Roasted Tomato Sauce: the Easy Way

Roasted Tomato Sauce: the Easy Way

When I shop for groceries, I typically careen around the store, barely pausing to toss things in the cart (especially since I am usually running on borrowed time before the sacred nap). Here at the grocery stores in Nova Scotia, however, there is one thing that will always bring me to a screeching halt: that bright pink sticker screaming “50% off for quick sale”.

Because boy, am I a sucker for a sale.

When I first discovered this little phenomenon, I just bought things willy-nilly, believing that I was absolutely saving money in buying a carton of juice that had to be drank up that day, or a box of cookies that had to be eaten in one sitting, but then I realized all I was doing was bingeing. Sales will wash your brain out for you like that. But while there may not be value in buying half-price, nearly expired cookies and juice, there definitely are some savings to be made in the produce section. 

My biggest weakness on the produce sale rack is tomatoes. I cook with tomatoes a lot. A TON. I usually have a stockpile of canned tomatoes on hand, but there have been some rumblings about canned tomatoes containing a high concentration of BPA as it is leached from the can’s lining. Despite Health Canada’s conclusion that this exposure is not harmful, I’m a bit squeamish now, and I figure it’s always better to cook with the real deal instead of canned stuff anyway, if you can help it. Fresh tomatoes can be pricey, depending on the season and the type, so buying them half-price really tickles my thrifty bone (which is closely related to the funny bone, in case you were wondering). 

You can save tomatoes for later by either canning or freezing them, and since I haven’t delved very far into the potentially scary world of canning, I mainly stick to freezing. It’s pretty foolproof. You can blanch, peel, then freeze them whole or diced, or you can cook them into a sauce and freeze that. Either way, not a ton of work.

I bet I lost a few of you at the word “blanch”, though. And to be perfectly honest, if this was the only method of preparation available,  I’d have lost a whole lot of tomatoes to spoiling and sheer laziness by now. While my way does cook the tomatoes into a sauce, prep time takes about five minutes before and five minutes after, and you don’t have to fuss around with tomato skins — which, aside from being really annoying, irritate the heck out of my hands. I use the resulting sauce to make homemade pizza, but I think it would be equally delicious tossed with pasta. The other great thing about this “recipe” is that it doesn’t have set measurements, so it’s the easiest thing in the world to customize, and you can follow it with any amount of tomatoes at all. (In the interest of energy saving, you’ll probably want enough to fill a baking dish/cookie sheet at least, though. This is about four or five.)

So you have four or five tomatoes and you want to make sauce. Here is the complete list of things you’ll need to make…

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Roasted Tomato Sauce

  • Tomatoes – Any sort of tomatoes at all will work. Something a little more fleshy, like a beefeater or a roma tomato will work best, though, insofar as the sauce won’t be as watery in the end
  • Spices of your choice – I like to use dried thyme and oregano, salt and pepper, and fresh basil if I have it.
  • Sugar – Just enough to take down the acidity of your tomatoes.
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic 
  • Rimmed baking sheet or dish – If you are using a metallic baking sheet, make sure to line it with a silpat or parchment paper as the acidity of the tomato juice can react unfavorably with some materials, making for bitter flavor.
  • Immersion blender – A regular blender, like the kind you use for smoothies, or a food processor will work here too.

