Thursday, August 29, 2013

Homemade Vegan Butter

Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Homemade Vegan Butter - It Melts!

Are you tired of spending more than your fair share at the grocery store because you purchase vegan products?  If you're like us, we try to purchase vegan as much as possible plus we have to purchase gluten-free products.  So you can imagine our grocery bill.

One of my Foodie Bucket List items was to figure out how to make vegan butter that tastes, melts, and does everything else that real butter does but without all the added chemicals or those really difficult-to-pronounce ingredients.

DH and I have been using Earth Balance for our creamy butter spread.  The ingredients are all pronounceable and it has a nice flavor.  It also acts just like margarine - creamy, spreadable, makes great grilled cheese sandwiches, and works in baked goods.  The price at our local grocery store is $4.49 for a 15 ounce tub.

Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread as seen on Substance of Living
Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread

Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread as seen on Substance of Living
Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread

Although we found a great product, we weren't really loving the price.

The vegan world is small but it's growing thanks to people like JL over at JL Goes Vegan and Mattie at Vegan Baking.  Mattie explains the difference between real butter and vegan butter.  I know, that sounds like it would be self-explanatory but really there are fats and curdling to consider.  Even if you never venture into the kitchen to make vegan butter, Mattie really does a nice job explaining how different non-dairy milks work and why it's important to understand.  This explanation also helped me understand why one non-dairy milk was referenced in a recipe over another.

Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Homemade Vegan Butter on Toast
I've made a few changes to Mattie's original vegan butter recipe.  I use Almond Milk instead of Soy Milk; Sea Salt instead of Salt; Lecithin Granules instead of Liquid Lecithin.  I also double the recipe since it freezes beautifully.

This is how my butter looks when I use a mold.  These hearts, plus two more not in the picture, show how much vegan butter the original recipe makes.


Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Homemade Vegan Butter made in a Candy Mold

Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Homemade Vegan Butter in a Dish

Vegan Butter Ingredients (Doubled)

Adapted from VeganBaking.Net

3/4 Cup Almond Milk
2 teaspoons Apple Cider Vinegar
3/4 teaspoons Sea Salt
1 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil - melted but cooled
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil
1 1/2 Tablespoons Lecithin Granules
1/2 teaspoon Xanthan Gum

Directions

  • Mix the almond milk, apple cider vinegar and salt.  Set aside for about 10 minutes.  Lightly mix and allow to curdle.
  • Melt the coconut oil (if stored in the refrigerator) and allow to cool.  You want the coconut oil at room temperature.
  • In a blender add all ingredients and mix for at least 2 minutes or until all ingredients are combined.
  • Pour into molds or line a cookie sheet with parchment or wax paper.
  • Allow to cool in refrigerator for a couple hours or in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Note:
* 1/2 Tablespoon = 1 1/2 teaspoons
* This recipe yields about 4 cups

Apple Cider Vinegar, Almond Milk, Sea Salt - Substance of Living
Apple Cider Vinegar, Almond Milk, Sea Salt

Coconut Oil, Canola Oil, Lecithin Granules, Xanthan Gum - Substance of Living
Coconut Oil, Canola Oil, Lecithin Granules, Xanthan Gum

Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Apple Cider Vinegar, Almond Milk, Sea Salt added to Blender

Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Almost Completely Blended

Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Blended!

Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
See how smooth the butter is?!  Pouring onto a cookie sheet

Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Resting before going into the refrigerator.

Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Sliced into about 1" squres and about 1/8" deep
Each patty nicely covers one slice of toast.


Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Look at that beautiful melting of vegan butter!

Homemade Vegan Butter as seen on Substance of Living
Ready for a slice of toast?  Make mine gluten-free, please!


This past July 4th, I declared Independence from store bought vegan butter or any other kind of butter!

Here's the breakdown of my cost per double-batch:


Ingredient
SizePriceGrand Total
Store Brand Almond Milk - Original64 fl. oz.$2.99$.28
Store Brand Apple Cider Vinegar1 gal$3.83$.10
Xanthan Gum - Bob's Red Mill8 oz.$14.65$.15
Lecithin Granules - Life Extension16 oz.$12.75$.61
Coconut Oil - Carrington Farms54 fl. oz.$16.00$2.96
Sea Salt not counted - my standard pantry item

$0.00
Canola Oil not counted - my standard pantry item

$0.00
Grand Total

$4.10

Your price may fluctuate from mine depending on what you currently have in your pantry but hopefully this gives you a good idea of cost.  You may want to use regular salt instead of going out and buying sea salt or try vegetable oil if you don't usually have canola oil on hand.

My equivalent is $1.92 per 15 ounces as compared to $4.49 per 15 ounces of store-bought vegan butter, as mentioned above.  That's a nice savings!

Where I shopped for the items in this recipe: Costco, Aldi, Publix, and Walmart.




P.S., I was not compensated in any manner for this product review.  Also, the findings and my opinions are of my own, however DH did double-check my math.  :-)

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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chair Covers for Parties and Weddings

Do you ever think about decorating your chairs when hosting an event or gathering?  I'm beginning to think that chairs are like jewelry.  The outfit (room or table) is beautiful but the chair (jewelry or accessories) make a statement and complete the ensemble.

