Redemption is Mine! (and Some Other Things)

Oh hey, hi there. I’m back from my hiatus. I didn’t know that a side effect to a nasty head cold was writers block. Apparently it is. I bet you missed my humor. Not to worry, I think I can bring it today. The past few weeks, no. Today, we will see. It seems as if the sun is finally shining down on me right now and I feel, kind of ok and my nose is working and my head is a little less foggy so let’s take a looksey at what we have been doing here in Schogerland.

Frozen Chocolate Peanut Butter Covered Bananas (REDEMPTION!): Actually, redemption has been mine for more than a month now, but I have been too busy fending off nasty, preschool germs to actually get around to writing something about it. I love dark chocolate and I love fruit and any chance to combine the two, I will. So, when I miserably failed at this the first time, I would not let it deter me from trying again. Because CHOCOLATE. COVERED. BANANAS! Well, let me tell you, I kicked this ones ASS the next time I tried it.

Monkey Pops!now referred to in our household as “Monkey Pops”

Here’s my take: I used organic semi-sweet chocolate and melted a few dollops of peanut butter (I also tried almond butter, and YUM too!) over a make-shift double boiler. Trick here is to do this slowly and once it starts melting, stir, stir, stir!  And then turn down the heat and continue to stir because chocolate is temperamental and you want it smooth and creamy, not gritty and crunchy-ish (which will happen if you get it too hot and do not stir.) One interesting tid bit I discovered, the almond butter had a lot of natural oils in it, which really helped make the chocolate a bit more pliable. If you were not to use some kind of nut butter because of allergies or what not, I would recommend adding a bit of oil (I usually use safflower oil because it is tasteless and light and does not contain soy.) Also, a side note about canola oil; 80% of canola oil is from GMO rapeseed crop. You can find organic canola oil, but here is an interesting link about the rapeseed and I will let you decide for yourself about your future canola oil use. And last, before I get off of my GMO and soybean soapbox (am I getting annoying on this topic yet?) Did you know that most, if not all* vegetable oils contain soybean oil? And if you are really interested in finding organic vegetable oil, I challenge you on that one and let me know if you are successful. Because I have yet to be. SOY! I angrily shake my fist at you!

Whoa, ok, Monkey pops – I bought these little craft sticks at Michaels, great for little hands to grab and give the banana an easy for dunking in chocolate. Also, regarding “dunking” in chocolate, it is more like a “spooning.” Spoon the chocolate all over the bananas and then tap the stick lightly on the side of the bowl to ensure full coverage and get any excess chocolate off. I lined them up on a waxed paper (organic!) on a cookie tray and froze them for about an hour.

The only downside to these is that we have a French door freezer, with handle at three year old level. When we bought the fridge we specifically asked the sales associate if he thought a toddler could open it and he told us, “absolutely not.” Turns out he LIED TO US! Can you believe it? An appliance salesman LIED to us to make a sale?! Seriously. Anyhow, it is NOT toddler-proof and often time I find Grant with a chocolate-lined mouth whenever these are in the house. But really, who can blame him?

Cd Tea Light Holders: Seriously, I am the last person that would display tea lights, just not my thing, not my decor style. Plus, my house is still lacking surface area to put said tea light on**…. BUT, I thought this would be quick and fun and I just happened to have about 37 blank discs scattered around my office…three year old “lily pads.” What I didn’t know was HOW satisfying it would be to watch my P90X Shoulders and Back disc***, melt into a nice, shiny bowl (it was burned from a friend, so no money wasted.)

 “Take in the fact that you just did that.” – Tony Horton

It was really neat to see how different cd’s turned different colors. P90X, those are the pink ones. Ironically, the “toddler lily pads” were the green ones. This was fun to do with Grant, I had him stack the cd’s on a glass and we put them in the convection over to watch them melt. It took no time at all!

Here’s a tip: Do not let them fully cool before you pull off whatever glass you are using as it’s mold, but also, you will not be able to pull them off immediately when they come out of the over because of the little plastic center piece. That will stick to the glass when it is hot. So it needs to be warm-ish when you pull it off.

