Monday, March 31, 2014

Cool Stuff -- Everyday Kitchen

What are your favorite kitchen gadgets? I love to cook and want to make things both healthy and tasty, so most of the time that means cooking from scratch.  My love of cooking comes from my mom and my brothers are both great cooks.

Today I'm sharing three of my favorite smaller kitchen gadgets that I've found recently and use every day, multiple times. Cool stuff I don't know how I ever did without!

First, and maybe not technically a gadget, is cotton and tulle scrubbies. I've been using them on dishes for years now, but it wasn't until the last year or so that I found out how good they are for scrubbing veggies too. I use them on potatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots mostly. Since they are machine washable they are better than sponges and I've found they last a long time.

cotton & tulle scrubbies by CityGirlCreations98

The rolling garlic chopper is truly a gadget and fun to use. I hesitated in buying one at first because it seemed the garlic press and a paring knife did the job just fine. Then one day the store had a great sale on gadgets and I broke down. Turns out, I love it, it's fun to use and my daughter bought herself one after using mine, before I could put one in her stocking for Christmas. By the way, we use a lot of garlic in our house. No vampires hanging around here! Garlic is, among other things, a natural antibiotic. This now has a home on the dish drainer.

Rolling Garlic Chopper

The third kitchen gadget I use daily is this cool citrus juicer. We started drinking a cup of warm water with fresh lemon juice first thing every morning when we radially changed our diet in 2012 and this works great. We were doing a reboot and this is one the habits that has stuck as it is clear it makes us feel better. This also has a permanent home on the dish drainer.

Citrus Juicer
Do you like to cook? Do you have anything you use every day in the kitchen?

Have a great week and happy cooking!
Linda <><

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chocolate and Snow--Two of My Favorite Things

My husband loves the snow. He could spend every weekend in the mountains skiing, snowshoeing, even sledding. We don't get there that often. Last Saturday was a prime example of why he loves it so much. The kids came home and we spent Saturday in Paradise, literally and figuratively. 

Snowshoeing at Paradise, Mt. Rainier

I love snow, too. Living here where the snow is infrequent at best and being a mere hour or so from it is even better. We've got camellias, daffodils, cherry trees and more in bloom now and a snowy Paradise just up the road.

One of the snacks we enjoyed at the top was a new chocolate recipe I came across on Pinterest. I really didn't change it up, except it said to soak the dates and since I used Medjool dates I didn't need to soak them. This very simple five ingredient recipe for Chocolate Brownie Energy Bites, from The Lemon Bowl is delicious and just what we needed to get back down the mountain!

Chocolate Brownie Energy Bites

There are risks in living among the mountains. As we snowshoed a mudslide was reaking havoc on Oso, Washington nearby. Our prayers are with all those involved in this catastrophic event.

I look up to the mountains;
    does my strength come from mountains?

No, my strength comes from God,
    who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

Psalm 21:1-2 (The Message)

Oso Mudslide

Here's more information on the situation and how you can help from Washington Trails Association.

Linda <><

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Art of Celebration

I love old hymns and new songs! Last week I came across a band that might just be my new favorite. Rend Collective, an Irish band, released their new album on St. Patrick's Day. Check out the story of their new album and the song that first caught my attention, My Lighthouse.

Our new traditional St. Patrick's Day celebration is to participate in Seattle's St. Pat's Dash. This is the 30th year of the dash. Some 4,000 participated in the rain, from serious runners to strollers and wheelchairs. Most in costume. I was excited to wear my new camo running skirt(I was just trying to blend in.) The picture doesn't really portray the true colors. It's neon green with iridescent dots. It was fun to make, I found a  simple tutorial on Youtube and it cost under $5.

Here are some of my pix from the day,
they aren't the best. 

 People dress really crazy.

In fact, we decided people in Seattle like to play dress up, even in the rain! 

Click here for better pix from the Seattle Times.

