Thursday, July 29

Homemade Pasta

I love pasta! I could probably eat it everyday. A few months back, we started making our own from scratch and rolling it out by hand. It's laborious, but well worth the effort. Once we decided that this pasta making wouldn't be just an occasional treat, we bought the attachment pieces to the mixer we have to speed up the process a bit.

Here's some pictures of how it's done with the machine, and the family's favorite noodle recipe. Enjoy!

The machine, covered in flour. The recipe we use is stickier than normal, so I have to coat the dough in flour each time I put it in the machine so pieces won't get stuck.

This is the size of the dough ball before it gets flattened out. It's surprising to me still, just how many noodles you get from such a small ball of dough.

Cutting the pasta, after it's been flattened. The flattening process activates the wheat gluten in the flour, which is what creates the smooth texture of the noodle.

Our pasta hanging to dry. I did another batch with basil from our garden in it. I want to use it for our next pasta salad - yum! Here's our recipe, adapted from one I found at
2.5 Cups flour (we use whole wheat)
1 pinch salt
2 eggs beaten
1/2 Cup milk
1 tbsp melted butter
Stir flour and salt together. Add the liquid ingredients and mix well, then knead dough for 5-10 minutes if not using a pasta roller. Let the dough sit for 10 minutes before rolling out. Cut noodles to desired width and that's it!
Because of the egg and milk in the recipe, you can't dry these out for storage. You can freeze them though. Frozen noodles take about 7-10 minutes to cook in boiling water, and fresh noodles take about 5 minutes to cook in boiling water.

Wednesday, July 28

Styrofoam Jet Airplane on a Stick

I thought I would share some pictures of our jet airplane adventure... This was an Austin led craft - and he loved it! Notice how simple it is? Sometimes simplicity is the key (actually, it typically always is...) Anyway, here he is, painting the Styrofoam that we hot glue gunned together to look like a jet (again, his idea) After the paint dried, we stuck a small dowel rod in the bottom and off it went! Hannah of course needed her own shortly after that.
I have to say, though, I was pretty excited how it all started. Chris had just emptied out a box containing a mirror for Hannah's room. As soon as the white squeaky Styrofoam boxes appeared, he instantly declared that he needed them. We asked why and he informed us that "it will be for a craft Momma, a jet airplane, didn't you know?" And so we set them aside, and now he has his plane.

Thursday, July 22

Right Now

I've decided to add a "Right Now" section to this blog. Pretty much just to share what we have going on in our lives right now. This is also a way I'll be able to look back in the future to reminisce.
I can't say that I'm very happy with the overall look and feel of this blog, so I'm still trying to get all of that in order. If every time you visit, it looks a little different, please bear with me, hopefully I'll decide on a decent layout soon.

Life has been busy, when is it not? So sometimes I manage to sit down and write, and sometimes I don't. I'm hoping once the school year starts, things will settle down a bit and I'll fall back into a routine with this. That being said, I'm still crafting away and thinking up new projects for myself and the kids. Below are a few pictures of what we've been up to...

My knitting bag - usually filled with at least two projects at a time.

The hat Austin begged me to make for him. We bought the book Pretty in Punk (you can do the same here), just got the yarn, and hopefully it'll turn out okay. He chose black and green, minus the design.

Recent fabric purchases for my fist attempt at little girl dress making, ruffle additions, and skirt transformations.... I'll keep you posted on that...

Pasta salad with homemade dressing and garden grown veggies, pair this with roasted ranch potato wedges and I have one happy family.

Miss Rose finally taking a nap - poor girl has been sick all week.

Hannah's new smocked dress (a.k.a. - the old pillowcase)

I thought for a split second that maybe I could turn that pillowcase into a cute new top for me. Like I said, a split second.

My little girl just adores shoes, so of course she needed some fancy house slippers. I may be making myself a pair soon.... maybe in a different color though

We'll be back soon I hope. Now it's time to go construct a jet plane out of old packing material, wish us luck!

