Pumpkin Bread For Warm Fuzzies

These are the kinds of days when I need need need to surround myself with Warm Fuzzies.  Heating pad.  Cup of tea or coffee.  Nice slumpy afghan, or maybe the fleecy innerds of my bed. 

This morning I’m sporting my bushy sky blue bathrobe, a heavy nordic hat, and a pair of bright red pom pom slippers. Oh, take my picture now.  I’m ready for my photoshoot!

Some days REQUIRE pumpkin bread or its cousin, chocolate chip bread.  Today I’ll share the pumpkin recipe with you, since I just devoured it for the last 48 hours. 

My Sweet Babboo doesn’t like pumpkin.  So I have to be honest and admit that I ate almost the ENTIRE loaf myself.  Riley-boy helped.  A little. 

He certainly helped to make the bread, dumping ingredients into the mixing bowl and mashing play-dough with an old beater.  Quinn was a good helper too, reading and bouncing and making all sorts of noise.

What a couple of cuties, eh?

Chilly days like these, I am sorely tempted to buzz off to a coffee shop and buy a $4 drink and an expensive, heart-stoppingly buttery scone.  But why?  Can’t I make it fresh at home?  Is it really worth the price tag for going out in the weather I’m trying to conquer? 

Homemade bread helped.  I got all warm and fuzzy inside when I slathered my warm slice with butter – and especially when I shared it with my little boy (the one who has teeth).

Pumpkin Bread

(This recipe comes from “Healthy Meals For Less,” by Jonni McCoy.  One slice of Pumpkin Bread costs 9 cents.)

What’s In It

15 oz. can of pumpkin

1/4 C. maple syrup

1 egg

2 TBS oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 C. flour

1/2 C. brown sugar, firmly packed

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp allspice

1/3 C. raisins or chocolate chips if you like (I used…guesses?… CHOCOLATE)

How To Make It

Place pumpkin, syrup, egg, oil, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and mix to blend.  Don’t over mix.

In a separate mixing bowl, blend together the rest of the ingredietns. 

Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture, and mix until blended.  Add raisins or chocolate chips.

Pour into a gread 9×4 loaf pan. 

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean in the center.  Mine was gooey.  It was divine.

Remove the bread from the oven and let it cool for 10-15 minutes.  Then remove the bread from the pan and let it cool completely on a rack.  Slice and serve.

Mouth-Stuffing

And now you may pamper yourself any way you like, served up warm with pumpkin bread on the side.

Enjoy!

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:

https://thefullvine.wordpress.com/pumpkin-bread/

Irresistible Cheese Sticks

This chilly weather has inspired a new blogging place: in bed, next to the crackling heater, under our bright red comforter (what other color would it be, I ask you?).

Here in comforter-land I’ve been pondering…  What are some healthy but slightly indulgent snacks that I can have on hand for our hungry bellies? 

I get so grabby around 2, 2:30, 3, 3:01pm…  That’s about the same time that my Sweet Babboo comes through the door on an early day, tummy rumbling.

There’s got to be something better for us than cookies – and my wretchedly slow digestion of late agrees with that sentiment.  Something I can just grab and toss down but not “pay for” later.

Enter Cheeeeeeeeeeese Sticks.  Oh so yummy.  Oh so easy.  Oh.  Riley is in love with these.  His first toddler crush.  *sniff*

Before you begin, gather your cheering section…

Hoo.  Ray.

…and your Helping Hands.

Irresistible Cheese Sticks

(Credit for this recipe goes to More With Less, as does credit for many of my recipes.  It’s just GOOD STUFF.  If you don’t have the cookbook, get it!!!  It will quietly revolutionize your eating, working positive changes in your budget and your body.)

Ingredients

1 C. grated sharp cheese (I used what I had: a mix of mexi-cheese and mozzarella)

1/2 tsp salt and a dash of pepper

1 1/4 C. flour

1/3 C. margarine (I’m sure butter is fine)

3 TBS milk

sesame seeds (or topping of your choice)

Method

Preheat the oven to 375.  Combine the cheese, salt, pepper, and flour.  Cut in the margarine with a pastry blender.  Sprinkle the dough with the milk.  Toss with a fork and form it into a ball.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and roll it 1/8″ thick.  Sprinkle liberally with sesame seeds.  Run the rolling pin over it again.  Prick the dough with a fork all over.  Cut into 1/2″ sticks, 2″ squares and then triangles, etc. 

