I Want Chili!

It’s supposedly Fall?  There’s pumpkin spice lattes, Fall decor, Halloween costumes…it all looks like Fall except it’s 100 degrees outside?!  I am in the mood for Fall now, but I have to be realistic and not put on a wool sweater.  Instead, I made an easy pot of chili that didn’t heat up my house too much too.  That was probably the most important part of this recipe.

1 package of ground beef

1 large can of diced tomatoes

1 small can of diced tomatoes

1 large onion

1 teaspoon of oregano

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 to 2 tablespoons of chili powder

1 cup of carrots

1 small can of black beans

2 sausages of your choice

1 cup of mushrooms

I sautéed the onion in coconut oil, added the ground beef and cooked until brown.

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I put the tomatoes in a Dutch oven, added the onion and the meat on a low flame.  I then cut up the carrots and added those along with all of the spices.  Add the can of beans and let everything cook for an hour.

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Note:  I put in 1 tablespoon of chili powder first then after each hour decided to taste if I added more to the mixture.  You can also add a jalapeño for some more heat to this if you like.

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I then decided to cook the sausage, cut it up and add to the Dutch oven.  I added the mushrooms and let everything cook for another hour.

I added whatever vegetables that sounded good and had on hand to make this a one pot meal suitable for lunches all week.  Hope your weather isn’t quite as hot or you have air conditioning too.  Try this chili in any weather!  And make some cornbread too!

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TCM = Tish’s Classic Movies!

I love classic movies.  I learned a love of old movies from a young age.  My mother is a fan of old movies, musicals, movie stars and the studios.  She and my aunt are super fans.

I always loved musicals but developed an appreciation of older classics when I was in college.  I attended the   “Mom School of Movies” my entire life but when I started taking cinema classes at Pasadena City College and USC, movies had so many more stories and information beyond the silver screen.

I have far more than five movies that are in my faves, but I’m starting with a solid group of five.  They are all amazing movies in cinema history and are a pretty good variety.

5.  The Quiet Man,  1952.  I’m not a John Wayne fan, but this film is not his typical Western genre.  This romantic comedy in a Technicolor Ireland is packed with many charming characters and beautiful scenery.  John Ford is the director and captures a 1950’s Ireland with a brilliant color palette.   It was nominated for seven Oscars and won two – Best Director and Cinematographer.  I saw this film before I was in college but then was privileged to view it on the big screen for a USC class.  I have yet to go to Ireland but when I do, I’m sure the soundtrack will be in my head during my travels.

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4.  You Can’t Take It With You,  1938.  This movie was a Frank Capra film with as much quirk as my own family at times.  Perhaps that is why it is an endearing movie to me.  I’ve walked into my parents house before and each person was doing a unique activity.   I suppose we all tend to beat to our own drum some days, similar to this family and friends.  This film was nominated for seven oscars and received two, Best Director for Frank Capra and Best Picture.

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3.  How Green Was My Valley, 1941.  John Ford directed this movie and frames each scene so beautifully.  I think if you just took screen shots through this film, you’d have a gorgeous array of black and white photographs.  It was nominated for ten Oscars and won five including Best Picture.  It was filmed during WWII so they could not shoot in Ireland.  A Welsh mining village was recreated in the Santa Monica Mountains.

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2.  Gaslight, 1944.  There was color available at the time of this movie for sure but the director chose to film in black and white.  The dramatic effect of the lighting in this film is as much a character as the incredible actors Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer.  It was also a introduction of an 18 year old Angela Lansbury.  Nominated for seven Oscars and won two for Best Actress and Best Art Direction.  I first saw this in a film class at Pasadena City College.  My teacher had been a cameraman for Taxi Driver and was showing us one of his favorite movies.  I watched it on the smallest TV in an uncomfortable desk but it quickly became one of my favorites too.

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1. Jezebel, 1938.  For some reason, I always find myself watching this movie during the Christmas season?  It is not a Holiday movie but I think it’s a favorite escape to a great movie while all the mayhem of Christmas planning, shopping and decorating happens.  It was released in 1938, a year before Gone With the Wind.  Bette Davis, like all of the other actresses of the time, wanted to secure herself as the quintessential Southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara.  As we know, she was not cast.  I think this  movie was offered to Bette Davis when Tallulah Bankhead couldn’t take the roll due to illness and Bette wasn’t cast as Scarlett.  This little consolation prize got five Oscar nominations and won Bette Davis the Academy for Best Actress and Fay Bainter for Best Supporting Actress.

