cooking · Orgainic · organizing · plants · Recipes

Healthy Pantry and Spices

Spice rack with spices in small mason jars

In my quest to get back to being healthy I have been on this search to find the most healthy alternatives for my diet, that includes the holidays. This time of year most of us love all the food and the amounts of food is astronomical. I don’t want to spend all my time dieting the weight back off after the holidays. So to stay ahead of the game I am doing a healthy version of the holiday foods.

So, let’s start with the spice the cabinets. Read all the labels of every single spice that you can. Many of your spices have gluten in them. Gluten is one of the things I personally am trying to eliminate from my diet. You would be surprised to learn just how many things you eat have gluten in them. The other thing I do at least once a year is to check the expiration dates on the spices. Get rid of anything that is out of date of course. On a side note I am interested in growing my own herbs and preserving them. I will go into depth on the subject on a future blog article.


Next, I would get rid of in your pantry is SUGAR. This is the number one thing to eliminate from your diet. Start with the obvious things like cake, cookies and candy. Those are the easy ones. Don’t even have them in the house at all. Once you start reading labels you will find sugar is in almost everything you eat. Apparently in the United States we are fed sugar so much that we are now addicted to it like a drug, which it sort of is. The studies I have read about state that sugar is addicting as cocaine. That is sad. I have been trying to share with everyone how bad sugar is for us humans. Replace the sugar with Stevia. You need so little of it. I would suggest very much that you stay away from Sugar substitutes as they do not digest well and I personally and not fond of the taste.

I would suggest you get rid of is white flour. To go further into this subject here is an article on processed flour. Happily Unprocessed. My suggestion is a couple of alternative flours. Start with Almond or Coconut. Buy everything organic when you can. For your flours start out with one or two kinds. You will see that some recipes taste better with one kind or the other. I currently have both of these flours and adding more. I keep smaller quantities also because I do not bake or cook with flour that often. Less spoilage and throwing away of bad flour.

On another note… when I buy flour or sugar or anything in bulk I put the date on the container then I put it in the container to help me get rid of stuff by its expiration date. Here is a list for you if you are just getting started in a healthy pantry.

•    Olive oil – high quality extra virgin olive oil
•    Vinegars – choose your favorites like red, white, champagne, or balsamic.
•    Black peppercorns – you must get a pepper mill if you don’t already have one so that you can grind this fresh.
•    Sea or kosher salt – high quality salt is essential to cooking tasty organic foods.
•    Red and white wine – cook with wine that is drinkable rather than cheap tasteless wine since the flavor will permeate your food.
    Flour – I use Almond flour, coconut flour, Tapioca flour. I would suggest that you try them all and find one that you like the taste
•    Sugar – stevia is what I recommend
•    Molasses – a healthy addition for many baked and savory dishes.
•    Locally produced honey – support honey bees!
•    Sun-dried tomatoes – add a punch of flavor to many entrees.
•    Baking powder and baking soda – look for organic varieties. check the gluten also I go non GMO where ever I can.
•    Vanilla – choose Fair Trade and organic whenever possible.
•    Yeast – for many baking applications.
•    Rice – with so many varieties, and many organic ones, you’ll travel around the world as you discover new tastes and textures. I look for organic wild rice’s. I do not use white rice. My favorite rice is Lundberg wild blend. It is gluten free, whole gran, non GMO and Kosher.

•    Beans and lentils – like rice, there is a whole world of these high-protein, high-fiber staples. You can buy them dry or canned.
•   Tea – get organic, shade-grown, Fair Trade whenever possible. I drink a lot of Arbonne Green Tea.
•    Herbs (dried) – dried must be used and rotated; herbs that have sat on the shelf for over 6 months to a year must tossed and replaced. Use fresh when you can, much better for you. Dried may have gluten in them.

