Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Years!

As I sit here typing this Meeko is sitting on the chair across the room staring at me with demon eyes very intently as if I must be up to something no good. The demon eyes are probably from the glow of the laptop in the dark, but considering that my cat is crazy I wouldn't put anything past him.

Anyways... I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend and is ready to ring in the New Year. It's coming whether you like it or not (I'm not quite sure what camp I'm in as I'm still trying to figure out what happened to twenty-twelve....). Currently though I am planning on staying home with fancy appetizers and fancy wine to ring in the new year low key. While I'm sure that going out and partying the night away is great fun, large groups of people freak me out and New Years Eve is definitely one of the worst nights for large groups of people to gather.

Not to mention the fact that Christmas is always right before New Years and always involves atleast 4 large family gatherings (this year it was 6), so by the time I get to New Years, I'm pretty much done with people.

Do you ever feel overwhelmed by people? What are your New Years plans, and the ever encouraging (at least for the first three months :) ) resolutions?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Check-in

I've decided on Fridays I'm going to start doing a weekly wrap-up and check-in to help keep myself accountable and to give myself a place to talk about random things that happened during the week that don't necessarily need their own post.

This week I started strong on Wednesday getting a blog up and then working on my novel in the evening. I was able to write another 150 words. Something surprising I found was that I slept a lot better than I had in a while after spending the last part of my evening writing instead of watching television, which is something I may have to think about more.

Thursday I slacked off a little because my inlaws came into town and we spent both my lunch hour and then the entire evening with them. After getting up and going into work early yesterday, I just didn't have it in me to work on either when we got home last night. I still followed through this morning though, so I'll forgive myself for missing day 2. :)

Today the hubby and I are heading downtown to hang with the inlaws so I'm getting my post and writing done this morning. Hope everyone enjoys their day.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A New Year, A New Beginning

I don't know how 2012 is already almost at a close, but I feel like time is just flying by. I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays. I also enjoyed celebrating our anniversary with my hubby. We are 1 yr married, 9 yrs together this December.

Now that we are coming to the end of December has everyone started thinking about New Year's resolutions? I'm not normally a resolution person, but this year have decided that I will give in a make a small list.

# 1: To work out a new exercise routine. I've and sick and burnout for the last few months so my work outs have kind of been all over the place.
#2: To spend at least 15 minutes a day working on this blog and on the novel that was the whole reason for this blog in the first place.  The hubby was awesome and bought me this cool writing book and Scrivner (like Word from writers) for Christmas.
#3: To work on my etsy/retail stores weekly, by either updating products, evaluating pricing or whatever else needs to be done. If I want to be able to run a soap making business I need to really devote some time to it.

Anyways, that is all I have for today. I hope every one is enjoying themselves this holiday season and I will be back on Friday. :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Stuffed Pepper Recipe

Today I have a food recipe for you. :) The food recipe is quickly becoming a popular staple in our household, so I thought I would share it with you.

Stuffed Pepper Recipe

I found a yummy and quick(!) stuffed pepper recipe while reading Mama Laughlin's blog, that actually looked good to me. I decided to try it out with a couple of changes, and have since made it several times. It's super quick (especially if you make the rice in advance), and even the hubby likes it (after lots of convincing to try it :) ). Here's how I made it:

Stuffed Pepper Recipe:
Makes about 8 peppers

1 lb lean ground beef
1-2 cups cooked homemade spanish rice (recipe to come later this week :), but could substitute any recipe, or boxed/frozen version you like)
1/4-1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1/4 cup low fat sour cream (just enough to get everything to stick together, could substitute for plain low fat greek yogurt)
1/2 cup low fat mexican blend cheese
8 Bell Peppers (any color you like, I normally just buy a couple packages of the tri-colored peppers because the hubs likes the red peppers and I like the yellow and orange ones. I use the extra pepper and the tops for the copped bell pepper)

I start by turning the oven on to 350 and browning the ground beef with about 1 to 1 1/2 tbls of taco seasoning. While the ground beef is browning I remove the tops and inards of the peppers, reserving the tops to add to the filling. I start a pot of boiling water and boil the pepers for 3 to 5 minutes, just until they start to soften. I then pull the peppers out and let them cool in the baking dish. I chop the tops and remaining peppers into bite size pieces and add them to the ground beef.

