mom, designer, recycler, crochet/knitter, & humble cook

Latest

Hydrangea Wreath


I braved the spiders and other creepy crawlies invading the nearly done hydrangea to clip a few for my front porch wreath (see the little bug in the bottom of this picture below?). It’s hard to imagine that these purple/red/golden beauties bloom vibrant blue during the summer. By far, my favorite flower!

DIY: Baking Soda 3 Ways

Warm days in Portland mean windows closed up tight during the day to keep in any cool air we managed to fan in during the morning hours. Only in the evenings and early mornings does fresh air fill our little house. Add this to the small-ness of our space, three people (little boys are stinky!) and a fat cat (also very stinky) and we are in need of some serious air freshening.

Let’s just clear the air about something (tee hee) – Glade and other artificial air fresheners stink! Literally. They are too strong and don’t smell anything like their names suggest: “Fresh Berries” – not even close. “Clean Linen” – umm, no! Plus, I can’t imagine the amount of chemicals in them… not interested!

Mason Jar Air Fresheners:

So, in an effort to tame the stink and freshen with some authentic smells, I opted for this idea. The baking soda absorbs icky odors and the essential oils brighten the room with fresh scents.

The process is really simple. Gather the necessary supplies: essential oil of choice (I used peppermint and lavender), track down a few mason jars (I used pint sized with wide mouths), some cute paper, pencil, glue, scissors, and baking soda.

I opted for the easy route and didn’t spray paint the mason jar rings – I’m not that worried about the look of the jars.

Fill the mason jar half full with baking soda. Add 8 – 12 drops of the oil of choice (more or less depending on your preference). I also added some dried lavender from our garden to the lavender jars I made. Trace the mason jar lid with a pencil onto thick paper and onto cute wrapping paper. Cut out and glue a thick piece and a wrapping paper piece together. Put the paper lid onto the jar and tighten down with the jar ring. Poke a few holes in the top with a pencil (I happened to have a screw driver handy for this part) to let the yummy smells out. And there you have it!

I put a lavender scented one in my kitchen and bedroom, and a peppermint scented one in the bathroom and living room.

Origami Car Air Fresheners:

Then I thought it might be neat to modify this project for an air freshener for my car. So, I found instructions on how to make an origami basket and folded up a few with some plain paper.

Then I mixed the same ratio of ingredients for the mason jar air fresheners in a ziploc bag, sealed it up and gave it a good shake to mix the oils in really well.

Next I put a few tablespoons of the mixture into the origami baskets, being careful not to make a mess. Using a rubber band half hitched around the handles of the basket, I stretched the rubber band around the rear view mirror of my car. Voila!

I also hung one inconspicuously in my son’s bedroom, and one near the cat’s litter box.

Carpet Freshener:

Another idea for this baking soda/essential oil mixture: mix some up in a ziploc bag (2 cups baking soda to 30 or 40 drops of lavender oil make a nice ratio for carpet freshening). I used an empty spice container and filled it up with the mixture. I also snagged a race car sticker from my son’s sticker stash to cover up a few holes so I don’t sprinkle too much at a time. Or you could use a mason jar with holes pokes in the top of the metal lid. Then sprinkle it on your carpet and let it sit for 30 minutes or so. Vacuum it up and you have freshly smelling carpet without using the store bought stuff that is full of chemicals!

Any other ideas out there for baking soda around the house??
Have fun with this!

The Close of a Chapter

After much deliberation, I’ve decided to discontinue my line of plastic bag totes, rugs, and more. With so many other creative outlets in my life, a 5 year old, and the sunny summer ahead, I want to focus on other things. It was been a fun five year adventure. Thank you to everyone for their support over the years.

If you are still interested in purchasing an item, please visit my etsy shop. Use the coupon code SHOPCLOSING20 for a 20% discount on your purchases from now until everything is gone! Custom orders are still available on a limited bases so please contact me directly, via an Etsy Convo where we can have that discussion.

Thanks again and happy recycling!

GREEN holiday shopping

Join me for some GREEN holiday shopping on November 12th at the Check Em’ Off Green Holiday Gift Event in Vancouver, WA.

Event flier available here.

Event blog here.

RSVP for the event on my Facebook page.

If you can’t join me on the 12th, then enjoy this coupon code on my etsy site: GREENshopping for FREE SHIPPING between now and November 13th.

Happy Holidays!

