Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Funny

I think we should all start the weekend out with a good laugh. There is a blog that I follow called Mama's Losin' It. Mama Kat is a mom to 3 and runs a day care out of her home. Her blog almost always makes me laugh. Once a week she also gives prompts of things to blog about. I usually do the prompts on my other blog but I think I'm going to start doing them here as well. Anyway, her post today had tears streaming down my face and I knew I had to share it. You can read it here. Now I know another reason why I only have a cat and a fish.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grocery Shop Efficiently

Try and shop at the same store each time you go shopping. By doing this you will become very familiar with the store and where the items you buy most are located. This saves time while shopping. The other way to save time is by creating a grocery shopping list that is in the order of the store layout. We all have patterns when we go shopping so make our lists in order of your pattern. If you usually get produce first then have the produced grouped together at the top. Group the items together that are in the same aisle and location of the store. This will help you shop more efficiently.

What are some other ways you shop more efficiently?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Removing Laundry Stains

I don't know anyone who hasn't experienced a stain on their clothing or had to deal with laundry stains, especially if you have a child. Here are a few tips for removing stains from laundry.

  • Always treat the stain as soon as possible. Dab or rinse with cold water if you cannot pre-treat it right away.
  • Know the type of fabric you are working with. If it is dry clean only then that is what you should do.
  • Know the type of stain. Water temperature can make a big difference in stain removal. Some stains come out with hot water while others are made permanent with hot water.

  • Work from behind the stain. Turn fabric inside out and place on a clean cloth or paper towel to prevent further spreading.

  • Allow chemicals time to work. Some take time and rushing the process could lead to inadequate stain removal.

  • Do not rub excessively; this will lead to the fabric wearing down.

  • Test whatever chemicals you use on an inconspicuous place for color fastness. Don't use chemicals that will harm your clothing.

Here are some common stains that you will encounter and tips to remove them.

  • Grass stains- Blot with cold water as soon as possible. Use a pre-treating agent (Spray and Wash, Shout, Oxi-clean), rubbing alcohol, or vinegar. Let it soak overnight. Rinse with water. Rub normal laundry detergent on the spot and then wash as normal. My favorite pre-treater is Oxi-Clean.

  • Spaghetti Sauce Stains- Wet fabric and sprinkle with powdered dish detergent. Scrub gently with toothbrush. Rinse and launder as usual.

  • Blood Stains- Pour hydrogen peroxide on and rinse with cold water.
    Ink Stains- Before washing blot with rubbing alcohol. I have heard that hair spray will work too.

  • Berry Stains- Dab with lemon juice and flush with water.

  • Deodorant Stains- Oxiclean is my favorite but you can also soak the garment in equal parts ammonia and water. Add a few Tablespoons of liquid dish soap and soak overnight.

  • Soiled Collars- Take a small paint brush and brush on some shampoo to the soiled area. Shampoo was created to dissolve body oils.

These are just a few. I want to know, what are your favorite stain removers?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Ways to Save Money by Saving Energy

  • The U.S. Department of Energy says consumers spend 6-12% of their income on utilities. For many, winter means higher energy bills. If you find yourself dreading the upcoming cold season and the increased cost of energy try some of these tips and start saving money on your energy bill.
  • Light bulbs- Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL's). CFL's last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs and can save up to $60 in electricity per light over their lifetime.
  • Unplug- Appliances and electronics that have a clock, operate by remote controls, and chargers are vampires sucking energy even when they are turned off. 40% of energy is consumed from these items when they are turned off. Unplug them when they are not in use, like when you are sleeping, or get a Smart Power Strip.
  • Water Heater- Insulate your water heater if it was built before 2004. Wrap it in a Thermwell blanket and you'll save 10% annually on your water heating bill.
  • Furnace- Service the furnace every 2 years and you'll save 10% on heating bills.
  • Turn Down the Heat- According to the Alliance to Save Energy, every degree you turn down the heat in the winter you take 5% off of your bill. Get an Energy Star programmable thermostat (~$70) and it will save more than twice its price in a year by adjusting the temperature automatically for when you are gone or in bed.
  • Washer/Dryer- Save 50% of the energy you use on heating water by setting your washing machine to cold. Set your dryer to moisture sensor and cut energy use by 15%.
  • Stop Drafts- Don't heat the outside world. Block drafts with weather stripping and save $30 per year.
  • Lower water Temperature- Set water heater at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Before you do this though make sure your dishwasher has a heat boost because the water needs to be 140 degrees to clean properly.
  • Timer Lights- Install timer lights or motion lights for exterior lighting and in rooms you use occasionally.
  • Full Loads- Make sure to fill your washing machine and dishwasher up before you run them. It takes the same amount of energy to run the wash whether it is full or not. Air dry your dishes and clothes too.

