Pretzels, Peanut Butter Smoothies & Zippered Bags

The Creative Round Up

I like to make things.  Nothing huge or fancy.   Your basic DIYs, sewing, recipes, word art, etc, but I’ve been pushing so hard on my novel this past year that I’ve missed some of the more casual creating that I usually enjoy.   Jason gave me The Creative Fight by Chris Orwig for Christmas and so far it’s been a great follow up to the talk I heard here in Seattle last Fall about creativity by Elizabeth Gilbert.   I typically think about my writing when I consider my creative life but there are other ways I like to create as well.


Here are some of the things I worked on this past week…


It’s Frugal January in our house.  Inspired by some friends of ours who have been observing a month of frugality in January for over 10 years, we decided to give it a go a few years ago.  We’ve been doing it ever since and each year we see added value to the practice.  For us, Frugal January means that we don’t eat out or buy anything that isn’t deemed a necessity.  Basically we just pay our bills and buy our groceries but nothing more.  Oh, and Jason goes dry for the month as well.

It’s always harder than I thought it would be but I was actually looking forward to it this year.   We make an effort to go through the food we already have in the house, learn new recipes when we’re craving donuts or a treat from the neighborhood bakery, hold off on Amazon Prime and look for free options when we want to get out of the house.  The boys realized what we were doing last year and I can’t say they were thrilled about it this year.  On New Year’s Day when we reminded them that we wouldn’t be going to the bakery on Saturday, I heard them discussing a sabotage and a hatching a plan to pool their meager resources to buy a croissant.  Hopefully they’ll see the benefit of it someday in the future.  Grit!  We’re building more grit!

Yesterday I decided to break my two year fast from cooking with my kids in the hopes of fueling their excitement about the fun things we could do this month.  And what do you know?  Two years makes a big difference!  I divided the recipe into thirds, we each made our own batch of pretzels, there was minimal angst and I only got annoyed once.  Maybe twice.  I might have told Isaiah that he wasn’t allowed to ask any more questions at one point but otherwise I’m declaring it a success.

Cinnamon Sugar on the left & Salted on the right

We used this recipe.  We I did the baking soda bath, we skipped the egg wash because of Isaiah’s allergy, and we went 1/2 whole wheat, 1/2 all purpose.  When they came out of the oven, I brushed them with butter and then sprinkled half with coarse kosher salt and half with cinnamon sugar.   From start to finish, we were eating hot pretzels in under an hour.   We dubbed them “The Rust Game Day Pretzels” even though we only knew there was a game on because of the checker at Trader Joes and we haven’t watched a football game… ever?

Peanut Butter Smoothies

I went dairy-free about 6 weeks ago.  It’s a long and pretty boring story but after over a decade of debilitating back pain, my physical therapist suggested I go without it for a few weeks, just to see.  I laughed at her.  I scoffed.  I wept at the mere thought of all the cheese and ice cream and lattes that are so near and dear to my heart but I grudgingly decided to give it a go.

Damn you, casein and whey!  I cannot believe how good I feel without you.  Tens years of back pain and countless, endless, agonizing trips to the chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, pain specialist, bowen worker (I know.  Don’t judge, I was desperate!), physiatrist, osteopath and untold amounts of money for MRIs, CT scans and ultrasounds… and it was a few pesky proteins in milk?

I cannot believe that other people feel this good.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall but so far, I am amazed.  I didn’t even know that I felt so bad until I suddenly felt so much better.  My stomach doesn’t hurt every day, I feel like I can take a full, deep breath for maybe the first time in my entire life, my sinuses seem to be clearing, my ears no longer echo, I lost 8 pounds, and, most notable… my back is pain-free.   Pain-free, people!  I used to wake most mornings in significant discomfort.  Some days there were tears as I made my way to the shower.  Now, nothing.   Just like that.

SONY DSCI feel good enough that it’s worth giving up cappuccinos.   Wonders never cease.  So anyhow, when I’m not having dreams about pizza and cottage cheese (seriously, I have those), I’ve been looking for some new treats to replace the love of my life ice cream and other goodies.  My daily dessert used to be vanilla ice cream with some chocolate sauce and a scoop of peanut butter all mixed together.  SO GOOD.

Ah well.  So I need a peanut butter replacement.  I found this recipe and I’ve been tweaking it and working on it ever since.  It ain’t ice cream.  No doubt about that.  But it’s got peanut butter so it can’t be all bad.  I used this recipe to start and tweaked it a little.


1 fresh banana
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tbsp maple syrup
dash of vanilla
2 large heaping spoonfuls of peanut butter
chia seeds
10 ice cubes (my ice cubes are kind of anemic so you might not want that many)

Zippered Bags

Technically I made these before Christmas as gifts but I’ve got the stuff to make a few more and I’m readying them this week.  I wanted to learn how to sew a zipper and these bags looked like an easy entrée to the world of zippers.  I used a pattern from a book but I also used this and this to help me along the way.



Upcoming Projects

  • Weekend Bag (this will probably take several months but I’m in the planning phases).
  • More practice with zippers.  I gave away all the bags I made for Christmas.  I’d like to make one that we can use as a first-aid kit for our camping trips or maybe a few to use as cosmetic bags for traveling.
  • Hamburger/Hot Dog buns from scratch
  • Croissants?
  • A Bina wrap from an old jersey sheet I have in my linen closet.