Saturday, February 18, 2012

Great Girl Scout Cookie Experiment

Girl Scout cookies - as if we didn't have enough in our home - were on our to-do list yet again this weekend.

Our challenge? To recreate an early Girl Scout cookie recipe as found on the Girl Scout national website as part of our council's 100th anniversary patch our troop is working on. We did our batch a bit early so we could donate it to the church bake sale. That is, if little brother can stay out:

The cookies have good flavor, but I learned three things in the process: It's tricky to roll out, so you'll need a lot of flour on hand. You'll want to err towards 10-11 minutes on the baking, not the 8-10 as in the original recipe. And today's cookie cutters mean that you'll wind up with about 3 dozen cookies, not the 6-7 dozen as promised on the site. Enjoy!

An Early Girl Scout Cookie® Recipe

from Girl Scout national offices, circa 1920s-1930s

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar plus additional amount for topping (optional)
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder

Cream butter and the cup of sugar; add well-beaten eggs, then milk, vanilla, flour, salt, and baking powder. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Roll dough, cut into shapes, and sprinkle sugar on top, if desired. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


In case you haven't noticed of late, I've been much quieter than usual on this blog. For the next few months, you probably won't hear as much from me. And sometime's that's OK.

This busy quarter has meant I've had little desire to switch on a PC once I return from work. Instead, I've focused energies on my family, enriching my faith, and supporting my daughter's scout troop. I've even read a book or two.

Recharging is a beautiful thing. I'll finish this season in my life and will be ready to share more in the future!

Thanks for sticking with me.

Non-Toxic Avenger review

I always figured I lived a fairly green lifestyle given my resources. Reduce, reuse, recycle was ingrained in my practices. I ate locally and organic whenever my budget allowed. I grew my own produce. I eschewed plastic crap in my house whenever I could.

What scares me is it isn't enough.

There's that little bit inside you that tries to dismiss the worries that the things you use every day could kill you. And you try to tune it out.

The reality is chemicals are imbedded in our society, and it's going to take a heck of a lot of effort to get them out. Even if we don't know what the effects of these conveniences are.

A few years ago, I read The Body Toxic: How the Hazardous Chemistry of Everyday Things Threatens Our Health and Well-being, and it scared the crap out of me. That book chronicled the history of hidden chemicals, almost as a government conspiracy. (Who knows? Perhaps it is.) There, I learned to fear PVC shower curtains and microwave popcorn. Fun stuff.

The problem is, while there's much you can do to educate yourself on chemicals imbedded in our everyday things and the possible effects, hunting down alternatives is tough business. That's why I looked forward to reading "The Non-Toxic Avenger: What You Don't Know Can Hurt You" by Crunchy Chicken's Deanna Duke. If anyone could find an alternative, I figured, she could.

Duke's book focuses on her attempt to reduce chemicals and toxins in her body from everyday exposure. It's a scary thought - particularly since she too was leading a green lifestyle before this project began. The books chronicles her challenges in reconciling with her husband's cancer and son's autism, and in seeking alternatives to polluting her body - in everything from carpet to cleaning products, from mascara to margaritas. (Hey, you have to have fun.)

No, Duke doesn't find all the answers. She's still on the hunt for mold-cleaning products, for example. But I love the fact she's still looking and willing to share what's she's found as the best possible alternatives.
"It's still an uphill, daily battle trying to determine whether a product I pick up at the store will poison me," she writes.

At least we have a new, consolidated resources to help us in this battle. I came away, whether Duke intended or not, with a guide that could sit on my shelf - one that I could point to in order to help me more quickly find solutions to my quests.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tooth fairy pillow tutorial

With each lost tooth as a child, we would slide our tooth into our "Tooth Fairy pillow" at bedtime to find a dollar bill the next morning. My mother had saved my lace-trimmed pillow for me, which my daughter now's used five times.

But I figured my little guy, when his time came, would not be all about the velvety fabric and lace. Instead, I made my own in very little time, created out of reclaimed denim.

My husband had some worn-out jeans left in a pile to donate. Given there were holes, I wasn't sure how well they would be received at a donation agency. Instead, I used the denim fabric for a "boy" Tooth Fairy pillow.

First, I created the pattern for the pillow by folding a letter-sized piece of paper in a triangle, cutting off the overlap, to create an 8 1/2x8 1/2-inch square. I used that as the pattern for the base of the pillow, avoiding any hems or stitching on the areas I cut from.

For the tooth pocket, I cut about 1/4-inch inside of the stitching of the back pocket, creating a pocket-shaped piece of fabric that was slightly smaller than the original back pocket. I used a needle to tack the edges down for easier sewing on the sewing machine.

Then, I created a "double stitched" look by running the piece, pinned to one side of the pillow, through the sewing machine twice. One line of stitching was the width of the sewing machine foot, and the other was halfway between the first line of stitching and the edge.

Then, I pieced together the pieces on the reverse and stitched it until it was mostly shut. I turned the pieces right-side out and began to stuff it. (Yes, you will see I am not the straightest sewer out there.)

When the pillow was stuffed, I turned in the loose edge and hand-sewed it together.

My little guy was so proud to have his own tooth pillow! Even though he's a few years' off, he's excited about it and even asked to take it to daycare.