Battery Organization

A short and sweet post, but I found a "scrapbooking organizer" at Big Lots for $3. It was just the right size for my batteries. I've been meaning to do this for awhile so one more thing crossed off my to do list. 


Homemade Dog Treats

Disclaimer: This recipe is the perfect excuse for me to go overboard with self-serving adorable pictures of my dog. Be warned- he's got the puppy dog eyes down!

I love my dog. He's a boxer mastiff mix that we got from North Country Animal League when he was 3 months old. My son's birthday is a week before my and my husband's (yes we have the same birthday) so he was a group birthday present.

He used to be little.
Not anymore!

Griffin lives a life of luxury. He naps, he goes for rides in the truck, he sleeps in the bed, he runs giant circles through freshly fallen snow in our yard, basically his life is a cakewalk. Except for one factor- our toddler. She loves Griffin, and sometimes she shows that love in a rough in your face kind of way. He takes it all in stride and just deals with it.

They're best buds. They even share facial expressions.

Cuddle buddies.
He loves the kids- even when my son inexplicably thinks they should go sit in the cage together.

So he deserves treats. For some reason he doesn't like store bought bones. We go to the dump and they give him a Milkbone. He takes it into his mouth and sits with it, but never eats it. Strange dog. Homemade treats though? A whole new story. He begs for these.

Homemade Dog Treats
(makes roughly 6 dozen) The whole batch only costs $1.50 to make, that's only .25/dozen!

2 medium overripe bananas (3 small- I had 3 small ones on hand this time, .60/lb roughly 1/2 lb) .30
1 1/2 cup oatmeal (will be put in at two different times- I buy in bulk & it costs me .20/cup) .30
3 cups of flour (if I have whole wheat on hand I use half white half wheat- I buy white flour in bulk & the final cost-out is .13/cup) .39
1 cup broth (I use chicken broth, you can use vegetable broth for vegan treats. Make sure your broth doesn't have onion powder in it as it can be dangerous for dogs. I buy powdered broth in bulk) .15
1/2 cup peanut butter (64 oz is 5.65, .09/oz) .36

1. Preheat oven to 350. Locate some squashy bananas, the type you'd make banana bread out of. I have also successfully used homemade applesauce or extra baked sweet potatoes instead of banana. Puree them in the food processor.

2. Add 1 cup of oatmeal into the blender with the banana puree. Pulse so that the oatmeal is pulverized. 

Add in the peanut butter. It should be roughly half a cup, I just stick in two big spoonfuls because it's easier than measuring it out and scraping it out of the cup. Blend.

Add in the 1 cup of broth and 1 cup of the flour. 

Pulse to mix, then add in 1 more cup of flour. Blend until it looks like hummus. 

Looks like hummus to me.

3. The mix will be really sticky at this point. Add in the rest of the oatmeal (1/2 cup) and 1 more 1/2 cup of flour (you'll have 1/2 cup left).

4. Flour an area on your counter. I use a spatula to take a large dollop out of the processor. Flip it a couple of times to get flour on both sides, shaking off excess. Now pat it out into a large round. I've tried using a rolling pin before but it is typically just easier to use your hands. 

Cut out your shapes. I used a Martha Stewart bone cookie cutter that I picked up at Petsmart and some dinosaur cookie cutters from my husband's childhood. 

Put them on a tinfoil lined cookie sheet that is lightly sprayed with cooking spray.

Bake them at 350 for 14 minutes. If you are using small shapes you'll want to cut the time a little bit because they'll brown faster on the edges. This is a large recipe. To minimize time in the kitchen I use two cookie sheets. While one is in the oven baking I am cutting out shapes and loading up the other one so it is ready to go in. After the first batch is baked my dog starts salivating and comes into the kitchen to hang out. 

My daughter is putting a "blanket" on him. 
5. The treats will look a tiny bit puffy when they come out of the oven. 

Put them on racks to cool. 

Cooling T-Rexes, bones & according to my son's dino book Avaceratops.
Make sure to find a qualified taste tester.

These will keep for roughly 2 weeks in an airtight container. I packaged mine up and brought them to a food swap that I co-hosted. They're always a hit- what can I say, humans like to spoil their dogs :) . 



Make Your Own Body Wash

If I knew how easy it was to make my own body wash I would have done it long ago. I'm cheap- "thrifty" if you think cheap's a dirty word. Plus my husband has eczema so simple is best. I started making my own laundry powder and dish detergent long ago so body wash was the next logical evolution. I'll go through the base recipe and also give the "fancy" version that I make for my use. My husband loves Ivory's plain body wash so that's what he got.
When I say "easy" I'm not kidding. I made this in very little time with an 18 month old "helping" me. And we all know how "helpful" toddlers can be. 

Body Wash
Total Cost $4.36 per batch, makes 8 12 oz containers @ .55/each
(Made roughly 48 oz of each type- 96 oz total)

1 gallon distilled water .89
3 bars of Ivory soap (You want roughly 4 cups of grated soap- it'll be a little over with the 3 bars) (I buy a 10 pk at a time since I also use it in laundry powder, I buy when it's on sale & it's $5 or less, 10 bars = .50/bar) $1.50
4 TBSP vegetable glycerin (I got 16 oz on Amazon for $9- .56/oz, 1 TBS=.5 oz, 4 TBS=2 oz) $1.12
15 drops of essential oil if using (.5 oz container is $5, I only used a little bit) .75
1/4 tsp ground rosemary
1/2 cup oatmeal (I buy in bulk, it's .20/cup) .10
6 16 oz jars or 8 12 oz jars (It's a good idea to have an extra jar or two available. Because this recipe involves melting soap and boiling water the yield can be slightly different each time.)
a funnel
a ladle 

1. Split the 1 gallon of distilled water between two pots. Bring to a boil. I do this because I make half the batch plain and half the batch scented. If you're making just one type and have a big enough pot feel free to do it all together.

