Thursday, March 29, 2012

Worm Hive: A Multi-Layered, Stackable Worm Bin

Being a Jill-of-all-trades, I like to dabble in a bit of everything interesting. So what happens when you mix vermicomposting (worm composting), carpentry and graphic design?

Why, this Worm Hive graphic, of course.

Click for full image.
This is going to make a great DIY project for my son and I. Most likely we'll end up making it and leaving it at Grandma's.

If, for some reason you can't DIY this, you can either ask me, or visit this guy on Etsy to purchase one.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Peanut Butter Paradigm

My food processor came today. Thanks, Amazon!

First on the agenda? Peanut butter.

I bought a 3 pound bag of salted peanuts. My first mistake. The peanut butter is way too salty, but I can deal with that.

My second mistake was buying un-shucked peanuts. Shucking half the bag took an hour and now my fingers are dry and sore.

In to the processor went the peanuts. As well as some canola oil and honey. You don't have to use honey, but I prefer my peanut butter to be a little less au naturale.

After processing for 20 seconds I add the oil and honey. If it's too gritty, process for more time, if it's not spreadable enough, add more oil.

And there you are. Organic peanut butter you can make yourself for about $2 per 8oz jar.

Goes great on toasted blueberry bagels.

Another great thing about making the peanut butter today was 1. I got to do something I've never done before and I'll learn from my mistakes mentioned above and 2. Micah now knows you can make your own peanut butter with peanuts and oil. He finds it fascinating. I don't think we'll ever go back to store bought.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Keeping Your Child Healthy

Micah is the healthiest and happiest child I know. He doesn't get ear infections, colds, fevers, coughs, etc. I think the last time he was sick it was because he got food poisoning a year ago.

Want to know the secret? There isn't one.

But here are some tips for a healthy child:
  • Eat well while you are pregnant, exercise and get sun. You may also want to take some suppliments if you feel your diet is lacking.
  • Breastfeed. Even if you work, PUMP. Breastmilk is the only real nutrition for babies. You are giving your child your antibodies to protect them from infections and disease. (You'll also burn an extra 500 colories or so a day producing the stuff.) If you can't breastfeed you can purchase (or get donated to you) another woman's healthy breast milk. Suppliers can (and do) blood tests on the woman so you know your baby is getting quality nutrition.
  • Do not start your baby on white rice cereal. It has almost zero real nutrition. Get a baby food mill ($10) and grind veggies, fruit, meat (or not, if you have a vegitarian family) or whatever you and your family are having for dinner that night. Start off with veggies. NOT white rice cereal. It's like feeding your child a spoonful of sugar and can lead to childhood obesity. If you must give them some sort of mush, give them unsweetened oatmeal.
  • Set an example with your food choices.
  • Let your child cook with you. Teach them about nutrition and where food comes from.
  • Let your child explore and get dirty. Too little germ exposure inhibits healthy immune development and promotes disease. Don't slather on the antibacterial soap. Antibacterial soaps, as well as vaccinations and antibiotics, may inhibit healthy immune development. For example, children who contract diseases such as chicken pox or measles develop lifetime immunity to those diseases, whereas children who receive vaccinations require booster shots for continued immunity.
  • Worry less about what your child shouldn’t be eating and more about what they should be eating.The foods with the highest micronutrient density as follows: Greens to be highest! (Mustard greens, collard greens, turnip greens, kale, watercress, brussels sprouts, spinach, etc.) Berries and fruits to be the second highest in nutrients. Beans and nuts to be third.
  • Take them food shopping with you, sticking to the outer walls of the supermarket and avoiding the center. (Or better yet, visit your local Farmer's Market and get to know a farmer.) The sections of the supermarket around the outer walls hold the nutrient-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy. The inner aisles contain processed and snack foods.
  • Remember that you CAN eat healthier on a small budget. A bag of snack chips may cost a dollar, but so does a pound of broccoli.
  • If your child attends public school, make them a nutritious breakfast in the morning and send them with a bagged lunch to school. A healthy breakfast would include fat/protien (such as eggs/meat), then fruits or veggies, with side notes of grains. (One reason protein and fat are so essential for breakfast is that they are critical for overall brain chemistry balance.) Avoid processed/packadged foods loaded with flour and sugar.For packed lunches, try dinner leftovers, meat and veg rolled in pita, tortillas or multi-grain bread. Avoid starchy, heavy flour breads. Add in some fruit/veg and some water or a juice box with no added sugar. 
  • Provide vitamins and suppliments if needed. I give Micah a vitamin C daily. Sometimes he also needs extra iron or vitamin B12 or D as well. It all depends on if he's been outside and has been eating right. Children need a daily intake of Vitamin C because it is important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Among the many benefits of Vitamin C for children is that it acts as a powerful anti-oxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory agent that prevents oxygen-based damage to the cells.
  • Get outside. Sunlight and exercise is essential. Avoid dousing your child in sunscreen laden with chemicals which can cause irritation/rashes/acne and some scientists beleive it can cause skin cancer or at least enable it. Sunscreen blocks the creation of all-essential vitamin D your child desperately needs to prevent as many as 25 chronic diseases. Notably: prostatecancer, breast cancer, osteoporosis, schizophrenia and heartdisease. Try a homemade sunscreen instead.(
  • Read to your child(ren) daily. Reading to your child is one of the most effective ways of building the “language” neural connections in their growing brain. Reading to your child makes you bond with them and this gives your child a sense of intimacy and well-being. It calms your child, especially when they are fretful and restless. It promotes increased communication between you and your child. It promotes longer attention span, which is an important skill for your child to be able to concentrate. It builds listening skills and imagination.
  • Assisted streching and massage techniques. Do streching excersises with your child. If you aren't that flexible, have your child lay flat and move their limbs to get some good streches. Good flexibility helps kids perform better in some activities, helps balance, concentration, circulation and helps them avoid injuries. With massage, start when your baby is newborn. Premature infants who were massaged, particularly with kinesthetic stimulation (body stroking and passive movement of the limbs), gained more weight than premature infants without massage. Massage helps manage stress, axiety, asthma, helps enhance the immune system, stimulates motor development and bonding, and even increases IQ. You don't have to take classed to massage your child. Touch is as important to infants and children as eating and sleeping.
  • Avoid using harsh cleaning chemicals. Not only would you have to call poison control if your child got into your cleaning closet, but they could develop rashes, chemical burns or permanent neural damage. Most household cleaning can be done with simple, cheap vinegar and baking soda (Not at the same time, except in your toilet. Remember making volcanoes in middle school?). Avoid antibacterial cleaners. Antibacterial products target good bacteria as well as bad, but our bodies need those good bacteria. Labels lie. Companies do not have to disclose all their ingredients. Vinegar naturally cleans like an all-purpose cleaner and the smell dissapates when it dries. Mix a solution of 1 part water to 1 part vinegar in a new store bought spray bottle and you have a solution that will clean most areas of your home. Vinegar is a great natural cleaning product as well as a disinfectant and deodorizer.Baking soda can be used to scrub surfaces in much the same way as commercial abrasive cleansers.
  • Make time for your child's health and wellbeing. Your child's physical and mental health comes before anyone elses (and your schedule). Don't find the time. Make the time. Listen to your children. Look at them when they talk to you. They need to feel they are the most important part of your life. If your child is acting out, there is a reason. Find it. But remember that children also thrive on stability and dicipline (not on neglect).

