Homemade Sushi

Again my sister in law braved the strange foods and helped me get over my fears of sushi making too.
We gathered the supplies: nori (seaweed) wrappers, sushi rice, sushi vinegar and spices, and several sushi fillings.

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I will admit that the firsf three rolls I made I refused to take a pictures of. They were that bad.
Which brings us to common mistakes #1: overfilling nori with rice and other fillings. Results include not enough to wrap and seal roll and/or ingredients busting out the ends.

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After getting a good tight roll, I discoverd common mistake #2: Learning a gentle hand and cutting with a sharp knife. This is what ruins most of my rolls. I squeezed the rolls too hard or the knife would mash instead of cut.

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I tried making a rice on the outside roll. They were extremely difficult for me because it was harder to slice into the nori after the knife got sticky from the rice.

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By the end of the evening I had eaten a lot of mistakes and had some yummy lumpy rolls to eat.
Recently, I tried making sushi for a lunch my house. Kit can be odd about non-steak-&-taters meals so I was worried at first. He loved it!

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These are traditional sushi rolls with raw fish. I had to consider my budget when making this lunch. The fillings for my sushi were canned flakey crab and cream cheese. I took canned tiny shrimp and marinated them in lime juice, garlic, ginger, salt and pepper. The result was a spicy shrimp roll. The ginger was perfecto.

Which leads me to my final sushi making tip and the best advice we heard from the dozens of youtube videos we watched. Give yourself a break. The best way to make good sushi is keep trying. It proves itself too, my second attempt at making sushi for Kit and me was a huge sucess. I had to eater fewer dud rolls than the first time.
Can’t wait to try different ingredients and give it another whirl.

Have you ever tried sushi making at home?
Have any tried and true tips you want to share?

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Keeping Clean

Or:
Some sweet cleaning pins I discovered
and can’t imagine Life without them now

People are always saying to me, “Kat, how do you manage it all? Keeping such a spotless house and a cool head.”

That is a complete lie. No one has ever said that to me. In fact, one friend said, “this is the cleanest I’ve ever seen your house!” Once when he came to visit. And he was actually paying me a compliment.

I do not want a Martha Stewart house by any means. I love homes that are lived in by real people. However, there is a certain level of organization that I believe my home lacks.

I have discovered a few Pinterest links that have served me well. I wish to share these with my readers so you can have the same amount of control over one miniscule aspect of your life. These aren’t life hacks. Life isn’t easy and espcially when it comes to keeping a home.

1. Fan Blade Dusting

I can’t imagine returning to Plato’s Cave again. This one is amazing. It is stupid how easy this makes dusting fan blades. Take a pillowcase and pull it over a single fan blade. Add a bit of pressure to the top and bottom of the blade as you pull the pillowcase off.
You won’t get a face full of dust and you won’t sneeze a hundred times. If you missed a spot on the fan blade just recover it with the pillowcase and do it again. Once all the fan blades have been dusted, throw the pillowcase directly into the washer.
Thank you, Apartment Therapy! Source

2. (Sorta) Homemade Fabric Softener

Instead of tossing/recycling the old fabric softener bottle keep it around and refill it. Combine 6 cups water, 3 cups white vinegar and 2 cups hair conditioner. The original poster said to stir not shake to avoid suds. I shook and had no issues.
Thank you, Jillee @ One Good Thing! Source.

3. Liquid Concentrated Laundry Detergent

I tried making a powder laundry detergent but (I assume) because my washer is HE it doesn’t use as much water and the powder ended up clumping. So I took the powder that I had painstakingly put together, added it to water with a bit of dawn soap and boom. Perfection.
Part one includes grating a Fels Naptha bar (optional), Borax, OxyClean washing powder and baking soda. Part two, mix 1 1/2 cups of mixed powder, half cup of dawn dish liquid and warm/hot water shaking as you fill up the jug to ensure all the soap has dissolved.
Thank you, Jillee @ OGT! Source & Source.

