Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Favorites

Table Runner Window Treatment - I have looked for a window treatment for 2 windows but haven't found them or even affordable fabric I like to make anything.  But this I can see might work.  Kohl's has really good clearance section and I have seen table runners there that I like and that would work.

Buyer's Guide to 50 Ways to get a Greener Home - It has products and links to those products to buy but I think the tips and ideas for products to keep in mind when buying are good. 

Boxes, Bins, Baskets and More Storage - This is a post on where to get the storage containers she has but what I love is the photos of how she organizes because it is amazing and inspiring. 

Freezer Meals on the Cheap - She spends $95 and has 46 meals in the freezer.  All sorts of good ideas. But what amazes me more is the prices she gets on meat. She has a package of organic ground beef for $1.  That same brand here on clearance is $2.89 to $3.89  - again on clearance. Just regular ground beef here you can't get for anything less then $2.20.  So I am just amazed at all the meat deals she gets and I want to move to where she lives!  Also I didn't know you could freeze baked potatoes - does anyone do this?

Recipes for Powdered Cream of "Something" Soup Mix and Chicken Bacon Casserole - really posting for the cream of something soup mix.  I think that they mean bullion granules instead of bullion cubes. Not sure the cubes would work in a mix unless you ground them up. 

Quick Fix No Bakes

We all have moments when we need a little something sweet and preferably chocolate, right?  Please tell me I'm not alone in that.  In those moments we need something fast, too and something that hopefully we have all the ingredients on hand for.  They're great for nights when Master's had a bad day at work too - quick, easy and always pleasing.

These cookies easily fit that bill.  They're not always the prettiest thing but they are for sure yummy and there seems to be an endless variety of substitutions to make it your own.

These can also easily be adaptable for those folks with food allergies or gluten intolerance by using gluten-free oats.

Impossible to Mess-Up No Bakes

  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 1/2 Cocoa Powder or Carob Powder
  • 1/2 Milk (Cow, Goat, Soy, Coconut, Almond, whatever you prefer)
  • 1/2 Cup Butter or Margarine or Lard (yes, lard will work)
  • 1/4 Cup Nut or Seed Butter (Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, etc. even Tahini will work)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Cups Rolled or Quick Oats
  • Dash Salt

In a saucepan combine the sugar, cocoa powder, milk, and butter.  Bring to a boil and heat until it reaches 234 degrees on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat and stir in the salt, vanilla, and nut butter until the nut butter melts.  Stir in the Oats.

Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper or silicone baking sheets and allow to cool.  The mixture will be super hot so be careful with your hands and I don't know that I'd let small children do this because melted sugar is akin to molten lava in my experience.

Store any leftovers in an cookie jar.

Note: The recipe can easily be halved for when you just need a quick little bite and there aren't many folks around.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday Tips

Painting Pointer

After you open a can of paint, but before pouring it into a tray, put tape (masking or transparent) around the entire rim of the can. When you’re finished painting, take off the tape and close the can. The rim of the can will be paint-free and the lid will not get stuck the next time you need to use the can of paint.

Bird Droppings on Your Car? How to Clean It Now!

Bird droppings contain harsh acids that can burn through your car’s paint. The secret to cleaning up—and saving your car’s exterior—is to take action as soon as you spot the plop...
Pour on some seltzer water and let it bubble up. Once the bubbling stops, wipe the area clean with a microfiber (available at supermarkets and hardware stores) or cotton cloth.

Freshen Up Your Child’s Lunchbox

To deodorize a stinky metal or plastic lunch­box, moisten a slice of bread with distilled white vinegar and let it stay in the lunchbox overnight. The next morning, throw away the soggy bread, wash out the lunchbox with warm soapy water, and rinse and dry thoroughly—then load it up with your child’s sandwich and fruit.

A Place to Hang Your Hat—or Watch

If you normally wear a watch, a bracelet, rings or any other jewelry that shouldn’t be worn while cooking or cleaning, it’s good to have a safe, reliable place in the kitchen where you can stash it.

