Create / Enjoy

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Homemade cashew/sunflower seed butter recipe

I'll keep this post simple--like this recipe.

Nut butter is delicious. I almost never eat peanuts anymore, so I do buy and enjoy almond butter (the grind-your-own is my favorite), but processed nut butters of any kind are a little spendy, and I don't want to overdo my almond consumption, either, so I've gotten to experimenting.

(You can read my DIY almond butter recipe here, as well as my DIY sunflower butter cookies which partially inspired this post!)

Once at the farmers' market I saw a booth of local homemade nut butter blends. We tasted several of them, all very good, but I think they were all like $9 and I knew I could make something similar at home. That was years ago, and look, I finally tried it myself!

As I mentioned in my DIY sunflower butter cookies post, raw sunflower seeds are very affordable compared to most raw nuts. The Winco where I buy buy most of our bulk foods like nuts, unsweetened coconut, etc. usually has raw cashew pieces for about $3/lb. That's so cheap, especially compared to other nuts you can make nut butters with - almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts (!!), pecans... not that price is the only factor in my nut purchasing decisions, and I do consider nut products kind of a treat from our usual diets. But, sunflower seeds are high in protein and magnesium, as well. Although kind of funky tasting in high quantities on their own--so perfect to blend with the slightly sweet taste of raw cashews.

DIY Cashew/Sunflower Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 c. raw cashews or cashew pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. sea salt

    Instructions:


    1. Combine cashews and sunflower seeds in food processor (I used this 14-cup one--you could probably also use a smaller one like this).

    One reason this blend works well is that both nuts/seeds are about the same softness so they break down and get creamy at the same pace!

    What happens next is wonderful! Watch it transform as you blend.

    Stop the food processor and scrape down the sides every few minutes.

    You may think it's done when it looks about like this--the key is, go till you think it's done, then go some more!

    2. When it looks almost done, add the sea salt.

    Pulse, then scrape down the sides again and pulse more.

    It will look whipped and smooth, like this, when it's really done!

    SO good!!


    Store in the fridge. Another plus? It doesn't separate like natural peanut butter does.

    We've used it on sliced apples and pears from our CSA for a great treat. It would also be good on celery! I've also heard of people putting sunbutter on burgers... can't personally vouch for that one (yet).

    Try it!

    This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for shopping with the companies that support this blog!!

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    DIY Windowpane pattern wall art tutorial with ribbon

    I've always loved decorating my bedroom.

    You can see variations I've done over the years here, but in general in our new house I've stuck with pale colors, pinks, aquas, etc. with our pale grey walls, DIY headboard, and some gold accents.

    But, I've been feeling like a more minimalist, contrast-ey look lately, and decided on a DIY windowpane print project with some Offray ribbon!

    The windowpane trend has been in full force for a couple years, but I haven't worn it or decorated with it yet. A few inspirations...

    So, how to make a DIY bedroom decor piece with this print??

    DIY Windowpane Wall Art Tutorial


    You will need:


    • Canvas (or two)
    • White paint (I used house paint)
    • Offray velvet ribbon (I used 5/8", you could use 3/8" for a smaller canvas or wider for a bigger canvas)
    • Staple gun
    • Rubber cement
    • Ruler or quilting ruler



    Instructions:


    1. Paint the canvases. Most canvases nowadays come primed with gesso, so you probably don't need to use primer first. Paint whatever color you want, of course!

    2. Mark even intervals. My canvases were 18" and I did every 3", but you could space the ribbon more or less densely, as long as you use equal distance between all ribbon rows and edges. Mark all the way around on all four sides.

    (Note! Not until the 11th time walking into my room to look at these did I realize... since the 5/8" ribbon is distributed on the even pencil marks, at the edges there is 1/2 of 5/8" (5/16") extra space! If you use any wider ribbon, it will probably be very noticeable. So, to use the split-ribbon-width-on-pencil-mark method, start measuring your even intervals at the edge PLUS half the width of your ribbon!)

    3. Draw guides. Once you've marked all four sides, connect the dots with the long ruler. Do this both directions.

    4. Staple ribbons. Centering the ribbon on each mark/line, staple down one end of the ribbon.

    5. Rubber cement route. With the rubber cement brush, brush over the line in front of your stapled ribbon.

    6. Wrap and staple ribbon. Pull the ribbon tightly, down on top of the rubber cement line, and make sure it's centered on the opposite pencil mark at the end. Pull tight and staple.

