Tuesday, May 31, 2011

52 Weeks of Happiness- Kinder Graduation

A whole school year has come and gone. My older daughter celebrated the end of kindergarten last week. She only has a few days of school left before she is officially a first grader. My how time flies!


Monday, May 30, 2011

A Topo Chico Facelift for Makeover Monday

This weekend I had a wedding to attend. My husband was officiant at the ceremony and so we dropped the kids with grandparents for the rehearsal and then had a friend watch them the night of the wedding.

I don't get out much, so for the wedding I wanted to look my best. I decided that a little makeover madness was necessary and I didn't have much time.

I started with my hair. I mixed together a couple of teaspoons olive oil with a teaspoon almond oil. I added an egg yolk, a tablespoon of honey and a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. I wet my hair and combed this gooey mess through my locks with my fingers. I then wrapped my hair in plastic wrap and a towel while I got dinner ready for the kids (about 15-20 minutes). After that I shampooed and dried my hair as usual. This treatment smelled fantastic and I loved the way my hair felt afterwards. The results were not nearly as stunning as when I made the cream cheese hair pack... but it smelled a whole lot nicer and the clean up was much easier. I'll definitely try this one again.

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I was HIGHLY skeptical about my next treatment.. in fact I already had my blog entry all planned out. The treatment is called a salt face lift... and I must say that rather than being underwhelmed by the results I was extremely surprised. I certainly didn't look like I'd had plastic surgery or Botox (thank god), but my crows feet and laugh lines were much fainter. At a couple of months shy of 41 I actually got carded buying "wedding supplies." I've only been carded three times in recent memory and it has happened twice since I started Makeover Monday. Natural skin care rocks!

Here is all you do:
1. Dissolve one teaspoon of sea salt in 1 cup of hot mineral or filtered water (I used distilled water). The instructions said to boil the water... but I was low on time so I just heated it up enough so that the salt would easily dissolve. When water is warm saturate a cotton ball and apply to face. Leave for 5 minutes.

2. Next I saturate a cotton ball with ice cold mineral water (I used topo chico). I used gentle pressure on my face for thirty seconds to apply the cold water. It felt good to rinse off the salt.

3. Then I dried my face and repeated the treatment several times. I think that the sea salt is a little hard on the skin so this is a treatment that should be used occasionally and not everyday... but I suggest you give it a try.

After that I simply applied a little powder, some lip gloss and a little waterproof mascara (I always cry at weddings). I wore a dress I purchased at a vintage store for 5 dollars and a pair of shoes I bought on sale at Payless for 3.99. My whole look (including a face lift) cost less than $10 dollars.


As always please leave comments and feel free to link up. If you get a chance stop by The Zany Housewife's blog. She may not make it to Makeover Monday this week because she is in the middle of moving... but check out her old Makeover Monday posts.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Garden Fresh Potato Salad

Over the weekend some friends gave me potatoes and onions from their garden. What better way to use them than to make this fresh potato salad with herbs from my own backyard. I grew up eating potato salad in a dressing of mustard and mayo. I love it, but I prefer this vinegar based version. It is lighter and really shows off the character of the garden fresh vegetables.

Marinated Potato Salad

This dish is very easy to make. If you have any leftovers they are great to fry for breakfast the next day.

10 medium red potatoes

1 C. red wine or balsamic vinegar

5 C. water

6 (+) cloves of garlic peeled and cut in half

1 C. red onion diced

salt and pepper

a handful of chopped fresh herbs

Heat the potatoes, vinegar, water, garlic and salt until potatoes are soft, but not mushy. Drain potatoes (Do NOT rinse) and mix in onions and pepper. Add the fresh herbs. I like to use basil and oregano. Sometimes I drizzle this salad with olive oil. Other great additions are: Olives, cherry tomatoes, and roasted peppers.

We had this wonderful salad with a selection of sliced pears and Middle Eastern Turkey Burgers topped with Tzatziki Sauce. I adjusted the spices a bit on the turkey burgers because I was out of paprika... but it came out wonderfully. The tutorial on making the tzatziki provided in the link is super cool... I used mint instead of dill and the taste was fabulous. This meal could easily be made vegetarian by opting for a veggie burger instead of the turkey. I still have a cup or two of the tzatziki sauce leftover and I'm trying to figure out how to use it in tonight's meal. I'm thinking about using it as a yogurt based marinade for chicken (like tandoori chicken in Indian food). I'll let you know how it turns out.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I Love French Toast

Is French toast really French? The answer is yes.... and no. Sure the French have a similar dish called pain perdu (lost bread), but people have been dipping stale bread in a variety of substances (from the eggy concoction that we use today to a mixture of wine and orange juice) and frying it for centuries.

