Friday, April 30, 2010

Substitute It!

Don't have it on hand? Here are some substitutes to keep in mind before you panic and head to the grocery store.

Ketchup: For 1 cup of ketchup use 1 cup of tomato sauce plus 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.

Powdered Sugar: For 1 cup powdered sugar pulverize 1 cup granulated white sugar in blender. Then add 1 teaspoon cornstarch.

Dry Mustard: For 1 teaspoon dry mustard use 1 tablespoon prepared mustard.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Just Not Sporty Enough

Maybe we just aren't stinky enough. Or sweaty enough. Or wear our clothes for a solid week, but the new Tide Sport with Febreze did nothing that any other detergent couldn't do for our clothes. I thought maybe the Febreze (how do you pronounce Febreze? If it was to be pronounced like "the breeze blew in over the ocean", wouldn't it have 2 "e's"? Is it just misspelled?)... Sorry, where were we? Oh yeah. I thought maybe the Febreze would give it some fresh breezy smell that would stand up and say "Ta-da! I'm better than all the other detergents because I have something misspelled added to me." Nope. Therefore, I give it a big (apparently non-sweaty) thumbs down.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Summertime Salad

When I lived in Florida, someone at work made this grape salad and I fell in love (with the salad not the person who made it). It is so light and cool - perfect for the upcoming summer months!

Layered Grape Salad

2 cups green seedless grapes
2 cups red seedless grapes

8 oz. cream cheese
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pecans, chopped

Layer each mixture. Refrigerate overnight.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Masque for Hair

Masque for Hair

1 cup regular mayonnaise
1 egg

Mix in blender. Apply to hair. Wrap head in plastic wrap. The natural heat from your body will warm the masque. Leave on for 30 minutes. Avoid anyone hungry for a salad. Rinse with cool water (you don't want to cook the egg).

Monday, April 26, 2010

National Pretzel Day

Soft Pretzel

1 tablespoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 cup warm (115 degrees) water
2 3/4 cup flour
5 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups (room temperature) water
Coarse salt to sprinkle on pretzels before baking
*Optional: Cinnamon sugar mixture*

Mix 5 teaspoons baking soda with 4 cups water in a non-aluminum saucepan.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Put yeast, sugar, salt, butter and ONE CUP of the flour into a medium mixing bowl and pour in the water (115 degrees).

Stir till all smooth, and yeast starts to bubble. Add the rest of the flour, stirring until it is mixed in. When the mixture is too stiff to stir with a spoon, begin kneading.

Knead dough until smooth and it no longer sticks to the bowl or your hands.

Allow dough to rise to about double its height.

While dough is rising, grease a cookie sheet and prepare the baking soda and water mixture by bringing it to a boil on the stove.

When dough is risen enough, punch down, knead for a minute or so, then divide and roll the 6-inch sticks with your hands, to about 1/2 inch in diameter, or 12 15-inch long rolls to make into the pretzel shape.

Allow the sticks (or pretzels) to sit for about 1-2 minutes. Place them into the baking soda and, now boiling, water mixture one or two at a time.

Let the pretzels boil for 1 minute 10 seconds, then flip them over with a slotted spoon and boil on the other side for 1 minutes 10 seconds.

*This boiling step gives them a firm skin and adds some flavor. Not boiling long enough leaves them too soft and allows them to rise too much. Boiling too long makes them tough.

Fish them out of the water, let them drip off and place them on the greased cookie sheet.

When all the pretzels are done, sprinkle the coarse salt on them.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until pretzels are golden brown.

*If you would rather have cinnamon sugar pretzels, skip adding salt to them before baking. While they are baking, melt 1 stick butter. After pretzels are baked, dip them in the melted butter and then into cinnamon sugar mixture.

Sorry for the lack of photos - had all the ingredients (even pretzel salt) except yeast. Kinda hard to make pretzels without the yeast.
I am hoping to make them soon anyway - I love cinnamon sugar soft pretzels!
They look kinda like the pretzel below - heavenly!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Five Facts Friday

1. Lay a barbecue grill rack on the lawn overnight - the dew will combine with the enzymes in the grass to loosen any burned-on grease. Try it with messy oven racks, too!

2. Use vertical strokes when washing windows outside and horizontal for inside windows. This way you can tell which side has the streaks. Straight vinegar will get outside windows really clean. Don't wash windows on a sunny day. They will dry too quickly and will probably streak.

3. Spray your Tupperware with non-stick cooking spray before pouring in tomato based sauces and there won't be any stains. *Note: This really works!*

4. To unclog a drain, drop 3 Alka Seltzer tablets down the drain followed by a cup of white vinegar. Wait a few minutes, then run the hot water.