    Repeat for other rows.

    7. Staple-cement-pull-staple crosswise. Repeat these steps for the crosswise ribbons, but you can skip over each perpendicular ribbon with the rubber cement. Don't think it would work very well on top of the velvet.

    Hang proudly!

    Husband's first response when he saw them was, "Cool! Do we put things in them? Are they like picture holders?"

    :/

    No, but now that you mention it, they do look sort of bar-like. Maybe I should have spaced the ribbons farther apart. Oh, well! At least they're dramatic!

    Try it with whatever color and type of ribbon you like, and with canvases of any size!

    This post was sponsored by Offray!

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015

    8 tips for shopping at estate sales - and my fave find from this weekend's trip

    I never used to go to estate sales. I heard they could be awesome!, but I was totally intimidated about how to be successful at them. It wasn't until I started taking ambitious Saturday morning marathon estate sale-ing trips with my friend Erika that I realized how fun, easy, and sometimes fruitful shopping estate sales can be!

    And then, last year while Erika was pregnant and wasn't up for exploring homes with unfamiliar smells, I learned to put together estate sale trips myself using her pro methods.

    But last weekend, I had a great estate sale-ing trip with Erika (of A Tiny Rocket) and our friend Yvonne (of Dress this Nest) and realized I really ought to put together some tips to share with you!

    Here are 8 things I've learned based on Erika's excellent methods for route logic, competitive but fair shopping, and picking the right spots. Plus a few tried and true estate sale-ing methodologies that have worked well for me!

    8 tips for awesome estate sale-ing

    1. Bring cash. Some professional sales take cards or checks, but plan to bring cash for the family-run ones. And even at the bigger sales, the lines can be insane!!, so you may be able to skip to a cash-only line if you have enough cash.
    2. Look to the suburbs. Especially in the Portland area, vintage/thrifted goods and estate sale-ing is very trendy, so the sales in the trendier parts of town are usually very busy and higher priced. We've had the best luck in the Portland area in Beaverton and Hillsboro, usually at old ranch houses where the people had lived there for 40 years. I went to an amazing one way out in the country once, too, and one in a small town another 10 miles out (see here, here, and here). Sometimes you have to drive a ways, but it can really be worth it!
    3. Plan your route the day before. Sales often aren't listed until the week or a few days before, so you can't plan too far ahead. Erika uses Craigslist as well as Estate Sale Finder, a local website of professionally run sales. If you Google "[city name] estate sale search" or something similar, you may be able to find the same kind of listing. EstateSale.net may have listings in your area, too. Craigslist usually has a mix of sales, family-run (some garage sales mixed in, we avoid those) as well as professionally run. The other website has only professionally run sales. Select the sales you want to go to, then put together a Google Maps route of your loop. You can even email it to yourself and follow the same points on your phone the day of the sale.
    4. Keep a contingency option. Some sales are in-out in 5 minutes. It's hard to tell from the listings how much of the stuff you'll be interested in. We like to have at least 6 sales on the map, maybe an extra just in case one or two are duds.
    5. Get there early. We start around 8:30 AM and can usually fit in 5 or 6 sales before noon. The best selection is on the first day of the sale (Friday or Saturday). However, very often everything will be 50% off on the last day of the sale (i.e. Sunday), so you can also try hitting the route early Sunday morning.
    6. Carry it around if you're not sure. Even among friends, the rule is, whoever touches it first gets it. Especially at some of the busier sales, if you see something you're considering, grab it right away just in case! You can always put it back later.
    7. If there's no price label, ask. That applies to anything, including curtains, light fixtures, mounted shelves, etc. It's a massive effort to price everything so just because there's no sign or sticker doesn't mean it's not for sale. In fact, unless it has a "not for sale" sign on it, it's probably among the stuff to be liquidated!
    8. Haggle politely. Especially if you're buying lots of items, sellers are often happy to negotiate on the total when you check out. (Often, they have to get rid of whatever they don't sell that weekend.) For example, if my handful includes a $2 item, a $4 item, a $10 item, and a handful of $0.25 items, I could easily ask if they'd take $15 for all of it.

    Favorite things to look for at estate sales

    So far my favorite estate sale find was a vintage model of this Le Creuset enameled frying pan, found at the first estate sale I ever went to with Erika. It was $1.50 (here's mine). But I bought a handful of stuff and paid less than the total, so it was actually less than $1.50. We use it ALL. THE. TIME. and my eggs never stick to it!

