What’s Up?

So.

I’ve been gone again.

Busy.

Life happened.

I’ve been working.

Doing school.

Helping at home.

Catering my cousin’s bridal shower. (Loose use of the word “catering.”)

Attending my first birth.

Photographing my first birth.

Taking the knife to my closet.  (The old ugly stuff has to go!)

So.

First things first.  I am working at a fun little salon in town two days a week, four hours a day, as a receptionist, and cleaning.  Actually, this is the first week I have worked two days.  Which I am really excited about.  I like it.

School and life it pretty much normal, so not a whole lot to say about that, except that I’m loving school, as usual.

The shower went well.  It was great to see everybody up north.  For the dessert at the shower, I made mint chocolate brownie bites, lemon poppy seed cake, and Mom made coffee punch.  Yum.

Last night, my good friend had her sweet baby, and I was blessed to have been invited to the birth, and it pleased God to have all the circumstances happen exactly right so I could go!  I am so blessed to have gotten to be there, and it was wonderful.  She had asked me and another young lady to take some photos during the birth, which I found quite enjoyable.  What a blessing to record that special moment!

My closet has been getting too full. Not just that, but after doing the Botkin ladies’ beauty webinar, I have really been thinking about what I am wearing, and trying to look nice.  To be honest, some of my old clothes aren’t really nice.  So I have decided to start paring down my closet, then filling it with things that look nice and that will look good on me.  I emptied a whole bunch yesterday morning, which made me surprisingly slightly apprehensive?  anxious?  teary? not quite sure which.  But the first cut is the deepest, right?

So, that’s what’s been going on.  I’ll be hoping to post a full post about the shower tomorrow when I process the pictures, or at least in the very near future.  So look for that.  In the meantime, here are some photos of the closet-cleaning!

 

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The first pile to go

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One side of my closet, after the first clean-out (hopefully not the last)

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Fun new hairstyle I tried, and wore all day, and it didn’t give me a headache!  Which made me SO HAPPY!  (I usually get a headache when I where my hair pulled back, usually at the base or near the base of my head.)  What do you think?

Friday Night

“You know what, in hindsight, I think I made a bad decision today.”

Dad’s comment made everyone look up from the conversation and their dinner plates.  I, for one, had my heart in my throat.

“I was near a chocolatier today, and they had a sign in the window for chocolate-covered bacon, and I didn’t try any.”

Talk about a sigh of relief!

“And now I am just wondering about it.”

I glanced down at the plate still more than half full of bacon on the table.

“You know what,”  I said, “I’ll make you some.”

And so I did, after dinner.

And then I did something I really wasn’t sure that I’d ever do.

I TRIED CHOCOLATE COVERED BACON.

And you know what?  It was surprisingly good.

 

Has anyone else tried any bacon/chocolate combos?  What did you think?  Any bacon desserts?  Let me know!

 

P.S.  I made this soap this week, and it turned out well.  Mine is a little thick, but I could fix this.

Lately

I haven’t posted a good post lately.  I really feel like it’s been very “touch and go.”  No real substance.  Just a quick write-up with no real feeling, and then photos or a recipe.

So.  What have I been up to?

School.

Cooking.

Reading.

Placing our first Azure Standard order.

Using lots of coconut milk.

Eating chocolate.

Having fun with friends.

Ironing.

Poor little Lucy puppy has been scratching like crazy, poor thing.  And I had just given her flea medicine!  So we took her to the vet yesterday, and he put her on some medicine.  She seems to not be as itchy as she was, which makes me SO happy.  I really don’t like it when she doesn’t feel good.  My little puppy love.

The black flies/gnats have been bothering the chickens.  They buzz all around the chickens, and especially bother their faces, making it hard for the chickens to breathe.  If they get too bad, they can kill the chickens (we lost one a few years ago to them).

But there is an easy repellant: vanilla.  So today I mixed up some vanilla and water in a spray bottle and went out to spray the chickens. (Sometimes I think it’s like putting perfume on the chickens.  It is nice to have sweet-smelling chickens, though, so I try to dismiss that thought.  :))

At first I had the spray bottle on mist, but once the chickens found out what I was doing and decided that they didn’t like it, and then they started running.  So the mist no longer really worked.  Then I had a great idea:

Use stream.

