Tuesday, December 29, 2009
There's currently a sale going on too! Select expressions are 40% off and you can earn free shipping with a $50 or more product order. Hurry! Time is running out....
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
Visit the Fiber One website and print a $1 off coupon for a 4-pack of yogurt to get you started.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
For those who want to start meal planning, the first step I use is to take an inventory of food/meals I have in the freezer, fridge and pantry. You have to know what you've got to work with...and if you're like me, chances are there are packages of frozen meat that have been lingering in the back of the freezer.
After taking an inventory, make another list of all the meals your family likes to eat. Even if it's things that you don't have ingredients for on-hand. You still need a master meal list to give you ideas of recipes for the month.
Finally, take a 3rd piece of paper (or use the computer if you prefer...me? I'm a pencil and paper kind of gal) and merge the two other lists. My advice is to work with what you have on-hand to create a month of meals that you know you and the family will eat. Also, remember to build in meals of leftovers every few days. And you can also plan to double cook...ie, make a double batch of chili for week one and freeze half for another meal during week three. See how easy!!?
Here's the rest of my month, in order:
shrimp with tarragon pasta
out to eat (if I'm lucky!)
crock pot tostadas
quesadillas (from left over beef)
quiche (to use up eggs and veggies from fridge)
fly to new orleans (yippee!)
Do you meal plan? Let me hear about it!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Today, I have applesauce on the stove and will later magically turn it into apple butter by cooking it low and slow with fragrant cinnamon, cloves and a bit of brown sugar. YUM!
I also have a new pie recipe in the oven. It's called Swedish Apple Pie and there is no bottom crust. Gotta love that! I hate pie crust. There, I'll admit it. I dislike pie crust. But this recipe intrigued me because you combine sugar, flour, egg, butter and spices to pour over the top of the apples in your pie pan before baking. Hmm, a cross between a pie and a cobbler perhaps? Or maybe a buckle? In any event, it's in the oven and when it's cooked and sampled, I'll report back with the recipe (with my modifications, cause you know I can't follow a recipe without making it my own by altering something or another!) and pictures.
Apple season rocks!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I made tamales this week with my friend Norma and they are amazing! The backstory on my search for the perfect tamale started with some fresh tamales I had a few years ago in California from a Farmer's Market. Since then, I've visited other markets and ordered them online...good enough, but just not what I've been craving.
And making tamales is a lot easier than I ever thought it would be. It's definately time consuming, which is why I was so glad to have Norma around. In fact, it was her idea to make tamales, so hats off to Norma!
I'll link the recipe I used from a website that has really specific directions AND photographs. The cool thing is that you can totally deviate from the ingredient list (for the most part) and customize your tamales. We made chicken/pork like the website suggests, AND we made black bean & cheese and beef tamales. YUM!
The cool thing about this website is that they break it down for you to the ingredients you need, how to cook the meat, how to prepare the masa, how to assemble the tamales and how to cook them. After cooking, you can freeze these babies and re-steam them for dinners or lunches later. AWESOME!
Check out the link above and please let me know if you make tamales....I can't wait for Tamale Making Day to come again this winter. :)
Next up, my soon-to-be-famous GUMBO recipe! (and I'll add tamale pics soon)
Thursday, September 24, 2009
With the weather turning cooler, my thoughts turn to warm drinks. I love a hot drink on a cool morning, or before bed, or in the afternoon...well, any time really! And last year I discovered a super-delicious brand of drink mix that is not only affordable, but also low calorie. Ron & Franks Skinny Gourmet! They sell a variety of drink and baking mixes with or without Splenda in flavors like cappuccino, spiced apple cider, peanut butter hot chocolate, and so many more.
Ron & Franks (http://www.ronandfranks.com/) Skinny Gourmet drink mixes are THE BEST. The company is pretty darn awesome too, because when I sent them an email requesting a sample for my blog giveaway, they sent me FOUR packages of their creamy hot chocolate mixes. So exciting - you are going to love this stuff!! I'm tempted to keep them for myself...but that wouldn't be right. ;)
Here are the rules for this giveaway contest. If you want to win, you must visit the Ron & Franks website here and poke around, then come back here and tell me (in a comment) what flavor drink mix sounds the best to you. Or any product really. Check them out, and if you can't wait for the results, place an order for yourself....you will *not* regret it!
This contest will have one winner, selected by random.org, from comments left on my blog. I'll keep the contest open until noon EST on Sunday, September 27th. You're going to have to check back on Sunday evening to see who the winner is and then email me if it's you so I know where to send your goodies.
Oh, you probably want to know what the prize is....eh?
