Monday, April 30, 2012

Following My Dreams

You know that phrase, "Follow your dream"'? Well, I've officially decided to grab the bull by the horns and pursue a dream I've had since elementary school.
When I got a poem of mine published in an anthology in fourth grade, I wanted, more than anything, to see my name in print again. For years I attempted to do so in vain, and eventually started this blog to be able to share my thoughts and write for the masses. My blog led the way for me to get my magazine column, but still... Blog, magazine column- I want something a little more permanent than that- something like a book.

You may have noticed that as much as I like writing about saving money , my real passion is cooking- frugally, of course. (That's how I ended up with so many cooking related posts!) I like to collect recipes, both that I created on my own, and that I tweaked to suit my dietary needs, and have amassed a huge amount.

Would it come as a surprise to you if I told you that finally, finally I'm doing what people have been telling me to do for so long- that I'm compiling a cookbook? Honestly, I'm surprising myself as well, as I have ADD brain and procrastinate... But I'm finally working on my book and am even making progress!  I even  already had a meeting with a graphic designer friend to get her to start working on certain things I need for the book!

So the plans are as follows:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tomato Chutney Recipe- Sugar Free

The last time I went out to eat, it was to a 
tiny little vegan Indian restaurant. The food there was delicious, and gluten free, and cheap, for a restaurant, anyhow. But no matter how cheap the food was there, cooking from scratch is nearly always cheaper than eating out (assuming you're making the same dish as the restaurant), not to mention healthier.
This plate, pictured to the right, is my attempt to recreate the meal I had at the restaurant. White rice, red lentil dahl, and tomato chutney. (The restaurant meal also came with Indian spiced cabbage.)
The chutney portions at the restaurant, in my opinion, were woefully small- chutney is my favorite part of the meal!
I figured out how to make this delicious tomato chutney, making it refined sugar free, but feel free to replace the honey with sugar if you would rather make it as cheap as possible. This chutney has a terrific sweet and sour taste with a touch of spiciness, and works terrifically as a condiment to eat with any Indian meal. I based my tomato chutney recipe off of this recipe.
(The lentil dahl recipe will come soon as well.)

Tomato Chutney Recipe

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Carrot and Celery Crock Pot Risotto Recipe- Dairy Free

My husband doesn't mind when I make rice, but honestly, he just prefers mushy food. (I stopped asking him to make noodles when he'd always purposely overcook them because he "prefers them that way.") It probably comes as no surprise to you, then, that my husband, therefore, thinks risotto rice is the best type of rice out there.
Risotto, though, is usually made with cheese, which is a no go in our dairy free home, and is often made with wine, which is expensive (for people who didn't make their own wine from free grapes as we did), and is often very time consuming to make, as it involves adding 10 cups of broth, one cup at a time, while stirring...

Here's a recipe I made up for dairy free, wine free, crock pot risotto. Its texture is pretty good, though not exactly the same as regular risotto. It got rave reviews from my husband, not surprisingly.

Carrot Celery Crock Pot Risotto Recipe- Dairy Free

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Gluten Free Vegan Lentil Falafel with Tahini Sauce Recipe

In an effort to keep my grocery costs down, I try to make lots of legume dishes, as they're the cheapest type of protein. But honestly, after a lot of beans and lentils I get bored and like to mix things up a bit so I and my kids don't get sick of them. This is a recipe I made up for lentil falafel, a nice change from the top typical lentil fare like soups and casseroles. This also is a good way to make legumes into finger food to make them travel friendly.
Very often legumes are cooked together with dairy or tomatoes to enhance them (the dairy and tomatoes help mask the "beany flavor" found in most legumes). This recipe is allergy friendly for people who can't have nightshades, and still manages to have the beany taste masked. My kids thought they were meatballs and gobbled them down.

The falafel that are well known today are ones that are made from chickpeas, but originally falafel were made from broad beans and there are all sorts of varieties made from various legumes, like these made from lentils. Falafel generally are made with breadcrumbs, but since I need my food to be gluten free, I left that out and replaced it with chopped veggies and other stuff. This changes the texture somewhat and makes them a bit more moist; I prefer it this way as my issue with falafel always was that it was too dry.

