February Silly Simple Wrap Up

Silly Simple Living February Wrap Up

 

Whew! Another month down, on wards into March. Here is just a handful of the content that we covered here on Silly Simple Living during February. Stay tuned, we have more great stuff coming in March!

Romance on a Dime ‘I Dig Green’ Pinterest Challenge

For the month of March I am participating in the Romance on a Dime Green Pinterest Challenge. I have developed a pin board over on Pinterest that will showcase my favorite ‘green’ projects.

by the way are you following me on Pinterest yet?

 

 

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Keeping it simple…

Editor’s note:  This is a recurring Wednesday segment on SillySimple where we can ground ourselves in the simple solution to everyday life.

In the name of keeping it simple for the fifth Wednesday in February…

“A simple answer may not always be the best answer, but it’ll do in a pinch. ” ~ anonymous

So on that note… what answers are you searching for this week?

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Frugal Gardening 2012: Seed starting revisited

frugal gardening seed startingHere in the DC area we have had a delightfully mild winter so far (insert superstitious ramblings about knocking on wood in hopes that this trend continues). Even with the mild winter I am still eagerly awaiting spring; and to prepare, Mr. Silly Simple and I have started growing some seeds indoors. Last year we embarked on an ambitious and creative seed starting campaign (more on that below).

Last year I loved the idea of having all these plants ready to go in the ground at the first sign of spring. It was frugal, it was green, it was great. What I didn’t realize is that you are actually only supposed to plant a few types of seeds indoors before the season begins. In my agricultural zone, plants like squash, lettuce, beans and carrots can be planted right into the ground in spring (who knew?).

Now that we are in year two of the frugal garden adventure we have much less glamorous plans in terms of seed starting. Our goals are a few tomato plants, and a few pepper plants. We are focusing on varieties that aren’t readily available as fully formed plants at the local garden center. By keeping the total number of seedlings low (~10 total) we hope to be able to focus more on keeping them watered in a window, and help them to adjust to the outdoors better in preparation for spring planting.

Want to find out more about great ways to start seeds indoors? I discussed this at length last spring, check out these great posts:

Newspaper Seed StarterRecycled Newspaper Seed Containers:

I LOVED this project, these are addictive pots to make, I sat down to create just one of these to take photographs of and ended up making half a dozen just because it was so much fun I didn’t want to stop. (more)

 

 

tomatoes in ice cube trayRepurpose Ice Cube Trays into planters:

The first seed starter attempt is a repurposed ice cube tray.  Ice Cube trays are one of those throw backs to the days before automated ice makers, lots of people have them gather dust around their home (or maybe this is just my home?). (more)

 

Egg Carton Seed Starter FinishedRecycled Egg Carton Seed Containers:

I had so much fun with the ice cube tray seed starters that I started to wonder what else I had hanging around the house that I could use.   When these sorts of “use what you have on hand crafting” moods strike the recycling bin is the perfect starting point :-)   One of the items that I found in the recycling bin was a card board egg carton….(more)


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Have you started planning your garden this year? What new things are you thinking about trying?

Check us out over at: Lovely Crafty Home, Bubbly Nature Creations

 

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Keeping it simple…

Editor’s note:  This is a recurring Wednesday segment on SillySimple where we can ground ourselves in the simple solution to everyday life.

In the name of keeping it simple for the fourth Wednesday in February…

“Sometimes if you don’t have anything to say, it’s best not to say anything at all.” ~ anonymous

I have been reminded again lately that how you listen is often more important than what you say.

So on that note… How have you been?

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Lemon Poppy Seed Frozen Yogurt Popsicles

yogurt popsicle

 

 

Sometimes I just crave something sweet and cold for a treat. I don’t typically keep ice cream on hand for a few different reasons (mostly because if I have it, I eat it, and then I don’t have it anymore). This tasty cold treat, however, is both homemade and delicious.


I was especially excited because I had a chance to use my Valentine’s day gift from Mr. Silly Simple. Yeah he got me a set of popsicle molds, I like to think it is because I am low maintenance :-)

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 C plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 packet artificial sweetener (If you prefer to use real sugar use ~1 TBSP just make sure it dissolves fully in the lemon juice before you mix all the ingredients together)
  • 1 tsp poppy seeds

Directions:

1. Mix the ingredients together

2. Pour into popsicle molds

3. Freeze for at least 2 hours

Do you love poppy seeds? Looking for a good deal on them? Amazon has a great deal on poppy seeds available right now.



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Check us out over at: Someday Crafts, Every Creative Endeavor, Tater Tots and Jello, Romance on a Dime, Confessions of a Stay at Home Mommy

Note: This blog post contains referral links.
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Keeping it simple…

Editor’s note:  This is a recurring Wednesday segment on SillySimple where we can ground ourselves in the simple solution to everyday life.

In the name of keeping it simple for the third Wednesday in February…

Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging ~ Joseph Campbell

I was just having a conversation with a friend this week about the difference between taking the easy route that we know and actually accepting the challenge to move beyond the comfortable and known.

waterfall of life

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Easy meringue cookies with maple syrup

homemade meringue photoA note from SillySimple: This post is written by Mr. Silly Simple who is awesome at breaking down complicated recipes into not so complicated ones. I can attest that these are very delicious treats.

Somewhere between cookies and confections lies the ethereal decadence that is meringue.  They’re relatively simple to make with just a few key ingredients (egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and sugar), and are simply perfect with a good quality cup of coffee (or hot chocolate, if that’s your thing).

Meringues also allow me to indulge in flavors that would otherwise be downright embarrassing if I were caught sampling straight out of a jar or bottle… like orange blossom honey or pure maple syrup.  Mmm…. maple syrup.

