Monday, August 29, 2011

Recycled Ice Cream Cones

For a lighter alternative to ice cream, try this!
  • Melt chocolate chips over low heat.
  • Coat the inside of the cones with melted chocolate
  • Fill with whipped cream, fruit, or no-bake cheesecake filling.
Use your imagination and fill them with just about anything. Think of them as tiny cornucopia, just bursting with goodies!
*These are really tasty, so you may want to make a few extra!

Friday, August 26, 2011

How to cook without power

Since many of you may be without power this weekend, (compliments of hurricane Irene) here's a quick rundown on ways to cook without power. I hope you don't have to use this info!

Ways to cook your food:
Fireplace, grill, gas stove top, propane burner, fondue pot, chaffing dish, wood stove, candle warmer

Handy ingredients to have in your pantry:
  • Instant milk powder/canned evaporated milk
  • Jerky
  • Peanut butter
  • Canned beans
  • Canned soups
  • Applesauce
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Instant coffee
  • Canned tuna or salmon
  • Beans & rice packets
  • Grits
  • Granola
  • Pasta
  • Canned spaghetti sauce
  • Packaged pudding
Meals to make from these ingredients:
  • Bean & rice fajitas with salsa
  • Spaghetti
  • Chicken or tuna salad made from canned meat, seasonings, and mayo packets & canned fruit
  • Salmon cakes with canned veggies
  • Boxed macaroni & cheese with canned veggies
  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with homemade trail mix (dried fruit and nuts)
  • Hot dogs and beans
*Don't forget to utilize your garden if you have one- fresh produce will be a welcome addition to your menus!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Be prepared!

After the earthquake yesterday in Virginia of all places, I have been left shaking in my boots. Literally! So in light of hurricane season and recent events, I have been inspired to share some ideas that I have found to be helpful. These tips are great for hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes, or winter ice storms.
  • Text instead of call since most phones will be jammed.
  • Give trusted neighbors a key to your house.
  • Keep the gas tank full on your car.
  • Have at least a 3 day supply of food and water on hand, one gallon per person per day.
  • Fill out the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) form to keep your financial bases covered. (For a free printable version, see the operation hope link below).
  • Fill your tub with water to use for flushing the toilet for a power outage.
  • Keep a flash light in every family member's room.
  • Keep cash on hand. No power equals no credit or debit cards.
  • Use a wheeled garbage can for storing your emergency stash. It will keep your things dry and portable!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Facial in a tube

Let me introduce you to Queen Helene. She's the mean green wrinkle-fighting machine! Ok really, she's a cheap masque that you can buy at most any grocery store, drug store, or Walmart. I've been using this stuff for years and it is great for shrinking pores, tightening skin, and clearing up blemish-prone skin. I recently had my first facial and while it was nice, I have to say that good ol' Helene was every bit as effective as the professional facial. Give your face a good exfoliating scrub and try out Queen Helene's Mint Julep Masque. You'll be surprised at how easy it is being green!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Resurrected Tortilla Chips

In an effort to be less wasteful lately, I've been trying hard to think twice before throwing something away. Enter stale tortilla chips. They've been sitting in a crumpled bag in my cabinet for who knows how long. They are almost chewy. Yuck. After several tries, however, I am proud to say that I was able to restore the crunch factor we all know and love! Here's how you do it:
  • Place chips in a single layer on a plate.
  • Microwave for 40-45 seconds.
  • Let cool. *This step is important. If you try to eat them while still warm, they will not be crisp.
Devour. Have a fiesta. Rejoice in knowing that you have repurposed stale food!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Deck 101

For the past week, I've been working on our somewhat weathered deck in an attempt to give it a facelift. As with any do-it-yourself project, it has proved to take much longer than expected. Since there was a layer of dark mold/mildew-looking stuff on the wood, I tried spraying it down with deck wash. It worked, but took several applications to erradicate the stains. After running out of deck wash, I turned to bleach. Not only was the bleach exponentially cheaper, it cleaned the wood with just one application! After painting the stain on myself (oops) as well as the decking, I tried removing it from my arm with a Mr. Clean magic eraser. It worked all right, taking off a layer of my epidermis as well as the stain! So if you're staining your deck, take heed:

  • Use bleach to clean and prep the surface
  • Do NOT use a magic eraser on your skin. You will be cursed with a rash and others will think you are diseased!

Monday, August 15, 2011

CVS Freebies

You can get all three of these items for free at CVS this week. Just scan your CVS card at the kiosk and the coupons for these items will print out. You can redeem them all in one trip- no strings attached!

An Eggcellent Tip...