This almost immediately made it more fun – it could be related to a first-person shooter game, but better, because it’s real.  It could be compared to a squirt gun fight – but better, because NO ONE SHOOTS BACK.  So I didn’t get wet.  And I wasn’t running that quickly (more fast-walking) behind that chickens to get close enough to squirt them.  It turns out that if you pursue the chickens for long enough, they just run into the coop.

Bonus round!

Now I have a whole bunch of chickens in a tight space to spray.  Talk about efficient!

School has been going really well.  I am loving it!  I thought that learning some of the more technical stuff (like anatomy and physiology) was going to be difficult, but I am not finding it that difficult at all.  The midwifery module that I am working on now is on caesarean sections and prevention. 

I just finished reading Joel Salatin’sFolks, This Ain’t Normal.”  I liked it.  It discussed how our culture, compared to history, really isn’t normal, from the food we eat to how we get entertainment.

I started working on the reading program from the library.  It’s been going pretty quickly, since I do so much reading, especially for school.  I am almost halfway done.

And I think that’s about it.

So what have you been doing?

Lots of Lotion

I love lotion.  At least, I love making lotion.  I don’t use it a whole lot, mostly because I forget.

I first tried making lotion, oh, a year and a half ago.  And it didn’t quite work – the water and oils separated.

Then I thought about whipping it.  I had heard someone talking about whipping it while it cooled.  I thought, “Well, maybe that will keep the oils and water together.”

So right before our trip I whipped up a batch, using the same recipe that failed last time.  And I whipped it while it cooled.  At least, most of the time.

And it worked!  It made a lovely lotion with a gorgeous consistency.

When we got back, I made another batch of lotion, but this time I altered the recipe slightly to use some herbs and and essential oil that I knew where good for eczema.  The lotion came together as expected, and I think it does help with the itching, although my eczema patches seems to be growing (possibly), but this may have nothing to do with the cream.

On Monday I made this magnesium lotion for my mom (I’m using it too!).  I was amazed how it thickened so quickly with the stick blender.  I could see the color changing as I blended it.  As a side note, I think I used 3 parts sweet almond/olive oil, and 1 part shea butter/coconut oil with a little cocoa butter mixed in.

Then yesterday I made Tangerine Chocolate Hand Lotion for a friend’s birthday.  I was really happy with how it turned out – it smelled good enough to eat!

Here is the recipe, adapted from the one given to me by a friend.

Try making lotion.  It’s not hard at all.

Tangerine Chocolate Lotion

1/4 c. water
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. sweet almond oil (or other liquid oil, see note)
1/8 c. cocoa butter (I used the wafers)
1/8 c. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. grated beeswax (pellets would probably work)
11-12 drops tangerine essential oil (or whatever scent you want)

(Note:  You can use any liquid oil(s) that you want in place of the almond oil (1/4 c.) and any firm oils in place of the other firm oils (1/4 c. total). Just know that the color of the oils will affect the finished product’s color.  I wanted a whiter lotion, so I picked clearer oils.)

Melt the oils and beeswax together in a pot.  Meanwhile, combine the water and baking soda together in a pot.  As soon as it boils, combine it with the oil mixture, whisking all the while.  Transfer to a bowl, and let cool for a little while (I can’t remember – 15-20 minutes, maybe 1/2 hour?).  Add the essential oils.  Using a stick blender, blend for a few moments.  Let rest awhile, and smell.  How does it smell?  Does it need more tangerine oil?  Add and mix until it smells good.  If it smells good initially, just beat it once more.  Pour into a jar or other clean container.

Alternately, pour the warm oil/water mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer, and beat with that until desired consistency is reached, stopping to smell occasionally and add essential oils accordingly.

Enjoy!

 

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Making the eczema lotion – the herbs I used, chamomile and violet leaf

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The essential oils I used (glad I took a picture, otherwise I wouldn’t have remembered!)

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All done!