At this point I normally get out a large bowl and dump in the rice, sour cream, 1/4-1/3 cup of the shredded cheese (approximated to how cheesy I want the filling) and ground beef/pepper mixture. I just stir it all together until everything looks like it's evenly mixed and holding together, then I fill the cooked peppers with the filling and top with the remaining shredded cheese.

You can then put the baking dish of peppers in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese starts to brown.

This has become a new staple in our house. The last couple times I've decided that I'm too lazy for all the work with the peppers though and have just made the filling into a casserole with some extra chopped peppers. We also tried a variation with shredded chicken and left-over black beans, that was really good. The ground beef is still my favorite, but the black beans may have to make their way into our regular recipe. :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Simpler Life

I was reading the blog of my newest follower and came across her post on simple living. It really struck me, since this is something the hubby and I have been trying to work towards. This probably should have been my first post of this new series, although frankly I'm still trying to figure this out as we go.

Our simpler life:
What is a simpler life? What does that mean for us? We've started by trying to declutter our home, and change our spending habits (I'm forcibly dragging the hubby through this one :) ) to support as many local and sustanible products and services as possible, but is that really simple living? They are steps toward where we want to be, but not the whole.

I was really struck. A couple Saturdays ago, the hubby and I went and spent the day at Barnes and Noble, researching our next trip. We got a bottle of water in the cafe, collected a couple books from the travel section and broke out a spiral notebook and the laptop. We didn't need anything fancy, or to be running from one entertainment to the next. We were content to sit with a couple of books and just talk to each other for hours. I was amazed by the fact that it was probably the most fun Saturday we had spent together since I started getting Saturdays off a couple months ago.

All that is to say that we found our bliss. Doing simple tasks with minimal fuss and distractions.

I am also working to make our lives more sustainable by removing unnecessary chemicals and energy drains. As you might have seen, I have been using up the last of our chemical laden cleaning supplies and switching them out for homemade non-toxic versions. It has been exciting and satisfying to find recipes that work, though some have required a few experiments first. I'm finding that it is making me impatient to get rid of the products I use less often.

Needless to say, we still have quite aways to go, but for now this is how we are trying to simplify our lives.

And because no post is complete with out photos... Here are two of my cat acting like a jerk:

And here is one where he saw the camera before I took the picture. He wanted to make sure he looked nice and normal for the camera : P

Friday, August 31, 2012

Less Dryer Month

For the month of August we participated in our version of no dryer month.  We live in an apartment with a tiny balcony, so no room for a line. I have been hang drying everything possible on hangers. I'm trying to convince the hubby that we should get a drying rack, but he's not quite on board with the crunchy clothes thing.

My first load of clothes came out pretty stiff and crunchy. I've progressively reduced the amount of laundry detergent in each load, trying to reduce the amount of soap left in my clothes as that's what makes them crunchy. I've also started adding vinegar to the rinse cycle to help remove left over residue from past washes. I'm thinking I'm going to have to do 2-3 vinegar rinses per load until I can get the clothes to dry without crunchiness. I'm amazed that when I hang dry my clothes instead of popping them into the dryer I can actually see the soap residue when they're dry. Some of my heavier cottons have a slight white film on them. :( Yuck!

And because every post need pictures...

 I did try to hang dry a load of bath and kitchen towels, but after hanging all day the bath towels were still soaked. I have been hanging the kitchen towels and smaller rags, since they do dry well, but I gave in on the bath towels and have been drying those in the dryer. Luckily we use the same bath towels for about a week and a half so I've only had to do two loads so far this month.

Has anyone else had success without their dryer?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Farmer's Market

I have a new love of farmer's markets!

Since trying to simplify our lives, I have been trying to get into the habit of buying everything we can from a farmer's market. The food is fresher, I enjoy supporting local small businesses, and I feel better about the quality of product we're getting.

