Be Nice! Progress and Frustrations

This concludes my third week of knitting 5 hours per week for charity.  I’m currently knitting for projects listed on the Tropical Yarns site.  I’ve had a touch of knitting ADD this week, so I’m working on multiple projects at the moment…a super-soft baby hat and a cuddly scarf for a big kid.  I also finished a baby hat in crazy-bright pink.

In addition to making some great progress in knitting, I’ve also experienced some big frustrations with this project.  I’ll explain the situation….then I’d love to hear what you would do in the same situation.  I’ve created a hat and socks for soldiers for one of the organizations listed in Knitting for Peace.  Instead of listing a mailing address on the site, the organization asks that knitters contact them for the mailing address.  I’ve tried to contact them multiple times now, and haven’t heard a word back from them!  The web site indicates that I should start a yahoo account in order to follow their group, but I would really rather not add an account that I don’t want or need.  I’ve emailed two different addresses that I found on the site and haven’t heard back.  I’m thinking they must not actually be very interested in receiving items, and I should probably send these items to a group that’s a little more together.  Thoughts?  Ideas? 

In the next week, I should be finishing up the second baby hat and the scarf and moving on to Afghans for Afghans. 😀

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Continued Experiments in Vegetarianism – Frittata

This week’s veggie adventure food is a frittata.  There is a bit of prep involved, but this really is a simple recipe.  It’s also a great “kitchen sink” recipe….throw in some extra stuff and see what happens. 😀

Served with broccoli and sliced tomato covered in feta and sliced almonds. Yum!

*veggie bacon (I used 8 strips.)
*1 cup chopped broccoli florets
*6 eggs
*1/4 cup water
*1/2 cup chopped tomato
*1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (whichever type  makes your heart go pitter patter – or mix up more than one type)
*a little olive oil or butter
*salt, pepper, oregano, and garlic powder (all to taste)
*an oven-safe skillet/frying pan (I like to use cast iron.)   If you don’t have an oven-safe skillet, a shallow baking dish will also work.
*large bowl
 
(Take note!  “To taste” means I have no idea how much I used…I just threw some in there and hoped for yum to happen.)
 
 
What to do:
 
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Prepare veggie bacon in whatever fashion the package indicates.  Crumble up prepared bacon.
3.  Use butter or olive oil to saute broccoli (and whatever other veggies you feel like throwing in).
4.  Lightly beat eggs and add them to the large bowl.
5.  Add all of your other ingredients (including veggie bacon) to the bowl and mix it up.
6.  Pour mixture into skillet. 
7.  Pop in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.  (Use the knife test to make sure it’s done.)
8.  Enjoy!
 
How was it received by my family?  They loved it!  This frittata was gobbled up in a flash.  I’ve tried a few frittata recipes in the past, and this was, by far, the best received.  I didn’t even get any snarky comments about the veggie bacon. 😉

Fluffy Bunny Friendly Product Review – Lip Conditioner

I am a lip balm addict.  I freely admit it.  I use the stuff roughly 568 times more often than any human could possibly require.  Love it, love it, love it.  Given that, I am always very excited to try a new (to me) fluffy-bunny-friendly version of this glorious moisturizer of the kisser.  And this week’s test product has the bunnies frolicking with long-eared, puffy-tailed glee.

Plant a Kiss Lip Conditioner by ecoTOOLS

How does it smell?  A little minty and pleasant.  More importantly, for this particular type of product, is how does it taste?  Yum!  Minty, but not overpowering.

Environmental factors?  Nothing creepy in this lip balm.  The ingredients are all natural.  I have no complaints at all about what’s inside the lip conditioner.  I wish I could say the same for the outside.  The product came in a cardboard box (30% post-consumer recycled)….easy enough to recycle, but even easier to not include in the first place.  The tube itself is recyclable, but it’s one of those pesky number 5s….I’m pretty sure no mere mortal has access to a facility that recycles those.  ecoTOOLS is listed as a 1% For The Planet member.

Does it work?  Yes!  All those shea butter and vitamin hopes and dreams listed on the package are 100% true.  This stuff is very moisturizing and feels great on.  Nothing sticky or slimy or gross….just awesome lip balm.

Does it cost a million dollars?  Nope.  You can pick up a jumbo size lip conditioner for between 4 and 5 dollars.  The jumbo size really is considerably larger than the standard lip balm tube, so the price isn’t bad at all.