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These movies aren’t my only favorites.  There are so many great movies in the universe to choose from!  Eventually I’ll share more faves.  If you haven’t seen one or any of these films, try them out and let me know if you liked them too?

Banoffee What?

Anyone know the movie “Love Actually”?  For the few of you that may not know it, it’s a 2003 romantic comedy with a bevy of English actors.  It intertwines eight, varying stories of love during Christmas..

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Some of my girlfriends and I can probably act out the movie for you, but I would highly recommend watching the original, not that we wouldn’t be entertaining but we may not give it its true justice.

Not all of the story lines end happily, such as the story of unrequited love of a guy with his best friend’s wife.  There’s a moment in the movie where Keira Knightly (object of guy’s affection but married to the best friend guy) asks guy played by Andrew Lincoln, if she can look through the video that he took of their wedding cause her wedding video didn’t turn out well.  In an effort of self preservation he gives her the impression that he really can’t stand her.  Keira shows up at his door with…Banoffee Pie to ask him if she can look through his videos and be friends with him.

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There is way more to this story and all of the others in the movie but the important part here is…Banoffee Pie.  For years, my American self and friends were puzzled by what is a Banoffee Pie?  We couldn’t even figure out how to spell it or imagine what was in it?  It sounded made up, a fictitious pie altogether!

But, with the magic of the interwebs, I looked up several recipes and attempted a simple one.

Once I knew that the pie was toffee and banana, hence Banoffee, I wasn’t sure that combo sounded delicious to me?  I decided to make it for friends and to test it at a recent trip to Palm Springs.  (And yes, we were back in Palm Springs again!)

It’s a pretty simple recipe that I cut corners on cause I was in Palm Springs and lacking supplies like a pie pan and a double boiler.

Ingredients

4 bananas

1 graham cracker pie crust.  You can definitely make your own with graham crackers and melted butter but I didn’t have a pie pan.  I decided to buy the premade pie crust already in a pie tin.

1 can sweetened condensed milk  (note:  there’s another version where you boil the can of sweetened condensed milk without stirring and labor, but I’ll have to try that next.  It sounded like a magic method and I didn’t trust it but I’ll attempt it with the next pie)

heavy whipping cream and sugar to taste

I started by slicing three of the bananas and layering them in the pre-made pie crust.  Then I found two pots that I could improvise as a double boiler.  I placed water in the bottom pot and brought to a boil while I had the condensed milk in the second pan, stirring constantly.  You want the condensed milk to get thicker.  It’s obviously the toffee portion of the pie.  My double boiler didn’t seem to be doing the trick so at some point I just eliminated the water pot but my toffee was lumpy and had problems for sure.  Since I was convinced that this was a throw away pie and it was just to appease a very long obsession with the “made up pie” in the movie, I decided lumps were acceptable!

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So, I thickened the condensed milk to the best of its ability in my borrowed Palm Springs kitchen and poured it over the bananas in the pie crust.  It still didn’t appeal to me and I didn’t take pics of too much of the process cause I was a disbeliever in Banoffee Pie.

Next, I whipped the heavy whipping cream and added some sugar.  I didn’t add a ton of sugar as the toffee and bananas were already very sweet.  I also only had raw sugar which was pretty granulated so there was texture for this whipped cream, haha.  All in all, I was executing a pretty bad pie at this point with brown bananas, lumpy toffee and gritty whipped cream in a store bought graham cracker crust.  Yum!

I decided to just put the whipped cream on top, garnish it with sliced bananas from that fourth banana and cover it up and present it for dessert later as just a joke for the movie reference.

I knew the pie would create excitement from my friends that knew the movie, but I came armed with the disclaimer that we can try it but let’s not think we’re going to like it!  I had low expectations.

The pie presentation was a hit!  Everyone was impressed that I attempted the unknown movie pie and was eager to try this concoction.  I had guinea pigs.