4. Clean Front Load Washing Machine

This absolutely needs to be done. We clean our washer about once every two months or so. We should really do it more because after cleaning we can smell a significant difference in the quality of the clean clothes. Run first hot water cycle with empty washer and  2 cups vinegar in the detergent slot. Run second hot water cycle with 2 cups bleach. Run third water cycle with just plain water. Remove the soap dispensers and soak/wash them in the sink. Take a cloth damped with very diluted bleach water and wipe down the rubber gaskets around the door. The last steps sound tedious compared to the press-button cleaning process. I promise it is all worth it.
Thank you, Jillee @ OGT! Source.

5. Homemade Body Wash

There are tons of recipes out there for grate and heat body wash. gratedbarliquidsoapAny old Google search will reveal tons with slight differences. I honestly don’t have all the answers. I feel like each brand of soap will give slightly different results. However I will share my best tips for making it.
Combine 3 tablespoons of glycerine, 6 cups of water and 3 bars of soap (grated) in huge cook pot. Heat on medium to melt soap flakes. Avoid boiling! Burnt soap is a bad, bad thing. Once the soap bits are completely melted turn off the stove and allow the soapy water to sit overnight. Next day use a hand mixer to break things up. Add more water if you feel that the mixture is too thick. Bottle and go.

6. Bathtub Scrub

For some reason I haven’t been able to hunt down the the proper recipe original pinner I copied the idea from. Many apologies to the person I took this idea from. Grab a spray bottle and mix together equal parts of dawn dish liquid and white vinegar. Spray this all over your disgusting shower and allow it to sit for 30 minutes to 4 hours depending on your free time. As a warning to sensitive people, the combo of these two makes for a strong smell. If you are sensitive you may open a window when you go to wipe down and rinse off the walls of the shower.

7. Organized Cupcake Liners

This is much like the first tip above. Very simple and it makes life just that much easier. Take all the random half cellophane masonjarcraftsblogcupcakelinerorganizationwrappers full of your mismatched  cupcake liners and stack them in a mason or bell jar. My only complaint about this is I usually want the V-day/Xmas/Halloween liners that I have put at the bottom of the stack. It looks pretty in the cabinets I think and you know we all secretly want beautiful cabinets.
Thank you, Mason Jar Crafts Blog! Source.

8. Cheaters Car Wash

This is a great in-between washes way of making your car a bit more presentable. Use Pledge or a similar off brand furniture polish. This cuts the nasty road grease. After you wipe away all the nasty get a fakeitfrugalpledgecarwashclean microfiber cloth or paper towels and buff the residue until you can see your face. I bought the cheap store brand version and it worked just as promise.
Thank you Fake-It Frugal! Source.

9. Denture Clean Water Bottle

This is another easy one to help avoid the soapy taste and nasty bacterial smell after filling up your reusable bottle. Grab two of the denture cleanser tablets and toss them into your bottle with warm water. Allow to soak before dumping and rinsing the bottle.
Thank you, Jenny @ Popsugar! Source.

10. Homemade Windex

Easy to mix up and works better than the store brand. You’ll a spray bottle, 1/8 cup white ammonia, 1/4 cup isopropyl rubbing alcohol and 1 drop of laundry detergent and warm water to fill the bottle up. This is great in the bathroom for good cleaning and doesn’t leave streaks on mirrors/windows.
Thank you, Fake-It Frugal! Source.

Kat’s: Food and Exercise Updates

It has been ages since I’ve mentioned anything on my blog about my progress. I don’t want you all to think I’ve given up on this whole healthy thing. If you please, follow my twitter I update followers frequently on my eating/exercise progress. I also share articles, snarks and videos that are amusing to me.

Here’s the run down: I went from a size 14 to a size 6 since January 3rd. I truly hope you didn’t believe that. I haven’t changed sizes at all in fact. Haha! Getting fit is a slow process for me. I have been exercising almost daily at the YMCA since January 3rd. My worst streak of going without working out was three days.

Food & Exercise Tracker

Since the end of January I have been tracking and trying to reign in my calorie intake. I am trying to stay at or under 1,720.

When I first started I struggled because there was no

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baseline for how many calories typically I consumed in a day. I would hazard to guess around 2,500 to 3,000 given how many sweets and snacks we have around the house. I am a terrible habitual snacker and could probably can eat a family size bag of chips all by myself.