After the dash we warmed up with Irish stew, Reuban sandwiches and Irish coffee at Paddy Coynes. Then made a trip to Seattle's REI.

How do you like to celebrate? Our celebrations usually involve food and very often a hike! I love that God commands us to celebrate! And "seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit, but joy is."

Linda <><

Monday, March 10, 2014

Chocolate Obsession

When I radically shifted my diet, about a year and a half ago, to a healthier more thoughtful way of eating, I gave up many of my favorite things. Since then I've had two hot dogs (one of my 'old' favorite things). Also, the last time I had a hamburger was Mother's Day 2013. After our traditional Mother's Day hike we stopped at Boomer's Drive-In. I might eat one slice of bread a week, one half slice at a time. My bread of choice is Dave's Killer Bread and I keep it in the freezer, toast it and top it with either peanut butter or coconut oil and cinnamon. I'm not vegetarian or vegan, but I have become very picky about the meat, poultry and fish I consume, and it is much less frequent. All of these changes have been well worth it. The weight loss is almost a side note to just how much better I feel.

That being said, I love chocolate and one way or another I eat some every day. (It is healthy after all.) Costco carries some really yummy dark chocolates. The latest two I tried and fell madly in love with were the Dark Chocolate Enrobed Mangoes and Dark Chocolate Covered Strawberries. These probably are not the healthiest thing in the world, but I keep my consumption limited. 

I believe the best way to have my special treats is to make them. Putting time into the process of creating my treat makes it even more special. I found a great chocolate recipe with only three ingredients and have been using it, when I am desperate for my dark chocolate, for quite some time. The recipe is for mini peanut butter cups. I like to use the basic chocolate for a variety of creative, tasty treats. 

Chocolate Obsession

3 basic ingredients:
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup cocoa or cacao
1/4 cup maple syrup

possible add-ins:  nuts, cacao nibs, dark chocolate chips,
dried fruits, crystallized ginger, peanut butter,
almond butter...

How I do it: First, I work the coconut oil a bit to soften it (this will depend on room temperature, it's always pretty cool here). Then, I add the cacao and and maple syrup and mix well. Next, add in whatever you like, drop by spoonfuls on waxed or parchment paper and place in freezer until hardened. I sprinkled a little extra cacao on top before chilling. Store in a plastic container in the refrigerator.

This made about  9 ounces -- 17 pieces.

It's great to find so many healthier recipes online. Reboot With Joe was my first and remains one of my favorite sites. Supper tonight (brought to you by the internet:): Arabic Lentil Soup and Massaged Kale Salad and, or course, chocolate!

If you're interested in more, mostly healthy recipes I've been collecting, check out my pinterest.

For Lent this year we are purging and donating in our house. I'm so grateful God loves the imperfect, because we've already missed a day or two. Do you observe Lent? How? One year I actually gave up chocolate! What was I thinking?

Linda <><

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Seagull In My Mailbox?!

What a special surprise!     An etsy customer included this YouTube in a recent review. She had bought the seagull as a gift and I shipped it to her friend in Regina, Saskatchewan. This made my day. 


I have to admit, I love receiving this kind of pure gratitude! How about you? If we do, how much more do you think our Heavenly Father, in whose likeness we were formed, appreciates our praise? 

My gratitude journal is a year and a half old now. I highly recommend something of the sort to everyone. Here in the Pacific Northwest we are in the middle of the rainy season and it's easy to get caught up in the dreariness. 

Mossy rocks on our wet, wet walk

We were fortunate to spend a couple of days just two hours north of here last weekend and enjoyed some magical snow play!

Emma showing off the
new hat I crocheted for her

Whatcom Falls snow day

Snow at Boulevard Park

Today is Ash Wednesday! I am incredibly grateful to live in a place where I can observe Lent and choose how I personally observe it. I'll fill you in on how that's going next week!

Linda <><


Today is Ash Wednesday! I am incredable