The winner will receive two packages of drink mix:
- Ron & Franks Skinny Gourmet Diet Hot Chocolate in White Chocolate Raspberry flavor
- Ron & Franks Skinny Gourmet Diet Chai Tea
Each package makes 24 servings and each serving has only 20 calories!! For those Weight Watchers followers like myself, that's ZERO points. Don't let the word "diet" in the title of these scare you off. Seriously, these are so good, I am stocking up for the fall & winter. But you can also make iced versions if you prefer your beverages cold.
Now those of you who have been paying attention might be thinking to yourself, "hey, she got 4 packages and is only giving away 2...what's up with that?!?". Well, good question. I'm saving the other two bags until closer to holiday time because those are both the famous Egg Nog mix. If you like Egg Nog, but can't stand all the calories, you're going to want to try this! I love egg nog flavor, but the actual drink is a generally little too....thick...for me. Ron & Frank's version is PERFECTION. And like the other mixes here, these too are made with Splenda for a low calorie treat.
Good luck with the contest!
Friday, September 18, 2009
It's called Swag Bucks.
That is my referral link. So far, I have 8 swag bucks.
What is it? It's an online portal dedicated to helping you earn digital dollars called "Swag Bucks", which can be redeemed for exclusive swagbucks.com merchandise. You SEARCH the web (like you already do now) using their website, EARN swag bucks periodically during these searches, and then REDEEM the bucks for prizes like gift cards.
So lend me a hand and join, mkay?
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
I spent a day and a half in Michigan with my family and friends, just having a good time and being together. Such a wonderful way to spend a weekend....a birthday weekend, none-the-less. And even with the chaos of making dinner and entertaining 15 people, including two 5-year olds, in someone else's house - we still managed to feel relaxed. THAT is the sign of a great weekend.
So I'm sending a big shout out of thanks to my husband, daughter, sister, Aunt and the 'significant others' who helped make this weekend one to remember.
Ahhh, I needed that!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
So, here's how I was introduced to Bob, my Schwan's delivery guy...FREE FOOD. Yep. Free. $10 worth on your first order. He'll come back every 2 weeks to see if you want to place a real, paying order - but if you don't then just say so. And chances are you will, because some of their stuff is AWESOME.
This is a link to the $10 free deal - check it out soon, I have no idea how long this will last.
- Strawberry Daiquiri Sorbet (dairy free! and limited time only, do a search for it)
- Single Serve Fruit Packs - Island Blend (great for healthy smoothies, and it's tropical fruits which are harder to do on your own - but they do have a regular berry one too...I can get 2 smoothies from one fruit pack and you get 4 in each big bag)
I've heard their fish and seafood are both really good, and I'll be getting those next time. I'm on a diet, so a lot of the frozen stuff here isn't really in my "plan"...but for family or a splurge or a party, it all looks really yummy!
If you order, leave me a comment and let me know what you tried!
Friday, August 21, 2009
I like knowing that people are reading. I've been gone for a bit, but I promise to try and write more frequently. I think I'm just having a hard time trying to figure out what to say lately. I'm open to suggestions....
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Amazon is having a promotion on some grocery items, good for back to school. Stock up and save up to 40% on any combination of eligible products.
Here's how it works:
Buy any 2 eligible products and save 20%
Buy any 3 eligible products and save 30%
Buy any 5 eligible products and save 40% (this is obviously the best deal!)
Use the following promotional code when you check out: BCKSCLO9.
This offer applies only to products offered by Amazon.com and for purchases made between July 20 and September 6, 2009 (This offer cannot be combined with Subscribe & Save or other code-based offer).Stock up and save--all items are eligible for Amazon Prime and FREE Super Saver Shipping over $25.
Here's the link to the main page. Some items are super cheap to begin with, and adding free shipping with 40% off makes it SWEET (esp. if you like to buy in bulk and have things delivered right to your door!) http://www.amazon.com/Back-School-Grocery/b/ref=amb_link_84843791_1?ie=UTF8&node=235692011&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=top-1&pf_rd_r=1ZR70JG2A6X0RVRJ18PG&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=484170531&pf_rd_i=235692011
Wanna know what I bought and paid? I was thinking about school lunches when I was filling my Amazon cart....unfortunately, many of the snacks have milk in them, so those were out. But, I managed to find some stuff! I bought:
36 mac n cheese cups (Audrey's new obsession, we don't use the cheese packet!)
8 chicken & stars Campbell's soup at hand cups
8 chicken & mini noodle Campbell's soup at hand cups
6 boxes (20 bags each) Tazo apricot vanilla white tea
20 no sugar added organic squeese applesauce things
ps- we don't use the cheese sauce packet in the mac n cheese cups, in case anyone was wondering how my non-dairy child can eat mac n cheese!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
We had leftover rice from some mediocre Chinese food last night and I needed to finish off the meal on a positive note, so I went searching for a non-dairy rice pudding recipe that was sinple and delicious. While I didn't find one exactly right, I was able to come up with my own.
Turns out, my dairy-free daughter doesn't like rice pudding so I could have used cow milk. Oh well.
