and can store extras in the freezer to use in our meals. This saves a lot of both time and money and helps us stick to our $40/week grocery budget (I'll be honest, it's closer to $50/week now that I'm making homemade baby food..but still, it's pretty low compared to the national average I think!)
If you've never baked from scratch before, I'd highly recommend giving it a try, even just starting with one recipe. You can use a bread machine (which you can use to make just dough, like for bagels), the dough attachment hook for a KitchenAid mixer (my preferred method), or the old-fashion way kneading by hand (which I don't know how to do exactly. Would love to learn. I bet there are some good instructional videos on YouTube).
Here are the recipes I'm planning on making today or tomorrow (baby permitting!)
Whole Wheat Bread (x2) (that's optimistic, I'll settle for 1) I'm still looking for the perfect wheat bread recipe. May experiment a little.
Bread Machine Buttery Rolls
Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls (not sure if I'll get to this..but I had a huge craving for cinnamon rolls this morning..I had to take some leftover cornbread (because we are out of regular bread) and put some butter and cinnamon and sugar on it....I swear, I have more weird cravings now than when I was pregnant)
Whole Wheat Pita Pockets
This is overly ambitious, I realize. Oh well.. we'll see how it goes!
I'll share my results in another post when I'm done, with some more instructions and tips.
I challenge you to join me in making one baked good from scratch..even muffins count (which make great freezer breakfasts by the way!). I'd love to see your results.
This is a link to a website that lists the best time to buy things. It goes month by month and tells you when things are at their cheapest. Thought it was worth a share.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
At some point about half-way through the walk I lifted my head up and it was the first time during the whole walk that I noticed what a truly beautiful day it was. The air was crisp and refreshing, the sky was bright blue, and the sun was so bright and crystal clear. Instead of wanting the walk to be over as soon as possible, I enjoyed the feeling of being outdoors, and how good it felt to have my body in motion.
I began to look at the world around me instead of the small piece of pavement directly in front on my feet. I tried to take in the sensation of the warm sun on my face and the wind blowing the hair off my face and neck. And the sounds of the little birdies all around me. I couldn’t help but smile. It was such a perfect day! How did I not notice it until now?
It made me realize how much of life is spent not noticing the little things. You hear it all the time, that "it's the little things in life that really matter". It is so true. Then why is it so hard to notice those little things? Because they are little? Perhaps.
I think we live our lives so caught up on the stresses of the day, To Do lists, and the countless number of other things that aren't getting done. It causes us to live day after day not truly appreciating our lives and being stuck in a negative place... The rest of the walk I tried to clear my mind of any and all thought and just enjoyed the world around me and the beautiful day God has blessed us with!
My poor science-y brain cannot visualize anything creative on its own. So, when it comes to decorating our house, I really need to find a picture I love and then copy it. The problem is actually finding that picture, my biggest obstacle..until I found this site! There are thousands of pictures of beautifully decorated rooms. You can browse by room, color scheme, or even categories like rugs and ottomans, etc.
When we were snowed in over the holidays I spent (way too much) time browsing and copying any pictures that caught my eye into a Word document. When I scrolled through at the end, I couldn't help but notice a common "color" scheme.
See if you pick up on it too from these photos....
We want to re-do our kitchen in the next year or so. I love this picture for an inspiration piece. The white cabinets with the subway tile backsplash. Black accents. I even like that light fixture over the table (something I'm in the market for now to replace our hideous 90's contemporary light). I would do the walls in a light, warm gray (my current color obsession).
I'm really drawn to this dining room. Love the subtle gold accents contrasted with the black and white.
Notice my color trend yet??
I scrolled through all of my favorite pictures collected from the site, I realized that ALL of them were based in black, white, beige, and gray. The only accent color I really loved was gold or natural wood accents (pretty much, gold). So, bascially..I discovered that my favorite colors for decorating are...all non-colors!
It really was a good exercise and I learned a lot about my style. I'm always trying to bring "splashes" of "accents colors" into my rooms and it never feels right. Now I know why! Just goes to show that you really need to go with what feels right to you, not what you "should" do in decorating.
I'm really feeling antsy lately to get the rooms in our house feeling settled. Not perfectly decorated, but at least at a point I'm comfortable with for now. To me, they all still have that just-moved-in-throw-all-your-old-furniture-anywhere-it-fits-for-now feel.
I'll be sure to share my process and progress and would love your input along the way!
Friday, January 14, 2011
Immanuel found this and I wanted to share. It's a FREE "to do" list download. It's called Wunderlist. I've tried many digital "to do" lists and so far I like this one the best. On their homepage if you scroll down a little you'll see a button to download for Mac or PC. They also have a video on their homepage where they show you how to use it. It's super easy to use. I know you guys aren't into the digital stuff as much as I am but I figured I'd share anyway. And maybe someone else out there might find some use from it. Click on the link below.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
I like what you said before, Tiffany. "You budget money, why not budget your time?". And I think you are absolutely right. I'm not going to be militant about my time, but I am going to try and cut down my "morning time" then give myself maybe 2 hours to get the house picked up. When 2 hours is up I need to cut myself off, get dressed and go out and either run errands or do something for myself. Why is that important? Because if I don't cut myself off from cleaning I could easily spend the entire day cleaning, easily. There is always SOMETHING that could be cleaned. The house will never be perfect. And thats something I need to accept. I really don't want to spend my entire day cleaning, but because I've turned into a bit of a neat freak it can very easily happen! I NEED to cut myself off and do something for myself or I will start to fall into a downward spiral, and think all I'm good for is cleaning the house and I have no life outside of it. It has happened before. Like I said, I know myself too well!.. I'll keep you updated on my progress!
Tuesday, January 4, 2011