If you're a parent then you know your child better than anyone else and know how to care for them. Please feel free to leave comments or your own tips in the comments!

(Reading material: )

Sunday, August 14, 2011

DIY Plarn Water Bottle Holder

Being the nerd I am, I wanted to attend the South Park Fan Experience this year in downtown San Diego. My SO and I would be taking the trolley there; parking is a nightmare come Comic-con.

I knew I'd be taking water. A BIG bottle of water. But I didn't want to have to hold it the whole time. I knew I'd need to come up with something crafty to solve my dilema.

Enter the plarn water bottle holder.

Large enough for my water bottle, plarn crocheted thick enough to insulate the bottle; keeping it cold and me dry (from the bottle's condensation).

There was no rhyme or reason, I didn't have a pattern. I just made a circle by crocheting in the round, making the circle the same diameter as my bottle's bottom, then not adding more, just going around and around. For the strap I used sturdy, black plarn.

My mother, The Gardening Soup Queen is my lovely model. She thinks I should make more and sell them (with others like my reusable totes) at our community farmer's market. What do you think?

If you need a pattern, there's a good one over at My Recycled Bags.

South Park Fan Experience? Huge success.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Muffin Tin Pot Pies

Since my muffin tin apple pies were such a huge success I thought I'd try something equally epic. Pies. With. Chicken.

I used the same crust from the apple pies. (I love "no chill crust".)

Here we go!

Make the dough.

  • 2 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Shortening
  • 1 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 egg + 1/2 cup cold water

Pre-heat your oven to 345°F (173°C). Fork shortening into the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat egg and cold water together, then fork into the dough. Knead until you're satisfied with its consistency.

Roll 11 - 12 small pieces of dough into balls.

Now you can roll out the dough with your rolling pin or a glass. It is a good
idea to dust each ball with a little flour just before you roll them out. Lay the rolling pin
in the center of the dough ball and roll up, center and roll down. It is good to lift the
dough and turn it. Again, rolling pin in the center and roll. Roll them out fairly thin.

Place into your muffin tin.

