Monday, December 27, 2010

Two Year Blogging Anniversary

My two year blogging anniversary was December 20. I missed it in the rush of the holidays. Happy 2nd birthday Live Simply, Love Strongly! Here's to continuely learning to tread lightly on our Earth: learning to cook things from scratch at home, repurposing, learning to make things ourselves instead of buying store-bought, simplifying our lives and learning to be content with less, gardening, preserving, and living a more natural lifestyle! Here's to enjoying life with kids, blowing bubbles, digging in the garden, playing outside, singing, dancing, laughing, and loving! Hope you continue to join me in this adventure to do more living simply and loving strongly.

Coconut Hot Chocolate

Growing up, I thought all hot chocolate was made with water. Later, I discovered how delicious and creamy it is with whole milk and never went back. Not being able to eat dairy, I needed to make some adjustments to find a hot chocolate that I was going to like.

Here's what I did:

1 can coconut milk (not light)
1 can water
1 circle (pastilla) of Mexican hot chocolate (I used Ibarra this time, I usually buy that one or Abuelita)
a little cornstarch (maybe a tablespoon, remember to dissolve in cold water first, then add)

Add coconut milk, water and the chocolate. Warm over medium heat, stirring frequently to dissolve chocolate. When warm add your mix of corn starch dissolved into cold water. Boil a few minutes til it thickens. Enjoy!

Not so Holla-daisy Sauce

Not eating dairy can limit your cream sauce options. I really like hollandaise sauce, but after reading how to make that, knew I was out of luck - lots of butter is required. So I decided to attempt a dairy-free hollandaise sauce. First, I just thought I would replace the butter with oil, but I never got it to thicken up that way, but a little bit of cornstarch did the trick. So, without further ado, here's my recipe...
Not so Holla-daisy Sauce

3 egg yolks
6 T oil
1 t lemon juice
pinch cayenne
a little dry mustard (maybe a teaspoon)
garlic powder
some cornstarch (maybe a Tablespoon)

Put egg yolks, 2 T water, and a pinch of salt in a small saucepan on very low heat. Whisk constantly until slightly thickened 3-5 minutes (don't let it curdle).
Remove from heat and stir in the oil a tablespoon or two at a time. This is the part where the hollandaise is supposed to thicken. Mine didn't. I assume because I didn't use butter. So I added a little cornstarch (put the cornstarch in a little cup with a tiny bit of water and stir until dissolved, then add it). You have to let the cornstarch boil or it won't thicken, but I whisked it the whole time, just in case the eggs wanted to do funny things. Then I added the mustard powder, lemon, cayenne, garlic powder, etc until it tasted good!
We served it over shrimp, with asparagus, and bread spread with coconut oil. The white thing is the leftover egg white, cooked flat, and rolled.

Happy Holidays!

Nena, getting in the spirit of the holidays by making herself a Santa beard! Ha! If you click on the pic, you can see it larger/more clearly.

Wishing you and your family a very happy holiday season!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gingerbread Disaster aka Poop Cookies

As the title suggests, these came out crappy! ;) So much for our first time making Xmas gingerbread men. But we had a good time laughing about them. Yes, I did say in front of my 3 year old that they looked like poop, which led to her saying things like, "I like poop." (She actually did like the cookies.) and "Papi, you want eat poop, papi?" as she offered him a cookie. I know, I know, moms aren't supposed to let their kids say stuff like that, and I may regret it later, but I couldn't help it! I mean look at them! These cookies really stink!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Countdown

This week for our Christmas preparation we made a Christmas countdown chain. Remember making those when you were little?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Here We Come A Wassailing...

Time to start some merry-making! Last week we set up our tree (and then re-set up our tree, first time with a real tree, who knew they needed water?! Had to take it back down, cut off a piece, put water, and put it back up :) Chili really got a kick out of that! This weekend we made Wassail! I had never had it before, but the ingredients sounded good, and it sounded like a holiday-ish thing to do, so we gave it a try! Here's what we did...

