Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hummus: so easy to make, so easy to eat!

It's been a busy few weeks, but I finally have something blogworthy to post! 

I made a small batch of hummus to go with dinner tonight, and I realized that some people might not know how incredibly easy it is to make. Many people probably don't know that hummus comes from chickpeas/garbanzo beans, either. In other words, it's good for you! (Depending on what you add to it.) 

I don't have step-by-step pictures for this post because, well, I was hungry. And when I'm hungry, I ain't got time for that. Tonight, I made Ranch Hummus, which is the recipe below. However, hummus is extremely versatile which means you can season it however you like.

Ranch Hummus
1 cup cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans*
1/2 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp. Fat Free Ranch Dressing
Put all ingredients into a food processor.
Process until smooth and creamy.
Eat until your heart is content.
*You can use canned chickpeas/garbanzo beans, but everything tastes better and is better for you when fresh!

How easy was that?! Regular hummus is just as easy. Replace the Ranch Dressing with 1/2 tbsp. more Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 clove of garlic and a dash of salt.

I used mine as a spread on Black Bean Burgers. You can eat is as a dip, a spread, or with a spoon. I would also like to pose this question: kale chips, where have you been all my life? Tonight was my first time making these scrumptious bites of magic. If you haven't tried kale chips, then you are totally failing at everything. Try them, now. And dip them into your homemade hummus. You're welcome.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

For the Love of Wreaths

It's Sunday, it's snowing, and it's almost February. This obviously means today is the perfect day to make a Valentine's Day wreath. Who's with me? High five!

Wire hanger
Hot glue gun
Hot glue sticks
Twine or ribbon

This wreath is super cute and super simple to make. First, you need to find one of those old, wire hangers that you have hanging around your house (pun intended.) Then, you need to get your Mommie Dearest impression out of the way.

Once you get that out of your system, it is time to make the wreath. Grab your pliers, unwind the hanger, and shape it into a heart.

Gather cardstock in the colors of your choosing, and use your Cricut to cut a boatload of hearts. A boatload equals about 50, all different shapes and sizes. If you don't have a Cricut, then you need to get one. However, you can easily trace and cut out your own hearts, or buy a package of pre-cut hearts from the craft store.

Warm up your glue gun. Start gluing your hearts onto your wire wreath form in a nice pattern. I alternated colors and shapes. I also layered some hearts here and there for more of a dimensional style. Loop some twine or ribbon through the hanger from the back of the wreath.

Hang it on your door, and enjoy!

See? Super cute. Super simple.

Until next time ;)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Peanut Butter and Protein!

As some of you might know, my husband and I have a healthy lifestyle. We eat clean (with the exception of our weekly cheat meal), and we workout with a combination of cardiovascular exercise and weight training every day. In today's society, it can be difficult to find healthy and beneficial snacks to eat throughout the day. Don't be fooled by advertising... those "healthy" snacks you bought from the store probably are not that healthy. Read the ingredients. If it contains something you cannot even pronounce, then you might want to rethink putting it into your body. This is why my husband and I experiment with different cooking and baking recipes. Today, he whipped up a batch of Protein Packed Oatmeal Cookies. They are healthy, beneficial in giving us a boost of protein, and they are delicious. Read on for the recipe!

Protein Packed Oatmeal Cookies

2 c Old Fashioned Oats
2 scoops protein powder (we use Optimal Results Low Carb Whey Protein)
1/4 c Stevia Baking Blend
2 eggs
3 tbsp cholesterol-free, low sodium butter spread
1 tbsp vanilla (and an extra splash... for the homies)
3 heaping tbsp all natural creamy peanut butter
1 tsp baking soda
Splash of milk to reach a smooth consistency (we used goat's milk for a richer taste)

Preheat oven to 350*. Prepare cookie sheet by lining it with foil and spraying it with a Canola Oil cooking spray. Mix all ingredients with a spoon in a medium mixing bowl. 

Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the cookie sheet, about one inch apart from each other. Bake for 15 minutes or until the bottoms are brown. This recipe yields about 15 large cookies. Pack one in your lunch for a healthy midday snack!

And remember...