•    Butter – this is preferable to margarine and adds flavor and depth to any dish.
•    Citrus – including lemons, limes, oranges or grapefruit to make your favorite spa water. Add a few berries while you’re at it!
•    Eggs – get free-range, organic . Studies are showing organic eggs are lower in bad cholesterol and higher in antioxidants.
•    Herbs (fresh) – add lots of vibrant flavor to your dishes with these (you can even grow your own!).
•    Mayonnaise – make your own mayonnaise to have on hand. (recipe below)
•    Mustard – perfect for many casseroles, dressings, and marinades. (recipe below)
•    Garlic – keep several bunches always on hand in the fridge.
•    Lettuce – organic of course!
•    Nuts – add them to salads, pasta, and pesto dishes. Almonds are the best. Nuts are high in fat.
•    Stocks – chicken and/or vegetable work well to add flavor to many dishes. Best if you make your own.
•    Nut butters – these can be used in baking, in tonight’s dinner, or spread on sandwiches and crackers and provide extra nutrients and flavor. Instead of peanut butter.
•    Vegetables, including carrots, shallots (the secret to fresh salad dressings ), onions (red or brown), avocado (high in omega fatty acids), tomatoes(for roasting, mashing or thickening soups).

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: This is your go-to for salad dressings and necessary acid (replacing baking powder) in baked goods. It’s also a good idea to start your day with a glass of water and 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar – it’s alkalizing for the body.
  • Coconut Aminos: Oh, how I love coconut aminos! Use this in place of soy sauce, as it’s both gluten-free and soy-free. It also add flavor to glazes, sauces and marinades.
  • Coconut Oil: This is your new vegetable oil! It’s exceptionally heat stable, so use it for all your frying and high-heat cooking. It’s also frequently used in baking items when melted just above room temperature.
  • Coconut Milk: I like to make coconut milk from scratch (which is super easy in my Vitamix!), but sometimes you just want simple. That’s why canned coconut milk is essential in your pantry. Look for brands without thickeners and BPA

Homemade Mayonnaise

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tbs detox mustard ( see below)
  • ¾ Cup neutrally flavored, detox friendly oil (grape seed oil or avocado oil)
  • Sea salt to taste

Place the egg yolk in the bowl of the food processor and add the lemon jice and mustard. Season with salt, to taste. Turn the machine on and very slowly start to drizzle in the oil. Drip, drip, drip until the mixture starts to look like mayonnaise, then a slow steady stream of oil can be added.

Cooks note: If the mayonnaise is too thick add a few drops of water or it it is not thick enough, with the machine running, add a little more oil.

Homemade Mustard

  • 1 Cup ground mustard
  • 1/3 Cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 Cup water ( add more water for a thinner mustard, less for a thicker mustard)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbs coconut nectar

Mix all the ingredients together and let sit overnight, covered at room temperature to mellow.

Note: The longer it sits the mellower it will be. This produces a sharp mustard.

If you would like more information about clean eating and how to get started. Please contact me and check out my other website about the 30 day Challenge to better health. I will be your coach.

Storing your spices and herbs is up to you on how. They need to be in a dark, cool place. Having said that, here are a few ways you can store your herbs and spices. Your spices and herbs if bought them in the store they can be put in other containers to fit your lifestyle.

My next project will be growing my own herbs from seeds where possible. Our growing season here is so short that I get need to either start seeds in February and March or buying the largest herbal plants available. It makes it feel like our growing season is always hurry, hurry, hurry. I hope to share with you some of my upcoming garden projects soon. Till then.


Christmas · Decorations

Gifts, Presents, Wrapping and More

Giving gifts is not a new thing. It has been around for centuries. The reasons why we give gifts vary from person to person. Then how much do you spend on a gift for a person, how do I wrap this gift and do I need a card to go with it. Does this go through your head each time you get a gift for someone? It does mine. I also know that I am excited with anticipation with the idea that I may get a gift even though I never expect one. For me, the giving of gifts is far more exciting than receiving gifts. I love to see the persons face when I got the right present for them. To watch their eyes light up when the paper comes off the box. It has been tradition to wrap the gift with beautiful paper and huge ribbons and bows.