    But that was a random estate sale in a small ranch house in an old part of a Portland suburb, and we didn't have a lot of competition that Saturday morning. I kind of doubt it's easy to find Le Creuset at estate sales most of the time.

    But, there are a few things I see a lot, and you can keep an eye out for next time you go!
    • Pyrex bowls and bakeware (like pretty pastels)
    • Polaroid cameras
    • Camera lenses that will fit a modern digital camera
    • Really great furniture, including matching cafe chairs! (And if you're feeling crafty, lots of potential with some estate furniture, which is sometimes better cared for than thrift store stuff.)
    • Random cute, useful kitchen stuff (like this great vintage scale I got and have since fixed up)
    • Weight sets (I've found dumbbell sets and a small barbell with weights)
    • Vintage purses
    • Fabric!!!! Again, this estate sale.
    • Zippers, etc.
    • Vintage patterns if you need any more of them (I sure don't)
    • Big framed mirrors. I love big mirrors.
    • Vintage house keeping and cook books! And all kinds of books.


    Not from this weekend but a fave DIY project of mine from a vintage chair like I see at estate sales! This one was my grandma's.

    My unique find of the weekend!

    After you've been to a few estate sales, you may notice things start to look the same... lots of vintage blenders and coffee percolators. And I really don't need a lot more stuff!

    So, this find last weekend was so cool and unique, I bought it even though I don't need it, and I wanted to share.

    These binders of 1950's and 1960's Oregon State Parks and hunting, fishing, and camping articles are like a snapshot in time as well as an early example of a fellow Oregon-lover's documentation of years of exploration.

    Look at these beautiful handouts! The paper is heavy and the colors are still so bright. I love looking at the fonts. And most of these parks are still there! (Except maybe the PGE recreational areas? Portland General Electric had recreational areas??)

    At the same sale, there were also a lot of rolled up maps with marked up notes of camping, hunting, and fishing sites; Yvonne got some to frame for her sons' outdoor-themed bedroom. I got some maps in these binders, too.

    Since husband and I have recently become interested in hunting and fishing (as he blogged recently) and it's totally new to us, it's fascinating to me to look at how a seasoned hunter (this house had ROOMS full of duck-themed stuff including tons of decoys) kept track of information and kept learning. So many articles clipped and carefully saved.

    And so cool to see this skilled hunter/angler's log of what he caught each trip out. I wonder how much it's changed since 1965!

    Unique finds like that are unlike anything you see at a run-of-the-mill thrift store, and I feel good about giving them a good home!

    Let me know your estate sale tips and faves below!


    Friday, February 13, 2015

    Weekend inspiration: sitting on the floor, walking, and homemade deodorant

    This is a very different kind of Weekend Inspiration post!

    Sometimes I share ideas for cooking, crafting, sometimes visiting places around my area... this week, I'm excited about some minor lifestyle changes that have been making me feel so much better.

    I think I'll have to take a "less is more" approach on some of these, since there's so much to say but I'm still learning so I'm not the right person to say it. May you find time to do some extracurricular reading this weekend and enjoy!

    1. Sitting on the floor.


    "Sitting is the new smoking," etc. etc. For some time now, at work I've used a standing desk with barstool for frequent changes in position, which has really helped my back, neck, and hip issues. And, I've always been good at stretching and yoga poses. But, I still get stiff and feel limited in my mobility on days when I don't get out for a long walk (so, most days) or am stuck seated in various places.

    Recently, husband and I have been listening to every podcast interview we can find with Katy Bowman, biomechanical scientist and natural movement expert. (Seriously, click around her blog for tons of straightforward mechanical explanations for common modern issues such as foot pain, pelvic floor problems, "exercise" instead of movement...)

    One big change Katy has made is living with less furniture. Sitting on the floor is something our bodies are meant to do, but some of us have lost the ability to do easily. Although we pay lots of money to go to yoga class and do it in 17 different positions for an hour a few times a week--why not just do it at home? The floor provides hard pressure like a foam roller or massage, and changing positions frequently keeps any particular muscle from getting stiff.

    I've been sitting on the floor or standing at home all week! So here's what my living room looked like last weekend. We moved the coffee table out of the way (we do this often to foam roll in the living room), and I worked on taxes on the floor.

    Katy has compared the couch to junk food. Yes, it feels good, but it has a short-term benefit and long-term cost. I've felt so much better after a day of standing at the kitchen counter and sitting on the kitchen floor (literally! I did that too, this week! Good lighting in here) rather than hunching over a laptop or book with my legs and hips in strict right angles.

