Archive for September, 2011

C and I are both sensitive to fragrances and chemicals so in an effort to reduce our exposure to these, I have been researching non-toxic and natural cleaning methods for our home and clothing.  Also, I switched our bathroom cleaners to non-toxic brands and started using a steam mop on the hardwood floors (which is an awesome piece of equipment).  If you have hardwood floors, go get yourself a steam mop.  You won’t be disappointed.

Tide has always been my favorite clothes detergent, but it is expensive even with coupons.  I used to use the powder, but since we have really hard water that does not dissolve the powder very well, I switched to liquid.  In reading about alternative cleaning methods, I found that there were many people making their own laundry detergent, either to save money or to lessen chemical exposure to I decided to give it a try. 

Since I didn’t know if C would be allergic to one of the three ingredients, I only used it to wash towels this week to test it.  So far so good!  The towels were also pretty clean, but I did notice that it did not remove some tomato sauce stains from one dishtowel, but I left out the bleach I usually use for that, also.  This “recipe” came from the website Our Greener Acres, which is full of ideas on healthier and more natural living.

(Note: This recipe is for a full batch of detergent, but I just made a half a batch to test it so the pictures won’t quite correspond with the text.)

1 bar laundry soap (I used Fels Naptha)

1/2 cup washing soda

1/2 cup borax



Start by bringing 4 cups of water to a simmer on the stove.  While the water is warming, grate the bar of soap.


Once the water is simmering, add the soap in small batches.  Don’t put it in all at once or it will take a very long time to melt.  Once the soap is melted and the mixture is smooth, add the washing soda and borax.  Cook until dissolved.



I saved an old Tide jug to use.  Pour this mixture into the jug and fill it up the rest of the way with warm water.  Leave a little room because you will have to shake it up to use it.  Let is set for several hours with the top off to cool.



When I washed the towels with it, I almost couldn’t get it to pour out of the container because it was so thick but I may not have let it cool long enough before I tried it.  This detergent smelled nice but it wasn’t overpowering so I hope that it gets our clothes nice and clean because it was easy and cheap to make.  I will keep you updated on the results.

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Wordless Wednesday




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Menu Plan Monday

Another week has gone by and it is time for another meal list.  This week’s menu is a little short because we have a couple of “errand” evenings this week so we will probably eat out then.  I have to go to the grocery one night and it is going to be a doozy of a trip.  We are out of just about everything household AND food-wise!

One other evening we have to go pick up a tow-behind lift that C is going to use to pressure wash the end of our house.  The north side of our house is also the side with a walk-out basement so we have two and a half stories of vinyl siding that faces north and gets covered in mildew since it doesn’t get enough sun to kill it.  I would not even want to see a ladder tall enough to reach the top so we are renting a powered lift to get up there.  C is excited since he loves to try new gadgets.  I will make sure and get pics for everyone to see.  Hee hee!

Please forgive me for a short list this week.  Next week should be back to normal.  Have a great end of September everyone!!!

Chili (making a double batch for leftovers and other recipes to come)

Grilled hamburgers and oven fries

Pizza night

Basic Meatloaf

Coca-Cola Cake

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In trying out new flavors of dairy-free ice cream, I have tried to make something for everyone around me.  C loves Oreos, so I decided to make this version for him.  It turned out really well and the only thing that I would do differently is to add 2 tablespoons of vanilla instead of one.  We did notice the flavor of the coconut milk more in this since there wasn’t a lot of strong flavors to mask it, but it was still good on a hot summer day!

I started with the basic vanilla recipe that I published here, and added crushed Oreos to it.  So easy! 

1 14oz. can full-fat coconut milk

1 1/4 cups soymilk or other nondairy milk

1/2 cup granulated sugar (or agave syrup-I just bought some and will try this, too.  The agave syrup lowers the glycemic index which makes it better for diabetics.)

1.5 tbsp. real vanilla extract

14 Oreo cookies, crushed


Place all of the ingredients except the cookies in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. 

