Category Archives: simplify

Ridiculously Deliciously Healthy Vegetable Soup

Let me take a selfie…
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Ok, now let’s proceed. Years ago when I was a newlywed, I made this incredible soup from a recipe I got from Leanne Ely, a nutritionist. I didn’t know how to cook just yet. I remember shopping in the produce department for a rutabaga or turnip and not knowing what they looked like. Regardless, it turned out really delicious and the only complaint was “I feel like it should have meat in it”. What can I say? We are Americans living in the Midwest! So I threw some diced ham in there and the husband was appeased.

I recently found this recipe again and made a big ol’ pot of stew and have been reheating it for a hearty, low-calorie lunch or dinner. Give it a try! I don’t like cabbage and I sure as heck didn’t know what a turnip tasted like but this always turns out pretty dang delicious. I did read somewhere that the cabbage can get kind of slimey if you freeze it, so you might leave that out if you are planning to freeze it.

Awesome Veggie Soup
Serves 12

1 tablespoon olive oil, or as needed
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 large carrots, chopped
2 small celery stalks, chopped
1 medium turnip (or rutabaga), chopped
1/4 head cabbage, chopped
2 small russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups green beans, cut in 1″ pieces
1/2 teaspoon thyme
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 (28-oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 cups low sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)

In a large soup pot, heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook till nearly translucent, now add the garlic. Don’t let the garlic brown and saute another couple of minutes.

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Add the rest of the chopped veggies, sauteing for just a minute or two; use extra olive oil if you need it for the rest of the veggies. Remember–you’re not cooking them– just sauteing them for the wonderful flavor this quick step will infuse in your soup. Add the thyme and salt and pepper while sauteing. Now put the veggies in the crock-pot, add the tomatoes and broth. Cook on low 7-9 hours (depending on your crock-pot) or high 4-6 hours. Just before serving, gently mash some of the potato chunks against the side of the crock-pot to thicken the soup, give it a stir and serve.

Nutrition Per Serving: 94 Calories; 3g Fat; 7g Protein; 12g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 286mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat. Points: 2

Give it a shot! You won’t regret it! Here is how it looked just before I put it in the crock pot!

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The simple pleasures in life

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Call me crazy, but one of the most simple and wonderful activities for me is hanging clothes on the line. It brings to mind hot summer days as a child, riding my bike back and forth through the cool, damp clothes.

It takes me back to when when I cloth diapered my babies and hanging the cloth diapers on the clothesline was one of my few personal pleasures, a moment in the sun to myself.

Lastly, it reminds me of my grandma. The simple pleasures in life that bring you happiness are invaluable indeed.

This weekend, I finally replaced my rusted and fallen traditional style clothesline with a new umbrella type that screams city dweller. However as I rushed home at lunch to hang out sheets to dry in the sun and wind, my dress heels poking into the ground, I found my zen.

Respect your Armpits – with Updates, y’all!

Today, I am writing on the subject of making natural homemade deodorant. I have seen many pins on the subject and have wanted to do this for some time. I looked for a while and finally found arrowroot powder in my small town (which is just starch, people).

My reasons for seeking an alternative deodorant which doesn’t use aluminum in any form is that aluminum is linked to dementia (or Alzheimer’s) and cancer in many studies. You may disagree, but both of those run in my family and I think if you can dodge a bullet, you should do your best. My dad even tries to avoid aluminum, he drinks beer only out of bottles these days.

Back to the actual making of this wonder salve for ye olde stanky pits. I initially used three ingredients. Most of ya have them in your kitchen.

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Here are the ratios, adjust them to your preference. Some people like it a little softer and more malleable, some people want that solid deodorant stick feeling. Do what you want!

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot powder – some recipes say corn starch is just as good. Not cornmeal..I checked.
  • 6 Tablespoons coconut oil – I heated mine as its still cold here in Missouri and I figured it was easier to mix.

I just poured them all into a bowl, mixed them a bit to get the lumps out and voila…deodorant. That was so very easy and fast! I should have stopped there. But I couldn’t. It had no smell!

I get out my essential oils and like a mad scientist start putting a dab of this and that in there to give me that Teen Spirit smell from middle school. Well, that never happened but the final result smelled refreshing. I ended up splashing a little tea tree oil (which is super anti-fungal and everything), a little eucalyptus oil, some lavender, and finally about 8 drops of lemongrass oil. It smelled great! I even had an empty, used eye makeup remover container that was the perfect size for my first homemade deodorant. I plan to just take a little pea sized amount and rub it on each underarm. Here’s the final product:20140328-215221.jpg

Now, I had already put on some Tom’s Natural Deoderant an hour or so earlier, but I couldn’t help but take my fresh new batch on it’s maiden voyage! I rubbed a bit on each underarm enjoying the scent and went on my way cleaning up the kitchen.

And then the burning started. One recipe had mentioned a bit of minor burning initially that went away. Ok, no worries. Better than dementia, right? I ignore it and carry on.

Oh God, the burning. Ok at this point im walking around in a tank top with my arms up thinking I can cool down the burning. It’s bad…I can’t ignore it. When something as tender and sensitive as your underarms is on fire, it becomes a crisis. I tried wiping it off with a damp washcloth, which helped but the sting continued a good 5 minutes. Also, red blotchy armpits…not pretty.

So what went awry in my quest for good smellin, aluminum free underarms? Could be a couple of things. First some people are sensitive to baking soda. Secondly, I may have used too much essential oil, which can be really harsh when not diluted. I should have measured better but I couldn’t find my pipet thing. I also am developing allergies in my old age. Every time I swim at the gym, I have an allergic reaction to the chlorine. Maybe I’m allergic to something?  I will try a few things to troubleshoot and post updates.

For now, the moral of the story is respect your ‘pits and don’t go slapping random crap from around the house on there without thinking it through.