So what you wanna do is:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300° and line your baking sheet. If you’re using a glass casserole dish here, just get it out of the cupboard.
  2. Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. Place them cut side up on the baking dish.
  3. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil. If you’re using tiny tomatoes, like grape ones, you can just add a drop to each half, but if you’re using bigger tomatoes, it might be easier to put about a tablespoon of oil in a cup and swipe some onto each half with a basting brush. Me? I’m lax and just dribble oil over them all.
  4. Season each tomato with a pinch of dried thyme and oregano, some salt and pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Alternatively, if your tomatoes aren’t overly acidic, you can leave the sugar out and add it at the end once you’ve tasted if you think you need it. I like pizza sauce to be a little bit sweet, so I do put about a pinch of sugar on the toms before they hit the oven. 
  5. Put them in the oven and set the timer for 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, take a few cloves of garlic and throw them onto the baking dish with the tomatoes. Peel them if you want to, but you can also just squish the roasted garlic out of the peels at the end, which is what I do. How many you use is up to you: You love garlic and you’re making a whole tray of tomatoes? Add half a head. Roasted garlic is much more mild in flavor than raw garlic, remember, so you can be a little more generous here than you might normally be. Set the timer for 30 more minutes.
  6. When it’s all done roasting, throw the tomatoes and now-peeled garlic into the blender/food processor/bowl and blend them all up. If you have fresh basil, tear a few sprigs into the mix before you blend. Taste it to be sure it doesn’t need more salt or sugar and add some if it does. Try not to eat it all out of the blender. 
  7. Freeze it up! Because I use my sauce for pizza, I usually freeze the sauce into about 1/2 cup portions for convenience. You can also just pour it into a ziplock or a freezer-safe container big enough to hold it all, if you like. 

And that is all there is to it. 

Making your own tomato sauce is great because cooked tomatoes have a ton of health benefits which come from the phytochemical lycopene, the levels of which are boosted considerably the longer the tomato is cooked. Lycopene has the antioxidant properties that apparently reduce the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, as well as lower cholesterol levels. (Source: Livestrong.com – The Health Benefits of Eating Cooked Tomato Products) Cooking it yourself out of real live tomatoes means that you get to control the bad stuff, like salt and sugar, and you can make it taste exactly the way you want it to. Something that I very mindlessly poured out of a can for many, many years is really not that hard to make, when all is said and done.

And it means I get to buy sale stuff and gloat to myself over my savings. 

– Joc

 

 

T-Shirt Cowl: A Weekend Project

T-Shirt Cowl: A Weekend Project

How To Make Your Very Own T-Shirt Cowl — Quick & Easy!

The other day, as I was browsing Facebook in my flannel pj’s and a wicked bed head, I flipped past a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow walking with her kids. I’m not a particular fan of hers, necessarily, but the picture stuck with me because she was working that sort of rocker style I love. (I like to pretend it’s my style… though if I’m being straight with you, my style these days is more or less comfy pants and slippers with a shirt that’s not too dirty.) I have a thing for scarves and cowls (especially with leather-style jackets and skinny jeans) and in my head she was wearing a super-cool, kinda grungy t-shirt cowl in dark grey, and I wanted it. And it looked easy enough to make.

I went shopping that day and as I was poking around in a second hand shop, I found the perfect t-shirt: it was dark grey and made of a really nice quality and stretchy material. I paid $3.10 for it and happily went on my way to Walmart where I found… t-shirt cowls. But they were $9, and just as good as anything I could make by hand, so I left them there with the satisfied feeling of having won a round. When I got home, I pulled up the picture of GP and her kids so I could figure out how to make what I wanted and discovered something.

Gwyneth is not wearing a t-shirt cowl in the photo.

But I’ll still credit her with the inspiration.

My finished t-shirt cowl really is quite a bit different: it’s a darker grey, of course, but it’s also much less bulky. At first I was disappointed by this fact, but after wearing it out and about today, I decided I like it the way it is. It’s perfect for the late spring we’re having, in that it’s not too warm so you can wear it inside without roasting to death, but it still keeps any rogue chills away from your neck. Another bonus is that it’s really, really easy to do. If we had a difficulty rating at Little Boozy Homemakers, this project would be on the easiest end of it (although I have no idea how that would work… Maybe “I give it three margaritas!” As in,”It’s so easy you could have three margaritas and STILL manage it!”).

All kidding aside, I am a very primitive seamstress and I think it turned out pretty cool. So it’s super easy.

