11.27.2012

Good Eats: Roasted Veggies

Whew!  With last week being Thanksgiving - full of traveling and family time - I took the week off.  But I'm glad to be back!  I've wanted to share this with you for quite some time.

There weren't many vegetables I liked as a child.  Mainly corn, potatoes, and sweet peas.  All starch.  Oh, and baked beans.  But do those even count?  I have no idea.

This year, I've learned the reason why I didn't really like vegetables.  They were hardly ever prepared correctly.  (sorry mom!)  That's not really fair...simmering or boiling vegetables is an acceptable method.  Especially if you like mushy, bland veggies.  In the retirement communities I managed, they were all the rage! :)

If you are trying really hard to like vegetables, I implore you to try roasting them.  Seriously.  You may not love all of them, but they get much more edible.  I get excited about eating them now.  I sometimes crave certain veggies.  C calls my roasted green beans "green bean candy".  Anytime someone refers to a veggie as candy, you know it's good. 

Here's the secret:  It's not difficult!  In fact, it's super easy!!

Fresh or frozen veggies work wonderfully well for this.  I've never tried it with canned, because I don't buy canned veggies anymore.

You will need vegetables, some sort of baking dish or sheet, an oven, oil (preferably olive or coconut), and seasonings.  Preheat your oven to 450*. 

 This time, I roasted asparagus.


 I break off the yucky ends.  They end up in my vegetable broth. 


The top ends get washed and chopped. 


I always drizzle olive oil over the veggies, and I season them with sea salt, fresh ground pepper, and minced garlic.  Occasionally I add in onions and Greek seasoning.


Look at that caramelization!  (And please don't look so closely at my rusted, $5 grocery store special baking sheet.  I was trying to hold out for wedding gifts!)


This was a different night, with frozen green beans and red onions...and a new baking sheet!  I couldn't wait. 


Green bean candy!


The 450* oven has worked for green beans, zucchini, squash, broccoli, asparagus, onions, and carrots.  The cook time will depend on whether you use fresh or frozen veggies.  Usually, in my experience, the fresh veggies will crisp up better than the frozen.  Fresh veggies take, on average, 20-25 minutes; and frozen veggies can take 35-45 minutes.  It's completely subjective.  If they look nice to you, they're done!




11.15.2012

Good reads?

I mentioned last time a couple of books that I'd been reading for our pre-marital counseling, and they're both amazing. I've since finished Real Marriage, and I can't say enough good things about it. So good. So real. So hard.

I'm now reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility, because I'd rather use a natural and non-medicinal form of contraceptive (and then later, to conceive). It is so incredibly informative and well-written. I really wasn't looking forward to reading it, thinking it would read like a textbook. But Toni Weschler does a great job of adding humor and wit just when you need it. And seriously, there's so much I didn't know about my own body, I'm kind of ashamed. I personally would suggest every woman read this book. I hope there is/will be a teen version, in case I ever have a daughter. My teen and early adult years would have been much less stressful and awkward if I had known some of the stuff in this book.

Now, here's where I need your help. I would like to read a (some) good book(s) on biblical wifehood. The partnership, I think I have a good library to choose from. But I'd really like to find good perspectives on being a biblical wife, specifically. I have been lucky enough to know several Godly women, but you rarely ever see the inter-workings of another person's marriage. Not the really real stuff. That's what I need. I definitely want to do my homework, because living biblically doesn't come easily or naturally for any of us!

Suggestions of great reads greatly appreciated!

11.14.2012

Gonna wash that oil right outta my hair!

This week's Do-It-Yourself/Scrounge-Up-What-You-Can-Without-Going-To-The-Store-So-You-Don't-Blow-Your-Grocery-Budget comes to you out of my sheer necessity and desperation.  See, I had my hair highlighted this past weekend, so I wouldn't have 4 inches of roots in my upcoming engagement photos.  I am also growing out my hair for my wedding (5 months from today!!).  As a result of these genius ideas, my hair is dry like 007's martini.  Or like the Sahara desert.  You get it.  Anyway, it's dry.  It looked and felt like hay.  Bad news.  Wouldn't make for pretty memories.  I had to find a quick, yet effective solution.