For fluffier scrambled eggs, add a pinch of baking powder to the eggs before you mix. Don't worry if you still see some white lumps- they'll disappear when you cook the eggs. Lighter, fluffier, and more scrumptious. Give it a a try this week!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Watermelon Magic

I'm not the biggest watermelon fan, I'll admit it. But having been gifted a luscious ruby red melon from my mom, I decided to try the creative approach. Lo and behold, it worked! I actually loved it! It's refreshing, it's smooth, it's icy, it's: watermelon sorbet"ish". Not technically a sorbet, but a wonderful alternative that you must try. It's so simple and easy to make, you have no excuse!

Watermelon Freeze:
  • Place cut watermelon pieces on a cookie sheet and freeze. (Seedless melons make it easier)

  • Process in food processor til' smooth. (It will look chunky and chalky, but trust me it's not!) Let it sit in your serving dishes for a minute or two to get the juiciness back.
  • Eat with reckless abandon!
I added fresh lime juice to mine, which was delightful. And please ignore the condition of the withered lime in my photo. It's all I had left in my produce drawer!

*My thanks to Robert for growing this beauty and restoring my affection for this lovely fruit!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wipe out!

Diaper wipe boxes and cases are so versatile for storing things! I use them for organizing smaller items. Just label with a sharpie and you're done! Here are some of my favorite uses for them:
  • First aid kit
  • Twine/yarn dispenser
  • Crayon storage
  • Storage for seasoning packets (taco seasoning, gravy, etc.)
  • Activity box for road trips
  • Hair bow organizer
  • Nail polish organizer
  • Dry storage box for boat or pool
  • Dryer sheet dispenser (keeps them fresher longer)
  • Plastic bag holder
  • Photo box
  • Piggy bank
  • Small item storage (batteries, game pieces, toiletries)
  • Yard sale cash box
If you really want to get creative, check out this link for inspiration. I never knew about these!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Garlic Peppercorn Sauce

Sounds like a tasty accompaniment to go with supper, right? Well not to the aphids and other insect pests in your garden! My parents had an aphid problem last week, but not after using this spray! In fact, it worked so well getting rid of the aphids that they sprayed their whole garden with it. We don't know if the spray kills the insects or just sends them packing, but either way, your plants will thank you for not spraying them with chemicals!

Garlic Peppercorn Aphid Spray
3 bulbs of garlic (whole heads)
32 peppercorns (You can use hot pepper flakes too, I've heard.)
4 quarts of water

Boil in a dutch oven for 10 minutes. Strain and pour into sprayer. Spray onto plants.
*You may have to reapply after it rains*

Friday, August 5, 2011

Strawberry Pots

Does anyone have a strawberry pot sitting around with no strawberries planted inside? I confess, I am among those of you who do. I have some lovely but useless hen and chick succulents in mine. Soooo, I'm going to yank them, plant them somewhere else, and fill my pot with herbs. I've never done this with herbs so I'll have to give you all a progress report later. The design of the strawberry pot lends itself well to growing herbs because its various holes will segregate each type of herb nicely. When temperatures hover near freezing, I can just take the whole thing inside without having flower pots all over my small kitchen! If I can keep them alive...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Presto Pesto!

Whether you've grown your own basil or are a recipient of someone else's bounty, pesto is the perfect soloution for that lovely green herb. It's a wonderful feeling to add a cube or two of brightly flavored pesto to your recipe in the middle of winter! Using a food processor as your only tool makes the whole process a breeze. So hop to it! Here's the lowdown:
The ingredients...

2 Tbs. chopped walnuts, pecans, or pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups basil (leaves, no stems!)
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/4 tsp. salt
pinch of pepper

Finely chop nuts in food processor. Add garlic and pulse to a fine mince. Add basil, parmesan, salt, and pepper & pulse to a paste. Add olive oil gradually in a slow stream with the processor on until incorporated. Fill an ice cube tray with pesto and cover with plastic wrap. Freeze til' solid, pop out and store frozen in freezer bags.

Makes 1 ice cube tray (10-12 cubes)
*Feel free to follow the recipe loosely. Add more olive oil, or other seasonings to taste. Several squeezes of lemon juice are also a nice addition.
The final product!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Summer time is moving time! Be on the lookout for new neighbors this summer. Here are a few affordable yet thoughtful ideas to help them feel welcome and to help you get to know them too:
  • A welcome mat
  • A small basket with a roll of paper towels, picture hanging kit, notepad with pen, local maps, and menus from local restaurants
  • A loaf of homemade bread or a frozen homemade casserole (be sure to include disposable dishes)
  • A breakfast basket with muffins, juice, a bag of local coffee, and a local newspaper.
  • Produce from your garden
  • A potted plant
  • Bulbs or plants from your yard
*Be sure to include a card with your name and phone number
Even if there are no new neighbors this summer, try to connect with
the old ones too. Try sharing produce from your garden, find a walking
partner, or take a meal to an elderly neighbor.