Sunday, July 18

Natural Hair Build-Up Remover

Commercial haircare products are loaded with synthetic and a lot of times, dangerous ingredients. These, along with styling products build up on the hair shaft. Though it's probably not harmful build-up, it definitely does a number on your hair's shine and manageability.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a known disinfectant and conditioner and can be used on hair. It's too concentrated to use undiluted - so it's suggested to do a 50/50 mix of ACV and water.I decided to give this a try, even though I don't use styling products. I've noticed my hair gets a little life-less for lack of a better term.

It worked wonderfully! I put the mixture in a spray bottle, and sprayed it on my scalp after washing and then all over my hair and let it sit for a minute before rinsing it out and then conditioning (I have very long thick hair and need the extra conditioning - those of you with shorter hair might be able to skip it all together!). The end result was fantastic! I could tell just by touching it that it was super clean, and softer. When my hair dried (I always let it air dry), all of the body came back and it was super shiny. Without saying a word about what I did, some women at work noticed how much better it looked.

I'm sold - and for less than $0.50!

Saturday, July 17

Cleaning up Indoor Air

I have been focusing on indoor air quality over the last few weeks. Studies reveal that the quality of the air in our homes can be up to 3 times as harmful and pollutant filled than the outdoors (and yes, this includes the inner-city). Think about it for a minute, all of the exhaust fumes, pesticides and allergens that are outside - multiply that by three and then shove it into a small contained space and take a deep breath. Yuck. Not to mention the average American spends about 90% of their time indoors.

Some causes of indoor air pollution include (but are not limited to):
- synthetic flooring
- VOC emitting paint (unless it says "Low VOC", you can assume you're getting a pretty hardy dose)
- Air "fresheners" (sprays, plug-ins, candles, etc...)
- Synthetic cleaning products
- Gas stoves and heating
- Furniture glue
- Pet messes
- Personal toiletries (perfumes, hairsprays, nail polish, polish removers, etc...)

The list goes on and on....

Aside from avoidance from some of these (obviously you can not avoid them all), you can add houseplants to each room in your house. Ferns and Orchids are especially good at "greening" up your air. If you have small children and/or animals, be sure to check the safety of the plant before you bring it into your home.

Still want a fragrance?
What better way to add an enticing aroma to your home than to bake fresh bread or cookies. You can also simmer sliced oranges, cinnamon sticks and lemons, or better yet, bake them on a tray at a low temp of about 150-170 degrees in your oven until they are dried out and then use them as potpourri.

Most importantly, open your windows as often as you can, especially in the evening. Outdoor air quality tends to be better late at night while less people are operating vehicles and machinery, and most buildings are shut down.

Friday, July 16

Exfoliating on the Cheap

Welcome Back!
A few weeks ago, I posted about my face cleaning routine (which is super simple!). In addition to washing with castile soap, I also exfoliate almost everyday during the summer. Part of the reason my skin used to break out so much was because it does not shed the dead layers off like it's supposed to. This is a pretty common problem I found out. So, my quick and practically free solution - Baking Soda! Seriously.

I always have baking soda around the house, we cook with it, clean with it, and now shower with it. It's mildly abrasive, but has been gentle enough on my face, and let me tell you, my skin has started looking amazing!

I just shake a small amount into the palm of my hand, mix with a bit of water, and then massage onto my face after cleaning it. It rinses right off, and you'll feel a difference immediately. This really only costs pennies, and you don't have to worry about chemicals, additives, or anything of that nature because you're just using that one ingredient.

I hope someone finds this helpful. Please let me know by leaving a comment.

Take care everyone!

Thursday, July 15

Colorful Sand Art

Welcome Back!
Today I'm sharing a much over-due kid's craft project. We had a lot of fun with this one, and ended up using it as a center piece on our kitchen table. I hope you enjoy it!

What you need:
Sand (we stole some from our sandbox - I don't think the kids will mind)
Zip closure bags
Food coloring
Funnel or small cups, or both
Toothpick (optional)

1) Put 1-2 cups of sand in a baggie. We did four different colors, so therefor filled up four different bags.