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Cousins

On Thursday my aunt and two youngest cousins on my dad’s side came down to spend a few days at our home.  There was lots of jokes, snow ball fights, games, and Nerf gun wars.  And talking.  And eating, of course.  🙂

We also celebrated Noah’s birthday while they were here, since it was last weekend and we didn’t get to celebrate it then.  Happy birthday, Noah!  It’s hard to believe that he is 15 already…

I didn’t take quite as many photos as I would have liked to, since I was still feeling under the weather.  Anyways, here are a few from their stay.

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Drake playing Hannah’s ukulele (he makes me laugh)

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Looking at books

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Getting ready to sing (I really liked how these turned out, so there are several :))

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*blow*

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Drawing for “Cranium

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We had just picked up “Cranium” at a resale shop a few weeks ago, and got to try it out this weekend!

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Smiles

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Hannah really enjoyed getting to snuggle with Lucy

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Ready for the Nerf war (or tag – I think they were playing Nerf tag)

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Their “cool-guy” poses

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These next few are just plain fun with cousins 🙂

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Hannah and Lucy snuggling again

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Thanks for coming!  And come back soon!  ❤

The Valentine’s Day Incident and Herbed Rolls

I was trying to be the “good” babysitter, even though I wasn’t really babysitting.  I had just made a fresh batch of chocolate cupcakes, and, since we were going to watch a movie while Mom and Dad watched theirs (Valentine’s date), I thought I would be fun and let my siblings have cupcakes in the basement.

But I had this feeling of apprehension as I put some cupcakes on a plate.  They were chocolate…but hey, we had eaten other desserts in the basement without incident.  What difference would cupcakes be? Still.

I even made Meiling and Noah use forks.  Just to be safe.  Little did I know…

I had unwrapped Meiling’s cupcake and given it to her on a plate, and was working on prepping Noah’s, when suddenly their was a commotion.

Lucy had a cupcake – a chocolate one, at that – in her mouth.  Drake was doing his best to prevent her from eating it, while holding her.

I hastily set down Noah’s cupcake and grabbed the cupcake top (she wasn’t lucky enough to grab the whole thing) out of her mouth.  I squeezed as much frosting out of her “beard” as I could, then let her go.

“Take her upstairs!” I said to Drake, as I protected the cupcake-laden area of the floor.  Of course the cupcake had landed frosting-side down.  I sent Noah upstairs for a bowl (also, the frosting-side-down had landed right in the middle of the toy cars and road rug that were all over the floor) to put the dirty cars in.

And then we started laughing.  And laughing.

“Well,” I said to Drake, “At least her breath smells better now!”

There was just something so funny about the whole business.  I had to go interrupt Mom and Dad.  And, laughing, tell them the whole thing.

Lucy had hopped up on Meiling’s lap, since Meiling was sitting on a low chair, and snatched the cupcake right off the plate.

The little stinker.

Lucy didn’t ingest enough chocolate to make her sick, and we got the ensuing mess cleaned up quickly and got our movie rolling shortly.

 

Recently I picked up The Joy of Gluten-Free Sugar-Free Baking at the library.  I was really thrilled, since it uses all sorts of nut and seed flours.  I tried one of their roll recipes, and they turned out wonderfully!  Their waffle recipe was AWESOME, also.  I am hoping to try another recipe before I return the book, and before the week is out.

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My rolls

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Two Cookies and Two Chilies (and a Kitchen Chore)

Today Drake and I ran several errands together.  We had quite a bit of fun, even though the errands weren’t all that exciting.  Drake’s a lot of fun. 🙂

A few days ago Meiling and I had some kitchen time together.  Mom had purchased 2 bricks of cheese, not realizing that we already had 2 at home.  Meiling and I started our time together with shredding the cheese.  We used the food processor, which, when you shred cheese in it, makes these tasty little cheese balls, which we eat with great satisfaction.  Mmmm…  We don’t usually use the food processor for cheese, since it can be a bit of a pain to clean, but this was a great excuse to pull it out.

We also worked on spaghetti, which was our dinner.  (No photos, so I won’t elaborate.)

Last on our list was to bake cookies.  We made chocolate chip cookies and flourless chocolate fudge cookies.  The chocolate chip cookies I made using our family favorite recipe, altering it to be grain-free and made with coconut sugar.  The flourless chocolate fudge cookies were a recipe was one I found online.  Right after I made it, I didn’t like them, and neither did Drake.  (Noah liked them, though.)  I tried them today, and they were much better.  It’s surprising how much difference a few days can make.

