Archive | April, 2012

Pinterest Idea: Wavy Hair

30 Apr

I’m not going to lie. I’m a pinterest addict. A total pinning fool. There are not enough hours in the day, money in my account, or room in my house to accomplish all the recipes, diy’s, and beauty routines. However, I do like to try to use or replicate some of the pins I pin. Otherwise, what’s the point of it all???

Onto the wavy hair idea – you put your hair in two pigtail braids, you twist the braided hair, and run a flat-iron over the twists. It’s supposed to result in something similar to beach wave hair. Me? I have poker straight hair. Super straight. Someone could hold me at gunpoint to get my hair to curl and it would still be pretty straight. So, I decided I would sleep on my braids. I had them in from about noon Sunday until 7:30 am Monday. More time braided means more likelihood that the hair will maintain some form of wave.

I decided upon testing this hairdo out whenever I had wet hair and the hubs wanted to take the motorcycle out to enjoy the beautiful day. Wet hair + helmet = dented, tangled, wind tossed roughness. So I put my hair into two cute little braids and made myself look about 12. Good thing we were going somewhere for lunch that people knew my husband hadn’t robbed the cradle. Off we went.

Slept with the braids in all night, twisted them, then flat ironed.

Here is the resulting hair:

My thoughts: Not bad. I don’t feel like this is “beach wave” hair. It’s more like large-sized crimping. Or maybe a tighter beach wave. That being said, I don’t think it looks bad. It’s super simple – the most labor intensive part is making 2 braids, which didn’t take a whole lot of time. If I do this again I’ll skip the flat-iron part and twist the ends while it’s still braided around a small barrel curling iron. I don’t feel like the flat-iron really contributed anything, nor would it hold the waviness if I just braided, twisted, flat-ironed it.

What do you think? Would this be something you’d try to speed up your morning routine?

The DIY Life: Keeping Chickens Series, Part 3

26 Apr

This week, I combined the two different breeds of chicks into the one large pen. The Barred Plymouth Rock Chicks quickly outgrew their little tote abode and were in need of more space. At 4 weeks old, they were beefy enough to be able to at least defend themselves against the larger Golden Laced Wyandotte. For those of you that aren’t familiar with keeping chickens, combining different aged chicks can be slightly dangerous because there is literally a pecking order. The older birds are familiar with each other so pecking of each other is limited to the head lady wanting to eat, drink, or perch somewhere specific. Currently, they are still figuring out their pecking order, but live pretty nicely together. The new chicks? They are basically viewed at outsiders and can be pecked to death by other birds if they don’t learn their place and learn it pretty fast.

So, in order to lessen the hazards, I gingerly dropped the younger birds in with the older while the older ones were distracted in a corner eating lettuce. It seemed to work pretty well. There was pecking by one bird who seems to be the bully of the group, but she was easily chased off when we tapped her on her rear with a stick when she seemed to be getting too aggressive. If this behavior keeps up I’ll separate her from the group and put her in a sort of isolation for a day or two to drop her down a couple pegs in the chicken hierarchy.

But that all said, the birds are doing wonderful. They are growing, their feathers are coming in, and everyone seems healthy. The ducks are HUGE! Well, one duck specifically. The other lady is big, but she’s dwarfed by her giant-sized sister. It’s amazing how something that fit in the palm of my hand 6 weeks ago now requires a 2 hand hold on her midsection to keep her still.

Over the next couple of weeks we will start building the chicken coop. We’ve got the metal roofing on order and the hubs thinks he has finalized his design plan. There will be a fenced in run for them to mingle in with a human sized door so the hubs and I can get in and let the ladies out in the morning. Stay tuned for photos of the coop in progress!

