November 22, 2012

Pumpkin Puppy Treats!

Don't forget your pets while you're in the kitchen this Thanksgiving! Jasper and Westby (our two pups) love these pumpkin treats. Pumpkin is great for your dog's digestive system. I found a recipe for pumpkin treats online and slightly modified it. Apparently cats will eat these as well. My cat, Beauie, is a bit particular so he didn't want any.

Pumpkin Puppy Treats

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats (not the instant kind)
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

additional 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour for rolling the dough.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

In a food processor blend applesauce and pumpkin until smooth. In a separate bowl mix flour and oats. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix gently until a dough forms. roll out so it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut shapes with a cookie cutter. Place on a greased, or parchment lined, cookie sheet. Bake 7 minutes. Flip treats over and bake another 5 minutes.

September 25, 2012

100% Cotton

Hand-Crocheted  Cotton Wash Cloths
I love wash cloths. From what I understand not everyone in America was raised using them in the tub! I have fond memories of being little and my parents gently bathing me with a soft wash cloth. We never had hand crocheted ones like this. They were made out of the same  materials as our towels. Probably a combination of natural and synthetic fibers. But nevertheless using one brings back memories of home.

Some may think that wash cloths are simply a luxury but they really are better than just rubbing a bar of soap on your body. They increase exfoliation and help remove dead skin cells. A wash cloth is especially useful in getting sand off your skin when returning home from the beach!

I very much enjoyed making these. They are made from a 100% cotton yarn. I use the same stitch pattern my grandmother taught me...adding even more nostalgia to these fiber gems. Use one and you will see...they are magnificent! They are also really great to use as basket fillers in a house warming gift basket. I sometimes wrap a bar of special, handmade soap in a wash cloth and tie a piece twine around the cloth and tie a bow to create a uniquely wrapped gift. These wash cloths also look really great folded in a basket and displayed in the bathroom. I keep a small, dark brown basket on a shelf near the shower so my hubby can grab a fresh wash cloth once he gets in the shower. Totally convenient and such a great addition of texture to my bathroom's decor.

Even orangutans like to use washcloths!  

Beauie, my studio cat, wanted to be included in the photos.....
After all, he does work VERY hard...


September 22, 2012

Soap Making!

Silky Lavender in the mold!

Pam's Soap Studio is doing so great! I've been experimenting with a variety of soap making oils, herbs, natural colorants and essential oils. Soap takes about 3-4 weeks to cure so my bars are not available in the Etsy shop yet, but they soon will be! The soap pictured above is my Silky Lavender bar. It is made with a combination of palm oil, canoal oil, coconut oil, olive oil, vitamin e, shea butter and tussah silk. I know, I know...not 100% vegan but the tussah silk came to the studio as a gift and I was assured it is cruelty free. It adds increased lather and a luxurious silky feeling to it.

For those who have not heard my story (and are interested) here is how I came about making my own soap:

My interest in natural skincare began with a general interest in natural living. I grew up in a very "make-it-from-scratch" type of family. Having a vegetable and herb garden when I settled into my own home was a natural addition. The gardens have not only inspired me to pay close attention to what I put in my body but also what I put on my body.  The skin is our largest organ and it our first defense against all elements such as microorganisms and pollutants. When I started looking at the ingredients list of my skincare products I was truly shocked. As I did more research I learned that not only were the ingredients used potentially harmful to my body the manner in which they were developed and tested were harmful to animals. I knew a change was needed.

I bought handmade soap from a couple local craft fairs and farmers markets and totally loved them. They were gentle on my skin and left my skin feeling clean and moisturized. My “make-it-from-scratch” genes kicked in. I HAD to learn how to make soap for myself! And so the research began. I learned more and more about aromatherapy and the healing benefits of natural oils, herbs, clays and spices. I am also a ceramic artist, so the process of creating soap molds and using a formula to create an end product were all very natural to me.  I wanted to share my creations with others and so I decided to open an Etsy shop.

Mint Soap, Curing
Pam's Soap Studio is on Facebook and Twitter!

August 30, 2012

Sand and Surf

September is closing in fast. I'm enjoying the last couple weeks of warm air and sea. Soon I'll have to "bundle up" in a full wettie.  

This sky last night was amazing. Dark blue sea, light blue sky, purple and cream clouds and  white moon. Totally majestic view while floating in the ocean.  

August 5, 2012

My New-Old Surf Board!

This weekend I was given my new-old surf board. It originally belonged to a friend who has been surfing for many years. This was the board he learned on. It is exactlly 7 feet long, which is perfect for me to learn on. Since the board is old it has been through quite a few swells and has visible repairs and a few dings and cracks. 

There were two dings in the fiberglass that went all the way through to the foam. Ideally I would have had replacement foam but the fiberglass resin and cloth I had worked just as well. In addition to the dings that were not repaired there were old cracks and dings that had been repaired but were in need of being mended again. 

This morning I cut out the damaged fiberglass and foam, sanded the areas around them and sanded the old-repaired dings that needed mending. I used fiberglass resin and patches of fiberglass cloth to fill and cover all damaged areas of the sides and bottom of the board. Once the resin dried (after about 4 hours) I sanded, shaped and polished the resin. I used 60, 80, 150 and 600 grit sandpaper with an electric sander. The patched areas are almost perfectly smooth. Tomorrow I will work on the most damaged areas....the tip and tail.

July 20, 2012

The Best Pancakes EVER!