This is a dish that has countless regional variations, exists in many different cultures, and has had numerous incarnations throughout the years. This is just the kind of dish that I love. I don't just love it because it is a practical way to use stale bread. I don't even just love it because it tastes great swimming in maple syrup. I love it for the stories that it has to tell.

I love that some people dip it in maple syrup, while others eat it with Vegemite or cheese and tomato sauce. I love it that some people cut the crusts off of sourdough bread and dunk it in rich farm eggs and cream while others use whole grain bread and egg whites. I love that variations of this dish have been served to ancient Romans, Medieval kings, French peasants and happy American 6 year olds. I also love the unlikely stories that surround its birth: The innkeeper from New York named French who didn't know how to use an apostrophe, or how French toast was called German Toast until WWI.

What I'm trying to say here is that I love French Toast!

For my French toast I use whole grain bread and dip in in a mixture of egg, milk, vanilla and cinnamon. You need almost one egg per slice of bread (I used 4 eggs for 5 slices of bread).

After it is soaked you cook it in a little butter in a non stick pan until the center is firm to the touch. If it feels soft in the middle chances are that the middle is still raw egg. You want to make sure that you turn it down if this is the case. You don't want the outside to get overly brown while you wait for the inside to cook.

Once it is done you just put it on a plate, cut it up and top it with syrup, honey, fruit powdered sugar ... or just about anything your heart desires. Dig in!

This is what I love this Wednesday....


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

52 Weeks of Happiness Week 11: Geocaching and Fire Trucks.

This weekend was a lot of fun. My older daughter had a friend spend a few nights and we spent time together on a friend and family adventure. Friday night we ate pizza, painted our toe nails and watched movies in bed. We woke up Saturday morning ready for adventure. We started out our morning with some French toast and then we hit the trail to one of favorite swimming holes... and did a little geocaching on the way.

Geocaching is our family's newest obsession. It has taken us a lot of really cool places that we might not have discovered otherwise. On this trip it took us down a small road where found a cache hidden in a cattle guard, we met a couple of goats and a friendly deer, and then found some trinkets hidden in the trees.

Later on our drive, caching took us to this strange collection of junk in the middle of Johnson City tucked behind some old grain silos. It was full of strange stuff... an old broken down fire truck, a dismantled carousel, a mounted fish with a birds nest tucked inside where the head should be, a house covered in shoes... There were also a load of mosquitoes so we couldn't stay long.

Our final goal was our favorite swimming hole (other than the San Marcos River). We enjoyed a day of swimming in the spring water and hiking around the trails. We saw three snakes while we were there (none of them venomous) and lots of birds and lizards. The only downside was we found fire ants, wasps and poison ivy as well. I will be applying soothing oatmeal baths and anti itch creams to the kids all week... but it was worth it.

We had a picnic near the water. We made turkey, cheese and avocado sandwiches and had fresh fruit, chips and cookies. The strawberries were big and juicy and I decided not to scold the kids for playing with their food.

After a day of fun we headed home and I made spaghetti and meatballs and the kids took a bath and went to bed. We woke up the next morning and the kids had enjoyed treasure hunting so much the day before that we decided to get a few treasures around town before breakfast. We headed for a greenbelt near by, collected the cache, and then sadly got our car stuck in the mud on our way out.
We didn't have our cell phone so we had to walk to the fire station near by to use a phone... The firemen came out and tried to help us get our car out... but we ended up needing a tow truck in the end.
On the bright side... Paul got to ride in the fire truck... and the girls and I got a tour of the fire house and cool new hats. The tow truck cost us 50 bucks... but it's only money in the end... and the kids will remember this weekend for a LONG time.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Makeover Monday:How I Made Fruit Salad into a Beauty Treatment, and a Whole New Way to Pull Taffy.

