Thursday, January 31, 2013

Where'd we go?

I know I know, it appears I have "pulled a Katie." If you don't know me well, or if you haven't known me might not know what I mean. Let me fill you dad is a dreamer and he passed that trait down to me. I am a dreamer. I get big ideas that I get excited about...and then lose interest. Call it ADHD, call it a busy life, call it lack of followthrough, call it what you like. I have been accused of it.

But let me tell you...this is not the case here, ADHD maybe, but not "pulling a Katie." I know we haven't posted all week, but people get busy. Teachers also can get obsessed with Teachers Pay Teachers check out my store! Did I mention that I am now a seller? Well I am...and let me tell takes up a lot of time for a perfectionist!

Well...what this ramble is all about is...we're still here...I haven't flaked out on my blogging adventure. I love it too much!

A few things that are coming soon...
-Hiking review of Raven Rock State Park
-Homemade Auntie Anne's Pretzel Recipe
-Homemade shower spray
-Curry Chicken Alfredo (yes, it sounds strangely delicious...because it is!)

See y'all soon!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus

As I told you all yesterday, I got a new food processor! I just could not wait to use it! The first night I got it, I tried to use it to mix my naan dough, but it was a fail - too much dough! So last night I tried again and it was an amazing success!

If you like hummus, I can promise you that you will LOVE this.

1 butternut squash
5 cloves of minced garlic
1 tbsp of ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp of salt
1 1/2 tsp of pepper
1 tbsp of lemon juice
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oli
2 tbsp of tahini
2 cans of garbanzo beans, rinsed

1. Preheat your oven to 350º

2. Cut your butternut squash in half. This will take a sharp knife and a lot of muscle. Good thing I have been working out. Scoop out all the seeds and set aside.

3. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a cookie sheet in the oven and roast for 1 hour.

4. While roasting (breath in an enjoy the smell) gather the rest of your ingredients. In your food processor add garlic, cumin, salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil and tahini. Give it a few pulses to mix it up. Then add one can of garbanzo beans and wait! Don't mix yet, even if you're excited, wait.

5. Once the squash is done roasting let cool for about 15 minutes if you're antsy or 30-60 minutes if you have time and don't want to get burned. I waited about 5 minutes and suffered the hot potato game.

6. Scoop out the squash avoiding the skin and add to the processor. Add the second can of garbanzo beans and pulse until smooth.

7. Be the first to taste so you don't poison your friends and family!

8. Enjoy with veggies, pita, leftover naan, and pretzels.

I'm sure you are asking why you set the seeds aside? To make roasted squash seeds of course!  Rinse, let soak in salt water for 30 minutes. Drain and place on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake at 350º for 15 minutes stirring half way through. Let cook and enjoy!

Kiley approves! 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My New Food Processor

Yesterday, weather affected my school day again. We had an early dismissal and I decided to get everything on my to do list done. Do you believe me? If you don't, you know me well. I spent my afternoon researching food processors and then went out (I know, the storm, I should have kept my northern butt safe at home!) and bought one.

My dad and his fiancée had given Hari and me a gift card to Bed Bath and Beyond. Hari, like the amazing fiancé he is, told me I could pick out whatever I wanted (he may have had the ulterior motive of the amazing food to come.) I have many kitchen things on my wish list: a KitchenAid mixer (I'll have to wait until I make my bridal registry,) a bread maker (mostly for the kneading mode,) an emersion blender, a food processor, a juicer (hello, expensive!) and a blender (wine smoothies, anyone?) - just to name a "few" things. Based on all of the things it can do, I decided a food processor would be the best choice for now. I can do so much with it; chop, slice, grate, knead, mix, and more! Can you tell I watched a lot of infomercials as a child?

Can't wait to get cookin' y'all!
After extensive research on ConsumerSearch, Amazon, and Good Housekeeping I found that the Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus was the best machine out there. It had the most features, the best warranty and a lot of great reviews! I was in the market for the 9 cup, but since I wanted to get cooking right away, and my local Bed Bath and Beyond only had the 11 cup, I was willing to compromise. I'm sure I won't regret it. Hummus recipe to come soon!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Crock Pot Coconut Chicken Curry with Homemade Garlic Naan

I love cooking with the Crock Pot. It's like having a personal chef for one easy payment of $24.99! So last night I gathered my ingredients did some chopping and cutting and within 30 minutes my Crock Pot was in the refrigerator ready to be slow cooked to an amazing dinner!
Serves 4-6

2lbs of skinless boneless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into cubes
3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, diced 
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 13.5 oz can of coconut milk
1 cup chicken broth
3-4 tbsp curry powder (based on taste)
1 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of kosher salt
1/2 tsp of coarse ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tbsp of cornstarch


  1. Place chicken, potatoes and onion in the Crock Pot. Add garlic, curry powder, cumin, salt and black pepper. Stir until mean and potatoes are coated.
  2. If you are preparing the night before, it is now time to put this in the refrigerator overnight. If you are ready get cooking now, let's get going to the next step now...
  3. Add coconut milk and chicken broth and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
  4. Shred chicken with a fork, but be careful not to mash the potatoes! (You can skip this step if you want your chicken to remain cubed or you are nervous about mashed potato curry!)
  5. Add red bell pepper to the Crock Pot and cook for thirty minutes. 
  6. Stir in cornstarch to thicken. Let cook for about 15 more minutes.
  7. Serve over basmati rice with naan (Want to know how to make homemade naan? I know you on.)
Sure you could go to your local grocery store and buy a package that contains two pieces of naan for $2.99...or you could follow this recipe and have 12 pieces that you made! I think the decision is clear...


1 package of active dry yeast
1 cup of hot water (about 120º)
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tbsp of milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups of flour (can use all purpose or bread flour)
1/2 tsp of baking soda
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of butter

  1. Combine 1tbsp of sugar with hot water (about 120º) sprinkle the packet of yeast on top of the hot water and let sit for about 5-8 minutes until it is frothy. 
  2. Add sugar, salt, milk, baking soda and egg to the yeast and water.
  3. Slowly add the flour until a soft dough forms. Knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes.
  4. Place in a greased bowl in a warm place and cover with a towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours.
  5. After the dough has doubled in size, pull apart and make 12-14 evenly sized balls (about the size of a golfball.) Knead garlic into each ball. Place these on a baking sheet and allow to rest for about 30 minutes. 
  6. Place your oven rack at the top or one row down from the top of the oven. If you are using a pizza stone (what I use and recommend, however you can use a cookie sheet but do not preheat the oven with this) place it on the rack and preheat the oven using the broil setting on High.
  7. While the oven is preheating...combine the butter and 1 minced clove of garlic. Melt in the microwave or over the stove. 
  8. Roll each ball flat using a rolling pin on a floured surface. I suggest rolling all of the dough out before cooking, because things get fast from here. 
  9. Once the oven is hot, pour some oil on the stone and place 1-2 (I do not do more because like I said, things go fast!) pieces of dough on stone brushing them with the butter mixture. Push the rack under the grill, but do not close the oven! Closely watch the dough. It will bubble up and when it is slightly browned, flip and brush the other side with garlic butter. Once this side begins to brown take out of the oven. This step only takes about 1-2 minutes per side.
  10. Repeat until you have cooked all the dough.
  11. Enjoy with your favorite Indian dish, make into naan pizza, with hummus, or enjoy as is. 
Do not close the oven,or you'll end up with this!
And someone will have to eat it, burnt edges and all!
For some reason when I made this tonight, the dough did not rise. It could be the lack of heat in our 55º home. This created a very dense, pita like bread. Still good, but not naan-like. I have used this recipe before and did not have this problem and it tasted very much like naan. Can't win 'em all, I suppose! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday Night Tostadas

One of our favorite quick and easy recipes is what we dubbed, "Wednesday Night Tostadas." We named them this because they are a great "middle of the week, don't feel like cooking" recipe. These can be made start to finish with 8 ingredients in under 20 minutes.

Recipe is for 2, but simple to double for a family!

4 Corn and Whole Wheat Blend Tortillas
1 cup of black beans (half a can, drained)
1 cup of frozen corn
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of lime juice (can use 1/2 lime squeezed)
1 tbsp of freshly chopped cilantro (or 1tsp of dried)
1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper
1/2 cup of Cheddar Cheese


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350º and arrange the tortillas on a cookie sheet. Once preheated, place in the oven for about 6 minutes flipping part way through.
  2. While the tortillas bake, combine beans, corn, olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, and red pepper.
  3. Once tortillas are baked (should be lightly browned and slightly stiff) dish the mix evenly on each of the tortillas. 
  4. Bake for 5 minutes until hot. Remove and sprinkle cheese over each tostada. Return to the oven until cheese is melted.
  5. Serve immediately with fresh salsa. 
  6. Take your first bite and enjoy! Be careful, they will be hot! 