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I sliced into it and served small servings due to my lack of confidence in this creation.  As we ate it, I didn’t detect the toffee lumps or anything wrong with it?  It was surprisingly and happily delicious!  Who knew that Banoffee Pie was sooooo good?  We Americans had no idea what we were missing out on?  As the rest of our party showed up through the weekend, each partook in a slice and each one ended up liking it.  Comments such as “This is how I want banana cream pie to taste” and “My new favorite pie” solidified that I will be making this pie again.  I might try the pie with a crust from scratch and use an actual double boiler next time.  There weren’t any leftovers of this one!

I think the upcoming holiday season just became a bit sweeter for me as I’ll be watching Love Actually and making Banoffee Pie!

Even Cavemen Like Banana Bread

I don’t follow a strict paleo diet by any means, but I usually try to limit the amount of carbs and sugar that I have.  (Don’t ask me to do that when there is a banoffee pie in proximity though.  It’s a new found love that I will share next week!)

Paleo diets are also known as the caveman diet and follows what a Paleolithic human would have eaten or had access to back in the day.  Like I said, I just try to limit the carbs and refined sugars.  In an effort to do so, I try some recipes out and this is a banana bread that uses coconut flour which I’m not sure cavemen would have had?  It IS a low sugar and low fat version of banana bread though and I thought tasted decently.

I followed a recipe on Pinterest from southerninlaw.com

“The BEST Healthy Paleo Banana Bread Recipe”

1 cup + 1 tbsp (2 medium bananas) ripe mashed banana
2 1/2 tbsp honey
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 tbsp butter or coconut oil, melted (I used butter cause I had it in the fridge)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 eggs
1/2 cup  coconut flour (The writer of the recipe recommends this one for the best results!)
1/2 cup almond meal
3/4 tsp baking soda

I followed the recipe pretty closely.
Preheat oven to 340F.

Grease and line a small loaf tin and set aside.  I greased my Pyrex loaf dish (that I picked up at a thrift store for $.70! Can you tell I’m proud of that frugal find?) with butter.
In a medium mixing bowl, mash your bananas

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and add in your honey, vanilla, melted butter/coconut oil, applesauce and eggs.

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Mix in your coconut flour, baking soda and almond meal and allow to sit for two minutes.

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She says the mix will be runny, more like a pancake batter mix.  Mine was already on the thick side so my coconut flour was pretty absorbing.  If your batter is too runny, she says to add a spoon of coconut flour slowly until it’s the right consistency.  You’ll want to make sure you let it sit each time to see how the coconut flour is absorbing.

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Once you get your banana bread to what you think is the right consistency, pour it into that greased loaf pan and bake for approximately 40 mins.

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Mine wasn’t baking in the middle, so I got creative on the bake.  I knew I was going to cut into slices, so I sliced it and removed each end of slices.  I put it back in the oven to bake the rest a bit longer and it seemed to do the trick and not overbake the ends.

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The writer suggests – If your banana bread is browning too quickly but isn’t cooked in the middle, cover it with foil.  She also says to allow to cool completely before slicing.  Oops!  I didn’t do that for sure.  I sliced right out of the oven to remove some of the bread (and ate it!)

Its suggested that you can keep the bread in a sealed container in your refrigerator up to a week or freeze individual slices.  Or…you can take it to work, like I did, and watch it disappear in 2 days.  I wasn’t sure that others would like it and I warned everyone that it wasn’t normal banana bread so don’t expect a strong sugary flavor.  It was eaten, so I think they didn’t mind it?

Feel free to try it and let me know if you had any other variations.  I’m thinking of trying a zucchini bread next and hoping it’s not going to taste like a salad.  Here’s hoping!

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Organization Schmorganization

I was tidying up in the house in all of the usual areas that are visual.  It’s not Spring but some necessary spring cleaning became apparent when I opened the cupboard under my kitchen sink.  What was I thinking?  How could his be?  I don’t think this is how this is supposed to look?

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I took to Pinterest immediately!  (Haha cause it has all of the good ideas, I needed help and obsessions aren’t easily discarded apparently).  From the look of things, a small miracle was needed.

My cleaning habits really don’t require so much product but now that I have all of this stuff I have to figure out something to better utilize and keep more used products in the front.