The typical way to eat falafel is with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes in a pita or wrap, and drizzled with tahini sauce. I usually am too lazy to make gluten free wraps, so just serve them on a bed of tomatoes and cukes, with tahini drizzled on, leaving out the wraps, and they're just as good. If you want, here's a gluten free flatbread to use as a wrap. If you don't need to be gluten free, here's a recipe for homemade pocket pita bread, and I'm sure you can sub flour for the starch in this recipe if you want. (Start off with a little more flour than the amount of starch written, then test one ball. If it holds together nicely, then make the rest; if not, add more flour until the consistency is right.)

I made mine with kohlrabi because that's what I had in my house and it was in season; you can make it with any other vegetable, ideally a more bland one, like radish or turnip or zucchini if you can't get kohlrabi cheaply.

This makes a really large quantity- enough to serve a crowd. Feel free to halve the recipe if you're making it for a smaller group. I like mine full of flavor and spices- if you like things a bit blander, use the smaller amount of spice listed in the recipe.

This tahini paste also tastes good on vegetable salads, on greens, and as a dipping sauce for bread. It also tastes terrific with roasted eggplant.

Gluten Free Vegan Lentil Falafel with Tahini Sauce Recipe

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

3 Kids, 3 Hospital Stays- Why?

Image source
When I posted that my 3.5 month old baby, Anneliese, was in the hospital, someone commented on that post "Is it strange to you that all your babies are hospitalized at least once as newborns, and have pretty poor health (teeth, gluten problems, eczema) for someone so natural and careful?" People jumped on her for asking what they thought was an insensitive and purposely snarky question, but honestly, I had been wondering the same thing! 3 kids so far, and all three of them hospitalized between the ages of 3 and 4 months of age! Why??? What's the reason that this keeps on happening? Do we just have "bad luck"?

First off, I do need to say that the question was a bit "off". I wouldn't say my family has "pretty poor health". Its just that my life is more public than most. Eczema is far from rare, and Ike's was a very mild form, in one 3 inch square section of his body- in his diaper area- that most people probably would have not noticed or bothered treating.
My kids have bad teeth. Not so common but not sooo rare either.
And I am gluten sensitive, and I'm pretty sure my kids are too. Gluten sensitivity is certainly not rare now- some suspect that up to 90% of the population is sensitive to gluten in some way or another. But even if it isn't as common as that, stomach issues (often gluten related) are quite common among people of my genetic ancestry, so my being sensitive to gluten isn't so odd.
And eczema and bad teeth are very often connected to gluten sensitivity. So its not that my family has "poor health in general". My family is gluten sensitive.
And, my 3 kids were hospitalized at 3-4 months old.

So, why is that?
First of all, I have to say that I have no proof of anything I'm saying, its all just my theories and trying to make sense of the situation, so bear with me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Grocery Shopping Trip, April 24, 2012

Last Tuesday, I got home from the hospital with my daughter, Anneliese. The fridge was nearly bare as I hadn't gone grocery shopping in two weeks and my family had eaten lots of produce in the two weeks prior. On top of that, our pantry was missing a lot of our basic staples. Tuesday is my typical day to go grocery shopping, but I was absolutely wiped out from our hospital stay that there was no way on earth I'd be venturing forth to the grocery store, so shopping got pushed off another week. We made due with the bare minimum (and a lot of boring repetitive meals and not enough vegetables, honestly) and held out until today when finally, finally I went to the grocery store, in the hopes of getting some "Tuesday sale prices".
I shouldn't have bothered.
There were no sales today.
The prices were disgusting.
I almost wanted to go run on home and eat nothing.
But we needed food...
And so I went shopping...
Even though I was dreading the bill...

I tried to keep this shop as frugal as possible, which wasn't so easy, given the high prices of everything. Which by the way, is why I'm not sharing how much this shopping trip cost me. My point is just to show you what types of foods I by and why, and the thought process behind my various purchases.

So, what did I buy and why?

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Welcome back to yet another edition of the Hearth and Soul blog hop. This is where you get the chance each week to share your favorite food related posts with the other visitors to the hop, and you get to check out theirs as well. The Hearth and Soul Hop is about food that not only nourishes our body, but also nourishes our souls.

