Noosa Yoghurt

By | July 25, 2013

I’ve got a thrifting post for you later today, but I had to stop everything to tell you about this yogurt I’m having for breakfast.  Seriously.  I’m about to write a post about yogurt.  It’s that good.

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Noosa Yoghurt has been around on the Front Range for a couple years now.  I had heard a few people rave about it, but since it’s so expensive, I had never tried it myself.  Yogurt’s yogurt, right?

No, people, this is yoghurt.  And it’s the best yoghurt I’ve ever tasted.  It’s a bit too rich for an everyday breakfast, but this might be my new favorite dessert.  The cute little container reseals easily, which is awesome – it’s labeled as 1 serving, but I only made it through about half before I put the rest away for later.

So don’t be cheap like me, because Noosa is absolutely worth the upcharge.  I’m imagining it plopped onto a bowl of oatmeal or a warm stack of pancakes…I’ve got plans for this stuff.  Yum.

 

**Note: This is not a sponsored post.  Noosa has never heard of me, and they didn’t ask me to write this post.  I just wanted to share something I really like.  Over and out.**

Up On the Soapbox: Fighting the Obesity Epidemic

By | June 28, 2013

This morning, I spent my first cup of coffee reading this piece from The Atlantic, in which author David H. Freedman discusses the problems associated with prescribing the “wholesome food solution” as a cure for America’s obesity epidemic. It’s a two-fold problem, really. First, many foods touted as “healthy” may not be as saintly as they seem. Fried kale chips? 300-calorie fruit juices? Not great. But the more important part of the problem is the cold, hard truth of the obesity epidemic: no matter how much healthier it is to eat whole foods, some people are still going to eat junk food.

Sadly, based on many of the comments, some people don’t seem to be getting the point at all! Commentator after commentator lambastes Freedman as being a paid shill for the Big Bad Food Industry. They think he’s saying that fast food is healthy and that healthy food is a waste of money.

No, people. That’s not it at all!  “How hard is it to put a piece of fruit in a bag?” one commentator sneers. Well, it depends. Do you already have the apple? For thousands of people living in the food deserts of America, obtaining healthy food is work that requires already scarce money and time. “It only takes 10 minutes to make a smoothie from scratch,” another commentator chimes in. Well, sure. If you already have blueberries and pomegranates and yogurt in your home. Oh, and also a blender. And a reusable to-go cup. And don’t forget a kitchen.

As Freedman – maybe too eloquently – says, “The pernicious sleight of hand is in willfully confusing what might benefit them—small, elite minority that they are—with what would help most of society.”

So here’s the thing: People are gonna keep eating Big Macs. I don’t eat them, and maybe you don’t either – but the numbers don’t lie. Huge numbers of people are going to continue to eat huge numbers of Big Macs – no matter how many times you tell them to go eat a piece of broccoli. So let’s try a different tactic – let’s make the Big Mac just a little bit healthier.

So, the question isn’t whether an apple is healthier than a cheeseburger. The real question is: What’s healthier? A full-fat Big Mac or one with 100 fewer calories? For those of us who never eat fast food, the question doesn’t really matter, does it? But for the millions of obese Americans who eat (and enjoy!) fast food on a regular basis, it could be a radical change.

Now, I’m off to enjoy a bowl of whole-wheat couscous with organic tomatoes and fresh herbs from my garden…even though a cheeseburger does sound delicious right about now.

Today, thank a firefighter

By | June 27, 2013

Living in the mountains, we have to be on high alert for wildfires this time of year. We’ve been lucky so far this year, and today was our closest scare yet.

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I was down in Boulder this morning when Bruce called to let me know we had received a reverse 911 call for “Stage 1 evacuation orders.”   Stage 1 is the lowest level – it basically means standby for further information.  There was a house on fire about a mile away, and fire fighters were on the scene.

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So I headed home and Bruce stood by.  By the time I got home, the smoke was already calming down – our amazing volunteer fire department, along with support from other local fire fighting organizations, had the fire completely contained.  It destroyed only one structure – the house in which it started – and never spread to any of the surrounding areas.  Thank goodness!!

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I wanted to thank the firefighters, so I wrote this thank you note to the fire department.

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And what’s the point of a thank you note if it doesn’t come with a plate of brownies?  Winking smile

So, thank you, guys.  You really are the best!

Make Your Own: Chalk Paint

By | June 5, 2013

Make Your Own - Chalk Paint - Title graphic

So, here’s the thing: there is absolutely no chalk in this chalk paint.  But whip up a batch of this cornstarch-based paint, and set your kids loose on the driveway – it will wash right off with the hose.  Chalk paint is easy to make, easy to clean up, inexpensive, and most of all, fun!

