Wednesday, September 17, 2014

We Did It Wednesday: Horchata (and review of the Best Nut Milk Bag)

(Disclaimer- This post contains affiliate links.  This simply means that if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you.  I also received a free product in exchange for this review.  However, all opinions are 100% my own.)

I first tasted horchata a few years ago on a road trip.  I absolutely fell in love with the creamy, sweet, cinnamony flavor and knew I wanted to try making it at home.  I put on my want list, a fine mesh bag or sieve and then never bought one.  Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I received the opportunity to review the Best Nut Milk Bag Now, I had no reason to not try and replicate this yummy treat.  Before I get to the recipe, let me tell you a bit more about the Best Nut Milk Bag .  This bag is great for exactly what its' name implies, making nut milks, and so much more.  On my personal list of things to try in the future are almond milk, Greek yogurt, and Elderberry Syrup, but it can be used for any recipe that requires you to run the ingredients through a fine sieve.  Here are some of the features of the bag:

Nut Milk BagThe Secret to Pulp Free Nut Milks and Juices, Without the Mess, Lumps, Frustration, Waste and Tearing You Get With Cheesecloths or Cheap Nut Milks Bags!

Make Healthy, Deliciously Smooth Almond Milk, Nut Milks, Cold Brew Coffee and Juices While Saving Time and Money with Your Premium, 12" x 10" Vita Nut Milk Bag.

- You Only Have to Filter Once. Ultra Fine, High Quality Reusable Mesh Bag Means No Pulp Gets Through.
- Make More Milk from Your Almond Milk Recipe! Tight Weave and Heavy Duty Fabric Mean You Can Squeeze More Milk Out. No More Waste, and Drier Pulp!
- No Holes, Tearing or Clogging Like You Get With Cheaply Constructed Bags You Have to Keep Replacing. Our Premium, Double Enforced Outer Stitching Lasts Longer and Works Better than Other Bags.
- No Dirty Residue. Durable, Tight Weave Means No Pulp Left Behind After Washing. Your Bag Stays Sanitary for the Healthiest Drinks, Sprouts and Yogurt Possible.
No Moldy Bags. Elastic Top Bags Dry Flat After Washing, Making Them Susceptible to Mold. Vita's Enforced Drawstring Makes Drying Quick, Complete, and More Sanitary.

FREE BONUS - Recipe E-Book with Nut Milk and Juicing Recipes specially designed for use with the Vita Nut Milk Bag.

I really like this bag and plan to use it many, many more times.  The chopped rice and cinnamon sticks that I used this with had many sharp edges and likely would have shredded cheesecloth, but the bag held up well.  It is easy to wash, and easy to dry.  I suspect it will last for quite a while and through many, many uses.  I also love that I can easily keep the pulp that I strained for other uses.  For example, I am going to use the rice and cinnamon from the horchata to grind into rice flour for snickerdoodle cookies.  Overall, I would highly recommend this bag.

Now for the recipe:

- 1 cup uncooked white rice
- 4 cups of water
- 1/2 cup milk (the more fat, the creamier it will be)
- 1 1/2 cups light cream
- 1/2 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1/3 cup white sugar

1) Put the rice, water and cinnamon sticks into a blender and blend for about 1 minute, making sure the rice and cinnamon break apart somewhat.

2) Refrigerate mixture overnight, or at least 6 hours.

3) Strain the water mixture through a fine mesh sieve or The Best Nut Milk Bag, into a pitcher.  Set aside the rice and cinnamon for another use or discard it.

4) Stir in the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar.

5) Chill for 1 hour.

6) Stir.  Serve over ice.

Have you ever had horchata?  What did you think of it?  How else would you use the Best Nut Milk Bag?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Time for Others Tuesday: Me :)

I decided that for the first interview, I would tell you a little about me.

The Happy Wife

Name: Danielle Garcia

Hometown: Rochester, NY

Current city: Rochester, NY

Family: husband, Juan, and 6 children, 3 girls and 3 boys, ages from 3 months-13 years

Current occupation: homemaker, blogger, homeschooling mom

Favorite Color: pink

An inspirational quote that you love: "If you desire to make a difference in the world, you must be different from the world." - Elaine S. Dalton

Any 3 facts about you that are not listed above:
- I am proud to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints.
- I had no idea how to cook or clean when I got married.  With a patient husband, a number of trials and errors, and the help of a college cooking course, I slowly learned how to cook decent meals and it became a passion of mine.  I have also learned how to clean, although that is not a passion of mine ;)
- Growing up, I did not want to ever have children.  Around the age of 19, I made a 180 and decided I wanted a dozen kids.  Of course, life is what it is and while I am pretty sure I am not going to have another 6 babies, I am more than happy with the ones I have been blessed with.

How can others connect with you on social media:

Other: n/a

Monday, September 15, 2014

Making It Better Monday: Homemade cough syrup

Disclaimer- This post contains an affiliate link.  This means, if you click the link and make a purchase, I may receive a small percentage of what you spent.  This is at no additional cost to you.  I did receive any payment or products in exchange for this post.  My opinion is what I wrote and is no way influenced by the affiliate link.

With school now in session for all of the US and the weather turning colder, there is no doubt that most of us will experience at least one cough and/or cold this year.  I dislike all the extras that are added to many cough syrups, including high fructose corn syrup.  I also have gagged on every commercial cough syrup I have ever tried, so it does not work for me anyway.  Several years ago, I went searching for a homemade version that would work for me.  I wrote down the recipe when I found it and when I recently went back so I could give credit to the right person, I see it is all over the internet, so I have no idea who truly create it.  Therefore, I feel it is ok for me to share it here.  None-the-less, if anyone knows who the original creator of the recipe is, please share it with me and I will give the proper credit.

Here we go:

1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. honey (I prefer to use local, but any honey will work)
1 Tbsp. apple-cider vinegar (I think Bragg's tastes the best, but any will work)
2 Tbsp. water

Once they are mixed well, take 1-2 teaspoons as needed to soothe your cough.

Here is why each ingredient works:
Ginger- an antispasmodic which helps calm the muscles that cause coughing; also has antibacterial and antioxidant properties so it can help prevent illness and disease

Cayenne- another antispasmodic and also helps break up the mucus causing the congestion and cough (this why you get a runny nose when you ate something spicy)

Honey- besides being soothing, honey also has antibacterial and antiseptic properties

Apple Cider Vinegar- kills germs

Water- there is really not enough to be super beneficial, but it helps dilute the strong flavors of the other ingredients and of course, it is hydrating.  I still recommend drinking lots more afterwards, mainly to increase hydration, thin the mucus, and wash away the acidic ingredients of the cough syrup.

My experience has been that after 1 day of using this, my cough has cleared up each time.  I cannot promise the same for you, but it has been that way for each person in my house.  The number of doses is not the same, so maybe it is the combination of the ingredients and rest, but never-the-less, it has always worked for us.  I also have to say that the taste is not the best, but honestly, does ANY cough medicine taste good?  The taste is no worse than any commercial cough syrup I have ever tried and I can get it down without gagging on it.

This solution will help improve your health, finances, and environmental impact.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

School Saturday: Grease

I am excited to have found a new curriculum this year for my kids, Discoveryk12.  It can be used through the school year on their schedule, or you can use it on your own schedule.  You can have them do most of the work independently or you can work alongside them.  It covers a great range of topics and uses free resources for reading and videos.  We are using it for much of our "academic" studies, but I am still putting together themed activities for supplemental learning.  This week, my older girls watched the musical Grease, so I used that as the theme for all the kids.  Before anyone gets upset about the moral issues that come up in Grease, we personally use it as a diving board to discuss those issues with our older kids, so this also allowed for life lessons in addition to "school."

Middle School (7th and 8th grade)
Writing- Each girl was asked to choose 3 characters from the movie and write about what they thought happened in their life after the movie ended.

US History- Each girl was to choose one of the following people: Elvis Presley, Debbie Reynolds, Sandra Dee, Doris Day, Ricky Nelson, or Shelly Farbares.  They then researched the person and gave a mini-presentation on why they were famous and their contributions to American culture.

Health- I had the girls work on a Smoking Crossword and then work together to create an anti-smoking commercial for the radio.

Physical Education- All of the kids learned and danced the hand jive.

Music- I count watching the musical as part of their music education, but the girls also learned and practiced singing We Go Together, from the musical.

Visual Arts- The girls chose a nonsense phrase from the song We Go Together and turn it into a piece of word art.  They were free to design it any way they wanted, as long as the phrase was prominent.

Practical Arts- Each girl created a diner-inspired meal consisting of a burger, fries, and a milkshake.  My 13-year old created a BLT burger with cheese fries and a Peanut Butter cup milkshake and my 12-year old topped her burger with avocado and bacon and served it with bacon and cheese covered fries and an Apple Cinnamon milkshake.  They also both curated an outfit on Polyvore that was inspired by a character from Grease.  You can check out their Rizzo-inspired outfits here and here.