Flower Pot Hand Project: I have to admit, I probably would not have done this project if I didn’t have a Cricut. Ahhhh, my Cricut. The most amazing product to come into my craft arsenal. ever. I also happened to have the “Walk in my Garden” software so this project was cake! It just took about 10 minutes of prep on my part and after I demonstrated to Grant how the pieces went together, he pretty much did everything else by himself (minus cutting out his hand/flower stem.)

We had to make multiple hand flower pots for BOTH of his gardening grandmas

This one is for Grammy!

Pantry Organization: This pin is fantastic. I already have my pantry’s organized in categories, so I wanted to pin this one in particular since it’s uber-organizey.

My neighbor recently saw our pantry and described it as a mini-grocery store. And the more I look at it (because I often just go into my pantry to look at it’s beautiful organization, serious.) the more I am concerned that this is the one thing you will judge me on……

No. I am not OCD

I have been wanting to buy baskets for our pantry for a long time now, but those suckers can really add up! And my mom did a good job of teaching me how to be frugal so I held out for an entire YEAR until I found something inexpensive and not tacky or cheap (Happy one-year-living-in-my-house anniversary to me last week, btw!) I found the blue and green metal mesh containers in the dollar section at Target (for $2.50, oh the irony). Now everything is now nicely categorized into their own little basket: Cereal, kids snacks, pasta, straws, potatoes (in that cute little metal circle bin at the bottom). The other side has bins for baking stuff, crackers, and pretzels etc. Plus, it is amazing how much you want to keep your organized pantry, organized, once it is clean. I am happy to report that our pantry still remains this clean and organized, despite the fact that not much in our house ever stays that way (see: three year old and 10 month old).

Kid Plate Organization: Another 3am pin that I didn’t pin and now can’t find. This is why. It was simply a diy project to make file folder holders out of cereal boxes. Cover with nice scrapbooking paper, and use in a cabinet to organize your kid plates. Because any parent knows, kids plates to not organize neatly. This pin was just about the easiest one I had done. ONLY because I did not make this out of a cereal box, I used a file folder holder thing that I bought at IKEA that did not fit it’s intended purpose and has been shoved in my desk for the past 8 months. I have been looking for someplace to use them and NOW I FOUND THE PERFECT SPOT!  In our “Kid Cabinet.” Grant (and soon, Brody’s) cabinet of self-sufficiency!

That cute bucket for the cups, Target dollar section as well. And only $1!

Organic Post Update: I TOTALLY meant to include this on my Organic’s post. But there is a quick way to determine if the produce you are buying is organic, conventional, and most importantly GENETICALLY MODIFIED! Here’s the pin if you would like to read more, but in a nutshell: Conventional produce gets a four-digit number. Organic produce gets a five-digit number that starts with 9. Genetically modified items also get a five-digit code, but that code starts with 8.

Examples 4139: Conventional Granny Smith apple

94139: Organic Granny Smith

84139: Genetically Modified Granny Smith

Ok, that’s about it for today, nap time is coming to an end and it is 80 degrees outside. But before that, I just couldn’t leave you without one last illness update. I know most, if not all of the folks who read this blog are also my friends on Facebook.  And I am sure you have seen a few updates since, oh, Labor Day about our wonderful concoction of household ailments…but I am not sure you are quite aware how awful this “introduction to pre school” has been to our household. Ready for this:

Stomach Flu:

Grant – 7 (yes, 7!  The first time it lasted on and off for 6 weeks, now you know why I am a puke-cleaner extraordinaire)

Brody, Me, Matt – 2, Brody decided he also wanted to join in the big kid fun on our very tropical, Christmas vacation. That was awesome.

Have you ever had to take care of your children while you are suffering from the stomach flu? This is what hell is like.

Common Cold (of head, chest and sinus variety): This is just about ongoing these days. I got home from my 1/2 marathon on a Monday (1.16.12 to be exact) and on Tuesday, 1.17.2012, I got the most raging cold I have had in a while. Today is April 22…I still have it. Matt, Grant and Brody all have snots and chapped noses as well. Nothing more pathetic than a sick baby, I say.