Leftover Rice Rice Pudding
1 cup leftover cooked white rice
2 cups milk (any kind - I used almond milk)
1/4 cup sugar
small pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg, optional
Combine cooked rice, milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the vanilla. Cook until just about all of the milk is absorbed. Stir in cinnamon and/or nutmeg, if using. Divide rice pudding into individual serving dishes serve warm or chilled. Makes one big bowl, which for me was pretty much 2 servings but that just depends on whether or not you want to share.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
She then declared that she was going to sleep in her "nude jammies". My husband has coined the term for these as "skin jammies".
Whatever you call them, she's wearing them again tonight.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
It's also the 4th of July.
I love the sound of the rain gently falling on the trees in my backyard.
I love how it gets just a bit (or sometimes a lot) darker outside during a rain shower.
I love the smell of fresh rain.
I love that my daughter gets just a bit more snuggly when the thunder claps.
So I guess it's not all that bad to have rain on the 4th of July.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
I do like being mentioned on other people's blogs (in a positive way, of course). And I also like winning contests. Today's post is the best of both!!
Check out my friend Sandy's organization blog. It's awesome! I have used, and plan to use more, of her amazing organizing ideas. And today, she mentions me in her blog because I won a contest by describing how I organize my sheets in the linen closet. It also works for stuffing them in a drawer or under your bed, if you prefer.
Visit her blog and leave a message to let her know you stopped by.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Rainy day? Too hot to play outside? Just plain bored? Struggling for bathtime? Give the kid a can of shaving cream, strip 'em down and plunk them in the tub. Instant fun!
I gave my little one a $0.79 cent can of shaving cream and free reign to "play" in the tub. She covered herself and every surface she could find, including a cup, spoon and 3 barbies. About 45 minutes later, she was rinsed, clean and smellin' great. She later told me that this was "the best day of her life!". With feedback like that, you can't go wrong.
Shaving cream. They are already half way to a bath!
Trust me. Worth every penny....
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
You've got some liners coming your way girlfriend. And I fully expect a comment here after you try one out. Got it?
Congratulations, and thanks for all of your entries (as few as they were)....I appreciate your support! :)
Monday, June 15, 2009
I've been using Reynolds Slow Cooker liners for a while, they run about $4 for a box of 4...so $1 each. Expensive, yes. But totally worth it.
Then one day, I stumbled across a similar product that changed my life. Ok, exaggerating again, but seriously trust me on this one!
EZ Pans slow cooker/crock pot liners. THE BEST!
You've heard of crock pot liners, right? Basically, plastic-type "bags" you put into your slow cooker before you dump in the food. Then after cooking, you simply lift out the bag and toss it. Wipe down the inside of your crock pot with a damp towel (I use vinegar & water) and you're done. Simple, fast clean up. It makes me want to use the crock pot more and more, which is a huge time saver.
So here's another great thing about the EZ Pan liners. They cost about .30 cents each! I found a seller on Ebay who had them, but they are also available on Amazon.com....here's a link....free shipping too! You may not *need* 100 of them, but at this price you can either stock up for the year or share with friends.
Check them out and let me know what you think if you try them!
Let's do a contest, shall we? I'll choose a random number and the person with that number post in today's comments on this entry will WIN 5 of these crock pot liners. Yippee! My first contest. Post entries must be entered by midnight EST 6/15/09.
ps- please remember to either put your email in the comment or be a registered user so I can contact the winner! check back tomorrow for the winner's name. :)
Thursday, June 11, 2009
It's really simple and delicious (and inexpensive!). What else would you expect from me?!?
CUSTOM MADE OATMEAL PACKETS
3 cups oats
brown or white sugar
baggies or some container (you'll need about 8 per batch)
small blender/chopper/Magic Bullet
mix-ins for the oatmeal (dried fruit, powdered creamer, chocolate chips, etc)
Blend up 1 cup of oats and set aside in a bowl. Next, portion out 1/4 cup servings of the remaining whole oats (not the ones you just blended) into airtight containers like baggies or other small containers. To each packet, add 2 tablespoons of the powder oats (it's a thickening agent). Some recipes call for a dash of salt, but I didn't find it necessary. If you like, add a teaspoon or so of brown/white sugar or powder sweetener of choice. The final step is to add the mix-ins...
- dried fruit (raisin, blueberry, cranberry, cherry, apricot)
- spices (cinnamon, nutmeg)
- powdered creamer (for a fruit & cream variety)
- chocolate chips
- chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds)
- colored sprinkles
To serve, just add approximately 1/2 c. boiling water to a bowl with one packet of oatmeal. Mix well and let it sit to thicken. You can play around with the water amount if you like thicker or thinner oatmeal.