I personally prefer to make gifts for everyone. I try to make the gift reflect the person I am giving the present to. I do not always hit the mark but I try. I also hope the person receiving the gift can respect the work that went into making and giving of the gift. Sometimes they do not value handmade items. But I will not let that stop me from making and giving of gifts.

I am currently leaning towards sustainability. I think that we should make more of our presents and give fewer gifts. But that is my path, it does not need to be yours. My goal here is if we are giving any gifts we should make them as beautiful as we can. Here I want to show you a few ideas on wrapping presents. From extravagant and beautiful to sustainable. Using fabric to wrap your presents or burlap or even designing your own paper.

These are all Christmas in theme but you can use the wrapping ideas for any holiday or occasion. Of course Pinterest is a great source of ideas. Just remember that the wrapping of any present should be a grand as the present inside. It builds the excitement to what is inside. Watching the presents being opened is so much fun. Some people will tear them open and pay no head to the ribbons or bows or paper used. Other will carefully unwrap the gift and even ask if you want to ribbons and bows back. Which I do if they offer. I do recycle the ribbons and bows as much as possible.

I hope that your Christmas was wonderful and you look to the New Year with much anticipation and excitement. I look forward to hearing from you. Take care.


Christmas · Decorations · Tutorials

Keeper of the Our Snowmans Hat

Winter is a magical time of the year. It is one of the times where the out in nature it transforms into bright shiny silver and hues of blues. Looking to the sky in anticipation of the first snowfall. Dreaming of the first snowman that you going to build, the snowball fights you will get into. This is when you also start looking forward to the Christmas cookies and family to come visit. In a Norwegian tradition you make seven different kinds of cookies to hand out to friends and family. Traditionally the baking starts on December 1st. I like to start, if possible, the weekend after Thanksgiving. The reason is, baking seven different kinds of cookies is time consuming especially when some of the Norwegian cookies are a bit time consuming and using special pans to cook them in.

When it comes to winter I love snowmen. I would rather decorate my house in a winter theme than just Christmas all because I love the decorations. Putting the decorations up, I do not want to take them down for a while. By decorating more of a winter theme I can leave my winter decorations up until February if I wish, which I usually do. Funny thing, I used to think that decorating the house was all for the kids while they were growing up. But apparently, I love the holidays and decorating for them and getting together with family. Turns out the decorating is all for me, but everyone enjoys them.

In the story of Frosty the Snowman the hat is magic. It brings him to life. When winter goes away so does the lively snowman. So In our family we keep the hat safe from one year to the next. It is a great reminder of the magic of being a child and how as a child you believe in the magic of Frosty. As a mother and a grandmother I want to keep that magic alive.

In todays DIY I am making a snowman hat out of a coffee can and a plastic plate and decorated with what I had on hand. I got the plate at the dollar store, and we drank the coffee and saved the can. The first thing I did was paint the can and the plate black.

The next step I hot glued the coffee can to the plastic plate

Dug around my supplies to see if I had ribbons and other Christmas stuff I could add to the hat.

As with most of my projects I try to use what I have on hand. But I do go buy supplies often since I am always creating something for myself, my family and friends and of course to sell. As with many of the projects I show on my blog they are also for sale. This project was pretty quick and if you want more of them they are made very easily.

Love sharing with you. If you like what you see and read please like the page and leave comments. Love to hear from you! Till next time.



Traditions on the Holidays with Nisse

Traditions over any holiday are important in all families. It does not matter how small or how big the tradition or traditions. I am a firm believer that it makes a family closer when you have traditions. An interesting fact I found out later in life was that some traditions that my grandparents did with their children and some they did with their grandchildren. One tradition that my grandfather did with us as children is he taught us about Nisse. You see the story behind Nisse begins in Norway for us. But, I understand that Nisse is also in all Scandinavian countries. If you have never heard of Nisse I can give you a crash course on them.