Day Seven: CSA Adventure Complete

Early this morning I put the following ingredients into the crock pot for an experiment. Josh was skeptical, and in all honesty, I was too!


Italian Sausage Potato and Veggie Crockpot Stew
1 package of Italian seasoned turkey sausages in casing (5 sausages) – brown in a skillet and cut in half
1 small onion – chopped and sauteed with sausages
4 cloves of garlic – chopped and sauteed with sausages and onion
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off and right into the crock pot
1 cup baby carrots
4 medium sized red potatoes, cut into chunks (about 1 lb)
1 large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup chicken broth
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
a dash of salt
a dash of black pepper

I let this simmer on the low setting all day (from about 7:30am till returning home from work around 6:00pm).
The verdict: amazing! It doesn’t look all that great, and honestly, it didn’t have the aroma I was expecting, but the flavor – delicious! The sausage made the whole dish. Even my sometimes picky husband was impressed.

The one oops of this dinner, the artisan bread. I think this is the first time it failed on me – it was doughy in the middle. Not sure why – perhaps I made too large of a ball, or didn’t cook it long enough, but it looked and sounded done. A mystery. In any case, the stew was filling and yummy enough it didn’t need a side of bread anyway.

So, at the end of CSA week have the following remaining:

(3) summer squash
(1) slicing cucumber
(1/2) yellow onion
(2) tomatoes
(1) pear
(1) peach
(1) nectarine
(1/2) giant head of nappa cabbage
(1) apple
(1) head of broccoli
(1) bunch of green onion
(1) cup green beans
(2) ears of corn
(2 1/2) lbs red potatoes – (1/2) lb remaining
(1/2) head of bok choy

Some potatoes left over, but they won’t go to waste!

The bounty continues!

Thanks for reading through the week of CSA adventures. More cooking and mom and knitting and recycling good times to be had ahead.

Day Six: CSA Adventure

The reality is that with the desk job I don’t always get to be at home cookin’ up new recipes and being mom all day to my sweet boy, BUT I do get to escape cooking and being mom two days a week for that desk job which provides some much needed respite and, you know, money. Today was a desk job day and Aiden got to go to preschool, the land of finger painting, singing, sand boxes, noodle art, best friends (at least for today) and oh so much more. Tonight we enjoyed a BBQ dinner at Sunshine School, their annual Back to School BBQ Open House. What a proud mama I was to see a drawing Aiden did of his family and see his “job” in his class (keeping track of the weather today, which he can report was cool and sunny and dry and, in my opinion, perfect!), ah, just melts my heart!

Yesterday was a Mom and Aiden day where I got to telecommute into work, in my PJs with my friend, French Press at the ready. We spent the day juggling work emails and editing projects, cleaning (deep cleaning!), organizing (yes, even sock drawers and yarn stashes), AND making crayons! Yup, crayons!

For tomorrow, the end of this CSA week: Turkey Sausage (or Chicken, I haven’t decided yet) Red Potato Corn Crock Pot Soup with Artisan Bread!

paper off, ready for sorting

sorted and ready for melting

melted and now cooling

lots of neat colors & textures

ready, set, color!

leaning tower of crayons!

Day Five: CSA Adventure

With only a few veggies left in this week’s box, this post is not about the veggies on hand BUT about other benefits of being part of a CSA program. The one we belong to offers 10% off of produce at the farm on Sauvie Island. We are frequent visitors for berry picking, and of course pumpkins in the fall. Plus each year I try to load our freezer full of fruit.

This year I expanded from just freezing berries and peaches to putting up green beans, corn, and spaghetti sauce.

Below you will find instructions for each! Costs shown do not reflect the discount we receive or the cost of supplies aside from the produce.

Happy Freezing!!

Freezing Corn
Here is how I freeze corn to later use as side dishes for dinner, in soups and chilis, corn bread and other items.

Need:

  • 24 ears of fresh local corn (I prefer the peaches and cream variety from The Pumpkin Patch)
  • 2 – 4 cookie sheets
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • A large pot
  • Quart size freezer bags

How to:
- shuck the corn and remove all the silk.
- bring a large pot of water to boil and fill the sink with cold water.
- put 5 or 6 ears of corn into the boiling water for 1 minute.
- remove and put into cold water immediately to stop the cooking process (you just completed what is called “blanching”).
- cover cookie sheets with parchment/wax paper
- cut corn off the cob on to the cookie sheet and spread out into a thin layer.
- put in the freezer for a few hours until the kernels are frozen.
- transfer to quarter freezer bags and return to freezer.
- use within 6 months of freezing.