But anyway, enough rambling. I’ll tell you how I made…

The T-Shirt Cowl

T-shirt Cowl

You’ll need:

  • A large t-shirt – the bigger the t-shirt the better, especially if you want to have a bulkier cowl. You pick the color, the fabric, whether or not it has logos or writing… all up to you and the end result you want to have.
  • Scissors
  • A needle and thread in a color that coordinates with the t-shirt

How to do it:

Step 1: Start by cutting the top off of your t-shirt, just under the armpits, so you are left with a big tube of fabric. (The cut off piece will look like a very indecent halter top. Throw that part away or use it for cleaning. Or you could try and make your husband try it on which is hilarious if he actually does.) You could just stop here and wrap that big fabric tube around your neck, but that would probably end up looking and feeling more like a a very tight turtle neck… so maybe move on to step two.

**I don’t have a picture of this step because I went about achieving this large tube of fabric in an overly complicated manner. Hopefully the imagery of  an indecent halter top will tell you exactly what I mean.

Step 2: Cut the fabric tube up one side, making sure you cut the original seam completely off of the shirt. Now you’ll have a long, wide rectangle of fabric with one of the original side seams bisecting it.

T-Shirt Cowl Step 2

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t stress too much about your scissor cuts here, by the way. Though the long edges of this cowl won’t be hemmed, they kind of roll into it and are not really noticeable. You do want to make sure you use the sharpest scissors you have, however. It’s meant to look rough but not shredded, after all.

Step 3:  At this point, you can decide if you want to cut off the bottom hem of the shirt. I didn’t. Again, the hem won’t be noticeable and since it’s less work to leave it on… I say go ahead and leave it on.

So now you will fold the long rectangle in half, lengthwise, and cut down the fold line to make two long, narrower rectangles.
T-Shirt Cowl Step 3

Step 4: Put the two pieces of fabric together, right sides facing in, and pin the short edges. To make this an infinity cowl like mine, you will pin both ends of the rectangle together. You could also choose to pin one end and leave the other end open to make a scarf, if that tickles your fancy.
T-Shirt Cowl Step 4

Step 5: Sew your pinned edges together. I used blanket stitching to sew mine, and because I did, it turned out that my seams matched the original seam of the t-shirt rather nicely. It was totally a happy accident, though… my sewing skills are far too rudimentary for me to have planned such a thing. Whip stitching would work well here too. And of course if you have a sewing machine, go ahead and use that!

T-Shirt Cowl Step 5
I never said it was a GOOD seam…

**Please do note that if you use the blanket stitch tutorial I’ve linked, when you begin the seam you will go through BOTH pieces of fabric, not just one. Hiding the knot inside (as she does in the video) would be placing it on the right side of the cowl in this particular project.

Once you’ve sewn your seams, then you are done! Drape the cowl around your neck a few times and feel like Gwyneth Paltrow!

…Or like me, I suppose, since she’s not actually wearing a t-shirt cowl.

Do you have any improvements on my very basic methods? Have you made a t-shirt cowl before? As always, we’d love to see your successes and you can post any shots right on our Facebook page!

– Joc

Homemade Soda Pop: Lacto-Fermented Lemonade

Homemade Soda Pop: Lacto-Fermented Lemonade

How to make lacto-fermented pop at home

I don’t know what it is about spring, but it seems that I am consistently bitten by the culture bugs at this time of year. I like to romanticize that this yearly awakening means I’m in tune with Mother Nature and her quest to bring life into the world… but really I’m just thinking ahead to long, warm days sitting in the sun and sipping something bubbly. It started with making yogurt, moved on to cultivating water kefir (when I get more grains someday, that will be another post), and graduated to nurturing a ginger bug (which I used to make a killer ginger beer that had a mighty kick to it). I’ve also made fizzy drinks using plain old bread yeast before, but I haven’t yet tried lacto-fermenting a beverage using whey.

I am speaking a foreign tongue to some of you, I realize. It was all a bunch of weird words to me when I first got into culturing, too, but my interest in creating a good bowl of yogurt led to a lot of research which led to a lot of discoveries of the things you can easily get your hands on to start brewing in your kitchen. And there really are a whole lot of strange and wonderful things out there that people have been using for years. Kefir grains, kombucha scobys, ginger bugs, and brewing yeast are some that you have to look a little bit to dig up, but using whey to ferment a drink is as easy as buying a tub of yogurt from the grocery store.