Decorating a chair can be as simple as tying a sprig to the back of a chair or as elaborate as a floor-length "dress".

Holiday Chair Decorating by BHG
Mistletoe / Holiday Chair Cover

Rosemary Sprigs and Burlap Chair Cover by Indulgy
Rosemary Sprigs and Burlap Chair Cover


Bride and Groom Chair Covers as seen on Eventine Designs
Bride and Groom Chair Covers

Embroidered Bride and Groom Chair Covers by Janice Ferguson Sews
Embroidered Bride and Groom Chair Covers

Wouldn't it have been "THE BEST" if you showed up at school on your birthday and had a special cover over your desk seat?  How cool would that have been?  Or how about draped over the restaurant chair?  Can you imagine having been able to sit at the head of the table - not only that but with a special chair cover giving homage to you and the day?

"Happy Birthday" Chair Cover by Campbell Creations
"Happy Birthday" Chair Cover

I actually found this next picture on Tip Junkie and visited the Trendy Tree store but as of writing there weren't any chair covers to view under the party decorations link.  This was my first visit to the store and WOW! were there some deals.
Every Little Girl is a Princess Chair Covers as seen on Tip Junkie
Every Little Girl is a Princess Chair Covers

Tutu Chair Covers by Bella Flora of Dallas
All Dressed Up Tutu and Satin Chair Covers

I think my Super Hero husband would have LOVED this Spider Man themed party when he was little.  I can envision him jumping off furniture "flying" across the room with his cape to save the world.

Super Hero and Spider Man Themed Chair Covers by Kids Parties 123
Super Hero themed Chair Covers

Have you ever thought about using chair covers or decorating a chair back?  Where do you buy your chair covers or do you make them?





P.S., DH, you'll always be my hero!
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Elegant Dollar Store Wedding

If you think about planning a wedding or at least the reception part as another party, a lot of the stress vanishes.  Also, remember to try to see your party from your guests' perspective.  They won't notice that there are nine crystals in the arrangement instead of 10.  Your guests are there to help you celebrate a very special day.

With all that being said, let's save some money planning your wedding day.  We have already shown you how beautiful of a wedding and reception you can have by shopping your local thrift stores.  Now, we'll show you what you can do at the dollar store.

Choose a theme or at least a color.  By doing so, a lot of your choices will be simplified.

Purchase plain card stock and envelopes and print your own wedding invitations or purchase simple wedding invitations.  Then embellish your invitations with lace, ribbon, a button or rhinestone.
Dollar Store Wedding Invitation by Domvesta
Dollar Store Wedding Invitation


This table setting is so simply designed that it's almost crazy.  Yet, look how gorgeous your reception hall will look.
Peacock Inspired Table Setting by Common Place Beauty
Peacock Inspired Table Setting
To complete this table, you'll need:
  • Cupcake holders
    • Wine Glasses or Glass Candle Sticks
    • Round 4" Mirrors
  • Place Settings
    • Round 10" Mirrors
    • Rhinestones
    • White Plates
    • Colored Plates
    • Colored Napkins
    • Silverware
    • Wine Glasses
  • Centerpiece
    • Feathers
    • Round 10" Mirror
    • Glass Tea Light Holders
    • Tea Lights
    • Small, varying sizes of Mirrors
    • Glass Pebbles


These candles make beautiful decorations for your candle light wedding, reception hall and make perfect gifts for your guests.
Dollar and Thrift Store Candles by Junk-Fest
Candles
Creating these candles require only a few items:
  • Vellum or thin printer paper
  • Computer and Printer
  • Ribbon
  • Costume Jewelry, Buttons, or Sequins/Rhinestones
  • Candles
  • Glue or Double-Sided Tape

I'm not sure how much more inexpensive you can get with these rocks.  You can use these as place settings and use larger rocks for your table numbers.  Inspiring messages could be written on these rocks.  You could also have each guest sign your rocks instead of having a guest book.
Wedding Guest "Book" by RealSimple
Wedding Guest Book, Place Setting, or Inspirational Messages
What you'll need to create this "Guest Book":
  • River Rocks purchased or found
  • Permanent Marker in Gold, Silver, or a color to match your wedding


This table setting makes me think of puffy white clouds.  It also makes a gorgeous winter table.
Elegant Dollar Store Table Setting by Creative Life of a Glam Wife
Elegant Dollar Store Table Setting
To create this ethereal table, you'll need:
  • Tulle
  • White Plates
  • Small Picture Frames
  • Candles
  • Glass Candle Votives
  • Glass Vases
  • Silk or Natural Flowers
  • Table Cloth

Continue the look with these tulle and ribbon chair decorations.
Tulle and Ribbon Wedding Chair Decorations by Dollar Tree
Tulle and Ribbon Wedding Chair Decorations


Candy or dessert buffets add pizzazz to any party.  Guests of all ages will enjoy the variety of favors in addition to your wedding cake or cupcakes.
Candy or Dessert Buffet by Dollar Tree
Candy or Dessert Buffet

