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.