If there are some oddly shaped edges, you may have to suffer through and eat them now.

Poor you. 

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10 minutes, or until golden.

(Note: The process I just described will become second nature if you start making your own crackers.  Make a dough, roll it out.  Top it, roll it.  Prick it, cut it.  Bake and eat.  Oh yeah – cool them, if you have the self control.)

Results

Prepare your tastebuds for a trip to Disneyland.  Cheese sticks are so tangy and tasty… 

Serve them with an apple for a snack, on top of chili, with burgers, in place of bread at a fancy meal (you’ll get some eyebrows up, but what’s not to love about that?) – enjoy!  🙂

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:

https://thefullvine.wordpress.com/irresistable-cheese-sticks/

The “No Poo” Verdict

You wake suddenly, drenched in sweat, trembling, mouth dry.  What a nightmare! 

Everyone was staring, gawking at your greasy hair which hung limply in front of your eyes.  You were branded a super-geek for life and would never have a date or a spouse or a better job or an invitation to pose for your favorite magazine.  Palm-sweatingly tragic.

I think this is what the shampoo companies want us to think will happen if we stop using their chemical-filled, over-priced products.  So they come up with increasingly ridiculous ads to make us believe we need their stuff, and we shell out money over and over for products we do not need.

This is my verdict on commercial shampoo:

I am never going back. 

Maybe someday if I’m confined to a nursing home, the staff will pour their own choice on my head.  I think I won’t be too concerned about shampoo at that point.

But for now, I am SOLD

I’ve been using baking soda and apple cider vinegar as my ONLY hair products for two weeks, and I love it!!! 

Despite a little initial detoxing in the form of some extra grease, the regimen has been better than I’d even hoped:

easy

cheap

natural

effective

and my shower isn’t full of bottles of painfully expensive “natural” or “organic” products either. 

Why would I go back? 

If you’re curious what “no poo” means, having sadly missed my first post on the subject, just click on this link:

Got The Skinny On No Poo?

And after you read about my foray into the world of Crazy Lady Hair Care, click on this link to read about the real dangers of commercial shampoo:

The Shocking Truth About Shampoo

Of course, if I keep posting crazy-sounding ideas like this, I may be thrown into the Funny Farm, at which point, I will be forced to shampoo with whatever the White Coats bring. 

Then again, No Poo is sweeping the nation – maybe even the world.  Could it be that the “crazy” thing is not giving this a try?

Guess Who Went No Poo?

Thaaaaaaat’s right.  I’ve stopped shampooing. 

OH, HOW TOTALLY GROSS!

I hear ya.  But “gross” would be discontinuing shampoo, and not continuing with anything else.  My hair couldn’t do that.  It would, eventually, become its own source of natural oil.  We won’t get into ideas for pyramid schemes involving human hair oil.

The prospect of ditching yet another grocery-store product intrigued me.  I realized that people I know have been doing it without my knowing.  Huh, I thought.  Might as well try

Here’s what I look like as I’m writing this:

me: “Hey, HONEY!  What’s some women’s magazine I can reference?”

my Sweet Babboo: “Women’s Health.”

me: “Hm.  Something more …uh… girly.”

SB: “The National Enquirer.”

me: “No, I mean like…WOMANLY.”

SB: “O.”

me: “Ah.  Good one.”

O (Oprah’s Magazine, just in case you don’t follow it any more than I do) will not be contacting me anytime soon for a modeling gig.  But if I can go out and get celery and chapstick without major embarrassment, I’m happy. 

This was before “no poo.”  No one can tell.  Heh heh.

Week One

Each time I showered I used only a wash and a rinse, made from home products:

  • Wash: 1 TBS baking soda in 1 C. warm water
  • Rinse: 1 TBS apple cider vinegar in 1 C. warm water

That’s it.  I rinsed in between these two steps.  I’m not sure if you’re supposed to, but I’ll look that up.  It hasn’t mattered a bit.

The first thing I noticed was a silkiness – a softness to my hair that’s not usually there.  At first I thought it seemed a little limp.  After the second non-shampooing, however, I thought it felt wonderful. 

Styles just like usual…feels great…shiny…not greasy…super cheap…no chemicals…

Unless something crazy happens, I think I’m sold.  Stay tuned for an update on Hair Land!  This way, you can reap the benefits of my experiment and decide if it’s something you might like to try too. 

