Monday, April 29, 2013

Recipe: Paleo Pepper Steak

I've been making the non-paleo version of this dish for many years now. I got the original recipe from my mother-in-law, who got it from an old cookbook that she's had since she was a young woman. I've since adapted the recipe for my family, but I recently decided to see if I could successfully turn it into a paleo recipe. It worked really well. I couldn't tell the difference, and neither could my husband, who absolutely LOVES the non-paleo version. However, I noticed that the tamari seemed saltier than soy sauce. At the end of cooking the beef, if the sauce seems salty to you, feel free to add more water before deglazing and reducing.

I serve this over rice -- either white or a wild rice medley -- for my husband and son, but of course that's not paleo; you can separately make cauliflower rice beforehand, or use roasted spaghetti squash or shaved zucchini instead. Also, this recipe is very easy to double, and I usually do so because we're happy to eat the leftovers for dinner the next night. It makes my week a little easier that way. :-) The photos below are of a doubled recipe of the dish.

Paleo Pepper Steak
Serves 3-4

  • 1 lb top round steak or London broil [grass-fed]
  • 2 or 3 medium bell peppers (any color)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) [the brand I used] or coconut aminos
  • 3/4 Tbsp arrowroot starch [the brand I used]
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut sugar or palm sugar [the brand I used]
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger (optional)
  • 1/3 cup water


Seed bell peppers and cut in julienne strips. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet using low heat. Add the peppers and cook slowly. (This method will yield very tender, soft peppers. If you prefer crunchy, al dente peppers, then stir fry them over medium-high heat instead, until they're cooked to your taste.)

While the peppers are cooking, combine tamari, arrowroot starch, sugar, black pepper, and ginger (if using) in a medium bowl and mix well. Slice beef into very thin strips (about 1/8 inch thick or less) -- it helps if you slice the beef while it's only partially defrosted so it holds shape better -- and add to the mixture in the bowl. Coat beef thoroughly.

Saute peppers until tender, as desired. Remove from skillet to a serving bowl and set aside.

Increase the burner to high heat and add remaining oil to the skillet. Once the oil starts to shimmer, fry the beef until the redness disappears. Remove the beef to the serving bowl with peppers.

To make the sauce, add 1/3 cup of water to the skillet and stir through until the pan is deglazed. Cook until reduced in half, just a few minutes. Add back the beef and peppers and heat through. Serve over rice substitute (cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, etc.) if desired. Enjoy!

xo, Gladys

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Recipe: DIY Home Cleaners

It's springtime, and if you're like me, you've gotten the itch to do some spring cleaning. So I spent a good chunk of my birthday weekend cleaning the house, but instead of reaching for the Kaboom or Tilex or 409, I learned new recipes for homemade cleaners that actually worked! I was able to clean my tubs, kitchen sink, and stove without taking a whole day or two to do it. I confess that I often put off cleaning those things because I'm really sensitive to the chemical smells from the store-bought sprays and cleaners that we usually use, which means that I need to take numerous breaks while I wait for my eyes and nose to stop watering. Ugh. Two of the recipes below call for ammonia, which does smell pretty bad, but it doesn't bother me as much as the factory-made chemical soups that burn your mucous membranes (what do they put in those things?). You can even buy lemon-scented ammonia from the grocery store, home improvement store, or maybe Target.

Anyway, I'm so excited about how effective the cleaners were that I wanted to share my resources. I'm sure I have Pinterest to thank for starting me off on my journey to finding them online, and I'm glad to let you know that these particular projects worked. (Parenthetically, a friend alerted me to a site called Pinstrosity, which lets you know about projects found via Pinterest that either don't work or that require troubleshooting.) What's great is that you probably have the necessary items in your home already! And if you don't, you can easily get them at the store and they're a lot cheaper ounce for ounce than the ready-made factory stuff.