2. Grate the 3 bars of Ivory Soap. I have a dedicated box grater that I use for grating body wash & laundry soap. I definitely recommend a box grater or your wrist will be hurting by the third bar! It took me less than 10 minutes to grate them all. I have a designated tupperware container that I use to shred into that is also my laundry powder mixing container. My "helper" took the paper off of all the soap. 

I use a plastic cup to measure. It's 9 oz so just a touch over 1 cup.

3. Turn the stovetop down to low. Add two cups of soap and two tablespoons of vegetable glycerin to each pot. 

Stir occasionally. It will take about 15 minutes for all the soap to melt properly. It'll go through three stages.

Shiny and coating the top until it really starts melting.

Then the water will turn cloudy and the pieces that are still melting will clump together. 

Last, a bubbly surface will form. All the soap is melted at this point.
Make sure you keep your helper happy during this process.

4. Get your extra add-ins ready if you're making my "spa-version" in addition to the plain body wash. You'll need to add 1/4 tsp of ground rosemary (or spice of your choice), 15 drops of essential oil & the pulverized oatmeal into one of the pots and stir it well. 

I used lavender, which I love!
Let the mixture simmer for about 3 more minutes and stir often to prevent the oatmeal from sinking and clumping. I pulverize the oatmeal so I can put the wash in a squeeze bottle and it will still come out easily.

5. Turn the heat off. Let everything cool off for roughly 10 minutes. Next, use the ladle and the funnel to transfer the mixtures to their jars to fully cool. Make sure to stir the spa version with the ladle as needed to prevent the oatmeal from settling. I use random jars from condiments for this since they're just holding the wash until you fill up the dispenser of your choice in the shower. 

It's going to look super liquid-y. You'll be shaking your head and thinking I steered you wrong. Don't worry! Just walk away. I leave them for a few hours and go about my day. They thicken as they cool. 

Still liquid-y.
But 8 hours later I went back and ......

It will thicken up, you may even be alarmed by how thick it is. Again, don't worry it's still fine.
6. Time to decant your wash into your dispenser of choice. I put my husband's plain wash into his old Ivory bottle and I put my fancy wash into a squeeze bottle. Just shake the jar over the funnel. The wash will be a little jiggly and gelatinous. It is best kept in a bottle you can shake before using. I use a chopstick to "help" the wash through the funnel and into the squeeze bottle.
Now go take a luxurious spa-like shower and enjoy!

Veggie-fied Meatloaf "Cupcakes"

Mmm, yum. 

For a self-proclaimed "meatloaf-hater" this is now my second meatloaf recipe I'm posting. You can find the 1st one here. As a Pinterest addict (Find me on Pinterest!) I've seen my share of meatloaf cupcake recipes floating around. I saw a few examples that involved wrapping the cupcakes in bacon. I've got a bacon loving husband and I didn't have any foil cupcake liners so I decided it'd be a good idea. In the end result, I'm not sure the wrapped bacon added a ton to the texture of the cupcake but the whole cupcake was infused with bacon flavor from the drippings that they were cooked in. Next time I may finely chop the bacon and work it into the meat. I didn't use any breadcrumbs or egg. These are super simple to make and hide secret servings of veggies. They were a huge hit and I think they'll be on my son's birthday menu in March when he turns 8.

Veggie-fied Meatloaf Cupcakes
(Makes 12 cupcakes- recipe is easily doubled)

12 slices bacon
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 lb ground beef
2 carrots, shredded
1.5 oz shredded parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt (for meatloaf)
1/2 tsp pepper
8 oz frozen spinach
1 TBS butter
1/2 tsp salt (for "frosting")
1/2 tsp pepper (for "frosting")

1. Preheat oven to 350. Start a pot of water boiling on the stovetop & put the potato chunks in it.

2. Curl the bacon around in the muffin cups and put them into the oven for about 7-10 minutes to cook a bit.

I think it may be time for a new muffin tin. This one's looking haggard.
3. While the bacon is cooking shred your carrots and cheese. Mix the ground beef with the spices.

Add the shredded carrots and cheese.  I like to slip veggies into meals. Ha-ha secret carrots!

Mix in well with your hands.

4. Form it into meatballs & press down into the center of the bacon curls in the pan. Leave any drippings that the bacon has shed. It will infuse the meatloaf with an awesome bacon flavor and help to make the bottoms crispy. 

Put into 350 degree oven and bake for 20 minutes.

5. When your potatoes are cooked turn off the burner but leave the potatoes in hot water to keep them warm. You want to make the whipped potato "frosting" when the cupcakes are 5 minutes away from being ready. You'll want to cook the frozen spinach at this point. I steamed it in the microwave. When it comes out I leave the hot water in the container until it's time to puree it. 

6. When your cupcakes have 5 minutes left in the oven strain the water off of the potatoes and the spinach and put them in the food processor with the metal blade attachment. 

Add 1 TBS butter, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Whip until smooth. You won't need to add any milk or cream because the water content of the spinach makes the puree really smooth. 

7. Pull the cupcakes out of the oven. Now you get to choose- do you want them to be fancy or not? If you want them to be fancy spoon the potato spinach puree into a piping tube & pipe it onto the top of the cupcakes. If you're not feeling fussy (or no one but your family is going to see them) just spread a dollop on top of each one. Serve any extra puree on the side or save for another night. Enjoy!

The front one was dolloped, the rear one was piped on. I think they both look (and taste) yummy!