Wednesday, April 27, 2011

{ Granola - and I Ain't Talking Northwest Hippies }

Granola, you've bought it, but have you made it? It is super easy, super tasty and super healthy- FYI healthy does not equal low fat. Oh! Did I mention that in the long run it's cheaper too? Up front the ingredients aren't exactly cheap but they make a ton of granola, several batches. In fact, the recipe I'm sharing below is only a half recipe because for our family the full recipe makes more than we can eat in two weeks and I just don't like my food sitting in the pantry that long.

This recipe is adapted from one that my friend Missy gave me. Feel free to add and change things as you'd like, e.g. brown sugar for part or all of the honey, butter for part or all of the oil, pecans for almonds, etc.

1/2 c vegetable oil
1/2 c honey
1 tsp vanilla

4 c oats
1 c wheat germ
1 tsp salt
3/4 c sliced almonds
1/4 c unsweetened coconut

1) Heat wet ingredients on the stove - DO NOT BURN! (When I use honey as my only sweetner I bring it almost to a boil.)
2) Mix dry ingredients in a large pan (I use a big roasting pan) and then add the wet ingredients and mix everything together.
3) Spread granola mixture thinly in oven suited pans. (I use my big black roasting pan and a glass 9x13 baking pan to evenly spread out the granola.)
4) Bake at 250 degrees for 45 minutes turning the granola every 15 minutes. (If you use only butter or butter and oil your cooking time will be longer because butter has more water content that has to be burned off. Continue to turn the granola every 15 minutes until it is toasted brown.)

Serve your granola up with milk, in muffin liners for a fun kid snack, over yogurt or however you like it best - Kyle and I like it by the handful. 

The thing I like about this granola is that it's sweet without refined sugar and it's got a lot of protein, whole grains and folic acid. All great things for my little girls who love "sprinkles" on their yogurt.

Finally, you could even make this into a fun little hostess gift to give friends when they have you over for dinner or a party. Fill a large mason jar with the granola, throw a cute piece of fabric on top and use some raffia or ribbon to tie on a cute recipe card with the recipe for the granola on it. Voila! You have a sweet and thoughtful homemade gift. 

Now get cooking, eat up and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

{ Cloth Wipes - Not just for cloth diaperers }

That's right, cloth wipes aren't just for cloth diaperers. They're great for wiping pee and poo, but they're also great for wiping food off your kid and the table. Plus, they can also make a great baby shower gift. Read on to find out where to get them and how to use them.

I bought all of my wipes on Etsy, super affordable. Just search "cloth wipes". I really like the flannel wipes. I also have some commercially made and produced velour wipes too and they're nice and all but for the price... let's just say flannel gets it done. You can get cloth wipes for under a dollar a piece on Etsy and a single layer of flannel is sufficient. OR you can just make them if you have a sewing machine or serger.

This set of wipes which I use at my changing station are sewn with a simple zigzag stitch to keep the flannel from fraying. The image below shows the wipes I keep in the kitchen, they are serged around the edges to keep the flannel from fraying.
So as you can see these would be SUPER easy to create yourself.

I use these at home to clean my baby's bottom when I change her diaper and in the kitchen to clean hands and faces after eating. So even if you don't cloth diaper, these can replace disposable wipes, wash clothes and paper towels in the kitchen.

There are two ways to go here. You can make your own solution from scratch or buy drops that dissolve in water. To make your own solution from scratch go to Zaney Zebra to find a plethora of recipes that use household items. To buy drops you can try Baby Bum Drops from Simple Cloth, a local Oly cloth diaper store front, or you can easily find them online as well. I have tried both and I like them both. In the end making the solution from scratch is going to be more budget friendly and both methods only take a few minutes- really. I've timed myself and it literally takes 7 minutes to make a solution, saturate the wipes and pour the excess solution into a spray bottle.
The wipe solution I make uses water, Tea Tree oil, Lavender oil, baby wash and olive oil.

There are a gazillion, yes literally a gazillion that's more than a million, ways to use your wipes. Well, really more like four:

1) You can saturate your wipes with the solution so that they are moist and ready to go like disposable wipes. If you choose this method make sure that you have tea tree oil or another antibacterial agent in your solution so that your wipes don't get musky and make only enough for 3ish days otherwise your wipes will start to stink. I store mine in a disposable wipe container, as you can see in the pictures above, but a lot of people prefer a wipe warmer.
2) Keep your wipes dry and saturate them with a spray bottle of solution at the time of use. This is what I do in the kitchen to clean up the girls after eating.
3) Keep your wipes dry and spray baby with the solution and then wipe with the dry wipe. I'm assuming that this method would best be left to the changing table since spraying your child in the face probably wouldn't be appreciated by your munchkin; although, at times I'm sure that it would make you feel better.
4) Again, keep your wipes dry and keep the solution in a storage or wipe container and submerge each wipe immediately before using.

After using your wipes just wash them with your cloth diapers or other household towels.

Writing this all out sure makes cloth wipes seem like more work than they really are. Don't get me wrong, I still use disposable wipes some days when even five minutes to make wipes is too much. However, like cloth diapering, cloth wipes for me are a way to cut down on financial and environmental waste. Plus, I always feel like I'm doing something good for my family when I make them.

A final idea here. I haven't done this yet, but if you're crafty I'm thinking that this could be a great and budget friendly baby shower gift. Decoupage a wipe container to make it cute or buy a wipe warmer to give; make some flannel wipes or buy them on Etsy; make a cute recipe card of your favorite wipe solution and purchase some of the less common ingredients in it (e.g. essential oils and baby wash). Put it all together and I think that you have a really cute and thoughtful gift- especially for the cloth diapering momma and even for the mom who just uses them in the kitchen.

Thanks for reading. I hope that I've shown you that cloth wipes are easy, budget friendly and environmentally sound. Good luck wiping!

Monday, April 25, 2011

{ Life as an Oly Momma - My Inaugural Post }

Over the past few weeks I've been realizing how much where you live affects how you live. I live in Olympia, the capital of liberal Washington State, a city full of ideology. Some of it I buy, some of it I don't. Nonetheless, what you are exposed to shapes and forms who you are and how you live.

Olympia is home to Evergreen College and those who attend it are fondly referred to as "Greeners," while their nickname stems a lot from what they smoke it also comes from their ideologies. Oddly enough "Greener" seems to encapsulate a lot of the character of Olympia as a whole. In fact, Olympia may very well be the poster city for the "green" movement. We've got small local farms dotting our landscapes, a vibrant farmers' market, local micro-coffee roasters, local organic micro-brewers, and the local Olympia Co-op among other things. And did I mention that there is sometimes a trash/recycling/compost monitor at the Farmers' Market? What? You haven't been chided by him for almost throwing your Batdorf & Bronson compostable coffee cup and lid in the garbage instead of the compost bin while your hands were full with a newborn and a two year old? Back to the point though, the Olympia lifestyle in combination with the ever increasing information on how preservatives, pesticides, plastics, etc. are "killing" us have come to shape the daily decisions I make for feeding my family. I am excited to share with you some of the easy things I do to try and keep my family healthy, from the store to the kitchen and around the house.

Something else about Olympia that has shaped me as a homemaker is other stay at home moms! So frugal, so crafty... I hope to someday incapsulate these qualities into my life and my blog too. For now though keeping life going somewhat sanely with my busy husband and two young daughters is enough to keep my plate overflowing. I'm excited to share our journey as well as my random thoughts and ideas with you.
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