Rachel Robin's Nest

Crafts, Projects and Recipes to Help Feather Your "Nest"

On Hiatus August 5, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — DarlinRae @ 3:09 pm

Hello, lovely readers!  As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I haven’t posted in a while.  Stinky, I know.  Here’s the deal:  Ben and I are moving back to our home state of Vermont in 3 weeks, which means that the last three months have been crazy with packing, sorting, cleaning, job searching, and all the attendant tasks that go along with relocating 250+ miles.

With that in mind, I probably won’t be posting for a while.  Especially since we’ll be living in his parents’ basement (no, seriously), so all my tools will be packed away until we get settled into our own place.

The good news is, once we find a new place, I’m sure I’ll have oodles of projects to do and share with you!  Hope to see you soon!

-Rachel

 

5-Minute Hanging Clothespin Holder June 15, 2013

Filed under: Tutorial — DarlinRae @ 6:27 pm
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Now that summer is here, I’m trying to be better about using the dryer less and our clothesline more.  It saves energy (and therefore money) and is better for the environment.  Plus, clothes dried outside have a lovely, sunshiney smell!

Until today, I had been keeping our clothespins in a really old, yucky woven bag that didn’t properly hang on the line, and was too deep to easily access the pins.  I had seen a similar project recently on Pinterest, so I grabbed an old, seldom-used kitchen towel, a wire hanger, and my sewing machine.  This project is super simple and very useful.  Even if you don’t have a clothesline, I’m sure you could find dozens of ways to use this little hanging storage sack!

Hanging Clothespin Holder

Materials:

  • Kitchen towel
  • Wire hanger
  • General sewing supplies

Clothespin1Directions:

1.  Lay your towel  out on a flat surface and line the hanger up with the top of the towel.  Fold the towel over the hanger with about 1 inch of overlap.  Pin in place, then sew down with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  If your towel is very fluffy, you may want to increase your stitch length so that the material doesn’t bunch up.

Clothespin22.  Fold up the bottom of the towel until you feel the pockets are deep enough for you.  I definitely just eyeballed this.  Pin along the sides, then sew down with a 1/4″ seam allowance

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3.  Now, to make 2 separate pockets, sew a straight line up the center of the pocket you just created.  You could measure if you wanted it to be EXACTLY in the middle, but I didn’t really mind if it was a bit off.

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4.  Trim your loose threads and you’re all set!  Wasn’t that easy?  Now you have the most stylin’ clothesline on the block!

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Homemade Granola April 30, 2013

Filed under: Recipes — DarlinRae @ 9:46 pm
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As you read in my Back to Basics post, I’m trying to be more eco-friendly, more healthy and more self-sufficient.  With that in mind, I present this recipe for Homemade Granola with no refined sugars.

When you think granola, you usually associate it with “healthy.”  And when made properly, granola can have a great balance of whole grains, protein and carbohydrates which provide a nutritious, healthy snack, especially when combined with yogurt or fruit.  However, most commercial granolas are high in processed sugar and carbohydrates.  They also get a bad rap for being high in fat, however the fat should be good, heart healthy fat from nuts.

This recipe, which I got from The Paper Mama blog, is granola as it’s intended to be.  Full of almonds, sunflower seeds and oats, and sweetened with honey and no sugar-added applesauce, it’s absolutely delicious.  I love to put some in my yogurt to give it some crunch and extra protein.

Homemade Granola (via The Paper Mama)

Ingredients:

  • 7 cups old-fashioned oats*
  • 1.5 cups slivered almonds (can be food processed to make smaller pieces)
  • 0.5 cups shelled sunflower seeds (can bee food processed to make smaller pieces)
  • 1.5 cups shredded coconut**
  • 3 T cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 T pure vanilla
  • 1.5 cups no sugar added applesauce
  • 1/4 cup honey

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well.  Granola should be slightly moist.  If it seems dry, add a little more applesauce

Divide the granola between 2 baking sheets and spread it out evenly.  Bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure even cooking.  Allow to cool completely before storing.

* I used quick-cooking oats.  They’re smaller and lighter, and didn’t get particularly crispy, so I think I’ll try old-fashioned oats next time.

** I forgot to put the coconut in!  I was so sad because I didn’t realize until it was done cooking.  It still tastes wonderful, but I think the little bits of toasted coconut would really kick it up a notch.

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Quilted Placemat April 22, 2013

Filed under: DIY — DarlinRae @ 9:42 pm
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This is the follow-up post from my DIY Fabric Napkins post.  I promised to tell you about how I used up the scraps.  Well, this is what I made:  A quilted placemat for the center of my table.

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This was a fairly straightforward and simple project, so I have made an equally simple tutorial.  Please let me know if you have questions.

First of all, I trimmed each of the leftover strips to make sure that they were perfect rectangles.  This was necessary to make sure that the stripes were even.  Next, I decided what color order I wanted it to go in, and began sewing the strips together along their long edges.  As I went, I pressed open the seam allowances.

