Wednesday, May 26

Homemade Pizza Dough

Welcome Back!
Pizza dough is one of the easiest yeast breads to prepare, and is a great starting point for beginners. I use this recipe to make our pizza's as well as bread sticks. I usually make four batches at once, and freeze the leftover three. If you do this, make sure to open the container or bag that the frozen dough is in while it's thawing, otherwise it might burst (I know this from personal experience). I also soak the wheat flour overnight in an acid medium to help break down the phytates. Doing this creates a soft dough similar to using white flour, and helps aid in digestion - allowing more vitamins and minerals to be absorbed into the body. I do a separate post on soaking soon.

What you need:
1 Pkg active dry yeast (2.5 tsp)
1 C warm water (110-115 degrees - should feel slightly warm to the touch, but not hot)
2 C Flour (I use a mixture of whole wheat and spelt) + up to 2/3 C
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Sugar

1. Dissolve yeast in warm water for 10 minutes, or until it gets super bubbly and frothy (this is called proofing)

2. Combine all ingredients and knead until the dough is very elastic, not stiff. You will probably need to add a bit more flour while kneading - you want the dough to be tacky, but not so sticky that it won't come off your hand.

3. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a towel and put in a warm place. Let rise for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

4. Roll out to desired shape and size, and cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until slightly browned.

Tuesday, May 25

Searching For Clovers

Welcome Back!
Today was absolutely beautiful out, and the inside of the house was not the place to be. We spent the majority of the day outside playing, and ended the great day with a walk near dusk. Our mission? To find the infamous four leafed clover... We never found one, but the kids had a great time in the process. We came across an ant colony, touched the different textures of grass, had a few bird sightings and counted the sidewalk blocks. This is a great exploring activity and serves as a good opportunity to teach your kids about nature.

What you need:
comfy shoes

1. Decide what it is you'd like to go on a search for. Some examples would include our clover idea, or maybe a robin's egg, colored rocks, and so on.

2. Point out different things that you see around you, the smells, the sounds. Ask your children to do the same for you - you'd be amazed at some of the things those tiny eyes catch that you would otherwise never notice.

That's it really, just make sure to have a good chunk of time set aside to do this - everything is amazing to a young mind and you don't want to have to rush them along.

Take care everyone!

Wednesday, May 19

Cardboard Fun! Uses for packaging inserts

We recently purchased a new set of stainless steal pots and pans to replace our old non-stick set. There are health and environmental reasons behind the switch that I'll delve into deeper at another time. For now, I just wanted to share the fun my children had creating new things out of what would have otherwise ended up in the recycle bin.

What You Need:
Cardboard packaging inserts

1. Let your kids get creative and do whatever they dream up. Help the smaller children where necessary.

In the photo above, the children created a bangle bracelet, and home/hut for transformers, and a princess crown. My son refuses to let these go, and we did this project well over a month ago. I was surprised with what they came up with, and everyone had a great time.

Have you re-purposed anything lately? Share with us in the comments box below!

Tuesday, May 18

Homemade Laundry Detergent - Biodegradeable & Chemical Free

I'm used to getting funny looks when I talk about some of the things I make myself, with one exception - laundry detergent. The minute I mention it costs me a little more than $3 to wash 64 loads, everyone asks how I do it. So, I figured it was time to post the recipe online to give my hands a break from writing it out ;)

An added bonus, and the main reason I went searching for this recipe is that it's completely biodegradable, and free from harsh detergents, soaps and dyes. So not only does this wonder soap cost considerably less than store bought jugs, it's safer for my family's skin, safer for our water supply, easier on the machines, and produces less waste for the environment. A win-win in my eyes. It is important to note however that this soap is not like traditional detergents, and it requires a little shake before pouring it into the measuring cup.

What you need:

1C Castile Soap (I use dr. bronner's sal suds - you can buy it here)

2C water

1/3C Salt

1C Baking Soda


1. Warm the salt and baking soda in water until it will no longer dissolve (you will have quite a bit of extra baking soda that does not dissolve and this is why it needs to be slightly shaken prior to measuring out for the laundry).

2. Transfer this to a clean gallon container, add the soap and then fill the rest with water.

3. Use 1/4C per load unless super dirty. For heavily soiled clothing use 1/2C. Add 2 tbsp of vinegar to the rinse cycle. This acts as a fabric softener and disinfectant.

Click here for the original recipe.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment.

Happy cleaning!

Sunday, May 16

Pipe Cleaner Flower Pots

This is a great Spring project, and doubles as a gift your children can give to relatives for holidays and birthdays.
What you need:
Pipe cleaners - assorted colors
Pony beads
Dry beans
Dixie cups
Small Styrofoam balls (1 for each "pot")
Paint - we chose green and brown to be realistic, but get creative here!
Craft Glue or Glue gun
1. Paint the Dixie cups and Styrofoam balls and allow to dry.
2. Once dry, fill each Dixie cup with about a half inch of beans - give or take so that your painted ball will still rest nicely inside the Dixie cup.
3. Glue the ball to the Dixie cup by applying glue along the inner edges of the Dixie cup where both objects will touch. This secures the beans.
4. Take one pony bead and one pipe cleaner, loop the pipe cleaner threw the pony bead to create the petals. Expect to ruin at least one pipe cleaner while you get the hang of this - I tried doing this in a bit of a rush, big mistake! :) Allow a bit of pipe cleaner to extend from the loops so that you can attach it to the stem.
5. Create stems by folding a green pip cleaner in half and cutting at that fold (1 pipe cleaner will give you two identical stems).
6. Twist together the flower and stem, and then push the bottom of the flower into the pot.
That's it!
This was a fun project for us, and I think it turned out pretty cute.
Be sure to check back often - I'll be updating the site and adding new posts more frequently.
Did you try this one? Let me know, leave a comment :)