Monday, February 13, 2017

5 Things That Are Making My Life Easier

I wanted to share a list of a few things that are making my day-to-day life easier lately. Most of these aren't dramatically life-changing, but they are things that save me a little time and effort. #3 actually is a life-changer for me, and I'll describe more about that below.

1. Laundry Sorter

I do laundry throughout the week, so that it never turns into a huge, time-consuming job.  Until recently, we used a plain old laundry basket for our dirty laundry. Each time I was ready to start a load of laundry, I would have to spend a few minutes sorting out the laundry for the day. It wasn't a huge hassle, but I felt like there was room for improvement.

A few months ago, we splurged on a 4-section laundry sorter.  This may not seem like much of a splurge to many of you, but for me, spending over $30 on a non-essential laundry sorter seemed like a big deal.

But you know what? This laundry sorter was totally worth the money. It saves me a few minutes each day when I do laundry, and our closet is much tidier, too, without the inevitable piles of sorted laundry. I love the convenience of our new laundry sorter, and the 4 compartments help me in making sure our clothing colors keep looking as they should. (If there is interest, I could also blog about my system for laundry that keeps our colors looking good, spreads the workload throughout the week, and works well for my sensitive-skin family members.)

2. Larger Butter Dish

Nutrient-dense butter is an essential part of my family's healthy diet. In the winter months, especially, I find that KerryGold butter has the richest yellow color (and this color indicates the presence of nutrients, especially carotene and vitamin A).

Since KerryGold comes in a 1/2-pound block, previously, I had to cut the KerryGold butter in half in order to fit it in my butter dish. However, I received a lovely new butter dish for Christmas that is big enough to easily accommodate a full block of KerryGold butter. Now we can keep a 1/2 pound of butter on the counter and ready to easily spread on toast or muffins. This is one small convenience that is making my day-to-day life easier.


I've been using for several years now. I love that this site has high-quality, free yoga videos with excellent instructors, and I love that there is a great variety of videos available. There are many videos to choose from ranging from Beginner to Advanced, and from just a few minutes long to over an hour long.

I've been doing yoga once or twice a week for awhile now, but recently I was feeling a pull to make yoga a more-frequent part of my life. This year, DoYogaWithMe hosted a "Transform Your Life 30-Day Yoga Challenge". In completing the 30-Day Challenge, I learned that:
  • daily yoga is possible, even with my busy life,
  • it is worth it to make time to occasionally do full-length (60+ minutes) yoga classes, 
  • in addition to being good for my physical health, doing yoga frequently leads me to greater mental and emotional well-being, and
  • starting my day with yoga right after waking is a fantastic way to get me in a good mindset for the day ahead.
Even though the 30-Day Challenge is over, I've been continuing to do yoga every day, and it feels great!  I presume that there will eventually be days that I skip yoga, but for now, this is a habit that is enriching my daily life and making it easier for my life to feel balanced and whole.

4. Uber-Strong, Foldable Grocery-and-Errand Bags

Because I only grocery shop every two weeks, I tend to buy a whole cart full at a time. My reusable bags end up crammed full at the grocery store, or crammed full of library books, and with such heavy usage I tend to go through reusable bags fairly quickly. Many of the bags I have tried wear out and have to be thrown away in about a year.

About a year ago, I was gifted with a couple EnviroSax bags, and they are amazing! EnviroSax bags have a weight capacity of 44 pounds (!!), they easily fold up small enough to fit in my purse, they are beautiful, and they have held up without any signs of wear in the last year. I loved those bags so much that I asked for some more for Christmas, and was so happy to throw away my old bags (which were literally falling apart). My EnviroSax bags are now my go-to bags for groceries, library books, trips to the park, and more.

5. Knife Sharpener

Since I spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen, my knives get dull fairly often.  I've never taken the time to learn how to properly use a whetstone or rod knife sharpener, but thankfully I don't have to. We've been using a Wusthof 4-Stage Knife Sharpener for awhile now, and have had great results with it.

This knife sharpener works especially well for us because it has separate knife sharpeners for Asian and Standard knives. My beloved Santoku knife gets sharpened with the Asian sharpener, and the rest of our knives are sharpened with the Standard sharpener. This knife sharpener is very quick and easy to use, and it fits easily into a kitchen drawer.

Do you have any favorite products or websites that are making your life easier lately?

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Grain-Free, Nut-Free "Cornbread" Muffins (grain-free : nut-free : gluten-free)

My family is exploring the cuisine from different parts of the United States as part of our homeschool unit on the United States.  One common feature of the cuisine in the Southeastern USA is cornbread. Given that two members of my family have grain sensitivities, I decided to develop a new grain-free "cornbread" recipe. This recipe can't truly be called cornbread since it contains no corn, but it is a great grain-free alternative to cornbread that can be served alongside soups, chili, and beans.

In developing this grain-free cornbread recipe, I departed from my usual use of ground nuts for grain-free breads. Indeed, I have already developed a popular recipe for grain-free sandwich bread based around coconut flour and ground nuts, and that recipe has been likened to cornbread by quite a few.

In this new recipe, I was looking to create a lighter version of grain-free bread, so I based this recipe around tapioca flour, coconut flour, and arrowroot starch. I chose to add a little sugar to the recipe, to make this recipe more like my favorite cornbread which has a hint of sweetness. Because of the tapioca flour, this cornbread has a bit of springy texture, just like gluten-based breads, and the muffins hold together very well.

This recipe was an instant success with everyone in my family.  It makes a wonderful bread substitute to serve alongside a main course, and both of my kids have chosen to eat it at other times of day as well (such as for breakfast).  I like to serve this bread slightly warm with a pat of butter on top, just like I would serve cornbread.

Grain-Free, Nut-Free "Cornbread" Muffins
Makes 12 muffins

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Turn off heat once melted.
  3. Combine the tapioca flour, coconut flour, arrowroot, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a medium-large bowl. Whisk to combine and break up any lumps.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs and milk kefir together with a fork. 
  5. Pour the egg/kefir mixture into the dry ingredients and beat well with a mixer. Add in the melted butter and beat until everything is well-incorporated.
  6. Line a muffin tin with paper cups. I like to use If You Care Unbleached Baking Cups because the muffins don't stick to them.
  7. Scoop the muffin batter into the muffin cups. A 3-Tb scoop works well for this.
  8. Bake the muffins at 350 F for about 23-27 minutes, until the tops are golden-brown.
  9. Allow to cool a few minutes. 
  10. Serve the muffins and enjoy! I like to top each muffin with a small pat of butter, just like real cornbread muffins.
  11. Refrigerate any leftovers and re-warm for a few minutes in a toaster oven before serving.

Do you enjoy cornbread? Do you have any favorite regional foods from the USA?

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