Monday musings: Handmade soap and good, clean fun

Monarch butterflies

A fall out of Monarch butterflies at Wendy Park in Cleveland, Ohio

This weekend, I saw something I thought I would only be able to see in Mexico or California. A rainy cold front caused thousands of migrating Monarch butterflies, who had just made a strenuous journey across Lake Erie, to “fall out” in Wendy Park, just east of Cleveland. A fall out is a phenomenon that happens when a migrating species, usually a species that migrates over water, hits a weather barrier. Fall outs usually happen with birds during spring and fall migration but they can happen with Monarchs as well. The conditions were perfect for a fall out on Saturday night and there were several clusters of hundreds of butterflies throughout the park. Conservative estimates put the number at around 4,000 butterflies.

Matt and I saw an alert go out on one of several Ohio birding networks Saturday evening. We were on our way home from a day of birding at Sandy Ridge Reservation and decided to stop by, despite the deluge of rain. Jen Brumfield, a naturalist with the Cleveland Metroparkswas waiting in her car for people to show up. We got completely soaked but she was able to show us some very large clusters of butterflies. Knowing the rain would keep them grounded for the night, we decided to go back first thing Sunday morning to get better views. It was chilly and very windy but the rain had stopped and we were able to see hundreds of butterflies take flight and continue their journey south to Mexico. This was one of those times when I wished I was a better photographer!

Handmade soap

There are so many creative soap makers that inspire us. Check out some of our favorite finds on Pinterest! (Are we pinning buddies there? We should be.)

Good, clean fun

If you’re not following us on Facebook, here’s some of the fun you missed:

  • Monarch Caterpillar – It was Monarch madness this weekend. Not only did we see thousands of butterflies, we also saw several caterpillars. This was the first time I was able to find a caterpillar in the wild.
  • Gazing at nature makes you more productive – If this is true, I’m going to be extremely productive at work this week!
  • You say green pepper, I say mango – Where I grew up, green peppers were called mangos. Imagine my confusion as a 23 year old seeing an actual mango for the first time.

Previous musings from Emmet Street you might have missed

Did looking at dessert inspired soaps make you hungry for something sweet? This vegan chocolate chia pudding would hit the spot and would be much healthier than eating an entire cake. The cooler temperatures we had in Ohio this weekend was the perfect excuse for warming up with a cup of vegan pumpkin pie hot chocolate. Want something fruity and salty? Try a watermelon & feta salad for a side dish this week.

 

Vegan chocolate chia pudding

Vegan chocolate chia pudding

I’ve tried to make vegan pudding with silken tofu before and found the results pleasing, but the texture was a little too runny. I’ve had some different ideas to try, but never got around to them because I don’t really dig sweets.

But, in a rare moment of craving a sweet treat (salty, crunchy things are more my thing – Viva la Potato Chip!) I decided I wanted to try another batch of chocolate pudding. I had some silken tofu on hand and recently purchased my first chia seeds, because I had heard chia seeds are chock full of omega-3s, antioxidants and fiber. I had learned that they form gel-like coating around the seed when they come in contact with liquid, so it sounded like a perfect, healthy solution to my runny pudding problem!

I made a batch and had my sugar-loving boyfriend give it a try. He gave it a thumbs up! The little gel pods reminded me a bit of tapioca pudding and it has a bit of a gritty texture from the tiny chia seeds. Maybe running the seeds through a coffee grinder before adding to the pudding mixture would help? I think I’ll try that next time (and there will be a next time, eventually).

Vegan chocolate chia pudding

Makes about 4, 1/2 c. servings

12 oz. package low-fat silken tofu

1/4 c. sugar

2 T. cocoa

1 T. vanilla extract

1/4 t. salt

1/4 c. chia seeds

In a medium mixing bowl, blend tofu until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, except chia seeds, and blend well. Using a spatula, gently fold in chia seeds. Cover bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to allow the pudding to thicken.

Know someone who loves chocolate, is vegan or is anti-lactose who would love this recipe (and, really, who wouldn’t love this one)? It’s easy to share this recipe with them! Simply use one of the sharing buttons below (Note: If you’re reading this via e-mail or reader, you’ll need to link to our website to use the sharing buttons).