To clean my porcelain tub, I used the "Tub Scrub" recipe from Martha Stewart. Four ingredients: 1) baking soda, 2) dish soap, 3) antibacterial essential oil, and 4) water. I only needed half the recipe to clean one tub. The tea tree oil I used made it smell wonderful. I used a non-scratch nylon scrub brush with the paste. You don't need to wet down the tub before scrubbing, since the paste has enough liquid already to create the necessary friction. It required some elbow grease, but it was satisfying; I could see the dirt melting away. It worked wonderfully on the metal faucet and drain as well, but make sure to completely rinse off the baking soda or it will leave streaks.

For my porcelain kitchen sink, I used Apartment Therapy's recipes. Three ingredients for a simple scrub: 1) baking soda, 2) ammonia, and 3) water. I didn't use a bucket of water, but it was definitely more liquid than a paste. It worked really well to clear up the dinginess, and the sink was squeaky clean and whiter after just one application with a non-scratch nylon sponge. With a toothbrush, I used the mixture to clean the metal drains and strainer as well as the rubber flaps on the garbage disposal. The metal looked almost new after that! (I think it was because of the ammonia.) There were some small rust stains that needed the salt-and-lemon-juice treatment, as described in the Apartment Therapy link, and after that I was done. The sink is only a year and a half old (I blogged about it when we bought it), but I admit that I don't take care of the porcelain finish as well as I should. Doing this treatment made me want to take better care of the sink in the future, because why not when it's so quick and simple? (If you've got a metal sink, use this Apartment Therapy tutorial instead.)

Finally, I used my own recipe on my gas stove, especially on the removable porcelain-covered cast-iron grates. For years, I have hated cleaning stove grates because nothing ever worked, not vinegar, dish soap, or the Magic Eraser. The recipe I used was just a remix of the two recipes above: 1) 1/2 cup baking soda, 2) 1/4 cup ammonia, 3) 1 teaspoon dish soap, and 4) just enough water to make a paste. I removed the grates and scrubbed them in the sink with the paste using a nylon sponge. It didn't make them super clean but it took a lot of the burned-on grease right off. (The ammonia really melts off the grease, and I wish I'd learned to clean with ammonia long before my thirties. I've heard you can put the grates -- one at a time -- in a ziplock back with a little ammonia and leave for a day, and then you wouldn't need to scrub. I might try that method since I don't need to use all the burners of my stove every meal of every day.) I washed them off thoroughly and left them on the dish rack to dry. While they dried, I worked on the stove with the nylon sponge. Again, this required some elbow grease, but it worked well. I made sure to rinse off the paste completely, using several applications of a very wet sponge and then drying off with a clean microfiber towel.

NOTE: When using the recipes with ammonia, I advise using rubber gloves, especially if you'll be in contact with it for more than a few minutes. That smell can linger a bit. And please, don't mix ammonia with bleach or anything containing bleach as the fumes created are highly toxic. If unsure whether something contains bleach or not, err on the side of not using it with ammonia. Just stick to baking soda, dish soap, and essential oils when working with ammonia. They work!

Happy fume-less Spring cleaning!

[EDIT: So I was wrong about Pinterest being my primary resource ... the Martha Stewart "Tub Scrub" recipe was found via BuzzFeed's great list of (mostly) eco-friendly cleaning tricks. Seriously, this list will make your Spring cleaning more interesting. I can't wait to try cleaning my blinds with an old sock.]

xo, Gladys

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Monday, April 22, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things

After last week's harrowing series of events, from Boston to west Texas and the nation's capital, I entered this past weekend with a sense of dread, wondering when something else horrible would pop up in the news. But thankfully, nothing more eventful happened than my birthday, which turned out to be wonderfully quiet, soothing, and family-focused. It helped that I just decided to finally tune out. With all of the distress of last week, I turned to those things that provide me the greatest emotional and physical nourishment, and I counted my blessings. I spent almost every minute with my husband and son on Saturday and Sunday. We watched movies together, did chores around the house, played games, went to the bookstore, hung out at the mall, and made time to sit and chat whenever we could. My little family and I had a pizza dinner on Friday night, steak and salad on Saturday, and Red Robin burgers on Sunday. And when my birthday dawned, I received loving phone calls from my siblings and their families, texts and messages from close friends, as well as Facebook wishes from faraway family, friends, and acquaintances. In contrast to last year when I had a rowdy, noisy party with friends and their little kids, I wanted this year's birthday to pass more sedately. (I think I am officially tired of frantically cleaning my house, only to have to deal with cleanup again after only a few hours of partying.)