So I, of course, asked the internets.  The internets always knows.  There was a googleplex of various recipes including things I could find in my kitchen.  I could have used (seemingly) any combination of mayonnaise, avocado, honey, eggs, beer, and oils of all sorts.  While all that sounds lovely, and I'm sure they would work, I did not go with any of the recipes I found.  I seriously considered the honey and oil formulations.  But call me maybe lazy, I didn't want to clean all that out of my hair or my bathtub.  And I didn't want to go buy coconut oil.  Well, I did, but I've disallowed myself any extraneous shopping trips.  Budget.

Here's what I did. I have argan (just organic, no fancy name-brand with all sorts of additives and chemicals) and jojoba oils.  I know they are both amazingly moisturizing and nourishing.  I pored equal ratios of the two oils in my sweet little hand and added a few drops each of tea tree, lavender, and eucalyptus essential oils.  I warmed the oils in my hands and massaged the mixture into my hair, ends to roots.  (I have extremely long and incredibly thick hair, so I used two handfuls to coat my hair)  I then spritzed a hair towel wrap with water and microwaved it in 30 second increments until it was toasty warm.  The towel stayed on all night, locking in all that lovely heat and moisturizing ability.  In the morning, I shampooed and conditioned as normal.

The result was amazing!  I now have gorgeous, soft, smooth locks.  Seriously.  I wouldn't lead you astray.  I'm weirdly obsessed with my hair.  And I loved this.  I WILL do this again.

Sorry for the lack of pictures of the actual process or results.  Just trust me that it was awesome.  And I don't want bathroom-mirror-self-pics all over the interwebz.  No one needs that in their life.

I'm joining with Frugally Sustainable, Creating Naturally, and Adorned From Above again this week.  Check out all the other great ideas on each of these, and feel free to give my post some love!


Adorned From Above



11.07.2012

Link it up!

Today I was able to make guest appearances at Frugally Sustainable and Adorned from Above, with my DIY body wash, and Creating Naturally, with my DIY Laundry Detergent!

All the blogs have great lists of all sorts of links for recipes, DIYs, and all sorts of eco-friendly, sustainable, and healthy tips.

Check them out!

11.05.2012

It's all in the details.

Wedding planning is difficult and fun and stressful and stress-relieving and about a million other contradictory things all at once.

Without Etsy and some craftiness on my part, I'm not sure how I'd accomplish a wedding.

Thankfully, most of the details are finished. I have some hands-on work left to do, but not much in the way of actual planning is left.

We've had our cake tasting, and those cakes are going to be delicious!

I have my garter, headpiece, shoes, and under the dress essentials.

We have the decorations (and supplies to make decorations) purchased.

Invitations only need to be addressed at this point! And save-the-dates are being designed currently...they'll be mailed as soon as we get the printer the address list!

Our engagement photo session will take place in just a couple weeks.

My dress is in process. I'm very lucky to be able to work with a dress designer, and even luckier that she happens to be my aunt! My Aunt D (Debbie) is my mom's sister and lives in Chicago. She's been making beautiful dresses for 30 years as a side hobby, and has made around 300 wedding gowns and countless other bridal party dresses. It is amazing and overwhelming to have the opportunity to design your own gown. I can't wait to see the finished product!

The reception menu is planned...pretty much.

I think the wedding party dinner has been booked (Chris?).

The registries are complete, but might need a little adjusting.

The bridesmaids' dresses have been chosen, and they have until December to order and send in their measurements.

Honeymoon plans have not been made.  We may have to hold off on an official honeymoon.  Chris may be right in the middle of a school semester.

We're currently figuring out plans for beyond next summer.  Charlotte will be going to pre-school, so I will be out of a job and leaving a sweet family!  We've pretty much decided what we think should happen, and as soon as things are iron-clad, I can fill you in. 