Now for the filling. It's really up to you. If you want to go all out you can follow this:

  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 C onion, chopped
  • 3/4 C celery, chopped
  • 3/4 C carrots, chopped
  • 3/4 C cremini mushroom, chopped
  • 3/4 C potatoes, chopped
  • 3/4 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 1 1/2 C chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3 C poached chicken, chopped
  • 3/4 C frozen peas
  • 1/3 C whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Heat butter over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, celery, carrots and potatoes. Saute until the vegetables start to soften. Add thyme and garlic and continue to stir 2 or 3 minutes.

Pour in wine; let boil and cook off. Add chicken broth; reduce heat and bring mixture to a simmer. Add flour and stir until sauce thickens; about 6-7 minutes.

Add in chicken, peas, milk and parsley. Bring mixture to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper.

Or, if you're like me and don't own a restaurant to house all these ingredients you can use whatever you have on hand. I had onions, chives, carrots, potatoes and spinach. I achieved celery flavor with some celery seed spice. I also added some garlic powder and salt/pepper. Then I added a can of chicken breast. The whole can, including the juice. Let it simmer and add a little milk. Let it simmer again and add a bit of flour to make a light gravy.

Spoon into the dough cups. (Cheese is optional.) And pinch four sides of the dough closed.

Bake on 345°F (173°C) for 35 minutes.

Enjoy with some nice salad topped with homemade ranch dressing.

Robert said "Wow, they actually taste like pot pie!" (He ate three with his hands.)

Why so surprised; who do you think you're talkin' to here!?

Micah-ism: "Don't be hostile to me!"

Monday, July 11, 2011

Not Your Grandma's Apple Pie

When I want to bake, I want to bake NOW. Pity the fool who gets in my way on a baking day.

Today I don't know if it was family being in town, or just the fact that I hadn't baked in a while... But the urge hit me hard at my mom's house. GET OUT DA KITCHEN!

I decided I would make some muffin tin mini apple pies. You can make any kind of pie in a muffin tin. Mini cheesecake, mini key lime pie and even mini chicken pot pie. (I really don't know which one to do next... Suggestions?) Since I don't like letting things "rest" when I bake, I needed a "no chill crust" recipe (see recipe below).

Mini Apple Pie Recipe


  • 2 large apples, chopped
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup softened butter
  • as much cinnamon and nutmeg you like


  • 2 1/2 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Shortening
  • 1 tsp. Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 egg + 1/2 cup cold water

1) Pre-heat your oven to 345°F (173°C). Fork shortening into the flour, baking powder and salt. Beat egg and cold water together, then fork into the dough. Knead until you're satisfied with its consistency. Set aside.

2) Chop your apples into small cubes or rectangles if you haven't already and leave the skins on (lots of fiber and contains half the vitamin C the whole apple offers). Add the butter and let cover the apple pieces. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix it up! (Using your hands is fun, this is the part Micah loves.)

3) Roll out your dough and cut into circles using a cup, bowl or knife. Place the circles in your ungreased muffin pan. Spoon copious amounts of your filling into the dough cups. For the dough lattice that goes on top, just roll out the extra dough, cut into small strips with a pizza cutter and place them on top. Only interweave them if you have the time... I didn't.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until your crust is brown.

Let them cool for 10 minutes, then serve with fresh whipped cream and/or french vanilla ice cream.


"Fireworks make me want to hug someone."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The New Blog Look and a Surprise!

Tired of the ho-hum-drum Blogger template, I decided to take a page from the Dan Pierce, who Will Work for 4 Followers book of blog know-how. I got my CSS on big time.

I added a Favicon:

Then I made a new banner in Photoshop, streamlined my networking links, added some nifty tabs at the top and removed the right nav bar, which was crowding the whole thing up.

I also did an image map in Fireworks. (Those nifty buttons on the upper left is actually one image.)

Say hello to the new MiaU (Mom is an Understatement), pronounced like "meow" (not mandatory).

Hello gorgeous.

Of course, there's always room for improvement. We'll see how much easier readers are able to navigate, then I'll do some more tweaking.

And now; for the surprise!

A list of Micah-isms:

*Micah went to the doctor yesterday and got a shot. Grandpa asked him, Micah, did they shoot you? He said No no no no (rolling eyes). They don't SHOOT people!

*Right when Micah and I got home he takes his shoes off and says "We had a great day." matter-of-factly.

*Micah is with his dad for the next three or so days. When he was leaving he said "I love you! Buy! Don't die!"

*Micah says some of the funniest things when he's in deep trouble. Sometimes it's hard to keep a straight face. "Ask me again, I'll tell the truth this time, because I love you!"

**wail* "I'm so tired of this world!"

‎*"Micah, why are you playing Portal 2?"
"Because I rock and this game rocks."

*“Don't be hostile to me!”

*Micah pulled me into the bathroom so I could take a look at his giant #2. I said "Whoa! What happened?" He said "Its because I ate a lot of cereal."

*Micah-ism: Shouting "GERMOMMY-O" while jumping off the couch. ♥
(I keep telling him it's 'Geronimo'.)