For more information about why I don’t desire to dump chemicals on my head any more:

http://www.nourishingtreasures.com/index.php/2012/01/16/the-shocking-truth-about-shampoo-why-i-havent-shampooed-in-seven-years/

January Centerpiece Challenge!

Here it is!  January’s centerpiece challenge, a dare to find anything creative and potentially attractive in the cold outdoors, is under way.

Kimberly from RI shared pictures of her center-masterpiece, focused around a log which her husband cut and drilled.  I love not only the main piece, but the bowls of red apple candles and pinecones on either end.  Ah, symmetry!  Love, love, love.

When I look at that picture, I can hear the chatter and giggles of my nieces and nephews!

See the scones in that shot?  Those are the Better-Than-Starbucks Scones.  Thanks for the recipe, Kimberly!

Here’s another angle, capturing her devotions in a cozy spot at the table:

I’ve decided that I may surprise her at breakfast one day – just show up with my napkin tucked in to my collarEverything she makes looks good! 

Kimberly did warn me that the log, which I believe is birch, burns very easily.  If you try this, keep an eye on the candles.  🙂

What a great idea, right?  So simple and really beautiful.  I visited her home while this was on the table, and it was inviting and gorgeous.  Nice work!

I’ll share mine with you also, although it looks a little bizarre for January.

Shells?  In January?

We live close enough to the New England coast that seagulls often fly over our backyard.  We used to have a tall clump of rabid lilac bushes which have been recently…er…put down.  Under the wreckage, we found LOTS of shells. 

The shells lived with golf balls, and old china, and metal pipes.  People are weird.

My January centerpiece contains items which transport me to summerland.  I need that now…

I kept the shells “moving” as they progress toward a wine bottle oil lamp.  There has to be light in there somewhere!

 

A hidden golf ball keeps people “behind” the piece involved, and no matter where you sit, you can see shells.

The wood was out in the yard, too.  Just showed up one day.  It smells like a campfire and makes me feel like we’re living in a lodge.  January?  SucCESS!  🙂

If you planned to submit your January pictures but missed the deadline, don’t worry!  There will be a February Challenge, too!  Get on it!

Brought To You By Hurricanes

When a hurricane shows up in the weather predicitions, no one’s very happy about it.  Except for maybe storm chasers or weather stations.  Or people who sell eggs and milk around here.  And makers of rain jackets and umbrellas.

And Riley.

Next time one comes up, however, I might be tempted to look for the silver lining around the ominous black cloud…

Last August, Hurricane Irene hit.  Not a big one, by New England standards.  Certainly not as heavy as many people thought it would be.  But it was enough to knock out our power for several days, making the ins and outs of daily life VERY interesting.

I have to admit that I enjoyed carrying pots of steaming water in from the campfire and doing dishes by flashlight.  There was something exhilarating about not having every convenience – living by the sweat of my brow and the work of my hands in every little task.

I felt like Marilla Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables, carrying a tall candle up and down the stairs of our quiet home.

But it did get old.  Quick.

It says in Romans 8 that God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  Now why didn’t I think of that during the hurricane? while I listened, sleeplessly, to the wind picking up? when my 6 week-old baby was sick and I could only just make out his face by candlelight?

“All things…”

We had no electricity.  Therefore, we resorted to an old activity, simple and inexpensive, charming and intimate.  An ancient art…

Reading.

Not that we’re reading Little Women.  I’m on my own with that one.

Each night we sat by candlelight and whittled away the hours by word.  Punctuated only by the breathing of our baby and the neighbor’s generator, the hum of a story gradually took over our living room. 

I picked up knitting again.  Jon read, I worked with my hands. 

Eventually, the electricity came back on; and the constant noise of life returned.  We, however, are HOOKED on books again.

God bless the storms that renew our skill in the art of BEING together.

Now I can hardly wait for our nightly ritual, often accompanied by a cup of tea and a heating pad. 

Hopefully someday we’ll be old folks, still devouring this or that novel, chatting about it at meals, oohing and ahhing over handmade projects, and relishing each other’s company, shoulder to shoulder on the lumpy living room couch.

Stockings On a Stick

In the middle of the night on Christmas Eve, I’d wake with a start, and get a familiar warm feeling in my belly.  Sliding down a few inches under the covers, I searched until my toes hit something squishy.

