Sunday, June 7, 2015

Spring Thing Pasta

Adapted from Forks over Knives Plan, my words, notations, and variation.

1 lb whole-grain pasta (I didn't have any, so this is regular farfalle pictured)
1 bunch green onion, sliced (white and light green only)
1 lb asparagus, trimmed and cut into pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
shallot pepper (or regular black pepper)
2 c. peas
1 c. vegetable broth
2 t. lemon zest (I use dried from Penzy)
2 t. lemon juice
1/3 c. chopped fresh chives
1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/3 c. chopped fresh tarragon
(herb mixture is variable - use your own fresh favorites)
1/4 c. pine nuts (toasted almond slivers are a good substitute, if you can't find reasonably priced pine nuts)

1. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute onion in a few tablespoons of water for 2 minutes, adding more water a tablespoon at a time, as needed.
3. Add asparagus and garlic. Add salt and pepper to your taste. Cook 3 minutes. Add more water as needed.
4. Stir in peas and cook 2 minutes. If using frozen peas, they should be at least mostly thawed before adding.
5. Add pasta and veggie broth than cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
6. Stir in remaining ingredients. Add more salt and pepper, if needed.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Little Things Day 5 - Awesome Tub Cleaner

Ooh Shiny!!
This weekend, I experimented with a new tub cleaner and I cannot be more impressed. My husband works in manufacturing and he comes home dirty and greasy every night. The bottom of my tub turns nasty gray and that stuff seems to take a chisel to remove. Not anymore.

Awesome Tub Cleaner

Supplies needed:

Measuring cup
Spray Bottle


1/2 c Dawn Dish Soap
1/2 c White Vinegar


Heat vinegar in microwave for 90 seconds.
Pour vinegar into spray bottle.
Add dish soap and close bottle
Swish gently to mix.
Spray on tub (and tub walls if desired)
Let sit for 2 hours.
Wipe down tub (and walls).
Admire your shiny tub.


I didn't have to scrub the tub but I did have to wipe firmly over the area. It came completely clean with little work. Vast improvement.

The wait time is important. Don't skimp.

Don't breathe while pouring warm vinegar into bottle. It won't hurt you but the smell is sinus clearing.

This is not good at whitening stained caulking, but nothing really is.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Little Things Day 4 - Making Your Own Foaming Soap

Today's post is about making hand soap last three times longer and saving money. I'm not advocating not washing your hands. Ew. No, I'm suggesting doing things differently.

I like foaming soap. I don't know about you, but I've noticed it costs more. The refill bottle runs about a dollar more than the regular soap. In the scheme of things, that's not a lot. But what if I told you it's possible to make the regular soap last three times as long as the foaming soap, because you can make your own foaming soap? You can. It's a savings of at least $11 dollars, too. I can think of ways to spend 11 bucks (cough *more books* cough). So here's how (you're not going to believe how easy this is):

Supplies Needed:

Empty foaming soap dispenser
Measuring cup with a spout


Liquid hand soap


1. Rinse dispenser to get rid of any residual soap.

2. Pour 2/3 c water into the soap dispenser. Add 1/3 c of the liquid soap.

3. Secure the pump on the bottle then gently agitate to mix the soap and water.

Viola! Foaming soap!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Lotion Bars

If you don't know what lotion bars are, have I got something for you! Until recently, I had no idea what they were. Then I went to a local artisan's market. One of the vendors was selling these and I picked one up to try. I loved it! I did not love the price. I decided this was probably something else, I could just make. And viola! Lotion bars!

So what are they? They're lotion but less goopy. You rub them on your hands, feet or rough patches of skin, and they melt with your body temperature and moisturize your body.

Supplies you will need:

2-cup or larger glass measuring cup
1/2 c measuring cup
Metal spoon or a wood stirrer
Silicon mold


1/2 c coconut oil
1/2 c pure shea butter
1/2 c beeswax pellets
2 vitamin E gel caps (optional)
30-40 drops essential oil (optional)


1. Place oil, shea butter and beeswax in the large measuring cup. Microwave then stir in 20-second intervals until the contents are fully liquid. This takes about 3 minutes, but don't be tempted to heat without the intervals as you could burn your oils.

2. At this point, prick the ends of the gel caps and squeeze into the melted mixture. Add the essential oil to your preference and stir.

3. Pour into your mold and let solidify. It will take about 30 minutes, but I usually let mine sit for a few hours.

4. Pop bars out of the silicon mold and place in a sealable container.


Mr Inspiration showing a gift bag
  • You can mix these in a bowl but doing them in the measuring cup makes them easy to pour.

  • If you use something other than metal to stir, be prepared to part with it. After the first use, wood should not be used for cooking. Do not use plastic as it is susceptible to melting.

  • As with the wooden spoon, it's best if the large cup and the silicon mold are used only for the lotion bars. The items measured into the smaller cup wash away well. I know the other cup is glass but trust me on this.

  • The vitamin E is good for your skin but it is also a preservative.

  • These make great gifts. Place them in small organza bags with a card explaining usage.
  • Do not use oils intended for candles or potpourri making. These are not safe for use on skin. 

Have fun!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Little Things Day 3 - Homemade Laundry Soap

1 Jar = 1 Year

Homemade laundry soap? Get out of town! Yep. And even better, it lasts a year and doesn't take up as much space as one might think.

First off, let me admit, you may find "little things" a bad title for making your own laundry soap. It's a bit of a project, but it's not something impossible so don't mark it down as something you can't do. You can. It's pretty easy.