Some of the fresh produce I got :)

So far we've tried five different markets, still trying to find one that has everything we need. So far though we've been able to find meat, cheese, and bread products along with the traditional produce and crafts.There are times I wish we lived a little closer to Seattle so we could grocery shop at Pike Place on a regular basis. Or even better that there would be a market like Pike Place north of Seattle. Preferably somewhere with parking. :)

I've actually started considering joining a farmer's market. It's a little scary as that would mean getting a real business license and starting my own real business with taxes and regulations and being committed. In exciting news though I had my first sale this last weekend. :)

This has been a hard post for me to get through for some reason, so I think I'm just going to leave it as is. Tune back in later this week for sofa cleaning and how my less dryer month went.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Joined a Sunday Social :)

Sunday Social

Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday! This is my first link party.

1. What is the first website you log on to each day? Gmail

2. Give us some funny websites you visit that we need to know about:
These girls are hilarious and real! :)
3. Pinterest or Facebook? Why? Pinterest because...
4. Twitter or Instagram? Why? Neither. I just don't understand them....

5. Favorite youtube it!
6. Biggest online pet peeve? Vague status updates/blog posts, and/or updating/posting pictures of everything throughout the day.

Stop back by tomorrow for an update on our simplifing journey. :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Oven Cleaner

To continue from last week's post- my oven cleaner journey (yes, it was a journey... :) )

The next soap we ran out of was oven cleaner. This one was a little trickier. I tried three different recipes before I found one that really worked, but the last one I tried was AMAZING! Better than any store bought cleaner I had used before (If only I had taken before and after pictures...although now I don't have to post how dirty I let my oven get... :) )

I don't remember where I found this first recipe because for the life of me I can't find my pin on pinterest for it (I think it might be this one), but it was essentially making a paste with baking soda and water. I was excited to try it, because frankly I pretty much only had baking soda on hand, and anything else would have required a trip to the store. I tried it on my drip pans first. I left it be for about 30 minutes while I cleaned other things around the kitchen. When I came back to it, I tried to scrub the gunk away, but had very little success. Mostly it was just the big stuff that had fallen down and then been absorbed by all the grossness (yes, that is a word. I just made it up. :) ). -Fail #1

My next oven cleaning adventure, after a trip to the store, was this- a paste from baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. I scrubbed this in a little and then let it sit and do it's magic. Lots of scrubbing later I was still disappointed with the results. This definitely got more than the baking soda and water alone, but still left a lot of gunk in the drip pans. -*Sigh* Fail #2

At this point the hubby was definitely rooting for me to give in and by the commercial, chemical laden cleaner, but I knew there had to be a way to get the oven clean before commercial cleaners were popular. I decided to put in the effort and use one of the more "complicated" oven cleaner recipes. I used the one from Crunchy Betty. I subbed the dish soap for my homemade liquid soap, but other than that I did everything else the same. I did leave it overnight (and by overnight I mean a couple nights...oops).

Once I got around to scrubbing the now many layers of baking soda out of my oven it was a little daunting. Ovens are very deep and I am short. I started with a warm wet rag. After wiping away a pile of baking soda there was still grime on the oven door. :-/ I grabbed my scrub brush and started trying to scrub. Unfortunately the bristles were a little too long, and therefore weren't stiff enough to do much good. I tried getting the hubby to help me scrub at this point, because my shoulder was getting sore, and it was making me a little lazy. :) The hubby tried scrubbing and after a couple minutes of no success, deemed this cleanser a failure too.

I refused to give up. There was no way I put in that much effort to have this not work. I went back into the kitchen and grabbed the sponge. I swirled a little of the baking soda around on the scrubby side and starting scrubbing. Miraculously the grime started disappearing. I have never had a commercial over cleaner work as well as this one. And because nothing's proven until there's a picture, here are two. :)

Sorry for the glare. There seems to be no good way to take a picture of my entire oven...

This shot's a little easier to see the lack of grime. I will also mention I am really bad about remembering the cookie sheet below things when I bake, so there were a lot of big black spots on the bottom of my oven before cleaning.

What homemade cleaners have you tried, successes or failures?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Homemade cleaners

So as I mentioned in my last post I have been slowly switching us to homemade cleaners as we use up our chemical laden ones.

The first soap we ran out of was dish washing soap. I found a recipe here. Instead of the castille soap, I used the liquid soap I made. So far we've used about half of the soap. It seems to clean well, the only downside I've had so far is that it tends to separate. The problem could be with my soap though as it might be a little heavier than a true castille soap.

