Rules For Shopping at a Handmade Market:

December 29, 2012 December 29, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston

So for those raisin haters out there: before you get freaked out by the raisins in the photos, trust me that they are OPTIONAL and I’m going to tell you how to make this without ’em (or suggest something else to add!)

Have I said before that I don’t like breakfast? (I believe so!) This has two parts. One is that I don’t like to eat very early because then I swear I feel ravenous ALL DAY LONG. If I can hold off until mid-morning I’m good. Part two is that I hate oatmeal. I know that it isn’t the only breakfast food but it is the ONLY breakfast food that the Mr. and Babe eat every morning. It’s really cute. Our daughter loves to help make the oatmeal. She adds little baby finger pinches of salt, helps measure and So I love that part. The oats part? Nope. Can’t get me to do it. 

Now call me crazy but THIS is totally different. I could eat this for my (mid-morning) breakfast. 

Or dessert. It’s a dessert for most people, right? Oh in that case I could eat many different desserts for breakfast. Hah. Okay fine. Breakfast, snack, dessert, or whatever – it’s something that I’ll eat anytime. 

If you haven’t started using FRESH nutmeg let me try to convince you now. It tastes totally different from pre-ground stuff. It’s super fragrant and delicate all at once. Seriously, anyone that tries is sticks with it. You can buy whole nutmegs at places with bulk spices (at my local place I can get 3 for about 10 cents.) You will also need a

microplane grater

 (the one in the link is the one I have.) It’s awesome for nutmeg but you also use it for ginger, garlic, and zesting citrus. You could probably use it for a lot of other things I haven’t even thought of yet.  So please, get a microplane and some fresh whole nutmeg. You will thank me. 

Spiced Rice Pudding 

makes about 8 (1/2 cup) servings

2 cups cooked rice (this is a perfect way to use leftovers! White or brown rice is fine!) 

2 1/2 cups soy milk or other non-dairy milk

3 Tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup raisins (or other dried fruit, optional*)  

1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional, but if you have some try it out!) 

  • Mix everything together in a medium sized pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. 
  • Make sure to stir it frequently while bringing to a boil so that it does not stick to the pot. 
  • Once boiling, lower heat to low and keep at a slow simmer. 
  • Simmer for 20 minutes or until soy milk is absorbed and you have a thick creamy pudding. Stir every now and then while simmering. 
  • Serve with some extra grated nutmeg on top if you wanna get fancy with it. 
  • Enjoy!


Raisin-less option:

If you want to leave dried fruit out altogether you can cut the soy milk down to 2 1/4 cups. Leave everything else the way it is and cook the same. 

You can also try some other dried fruit like chopped apricots, currants, dried cranberries, chopped dates or even dried blueberries. 

Nutritional information per serving

 : (


 with raisins) Serving size: 1/2 cup

4 WWPointsPlus, 138 calories

, 1.5g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 27.7g carbohydrates, .7g fiber, 11.4g sugar, 3.8g protein

December 29, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston/ December 27, 2012 December 27, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston

I have a confession: Some days I forget about pasta. I mean, it’s back in the far reaches of my mind but I forget to cook it. I forget it is even an option for dinner. It’s just that sometimes I can’t control myself with pasta. I eat a TON of it and make myself sick. Then I don’t want to look at it for weeks.. months even! It’s what some people call a “trigger food” for me. But in proper portions? I love it! I had to be reminded to cook some recently. Some men just love spaghetti. And some women? They love to cook for men they love. As a bonus most kids LOVE noodles. At least my stinker and every other stinker I’ve met does (and I’m so sorry if yours doesn’t. They’ll come around!) 

So instead of regular ole spaghetti I threw in some flavorful components and WHAMMO! A pasta dish I love and feel satisfied with after one normal portion (plus a big BIG salad!)   

Anyway this is a super quick and easy dinner. If you don’t like mushrooms you can always use something else like zucchini. As for the olives? They are the essence of this dish. That and fresh herbs. Lots of fresh herbs! Alright, ready for dinner in about the same time it takes to boil pasta? 