I saw a picture of a much more organized cupboard and got inspired.  I ran to Target and got a tension rod to match my organization to the picture!

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I installed my tension rod fairly high in the cupboard and made sure to make it tightly fit so it could handle weight and not fall.

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Installation complete and cupboard not perfect but a bit more handy!  Anyone have any of your own organization tips and tricks to share?  I can always use them!

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Color Change!

I’ve had a case of writer’s block as of late, to be honest.  I attribute that to being too busy, the Olympics are on and there’s some change in the air for me.  I feel it.  Hopefully good change, but as everyone experiences, you take the good with the bad.

Being too busy is my own fault.  I’m trying to exercise simplicity this month.  It hasn’t kicked in quite yet but I keep trying.  The Olympics are not my fault.  I was disheartened to learn of doping scandals and  Rio venue issues but it’s still an impressive show.  If only I can get the network to play their recap of the day’s events earlier!  I’ve fallen asleep every night before something fun to see like the women’s gymnastic floor exercises and ultimately their gold medal.  Oh well, I guess that is what the Internet is for!

As for change in the air, that’s just it…it’s just a feeling.  Perhaps I’m too busy to really read the signs, but I felt like helping it along with some visual color change too.  I’ve had the same living room curtains since I moved in.  It’s probably been 10 years?  I’m not sure?  Time flies when you’re lazy to change your decor!

My original living room curtains were a black and white brocade.  I ended up putting them in my bedroom as well because I had several panels and no storage.  I thought black and white would be the perfect base to add additional accent colors throughout my tiny house but I never really did it?  Except for the kitchen where I added lots of red, I was pretty color lacking all over the place.  It’s time for a change!

I moved all of the brocade to the bedroom.  I’m now contemplating changing the blue accent.  I’ve had that as long as the black and white.  I’m thinking I need something else soon.

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To make my color change happen in the living room, I needed money but I lack that so I took to the world wide Internet to find inexpensive options.  I always loved tapestries and how beautiful they look hanging.  As I’m at a shopping mall all of the time, I was inspired by PBTeen’s use of them in their store displays.  Theirs were more expensive so Amazon afforded me to look and find what I liked.

I impulsively purchased 3 panels with bright colors of what I thought was mainly green.  Two days later I received my package and was surprised, not elated.  I had just rearranged the living room, took down the old curtains, called friends for moral support cause procrastination is my middle name, and I was ready for the new COLOR!  I unwrapped them and hung them.  I kept putting them up on all of the windows (there’s 4 in the living room).  I kept expecting that my taste would change with the color too?  My pals said they liked the curtains.  I said I liked the curtains, so I went to sleep with the boldest colors in my house that I’ve ever had in my life.  Red. Green. Orange.

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The next morning, I walked into my living room and sat down.  I convinced myself to live with it a bit longer…so by 12pm I ordered a new set of tapestries.  This time I looked for color but needed it to have some blue and not give me a seizure every time I saw them.  I was a bit gun shy cause I wasn’t exactly sure if the Internet  portrayed the colors correctly.  I had 2 light blue pillows actually.  The only color in the living room and I decided I liked them and wanted to figure out how to keep them.  With the red, green, orange version there was no way to keep them unless I wanted a circus theme.   Searching and searching, I settled on a deeper and more sophisticated bohemian color palette.

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The box arrived to my office and I was so excited to see what colors arrived.  I ordered a pattern with blues and some orange so I braced myself for bright purple and red.  I opened the box to lovely navy and royal blue with just the right amount of orange accents.  They were just what I wanted.  Now I had to wait the rest of the day to go home and put them up.

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When I got home, I removed my clown curtains.  I deemed them with that title for obvious reasons.  I eagerly hung the new ones in place.  They looked exactly right.  In this case, 2nd time was the charm!  I like the fresh new look for the room.  It’s rearranged and the curtains made enough of a statement that it squelched my desire to have new furniture which would be a lot more expensive to change!  For now, I’ll take a color change to refresh my environment and take me out of a writers block.  790 words later, I might have to change my curtains more often?

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Fun with Flags!

