Friday, June 10, 2011

"Iced" Chai Spice Soy Latte

Went to Starbucks yesterday and tasted a sample of their Chai Frappuccino. Wow is that delicious! I ended up purchasing one for myself with skim milk. I don't know how I haven't tried this already!

I was inspired by this drink, to try and make a cold chai soy latte at home (note: I don't really use ice in this drink, it's just served cold from the fridge). The result was as tasty as the Starbuck's chai frappuccino, but easier to make than a frappuccino would be from home. Here's how I did it...

1) I brewed 4 cups worth of chai spice tea, but used about 6 chai spice tea bags (you could easily use 8 tea bags to double the tea's strength).
2.) I let the tea cool in the pot for a bit then put it in a pitcher and left it to get nice and cold in the fridge over night.
3.) The next morning I got out my 10 oz mug and filled it about 1/3 of the way with the cooled chai spice tea, and the other two thirds of the way with soy milk.
4.) I mixed in a teaspoon of raw cane sugar to sweeten it a bit. You could always use more or less sugar, to your liking. The soy milk I get is sweetened a bit on its own so you don't need much extra in the way of sugar.

The result was just delicious! And I have loads of the cooled tea left to make quite a few more cold chai lattes for myself :D

What's your iced caffeinated beverage of choice?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Toddler Fun: Felt Board!

Wow, I love that I stumbled upon this how-to via Pinterest today for how to make a felt board for a toddler! I can't even remember where or when I used a felt board in my childhood, but yet I have such fond memories of them from when I was little! Seemed like a great idea for something quick and easy to make for my son to play with, and something new for him to figure out/explore.

Browsing through all of the materials I'd need on the tutorial list, I realized I wouldn't be doing this board today if I went by the instructions the author offered up. So instead I kinda just winged it because I already had a ton of color felt, white fleece felt, some hard/thick poster paper, tape and glue.

Here's a photo of my resulting board. I just kinda used what I had, taped the light/white felt pieces together then glued the taped side to the poster board. Then I went to town cutting up shapes. I tried to go for a large variety so that my little guy could turn the shapes into little things, i.e. a house, car, airplane, etc.

The little dude did very much enjoy the new felt board experience, though after a while he got a bit more enjoyment out of just smacking all the felt pieces off the board and to the ground (I used clothes pin magnets to hold the felt board on the fridge so he could play while I cooked).

I'd definitely suggest reading the actual tutorial I linked to above to make a much neater, more durable felt board. Just wanted to show off my easy-peasy board in case you're not too picky and already have the stuff you'll need to do it simply/quickly at home.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Operation Screw All These Dishes

So I was reading a cooking blog the other day that focuses on minimalistic cooking/kitchens. The author was writing about her experience living in NYC in a small apartment with limited kitchen space. Her logical solution to the space dilemma was keeping only enough cutlery, plates, glasses, etc for a meal for two people, and cleaning them immediately afterwords. I kinda wanted to kick myself repeatedly after reading that post when I thought back to the small apartments my husband and I shared for 5 years, and the ridiculous amounts of plates, cups, mugs, etc we had on hand, which would always just pile up and make the kitchen a disaster of a place. HOW HAD I NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS?

Fast forward to the present, where we are living in a townhouse with a decently sized kitchen and a reasonable amount of cabinet space, and our kitchen is still a disaster area. We moved in right before I gave birth and so I never had time to organize the kitchen the way I would have liked. Add to this a busy husband, and until more recently, a busy me with little time to do much else but tend to a demanding baby, and you might be able to sympathize with my constant pile of dirty dishes and altogether unorganized kitchen.

My son is older now and, God bless him, able to amuse himself for spans of time, and so I got it into my head to improve my kitchen. A month or so back I went through everything and put all of the items we basically never used in a box and later in a yard sale/Goodwill. And more recently, after reading the aforementioned blog, I became enamored with the notion that I really didn't need the piles of plates, bowls, mugs and cups we had sitting in our cabinets, taking up useful space.

We are a family of 3 and I rarely entertain guests, so this seems do-able for us, but I'm sure some families are so large or busy that this scenario wouldn't be plausible. Now, what I propose to do, is to cut out all but the essential amount of plates, bowls, cups/mugs because these are the big space takers. I'm down to 4 large plates, 4 small plates, 5 large glasses, 3 bowls and 4 mugs. The idea is to simply pick up a sponge and clean our plates, cups, etc right away. That simple. Limiting the amount of plates available to us will motivate us to be sure we clean them right away so they are dry and ready for use the next time we need them. Further motivation will arise from the energy and water we will save thanks to not running the dishwasher 2-3 times a week.

Mind you, I'm not automatically getting rid of all those extra dishes and cups. Some will go into the cabinet in the dining room so if we do have people over, we have easy access to them. The rest will go in a box in the basement until I decide if this whole operation actually works for us. I am all for quickly cleaning dishes right after use. The main thing is getting the h-band on board. To be honest, as I write this I haven't told him my plan yet. I don't forsee him having an issue with it so I'm just going to spring it on him tonight when he gets home :)

We'll live like this for about a week and see how we like it. I'll be sure to write about the experience after the week is up. Ever done anything like this yourself? I'd love to hear how it went for you!