Make your own lacto-fermented popYou know how sometimes you open a container of yogurt and there seems to be water sitting on top? That’s whey. You can stir it back into the yogurt or you can pour it off and save it. Whatever you do, DON’T throw it out (like I used to) — it’s a superfood! Have a look at what Livestrong says about the health benefits of whey, if you need extra convincing. To collect it for this recipe, you will take a strainer or colander of some kind, sit it over a bowl and line it with a coffee filter or cheesecloth, and pour in about a cup of yogurt. Let this whole business sit in the fridge for about a day and you will have made yogurt cheese and some whey. Save the whey for this recipe and mix the yogurt cheese with fruit, put it on waffles or bagels, or (my favorite) mix it with a tablespoon of icing sugar and a splash of vanilla and use it to ice pumpkin muffins or carrot cake.

So what is Lacto-Fermentation?

Lacto-fermentation (the short form of lactic acid fermentation) is the process by which Lactobacillus bacteria — the kind you find in yogurt but also on a lot of plant life and inside of our very own bodies — is fed some sugar, deprived of oxygen and kept warm, then given a bit of time to produce lactic acid, carbon dioxide and ethanol. Totally simple formula.

No, really, it is! The science can be a little intimidating at first but as long as your dishes are quite clean and your culture is kept at a nice warm temperature, it’s a piece of cake. Lovely, bacteria-laden cake.

Lacto-fermentation is not just about making drinks, of course. It has been used for a long, long time as a method of food preservation and those of you who love a good kimchi or sauerkraut will already be familiar with the tang of lactic acid. The lactic acid is what allows fermentation to be a successful means of preservation as it acts like a sort of security guard, killing off any pathogenic microorganisms that could try to invade your product. This little feature is also what makes lacto-fermentation fun to play with as you’re pretty safe, even if you’re a newbie. The general consensus is that if your final product smells putrid, don’t consume it. But I’m pretty sure common sense is common enough to prevent such a thing anyway.

Why bother making your own pop?

When I first got onto my kick of trying to make everything I could possibly come up with directions or a recipe for, I had people say to me, “You know, you can just go to the store and buy a bottle of pop [bar of soap/loaf of bread/etc.]! Hahaha!”

I already knew that.

There are a ton of reasons for making your own pop, the smallest reason being that it’s fun (though I may have a different idea of “fun” than a lot of people do, I guess). Making it is definitely cheaper than buying it, and really, you shouldn’t buy pop anyway. It’s terrible for you. But the homemade stuff really isn’t that bad for you since you get to control the level of sugar (and most of it is consumed by the yeast or lactobacillus anyway), and lactic acid has the added bonus of helping you with your digestion, just like it does when you eat yogurt. If they made a tv commercial for this kind of pop, they would have those belly dancing squares in front of people’s bodies while they drank it, just like that popular yogurt’s ad… but that commercial is really annoying, so hopefully they wouldn’t. Either way, you catch my drift.

There are so many different recipes out there for homemade pop, and if you look around hard enough for the ingredients, you can make just about any flavour you like. This particular recipe is kind of like a fizzy lemonade with a bit of a creamy feel to it. It’s only slightly effervescent, so it doesn’t burn your nose like some store-bought pop will. I love it and so does my two year old. My husband is always my toughest critic in my homemade adventures, and he deemed it “alright”, but he still drinks Coke on a semi-regular basis, so I will take that as a pretty good assessment coming from him.

