Handmade Loofah Soap

I promised a post about the outcome of my Loofah harvest.
If you have been following my blog then you know I grew a small loofah garden this past summer. Loofah is a natural sponge. It grows on a vine and in the same family as the gourd. They grow large and dry out in the Fall. Once they skin is hard and dry, you peel it off to reveal a loofah sponge ready to remove seeds, rinse and use. 

My harvest was small. I had many loofahs appear but never reached maturity. I blame it mostly on the size of the trellis I had it to climb. They need a lot of space to spread. I was a little disappointed. I wanted to have an abundance of sponges to share, but it didn’t happen. 

I found a way to share the small harvest of loofahs with friends by cutting them into pieces and making them into soaps (not my friends, my loofahs). For Christmas I was able to give each neighbor a couple homemade loofah soaps and a set of my crochet washcloths as gifts. They also received homemade cookies. 

The process was easy. 
I first had to find a a silicon soap mold which I ordered off ebay. Then headed out to Hobby Lobby for some melt and pour soap. I chose the natural goat milk soap base. I have never made soap before. I could never accept the process of buying soap to make soap. It just doesn’t make since to me. 
But I did it anyway.

I placed a cut of loofah into the molds. Then I melted the soap and added a drop of fragrance. I used some soap fragrance but you can use essential oils just as well. I poured the melted soap over the loofah in the mold. I actually only filled the molds half way as I failed to get enough soap. I refused to buy anymore and made due with what I had. Once the soaps dried, I popped them out of the mold and they were ready for use.

My husband was my guinea pig. He used one for a week in the shower. He said he liked how soft it made his skin and liked the scrubby texture of the loofah. 

I want to grow more loofah this year on a bigger trellis. They were fun to watch grow and attracted lots of friendly bees. 

If you would like to grow loofah this summer, I have a few packs of loofah seeds for sale if you would like to purchase them from my  Etsy shop or contact me via email or contact form. 
The money made from these will go toward my garden fund.

My Christmas Run Down

Wow, I am just now settling down to catch a breath after a busy Christmas. My daughter came in on Monday and left today. We did a lot of cooking and baking.

A few weeks ago I found this little cookie cutter at a thrift store. It was still in the box and had a sugar cookie recipe attached.

Since I was looking for a good sugar cookie recipe, I was tickled to find this little charm. Face it, we all need cookie cutters in the house. Could you imagine how happy the world would be if everyone baked cookies at the same time? Think about that.

We wanted to make colorful Christmas cookies like you see in pictures. I have never been good at making homemade icing, much less, cookie icing. 
After searching around on Pinterest, we found the perfect cookie icing and began mixing. After a couple hours, we had a batch of cookies. We boxed them up and handed them out to neighbors. Don’t worry, we kept a small batch. 

The cookies were easy to make and the icing was easy to make. Applying the icing to the cookies was another story. I do not think I want to ever frost a cookie again in my life. We had a bigger mess than a kindergarten class on craft day.

We also made sausage balls for breakfast. I made them this time using pimiento cheese instead of the usual sharp shredded cheese. They were delicious. 

Christmas Eve we headed to my Mom and Dads for family time, food and more sweets. Mom always makes a fruit cake. It is a favorite and we all make sure to take a piece home when we leave. I mean, just look at all that fruit and nut goodness.

My daughter and I wore matching pajamas to mom and dads Christmas eve and made everyone laugh. 

It was fun and it just sorta gave us that childhood feeling again. 

Christmas morning, we enjoyed watching our girl open her gifts. It’s just like when she was little. She will run down the hall and into the living room to see what Santa brought. He was able to get everything on her list this year. I will miss Christmas mornings like this when she gets married one day and starts her own family and traditions. Until them, I will suck up ever moment. Did I mention shes 28? 

Now It’s the day after Christmas. Our daughter has already left to go back to her uptown apartment and we spent the evening taking down the Christmas tree and all the decorations.We are quick to do this so we can get the house back in order in time for our New Years feast we prepare each year for all the family.

Do you take your Christmas decorations down early or leave them up until January?

Christmas Eve Eve

Happy Christmas Eve Eve. Is everyone ready for Christmas? I am. Christmas shopping was completed a week ago and now it’s time for baking. I have lots to things to make by Christmas. I have cooking to prepare for and goodies to make for neighbors and family.