Mushroom and Olive Spaghetti

serves 4

8 oz whole wheat spaghetti

28 oz  tomato sauce (like

Muir Glen Chunky Tomato Sauce

– it is awesome!)

8 oz crimini mushrooms, washed and sliced

1/2 cup green olives, chopped

2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup basil, chopped

1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped

fresh black pepper

  • Bring large pot of water to a boil. I usually add a few big pinches of kosher salt to my pasta water but you can leave this step out.. if you dare! (hehe) 
  • Add in your spaghetti and cook until al dente (according to the package directions.)
  • Sautee your mushrooms in a nonstick pan over medium high heat until they are golden brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add the balsamic vingar while the heat is still up and cook for 1 minute longer. 
  • Now add in the tomato sauce, olives, basil and parsley. 
  • Turn the heat to medium heat and heat until the sauce is warmed through. 
  • Add in your spaghetti, toss and serve! I like to serve with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a simple salad. 

Nutritional information per serving

 : Serving size: 1/4 of the pasta

4 WWPointsPlus, 185 calories

, 5.4g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 27.3g carbohydrates, 4.9g fiber, 6.5g sugar, 3.2g protein

December 27, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston/ December 24, 2012 December 24, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston

The other day I woke up in the middle of the night to an eerie stillness. I leaned over to look out our glass front door and saw…

SNOW!!!! What?! It never snows this close to Christmas. It didn’t stay for long but it was a fun little treat. It was still really really cold so I decided to make some soup.


This soup is warming, perfectly spiced and really filling. It makes a perfect cold winter day lunch.

I’m happy to announce that my child loved this soup. It’s really good with some salsa and olives on top… 

Or if you’re feeling naughty a little avocado on top. Or a lot. My kiddo got a LOT of avocado (she will happily eat a whole one every day!)

Mexican Split Pea Soup

(makes about 9 – 1 cup servings) 

1/2 onion, chopped

1 & 1/2 cups dry split peas

2 chipotles in adobo, chopped (you can find these in the “Ethnic” isle of many stores by the salsas and canned chiles)

7 cups vegetable broth

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 14oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted tomatoes work REALLY well here!)

salt to taste

optional toppings: lime juice, avocado, salsa, chopped tomato, olives, cilantro, corn chips

  • Throw everything into a pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Put on the lid and simmer over low heat for about 90 minutes, or until the split peas are super soft. 
  • Puree with an immersion blender or in batches if you want a smoother soup. 
  • Enjoy!

** You can also cook this in your slow cooker. Cook for 4-6 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.

Nutritional information per serving

: Serving size: 1 cup 

3 WWPointsPlus, 155 calories

, 1.8g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 23.1g carbohydrates, 9.4g fiber, 4.6g sugar, 12.5g protein

December 24, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston/ December 20, 2012 December 20, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston

Cheap Photography Lamps

Hello! For those of you that haven’t figured it out yet, I live in dark and wet Oregon. We even have flood warnings today. And since it’s winter it gets dark at 5pm. This all was really putting a big cramp on my food and craft photography.

I did some research and many people use some lights that cost about $300. And that’s cheap for professional lighting, mind you. I’m cheaper than that. 

I figured out how to do this for 90% off! (Around $30!) It’s not the pro lights, no. But it works FANTASTICALLY.  

It works well for food but also for handmade objects or things that you may be selling online. 

Go ahead and check out the tutorial below (Click the keep reading link!) 

What you need (makes 2): 

  • 2 ceiling light bulb bases (Like these!) – Find this at Home Depot, Lowes or other hardware stores
  • 2 extension cords (Like these!) – Find this at Home Depot, Lowes, or other hardware stores 
  • duct tape
  • utility knife
  • wire strippers (optional! We used the utility knife. Just be safe.) 