Anyway, I will now stop talking and give you the recipe for…

Lacto-Fermented Fizzy Lemonade

Homemade lacto-fermented pop

Begin by making the Base Soda (Essentially this will be your “starter” to make the pop fizzy):

  • 1/2 cup fruit juice (I used peach mango flavoured Five Alive, but go ahead and use whatever citrus based juice you want here)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (I used regular white sugar, but you could probably use something like Agave Nectar, Coconut Sugar, or organic/raw sugar. I’d stay away from brown sugar or molasses because of the strong flavors and don’t use honey as the antibacterial properties will throw the cultures off balance.)
  • 2 cups filtered, chlorine-free water (To make sure there is no chlorine which is important if you use city water, either let your water sit overnight on the counter in an open container or boil and cool it– the chlorine will evaporate in both cases. You can always use bottled water if you want, but I don’t usually see the point in paying for a bottle of water when it comes out of your tap already.)
  • 1/4 cup whey (previously gathered)

Heat the juice and sugar to a simmer and remove from heat. Add the filtered water and mix. When the temperature has reached about 100° (you’ll be able to stick your clean finger in and hold it there comfortably for a count of ten), stir in the whey. Pour this into a preferably sterilized quart mason jar and seal the lid. Put the jar in a warm spot and leave for 3 – 5 days, depending on the temperature (the warmer it is, the less time you’ll have to sit on it). Check the jar every day by loosening the lid and resealing; when the fermentation starts to work, you will hear a little ffsstjust like when you open a pop bottle. Give it another couple of days after this appearance of gas being released to let it work up well. (DO check the jar every day and release the carbon dioxide {in the brewing world, this is called burping but… ew} as there is a potential danger of the jar exploding. The chances of this are pretty small if your temperature isn’t crazy warm and since there is a lot of headspace in the mason jar at this point and, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, they say.)

Once the base soda is ready, you will move on to phase II. For this phase, you will need:

  • Your jar of base soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cups filtered water

In a bowl or large measuring cup capable of holding at least 4 cups, mix the soda base, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Take two or three clean 1 L bottles with good, tight screw tops (old pop bottles are good for this and the glass grolsch style bottles are my favorite – I hoard them compulsively) and using a funnel, pour the mixture in evenly among them. Pour the 2 cups of water into the same bowl to save any dregs remaining and divide this water equally among the bottles. Seal them up and put them in a warm place for another 2 days or so, then chill it and drink it!

I know this seems like a lot of work for a litre and a half of pop. But there really is something kind of magical in the alchemy of it all that you might find as intriguing as I did, a little bit of kitchen witchery that might spark your interest in all things fermented or cultured. It would also be a great experiment to share with your kids — I know I would’ve loved this when I was one! I urge you to go forth and multiply… your cultures.

And enjoy! As usual, we would love to hear your success stories. What flavors did you try? 

– Joc

 

Sources:
Cultures for Health – What is Lacto-fermentation?
Recovering Vegetarian – Lacto-fermented Soda (No Kefir Grains)

 

 

 

 

 

Cork Board Message Center: A Weekend Project

Cork Board Message Center: A Weekend Project

How to make a cork-board/chalkboard message center using pot rest trivets

I have a new fridge. It’s shiny and stainless steely and I love to see it gleaming when I look into my kitchen. And I would like for it to remain visible this time.

Normally, my fridge door is a catch-all spot for pictures, takeout menus, and miscellaneous papers that might be important (don’t know what to do with it? Grab a magnet and pop it up!), and I’m starting to get tired of that kind of clutter. Opening my last fridge was a daunting task involving some careful strategic planning lest the action trigger an avalanche of cards, grocery lists and unpaid bills. I rarely got a snack without cursing. Since we just moved into our new house and I’m not even remotely close to unpacking boxes, I figured now was as good a time as any to set up a new spot to organize these little bits of miscellany.

I had a few ideas of what I wanted, and they all involved cork. Being busy and somewhat strapped for cash, I didn’t want to spend a ton of time being finicky on details or hunting for materials, and of course I wanted the materials to be cheap. Those criteria in mind, I cast about the interwebs for some inspiration, and this is what I came up with.
cork board chalk board message center

What you’ll need to make this Cork Board Message Center:

  • Cork trivets/hot pot rests 
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Sponge brush
  • Poster strips
  • Thumbtacks
  • Chalk