Individually these things might not be a lot of savings but if you do them all the savings really can add up. What are some of the ways your family tries to save on energy?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stretch your Food Budget

I don't know about you but I need all the help I can get some months to stretch our food budget. My cousin introduced me to an organization that has helped tremendously. It's called Angel Food Ministries. According to their website, this organization "is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing food relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States". I believe they do just that. My family has been purchasing from AFM for 6 months now and have been quite pleased.

They provide restaurant quality food at a very affordable price. Each month they offer several packages of food for you to choose from.

Signature Box is $30 and provides enough food to feed a family of 4 for a week. I don't think it would cover every meal but it does cover 7 meals. I have a family of 6 but since my kids are still young 1 signature box is enough. However, some months, especially the ones that have chicken tenders, I am very tempted to order 2.

Senior & Convenience Box is $28. It contains 10 fully cooked meals that are nutritionally balanced. All you have to do is heat and serve. These are perfect for home bound seniors or to take to work with you for lunch.

5 LB. Allergen-free Box is $23. This food does not contain the eight top serious allergens: peanuts, soybeans, milk, eggs, fish, crustacean, tree nuts and gluten.

6 LB. Premium Seafood variety box is $35. This is a brand new item and it contains the finest quality seafood assortment available.

Those are the main packages. Each month they also offer different specials like a fruit and vegetable box, assorted meat grill box, a chicken box, and others.

To order you need to find a local host site since they do not deliver you need to pick it up. You can find a host site by going to the Angel Food Ministries website. Once you find your host site you can order online using a Credit Card (small convenience fee charged) or go to the host site to order and pay using cash, check, or food stamps. Yes, they accept food stamps. If you do like to place orders online then I suggest you become a friend on Facebook because every month they offer a promo code for 5% off your online order.

To view this months menu visit their website and select This Month's Menu from the tab. I think you will like their food, I know we do.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Three-Cheese Garden Pizza

I used to be a Pampered Chef consultant and this was one of my favorite recipes I used to demo. I am not a big vegetable eater but I love this pizza. The flavor is amazing. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Three-Cheese Garden Pizza

1 pkg. (10 oz) refrigerated pizza crust
1 small onion, sliced into rings
1 med. Zucchini, sliced
1 C. mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 C. shredded cheddar cheese
¼ C. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. Italian seasoning.

Preheat oven to 400. Using lightly floured roller, roll pizza crust into pan. Bake crust 7 min. Remove from oven; place on cooling rack. Slice onion, zucchini, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Press garlic over crust. Spread evenly. Sprinkle cheeses evenly over crust; top evenly with onion, zucchini, mushrooms and tomatoes in this order. Grate parmesan cheese over vegetables. Sprinkle with seasoning. Bake 15-18 min. or until crust is golden brown.

You can also use homemade pizza crust. Try out my recipe for homemade pizza dough.

Homemade Pizza Crust

Here are two recipes for homemade pizza crust.

4-H Pizza Dough

1 Tbsp. dry yeast
1 C. warm water
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C. vegetable oil
3 C. sifted flour
1 C. or more of flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar added Measure salt and oil in mixer and add yeast mixture. Add 1/2 of flour and begin mixing. Gradually add the rest of the four while mixing. Divide dough into number of pizzas to be made and shape on greased pizza pans or cookie sheets. Let rise 20-30 minutes. Top with desired ingredients and bake at 450 for 15 minutes. Crust should be light golden brown and cheese melted on top.

Wendy's Pizza Dough

13 oz water
2 1/2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp yeast
4 Cups flour
2 T. cornmeal to sprinkle pans (opt)

Mix together water, oil, sugar, sat, and yeast. Gradually add flour. Divide dough and roll out on greased surface. Bake at 350 degrees for approx. 10 minutes. Cool and wrap in foil to freeze. Store the pizza crust in freezer until ready to eat. No need to thaw, just cove with sauce, cheese and other toppings as desired. Bake @ 420 until crust is golden brown. Or, after pre-baking the crust top with the toppings and cook at 425 degrees until done.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

German Pancakes

I learned this recipe in 6th grade Home Economics. This was one of my favorites growing up. We have breakfast for dinner once a week and this is the breakfast dish most requested.

