Friday, April 25, 2014

Scandalous Kitchen Tips

The kitchen in our home is The HOT spot of family life.. We love to cook. My husband and I cook together, we cook alone, and we try to include Hunter whenever possible. I hate to go to bed with dirty dishes in the kitchen, but honestly, there are times when I just don't have the energy/strength to stand at the kitchen sink and wash dishes, pots and pans.

So this tip is for those nights when you might not feel like washing dishes, whether its because you've had a long day at work, a long day watching your kids, or as in my case, your health steps in the way. I know. Scandalous. It's a little bit extra work, and silly, really ... but cleaning the next day  goes a lot faster with a few extra steps than washing dishes, pots and pans when you're wiped out.

First, you start off with an empty sink. This will help set up a place to put dirty dishes, etc. without having a huge pile of craziness.

Second, cook wisely and efficiently. Usually, you will know by dinner time whether you feel well enough to leave the kitchen clean or not, so cook wisely and efficiently. I do this all the time. My husband? NEVER. But he cooks a lot, so I appreciate that far more than nagging him to cook efficiently. To cook wisely and efficiently, limit the pots and pans to only what is necessary. Limit the cooking utensils you use - don't keep forgetting you already pulled a spoon out to taste-test, or to stir the pot. Also, keep your more frequently used spices in the front of your cabinet.

Third, cook in one area. Instead of spreading out all over the kitchen -- ehem - my dear HUSBAND, stay in one area. Just because you have ample counter space, you don't have to use it!!

Fourth, clean as you go. This is so important. Not everything can go in the dishwasher. For example, if you have to use a strainer, wash it right away. Be sure to wipe splatters on counters and stove straight away. If you're frying something, keep a sponge handy (or a paper towel) to wipe around the pan as you fry. Also, if you use spices and seasonings, put them back in the cupboard right away. The same goes for condiments, oils, vinegars, etc.

Fifth, once you are done eating, fill the sink wisely. I do NOT like to come down to a sing full of cold, greasy water, so instead, I scrape plates, and stack them in the sink with a little bit of water on top of each dish. Fill a large cup or bowl with water, and add your eating and cooking utensils, face down in the water. Stack cups with water in between.Then, the next morning, you can just pop everything in the dishwasher with out having to scrub crusty food off.

Sixth, top it!  If you're NOT going to wash pots and pans, and lets face it ... if you've done everything else above, chances are you're NOT, place lids on them. Yep--lids. It will keep the inside of your pots moist and from being hard and crunchy, which is too hard to wash the next day.

Finally, leave the counter clean. It seems less surmountable if you see clean surfaces.

There you go! Tips on how NOT to wash dishes straight away! Scandalous!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring has sprung!

I love spring. Who doesn't? I know allergies are high, pollen counts are crazy, and sneezing and runny noses are just another every day thing. And yet, everyone is itching to go outside and celebrate the awesome weather.

Along with the sun, sweet breeze, and blooming flowers come memories of my childhood. My grandfather owned a farm, and on that farm he had chickens and geese that laid eggs. I remember walking through the coops and collecting eggs. It was so much fun -- when the chickens were out of the coop. But if they were sitting on eggs, it could be a little dicey, but for the most part, they allowed you to collect the eggs.

Geese, on the other hand, are mean, mean, MEAN animals. Especially if you are going after their eggs. They would chase us, hissing and snapping at our fingers, legs, fannies, and anything else they could reach. It could leave an otherwise normal little girl, scarred for life.

But along with those rather hysterical memories of two little girls running through the goose coop, out into the field, screeching and giggling while being chased by rabid geese, I also remember sweet traditions. I hadn't thought of them in a long time, but now that my son is old enough to actually participate and understand, the memories seem to be rushing back.

One, in particular, is decorating goose eggs. They are so big, and we would have fun poking a hole in the middle of the egg, draining it (keep the egg to cook with), cutting the whole bigger with tiny embroidery scissors, and gently washing the entire shell. Then, we would decorate the inside with those small plastic felted rabbits, grass, and any other tiny birds or eggs we could find. Finally, we would glue rick-rack, ribbons, or decorative edges from the fabric store around the large opening to finish it off. They were so beautiful.


Another tradition was receiving the spun sugar eggs with the panoramic scenes in them. My grandmother had a friend that would make them for us. We would never eat them, just look at them like treasures that children conjure up. I could only find a small handful of pictures of them on line, and none of the goose eggs.

This spring, I'm going to make decorated eggs with my son, but I doubt I'll be able to find goose eggs anywhere!

This spring, share your special memories! Don't let them die by the wayside!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Screams of Spring

I love spring. The trees are budding, the grass is turning green, the flowers are starting to pop their beautiful petals out, and the birds are ... screaming.  Not just "screaming," but "SCREAMING."