This unit was mostly geared toward the older kids, but all of the kids learned the Hand Jive and the 2 elementary kids also created a milkshake.  My 7 year old created a Chocolate Covered Strawberry milkshake that was absolutely amazing and my 6-year old's Cinnamon Banana milkshake was pretty tasty, too.  She also decided to curate her own Sandy-inspired outfit on Polyvore.  The 4 oldest kids and I also went to the drive-in on Friday night to watch Dolphin Tale 2, Winter's Tale, which will be the basis of next week's lesson.  The elementary kids also did a mini-unit on coins which consisted of learning about the people and places found on coins, coin identification, coin rubbings, and an old song I remembered from when I taught the older girls about coins.  The song talks about the value of each coin.  I cannot find it any more on the internet and I made up the tune, so it is not something that can be easily shared on the blog :(

I don't really do any formal schooling with my 2-year old, but I do set goals of things I will work on with him each week.  This week's goals were to work on recognizing his first name in print,  identifying the primary colors, animal sounds, and hopping.  For his name, I made up a word document and wrote his name out as may times as it would fit.  I made the letters, empty block-style letters (under word-art) and increased the size to the largest possible.  He liked coloring it, but I am pretty sure he still has no idea it was actually his name ;)


Friday, September 12, 2014

Found on the web Friday

Around the Web

These are things I have come across this week.  It does not mean they were originally published this week, just that I found them this week.

- Back in February, Buzzfeed published a piece that shared 31 Impossibly Fun Wedding Ideas.  My favorite idea from the list is to honor the grandmothers by having them be your flower girls.  I just found it to be an incredibly sweet way to include them in the ceremony.  The list has many more unique ideas as well, so be sure to check it out.


- I love the free crochet pattern for this Stars and Stripes scarf from Yarnspirations.  I am hoping to make it for my daughter who loves everything patriotic.  I am new to crocheting, but the pattern is rated to be fairly easy.

- In March, Nadia, at Teach Me Mommy, shared how she organizes her craft tapes.  I am new to using washi tape, but think her idea for organizing them is genius.  I also like how she organizes her bigger tapes.

- My new baby loves his muslin blankets, both for swaddling and as a nursing cover.  The fabric is breathable so he doesn't sweat like crazy under it, yet it provides me the coverage I want without being see-through.  I was excited to find this post from Must Have Mom! (from March) for DIY Cotton Muslin Swadling Blankets tutorial.

- I recently received a nut milk bag from From Kitchen Essentials to review.  I am planning on making horchata with mine, so keep an eye out for that post coming soon.  In the meantime, An Ordinary Housewife shared how she used the nut milk bag to make almond milk.  I love almond milk and have wanted to make my own for a while and now that I have this bag, I have no excuses not to try it.


These are giveaways I have found and entered.  In each case, if you follow the link, I will receive an extra entry into the giveaway.  This will not always be the case, but this week it worked out that way. 

- Win a Hillshire Farms Naturals product from Nicole's Nickels.  Super easy entries, end 9/15/14.

- Easy Green Mom is giving away  SpenceBaby organic hoodie and pant set.  Easy entries.  The giveaway is part of a blog hop, so there are a bunch more baby-themed giveaways listed on her page.  Ends 9/15/14.

-  You can win DisneyNature Bears on Blu-Ray from The Review Wire.  Lots of ways to enter, including a free daily entry.  Ends 9/17/14.

- Measuring Flower is hosting a Spa for Ma blog hop and they are giving away a $300 Kohl's gift card.  There are links to other giveaways related to pampering mom on the page. Ends 9/15/14.

- The Review Wire is also participating in a giveaway blog hop, this one is for autumn apparel.  You can win a Karina dress from them and she also has more links to other participating blogs on the page.  Ends 9/23/14.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Things I Love Thursday: Apples

Since we went apple picking on Monday, and I am just in an apple mood, this week, I am sharing  the things I love that are apple related.  These are all from sellers that I have approached and none of the links are paid links, nor did I receive anything in exchange for these postings.  This week's posts are all from Etsy, one of my favorite places to shop.  All pictures belong to the respective seller of the product.

apple lip butter balm

I do not use a lot of lip balms, but when I do, I want them to smell yummy and not be full of chemicals.  That is why I love this Autumn Apple Lip Butter from AnitasLaLaLand.  It is 100% natural and Anita currently has a $5 (USD) off a $30 (USD) purchase coupon for her shop.