Not sure how much baking I will get done today so I started on a few things yesterday. 
My daughter will be coming home this morning and staying through Christmas. She still has to work half the day. She can work from here since she has the privilege of working remote a couple days a week. The fun will start in a little while. 

Before anything, I have a mandatory meeting with the unemployment office today. I have to take proof that I have been searching for jobs while drawing my little 200.00 unemployment check. I’m not gonna complain though. It buys groceries. I have worked everyday since I turned sixteen. That’s 34 years and I have never been unemployed before. Now I have to prove I have been searching for work the past 6 weeks. Well, I have a long list, plus two papers they gave me full of places I have applied for with no avail. So, yes, I have proof. I think people that are capable of working but choose to live off the Government should have to do this too. But that’s none off my business.
I have gotten word from some employers that they will not be interviewing until the first of the year. Fingers crossed something gives. I need to work not only for the money but for my health and sanity. 

Anyway back to baking....

I made some of my Italian Biscotti. This is an all time favorite. We like to dip them into our all day morning coffee. They are so easy to make. I’m not sure why I only decide to make them at Christmas. 

This batch was made using vanilla flavoring with only a touch of anise and lightly dipped in chocolate. They are the perfect sweetness.

This year I also decided to make “Italian Crescent Cookies”. 

These are made using butter, flour, sugar and walnuts made into little crescent shapes and rolled in powder sugar. I love anything with powder sugar. I will break a diet over powder sugar. It’s my weakness. 

I have cookie dough made and in the refrigerator waiting on my daughter to arrive. We will be rolling out the dough and cutting into Christmas shapes before decorating them. A lot of these cookies will be given away. I hope they turn out pretty. I usually struggle with icing them. 

What is a Christmas favorite you or someone else makes each year?

Friday Bowl- Banana Berry

I remember when I was small, my mom would make me a bowl of bananas and strawberries topped with sugar and cream. It was such a soothing late night snack. This bowl bring back those memories. 

Banana Berry Yogurt Bowl

2/3 Cup -Fage 2% Plain Greek Yogurt
1/2- Banana
1/2- Kiwi
2 Medium- Strawberries
2 Tablespoon- Oat& Honey Granola

224 Calories- 18 g Protein


I have decided to reserve each Friday to share some of my creative food bowls. I have been eating these at least 4 times a week and I feel great. They are easy, healthy and fun. This is part of my new "Clean Eating" Plan. Wish me Luck.

Two Ingredient Pretzel Bites

Who likes a good pretzel? If you are like me, you can hardly go to the mall without wanting one of those big warm soft pretzels. Am I right? I like them smothered in butter and salt or rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They fall next in line behind Krispy Kreme hot donuts.

Pretzels can be fattening if you don't take it easy, and well, I can’t take it easy. 
So today I am going to share with you these delicious pretzel bites that I made using only two ingredients. These are also easier on the diet. You could possibly even call them healthy. 

It took about 20 minutes to make these from start to finish and not much longer to make them disappear. We could not stop munching on these things. 
The best thing is they are super easy to make.

1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt.
1 Cup self rising Flour. 
* Make a dough and place on a floured surface.
*Divide dough in quarters and roll each out into rope shapes.
*Cut into bite size pieces.
Boil 1/2 Cup Water and add 1 Tablespoon Baking Soda.
* Dip each piece in the soda water and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
* Bake 425 for 10 min or until lightly brown.
Melt Butter.
* Brush each piece with melted butter
* Sprinkle with course salt 
* Enjoy

Do these taste like those big warm pretzels from the mall? 
They are just as good but in a different way.
The ones at the mall are made with yeast bread and are.......
Ok just forget about those mall pretzels, these two ingredient pretzels are a crowd pleaser and you can avoid the calories. 

How do you like your pretzels? 
I like them with salt, but will sometimes dip them in Mustard.

Original recipe can be found at the thegunnysack.com  

Friday Bowl- Bread Bowl with Nutrisystem

Today's Friday bowl has a different twist. I am sharing how I took the Nutrisystem “ChockFul of Veggie Chili” and added it to a hollowed out bread bowl.

I like Chili but I can not eat it without some sort of bread. I grabbed a roll from the grocery store deli and scooped out most of the inside to eliminate calories leaving the shell as a bowl. You can do this with other chilis or soups for a fun delicious meal.

Nutrisystem ChockFul of Veggies Chili 

I lost 50 lbs on Nutrisystem and feel great. I have been able to maintain my weight loss now for four years by using the nutritional knowledge Nutrisystem has taught me. 
You can read my full journey HERE

Start Nutrisystem now and get 50% off using my link below.

