The alternative title to this post could be “How Pinterest has enriched my life” lol. I have referenced Pinterest on here a time or two before, but if you’re not familiar with it, it’s a website (and app) where you create boards about anything you want and “pin” things on there from all over the internet. It’s a great way to organize things, learn things, be inspired, etc. Needless to say, I have a ton of boards, and countless more pins of cool/interesting/helpful things I’ve seen all over the place. I always enjoyed using Pinterest, but now that I am not working, I actually have time to try out a lot of stuff on there, and it’s pretty awesome!
I suppose technically you can call me a “Housewife” since I am not currently working, but I rather hate that word. “Homemaker” and “Stay-At-Home-Wife” (since I’m not yet a mother) don’t really do it for me either. I searched alternative words for this which include: “Domestic Engineer” and “Lady of the House”. The former words sounds pretty legit/professional, and the latter reminds me of one of my new favorite shows to watch, “Downton Abbey”. Either are preferable to “Housewife” in my book. But I digress…
Since we’ve gotten settled into our new home, I realized something: I give more of a sh*t about being domesticated. I figure, because this IS my job now. Do you guys remember old skool report cards where the teacher would give you “comments” on your grade, usually associated with a number?? Like say for example #4 was “Does not play well with others”. Well I got the same recurring comments from multiple teachers year after year, and that would be: “Takes pride in quality work”. It is so true, I really get a lot of satisfaction out of a job well done, which served me well in school and in my career respectively. But while working, when it came to cooking and cleaning I didn’t care as much. Who has the time to do all that on a regular basis when they’re working?! If you do, then I applaud you (**insert slow clap here**). I on the other hand, found it infuriating. Many arguments were had between myself and my husband about cooking more healthy home-cooked meals and doing more deep cleanings of our apartment. To this I would simultaneously scoff and laugh, because honestly, what was he thinking? Throughout my 10-year career as a Social Worker there was hardly a time when I wasn’t working 2 jobs or working one 50+ hour a week job. By the time I got home (frequently late) I hardly felt like cooking and cleaning, and on the weekends if there wasn’t some family event or another to go to, I generally felt like I deserved to relax and recharge for the upcoming week. But now that I am on my own little sabbatical, I really enjoy this stuff! (If you are working, or a working parent, you might feel like punching me in the face right about now but hold back! I will reveal some awesome things I learned on Pinterest that may help make your life easier!)
We will start with two of my favorite things: food and traveling! Food first of course, hahaha! I have a Pinterest board called “Yum!” where I pin tons of recipes. This is especially helpful for me as my husband and I are the most annoying couple ever to eat with: He’s vegetarian and I’m Gluten Free. This also goes back to why I used to not enjoy cooking as much when I was working- every meal often has to be modified to adapt to one or both of our diets… not an easy task mind you! Anyhow, I like pinning recipes in my spare time and then bringing my laptop into the kitchen to try them out. Sometimes it’s instantly great results, sometimes things need a bit of a modification, and a few times it was pretty much an epic fail lol. I’ll share some good recipes I’ve tried lately here with you now, as well as my feedback on possible modifications to enhance the recipe. You should know that my general rule of thumb when trying new recipes is “the simpler the better”. If a recipe has a million ingredients and takes forever to make, I usually steer clear of it. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat!! The best thing to me is when a dish looks and tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen, but you didn’t, so that’s a win right there.
So we’ll start with a recipe for vegetarian spicy black bean burgers. I tried this out a few weeks ago and the hubs liked it but suggested a modification that was easy enough… and he liked them so much it was his special request for his birthday dinner this week, so I got to try it again, and my mods made a big difference! Here is the recipe: http://www.annies-eats.com/2011/06/22/black-bean-burgers/
The taste is great in these burgers but the first time I tried the recipe, we realized that the burgers fell apart a bit when cooking. They needed an additional ingredient to hold them together more… my choice? Plain Oatmeal! I also made them GF so I could eat them by switching out the panko and using GF bread crumbs instead. Side note- if you have Celiac Disease the addition of oatmeal may not work for you. I don’t have CD, but a gluten intolerance in my esophagus which is why I am GF, and oatmeal works fine for me. You know your body so if oatmeal doesn’t agree with you, try an alternative ingredient that will help bind these burgers a bit more and not hurt your tummy!