apple soy candle
I do burn a LOT of candles and I especially love food scents, so this Autumn Apple Soy Candle from aPinkButterfly is right up my alley.  I love that the wick is also zinc and lead free, making this a truly clean burning candle.  Also, because it is soy, once it is gone, you can clean the container out with a little soap and water and use it to organize or store smaller items. 

collapsible apple basket

Speaking or organizing, I absolutely love this Collapsible Apple Basket from idugitup.  It would look great on a counter or table full of apples or whatever you want to have it hold.  When you are not using it, it folds down flat for easy storage.

apple hair bow
One of the things I miss as my girls are getting older is their willingness to wear cute hair bows, but I still have my 7-year old who will wear them, at least a little longer.  I love this Apple Bow from Primrose & Patches (primroseandpatches).  It is also available with the bigger ribbon in green and the medium ribbon in red.
 modest apple jumper
Another item I would love to have for a little girl is this Little Girls Autumn Jumper and Peasant Blouse from JoyfullySewnDesigns.  I love that it is modest, and allows a little girl to be a little girl.  It also comes with 2 matching hair bows.  There is also a coupon for $5 off a $50 purchase available at this shop. 

apple candy boxes

How cute are these apple boxes?  These would be super cute for a teacher appreciation gift or how about for a teacher to hand out treats to her students?  I would use them as favors for an apple themed birthday party.  This is an Apple Candy Box Kit which is a digital download (No shipping costs...yay!) from claudinehellmuth.  Claudine also send written instructions and has a video link to show you how to assemble them.

apple apron

For those who do not know, I am an apron addict, so when I saw this Half Apron with Apples from Planet of the Aprons (JNAprons), I instantly loved it.  I love that it is a longer half-apron, instead the short ones that are most common.  I also love the bright, cheerful colors.  Her prices are also very reasonable for aprons.

Apple cozy
I love to pack an apple with me when I am on the run, but if I am not eating it right away, I worry that it will get bumped up and bruised.  That is why I love this apple cozy from TupeloHoneys.  What a cute and easy way to pack an apple in your lunch or just in your bag for a snack later in the day. 

Do you have any apple themed items that you love or would love to have?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We Did It Wednesday: Decorated Clipboards

My kids have been wanting clipboards so that they can carry their schoolwork with them and work on it wherever they may be.  In an effort to stop any arguments before they started, I decided each child would have their own clipboard. We decided to decorate them in order to tell them apart.  I am pleased with how easy they were and how inexpensive.  The kids love them, too, so that is a bonus.

First, I picked up clipboards from Dollar Tree and took the kids to Joann's to pick out scrapbook paper and origami paper.  My oldest chose duct tape sheets (penguins) instead of scrapbook paper, but most of the instructions are the same. I also pulled out the Mod Podge, some paintbrushes, a pencil, scissors and old newspapers. 
decorative clipboards

Second, we traced the clipboards on the blank side of the scrapbook paper and cut it out.  With the extra strip of paper, I drew their first initial freehand and cut it out.  If I had it to over, I would probably use the Cricut, but c'est la vie.

Next, we brushed the back of the clipboard with Mod Podge and applied the scrapbook paper.  We did not use Mod Podge to adhere the duct tape since it did not need any help sticking to the board.  Try to remove as many air bubbles as possible.  We matched up a piece of origami paper to each board and trimmed it to a size that looked good.  (Note- on mine, the one with the "D" on it, we did not trim the origami paper.)  We then used Mod Podge to attach it to the center of the board (some were turned to look like a diamond and others were left square) and then added their initial.  After we were done with all that, we added a layer of Mod Podge over the top to seal it and let it dry.

You can also apply scrapbook paper to the front and add ribbons, which we may do at another time, but we are happy with how they look now, so we may just let them be.

covered clipboards

This final picture does not do the boards justice, as they look much better in person.  Seeing the picture makes me wish we had used the Cricut, and we might re-do them in the future.  I also prefer the look of the origami paper better when it is trimmed and turned to look like a diamond.  The one with a "D" also shows the importance of removing the air bubbles, or at least making sure they are as small as possible.  It does not affect the function, but does affect the overall look.  Also, measure your paper twice before cutting so you do not end up with bare edges like a few of ours.  Overall, they were pretty inexpensive to make (about $2 for each one) and everyone is happy with them, so it is a success in my book.