Overall rating?  This lip conditioner has 4 of the 5 bunnies hopping with joy.  (I thought about giving the Plant a Kiss 4.5 bunnies, but that seems odd and wrong….perhaps I’ll move to a 10 bunny system???)  The only thing holding the bunnies back from full-on enthusiasm is the recycling/waste issue.  The product itself is fabulous!

Vegetarian Snacker – Pita Bread and Hummus

I have decided to replace the “vegetarian slacker” bit with vegetarian snacker ideas on Fridays.  Let’s face it, most snack foods (other than pork rinds and slim jims) are meat-free anyway, so this is more about delicious snack foods that aren’t full of frightening, unidentifiable things. 

This week’s delicious snack?  Homemade pita bread and hummus.  Yum, yum, yum!  This got gobbled up in my house within 24 hours!  The true beauty of it?  These recipes have no frightening ingredients and are easy to make.  Win!

Served here with the mustardy tofu from earlier in the week.

Pita Bread:

What you need:

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 packet yeast (if the “rapid rise” variety)
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus a bit more
  • a baking sheet or baking pan (something you can turn upside down in the oven that will give you a flat, baking surface)
  • 2 large(ish) bowl
  • rolling pin (or something that will serve as one)
  • 2 to 2 1/2 hours to goof about your house

What to do:

  1. In a bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar, and yeast.
  2. Add olive oil and water to bowl.
  3. Stir (with a spoon) the ingredients until they form a ball.  (This doesn’t really take very long.)
  4. Place ball of dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes (or until you just can’t stand it anymore).
  5. Lightly coat a clean bowl with oil and place your ball of dough in it.  Cover with a towel.
  6. Let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours.  It should be about double in size.
  7. Return dough to lightly floured surface.  Punch dough down (that’s always fun!) and cut into 8 (approximately equal) pieces.
  8. Roll each piece into a ball and let it rest on the lightly floured surface.
  9. After all pieces are rolled into balls, cover them with a damp towel.  Let them rest for 20 to 25 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, place your baking sheet upside down in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  11. Roll each ball out into a circle (aim for 1/4 inch thick).
  12. Place the circles on your baking surface (I was using a smallish baking pan and had to do this in stages.)  Bake for 3 minutes.  (Sounds like a really short time to bake, right?  If you go too much longer than that, your pita bread will be on the firmer, crunchier side.)
  13. Remove from oven and marvel at your success!  (Now go make some hummus!)

Hummus:

What you need:

  • 1 can (16 oz.) of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup chickpea juice (the liquid from the can)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini (I’ve read that you can actually leave the tahini out, so if you can’t find, maybe just try making your hummus without it?)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • garlic (to taste) (I used two cloves, but could have probably gone with a bit more….we’re garlic lovers.)
  • salt (to taste)
  • a food processor or blender

What to do:

  1. Put everything in the blender or food processor.  (Only use 1/4 cup of the chickpea juice…..if you use all of the liquid from the chickpea can, it could have catastrophic consequences….runny hummus!)
  2. Blend or food process until smooth.  (This may take 3 minutes or more.)
  3. Eat it up, yum!

If you’re a dork like me, you’ll be very excited to eat pita and hummus that you created your very own self. 😉

Fluffy Bunny Friendly Product Review – Toothpaste

Yes, toothpaste.  It’s not glamorous or exciting….it doesn’t make you think of a relaxing bath or cuddly, soft skin, but it sure is important.  And, of course, I think it’s important to go cruelty-free with my toothpaste.  There are actually several options for brushing teeth without mistreating bunnies, but today the focus is on:

Toothpaste by Tom‘s of Maine

How does it smell?  Well, like toothpaste.  Minty would probably be the best word. 😉

Environmental factors?  Tom’s is an awesome company that uses cruelty-free ingredients and provides full disclosure of ingredients.  Employees use part of their work hours for volunteer work and Tom’s contributes to charities all about the place.  As far as their toothpaste goes….well, I think they could be more environmentally responsible.  Do we really need a sealed tube inside a box?  Does that box serve any purpose other than making the product fit nicely on the shelves?  Though the box is recyclable, it would be nice to avoid the waste.  Another problem?  After thoroughly analyzing the box and tube, I’m still not sure what the tube is made of or if it can be recycled.  I’m not saying the info isn’t there….if it is, it certainly isn’t obvious.

Does it work?  It does.  It seems to be just the right amount of “toothpaste-y” freshness without the fear (have you looked at the ingredient list of some other brands???).  Clean, fresh breath for hours ahead when you use this.  Tom’s offers up quite a few varieties too….there are fluoride and no-fluoride options, whitening options, sensitive teeth options and so on.

