Monday, April 23, 2012

400 Calorie Meals

400 Calorie Fix
Frog Legs and I had taken a trip to B&N a few weeks ago and figured out that, with joining a gym, we needed to get our diet a bit more manageable, in order to lose weight more effectively. Then we met The 400 Calorie Fix book. It really has been a great read to find out interesting facts about our favorite foods and what is really 'healthy' for you. We are trying to cut these bad habits of ours (mine is snacking and Frog Legs loves Fast Food) and thus we are going to try out a few meals from this book.

Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers
I have been dying to get more action out of my slow cooker (or crock pot as most of us call them) and this recipe was a perfect start. I had all the ingredients, and these time savers for clean up, I was ready to go.
A little preprep of ingredients while the meat and starch cooks. **You will not need to cook the peppers, they will cook on their own in the slow cooker.
Fill the slow cooker with your stuffed peppers and liquids...and top with pepper top (Cut off earlier). Cook for 4 hours. Serve.

These were pretty good. I really wished there was a lot more seasoning than they had in the recipe. Frog Legs love his hot sauce, so he added that to his. I need more spice. Next time, I think I will be adding additional flavors to add to this dish. Overall, not a bad treat.

Earth Day Activities Part II

Earth Day, being this past Saturday, got me thinking about ways to be able to become a lot more friendly to the planet. I was Pinning a few ideas on Pinterest last week and came across a few DIY projects that would be earth-friendly as well as being very low moolah to create!

My first project-and one I have been meaning to create- is DIY Homemade Laundry Detergent. I had never attempted to create my own soap of any kind and now I am actually glad I did. Not only did I learn a cheap alternative to purchasing the expensive brand I typically get, I can now make my own with very easy to get natural ingredients. This detergent is powered. If you prefer to have a liquid, I would suggest my next project (feel free to scroll down and skip this DIY idea).
What you will need is the following:
1Cup Borax 1Cup Super Washing Soda
1Bar Fels-Naptha
1/2 Tub Oxiclean (optional- but helps with tough stains)
Cheese Grater
Measuring Cup
Lg Container to store your product
First, you will need to grate the Fels-Naptha bar down until it looks like grated parmesan cheese- the finer grater side is the best I have found. The finer the better - as it is better mixed when it comes to actually using it in the washing machine.
This will take a long time....and yes, you will get tired. It is always nice to have a friend step in and assist (thank you Frog Legs, my tired arms appreciated the break). It is not necessary to have an assistant, but it is nice!
If you do it all by yourself (like I did for the second bar - i wanted a double amount), you will get buff arms - no gym membership required!!
After the bar is grated, you will need to add in the Borax, Washing Soda and Oxiclean (optional). I wanted to make a double batch, so I did two cups of the Borax and Washing Soda, another bar of the soap and the entire mini tub of Oxiclean.
When everything was all said and done, it made almost a full pitcher full - double batch. My aunt made the same detergent (single batch to try it out for herself before making double, but she has since told me she will be making another since it has worked so well on my cousins' tough laundry stains).

The second DIY Laundry detergent I made was a liquid version- no grate required!! This one was super easy. All you need are the following ingredients:
3 Tablespoons Borax
3 Tablespoons Super Washing Soda
2 Tablespoons Dish Soap (I used Palmolive Citrus Scent - since I wanted a better smell)
4 Cups HOT water - IMPORTANT that it is boiling
1 Large Container (for storage)
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoons
Combine the Borax, Washing Soda and Dish Soap in the container. Add 4 Cups of hot boiling water. Stir well. There will be a few bubbles. That is A-OK! This will not make a I used 3 times the amount for an entire pitcher (free!since I had that spare in storage). 
And there is the finished product! I could have added more but I figured this would be enough product to get me started. And, look at how much dish soap I have left. Now I can use that for more laundry detergent or dishes. 

I am sure you are asking why I choose to make both liquid and powered version of laundry detergent. Simply, I wanted to use the liquid for my more delicate clothing. I know for some of my delicates, they do not like as hard detergents as some of my more cotton pieces, so that is why I wanted to make both! You do not have to make both - however, they are both quite cheap to make and you will have a lot left over to make additional batches.

My final DIY project from this weekend was DIY Homemade Fabric Softner. This product yields a lot of leftovers so if you use your fabric softner container, you may need an additional container for extras. For this DIY, you will need the following:
6 Cups of HOT water
3 Cups White Vinegar
2 Cups Scented Hair Conditioner (optional - but I use it for the great scent!)
Large Container for Storage
Funnel - helps with transition to final containers (optional)

All you need to do is combine all ingredients into a large container - and stir well. It may not look pretty but it works so well. Now, I will say you are most certainly able to omit the conditioner and just use the basics but $1 for the conditioner I purchased at the Dollar Store, my fabric softner smells amazing!! And, with 2 oz left over, I have conditioner to use in the shower.
Final product...and it smells amazing! I had a leftover orange juice container for the leftover product. Overall, the conditioner really helps the strong scent of the vinegar. However, do not fear, the smell of the vinegar will not come through onto your fresh clean clothes!!

Hope you have enjoyed my DIY projects. Have you done any of these? Tell me...what did you think? How did yours turn out??

Earth Day Activities

I knew for Earth Day this year (Sunday, April 22nd) I wanted to incorporate something into my routine that would be environmentally friendly. I figured what better way than to get some pretty foliage for my home (more than I already have).
My first stop was at the Garden department of my local Lowe's this past Saturday. I had to make sure to incorporate plants that were not only hearty but also did not mind afternoon sun. Unfortuantely, our new spot in our complex has afternoon sun (2PM and later) so we had to be a bit more picky about the plants we choose this year. I was so proud of all of the beautiful plants and how great they turned out. They really do look amazing on my porch.

Pretty Blues....

Reds and Whites....

Orange and Yellow..

I felt so much better to have some pretty flowers to add to my porch. But, I also purchased these really pretty strawberry plants. I cannot wait to try out our first batch of strawberries!!

Strawberry Plant
He decided he wanted to have some plants in the house as well. So, he decided to buy some succulents/cactus/aloe plants. They are relatively easy to maintain (very little water) and just enjoy the warmer weather. Unfortunately, it rained all weekend, so our plants did not get to enjoy the windowsil and warm rays this weekend.
Desert Plants....
I feel so accomplished to bring some additional green to my already growing garden. What do you think? Did you love the greenery? Any sugguestions as to what plants I may get for afternoon sun (2P and onward) for my porch?

Stay Tuned for more Earth Day activities we did this weekend!!