After that I tried a homemade solution for cleaning the microwave (which is now on it's way to storage :) ). Several posts and pins had suggested just microwaving a bowl of water and vinegar- I think this is the exact recipe I tried. Anyway, we tried this and it worked wonderfully. I wasn't the one scrubbing it, hubby got that fun, so I can't attest to ease of scrubbing but it looked sparkly when he was done with it. We used a glass bowl to microwave in and then used the heated vinegar water to scrub/wipe the microwave. Be very careful if you use the water, it's VERY hot.

I was originally going to post my oven cleanser saga in this post as well, but it was getting to be waay too long, so tune back in for more homemade cleanser fun! :)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Handmade items and a new outlook on life

So, I know I'm a terrible blogger. July was just a super crazy month. I worked through the month and was able to get my Etsy shop up and running! You can also just search for Firefly Natural in the search bar, just be sure to select search  shops when it appears below. :)

Here are a couple products I uploaded to my shop.


I'm excited to get that up and going. Hopefully I'll be able to eventually make it full time. :)

Other new things in my life, the hubby and I have decided to try simplifying our life. I have gotten a lot of inspiration from this new blog: the year of less. We are starting with a couple big changes and a big clean and sort of each room and we'll see where that takes us.

So far our big changes have been:
-to give up our microwave. ( we will be putting it in storage until the hubby sees that we really can live with out it)
-as we use up all of our chemical laden cleaning supplies, I will be switching us to non-toxic homemade versions
-I am trying to use our dryer less, to reduce our energy used and the heat output in the summer
-we are also reducing our paper towel usage (I would go completely cold turkey, but the hubby hasn't gotten to using cloth to clean up gross stuff yet)

So far we've been doing really well. I've already swapped our dish soap and oven cleaner with good success and glass cleaner is next. I will post my successes (and failures) here as we go.

I encourage everyone to look around and see if there are things you could simplify for yourself and the environment. :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

4th of July week

Yay 4th of July. The hubby and I went to his parents place to celebrate the 4th, and had a blast. We brought a couple snacks, of course found via pinterest, all of which were a big hit.

The first was a veggie tray, where I had turned the peppers into the dip holders. I don't remember where I got the original idea from, because I didn't repin it, and it now seems to be part of the Pinmarket. So to whoever came up with this idea- Thank you; it was awesome!
The second thing we brought was a fruit flag. I thought this pin was too easy and cute to pass up. The hubby actually made this one, and as he doesn't cook much I should be sure he gets the credit. It looks like the idea originally came from party city here. And below is our flag, which has the correct number of stripes, because we are anal like that. :)
The last of our treats was this recipe for chicken enchilada dip that I found here. I made some minor adjustments to the recipe, like using a tablespoon of canned prechopped jalepenos instead of chopping a fresh one because they scare me. I used the chicken breasts from a rotisserie chicken I got from the store and added taco seasoning and chili powder to the dip base instead of grilling them specifically for the dip. I also used neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese and canola oil mayonaise instead of the full fat version. I still got thumbs up all the way around. Even my picky husband who doesn't like cream cheese or mayonaise and said he wouldn't try it when he saw what was in it, liked it. Definitely a hit that will get made again.

And because he's adorable I will include a pic of Meeko who turned three on the 3rd, and who I showed off to anyone who would look on the 4th. :)

After the fourth was kind of lazy. We did go to Seattle Internation Beerfest on Saturday. It was fun and we got to try a bunch of new beers for not a lot of money, which is always a plus. Especially when you don't like what you're trying.

And a pic of the hubby and I after Beerfest.

Last night I did get back to work on my soap making and made some lip balm, which I will take pics of once it's done setting up. In the meantime I will finally post a pic of my first successful (yes that must be specified) soap batch, and possibly successful (it looks a little different than the first) second batch.

All of that is to say that I got absolutely no writing done last week. We'll see how this week goes.... :)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Pinterest and Soap Successes

So I did get quite a bit of writing done Friday night while watching Pratical Magic and making soap. :) I forgot to take a picture of my soap so I'll have to upload that later. Luckily I made it all the way through the process with no exploding, and the final product looks like soap, so I think it's a success. We'll see in 4 weeks.