    Sometimes when listening to Katy's podcast I get confused by the cellular expression, mechanotransduction, super science-ey bits (and I rewind and re-listen a lot to the musculoskeletal stuff I can get if I really focus), but she's great with using metaphors to explain things and translate back to everyday life patterns. (One of the first episodes I heard her on was this one, with a lot about high heels.)

    SO much to think about.

    2. Walking. Long walks.


    In that vein... husband and I have been taking walks in the parks near our house on Saturdays and Sundays, and man, is it nice to see the community, talk to each other without technology or other distractions, and move our bodies.

    The weather is getting better, and the days getting slightly longer, so we're picking our fair weather habit back up and I can't wait till it's nice enough for a real hike somewhere and some longer time out in the fresh air.

    This weekend: long walks!

    3. New homemade deodorant recipes.


    I've been using homemade deodorant for a couple years now, variations on my friend Carly's stick deodorant recipe. There are about 5,283 good-sounding recipes out there for homemade deodorant, so I was totally overwhelmed to make it at first. I didn't have most of the ingredients and I couldn't tell which recipe I'd like best. So I just went for it--ordered the new stuff and started mixing. (Like, I ordered these beeswax pellets--never would have thought I'd be shopping for something like these!)

    Totally worth it. I love the way my homemade deodorants have smelled, and they work just as well as the conventional stuff (and better than store bought natural deodorants). However, there've been issues with my previous batches... one was too liquid at room temperature so I kept it in the fridge; two were kind of irritating and maybe too heavy on the baking soda for my skin.

    But it's about time to make another batch, and I wanted to do my research more this time! Last week I went to the grand opening of a Pharmaca store in the Portland area, and nerded out over their line of essential oils. I haven't found many uses for essential oils, but I like them, and they are great for deodorants because many of them are antibacterial and antimicrobial (and they add a nice smell). So, I spent some time Googling "best antibacterial essential oils for deodorant" and getting so overwhelmed by the responses I eventually gave up and just picked a couple that smelled good.

    Stick/solid deodorant recipes: Baking soda free or baking soda optional:



    I  mean, that is seriously just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many options.

    I know I want to use my essential oils, beeswax pellets for solidity at room temperature, and shea butter for moisture/smoothness. And whichever other ingredients I need based on the recipe. (I have found that shea butter is the greatest moisturizer ever! It's not too greasy but so thick and creamy, and lasts longer than just coconut oil. It's very smooth and nice in deodorant, too!)

    So this week I bought a small saucepan at Goodwill for $1.50 and this weekend, I plan to use it melting my ingredients together! Wish me luck!



    This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for shopping with the companies that support this blog!!

    Tuesday, February 10, 2015

    Homemade coconut honey chocolate truffle recipe

    Valentine's Day is coming up, and while I'm not inspired by anything pink or red or covered in hearts, I do like to make a quality, real food special treat that husband and I can enjoy. I've made homemade chocolate almond butter cups before (they were amaaaaazing), but I really wanted to master the homemade chocolate part as well, rather than melting super-sweet, store-bought chocolate chips.

    I didn't trust that this would be possible, because when I've made chocolate bark-type goodies before with coconut oil, they only work frozen or refrigerated because coconut oil melts so low. But, I remembered seeing a recipe in The 21-Day Sugar Detox book for homemade chocolate almond butter cups--turns out a similar method but sweetened is on Balanced Bites, here and in Practical Paleo--and it uses the basics (cocoa powder and coconut oil) but also coconut butter/pureed coconut concentrate. When I figured out how to make homemade coconut butter (the trick: process it until you think it's done, then process it some more), I absolutely loved it, but I'd forgotten how versatile it is for coconut-ey desserts like this!

    And, mixing it in to the chocolate mixture is genius because coconut butter is solid at room temperature! So when I decided to try making my own, I wanted to come up with a filling other than almond butter or nut butter to do something different... and I figured, why improve on the genius-ness of the coconut butter?? So I did a coconut butter, honey-sweetened filling! Simple, no extra flavors, a great baseline for fancier goodies later on if I decide to get creative.

    Like all the goodies I make... of course these are real food, unprocessed, dairy-free, grain-free, gluten-free, Paleo-friendly treats. (And if you leave out the honey, you can make them 21-Day Sugar Detox-friendly, too!)