As of this week, I am happy to announce that we have two new hosts for the blog hop, Elsa of Elsa Cooks, and Judy of Savoring Today. They're bloggers who you might be familiar with, as they're regular contributors to the blog hop, but here's some more about them for those of you who don't already know them:

Elsa is a wife, mommy, part-time worker/stay-at-home mama, and homeschooler. Other than her family, her passion in life is cooking, and recently, food photography. Her main blog, Elsa Cooks, focuses on cooking and baking from scratch. Her second blog, Elsa’s Baby Talk, focuses on family life. You can connect with Elsa on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Judy is a writer and home cook with a passion for good food and healthy living. She believes great food goes beyond flavor or nourishment—it fosters relationship, beginning with her own family. She shares her love of food and prize-winning recipes through her blog, Savoring Today, as well as contributing to the Fresh Ink section of her local newspaper. You can connect with Judy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Here's a recap of some of the rules for participating:

Recipes should include healthy ingredients and can be old or new recipes or posts. Articles on real food, slow food, foraging, herbal remedies, local food, sustainable food, organics, gardening or any healthy eating information written in a positive and loving light are also welcome.
As much as many of us are interested in frugality and green/natural living, this is a food blog hop; there are many other blog hops where you can share those posts of yours. Please keep your non food related blog posts off the hop.

All the hosts at Hearth and Soul care very deeply about this blog hop, and make an group effort to be sure that every post is commented on. We also Pin and Tweet many of the entries. You don’t find this with every blog hop, and in exchange for our efforts, we respectfully request that you include a link in the actual blog post you are sharing back to one of the hosts, either by worded link or using our badge. It is not enough to link using a communal blog party page. People rarely click on these links and it is unlikely they will find the Hearth and Soul hop using these sort of pages.

Please include a link back to one/any of the host sites (through worded link or badge). The Hearth and Soul Hosts include:

April of The 21st Century Housewife
Swathi of Zesty South Indian Kitchen
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers
Elsa of Elsa Cooks
Judy of Savoring Today
and me, Penny of Penniless Parenting.

Linky will stay open from 1:00 am Tuesday to 11:59 pm Thursday (Eastern time).

You can find the Hearth and Soul Hosts sharing links to entries on the Hearth and Soul Hop Facebook Page, Pinterest Boards, and on Twitter at @HearthNSoulHop through out the week.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Avgolemono- Greek Egg Lemon Soup Recipe

 I love soup. I love traditional foods from around the world. I love healthy food. I love cheap food. And I love when a recipe combines all the above to make a delicious dish.
This is a recipe for avgolemono, Greek style egg and lemon soup. There are all sorts of recipes out there for it; this is one I pieced together from a few different recipes, using a technique that my Greel friend Vera taught me, so that unlike traditional egg lemon soup, this one doesn't curdle when reheated, so you don't have to worry about what to do with leftovers.

Avgolemono- Greek Egg Lemon Soup Recipe

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gluten Free Brownies Recipe

For those of you on a gluten free diet and looking for good gluten free recipes calling for minimal processed ingredients, I'll let you in on a little secret- look at Passover recipes, especially ones labeled "non gebrokts" as the first are most of the time gluten free, and the latter are always gluten free. Or check out Primal or Paleo diet websites, as their recipes are also all gluten free and without processed ingredients.
I found this gluten free brownie recipe on the site of a blogger who I've found via her linking up to the Hearth and Soul blog hop. She's got a lot of great frugal recipes there, and this one happened to be gluten free and delicious! I adapted it somewhat to make it cheaper (lowering the amount of cocoa powder and cutting out the chocolate chips and the nuts) and its been a huge hit in my family. Next goal- attempt to make it refined sugar free!
But in the meantime, here's the great recipe that simply gets devoured in our house.