*A note to those of you new to keeping chickens about combining different aged birds/breeds – You have to be careful when doing this not only for the pecking, but for the chance of disease being spread. Make sure to read up on ways to combine your old and new flock to avoid losing any of your birds. I did not have to worry about this as my chicks all came from the same hatchery, so they would all have been exposed to the same type of environment and “germs”. Any dormant “germs” they carry won’t affect any of the other chicks since they all come from the same place. I am no expert, so consult the experts. My knowledge is if they are not from the same hatchery, there  needs to be a quarantine period before old and new can cohabitate.

Crock Pot Love: shredded Mexichicken, for tacos!

23 Apr

Get it? Mexican + Chicken = Mexichicken! I know. I’m weird. Whatever.

Anywho. Crock pots…what glorious wonderful food preparation machines. With only a little bit of prep work the night before or morning of, you can come home to a hot delicious meal and pretty much be ready to eat! Yipee! I am particularly a fan of the crock pot when I’m working later because it helps me avoid having to eat dinner with the hubs at 8pm. And to make things even EASIER – I discovered through a friends mom the fantabulousness that is slow cooker liners!!!  Hello easy crock pot cleanup! Crock pot liners you ask? YES! You just put one in the crock pot and let your foods cook in it – like a crock pot barrier against having to soak the cooked on foodstuffs overnight (or multiple nights if you don’t feel like using some elbow grease to clean it). Total clean up saver. You just toss the liner in the trash can. Ta-da!

Onto the recipe. This chicken is SO good. So very good. When I was taking it out of the pot it was totally falling apart. The long cook time combined with the acids from the tomato paste and lime juice break down the chicken and turn it to butter. This recipe doesn’t have any major heat to it, just a good taco like flavor. The onions get really soft and tender, the garlic loses it’s bite…We ate ours on soft tacos, but it would be awesome on hard shell tacos as well. Also fab as a taco salad meat, or on nachos with lots of cheese.

additionally, this freezes really well. It makes a lot, so I’d advise that you freeze half of the meat after cooking. It’s enough for 4-5 dinners. I portioned out 2 small freezer bags worth so we could have it on a night I forget to plan a meal, or we have company and want nachos!

Don’t gasp like a vampire at the amount of garlic I listed. Remember you are cooking this for a LONG time, so it will lose a lot of its potency. Hence the addition of garlic powder.

Mexichicken tacos

6 boneless chicken breasts

1 large Vidalia onion, sliced into half moons

8-10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

3tbsp hot sauce (I used my homemade sauce – it’s pretty mild from the fresh garden peppers)

1 can tomato paste mixed with 1 cup water

Juice from 1 lime

1 – 2 tbsp salt free taco seasoning

1tsp garlic powder

Place chicken in your crock pot then add in onions, garlic, hot sauce, lime juice and the tomato paste/water mixture. Use tongs to mix up the onions and get the chicken coated in the saucy goodness. Place lid on the crock pot and cook on low for 8hrs.

DO NOT ADD the garlic powder and taco seasoning at this time. If you do, the flavor will be gone. During a long cooking time, you want to add the spices at the END of the cooking process so that they don’t lose their potency.

When the chicken is done cooking, transfer it to a large bowl and shred it using 2 forks. Add 1tbsp of the taco seasoning and all the garlic powder as well as some of the juices/broth from the crock pot to keep the chicken moist. Give it a taste and see if it needs more taco seasoning. Or more hot sauce.

Serve it up on soft tortillas with some sour cream, guac, lettuce, cheese, green onions…whatever floats your boat.

The DIY Life: Homemade Instant Oatmeal Mix

19 Apr

So the hubs is on his oatmeal kick again. On the cool mornings he likes to enjoy a bowl of hot oatmeal before heading off to work. Of course, he eats 2 packets because he’s a man. And men eat more than us dainty ladies. So that means that in a week, he consumes a box of oatmeal packets. Which means that I’ve got to stock up on oatmeal packets, and even buying the store brand it’s $2 per box. So, since we just ran out, and I had a surplus of quick cooking oats, I decided to try my hand at making my own mix. This is pretty much the standard recipe floating out there on the internet, I didn’t invent it but thought i’d share it with my penny pinching followers who also want to be more aware of their foods content. You are welcome my fellow thrifters.