Today I made two chilies – our regular chili recipe, a slow-cooker recipe from ATK’s family cookbook, and a buffalo chicken chili I found on the internet.  It’s in celebration of my dad coming home – he has been out of town.  They (the chilies) are both really, really good.  The buffalo chicken chili is spicy, although that is a bit of a given, isn’t it?

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Bricks of cheese

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Shredded cheese

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Sisters ❤

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Chocolate Chippers

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And the other kind with a really long name

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Today – buffalo chicken chili…

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and our regular chili (BAD picture – but I didn’t feel like trying again)

What I Want to Eat When it’s February (and More!)

Hi!

It’s me, Allison!

(It feels like so long since I have been on here that feel like I need to reintroduce myself.)

I’m still here.

Really.

What’s up?

Not a whole lot exciting or new here.  Just school.  And my midwifery course.  It has been so wonderful!  I love it.  I am wrapping up (or should be – but I am blogging :)) the first nutrition module, and enjoying it heartily.  It’s been great.

A few days ago I came down with a little bit of a cold (this is starting to sound like the story of my life, isn’t it?  It really isn’t, though).  I have a little sore throat and a little congestion, and a LOT of tired.  So this afternoon I ended up taking a nap.  Hopefully it will help me feel better faster.

When I woke up, I glanced at the clock, and it was time to start dinner!  Still rather groggy, I got up to head to the kitchen.

Then Mom came in.  And she basically said, “We have all these leftovers.  I would be so much happier (and I think it would be better) if you didn’t make dinner and we just ate those.”

So I am not making dinner.  Which makes me really happy, since I am still a little groggy.

So I thought I would post.

 

I have been thinking.  (Again, I try to do this once in a while.)  About what I want to eat when I am back to eating “normal-ish” things.  After I introduce the things I haven’t been eating slowly.  And these are some of the things I have been craving/wanting/thinking about.

1.  Brownies.  A whole pan (NOT!).  There is an AWESOME looking recipe in Practical Paleo.  I really want to try it (both making and eating!)

2. Baconaise.  Again, another recipe that is in Practical Paleo.  We went to a friend’s home, and they made an AWESOME broccoli salad with it.  And I want it again.  And it might be fun to try some other things with baconaise. (Tuna salad?  Egg salad? Any suggestions?  It has to be grain-free.)

3.  Egg casserole.  And quiche.  Something different for breakfast.  I’m getting a little tired of leftover meat.

4. Cheese.  Cheese sticks.  I miss it.

5.  Sun-dried tomatoes.  I have a jar in the fridge, and I think they would be good on a salad.

6.  A faux-Chipotle meal.  Keep thinking about it.  And I really want to try to imitate their steak.  I will say it again:  I LOVE CHIPOTLE!  Especially the cheese.  Don’t ask.

7.  Zucchini linguine noodles with tomato sauce.  And cheese!

8.  Cake.  Not sure where this craving is coming from, because I usually am not that big on cake.  Maybe because I want a baked good?

9.  Paleo French toast, like I made 2 days before I started this.  It was good.

10.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Need I say more?

11.  Peanut butter cookies.  Maybe with chocolate chips added in.

12.  A peanut butter spoon.

13.  A large peanut butter spoon with chocolate chips.

14.  Quinoa.  I want it again.  This has been even longer – several months since I had it last.

15.  Cookies, in general.  I haven’t made that many grain-free cookies.  And I need some.  (Yes, I do know the difference between “want” and “need.”  This IS a need.)

16.  Some sort of really good bar thing with a bunch of ooey-gooey toppings.  With caramel.

Well, that is it for right now.

If you have ANY suggestions of things that I should make (and eat!) when I get off this diet, I would LOVE to hear!

Well, off to work on that nutrition module.

Love,

Allison

Frost. Ice. Books.

The theme for yesterday’s 6 Lenses photo was favorite book.  So I took a large stack of books and all the necessary extras out to the-trees-in-the-pasture-across-the-road to take a picture.