My birthday marked the very beginning of a new year in my life, and I'm grateful that the last days of my previous year ended quietly and soulfully.

Here are some of the most wonderful things about my life right now: my family, in particular my heart-melting son and nephews. (And in my book, nothing beats hearing "Happy Birthday" sung to you by sweet child voices.)

The kiddo during a playful mood -- I love this beautiful smile. Still taken from a video.

Daddy reading the excellent 1970s kids book, Harry the Dirty Dog, before bedtime

My nephews #1 and #4, brothers wearing their Easter best

Nephew #4 wearing the same onesie that my son wore about five years ago -- hand-me-downs rule!

Nephew #3 and nephew #2, fraternal twin brothers who keep amazing me: they're barely 7 months old and not only are they tall and over 20 pounds each (which is unusual in our small-statured lineage), but they've also started crawling!

xo, Gladys

P.S. Happy Earth Day! Why not celebrate by adding a green resolution to your new year's list?

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Friday, April 19, 2013

This Week

The Onion gets how I'm feeling about this week. Warning: lots of swearing in the "article." Sorry for not posting much. I just couldn't. And this isn't even a real post.

Except: I'm sending healing thoughts and love to the survivors of the Boston bombing, to all of Boston which is on lockdown right now, and to the families of the Newtown shooting victims who had their broken hearts pulled out of their chests and crushed once again by the soulless, cowardly politicians in Washington DC. I'm hoping for justice to come for all of them, and all of us.

Much love, Gladys

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sewing: Floral Apron

It's been quite a while since I sewed anything, but I recently busted out my machine and made yet another Lotta Jansdotter reversible apron over the weekend (for an extended family member). And because I didn't add pockets this time, it went relatively quickly. This makes apron #5 from this pattern. I've been looking for other apron patterns to try, but this one just matches my taste the best -- simple, flattering, but also versatile since it's reversible. So many apron patterns out there require ric-rac, ribbon, lace, and/or bias tape to finish them; and while I'm not at all against trims, I am more drawn to simple shapes and rely on fabric choice to "show off." Most of my fabric stash is patterned and I need to use it all up somehow. Besides, I tend to want to simplify patterns that require ribbon, as I did with this apron. I promise that it's not just laziness. ;-) If I add anything, it's usually pockets.

Confession: I'm not too fond of the combination of these two fabrics, but the receiver wanted browns. Since I didn't like the idea of using a solid brown for one side, I put together florals. Not as elegant (is that the right word?) as the other aprons I've made, but I hope she likes it anyway.

Tunic: fun 2 fun via ModClothJeans: GAPShoes: Fluevog Guide (Prepare family)
(Thanks to my mom for taking all the photos in this post!)

Bonus pic: Here's the outfit I was wearing when I modeled the apron. I wore it to go to a cousin's birthday party in Long Beach with the kiddo. This is one of the few tunics I have; I like the checks and the colors (I LOVED being able to wear my blue Guides with the outfit), but the style, which is trying for a mod 60s vibe, isn't as crisp as I'd like -- problem with the fabric and loose fit at the shoulders and bodice. I'll probably add it to my HUGE to-be-altered pile. Sigh. I still have my eye out on a more flattering tunic style, since I want dressy tops in longer lengths to wear over pants whenever I don't feel like wearing a dress to a party.

Oh, and did you notice the tattoo on my left arm? It's a temporary tattoo (of dinosaurs) that is still going strong after almost a week. Weird. It might be time to take some rubbing alcohol to it. But I'll admit that it's made me consider a bracelet tattoo on my upper arm. Maybe I'll get one in a few years, perhaps for my next milestone birthday...? :-)

xo, Gladys

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sweet Life

Just some food pr0n to kick off the weekend properly. :-)

Oreo Dream Extreme cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory, my kiddo's choice. He's such a ham! He knew I was going to take a pic of the cheesecake, so he posed with the cookie crumb halfway to his mouth like that! Hahahahahahahahaha! I've trained him well.