German Pancakes

1/2 C. flour
1/2 C. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
4 T. margarine
5 large eggs
Combine flour, salt and milk. Mix well.
Add eggs, one at a time whipping after each.
Melt margarine in pie pan. I do this by placing the pan with the butter in it in the oven while it is preheating.

Add batter to melted margarine. Do not stir.
Bake at 425 for 10-15 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Serve with powdered sugar, syrup, or jam.
The edges will rise up and the middle will stay down. This isn't the best picture but don't be alarmed if your edges get over 4" tall. I took the picture in the oven because it will go flat once you pull it out.

The next time you have extra eggs, give German Pancakes a try.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tips for Tackling Laundry

Laundry is one of those things that never goes away. I know that if I get behind it is almost impossible to catch up. The hardest thing for me is finishing the job. By finishing I mean all of the clean clothes are folded and put away. I can get the clothes clean and folded it is the last step of putting away that gets me almost every time. There are 2 ways of doing laundry, you can have a marathon day where all you do is load after load or assign different days for different loads. I personally have a hard time finishing with the marathon day but my sister prefers this way. I prefer to split up laundry throughout the week. Typically, if I'm on top of things, my laundry days look like this:

Mondays- wash the kitchen rags and towels
Tuesdays- wash the kids colors
Wednesdays- wash the adult colors
Thursdays- no laundry because this is my errand day.
Fridays- wash the whites
Saturday- wash the bath towels and rugs.
Sunday- day off.

It doesn't matter how you choose to do your laundry but here are some tips everyone could use.
Laundry baskets- make sure everyone has their own basket for putting dirty clothes in. They also help for putting folded laundry in to carry to the rooms. My kids all share one that is in a central location of the bathroom since that is where most of the clothes end up. My husband and I have 2 baskets in our bathroom, one for colors and one for whites.

Have a basket or bucket in the laundry room for wet items or items to be washed soon. I have a bucket for the rags and a mesh basket for the clothes that inevitably end up downstairs.

Have shelves above the washer and dryer to hold laundry items like soap, fabric softener, and stain remover.

Have a place to hang up clothes that go on hangers immediately after they get out of the dryer. I have an over the door clothes hook.

Create a space to fold laundry and fold it as soon as it comes out of the dryer, this prevents too many wrinkles from forming.

Most importantly, FINISH the laundry by putting it away immediately.
I will have a post next week about stain removers that work. If you have any great ones please let me know.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Good Deals

I love a good deal. This week at Walgreens certain brands are on sale for buy one get one half off. Well, had I gone yesterday they would have been buy one get one free because they were programmed wrong into the register. However, buy one get one half off isn't a bad deal either especially when you combine it with $2.00 off coupons. This past Sunday's newspaper had $2.00 off coupons for Lubriderm, Aveeno, Clean and Clear. I was also able to print off more here and I had some wonderful friends who printed coupons and clipped some for me too. All of what you see pictured below would have cost me $91.07. Any guesses as to what I paid for it? Drum roll please.......$27.54! And, there is a rebate for select Johnson & Johnson products that can be found here as well as in last Sunday's paper. The rebate says if you buy $30 worth of select products you can get a $10 rebate. Well, it wasn't until I got home that I realized it said $30 worth not spend $30. So, I might take back some of the lotion because I really don't need a 2 year supply of it. But, then again, a good deal is a good deal and maybe I can gift some of it away. Real quick I want to thank Deal Seeking Mom and A Thrifty Mom for helping me find such great deals.

Knit Yourself Thin

I read an article the other day I found online and it said you could burn 500 calories in an afternoon of knitting. I think they figured you burned 100 calories per hour. Who knew my new hobby would be so good for my weight. So, now I feel I can justify the days I don't go to the gym because I want to stay home and knit. I didn't gain any weight over Christmas Break and it must have been because I was feverishly knitting hats for all of my friends. Now I'm working like a crazy woman to finish the Mystery Afghan I'm doing with the Bernat blog and making baby blankets, hats, and booties for my pregnant friends. I'm not just a couch potato anymore, I'm a knitting, calorie burning machine.

