Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Just a few places to get free samples:
My suggestion also is to have one email that you don't care getting bombed with spam. Whenever you sign up for things like this, you will get more emails from them and unfortunately some do give your email away so you will emails from others on top of it. So I created one email address specifically for signing up for junk online.
Often these sites have the same samples but a few times you will find something you don't see on the others.
Free Sample Forager
Free Stuff Headquarters
Free Sample Blog
A Livejournal community that started me in on getting samples.
Vocal Point - It is geared towards women - especially those that are Moms. It sends you samples or coupons for free products. And then coupons for often above $1 off on products (right now I have 5 - $1.50 off coupons for Kashi Honey Sunshine Cereal - anyone want one drop me an email.) I have gotten free razors, cereals, yogurt, crackers, tampons and then after getting the sample it asks you to visit their site and sound off on it.
I am sure there are others out there too - please feel free to share if you have one you use!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
* Daily Dish - This one is just what it says daily dish - I don't get it anymore but did for years (others below are what I get now). It has one meat recipe and an added one too sometimes vegetarian recipe, sometimes just another recipe that would be good with it it or a quicker version. And then it has a few links to sides that would go them. This actually has saved me a few times when I was completely clueless on what I was going to make for dinner. This one of course is delivered daily.
* Healthy Bites - Again what the name implies healthy recipes. It is delivered weekly.
* Slow Cooker - Seasonal recipes, tips, and ideas for using your Slow Cooker year-round that is delivered weekly. I just started this one not too long ago and haven't seen many recipes so far that have really got my attention. But I love using my slow cooker so don't doubt I will find some inspiration from it.
They also have several others that I don't get. But at the holidays I do sign up for the cookie countdown.
MarthaStewart.com has are probably my favorite daily/weekly emails I get. If you go to MarthStewart.com and go to the top menu tabs: subscribe. Click that and scroll down to newsletters. Click on any of them and it will give you options to sign up for many more then just that one. For some reason I am not finding a link to just all the different options.
From MarthaStewart.com I get:
* Martha Stewart Living - A weekly newsletter of the best recipes, crafts, and decorating ideas.
* Everyday Food - A weekly newsletter for easy and quick meals. Plus dessert recipes, cooking tips and techniques.
* Whole Living - A weekly newsletter with ideas, recipes and tips for living a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
* Craft of the Day - Which is just as it sounds I get an email with a link to the craft of the day. That has instructions and sometimes video with it.
* Organizing Tip of the Day - And this one is by far my favorite an email that arrives daily with an organizing tip.
* Dinner Tonight - a daily email with a dinner recipe. This one has saved me a few times. Through either making it or at least sparking an idea I had in the house to make.
I also am signed up for many of her holiday newsletters. Umm I like Martha Stewart's newsletters can you tell?
Cooking Light's Dinner Tonight - again daily that gives ideas for dinner - except these are healthy.
And I am also signed up My Recipes Chicken Tonight as we have chicken a lot. That you can get to at the link above.
Myrecipes.com has quite a few newsletters but those are the only 2 I get at this time. But have thought about getting the home tips one though.
Kraft Food and Family - I got this because I had their magazine - which used to be free but now they charge for it. Even if I don't always use their products it sometimes gives me a starting off point for meals...that are easy.
And then I get Daily Diabetic Recipes - because often they are healthy recipes with lots of flavor to them. I have probably made more recipes from them then any of the other newsletters I get. And we are not diabetic either. They are just are healthy recipes.
And then also I get the Ideal Bite one that I mentioned here recently.
And then I get Better Homes and Garden's 100 Days of Holidays - which is an email I think it starts the first day of fall(?) and then goes all the way to New Years. And it has decorating, entertaining, recipes, crafts, kid projects, party ideas and so on for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years.
There are a TON of newsletters to sign up for there. But I really I never noticed until now - because I signed up for the 100 Days through my magazine subscription. There was a link listed in it for the 100 Days that looked fun. And really I have enjoyed it a lot. I made a few craft projects for Thanksgiving last year. And a couple Halloween recipes. This year I hope to do more or their ideas.