Expect to lose 1-2 lbs per week

Hat and Mittens

I have had a lot of time on my hands lately. I spend my mornings working out, reading blogs, and applying for jobs. Sometimes after lunch, we will go out a little while and run a few errands just to get out of the house. I can hardly wait to go grocery shopping once a week as it gives me a reason to put on a bra and jeans. Cabin fever is setting in.

One thing I have been enjoying is crocheting and watching Hallmark movies. 
The other day, I entered a giveaway on Instagram and won a skein of Yarn Bee SugarWheel Yarn. I would not usually buy this particular type of yarn myself as it has wool in it and wool makes me break out and itch. This yarn was a wool/ acrylic blend that fade in and out with colors of gray. It was easy to work with. I am now a fan and didn’t suffer any allergic reactions. 

With the yarn I won, I created this cute adult size hat using my favorite stitch called the lemon peel stitch (also called the grit stitch). It consist of a single stitch followed by a double stitch throughout. I love this stitch because it works up fast and has a chunky puff texture. I am currently working on a blanket using the same stitch. 

We have some little elf shoes on a string that we put on the tree every year. One of my daughters favorite things to do is make them the last ornament on the tree. Nick doesn't care to help us decorate the tree, but we always hand him the little elf shoes and he turns around backwards and throws the shoes on the tree. We choose to leave them where they land no matter how wonky they hang. It always makes us laugh. Now my daughter wants a set to throw on her own tree each year. I could not find another set likes ours so I figured I would make her something equivalent. I crocheted her this set of tiny mittens.

She can now make a wish and throw them on her tree like we always do with the elf shoes. 
They were so fun to make, I decided to make a couple more for friends. 

I have also been trying to learn to knit. I am not having any luck. As far as I can get is a few rows before I mess up and don’t know how to fix it unless I start over. I really would love to learn to knit but I have given up trying for a while.

Note: Crochet and Knit are two different things. Crochet uses one hook needle and knitting uses two long pointed needles. Knitting to me has a softer and prettier texture. 

Natures Christmas

I have been feeling pretty bummed that I have not gotten to go anywhere to see magnificent Christmas lights or Christmas towns this year. I love Christmas time and want to suck up every little light, Christmas carol and excited child I come across. But I’m alone on that. I have to get my thrills from riding around neighborhoods and admiring someones creativity here and there. My husband just doesn’t get in the Christmas mood like I wish he would. It makes the season rather humbug. Things perk up around Christmas Eve though and the mood changes a little. It’s ok. Christmas is not really all about that anyway.

The other day, we headed outside to rake leaves for the 2nd time this season. I threw on my worn out (Elmer Fudd) boots and headed outside. The sun was out and the temperatures were in the 50’s. Perfect for a little fresh air and yard work. I ended up raking a pile of leaves that lined the curb at the road. The leaf sucker truck will come by in a few days and suck them away. 

As I was raking, I had to stop for a moment and admire nature. Here I am pouting about not getting to ride miles down the road to sit in traffic for hours just to see commercial Christmas lights when all I had to do was look around where I was standing. I noticed that Nature itself provides it’s own Christmas show. I began to smile and my attitude began to change. God is my favorite artist. 

I spent a few moments looking up into the pine tree that leaned over our property line. The leaves were evergreen and smell of pine filled the air as the tiny pine cones held their posture. “That’s a Christmas tree”, I uttered under my breath. 

Evergreen trees are traditionally used as Christmas trees as a symbol of undying life. 

As I worked my way across the yard, I noticed the neighbors large holly tree at the corner of our yard. This was Mr. H’s tree. He and his wife both passed away this Summer. He always kept the tree trimmed back so it was rather large and unshaped this year. It was beautiful. I did not see a flawed leave and the berries were perfectly in their place. “This was a Christmas wreath”, I thought. The berries were like lights as they glistened in the sun.  

Holly is a traditional Christmas decoration as the sharp leaves represent the crown of thorns and the berries symbolized drops of blood of Jesus. Made into a wreath it symbolizes unending life. 

Nick was out for his morning walk and came across a tree that each year is full of reachable Mistletoe. He snatched a piece and walked in the door with a big grin on his face. 

This too symbolizes “Life that does not die”. However, the story behind mistletoe is mythological and believed to have mystical powers. This is where we get the “kissing under the mistletoe” rule. I like it. 