My daughter loved making these, and because we used a combo of red/green sprinkles (leftover mix from our Magic Reindeer Food from last Solstice) her oatmeal turned blue! Be cautious, with the mix-ins added, you may not even need sugar or sweetener. Our had sugar added, but next time I'll leave it out if we put in sprinkles because she said it was too sweet. Huh!??! It's true!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
- equal parts of apple cider vinegar & witch hazel (I used 1 cup each)
- a few drops of citronella oil (for 1 cup and 1 cup, I used about 2 teaspoons of oil)
- spray bottle (walmart, $1.57)
Friday, June 5, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Two years ago, I learned how to make vanilla extract. I love it! Homemade vanilla is so much better (and far less expensive) than store-bought extract. And it's very, very simple. Here's a basic recipe and a link to a reputable vanilla bean store online with a special offer! Free shipping if you enter the promo code "mayspecial"...so hurry! If you buy the Tahitian package, you should have enough beans for one batch, but I just ordered the combo pack. One of my water recipes calls for a vanilla bean, so make sure you order plenty!
How to make vanilla extract:
Take a bottle of cheap-o vodka and pour it from the plastic container into 2 large quart size mason jars. Rinse off your vanilla beans. Split them open down the middle, leaving them attached at the tip. Drop 4-6 beans into each mason jar. Cover tightly with a clean lid and ring. Place somewhere dark and cool. I keep mine in a kitchen cabinet. Give the vanilla a shake once a week. It will take at least 4 months for the vodka to turn into usable extract. So if you're hoping to give these as gifts for the holidays, plan accordingly...start now! The longer it sits, the better.
When you're ready to use it, strain out the vanilla bits and bottle the vanilla. For a unique presentation, add half (or whatever amount) of a fresh vanilla bean to the container. Lovely and useful!
I'll post pics later.
One million thanks to my friend Tracy for reminding me of my love for vanilla extract and my need to blog about it.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Low and behold, next thing you know, she pushed an egg out of her behind. I mean, probably not literally her "behind", but that's what it looked like. Those are some big eggs! I'm guessing she laid about 10-12 of them in that hole, pushing them down gently with her back leg each time. So freaking cool to see that, and to be able to give that experience to our daughter -who laughed hysterically when I yelled, "OMG, she just shot an egg out of her butt!" because it completely shocked me.
We're hoping the eggs survive, I may fashion some sort of "cage" over the hole so predators don't eat them. But I'm on the fence about whether or not I should interfere with natural selection and nature's fate and all that. From what I have heard (and I'll do more research), turtles lay eggs and then just leave them, never to return. The babies who make it, hatch and go happily on their merry way. Weird, no? In any event, we've got some investigating and observing coming up this summer...there looks to be at least 1 more turtle egg hole in the yard!
Another thing I found out is that the incubation time for turtle eggs is anywhere from 45-90 days, depending on the type of turtle. Of course, I have no idea what kind of turtle this one was, so that's more research we need to do. Can anyone say homeschool activity?!? That ought to keep us busy for a day or two, now that preschool is out. And by early fall, maybe we'll be lucky enough to have a handful of baby turtles to watch as they leave our yard to start their own lives.
Got anything cool like that in your yard? Leave me a comment and tell me about it!
Sunday, May 24, 2009
These are the steps I use for my home facials...in the interest of full disclosure, let's keep in mind that I am not a cosmetologist, esthetician or dermatologist. I have no training in giving facials and I'm probably not qualified to give advice on them. I'm just a girl who likes facials, who used to get a lot of facials, and who now can't afford facials so I mostly do them at home. That being said, here we go. Whee!!
Rid your face, neck and upper chest area of dirt and oil by using a gentle cleanser made for faces. Rinse with warm, not hot, water.
This step is important because it removes not only dirt and oil build-up, but also clears away dead skin cells and stimulates circulation. All are very good things.
I like to stick my face into the steamer (or use a sink full of hot water with a towel over your head) during the exfoliation stage after the scrubbing and before the rinsing.
Depending on your skin type and needs, there are a variety of masks you could use. Me? I like a calming clay mask because I have sensitive, yet blemish prone skin. Leave the mask on for 5-15 minutes and rinse off using a warm, wet washcloth.
Swipe a cotton pad or the tip of a washcloth soaked in toner over your entire face, avoiding the eye area. I recently discovered Witch Hazel for toning and I love it.
The final step in your facial is to moisturize the skin with a cream of your choice. Remember my water post? Skin needs moisture, so load it up after a facial. Drink water and use a moisturizer.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
So my friend took me to see the nest. Whoa, those things are huge! When I was there, we didn't see the bird. Darn. However, my pal was lucky enough to not only catch an amazing shot of this eagle, but she also saw it's mate AND some babies in the nest. How freaking cool is that?!?
