Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pancakes...By A Recovering Bisquick-aholic.

I love pancakes; they make me feel all warm and cozy inside, and bring back memories of when I was just a little Babs...staring in wide-eyed amazement as my Mommy made fantastic things like Mickey Mouse faces with the batter.  I still stare in wide-eyed amazement at that kind of skill; I hear it skips a generation.  That's okay, my daughter is low-maintenance. *whew* She does happy dances and cheers along the lines of, "YAY!  Pancakes!  I love pancakes Mama!" whenever the subject comes up.  She gets her excitement over simple things from me... and her mad, happy-dance skills.  My longtime friend in pancake making has been Bisquick; it's been by my side through good times and bad, whipping up not only pancakes, but quick and delicious biscuits, pot pies, and an endless list of last minute meals involving dough.  There comes a time however when we must sever certain ties, and that time is now.  I ran out of Bisquick.  When I went to the store, I walked somberly passed all the beautiful yellow boxes in the baking aisle, avoiding eye contact.  Then I found it; organic flour.  Baking soda.  Baking powder.  And a new, healthier friendship was formed, and more delicious pancakes were made.  Bisquick, I am so over you. 
My Mom must have known somehow that this day would come.  She made me an amazing book, full of delicious and "from scratch" recipes that I took with me when I married my Jarhead.  Lo and behold, there was not one, but two recipes for pancakes!  No tutorials on Mickey Mouse faces though...*sigh*


1 1/4 C flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C milk
1 T applesauce or canola oil
1 beaten egg

Mix together the dry ingredients.  Add the wet ingredients.  Stir just long enough to combine well.  Then make pancakes like everyone knows how.

I should note, this doesn't make enough for my brood, so I double it.  Well....it might be enough if Jarhead didn't eat all the batter raw....or if we didn't have batter fights...  I won.  Nevermind, it's probably enough.

Giveaway Winner!

Thank you everyone for participating in the giveaway!  Congratulations to the winner, daer0n!  I have sent you an email requesting your mailing info, and  your prize will be sent as soon as I hear from you.  Please also let me know what bar of soap you would like.  If I don't hear from you by the end of this week, I will draw another random name.  Thank you!

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Giveaway...Because It's A Party! ***THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED***

The lure for every great party in the military, also known as "mandatory fun", is free food and a cool giveaway.  Hey, I'm there!  I decided it was high-time to throw a party to celebrate this new adventure we have set out on, and I will not fly in the face of conventional military tactics.  So without further ado, I am pleased to announce our first giveaway!  The prize comes from the amazing store, Mountain Creek Gifts, run by my way-too beautiful, way-too talented, wonderful friend, Brittany.  Yep, she's a pretty cool gal; from the moment she told me I could "boot" her rooster if he came charging at me (note my keen dislike of poultry), I knew it was a friendship that would last forever...and it has.  Her store lives up to her own coolness, and you can feel the love that goes into her soap everytime you wash your hands; lather like that doesn't happen without the love, I tell you!  Just check out this beautiful, all natural stuff;

                  Country Garden Soap...is it not the prettiest bar of soap you've ever seen?
Her Lavender Soap makes my hands and nose go, "ahhhhh!"
Sugar Scrub, Mmmm.  It's edible too, so you can stave off hunger while you bathe; that kind of multi-tasking is right up my alley. *it's not recommended that you eat it...just sayin'*
 Now for the prize; an all natural loofah and bamboo bath mitt, along with a bar of soap of your choice! 
                                                    Rules for entering are simple:

Visit Mountain Creek Gifts, then leave a comment here telling me what your favorite product is.  For additional entries:
1. Become a follower, or subscribe to this blog, and leave a comment letting me know you have; good for one additional entry.
2. Post about this giveaway on your blog or facebook and leave a link in the comments, good for one additional entry.

