Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Favorites

Plant Information Online - "Use Plant Information Online to discover sources in 1102 North American nurseries for 106952 plants, find 370432 citations to 156910 plants in science and garden literature, link to selected websites for images and regional information about 19131 plants, and access information on 2647 North American seed and nursery firms. Plant Information Online is a free service of the University of Minnesota Libraries."

Homemade Microwave Popcorn Recipe - popcorn in a paper sack is almost all it is - so easy!

How-to Tune Up your Bicycle for Spring - ABC Quick Check to get your bicycle ready for spring that anyone can do at home

How to Avoid the Dry Cleaners by ReadyMade - use of course with your own care

Smitten Kitchen Crispy Potato Roast - I made something very similar to this over Easter and it was fabulous. So no doubt this would be just even better as all her recipes are fantastic!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Product Review: Kaboom Foam-Tastic

I've mentioned before I live in Central Georgia. Along with hard water stains, there is also the build up of orange stains on your white porcelain in the bathroom Why? Because Georgia has RED CLAY which gets on everything. Seriously. When I volunteered for the Humane Society, we had a lovely white dog who would promptly roll in the dirt after her bath. People would stop and say, "What an unusual color dog, what do you call that?"

I'm constantly trying to find the best product to get rid of soap scum, hard water and orange dirt stains in the shower. This week I tried Kaboom! Foam-Tastic with OxyClean.


I liked the idea that it sprays on blue and turns white when ready to wipe off.


It cleaned fairly well, but there are several things I don't like about it.

* The fumes are horrible. I wouldn't suggest spraying around small children or animals. Or without having the bathroom fan on or window open.

* It seems to me that on spots where there is a lot of hard water or soap scum it should take longer to turn white, but it doesn't. It makes cleaning these areas slightly easier, but you still need to scrub.

* The nozzle gets clogged the more you spray. I didn't notice this the first time and ended up with a huge foamy ball of cleaner dropping onto my shoes. This is how it looked after just spraying what little I did in the sink for this post.


So I guess I'm going back to my Scrubbing Bubbles because they work just as well and don't have the added bonus of headaches from noxious fumes!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Discipline and motivation

An exchange with a friend about self discipline and motivation... I thought it might be interesting to others as well.

"I wondered about keeping yourself motivated. I am usually a fairly self disciplined person, but in the past 6 months or so, I have noticed that I am "slacking" off in certain areas of my life, exercise, housekeeping, diet etc...It hasn't really become a huge issue yet, but for those of us without Dominants/Masters to help keep you in line - what "tricks" do you use when you find yourself backsliding?"

I'm extremely goal oriented and driven. I write down my goals and commit to making them happen. Sometimes certain ones take a backseat for a while but that is just a matter of priorities. I can't make more hours in the day.

Another reason why I write down my goals is because I like to cross them off my list, and see what I've accomplished in a month, two months, a year, five years. Accountability and commitment.

Now... back to staying on track domestically. :) I consider myself domestic mostly because I like living well. And for me that means creating a home environment (for myself, or my owner) that is soothing, peaceful, calm, clean and comfortable. For me, it is a matter of mindset. I used to have a hard time doing things for myself. I would do it for my master, but when it came down to just doing it for me, I would be more apt to let it slide.

When I was single, I realized I could always be *awaiting the one*, and in the meantime, I'd be letting things slide here and there if he wasn't there to enforce me getting stuff done. I could cook and serve a formal dinner to someone else, but when it is just me, I'd just grab a snack here and there because it didn't seem worth going through the trouble.

But my happiness is just as important as any future master's. So now if I am single, I do it because I am worth taking the extra time and energy for- its a form of self love. So is exercising, eating right, improving myself- I'm not only improving my life in the meantime and creating my own happiness, but I am improving the value of the potential property.

My house is my sanctuary and my refuge from the craziness that comes from trying to do more things than I have time or energy for. So it is very important to me that I keep it in order, uncluttered, clean-- my time in my home balances out the chaos from work and social life, and lets me unwind. Because I am so busy, I found it easiest to write out all the weekly tasks that I need to do to keep my home the way I want to.