I did however take pictures of the garlic fries I made last night from a recipe I found on Pinterest. Every time I have made fries in the past they end up under or over cooked and just generally blah. I saw this pin on Pinterest though and decided that burgers and fries sounded good for dinner. You can find her recipe here. I made a few small adjustments. I added onion powder, because I tend to like it with garlic and I used dried parsley instead of cilantro, because that's what I had on hand. Because the parsley was dried, I also just added it to the mix before I baked them. And here's what they looked like:

I also finished part one on my crafts to make my entry way more functional. It is a picture frame, where you can change the picture without having to take the frame apart! I also found this craft on pinterest, and you can find the instructions here. I'm still making part two, which I should be able to add on Friday. :) In the meantime I will leave you with the pic of the frame before I added the binder clip.

I'm off with the hubby to a George RR Martin reading now.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Writing Challenge

So I've decided to make this blog more about my life while writing, than solely about the writing, because writing about writing is hard and uninspiring. Speaking of that writing, I kind of slacked Monday and Tuesday on my 10 minutes of writing, but I definitely made up for it Wednesday by writing for almost an hour and adding a couple hundred more words to my running word count.

As far as my non-writing life lately I've had serious motivation to be productive, so I am milking it for all its worth. :) My current goal is to get one big project done a night, and so far I have managed it for the last two weeks. We'll see how long it lasts.

I have also been working on my crafting and soapmaking lately so I can get my etsy shop up and running. I have been experimenting with different scents for my scrubs, as well as trying to diversify my products. I'm trying my hand at liquid soap again tonight (so far no exploding :) ). I'm also working on my labeling so I can take pictures and get the shop up and running. As far as crafting goes, I've been working on some projects I've found on Pinterest. I've become a bit of a Pinterest junkie...

Well I will post pics of the soap and and crafts when they're done. In the meantime I'm going to watch Practical Magic and write a little. :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Birthday Weekend

So I had a lot of fun this weekend going out and seeing a movie. We saw Brave by the way and it good. I was also super productive around the house, but got no writing accomplished whatsoever. For some reason I just haven't been inspired lately. I have been talking to more people about my novel, and everyone seems to like to premise so far. So I'm trying to motivate myself to write. I'm thinking I might give myself a nightly goal or something to get myself writing again. I will try to write for 10 minutes tonight and let you know how it goes.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Second Chapter

So I've been slowly plugging away at chapter two, but haven't been feeling super inspired to write. In the meantime I have been working on creating my own homemade soap line for personal use and possibly sale on Etsy. My scrubs and candles have turned out good so far. I tried my hand at liquid soap making on Friday with semi-disastrous results. I think, having now read more recipes, that I figured out the problem and will be able to try again this Friday. I will update again this evening with my most recent word count, as I don't have it on me. I will try to write and post more later this week, but we'll see how it goes, as it's my birthday! :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First Chapter Done!

So, it's been a while since I blogged, but I finally have a real, tangible bench mark hit. I finished the first chapter! I was so excited that I have kind of slacked off since starting the second chapter, but hope to get some work done on it this week.

Total Word Count: 3143

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Writing has been happening

So I have been writing some lately, but mostly in my journals so it's harder to keep a word count going. I have gotten a little more into the computer though so I have made some progress there as well. I have also hit the point where I need to do a little research, so I've been spending my spare time reading up. I'm hoping to take this week to get all of my journal writing into the computer so I can have a more accurate (and much higher, thus happier) word count. So I will get off here and get back to it.

Current Word Count: 2519

Monday, April 30, 2012

Finally started working on the novel again

OK, so it's not 3 times a week, but it's waay sooner than normal so it's an improvement. Plus the biggest news is that I have actually started working on my novel again. I enjoy working on it once I get started, it's the getting started that is hard. I'm also enjoying taking the several starts and offshoots I have worked on and bringing them to one cohesive story. I will update again once I'm a little further. In the meantime I will start posting weekly word counts to encourage me to keep going. :)

Word Count: 1,139

Sunday, April 22, 2012

So let's try this again...

Obviously I am a terrible blogger. Wedding and holidays finally aside. I'm hoping to start back up on transferring more of my book from paper to computer tonight. Hopefully :) I'll post another update tonight on my progress.