You see many people still keep the tradition of Nisse around. Nisse are gnomes that live in Norway and help humans often. They traditionally wear red knitted hats and knickers with sweaters. They have grey or white beards. Nisse live in the barns and in homes. The humans believed that the Nisse protected them. Norwegians in the old days believed in stories about the “netherworld” figures. The Nisse were powerful. They seemed to like humans, if they were treated with the respect they felt they deserved.

As the stories go Nisse would feed their favorite animals in the barn. The Nisse expected being served a large wooden bowl filled with sour cream porridge, with a big “eye of butter” in the middle, on Christmas Eve. Today, he prefers rice porridge. When the people on the farm went to find the bowls the next morning, the dishes would be empty and clean. That was proof enough that the Nisse really existed!

Well, in my family we kept this story alive. My grandfather told us that there is a house Nisse also. He told us that Nisse is always watching us and reporting to Santa all year on our behavior. We loved hearing that story so much. Grandfather also told us that during the year if we were good Nisse would give us candy out of the wall of our house. That blew our minds and we could not wait until Nisse gave us candy out of the wall. My grandfather has a special place in the house where we would knock on the wall. We would all line up under his hand that was knocking on the wall trying to hear if Nisse was really there and would there really be candy coming out of the wall! Grandfather had a technique that fooled us for a very long time. With much anticipation we listened as hard as we could to hear Nisse climbing around in the walls of the house. We were so focused on listening for the sounds inside the wall we were not watching what grandfather was doing. We really believed in Nisse and the fact that grandfather could get him to give us candy. He also told us that if we were bad we would get small pieces of coal. We continued to beg for Nisse long after we stopped believing is was Nisse giving us the candy. Of course grandfather and then my father enjoyed this tradition as much as we did.

In our family this tradition has been handed down from my grandfather to my father. Now my children and my grandchildren have experienced this fun tradition. It has always been one of our favorite traditions. I enjoy sharing it with everyone because it is so unusual. Much like the Christmas pickle that is hidden in the tree.

organizing · Tutorials

Storage of Plastic Bags

I don’t know about you but I have a huge amount of plastic bags. I have reusable shopping bags but I always forget to take them in the store with me. I am getting better about it and I am planning on making myself some really nice ones to use. But in the meantime I have a ton of these bags, from all kinds of stores. Now the issue is how to store them and use them. I found that I like folding them better than putting them in a bag holder on the wall. Once I fold them I store them in a drawer and they are so easy to grab and I can have so many in the drawer. I hope you find this helpful to you.

First I flatten out the bag pulling on the handles so that they fold in like on paper bags. Then fold the bag lengthwise in thirds.

The bag will have two folds lengthwise. Once you complete that you will start to fold the bag up into a triangle.

Continue folding until you reach the end of the bag.

When you run out of bag to fold you will fold the handles into the fold of the bag and you are done! 🙂

Now you can store the bags very easily. They are small and they are compact. Have a great Day!



The Story of the Christmas Pickle and Traditions

Here is a fantastic story I heard the other night while binge watching Hallmark Christmas movies. Hindsight I should have written down the name of the movie that made reference to the pickle. The story the actress told was that this tradition originated in Germany. Well, I am geeky enough that I stopped the movie and proceeded to look up on the internet stories about Christmas pickles. From what I read no one can truly pin point when this tradition started or from what country. At this point it does not matter any longer. I loved the story and am now starting this tradition in my home and sharing this with the rest of my family. We have already bought the pickle ornament. This is one of the stories I found on the internet on the Christmas pickle

The story goes like this. When you set up your tree the last ornament to go on the tree is the Christmas pickle. You want to hide the pickle really well so that it takes everyone a while to find the pickle. The person who finds the pickle receives a small gift. It really builds the excitement for giving and receiving of gifts at Christmas. Why a pickle you ask, I have no idea. Due to it being so unusual only adds to the fun. Now I am on the search for the perfect surprise gift to give the person who finds the pickle. What to get? Hmmm..