1 3/4 c sugar (original recipe called for 2 1/4 c but it called for lemon juice, and I was using lemonaide, so I reduced, I thought it was a bit too sweet, so next time will use less)
4 cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
2 slices fresh ginger root
10 allspice berries
1 T whole cloves
4 c orange juice
2 c lemonaide (see above)
8 c apple juice

Original directions said to combine sugar and water and boil 5 minutes(I added the cinnamon in before boiling too, I figured they would let out more flavor that way). Then remove from heat and add didn't mention what to do with the juice, so I added that in after the boiling too. I tried it and thought it tasted a little too orange juicy, and couldn't taste much of the spices, so I left it covered and simmering for awhile and really liked the result! Yum, tastes like the holidays!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Coconut Bread/Cake

Made this as a birthday cake for hubby a couple weeks ago. It was very filling. I later read that is because coconut has a lot of fiber. We decided to drizzle more honey on top as it was not as sweet as we would have liked for a cake, but if you are looking for a bread, if would be fine.

6 eggs
1/2 c of oil (or melted butter if you are eating dairy)
2 T honey
1/2 t salt
1 t baking powder
3/4 c coconut flour*

Whisk eggs, add oil, honey, salt, baking powder and whisk together.
Add flour and stir until lumps are gone.
Cook on 350 for 40 minutes.
I covered it with a little honey and sprinkled coconut to make it look nice.
Store in fridge. (If there's any left.)

*Coconut flour is not a grain. It's made from the fiber left over from making coconut milk or coconut oil. There's not many vitamins in it, but it can be used by people with other grain allergies or diabetes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Happy Thanksgiving! Here is what I made this year:

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

1 can(15 oz) pumpkin puree
3/4 c sucanat (or white sugar if you prefer)
3/8 c all purpose flour
1/2 c coconut milk (or whole milk if you do dairy)
3 eggs
6 T oil (or melted butter)
pumpkin pie spice

Blend and pour into pie pan. Bake at 350 for 60 minutes.

Easier to not have to make a crust, and I don't enjoy the crust much on pumpkin pie anyway. This was so fast and easy I will be making it again soon. Sorry, I was going to take a picture, but most of it is gone already.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The "Un-Cheese"

Looking for dairy/soy free recipes today, I come across a recipe for a fake mozzarella (or so it said). I had all the ingredients, so I decided to try it. It was pretty good, but it was not remotely like cheese. More like dip. Would be good spicy too for a Mexican dish.

1 c cashews
1/4 c pine nuts
1/4 c lemon juice
1/2 c water
italian seasoning (I added this in)

Put all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Happy "Hallow-ember"

Okay, so I've been meaning to post these pics for awhile, and somehow we've made it well into November...oops! Here are my little ones in their Halloween duds!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie - Gone Latino

The other night, I tried something new that I had read about. It's basically a chicken pot pie, but I found it much easier to make. I cooked a chicken the day before in the slow cooker, deboned it and broke it into pieces. I stored that in the fridge all ready to go for the next day, and started some black beans soaking with a little vinegar. I saved the broth, and in the morning I put them in the slow cooker. In the evening, I put some carrots, celery, and zuchini into the food processor. Then saute these veggies with some onion, garlic, cumin, salt, chili powder, oregano or whatever seasonings you want. Add some frozen corn in too.
Now grease the pan, and put the chicken pieces on the bottom, then a bunch of black beans without the cooking water, and put the veggies on top.
Finally, you make the crust to put on top. Use:
1/2 c flour and 1/2 c masa harina
1 T sucanat/brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1/4 c of whatever oil you like to use (if butter or coconut, melt)
1 T vinegar plus unsweetened almond milk/rice milk to make a cup (or buttermilk instead)
Mix together the wet ingredients, mix together the dry ingredients, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until smooth. Pour over the top and bake at 375 until browned.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Sloppy Joes" - Gone Latino

Ground beef, potato (shredded, cubed, however you want), green pepper, tomato, and seasonings (garlic, onion, chili powder, cumin, salt). Cook it up and serve on tostadas and top with tomato, cilantro, and maybe some cheese.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Welcome, Nena!

No, Nena is not her name. It's Spanish for "girl." But on this blog, we will refer to her as "Nena." So give a warm welcome to the newest member of our family!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Who would have guessed that avocadoes make some mean pudding...and dairy free, which my baby is happy about.

1 avocado
a little honey
1 tsp vanilla
sprinkle a little cocoa powder
1/8 cup water or until you reach the right consistency for pudding

blend really well in the blender

Oh, yum! And I feel like I'm getting some nutrition in too! And no, I doesn't taste like avocado.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Feeling overwhelmed by the goodness of these last few days.
An amazing birth. A few unexpected bumps, but things worked out perfectly. I felt so supported, and cared for. Leaning against my husband in a tub of warm water. My doula coaching me through each contraction. Bringing my little one out onto my belly. A beautiful, HEALTHY daughter.
Incredibly, incredibly blessed.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ice Cream!

