Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I can see the finish line!

I feel like I am in that last stretch of a triathlon. I have completed the swim and bike portion and I am almost finished with the run. Everything hurts, the legs are cramping, my back is aching, I am tired but with just two more weeks to go I can see the finish line! It's that part of the race when despite all the pain and tiredness you can't give up now! The end is in sight....

Just two more weeks...where did this pregnancy go?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Homemade Coffee Creamer

One thing that I love is my coffee creamer (and so does the husband) and all the different flavors it comes in! However, paying almost $4 for coffee creamer (the store brand is not the same as the band names!) was making me wonder if I could make it cheaper. Plus have you ever read the list of ingredients in that stuff? It's not even made with milk! So I set off for Google to see what coffee creamer recipes I could come up with. I found two that I thought we may like and made both.

The first one I made was from Deliciously Organic. Carrie has a fabulous website full of wonderful recipes that I have tried and loved! I made the cinnamon strudel coffee creamer which consisted of the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of almond extract 

However, I didn't have all of the ingredients. So I improvised and came up with this recipe:

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup half and half creamer
  • 4 tbs maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs vanilla almond milk 
Instructions: whisk together milk, cream, syrup and cinnamon in a pan over medium heat. When the mixture began to steam, remove from heat and add in the vanilla and almond extracts. Then strain through a mesh sieve (I used 2 layers of cheese cloth) if you don't do this, the ground cinnamon will sink to the bottom of the creamer. Pour into a glass jar and store in the fridge. 

I couldn't wait to try my creamer the next morning, it smelled so good! It was delicious, but thin. If you ever noticed the store bought coffee creamer, it's a thicker consistency, this was thin and I wasn't used to it! So I tried the other recipe I found using a different base. 

This second recipe came from The Joy of Clean Eating. I have been following Sarah and Kristy's blog for about a year now and have also made some wonderful foods! Here is their recipe for their base coffee creamer: 
  • 1 1/4 cups of condensed milk
  • 1 cup milk 
  • 1-2 tbs sweetener (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp thickener (such as cornstarch, arrow root, etc) this is also optional. 
Homemade Condensed Milk
So I dug through the pantry and found a can of condensed milk, added 1 cup of milk, and 1/2 tsp of cornstarch (hoping this would help the 'thinness' I experienced in the last batch). Mixed ingredients in a pan over medium heat, let simmer, removed from heat and then added in 1 tbs of vanilla extract. Mixed together and poured into a glass jar and set in the fridge. I opted out of the sweetener, since the condensed milk seemed sweet enough. 

The next morning, I eagerly tried my new creamer and fell in love. The thickness was just right! It is a bit sweet, so next time I make it I will add more milk to help dilute the condensed milk more. Also on The Joy of Clean Eating they have a recipe for homemade condensed milk using a 1/2 cup of raisins and a cup of milk. I have yet to get this to taste right. Each time I make it, my coffee tastes like raisins, not what I'm going for! If I get it right, I'll be sure to post it!

My Choice: So after trying both, I would say add the 1/2 tsp of cornstarch to Deliciously Organic's recipe to make it a bit thicker. However, if you are looking for a quick recipe, The Joy of Clean eating is much quicker (if you just use the canned condensed milk). I am also on the lookout for a powdered version of coffee creamer. So stay tuned!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

So with number 3 quickly approaching I've come to the sharp realization that I will not be able to just run up to the store to get something. I am going to have to be a bit more organized. So I thought my answer was my free subscription to Amazon Mom; however, with their changes I'm not sure I can justify the $79 a year for free shipping. So I've started thinking about ways to make my life a bit more simpler, a bit more green, and more cost effective. Less is more, right?

We do a lot of laundry around here, with a 2 year old and a 1 year old, plus a husband who works in the concrete industry....the laundry piles are intense. Not to mention washing cloth diapers every other day. Tide was my go-to-detergent, never doubted it's ability to clean. However; the price tag was getting to be a bit much. Roughly $25 for 120 loads, which lasted us about 10 weeks (we do on average 12 loads a week, that's not counting cloth diapers).

So I tried Target's brand and it seemed to work and the price was better at roughly $8 for 64 loads. I figured the real test would be when spring time rolled around and we had to deal with getting grass stains out. However, when the entire family came down with the stomach virus, it got the clothes clean, but left the puke smell in my babies clothes and blankets. This is not cool. So back to the drawing board to find a cheap detergent that I could easily have access to without paying for shipping.

My internet search lead me to making your own laundry detergent. I used the recipe from two different blogs, DIY Naturally and the The Eco-Friendly Family.

The ingredients, minus the oxiclean

Grated Ivory soap

1 bar of Ivory 

Everything mixed in!

Stored in a container, with a tablespoon. Later, when I made four more batches,
I  put it in  two large, clean coffee containers

 I used Ivory, it was easy to find, but could only buy it in the 10 pack for about $5. Using a cheese grater I easily shaved the bar of soap to nothing. Then mixed in the rest of the ingredients. When mixing it, I noticed it had the best smell, it smelled clean, crisp, and fresh! I put the detergent in a sealed container that I had. When doing laundry, it calls for 1-2 tablespoons (depending on the size of the load). This recipe makes 32-64 loads depending on how many tablespoons you use. DIY Naturally does the math and it works out to be roughly $2.98 for 32-64 loads. Now that is my kind of price!

I did the laundry and added a tablespoon to a medium sized load of my babies' clothes, they came out clean and smelling great! I was so excited about the end result that I immediately went and made a total of five batches!

UPDATE: I just ran out of the laundry detergent that I made! So those five bathes lasted me 7 months!!!!