I also get 2 daily emails that aren't domestic but they do help keep me centered and positve outlook on life. One is from Daily Om and the other is Notes from the Universe.
That is it. I know it is quite a few but it really just takes me moments to open them up and scan them. And frankly I hit delete on quite a few. But then there is something in several that spark my interest enough to look further.
Do you have any newsletters you would like to share? I obviously need some more. :)
Friday, September 25, 2009
As I was consider what links to share for the Friday Favorites, staring out the window and watching the wind blow, all I could think of was wanting to stay indoors with my man and curling up on the couch with a glass of wine. So my contribution to Friday Favorites is going to vary just a little from the normal collection of links.
For many of us, service doesn't begin and end at household chores and cooking dinner. Keeping the romance alive with the obstacles of children and careers and a lagging economy (and and and...) is a form of personal service that I make a priority. Here are some links to help create warmth and romance when the air, whether inside or out, seems to be getting chilly.
Dressing the part. Don't let the 'trashy' name of the website fool you! This site sells some sexy lingerie, has plus sizes, and it's affordable! I especially like the Bargains under $25 page, because if things get really heated and something gets ripped (be still my beating heart), I'm not out a bunch of money. In fact, sometimes I get stuff just so he can rip it off and claim me! (swoon!)
But before we get to the bodice ripping and claiming, we might want to eat. So...
Tips for planning a romantic dinner. Complete with a menu list for ideas and lots of other links to help you set the mood.
Foods of Love and Love Cocktails- A list of foods said to have aphrodisiac properties and a list of fun, flirty cocktails to make. Hey, every little bit helps, right?
Romance Games- This site contains a list of normal household games that couples have turned into sexy games. From "Strip Battleship" to "Naughty Word Scrabble", there is something to please the fun-loving romantic in all of us!
Personal Massage- From the same website that brought you the naughty games, comes tips and ideas for romantic personal massages. And here, you can find recipes to create your own massaging oils.
NOW can we get to the bodice ripping and claiming??
I'll beg. Srsly.
Cider Vinaigrette (whisk together and refrigerate)
- 3 Tablespoons apple juice concentrate
- 3 Tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/4 olive oil
Toss over spring mix salad of your choice.
This is the one I use:
- tender spring greens or baby spinach
- chopped pecan
- blue cheese crumbles
- dried cranberries
- chopped apple
- mandarin orange segments
Thursday, September 24, 2009
By Carole Walter
This cookbook has a variety recipes and all that I have tried are DELICIOUS!
- The directions are detailed so that if you are new to baking or the techniques used in the recipe you will be able to work through it.
- The ingredients are clear and most likely items that you probably already have in your cupboards or pantry. There are few things you might not have on hand like flavored liqueurs and crystallized ginger.
- The recipes have ratings. If you are inexperienced you can start with the "1 cup" recipes and then move onto the more difficult recipes.
- There helpful tips in the sidebars.
- There's something here for all levels of bakers from novice to pro
- There isn't enough photos in this book. They have some of course but not for every recipe.
- There are a few editing errors. It seems like they were just cut and pasting some standard recipes throughout the cookbook even if that recipe is not making as many as the others. But the author has posted the corrections on her official website.
The author provides detailed instructions for the mouth-watering recipes. It is a wonderful wonderful cookbook. I've baked about 8 things out of it and everything has been delicious. Definitely a book I would like to have in my kitchen! And I can't wait to check out other books by this author.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
* picked up a cloth laundry bag at the Dollar Tree for dirty laundry. In the past I have used just plastic grocery sacks but they are so tiny and sometimes break so I found that the laundry sack from Dollar Tree is big enough to hold quite a bit of laundry and has a draw string so that items don't fall out and easy to tote around.
* bring a small spray bottle of Febreeze. Sometimes the hotel rooms we go to no matter if we get non-smoking still smell like smoke. Master doesn't like the smell at all and I am allergic to smoke so it makes for unpleasant stays. Febreeze usually helps clear it up enough to make our stay better.
