Kitchen Staples

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Last week I wrote that we were in transition.  After being sick, Peanut immediately went into a sleep regression. For almost a month we existed on a mere couple hours of sleep each night. We are through it and now I officially have a walker. He has transcended to a whole new level of menace. Can I also just mention that when I read all the baby stuff before Peanut was born, no one ever mentioned sleep regressions! They wear me down every time but Peanut always comes out of it with some kick-ass new skill.

Onwards friends! So I have been reading Lauren’s organization posts and it has inspired me to get organized as well. So I cleaned out my fridge and pantry! Just kidding, I have a toddler. I just stared and tried to use the force to make it happen. When that didn’t work I just grabbed the girl scout cookies and closed the door. Her posts make me want to be more organized though. So that’s a start.

I when I was making my grocery list this week, I realized it was mostly staple items I was repurchasing. With the weather being crappy we haven’t been going out to the store every day but making meals from the basics we always have on hand. So I wanted to make this post about some of the staples I always keep in the house.

I love having these basics always on hand. Sometimes I see a recipe online or just decide I want to make something on whim. Having these ingredients in the house makes it easier. There are some other items that we usually have on hand that I didn’t include but they are pretty specific to the type of foods we usually cook.  Below is a handy list with the basics.

Pantry Staples PicWhat kind of staples do you always keep in your house?

Julie Morgenstern’s S.P.A.C.E Technique

I’ll admit it –I’m a nerd.  I really, truly love reading books on various organizational theories.  Actually, I really love reading books about a lot of things.  And I love organizing.  So I guess it makes sense that I like to combine the two.

One of the best organizing books that I have read is Julie Morgenstern’s Organizing From the Inside Out.  If you’re someone that struggles in this area, I would highly recommend that you check it out.  I really love the way that she guides a reader through some of the emotional work of figuring out what is driving negative patterns and then offers practical advice for developing better habits.

Today I thought I’d share one tidbit from her book that helps me focus on being as productive as possible.  Whenever you set out to organize a space, just remember S.P.A.C.E.

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Sort – divide all of your “stuff” into categories that make sense to you.

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Purge – get rid of anything that no longer belongs in your life. This can be trash, donations, or things to be returned to their owners. I find that it’s easier to part with things if I can set them aside and give them to someone else that can enjoy them.  For example, I’m an unreptentant beauty junkie so I end up with a ton of samples and products that don’t always work for me. I save the castoffs and bring them with me to family gatherings.  I barely have time to set down the bag before my cousins nosedive into it for nail polish and perfume.  It’s fun to be able to bring others joy while also cleaning out my vanity.

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Assign a Home – decide where a particular item or category of items belongs. This is possibly the most important and most difficult step in the process. Once everything has a “home,” it is super easy to make sure you always know where it is when you need it.

Containerize – This is where you can go buy cute bins or shelves if you choose. It’s better to wait until you know what items remain and where they’ll be located so you don’t risk being stuck with a bunch of expensive organizational gadgets that you don’t need. The goal here is to contain your stuff rather than to end up with even more junk that you have to organize. You can also use free items that you may already have around the house. Shoeboxes are great for crafts, furniture with built-in storage saves my ass daily, and an old jelly jar serves as a cute shabby-chic toothbrush holder.  Use your creativity to find solutions that fit your lifestyle and budget.

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Equalize – Remember how I always say that getting organized isn’t a destination? Still true. You will need to devote some time to maintaining your new space. The good news is that if you’ve made it this far, the rest is a piece of cake. You can probably even get by using the One Minute Rule that I discussed last week.

Cranberry Scones

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We are in transition. Transition to what I am not 100 percent sure.

I actually wrote this post at 3 am. Sadly I wrote it in my head and I cant remember half of what I wanted to say. Everyone in our house is finally feeling better and that is something to celebrate. Peanut is walking more than crawling these days. That is something to celebrate…I think. He also has a new word, duck. If I have your cell phone I have probably sent you the video. I have been annoyingly sending it to everyone. Sorry not sorry. Seriously, its adorable and I am totally not biased.

We have been buying scones from Panera. It started as one random scone and has really spiraled out of control. When I was trying to decide what to make this week {B} suggested I try scones so we can stop buying them. I’m not going to lie, my scones are way better than Panera’s. Plus there is a choose your own adventure in the middle of the recipe! Unfortunately, I forgot to start taking pics until halfway through the process. My bad, guys.

Peanut was my helper today.  I wore him and he bopped me in the back of the head with a wooden spoon. It was…fun?