10.31.2012

Domesticity: DIY Body Wash

First, I'd like to give you some insight into where my head has been for quite some time.  For months now, I've been toying and warring with ideas of what I'd really like to do with this blog.  I have moments where I'm super afraid of being "really real" for fear I might turn people off or offend some.  While I don't think I'm particularly offensive, I have thoughts I would very much like to share, but I've been afraid of sharing too much or being too transparent.  This turns some off, for certain.  But I've thought and prayed and sought guidance in all this, and I believe I need to share what is in my mind and heart.  Things that help me will help others.  I've only been able to find solutions and tips because of helpful others, and it is my turn to pass that on!  Anyway...on with the show!



As most of you know, I have sought out many ways to save money, save the earth, and save our bodies from harm.  I've shown you how to make laundry detergent, I've failed at making dishwasher detergent, I've made a carpet cleaner I should show you (along with an all-purpose cleaner, hardwood cleaner, and a glass cleaner), and I have even made some personal care products that I don't yet have the courage to share :)

Since Chris was out of his body wash I make for him, you get to witness the process!  It's really simple, and so adaptable to your preferences.

First, you'll need to gather (or possibly purchase?) your supplies.  Please note, I use some additional and optional supplies.  The only supplies needed are liquid castile soap (Dr. Bronner's peppermint is what I use for Chris, lavender for myself) and aloe vera gel.  Gel, not juice!  I also add essential oils, Vitamin E oil, and some sort of moisturizing oil...such as jojoba or sweet almond oil.


You will also need a clean, empty container.  We reuse!


I always add the castile first, but it doesn't matter the order in which you add the castile and aloe.  The important part is that the castile and aloe are added in equal ratios.  If you would like exact measurements, find out how much your container holds, subtract about 10% and divide that in half.  That is the amount of castile and aloe you will need!  I just eyeball it.  Almost half full of castile...


 And nearly fill the rest with the aloe vera gel.  (I found my aloe vera gel at Whole Foods.)


Next come the optional ingredients.
The sweet almond oil adds moisturizing benefits and allows nutrients from the other ingredients to be absorbed easily into the skin.  It also has a nice, light fragrance.  Add just a little...nearly fill that 10% you have empty.  Obviously, if you felt you needed more moisturizing, you would cut back on both your castile and aloe gel, in order to leave more room for your moisturizing oil(s).  Sometimes I add more than one type.  It depends on what mood I'm in and what I feel like dragging out and putting away.


I did not take picture of each of these ingredients, but I added a few squirts of vitamin E oil, lavender essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, and lemon essential oil.  The vitamin E oil is incredibly beneficial for the skin.  It soothes and can help with things like scars, stretch marks, and other bruises and skin irritations.  Lavender is also very soothing topically and aromatically.  Lavender provides more benefits than I can list!  It's also maybe my favorite essential oil scent.  The eucalyptus and lemon are both very astringent and wonderful for clearing the sinuses!  Chris also loves mint and citrus scents, so those are my main reasons for adding those and using the peppermint castile.  I usually add around 8 drops of each essential oil, as a little goes a long way!  They are very concentrated, and different essential oils can be irritating to the skin from direct, undiluted contact.  Always use essential oils carefully, and only after you've done some personal research!


Whew!  And now, you should have a full bottle of body wash, made to your own specifications!  It will always need to be shaken before use.  Don't be alarmed if it separates between uses...a nice shake will mix it all together again :)


Don't be afraid to ask any questions!  And try it, you'll probably love it!

10.22.2012

Good reads.

This is definitely something I should write about more, mainly because I should read more. And truthfully, the last few books I've read have a limited audience. For example, with a pregnant best friend (until about 5 weeks ago!) I read "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" in order to be the informed, supportive friend. I suggest the latter if you're looking for humor with some real-life tips, and the former if you want just the facts.

The book I'm currently reading is also utilitarian, of sorts. For our pre-marital counseling, our good friend and minister, Walt (the husband of my best friend!), suggested "Real Marriage" by Mark and Grace Driscoll and "A Celebration of Sex".

So I've started "Real Marriage", and it is fantastic. It's hard. It forces you to deal with some heavy stuff, but it is so worth it. I would recommend it to any couple who is married or close to being married.

And speaking of that, we're going on a little more than 5 months! Yay!

(We're supposed to wait until about a month before the wedding to crack open "A Celebration of Sex", but I've heard great things about it)