  • 2 sheets Translucent Yupo Paper 23″ x 35″ (104lb weight) (Like this!) – Try to find this at a local art store, or university book store. Ask if they can order it. The link above requires you to buy 10 sheets so try to find it local! 
  • white electrical tape (or whatever you’ve got. It’s going to be more durable than clear scotch tape but if that’s all you have you can use it.) – Find this at Home Depot, Lowes or other hardware stores
  • 2 Fluorescent Light Bulbs – (Like this!) These are the things you want it to be: 23 watts, 1600 lumens, and most importantly 5000k Light Appearance. (These are listed as Natural Daylight but you still need to check the package because that description varies ) Check the back of the panel and it should look like this: 

Here’s the front of the package:

Make the bases: 

1.) Gather your supplies. You will also want your utility knife, duct tape and something to cut on (cutting board or other hard surface.)

2.) Start with cutting the outlet end off the extensions cords with your utility knife. (Just throw the outlet end away.)

3.) Now split the cord in the middle between the two plastic coated wires. Cut down about 1.5 inches. (Look at the pictures to see what I mean.) 

4.)  Now strip the plastic off the wires. You can use a wire stripper here or just carefully do it with a utility knife.

(The Mr.’s thumb got busted in a work related incident! He’s fine but it just looks yucky here. Just so you know…)

6.) Get your base and turn it over. There should be two sets of screws. One is gold and the other is silver. The silver side is also called the

white side

7.) Now look at the plug of your cord. The large end is connected to the wires that you want to attach to the white side. Commonly the large side of the cord will have a different texture than the other side so you can easily follow that down to the end. Our cord was ridged on the large (white) side. 

8.) Now take the “large” side wire and twist it once around the base of the “white” inner screw. Gently tighten the screw down onto the wire.

(She loves helping daddy! We make sure she is super safe, of course.)

9.) Now attach the other side of the extension cord wire to the gold side. Tighten the screw on this side. 

10.) So that you don’t accidentally touch the bottom while it’s plugged it (and get shocked!!!) cover the bottom with duct tape. You can also screw these light bases into a small piece of wood if you’d like to add a heavy and safer base. We did this as a temporary fix but we are attaching them to bases and I think you should too. And yes, I was the one that touched the bottom and hurt myself. Eeek! 

11.) It’s done! Repeat with the other cord and base. 

Make the Lamp Covers: 

1.) Cut the Yupo into 4 sheets each measuring 13″x 17″ 

2.) Tape two sheets together along the long (17″) sides. 

3.) Repeat with the other 2 sheets of Yupo.

4.) You’re done! Open up the over and rest it over the lamp base. Plug in your base and start playing with your camera. 

Now when you are done you can take the covers off and store them flat. Put the light bases in a safe place where they won’t get accidentally broken (I’ve done that twice so far by just being bad about putting them away! You do not want to break these light bulbs!!!) 

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section! I will respond as soon as possible. Or if you make them let me know (and let me see your pictures!) Enjoy!!!

December 20, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston/ December 18, 2012 December 18, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston

I have to try things many times to get them right. Usually I’m so annoyed at my big mistakes that they go into the garbage before I can take a picture. I think that I’ll try to take pictures more often though for the benefit of proving that BLOGGERS ARE HUMAN. 

I’m working on a super secret fun vegan chicken and waffles recipe. 

The first waffle? NO GOOD! (Gross, right?! That picture kind of looks like a cat barfed in the waffle iron.)

Don’t worry though! I kept trying, tweaking and perfecting. I threw some out and I munched on some sub-par ones. But then I figured it out and I’m super excited about them! They are made with whole wheat flour, they are plant strong (no added oil!) and of course, as always, vegan. And 4 points each for huge waffles so that is also fantastic news!

If you’ve got kids and have seen Yo Gabba Gabba you have probably heard the song “Keep Trying!” Yeah, do that. I’m doing it. 

I’ll let you know how the vegan chicken and waffles turns out… 

December 18, 2012/ Morgan Eccleston/