We hope you fall in love with our simple Wednesday Night Tostadas!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meditation Monday

Today is the first day of Meditation Monday.  I started meditating a couple of years ago.  It was a way to relive stress and calm myself down.  I also used mediation to get my mind thinking in different ways.

Meditation is very easy and does not take a lot of time.  I do a ten minute meditation everyday.  You do not have to sit up right with your legs in a pretzel.  Meditation is all about being confortable and aware.  To start you need to find a comfortable position. I tend to sit in my chair, feet on the ground.  You then have to slowly close your eyes and start breathing deeply in and out.  To start clearing your mind of thoughts, you need to concentrate on your deep breathes.  I then use a guided meditation   I find these on YouTube.  There are some short ones and some really long ones.  Lately I have been using a chakra guided meditation.  Chakras are energy centers in your body.  This meditation is ten minutes and aims to relieve stress and energize you for the day.

Today I was lucky enough to share my meditation with Katie, because she was home from work in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.  I suggest you try it, it really helps relax you before a stressful day.

Have a great monday!


In case the link above does not work for any reason, you can find this week's meditation that Katie and I did this morning here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lice is gross.

It is a fact. The person who gets lice is not gross, but the actual lice themselves are. Using a word I once said in college and will never live down, it's growdy!

As a teacher, lice is one of the hazards of the job. But I do not plan on getting it. It makes my skin crawl and my head begin to itch just thinking about it! Despite popular belief (mostly among children,) lice like clean hair. Many people try to deter lice with hair products such as hair spray and hair gel. Since I do not use any product in hair and do not plan on it anytime soon, I needed something else. Turns out, lice also despise the smell of tea tree oil.

What you need:
Your favorite shampoo
Tea tree oil
An empty bottle

Pour your favorite shampoo into an empty bottle. I do this because I do not want to use this shampoo every day (it is very strong smelling!) I only wash my hair with this shampoo on school days and use my normal shampoo on weekends. If you don't mind using it every day you can skip this. Now add 15-20 drops of tea tree oil to the bottle and shake. Voila! You now have very inexpensive homemade lice shampoo!

This shampoo can be as expensive or cheap as you make it, you use whatever shampoo you prefer. The tea tree oil cost about $7.50 at the local drug store. This will last for a very long time if this is all you are using it for - however it has many other household uses! Amazon has lice prevention shampoo starting at $9.89 for 12oz. As with most homemade things, this is much cheaper!

*Note this is not a lice treatment, this is a preventative shampoo.*

Enjoy your lice free head!


Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Ever So Pinned About...Homemade Laundry Detergent

So I love pinterest. And by love, I mean that when I first got an account I racked up nearly 1,000 pins in a week. It tapered off after that, but now after pinning I have what is nearing 4,500 pins...obsession? Probably not...but I do like it...a lot. That being said, majority of the things I pin, I place on a board and it is lost in a sea of weddings and dream homes and sweets and savorys and fashion and beaches get it, right? It's never utilized. But there are the lucky ones. The chosen pins. And this was one I have been itching to try...Homemade Laundry Detergent.

We make as many of our cleaning products from household goods and try to be chemical free. This not only makes us feel better about what we and our puppy (and someday babies) are breathing in, eating off of (or licking in Kiley's case,) and generally living in but it saves us a lot of money, contributes less waste to landfills and generally works better! This product is no exception!

I have had a couple of homemade laundry detergent recipes pinned for a long time, they may have even been my first pins, but had yet to try any of them. So when our giant "Eco-Friendly" Sams Club detergent was on it's last load, and after searching this very unenvironmentally friendly town for another similar product, Hari asked me if we could make our own. Does he not know me? Of course we can! So I did some research...looked at my pins, others pins, searched google and figured out what we were going to make. I found so many recipes! So I picked and chose and came up with the following:

What you need...
1   4lb 12oz box of Borax
1   3lb 7oz box of Super Washing Soda
2   2lb boxes of Pure Baking Soda (or a 4lb box if you're lucky enough to find one!)
3   bars of Fels Naptha Soap
1   1.3lb jar of OxiClean (optional for extra stain fighting)

We purchased all of our ingredients from Walmart (not usually our store of choice, but where we live it is the only option.) Everything was found in the laundry aisle.

1. Grate your bars of soap. I used a cheese grater. I was very nervous about using my cheese grater for soap - I was worried that it would break (the soap turned out to be very soft, so that was not a problem.) I was also worried about cleaning it after. As I grated the soap it was getting in every nook and cranny of the grater. Good news! It all rinsed off with cold water, then we ran it through the dish washer - good as new!