Put up a hook large enough to hang a watchband on (or whatever jewelry you wear on a regular basis). Position it near enough to be convenient when you start to work in the kitchen, but out of harm’s way when the stove, microwave, dishwasher or garbage disposal are in use. Don’t you wish you had thought of this years ago.

Going on a Trip? Don’t Forget to Do This...

A house can smell musty if it’s been closed up for a while. Before you go away on a trip, place small bowls of distilled white vinegar in each room. The vinegar will keep the air fresh, so you’ll breathe easier when you get home.

From Household Magic Daily Tips

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Favorites

How to Cover a Lampshade with Fabric - This is a really good step by step with photos for covering a lampshade with fabric. If you were wanting to change up a room this would be one way to do without buying a new lampshade to match.

Kitchen and Pantry Organization Tips - some clever tips for organization

Homemade Soy Candles - directions for making eco-friendly candles

Food in Jars - a website dedicated to canning

Pumpkin Pie with Cinnamon Crunch and Bourbon Maple Whipped Cream - with the cool weather almost upon us here in Colorado, I am starting to crave these kind of autumn treats

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie

In my part of the country, fall is showing itself. Cooler temperatures, the leaves are changing colors, the wind is picking up. That means one thing in my kitchen: Comfort food. Something warm, filling, and tasty.

Enter Chicken Pot Pie. :-)


Cooking spray
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 leeks, bottom 4 inches only, washed well and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 medium potatoes cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups low-fat milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 4 individual-sized baking dishes with cooking spray. (I made mine in a large casserole dish, and doubled the recipe)

Season the chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and a few turns of pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over a medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, turning once. Transfer the chicken to a plate. (I had a whole chicken that I'd cooked in the crock the day before, then picked the meat off)

Add 2 more teaspoons of the oil, the leeks, and the celery (I was out of celery and used carrots, instead) to the pan and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, green beans, garlic, and remaining salt and pepper and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the milk to the pan. Stir the flour into the chicken broth until dissolved and add to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

(Doesn't that look yummy? I was already planning some creamy soups at this step)

Stir in the reserved chicken, peas, parsley, and thyme. Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dishes.

Put the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil into a small bowl. Unroll the phyllo dough and cut it into quarters. Place a quarter sheet on top of each baking dish and brush with olive oil. Repeat with remaining 3 baking dishes. Tuck the edges of the phyllo into the dish rim. Top each pie with Parmesan.

Place on a baking sheet and bake until the filling is bubbling, about 30 minutes.

I put a couple of sheets of phyllo dough on the bottom of the casserole dish and baked that for about 10 minutes prior to putting the filling.

As a matter of personal preference, the next time I make this, I'll skip the thyme. I don't know how many dishes I ruin for myself by adding thyme. I don't like the taste of it, and every time I think I must be missing something and maybe I'll like it *this* time. I never do. But that's just me.

Also, next time, I'm going to try a different crust. Though the phyllo dough was fine, it was too 'light' for my taste. It was barely noticeable, taste-wise. As a pot pie lover, I like a heavy crust.

But the filling was exceptionally yummy. Very creamy and filling and tasty.

I served it with a side salad and some bread and butter. This is definitely going into the comfort food menu rotation. :)

Recipe courtesy of Fran at Fran's Kitchen.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday Tips

Fun Way to Store Extra Towels

If you have counter space in your bathroom—and you want to have extra towels on hand for you or for guests—get a freestanding wine rack (available at household-supply stores). It’s perfect for holding rolled-up towels.

Home Office Help

If your bottle of correction fluid is too gooey to use, add one or two drops of nail polish remover. Shake the bottle vigorously until it sounds like there’s liquid sloshing around, and it will be ready to use again.

Banish Bad Breath

After eating onion, garlic or anything else that stays on your breath, dip your toothbrush in a small amount of distilled white vinegar and brush your teeth as well as your tongue. This should help clean your breath and may even help whiten your teeth.