More cheesecakes from The Cheesecake Factory: (l-r) Dutch Apple Caramel Streusel, Kahlua Cocoa Coffee, White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. OMG my mouth is watering. My brother and sister-in-law swear by the apple one. I chose the Kahlua Cocoa Coffee, but I think my fave was the Raspberry Truffle.

My kiddo declared that these cute pancakes were the best he'd ever had. I'd have to agree. They're closer to crepes than traditional pancakes since they're made with several eggs and with sour cream (!), with a relatively small amount of flour. Sour Cream Pancakes recipe shared by The Pioneer Woman.

These cupcakes are paleo and they're a winner in this house, passing muster with the kiddo and husband both. Recipes for Paleo Chocolate Cupcakes and Paleo Chocolate Frosting by Elana's Pantry.

My Cupcake Monster was not posing here but simply stuffing his mouth (and nose) with the cupcakes. Yummy.
xo, Gladys

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

New Shoes: Vintage Fluevog Moonies

Dress and cardigan: Old Navy | Maryjane wedges: Fluevog Mary (Moonies family)

Last month, I bought a pair of vintage Fluevogs through the FlueMarket, the neat online webpage that Fluevog has set up for those looking to sell or buy some well-loved vintage Fluevogs. I'd never seen anything from the Moonie family before, but I really liked the wedge heel and maryjane style, as well as the dark gray/orange colorway. When I received the shoes in the mail, however, I realized there were some problems that the seller hadn't disclosed:

I decided to take them to the Fluevog Melrose store so they could help me figure out what to do. The scuffs were fine and understandable considering these were vintage -- and a nice polish would do the trick -- but the straps seemed to be in a more-delicate condition than I expected from the photo (no mention of their state in the seller's note). And it was dealer Anthony at Melrose who figured out that the upper on the right shoe had separated from the wedge heel at the toe; I didn't even realize it when I first tried it on! Anyway, I had them take the shoes to their cobbler to see what could be done. Polishing the leather and re-gluing the upper were straightforward, but we were concerned that the straps would need major repair work.

Well, fast forward a few weeks later. I was finally able to pick them up last weekend (they were done almost two weeks before that but I couldn't come in until recently), and they looked like they got a facelift. Years younger! The straps were deemed okay, so the cobbler just matched the orange and recolored them. The scuffs are gone, and the upper is definitely back on properly. I think the only other thing I would have liked them to have done was recolor the pinstriping on the wedge heels. (I looked at the work order and that detail wasn't on it. Bummer.)

The shoes look fantastic under both pants and skirts/dresses. And because the wedge heel is the same color as the upper, the shoes look like flats but add height, which is a plus in my shortie book. :-) The casual style and color of these shoes fill a gap in my Fluevog collection, and if I take care not to be too hard on them, I can probably wear them on a regular basis the way I do my cream Amie flats and red Nzame loafers. Thanks to Fluevog Melrose and their cobbler!

xo, Gladys

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Retro Candy Dots with Fluevog Liz

I love, love, love this outfit! I wore it over the weekend to have an early-birthday lunch with family. And since I was going to stop by the Fluevog store on Melrose once again to pick up some special items (more on that in a later post), I decided that dressing up was a must. Birthday + Fluevog combinations are among the best reasons to dress up. :-)

Dress and belt: Trollied Dolly via ModClothShoes: Fluevog Liz (Kitschy Kitschy Boom Boom family)

You might remember me wearing the dress in my December snapshots post (look for the family photo on the stairs). I definitely didn't do it justice there. The tailoring on Trollied Dolly dresses makes them totally drool-worthy, and this particular style fit me just right. I'm lucky that the waist on the dress hits me at the right place. What's amazing about it is that the cut and fabric -- which is non-stretch cotton -- act almost as shapewear. (No need to worry about tucking in my tummy because the waistband on the dress does it for me!) Super flattering! And the cap sleeves accentuate the hourglass shape. Of course I love the Peter Pan collar and button accents. And: pockets. Need I say more?

