Friday, May 29, 2009

Healthy and Yummy Bran Muffins

Don't know what to feed your kids before you send them out the door?  Are they constantly begging you for food?  It seems like when I feed my kids cold cereal it goes right through them.  I hate for them to be hungry at school, so I started experimenting with muffins.  My kids love them, but they aren't necessarily healthy.  I thought if I could come up with a bran muffin with lots of fiber and not so much sugar, they might be filling, healthy, AND tasty.  Not all of my experiments work out, but these certainly did!  The best part...only abut 100 calories per muffin.  Eat up!

Healthy and Yummy Bran Muffins (makes 24 muffins)

3 cups wheat bran flake cereal
2 cups vanilla soy milk
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp ground flax
6 Tbsp water
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp wheat gluten, optional
1 cup fruit (fresh, frozen, or dehydrated), optional

1.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Grease muffin cups or use paper liners.  In a large bowl, mix cereal and milk and let stand for 10 minutes.
2.  In a small bowl mix together flax and 6 Tbsp of water.  Let sit while cereal and milk sit.
3.  Add flax mixture to cereal mixture.  Add all other ingredients, except fruit to the cereal mixture.  Stir until just blended.  Fold in fruit.  Batter is not very thick.  Scoop into muffin cups.
4.  Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until tops spring back when tapped lightly.

**Sometimes we use Raisin Bran and don't add any extra fruit.  If you do this, just let the raisins soak with the cereal in the soy milk.

**If you want them to be less sweet, use 3/4 cup brown sugar.  If you want them to be more sweet, use 1 cup brown sugar.  It is really up to what your family prefers.

** As written these are vegan muffins (meaning no animal products whatsoever).  If you don't want to do this, use the following substitutions:

--2 eggs to replace 2 Tbsp flax and 6 Tbsp water
--1 cup oil to replace 1 cup unsweetened applesauce (we have never done this so I don't know if it will make them oily or not.  Let me know.)
--2 cups regular milk and 1 tsp vanilla to replace the 2 cups vanilla soymilk.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New crop of Anything Totes...

I made four more Anything Totes (pretty catchy name huh?).  Thought I would share them.

They are made of a woven material with ribbon trim and ribbon straps. They are 100% cotton and machine washable. They measure approximately 12.5 x 9 inches and can hold pretty much whatever you want to put in them.

If you would like to see more pictures of each of them, or are interested in buying one, you can find them at my store

Monday, May 25, 2009

Black and Red Anything Totes

Do you ever get tired of lugging around a huge diaper bag or purse?  I know I do.  I find myself wishing I could just grab a few essentials, put it in something CUTE and run out the door.  I was complaining about this to my husband a while back and in true husband fashion he suggested I stop complaining and do something about it.  I thought for a while about what I wanted to do, and I finally came up with these little bags.  They are just the right size for a few things and are cute enough that you can wear them without worrying about how you look.

Each bag measures 12.5 x 9 inches, is 100% cotton, and is fully lined and quilted. The straps are made of ribbon. Each seam is reinforced for extra durability. These bags come froma pet-free, smoke-free home. They are machine washable too.

If you like what you see or want to see more pictures, you can check out my store at

Black and Red Floral bags
Thanks for looking!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to me!

Yesterday was my birthday and my hubby really out did himself!  We started off the morning by going to get a load of dirt to fill the raised bed garden boxes he built for me.  We got compost a few days ago and just need dirt.  Then we went to the store and got a few things.  When we came home, one of my very good friends was standing on my porch with her 5 children.  I was completely confused.

He told me to run up to the spare bedroom closet and pick out whatever I wanted to wear and HURRY.  I picked out an outfit and a pair of shoes.  I think there were 5-6 new outfits and new pairs of shoes for me to choose from.  :)  I don't get to keep it all, but that's okay.  It was really fun.  Then I came down stairs and my friend and I left my hubby with a load of dirt and 9 kids to take care of.  CRAZY!

My friend took me to a wonderful day spa and we got hour long pedicures together.  It was amazing!  Then we went to the mall where she had made an appointment for me at MAC Cosmetics.  The wonderful woman who gave me a facial spent an entire hour with me.  She told me what my colors were and showed me how to wear them.  After she was done my friend said that she was given orders from my husband to buy whatever I wanted to be able to recreate the look.  Let's just say I spent a LOT of money...but I felt like the queen of the universe.