This giveaway will close at 12:00am EST on Monday, May 30th.  I will post the winner here, and you can get in contact with me for where to send your prize!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On Cosmetics

Ahh, now we come to the day I smeared chocolate all over my face.  It seemed to me that cosmetics should be a top priority in this going green business, seeing as how I put it all over my skin all the time.  If you want some hair-raising information on the kinds of things in the products we use every day, check out this site, Safe Cosmetics. I had ordered a sample stacker from Terra Firma Cosmetics, and was near giddy when I opened the box and out came multiple free samples.  I'm a cheapo...free samples is totally my language.  I rushed myself over to the bathroom sink, and tried out some of the goodness.  I'm a sucker too; the free samples worked.  The chocolate mask was among them, and the worst thing I can say for it is a Snickers ought to come with it, because the smell alone is enough to make you want to lick your face.  Eww.

 I also ordered a sample of their Hocus Pocus under eye powder.  I've always had dark circles under my eyes and my vanity said, "you MUST have some of that!"  I took a before and after photo to show you how well it works; not sure why my flash didn't go off the second time around, but at least you will get the idea.  Ahhh, how nice to not look like I belong in the NFL... 
                I'm so glad going all natural doesn't mean my face has to be too.  *Whew* 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Homebaked Bread and the Art of Slicing It

It seemed to me that the very epitome of "organic" is homebaked bread; all the cool organic people do it, and I definately want to be a cool organic person.  And the bread at the commissary is pretty nasty....that too.  I had never baked bread in my life, and didn't even own bread pans, but I decided I needed to give it a shot for the aforementioned reasons.  I added "foil breadpans" to my grocery list, and hunted down the perfect bread recipe.  It wasn't a long hunt.  Because when you have one of these bad boys...

...there is really only one option; use the recipe that came with the mixer.  Not only was it easy, peasy, it made my house smell amazing, and my hands were loving that dough.  And the taste...be still, my heart!

I have since made 6 more loaves...and bought actual bread pans.  One problem I was running into was that the bread had to be cut a bit thick, otherwise it would crumble.  This past batch, quite by accident, I learned the secret for sandwich thin slices.  Refrigeration before cutting; voila!

Don't you love peanut butter and jelly?  That's some Jiff and Smuckers right there.  Yes, I will eventually ditch the smooth stuff and buy the gravel.  I'm not so kean on organic peanut butter... *sigh*

A Trip To The Library

Now that I had fully embraced cloth diapering, I began to wonder what else contained the harsh chemicals that disposables had.  I learned the answer was EVERYTHING and I turned to our local library for help on alternatives.   
The "Baby Animals" book is my daughter's contribution; as much as I love sweet little baby animals (except chickens, which are vile creatures at any age), they are not in our future....except for maybe a few chickens. *sigh*  We do however intend to grow a fairly extensive garden when we get out of the military next year, so I grabbed some books on vegetables and herbs as well.

 I found Green Up Your Cleanup by Jill Potvin Schoff to be very helpful as far as making homemade household cleaners.  It has seven different recipes in it, that would cover the full range of cleaning.  I headed out to the store to gather the ingredients: vinegar, borax, baking soda, hydrogen bleach and castile soap.  I found all of them without trouble except for the castile soap, which I will be ordering online along with some essential oils.  I am really looking forward to trying out these cleaners and comparing their fighting power to what I've been using for as long as I've been cleaning.

While I was gathering all my cleaner ingredients, I went looking for organic hygiene products, not sure that the commissary would offer a fair selection.  I was wrong!  I came out with some Avalon Organics Lavendar Shampoo, Conditioner and Shaving Gel.  I have tried them all and I have to say, I like them!  The shaving gel in particular is great.  The other main organic company that seems to be represented there is JASON, which I intend to try next.  On a subsequent trip to the library, I found The Herbal Body Book by Stephanie Tourles, and hope to try some of those recipes also.  I think it would be great to make most of our products myself....it's just a matter of justifying the cost and time, which I will be working out as I go...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On Cloth Diapering