One night for dinner I was peeling fruit for a salad when I came across a kiwi that was too bruised to use. I set it aside with the hopes of finding out about the beauty benefits of kiwi. After dinner I looked around a bit and found THIS recipe for a hair mask. So the next morning I mashed it up with some yogurt and applied it to my hair. I wrapped a warm towel around the whole icky mess and shuffled about in my bathrobe to do my morning chores. Since the flies were already following me around I decided that a generous smearing of honey on my kisser couldn't make things any worse. For the next 15 minutes I did housework and swatted away insects. The final result was a bit underwhelming. Maybe it was the type of yogurt I used... or maybe kiwi isn't really all that great. The next time I have a hankering to smear dairy products in my hair I think I'll go with a full fat yogurt.

I also tried pineapple skin as a all over exfoliate. While I was cutting up pineapple I made sure to leave a little fruit on the skin. Instead of taking it straight to the compost I put it in a tupper ware for my evening shower. I used the inside of the skin (the outside would be far to rough) like a loofah for my evening shower. The pineapple juice mixed with the exfoliation power of the rough inner skin made me feel nice and soft all over.
Another beauty related thing I did this week was make this basket full of homemade beauty products for a friends birthday. I made lavender linen spray, lavender body powder, an herbal massage oil, an oatmeal cookie bath, and I crocheted a small disc to clean and exfoliate the face. You can read more about the crochet project on my Worth A Knit blog... I'll be posting instructions for this easy project later today.

To make the oatmeal bath you simply take one part baking soda to two parts oatmeal and then season it as you like with vanilla extract and cinnamon. Place it all in the blender and blend until it resembles wheat flour. If you are giving it as a gift simply put it in a bag and tie it with a ribbon. If the lucky recipient happens to be you then just throw the whole thing in a warm bath and enjoy.
And now for something completely different...

While looking at books about natural beauty products I stumbled across an interesting natural hair removal method. It is similar to waxing except instead of smearing unknown chemicals on your delicate parts you use a mixture of sugar, vinegar and water that you cook into a sticky paste. You apply it to your body and much like waxing you pull.
It is called sugering and HERE is a tutorial for making your own natural "wax". What I found funny about the whole process is that when I looked at the ingredients (2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup lemon juice... it looked a whole like the basic recipe for taffy (2 cups sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon vinegar).
Well May 23rd just happens to be National Taffy Day (I love meaningless food holidays)... so let's celebrate this Makeover Monday by giving the old fashioned taffy pull a whole new meaning!

I promise NOT to post my pictures... if you'll promise not to post yours.


As always fell free to link up and don't forget to visit The Zany Housewife.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tortilla Español

"In Spain the humble potato omelet, the tortilla, is revered like a priceless work of art. Round, yellow and resplendent, it is worshiped like a sun god. It is perhaps the most versatile and widely accepted dish in Spanish cuisine. It can be eaten hot or cold, while sitting down at the table or standing at the counter of a bar, in a sandwich on the train of as part of a picnic in the country."
The Heritage of Spanish Cooking by Alicia Rios

I love this simple dish and I hope you will too.

You start by peeling a few potatoes and slicing them thin. I used 3 large-ish new potatoes (a little over a pound) to fit in my non-stick skillet. Any potatoes will do in this recipe.

Next I fried the potatoes up in olive oil. Don't use regular vegetable oil or canola oil for this one. A key ingredient in the dish is the flavor of the olive oil. I seasoned them with salt and pepper and cooked them until they were soft inside and only slightly crispy on the outside (you don't want them browned).

Next you add eggs. I used 5 large eggs (I use about 4 eggs per pound of potatoes and find that this formula works well... that way if you want to change the size of the recipe you can do that with ease). Whisk them until the whites and yolks are well mixed. There is no need to add milk. Just pour the eggs into the pan.

To flip the omelet simply loosen the edges from the pan and slid the whole omelet onto a plate.

Next place the pan on top of the plate...

And flip the whole thing over... If you are really good you can do the whole flippy thing by tossing the omelet into the air and catching it... I know from experience, however, that while I might be good at the throwing part I'm not so good at the catching part. I use this cheater's method to flip with ease.

Cook it until the omelet is cooked through. I like to have the eggs very firm with a light brown color on both sides.

Cut it into wedges like a quiche and serve with a tossed green salad and some bread if you'd like. For our meal I cut up a lovely pineapple to go with dinner.




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