The fitness tracker app I chose to help me with my calorie count is My Fitness Pal (MFP). You can also just used the regular website if you choose to.
MFP has an awesomely huge food database and a code scanner if you are having trouble finding a product by search terms.wtrackerexcel

The exercise tracker aspect of MFP isn’t quite as refined so I only keep about half of my exercise logged. I consistently use a spreadsheet to track the times, weights, speed and reps of my different exercises. It may sound tedious to keep two trackers but it doesn’t bother me too much. And it only takes about five minutes out of my entire day to input stats.

Water and Vitamins

I haven’t been doing so well on these goals. It is all too easy to reach for coffee in the AM and then lightly sweetened homemade iced tea throughout the day.
My goal is a formula that PBS mentioned in one of their health series:

The old adage of 8 glasses a day is no longer true.
Instead, think about how much you weigh and divide that number in half. That’s how many ounces of water you should drink per day.

I have realized that adding a touch of lemon can make water taste a little less watery. I like the taste of it but I am a bit sporadic about drinks. Each time I refill my glass I want a different type of drink. Just ask my husband how long it takes me to pick a drink at the gas station.

Taking a multivitamin slips my mind most days. I tried setting up a reminder in MyFitnessPal and one on my phone. Neither one pops up to remind me, much less at the correct set time. I don’t take any other meds on an actual routine so it

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is hard for me to start this. Forreal, I only take an allergy pill in the mornings when my nose is stuffed up and even then I tend to forget.

I found a whole blog with tips on how to remind yourself to drink water. Starting today I’m going to do my best to follow the bracelet trick. I recently re-discovered my jelly bracelets from when I was a teen–Don’t judge me.

Exercises

I don’t really have a well defined plan here. If I can’t make it to the gym, I do have an extensive at-home workout plan that requires only free weights and a chair. I say extensive because I’ve never made a 45 minute at-home plan like it before.

I broke it down into the basics: Some warm ups, arms, legs and core and cool down stretches. All the warm ups and cool down exercises must be completed.
There are about six exercises in each of the arms/legs/core categories and am challenged to pick three from each group. I feel less trapped into one particular routine. If anyone is interested, I can share my plan. It includes instructions on how to perform most of the exercises but no photos or diagrams.

Not a picture of me

Not a picture of me

Mostly, I get to the gym when I can because I feel accountable to do a good job. My favorite classes of late have been the Pound Fitness class that is offered three days a week at my YMCA. If you’ve never heard of it you must Google a video! You use lightly weighted drum sticks to drum along with songs. Mostly focusing on the core. I feel like a badass akin to the sensation a non-musician gets from playing guitar hero. Accomplished even if it isn’t exactly the way the pros do it.

Another favorite class of mine is the Aqua Zumba class. The instructor stands on land to lead and you follow except all the arm and leg motions are intended for under the water. This is an ideal exercise for me because I stay cool in the water and can feel the water resistance. Also, no one can see how badly you mess up under water.

When there is not a class at a convenient time, I do my own thing in the small weight room. I do a mixture of treadmill walking and machines that focus on my arms, legs or abs and back. I have been upping my weights on those machines when I don’t feel worn out after my sets.

Extra full belly--post lunch weigh

Extra full belly–post lunch weigh

Weight

I honestly should be going by measurements. That is a justification for my pitiful progress, but also I am told a more accurate way of telling how your body changes. My heaviest that I weighed since starting—Oh yeah, brace yourselves, the reveal is coming!!was 181.2 lbs on the gym scale. The lightest I have weighed and what seems to be consistent is 176.6 lbs.
It is a slow slogging struggle but I am keeping at it.

Looking ahead

I have a feeling that things will get easier once I begin my season at MACA. I will be average hiking four to six miles in a day depending on my schedule. Some of those days I will be doing the crawling tours which will engage even more muscles. I do not intend on slacking off of my gym time. I may go three to four days a week instead for five to seven days simply because work will keep me busy.

couchto5kI had a tipsy revelation last week regarding me and running. A good buddy of mine—actually many of my peers—are runners for health. One program that several have suggested to me is the Couch to 5K program. The thought of it excites and terrifies me. Afraid of failure but also willing to try to beat the stitches in my side and coughing to catch my breath. Yes, I really do suck at and hate running.
I also hate sweating all over myself, being out of breath and red faced in front of others, YET I have kicked serious ass the last two months at a gym!