I was happy to wear the dress for the holidays, but I think it needed the Liz maryjanes to complete it. The moment I put the two together, I knew it was a match made in heaven. Even though the dress is navy and the shoes are black, the white and the pink accents (especially the white piping on both) make it seem like they were made for each other. I honestly didn't think about the dress when I bought the Liz last month. In fact, I was planning to sew a dress just for the shoes, but now it doesn't seem so high on my list of priorities.

There's nothing like a great outfit to help celebrate one's birthday month ... and this is a big one for me -- I'm turning 35! :-)

xo, Gladys

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Doctor Who Paraphernalia

Happy Friday! It's a silly, geeky post for today. I thought I'd share some of my fun new Doctor Who items in honor of the new episodes in Season 7, which started last Saturday. (I'm very excited about the new companion, Clara, and I can't wait until the episode with River Song, which is supposed to come this season. I'm hoping for some fireworks from that woman!) Anyway, I haven't gone this crazy over collecting paraphernalia since the height of my Harry Potter fangirling in my early twenties. *g* To my growing collection of Doctor Who tees (Teefury), fabric quarters (Spoonflower), TARDIS beach towel, sticky notes (both available at ThinkGeek), iPhone case, and license-plate frame courtesy of my older sister (Amazon), I have recently added these three gems:

River Song's blank journal, in which I must write my own spoilers (ThinkGeek | Amazon)

Journal #2: TARDIS Deluxe Journal (Amazon)

Bigger on the inside? It will be after I start writing in it.

A ridiculously-adorable and quite-unnecessary TARDIS mini-fridge that makes the whooshing sound when you open the door (exclusively at ThinkGeek)

It holds a six-pack -- four on the bottom and two on the rack, lying down. It can also be used to warm food instead. What's really neat about this is that you can bring it on car trips, and it plugs into the cigarette lighter. #WIN

xo, Gladys

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Retro Polka Dots

Dress: A. Byer via AmazonBelt: borrowed from Trollied Dolly dressCardi: GapBallet flats: Fluevog Amie (Integrity family) via Amazon

I wore this outfit over the weekend to visit my parents-in-law in Camarillo. It was perfect for a nice sunny day with occasional breezes. It looked fantastic for a quick trip to buy a full flat of sweet Camarillo strawberries (imagine the bright red color with this dress). Plus: a yummy lunch, some window-shopping, and a stint in the kitchen making crispy rice treats. Great day with the grandparents.

xo, Gladys

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Weekend

Sprinkle time

Recipe for these egg-shaped rice crisp treats (with candy egg surprise inside) found here

Chocolate whiskers before the egg hunt

Not sure why they did this ta-da pose, but it was cute.

On the hunt

Not an original outfit on this blog, but I was thinking I don't have enough crazy poses on here. I was obviously channeling the kids' ta-da pose from earlier.
Dress: Tulle via ModCloth | Maryjane clogs: Fluevog Guide (Prepare family) | Leather bracelet: Made for me in Hawai'i, with a Hawaiian translation of my name

E wore the art smock I made for her birthday last year, getting ready to dye eggs.

My little artist at work

We don't know how he made that spectacular marbled teal/turquoise one, but it became the gold standard! He made the rest of his eggs all green, his favorite color.

Hulk hands at the end

Trying my hand at egg-dyeing (I had two Hulk fingers on my right hand afterward.) ... Verdict: not as pretty as my kiddo's :-)

We don't celebrate Easter religiously, but we do enjoy celebrating the new spring season with our family and friends. We spent the weekend with my husband's parents and our friends in town, making crispy eggs, hunting eggs, and dyeing eggs. We also ate. A lot. And listened to disco music. There may or may not have been some dancing involved. I can neither confirm nor deny whether it was line dancing. It was a great fun weekend that made me thankful for all the love we have in our lives. I hope you also had a wonderful weekend, however and with whomever you chose to spend it. :-)

xo, Gladys

P.S. Here's a bonus photo of the eggs dyed by me and the kiddo. They made for a yummy Monday lunch.

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