Jul 102014
 

Here’s a great way to reuse jello molds- upcycle them into planters for your garden.  SecondChanceToDream gives a step-by-step tutorial on how to do it.  I like this idea, although I probably wouldn’t paint them- the original metallic color of the molds was beautiful, in a vintage-with-industrial-flair way (before and after photos are in the post).

Crafty Thursdays are an ongoing feature of The Daily Citron.  I picked Thursday because it leaves just enough time for busy people to collect their supplies for doing the craft over the weekend.

Jul 092014
 

pantry

Today I’m eyeballing my cluttered pantry and thinking that it’s about time to apply my purging prowess.  My pantry probably feels dismayed by my interest, because it knows as well as anyone that I do not, in fact, have any significant prowess in purging items out of our house, and the whole affair could get chaotic.  But, nonetheless, I’m feeling the urge to give it a shot today.

This is not a random idea of mine- one of my goals for this year is to purge items out of our house so that we’re a less cluttered and more streamlined.  To make the goal more manageable, I’ve broken it down into sub-goals, such as “Purge the Office,” “Purge the Kitchen,” and “Purge the Bathrooms.”  Because I’m completely overwhelmed with the idea of achieving each of these sub-goals, I’ve broken them down even further- under “Purge the Kitchen” I have “Purge Drawers,” “Purge Cabinets,” “Purge Refrigerators/Freezers,” and finally, “Purge the Pantry.” Those sub-sub-goals feel a little more do-able.

The motivating force behind purging the clutter out of the pantry isn’t that I can’t find the things I want.  Like most people, we have our pantry items already loosely grouped together- spices in one area, oils and vinegars in another- and a little bit of digging usually turns up the sought after item.  The problem I have with a cluttered pantry is that it is too easy to ignore the things we don’t want.  You know, the stuff that hangs out for years, unused.  Usually the product of impulse buys, those items lurk at the back of the pantry shelves, apparently reproducing of their own accord, clandestinely creeping forward and systematically pushing in front of items that we actually do want to use. We end up ignoring the unused items for years at a time.  Don’t deny the same thing hasn’t happened to you- what parent hasn’t picked up that jar of pickled peppers and discovered with alarm that it is older than one of their children?

So, today will be a pantry-purging day, and even though I may be an amateur at purging and organizing, I do have the ability to follow a game plan.  I’ve used this game plan before and achieved pretty darn good results from it.  So join me, if you’d like, and tackle the clutter in your pantry.  The plan is pretty straightforward:

Purge the Pantry Game Plan

  1.  Pick one shelf in the pantry and take everything off of it; place items on the kitchen counter.
  2. Clean off the shelf’s surface with an all-purpose cleaner.
  3. Visually where groups of items will go (e.g., spices in one area, oils and vinegars in another, baking supplies in another)

Now it’s time to reintroduce items.  Looking at the items on the counter, ask the following questions:

  1. Is it expired? Throw out all of the expired products.
  2. Do I use this item at least once a month? Put it back on the shelf.
  3. Is the item being kept for a special occasion (e.g., baking supplies, cheese cloth…)? Put it back on the shelf, but then resolve to actually use it when the special occasion rolls around.
  4. Are there any items that everyone in the family refuses to eat? Donate them to a food bank.  If they’re not expired, someone will enjoy them.
  5. Rinse and repeat all of the above for each shelf of the pantry.

Now there’s a group of items left on the counter that aren’t being used, but would be eaten if served.  These all get grouped together, at the front of one of the shelves.  When it’s time for meal planning, look first at that group of items, and resolve to use at least three per week.  There are two benefits to this: 1) each item used =  that much less clutter, and 2) instead of spending money at the grocery store for additional food, we’re using up food that’s already paid for.

Do you have any good techniques for purging your pantry?

 

Jul 082014
 


Green Smoothie Recipes For Weight Loss and Detox by Jenny Allan is free right now on Amazon.  This is definitely one that I’m going to try, because we’ve been getting more into smoothies lately. It’s an Amazon Kindle ebook, but even if you don’t own a Kindle you can still enjoy it by downloading it to your computer (PC or Mac), iPhone, or iPad. The instructions for doing so are included under the “Buy Now With 1 Click” button.

PLEASE BE AWARE that the price could change at any time, so always check the price before clicking Buy Now.

Hurry, these promotions don’t last long.  Let me know what you thought of this book!

This post contains affiliate links from which I might receive a commission.  

Jul 062014
 

Apricot treeI hope I’m not freaking out those of you who aren’t on a Paleo-style eating plan- I’m not trying to convert anyone to eating like us, I’m just sharing what we do in the event that there are good tips you can take away from it, regardless of diet.  The mechanics of meal planning are the same across all diets anyway.