    Homemade Chocolate Truffles with Coconut Honey Filling

    Chocolate Ingredients:


    Coconut Filling Ingredients:


    Optional topping: sprinkle of unsweetened dried shredded coconut

      Instructions:


      1. Combine all the chocolate ingredients except the vanilla in a small saucepan or double boiler. Heat and stir constantly until just melted. Turn off heat and add vanilla.
      2. Spoon half of the chocolate mixture into candy molds, filling each just less than 1/3 full (for my larger molds, this was about 1 teaspoon, although I didn't do them all evenly!). (For smaller molds, you can also use a ziploc bag with the end cut off to squeeze the melted mixtures into place.) Put in fridge or freezer to harden.
      3. Combine all the coconut filling ingredients except the vanilla in a small saucepan or double boiler. Heat and stir constantly until just melted. Turn off heat and add vanilla.
      4. Once bottom layer of chocolates is solid, spoon coconut mixture on top. (Again, for me this was about 1 teaspoon in large molds.) Put in fridge or freezer to harden.
      5. Once coconut layer is solid, spoon more chocolate on top. Put in fridge or freezer to harden.
      6. Pop chocolates out of molds. 
      7. Optional: brush a couple drops water on tops and sprinkle with unsweetened dried shredded (or flaked) coconut.

      Serve room temperature for excellent texture/smoothness and still very strong structure, thanks to the coconut butter! 

      Try different shaped molds, too!

      I think both of the molds I used are too big! So I've been cutting these in half.


      Endless variations:


      Now that I've got the homemade chocolate part down, I'm up for experimenting with all kinds of fillings. These were totally fun and easy, and I can definitely see making them for a treat or potluck or something! Here are a more few ideas:
      • Your choice of nut butter (try my DIY almond butter method/recipe (but use any nut or seed you like) here!)
      • Swap the honey in the coconut cream filling for dates or homemade date syrup
      • Would a lemon-ey filling be good? Like these tart Lemon Vanilla Melt-Aways (maybe with some honey added)
      • Mint extract added to the chocolate part! Or coconut creamy center, I guess.
      • How about a chocolate layer; a nut butter layer; a coconut cream layer?? Mmm...

      The best part is, too, when you make a treat yourself you know exactly what went into it. No feeling icky afterwards and not knowing exactly what did it. And, the extra effort of making something before you enjoy it makes it taste even better!!


      This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for shopping with the companies that support this blog!!

      Tuesday, February 3, 2015

      Navy & white stripes, Anthropologie-inspired tunic

      You may remember how sometimes I like to do knockoffs. Like, make a very close copy of something from a store, and see how close I can get my version or make it slightly different than the original but better for me. It may not seem like the greatest opportunity for creativity in sewing, but it does provide a different kind of challenge. (Some fave examples of this: my DIY J.Crew Factory scalloped shift dress tutorial and my grey and lace gathered bodice ModCloth dress.) And of course tons of embellished tees from 2010!

      The original for this knockoff is one of last year's Anthropologie tunics (the Anthropologie Sapony Tunic, sold out). And, I guess I'm on a roll with patch pockets, because the technique for the pockets on this was very similar to that of the leather patch pockets in this tutorial/DIY post. But this project was from scratch--a blue and white knit I found at a thrift store--and involved creative pattern modification and a serger!

      When I found the fabric, I decided to make it work for this top, even though it's not quite the same weight. I wanted to give my version darts to make it a little more flattering, and I modified a woven dress pattern (Simplicity 2584, which I use a lot, for both dresses and tops because it's easy to modify for length, sleeves, etc.). I probably could have cut down the neckline and lengthened the sleeves even more than I did, but I don't think I was looking at the original when I cut it out... so I just made it what I felt like at the time.

      I sewed the long seams at my mom's house on this project--I used her serger! It really helps for sewing on knits like this. The side and shoulder seams are so small and flat compared to seams with bulky or pinked seam allowances.

      Check out the leather patch pocket tutorial I did the other week to see how these pockets are made!

      I used a lightly textured woven cotton stretch twill for the pockets and bias band at the neck.

      Bummer it took me so long to make this, but it's kind of trans-seasonal (or season-less, depending how you look at it) so it still works. Plus, this is the time of year when we see lots of navy, white, preppy, resort-ey early spring stuff in the stores. Perfect!

      And the weather's been so nice I don't even need to bother finding a warm coat layer to cover it up with!

      Try it at home!

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