Then I break them up into what I can fit into a 30 minute time period. I open the windows during the half hour and air out the house, and set a timer for 30 minutes for focused, steady work. If I need to, I do 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. Anything I skip gets added to the next night and weekends are my catch up times.

Just as an example, I might plan out the following:
  • Monday: scrub the bathrooms, put out fresh towels, wipe down the kitchen and put fresh sheets on the bed
  • Tuesday: mop, sweep, wipe down the kitchen and bath
  • Wednesday: clean out the fridge, make up my shopping list, and wipe down the kitchen and bath
  • Thursday: tidy my bedroom (change pillowcases) and living room, and wipe down the kitchen and bath
  • Friday: dust, vacuum, wipe down kitchen and bath
  • Weekends: Laundry, grocery shopping, filling up the car/washing it, cleaning ceiling fans
Then I build those into my calendar so they pop up and remind me.

If needed: Once a month, I set aside an afternoon for one task (organizing spare room, purging closet, cleaning out garage) as well as an afternoon for things like shampooing carpets, wiping out fridge and oven.

Mostly, I try to do certain things every day: air out the bed, make it, wash dishes and put them away, put away shoes and laundry into hamper. The rest is just simply making the rest into a habit of cleaning 30 minutes a day to maintain. 30 minutes is not so much, and it will make a world of difference. And if not 30, then 20.

Even when I was single, this practice helped me stay on top of things so that if I ever served someone who wanted me to keep the house clean *and* spend time with them, I could keep the housework minimal and spend the extra time doing more fun things :) If you stay on top of it, it doesn't seem overwhelming-- especially since you already have a lot on your plate with working two jobs, socializing/dating, exercising, getting enough sleep, etc.

And if housework is not your thing... there are options so you don't have to do it, which opens up time to do the things you do want to do. Pay someone else, do a trade, have a friend come over to help and then go to their house the next weekend... but do something to get it off your list of things to do.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

German Pancakes

I know I post an awful lot of recipes as compared to cleaning and crafty tips, but I love to cook and cooking for Sir has always been an adventure because he is rather picky and doesn't always want to try new things.

One thing I've found that makes a great Saturday morning brunch is Pannekoeken or German Pancakes. They are easy to make, they puff up very nicely in the oven for great presentation and they are tasty!

I was taught this recipe a long long time ago and while you can go out and buy special pans for this, I have found using a cast iron skillet or other oven proof skillet works just as well. The plus side to this recipe is that you can easily cut it down or make more, depending on need.


5 Eggs
5 Tbsp Butter
1 1/4 Cups Flour
1 1/4 Cups Milk

Preheat oven to 425, place butter in the skillet and skillet in the oven.

Mix together eggs, flour and milk. Whisk until smooth. When oven is ready, pour batter in the preheated skillet and bake for 20-25 minutes.

The great thing about this bare bones recipe is all the fun you can have topping it. I've used jams and jellies, powdered sugar, maple syrup, fruit, etc.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Favorites

Dulce de Leche - in the crockpot while they are still in the can which would be so much easier then the mess I had to contend with recently with the recipe I will be posting soon.

Vintage Maids and Butlers - not a lot of posts there but some interesting things

How to Paint A Room - pictures with instructions

20 Eco-Friendly Tips for Cooking - some things on this list I didn't know about so glad I found it!

Alphabet Magnets - They are nice looking but my mind went to the fun things that could be spelled out. And they just aren't the old plastic kind that we all played with as kids

Faux Cadbury Creme Eggs

Just in time for Easter, make your own Cadbury eggs!


1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
yellow food coloring
1 bag milk chocolate chips

First, cream together the butter, syrup, salt and vanilla. Slowly add the 3 cups of powdered sugar. It'll get super thick and you'll think you'll need to add some liquid, but it smooths itself out.

TIP: As you add the sugar, be careful not to let it poof up into a thick cloud of sugary-dust that is then sucked into the motor of your mixer, causing it to stink like fried electrical parts and resulting in a Master who says you can't use it anymore because it is ruined. Because then you will be mixer-less (sad face).

That's it. That's the Hogwarty-creation that is the magical deliciousness of the creme filling in a Cadbury egg. Who knew!

If you want it to look genuine, you can divide your creme filling, putting a small amount into a separate bowl, and add the food coloring to make the 'yolks'. We skipped this step because it just seemed like an unnecessary mess.