Does it cost a million dollars?  A tube will cost between 4 and 5 dollars at most stores.  Not the super-cheapest toothpaste ever, but I certainly don’t feel like I’m just flinging my money all about the store with the wild extravagance of it all.

Overall rating? This toothpaste makes four of the five bunnies happy.  The “extra” packaging, the recycling questions (particularly when they switched from metal to plastic), and the slightly higher price keep that last bunny from joining in the party.  The other four bunnies are celebrating the lack of animal testing, the good services of Tom’s of Maine, and the minty freshness of this toothpaste.

Be Nice! (Hours 6 through 10)

This week’s knitting-for-peace project brought a lot of satisfaction….because I finished a project.   (Any knitter can tell you that there’s an unparalleled joy that comes from weaving in that last little bit of yarn on a piece….then you get to hold it up and marvel at your new creation! 🙂 )  These socks, along with the red hat I made last week, will be packed up and mailed to The Ships Project in the very near future. 

Made for extra-large feet…big soldiers need slipper socks too. 😉
 
As soon as I finished the socks, I started looking ahead in Knitting for Peace for the next organization listed.  Unfortunately, the next on the list seems to have disappeared from the internet.  I figured I would move to the next on the list and continue checking into the mystery of the vanishing charity.  So, that lands us at Elegant Stitches, a yarn shop in Miami that also provides tons of knitted items to a variety of charities.  The website has free knitting patterns for some of the items needed for charity and a list of current projects and needs….I’ve picked a baby hat and a scarf to complete for Elegant Stitches.  I love that they reach out to several groups around the world with their hand-knit donations.  Today, I buy yarn!  (Which just happens to be one of my very most favorite activities in all of the universe!)

Continued Experiments in Vegetarianism – Mustardy Tofu (with “on a stick” option!)

Knowing that men seem to love any food that includes “on a stick” in the title, I thought I would give this Mustardy Tofu on a Stick a try at our house.  Sadly, we actually found it easier to create and eat these sans sticks, but if you’re determined, I’m sure you can make it work.  It was actually quite easy to make, but you do need to plan ahead due to the marinating.  I served them up with some fresh-made pita and hummus (more on that on Friday) and we feasted like veggie royalty. 😉  Read on to the end to see our thoughts on this new-to-us recipe.

Pretty tasty. 🙂

What you need:

*a pound(ish) of extra firm tofu
*1/2 cup sweet and hot mustard (Let me tell you what I did.  I couldn’t find any sweet and hot mustard, so I made my own creation from 1/4 cup honey mustard, 1/4 cup yellow mustard, and hot sauce.  Sounds gross?  It was actually quite yummy!)
*bread crumbs (enough to cover a plate/coat the tofu pieces)
*pepper flakes (to taste)  (If you’re not a fan of spicy, leave them out…it won’t hurt anything.)
*bamboo skewers if you’re so inclined
*a little olive oil
*a baking sheet
*a baking dish (or some dish large enough to hold all tofu)
 
(Take note!  “To taste” means I have no idea how much I used…I just threw some in there and hoped for yum to happen.)
 
 
What to do:
 
1.  Cut tofu into 8 “sticks.”  (I cut the block in half, then cut each half in half, and then cut each of those pieces in half…all lengthwise so you end up with something that looks like sticks of butter.)
2.  Use paper towels to gently absorb moisture from tofu sticks.  Gentle!  Those little guys break pretty easily.
3.  Place sticks in a pan large enough for all sticks to be in one layer with a little space between them.
4.  Mix up your mustard creation (or use sweet and hot mustard) and use a spoon or brush to coat each stick (all sides!)…just make a big, mustardy mess of the thing….mustard everywhere!
5.  Cover and marinate for several hours (overnight probably wouldn’t hurt…ours marinated for about 9 or 10 hours and had plenty of flavor).
6.  When you’re ready to prepare your dinner, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
7.  Throw some bread crumbs and pepper flakes on a plate.
8.  Gently take each stick of tofu and coat all sides with bread crumbs.  This is a messy, far-from-dainty process, but the alluring mustard scent lingers on your hands for quite some time….you have been warned!
9.  Put a little olive oil on a baking sheet and spread it about.
10.  Place tofu sticks on baking sheet and bake for 10 – 15 minutes (until they look the level of crispy that you desire).
11.  Enjoy!
****If you wish to use skewers, be all smart and stuff and check to see if they’re oven-safe.  If they are, you can pop the skewers into the tofu (gently!) before breading them.  If the skewers are not oven-safe, you can easily pop them into the tofu sticks after they come out of the oven.
 
How was it received by my family?  Well, I intentionally made this one when my stepdaughter wasn’t here….she thinks tofu is one of the four-letter-words that she shouldn’t be saying. 😉  My husband seemed pretty pleased.  No socks were knocked off, but there won’t be any crying-stomping-hissy-fits if this is dinner again sometime.  As with all recipes, we’ll probably continue to tweek this one until we get it just how we like it.  Obviously, if you and yours aren’t fans of mustard, this is not the meal for you.  We’re mustard-lovers here, so we enjoyed the flavors.

Fluffy Bunny Friendly Product Review – Portable Facial Toner

This week’s product is a nice thing to have on hot days when you’ll be out and about for a long time….an easy way to clean up your pretty face without harming any bunnies.

Dickinson’s Original Witch Hazel Oil Controlling Towelettes by Dickinson Brand Inc.

How does it smell?  Not bad.  A lot like witch hazel. 😉

Environmental factors?  This product is 100% natural, which is nice.  The outer carton is easy enough to recycle.  The inner packaging for each wipe, though convenient, does create an awful lot of extra waste.  Also, it’s not clear if those inner wrappers are recyclable or not.  As always, there is no animal testing involved.

Does it work?  Yes, it does!  After using one of these handy little face wipes, my face felt clean, but not all dried out.  This product does exactly what it promises to do….removes oil without drying.

Does it cost a million dollars?  These wipes are a little pricey (to be expected with individual use packs).  This box was about $6.00 at a local drug store.  Though it is nice to have the portable packs, I think I’m happier with a big bottle of witch hazel…..way more uses for the money.

Overall rating?  This facial wipes get 3 bunnies out of 5.  I respect that the product does what it claims and does it well, but I’m a little wary of individual packaging.  The price (compared to a simple bottle of witch hazel) and the extra waste knocked a couple of bunnies from the score here.

Fluffy Bunny Friendly Product Review – Hand Soap

My lack of time management skills is stunning.  And that is why I bring you, today, what was supposed to be Thursday’s post.  Never fear, I do eventually get used to a schedule. 😉  This week’s second fluffy bunny friendly product is a lovely, and easy to find, hand soap.

hand wash by method

How does it smell?  Great!  I love all the scents we have tried.  The family favorite is “waterfall.”  The scents are happy, but not overpowering.  My husband doesn’t have to worry about “smelling like a girl” after he washes his hands. 😉

Environmental factors?  This hand soap is naturally derived and biodegradable.  The container is easily recycled (though I’m not sure about the pumpy bit).  As always, there is no animal testing involved with this product.

Does it work?  Yes!  Hands feel nice and clean after using this soap.  My hands don’t feel like they’ve had every bit of moisture sucked from them or like a layer of lotion has been left behind.  It’s the Goldilocks Zone of soap. 😀

Does it cost a million dollars?  Not at all.  A 12 ounce bottle is $3.99.  The bottles last for quite a while.  We keep one in the kitchen and one in the bathroom….they only have to be replaced every 2 or 3 months.

Overall rating?  This is another 5 out of 5 bunnies product.  It smells lovely, does what it’s supposed to do, and leaves the bunnies out of it.  This soap is also easy to find.  It is sold in many mainstream stores for a reasonable price.

Be Nice! The First Five Hours

So, last week I decided to commit five hours per week to knitting for charity.  I am going to work my way through the book, Knitting for Peace, one charity organization at a time.  The first organization I am knitting for is The Ships Project….I’ve decided to make a hat and slipper socks (using patterns suggested on the project’s website) for a soldier/sailor with a chilly brain case and frosty foot digits. 

Odd that five hours sounds like long enough to get quite a lot of knitting done, but short enough to be easy-peesey to fit into the schedule.  Wrong on both counts!  I was able to finish the hat, but only got this far into slipper sock number one:

Never fear….I’ll make two. 😉

Not only did I not get as much accomplished as hoped, I also had a surprisingly difficult time fitting in five hours for knitting….mostly due to procrastination and epic goofing off.  My goal for now to next Wednesday?  Of course, another five hours of knitting….more specifically, I’d like to finish this pair of slipper socks and begin working on another pair of socks for a different organization.  Check back next week to see how I do. 😉

Not a color I would normally choose, but The Ships Project's site said to go for bright.