Perfect Pancakes

Put batter in a clean plastic squeeze bottle or a turkey baster, and you will have an easy time forming perfect pancakes.
While you’re at it, have some fun with it... make odd-shaped pancakes, or pancakes in the shape of big letters for the names of the people who will be eating them.

Fish Fact

To determine the proper cooking time for your fish, lay out the whole fish, fish fillet or fish steak. Pinpoint the thickest part, and then measure it with a ruler. For each inch of thickness, figure on 10 minutes of cooking time.

From Household Magic Daily Tips

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hoisin Turkey Meatballs

These meatballs are so full of flavor. I make them for dinner but they would make a great appetizer too.

Hoisin Turkey Meatballs

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 scallions, minced
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (didn't have any garlic cloves on hand)
1/2 cup drained, finely chopped water chestnuts
1 pound ground turkey
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup purchased Hoisin Sauce

* Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or tinfoil coated with cooking spray.

* Whisk soy sauce, ginger, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce, sriracha or crushed red pepper and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in cornstarch until smooth. Stir in 2 minced scallions and water chestnuts. Stir in turkey and bread crumbs until completely combined.

* Shape the mixture into small-medium sized meatballs. At this point if you don’t want to cook these right now you could put them in the freezer for later.
Place the meatballs on a pan and bake until the meat is cooked through, 15 to 17 minutes.

* Brush the meatballs with the 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce. Cook meatballs an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with stir fry vegetables and rice.

* Make sure you do the reduced sodium soy sauce and your bread crumbs aren't seasoned and don't add any salt because this recipe can go too salty quickly.
* I am sure ground beef would work fine but you might not need as many bread crumbs. I find ground turkey to be wetter ingredients so I needed the bread crumbs to balance it out with the other wet ingredients.
* ground ginger will work too - you will just have to experiment with amount though

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Journal Pockets

I'm a pen-to-paper girl.  I'm trying to embrace technology and my smart phone but I'm always going to be the girl who jots down thoughts, notes, to-do lists, etc. in an actual book.  I usually pick up the cheap black and white composition books and use those, these books are part journal, part planner and work marvelously for me.  Over the summer I picked up some nicer ones at a yard sale super cheap.

I carry these books with me everywhere and generally end up tucking important pieces of paper inside as well.  In order to keep track of those papers and not get them lost in the depths of my bag, I've taken to adding pockets to them so that I use them.  These pockets store stamps, receipts, whatever else needs a home until it can be filed more properly later on. 

It's super easy and cheap to add pockets to any notebook or blank book.  All you need is:

  • A blank book
  • An envelope that is small enough to fit inside the cover of your book
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Cut the flap from your envelope

Finally glue the envelope inside your book, I glue with the opening to the back, but if you wanted to keep that notch for easier retrieval of small items like coupons, glue with the address side down.  Decorate if desired, I always decorate.

I usually add the pockets to both front and back covers to give me extra storage space.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tuesday Tips

Bad Smell in Your Car? What to Do...

A pet has an accident in the car…a child gets sick—you get the idea. There’s a baaaaaaad smell in the car! Put a shallow bowl of distilled white vinegar on the car’s floor, both in front and in back. Then close the windows and lock up the car for the night.

In the morning, the offensive smell should be gone. Remove the bowls, then open the doors and windows for a few minutes so that any lingering vinegar smell will also disappear.

(I've heard people tell of using the vinegar-in-a-bowl trick in a smoker's home or for pet smells, too!)

Blister Prevention

To prevent blisters, apply any type of antiperspirant to the bottom of your feet before you go jogging or hiking. The antiperspirant should prevent the friction that causes blisters.

You can also use other types of lubricants to prevent blisters, such as petroleum jelly.

Smarter Packing

If you’re traveling with your partner, family or friend(s), pack a change of clothes in someone else’s suitcase and pack one of their outfits in your suitcase. That way, if one of your suitcases gets lost, you’ll each still have something to wear.

