Friday, October 29, 2010

My New Friend

I'd like to introduce you to the new-to-me product I alluded to last week. Drum roll please... Castile Soap! (pronounced cast-eel) What the heck is castile soap? Castile soap is a special type of soap made from olive oil. It contains no synthetic chemicals, artificial colorings, or animal products. The best feature of this stuff is its ability to clean your dog, car, self, laundry, floors, greasy oven, and woodwork. It is gentle enough for use on sensitive skin, yet cuts grease and grime like nobody's business! I'm also saving money because a little goes a long way. One of my favorite features is not breathing chemicals and inhaling lemongrass instead! Here are some tips for cleaning with castile soap.
  •  Shampoo: Mix 1 part Castile soap, 1 part water, and essential oils for fragrance. (I haven't tried this yet but plan on it.)
  • Floors: You can mop almost any type of floor with a solution of ¼ cup liquid Castile soap and 2 gallons warm water. If the floors are greasy, add ¼ cup distilled white vinegar to the bucket.
  • Leather upholstery: Add 2 drops liquid Castile soap to 1 quart warm water. Apply to the leather with a barely moist sponge.
  • Marble countertops: Stir 1 tablespoon liquid Castile soap into 1 quart warm water. Dampen a cloth with the solution and wipe surface. Rinse, then dry with a clean cloth.
  • Car: Mix ¼ cup liquid Castile soap with hot water in a bucket (fill almost to the top). Rub a generous amount of the solution on your car’s exterior, windshield, hubcaps, and tires with a large sponge, then thoroughly hose it off.
  • Sinks, showers, tubs, and ceramic tile: Create a homemade soft scrubber by combining 1 tablespoon liquid Castile soap and 1/3 cup baking soda.
  • Stovetop and vent hood: Add a few squirts of liquid Castile soap to 2 cups hot water. Apply to the stovetop, the burners, and the vent hood to cut through accumulated grease.

 *Castile soap can be found at health food stores and is available scented or unscented. I chose unscented and add essential oils to match my mood. As mentioned above, I'm currently on a lemongrass kick!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Golden Egg

CVS had a table of clearance items with 2 bins underneath of 90% off markdowns. I don't have an immediate need for most of these items, but it sure will be nice to pull it out of storage when it's needed instead of paying top dollar!

Here's what I scored for $3.80:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hang Em' High

A clever way to organize your necklaces and bracelets is to hang them on a tiered pants hanger. The velvet covering protects your jewelry from scratches while allowing you to be able to see all of your jewelry at a glance. No more digging through tangled rat's nests of necklaces! I hang mine on an extra towel rack in the bathroom, but you could hang one anywhere- closet doors, hooks, you name it!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Cleaning

Fall cleaning in my opinion is just as important as spring cleaning. After all, you are about close up your home for the winter and who wants to be trapped inside with dusty air? I do not love to clean although I love a clean house, so I have to bribe myself into the annual fall clean-fest. This year I told myself I couldn't put out my fall decorations until the house was really, really clean. Several days of sweat and lots of Billy Joel and Keith Urban later, my decorations are up and my house is clean! (For the most part.) Here's a list of things to help you get started. Good luck gumshoe!
  • Pull out furniture and vacuum behind and under it. (I found old cobweb kingdoms behind mine!)
  • Open the windows while you clean to air things out
  • Clean your humidifiers and replace old filters
  • Wash your hardwoods & add essential oil to your brew for fun
  • Dust your computer monitor, keyboard, and tower
  • When you come across a messy drawer, attack it right away!
  • Wash your windows
  • Wipe down baseboards, trim, and cabinets
  • Clean your oven
  • Organize the pantry
  • Pull out the duvets and air them out before making up beds
  • Break out the flannel sheets!
  • Wipe down fan blades and light fixtures
  • Change air filters
  • Launder drapes and shower curtains
  • Test your heat before you actually need it. Better to find out now that it's not working than in a snowstorm!
  • Clean coffee makers and dishwashers by running through a cycle with vinegar while empty.
  • Spot clean carpets and rugs
  • Take a hot bath afterwards and stagger into bed
*I'll post later on my new favorite cleaning product. I'm sure many of you may already use it, but try to humor me anyway! =)

Monday, October 18, 2010

The power of pumpkin

Today's entry is from my sis, a registered dietitian and contributor. Thanks for the day off!

Now that we are in the swing of fall, I am happily incorporating pumpkin into as many dishes as I can dream up. Did you know that pumpkin is packed with nutritional goodness? In one cup of cooked mashed (canned or fresh) pumpkin you will find Vitamin A, Beta Carotene, fiber, potassium, folate and protein with just 49 calories! Due to its mild flavor, pumpkin can be combined with a variety of dishes. Here are a few ideas.