5. Remove sticky price tags from glass by spraying with WD-40. Don't feel like going to the garage? Try this solution instead: Briskly rub on mayonnaise, then soak the glass in warm water. The label will peel right off.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day

This project not only recycles, it creates new life, and is a great Earth Day craft.

What you'll need:
-Empty aluminum can
-Screwdriver and hammer
-Liquid gesso (Liquid gesso is an acrylic undercoat primer formulated for use on raw canvas and other surfaces to seal and provide a slight "tooth" for acrylic and other paint media. Permanent and water-resistant when dry.) Available at your local craft store.
-Acrylic craft paints in colors of your choice
-Acrylic sealer spray, matte finish
-Craft stick
-Thin cardboard
-Pinking shears
-Black permanent marker
-5 to 10 small rocks, stones or pebbles
-1.5 cups potting soil
-4 inch potted herb plant
-White craft glue
-Flower stickers (optional)

How to make it:
1. Completely wash and dry aluminum can. If necessary, sand off any rough edges from opening of can.
2. Turn can upside down. Parent should use screwdriver or other pointed object to poke holes in the bottom of the can. Use a hammer to tap the end of the screwdriver to make the holes.
3. Paint outside of can with one coat of gesso. Let dry completely.
4. Paint can in the desired color, repeat coats if needed.
5. Decorate however you like. Use a thin paint brush for long lines, dip the end of the paint brush into paint for polka dots.
6. Decorate with stickers if desired.
7. In a well-ventilated area, spray the outside of the completed can with acrylic sealer spray. Let dry.
8. Place enough rocks or pebbles in the bottom of the can to form a single layer.
9. Add enough potting soil to fill the can two-thirds full.
10. Remove potted herb from its container and transplant into the can.
11. Fill edges with remaining potting soil, gently pat down so that plant is firmly in the can but not compacted so much that it's too tight.
12. Place can on a plate (to catch any water drainage) and add some water to the newly planted herbs.
13. Paint craft stick whatever color you like. Allow to dry.
14. Cut a piece of thin cardboard into a small rectangle (about 1.5 x 3 inches) using pinking shears.
15. Paint both sides of the cardboard with gesso, let dry.
16. Glue the rectangle to the top of the craft stick.
17. Use a black permanent marker to write the herb name onto the rectangle.
18. Insert your plant maker into the soil, being careful not to crush any roots along the way.
19. Place your new garden in a sunny window and remember to water them!

-A 4 inch potted plant will be enough to make 2-3 vegetable sized cans (15 oz) or one larger tomato sauce type can (28 oz).
-This is a great project to teach kids about growing plants, especially edible ones.
-Keep the kids involved, be sure they take care of "their" plant. Have them water their plant and show them how to check to see if the soil is too dry or just right by gently touching the soil surface with their finger.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What's the Difference?

Have you ever wondered what the difference between green onions and scallions are? Let it be known that there is no difference. They are one and the same. And, just to add to the confusion, once in a while you may also hear them referred to as spring onions.

Tip: Don't throw out the root ends of your green onion ... or scallion ... or spring onion. If you stick the roots into a pot of dirt and give them sunlight and water, the spring green onion scallion will keep growing providing you with fresh, and if I may add, free onion things whenever you need them.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Milk 'N Honey Cleanser

All Purpose Milk 'N Honey Cleanser

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup whole milk

For all skin types. Honey is a natural humectant (a substance that absorbs) drawing moisture. Milk contains natural emollients (having the power of softening or relaxing), vitamins and amino acids which soften and smooth the skin. Blend together, massage gently over face/neck. Rinse with tepid water, pat dry.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Break

Today I am taking a Spring Break! Hope you enjoy your day!

Friday, April 16, 2010

There was a Fire in the Belly of the Beast

This year we bought what we lovingly term "The Beast." It is our new 2-in-1 grill. Half of the grill is gas and the other half is charcoal. I love it not only for the yummy foods you can grill on it, but because there are less dishes for me to wash.

One of our favorite things to grill is chicken marinated in McCormick's Grill Mates. We have tried several and absolutely love the taste it gives the chicken. It is also super easy - you simply add oil, water, and at times vinegar to the mix and let your chicken, pork, fish, lamb or beef marinate. The package has about a 15 minute suggestion to let your meat marinate, but I like to do it for longer than that to let the goodness soak into the meat.

They have all kinds of flavors for all kinds of meat.