Second, why would I do this? Well, as of late, I'm working to have more control over the products I use. I went vegetarian for entirely environmental reasons. The health benefits are great, but it's important to me that the lives of my family make less of a footprint.

Enter this soap. It is not filled with all-natural ingredients, but that's a concession I'm making as I step away from commercial soap. With this product, you use less than a commercial powder and it works wonderfully. Except for the Oxi-clean containers and the optional scent crystals canisters, all the packaging is biodegradable. When I compare it (8 small boxes/containers) to the numerous huge plastic bottles and detergent tubs my family would use in a year, this wins. Hands down.

And price! I bought my supplies at Walmart and together they were $43.77.  Nearly half that was the Downy Unstoppables but since I've been adding them to my laundry anyway, it's a wash (da-dut-dah!)

Sure, it looks kinda funny, but what it looks like doesn't matter if it works on your wash. And it does. Here's how to make it:


1 - 4 lb 12 oz box Borax
3 Bars Fels Naptha  soap
1 - 4 lb box baking soda
1 box Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda
4 lb OxiClean (1 large container + 1 small container)
2 containers laundry crystals (for scent - optional)
Recommended: Small organza bag or cheesecloth filled with rice


1. Grate the Fels Naptha into a bowl.

2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bucket that holds at least 5 gallons.

3. Once mixed, pour into a sealable container. I used a glass 4-gallon jar also purchased from Walmart. If using, place your rice packet on the top to absorb moisture.

Further notes:

This soap is unscented if you don't use scent crystals. You can use any type you like or skip them entirely. Downy, Gain and Purex all make these now. Additionally, I used two canisters but you can adjust to your taste. (Edit: Taste as in preference not TASTE taste because, well, ew!)

Pro Tip for grating: if you have a food processor or have a grater attachment for your KitchenAid this is done in a second. Alternately, you can use Zote Soap. It's softer. You can microwave a bar at a time until it puffs up then let it cool. Break it up with your hands. (This just in! Zote also makes soap flakes. You can substitute 1 box for the Fels Naptha)

Pro Tip for mixing: use more than one bucket. This stuff is heavy. You'll have to use a very heavy spoon. Mixing in one bucket, it's tough to get to the bottom ingredients. The easiest thing to do is divide all the ingredients between two 5 gallon buckets mix each well. Pour back and forth between the buckets a few times to further combine.

Both OxiClean containers come with scoops. Make sure to keep the scoop from the smaller container. It holds 2 tablespoons and that's exactly what you need per load. You can add an extra tablespoon if the clothes are extra dirty.

Another tip: If you have super hard water, Borax can start to turn your whites gray. You can counteract that by adding Arm and Hammer Raindrops to your wash. I picked up mine on Amazon rather than search the store for it. Here's what it is: This is totally optional. I use bleach with my whites and they're fine.

More about Fels Naptha:

This soap is a great stain remover. Dampen stain and rub in the Fels Naptha. It will even get melted crayon off clothes if they happened to pass through the dryer with the other clothes. Look up this stuff online. You'll be amazed what it gets out of clothes. Seriously, where was this all my life? Hiding on the very bottom of the laundry aisle's shelves.

This soap has been used for over a century to treat poison ivy, sumac and oak. If you think you've gotten any of these, lather with the Fels Naptha to remove the resin. Wash your clothes with grated Fels Naptha to remove the resin from them as well. The resin can stay in your clothes for up to a year even when washed with regular detergent. Note: this is not meant to be a hand or body soap. Rinse well to remove the soap.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Brynn's Disappearing Peanut Butter Cookie

I'll admit it. I didn't used to like peanut butter cookie. I thought they were too dry. My husband loves them though. So I tweaked and played then...oh then...along came these. They are so good, they will be gone before you can--oh! already gone!

Brynn's Disappearing Peanut Butter Cookie

1/2 c butter (I use real butter but you can use margarine)
1/2 c peanut butter (creamy or crunchy)
1/2 c white granulated sugar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla extract
3/4 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
1 1/4 c flour
about a 1/2 c sugar

Note: I use my Kitchenaid stand mixer. If you don't have one, you can definitely make these without.

Preheat oven to 375.

Cream together butter and peanut butter. Mix in sugars, egg and vanilla.
The directions always say to sift together the flour, baking soda and salt but I just add them one at a time to the mixer (salt, baking soda then flour).
Once everything is well mixed, form dough into small walnut-size balls then roll in the 1/2 c sugar. Place on cookie sheets and press in crisscross patterns.
Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool slightly on the tray then transfer to a rack or paper to complete cooling.

Makes 3 dozen

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Little Things - Day 2

Okay...I'm back with little things day 2. Today, I've been thinking about weeds, specifically those weeds that grow in the cracks in the sidewalks and patio. Last year, I used a commercial weed killer, but I felt really squidgy about it. More and more, I'm leaning toward far more natural and less dangerous methods. I don't want to do anything that could track inside and hurt my family or my dog.

So...what to do? What to do?

A weed killer that's not dangerous right? Maybe one that's cheap and easy to make at home?

Here you go:

Handy-dandy Sidewalk Weed Killer

2 cups white vinegar
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon liquid soap
1 spray bottle

All you do is combine everything in the bottle then spray the heck out of those weeds. Be very careful not to get it on your yard. It will kill your grass and keep things from growing back for awhile.

Enjoy making your house into your happy place!