Friday, February 28, 2014

Banana Pancakes

Happy Friday!

It is suppose to be 57° and sunny here today! That's practically a Summer day!
To make it even better, my husband has the day off. We will be heading out to one of our favorite Springtime hiking spots as soon as my eldest gets out of school this afternoon. 
I rose especially early this morning, for no particular reason at all. It is a strange phenomenon that I have so much more energy if I rise before the sun, even with inadequate sleep.
So I found myself with a quiet house, unable to go back to sleep. I did some yoga, and wrote a bit. Then I made these banana pancakes from scratch before I woke my girl for school.

Banana Pancakes:
1 1/2 Cup All purpose flour
3 1/2 Tsp baking powder
1 Tsp salt
1Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tsp cinammon
1 1/4 Cup whole organic milk
3 Tbsp egg whites or 1 egg
3 Tbsp melted butter
1-2 over ripe bananas

Pre-heat griddle or pan. Mix all dry ingredients together. Make a well in the center and add in milk, egg, bananas, and butter. Mix until just blended. Lumps are ok.

Lightly spray griddle with oil, spoon batter onto hot griddle. Cook until done in the center, flipping halfway through. (I just wait until the bubbles are almost done on one side then flip).

And,  I don't make banana pancakes without singing this song at least once.

Have a happy, relaxing weekend!!!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Frugal Living and Giving: 15 Ways to Help Even on a Budget.

All of us have times when we must lean on our family and friends. We also have times when we must be the friend someone leans on.
This should not change just because you are on a budget.
If, at the end of your goal, you find yourself with plenty of money and estranged friends, what was the point?
There are so many ways to help out that involve little or no money.
Sometimes just showing up for people makes the biggest impact. Even if you are empty handed.

Here are some ideas to help some friends in need for no money:

1.Do their laundry for them. No less than 3 loads. Washed, dried, folded and put away.

2.Babysitting. 2 hours. No big deal.

3.Clean out their car. Complete with vacuuming, and wipe down. (this was done for me as a birthday
present from a friend who was just laid off. It was one of my all time favorite presents).

4.Volunteer to make phone calls for them. Could be calling the doctor, insurance company, or even distant relatives that need to know some good, or bad news.

5. Shovel a walk/mow a lawn

6.Walk a their dog for them. Complete with a play session.

7.Take their kids for a sleepover with your kids. It is so nice to have a free night, especially so when you are dealing with stress.

8.Clean their kitchen for them. (As a new mom this was one thing I wish I had more of)

9. Go for a walk together, even if one of you is wheelchair bound (or especially so).

10. Volunteer to drive them to appointments. I work in the medical field, and this is a huge issue for many. So much that they may actually miss important appointments that can help them heal.

And for very little money:

1. A reach out meal- Bring a meal, paper plates/ plastic cutlery, and about 1 1/2 hours of good company.

2. Freezer meals- just do a search on the interwebs. You'll find about a million inexpensive freezer meals to make. Make 2-3 and a card appropriate for the occasion.

3. A gift card for a meal. +Bonus points for places that deliver.

4. A gas card (helpful for people traveling to and from hospitals and doc appts)

5. A good book. It may not seem like the time, but sometimes you need an escape. This one is more for hospital stays, and long treatment sessions. Not so much for new moms.

If you see a need, do what you can to help. It doesn't have to be expensive!

If you have any ideas to add, please do so in comments!

Monday, February 24, 2014

5/#48Walks : The Walk That Went Awry

My little guy is really, really into stories right now. He LOVES when people tell him stories. He likes to read, and we do every night, but what he is really into right now is the off-the-cuff stories that people tell upon request.
After hearing "you tell me a story?" About 30 times in one day, naturally you start just telling the stories about the day.
Our story of this walk was "Once upon a time, there was a cute little boy who set off on a mission to make it to the end of a loooooong walk to see if he could see some seals in the water. But, this little boy threw one of his shoes into the ocean and his Momma had to carry him all the way back to the start. The end."
This was our first real hike in about 10 days. After being shut up indoors due to unsafe windy conditions and that work thing I was elated to hear that sun was in the forecast. I finished my chores at a frenetic pace so we could just enjoy the afternoon out at one of our favorite spots.
I didn't bother checking tide tables. I just chased the sun.
We walked the mile to the boardwalk and arrived to find that it was lowtide, so we only got to see the strange wasteland that is usually hidden underwater. It is strange, but still beautiful, in a chaotic way.
Then, while I was distracted (by photo ops?), my son apparently threw his shoe off the boardwalk. I looked back to find one white little sock poking out from his pantleg. Then looked over the edge to see a tiny, lonely shoe.  Lost forever.
At this time I just started laughing like a crazy person. Just wondering what this little person could have been thinking. Age 2 is my favorite.
Maybe it got stuck under the railing and fell in?
Maybe, but the story I got was that he threw it.
He was pretty upset to learn we could not retrieve it.
I just picked him up and we walked together all the way back to the car.
And the whole time he was either telling or requesting the story of the little boy who threw his shoe into the ocean. The end.
Now, onto the pictures

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dust Allergy Life Hack: Keep Clean Linens Allergy-Free

Soooo, raise your hands if you have a dust mite allergy.

I do!

I am able to forgo daily allergy meds by limiting my exposure.

I do this mostly by cleaning, using allergy covers on all of my bedding, and washing all of that in HOT water every week.

I then have to replace my allergy covers every year, which I try to remember to do in January.

I bought allergy covers for my pillows for 2/$16.00 online last month, and that was a huge mistake. They were not breathable whatsoever, so air was trapped inside. It was like sleeping on an unopened bag of potato chips or something. It was super uncomfortable. 
The only work-around I tried was unzipping them a tiny bit to help the air escape but that basically renders them useless since then the allergens also have an escape route. Another fun side effect of my work-around was the whoopie cushion noise that was produced as you rolled your head around on it. You go ahead and say "It wasn't me! It was my pillow!" to whomever you share your bed with and see how that goes down.

 I ended up buying cheaper ones for $4.00 each. They feel like a dream compared to the more expensive ones.

Since I had already opened and washed the ones I bought online, I didn't feel comfortable returning them and getting my $16.00 back. I immediately thought of my second allergy dilemma- linen storage.

Our house has no linen closet. None, whatsoever.

Currently our linens live in a shelf tower inside my closet. This skeeves me out. 

I just know those little dust mite jerks are finding their way to them. In fact I put the sheets and pillowcases away in the tower, and will re-wash them before I put them on my bed. If I don't then I can't sleep very good because I am worried my eyeballs will be red and swollen and I will look like a troll in the morning. 

I realize this is neurotic, and probably wasteful.

So I made these clever linen storage bags out of my allergy covers.

 With a stencil and a laundry pen that I already had on hand. 

Pretty allergy protection for my bedding, and no wasting of money. 2 problems- SOLVED. Good job, me!

+++ Bonus points;  my water and electricity bill will be less, and my linens will not wear out as quickly.

Waste not, Want not!

I used:
Dust allergy pillowcase cover
Duck Tape (from a different project)
This pretty stencil (from a different project)
Rub-A-Dub Laundry marking pen. (Already had it)

I taped my stencil down. I did not iron my pillowcase beforehand. 

Then I just traced inside the stencil, took it off and added some freehand shading to the bird.

So pretty, so simple. The whole project took less than 20 minutes from start to finish.

Here it is all zipped up and folded. Ready to go on the shelf, and keep the dust out!

This would also be a lovely way to keep your guest linens clean and fresh. One pillowcase can easily hold a couple of blankets or a duvet as well.

Have other ways you might use this idea? Let me know in comments?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Quotes and Motivation: Invincible Summer

I took this picture on Mt. Rainier last year. 

 While we have had a much drier Winter than usual, rain is in the forecast for the next 9 days. I have finally made peace with the rain, and even found peace IN the rain.  I still find I have to be careful here, and this is a quote I often refer back to. 

It reminds me the light will return. It's already on it's way!

 Ir reminds me how thankful I am for the gift of vivid imagination. I can always recall the glow of a Summer day spent on the water, or a crisp Spring morning in the forest when the Earth is just waking up from Winter. I can even plan for future days spent in similar ways. 

Until then, I will focus on that bright center of my brain that knows the promise of longer days full of warmth is kept, and always believes that the best is yet to come. 

+ Gratitude and mindfulness go a long way!

What is your favorite uplifting quote?

Monday, February 10, 2014

4 Ingredient Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Two recipes in one!

This is one of those old favorite frugal recipes I am teaching my daughter for her college years. I don't care if she is only 8. Sometimes you need a cookie, and when you look around in your kitchen, all you can find is:

1 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky. I won't judge)
1 cup sugar (brown, or white)
1 egg or 3 tbsp of egg whites if you have egg sensitivities like me.
Splash of vanilla.

Preheat oven to 375°. Spoon cookie dough into 1" balls and put on baking sheet. This is a sticky process and I like to get a spoonful, then scrape it off the spoon with my hand then onto the cookie sheet.

For the finish, you can choose to either flatten with the bottom of a glass. (If the glass sticks, just dip in sugar) and follow up with a cute little cookie cutter impression.


You can do criss cross pattern with a fork,the same sugar trick applies if your fork is sticking.  This one reminds me of being little. Our sweet little old neighbor lady would bake us peanut butter cookies, shove them in a ziploc bag, and hand them to us as we whizzed by on our roller skates. 

Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes. Let cool and remove from baking sheet. Consume with reckless abandon. These are around 66 calories each. Even less if you are using egg whites.

Easiest homemade cookies ever.

Go make some!

Have any super easy, fuss free treats like this one? I'd love to see them.

(p.s. Yes. I realize that I used more parentheses than were entirely necessary on this post.)


Sunday, February 9, 2014

4/ #48Walks : Snow Walk!

I know the rest of the country has just about had it with snow, but this is our first real snow since before Christmas.

Since the roads were pretty bad we didn't drive out to a park or trail to do our walk. Instead we opted to go for a short walk in the woods behind our house.

Then our walk morphed into walking back to the house to get all of our sleds out and sharing them with all the neighborhood kids.Fun was had by all.

Yay snow!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Super Simple: Jello Playdough or Why I Will Not Be Buying Playdoh Again

Oh Man, you guys. This is so easy. I have to share. I wish I had known about this sooner.

If you have little kids, you probably have some playdoh in the house, (maybe in the carpet?). It is great for their little motor skills, and the dexterity of their little hands + their creativity and sense of accomplishment.

My son loves playdoh. It is the most frequent activity he requests. In fact I can't remember a day without playdoh in it somewhere. He loves it that much.

One day we sat down to play with his playdoh, and it was so dried out it was unusable. Gross, crumbly and no longer pliable. So I started researching online. I found a few Jello Playdough recipes and decided I had to try it.

Bulleted benefits of Jello Playdough:
  • Jello Playdough is so easy to put together. It comes together in about 10 minutes. Less than the time it takes to go to the store to get more playdoh.
  • One batch of Jello Playdough is approximately 3 1/2 cans of storebought playdoh.
  • It doesn't dry out as quickly as it's commercial counterpart. (planned obsolescence?)
  • It smells amazing. Whatever flavor your Jello is will be the scent of the Jello Playdough!
  • It is a fun activity for your kids to help make. They like to measure and pour.
  • It feels like a science experiment when the dough forms a ball during the cooking process.
  • Jello Playdoh is more pliable. It just feels "softer and smoother:"
  • Its way cheaper. 1 Jello packet costs about .69 and makes 3x what a .79- $1.50 can does. The rest of the items are already pantry staples. I could calculate what they all cost as well, but that is a waste of time since I will come to the same conclusion. 
  • Warm Jello Playdough feels amazing. 
  • Super bright colors

By now I know you are pumped, right? I tried a few different recipes, and adjusted them. Many Jello Playdough recipes call for cream of tartar, but I have no idea what it does. I made it both ways and saw no difference.

Here is the recipe we have been making the past 2 weeks:

1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Salt
2 TBSP  coconut oil
1 Jello packet

Mix ingredients together and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until dough forms a ball. Turn out on a floured surface and let it cool. Knead a bit, then play.

the dough ball

It really is that easy. 

My little guy cut out a bunch of hearts for me. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

3 /#48walks : The Sequalitchew Trail

This trail was a brand new adventure for us. This Super Bowl Sunday, despite grumbles from the boys, I wanted to go for a hike. I needed to be outside today. Ever feel that way? We can be great friends!

I chose the Sequalitchew Trail since it was super close by and I had never been here before.

This is an excellent trail for kids, and I believe you could easily stroller run on this trail. The lovely wooded walk down the hill is rewarded at the end by an abandoned, grafitti'd railway tunnel (kinda spooky) and immediately beyond that, a gorgeous rocky beach! 

Nearly every stone on this beach in barnacled or mossy.

These #48walks, led by Alison Chino, has been continuous inspiration. We are outside all the time, but this project has absolutely led me to seek out new trails and destinations. There is an accountability factor, but also a gratefulness I feel I must share.
 It took me a long time to make peace with these long, grey winters.
 I want to share the beauty of these forests while I am here, no matter which season we find ourselves in.

Today we were blessed with a beautiful, cold, early February day hike.  Then we scrambled (a.k.a. ran uphill all the way back to the car) to catch the Seahawks winning the Super Bowl. Pretty amazing day if you ask me!