Just kidding ;)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Morning Crafting

Quite a few years ago, my husband (then boyfriend) bought me a Cricut Personal Cutting Machine. I was beside myself with happiness because I LOVE paper crafts. A couple of years ago, he bought me a few rolls of vinyl to use with the Cricut. (See how he is the most awesome husband ever?) At that time, I was new to using vinyl. However, after I learned how to use it with my machine, I have added several vinyl touches to projects. Today, I decided that the one corner of the living room wall was just too bare. It is the corner in which our cat tower sits, and the cats need a little something to jazz up their space. So, vinyl it is!

On the right is the finished the project on the wall. The size at which I cut my vinyl is limited, as I have the smaller version of the Cricut machine. I think it works perfectly for me.

First, I turned on my jams. You can't craft without music. It's the law.

Then I got started. I gathered my supplies: Cricut mat and tools, paper cutter, multi-pack of vinyl sheets that I scored at Michael's, vinyl transfer paper, and Cricut cartridge of choice (I used Sweethearts.)

I prepared my machine. I set the blade depth at 3, the blade pressure at 3, and the speed at 3 (or medium, depending on your machine). This will cut what is called a "kiss cut." It does not cut all the way through the vinyl backing; it just cuts through the vinyl itself. 

I also prepared my vinyl sheets, which came 12" by 12". My Cricut machine allows for paper no bigger than 6" by 12", so I cut the vinyl sheets accordingly. Place your vinyl sheet on your Cricut mat, with the backing intact and the vinyl facing up.

I started cutting! I chose the images I wanted to use, and the color of vinyl I wanted to use, and used the Cricut as I normally would.

After cutting the image, I peeled away the negative space. In other words, I peeled away the vinyl that did not have my image on it. I am a scrap-saver, so I was able to salvage the peeled away vinyl and I stuck it back onto the backing when I was done to save it to use another day. All you should have on your Cricut mat is your cut vinyl on its backing.

I cut the transfer paper to size (a little larger than my image.) I peeled its backing away, and placed it sticky side down on top of my image. I burnished the transfer paper to the vinyl image with a popsicle stick (you can use your finger, or even a ruler. Any way you choose, just make sure the vinyl is stuck to the transfer paper.) I peeled everything off of my Cricut mat, including the vinyl backing.

I cut the rest of my images, and to the living room I went! I peeled the vinyl backing off of the vinyl itself, and stuck the vinyl and transfer paper to the wall. I burnished it to the wall with my handy popsicle stick. My walls are textured, so I cursed the very ground they are built on. Then I got over it, and burnished some more. I peeled away the transfer paper with extra caution not to peel away the vinyl with it.

As I placed, burnished, cursed, and peeled, I was supervised by one of my dear cats, Onyx. He approved, so I finished the project under his watch.

I also typed up a little quote about the greatness of having pets, printed onto trendy Kraft paper, framed it in the frame my husband just went out to buy for me (again, awesome!), and hung it up to add a little something extra to the pet corner.

Until next time, happy vinyl cutting! ;)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Debut Post

I never realized how difficult it is to decide on a debut blog post. Do I talk about myself? Do I jump right into… stuff?

I have chosen the latter. Today’s “stuff” is a review of the first book I read in 2015: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. I actually began reading it in 2014, but I finished it in 2015. Close enough.

After reading a few reviews that highly recommended reading this book, I put it on hold at the library. I waited and waited until I saw those magical words, “1 hold item ready for pickup.” After doing my happy dance, I checked it out and took it home. I knew right away that it was going to be as good as, if not better than the reviews made it out to be.

Everything I Never Told You begins with the death of 15-year-old Lydia. Her father, a Chinese-American professor who teaches American History, and her mother, a stay-at-home mom with expired dreams of becoming a doctor, try to put the pieces together to understand what happened. Lydia drowned. She did not know how to swim, so she must have been taken to the lake and pushed in by someone. But by whom? Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, assumes the troublesome neighbor, Jack has something to do with it. Lydia’s younger sister, Hannah, saw Lydia sneak out of the house on the night of the drowning. Each family member copes with Lydia’s death differently, just as each family member places blame differently. The pieces slowly come together, whether Lydia’s family wants to accept it or not.

This novel is a fast-paced mystery that unfolds more than the discovery of Lydia’s death. It illustrates the desperate need to fit in, to be different, to be wanted, to overcome a loss so great it leaves your entire world flipped upside down. It is told in two different settings: before Lydia’s death, and after Lydia’s death. This creates rich characters and it helps develop an understanding of why each character acts the way they do. It is written in such a way that begs the question: is everything truly as it seems?

This one is going to stick with me for a while, folks.