Window Screens Need Cleaning?

Easy Trick...
Before you wash a window screen, vacuum up the dirt that’s sitting there. Then, get any leftover dirt by pressing a sticky lint roller over the screen’s surface. After vacuuming and lint-rollering, you may not need to wash the screen after all!

To Freshen Stale Rolls...

Put your stale rolls in a small, brown paper bag, moisten the bag with water, and put it in the oven (pre­heated to 300°F). When the bag is dry—in just a few minutes, so don’t leave the kitchen—take out the bag and remove the rolls. They should taste like they did when they were baked the first time!

From Household Magic Daily Tips

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Favorites

Freezable Foods - good list of foods that are freezable. I don't think it has EVERYTHING on it of course but it is a good list.

Bourbon Chocolate Milkshake - There was this diner that I went to once that had adult milkshakes and they were so good. And this recipe brought me back to those.

Homemade Cheddar Cheese Crackers - just look really good and more healthy then the store bought ones.

Painting Laminate Furniture - Photos as well as step by step instructions

5 Decorating Mantras to Live By - simple good list

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Tips

Wrap It Up

Plastic wrap can be tricky. Try these helpful tips...
If plastic wrap gets unmanageable because of the way it sticks to itself, keep the box in the freezer. Cold plastic wrap will behave the way you want it to.

If you have a hard time finding the beginning of the plastic wrap roll, take a piece of tape (any kind), and dab at the roll until it picks up the loose edge.

If plastic wrap doesn’t stick to the bowl or dish you’re covering, dampen the outer edge of the bowl or dish, and then put the plastic wrap on.

Homemade Conditioner for Sun-Damaged Hair

If your hair seems damaged from commercial products...or the sun...or just neglect, you may want to try this deep conditioner—mash half of an avocado (which is rich in vitamins A and E) into one-half cup of mayonnaise (don’t use low-fat), and massage or comb the mixture into your damp hair.

Cover your hair with plastic wrap and stay that way for 20 minutes. Then shampoo, rinse and know that you did something good to help restore the health of your crowning glory.

Secret to Buying Fresh Corn

Don’t consider buying a cob of fresh corn unless it has husks—nature’s freshness seal. The husks should be moist (rather than dried out) and bright green, with a little brown corn silk on top. The kernels should feel full and plump.

Note: Do not remove the husks until you are ready to prepare the corn for eating.

Keep Nails Clean in the Garden

Right before you start to garden, scratch a wet bar of soap with your nails. Make sure that a bit of soap gets under each fingernail. Doing so will prevent soil from getting under your nails. Soil under the nails is hard to clean, whereas soap can be easily washed and nail-brushed away as soon as you’ve finished gardening.

For Radiant Summer Skin...Try a Peach Mask

Peel a ripe peach, remove the pit and pulse the fruit in a blender with 1 tablespoon of brandy. When it’s a purée consistency, smooth it on your damp face. Relax and leave it on for 20 minutes. Then rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat dry. (Throw away any leftover purée.) This mask should unmask a radiant complexion.

From Household Magic Daily Tips

Monday, September 5, 2011

Raisin Spice Cookies

I like to tuck treats into Master's lunchbox.  Sometimes I pick up his favorite licorice when I'm grocery shopping to stick in there but most of the time I try to stick something homemade inside.  Keeping cookies on hand and not munching on them is a bit of a trick that I haven't mastered, however.  What I've been doing instead is making up batches and freezing them.  When I'm packing his lunch, I can put a few frozen cookies inside and they'll be thaw by time he's ready to eat.  These particular cookies happen to be a favorite of his and freeze quite nicely if you're inclined to make some up ahead of time as well.