I used four trivets to make my message center, but because this is a very simple setup, you can use as many — or as few — as you want. On that same token, you can add and subtract trivets as you need or want, and inexpensively, too: I got these bad boys at the dollar store, two for a buck fifty. I think I’ll probably end up adding more to my message center as time goes on… but largely because I don’t trust myself to not overflow the few that I have already.

cork board chalk board message centerNow that you have your trivets, paint as many pieces with the chalkboard paint as you like. I painted two: one in black and the other in a grey/taupe sort of color. I left the other two trivets plain, but you could get even fancier and paint them pretty colors, using acrylic or toll paints. (I actually intended to do this, but I liked the neutral colors that the plain cork afforded and so I left it alone… totally not because I am lazy.) I used Martha Stewart Chalkboard Paint because that is what Tracy happened to have kicking around her house (merge your craft supplies when you can!) but I’m sure any brand would work just as well.

Using one sponge brush per color, apply at least two coats of paint, one vertically and the other horizontally, with at least an hour of drying time in between. I stopped at two coats, and while you can write on them without any trouble, an extra layer or two of paint would make the surface a bit harder if you wanted it to be.

Once the paint is all dry, find your layout by arranging the pieces on the floor until they please you. Hold them up to the wall to figure out where you want them to go and make a wee pencil mark for each one to remind you of the placement. When you’re doing this part, it does help to have someone with you to make sure they are straight. And don’t rely on the advice of a two year old, because let me tell you, they will just shout “YEAH!” when you ask if it’s straight, whether it is or not.

Cork board trivet message center
I realize that a shot of this message center in the midst of a nicely decorated and organized kitchen would give you better incentive to make it than this close-up does, but I currently do not have those circumstances available to shoot in. I will ask you to kindly use your imagination this time!

Your layout selected, you can now peel the backing off of your Poster Strips and stick them to your cork pieces. Make sure you affix the correct side: the tape should have a side marked “wall side”, and you will, as you may have assumed, want that part to stick to the wall. All you have to do now is peel the backing off of that wall side, press the trivet to the wall where you wanted it to go, and… that’s it. You can go ahead and stick all your fridge decorations on there with some push pins and make a few notes on the chalkboards with some chalk.
I already have some plans in mind for future trivets: I would like to paint a few with magnetic chalkboard paint so I can still use my favorite magnets, and I’d like to figure out a way to keep a piece of chalk handy for notes. I will have to be careful, though… this is so easy and cheap to make that I can totally see my kitchen walls slowly becoming covered in cork.

What kind if improvements will you make to yours? Can’t wait to see!

– Joc

All-Natural DIY Baby Wipes & Solution

All-Natural DIY Baby Wipes & Solution

How to make toxin-free baby wipes at home for cheap!

Hi there my lovely little crafties!

Today’s project is an easy peasy, all-natural baby wipes solution to be used with cloth wipes. I choose to make my own wipes for several reasons.

Most importantly:

  1. I prefer to avoid putting unknown ingredients (chemicals) on the most sensitive parts of my little girl’s body.
  2. Commercial wipes can be expensive and these reusable wipes are very cost effective.
  3. They’re a super-easy way to reduce the amount of waste we put out into the world every day. 
Natural Homemade Cloth Baby Wipes and Solution
Everything you’ll need to make your natural baby wipes!

For the wipes themselves, I use old flannelette receiving blankets (I find them used for $2.50 at a local consignment shop, or if you prefer you can use brand spanking new flannelette from the fabric store) and cut them up into rectangles. It’s better if you use pinking shears or a crimped rotary cutter to minimize fraying at the edges. One receiving blanket’s worth of wipes will last you quite a while. They may stain a bit but that’s OK! I like to store them in an old commercial wipes container for convenience. If that is the route you choose, keep that in mind when cutting the fabric so your wipes fit nicely inside. You can also use baby wash cloths but I find they’re bigger than they need to be which means more laundry. And we would never want that.

For the solution you only need a few ingredients. The variations are endless but I tend to keep it simple with filtered water (from a Britta is fine), essential oils and castile soap. You can add vegetable oils as well such as olive oil for added moisturizing effects but be sure to shake your bottle each time you use it because the oil floats.