And someone REALLY enjoyed it!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My New Favorite Place

This is the place where I have been savoring these last few days of summer, and these last few days of pregnancy. Right in my own backyard, under our biggest tree. I love this view from below it. I love how it's massive roots go down into the ground under me, steady and firm, and it's branches reach high up towards the heavens. The calm of this place is refreshing. I love breathing in the life all around me; soaking up the serenity. This would be a good place to spend some of my labor, and to visualize when at the hospital. It has been a place to give thanks for the goodness in my life, and to spend time with family. A place to enjoy the moment -- the last few days of how things are -- and to open our hearts for new things, for change and transition, and a precious, new daughter to join us at home.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Strawberry jelly

My first jelly ever! Yum! Don't they look cute.

Monday, July 26, 2010

My Vote for Best and Worst Latin Remakes

David Cedeno - I'll Be There
Click here, and it's the first one on the list, and you can hear a little. That's about all I want to hear. Nothing against the artist, some of his other salsa stuff is good. I don't know if it's the style that doesn't suit him, or the thick accent, but I do not like this remake.

Prince Royce - Stand By Me
Nicely done. Love the fusion of the English/Spanish lyrics. Not to mention that this song sounds nice to the bachata beat. Plus, you gotta love the kids and the racial/ethnic diversity in the video. Check it out here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Breakfast Basket

A friend of Chili's is having a birthday party. This is what we made for a gift. A felt food breakfast basket! I got the idea from Smashed Peas and Carrots. She made one with cinnamon rolls and muffins that was super cute! We decided to use a few different items. The tutorials for this food can be found here: eggs, orange slices, and cinnamon rolls. We hope she has a very happy birthday!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grilled Chicken Tacos

I just made these last night for the first time, and will definately be making them again!

Use whatever kind of chicken you want, I use shredded chicken from a whole chicken, but the original recipe called for breasts, or you could use a store bought rotisserie chicken if you were in a hurry, so whatever you like. Fry for 3 minutes(on one side) in a little oil with the following seasonings:
2 T chili powder
2 t ground cinnamon
2 t cumin
2 t sucanat or brown sugar
2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
It will become slightly crispy or blackened.
I served this up with curtido (here is a basic recipe I do it pretty much like that, but I don't blanch it first. It is better the second day, so if you can prepare it the day before, even better.
I also served it with grilled poblano peppers(blacken on gas stove, or on the grill, and then put in a plastic bag or covered container for a few minutes, then peel and remove seeds, and cut up. Warning: sometimes these are spicer than others. I peeled and deseeded with my fingers and a knife, but they weren't too spicy. Sometimes this can be a dangerous move, if they are spicy and you touch the seeds, please do not touch your eyes, etc. as it may hurt, even if you have washed your hands several times :)
We also put some avocado on it, and of course served it on tortillas! I was initially skeptical about the cinnamon, but it was good! I ran out of chicken today, and ate the remaining poblanos in a quesadilla with curtido, and that was good too!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Grandma's hankies" dress

Here is the dress I just finished for Chili. The fabric was called "Grandma's hankies." I love the dainty vintage look of it. It took me about 3 days to do. I'm sure an expert sewer could have whipped it out, but an expert sewer I am not. I made quite a few mistakes, and learned how to do a few new things (pleats, how to make a slip/liner, and how to attach all of it), but with the help of my ever-so-skilled sister-in-law, it is finally done. I absolutely love how it turned out.
Cute as a bug.
Dancing to some music on the radio.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Baby T-shirt

This t-shirt I did for a baby gift for a friend. I used double stick fusible web to iron the shape on to the t-shirt, and then used pink thread to hand sew around the edge to give it a little hand-made detail.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Meat-crust Pizza

The bottom is like a big meatball, squished flat. I think I used a pound of ground beef, 1/3 c bread crumbs, 2 cloves of garlic, some fresh basil chopped up, and just a tad of water for the "crust." Covered it in tomato sauce, cheese and put some mushrooms that I had sauted with onion, some fresh tomatoes, and zuchini on top. Baked in a glass casserole dish at 400 for maybe 30 minutes. I used 85% beef, but wished I had used leaner beef. Oh, it was so good! Hope you like it too.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pulmonary Sequestration