2) Put 4-8 drops of food coloring into each bag and close. Make sure the bag's are completely closed, or you'll have quite the mess on your hands. Shake each bag vigorously until the color is well blended and you don't see any food coloring clumps. The should look like the photo below.

3) Pour the sand in alternating colors, layering them on top of each other, in any way your child wants. If they're old enough, have them do the layering - as well as the shaking above.

4) Here's a shot of our halfway threw. My son asked me to give it teeth, so the only thing I could think of was to stick the toothpick in along the side of the glass to push some of the color down. He seemed pretty happy with that solution. You can see it in the next photo.

5) We then filled it almost to the top with more layers.

6) We found some fake flowers laying around and pushed them in the middle, and now we have a cute little center piece for our table.

Thanks for visiting my blog, and please leave a comment and let me know what you think about the site. Is there something you'd like to see more of? Or less of?
Take care everyone!
~Lisa :)

Wednesday, July 14

DIY leather and bead necklace

Hi Everyone!
I'm really excited to share this post with you! One of my favorite things to do when flipping threw magazines is to ask myself if I could make whatever I'm looking at. A lot of times the answer is yes, but for the price tag, it's not worth the time and effort. The last one I came across however completely was. I found this necklace in the August edition of Rachel Ray Magazine, in the Everyday Faves Style section. The necklace they feature is $128! Really?? For a strand of leather and three beads??? It's super cute and will pair well with a white T-Shirt (ignore my outfit in the finished photo - because it really doesn't go with that!) I went out and bought all of my supplies for this, which came to less than $4 dollars - and I could make at least 4 more without spending another dime! So here goes....

What you need:
`Leather string (found in the jewelry section of craft stores)
`Beads of your choice (1 large & 2 small) - make sure the holes in the beads are large enough to fit the leather string

1) Collect your supplies.

2). Cut the sting to the length you'll desire. You will have to fold the string in half and then measure. Be sure to add about and extra inch or two for trimming at the end. String your large bead, and let fall to the bottom center.

3) Tie a knot (looping both ends around your finger and then inside each other) at the top of the large bead, making sure that your end pieces are similar in length. Try and get the knot as close to the bead as possible.

4) Measure where you would like the necklace to fall on you, and then keep your finger in that spot when you remove it. This is where you will make your next knot (again, looping them both around and then threw).

5). Lay the bead down and line up the knots. Place a finger where you want to tie the next knot. Make sure there will be enough room to slide the large bead threw the gap. Then tie your second knot in the same fashion as before.

5) Here is an example of what it should look like:

6) String each small bead onto the ends of the necklace and decide how far down you want them to dangle. Then tie a knot under each bead to secure it in place. Make sure to pull the knots as tight as you can to make sure they won't come undone.

7) Trim your ends and you're done!

That's it! I love it! It only took about 10 minutes start to finish, and saved me $124 dollars (not that I would ever spend that amount on fashion jewelry, but still). Again, I think this will look great with a white tank or Tee - not what I'm wearing in this photo :)

Sunday, July 11

Homemade Soft Tortilla Shells

Welcome Back!
I wanted to write about one more recipe before returning to more creative posts (I have lot's to share in that department!). This is one of our favorites. It's really simple. In fact, had I known earlier just how simple these were to make, I would have started this years ago. For less than a dollar you get 8 - 10 large soft shells. We use these for tacos, sandwich wraps, banana roll-ups, and even to make our own tortilla chips. Click here for the original recipe.
What you need:
3 C Whole Wheat Flour
1 C Water
1/4 C Melted Coconut Oil (or preferred cooking oil, such as olive)
1/4 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Salt
1) Combine dry ingredients, then add the wet and mix until it forms a slightly sticky dough.
2) Mold into 8 - 10 balls and let sit for 10 minutes.
3. On a floured surface, roll out into tortilla shape and grill on a warm skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until done. Be careful not to let them get brown, or they won't be as pliable.
I like to double up this recipe and freeze half.
Take care everyone!