My personal favorite is the pure light syrup from Berkshire Sweet Gold, which isn’t overpoweringly sweet, and has subtle notes of vanilla.  My wife and I first picked up a bottle at a local craft fair after talking with the absolute best sales person ever (if you want me to buy your wares, be ready to nerd it up and explain the science behind your products). We have no regrets, it is absolutely delicious maple syrup.

Here’s a modified basic meringue recipe that satisfies my sweet tooth without resorting to chugging liquid gold straight from a bottle.  Alternatively, you can substitute your favorite honey or syrup for the maple syrup if you so prefer.

Ingredients:meringue supplies
2 large fresh egg whites*
1/8 tsp salt (yes, that’s the same salt cellar that Alton Brown uses on Good Eats, he’s my idol)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar**
9 Tbsp maple syrup

* – A note on eggs.  When making meringues, it’s best to have the freshest eggs you can get.  Eggs typically start their their shelf life as grade AA (though there are exceptions), and go down to grade A, then B over time.  As they age, the albumen thins, and yolk membranes weaken.  Because we’ll be adding quite a bit of moisture to this recipe in the form of maple syrup, a stronger albumen is needed to maintain stiff peaks.  If you don’t have super-fresh eggs, don’t worry, you can still make meringues; they’ll just be a bit softer, so you probably won’t be able to use a pastry bag with them.

** – On cream and copper.  If you’ve splurged on a large copper bowl, you can actually skip the cream of tartar altogether, as the copper will stabilize and promote creamier foams that are more difficult to over-beat.  I prefer the cheaper and easier-to-store option of cream of tartar to achieve the same effect, primarily because I can’t justify spending the money on a copper bowl since there are very few things for which it is appropriate to use.

1. Preheat the oven to 250F, and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

foamy egg whites2.  In a very clean, large, NON-PLASTIC bowl (fat molecules bond easily with plastic, and can bring all kinds of unpleasant flavors to your meringue), beat the egg whites until they’re foamy.

3.  Add the salt and cream of tartar, and continue whisking until soft peaks form.  Slowly add your maple syrup.  Once it’s integrated, turn up the speed on your mixer and beat until the meringue is thick and glossy, and forms stiff peaks (or as stiff as they’ll get… see “note on eggs,” above).meringue peaks
4.  Drop heaping spoonfuls of meringue onto the prepared baking sheets, flattening them out a bit if they’re too ball-like.
meringue before baking
5.  Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven and let the meringues sit in the unopened oven for 2 hours, or until they’re dry and crisp throughout.  Remove from the oven and store in an airtight container.  Makes about 2 dozen meringues.

finished homemade meringue

Check us out over at: The Southern Institute, The Tip Junkie

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5 Reasons to love winter

When the temperature drops, and the roads get icy it is easy to start feeling down about the season. Especially that stretch after Christmas when there doesn’t seem to be anything to look forward to. Never fear, there are more than a few reasons to love winter. Here are a few of my favorite winter moments:

1) Hot Cocoa: because that delicious chocolatey drink is best served hot while you are comfortably snuggled under blankets

hot chocolate

2) Long underwear: This has been an epiphany for me this season. Everyone who lives in even a region with even moderately cool seasons should have a pair of long underwear in their wardrobe.

3) Waking up to a bright flower in the bathroom waiting for you: For some reason having flowers indoors just makes more sense for me in the winter. I have already commented on my thing for rea flowers in the bathroom

real flower

4) Soft warm comforters that let you snuggle under them and hide from the cold air just a little bit longer.

5) There is this one moment right in the middle of winter, when everything is gray maybe there is even snow on the ground and all of a sudden bright colors just seem more bright. Sure maybe that pillow has been there all year, but right this instant it is the brightest thing you have seen all day.

bright colors

 

(Note: this blog post contains referral links)

 

 

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Keeping it simple…

Editor’s note:  This is a recurring Wednesday segment on SillySimple where we can ground ourselves in the simple solution to everyday life.

In the name of keeping it simple for the second Wednesday in February…

Living at a distance from my family, I am repeatedly reminded how great it is to receive the occasional note via regular mail. It is such a surprise to open the mail box and see something besides bills! Remember your friends and family by passing on an act of kindness this week, send someone a note to remind them you are thinking of them.

lettersPhoto Credit: Muffet
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Recycled paper valentine crafts: Heart garland

valentine's garland

When it comes to holiday crafts in general I like easy ones. This heart garland for Valentine’s Day is not only easy, but the end result is simple & elegant. It works great as a Valentine’s Day craft for children, too!

To make this easy Valentine craft you will need:

1) Print and cut out heart templatesthe templates above using any printer that makes lines you can see. I used regular printer paper because that is what I had on hand. If you are making a big garland with lots of pieces, or you are working with kids you might consider creating templates from card stock.

 

 

 

 

2) Take 1/2 page of newspaper newspaper templateand fold it in half, then fold it in half again. Trace your large template twice onto the newspaper as shown, then cut the hearts out. You will want to be sure to cut through all the layers of paper. You will repeat this process with your pink construction paper and the smaller template.

 

 

3) Assemble your hearts.  Each newspaper heart glueheart should have a pink construction paper heart in the middle. Glue them together with your glue stick–or whatever kind of glue you like.

 

 

 

 

4) To create the hanger on the back, I used hot glue and a bent paper clip. This way you can adjust the position of your hears any way you like.  The back of my hearts look like this:

garland hanger

 5) The last step is to hang a piece of twine where you would like your garland to go, and then add each heart to the twine. I like to use twine because it is both relatively inexpensive and it has a great texture that really adds something to simple projects.

Crafty Valentine Garland

Check us out over at: Romance on a Dime, Serenity Now, The Southern Institute

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