Monday, October 15

Dream It and It Will Come

I have an obsession lately that I can't seem to break away from.

For the last few months we've been thinking very hard about what our next step is as far as a home. Where we're at now is 1000 sq. feet, two bedrooms, and an unpleasant neighborhood situation. If we didn't have so many things we liked to do with our hands it would be much easier to simplify life and stay here. Grow our family small-house style. But when it comes down to it, we really want more space. physical space, emotional space, social space, community space. Ok, so when I say space, I'm really talking about freedom.

I've always said that I wanted to live in a place where I could walk around naked in my back yard. Now I am a bit more realistic about the fact that I don't need a valley, just a few acres. And from a few acres away people can still see me if I am naked in my back yard. I am a nudist, but a very private one. The point is, I want space for my kids to stretch their legs and their brains and hearts. Where they can love butterflies and digging holes and sticks.

But this is not the recent obsession of which my husband tires. He's more of a 'when the time comes' kind of dreamer. I'm more of a 'build it and it will happen' kind of dreamer. But I'm not too proud to face it. We're lucky to be in the house we're in. The only thing that has changed in the last six years as far as our finances are concerned is that now we have kids. We didn't have kids so it's was easier to qualify for a loan. But the funny thing is, now we're more stable in about a hundred and one ways, all of which involve one 3 year old and one 4 year old and we're still wondering if anyone will actually give us a mortgage on our second home.  I think of all the people who are in a similar situation to us who are still renting and I know that I'm lucky to be where I am. I also wish that I would have known what I wanted 6 years ago.

So remember when you were a kid and you and your siblings had a lego set and you'd spend hours building and stealing each others pieces so you could put one more window on your house or so you could finish the castle tower, subsequently saving the princess. That's pretty much where this all started. This is what I've been doing to night:

Imagine little tiny people living in it, or imagine it on a larger scale with each block being made of corrugated steel container and each ice cube or transparent tub being a sun room or skylights. Right now, this is what I imagine when I imagine the future. Broccoli topped roof and all. The end result will be home of about 1600 square feet.

I'm just trying to figure out how to make it happen.

Obviously making a lego style, ISBU house isn't a new idea. In fact I'm pretty sure that as soon as shipping containers started littering ports and rail yards around the world, people started living in them. But only in the last 20 or 25 years has the idea been taken seriously in places where it wasn't of dire need. To say the least it's an idea that hasn't caught on very fast in Utah, though I am pretty sure that most people who still rent here would agree that to have an affordeable space of one's own instead of paying a fortune to someone else to live in theirs is appealing. I'm not talking about forcing everyone live in boxcars like "The Boxcar Children" but an actual home that has all the whistles and bells and creature comforts. And though the idea isn't catching into fruition very fast, there are projects in Utah that use this very idea, though it's next to impossible to find actual information about them on the web. Here are a couple of them:

This is a digital rendering of The Sarah House, a project for Utah's under-served that is currently being built through Crossroads Urban Center.  Here is the most updated image I could find of it's actual progress.You can check their progress on the Sarah House Utah facebook page.

There's also the City Center Lofts, a seven story container apartment building that was built in the hear of Down Town Salt lake City and for which I can't seem to find an actual photograph. However it was scheduled to be completed in 2009.

Of the most useful resource I've found (Today) is this article from R One studio (Follow the link) The author makes some really great points. And I feel like I know what my next step is in building the dream. Find out how much an architect costs. Though, if you look at the two images he shares, I definitely prefer the one he clearly dislikes. Much more interesting. 

This concludes this session of my this redneck yerba mate dream...To be continued.

Monday, October 1

Whole Wheat-Coconut-Blueberry-Oat Bran Muffins: ei. "Cupcakes"

I don't know if it's laziness or just my inner eye coming into focus (or a secret desire to torture my family). But lately I've pretty much stopped looking at recipes completely. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Usually when it doesn't turn out, even though I've thought through all chemical relationships (baking powder, soda, sugar, egg reactions etc.), I can attribute the  flop to one simple thing: I forgot the salt. But today I am somewhat unreasonably proud of myself in my creation. My daughter begged me for cupcakes for breakfast (which may or may not mean pancakes). She pretty much begs for cupcakes every day at some point even though in her lifetime I don't believe I've actually made cupcakes. She knows pretty much every episode of My Little Pony by heart though and they eat a lot of cupcakes in Ponyville. If I lived in Ponyville, I might eat a lot of cupcakes too. But in Ada's case I'm pretty sure she would just lick off the frosting and ask for another.

I've been trying for quite some time to make a good bran muffin for the Hubster. Being Argentine, he hasn't ever experienced the glory that is possible in this full textured food. I feel it my responsibility to share it with him. But thus far he has rejected all of my buttery moist concoctions for lack of sweetness. I have this nasty habit of cutting the sugar in half. I just think that most recipes have too much. But I conceded in this case, for desire that my daughter eat something other than corn and tortillas with cheese today. I feel that the fullness of fibers will make up for it.  And I'm satisfied that tonight's yerba mate exchange will be a satisfying experience for all parties. Lately (okay, pretty much my whole life) I've been on a coconut kick. Don't try to substitute the unsweetened coconut with the larger sugary flakes, it won't work. Make sure that the coconut oil is at room temperature.

With no further delay:

Whole Wheat Coconut Blueberry Oat Bran Muffins
ei. "Cupcakes"

3 Whole Eggs well beaten
1 C Coconut Oil
2 C Sugar
1 & 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
2 C dry coconut flakes (unsweetened)
3 C Whole Wheat Flour
2 tbs Baking Powder
1 & 1/2 C Oat Bran

2 & 1/2 C Milk
2 C Blueberries (frozen or fresh)

Preheat  oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
Beat eggs well and then add, one at a time, mixing between, sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and coconut flakes.
Then separately combine  flour, baking powder and oat bran. Mix together thoroughly with wet mixture. Pour in most of milk and mix thoroughly. The batter should be thick and goopy, not liquid like a cake batter. Add rest of milk in if needed. mix blueberries in with a large spoon to avoid breaking them apart.

Spoon into lined muffin tins to rim.
Bake for 8-12 minutes. Makes approximately 3 dozen muffins

Muffins are done when toothpick comes out clean and muffins are golden around edges. Pull out of tins and allow to cool before dolloping with:

Honey Greek-Yogurt Cream-Cheese "Frosting"

1 C. Greek Yogurt (cold)
1 C. Cream Cheese (room temperature)
Honey to taste

With a hand mixer beat all three ingredients until smoother than cottage cheese.
*NOTE* Wait until you are ready to eat the muffins to frost them. Since the topping is not a simple mixture of fat and sugar, it will dry out. Store covered in fridge until ready to use. Until then, cover muffins with cloth to prevent them from drying as well.

And for the record, My daughter loves them. She still licks the "frosting" off the top but then continues to eat the rest of the muffin without the cool creamy topping.

Tip: If you don't make cupcakes very often and don't carry the necessary supplies , you can line tins with squares of parchment paper, just push the middle down and run your finger around the bottom. Hold in place and fill with small spoon or small ladle.