Now, take your filling, which is thick and very, very sticky, and try to roll it into balls. It's definitely easier to roll if you pop the bowl into the freezer for a few minutes and let it get nice and cold. The coat your hands in powdered sugar and make balls.

We had fun making balls.

More fun than is appropriate, actually.

We're strange.


If the mixture gets too sticky to work with, put it back in the freezer. Cold balls are best.

We lined up our balls on a cookie sheet and then stabbed them all with lollipop sticks. Again with the fun. [insert Psycho-stabbing music here]

We put the cookie sheet in the freezer while we melted the chocolate in the microwave.

If you're going with the yellow 'yolk' part, you need to first make smaller yellow balls, then somehow get that ball into the middle of the white ball. Meh. I'm lazy. Good luck!

We chose to go with the dipping chocolate method rather than trying to get the chocolate into egg molds, because, again, I'm lazy (and cheap. I wasn't going to go buy egg molds.) so I can't give you any hints on how to use molds. Needless to say, my yolk-less, nonegg-shaped, faux Cadbury eggs weren't very pretty.

We lined them up on a foil-covered cookie sheet (foil because I thought I was out of parchment paper, which would have been less sticky, and then found the parchment paper after we were done).

The dipping was difficult-ish. The warm chocolate made the balls get all gloopy and melty. They kept falling off the sticks. It became more of a 'roll it in chocolate' than actual dipping.

And we need to learn how to temper chocolate because it really didn't want to harden into a manageable shell very well. They did harden up some in the fridge, but... yeah. That part needs work.

Another part that needs work is the type of chocolate. The flavor was definitely not Cadbury-egg flavor. So next time, I would not use chocolate chips. I'm not sure exactly what I will use, though.

The finished product:

In doing bite-by-bite, side-by-side comparison with a real Cadbury egg, we determined that the filling was pretty damn close in flavor. Maybe not exact, and certainly a little bit off in texture, which I think was more a temperature thing than an ingredient thing, but close enough as to be acceptable. Because we were eating the homemade ones refrigerator-cold, and the real ones at room temp, the homemade filling felt thicker. I think at room temp, it would be the same. Unfortunately, at room temp, the homemade one's chocolate 'shell' starts to melt. Feh.

All in all, it was a great success. It was fun, and different, and Master ate about 10 of them so he obviously approved. The kids approved. Most importantly, I approve. ;-)

We ganked the recipe from here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Faking a Clean House

I love Real Simple magazine and website. Today I ran across an article called How to Fake a Clean House.

In some ways, I've been doing this all my life. As a child, I would "clean" the bedroom I shared with my older sister by shoving everything under the beds. These days I am more likely to actually clean rather than fake it, but I've used some of these tips as well as other ones when company is due to arrive on short notice. Other suggestions:

* Pick up stray items and put them in a laundry basket and hide the basket till after company leaves.

* Shut the doors of rooms beyond help.

* Use a carpet sweeper or stick vacuum to tidy up the main thoroughfares in the house.

What other suggestions can you give for "faking" a clean house?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Since I was out of town this past weekend and didn't have time to do Friday Favorites. I thought I would share a couple links with you today.

Univerisity of California's Agricultural and Natural Resources Free Publications - They have so many great PDF's. I found myself reading and reading one afternoon.

Home Economics Archive - books and journals in Home Economics and related discipline titles that were published between 1850 and 1950 and selected for their great historical importance. This link was shared over on FetLife Domestic Servitude by our newest Domestic Servitude contributor Daphne.

Daphne had a couple guest posts. She is very passionate about her carbon footprint and all things green. And I know she is going to give a unique perspective on many domestic subjects.

Monday, April 11, 2011


When I need to throw together a quick meal, one of the easiest and tastiest for me are these BBQ Baby Back Ribs.

Note: They are quick to put together, but they do require 6-7 hours to cook in the crock pot before broiling.

2-4 lbs Baby Back Ribs

Pre-cut rib slabs to fit in the crock pot.