*crinkle*

MY STOCKING!!!

The older I got, the bolder I got.  Sometimes I just sat up in bed and felt the wrapped packages for size, weight, shakeability, and sugar potential.  Sometimes I’d gingerly unwrap one or two before guilt consumed me and I’d flop back down on the pillow.

Ah, Christmas.

When we were done opening our stockings on Christmas morning, the sisters always made trips to each other’s rooms.  What did YOU get?  Look at THIS!!!

My older sister Kimberly had usually been up for a hour or so already, showered, made her bed, and had devotions.  I was still picking sleepies out of my eyes and trundling around in a bathrobe, mouth full of mini Reese’s peanut butter cups.  The bed could wait.

Nowadays, Kimberly still has it together.  She will laugh hysterically when she reads this, but it’s true.  I have the pictures to prove it!  If you’re looking for a creative way to display your stockings before Daddy Santa and Mommy Claus fill them, here you go:

What could be more graceful and simple than stockings on a stick?

These are attractively displayed over the wide downward staircase between her kitchen and living room.  The perfect spot: Every time the kiddos walk by it, they can do a little happy dance inside and count down the days again until Christmas.

Here’s another look:

Why all the commercial noise and confusion surrounding Christmas?  It’s meant to be a simple time of remembering Jesus and sharing our love with one another.  I felt drawn into the spirit of Christmas when I looked at the Family Stocking Stick.

I’m not sure they call it that.  But it seemed fitting.  Kimberly, you are so ridiculously creative, a wonderful Mom and a godly woman.  I’m inspired by you every time I come to your house.  Thanks for letting me share these photos.  You’re a good sport.  🙂

Merry Christmas, everyone!

The Frugal Woman’s Toilette, Part 4: Her Smell

Contrary to the belief of middle school boys everywhere, women have bodily functions.  We pee, poo, emit shocking amounts of gas, and burp, gurgle, and growl just like men do.  Women simply prize the ability to hide these noises and smells, whereas men typically celebrate the volume and length with which they can be emitted.

Today I’ll focus on smell – scent, ladies, if you’re feeling particularly dainty at this time.  The information in this post is meant for women and men; but I am obviously writing from the woman’s perspective.  Men, don’t tune me out.  I did just admit to belching.

I don’t want to smell bad…  But just like almost every other human being on the planet, my armpits, if left to their own devices, will drive away even my loved ones.

What follows is a random, gorgeous nature photo from my collection meant to give you a sense of relief from this overly frank discussion:

Far from being a hippie-like fascination with all things natural, this choice to use homemade deoderant is first a health-conscious choice.  After watching two generations before me, possibly three, endure the ravages of breast cancer, I’m ready to protect my own body in any way I can.

Smearing chemical-laden deoderants right next to my breasts day after day does not seem like a good idea to me.  Neither does shelling out half of our savings for “natural” or “organic” deoderants which, quite frankly, have left me smelling…natural. 

I’m sensing the need once more for a nature shot.  Think of other things…  Happy Birthday to yoooouuuuuu…  I’m smelling the zooooooooo…..

Tom’s of Maine came close…  But even that was pricey for me.  (And then there was the day I wandered through my parents’ horse pasture, wearing the apricot-scented stick, feeling like a model on a natural-products commercial, and a bee mistook me for a fruit tree…and stung my armpit.  Ow.)

My current deoderant is no more than baking soda and cornstarch, kept in a small Pyrex container with a little cotton cloth for dabbing it on dry. 

This is 1 part baking soda, 6 parts cornstarch.  This simple, inexpensive recipe keeps me stink-free, dry, and chemical-free.  Worry free!

And truly the best part is that I don’t have to ask my husband to spend his whole paycheck on my pits. 

If you’re curious about what got me fried up about this (oops – typo – that should read “fired up” unless on Wednesday I’m planning to post a recipe called Fried Mrs. Full Vine – come back on Wednesday to find out!), please click on the following link.  And then, by all means, come back and comment on The Full Vine about what you think! 

It may not be for everyone; but if this strikes a chord in you, don’t be afraid to try it.  You might be surprised…

http://1greengeneration.elementsintime.com/?p=596

I hope the frugal tips I’ve shared these last 4 Mondays have been helpful and fun for you.  If you have more of your own, please comment and spread the word!