When we came home all 9 kids were happy, fed, and playing nicely.  The house was still clean and the babies were napping.  It was amazing.  He was like the male version of Mary Poppins.

To finish the day, we went to Maggiano's for dinner.  It is one of my favorite places to eat.  We hardly ever eat out, so this is a treat that I really look forward to every year.  It was a really great day!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Healthy Eating

I have been a little hesitant to mention the health problems I have been having because I don't want anyone to think I need or want a pity party.  The only reason I am mentioning them now is because I have found something that has really helped.

A couple of years ago my husband trained for and ran his 1st marathon.  (He has since run 3)  The man/really great friend who trained him gave him the book, "Eat to Live" by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  My husband promptly put it on the book shelf and never thought about it again.  In April I was looking in my hubby's office and saw this book that I had never seen before.  I picked it up and started reading.  Three days later I had finished the book and resolved to follow it's healthy eating program.

Why did I need this book?  Because when I was pregnant with my 4th child I had a miserable pregnancy and about half way through stated having complications wiht my heart.  My son was born prematurely and was in the NICU for a week.  The OB Dr. and the Cardiologist both thought it would get better once the baby was born.  It did get a little better, but not much.  Then when he was a couple of months old I started waking up to my hands being so swollen and stiff that I could barely use them.  After a few more months,  I was so weak and tired all the time that doing anything was difficult.  I went to my Dr. who ran a gazillion tests and sent me to a Rheumatologist who also ran a gazillion tests.  The end result, I have hypoglycemia and sero-negative arthritis which may or may not turn into Rheumatoid Arthritis (my mom has RA).

So, I started a special diet for my hypoglycemia and started a series of different meds to try and help my joints to stop hurting and being so swollen.  Several weeks later and I wasn't feeling ANY better.  And that's when I found this book.

The very simplified version of what Dr. Fuhrman says is that our bodies are made to process fruits and veggies much better than meat and dairy.  If we feed our bodies what they process better, then they will function better.  Makes sense right?  He also says that once our bodies are getting what they really need from the foods we eat, then they can start healing themselves.  On his diet TONS of people with Type II diabetes have been able to completely come off of their insulin.  People with hypoglycemia have a full recovery from their symptoms and people with Rheumatoid Arthritis don't have to take their medicine anymore.  He also found a significant decrease in multiple types of cancer among people who are eating a plant-based diet.

We were by no means "meat eaters".  We do eat meat occasionally, but not a ton.  However, we were definitely dairy eaters.  We also ate a ton of casseroles and even though I was cooking our meals at home, they were still very processed.  Following this plan was definitely a pretty drastic change in our eating habits.  I figured it was worth a try.

We have been eating healthy for one month now and have noticed some pretty big changes.  It was not easy going at first.  We have eaten more salad and fruits and veggies in the last month than I think we have in the last year.  Some of it was quite tasty and some of it was barely palatable.  What changes have we seen?  Well, my hypoglycemia is completely gone...GONE!  I can go several hours between meals without getting the shakes and without feeling like I am going to throw up or pass out.  My arthritis pain isn't gone, but is completely manageable.  I don't have to take my medicine anymore and it only takes a couple of minutes in the morning for my hands to stop being stiff and achy.  One more big benefit that I didn't really NEED, but do really LOVE.  I have lost 8 lbs. and my husband has lost 15.  We also both have more energy and don't feel as tired.

The down side?  My kids haven't loved it.  Dr. Fuhrman has a set of books that have other menu plans and recipes in them and he has a kid's book.  I bought all of those as well.  After a month, we have decided that we need to find a middle ground.  I can't make separate meals for us and the kids every day.  So, we are going to keep eating LOTS of fruits and veggies, but we are also going to add a little bit of meat and dairy back into our diet.

I absolutely recommend these books, but you do have to be committed to doing them, or you are wasting your money.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Crochet Baby Blanket

When my sister had her baby she asked me to crochet her a blanket.  She had a little girl and wanted something pretty.  She also asked me if I could make it white so that she could use it on her blessing day at church.  I found a couple of stitches and combined them together to make this blanket.  It is just the right size for a newborn and is nice enough to display or put away in a hope chest.  I'm so pleased with how it turned out.