This next recipe is for fresh guacamole, which I added on top of the spicy black burgers above for an out-of-this-world flavor combo. This recipe is surprisingly simple & easy. After I made it I was like “I’m 32 years old, how have I never made fresh guac before? For shame!!” I will be making this again soon. The author of the blog dubs it as “The only guacamole recipe you will ever need” and she’s right! Here it is: http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/post/1518781/2195042825/ Click on “Continue Reading” to go to the detailed recipe. The only mod I made for this was to add the teensiest bit of sugar because I found it to be a tad bitter when I was done making it. I usually find ways to avoid sugar in my recipes, but this needed it, and the tiny bit made a big difference. Also, love the author’s suggestion about reserving the avocado pits to place in the leftover guac to keep it fresher longer… I tried this and still fully expected to see the top of the guac turned brown/black the next day when I pulled it out of the fridge and was absolutely shocked when it was not!! The guac lasted fresh, green, and tasty in the fridge for 3 days… it might have lasted longer but it was so good we finished it, haha!
One of my recent food obsessions since I moved to Germany has been Brussels Sprouts… SO OBSESSED!! They are quite inexpensive here at our farmer’s market, and when I can’t get to the FM that week I find the ones in the frozen food aisle are a decent substitute. Side note for a moment- for a while now I’ve been reading up on how to eat healthier for your blood type, and the link between your blood type, diet, and illness. Shout out to my friend Lisa who first told me about this back in Hawaii probably a year or so ago. I then got a little book on it and tried making some adjustments, and then recently got another book out of the library about it. Jeff and I are B+, and brussels sprouts are supposed to be amazingly awesome for our diet, which is great because I love them! Sadly, other foods I really enjoy (chicken, peanut butter, shrimp) are not. Every blood type has a different lists of foods that are super good for you, just neutral, or toxic to you. Very interesting reading if you’re into finding ways to be healthier and modify your diet to improve your quality of life. The author of these books is Dr. Peter D’Adamo if you want to look it up. Pins on Pinterest are also available to give you quick reference lists on what is good/bad to eat for your blood type!
Ok, back to the sprouts though… I have been trying multiple ways to make these bad boys because they are just so tasty to me. I literally make them once a week which usually lasts me a few dinners. The other day I tried this recipe which included sweet potatoes and it was fantastic. I omitted the bacon-bits for the vegetarian’s sake though. Sweet potatoes, btw, are another Blood Type B superfood, so it packs two for the price of one in this great recipe! Here it is: http://www.cinnamonspiceandeverythingnice.com/side-dish-saturdays-roasted-brussels-sprouts-sweet-potatoes-and-bacon/#jsIyzzB5Krwq06bI.32
Another great brussel sprouts recipe including balsamic vinaigrette and sea salt is here: http://www.piarecipes.com/2014/01/roasted-brussel-sprouts.html For this, I suggest investing in a really good vinaigrette of your choice. I got ours freshly made from our local farmer’s market and it was outstanding. I literally watched them pour it into the bottle we took it home in. This is light years different than the stuff you buy in the store… packed with flavor! A hint for my NJ friends who may be reading this, if you’re looking for a quality olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette, try Carter & Cavero in Red Bank, their store is entirely dedicated to that stuff and you get to sample it all, yum!
(The pic on the left is a bit blurry but it’s the black bean burger topped with guac. They both show the sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts recipe, but the pic on the right is more clear.)
The last recipe I’ll share is a healthy dessert option called “Healthy Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies”. I’ve made them twice already and will probably make them again tomorrow hahaha. What’s incredible about them is that there are no added sugars, oils, eggs or flour, yet they taste great. Fresh ripe bananas and unsweetened apple sauce give these cookies a bit of sweetness without the overkill (or the guilt lol!). I chose to omit the PB on account of it being one of the foods that, sadly, is not good for our blood type. Something about not being able to properly digest the proteins in peanuts which causes weight gain or something like that. So I included mini chocolate chips and walnuts. But you can also add raisins, coconut, etc. Here it is: http://www.theskinnyfork.com/blog/2013/3/18/healthy-peanut-butter-oatmeal-cookies
Moving on to my next favorite thing, traveling!! Pinterest gives you a “Favorite Places” board which is where I pin places I want to travel and see. Last weekend we decided to go to Brussels, Belgium (home of my favorite vegetable!) because I saw a pin about it and also because one of my aunts lived there for a couple years a while back and I heard it was cool. It’s about a 4 hour drive from where we are in Germany. What initially attracted me to going there was something called the “Flower Carpet”. I later learned that this is a special event held every other year for one weekend- it’s where they fill the entire town square at the Grand Place with flowers and create a unique design each time. Fortunately, they will be doing it this year in August, so we plan to go back to check it out!