-Baja Citrus Marinade (salmon, seafood or chicken)
-Chipotle Pepper Marinade (pork, chicken or beef)
-Hawaiian Luau Marinade (chicken, pork or salmon)
-Hickory BBQ Marinade (chicken or pork)
-Mesquite Marinade (chicken, pork or beef) *Our favorite*
-Mexican Fiesta Marinade (chicken, beef or shrimp)
-Mojito Lime Marinade (chicken, beef or shrimp)
-Montreal Steak Marinade (beef, pork or lamb) *Our other favorite*
-Peppercorn Garlic (beef, pork or lamb)
-Southwest Marinade (beef, chicken or pork)
-Teriyaki Marinade (chicken, pork, beef or seafood)
-Tomato Garlic Basil Marinade (chicken, shrimp or beef)
-Zesty Herb Marinade (pork chops, chicken or beef)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Day In and Day Out

Each week I do the same thing day in and day out. Cleaning and laundry and youth group stuff and grocery shopping and cooking can get overwhelming. I always had great intentions of doing stuff but at the end of the week, it sometimes never got done. So, I made a weekly schedule to help me accomplish all those mundane daily tasks that must get done. It is probably different for you, but for me, it works . . . most of the time . . . when I'm not lazy or having a schedule change due to a youth activity.

-Personal Bible Study
-Clean bathroom (switch upstairs and downstairs every other week)
-Balance checkbook
-Water plants
-Update calendar(s)
*Laundry - Dark clothes

-Personal Bible Study
-Youth Group stuff (ie: computer work)
-Grocery List
-Walmart (in the PM)
*Laundry - Underclothes, towels

-Personal Bible Study
-Dust (switch upstairs and downstairs every other week)
-Sweep/mop floors (switch upstairs and downstairs every other week)
*Laundry - Elianna's clothes, sheets, etc. / Rugs

-Personal Bible Study
-Project of the Week (ie: painting, organizing, etc.)
*Laundry - Dark clothes

-Personal Bible Study
-Columbus (This is an awesome Farmers Market where I go each week to get my meat, deli cheese, bread, spices, and vegetables.)
*Laundry - Underclothes, sheets

*Laundry - Harley's sheets

*Laundry - Elianna's clothes

Whew! Makes me tired just looking at it! Yes, I do only clean my bathrooms, floors and dust every other week (upstairs and downstairs). I found it was way too much to do all in one week. I read the following paragraph in a book called The Mommy Diaries. It really jumped off the page at me and made me change my way of thinking.

"I had to realize that being the mother of a baby is time-consuming and that each day showed little tangible proof of the hours of care and devotion to temporary things - that diapers and clothes just get dirty again, hours of crying bouts soothed soon begin again, and meals vanish except of the reminder left by the dirty dishes in need of washing. I needed to let go of my desire to have tangible evidence of my work and instead focus on something different: the importance of raising children who are loved and cared for" and who grow up to love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. (I added that last part).

I would love to hear how you all accomplish all your tasks. You may just have a way I can get out of doing them that is more efficient or saves time.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

It's a Love Hate Relationship

I love them and hate them all at the same time in one massive fluid motion. The Purex 3-in-1 Laundry Sheets are w-o-n-d-e-r-f-u-l because you don't have the drippy mess that the liquid detergent leaves on the top of your dryer or shelf or wherever you store the bottle. The laundry sheets are simple to use. Simply throw it in the washer with your clothes and walk away. Done. Finished. No cleaning up detergent mess which we all know just gets bigger because, well, it's soap and that's what soap does.

However, as has been stated before I love the smell of bounce and the Purex 3-in-1 does not leave my clothes smelling Bouncy. So I find myself using the Purex laundry sheets and adding a Bounce sheet in the dryer. I don't have a drippy mess but I also don't want to pay double by using the laundry sheet and the dryer sheet.

Do you see my dilemma? For now, I'm just going to go with the drippy bottle - unless I have a coupon and then I will happily do my laundry.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Avocado Facial

Avocado Facial

1 medium avocado
1 medium banana

For extra dry/mature skin - add 1/4 cup regular mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil.

For dry skin:
Mash avocado and banana into smooth pulp, apply to clean skin. Allow 15-20 minutes on skin. Rinse with warm water, finish with splashing cold water on face to close pores.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Wives Fables

We've all heard those Old Wives Fables and maybe even tried some. But do they work?

1. Grandma's wisdom: Ginger is good for upset stomachs.

Science says: Yes. Good evidence shows ginger reduces nausea.

2. Grandma's wisdom: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

Science says: Granny's overstating this fruit's potency. Still, the peel is a good source of quercetin, an important antioxidant that, studies suggest, helps lower blood pressure, fight asthma and allergies, and prevent heart attacks.