Smelly, dirty, disgusting cloth diapering.  I had images of poop and flies, and the constant smell of urine in the air.  Still, we have to make sacrifices to protect our babies, so I launched headlong into it, and quickly felt pretty snazzy.  After all, I was now most decidely, a good mom.  And I knew the cloth diapering lingo.  AIO, OS...being a Marine wife has made me immune to the intimidation tactics of acronyms.  I got myself a couple Bum Genius Elemental Organic All-In-Ones, and a few GroVia Organic All-In-Ones, along with cloth wipes and other parafanalia that any self-respecting, cloth-diapering mama couldn't possibly live without.  And I totally loved it, right from the start.  Well, minus that whole "priming" thing....you know, washing and drying the diapers 5 or so times before the first use to eliminate any residue that would make them ineffective and leaky.  Armed with some good garbage (i.e. junk food) and a few chick-flicks, I made it through a long, long night of laundering.  Thankfully, it did the trick and we had zero leaking problems on day one.
I quickly learned it wasn't going to be all roses, and number ones.  Or even the number twos that slide right off the diaper into the toilet, no fuss, no muss.  Sometimes I wonder if my kids have a secret stash of tar somewhere that they eat when I'm not looking.  If what goes in is what comes out....it seems like a reasonable supsicion, because I can tell you, I did not feed my kids anything that sticky.  Being stationed in a foreign country has it's disadvantages too; like not being able to hook a handy, dandy diaper sprayer to your toilet.  I get to do it the nasty way....swishing and swashing and flushing...over and over again, all the while dreaming of the life of ease cloth diapering moms in the States enjoy with their high-powered sprayers.  *sigh*

Nightime proved to be a problem too.  The first night my kiddos wore their diapers, my youngest woke up in the middle of the night with a soaked bed and a soaked self.  My oldest waited until morning and was thoroughly drenched.  When I took her diaper off, pee dribbled all over my hands and I learned the valuable lesson that cotton can only hold so much liquid.  I met with the cloth-diaper lady I had bought them from and she suggested some GroVia Stay Dry Boosters for overnight (just another layer, with fleece to wick the moisture away from their skin).  They worked like a charm, and we have had no leaks since.  I was also able to purchase some more diapers when I got the boosters, so that meant less laundry.  I am still washing every day, and even when I have more diapers, I probably still will.  Slowly but surely, I am building my stash.  I bought the GroVia Hybrid Experience package, and it works well for my youngest; my oldest is too heavy a wetter and gets the shell way too wet to use again.

So far, I prefer the Bum Genius Elemental All-In-Ones, but I do like that the Grovia diapers dry faster; one of the layers snaps off, so it's not so bulky in the wash.  Unfortunately, I don't have to worry about that layer on one of my diapers anymore; you see, my friend's toilet ate it.  I was swishing and swashing away when I got to the flushing and just like that, the toilet pulled the snap right off and sucked it away forever.  I stood there in horror and let out a gasp that had my friend staring into the oblivion of the toilet bowl with me in a second.  I knew what I had to do.  I took off my wedding band and reached my hand down in there, trying to feel if it wasn't quite lost forever.  It was gone.  And my hand and arm were gross.  I flushed her toilet over and over, hoping to avoid it clogging on her later on.  Then I washed my hands and arm.  Multiple times.  With Ajax.

It All Started When...

Hi.  I'm Babs ~ that's me with the chocolate slathered all over my face. 
It didn't start with the chocolate, it actually started with a persistent diaper rash on my kiddos that would not go away, despite my best efforts and way too much prescription cream from the Dr.  One of my friends suggested that perhaps it was the diapers; after all, everyone knows there are loads of disgusting chemicals in disposable diapers....everyone except me apparently.  I turned to trusty ole' Google for information on these harsh chemicals, and was horrified!  Then I turned to Google again for information on cloth diapering.  And my journey into the world of "green" began....   

Oh, you are wondering about the chocolate?  Stay tuned. ;)