This was a bit of an arm workout - I have read that others used their food processors for a easy grating alternative.

2. Line a large bucket with a trash bag, I used a 3 gallon wash bucket that I had used to brine my turkey in last Thanksgiving. The larger the bucket the better, mine was a little tight!

3. Combine all your ingredients in the bucket and mix. We tried picking up the bag to shake it around - we immediately stopped this for fear of the bag exploding everywhere! I'm sure if you use a heavy duty bag you would be fine to shake away though. We used a large spoon to stir and occasionally picked the bag up (gently!) and rolled it on the counter to make sure the ingredients were mixing - this is important because we found a large deposit of grated soap still at the bottom. We also mixed by separating the mix into to containers and then pouring it back into the bucket (thank you, high school chemistry class!)

4. Take a minute to enjoy the smell - great, isn't it?! Your laundry room will smell great as long as this is in there, too! Luckily my laundry room is off my bathroom so this doubles as a bathroom freshener.

5. You're done! You can transfer the mix into a large container, leave it in the garbage bag or mixing bucket, or put in smaller containers to share! It makes about 2 gallons of soap. I found my container in the kitchen section of Walmart, it was only 1 gallon so I left the remainder in the garbage bag to transfer later as needed.

You will only need 1-2 tbsp of the mix for each load. I saved the OxiClean scoop which is about 2 tbsp and works perfectly!

Important Tips, Tricks and Information...
This is HE Washer safe, I use it in my top loading washer and it worked great. If you use a front loading washer, do not pour the mix in the tray that slides out, it will cause a mess! From what I have read (I have not used it in a front loading washer) you can just add it directly to the barrel.

For added fabric softening add 1/4 cup of vinegar - don't worry, your clothes will not smell! This will soften your clothes, brighten your whites and colors, and disinfect if needed.

Use at your own risk for sensitive skin, bloggers have raved that it has been fine for their own sensitive skin and even babies, but everyone is different!

Do not use for cloth baby diapers. The baking soda affects the absorbency of the fabric.

You can replace the Fels Naptha with Zote or Ivory soap.

The Cost
Borax - $3.38
Super Washing Soda - $3.24
Baking Soda - $1.24 x 2 = $2.48
Fels Naptha Soap - $0.97 x 3 = $2.91
OxiClean $3.86

Total Cost of Ingredients - $15.87 (before tax)

I also bought a 1 gallon glass container for a one time cost of $7.44

We only have just begun using it so we don't know how long it will last, but there are 512 tablespoons in 2 using 1-2 tablespoons per load that means it should last 256 - 512 loads. I like things extra clean, so I use 2 tablespoons per load and we usually do about 4 loads of laundry every two at that rate this should last us 29.5 months or 2 and a half years. Can that be right?!

I'm a numbers girl so let me break it down for you...
If you use 2 tablespoons per load that's 6 cents per load
If you use 1 tablespoon per load that's 3 cents per load
At our average # of loads this detergent will cost us 54 cents a month or $6.45 per year
For a family who does let's say an average of 5 loads per week (using 2 tbsp of detergent) it would last 11.8 months at $1.34 per month or $16.12 for the year! WOW!

Savings? Laundry detergents cost a variety of prices based on what you choose to buy and where you buy it. The last detergent we purchased was Ecos Plus Liquid Detergent from Sams Club. Based on their advertised price of $13.98 and 252 loads it should break down to lasting us as long as our homemade variety and costing only 5 cents a load - this however is not how it played out. Ecos lasted us about a year. We had to use more than recommended because it did not seem to get the clothes clean  - on top of that we also had to use OxiClean (an added cost). In addition to those costs, there is the cost of a membership at Sams Club and the environmental cost of the large plastic bottle that may end up in a landfill if not properly recycled (we do recycle  but you never know what happens once the truck picks it up!) None of this deterred us from buying Ecos as it is an environmentally friendly product and it was purchased in bulk so there was not as many plastic bottles being used. BUT - at $13.98 for a year we will save $7.53 with our new detergent (and there will not be the waste of the plastic container since we put ours in a reusable glass container.)

That being said, the cost savings for those who purchase detergent at grocery stores and big box stores will be even greater!

Now, does it play nice with the environment?
I honestly cannot report too much on this right now. Mostly because my research is limited. The two ingredients that I wonder about are the OxiClean and the Fels Naptha. I have read things about OxiClean that go both ways. I did read about the Fels Naptha on this blog, saying to use Zote instead because it is more environmentally friendly, but it did not go into to much detail. I will research this some more...but until then this is a far cheaper alternative to store bought detergents and there is less physical waste going to the landfill. That is already better than store bought!