3. Grandma's wisdom: Honey speeds healing.

Science says: Yes. Mild to moderate burns (but not other types of wounds) heal faster if you spread honey on them -- maybe because it creates a moist, antibacterial environment that promotes tissue growth.

4. Grandma's wisdom: Put butter on a burn.

Science says: No. There's no evidence of a benefit from butter.

5. Grandma's wisdom: Sleeping in air-conditioning can give you a chill.

Science says: She may be onto something. Air conditioners dry out the protective layer of mucus along nasal passages, which likely allows viruses to infect you more easily. Viruses reproduce faster inside a cold nose too.

6. Grandma's wisdom: If you go out with wet hair, you'll catch a cold.

Science says: Maybe. Some research indicates (but doesn't prove) that a wet head helps cold viruses take hold, by tightening blood vessels in the nose and making it harder for white blood cells to reach the viruses and fight them off.

7. Grandma's wisdom: Swimming after eating can lead to cramps and drowning.

Science says: Not exactly, but not completely wrong either. After you eat, blood gets shunted to your digestive tract and away from exercising muscles. That can lead to a buildup of lactic acid in your muscles, so swimming a few laps too soon after lunch could cause a sudden (though not fatal) cramp.

8. Grandma's wisdom: Chocolate gives you pimples.

Science says: Not quite. Chocolate bars might trigger an acne flare-up, but if so, the culprit is probably the sugar, milk, and gooey fillings, not the cocoa.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Five Facts Friday

1. When a recipe calls for sharp cheddar cheese and you haven't any on hand, a dash of pepper, ground mustard and Worcestershire sauce added to a mild cheese will give it a sharp flavor.

2. Corners cut from used envelopes make great bookmarks. They just slip over the page you wish to mark.

3. When purchasing a box of S.O.S. pads, take a pair of scissors and cut each pad into halves. You will get more use out of them thus saving you $$. Extra upside: your scissors will get sharpened.

4. To keep neighborhood dogs and cats off your lawn, grind up 2-3 cloves of garlic and 3-4 hot peppers in the blender. Combine them with a bucket of water and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Sprinkle around edges of lawn and sidewalk, repeating frequently, especially after it rains.

5. Pour Coke over difficult-to-loosen screws and nuts. It often eats away the rust and corrosion enough to get them loose.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

BBQ Meatballs

Recently, I started reading a blog called The Pioneer Woman. She blogs, cooks, takes awesome pictures, lives on a ranch and homeschools her children. I have grown quite addicted to her recipes for several reasons. 1. They are homey and delicious! 2. She has step by step pictures! I love that! No more wondering if I'm doing something right or not.

I made her BBQ Meatballs and they were delicious! So, once again, here is a link to another yummy recipe. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Caramel Popcorn Day

Today you have an excuse to eat a sweet, crunchy treat known as caramel corn. Why today? Because today is Caramel Popcorn Day. Grab a bowl and enjoy!

Caramel Corn

1 cup popcorn kernels, unpopped
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cups light corn syrup
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pop popcorn (you can use the stove top kind or simply use Orville Redenbacher). Place the popped popcorn in two large bowls. Make sure there is enough room in your bowls for tossing the popcorn.

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Meanwhile, to make the caramel, melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, mix in the corn syrup, brown sugar and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.

Once the mixture reaches a boil, let the mixture continue to boil for 5 more minutes without stirring. Remove the mixture from the heat, stir in the baking soda and vanilla extract. The mixture will bubble up and become frothy. Pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn in the bowl(s) and toss to coat thoroughly.

Spread the popcorn evenly onto two large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. If there are any caramel clumps left, they will redistribute during baking. Bake for 40-50 minutes, removing from the oven to toss/stir every 10 minutes. After 40 minutes, test a cooled piece of popcorn. If it is not completely crispy (ie: still slightly mushy when you bite it), bake for 10 minutes more.

Remove the baking sheets to a wire rack and allow popcorn to cool completely before breaking apart for serving.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Secret Spa in Your Kitchen - Brown Sugar Facial Scrub

Brown Sugar Facial Scrub

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil OR
2 tablespoons almond oil
1 tablespoon of your favorite facial soap

Sugar is a good abrasive skin scrub, cleansing/stimulating the skin.

Blend ingredients. GENTLY massage over face/neck/chest area. Avoid delicate skin under eyes. Rinse with tepid water, pat dry. Follow with moisturizer. (It also works great on your hands).

DO NOT USE white sugar or salt - they are too harsh on the facial skin.

This one is great to make a double or triple batch of and store in a mason jar. I have some I keep in the bathroom closet.