Wipes solution recipe:

  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 tsp Castile Liquid Soap
  • a few drops of Lavender Essential Oil(Lavender oil is the only essential oil deemed safe for use on a baby’s skin but it should always be diluted as it is in this recipe. Not only does it smell nice, but it is astringent and inhibits bacteria while simultaneously soothing red or inflamed skin.)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

Again, you can play around with this recipe a lot and make it your own. These proportions are approximate. You can add things like vinegar (which will also help inhibit the growth of mildew) or steep the water with some chamomile tea for further astringency. Add aloe vera gel for an added soothing bonus. Some recipes you will find around the web call for tea tree oil, but I prefer to avoid the use of tea tree on my baby as it can cause irritation if improperly used and is also toxic if ingested. It’s just better to be safe than sorry in that arena.

To use, shake the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray on the wipes as needed. You can also pour directly onto the flannelette wipes you put into your container. I was doing this for a while but you have to be careful because it can go musty. I say stick with the spray bottle!

 photo 1c25f338-a15d-4d47-b852-23e0e8d1840d_zpsad3087f7.jpg
I like to keep my wipes separate from the regular laundry so they don’t stain anything. (And I’m a chronic labeler.)

You’re going to want to wash your wipes…

I use this handy dandy foot pedal-operated garbage can for the soiled ones. If you want to take it a step further like I did, you can make a washable vinyl liner to go inside (perhaps that will be another post). Then all you have to do is take the whole deal and turn it inside out into the washer and you’ll never have to touch the pee-pee / poopy wipes. There are mixed opinions on this method of cleaning but I see nothing wrong with washing them with your regular laundry in warm water. (I  make sure any solids get tossed with the diaper.) I suggest washing them in a sensitive laundry soap such as Nellie’s Laundry Soda (a product I adore, by the way) since you’ll be using them on baby’s ultra-sensitive skin. I just chuck them in with my babe’s stuff a few times a week. If you use cloth diapers then you’re all set, just wash the wipes with them. Finish in the dryer on any setting your little heart desires.

And there you go. You’re all set to clean your kid’s butt with nature.

Have fun!

-Tracy

And the New Girls Said…

And the New Girls Said…

Well, hello there! Greetings and Salutations! Welcome! It’s lovely to meet you!

…what’s that?

Who are we?

 photo 9d37cf0d-6dc0-418d-8a81-18ea56cc1a40_zpsc7f6f1cd.jpg
Well, in the most basic of answers: we are Tracy and Joc. We are sisters, we are wives and mothers, and we love to make things with our own two hands.

You will, however, allow me to wax a bit more poetic on the topic.

We are two of four very close-knit sisters. We are both married to wonderful men and we each have ourselves a small and adorable kid. We are devoted wholeheartedly to our families and to their care. This means we spend long (and sometimes thankless) hours trying to find the best way to make “healthy” mean the same as “delicious”, we like to strive for green and natural if we can, and if we think we can make something at least as good as what we can buy in the store, then we’re definitely going to try.

Despite our lofty ideals, however, we are not — and do not subscribe to the myth of — Super Moms. Our houses are not ultra-organized. Our families do not only eat organic. We did not cloth diaper our children. We suffer moments of frustration and rage and anguish and despair, just like any other parent, and we occasionally lean on the promise of a “Victory Lap drink” (you know… when the kids finally go to bed). But even though we do not belong in the ranks of Martha Stewart, we do place the highest priority on making sure our families get the best of us.

All parents have their ways of staying glued together in the face of the hurricane that is parenthood, and the reason we are not a pair of gibbering messes is largely due to the fact that we are have supportive husbands who give us time to indulge in creative outlets. We have a passion for arts and crafts and a weakness for pretty things, and if we don’t each have some kind of a project half-finished somewhere in the corners of our homes, then it’s only because we’re just about to start one. We are mostly self-taught and love the conquest of learning a new skill if we hit a roadblock, and if you’ve ever googled the phrase “How to make…”, then we will all get along splendidly.