Speaking of traditions, I am big on traditions. I believe traditions no matter how big or how small are important to do them with the family. They create a bonding with the family. It creates something that you look forward to every holiday. The simplest thing such as the Christmas pickle or putting your shoes under the Christmas tree, or outside the bedroom doors on December 6th. Others might be putting all your Christmas decorations up the day of or the weekend right after Thanksgiving. All traditions are important. Do not skip on them. They do not need to be expensive. I would suggest that you do them. Keep a record of them. A suggestion I have is that your create a holiday notebook for each of your children. Record each tradition that you do every year. Take tons of pictures also of the tradition. Then as a final gift to each of your children you gift them the notebook of traditions to help them start their own traditions building off of yours. Some of your traditions may be handed down from your parents and grandparents. I included a section on holiday recipes also. This is a much loved gift when your child leaves home.

One tradition we do in my house is put the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving. I did not always decorate it that weekend. I put up the tree and the lights on the tree. I would decorate the tree and the whole house when the kids went to school on Monday and when they came home the whole house was decorated. They were so excited to come home from school on the day they knew I would be decorating. The next part would be baking. I tried to bring in our nationalities into the decorating and foods. In Norway they start baking in the beginning of December. One of the reasons for this is giving out a tray of cookies to guests and friends. On this tray of cookies there needs to be 7 different kinds of cookies. Now I have to admit that I did not always make the 7 different kinds of cookies because some of the cookies take a good deal of time. I did find that my children and my friends look forward to these cookies every year. I will start this weekend making Krumkake cookies. Krumkakers are thin waffle-like cookies made in a special iron, and then rolled into a cone while they’re still piping hot. The iron I learned to cook these cookies was cast iron and you could only do one cookie at a time. Took forever and the cookies were eaten as fast as I could make them. I will include all the cookie recipes for you if you wish to try some of the cookies. Another cookie is the Fattigman cookies. As with many of the Scandinavian cookies you need a special cutter to cut these cookies out. Fattigmann cookies are simple to make but the rewards are great. You roll this dough out like you would for sugar cookies and cut them in long ribbons and then cut them again into smaller pieces and you cut a slit in the middle of each one and twist one end trough the cut in the middle of the cookie, then you fry them. You do not have to be perfect with these. While on the cookie sheet your sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar.

I also love to use only white lights on my tree and all the lights used inside and outside of the house. This is a very European thing to do. In my travels I had only see Americans use color as much as they do. But, that is my observation not that this is a fact. I also use candles every where I can. I love the feel of candles and using a fireplace during the holidays. Feel more home to me. I have candles all over they house. I use battery operated candles that have a remote control that I can set. I have the candles come on and go off every day at the same time. I even have my holiday lights on timers so it is almost like magic when everything starts to come on in the house while you are busy doing the baking. Most of these pictures are from Thanksgiving. I am in the process of decorating for Christmas.

Another cookie is the Fattigman cookies. As with many of the Scandinavian cookies you need a special cutter to cut these cookies out.

Another of our favorites is on Christmas eve doing a Smorgasbord for dinner. I love cooking Scandinavian food with a focus on Norwegian and I try to include this in all holidays. It is great because it is a buffet style of meal. Not so much as a sit down meal. In our family we open presents on Christmas eve and eat Scandinavian foods in a Smörgåsbord. A Smörgåsbord is a buffet style of eating and mostly open faced sandwiches and salads and fruit and soups etc. Christmas music playing and family if possible. Even thought my children are grown up and have kids of their own I will continue doing this with traditions until I am no longer able to do all the work.