Gluten Free Brownies Recipe

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Things I've Learned From My Hospital Stays

Anneliese with her uncle on her last
day in the hospital. Doesn't look
sick at all, right?
I've either been hospitalized or had kids hospitalized 5 times in the past 5 years, 2 after the birth of my older 2 kids, and one time with each of my kids when they were between the ages of 3 and 4 months old. Too many times. Why exactly each of my kids has been hospitalized at that age I don't know exactly, but I have many theories, which I'll expound upon in another post soon.
In the meantime, since I've unfortunately had too much experience in hospitals (fortunately much less than some), I wanted to share what I've learned based on my 5 multi-day hospital stays, so that it may help you out, should you too end up in the hospital.
Yes, every hospital has different policies and is run differently, but overall hospitals have the same basic structure, so I assume these tips can help you out no matter where you live, should the need arise.

Things I've Learned From My Hospital Stays

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe- Sugar Free

 I made this really awesome chocolate ice cream last week. Totally vegan, chemical free, soy free, and sugar free. Oh, and did I mention it doesn't require an ice cream maker?
I'm still recovering from Anneliese's hospital stay, so I'm going to keep this short and share a recipe instead of a longer post.
P.S. I know that honey isn't used by vegans. You can leave it out or replace it with another sweetener to make it completely vegan. For me, dairy free and egg free is enough to make this vegan in my mind.
The jury is out on what exactly this tastes like. I think it tastes very similar to the chocolate mousse my sister in law makes, with a small undercurrent of banana flavor, but my husband thinks its very banana tasting. You'll have to decide for yourself. Either way, its a very good and allergy friendly desert that was inhaled by all.

Sugar Free Vegan Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Back Home

After 5 really annoying and frustrating days in the hospital with Anneliese, I'm home. Right now I'm spending time with my other kids to make up for the time apart, and wiped out on top of everything else... Soon as I recover from that lack of sleep and ordeal, I'll post about it some more...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Baby in hospital

(NoISorry this is so short. I'm typing on a cell phone. Onv Thursday night my baby was breathing funny and wasn't nursing properly. In the morning she woke up with a dry diaper, I was engorged, and she still wasn't interested in nursing. On top of that she was wheezing, breathing quickly, and coughing funny. I was ready to take her to the ER then but then she nursed time so I thought all was better, but when a few hours later she wouldn't really nurse and only had one small diaper (one wet diaper~ a small one at that~ between 5 pm and 2 pm was very concerning on top of her breathing difficulties, so we went to the doc who suspected pneumonia and was concerned regarding possible dehydration and sent us via ambulance to the er. When we got to the er her oxygen saturation level was 85~ not good~ but they gave her oxygen, then she started to nurse and pee so dehydration wasnt a worry, and shes still wheezing and coughing but her oxygen levels are better so shes not getting oxygen now. They discovered she had a uti so they admitted her to give iv antibiotics. Sshes doing pretty good now, longer post with my thoughts etc when I get a chance (having a hard time figuring out this phone). Because the virus they suspect she has is pretty contagious they put us in isolation so its been pretty relaxing and restful I brought a good long book. Baby is for the most part in a good mood so that helps. Till later, Penny

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gazpacho Recipe- Made From Scratch

My teacher once told us a story about when he once tried to make gazpacho. He'd heard that gezpacho is simply "blended salad", so when his wife was away he put all the vegetables in the fridge in the food processor and ended up with a disgusting mess...
No, gazpacho isn't made by blending up every vegetable imagineable. Gazpacho is very easy to make with lots of variations possible, but there is some basic way to make it, with which you can play with to get your own versions. My version of gazpacho doesn't call for any processed ingredients like V8 or tomato juice, which keeps the cost down. Gezpacho is my go to recipe when I have accidentally frozen my cucumbers, leaving them unappetizingly limp. I tend to make gazpacho more in the summer when the vegetables are in season, as it is a delicious, chilled soup which is very refreshing on a hot day.

So, how do you make it?

No Processed Ingredient Gazpacho

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Kitchen-Cleaning Frenzy

This is a guest post by Nancy Evans, a freelance writer who enjoys writing on the topic of health and cooking.  This post brought a smile to my face, as I frequently make a mess in the kitchen while cooking, but its my husband who cleans up after me. Its when I decide to tackle my bedroom that I get on a cleaning frenzy.
Now my mother in law, on the other hand... her whole life is a cleaning frenzy!

