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29 May 2012

Trash To Tresure: Citrus Peels

Jace at the controls of the blog again, this time it’s to share with you an awesome cleaner, candy, and sauce all from something most people throw away: citrus peels! The best part is you don't have to choose one of these things to make, you can do all three with the same peels.

The first step is to eat oranges, since we're reducing processed snacks and trying to include fruit and veggies into all of our meals, this has become easy for us. Next of course is to save the peel! I peel into quarters, and then let the peels sit in the sunny kitchen window sill to dry out (I know this bugs Chelsea to no end, but sacrifices must be made!) You can also use lemon and lime rinds, but we don't use nearly as many of them and they are much harder to separate the flesh from the peel. Actually lemon peels would be better for the cleaner because of their high acidity compared to orange peels, but I digress...
Window sill over flowing with peels: it's been cloudy so they haven't been dying out as quick

Once I've got a quart mason jar full of dried peels (really pack ‘em in there) I fill it to the top with white vinegar and cap it. I leave the jar in the window sill, hoping the alternating warmth from the sun and cool from the night air will draw out more of the orangie goodness (just a theory.) Once the color of the vinegar stops getting darker I pull it from the window sill, but the different places I learned this trick from said leave it for anywhere from 10 days, to as much as a month.
Next, pour off the liquid and save it, this is your cleaner, but we're not done! Now refill the jar with vinegar again and repeat, mixing your two batches together for a more even product.
Place the finished cleaner in a spray bottle and use to wipe up tough messes. The acidity of the vinegar acts as a disinfectant (that's why you pickle things in vinegar after all; too keep the bugs out) and the orange oils you extracted not only provide an interesting scent when paired with the vinegar, but also help cut grease and grime (think about all those orange powered commercial cleaners.)
Citrus cleaner ready to tackle tough jobs!
After you've used the peels to make your cleaner next, use them to make candied citrus rind! This is a candy and is not necessarily healthy, but it has a very similar taste and texture to orange slices like you'd buy at the gas station, but without the HFCS, and with natural orange, so it's not the worst thing in the world.
To make the candy take your peels and bring them to a boil in a pot of water, this will help draw out the vinegar and any remaining oil which would make the candy bitter. Once at a boil I took it off the fire, and drained it, but if you are using fresh peels that haven't soaked in vinegar, let them boil for ten minutes prior to draining. Boil and drain a second time, waiting ten minutes and doing it three times if the peels are fresh, but again, not if they were presoaked.
Next place your peels into a skillet and pour in three cups water and 2 cups (yes two cups) of sugar. Most recipes called for a cup of water and sugar for each cup of citrus peel, but I found this to be more than adequate for our ~4 cups of peel.
Next place the concoction on a low heat (just below a boil) and cook down allowing the peels to absorb the sugar. This will take several hours. Make sure you are stirring the pieces around and recoating them in the syrup as it thickens or else you'll end up with an inconsistent flavor. Stirring also helps the water evaporate quicker as it gives it a higher surface area. Be very vigilant toward the end with stirring and reducing the heat or else your syrup will begin to boil and possibly burn. Once there is only about a half to a quarter cup of syrup just coating the bottom of the pan, kill the heat and start to take the peels out and coat them in sugar. I recommend placing the pan at an angle to allow the syrup to pool to one end of the pan and keep the peels on the other end. Work while everything is still warm or else the syrup will start to thicken and crystallize. With the peels rolled in sugar place them on a cooling rack to dry for a day or so. Enjoy.
Citrus candy in a jar awaitng consumption

For the final use, take the orange tinged syrup left in the pan, add some soy sauce, to taste, and thin with water. The thinner the sauce the more cook time it will allow, I ended up with about 1.5 cups if I had to estimate. As it is, the sauce will impart a very light orange flavor, but you can make it more intense by adding orange juice at this stage. Cook up some rice, and a few chicken breasts. Once the chicken is fully cooked add the sauce to the pan and let the chicken simmer, turning occasionally to coat. Remove when the sauce becomes darker and thickens to a syrup again, should take about 5-10 minutes. Serve using the remaining sauce in the pan to add to the rice if you wish.
Yummy orange chicken and rice!
I pieced this string of ideas from a number of sources, the citrus cleaner has appeared on multiple blogs and Pintrest, and I don’t know who invented it, the candied citrus rind is an old recipe I had never heard of until I saw a brief mention of it in this blog by the Green Cheapskate. Further research (simplyrecipes) showed that the candy often turned out bitter and with a less gummy texture unless the peels were soaked in salt water or alcohol. I thought that the vinegar soak might have a similar effect, and it did! Though I do plan to make that citrus infused vodka I heard mention of as an alternate precandy soak! Then the chicken I kind of made up on the spot when I saw I had left over syrup that I didn't want to throw it out.
Now, go eat some oranges!


28 May 2012

Insta-Friday | 16 weeks


1. Tarzan boy! (check out a video of this on youtube!)
2. Juliette (the cat) caught a bird! Luckily, it's alright and flew off... had no idea that fat, lazy cat could catch a bird!