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Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cornstarch
  • Food coloring
  • Water
  • Jars for shaking
  • Bowls and brushes for playing

To make the paint, you’ll want a 3:4 ratio of cornstarch to water.

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For these jelly jars, we used 6 tbsp. cornstarch and 1/2 cup water.

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Did you know there are 4 tablespoons in a 1/4 cup?  Bruce says that’s his favorite conversion.  Everyone has a favorite conversion, right?  That’s totally normal.

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Add 8-10 drops of food coloring.

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Then, find yourself some volunteers – and tell them to get to shaking!

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We poured the paint into plastic bowls, handed each kid an old sauce brush, and they were off.

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This past weekend was a beautiful one – sunny skies, relatively mild temperatures, and only a minimal amount of wind.  Bruce and John took the opportunity to try out their brand-new Ruby Street Brewing System and the kids had a great time with this simple project.  Their only complaint?  They ran out of paint!

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What do you see here?  I see…a bird?  A space alien?

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I’m guessing…a fish?  Maybe a mermaid?

So, for a quick, easy project this summer, whip up a batch of this chalk paint.  You’ll have your own driveway bird-space-alien in no time.

Garden update

By | May 22, 2013

Tulip blooms

Remember my little nibbled-upon tulips?  They bloomed!

A few hyacinths have bloomed as well, but they’re a bit impatient.

Impatient hyacinths

They were so excited to bloom that they forgot to clear ground level.  Maybe they’ll calm down next spring.  No purple blooms yet, like I was hoping, but it’s still early.

Catmint

And I’m astonished, but the catmint seems to be thriving!

Outside herbs

Bruce mounted one of the old flower boxes on the side of the deck and I moved the herbs outside a couple days ago.  I’ve had to bring them in a couple nights, but they stayed outside last night and seemed to enjoy themselves. They’re my only edibles this season, so I’m really hoping to keep them alive.

High-altitude gardening can be bewildering.  We get plenty of sunshine, but thanks to colder temperatures, our growing season is pretty short.  I’ve never been a gardener, so trying to grow things up here is a bit of an adventure.  Sometimes, things just don’t grow!

Speaking of which, how’s the giant bed of daffodils doing?

Still empty

Sigh.  Still nothing.  C’mon, little flowers, where are you?

Spiders are everywhere*

By | May 10, 2013

For the last week of so, we’ve been plagued by a invasion of my least favorite kind of spider: spiders-who-lurk-under-things-and-then-dart-menacingly.  Oh lordy, I do not enjoy these creatures.  In the past few days, spiders have darted out from the following places: under my computer mouse, under my laptop, under a magazine, inside a binder, and the.worst.possible.place: from inside the folds of the shower curtain.

Have I mentioned that I do not enjoy these encounters?

But Spring is almost here – it actually rained yesterday, instead of snowing! – so I’m hoping these new friends move outside soon.  Where they belong.  Because otherwise, I will squarsh them.  Squarsh them dead.

Okay, I’m getting the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.  Let’s move on.

Last fall, I planted over a hundred flower bulbs: tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths (my favorite!).  I have no idea how they’ll fare at 7,800 feet, but I figured it was worth a try.

And look!  Tulips!

Tulip sprouts

They’ve been a little nibbled and they’re growing slowly, but they seem to be surviving.  I’m crossing my fingers that they still produce a flower or two.

And what’s that adorable little sprout-baby in the background?

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Three adorable little hyacinths!  I hope they’re purple.

I planted an entire bed of daffodils in the front yard, so let’s go see how they’re doing.

Empty bed

Hmm.  Nothing. 

No wait, look!

Daffodil sprouts

Just two little sprouts, barely out of the ground.  It’s still early, so I’m hoping that the yesterday’s rain and tomorrow’s warm temperatures start to work their magic.  The trees will start to bud out, the lilac will bloom, and all these little sprout-babies will burst into color.

Unless, of course, it snows again.  🙂


*On a completely unrelated note, take a moment to go read this post over at Hyperbole and A Half.  Sometimes, spiders really are everywhere, and Allie nailed the experience with her usual honesty, clarity, and humor.  Cheers, lady – hang onto the happy.

Pinterest made me do it: Homemade fruit fly trap

By | April 11, 2013

Update: People, this didn’t work at all.  I didn’t catch one single fruit fly.  Total Pinterest fail.  I’m not giving up, though.  Those fruit flies have GOT to go.

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Oh, Pinterest.  You know everything, don’t you?  You suck us in for hours at a time, with eye-candy promises of perfect birthday parties, endless ways to use white vinegar, and crocheted baby shoes.  I spend so much time in the “DIY and Crafts” category that I sometimes forget to do any DIY and craft projects!  But Pinterest has a project for everything, so let’s try one out!