* smaller toiletries bottles - I have picked up packs of 2 to 4 bottles (again I get them at Dollar Tree) so I can put some of our daily bathroom necessities in them so that it saves space. I have huge bottle of Aveeno that really isn't fun to pack. So putting some in a little bottle makes it a lot easier. Even buying small travel size shampoo, condition or other products and reusing the bottle is good if you can't find the bottles that work. And now going through airport security you can't have any big bottles anyway.
* plastic bags - pack shoes in plastic bags so they don't get clothes dirty. pack things that might or could leak in freezer ziplocks.
* Once at my destination I hang items in a steamy bathroom, to help de-crease them after being packed in a suitcase.
* a must have bag - snacks (see below), wet wipes, anti-bacterial gel, tissues, gum, allergy medicine/prescription meds, lightweight jacket/sweater, sunglasses, notebook and pen, lint brush, small flashlight, sunscreen, sewing kit and a first-aid kit
* snacks - nuts, crackers, pretzels, crackers sandwiches with peanut butter or cheese, granola/cereal bars, dried fruit, fresh fruit, trail mix and even PB&J sandwiches. If you have a cooler, cheese, frozen grapes, carrots or bagels and cream cheese.
* keep hydrated - If traveling by car, remember to pack lots of water. If traveling by plane, you will have to buy a bottle after you get through airport security.
I found these links:
Rick Steven's Travel Tips
The Butler's Bureau Packing Guide
21 Tips to Help You Pack
Frommer's Pack List - bottom of link
How to Pack a Suitcase
I listed on my Friday Favorites SpringPadIt.com and I really have enjoyed it for keeping organized. I have a Travel Task List - that has pack list, a planning of what we are doing while out of town, notes for this and that, a file I wanted to have while out of town. All that is broken up under one Task List and I will be able to access it anywhere. Even M's phone. It has really helped me keeping everything in one place instead of many many word documents on my computer.
Monday, September 21, 2009
For Christmas my Grandma always gave us a care packages. Kids got underwear, socks, pjs, lifesavers and bubble bath. Then for the men in the family it was underwear, tube socks, tools, flashlights, aftershave, a can of mixed nuts and those types of things. For women it had panties, knee highs, kitchen towels, bath stuff (bath salts, beads, bubbles), perfume, kitchen utensils and similar type things. When I was in high school, I started getting the woman's care package instead of a kids care package. And so I started getting kitchen towels and kitchen utensils so that I would be prepared when I got married. I also started getting cookbooks. But they were the cookbooks that organizations/charities put together to raise money. You know the kind where they have Mrs.Heilman's Rhubarb Cake recipe, Mrs. Linder's recipe for Calico Beans, Mrs. Gisvold's Dilly Dip and so on. Most of the recipes are just good comfort food.
While I was home to visit my family, my Mom made one of my childhood favorite treats. And I have been craving them since. So recently I took out one of those cook books by a Woman's Auxiliary and thumbed through it trying to find a recipe for Special K bars as I haven't made them since I was in high school and couldn't remember how to make them. And knew one of those cookbooks would have the recipe. I didn't find them under the name Special K bars - but under the name Scotcheroos.
1 cup white corn syrup
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
6 cups rice crispies
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips
Measure rice crispies into a large bowl. Combine the sugar and syrup in sauce pan. Cook until it boils. Remove from heat, add the peanut butter. Stir until full incorporated. Pour over rice crispies and mix. Pat into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Don't press too compact or they will become hard. Melt the chips together, stirring until smooth and well blended. Spread evenly over the rice crispies. Cool and cut into squares.
I decided to do a thinner bars so pressed into a 10 x 15 pan. And I upped the chips to 1 1/3 cups each.
I like the chocolate to firm up but it wasn't so I just put them in to the fridge for about an hour. I then took out and let thaw for a little bit and cut.
I just remembered Katie also posted a version of them without the chocolate topping on her post Packing Lunch.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Fall Check List - I am trying to gear up for fall cleaning this check list is a good start.
The Butler's Bureau - I am linking to the site map because I find the website kind of confusing on finding things but it does have some good information.