Roasted Chick Peas

WOW!  I’m a convert, along with my toddler and even my husband, who wouldn’t normally hover over a bowl of beans, licking his lips and fingers…

Recently I found a yummy-sounding recipe in More-With-Less for Roasted Soybeans.  Soybeans are hard to come by around here, so I used chick peas, or garbanzo beans.  

This recipe was so easy and so tasty, I can’t wait to try it again.  Talk about healthy, too!  Here’s just a few benefits of eating chick peas:

  • high in fiber, especially insoluble fiber, which is good for your colon
  • filling, making it easier to eat right and eat less
  • cheap, considering the healthy bang-for-your-buck – about $1.25/lb around here
  • 1 cup of cooked chick peas = nearly 30% of your daily protein needs

Roasted Chick Peas

Ingredients

1 lb. (16 oz) dry chick peas (or soybeans)

1 TBS margarine (don’t hesitate to try butter or your favorite oil – this is just the original recipe, and the margarine actually tasted amazing)

1/2 tsp salt

Method

Rinse the beans and soak them overnight.  Next morning, drain and rinse the beans again, and cook them on medium-low, covered by a few inches of water, for up to 3 hours.  You’re tasting for nice tender beans.  Check them from time to time to make sure there’s plenty of water and they’re not burning.

Put the beans in a towel and rub them to get the skins off.  Discard the skins.  Heat a heavy skillet (I use cast iron) and stir the beans in it until they are golden brown.  Let it take its time. 

Just before removing the beans from the skillet, stir in the margarine and salt.  Drain on paper.  These are best hot and fresh, although reheating them in a toaster oven yields good results too (just a little chewier).

Result

Roasted chick peas are habit-forming, and you don’t even have to feel guilty about that.

They’re fantastic on salads, too!  Num num num.

Eat up!

For a picture-free, easy-to-print version of this recipe, please click on the following link:

https://thefullvine.wordpress.com/roasted-chick-peas/

A Scarf Cowl, Not a Scowl

It was an easy decision: long flowy scarf to wind around and around my son’s neck this winter, driving him (and me) mad?  or…  knit a simple, form-hugging scarf that goes around the neck once, staying in place?

Remember this scene from A Christmas Vacation?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgeyexOAOIg

Tough choice.

Hence, the scarf cowl. 

I tried combining the words for some nifty title today, but a s-cowl didn’t seem quite the thing.  That’s what I’m trying to avoid.  If I could have gotten a shot of Riley smiling, it would have helped to prove my point…

If you knit, here’s a very simple, one-day pattern for you.  If you don’t knit, pass this along to someone who does.  It makes a quick and lost-cost Christmas gift for the bare-necked child in your life.  Also makes good use of some left-over yarn you may have lurking in the bottom of your craft bag.

The Scarf Cowl

By the way, I’m calling it that because a true “cowl” is usually bulky, and sort of flowy and floppy.  My toddler won’t be happy with a giant sheep wrapped around his neck.  This cowl is only as wide as a typical scarf.  Enjoy!

Materials

Small ball of yarn

Size 7 needles

Crochet hook or tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Small-ish buttons – able to be pushed through the purled ribbing

Needle and thread for attaching buttons

Method

Cast on 72 stitches for a cowl with a tail (ie. room to grow!).  Feel free to adjust this measurement smaller if you want a more form-fitting piece.

Row 1: Knit 5, Purl 1.  Repeat to the end of the row, ending on a purl stitch.

Row 2: Purl 5, Knit 1.  Repeat to the end of the row, ending on a knit stitch.

You are creating a very wide-ribbed piece:

(Hi, Quinn!)

Continue alternating rows 1 and 2 until the scarf cowl is as wide as you’d like it to be.  Don’t forget to take into account the natural rolling in of the edges.  It will do so significantly, making it skinnier.

Cast off loosely and weave in the ends.

Use your child or someone else’s (preferably someone you know :-)) as a model, and try the scarf cowl on for size.  Figure out how tight or loose the child will need it.

Finishing this project is very open-ended.  Choose the way that seems best to you.  I sewed on two buttons at one end of the piece…

…and you can just ignore the little loops of yarn that show in that photo.  That was one failed attempt at finishing.  No loops. 

For me, the best method was to fold over the extra length, and push the buttons through the purled section of ribbing.  It’s more open and flexible than the knit sections.

This is such a fast knit, and so cute in the end…  Hope you enjoy making it and watching it get a ride around a snowy backyard this year.