Friday, July 9

Balsamic Dressing

Welcome Back!
I absolutely LOVE Panera Bread's fresh mozzarella and tomato basil salad - especially the balsamic dressing that they use. I've looked for similar dressing's in the store, and nothing comes close. Then I tried this recipe, and it's it! It tastes just like the one I love so much, and at a fraction of the price. Combine this with my own fresh mozzarella and tomato's and basil from my garden and I'm in heaven. Now I just need to find the recipe for Panera's rosemary focassia bread....

What you need:
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp brown sugar
1 garlic clove
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 C olive oil

1) Mix everything but the oil, and then add the oil at the end, whisking briskly until blended well.

Thursday, July 8

Homemade Pizza Sauce

Welcome Back!

A few weeks ago, I posted our pizza dough recipe. So I figured you would probably need some sauce to put on it. This is our all time favorite pizza sauce! Try it and let me know what you think.

What you need:
1 can tomato paste (6 oz)
6 oz warm water (just fill up the empty can)
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp anchovy paste (adds lots of Vitamin D)
3/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried marjoram
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp salt

1) Mix together tomato paste and water until it has a smooth consistency, then add everything else.

2) Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour to let the flavors blend.

This will provide enough sauce for up to two large pizza's depending on how much you use. I like to double the recipe and freeze pre-portioned sizes to go with our frozen dough.

Wednesday, July 7

Blueberry Coffee Cake

Welcome Back!
I've decided that for the rest of this week, I'm going to post some of our favorite recipes. If you know me off-line, then you already know I'm a bit of a natural food freak ;) I've tried tons and tons of recipes over time with my family and came up with a little system that has served us well. Each time I try something new, if three out of the four of us like it, it makes it into my recipe box. So every recipe on this blog is straight from my box. Enjoy!

Blueberry Coffee Cake

What you need:
2 C Flour (I use stone ground whole wheat)
1 C Sugar (I use raw cane sugar - or sucanant if I have it)
3/4 C Softened butter - preferably from grass-fed cows, the flavor makes a HUGE difference
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg (farm fresh) beaten in a liquid measure cup, then fill to
1 C buttermilk

1) Mix sugar, flour and butter until it resembles corn meal.

2) Set aside 1 & 1/4 cup for topping

3) Mix baking powder and soda into the original dry ingredients in large bowl

4) Lightly beat an egg in a liquid measuring cup, then fill the rest of the cup with buttermilk until it reaches the one cup mark. Pour this into large bowl.

5) Mix well and then spread into a greased 9x9 or 9x13 pan.

6) Spread a layer of blueberries

7) Squeeze small handfuls of the dry mix from earlier and drop in small chunks on top of the blueberries.

Bake on the top shelf at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes.

We like to serve this cold, right out of the fridge after baking.

This is a modified recipe from one I found online here.

Tuesday, July 6

Upcycle Baby Blanket into a Floor Pillow

Welcome Back!
I hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend (for those of us in the states) - we sure did :) I made this pillow on the 3rd and brought it with for the fireworks for my little one. She loves it! I found the idea for this in the back of a recent issue of Parent's Magazine. This took about 30 minutes start to finish.

What you need:
A double sided (meaning 2 separate pieces of fabric sewn together) baby blanket
Fiber Fill
Thread that matches existing stitching

1. Snip open a four inch section near the seam of the blanket. I chose to do mine by the tag, near the corner so it wouldn't be too noticeable and so I could remove the tag.

2. Stuff the blanket to desired thickness with fiber fill. You can buy fiber fill at any craft store. I purchased a 5 pound box because I wasn't sure how much I would need. I used up a little over half the box. I wish I could say that I bought it with a 50% off coupon that are always available at those stores, but it was a last minute rushed idea so the box ended up costing about $14. But now I have lots left over for other projects too.

3. Once full, sew up the slit with matching thread, and that's it! You now have a super soft and super comfy floor pillow for your little one.

Have a great day and please come back soon!