Each year, we have the same problem. Birds sneak their way into our vents, make their nests, have babies, and scream their heads off. It literally sounds like a woman screaming. And its behind our microwave.So gross.

And today, my husband is home. He fixed his breakfast, ate it, and suddenly stood up and said, "that's it--I'm evicting those birds!" To which, I laughed and said: "Yeah. Right. They'll be back." And he replied, "Not this time. I'm taking wood, nails and duct tape. They're outta here."

Allrightythen.

He's out there now, and I hear knocking, scraping, struggling, chirping, screaming, dragging... it makes me shudder and think of the old Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds." But so far, it looks like Man is winning over Bird.

I give it three months.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You Put the Lime in the Coconut!

We have friends that have moved to another state... so sad!! Really! But they were so kind and gave me a pantry FULL of goodies before they left ... including organic virgin coconut oil, coconut milk, and coconut juice!!  So much, I don't know what to do with it!! That alone was a challenge for me to find a way to incorporate it into our daily life.




And we began with ... dum, dum, DUUUUM ... Oil Pulling.

It looks easy enough, and evidently offers many health benefits that would GREATLY affect my health/personal life. I have lupus, sjogrens, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and some other stuff, and coconut oil, more specifically, Coconut Oil Pulling, looks like it could bring wellness into my daily life.

Looking at just ONE of my health issues, Sjorgens, your body's white blood cells destroy the glands that specifically produce saliva and tears. It's an autoimmune disorder, and it's miserable. Your mouth is so dry that your tongue and mouth feel like dry leather. Your eyes feel like a hundred needles are pricking them - or like a bad chlorine-salt water-sandy beach day. It's the pits. And one of the claims of Oil Pulling is that it causes your mouth to produce more natural saliva and promotes oral health. When your mouth doesn't have an active production of saliva, you are more prone to problems with tooth decay, enamel erosion, gum disease, and it helps you chew, taste and swallow. If I had a dollar for each time I choked swallowing food, well... I'd be close to a millionaire.

Oil Pulling looks promising. It looks easy. It sounds weird, and maybe a little "hookie," but I've had several friends of mine, one in particular who has ROCKING teeth and has the best oral hygiene that I know of (including her two handsome boys), said they practice oil pulling with good results. So, it must be a good thing, right?

So, what is this mysterious oil pulling? Basically, it's swishing oil (usually Sesame, flax seed, Sunflower or Coconut) in the mouth for up to 20 minutes (not a typo!) to improve oral health. Of the three, coconut oil offers the best results, as it has detoxifying effects, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, and breaks through plaque and bacteria, pulling them out from between the teeth and in the gums. Oh, yeah ... it also whitens teeth. I also found so many testimonials from people who experienced benefits from oil pulling, including help with skin conditions, arthritis, asthma, headaches, hormone imbalances, infections, thrush, liver problems and more (a lot of those are symptoms of lupus or side affects of the drugs I take!).

How Do You Do It?


These tips are found all over the Internet. They are not MY tips, but a gathering from dear friends and the good old web.

1. It's best done first thing in the morning, before eating and brushing.

2. Use 1-2 teaspoons of organic virgin unrefined coconut oil (Trader Joes). A friend pointed out that it has a very low melting temp (76 degrees), and said she fills her sink with hot water and puts the jar in the sink to melt the solid coconut oil. You can put it into your mouth while you shower.

3. Place the oil in your mouth and "PULL" the oil through your mouth, similar to swishing.

4. Pull the oil in your mouth for 20 minutes. YES! Twenty minutes! That's long enough to break through plaque and bacteria but not long enough that you start re-absorbing the toxins and bacteria.

5. Spit into the TRASH CAN. You'll know why when you see how hard coconut oil is, and well -- melted oil re-hardens. Do not swallow the oil because of bacteria, toxins and puss that are now not in the oil! And it's just gross.

6. Rinse well with warm water and brush well.


How Did it Go???


BWAHAHAHAHA!!  Oh, baby. Who was I kidding?!?  It's NOT easy.

I first made the mistake of placing two TABLESPOONS (oops) of the solid oil into my mouth (as I had read others use it solid). Big mistake. The texture is awful. I gagged, and gagged and spit it out straight away.

Then, I had a slight issue with the whole 20 minutes (which a friend said I would at the beginning). Like 19minutes and thirty seconds. Epic failure. EPIC.

Finally, while I love coconut, after those two failed attempts, I couldn't even THINK about oil pulling without gagging. SERIOUSLY. So I took a day break away from it and will try it again tomorrow.