  • Add pumpkin to oatmeal along with pumpkin pie spice for breakfast
  • When making waffles or pancakes, stir pumpkin into the batter
  • Chili or other thick soups or stews are a great medium for ½ cup of pumpkin – the pumpkin adds a creamy texture (don’t worry, your family won’t know it’s there!)
  • Pastas or risottos are delicious paired with pumpkin
  • Desserts: pies, cookies, cakes, breads, trifles, crisps

I hope you are inspired to check out the season’s offering of pumpkin. Your body will thank you as will your taste buds!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Osage Oranges

Osage oranges are one of fall's fun treats. The unexpected shockingly chartreuse green orbs are covered with nobs and wrinkles. These lovely fall fruits have a distinctive citrus smell and are reputed to ward off nasty insects such as cockroaches, fleas, and crickets. Researchers are currently testing the sap for use as a natural mosquito repellent. Shirking any practical function, I just love to have a bowl or vase full of them sitting out in the house. The color is so vivid and the smell so lovely! Osage orange trees are easy to spot once the leaves begin to fall as they dangle like Christmas ornaments from the trees. Though they occur naturally in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, they have been widely naturalized all over the United States I know they grow wild in Virginia, so when we go on a fall hike we bring plenty of bags to use for collecting. If you are so lucky as to find these beauties, you'll get to enjoy them for about a month. (After a month, they begin to rot.) Give them a try- you won't regret it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall Decorating

I love decorating the house for fall. I know it's not technically a holiday, but why not celebrate the cool weather and bright colors? Take your inspiration from the great outdoors. Fill vases with acorns, chestnuts, pears, pomegrantes, apples, pumpkins, and small gourds. Fill bowls with osage oranges. (In case you aren't familiar with these little treasures, don't worry- I'm blogging on them later this week.) Scatter leaves on your table and set a pumpkin in the center. Speaking of pumpkins, find creative ways to display them. One year I drilled holes into our pumpkin for a polka-dot look. This year I have 3 heirloom pumpkins in a tower. Carve you or your child's initials, address number, or school emblem into your pumpkin! Poke apples onto skewers and add leaves for a "boquet". (pictured below) Artfully arrange branches and twigs in a unique vase of cannister. The most fun part is going out and gathering nature's goodies. We don't have a large yard or even a tree, so I go to our local park or a friend's property. I don't think anyone will get arrested for taking some fallen leaves and acorns! If like me, you sometimes struggle for inspiration, go to your favorite home store's website and snag ideas. The acorns pictured below are from Pottery Barn. (Just don't pay $14 for "designer" acorns when you can get them for free!) Did I say that out loud?

Monday, October 11, 2010

On the "Ball"

Oh great, I've done it again- another corny pun in the title! Please forgive me if you "can". Ok I quit. Promise. Canning jars are a perfect way to store things. They are impervious to bugs, kids, and moisture. The large gallon ones are my new favorites because they can hold larger quantities of things. They are the perfect carrier for homemade granola at Christmas. (If you are a neighbor of mine, please ignore this post. Otherwise, you know what you're getting this year!) Vases, drinking glasses, salad dressing shaker, pen/pencil holder. You name it- the uses for jars are endless! Best of all, it's no big deal if they break and they're re-usable. Here are a few ways I've been using mine. I hope this inspires you to enjoy yours!

Items inside jars here are: oats, popcorn, beans, granola, gummi bears, coins, and buttons.
*The large gallon sized jars can be purchased at home and garden stores. These came from Ace hardware and cost about $12 for a pack of 6.

Friday, October 8, 2010

This Tip Ain't No Lemon!

Thanks to a very clever friend (thanks Jennifer!), I've been introduced to a new-to-me product. You can now find 100% pure lemon juice in the frozen foods section! The cost of a 7.5oz container (equal to about 7 lemons) will set you back only $1.99. It's also extra convenient since it will keep in the freezer for months. So next time I'm making something that requires fresh lemon juice, I'm going to use the frozen juice instead of buying lemons and spending way too much dough! It can be found next to the lemonade and juice concentrates and (at least here) both Kroger and Food Lion carry it.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Drink to your health!

Have a sick kid on your hands? Feeling rotten yourself? Whip up a smoothie for a special treat! Clean out your fridge of extra fruit and steer toward fruits that are high in vitamin C. Add frozen berries, a little fruit juice, and you'll have a tasty, nutrient-dense smoothie in no time! I often do this for our daughter when she has a cold or isn't feeling well. It not only hydrates, but gives her the vitamins and antioxidents her body needs to fight off the crud! Stir in powdered or liquid vitamins too- the thick consistency of the smoothie will mask its texture! If your little one isn't eating well, you can add milk or yogurt for extra protein.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Prize Winner!

Congratulations to Laura, who was our prize winner! May you enjoy many tasty recipes from this cookbook. It's a great one! Thanks to everyone for your kind comments. I'll have more prize drawings in the future so stay tuned!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Deal Alert

Food Lion has 8 oz. bags or blocks of Kraft cheese for $2.79 buy one get one free which is a good deal. But wait, there's more! Print off a $5 off 5 Kraft cheese coupon and the price plummets to $.56 a bag! (This is assuming you get 6 bags) Here's a link to the coupon:  Now go get em' tiger! This deal is good through October 5th.

Fall Gardening

It's never to late to start a garden! Even though it's late in the season, you can still grow veggies outside. Right now, you can plant garlic, radishes, spinach, beets, carrots, turnips, and even lettuce if you keep it under plastic hoops or a cold frame. Don't forget that now is the time for planting flower bulbs too. Tulips, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths are some of the easiest to find right now. Plant flower bulbs in groupings for a big impact when spring arrives!

I'm trying garlic for the first time this year- I'll let you know how it goes. Here's a quick tutorial on how to palnt garlic:
Plant in mid-october for an early summer harvest.
Break up the bulb and plant the cloves individually, poiny end up.
Plant the cloves 1" deep and 4" apart.
Shoots of fall-planted garlic should appear in the spring!