I would have never noticed the natural beauty of Christmas around me if I were still working every single day in an office like I had for the past 26 years. Though I have been stressed about finding a new job, I try to enjoy the beauty and find the blessing of the days I have without one. 

Friday Bowl- Chocolate Pomegranate

The produce isle was full of Pomegranates. They were in large tubs sitting across from the cranberries. I just learned that Pomegranate is a Christmas fruit. No wonder I had trouble finding them during the summer. 

I love a good Pomegranate. Put it with some chocolate and you create a sweet combination. 

Chocolate Pomegranate Yogurt Bowl

2/3 Cup Triple Zero Chocolate nonfat Greek Yogurt
2 Tablespoon- Pomegranate Seeds (raw)
1 Tablespoon- Natures Promise Pumpkin Seed Flax Granola
1/2 Tablespoon- Mini semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.

224 Calories- 17 g Protein


I have decided to reserve each Friday to share some of my creative food bowls. I have been eating these at least 3 times a week and I feel great. They are easy, healthy and fun. This is part of my new "Clean Eating" Plan. Wish me Luck.

Easy Air Fryer Crab Cakes

Today I would like to share with you these delicious crab cakes. This is one of my favorite air fryer recipes and can be whipped up in just minutes making them a great last minute meal.

“Don’t worry mister crab, these are made with imitation crab meat”. 

I have been making these at least once a month. They make up quick and easy and have been a table pleasure. If you do not have an air fryer, I assume you can bake them in the oven just the same. I honestly do not know. I have rarely used my oven since getting an air fryer. I absolutely love that thing. 

Now, head to the store and grab these simple ingredients:
  • 8 oz pack of imitation crab meat ( chunks or shreds. I doesn’t matter. Your gonna chop it anyway).
  • 1/3 cup of bread crumbs ( I used two pieces of hard toasted wheat bread).
  • 1/2 cup green pepper (finely diced).
  • 1 egg.
  • 1/4 cup mayo.
  • 1/2 juice of a lemon.
  • Cooking oil. 
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning ( or any other seafood seasoning).
-Chop the crab meat fine (I added it to my food chopper for best results).
-Mix all ingredients together and form patties. 
-Place patties in air fryer and spray with oil. 
-Cook for 10 minutes on 380 degrees (I flipped once but optional).

Enjoy on a bun as a sandwich or alone with a meal. 
You can add other ingredients to your liking such as red peppers, onions, etc.
Makes 4-6 patties. Refrigerate left overs. 

Belated Thanksgiving

I just realized I didn’t make a Thanksgiving post. Heck, I’m behind on any kind of post actually.  It’s just been a little crazy around here.

So with that being said, “I hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving.

My daughter came in to spend the whole weekend with us. She loves going to bed and waking up in “her room” on holidays. Thanksgiving morning is usually filled with the aroma of a hot breakfast waiting for her. Not this time.
She wanted to do a 5K Turkey run at 8:00 in the morning in Belmont. I decided last minute to join in. Since we have never ran a 5k together, I figured this would be the perfect mother/daughter work out.

Proceeds went to the “Catherine's house”. Catherine's House serves women and children facing homelessness due to a variety of circumstances such as: domestic violence, un/underemployment, the shortage of affordable housing, unexpected tragedies, and the lack of a support network. 

I ate a Nutrisystem Cinnamon Roll. She ate a banana. Then we threw on our running gear and headed out the door. We ended up with a good parking spot and made it to the registration tent ahead of time. There I ran into a couple friends and we all were hyped up to run. 
Well, they were. I was not prepared to run 3 miles but I pushed through and finished. Unfortunately, I did not finish in my record time. I was behind by two minutes. I can’t run the whole time, so I walk some and run some. If I had only ran for three more minutes, I would have beat my time. My daughter on the other hand beat her goal time and was 10 minutes ahead of me. It was fun and its always a proud feeling when you cross that finish line. 

Lucky for me, I didn’t have to cook anything for Thanksgiving dinner. I made a cranberry salad to take to Moms. She always has a big Thanksgiving feast and everyone brings a dish on top of that. We had plenty and lots of left overs. 
Later that evening, we had dinner number two at my brother in laws.

Here are two brothers working in the kitchen. 

I over ate that day and stayed in a Turkey coma all weekend. 

Now its time to start a fresh week.