Ever since transitioning our family to a Paleo diet, cooking for my family has been more difficult for me, mainly because I don’t get to rely on my tried-and-true “regular food” recipes- I’ve had to learn new ones that fit within the Paleo framework (that framework being an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, meats and seafood, and avoidance of grains, legumes, dairy, and food additives).  Even harder for me, I no longer get to rely on processed, pre-made components of meals, such as fish sticks, bread, oven fries, and other items that are at least partially prepared when purchased.

Cooking three meals from scratch for our family of four is a daunting task for me, but sticking with my habit of meal planning has kept me at least partially sane.  My weekly meal plan allows me to look ahead to see what ingredients need to be purchased on my next grocery run, reminds me which meats need to be defrosted ahead of time, and honestly, it helps to quell the underlying sense of anxiety I have that I’ll be faced with three hungry people and no food to offer.  With a weekly meal plan, I feel prepared for the week ahead, and that’s a good feeling.

Paleo Weekly Meal Plan- July, Week 2

Dinners

Dinner sides are kind of mix-and-match this week, and include sautéed spinach, oven-roasted cauliflower rice  by Melissa Joulwan, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted winter squash, Michelle Tam’s braised red cabbage, sauerkraut, and fresh salads.

Lunches

Lunches this week will be the leftovers from the dinners, plus fresh fruit like melons, peaches, strawberries and blueberries from the farmer’s market.

Breakfasts

Paleo Chunky Monkey MuffinBreakfasts will include Berry Smoothies, Banana Walnut Smoothies, PaleoParents’ Chunky Monkey Muffins, Banana Faux-tmeal, and sweet potatoes sautéed with apples.  Plus protein on the side- usually sausage, bacon, sardines, or kipper snacks, and usually extra fresh fruit, too.

Have you tried weekly meal planning yet?

If you are looking for real food recipes that aren’t necessarily Paleo, check out Musings of a Housewife and Sassy Moms In the City. This post contains affiliate links from which I might receive a commission.  

Jul 052014
 

Oooh ooh ooh I have another smoothie recipe for you! This one tastes like a creamy, luscious banana milkshake even though it’s non-dairy and even has a cup of spinach thrown in.  I got the idea for this smoothie from the recipes by Artisana Nut Butters- they have a smoothie made with walnut butter that is delicious, but I tweaked the recipe to make it more cost effective (substituted whole walnuts for walnut butter) and more nutritious.  With it’s creamy texture and sweet banana walnut flavor this smoothie is a hit at our house.

Vegan Paleo Banana Walnut Smoothie

What You Need:

  • 1/4 cup Walnut Butter
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Milk
  • 1 pitted date
  • ¼ cup water (optional)
  • Sprinkle of Cinnamon or nutmeg

What To Do:

  1. Puree all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth, adding water if necessary to thin the smoothie.
Vegan Paleo Banana Walnut Smoothie
Servings
1
Servings
1
Vegan Paleo Banana Walnut Smoothie
Servings
1
Servings
1
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 banana fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup kale or spinach fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 date pitted
  • 1/4 cup water or ice optional
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Puree all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.
Recipe Notes

If you are using frozen bananas, you will probably need to use the 1/4 cup water to thin out the smoothie so that it is blendable.

If you are using fresh bananas you will probably want to add 1/4 cup ice cubes (4 cubes) to chill the smoothie a bit.

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Jul 042014
 

fun free activitiesIf you have kids, you might find that summer arrives with an endless string of expenses in tow: day camps, amusement parks, movie tickets, eating out… I know for me, it’s not a great feeling to see so much money getting drained out of our budget.  Trent at The Simple Dollar has put together a solid list of 50 free activities you can do with your kids, so that you can have fun with them without breaking your budget.  Incidentally, if you don’t have kids, there are still a lot of great ideas for you.  And over at Get Rich Slowly they’ve put together a list of cheap (some free) ways to have fun.

A lot of families have a tradition of going out for ice cream in the summer, but the cost of that will really add up (not to mention the incremental health consequences).  Save money by making your own ice cream- it’ll be a bit of an adventure if you’ve never done it before, but you might enjoy the process, and the end result, so much that you’ll make it your new tradition.  And, if you use healthy ingredients, then you can feel especially good about your choice- try this recipe for Paleo Spiced-Nut Vanilla Ice Cream.

Speaking of lots of summer activities, I’m noticing that my 7-year-old daughter constantly has to check in with me about what activities are coming up for the following day or week.  I’m mulling over how best to create a family calendar so that she can take the initiative to see for herself what our plans are.  My husband and I already use a shared Google calendar, which we access using the very cool Week Cal app on our iPhones, but I think we need something in hard copy to put on a wall of our house.  I got the idea from Unclutterer, which has a good article on family calendars if you’re having the same issue.