I have honestly been putting off writing about this. Mostly because we don't know much at this point about how this is going to evolve. On my 20 week ultrasound, we found out our baby girl has a pulmonary sequestration. There is more info here about what that is. To summarize in very simple terms, it's some lung cells that separated from the other lung cells in early development. It has it's own blood supply, but doesn't do anything. It does need to be removed by surgery after baby is born. How soon depends on how baby is handling having it in there. If it causes problems, it could need to come out immediately. If not, it would need to come out somewhere between 6-12 months. And while no one wants to hear that their newborn/baby will have to have surgery, in most cases, this is a treatable condition, and kids go on to have normal lung function. We are hoping for the best possible outcome, and trying to stay positive. Only time will tell how baby tolerates having it there, and if it will shrink, grow in size, or stay the same. It will be monitored monthly by ultrasound to make sure there is not a buildup of fluid in the chest cavity, and to make sure that it's not growing and causing problems to other organs. While the possibility exists of a few nasty complications, the risk for these is small. The specialist in town did say that currently it is bigger than what they usually see at 20 weeks, but this next ultrasound and subsequent ultrasounds could show changes, so treatment can only be determined as we see how things progress. So here's to a healthy baby! We appreciate your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Repurposing project #4

This came from an old denim shirt of mine, and a small piece of fabric I found at our church garage sale. I got a lot of ideas on this one from my sister-in-law, who is much more advanced at sewing than I am. I cut same sized strips for the bottom, and used a pattern for a general guide on size. I top-stitched on the green fabric to make it look nicer. And the green trim on top, I just folded a strip and adjusted it to make it work. Well, what was going to be a quick and easy play dress, turned into an all day project, but I learned a lot, and really love the result. I will have to do something in the back to make it a little more snug, but hey, you learn as you go.
Doesn't she look cute?!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Repurposing project #3

Was a stretched out dress from my niece...
New play dress made for free!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Apple Crisp

Can you believe I have never made apple crisp before? It's so easy!
6 cups apples (peeled, cored, and sliced)
1 t. cinnamon
2/3 c brown sugar
5 T butter, cut into bits
1/2 c rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 c all purpose flour
butter pan, put into cut up apples
put other ingredients together in food processor, or mix well with fingers or a fork
Bake 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees
Mine seemed a little sweet, I think next time I'll put more apples. But definately yum, and the house smells great too!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Repurposing project #2

This shirt I got at a garage sale for 50 cents. I really liked the color and print, but it just didn't fit me right in the shoulders. I decided it was time for it to get a makeover. I tried to turn it into a tank top for me, but it ended up too small. So....

The straps for it came from another thrift store shirt I got for 10 cents, and the thread I already had. So, not bad for a 60 cent play dress.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Repurposing project #1

I picked up this flowered fabric at the thrift store last summer, but was unsure of what I would use it for. It had a different texture than your typical cotton fabric, a little rougher/thicker, and I wasn't imagining it would become clothes. Plus the fact that it had a couple of spots that were lighter as if bleached by the sun. So just after Christmas it was turned into some bags. Two were given away as Christmas gifts, one as a birthday gift, and Chili has one of her own too. I think they turned out pretty darn cute. What better gift for a little girl than a flowered bag to stash her treasures!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Recovering from the Blahs

The last few months I have had a bad case of the blahs. Winter is always a challenge for me. I have an adversion to it. It's actually quite a miracle that I haven't "flown the coop" looking for a warmer climate. In addition, I've had the typical pregnancy nausea and lack of energy. I feel like I've spent most of the last two months as a lump on my couch. BUT, it seems there is hope! The sun is peeking through, the snow is melting, and my nausea is fading and energy returning. It is time to do stuff! I actually feel like cleaning my house, washing dishes, and organizing papers. Nesting, no... it's called celebrating that I'M ALIVE! Hopefully, we'll have some fun crafting and cooking blogs coming up, so stay tuned!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Interpreting my daughter's speech

I finally figured it out. The mystery of why my daughter was calling lobsters "granolas." She kept telling me, "shop Hyvee - granola" but then made the little lobster claw movement with her hand that helped make her meaning clear. But...granola? What does granola have to do with lobsters? First, the word in Spanish for lobster is "langosta" (lahn GOS tah) and my daughter also knows the word for crab "cangrejo." (cahn GREH hoe), but neither of these words sound like granola. So they other day we had a talk about "granolas." I said "langosta." She said "granola." Langosta. Granola. Langosta. Granola....but before I decided to "call the whole thing off," I thought to myself "Well, there are a few consonant blends there that she can't pronounce." So let's just pretend for a minute that I took those out. Lagota? Then I thought, "well, what if she can't pronounce a few of those sounds?" Gagoga? Well, she doesn't pronouce all the sounds in granola either. It sounds more like ganowa. So, I listened again. Langosta was somewhere between ganowa and ganoja (spanish j is like h). So there it is. My daughter was saying langosta all along. Who knew?