Spring Pad It - I just started using it last week and I am really liking it. I am not sure I can even do it justice on explaining it. It is one stop place for list making, planning, budgeting and organization. It will send you reminders via emails. It allows you to send to friends or publish on social networking sites. I think it might have a phone application but not sure as I don't have a cell phone.
Leaves Wall Art - changing the decor in each seasons is something I like doing. And this project would be a good one for changing things up.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
This recipe I make for comfort food. It is a favorite of Master's and it is very simple. Meat and potatoes.
3 or 4 potatoes - peeled and cubed
1 lb. Sausage - Italian, Smoked sausage, Turkey/Chicken Sausage or Kielbasa, cut in bit size pieces
2 sweet bell peppers (orange, yellow or red), cut in cubes
1 small onion, cut in cubes
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. In a microwavable bowl, filled half way with water, add potatoes. Microwave on high for 9 minutes. Drain potatoes.
2. Using a large skillet, brown sausage on all sides according to the package.
3. Add vegetables and potatoes and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over the ingredients.
4. Stir in Parmesan cheese and seasonings.
5. Continue cooking for about 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until potatoes are nicely browned.
IF YOU WANT TO BAKE:
The recipe title and picture title says bake. And that is because sometimes I bake the mixture instead of just doing it in a skillet.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
1. In a microwavable bowl, filled half way with water and add potatoes. Microwave on high for 9 minutes. Drain potatoes.
2. Grease a 9 x 13 pan add all ingredients including 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Tossing to make sure the cheese, seasoning and oil coat the potatoes, sausage and vegetables.
3. Bake for 45 minutes tossing after 20 minutes. Bake until the potatoes are tender and starting to brown/crisp and the sausage and vegetables are cooked through.
* Seasonings - My favorite is Penzeys Bavarian Seasoning. But I have used a combination of rosemary, marjoram, dried mustard and basil and garlic powder. Play with it and decide what tastes good to you.
Cooking potatoes in microwave: To test if the potatoes are done slide a fork into a cube. Does it slide in easily? If so then they are done. If not, you can continue to cook in microwave or add a little water to your skillet and cook covered for about 10 minutes - until water is evaporated and potatoes start to brown.
Package of the sausage I like to use. We get them at SAM's. I have used all the different kinds of sausage listed in the ingredients though and they each have their own appeal.
These sausages are really good in tomato sauce and served on pasta or with pasta tossed with pesto, or even on a brat bun with peppers and onions.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Check out a few of these past tips:
Hot Mess - on cleaning the oven
Pillow Fight - how to make your pillows last longer
Gnocchi Pokey - which has a recipe and why using sweet potatoes is good
First Class Love Letter - how to save on shipping costs
Rubbing it In - massage oils
Regifting 2.0 - about reusable gift wrap
I know that they have helped me go more green then I would have thought of without all the information they provide. You can view them online too if you don't like getting more emails. I just like emails so that I can save the ones that I know I will use.
Monday, September 14, 2009
As someone who's served as the monthly bill-payer/household budgeter/home file organizer before, I like to keep on top of this so I know generally where we're at, at any given time. And it's helpful for me to track my own personal items as well.
Here are some of my favorite resources:
- Mint.com - free online personal finance service website that is not only fun to use, but intuitive. I was a bit hesitant logging in with personal information but the many glowing accolades I read from Kiplingers, Money Magazine, PC Magazine (and more than a couple of friends) finally sucked me in. Plus I liked the objective recommendations with regards to saving me more money.
- https://www.annualcreditreport.com/ - Not the same service as the annoying guy who sings at the Ren Faire! A lot of the "free" reports come if you sign up (and pay!) for a monthly credit monitoring program.This is the official site to help consumers to obtain their free credit report from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Since you are allowed one free report from each agency per 12 months, I have mine scheduled in my Google calendar to request a different one every 4 months so I can see if there are any errors to correct. Note: you do not get your FICO score for free, just your file disclosure (to check to be sure everything is accurate). I pay $7 or so once a year to get my actual FICO score to see how it's doing.