Let's face it. You just can't get any cooler than an eagle. Seriously, they are indeed the most awesome bird alive...and for a while there, things weren't looking so good for our national symbol. In 1940 Congress passed the Bald Eagle Protection Act, which made it illegal to shoot at, kill, or poison the birds. Things were ok for a while ...until the pesticide DDT came along. It got into the food chain and eventually caused the birds to lay eggs with thinner shells (which, you know, can't be good) and the eagle numbers dropped dramatically.
After DDT was banned in 1972, eagles began to recover. Congress passed the Endangered Species Act in 1967, and the modern act in 1973 - and the bald eagle was among the first animals named on the protected list.
On June 28th, 2007, they announced that the bald eagle had been taken off the federally protected list. YAY! However, laws still prohibit killing and harming eagles or their nests or eggs. So, that's good for the eagles.
There you have it. Many thanks to National Geographic for the info about eagles. :)
And if you'd like to check out my friend's website, here's the link. She and her husband are - by far - two of the most talented photographers I've ever known. Very cool stuff. http://www.ennisphotography.com/
Sunday, May 17, 2009
A good friend of mine has been working very hard on her garden (which is extremely impressive), and now the cool weather crops are ready to harvest. So, she invited me over to gather some herbs and veggies. What a feeling of accomplishment it must be to see actual plants and FOOD coming up from the ground where once there was only dirt and tiny seeds.
Today I came home with lettuce, mustard greens, chives, green onions, something that smells like cilantro but is more wispy (ideas anyone?), fancy french radishes, and a garlic bulb to put into the ground at my house.
Technically, it's not free....she paid for the seeds and fertilizer, etc. She also paid for these crops with her blood, sweat and tears. But for those who love to be outside and work in the earth, it's a small price to pay. And being able to share our bounty with friends makes it even sweeter! For my part, I will share my homemade jam and sugar scrub (and a couple tall nonfat caramel machiatos) in exchange for the ability to image, even for a few minutes while I feel the warm sun on my face, that I was the one who toiled away in the garden to produce such an impressive harvest. I'm certainly looking forward to later this summer when the potatoes, tomatoes and corn is ready!
Aside from the single garlic bulb in my side-driveway plot of garden (and I use the term garden very, very loosely), I have a small patch of strawberry plants (either the deer or the rabbits keep eating the flowers before they can mature). I also have one of those upside-down tomato planters on my deck that I'll fill with tomato starts with basil on top. For a garden novice, it's a start.
Are you making a garden this summer? I'd love to hear about it in the comment section!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
You've heard the idea that we should all drink eight 8 oz. glasses per day. Or maybe you've heard that you should cut your body weight in half and drink that many ounces of water per day. (No, I won't tell you how much that would be for me, so don't ask.) Personally, I think it's more a matter of personal hydration - everyone is different and hydration needs are too. Unfortunately, the problem is that most of us don't realize when we're actually thirsty...and we either ignore it or mistake it for hunger.
So today I'm vowing to increase my drinking water intake and I'll going to share a few of my favorite natural water-flavoring recipes to make things more interesting. If you've got a good one I missed, please leave me a comment...I'm always looking for creative ways to flavor water.
With all these recipes, the longer you let them steep in the fridge, the more flavor you'll get. I'm using a big 32 oz. Tupperware mug for these recipes, with ice. Feel free to adjust for your personal taste!
Simply Lemon - add a slice or two of lemon (or lime) to water. Please be sure to WASH the fruit first.
Citrus Burst - add a squeeze and a slice of fresh orange plus a peeled slice (quarter size) of ginger to water.
Minty Fresh - add a few sprigs of mint (you can probably get this fresh from someone's garden, mint takes over like crazy and most people would love to share!) to your favorite citrus water.
Vanilla Orange - add half of a fresh vanilla bean (split open) and 2 slices of orange to water. (in a pinch, a teaspoon to taste of vanilla extract works too)
Cranberry Orange - toss in a few crushed fresh cranberries and a couple slices of orange to water.
Refreshing Cucumber - add just a few thin slices of cucumber to water for a unique refreshing flavor, and it's even better with a bit of mint.
Raspberry Splash - crush a few and leave some whole, but toss some berries into the water....yum!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Silver Jewelry Club. http://www.silverjewelryclub.com/
Only, it's not actually a club, so there's no joining or fee involved. And the best part is that the jewelry is FREE! Yep, free. You pay $6.99 for shipping...and if you buy a pendant and want to add a necklace chain, it's $4 more. Not too shabby!
I'll tell you honestly that some of the items are really nice, and others are not so much. But that may just be personal preference. And they look a lot bigger online than they do in real life, so keep that in mind. But I've bought a couple pendants and find them to be relatively heavy (which means they don't have that automatic cheap feel to them). The chain is nice too, for $4.
So for $7-11 each, you can buy a couple nice silver jewelry pieces to hide away for those times when you need a last minute gift...I'm thinking these would be great for birthday parties for the 8-15 year old set, friends, sisters, that hard-to-buy-for aunt...take a look at the website and see what you think.