We just went for the weekend to have a little road trip for Jeff’s birthday and see some new sights including the Mannekin Pis and the Grand Place. We stayed at the Brussels Marriott using our points, and it was conveniently located downtown near everything. Our room had a cool window that kind of looked like a porthole, so that was neat too! It was a beautiful spring weekend and we did a lot of walking around and sampling of things. Jeff tried a few Belgian beers and I tried a few Belgian chocolates. I also had a tasty dinner our first night there of steamed mussels and Pommes Frites, and Jeff had a bangin’ Falafel sandwich!
The next day we grabbed breakfast from this quaint little French Cafe before the long drive home. The restaurant was called La Mercerie and they literally had only one GF option option on the menu, so that’s what I got LOL! It was called a “mousse” and it was basically ground up cashews topped with peaches. Jeff got a breakfast plate with Polenta, feta cheese, greens, and tomatoes. Very different from what we usually get when we go out to eat, but quite tasty! And the ambience of the restaurant was adorable too :)
On Monday it was back to reality and as with any trip, our place was a wreck when we got home. I always feel like you need a vacation from your vacation. As much as I try to clean before we go away on trips, there’s always things to unpack and laundry to do and whatnot when you get home. This leads me to my next Pinterest inspired tips for you! In general, I hate cleaning the bathroom. It’s pretty gross right? And it’s a lot of work!! And since we moved in here last month, there has been this super gross and annoying line in our master bathroom toilet where the water streams down from under the rim. It’s all like yellow and gross and calcified from the hard water. No amount of scrubbing with the toilet brush was going to get rid of it. So I did a little research and I found my answer… pumice stones! I bought one for like $2-$3 at the PX in the health and beauty aisle near the nail polish/manicure stuff and this little thing took the stain right out in less than 5 minutes with not too much elbow grease! And it doesn’t scratch the porcelain. I HIGHLY recommend it! Here’s the link for more info: http://www.ehow.com/how_4687595_clean-toilet-bowl-black-stain.html
And by far my absolute favorite new thing I found was on how to get the bathtub/shower properly cleaned!! For years I was using scrubbing bubbles, kaboom, Lysol bathroom cleaner or whatever with results that left me like “meh”. The soap scum build up usually ends up killing my back as I bend over the tub scrubbing the crap out of it. But no more! This tip for cleaning the tub is as easy as 1-2-3. The trick is combining vinegar with dawn dish detergent (I use the blue kind which most posts recommend). Combine these two ingredients in a spray bottle. Some people suggested adding baking soda, but then I read that that clogs up the spray bottle, and frankly I found that I didn’t need it. I also read that some people heat up the vinegar first but then the addition of the dish detergent causes it to foam up a lot, so I also didn’t do that and again found it to be fine. Spray this mixture all over your tub/shower especially on the trouble spots, then ventilate the bathroom with a fan or open window (this is important as the vinegar smell is pretty potent) and walk away. Let it sit for a while. I gave it 30 min or so. When I walked back in, I lightly wiped everything down with a damp cloth and I kid you not, it all came off so easily… I was shocked! This mixture works really well on glass shower doors too BTW. When you’re done wiping it all down, give it a good rinse down with water and stand back and watch your tub sparkle like never before. Who ever thought I’d be blogging tips on how to clean your bathroom?! Uh, not me, but I wish I knew these tips years ago so I wouldn’t have spent so much time being frustrated about my lack-laster bathroom cleaning skills lol. Here’s the link for further info: http://www.23imaginaryfriends.blogspot.de/2013/08/how-to-clean-your-runners-shower.html
Well, that’s all for now folks. Hope you enjoyed these tips & tricks in my continued efforts to become a Domestic Goddess ;)