I’ve never thought of myself as much of an obsessive person. Sure, I’ll sometimes find myself double-checking my car, home, or garage door to make sure that it’s been locked. And, as someone who simply cannot stand the sight of unkempt or dirty fingernails, there’s no question that you’ll often find me inspecting my hands or wandering the aisles at Target looking for the best tweezers available. But on the whole, I’m really not the obsessive type. I don’t struggle to make decisions. I don’t need every detail in my life to be perfect.

Yet every once in a while all that goes out the window. I don’t know what causes it, but there are always a handful of days every month where I descend into a kitchen-cleaning frenzy – a frenzy that doesn’t stop until every corner of the room is clean and immaculate.

My cleaning tirade usually starts after a make a particular mess of the kitchen while making a meal. As I wash the dishes under hot water and scrub them with soap, I gradually find myself relishing the chance to turn a dirty collection of plates into a clean and fresh one. I drag out the washing process, dry everything off, and then carefully put my clean handiwork back into the respective drawers where it belongs. Then I start cleaning down the counters and scrubbing the top of the stove. Before I know it, I’ve got a mop in one hand and a dustbin in another. The floors are clean in no time.

My frenzy concludes by removing from the kitchen the last remnants of filth: the trash. Even if the trash bag is not fully filled, I take it out of the can and carry it outside to the dumpster. It is only then, once the trash is gone and a new, clean bag has been put in its place, that I can contently glance around the kitchen and reassure myself that it’s finally done – that the kitchen is truly, completely, sparkling clean.

I always feel accomplished after a thorough cleaning, but on the following day I’ll often feel no inclination to do even a fraction of that work. I guess I just need to get it out of my system from time to time. If that qualifies as obsessive, well, perhaps it’s not the worst outlet to have.

How are you when it comes to cleaning? Are you a neat person? Are you messy? When you clean, is it a bit at a time, or do you do a ton at once?
As for me- I noticed I'm a bit of an extremist when it comes to cleaning- I don't bother doing it if I don't have the ability to get it perfect, and so the mess accumulates until I have the time and energy to tackle it and make it perfect...

See my disclaimer.

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
Swathi of  Zesty South Indian Kitchen
and April of The 21st Century Housewife

Favorites from last week:
Purple Pickled Eggs- I love pickled eggs and I love beet kvass, and the combination of the two sounds terrific! I was just about to make these, and then I realized I was all out of beets. But next time I go shopping this will certainly be on the menu!
Gluten Free Drop Biscuits- I've missed making drop biscuits since going gluten free- I'll try this with my own GF flour mix though and non dairy alternatives.
Red Lentil Soup- Simple, cheap, full of protein, healthy- what more can you ask for?
How to Make a Stainless Steel Pan Non Stick- Amazing idea- maybe I can finally toss my unhealthy non stick skillets if I can make my stainless steel one non stick!
Persian Lentil and Raisin Rice- I think I'd like to try this one but without saffron- I bet it'll still be good, but still be cheaper, as saffron is one of the most expensive spices out there...

Monday, April 9, 2012

Homemade Healthy Grain Free Tortilla Chips Recipe

 Do you like chips? I know I do... but when I see them being sold in the store, either fried in an unhealthy oil, or made out of ingredients I know are unhealthy or that I am sensitive to, I have second thoughts about buying them, not to mention the expense. I also use these in place of crackers to have with dip or spreads.
They're also the perfect thing to do with leftover crepes.
Did I mention that they're very easy to make?

Homemade Healthy Grain Free Tortilla Chips Recipe

Saturday, April 7, 2012

How to Save Money with Life Insurance

This is a guest post by Lynette Argent at Million Dollar Woman, Million Dollar Woman offers both Life Insurance and Death Insurance all designed to meet the unique needs of women. I'm happy to share this article with you on life insurance because honestly, life insurance is something I know nothing about, but I've been strongly considering getting some, because I think it is smartest...

Life insurance is a financial product that more and more Australians are waking up to. Its importance to the well-being of our loved ones and those who rely on us financially cannot be overstated. Therefore the market for life insurance is hugely competitive, with a large number of products available for consumers to choose from. Anyone considering life insurance should closely study all the options available in order to make an informed choice. With a bit of investigation up-front, life insurance doesn't have to be as costly as many people think it is. Here are a number of ways to save money with life insurance.