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I have a small herb garden on a windowsill shelf, where I’m trying to grow the fresh herbs I use most often.  I’ve got a pretty black thumb, so no one is more surprised than me that right now, my little plants are thriving!  My plan for endless fresh herbs at 7,800 feet is working!

All except for the fruit flies. Seriously, where did these little buggers come from?  It’s still winter here in the mountains, and they’ve been around since mid-February.  My plants don’t seem to mind them, but they’re driving me crazy!

So what’s a girl to do?  Go check Pinterest!

There were a ton of fruit fly trap ideas on Pinterest, but I went with this simple tutorial from How Mom Did It.

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First, collect your supplies.  You’ll need apple cider vinegar, some dish soap, plastic wrap, and a wide-mouth mason jar with a ring.

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Pour a little vinegar into the jar.  You really only need about half an inch…but if you’re taking pictures for your blog and over-fill your jar, feel free to pour some vinegar back into the bottle like I did.  What?  The jar was clean!  it’s like the 5-second rule…but for jars.  Okay, then.  Moving on.

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Next, add 2-3 drops of dishwashing soap to help break the surface tension of the vinegar.  Surface tension is what lets those little buggers sit on top of the vinegar, rather than sinking into it like we want.  Ha HA!  Just try to escape now, you little ruffians!

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Next, stretch a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar and secure it with the ring.

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Poke a few holes in the plastic wrap to allow the fruit flies to enter the trap…and you’re done!

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Now, just stick that death trap in your fruit fly problem area and wait.  If all goes well, the little hooligans will be attracted to the scent of the vinegar and fly into the jar, ending my fruit fly problem forever!

Or so Pinterest says.

 

Quick tip: Standard pouring spouts fit beer bottles!

By | March 21, 2013

 

This:
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Plus this:
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Equals this!
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I used my Silhouette machine to make a cute vinyl label for mine.  So easy!

Thrift Store Score: Food Dehydrator

By | March 20, 2013

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I’ve wanted a food dehydrator for a long time…and yesterday, I scored this bad boy at Savers!  It’s old, but seems to be in great condition.  It even came with the original manual taped to the top of it.

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Best of all, it was only $12.99 – plus, I had a coupon for 25% off!  Now that’s a steal.

I found it just in time for spring, when all those fresh fruits and veggies start popping up all over the place.  I know there are veggie chips, dried fruit, and homemade fruit leather in our future!

There are endless recipes and ideas for food dehydrators – here’s a few I want to try:

“Cheesy” Kale Chips

 
These kale chips use nutritional yeast for their flavoring – yummy and extra healthy!

Chai Granola


Oh, yum.  I love chai anything, and this sounds like it would delicious with some vanilla yogurt.

Applesauce “Cookies”


Use mason jar rings as dehydrator molds – what a great idea!

 

What else should I make?

Tutorial: How to fix frayed faux leather

By | March 1, 2013

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The little girl got these boots for her birthday last fall, and since then, she’s worn them nonstop.  I wanted her to have a pair of boots to wear with thick tights and leggings during the winter, so we picked out this cute little pair for her.

She’s only seven and she’s growing so fast these days that we’re not about to splurge on the real stuff, so these are made of faux leather.  “Pleather,” she says.  “That’s what Dad calls it.”

Well, whatever they are, after a few months, they’re looking a little…well, less than new.

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The pleather is starting to fray at the edges, leaving these unsightly little white strings. And nothing screams “PLEATHER” like unsightly little white strings.

Fortunately, there’s a quick little trick that can save these boots from the shame of worn-out pleather. Faux leather, it turns out, is actually just a type of plastic…and it melts just the same!

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Take the string and fluff them up – basically, try to make them stand out from the surface of the material as much as possible.

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Then, very carefully, move a lighter towards the strings just until they start to melt.  Be very careful – it will melt very, very quickly!  Most of the time, the strings will start to melt and shrivel before they even come in contact with the flame.  But as they do, they’ll shrink down to nothing.  For extra protection against future strings, squish the melted plastic down into the seam.  It will create a hard plastic seam – and will virtually disappear!

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Voila!  Much better, yes?

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If your faux leather item is sewn with acrylic or polyester thread, you can fix loops like these in the same way.

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Again, just use the lighter to melt the thread.  Threads like these may actually catch fire, but just blow them out right away and you’ll be right on track.  Again, squishing the melted plastic against the surface of the material will help keep the same seam from fraying in the future.

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Can’t even tell where the thread was, can you?

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Almost good as new!

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Well, almost.  She is only seven, after all.

This technique will work with any polyester or acrylic based material.  Just test it in an unobtrusive place before you dive in.

So the next time you’re at the thrift store and you see a cute bag or shoes, don’t turn them down just because they’re frayed – just take them home and fix them up!