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Once I had one long strip of fabric, I ironed a piece of fusible cotton batting onto the wrong side.

Next, I measured the finished piece, and cut a back out of another fat quarter.  I pinned the two pieces right sides together and sewed around the perimeter with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, leaving a 3-4 inch gap for turning.

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I turned the piece right side out, pressed the opening to make it nice and neat, then top-stitched around the perimeter to close it up.  Lastly, I “quilted” along on each side of the joins between the fabrics.

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And there you have it!  I completely used up all of the fat quarters from my napkin project, and most of another.  I hate having a bazillion tiny scraps hanging around, so if you’re like me, this would be a great scrap buster project.

 

DIY Fabric Napkins April 17, 2013

Filed under: DIY — DarlinRae @ 9:43 pm
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This project made me so happy.  Ben’s family has some vintage cotton napkins that were salvaged from his grandmother’s cabinets.  They’re all different colors and patterns, but they just look lovely all together.  For those of you who know me, I’m not super into color matching.  In fact, my dishes are all different colors of Fiesta ware, because I prefer lots of colors instead of just one or two.

So I decided to make my own napkins, inspired by the ones from Ben’s grandmother.  I went to Joann’s and picked up 6 fat quarters, all in different colors, but all with floral patterns, so that there was a sense of cohesion.  Then I followed the fantastic tutorial for napkins with mitred corners at No Big Dill.  Since fat quarters are generally about 18″ x 22″, I just trimmed them to 18″ x 18″ squares before I began.

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Stay tuned for a project using the scraps leftover from this project.  I only wasted a few crooked ends, but otherwise used every bit of all six fat quarters.  It was extremely satisfying to have so little waste!

 

Sunday Brunch: Shirred Eggs and Bacon April 13, 2013

Filed under: Recipes — DarlinRae @ 11:09 pm
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This is a recipe that I had been meaning to try for ages.  Ben is actually the one who told me about it, and I wasn’t sure that it sounded all that delicious.  Cream, cheese, spices, eggs and crumbled bacon all cooked together in the oven.  OK, actually that does sound good, but I was a bit put off by the cream.

Anyway, a few weekends ago I decided to finally give it a try, and holy cow am I glad I did!  This is sort of a do-what-you-feel and use what you have recipe.  I didn’t measure anything.  You can make a whole dish of eggs if you have company or just a couple for you and your sweetie.  I served mine with bacon and toast.

You will need eggs, cream, cheese, spices (I used chives, crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper), butter, and if you want, cooked, crumbled bacon.

Generously grease a glass baking pan with butter.  Then, pour in just enough cream to cover the bottom of the pan.  Crack your eggs directly into the cream, making sure to keep the yoke in tact.  Since I made four eggs, I attempted to keep them somewhat evenly spaced in the pan.  Next, sprinkle the cheese, spices and bacon over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your desired done-ness.  I like mine cooked completely through so I leave them in a bit longer.  The cream actually solidifies as well, so you can cut out individual portions for plating.

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You could also use individual ceramic ramekins if you want to get fancy for a brunch party or something.  Try using different cheeses, spices, herbs and add-ins to mix it up and find your favorite version of Shirred Eggs.

 

Back to Basics

Filed under: For the home — DarlinRae @ 5:55 pm
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Wow.  It’s been a while, huh?  Sorry about that folks.  I don’t really have an excuse other than life.  This blog is intended to be a hobby, and I just haven’t had a lot of time for it lately.  So what have I been up to?  Well, lots.

I’ve been knitting and sewing like a crazy lady, because a friend of mine is pregnant with her first child, a little girl, due July 4, so I’ve been working on little gifties.  Of course, since I haven’t given her the gifts yet, I can’t post them yet, but I will eventually, I promise!

I’ve been working on my overall health and fitness.  This is something that I always struggle with, and I have a hard time having a balanced approach.  It’s usually all or nothing, which can lead to less time for fun blog type activities.

I’ve been reading, researching and thinking a lot about using more natural, organic products.  About becoming more self-sufficient and making things that people in this day and age usually buy.  About a sort of “back to basics” approach to life.  Let’s face it:  I’m becoming a hippie.  For real.  I’m talking growing my own veggies, composting, raising chickens for eggs, beekeeping, canning, pickling, baking and cooking.  Making my own soap, lotion, lip balm, deodorant and shampoo.  Yeah.  We’re off the deep end and into hippie land now.

But here’s the thing.  I don’t think it’s that crazy.  I think it’s necessary.  I had a long conversation about this stuff with my friend Erin of Wicked Vegan, and talked about about it with my BF today.  My personal belief is that a lot of the behavioral issues and food allergies that have developed in children in recent years is due to the exponential increase in exposure to chemicals in our everyday products and processed foods.  I believe that the current obesity epidemic is because home-cooked meals are going the way of the dinosaur.  These concerns weren’t as present when we were kids, or when our parents were kids.  So what’s the difference?