Live as healthy a life as possible  

If you take out car insurance, the cost of your premium will be dictated by how many crashes you have had. Similarly if you take out life insurance, the premiums will be higher if you are in poor health or if you have a history of poor health. Therefore, the most obvious way to keep life insurance costs down must be to keep up a healthy lifestyle and keep the need for a life insurance pay-out as unlikely as possible. This means eating well, exercising regularly, not smoking and generally looking after yourself.

Don't take out more than you need  

Don’t take out insurance products you do not necessarily need. Make sure you have a good gauge of the financial support your family would require if you were no longer around, and cater your life insurance needs with that in mind.

Read the small-print and check the terms  

Analyse the terms and conditions as closely as possible for any additional costs and charges.. For example, some insurers  may charge to pay your insurance premium more frequently, e.g. fortnightly, monthly, quarterly or whatever.

Job benefits  

It’s possible you may be eligible for life insurance, possibly at very competitive rates, through your employer. It is certainly worth investigating this avenue before throwing your lot in with a major insurance company.

Buy young  

It makes sense that the cost of life insurance will be lower when you are younger – when the likelihood of your death is small, or a long way into the future. It's possible you might even outlive your policy.

Shop around  

This may seem obvious but it is an essential step in finding a life insurance deal. Do as much research as you possibly can, perhaps using your own broker or simply online comparison sites. Also look out for 'bundles' offered by insurance companies, where  car, house and travel insurance, for example, are included in one big deal that also includes life insurance. Some serious savings can be made this way too.

See my disclaimer.

Do you have life insurance? How much do you pay for your life insurance? Were there any steps you took to make your life insurance policy more frugal? If you don't have life insurance, why not?

Gluten Free Grain Free Crepes Recipe

Grain free crepes with mashed potato filling
and mushroom sauce
 I like crepes. They can be used to make a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory, both fancy and less so. And they are pretty frugal too. You can make sweet crepes filled with chocolate, whipped cream, caramel, and/or fruit, or you can fill them with meat or vegetables or potatoes or cheese. You can use them in lieu of a flatbread for sandwich fillings or in place of tortillas for wraps. You can even slice these to make grain free "noodles". There's one more cool thing you can do with them, but I'll have to share my recipe for that tomorrow. :-D

Various recipes exist for potato starch crepes, but most of them have a really high ratio of eggs to potato starch, making them on the slightly more expensive side (not to mention having a more omelet like texture). Here's the recipe I've been using for the past few years to make my gluten free crepes. They're pretty delicious- my children gobble them up as soon as they're ready- I tend to need to make twice more than I would for the dish I'm making since so many of them never make it past my kids' mouths. If potato starch doesn't work for you (either because of cost or health or allergies) you can replace the potato starch with corn starch or tapioca starch.

In case you're daunted, don't be! Making crepes really is a cinch! All it takes is one or two times making it to get the method down pat. And you don't need any special equipment- just a non stick frying pan and a stovetop- no fancy crepe maker.

Gluten Free Grain Free Crepes Recipe

Friday, April 6, 2012

From Storage Room to Kids Bedroom- Sneak Peak Into My House

In our teeny tiny 484 square foot apartment we have 1 bedroom, and one "half bedroom", approximately 9 feet by 6 feet.
Until not so long ago, my husband, Mike, kids, Lee and Ike, and I all co-slept in the big bedroom, but with a little baby on the way, I decided to move the kids to a room of their own. Only the room was a storage room, and it was tiny, and we didn't really have much money to spend to make it into a children's bedroom. But I felt that co-sleeping with 3 would be too squishy, and so, my husband and I decluttered like crazy, reorganized, and decorated (a drop) and turned our storage room into a room for the kids.
In all honesty, the kids start off the night sleeping in their bedroom only about 75% of the time, and of the nights that they start off there, they only stay in their room the whole night about a third of the time... so we still co-sleep for the most part, but this is their room... :-D