In honor of July 4th, I decided to decorate since the neighbors all have flags on their porch.  I didn’t think that attaching a flag holder to my porch was going to happen successfully so I got crafty.  I’ve seen flags banners all over and thought I might try making some of my own.  Here’s how I did mine.

First I went to the fabric store and picked up four different fabrics.  I chose patriotic themed fabrics with a red, white and blue color palette.  I got about 1/2 yard for each but it was a lot more than I needed.  I’ve been able to make about eight flag banners so some friends and family got some too since I only needed two.

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I also bought a white nylon rope that you can usually find in an upholstery section of the fabric store.  I measured the length that I wanted it to stretch at home and of course bought a lot more!

I had pinking sheers (those are the scissors that cut a zig zag edge), hot glue gun and glue sticks.  This was a no sew project.

Here’s my directions for this super simple project:

  1.  Cut a triangle template.  I used an Anthroplogie catalog cover cause it was heavier weight paper.   image
  2. Use the template to cut about 3 or 4 triangles of each fabric that you choose.  I cut them with scissors first with about a smidgen over the template (like 1/8″ maybe). image
  3. Once the triangles are cut out, trim each edge with the pinking sheers.  This will prevent the fabric from fraying and give a decorative edge to the flags.  image
  4. Cut four notches at the top of the flag wide enough to thread your string or rope throughimage
  5. Allow for a tail (maybe about 12″ or so), make your first knot.
  6. Thread one of the flags using the notches.  Tie a knot at the end so the flag doesn’t shift.image
  7. Tie the next knot about an inch or two away.  You decide how far away you want to place your flags on the rope.
  8. Repeat threading flags and tying knots at the beginning and end of each flag.image
  9. Alternate the fabrics all the way across.
  10. Once you’ve set the flags on your rope, use your glue gun or a fabric glue to tack the knots to the fabric to secure them.  I glued some of the rope in the middle too.image
  11. Hang your flag banners and have a party!

Happy Birthday America!

Here’s an example of them hanging at a friends house as well.

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Quilt Imposter

I got a bit busy lately but there’s been some good stuff that I’ve been doing!  I went to QuiltCon!  It was a quilting convention down the street in Pasadena at the convention center, so I didn’t have to travel far.  A friend of mine went the first day and managed to get us free passes for the next day.  We decided to check it out and see what we could see.  There were a few of the stereotypical ladies with a quilted cat tote bag, but we found other women and some men of all ages.  Unlike myself, I think most actively quilt though.

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I have to tell you that I’ve only quilted one very bad looking small blanket that I gave as a baby gift.  Luckily I actually don’t see that person anymore, so my embarrassment over the project doesn’t have to be relived every time I see them.  As an attendee of the QuiltCon, I came across lots of people with incredible enviable skills.  I didn’t belong, but I was determined to ooh and awe over the fabrics and the work without being detected.

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The convention had classes and lectures but being an imposter, I honestly wasn’t sure what the topics were about and we got so excited over the showroom of fabric and vendors that we went to spend most of our time there.

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This machine…I call it the Big Cheater because it basically embroidered and did all of the work for you.  It was probably as big as my house and cost as much as my car, so even though it would have instantly elevated my non-existent skills in the quilt area, it was not coming home with me.  Bye Big Cheater.

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Lots of samples were on display to make sure I knew I was inferior to all of experts at each booth.

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After visiting every booth and nervously dodging one that we would had to create a square for a charity quilt, we made our way to the exhibits.  This was where the competitors were and some special exhibits.  I was excited over the ribbons they gave.  They were custom fabric ribbons.  I got so excited that I didn’t really take any good pictures of them?  Next time.

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My favorite exhibit was a group of quilts be Molly Upton.  She sadly only lived for 23 years and these quilts were from the 70s.  I loved her mix of fabrics and her designs were ahead of her time.  She was an amazing artist who I would never had known of if I didn’t attend QuiltCon.  It was worth every minute as the imposter.

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If you have a quilt convention in your area and you value the artistry of quilts, it’s worth a visit.  I was amazed at the variety of quilts and the products available.  Not sure if I will find quilting in my hobbies, but I’ll pretend again to attend another QuiltCon!

A Clean Start!