I'm determined!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Take My Own Advice, Right???

Today, I gave some friendly advice to a younger friend of mine. She's in her early 20's, and just going through a lot of life changes that are causing anxiety, and sleepless nights because her brain is running at 5,000 miles per minute.

Been there, done that. Still doing it.

I suggested she try blogging as a release for her brain. Then I realized... I haven't blogged in, well -- forever.

That's when it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I MISS blogging! So, I think I'll begin blogging again! Yay, me... I guess my writing voice is back. Plus, it's a creative outlet. Who can argue with that?

So while my 8 year old is out weeding the flower beds (HEY! He ASKED!!), I'm updating my blog. Feels like old days.

Looking at sunnier days!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bad Parenting? Guilty!! Trusting God? Trying!!

Yes, I'm guilty of bad parenting. I allow my 7 year old son to almost fall asleep in our bed, then I walk him to his bedroom and tuck a drowsy little boy in bed for the night. It's either that, or I'm getting up every five minutes to reassure his irrational fears and answer a myriad of questions from a scared little boy, like: are the windows locked? are the doors locked? is the garage closed? is the house safe?

Recently, however, my husband decided that having him sleep sideways in between us was not only taking up OUR space, but he was getting too comfortable! He thought that if he "banished" my son to the end of the bed... where our feet are he'd eventually either get over his irrational fears and trust us when we say he's safe, or realize he's laying his head in between our feet. It's a stinky situation.

It's like that with us and letting go of OUR irrational fears. We hold on to them not realizing they are weighing us down, when God just wants us to release them into his hands and let go of the fear, trusting that He'll give us the strength and courage to get past our fears.

I was recently diagnosed with lupus, among a bunch of other things, and fear was the first thing that filled my heart and mind. The medications they prescribe are really toxic and can damage organs, but then again, so do your white blood cells! Its a loose loose situation that can be frightening. But the other day, as I was thinking about my sons fears, I realized I had my own fears I resisted letting go. I guess I had to get to the point where I realized my fears were weighing me down and putting me in a stinky situation!

What can I say... I'm an analyst by nature, and I google and analyze everything to the extreme, and when I see all the bad things that could happen, I freak out. I decided the other day that I just couldn't carry all that fear around. I had enough to worry about for today. I need to be more like my positive and optimistic husband and have FAITH!!! I can do that!

What a load off my back!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Home is: Cooking with Leftovers

Today I'm linking up with my sweet friend Sandy at Reluctant Entertainer on her weekly Home Is... Today she's featuring cooking with leftovers. Head on over to get other yummy leftover tips.

We don't usually eat leftovers for dinner throughout the week, because my husband always packs leftovers for lunch.

But occasionally, I'm found with a bit of extra chicken, seafood (shrimp, scallops), pork or beef (skirt steak, roast or steak) that isn't enough to pack for a full lunch, or even more rarely, more meat than my husband can pack for lunch. Also, whenever I'm serving rice as a side dish, I will usually make extra rice so we can make this yummy, quick and cheap, cheap meal.

My husband came up with a wonderful way to use up the meat: "Throw It In the Pot Stir-Fried Rice." I know everyone knows how to make this, but sometimes I think it is an easily forgotten "go-to" leftover meal.

This isn't a "recipe" like you are used to seeing, with measurements ... it is mostly "toss this in" or "add a splash of that..." but there are some basics that are the back bone of this easy dish that you can toss together.

Here's the "food" part we usually put in it:

Rice (white or brown, or Jasmine)
Leftover meat
Egg -- scrambled
Finely diced carrots
Chopped onion (any kind: white, yellow, red, spring, etc)
Frozen peas
Any veggies in the refrigerator like mushrooms, broccoli, etc.
Leftover cooked vegetables (add these last)
Garlic, diced
Ginger (sometimes)

Sauces/Condiments we add:

Soy Sauce
Teriyaki Sauce
Hoisin Sauce
Sesame Oil
Fish Sauce
Oyster Sauce

We usually use two or three kinds of sauces. Always soy sauce, and then one or two of whatever else we have in the refrigerator. Don't go crazy with the sauce -- just a few tablespoons.

Basic Instructions:

Place a little oil in a large frying pan or wok. Cook or heat each ingredient separately, placing it all into the same bowl or plate when done.

In order to keep the rice from getting starchy or sticky (in a bad way), you need to cook it on a high heat. When you add the rice, let the rice sit without stirring it. When the rice is heated thoroughly, flip it over with a spatula so it doesn't break down and get sticky.

Add all your ingredients back into the large pan or wok and add your sauces, drizzling them over the rice and flipping the rice over until coated.

And that's one of the ways the Sunshine household eats leftovers!