Ear Infection: Wouldn’t be cold season without a few of these lovelies! Grant has had about 4, Brody 1, Matt 1. Me, no thanks! I’m not an ear infection person, I stick with my whacked out stomach issues thank you very much. (and from the time I started this post last week, until now, you can add THREE MORE EAR INFECTIONS TO THAT LIST! Brody, 1 more  and Matt, 2, omg.)

Whacked out Stomach Issues: I can typically regulate this with my diet, but for some reason, they have been creeping up on me from no where. They suck. I’ll leave it at that.

Conjunctivitis: (Or, as better put by my BF Kelly “Who touched the poo?”) Yeah, GROSS! That shizz is nasty, contagious, and hard to get rid of! Both kids had it one an off for about a month. Grant, maybe 4 times, sometimes we would double up and go for both eyes with this one! He was also lovely enough to share with his brother.

And last but not least, a lovely case of Impetigo, from the pre schooler, who else? (Or as better put by my BFF Kelly, “I had to google what Impetigo was, and I am really sorry I did.”) Thankfully, that lasted a few days after treatment, but the after effects are SUPER dried and cracked skin at the sides of his mouth that he keeps licking, and picking, and it keeps bleeding and we are now on week 6 of the whole “Impetigo and after effects” journey.

Thank GOODNESS for spring and the outdoors! I’m headed out there right now.

*Unscientific data, based on my own personal research

**The tea lights now live in my bathroom, on my tub. The one that I fell in love with when we bought the house, but have only used twice…..

***Day 1 of P90X was Shoulder and Back for Matt and I. I was unable to lift a cup to my lips for the next week, and so started my hate/hate relationship with Tony Horton.

Sunday Strawberry Tricks & Organic Stuff

I eat a very healthy diet. Almost everything I make, including my spice mixes, I make myself so I know what ingredients I am eating. I eat organic whenever possible, including my condiments, baking goods, and spices. Often times my obsession with needing to know the ingredients of whatever I am eating is annoying to others, I’m sure. But this isn’t because I am some hippie, granola-lovin’, (ex) Boulderite. I need to know what I am eating because if I don’t, it could kill me. I have allergies and food sensitivities to some of the most common ingredients found in most packaged goods. Soy, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, food dyes, 80% of all dairy products…and my beverage limitations: no wheat or hoppy beers, no red or white wine other than sweet Riesling, no coffee, no hot black tea, no soda.

Basically I can drink water

and MARGARITAS! (but none of that mix crap, must be homemade)

In a nutshell, my diet it pretty pure, but only because it has to be. I have a HUGE sweet tooth and I would down an entire pint of Ben and Jerry’s, often, if I could, but the repercussions from that would take days to recover from. And so, over the past 6 years I have learned what food my body thrives on and what food my body would prefer NEVER TO HAVE IT IN AGAIN AND IF YOU PUT ANY OF THAT CRAP IN ME I WILL LET YOU KNOW HOW COMPLETELY PISSED I AM FOR DAAAAAAYS AT A TIME! – says my body….if I eat something I shouldn’t. It’s kind of limited, but a very healthy diet. When I cook, at least I know what I am eating and as much as possible it is organic, (because, again, don’t let me get started on the whole GMO issue and MONSANTO..because that damn company and their damn seeds have almost killed me 4 times now.) BUT buying all organic does get expensive and sometimes you have to make a choice. Which is why I love this chart of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 from my Organic Board.

So strawberries are one of my favorite fruits ever. I remember requesting fruit tarts for my birthdays when I was in middle school, instead of cake. I am weird.

So, organic strawberries it is. They are #3 on the Dirty Dozen list and we eat them every day practically. And so imagine my delight when I stumbled upon the Hull a Strawberry with a Straw pin. Because let’s face it, hulling strawberries kind of sucks. I got out of my seat, grabbed a big, fat straw (we do have multiple sizes, shapes and flexibilities in this house) and hulled an entire pint of strawberries in about half the time.

Hipstamatic, making pictures of strawberries look cool since 2010

Here’s the thing though, the strawberries need to be fresh. If you use ones that in in “smoothie shape” (just a day past their prime), it might be a bit difficult.  The fruit has to be firm to shove the straw all up in there.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go test out the Vomit Carpet Cleaner. Every Mother Needs This, pin. It’s been that kind of weekend.