Yield: 24 ears of corn makes approximately 3 quarts of frozen corn.
Cost: I just paid $2.00 per 6 ears of corn (closer to October they are cheaper!)

 

Freezing Peaches
Here is how I freeze peaches to use in smoothies, cobblers, pie, breads, and just for eating all year long!

Need:

  • Local peaches that is ripe, but not too ripe (I buy them by the 20lb box at The Pumpkin Patch – approximate cost: $25.00) – look for FREESTONE peaches meaning the pit comes out easily when you cut it open! Very important.
  • Gallon (or quart) freezer bags
  • A large pot
  • 2 – 4 cookie sheets
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • Lemon juice (put 2 cups in a large bowl with 2 cups of water) – you will use this to prevent the fruit from turning brown.

How to:
- bring a large pot of water to boil and fill the sink with cold water.
- drop 6 peaches into the boiling water for 1 minute then remove and immediately put into cold water.
- the skin should loosen so you can just peel it off with your fingers. IF the skin is stubborn, try an additional 30 second of plunging in hot water. OR your peaches may not be ripe enough and may need to sit on the counter for a day or two before you process them.
- once the skin is peeled off, put the peach in half, remove the pit and then slice the peach halves into thin slices.
- drop the slices into the lemon water bath so they won’t turn brown.
- transfer the peach slices to the parchment covered cookie sheet and arrange them in a single layer (they will be wet but should not be dripping too much).
- freeze for a few hours till all the slices are frozen individually.
- transfer to freezer bags and return to freezer.
- use within 9 months of freezing (they rarely last this long at our house!)

Yield: 20lbs of peaches usually gets me 6 gallons of frozen peach slices.
Cost: $25 for 20lbs of peaches

 

Freezing Green Beans
Need:

  • A box (or 2) of local green beans (I bought two 15 lb boxes from The Pumpkin Patch)
  • Quart size freezer bags
  • A large pot and tongs
  • A strainer and a sink full of cold water
  • Kitchen sissors or a knife

How to:
- rinse a strainer full of green beans in cold water.
- cut the stems off the beand and cut to desired length (I kept mine whole)
- bring a large pot of water to boil
- drop a strainer full of prepared beans into the boiling water for 3 minutes.
- remove quickly and put into sink of cold water immediately to stop the cooking process.
- let blanched beans sit in cold water for at least 3 minutes.
- remove from skin and drain on a dry towel for a few minutes
- fill quart size freezer bags, remove as much air as possible and seal.
- freeze for up to 18 months!

To use:
- boil or steam on the stove top
- broil with olive oil, salt and pepper in the oven.
- use in soups and stews.

Yield: 1 box (15 lbs) of green beans yields between 12 and 15 quarts of frozen green beans.
Cost: $16.99 per 15lb box at The Pumpkin Patch

 

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Ingredients:

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 (28 oz) cans peeled ground tomatoes in paste (I substituted this with fresh tomatoes – see notes below)
  • 1 (6 oz) can Italian-style tomato paste (I used regular)
  • 7 cups water
  • 3 Tbls Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbls dried basil (I ran out of this half way through so I switched to oregano)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup red wine (I used white wine. I forgot to add this on a pot or two, and the flavor was a little different, but still good!)
  • 1 pinch crushed red pepper
  • Optional: I added 1 cup of chopped celery to mine as well.

Note for using fresh tomatoes: 6 – 7 cups of tomatoes will be the substitute for the canned version. Bring a large pot of water to boil, drop the tomatoes in for 1 minute, remove, and plunge in cold water in the sink to loosen the skin. Peel and chop coursely.

To make:
In a large pot over medium heat saute onion and garlic (and celery if using) with the olive oil until soft. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, water, Italian seasoning, basil, sugar, wine and crushed red pepper. Bring to a soft boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 hours, stirring occassionally. Serve.

To freeze:
Allow pot of sauce to cool completely on a wire rack. Spoon into quart sized freezer bags (approximately 6 cups of sauce) leaving room for expansion. Freeze and use as needed. One pot of sauce will yield about 2 quarts (serves 4 people).

Cost: I bought a 20lb box of local tomatoes for $16.95 – this is enough for 5 pots of sauce or approximately 10 quarts of sauce.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.