More coming in family traditions, decorating, gifts and food. I look forward to hearing from you on your traditions and suggestions of things you would like to hear about or learn.



Create a Scary Jack-O-Lantern

I know this is after Halloween but I could not resist one more article on the holiday. I love the holiday season and trying to keep up with all the things that I want to do and never enough time to do them in. I have started working on projects year round so that I can get everything done on my enormous list. At the rate that I am going I may need to rent a storage unit just to store all the holiday stuff I am creating.

*Just so you know almost everything I make is also for sale so check out my website. I will be adding things often. RoxanneStorlieDesigns

Now, if you search high and low for the fake pumpkins you can find a bargain on them. The best deal that I found was at Walmart. But you will have to buy them as soon as you see them because they go really quickly. As you know with crafty people you need to have all your decorations planned because you must buy your supplies as soon as you see them being put out in the stores. If you wait till it is a week before the holiday you will not find anything you want. But if you find something you like, get it, everything is on sale that close to the holiday and the week that follows.

Once you have your pumpkin you will need

pumpkin or pumpkins if you are feeling industrious

box cutter

paper mache material

Plastic container with a lid

white glue, you will need a big bottle of this

paints in the colors of black, brown, orange and mustard yellow

floral wire

aluminum foil

candle, battery operated one is best.

I drew the type of face I wanted on the pumpkin first so I had an idea where I was going to paper mache the face and where I wanted to add depth to the facial expression. You then want to decide how big of a hole to cut into the bottom of the pumpkin. I picked the candle I was going to use and traced it then cut it a little bigger than the line that I drew just to make sure it would fit.

Once you cut the bottom out you will want to put wires through the top of the pumpkin for the extended vine portion. Start by cutting small pieces of foil and start wrapping it around the wires. Add more at the base and as you go out to the length of the wire get thinner and thinner. When you are happy with the thickness of the foil on the wire, shape the vine in the shape that looks interesting.

To create your paper mache material,here is what I used. I roll of toilet paper, a plastic container to mix my glue in. In the container I mixed half white glue and half water. (2 cups each) You want the mixture to be a bit on the thick side so it will hold the toilet paper better to the pumpkin. Having the lid on the container helps in case you have to leave in the middle of doing this pumpkin. Oh and allow yourself a lot of time on this project. I had planned to do 3 pumpkins and ran out of time due to how long it took to do the one. When I do the next 2 I will do them at the same time. Now I would tear off about 12 inches of toilet paper, easier to handle in small amounts. Dip the toilet paper into the glue mixture and get it pretty wet. (the toilet paper is hard to pull apart once it is wet so get creative on pulling it apart and applying it to the pumpkin.) I added more over the eyes and gave him really large eyebrows and around the cheek area for his smile. The more layers the longer it will take to dry. You can speed up the process a bit if you want by using a blow dryer. I only did the paper mache around the face area and not on the back side of the pumpkin. I put the paper mache all the way up and down the vine piece also. For the vine I used paper towels and kind of twisted them as I put them on the vine. Made it look more realistic once it was painted.

*As a side note, you can use a heat gun and partially melt the pumpkin to get an even more gross look to the pumpkin.

When your pumpkin is dry it is time to get creative with the paints. I started by painting all the paper mache areas black. Then I went back and dabbed orange paint to make it look like a pumpkin again. On top of the orange I blended the orange, yellow colors to get the effect of rotting pumpkin colors. On the back of the pumpkin I used the orange, yellow and brown colors to make it look like an aging, dirty pumpkin. The stem I painted brown and green with yellow as the highlights. I attempted to pain the inside of the pumpkin black. I say attempted because it would not fully cover the inside but, I ended up really liking the fact that it did not. It added to the creepiness of the pumpkin.

Once I put this guy outside I loved it and it was really scary at night. Well, at least I thought so. 🙂

I had a blast making this guy and can’t wait to make more of these for next Halloween!

Till next time,