Raisin Spice Cookies

  • 1/2 Cup Butter, softened
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 3/4 Cups Raisins (Nuts would be good, too if you wanted)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease cookie sheets.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.  Set aside.
  3. Cream together the butter and brown sugar until light.  Add the egg, sour cream, and vanilla mixing until incorporated.  Mix in the sifted dry ingredients.  Fold in the raisins, making sure everything is thoroughly combined.
  4. Drop by Tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets.  Bake in preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Cool on wire racks.  If you want to freeze them, make sure they are completely cool before putting into containers. 
  6. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Glass Cleaning Cloth: Update

Back in October of last year, I posted this review of a recently purchased microfiber glass cleaning cloth that worked with just water. Since I've had it now for nearly a year, I figured I could give a more accurate review of it.

Short Story: I love it. :)

Long Story: I paid less than two bucks for it almost a year ago and it still works like new. I've laundered it several times (though never put it in the dryer) and it still works great.

I don't even know where my bottle of Windex is, or if I still have any. I haven't needed it.

I simply wet a small portion of the cloth in the faucet, scrub the window or mirror free of any spots, smears or dirt, and then polish it with the dry portion of the cloth. It leaves them clean and streak-free.

The cloth I bought is from a company called Quickie Green Cleaning but it doesn't look like they sell directly. I got mine at Wal-mart, though I'm sure they sell in other stores, too.

I like it so much, I might invest in their other products. Amazon has a multi-pack for sale. :-)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday Favorites

I apologize for lack of posts this summer. It always seems the summer gets away from me so that my best laid plans often get toppled. So some times I just have to accept that I am doing the best I can with the time I have. Hopefully thing get back to normal and all the unfinished posts I have will be completed. But for now here is a Friday Favorites post.

Overwhelmed by Your To-Do List - tiny Buddha posts help me with my mental, emotional

Homemade Lemon Pepper - Jouet passed this link on and now I am sharing it here. We love lemon pepper and use it all the time - I would love to make it homemade. The rest of the blog has so many recipes that look great.

National Center for Home Food Preservation - this website has info on drying, freezing,canning, curing, smoking and several other ways to preservation. Just a huge resource.

Tip for washing Trash Cans

How to Clean Your Bathtub with a Grapefruit and Salt - just looks like an interesting cleaning method

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Make Your Place : A Book Review

I'm a girl who likes to do it myself when it comes to homemaking, gardening, and most anything else for that matter. I like to get hands-on and in most cases I figure I can make it better and usually cheaper than something store bought. That's not always the case but it doesn't stop me from trying.

If like me, you want to get a little more hands-on with things like your cleaning products, body care, first aid, and gardening then Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs is the book for you.

This adorable book is broken into three sections 1) Health & First Aid 2) Non-Toxic Cleaning & Body Care 3) Gardening. Each is beautifully illustrated and hand-written, but more importantly chalk full of good information.

In Health & First Aid, there are recipes and tips for using essential oils and plants to keep make salves and tinctures to keep your body running in tip-top shape. There's information on which herbs to use for different cold symptoms as well as advice on handling bruises, bug bites, headaches and much more. It's all written in a concise manner that doesn't make you feel like you need to be a certified herbalist to make nature work for you.

Non-Toxic Cleaning & Body Care provides recipes for making natural cleaners out of things like baking soda and vinegar as well as ways to kill things like ants and other bugs that invade the home. The author also gives recipes for things like facial toners and shampoos with a listing of which herbs should be used for different skin types. I found that particularly thrilling because my face is oily but my arms tend to be dry and I can formulate products based on my body type without having to break the bank buying several different kinds of lotion.

The Gardening section is pretty basic but there's a ton of good information presented in a fun and easy to read manner so that even the most experienced gardeners among us will learn something. There's information on companion planting, starting your own seeds, building soil, fertilizing and much more. Again presented in a way that doesn't make you feel like you need to be a Master Gardener in order to grow some tomatoes for your summer salads.

Whether you're an experienced do-it-yourselfer or just getting started you'll find this book full of fun projects and ideas to keep you motivated and learning new ways to keep your nest comfortable for you and those you serve.


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