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Little Interpreter

It has been interesting to listen to Chili as she increases her vocabulary in two languages and to observe her making the connection between words of the same meaning in each language. She sometimes thinks it is fun to play "interpreter" and say the word in both languages. Here are some examples of what she has been saying: snow-nieve, apple-manzana, I love you-mucho(she hasn't figured out the te quiero part yet), mine-mio(that was the first one, I guess just in case anyone didn't understand it was HERS), Ya voy-I'm coming(this one always makes me laugh), trash-basura, cookie-galleta, money-monedas(techinically monedas are coins, but at least she gets the connection), socks-medias(she can't say calcetines yet, so we're going with this). These are the ones that are coming to mind right now, I know there are more. It's so fun to hear her come up with new things.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Living Better in 2010

Looking back at my goals from last year, I can say that I did a pretty decent job with them. I planted my BIG garden, read some gardening books, and set up my bulletin board. All of which have been great "investments." As far as meal planning, I would say I get that done 75% of the time. Things go better when I plan, but it doesn't always get done. I did form a cleaning schedule, and liked having it as a guide, and not a strict schedule. Since I have moved, I haven't written a new one, so it has fallen to the wayside. One of the best cleaning routines I have established is to clean up the family room with my daughter before bed. I tell her she is going to go nite-nite so the toys do to. We put them in their beds (containers). We don't do it every night, but it's a huge help for me when we do. The family room is where we are all the time, and if her toys are everywhere (which is pretty much everyday) we all have to step on her mess. Ouch! I don't feel like I'm any more patient that last year. How does one get more patient anyway? I know my daughter has given me plenty of opportunties this year, but I don't feel like it's helped much. Will have to keep pondering and post another day about that one.

So, here's my list for this year:
Ecological - 8 repurposing projects, a trash analysis, attempt to do sprouts at home (pea and bean sprouts), and get my tomato and pepper starts going at home
Personal - organize my closet, and our attic space upstairs into a useable space, do another cleaning schedule
Family Health - prepare more smoothies, walk daily (or almost daily) once it gets nice enough, continue with meal planning
Spiritual - consistantly keeping a time before bed for prayer/meditation in order to maintain my center

What are your Living Better goals for 2010?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Movie Review: Leonera (Lion's Den)

This movie, in Spanish (with subtitles), is set in Argentina. A young girl is accused of murder and sent to prison. The catch, she's pregnant. She is sent to a special cell block for pregnant women and women with children. I was surprised to see that they allowed these children to stay with them until they were 4 years old. I was also surprised at how long the judicial process lasted. She was in prison almost four years for she even had her trial.

I like to watch movies that allow me to see life through someone else's eyes. This movie did that for me, allowing me to see another mother's struggle and love for her child. I have to give this movie applause for showing mothers breastfeeding, a normal part of life, yet something we don't see often enough in our culture.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting Creative When Homebound

We received a Christmas present in the mail the other day. Not only was I super excited to get a case for my sewing machine, but the unexpected surprise was the filler in the box. Paper! And lots of it. So on day four of being shut-in, we are happy to have another activity to occupy our time. I'm surprised when I look at this photo, at how much Chili is looking like a "big girl."

Our "work of art." :)

That was one big sheet of paper!
Now what to do with the other 9 hours in the day...

Monday, January 4, 2010

Movie Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

This movie is set in WWII Germany. The young boy's father is a soldier. He gets a promotion and they prepare to move to the country. The boy begins to ask questions about the "farm" he can see through his window and why the people there are always wearing pajamas. He begins exploring the woods, and eventually discovers this "farm." He befriends a boy on the other side, and tries to understand the situation in his child-like mind. The dynamic changes when he decides to help his friend to find his missing father, by crossing under the fence and pretending to be a child on this "farm."

This movie made me reflect on how throughout history, looking at others as different has allowed us to separate ourselves from others, and in some instances even justify the mistreatment of others. I think it's important we remind ourselves of the similarities the exist between us all. When we hear of the sufferings of others, before we go on with our day, we need to ask ourselves: what if that was me? what if that were my child? I think the world would be a better place if we did.