In my post, when I wrote about doing that, many people commented, asking to see before and after pics... I hesitated for a while, because we still haven't gotten the room perfect, and I'm a bit self conscious about that.  (And I'm wondering what people will decide to criticize about this room...)The goal is to build a loft bed out of wood, so that the mattresses aren't directly on the floor and we have some more storage room beneath them... I'd also like to paint some of the furniture in there, and decorate the walls some more, but for now, this is what it is. We have a small apartment, and we're making the most of it.
In case you're wondering why we don't go with regular beds or a bunk bed, the ceiling of this room is very, very low, too low for a normal bunk bed to fit, and because the room is so narrow and short, if we used regular beds, there would be no room for more than one, and no room for anything aside from that one bed. Which is why, in case you were wondering why we gave this room to our kids instead of taking it for ourselves- our beds don't fit into this room, otherwise we would use it.

So, with that prelude...
Here's how terribly cluttered and cramped the room looked before.

There was a long low cabinet with doors, piled high with drawers, a dresser filled with and piled high with things, a wicker shelf piled high with things, and a mattress and a chair stuck somewhere in there. (The mattress was standing up until someone would sleep over, when we would lower the mattress onto the floor in the middle of there.)

0 dollars and a few hours later...
Here's what the room looks like now.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Removing Gluten to Heal Seasonal Allergies

I've been after Mike, my husband, for a while already to go off gluten to see if it'll help him with some issues that he has... but you know how men are. "Me? Health issues? I'm healthy as an ox!" When I pointed out certain health issues of his that might be taken care of by going off gluten, I didn't exactly get the most positive response. "Me? You're the one with the health issues and stomach aches. You fit the list of celiac symptoms exactly, but I don't have those symptoms. If you want to be off gluten, go ahead, but there's no reason for me to go off gluten."

Wait a second.
Back track.

Why have I been after my husband to go off gluten as well? Didn't I write a whole long post about how gluten isn't terrible, and was traditionally eaten around the globe, and just because some people are sensitive to it doesn't mean everyone should cut it out of their diet?

I changed my mind.
Sort of. Well, somewhat, after having learned a bit more about the science and history behind gluten. Like, did you know that the wheat used today has been bred within the past 100 years to contain higher amounts of gluten than there typically were in wheat? So even if people normally would have been able to eat wheat, the wheat today has so much more gluten in it that you can very likely overload on it and react, even if you'd been able to handle a smaller amount of gluten.
I also learned that a study was done in Europe that showed that when given specially fermented sourdough bread made with gluten, none of the true celiacs in the study had a negative reaction. Shocking, right? That means that there is a good chance that the reason that so many people today react badly to gluten when people have been traditionally eating gluten for thousands of years is because people today aren't eating gluten the traditional way- they aren't making it into sourdough bread! Add in the factor of the higher gluten content of today's wheat and you have a recipe for health issues and gluten sensitivity and reactions...
I still think many people can safely eat gluten, provided its not the bulk of their diet. Ideally it also should be made into sourdough as well...

But back to my husband.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Foraging Redbud Blossoms

Aren't those flowers just too beautiful?

Would you believe me if I told you that not only are they gorgeous, they're also edible? 

I pass this tree whenever I go to check my mail, but never paid much attention to it. One day though, one of my favorite foragers posted about foraging redbud blossoms and pods and included a picture.

Wait a second- that looked familiar!

I then found it in my local foraging book and knew why. Redbuds, scientifically known by the name Cercis, is a local plant! Duh!

Redbuds grow across North America, Europe, and Asia and, in my opinion, are some of the prettiest trees out there when they're in bloom.

The reason I never had noticed that tree before was because when its not in bloom, its just a standard, run of the mill tree, that didn't catch my attention in any way.

But when its in bloom, as it is in the spring, wow...

Hearth and Soul Blog Hop

Hearth & Soul Hop
Welcome to this week's edition of the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop, where each week, cooks from around the globe share their most delicious, nourishing, and heart warming recipes. The cooking carnival where you come to share your best kept cooking secrets, those recipes with the magic ingredient in it called "Soul Spice"-  the made from scratch recipes that you make with love to feed your family, friends, and loved ones.

My co-hosts for the blog hop are:
Alea of Premeditated Leftovers,
Swathi of  Zesty South Indian Kitchen
and April of The 21st Century Housewife

Favorites from last week: