Thursday, December 6, 2012

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Why do work and life have to get in the way of my fun? I have been busy creating and crafting in the little spare time I have had.  You will get to see some of those projects today.  I am making up for lost time with this post.

Candy Corn Sugar Cookies. These cookies are as impressive as cutout cookies without the rolling and decorating.  These are a great fall treat. You can use your favorite recipe just tint your dough and layer in a loaf pan, refrigerate, slice, and bake.

Beer tasting.  I hosted a beer tasting and invited my friends to bring a six pack of beer (light, dark, favorite, something you would like to try).  We had a great time tasting all those beverages.

Halloween Costumes.  Spaghetti and Meatballs and The Bride of Frankenstein. Inexpensive costumes using things that we had around the house.  The wig was purchased, but all other items were found in our home.

Trunk or Treat.  This was my car's costume for Trunk or Treat at my daughter's school.  I turned my car into a toaster. Previous years costumes have included a spider and a mad scientist lab.

Cakes.  This is one of the cakes I made for a 50th wedding anniversary party.  It was my first time assembling a 3 tier cake. Scary and fun.  I love a challenge.

Thanksgiving dinner.  My parents were the hosts, but I did the cooking. I guess this is the new normal with Mom's health issues.  Hosting in my own home would be ideal, but my kitchen and it's "Easy Bake Oven" just can not make that happen. Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes, sausage stuffing, and cranberry salad were on the menu.  Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes are fantastic!  You can serve these potatoes right away, refrigerate for several days or freeze.

Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

5 pounds baking potatoes
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sour cream*
8 ounces cream cheese softened*
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

*you can use reduced fat versions and these potatoes will still taste great

Peel and rinse potatoes, and cut into 2-inch pieces.  Place them in a large stockpot and cover with water.  Boil until fork tender, approximately 18-20 minutes.

Drain potatoes and add remaining ingredients.  Mash and mix well.  To throughly mix you may want to use a hand or stand mixer.  Taste and adjust salt, if necessary.

Transfer mashed potatoes to a shallow baking dish and cover with foil.. Potatoes can be kept warm in the oven, refrigerated or frozen.  Makes 10-12 servings. 

Make-ahead tip:  These can be made several days ahead and kept in the refrigerator.  Preheat the oven to 350F and bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until hot. If freezing, defrost in refrigerator overnight then bake.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pumpkin Waffles

I hope you have missed my posts as much as I have missed posting. My schedule has not allowed much spare time lately.  I am very thankful for my readers!  This Thanksgiving holiday has given me some time to catch up on posting and all things domestic.

I have been making pumpkin everything this weekend.  It may have something to do with the 16 cups of pumpkin puree in my refrigerator. The eight pie pumpkins that had been decorating the outside of my home this fall, were roasted and pureed.  Please don't think that I have gone all Martha on you.  I decided to be resourceful and not wasteful.  It was very easy to make the pumpkin puree.  Just slice the pumpkins in half (save the seeds to roast) and place the cut side down on a baking sheet.  Bake the pumpkin for 1 hour at 375degrees or until tender. When the pumpkin is done, you scoop out the flesh  and place it in the food processor and puree until smooth. You could be really resourceful and efficient and roast the pumpkin seeds at the same time. I now have pumpkin muffins and pumpkin waffles in the freezer and at least 8 cups of pumpkin puree left.

I served the pumpkin waffles with honey butter and freshly whipped cream.  It was a delicious post Thanksgiving breakfast.


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 t salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
2 eggs, separated
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup melted butter or canola oil

  1. Mix together flour, baking powder, soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt in large bowl.
  2. Beat egg whites until fluffy in a small bowl.
  3. Combine egg yolks, sugar, pumpkin, milk, and butter; beat well.
  4. Fold in egg whites and flour mixture.
  5. Cook according to your waffle iron directions.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fiesta Chicken Soup

Soup season is upon us, well technically not today since it is 73 degrees outside.  I enjoy quick, easy, and delicious food and the following recipe is one that 75% of my family will eat. The food critic of the family is not a fan of beans.  The soup can be prepared using leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken, which makes it even simpler.  It is also a great crock pot recipe, you can just add everything to the crock pot and cook on low for 8 hours and have a delicious meal to come home to in the evening. This recipe makes 8 generous servings.

Fiesta Chicken Soup
2 cups cooked chicken, shredded
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 salt
1 T olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/2  green pepper, diced
1/2  red pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (10 oz.) diced tomatoes and green chilies
32 ounces, chicken stock or broth
3 T tomato paste
4 cups water
1 cup of frozen corn
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
3 T cornmeal (stirred into a paste with 1 T water)

Sour Cream
Diced Avocado
Diced Red Onion
Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
Tortilla Chips or Strips

Heat oil in a pot over medium heat.  Add onions, peppers and garlic.  Stir and begin cooking, then add spices.  Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.

Add tomatoes, broth, tomato pate water, corn, and beans.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer 45 minutes uncovered. 

Mix cornmeal with water.  Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes.  Check seasonings, adding more if needed.  Turn off heat and let sit for 15 minutes before serving.  Ladle into bowls and garnish.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Another Use For Baking Soda and Vinegar

As you may know, I love finding other uses for everyday products.  Nothing makes me happier than being able to fix a problem, without a trip to the store.  It's not that I hate going to the store, it's just that I have to make a special trip because I forgot to put something I need on the list. I know you have probably had this happen to you, and if it has never happened to you, it will eventually happen.  I'm showering and to my surprise the water gradually builds up to bath level. I noticed the drain was running slow weeks ago, but somehow the problem escapes my memory until my next shower. Slow running drains can be a problem caused by soap and shampoo residue.  My remedy will not unclog a drain, but it will clear a slow moving drain. 
  1. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into the drain, try to sweep as much of it down the drain as you can.

2.   Pour 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the drain and let it foam.

3.  After the foaming stops, pour a pot of boiling water down the drain. 

This is a quick inexpensive fix that is environmentally friendly.  If it still seems slow try this a second time.  It has never let me down.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Costumes of Halloween Past

Let me start by saying that I own a sewing a machine, but I do not know how to thread it. I can do some hand stitching, if absolutely necessary.  I just do not have the desire to actually sew.  The costumes you are about to see are held together with hot glue, iron-on tape, safety pins or a hand stitch or two. These costumes are simple. I found these  easy costume ideas online, it is amazing what you can find.  Many of the ideas came from or  I probably saw them while waiting in a dentist or pediatrician's office.

Just because I made these costumes does not mean I saved money.  It probably would have been more cost effective to buy the "Made in China" costume that everyone else was wearing, but we were making memories and you can not put a price on that.  Can you? These are some of my favorite costumes that I  have made.

It looks like we had a bird flu theme in 2005 with the chicken costume.  This was a white hoodie, a white feather boa and orange fleece pants.

We have had a jelly fish.  This was made with a child's sombrero from the dollar store, fabric to cover, ribbon and sweats. Ice cream cones made with a sweatshirt, nylon tights stuffed with fiber fill, vinyl, foam and straws for sprinkles.

A bag of groceries made from a leaf bag and some of our recyclables and a plastic apple.

Get those creative juice flowing.  It really is fun to make your costume or your child's costume.  I'm going to be working on mine soon.  I can't wait to see your costumes this year.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Jet Pack

The birthday season is officially over at our house.  I can officially sit down, breathe and finish the open bottle of wine from the birthday party and enjoy some leftover cake.  The house is still clean, but the washer continues to operate 24 hours a day. I decided to find out why I could not post photos to my blog and to my surprise, the problem had fixed itself. 

I did want to share something I created. My niece had a Jet Pack on her birthday list.  A real jet pack was a little out of my budget, so I decided to look on Pinterest to see what I could find.  I found one and decided to give it a try.  It was very simple.  You need two empty 2-liter bottles, plastic spray primer in gray, cardboard, ribbon and a hot glue gun.

  1. Spray the bottles and cardboard with the primer.
  2. When the bottles and cardboard are dry, attach the bottles next to each other on the cardboard to secure. 
  3. Attach ribbon to the cardboard (like a back pack)
  4. Fold together strips of red, orange and yellow ribbon and secure inside the bottle opening with glue. 
  5. Strap on your Jet Pack and enjoy the ride.
This should provide hours of fun.  It may also be helpful for a Halloween costume.  That reminds me that I need to get to work on developing some costumes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Halloween Face Paint

                     I recently found this recipe to make your own Halloween make-up. Rather than take a chance with something made in China, which will probably be recalled for lead contamination on November 1, why not give this a try. How fun is it to have custom colors? Your children will probably enjoy making their own.  


½ teaspoon all natural diaper rash cream, such as the California Baby brand
1 to 2 drops natural / organic food coloring
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Optional:  ½ teaspoon water, if needed

In a small bowl combine diaper rash cream and food coloring; add in cornstarch.   
Warning:   Excess water may cause oil-and-water separation issues among ingredients.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Brownies and Powdered Sugar

Have you ever been in need of a 1/4 cup of powdered sugar, only to find your pantry staple has been depleted?  Have no fear, I just discovered you can make your own powdered sugar at home.  Yes, this process can be done in your kitchen.  All you need is a blender, granulated sugar, and corn starch.  If your recipe calls for 1 cup of powdered sugar, add 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 tsp of cornstarch (to keep it from clumping) to your blender and blend until a powdery consistency is achieved. It is that easy!  I know you are going to want to try this so here is a recipe for you to try out your powdered sugar. Make sure you put enough powdered sugar on top to make a mess when you take a bite. 


1 2/3 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, melted
2 Tbsp. water
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 chopped nuts (optional)
Powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 9x 13-inch baking pan.

Combine brown sugar, butter, and water in large bowl.  Stir in eggs and vanilla.  Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt in medium bowl; stir into sugar mixture.  Stir in nuts.  Spread into prepared pan.

Bake for 18-22 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out sticky. Cool completely in pan.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Cut into bars.

Makes 2 dozen brownies (great for storing in the freezer for lunches)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Easy Fall Dinner

I am not trying to rush us into cold weather, afterall it was 85 degrees today, but  sometimes you just need that easy winter comfort food.  Who couldn't use an easy dinner for those nights when you have to work late and your children have practice? This recipe gets rave reviews from my 9 and 10 year old live-in food critics.  It is great served with biscuits or cornbread.  You can literally throw everything into the crockpot in the morning and you have a hot delicious meal when you are ready to eat.  Want to add get more veggies in the stew?  Add 1-11/2 cups frozen green beans to the stew 10-15 minutes before serving. This is a basic recipe, but do not be afraid to experiment.

Crockpot Beef Stew

1 lb beef stew meet cut into bite size cubes
1 lb baby carrots, washed
3 medium potatoes, peeled and each cut into eight pieces
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 bouillon cube or  1 tsp. instant bouillon granules
1- 11/2 cups of water
2 Tablespoons Minute Tapioca
Pepper to taste

Mix tomato sauce, bouillon, pepper, and tapioca together in crockpot.  Add remaining ingredients.  Cook on low for 8 hours.  Serves 4-6

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Wrinkle Releaser

I have been trying to get back into the school routine and have fallen behind on my blogging.  It was a short week, but it really tired me out.  I am working a substitute position (32.5 hours a week) with our local school district until October and honestly I need to get myself organized.  Stress was creeping in on Thursday evening and school only started on Wednesday.  I was feeling the pressure of a working Mom and wife.  First it was the reams of paper that my daughters brought home from school that needed to be filled out and turned it immediately.  Then it was planning dinner, laundry, packing lunches deciding on my outfit for work (yes, that can be stressful) and trying to figure out why I am unable to post photos on my blog. I am technically challenged. I know you all can relate.

Everyone loves ideas that can save time and this is one of my favorites.  Who loves to iron clothes?  Not me!  It is a last resort type thing that I will do, only if absolutely necessary.  I have an ironing board and iron that are set up and ready to go in my laundry room, but it tends to be used as a drying rack. Do you love wrinkle releaser, but hate the price?  You can make your own and eliminate some of your ironing.  This wrinkle releaser works great to freshen clothing that may have been smashed in the closet or dresser drawer. 

You only need to spray the item lightly with the spray while the garment is hanging and the wrinkles fall out as the garment dries. I recommend spraying the night before or first thing in the morning before your shower.  The key is a fine mist spray bottle.

Wrinkle Releaser
1 cup filtered or distilled water
1 Tablespoon fabric softener

Combine water and fabric softener in a small spray bottle with a fine mist spray. Shake.  Spray on wrinkled garments, smooth with hand and watch the magic happen.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tips To Make Packing Lunches Easier

Tomorrow is the day around here.  Can you hear the school bells ringing?  No more sleeping in until 10:00am. We will all be back into the routine tomorrow.  My least favorite duty will be back too. Packing lunches. I'm not sure why I have devolped a strong dislike for this chore, but I am trying to make it more enjoyable.  Last year I discovered some tricks to make it less of a chore. For some reason I am unable to post my photos today or spell check (how fitting for the start of school), but I think you will still enjoy these tips.

I bake our favorite cookies, brownies, or muffins and portion and package them in snack bags and store them in a plastic container in the freezer.  I just need to reach in the freezer and grab something for a lunch or breakfast on the go. This is less expensive than pre-packaged items you purchase at your grocery store and you know what ingredients your children are ingesting. You can bag an entire batch or bag half a batch, it is your choice.

I have also started portioning snacks like pretzels, goldfish or homemade popcorn in snack bags and storing in the pantry.  This way you get the cost savings of purchasing in bulk, but the convenience of correct serving size and individual packages.

You can also portion and package fruits and vegetables for lunches. This can be done on Sunday and you can make it through most of the week.  I recomend grapes, carrots, celery, grape tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers.

Freeze juice boxes and yogurt.  They keep the other food cold and will be thawed by lunch.

Assemble lunches at night and store in the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning you just grab and go.

I made some mini muffins this weekend and bagged them for breakfast on the go. Here is a cost saving tip:  Peel and freeze your too ripe bananas in a storage bag or freezer container to use in smoothies and muffin recipes.  The bananas will thaw and mash in minutes to be used in baked goods or use them straight out of the freezer for smoothies. Don't be afraid to stock up when you see bananas on the reduced rack.

Banana Mini-Muffins
(makes 5 dozen mini muffins)

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3 medium)
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 400F. 
Mix sugar and oil in 2 1/2 quart bowl.  Stir in eggs until blended.  Add bananas and water; beat 30 seconds.  Sitr in remaining ingredients, except nuts and stir until moistened; stir in nuts.  Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Syrup

A day without chocolate syrup is like a day without sunshine to my daughters. They seem to enjoy chocolate syrup on everything. Our supply was running low today, when I remembered that I had seen a Pin on Pinterest for chocolate sauce. It is a very simple recipe using five ingredients and no high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, or strange chemicals. The taste is an intense, pure, and natural chocolate flavor.

  The only ingredients missing from this photo are salt and water.

Homemade Chocolate Syrup 
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2  teaspoons vanilla extract 

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar and cocoa powder until most of the lumps are gone.  Add water and salt and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Bring to a boil and cook for a few minutes, until thickened, continuing to stir frequently.  Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes, then add vanilla extract. Store in an air tight container in the fridge and enjoy within 2-4 weeks.

To make chocolate milk, add 1 tablespoon of chocolate sauce to a cup of milk and stir until combined.

Rich and delicious! I may never buy Hershey's Syrup again. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

I'm Back

I am sorry that I have been MIA .  It has been a little crazy around here.  I have had cakes to bake, appointments to make, kids to take, appliances to break, and dogs to medicate.
Did I mention that my dog Mickey is allergic to ragweed?  Yes, I am currently medicating my rescued lab-mix with Benadryl, per veterinary advice.  I have also been trying  an Internet concoction of baking soda and cornstarch to help relieve his itching and scratching. I figured it couldn't hurt to try it out, but I am not sure if it will be the cure.

 Mickey is so sad.

 I did try a new recipe over the weekend.  The recipe claims to be the IHOP pancake recipe. If you normally make your pancakes from scratch, you will not be wowed. If you normally use a mix, you may want to give it a try.  My daughters loved the pancakes.  The pancakes were good, but my husband and I did not notice a huge difference over my normal recipe.
I have also been working on some wine bottle crafts. You probably remember me writing about cutting a wine bottle with rope and acetone, well it does not work at home like it does on U tube.  I finally bought a bottle cutter and I am perfecting the process. I hope to make this or some of the other wine bottle crafts very soon.

I just wanted to let you know I am still alive and trying out the things I find online. I plan to be back soon.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

This is what I found on the carpet in my basement.

As usual, no one in my house was responsible for this stain. My best guess is that it is dry erase marker residue, but my daughters would not confirm or deny my suspicions.

 I wanted to share one of my favorite stain fighters for carpet and upholstery . With two messy children and an equally messy dog, this recipe has saved me on more than one occasion. I can not remember where I found this recipe, but it definitely works.  This stain remover also does not leave an oily residue to attract dirt like many commercial stain products.  If your carpet or upholstery has a Scotchgard coating, you may want to re-apply a Scotchgard spray to the affected area, after the area  is clean and dry.  This cleaner uses basic household products.

Carpet and Upholstery Cleaner

1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup ammonia
1/2 cup alcohol
1/4 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle and shake to combine. Spray onto stain and blot with a clean white cloth.

Look at my carpet now.  The stain is gone.

I have found this mixture very helpful on clothing stains also.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bread Update

This was my incredible breakfast this morning. It is the bread recipe I posted yesterday with the addition of 3/4 c of raisins and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon.  DELICIOUS! You have to try this.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Easy Crusty Bread

I love really good artisan bread.  Give me good bread and water and I would not have any complaints.
Carbs are my downfall.  Imagine my delight when I found this
 on Pinterest. It was like a dream come true!  Could it really be so simple?  I have always been intimidated by yeast.  The water is either too hot or too cold, the yeast doesn't proof and whole batch of bread is ruined. The whole process is so labor intensive and takes so much of your day.  Not anymore.  You have no reason to purchase an expensive loaf of artisan bread ever again. You can have fresh bread everyday.  This has to be the easiest recipe with the greatest reward.  Do yourself a favor and triple the recipe, because you will love this bread.

Crusty Bread
 (makes one 1 1/2 lb loaf)

 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
 1 1/2 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms.    Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12- 18 hours. Overnight works great. Heat oven to 450.  When the oven reaches 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.   Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.  Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool

Mix dry ingredients. Other additions can be added at this time (nuts, raisins, spices, cheese).  

Add water (straight from the tap, no need to check the temperature) and mix until shaggy.  Cover and let it sit on your counter for 12-18 hours.

It will look something like this after 12 hours. Pour it out onto a well floured surface. I floured a piece of parchment paper, which also helped me transfer it to the pot and remove it.

Cover and let rest until pot is hot.


I still can not believe that this is what you see when you take the lid off of the pot. This is the bread I have dreamed about.  I am making raisin cinnamon bread tonight. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Perfect Iced Tea

Nothing says summer like sitting on the porch sipping a tall glass of iced tea.  I have always enjoyed iced tea, but it always tastes bitter when I make it at home.  Once again Pinterest to the rescue.  I found out how to make the perfect iced tea. This tea has a secret ingredient that claims to remove the bitterness. I can't believe someone from the south did not share this secret with me when I lived in Atlanta, so much for southern hospitality.  This recipe claims to be adapted from Lone Star Steak House (who knows if that is true). You should never believe anything you read on line.

 Perfect Iced Tea (makes 2 quarts)

6 regular size tea bags
2 cups boiling water
6 cups cold water
1/2 - 3/4c sugar (optional)
1/8 t baking soda (secret ingredient)

Add tea bags to the  pitcher with baking soda. Pour boiling water over tea bags and steep for 15 minutes.

Remove and toss out tea bags, add sugar and stir until dissolved.  Add cold water and refrigerate until ready to drink.  Serve over ice and garnish with lemon.

I made some adjustments to the recipe.  I used green tea and I sweetened with agave nectar. Agave nectar is sweeter than sugar, which means you should use less.. I used less than 1/4 cup because I like my tea with a hint of sweetness.  The tea is delicious, but I think a shot of sweet tea vodka in your glass  might be a nice addition to this sipping drink.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Dawn and Bacon

Maybe you don't have laundry problems, but I do.  I will give you an example.  You are making bacon for BLT Sandwiches and not wearing an apron, because you are cooking the bacon in the oven to avoid the mess.  Somehow when you are flipping the bacon the grease spatters onto your shirt. The shirt goes into the laundry and you forget to treat the stain. The shirt then gets washed by your husband, who is being so sweet and helping you out with the laundry, and proceeds to the dryer where it is locked and set forever. It looks something like this after it comes out of the dryer.
I was reminded of this little trick (that I had forgotten) while on Pinterest. If you notice an oily stain on your clothing after it has dried, put Dawn on the spots and let it sit for at least an hour. I let mine sit for about 8 hours.
Wash again as you normally would and you should be happy with the results.

No more grease spots on this shirt! This trick would probably work for lip gloss and chapstick stains that get set in the dryer, when you forget to check your pockets, not that those things ever happen here.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gone But Not Forgotten

My daughters had a sleepover at their cousin's house this week.  I had forgotten how quickly you can clean a house, when you have no children. Let me rephrase that, how quickly you can do anything.  You can shop, clean, prepare dinner, clean-up dinner and have time and energy to do almost anything. Not to mention that your house stays clean for longer than 10 minutes.  I love my children and missed them, but daily chores didn't seem like chores while they were gone. Dinner, laundry, and cleaning were very simple while they were gone. No complaints about what was being served for dinner, no arguments over who is setting or clearing the table.  I'm thinking that empty nest thing will be a dream. To be able to do what you want, when you want without commplaints is such a treat. And then it happened, I opened the door to my daughter's closet and all those things I asked her to put away fell out onto my feet.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DIY Grout Cleaner

I have been meaning to clean the floor grout in the bathrooms for a while, but something more fun is always happening. Pinterest had a Pin for grout cleaner, so no better time than today. The problem with DIY is you "do it yourself" unless you can find someone to do it for you.

The cleaner consists of 3/4 c baking soda and 1/4 c bleach mixed together.  Scrub the grout with an old tooth brush and wipe with a wet cloth. This made enough for me to clean two bathroom floors. I was a little discouraged at first because I didn't seem to notice a difference.  Then the grout started to dry and the magic happened.  The photos really do not do it justice.



This floor has a light grey grout so the clean is not as noticeable.


I am hoping I will be motivated to do the kitchen and hallways soon, but I am just waiting for my brain to come back after breathing all those bleach fumes.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Older and Wiser

I am another year older and I think wiser.  August 6th is my birthday.  I celebrated with my family over the weekend.  Mom asked me to make the cake.  Yes, my mother asked me to make my own birthday cake for the second year in a row. Before you start thinking that my Mom is a terrible person, I need to explain that my Mom has had a series of mini strokes over the past two years and things just have not been the same ever since and probably never will be again. Do not ask me why she could not purchase a cake from a bakery for the occasion, she loves to shop. It probably never occurred to her that asking me to make my own cake was a rude thing to ask, because I make cakes for all the family birthdays.  The human brain is a funny thing after a stroke, sometimes it processes data and sometimes you wonder if it is working at all.

I did make my cake this year, but not without complaining about it.  My daughters decided they wanted to help, so it became a mother daughter project.  I let my daughters have free reign over the decorating and I did the baking. I knew that at least the cake would taste great, even if it looked disgusting. In case you were wondering, the cake was lemon poppy seed with a lemon curd filling and topped with lemon butter cream. The cake looked pretty good for the first decorating attempt of a 9 and 10 year old and the taste was out of this world.

This was one of my favorite birthdays.  It started out with me feeling sorry for myself, because my Mom was having me make my own cake, but I have the great memory of the beautiful cake my daughters created in love. I miss my old Mom and wish I could have her back, but I think she gave me the best gift ever this year.  I can’t wait for my next cake.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Gleaming Silver Without The Work

I had some very tarnished sterling silver pieces at my house, so I decided it was time to try another Pinterest Pin.  This one involves lining your kitchen sink with aluminum foil  (it may be less expensive to buy silver cleaner/polish). You then add 1/2 c salt (kosher salt works too) and 1/2 c baking soda to the sink.  Pour in boiling water to cover the items and let them sit in the sink for 30 minutes. Rinse the items and they should be beautiful.  If the tarnish is really bad you may have to do some polishing.