Oh yea, I forgot to mention that there are four items up at one time and they change every 15 minutes. So if you see something you like, buy it...don't wait....or it may be gone when you come back. :)
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Well guess what?! There are a ton of uses for vinegar, and I'll list a few for you that I personally do....
- Clean hard wood floors with a vinegar and water mixture. (I keep a spray bottle full of 1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar and use that for everything!)
- Pour 1/4-1/2 cup of vinegar into the laundry machine during the wash and/or during the rinse cycle to get cleaner, brighter, softer clothes.
- Spray windows and glass with a vinegar and water mixture and wipe dry.
- Wipe down counters, stove, oven and kitchen appliances with a vinegar and water mixture.
- Clean stains out of the microwave with about 1/4 cup of vinegar and a splash of water in a bowl, heat it for a minute or so until it steams, then wipe the inside of the microwave clean.
- Add 1/2 cup vinegar to the dishwasher in the rinse agent compartment to help remove water spots.
- Put a cup filled with plain white vinegar on the top rack of an empty dishwasher and run a cycle thru to clean the interior.
What do you use vinegar for at your house? I've love to know more uses....leave me a comment!
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Here's how you make 'em...it's simple (as per the title of this blog, it has to be!)
Hot Dog Spiders
saucepan of water
spaghetti noodles (dry)
Boil the water. Meanwhile, cut up the hot dogs into your preferred size. We like bite size so they are easier to eat as finger food. Break the spaghetti into thirds. Poke several strands of spaghetti thru the hot dog bite. Toss them all into the boiling water, cook until noodles are tender, approximately 8-10 minutes. Drain, cool and eat!
I can totally see doing these for a child's birthday party or playgroup too. And for the record, Mama like them too!
Special thanks to this website for the awesome idea~ http://www.boingboing.net/2009/04/21/freaky-food-fun-inse.html
Thursday, April 23, 2009
This is what a friend of mine told me last night. I wasn't sure what to think, until she elaborated. Turns out, she gave herself "lowlights" with a fresh beet. While I wasn't entirely sure what that meant, I assumed it has something to do with coloring her hair. You see, I'm a brunette. Ask me about highlights, and I can explain it, show you old photos from college and give you suggestions for your own color. But lowlights...huh??
"I took the end of the beet and rubbed it on a few strands of hair.....sounds like something you'd do!"
Indeed, it does. I was intrigued and needed to know more.
"Highlight is light, lowlight is darker than your base color."
That was my AH-HA! moment. I got it now. Sounds awesome! And it got me thinking, what could I possibly rub on my own dark brown hair to change the color naturally like that? Aside from juicing lemons and hanging out in the sun (who used Sun-In as a teenager and then claimed that the sun just did that "all on it's own"? admit it, I know you did.) I started looking through the pantry and fridge to see if I had anything might work. Kool-aid? Coffee? Rhubarb? Bananas?
I'll have to keep you posted on this one. For now, I think I'll just let my stylist hook me up.
And if you want a super easy and delicious recipe in which to test out your homemade taco seasoning mix, try my friend Tracy's Crock Pot Tostadas...and check out her blog at http://outnumberedbythekids.blogspot.com/ for her Deal of the Day. Sweet!
Homemade Taco Seasoning Mix
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried onion flakes
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1/2 - 1 cup chili powder (we use 1/2 c.)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin (I love cumin!)
4 teaspoons salt
Put all ingredients into a jar with a tight fitting lid (I like canning jars personally). Shake to mix. Use to taste in whatever recipe you choose - approximately 1/2 cup equals one seasoning packet from the store, but I frequently use less, especially if I add more chili powder to the mix.
Tracy's Crock Pot Tostadas
6 to 10 servings
1 lb ground beef-browned and drained
2 cans refried beans
1 envelope dry taco seasoning mix (or use homemade version above!!)
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
10 tostada shells ( I skip this and use tortilla chips instead)
shredded cheddar cheese
Combine ground beef, beans, seasoning, tomato sauce and water in crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours. Crisp tostada shells (or just use tortilla chips, Fritos, etc.). Spread hot mixture on shells and top with remaining ingredients OR scoop hot mixture onto plate, top w/ remaining ingredients and scoop with chips.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
My friend Sandy, the Green Guru, turned me on to an idea known as Vermicomposting. Her blog is here, http://modern-simplicity.blogspot.com/ and I highly recommend checking her out!
To put it simply, vermicomposting is using worms to convert organic waste into usable compost for the garden. It's really easy to do, fortunately for me because (I hate to admit it) sometimes if new things are hard, I just won't try it. But I'm so glad I did, because (1) kids love worms and (2) it's totally good for the environment.
Want to make your own worm bin? Here's how.....