Boy was that long, but I'll tell ya, it was packed full of information!

We hope you enjoy your new soap as much as we do! Cleans great, smells great, saves money, and limits waste! We're happy!

Kiley hung around the entire time we made this, she loved the smell!

-Katie and Hari

I tried very hard to find the various blogs I used to make my soap...but since I made it last weekend, I cannot remember what I took from where. I can give credit however to the one blog I had pinned that sent me on my quest: Being Creative to Keep My Sanity - Homemade Laundry Soap Thank you!

Oh! There's the "Cold" Weather We've Hear About!

After my warm and sunny Non-Snow or Ice Delay yesterday, I was beginning to lose faith in the local weatherman (as if living with Rochester's weather hadn't solidified that yet!) But then we woke up to find this...
Yes, of course the highs for the day are warmer here and Rochester is predicting snow all week (jealous!) but would you look at those current temps?! North Carolina, you continue to amuse me. Don't worry, New York, we still have yet to turn our heat on here, we won't become soft southerners! But then again if you know us well, we never turned our heat on in Rochester until mid November either! I expect we will never turn it on here...

-Katie and Hari

Friday, January 18, 2013

Snow (???) Delay...

Today my school had a two hour delay. When I found out about it last night, I had yet to see even a flake. It was raining, but it was only 50 degrees out. So no sign of ice, yet. The weatherman on the local news was very concerned about this storm. Hari and I were apprehensive. How bad could it be?

My view when I woke up this morning.
Not even a flake on the ground!
It...was...not bad at all. When I woke up, there was no snow on the roads or the ground or even the trees. There was no ice to be found. The sun was shinning! It was 50 degrees. These southerners are so funny! Schools had already announced that they were closed for today yesterday at 3 p.m.! Bread was flying off the shelves, stores were out of milk - all for a beautiful day! Oh North Carolina, you amuse my Rochester soul.
Look at all that snow!
Good thing I brought my snow brush to the south!

Despite the lack of storm and the hype over nothing, I did get to have a relaxing morning, and a very nice Friday at school. My internal clock awoke me at seven, the time I typically leave for work, in a panic. "WAKE UP! YOU'RE LATE!" But really, my alarm was not due to go off for another hour. I was able to relax and get ready for work at my leisure. It was lovely! At school, my students arrived at 10:00, went straight to dance, had lunch and then recess, had their weekly spelling and reading tests, then art. By the time that they were done with art there was enough time for snack and a quick read of Scholastic News. What an amazing Friday! Now I have a three day weekend. What a life! I am off to enjoy a well deserved glass of wine for my hard day.

P.S. This is what snow looks like, N.C.
Rochester, NY December 29 2012 - And yes, we still drove in this!
Kiley enjoying the snow in Rochester - December 30, 2012

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hey Blog, Hey!

Hello, blogosphere! This is Hari, Katie and Kiley in our first ever joint blog. Exciting, we know. Hari and Katie were born in Massachusetts and New York respectively and we spent majority of our lives (give or take some college years) in Rochester, N.Y. Although we are Yankees, our puppy Kiley is a Southern Belle. Kiley lived in Mississippi until Katie fell in love with her in 2010 and she came to live with us in Rochester (you can find out more about her story here.) Last summer we moved to rural North Carolina by way of Katie landing a teaching job, and our lives have turned upside down.

So this is our "natural hippie blog" (as Hari called it) or just a glimpse into our cluttered, messy, not so perfect life. Katie came up with the blog as we were hiking. I (Hari) found it silly, but after thinking about it, realized we can use it to share our weirdness with the world. You might find natural cleaning remedies, hiking reviews, wedding ideas (did we mention that we are engaged?!), and delicious recipes. We don't really know where this blog will go, but we find it to be fun for us.  It is a way to do something together in our hectic lives.

We have been called "crunchy" and "granola" as if it is a bad thing...but we take it as a compliment. Did you know that we kiss trees, too? We are by no means perfect, nor do we think that we are. We try to respect the Earth and our bodies all while trying to balance our passions, lack of time, and lack of budget. So sometimes we may not be using or doing what someone views as the most environmentally friendly thing, or maybe what we are doing is too friendly - we are just doing us. Love us or leave us be.

Hiking at Raven Rock Park (the blog inspiring hike!)
-Katie and Hari