I crushed the cookies by putting them into a zip-top bag and break them up with a rolling pin.


Turn on the ice cream maker and pour the vanilla base into it.  Process for 20 minutes.  Add the cookie crumbs in the last five minutes of processing.  Pour this into a lidded freezer-safe container and let it harden for 2 to 3 hours.



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I recently started reading a blog about books.  Shocker, I know.  There was a link to another blog called A Few More Pages and this lady hosts a different kind of link party on Fridays. 

As you can see, I participate in several cooking link parties throughout the week, but this was the first bookish party I had seen.  (There are probably lots and lots…this is just the first one that I found to participate in.)  Here is the premise: 

Just share the first line or two of the book you are currently reading and also include the name of the book and the author.  Then, give the blog readers your first impression of the book based on that line.  Easy, peasy!!

Right now, I am reading “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson and here is the first paragraph:

“An estimated 600 women served during the American Civil War.  They had signed up disguised as men.  Hollywood has missed a significant chapter of cultural history here-or is this history ideologically too difficult to deal with?  Historians have often struggled to deal with women who do not respect gender distinctions, and nowhere is that distinction more sharply drawn than in the question of armed combat.  (Even today, it can cause controversy having a woman on a typical Swedish moose hunt.)”

Interesting, huh?  It is especially interesting because this book has nothing to do with war, but with “combat” to protect oneself.  Even the “combat” is not just physical combat, but fighting with the tools and talents you have.  This is the 3rd book of a trilogy so I knew the characters and the general story line in the beginning, but it is an awesome book full of twists and turns.  I have about a hundred pages to go and I can’t wait to see how it ends!

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Almost Wordless Wednesday

September in Kentucky…

Raking hay


Rolling hay


Tobacco cut in the field


Tobacco loaded and waiting for a trip to the barn for housing


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Menu Plan Monday

Hello, my lovely readers!  It is Monday again which means another weekend has flown right by.  Where does it go?  The weather was wonderful and perfect for getting out and doing something.  Our “something” on Saturday was pressure washing the front of the house.  Yay. (That was some sarcasm for you if you couldn’t tell.)  C & I learned a neat little trick though.  C wondered if the dirt and mildew would come off easier if we sprayed on some soap first and let it soak for a few minutes.  I happened to have an empty spray bottle so we tried it.  Score!!!  In fact, it worked so well we had C’s dad stop at the local store and pick us up a one gallon pressure garden sprayer.  Why hadn’t we learned this before?  The work went so much faster.  We will hopefully finish the back this week and do our tall north end in the next couple of weekends.  It already looks so much better with what we have done.

Also this weekend, our little hometown had its annual fall festival with a very special guest.  A young man who graduated from our high school just a few short years ago was recently awarded the Medal of Honor for his brave acts in the war in Afghanistan.  He was honored locally by being the grand marshal of the parade and having a street named after him.  We weren’t able to attend, but from what I have heard, the ceremony went great and there was a huge crowd to greet him.

I hope all of you have a wonderful week with some good food and fun!

Bubble Up Pizza

Cheesy Steak Sandwiches with Oven Baked Fries (2 nights)

Parmesan Herb Pork Chops (new) with Oven Baked Fries

Spicy Vegetable Soup

Takeout Pizza night

Chicken Fried Steak Strips (new) with butter roasted potatoes

Peanut Butter Cup Brownies (new)

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Y’all might get tired of seeing all of the dairy free ice creams that I am trying to make, but hopefully this will help someone else that is lactose-intolerant enjoy a homemade frozen treat!  Butter pecan is right up at the top of the list of my favorite ice cream flavors, so I was anxious to give it a try.

I began with Paula Deen’s regular butter pecan recipe and tweaked it to make it dairy free.  The results were very good!  I shared this with my co-workers and they said it was just as good as regular ice cream and that they couldn’t tell the difference.  Success!


1 tablespoon unsalted butter

3/4 cup chopped pecans

1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk

1 (3 3/4-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups plain soy milk


Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Cook the pecans over low heat until they are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Place on a paper towel to drain and cool.




In an 8-cup measuring cup with a spout, combine the remaining ingredients. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturers’ instructions. Add the pecans 10 minutes into the freezing.




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Thoughtful Thursday-Bookworm Edition

Did you all, my readers, think I have stopped reading since I haven’t had a bookworm post in so, so long?  Never fear, I have had a book in my hand all spring and summer long and have read some really good books and some not so good ones, too.  Let’s take a look, shall we??

I guess I had better say something first…I read for pure pleasure.  Unless it is the Bible (the perfect instruction manual for life) or a cookbook/gardening/how-to book, I read to get lost in another world or another life.  Books are an escape for me and I love them!  Sometimes I think I should have been a librarian in some big old library full of rare and precious books, but maybe that is because of the book I am reading right now.

I am in the middle of “The Historian” by Elizabeth Kostova, and it is so good.  If you recall, I wrote a short post about another book by the same author called “The Swan Thieves”, and I think I like “The Historian” better than that one. 

I have also read the first two books by Stieg Larrson: “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” and “The Girl Who Played With Fire”.  My co-worker, K, has the third book, “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest”, and I can’t wait to get a hold of that one, too.  I highly recommend these, but with one caveat.  The first book starts out a little slow, but don’t give up on it.  If you can make it through the first 50 pages or so of story background information, you will be rewarded.  The plot takes off from there and doesn’t stop until the very end.  The second book, not weighed down by history, takes off at a run and keeps going.  It is great!  These will be the only three books by the author because he passed away shortly after the third books was completed.  So sad!

Two other books that I have read this summer and enjoyed were food-related.  Yay!  One of my favorite topics!  The first was “The Hundred Foot Journey” by Richard Morais and “A Year in Provence” by Peter Mayle.  My local library was having a summer reading program for adults and these two books were on the reading list.  I didn’t get signed up in time to complete enough books before the deadline, but it was fun to read some different authors that I have never heard of before.

My favorite of the two was “A Year in Provence”.  I think I finished it in three days and wished it was much, much longer.  It is about the author and his wife’s first year of living in the Provence region of France, and it is a true story, which makes it even more entertaining.  “The Hundred Food Journey” is fiction, but good as well.  An Indian family decide to move from India to England and then France after the death of a special family member.  The interactions between the Indian family and the locals of France is especially entertaining.

I also read “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert since I had heard a lot about it, but had not yet seen the movie.  I don’t think I will bother with the movie.  I finished the book, but it was a struggle.  This is also a true store of one woman’s journey to put her life back together after a difficult marriage and divorce.  She travels to Italy (to eat), India (to pray), and Indonesia (she finds love) to recover from her sadness.  I guess the best way to say it is that I was very uncomfortable with her religious decisions.  It seemed like she wanted to take the “best” parts of every religion and put them together to make some sort of hybrid.  That just doesn’t fly in my book.  If you want the easy, happy, and loving parts of God, you must also take his rules along with them. 

I hope you enjoyed my little book review list.  I hope to start on the Harry Potter series soon.  I like the movies and want to try the books, too.  Happy reading!!

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Menu Plan Monday

Happy Monday, everyone!  I just have to announce that my wonderful co-worker, A, had a beautiful baby girl last Thursday night and they are both doing great!  Baby B was 8 pounds 15 ounces and 20.5 inches long!  Congrats to A and her wonderful family.

We finally got some much needed rain last week from the leftovers of a tropical storm that hung around for several days.  This past weekend was glorious though.  I was able to sow more lettuce and carrot seeds and do a little more cleaning in the garage.  Hopefully slow and steady wins the race because I try to clean out there for a couple of hours at a time until I get so bored with it that I have to find something else to do.

Here is this week’s list…

Salisbury Steak with Butter Roasted Potatoes and Basic Coleslaw

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes with Bacon

Grilled hamburgers with Oven Baked Fries

Pizza night

Beef Roast Italiana

Southern Plate’s Apple Orchard Cake (new)

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