- What financial records to keep, how long to keep them I honestly don't know how papers seem to 'grow' and turn into clutter. So I sort through the mail and inbox pretty carefully before it comes into the house, and set aside dedicated purging/shredding times twice a year for me.
- The ABCs of Household Paper Management
- Video tutorial:How To Organize A Home Office File Cabinet
Tuesday - Italian sausages on buns with sauteed peppers and onions - served with salad
Wednesday - hamburger noodle casserole, green beans and biscuits
Thursday - pork chops, steamed broccoli and salad
Friday - pancakes and sausage
Saturday - Chicken Nacho Casserole and salad
Sunday - left overs
9/14 - Monday - brats, oven fries and salad
Tuesday - chicken asiago sausage and potato skillet served with salad
Wednesday - spaghetti and meatballs, steamed veggies with Penzeys Tuscan sunset seasoning, salad, garlic toast
Thursday - left overs
Friday - beef stroganoff and green beans
Saturday - baked potatoes with chili on them and salad
Sunday - ribs served with cowboy beans and salad
What is on your menu this week?
Sunday, September 13, 2009
I read the 2nd edition and (which seems from what I could see of reviews)has more recipes. I am not sure what else is different though. So far in all the books I have read on natural cleaning, this one has been the most easy to understand, filled with a lot of useful information and tips. If I had to get one book on natural cleaning, this would be it.
This year one of my goals was to expand my natural cleaning products. And this book gave me plenty of recipes to use and try. Often I see recipes on the web and other resources that use the same 3 ingredients over and over - baking soda, borax and vinegar which are all great ingredients but I wanted something to smell good but have properties that clean and disinfect. And this book gave me those options. MANY options. It includes those basic ingredients you see everywhere but also introduces herbs and essential oils and that was just what I was needing.
This book includes an introduction section that includes benefits of natural cleaning, safety issues, which herbs to use, how and why, how to get started (supply lists) and then a chart of herbs and the beneficial properties. After the introduction the book is divided into section on what to clean and then many many recipes to go with each section. Such as it has a section on the kitchen so has dish soap, automatic dishwasher soap, sink clean, de-greaser (which is something I have been looking for), all-purpose cleaner and so on. Another section is just on floors and carpet which includes an all-purpose citrus wall cleaner and simple rug and carpet deodorizer. In between all the recipes there are many cleaning tips.
The Bath, the laundry, wood care, cleaning metals, clearing the air, the garage and basement, the garden and landscape and the home office.
It also has a resource list.
Some favorite recipes:
Lavender Lift Automatic Dishwasher Powder
Country Spice Scrubber
Mold and Mildew Prevention Formula
Lavender Soft Scrubber
Some other recipes I want to try:
Thyme Carpet Steamer Shampoo
Herbal Mists - Air Fresheners
Floor wipes and all purpose wipes that use cloth wipes so they can be recycled (washed and then reused)
I would start out with just a few recipes that use the same oils so you aren't investing in lots of oils. They are expensive but I do need to say they go a LONG LONG way. The only oil I had before getting this book was tea tree oil. I have used it in a cleaner for my bathroom for the last 2 years and you can't even tell from the bottle that I have used any. So just start out with a few and then build up and they will last you a long time.
** I read a few reviews saying they were the same recipes over and over again just changing the essential oils and herbs. And that is probably accurate. But I didn't know anything about essential oils and herbs so this helped me know which would give me the properties I needed in cleaning. It gave a combination of oils and herbs and how to use them - which I would have never known without reading this book.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Pottery Barn's Party Planner- I really like Pottery Barn. I don't buy a lot there because it is out of my budget often. But have gotten some great things on sale. In (online) window shopping I found the party planner. And if this link doesn't work for you, go to potterybarn.com and then search for party planner. The Party Planner has videos, recipes, tips, printable invitations, music play lists, printable lists and guides for download. It is broken down into different sections such as cocktail party, dinner party, bridal shower, movie night and several other. Of course it is Pottery Barn so they are trying to sell their products and some of them are great. If you have the budget, indulge. But if you don't, think about about ways to do it within your budget and things you have around your home already.