It’s the time of year where there is change in the air and New Year’s resolutions weave into conversations as we make plans to conquer another year!  For me, perhaps because of the December that I went through, I am thankful for family and friends.  I’ve been trying to find ways to thank all of the special people that have carried me and help me grow through this journey.  I also just enjoy making things and I’m enjoying being creative again for a change.

My neighbors have been so nice and left me gifts and cards.  I decided to make some Honey Almond Chamomile soap that I found on Pinterest To give to them.  I chose a goats milk based soap and discovered that this recipe is really just mixing and not really creating from scratch.  I suppose all home based soap and candle creating is just mixing cause I don’t have any goats or bees.  I’ll still take credit for the soap but say thanks a lot to the goats and people at Stephenson Farms that made my soap base!

For my adaptation of this recipe, I didn’t want to make as much as the original recipe called for.

2 lbs goats milk soap base

2 tbsps ground up oatmeal

2 tbsps honey

2 1/2 chamomile tea bags

1 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

First I microwaved my 2 lbs of soap base.  I microwaved for a couple of minutes at a time and broke up the soap a little at a time.  I also used a bowl that I was getting rid of due to a chip because I didn’t like the idea of soap with my food bowls.

While I was microwaving and melting the base, I measured my oatmeal and chamomile tea into my mortar and pestle.  I mixed and ground up both items.

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After the base melted, you need to work fairly quickly so you can incorporate ingredients without the base separating and drying with a skin on the top.  It can be melted down again but I found the soap comes out creamier and better the less you reheat and handle it.

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Mix in the ground oatmeal and chamomile.  I put a little at a time so I could see the ratio of grains through the base.  You might decide to not put in as much as I did?


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After incorporating the dry ingredients, I added the honey, almond and vanilla extracts.

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I mixed everything thoroughly until it looked like I wanted it to.  I wanted a fairly even amount of grain to my base throughout.

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Next, I spooned the mixed soap into a silicone mold.  My mold had six 2″ rounds.  I was much messier in spooning my soap in the mold than you have to be!  It does clean up easily though if you are equally as messy or more.

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After they cooled, I decided to create crochet scrubber covers.  I didn’t follow a pattern for this so I’ll have to try to write out the steps involved later for any crocheters.  You can also message me here if you want me to figure that out for you sooner than later!

Happy soap “mixing” and Happy New Year!  Here’s to clean starts and a great 2016!


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Chicken Soup, It’s What the Doctor Ordered!

As you know, the family was sick through Christmas.  I managed to catch a minor cold this week, so chicken soup is on the menu.  It’s a simple and basic recipe that my mom taught me.  Hopefully you won’t get sick, but hopefully you’ll still try the soup to warm your bones on these chilly nights.

Start by bringing a package of chicken breasts, one onion and about three medium celery stalks to a boil in a large pot.  For this, I buy the whole chicken breasts with skin and bones.  You remove it later but it makes for a better chicken broth.  Cover the celery, chicken and onion with enough water to be about 2 inches above the chicken.  Bring this to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the chicken cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.  If you can pull the chicken easily apart and it’s not pink inside, good job!

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Next, remove the chicken and vegetables from the broth.  Let the chicken cool down.

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You can discard of the celery and onion.  I usually like to strain the broth after it cools a bit.  You can strain it through a kitchen towel to a bowl then put it back in your pot to cook the soup.

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Cut up about three to four carrots and celery stalks.  For this, you’ll want to de-string your celery so you won’t get inedible celery strings in your soup.

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You can add more or less vegetables.  Add them to the strained chicken broth.

After after the chicken has cooled enough for you to handle, shred it into bite size pieces.  Obviously remove the skin and the bone.

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For this soup, I like to make a large pot.  I cook an egg noodle separately and add to each serving day because otherwise the noodles will get gummy and make the soup murky and thicker.  I prefer also adding salt to it to taste rather than putting it in when cooking.

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As I usually make this when I’m under the weather, it makes sense to me to not season it heavily cause taste buds most likely want something simple.  It seems to work for me and makes me feel better, however I’m sure this can be a great simple base to add more vegetables and any savory seasoning that you like to change it up.

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Hope y’all stay well through 2015!  Let’s all plan to have a healthy and happy New Year!