Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Best of 2012

Doing a little end of year/beginning of year evaluations on myself. Overall I'm very happy with the changes we've been able to make around the house as well as our eating habits. There are still plenty of projects and goals for the new year, though!

Here are my personal favorite projects of 2012:

1) Dryer Woolie Balls: These had a minimal cost in both $$ and time. I still use them with every load of laundry (so pretty much every day). I love that I can add scent as needed, keeping a very, very light clean scent in our laundry w/o any softners or chemical additives!

2) Bye, Bye Papertowels: This project was also simple and cheap (is there a theme here?) I did have to go back and hem the cut edges of the washcloths I used, but that only cost me about 30 minutes or so of sewing. We keep these in a shoe box size bin right behind the kitchen faucet. Easy to grab and easy to refill. I have seen some people's "unpaper towels" projects with cute fabric on one side and terry cloth on the other side and then snaps on the ends. Then they roll the whole thing up on their paper towel dispenser. I love that idea but our little bin is soooooooo easy to refill (no snapping, no rolling) and if I hadn't wanted to cut the washcloths down to "select a size" paper towel dimensions (that we were used to using) there wouldn't have been any sewing at all. With a total cost of under $10, it also beats the pants of the cutesy ones. Now, I'll admit my cloths are just a basic beige (which thus far is hiding stains remarkably well) but no one is afraid to use them either as I've heard some people complain about with the fancy fabric rolled towels. I think the key to my long term success here is that I have a dedicated small bathroom size trash bin in the pantry to throw the dirty towels in. I have enough towels to fill my box 2x, so one set can be in use while one set is in the laundry.

3) Swapping coconut oil for processed vegetable oils: I wasn't sure if I would be tempted down the line to have a bottle of canola or vegetable oil on hand but once we used up what we had, I haven't needed to use ANY! Between olive oil, coconut oil and butter, I'm able to meet all of my cooking needs. No spray needed either! Silicone muffin liners have been a big help in this regard. I keep about half of my coconut oil in a oil dispensing bottle (that I got at the dollar store). I take the metal pour spout off and pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds and voila! liquid oil ready for pouring!

My Favorite Recipes of 2012:

We tend to go through cycles of eating a lot of one thing in particular and then getting into something else. But there are a few favorites that I tend to enjoy over and over again!

1) Muffins: I know I've done a few posts about muffins ( Pumpkin, Zucchini) but I also have a few favorites that I haven't posted up (like Banana nut).  I make a dozen or two with what ever fruit is on hand (or in the freezer) and use whole wheat flour. After they are cooked, I keep them in the freezer so they are always ready to go. They make a great, quick breakfast for me when I'm running late and  I also send them frozen with the little guy to school.  By the time he has is morning snack break, its defrosted and ready to go!  Right now in our freezer is whole wheat cranberry muffin with a cream cheese swirl. Yum!

2) Whole Wheat Waffles: I got a new waffle maker for my birthday (thanks Bro!) and I've been making lots of waffles since then (probably 4 or 5 huge batches). I get around 20 or so waffles from my mix , so I'm able to stock up the freezer for a few weeks at a time. Both little guy and myself have been enjoying them immensely. The last 2 batches have had chocolate chips stirred in and then we use strawberry or blackberry jam on top (instead of syrup) and its soooooooo good! But I'm almost out and that means I'll be probably be doing a big batch this weekend. I'm thinking that I might have to do the next ones blueberry!

3)Whole Wheat Baking Mix: If you grew up in a certain generation, Bisquick forms the basis of a lot of quick breads, breakfasts and dinners. But when you are trying to avoid processed food, things in boxes with lots of ingredients are incompatible. I love that my version of the baking mix uses ONLY whole wheat and that it mixes up in the kitchen very quickly.

4) Spinach & Basil Pesto: Maybe its because I just ate some last night but I love this recipe! I made a giant batch months ago and I still have cups of this stuff (which costs an arm & a leg at the store) in our freezer. Last night I wasn't too energetic, so I boiled up some whole wheat pasta, sauteed a salmon fillet (cut into chunks) and tossed the whole thing with 1/2 cup of pesto, delish! The whole prep was maybe 10 minutes of work (and that was mostly skinning and deboning the salmon!)

I'd love it if you left a comment below to let me know what was YOUR favorite post of 2012!

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