It is made of 100% cotton yarn. It can be used as a christening blanket, or a blessing blanket, as a baby shower gift, or as decoration. It measures approximately the size of a receiving blanket. It is made from a smoke-free, pet-free home.

Like the blanket, but wish it was a different color or made of something other than cotton yarn? Contact me and we can create something new for you. If you are interested in this blanket, or getting a customized blanket, you can find my store at

Thanks for looking!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Delicious Hummus!

This hummus is delicious.  We use it regularly for dipping and in sandwiches.  My husband and eat pita pockets (the recipe is on this blog) with hummus spread inside.  Add a few slices of tomatoes and some chopped romaine lettuce.  So YUMMY!


2 cans garbanzo beans, drained (save liquid)
3 Tbsp tahini (tahini is a sesame seed paste and can be found in the ethnic section of your grocery store)
5 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 - 3/4 cup bean liquid
1/4- 1/2 tsp cumin

Mix all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Use just enough bean liquid to get it to the consistency you want.  It should be like a semi-thick spread.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

I got this recipe from Tammy's Recipes.  I looked at a TON of pita pocket recipes and this was by far the best.  Her directions are straight forward and easy to follow.  I double the recipe and freeze half of them.  My kids love these and always ask for sandwiches on "pocket bread."

Whole Wheat Pita Pockets

8 whole pita pockets (or 16 halves)

1 1/4 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/3 cup gluten*
1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast

1. In a large bowl, combine first 4 ingredients. Add the gluten and 1 cup of the flour, along with the yeast, and stir to mix. Add remaining flour and knead to make a soft dough. (Add additional flour if necessary during kneading.)

Alternately, if you have a bread machine, you can put the ingredients in the pan in the order listed and use the dough cycle. Skip to step 3 if using your bread machine! :)

2. Put your dough into a bowl, lightly oil the top, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise, until almost double (about an hour). I like to turn my oven on for a minute or two, then turn it off, and let the dough rise in there, since our house is cool.

3. Punch dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Using a sharp knife, cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball. On a lightly floured surface, roll each ball into a 6- or 7-inch circle.

4. As you roll the rounds, set them aside on a lightly floured countertop or table, and cover loosely with a towel. Let rise for about 25-35 minutes, until slightly puffy. (The rounds will still be thin though! :D)

5. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place 2 rounds, side-by-side, onto a wire rack, such as is used for cooling things. Place rack in the middle of the oven. Bake for 4-5 minutes, until puffy and just slightly browned. (If bread is too browned, it will be dry and not pliable.)

6. Remove rack from oven and immediately wrap/layer pita breads in a damp towel, to soften. Continue baking the remaining breads, layering them between damp towels as soon as they're baked. Allow breads to completely cool.

7. Cut pita breads in half, or split the top edge, and fill as desired. :)

8. Store pitas in a plastic zipper bag in the fridge for a few days, or place in the freezer for longer storage. To re-warm pitas, wrap them in a damp towel and then wrap in foil. Place in a warm (200-250 degree) oven for about 20 minutes.

Additional Notes:
*May use whole wheat bread flour in place of the whole wheat flour and gluten.

Preparation Time:
30-45 minutes (faster using bread machine!)

Cooking Time:
4-5 minutes

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Birthday to my LOVE!

My husband's birthday is a few days after E's birthday.  I asked him what kind of cake he wanted.  He said, "I don't know...J, what kind of cake do I want?"  J thought about it for a minute and said, "STAR WARS!"  Pretty funny since he has never seen Star Wars.

So, I sat down with J and the computer and we looked up Star Wars cakes.  He decided Dad needed an R2D2 cake.  We got the idea from here.  It took 2 cake mixes, a lot of frosting, and a LOT of time, but it turned out great.  I think I might have to try my hand a fondant if the cake requests get much more detailed.  If only fondant didn't taste disgusting...
Happy birthday Love!  Thanks for working so hard for us and for being such a great husband and father.  We love you!!!