1) Gather up the following supplies
- an old plastic storage container (fairly large, like a Rubbermaid tub)
- a handful of red wiggler worms (from the bait shop or online)
- a handful of soil
- some kitchen scraps
- some newspaper
3) Every week or so, add more scraps and newspaper strips as needed. In a few months, you'll have wonderfully rich compost for your garden or houseplants. You'll also have a lot more worms -- they multiply like crazy in there. Happy worms make a lot of babies, so I've heard.
4) Generally, you want to put only raw fruit and vegetable scraps, tea bags, coffee grounds and the like in the bin. Stay away from meats, oils, dairy products, orange rinds and other citrus fruits. Worms also like a weekly eggshell or crushed Tums.
At school, the students give their teachers any leftover scraps from lunches - surprisingly, nobody is "saving" lunches for the worms...just giving them things like brown spots from bananas or the peels or crust from a sandwich. It's very cute. At first, one of the teachers found an escapee on the floor one morning before class. I'm sorry to say, he didn't make it. But I believe that was the only casualty. And we know now that if they try to escape, they are not happy. In this case, a little more newspaper and water did the trick.
I'll be taking home the preschool worm bin for the summer and hopefully keeping them alive and happy. My daughter has a new fascination with worms, and has even created her own mini worm bucket in the garage. She found a new worm today and now there are 7 of them. Plus one leaf and a bunch of dirt...and some grass clippings.
I would also like to state for the record, I will never actually have to touch a worm. I will use a spoon, if necessary. Or have my daughter do it. She will be more than happy to volunteer for worm duty. Actually, maybe I can convince her this is a new pet. Yeah, that way...we won't ever have to get a dog!
Do you vermicompost? Are you going to give it a shot? Drop me a comment and let me know! (and check out Sandy's blog for more details on starting your own bin)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
What's that? You don't know what the color of the week means? (GASP!) Each item is marked with a price tag which includes a color code. Each Sunday, the sale code color changes, and that means it's HALF OFF. Such a great deal, especially if you can find things that are clearly worth more than the price tag states.
My favorite things to get at Goodwill are Coach bags, wood furniture, and kitchen gadgets like bread machines and juicers. When my daughter was smaller, I frequently would find barely used Hanna Andersson dresses for her as well. For the record, I draw the line at a few items. There are several things I will never buy from a Goodwill store, including shoes for myself, unders, bathing suits and food. That's just me though.
Did you know that Target uses Goodwill to dump all their unsold merchandise? I've seen loads of new-in-box Target furniture and toiletries (yesterday it was mostly hair dye and anti-gas meds).
Really, if you think about it, getting things on sale like this is actually like making money. Don't you agree? :)
Leave me a comment and share your best Goodwill find!
Sunday, April 19, 2009
So yesterday I realized I had a 2.5 lb bag of pie cherries in the outside freezer that I intended to use for jam this winter. Oops. I ended up making a quick batch while my daughter was at a playdate. It only took me 45 minutes to make a batch of the best cherry jam ever. Typically, I'm a certo girl. Certo, for those new to the process, is pectin (which makes the fruit set up into jam, rather than sauce). Certo is a liquid which comes in a pouch, and it's the only thing my Dad would use. But I wanted to make sugar-free jam, and certo requires sugar, lots of sugar. Instead, I deviated from the norm and went with Ball Natural Gel No Sugar Needed Fruit Pectin, in a box...cause it's a powder.
Making jam is really very simple and I'll outline it for you here, in case you want to give it a try. The first time you make jam, you'll be hooked. Trust me.
What you need:
lids & rings (must be new)
sugar or splenda
lid magnet (a stick with a magnet on it, I'll explain this later)
What you do:
PREPARE: Put your jars into the dishwasher and run it with the heated dry cycle. You need to sterilize the jars and keep them hot. Put the lids and rings into a saucepan filled with water and boil them, keeping them on the heat until you're ready to can.
COOK: Next, follow the instructions on your pectin package. They are pretty much all the same, and it involved cooking the prepared fruit (*prepared meaning chopped or crushed, sometimes adding lemon juice) over high heat with sugar, stirring constantly. When the fruit and sugar reaches a rolling boil, add the pectin and cook for 5 minutes or so, depending on the pectin package. A rolling boil is one that you can't stir down.
JAR: Once the timer rings, you'll ladel the hot jam into the hot jars. Take only 2-3 jars out of the dishwasher at a time, fill those, then grab a few more until all the jam is in jars. Wipe off all the edges of the jars with a damp towel so they are clean. Then, take the stick with a magnet on it and grab the lids from the saucepan, place them on top of the jars. Do the same with the rings. Screw the rings on, only as tight as you can using your fingertips...ie, not too tight.