2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
4 Tsp Salt (I usually only use half or I find them too salty)
4 Tsp Chili Powder (I usually use 1 because Sir does not like too much)
2 Tsp Paprika
2 Tsp Black Pepper
2 Tsp Garlic

Mix together and rub over the ribs. Place in crock pot. Cover with 1/2 cup of cola (I use Pepsi and I usually use 1 - 1/2 cups) Cook on low for 6-7 hours.

Preheat broiler. When ready, put the ribs on a foil lined baking sheet and bast with

1 cup your favorite barbecue sauce

Broil for 5 minutes, frequently basting withe sauce.

I've also grilled the ribs as well, on a charcoal grill. I prefer sweet barbecue sauces like Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory and Brown Sugar or if I can get it Montgomery Inn's Barbecue Sauce . Those of you from Cincinnati or who have purchased it in local stores (I know Kroger Grocery Stores carry it!) know what I mean, it is simply REALLY GOOD sauce! Of course, I'm from Cincinnati, so I'm kind of biased and could easily write a whole blog post about Cincinnati Culinary Delights!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Kitchen Essentials Part 2

This is a follow up post to the Kitchen Essentials with of some favorites along with just some notes about why I have certain things in my kitchen....

Pots and Pans - When first stocking the kitchen, I started out with a saucepan, skillet and stockpot. And then add others later because I could do most things in those in a pinch.

Bakeware - You will see in Dishware I have 1 or 2 casserole dishes, if you at least pick up 9x13 and 8x8/9x9 GLASS pans you can use those for double duty for baked goods or casseroles. I prefer glass baking pans because of rusting. When a knife is used to cut into the metal pan, eventually that cut will start to rust (The only metal pans I have that I like that haven't rusted are my Chicago Metallic aluminized steel.) I also like the way glass looks when I have to bring pan of bars or lasagna somewhere too. One more important thing when shopping for baking pan - get at least a 9 x13 with a lid. It makes it so much easier when transporting and also just for keeping things fresh as it seals it up tighter then you can with foil or plastic wrap. I have an 8x8 and a 9x9 and they both have lids also and I love that they do too. I have 2 9x13 and only 1 lid and wish I had 2 lids.

I have jelly roll pans and cookie sheets. And yes there are differences. A Jelly Roll pan has 4 sides. The sides are 1-inch high (if they aren't 1-inch high then they are a baking sheet not a jelly roll pan) and usually a heavy duty aluminized steel so it allows even distribution of heat, helps the pan not warp while heating and also resists rusting. A jelly roll pan can be used to bake cookies but what I find it great for is sheet cakes and roasting vegetables. Or just to prevent any food juices from spilling inside the oven. A cookie sheet usually has 1 or 2 sides that make it easier to slide the cookies off the tray with a spatula.

Utensils - I have 2 sets of measuring cups and spoons because when baking it seems that I always need multiples. You have a recipe that calls for 1/2 cup of peanut butter and then 1/2 cup of sugar. And no time to wash between use - it is nice to have 2 1/2 cups.

Silicone coated whisk because it doesn't rust and easier to clean.

Stainless and Silicone Tongs because they don't scratch pans. And have a solid grip to pick things up.

Silicon Pastry Brushes that I use for frosting cookies, cinnamon rolls, coating glazes on cakes and breads, brushing bbq sauce or marinade on meat and so many other uses I didn't ever think possible. They aren't like the old straw bristly type that broke off sometimes while brushing sauce on your food. I bought mine at the Dollar Tree about 5 years ago and love them.

A few other favorites cooling racks, kitchen scissors and something not on the master list but that I use quite a bit is pie shields as it is so much easier then tinfoil.

Dishware & Storage - I started going to all glass or BPA-free containers and really am glad I did. These pyrex ones are my favorite for left overs and heating up I love that they wash up so great and not only are good for storing left-overs, but good for the freezer, oven and microwave. Plastic ones just get stained and start peeling away after many uses in the microwave and these glass ones have been great in the microwave, oven, freezer and dishwasher.

I have some quart jars and then a few of these OXO containers that I use to store rice, pasta, freshly ground coffee and beans. I would like a few more of the OXO containers for flour and sugar. They are BPA-free and I just like how they seal, but of course mason jars are cheaper.

I have everything on the kitchen essentials list, but as I said you might not need some things on the list. Find what works for you in the kitchen. Please feel free to ask me questions about anything on the list.


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