 3. These babies are 16 weeks old. How??
4. Jarvis wanted to hold his babies!


 5. British tea party with my friends = awesome!
6. Quinoa, oats, peanut butter, and honey cookies, so good!


 7. Smiliey faced babies!
8. needed a creative brain break, so I made an apron!

9. Me and all my babies!
10. Iced coffee in a mason jar. yum.


11. Babies' first mall trip... Joelle napping in Auntie Stacy's arms...
12. Chilling in the stroller while everyone else eats!

TWENTYONE | p52 | 2012

remember when...

was your favorite word. but,

'i want to 'nuggie you'
was your favorite phrase.

i think this is my favorite age so far.

yes, this is late. no excuse execept for lack of inspiration. and possibly that this mama is sick. again. weakest immune system ever. sigh. catching up today though!

Check out other Project 52s at:

22 May 2012

Insta-Friday | Whoops

Hmmm, somehow, I completely spaced on this... so technically it's Insta-Tuesday, but oh well!


1. 4th of July outfits for the twins... still working on big brother's...
2. My friend and I need to stop shopping together.. matching flip flops at 11pm.


3. My grain/freezer restocking list... getting rid of all processed grains!
4. Mother's Day Tutti Frutti vist, I love my friends!


5. Brother love.
6. Stop.growing.babies.


7. BAH, too cute. And in their colors!
8. This is my real Jonah-bear, such a smiler!


9. Making fresh butter....
10. The results, buttermilk and butter.

11. Man, I love this boy....

18 May 2012

TWENTY | p52 | 2012

remember when...

It felt like I would never sleep again.
Like I could curl up in a bed and sleep for a week solid.

But I just keep reminding myself,
they will sleep through the night, in time.

It won't be long before they will be teenagers,
who I have to pull out of bed at noon.

and before I know it,
they will be out of the house
and it will be silent all night long.

Check out other Project 52s at:

14 May 2012

Insta-Friday | week 20

1. Jonah's latest obsession, hands in his mouth, constantly!
2. Joelle... sweet chubby cheeks and long eyelashes!

3. My big boy snuggles.
4. My new bread machine makes jam! Strawberries, a little bit of honey, and lemon juice, delicious!

5. Planting flowers with daddy...
6. My sewing machine was hijacked for potato bags.

7. I rinsed his hair off in the bath tub and it did this on it's own, hilarious!
8. homemade salad dressings, SO GOOD!

9. I will never eat boxed crackers again! This recipe is amazing, especially with freshly ground wheat. and it's so easy!
10. Time to make dinner...

11. We found a ladybug. and watched it for a good half hour.
12. The new bread machine, yummy, yummy!

13. This is how Jonah looks most of the time! I know he looks serious in pictures, but that's because he only smiles at people, he really is a happy baby!

11 May 2012

NINETEEN | p52 | 2012

remember when...

they said, 'baby a is a girl!'
I don't think either of us honestly believed it until you were born.

a girl.

I was not ready for that. 

bows, headbands, dresses, clips, tutus, and all things pink. 
and oh my, those blue eyes.
long lashes, chubby cheeks.

there's just something about that smile.
my daughter.

Check out other Project 52s at:

09 May 2012

10 on 10 | inspired

So I've decided to take up another monthly photography project called 10 on 10. (yes, I hear you saying, another one?? I know right... as if p52, [this much], and insta-monday didn't keep me busy enough! haha!)

but this one, oh this one. it's all about capturing life in the moment right then. I want to continue to work on my photography skills, so I will be using my fancy camera.I want to remember the little things. life with 3 kids 2 and under is crazy fast and busy. I can feel the days slipping away and I want to preserve things exactly like they are in my memory. So I will not be cleaning, or picking things up, or staging things. These pictures will be real. Messy house, dirty counters, laundry, whatever is going on that day will be captured, good or bad.

I am head-over-heels inspired by Molly Flanagan Photography- check out her 10 on 10 project. I absolutely love the imperfection and realness of her photography. She truly captures a moment, the exact feelings of any situation. She is an amazing storyteller, with words and pictures.

it is supposed to be 10 pictures, but I know I will take more than that most months. The exact number isn't as important as the feeling.

5:30 am
the fuzzy heads are hungry. 
(aiming to move this to 6:30am but we are still working on extending night sleep.)

french toast, raspberries, juice, milk, and yogurt. shredded wheat with strawberries, and coffee.
trash day. yes I went out in my pajamas.

least favorite part of the day. unload dishwasher, put away dishes. load breakfast dishes. wash bottles.
mr. independent.

sibling playtime in sister's crib while mama puts the diapers away.

homemade mushroom and pepperoni bagel pizzas for lunch. 
and a little wonder-pets to top it off.

all.three.asleep. hallelujah.
time for mama to meal plan for next week. love my view.

someone woke up sweaty and grumpy from his nap.

daddy takes a late lunch. perfect.

three diaper changes.

time to finish dinner. and the question is... how to occupy three kids...

bedtime for the littles.
bathtime for the big one. and his best friend.

bedtime for the big one.
and time to pick up the house. tomorrow is the best $20 I spend every week. my cleaning lady vacuums and mops and gets it done in an hour while I play with my

 Ok, so that was just 12 pictures (if you count the side by sides as one!) not too bad considering I took at least 200 shots total.