SEAL: Here's where things get a little controversial....I pretty much only use what is called the Inversion Method. That's what Dad used, so that's what I use. After the jars have lids and rings, flip them upside down onto a clean towel on the counter. Time it for exactly 5 minutes. No more, no less. FIVE minutes. After 5 minutes is up, flip them right side up. Then, you wait. You'll hopefully hear the "pop" of each lid sealing. Don't touch them or test them out for several hours or you risk accidentally creating a false seal by pressing on the top of the lid. (My husband did this once, he knows better now.)
Now if the jars don't seal, that's when I might do a water-bath. I don't even want to get into the details of a water-bath, it's just a PITA really. It's not hard, but I rarely use it. Some people will tell you that it's not safe to invert for canning. But for over 25 years of eating my Dad's jam and almost 10 years of canning myself, I'm perfectly content with inversion and feel confident that it's safe. And since I never enter contests with my jam, I think I'm fine. (contests usually specifically state you can't use inversion)
So there you have it.
Jam Making & Canning 101.
Hmmm, maybe that should have been the title for this post.....
Saturday, April 18, 2009
So, everyone uses laundry soap. And it's not cheap. Or if it is cheap, it doesn't clean very well in my experience. As an alternative, I decided to try a homemade "recipe" for laundry soap that a bunch of my friends are using...and it turns out that I really love it! It's easy to make, very economical and, since you only use one-two tablespoons per load, it saves me time in the long run because I don't have to continuously buy laundry soap.
Here's the basic recipe below with instructions. I keep mine in an old coffee can. It's plastic, so maybe it's more of a coffee tub. None-the-less, it's there, and it lasts a long time. You can use the aforementioned pure essential oils from your sugar scrub recipe too if you want to fragrance it up a bit. See, now that's thrifty! I don't, personally, because I like it just the way it is. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Oh, and one tip is that you'll need a grater. Specifically, I recommend a microplane. Trust. Without one, if you're anything like me, you'll cut your knuckles up during the assembly process. Microplane is the way to go, it gets a finer grate AND it's safer. :)
Basic Homemade Laundry Soap
one bar Fels-Naptha (found in the laundry section, it's a bar of soap for laundry not bodies)
one box of Arm & Hammer washing soda (not baking soda, not laundry detergent, "washing soda" - it's a powder, also found in the laundry isle)
one box of Borax powder (guess where this is...yep, laundry isle)
Grate fels bar with a microplane. If you use a regular box grater, please be careful and use the smallest grate you can. Add one cup each of the Borax and the Arm & Hammer washing soda. If you have lots of stains, you can add an additional 1/2 cup of the Borax for added cleaning power. Mix and store in a container with a lid.
Add one to two tablespoons to each wash load. Add essential oil if you like.
Obviously, this recipe is for a powder soap. Historically, I never liked using powders, but this soap has changed my mind. I love it. You will too. Believe me. Have I ever steered you wrong?
Friday, April 17, 2009
So right now, my thing is sugar scrub. I adore a good sugar scrub. I also find them exceedingly necessary during dry skin weather. Before I shave my legs, I use my sugar scrub to exfoliate and then I don't get those itchy, red bumps all over the place. Plus, sugar scrubs smell so nice, they make me smile!
Recently I realized that I was paying way, way too much for a sugar scrub. Because really, how hard is it to make a sugar scrub?? Not hard at all! Here's my recipe below. You can get creative and adjust not only the ingredients (change up the oil or fragrance) but also the measurements. It's all up to you. Enjoy!
Basic Sugar Scrub
oil -I use sweet almond oil with a touch of olive oil
sugar - I use white sugar, but sometimes do half white and half brown....divine!
fragrance - I believe 100% pure essential oils work best, make sure you use one that is meant for the body, not a room freshener. I really like Young Living brand oils, they are therapeutic grade.
Find a container to hold your sugar scrub. Tupperware is good, or a glass jar with a secure lid. Just realize that you'll be slippery and wet when you use it, so glass might not be the best choice if you're slightly clumsy. Add as much sugar as you want to the container (start with one cup), then pour in some oil (start with 1/4 cup) and mix until you have the consistency of wet sand. Next add a couple drops of essential oil fragrance. If you like it stronger, add more.
Voila, sugar scrub!
Pamper yourself with a daily or weekly sugar scrub. You, and your skin, deserve it.
(I've had a special request so tomorow, I'll share my homemade laundry soap recipe. It's easy and economical, plus it cleans big time.)
Thursday, April 16, 2009
First things first, I want to acknowledge that yes, if all my friends were to jump off a bridge, it is quite possible that I too would jump off said bridge. Why? Because I love my friends. I trust my friends. And if they all jump, there must be a good reason. So it stands to reason that since practically everyone I know has a blog, I need one too. In my defense, I do have a dozen full journals in my closet from my high school and college days, so writing to myself and documenting my existence is not a completely new concept for me. Blogging just makes things a little more public.
So... read on my friends, the best is yet to come!