Scones

1 3/4c Flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

5 tablespoons unsalted frozen butter

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 egg yolk

1/2 of fruit, candy, whatever mix-in you like; you do you

Optional: Powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1. Add all dry ingredients to a processor and pulse a times to mix.

2. Either chop up butter and add it in or if you have a grate the butter and add to dry ingredients.  Pulse a few times until butter is incorporated.

3. Measure out cream. Add egg yolk to cream and beat a times to mix up. Add egg/cream mixture to dry ingredients.

4. Pulse until everything is incorporated. The dough will look a little crumbly.

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5. Add in your favorite mix-in. We used dried cranberries. (I would be totally lying if I didn’t that I stared at the Health bar crumbles for a long, long time. Next batch.) Pulse one or twice to mix a little. You don’t want to overmix

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6. This next step is a choose your own adventure! You have two options:

A. Roll the dough out to about 1/2 in thick. Use a biscuit cutter or cup to cut out circles of dough

B. Just grab a small amount of dough and make a ball.

(You can guess which I choose. Perfection has never been my strong suit)

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7. Let the dough rest on the pan for about 15 min. Then bake for 15 min.

8. Dust with lightly with powdered sugar.

Want results? Practice the One-Minute Rule

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

-Aristotle

This quote by Aristotle is probably my very favorite because it perfectly captures a simple yet powerful idea: that we have the power to set ourselves up for success by simply developing good habits. Each day we’re forced to make countless choices from the time we get up until we go to sleep at night. All of this activity takes energy and will power. It’s no wonder that we sometimes neglect the things that are important for our well-being. The problem with allowing bad habits to take root is that minor lapses can quickly become larger problems that can seem insurmountable.

Never is this more apparent to me than when it comes to clutter. I tend to be a pretty visual person. I love art, color, and beauty. I’m also extremely sensitive to a messy environment. To me, internal calm cannot exist in external chaos, and I immediately feel anxious when surrounded by too much “stuff.” In fact, at some point it becomes easy to lose site of the individual issues contributing to a mess and the surroundings can become an overwhelming mass of disorganization.

One of the easiest and most helpful ways that I’ve found to counteract this issue is by practicing the One Minute Rule which Gretchen Rubin outlines in her book, The Happiness Project. (GretchenRubin.com) The basic premise of this principle is to complete any task that will take you one minute or less to accomplish. The result is that this seriously cuts down on the severity of any disorganization without a ton of effort.

This rule has even helped my relationship since I live with a partner that is somewhat less senstive to clutter than I am. I used to nag about things such as dirty laundry on the floor or opened junk mail on the counter. To her, it just seemed easier to leave things where they naturally fell if she was in the middle of a task. To me, it seemed that I was always wading through junk that had the sole purpose of making me angry. The problem is that those minor messes add up quickly. So I agreed to stop nagging (the struggle is real) if she would agree to start practicing  the One Minute Rule, and it’s been so helpful.

Here are some examples that I try to set in my own home:

1) Process all mail as soon as I get home. I put all junk mail into the recycling right away rather than let it linger.

2) Pick up and put away Asher’s toys (seriously…..why does that dog want ALL of his toys to be tripping hazards?)

3) Rinse the dishes after dinner and put them in the dishwasher. This one is so hard for me because I usually just want to veg out and watch The Walking Dead after dinner, but it’s a lot easier than trying to scrub the dishes the next morning.

4) Take the time to put things away properly, even if it goes upstairs. Trust me, the extra exercise won’t hurt you any.

Try the One Minute Rule in your life and see what happens. I bet you’ll find that it’s much easier to break down your efforts into the smallest tasks.

 

 

Korean Oxtail Soup

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Is this week over yet? If not, I quit anyways. I’m done. I’m not here for it.

Lets have a little run down of this week, shall we? Peanut got the stomach flu, the next day my wife got the actual flu, the next day Peanut came down with the flu, we had a couple days of everyone on antibiotics and no sleep. Finally we got a night of complete sleep. Yay! Then Peanut started teething again. Guys, I’m exhausted. My brain has officially quit.

So in the middle of this madness I made Korean oxtail soup. This soup is delicious. There are also tons of health benefits and it’s also really simple to make. The only downside – it takes time. But it’s so worth it! It takes my mother in law 3 days to cook. It took me about 4 hours mostly because I’m lazy. I know what you are thinking, there is no way you going to spend this much time on one recipe. Just try it! Or come to my house and I will make it for you and after you’re done singing about how it is giving you life, you are going to run home and make it. It will fill your soul.