As you can see from this photo my silver candlesticks looked like they belonged in a haunted house.   The second photo is not perfect, but a definite improvement.  I also tried this magic with some silver earrings that were tarnished.  This time I used a glass pan lined with aluminum foil, because I had visions of earrings stuck in the garbage disposal.


This was a lot of fun. I felt like a mad scientist conducting an experiment, (insert evil laugh). The hardest part of this experiment, if you are an impatient person, is waiting 30 minutes.

Let me know if there is a Pinterest Pin you would like me to try out for you.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Julie's Jambalaya

Everyone needs a quick meal recipe for when life gets crazy.  School will be starting soon and so will the craziness.  Jambalaya, my go to dish when life is busy.  Jambalaya is a one dish meal that is quick, easy, inexpensive, and my whole family will eat it, if I leave out the shrimp. Just add a salad and you have the perfect meal. Jambalaya is my comfort food and brings back memories of my before children vacation to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. You may want to turn on some jazz, mix up a Hurricane and put on a beaded necklace to make dinner festive.

1 large onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 medium green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3 T olive oil or vegetable oil
1 lb fresh or frozen shrimp (in shells)
1 cup uncooked regular white rice
2 c chicken broth
1/8 t pepper
1/8 t ground thyme
3 shakes of red pepper hot sauce (Franks or Tabasco)
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1 can (16 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 pound fully cooked smoked sausage, sliced in bite size pieces (increase to 1 lb if you omit the shrimp)

Cook and stir onion, green pepper, garlic and 2 T of oil in a Dutch oven over low heat 3 minutes. Add shrimp.  Cook, stirring frequently, until shrimp is pink, about 5 minutes. Remove shrimp mixture; reserve.

Cook remaining 1 T oil and the rice in Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until rice is light brown, about 10 minutes.  Stir in chicken broth, pepper, thyme, pepper sauce, bay leaf, tomatoes, and sausage.  Heat to boiling; reduce heat.  Cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 15 minutes.  Stir in shrimp.  Cover and cook until shrimp is hot. Remove bay leaf.   Makes 6 servings.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Two Flops and a Gold Pillow

You may have seen the tutorial about the no sew pillow cover on Pinterest.  I saw it and Pinned it.  The gold fabric was in the basement and I used an old throw pillow for the form.  Next time I will do this to keep with fabric I really like.

Next on the list was the Brownie in a Mug.  What a great idea! When the craving for a brownie strikes you just mix this up and you have your own personal, hot from the microwave brownie. This brownie tastes great, if you have no taste buds! It feels like hot, chocolate, play dough in your mouth.  I promptly threw the rest of the brownie in the trash.

I still am trying to cut those wine bottles.  I am disappointed that I have not been able to master the string and acetone cutting of glass for the wine bottle wind chime and wine bottle hurricane.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Enjoying the Weekend

My daughters were away for the weekend, so it was the perfect opportunity to try some Pinterest Pins.
  1.  I painted my front door with an eye popping color for curb appeal.   
  2. Made the Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll Cake
  3. Tried cutting a wine bottle with string
My front door is now Cranberry. I would rather have a new door, but this will do for now.

I baked the Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll Cake that I pinned several months ago.  The cake is delicious and is as close as you will get to a Cinnabon without going to the mall. The cinnamon filling has the gooey texture that sticks to your fork and probably your arteries.

Cutting wine bottles with a string was third on the list.  I pinned this so I could make this really artsy wind chime from wine bottles.  The wine bottle cutting videos are all over the Internet and Pinterest. I was worried that this project would end with a trip to the emergency room, but it did not.  It looked really easy, but as you can see I am still without my wind chime. I will continue working on this project. The bottle I used was imported from Germany, maybe I will try a domestic wine and have better luck.