I myself cannot eat oatmeal. Boy I wish I could. It’s wholesome, fills your tummy, and good for you. But I cannot get past the texture. No matter how amazing the steam from the hot oats smells, as soon as it hits my tongue I gag. Sigh. I did try this mixture dry for my taste test and it was pretty tasty. A nice flavor combo. Hubs confirms it’s good.

And I didn’t do the math because I had all the ingredients in the house to make this, BUT it’s got to be cheaper than purchasing the store bought stuff if you are going through at least one box per week. I doubled the recipe and filled a gallon sized mason jar. Put a scoop in it so now the hubs can just scoop out what he wants and be on his way.

And it’s way nicer to look at the oatmeal mixture in my sweet ass mason jar than those packets sitting in the fruit basket. I have a thing for mason jars. Like a HUGE thing. In case you hadn’t picked up on that from my posts yet. Like if there were Mason Jar meeting similar to the AA setting, I would have to attend them. But there isn’t any such thing, so i’ll go on collecting mason jars like it’s my destiny.

 

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal Mix

18oz container quick oats

1/3 cup powdered milk

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1-2 tsp Cinnamon (I did 2tsp for more cinnamon flavor)
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix by hand. Be sure to break up any chunks of brown sugar. Store in an airtight container.
To serve, place 1/2cup oatmeal mix in a bowl and cover with 1/2cup hot water or milk. Add in fruit or nuts if you want some additional flavor.

Lazy side dish: Baked Potato Bake

16 Apr

Yes you read that right. A Baked Potato BAKE. I love potatoes, in all their forms. Mashed, baked, french fries….yum. But this past weekend? I was feeling lazy and didn’t really want to dirty the mixer making mashed potatoes. And I didn’t want to chop the potatoes small enough to expedite their boiling. So I cut them into 4’s and boiled them. I was originally going to do a butter/parsely/chive type of thing but after the potatoes were boiled, it didn’t really appeal to me. So I rooted around the fridge and found that I could, essentially, make a baked potato like concoction. Now THAT sounded yummy to me. And I didn’t have to lug my Kitchen Aid out to whip up mashed potatoes. woot woot!

This recipe is a basic guideline. Add whatever you want! Love adding bacon and green onions when you eat a baked potato? Do that here! You could even top this with some chili and make it a whole meal – chili cheese baked potato bake. YES PLEASE!

Baked Potato Bake

Ingredients

8-10 large idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into 4’s

kosher salt (for potato water)

1 – 1 1/2 cups colby jack cheese, shredded

1cup sour cream

5 tablespoons butter

garlic salt

pepper

3 tablespoons chives

1 cup fresh baby spinach, roughly chopped

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Sprinkle with kosher salt and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until fork tender. Drain and rinse.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour hot rinsed potatoes into an 8×8 baking dish. Add in the sour cream, butter, spinach, and chives. Using a potato masher, roughly mash the potatoes. (Lumps are ok, this is a baked potato bake after all. You do NOT want mashed potatoes!) Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine all the ingredients.

mashed and mixed up, prior to cheesing

^^^mashed and mixed up prior to cheesing!

When it tastes seasoned to your liking, sprinkle the top with the shredded colby jack cheese and put the baking dish uncovered into your preheated oven for 30 minutes.

After 3o minutes, try to refrain from gobbling up the entire pan. This is a filling, easy side dish! Alternately, you can freeze this BEFORE baking for the 3o minutes and have a readily available side dish. Just add another 10 minutes to the baking time! (and if you have it in a ceramic dish, put the dish in the oven WHILE it preheats to avoid cracking the ceramic.)

mmm.... MMMM….

The DIY Life: Keeping Chickens – Photo updates!