How did we get into crafting?

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Tracy’s artistic genius shows itself at an early age.

Tracy and I came from the kind of home that facilitated craftiness: lots of kids, a stay-at-home Mom who sewed and baked and knitted a bit, and an abundance of glue, paper, crayons, and “How To” books. One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was to pore over the pages of our “Make & Do” edition of the Childcraft series and do my best to replicate the projects therein. I also liked to try and knit (though my laborious efforts barely amounted to more than a crooked and holey square), and to sew using Mom’s old Singer that she had shown us all how to use. Baking was always something I wanted to do and pestered Mom to let me as often as I could, even going so far as to try it on my own before she was out of bed in the morning, an experiment that was never successful nor applauded. However, by the time I was eight or nine, I was turning out perfect sponge cakes and chocolate chip cookies beyond reproof. I was — and pretty much am now — a dabbler. It didn’t really matter to me what I was making; I just liked to create.

Tracy was very much the same, though her brainchildren tended to manifest more through the medium of sewing and clothing.  She always had a style of her own, wearing her somewhat outlandish combinations with an air of purple and linen, which Mom good-naturedly allowed.  Tracy’s vision was not to be tampered with, and if a well-meaning adult ever tried to help her with whatever she was doing she would stubbornly refuse their assistance, snapping, “I can do it my own elf!” And she always did.  I remember one of Tracy’s earliest projects: an angel doll that was meant to top a Christmas tree which she had made after watching a crafting TV show. Nothing daunted by their technical jargon and perfect measurements, she went with what she thought would look good.  Satisfied, she wrapped the finished project up as a gift for Mom who proudly displayed it on the tree. Mind you, her doll looked very little like the final product from the show, but for a 5 year old, I’d say it was pretty darn good. Tracy just had sewing in her blood.

These early projects and little successes (and failures) built up over the years and have amounted to a level of crafting that we are both pretty pleased with. Tracy is still the expert in sewing while I became married to knitting, and on these points we do not really cross over. I can’t sew a straight line to save my life and Tracy says she would go crazy from lack of patience if she tried to knit. While I wouldn’t call us professionals, I can tell you with certainty that Tracy has sold many of her one-of-a-kind bags and accessories and I’ve had lots of folks ask me to knit for them or teach/help them to knit. While these two may be our pet crafts, that doesn’t stop us from making as much as we can churn out of our hot little hands by whatever technique we can manage. The satisfaction of creation is almost unequalled and I’m vaguely beginning to think it might be giving me a little bit of a God complex.

So what are we doing here at Little Boozy Homemakers?

We came together here because we want to share with you our passion for all things handmade. We have decided to bring to you our little victories, our successes, our tricks for making life that much more fun or convenient. Some of the things you are likely to encounter in our posts will include (but certainly not be limited to):

  • Cooking and baking: our favorite recipes with which you can replace some of the prepackaged food that we all tend to rely on.
  • Cleaning products: greener methods for cleaning your home that will let you save a few bucks.
  • Kids and babies: everything from kid-friendly snacks and baby foods to homemade diaper wipe solution and toddler activities distractions.
  • Sewing, knitting, needle-felting: How-to’s and video tutorials on techniques, patterns and projects
  • Skin and hair care: some options more than drug store stuff using ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen.
  • Brewing and fermenting: Oh yes. We call ourselves “boozy” for a good reason.

I feel like I’ve forgotten some. But you know what? If I remember them, we will be likely to blog them and so if you read along with us, you’ll find them all out eventually.

So, dear readers, friends, fellow parents and fellow crafters, welcome aboard! We hope you find out how to do something you’ve always wanted to do. We hope you find a craft here that inspires you to pick up your needles or paintbrushes or wooden spoons and create! We hope you’ll speak up and tell us what worked, what didn’t, what kinds of things you love to make. We hope you have fun reading along with us. After all, at the end of the day, the fun is what keeps you sane… am I right?

May the craft be with you.

– Joc

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