Korean Oxtail Soup

Ingredients:

3-4lbs Oxtail

4 Large cloves of  garlic

salt and Pepper to taste

Optional: Green onion and turnips or Korean radish

Directions

1. Trim the excess fat off the oxtail

2. Place the meat in a bowl with enough water to cover.

3. Let it soak for 1-2 hours – changing the water after one hour

4. Drain the meat and place it in a large pot with about 16 cups of water.

5. On high heat, bring the pot to a boil. Skim any impurities that rise to the top.

6. Lower the heat to low and simmer for 3-4 hours.

7. After 3-4 hours, remove oxtails from water, place in a bowl and cover. Skim the water again and place the pot in the refrigerator overnight.  (Also put the oxtails in the refrigerator.)

8. The next day, all the fat with be solidified on top – Skim it off.

9. Place the oxtails, garlic and thinly sliced radish in to the broth. On high heat bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 min.

10. Serve with sliced green onion. Allowing each person to add salt and pepper their own bowls.

Tip: We like to make white rice and add it the soup when serving.

Easy Breezy Brad Earrings

Hello there, kittens!

I’m so sorry about my inability to write a fascinating and life-changing post last week. Unfortunately, I was forced to leave the freezing cold of home for a business trip in sunny California. And since I’m not a multi-tasker, I was forced to prioritze packing over blogging. Lucky for you I’m back this week with another quick and easy craft. You’re welcome.

I’ll be honest, over the years I’ve grown increasingly bored with fashion in general. Everything today just seems so far removed from my actual lifestyle that I typically just stick to my usual jeans and black knit sweater combo. I can appreciate the women that choose to confidently strap a piglet on their head and call it a hat, but it just isn’t practical for my day to day.

But I do still occasionally appreciate some adorable accessories. Especially if they’re inexpensive and I know that I won’t see 10 other women wearing the same thing as I walk down the street. Making your own jewelry is a sure-fire way to get something that is uniquely you (the inexpensive part is up to you….if you’ve ever gone to a Michael’s store you know…that shit can get pricey). One of my favorite ways to customize my look is to make these adorable brad earrings. They only take a few minutes and can be made for less than the earrings you used to buy at Claire’s boutique in 1995.

Supplies:

1 Hot Glue Gun w/ Glue

Earring Posts

Fabric or Epoxy Brads (find these in the scrapbooking section of your craft store)

Clippers or powerful scissors (I like the ones for jewelry-making)

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I decided to go with a set that reminds me of old-school airlines in honor of my recent travels.

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Step 1:

Clip the metal “brad” pieces off of your fabric brads. You’ll be left with just the cute fabric and a mostly flat back.

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Step 2:

Put a dab of hot glue on your earring post and press it firmly into the center of the back of the brad.

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And voila! You have some spunky earrings that evoke the same laid-back vibe as the vintage button ones that you can buy at craft fairs for 4 times the price. And did I mention that they make awesome gifts?

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I love the mismatched look of this pair here:

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Now I need your help. I have a ton of ideas for future craft posts. Please take this quick poll to let me know which posts you’d be most excited to read:

 

Banana Bread

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So I was planning on making and writing about fruit leather. I had an interesting story about the first time I heard of it. It involves, crunchy people, chickens, children with salmonella and playing with poop. It’s all very fascinating. But I have a whole list of reasons why I didn’t make it. Instead I made banana bread.

I wish I could say that I have a funny and quirky story about banana bread but really I just had two bananas turning black on my counter. Also banana bread batter takes about 5 minutes to mix. Full disclosure, I got this recipe from Simply Recipes.  The recipe is pretty delicious, especially for my first time making banana bread. The problem for me was that it took much longer than stated to bake. I am not sure what I did wrong and I was dealing with a fussy baby so I didn’t spend much time analyzing. I might make a couple changes next time, like making smaller loaves or increasing the temp on the oven. I will update this post when I do.

As I sit stuffing my face with banana bread I have two thoughts.

1. This bread could have used a third banana but I was too lazy to go to the store.

2. This blog is going to make me fat if I continue to eat everything I make. Good thing I am willing to suffer for my art.

Bonus: 3. As I am attempting to write this blog, I have some how ended up in a texting debate, with my mom, about strippers.

Banana Bread

  • 2-3 very ripe bananas, peeled
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a bread pan.

2. Mash bananas in a bowl.

3. Add melted butter and stir

3. Mix in egg and vanilla extract.

4. Mix in baking soda, salt, sugar and flour.

5. Pour into greased pan.

6. Pop into the oven for 1 hour 10 minutes – checking at 50 minutes. Toothpick should come out clean.

Note: This is where this recipe went awry for me. This bread easily took an hour and a half to bake. Good thing it was delicious.

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