Creating a Candy or Dessert Buffet:
  • Wine Glasses
  • Large or medium sized Glass Votives
  • Drinking Glasses of various sizes and shapes
  • Silver Trays
  • Table Cloth or Fabric
  • Easter Basket Grass
  • Ribbon
  • Cookies
  • Pixie Sticks
  • Jelly Beans
  • Piroulles
  • Gum Balls
  • Wrapped Candies in your wedding colors
  • Cake Pops on a stick
  • Lollipops


Keep your wedding party and guests comfortable all night with these complimentary flip-flops.
Flip-Flops for Wedding Reception by Wedding in Style
Flip-Flops
Purchase various sizes in your wedding colors to hand out to your guests so they can keep comfortable all evening.


Even your veil can come from the dollar store.  Why spend hundreds of dollars?  Isn't this pretty?  For the price, you can create smaller versions in your wedding colors for your bridal party.

DIY Bridal Veil by My Girlish Whims
Bridal Veil

Bridal Party or Bachelorette Party Veil by Celebrations
Bridal Party or Bachelorette Party Veil
To create your veils, you will need:
  • Hair Comb
  • Thread or Sturdy Glue (E6000 or Hot Glue)
  • Rhinestones
  • Tulle

These bags are so perfect for your wedding party and guests.  They can carry their shoes, gifts, and anything else home after a fantastic evening.  They will also have something to remember your special day for many months or years to come.
Tote Bags as Wedding Guest Favors by The Pineapple Room
Dollar Store Tote Bags as Wedding Favors

What you will need to complete this look:
  • Tote Bags in your wedding colors
  • Fabric or felt
  • Ribbon
  • Pattern for animal or letter
  • Fabric Glue


Can you see how each of these items can be used for other special parties as well as decorations in your home?  Isn't it the best when you can create a cohesive and memorable occasion and not break the bank?

We wish you the most beautiful wedding day.

Did you or are you in the process of creating your wedding by using items from the dollar store?  Please share your story with us in the comments section.






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Substance of Living

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Creating a Minimalist Wardrobe (7-7-7 Challenge Revisted)

Minimalist Wardrobe by The Force fo Happiness
Minimalist Wardrobe

When did my closet become no longer a place of respect for dresses, pants, shoes, tops, and become a dumping ground?  Somewhere along the line, I became a hoarder of clothes.

It is time to finish the 7-7-7 Challenge and start it anew.  Hard earned money purchased all those items that are now sitting in my closet.  Seriously, with our move last year, I'd hoped to have completed this challenge.

Thankfully there is still time in the year to act on this year's word - RELEASE.
7-7-7 Challenge Revisited by Substance of Living

7-7-7 Challenge Revisited by Substance of Living

Not that I've mistreated my clothes, that's not it at all.  I don't wear them and that is neglect.  Every couple years it seems as though my tastes and lifestyle changes and yet clothes of the past remain.  That's not fair to the clothes.

Do you still respect and love your clothes from two or more years ago?  Are they still your favorite go-to?  Does that dress that used to make you feel so slim, beautiful, and sexy still make you feel that way?  If not, then those possessions have become things and sticky stuff at that taking up precious real estate in your closet.  Who knows, maybe you've had to move into another closet to house your seasonal clothes.  Do you really remember what is in the other closet?  I can tell you, I don't.  Furthermore, I really don't remember all the clothes and things I've given to charity over the years.

Once I've eliminated everything that no longer fits, items I've not worn in some time for whatever reason, and things that no longer make me feel uplifted and comfortable, I will follow this wardrobe basics checklist.

My life is pretty casual these days.  That doesn't mean that sweats is the outfit du jour.  Then again, it seems that was pretty much what I lived in this past winter.  That is about to change!

My ideal wardrobe will have a few pair of jeans that flatter my figure, adorable T-shirts to wear with the jeans and maybe a casual jacket over.  I want skirts that can go from dressy to casual.  A few blouses, some of which are already in my closet can stay.

13 Pieces 31 Different Outfits by Money Saving Mom
13 Pieces used to Make 31 different Outfits


I really like the simplicity of these two wardrobes.  Wouldn't it be nice to have more room in the closet and throughout the house if we had fabulous basics and used trendy things as accent pieces?

A minimalist wardrobe is truly ideal for many reasons:

  • Reduce Clutter
  • Save Money
  • Save Time
  • Increase Space
  • Put-Together Looks at all times
  • Save on Laundry and Dry Cleaning
  • Psychological FREEDOM
  • Everything will have a proper place

So, out of respect for myself and others, I'd like to pose a challenge of sorts.  For each item that comes into my home, it should:
  1. Have a purpose.
  2. Have a place.
  3. Replace one if not two items.
  4. Therefore, one or two items must leave my home.
  5. Must be something that brings joy or meaning.
The items removed from my closet will be donated to charity or taken to a consignment store in hopes of sharing good will to others and sending out positive karma.
What does your closet look like?  Are you facing similar struggles and how are you handling them?



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Substance of Living