UPDATE: The homemade deodorant had solidified overnight and so while my coffee brewed this morning, I took a pinch and…holding my breath against the agony…put some under each arm. It didn’t hurt. Weird. No burning. Nothing. Maybe having it be a solid changed something about it. I was also cautious this go round to only apply the deodorant where I shave my underarms, as the sensitive skin that was very red was kind of behind that. I think that was the problem the first time, was putting it on in a haphazard manner.

2nd UPDATE: Worked outside in the yard all weekend using only this deoderant and never had a problem. Seems to honestly work better than Degree or Secret! Yay, right??

Minimalism. Being real.

Okay– so this weekend, I tore open a bag I previously had stored. I was desperately seeking a pair of nude underwear that I forgot I needed to wear under white jeans! You ladies understand the situation. White unders are too white, colored are just THERE, nude are just right. And it was for a date so you know I had to bring it to the table!

Otherwise, I haven’t needed anything out of my bags of clothes I removed over a week ago. It’s refreshing. I also don’t feel stressed when choosing outfits (except for dates, which is gonna happen anyway).

And yes, the date went well! More on that later… 🙂

Well that made sense…

What would be more reasonable after clearing out my cabinets and scaling down than going to the grocery store hungry?

That’s right. After my mediocre workout at the gym, I stopped in to Wal-Mart for a couple of staples and to see some bad parenting. I got both…and more. $200 worth of food for me. Just me. The kiddos are at their dad’s and I just purchased enough food to survive the apocolypse. The good news is that it was all healthy stuff. So I’m minimizing my waistline!

See what I did there?

Lunchtime Cabinet Session!

Nerdier words never were spoken. Yes– I went home and went through a few cabinets to toss expired things and make a list of what I have (an inventory, if I may). This way, I can plan my meals around what I have and save money and stop THROWING AWAY SO MUCH FOOD! Here’s a pic of the trash halfway through:

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Pretty bad, but here’s the oldest thing I’ve found (so far). HINT: the current year is 2014.

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I know, pretty bad. But it was white wine vinegar. I’m not much of a cook and you can’t drink it, so I didn’t need that mess anyway! Even LarryBones seemed disappointed in me. 😦

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As I ate my Beef Stroganoff with Peas leftovers (frickin deliciousness), I pondered upon my other cabinets…how much food will go to waste? How much money am I throwing away?! To be continued…

A Minimalist Closet

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After living a nomadic life this past week on vacation in Colorado, it has gotten me thinking about the things I have that I could do without. I sought out some advice from different websites regarding minimalist living. Now, don’t be thinking I will have a chic, white washed home void of décor at the end of this little venture…my intention is to reduce my clutter, excess, and save money and time in the long run.

To begin, I overhauled my closet tonight. If you know me, you know I have a very hard time throwing anything away. Seriously…my friends tease me about having lived through the Great Depression, I struggle so much with letting go of things with a perceived future value to me. Before leaving to Colorado for a week of skiing, hiking, and exploring, I discarded much of the items out of my fridge and went through the cabinets a bit. I was actually shocked that I had boxes and canned foods long expired in my cupboards! I hoard food as well apparently!

So as I tossed a family pack of Ramen noodles that was best used by May of 2013, I made my decision to move forward with reducing the excess in my life.

Here’s how I overhauled my closet:

Step One: Go through all of my closet and make piles of clothing to bag up that are too small, fit weird, need mended, or that I just won’t wear (that’s you, green tank top with bleach spots!). Put clothes that fit well aside.

Step Two: The clothes that I put aside, I sorted the out of season items and put those into a bag to be opened in a few months.

Step Three: Be very selective on what you keep to wear. The clothes should coordinate well in order to be able to mix and match different outfits with your smaller amount of clothing. Ensure that the shoes all are season appropriate and coordinate with your remaining clothing.

Step Four: Pull out duplicate items. I did keep two white tank tops as I like to wear those under my sweaters. Customize this for you! Re-evaluate your sock and underwear drawer. Do you really need twelve pair of those granny panties? You know, the ones you wear when you are pretty sure no one will be seeing them? How about socks? A few athletic cuts, a couple different muted colors for work, and a pair of nude and black hose should be adequate for most people.

CONFESSION: I’ll be honest. I have some underwear and socks that I’ve had longer than I was married. And I was married almost ten years. There’s something to be said for that kind of loyalty, and what needs said is that I’m a hoarder. As a result, I tossed several pairs of socks that were wearing thin on the bottoms and even some bras that had seen better days. Progress, people!

I ended up keeping the following:

  • 5 sweaters
  • 4-5 scarves
  • 3 pair of jeans
  • 4 pairs of slacks
  • 3 skirts
  • 4-5 nice t-shirts (Is that an oxymoron? Not in Missouri.)
  • 3-4 workout t-shirts
  • 2 white tank tops
  • 3-4 colored/patterned tank tops for layering and working out
  • 4 pair workout shorts and leggings
  • 1 denim blazer (will probably toss this but it was hella expensive and I feel like I need to give it a chance.)
  • 1 dress
  • About half of my shoes
  • A green cardigan for St. Patrick’s Day (I’ll put it away after the shenanigans end)
  • Some random old shorts, pants, and t-shirts for working in the yard.
  • That’s all I remember and I’m not getting up to look again. My feet hurt.

I realize that I found a success in greatly reducing my wardrobe tonight. I also realize I can get rid of more once I get over my Great Depression ways. So I used the ol’ trick of turning my hangers backwards to see what I actually wear and after a few months, I can rationalize getting rid of those clothes!

I’ll keep you posted on whether I end up desperately tearing open bags this week to find something to wear to work or even (gasp!) on a date. Next, I’ll finish the kitchen cabinets! Not tonight though.

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