Now the distance from the gate to the trees seems quite long when you are hauling a wagon containing 2 bags stuffed with books, a thermos of tea (for the pictures, not to drink), a camera bag, a quilt, and a teacup, with the other hand holding the camera.  Also, the tall grass covered with ice didn’t aid my journey.

Basically, after hauling out there and back, I was tired.  And cold.

So when I was done, I went inside and started a pot of coffee.

Then I went back outside with just my camera and macro lens to take a few pictures before I went in to have my mocha.

 

These past few days have been normal, or as close to normal as my life ever comes.  Just the norms.  School.  Chores.  Dinners.  Nothing all that exciting.

Something a bit more exciting is that the first part of my midwifery correspondence course came last week in the mail.  Mom and I ordered the first group of books that I need for it on Saturday, and I started it today.  I can’t wait for my books to arrive (the earliest I can expect them is the 18th).  Oh, I am SO looking forward to reading and learning!

I am not currently planning any desserts this week – but I am hoping that we will be able to pick up another of my favorite chocolate bars (Lindt 90%).  I finished the one I had today.  It was really good.  And now I want more.

I am planning a few new dinners for later this week, from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.  We’ll see if they make it on here.  I haven’t been posting that many savory things lately – mostly just the sweets.  🙂

Oh.  I just remembered.  I will be making Mom some coffee chocolate chip coconut milk ice cream this week, and I will hopefully make Dad some chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt.  I also owe my brother Noah a chocolate cake.  (For Christmas, I let both of my brothers choose any recipe they wanted, and I would make it for them.  Noah requested a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  Drake wanted Brazilian Black Beans.  I think I am going to make Drake’s when I come off this diet, so I can eat it.  I really like Brazilian Black Beans.)  But I probably won’t make his chocolate cake until next week.  (I need to add all three of these things to my schedule.)

Well, that’s all for now, folks!

And now, a few pictures.  (You can never tell beforehand how long this section is going to be.)

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The frozen grass I was trying to plow through

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Frost

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I should have tried to get this shot horizontally, but I guess I forgot.  Plus, this blade of grass was very close to the ground.  And normally I am not very close to the ground.  This made photographing it rather difficult.

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Thistle

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Hate these things.  Vehemently.  I was VERY careful to walk AROUND them.

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This is the photo I posted on 6 Lenses yesterday.  Couldn’t decide if I liked the vertical one…

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…or the horizontal one better.  What do you think?

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(Said with an accent) A spot of tea!

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Throwing out the tea

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Ice is SO FUN to photograph.  It has all the benefits of photographing water, except it stays much more still.  The only downside is that it is cold out.  Freezing cold.

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There is a slight focusing difference between these two photos.  Which one do you like better: 1…

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…or 2?

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SPARKLES!

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Inspired by Lime (With a Bit of Chocolate, Too!)

When I went to the grocery store the other day, I spotted several bags of lemons and limes on manager’s special.  I purchased three two-pound bags of limes.  I was planning to make limeade.

But that afternoon I didn’t feel too well, and after I juiced them, I just refrigerated the juice.  No limeade.

Then I thought.  (I try to do this every once in a while.)  It occurred to me that a nice lime coconut sorbet/ice cream would be quite tasty.  So I searched, and found a recipe.  As usual I just used it as a basic guideline, and changed it a bit.

I ended up with a lovely ice cream.  It’s only fault is that it is just not quite sweet enough.

(I checked out a book on food photography from the library, and looked at it briefly.  It has made me try harder with my food photography.)

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Mom bought several avocados for me the other day, and as usually happens, they all ripened at the same time.  So I decided to make chocolate avocado pudding.

But when I was on Immer Wachsen, I saw a recipe for Key Lime Pie, and the filling was avocado based.  I had seen an avocado-based lime pudding recipe somewhere (I think), and I had wanted to try it.  So I did. I split my avocados and made lime pudding AND chocolate pudding!

The lime pudding was pretty good.  I made it by combining all the filling ingredient recipes (minus the Irish moss).  The coconut oil formed little chunks after I refrigerated it, which I would rather not have had happen, but it is still edible.

The chocolate pudding is better.

What is really good is if you take a small spoonful of lime and a small spoonful of chocolate, and eat them together.  MMmmm!

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