We’re not cooking for ourselves anymore.  Our food comes from boxes and cans.  It comes out of the freezer.  It’s grown in Mexico or Chile and sprayed with chemicals and shipped clear across the globe to get to us.   It’s made in huge factories with oodles of sugar and sodium.  It’s packed with unrecognizeable and unreadable ingredients.  It’s made with things that are potentially harmful.  The ingredients that we are putting on or in our body are not things we’d normally choose to eat, but because they’re masked with big scary words, or hidden in an ingredient list a mile long.  Moms and Dads are tricked with words like “natural” or “whole grain” into thinking that processed foods are good for their children.  Children are being raised in a world where moms and dads don’t cook anymore, so they aren’t learning basic nutrition and culinary skills.  We’re raising generations of people who are completely disconnected from their food and unable to make healthy, nutritious meals.

I myself am a perfect example of this.  In my house, Dad did all the cooking.  And Dad is a meat and potatoes man.  He’s also the least adventurous eater I’ve ever met, aside from myself and my older sister.  The only “vegetable” he will eat is corn, and only if it’s dripping with butter and salt.  So as a child, my basic meals consisted of a meat and a starch, or even a meat and two starches (potatoes and corn, or rice and corn, or pasta and corn).  As a result, I never tasted most vegetables or fruits and never really developed a taste for them.  The only vegetable I could stomach until I was about 15 years old was carrot.  And I would only eat them raw.  My best friend’s family used to keep a bag of baby carrots in the fridge at all times in case I came over for dinner, because the rule in their house was that there was a vegetable with every meal.

The result is that I grew up thinking that grilled cheese with rice was a perfectly acceptable dinner.  I didn’t eat any vegetables other than carrots.  I didn’t eat any fruits other than apples and bananas.  Cheese was a major food group.  When I went away to college, I gained 20 pounds in one semester because all I ate was pizza and burritos.  If I ate a salad, it was drenched in ranch dressing.  I have struggled in my adult life to develop a taste for vegetables, and to retrain my brain regarding food and nutrition.  I had to teach myself to cook healthy, well-balanced meals.  Even now, when I’ve come so far and learned so much, most nights I still prepare a meat and a starch for dinner because I don’t like a lot of veggies, or don’t know how to prepare them.  Because it’s my normal pattern.  I’m still fighting the habits I learned in my childhood.

And that’s not even touching the environmental impacts…  I could go on and on about this topic, and I’m sure it will continue to come up, but for now, suffice to say that I’m going to try to break this pattern, at least in my own life, with my own family and future children.  I want to decrease our exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.  I want to be more self-sufficient.  I want to be better about recycling.  About buying responsibly raised and gently butchered meat.  As items in my pantry run out, I plan to replace them with all natural, organic alternatives.  And I want to make as much of my own stuff as I possibly can.  As I continue on this journey, I plan to share all of my useful recipes, tutorials, tips and tricks, because I think other people feel the same way I do, and I want to encourage others to live a healthier, more whole life.

If you’re looking for some resources for where to start, these are the books I’ve been using myself:

The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen.  Their argument is that you don’t need a house and several acres of land in order to be more self-sufficient and less consumeristic.  They live in the middle of LA and keep chickens and bees, have apple trees and a veggie garden and a compost bin.  This book is more of the philosophy behind the whole thing.  Less a practical guide and more of a reason to start.  Their second book, Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World is the follow up.  This book will tell you how to do everything from building a hen house to making beer.  They break it out into sections for daily, monthly and seasonal projects.  You can do as much or as little as you want.  I think composting my own poop is a bit extreme, but nobody’s saying I have to do it, they’re just saying I can.

Skinny Bitch: Home, Beauty and Style by Kim Barnouin.  Kim of Skinny Bitch fame breaks down everything in your house that could possibly be killing you, and makes you feel like you need to replace everything in your house from your couch to your soap.  Take everything with a grain of salt.  She’s a bit extreme at times, but she does an amazing job of laying out the major bad-for-you chemicals in different household and beauty products so that you can be more educated when shopping.  My only beef with the book is that she’s vegan, and I’m not, so she tells me that wool, leather and other animal based products are terrible and evil and I’m a bad person for using them.  If you’re vegan, you’ll probably love it.  Non-vegans can just ignore that stuff and take advantage of the huge amount of research that she’s done.

***I’d just like to state for the record:  I LOVE Cheez Doodles.  I eat pre-packaged food and canned soups.  I’m human.  I’m not perfect, and I can only do so much at once.  This will be a slow transition.  I don’t want to shock my system or get overwhelmed.  It’s going to be interesting.  But I can do it, and so can you.

 

 
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