11 Apr

Howdy! The chickens and ducks have since been relocated to our garage, where they now have more space to roam!  For their set-up, I placed  a piece of cardboard on the floor topped with two black garbage bags. The seams of the bags have been duct taped together so they stay down and I then taped the bag up around the edges of the base of the pen to help keep the litter scatter to a minimum. Kind of like a kick board. For perches I used two birch branches that had fallen down. I peeled off any loose bark and just wedged them in the openings.

The birds are loving their new place and all that space to roam! The younger birds were relocated to the tote the big birds were hanging out in previous to their relocation and they are also in the garage. Everyone has adjusted well, and even with our garage not being heated, no one is staying hanging out under the light the whole time. Some of the bigger birds were actually in the center of the pen taking a nap this morning! I did have a little chick make an escape but I caught her. She was trying to get into the pen with the older birds and couldn’t fit through the bars! I’m glad to know that I could actually put the younger ones in with the bigger ones and not have to worry about them getting out.

Enjoy the photos!

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Morning Rush – “Fast Food” Breakfast sandwiches

10 Apr

Breakfast is the meal that you just should not skip. It kick starts your brain and body into powering through the day. Yet so many of us skip it because we are pressed for time in our morning rush to get out the door and to work on time. Or, we think that a granola bar or an apple eaten while driving in to work is an adequate substitute for a legit breakfast.

Believe me, breakfast is my most favorite meal. I eat it for dinner or lunch. I would eat a full breakfast every morning, if I just had the time! But sleeping an extra 1/2hr always wins out over getting my day started sooner so I can cook breakfast. And then there are those days when on the way to work going through the drive thru at a fast food restaurant seems like a wonderful idea because I just want a breakfast sandwich. And then I finish the sandwich and feel blah. Because of all the preservatives, calories, fat and grease. So what was supposed to satiate and energize me leaves me feeling lethargic and regretful.

Enter the homemade “Fast Food” Breakfast Sandwich! Putting aside a little bit of time and getting these assembled means you have something available right in your very own freezer!

You can make however many you want. I make 2 dozen because I do 1 dozen egg white and 1 dozen whole egg – egg white for me since I’m trying to lose weight, whole egg for the hubs because he needs the additional fat and protein to get him through his vigorous work day. Since you make the egg part in muffin tins (super convenient!) I use mini bagels. Full size bagels are HUGE and would require 2 of the baked egg cups just for proper bagel coverage.

If you don’t want to have a whole cooked yolk to bite into, just whisk up the eggs and whites for a more scrambled egg type sandwich. Edit the recipe/method below to your liking. This is just a guide and what I did. Want some kick? Sprinkle egg tops with crushed red pepper flakes. Need meat with your breakfast sandwich? Cook up some turkey breakfast sausage, drain the fat and add some to the egg cups before cooking. Next time I’m going to add some sautéed drained spinach to the egg whites along with a sprinkling of garlic salt.

Fast Food Breakfast Sandwiches

Ingredients:

12 eggs

2 cartons egg whites

12 slices yellow american, cut in half

24 mini bagels, sliced

salt, pepper, and chives for sprinkling egg tops – optional

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray 2 12 count muffin tins with non stick spray to coat. In one muffin tin, crack the 12 eggs – 1 per tin compartment.

In the other 12 count muffin tin, pour egg white till cups are 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle all 24 sections with salt, pepper and chives if desired.

Place tins on top rack side by side for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.

Split bagels in half and place split side up onto 2 cookie sheets. Add to the preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

While bagels are toasting, remove eggs from the muffin tins.

Remove bagels from the oven and top one side with an egg and top with half a slice of cheese each. Place bagel top on. Repeat process until all bagel sandwiches are assembled.

Place all the bagel sandwiches on a cookie sheet(s) and put uncovered into the freezer for 1hr.

Once frozen, wrap individually in saran wrap and place in a freezer bag.

To heat, take one out of the freezer the night before and let thaw overnight in the fridge. Microwave for 30-60 seconds until cheese is melted and egg is hot.

You can also heat up in the oven – 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Isn’t that a great way to have breakfast on hand? yay!