VegWeb is such a great resource for recipes and cooking/baking techniques for vegans (I love their egg replacer suggestionsI found this great pancake recipe on their site. I've tested many pancake recipes and by far this one has the best rise and texture. I like to add walnuts to my batter once it is smooth.

1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg replacer (I use ground flax seed and water)
1 C non-dairy milk (I use soy)
2 Tblsp. vegetable oil
1 C all purpose-flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tblsp sugar

Mix wet ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Mix dry ingredients in a larger bowl. Pour wet ingredients into dry while whisking. Add any extras such as walnuts, banana or chocolate chips! 

May 23, 2012

Homemade Black Bean Burger (vegan)

Homemade Bean Burger
A coworker gave me a copy of Health Connection (a publication of The Daily Journal). It's cover story was "Going Vegeatarian." Well, I've already done that...actually I went further than that. However, this magazine had a recipe for a black bean burger that looked delicious. I made a couple for dinner and they were very delicious. I made slight modifications to the recipe. I omitted things like ketchup and put barbeque sauce on them during their final stage of cooking. 

bean burger with baby spinach and vegan cheese
Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 6 burgers

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium carrot, shredded
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 tablespoons mustard (I used extra hot mustard)
2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
11/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
6 whole wheat hamburger rolls
baby spinach

In a large skillet heat a tablespoon of oil and saute onion for 2 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Stir in the carrot, chili powder and cumin. Cook 2 minutes longer. Remove from heat; set aside.

In a large bowl mash the beans together. Stir in oats. Add the mustard, soy sauce, pepper and carrot mixture. Mix well. Shape into six patties.

Either grill patties or fry in a skillet for 10 minutes. Near the end of cooking brush about a tablespoon of   barbeque sauce.

May 21, 2012

Zucchini Queenie

My mom provided us with an abundance of zucchini. In order to use the food before it goes bad in our fridge I used it in our dinner and dessert. For dinner I made zucchini pot pies. They were absolutely delicious! These were a modification of an eggplant-tempeh pot pie recipe. For dessert I made (vegan....of course) spiced carrot-zucchini bread.

Spiced Carrot-Zucchini Bread
I found this recipe online. It is simple to make and bakes nicely into a plump, moist dessert bread. There is only 1 cup of sugar so it is not overly sweet.

2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 Cup water
2/3 Cup vegetable oil
1/2 Cup soy milk
1 Cup sugar
2 1/4 Cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Cup chopped walnuts
3/4 Cup carrot, grated
3/4 Cup zucchini, grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flax seed and water in food processor. Blend oil, milk and flax mixture in a large bowl. Sift flour, baking soda and powder, salt and spices. Stir flour mixture into the wet ingredients, just enough to moisten. Add vegetables and walnuts. Stir lightly. Bake in a greased loaf pan for 70 minutes.

Yummy, moist spiced carrot-zucchini bread

May 20, 2012

A Sweater Perfectly Fit For A Pooch

It has be a weekend of four-legged indulgence. From picnic-style lounging to homemade treats we've been living it up!  Westby, our shepherd/border collie/probably retriever mix, and I have spent a few hours over the course of three days laying on a blanket, outdoors, enjoying the summertime weather. Beauie was even able to enjoy the weather while wearing is harness and leash. Oh, and he also snuck out of the house and spent some time strolling through the herb garden. Yesterday, I baked a couple batches of all-natural oatmeal peanut butter dog cookies. They were greatly enjoyed and appreciated. Westby and I were feeling neighborly so we shared a jar with each of our neighbor-pooches (Penny and Sandy). 

Homemade, All-Natural, Oatmeal Peanut Butter Dog Cookies
Currently, our animals are napping on this absolutely beautifully warm, breezy day. While they slumber I am knitting a sweater for the larger of the two. Westby

Westby Napping
 I found a great, free pattern on the Lion Brand yarn website.  So far, it is super simple and extremely enjoyable to knit. There is a very small amount of counting rows and aside from a few buttonholes, I believe a beginner would be successful.

Westby's Sweater (beginning stages)
The border is distinguished by working the seed stitch and the main part is stockinette stitch. The portion pictured above is the back. After it is completed I will create the neck band (seed stitch) and the underside. 

Bonus: Friends of ours told us about this amazing all-natural pet food/treat/toy shop called Hot Diggity Dog. It is located next to and owned by people who run a country market (flowers and herbs). The store is more like a boutique and it is located in a farm-style garage. Trust me, it is not dingy and dirty like you may be thinking. It is so adorable and a great place to buy natural, holistic pet food. We bought a bag of Fromm for Westby and a bag of Solid Gold and BFF wet food for Beauie. They sell great toys and handknit sweaters for dogs. I am considering asking if they would like to buy a few jars of my homemade dog treats to sell. Maybe I'll send them a sample.

April 15, 2012

Our Herb Garden: The Expansion

The past two years we've been growing herbs in garden beds that are mixed with flowers. This year I wanted to create an herb garden of mainly culinary herbs. This weekend I cleaned our ex-cutting garden beds and transformed them into an herb garden. Luke and I filled the beds with compost and purchased an assortment of herbs (perennial and biannual) to get us started. Eventually I would like to lay brick work in between all the beds. We have the bricks but we are going to use them in between the beds of the veggie garden. If there are any leftover I am claiming them for our herb garden. Here are the small herbs we planted to get our herb garden started: