Coconut Shampoo Bars

shampoobar-13

 

For Christmas this year I decided that I wanted to make things for my friends and family instead of buying things and hoping they would like them.  Now don’t get me wrong I will never turn down wine, chocolate, or any geek paraphernalia (I do have Star Trek shirts and sweats on my Amazon wish list after all).  I’ve made lip balms and hand creams a number of times and everyones loved them.  What I have not made yet is soap or solid lotion bars, so I figured this was a good opportunity to try my hand at making them!

I have to admit that the idea of working with lye is a big part of why I’d never made soap before today.  And before you go any further please read this – Lye Safety Guide by Soap Queen – It is important that the proper measures be taken when handling a caustic material.  David is insisting I get a vinyl apron, better gloves, and full face shield before I go any further with my soap making.  That is what living with someone who is currently majoring in bio-chem is like.  😛

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Shredded Beef Tacos

In the last few weeks we’ve had dinner over at a friends house a couple of times. Specifically the person who was my best friend in middle school. We’ve known each other for somewhere around 20 years. A really long time when you’re 32. Crockpot cooking seems like it might be a staple since her husband does freelance video work, and she’s currently a producer at a local TV station and will soon to be a 911 operator in training! The last dinner was shredded chipotle pork tacos, but she fried the corn tortillas and sprinkled them with the powdered parmesan like a local taco stand does.

It. is. amazing.

David typically doesn’t eat pork out of personal preference, so I got a nice looking chuck roast on sale last week. Now it’s insanely easy, but I did manage to mess it up, but I’ll explain that after the fact in the form of a “Do as I say, not as I do” type warning. Also my friend used the Dr. Pepper method for her pork. Being a total lush as of late, I used beer. Okay and we don’t drink soda typically. David got an amazing coffee stout that I divided in half for the 2 roasts I got (one went into the freezer to be used next week).

Gingham Apron // Shredded Beef Tacos

Shredded Beef Tacos

1 Beef chuck roast, about 2-3 pounds
1 Bottle of beer, a good dark stout is best
3 Chipotle peppers and adobo from container

Corn tortillas
Oil
Powdered parmesan cheese
Shredded cheddar cheese
Chopped romaine lettuce
Black olives
Refried Beans
Sour cream

Place the roast into the crockpot.

Use toothpicks to secure the 3 chipotle peppers to the roast

Pour beer over the chipotle adorned roast.

Cook on high for 6+ hours, or until the roast shreds easily.

After the meat is shredded use a frying pan to heat enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Place a tortilla in the pan and place a few tablespoons of shredded meat on one half of the tortilla, quickly fold the taco in half before it start to crisp up. Let the taco get golden and crunchy on both sides before moving it to a tray with a towel to absorb excess oil. Sprinkle with parmesan, and keep making delicious tacos! Add cheese, lettuce, refried beans, black olives, sour cream, or more chipotles if you’re deranged (or David).

I can have 3 folded tacos in my medium frying pan with no issues at one time, because doing one at a time would be painfully long.

As I promised … a warning … Do NOT use the whole can of chipotles. That’s like 8-10 chipotles too many, and it makes the sauce almost unusable. The girls in no way appreciated the spice level of the sauce, so the taco meat was a little drier than it should have been. David managed to make my fuck up tolerable by adding some tomato sauce. That guy is always saving my ass in the kitchen. 😛

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Menu Board

Pinterest strikes again. I saw Stephanie pin a menu board, and the description made me think “meh”, but at one point I finally clicked on it. The shopping list description was not really accurate at all from what I can tell, which was why I was not really interested. I have list making OCD. I don’t need help in that department. At all. I will stalk the stores a few days prior to grocery shopping to ensure I have the right prices, and then I make a spreadsheet.

I do have one problem though. Sticking to a menu plan. I manage to stick to it for a few days, and if I can get a week of actually following my menu plan I’d be shocked. Part of my problem is that I have my menu on my computer in a – prepare to be shocked – spreadsheet. David doesn’t creep around on here to find my menu plan. I’m glad he doesn’t because I don’t need him rolling his eyes at my always open SimCity Social window. 😛

Holy organization batman!

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Thrift and SouthWest Chicken

Money is tight. Story of just about anyone’s life right about now, right? We’re a bit deeper into the “tight” than ever before. David makes less money at his new job, and his new job is also about 50 miles away – one way. Despite the fact that he drives the Prius and maintains a 48 MPG average it still takes a chunk out. Insurance for the family is also taking more from his paycheck than before as he works for a small company with only about 60 people on site.

Oh and if all that wasn’t enough David is going to be going back to school in the fall taking a nearly full course load. I have someone lined up if I ever find a job that pays well enough to validate working. Bringing home $400-$500 a month does NOT qualify thus eliminating most of the jobs around here. Bouncing the girls between a baby sitter, school (for the eldest), and whichever parent isn’t working and is at home is not worth $500 to us.

So all this means that being thrifty is a top priority. Of course I also want to maintain healthy eating habits while being able to have meals simple enough to make that I’m not tempted to say “screw it, I’m getting Papa Murphy’s tonight!”. Enter the fabulous crock pot!

My friend Stephanie is a stay at home mom to three kids, and has a husband (who I’ve known since I was 15) in the Coast Guard and gone fairly often. She’s the person who talked me into begging David for a grain mill and got me into cloth diapering. So to say the least she’s pretty good at being thrifty yet still healthy. I pick her brain for ideas with regularity. A few days ago she gave me a super simple crock pot meal idea … SouthWest Chicken.

Crock pot goodness!

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Pulled Pork Sandwich

I’ve been slacking.  I thought we’d be heading off on a family vacation, but David decided to postpone it to get things like taxes and home repairs done.  We’ve cheated a bit, okay more than most I’m sure, but we’re slowly improving.  Today I was feeling adventurous and had a pork shoulder that I got on Tuesday at Whole Foods.  I found a good base for homemade BBQ sauce and a simple recipe for sandwich rolls.  😀

Perfect out the gate, and I even fudged the recipe a bit!

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