Pottery Barn Design Tips - Again found this while (online) window shopping. It has so many wonderful tips covering virtual room tours, color, wall decor and then has design tools and videos too.
Teacup Card - I think would be a great Thank you card.
What Would Emily Post Do? - The great-great granddaughter of Emily Post, Anna Post has a blog titled "What Would Emily Post Do?" Just a blog that I enjoy every now and then with good etiquette advice for this modern age.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
2/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 cloves - pressed through a garlic press or minced
a dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
Combine balsamic vinaigrette and mustard in small bowl. I use a little whisk or fork to get it fully incorporated into each other. Stir in pepper, garlic and red pepper flake. I wanted a strong pepper flavor so I put quite a lot. So just suggest using what you think smells good. This marinade has a very nice aroma.
Place steaks and marinade in resealable plastic bag. Marinate the steak for at least 30 minutes at room temperature but up to 24 hours in the refrigerator, turning meat occasionally. If you marinated longer then 30 minutes, let the steak come to room temperature before grilling. Drain beef, discarding marinade and grill.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Marinades, Rubs, and Sauces: Recipes and Tips
Marinades, Brines and Rubs
Marinades and Sauce for Perfect Grilling
One for All Marinade for Beef
All Purpose Spice Rub - this would make a GREAT gift.
Dry Rub Baby Back Ribs
Asian-Glazed Chicken Thighs
Peach-Mustard BBQ Sauce
Tangy Barbecue Chicken
Chicken or Steak with Balsamic BBQ Sauce
Maple Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
Tomorrow I will post the marinade recipe I used for the steak on Labor Day. It was delicious. One I will use again.
Monday, September 7, 2009
- 3 peaches, peeled & sliced
- 1 C whole wheat flour
- 1 C all purpose flour
- 1 TBSP baking powder
- 1/3 C honey
- 1/4 C maple syrup
- 3 TBSP veggie oil
- 2 TBSP butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3/4 C milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9" square baking pan.
Sift the flours and baking powder together, set aside.
Cream the butter, oil, maple syrup, and honey on a high speed until light. Beat in the egg and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Alternate adding the milk and flour mixture until everything is well mixed.
Pour half of the cake batter into the bottom of your pan, spreading it out with a spatula. Top the batter with half of your sliced peaches:
Pour the remaining batter on top of those peaches and then top that batter with remaining peach slices. Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, a toothpick should come out clean. Allow to cool a bit before slicing. Enjoy with a dollop of whipped cream or plain.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
This is the BEST bread machine cookbook that I have tried. I wish I had this book when I was first starting out with my bread machine. I struggled with it so much and Hensperger's book would have been an invaluable resource in my kitchen. She takes all the problems and guess work out of bread making - even living in altitude. I really haven't had to tweak her recipes for the altitude either but that she gives tips on how to troubleshoot for it - would have been incredible when I was first starting out with my bread machine. Every recipe turned out PERFECT!
The book has a great variety if recipes and variations, detailed instructions and interesting information. This is the most comprehensive book for bread machine baking I have seen. This book will give any new bread machine user confidence to succeed. And any seasoned bread maker a variety of recipes to find yourself turning to the book over and over again.
Also just to add this is the second cookbook I have read by Hensperger and she knows how to write a cookbook. And I have no doubt I will pick up any other books by her.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Chicken Piccata - not quite how I make it but it still looks like a good variation and also looks easy.
Etiquette, Ceremony & Tea - lots of information and links on all things Tea.
8 Free Amy Butler Patterns - "FREE" patterns that I would actually use. Napkin rings and napkins, ties for packages, snow mum pillow, Christmas stocking, tree skirt and several others.
Martha Stewart's Cleaning Checklists - I think these are a great for someone who doesn't know where to begin or just needing reminders or even just a fondness for lists.
Natural Beauties - This year for holiday gifts I have decided I am going to make scrubs, frizzes and other homemade bath and beauty products. I have been checking out lots of books to get different ideas. But this list of labels, how-to and information on MarthaStewart.com is really good start.