This picture is of a square I'm making for my afghan. It is my first time doing such elaborate cables. It took me about 3 hours to get that far (still learning remember) so, I figure I burned 300 calories and by the time I finish it I will probably have worked for another 2 hours so, this is a 500 calorie square for me. And, I'm not snacking while my hands are busy so that is an added benefit too.
If you are interested in learning how to knit, I highly recommend You tube's Knit Witch and the book Kids Can do it Knitting.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bike Riding

My son learned how to ride a bike with out training wheels just after he turned 4. He got his first pair of roller blades at 5. I would not be surprised if I saw him in the X games when he is older. However, it still makes me cringe when I see videos like this one. This rider is amazing at what he does. It wasn't until half way through that I was brave enough to watch with both eyes open. So enjoy, and one day this might by my son.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Beef Picadillo Tostadas

This is a new recipe I have added to my rotation. The adults loved it and 1 out of 4 kids liked it. The 3 that didn't like it ate the tostada shell and their fruit and picked at everything else. I think I'll keep it in the rotation for a little bit longer and change things up with the change of seasons. I got the recipe from one of the 29 Minutes to Dinner cookbooks Pampered Chef sells. It took me a little longer to make it but that was because it was the first time. I'm confident my next time I'll be right around 29 minutes to make it. I omitted the olives because Dad doesn't like them.

1 lb 90% lean ground beef
2 C. thinly sliced romaine lettuce
1 medium onion
1 ½ C. grape tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, pressed
½ C. snipped fresh cilantro
1 jar (16 oz) salsa
8 tostadas
1 Can (2.25 oz) sliced pitted ripe olives, drained
2 oz queso fresco cheese, crumbled
½ C. golden raisins

Add beef to 10-in skillet; cook over medium high heat 5-6 minutes or until beef is no longer pink, breaking into crumbles. Chop onion. Add onion and pressed garlic to skillet; cook 3-4 minutes or until onion is crisp-tender. Ad salsa, olives and raisins; cook 2-3 minutes or until heated through.
Meanwhile, thinly slice lettuce and cut tomatoes in half. Snip cilantro. Top tostada shells with lettuce, beef mixture, tomatoes, cheese and cilantro.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baking Soda: Not just for Baking

Your house is full of everyday household heroes, products that have a beneficial secondary use. I have written previously about Vinegar. Baking Soda is also a very handy item to have on hand. The best part is it is inexpensive to purchase. You are probably familiar with baking soda when it comes to baking but here are some other ways you can put your baking soda to use.

  • Unclog drains by pouring 1 cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup hot vinegar. Let sit for 30 minutes and then run water.
  • Use it as a mouthwash,sorry, no minty fresh breath but you will have less bacteria.
  • Clean your toothbrushes, especially after being sick, by soaking them overnight in 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup water solution.
  • If you have a grease fire don't dump water on it. Dump baking soda on it to extinguish it.
  • Great deodorizer for your freezer or fridge. Open the box and put it in. It will last up to 30 days. You can even purchase specially made boxes for the fridge or freezer.
  • Run an empty dishwasher with baking soda to clean up hard water and other buildup.
  • Don't want to spend lots of money for expensive jewelry cleaner? Just make a paste out of baking soda and water. It is perfectly safe on gold and silver.
  • Help reduce kitty litter odor by putting a layer of baking soda in the bottom of the pan and then pouring the litter on top.
    Or, make your own litter by mixing baking soda with 3 inches of sandy clay.
  • Relieve bug bites, sunburn, and poison ivy by making a paste and applying it directly to the sore.
  • Scrub out your bathtub and sink by sprinkling it on the grime and then wiping with a sponge.
  • add 1/4 cup baking soda to the toilet bowl, swirl, and scrub.
  • If you don't have any antacids to fight heartburn? Make your own by combining 1/2 tsp. baking soda with 1/2 cup of water.
  • If you have cracks in your side walk or drive way sprinkle baking soda to keep weeds at bay.
  • baking soda is less corrosive then salt so sprinkle it on your icy side walk.
  • Keep ants out of the dog/cat bowl by sprinkling a layer of soda around the bowl.

Monday, January 4, 2010

How to Avoid Junk -Email

I received an email with the following and thought it was excellent advice and rather than forward it on to people I'm sharing it here.

A friend who is a computer expert received the following directly from a system administrator for a corporate system. It is an excellent message that ABSOLUTELY applies to ALL of us who send emails. Please read the letter below, even if you're sure you already follow proper procedures. Do you really know how to forward emails? 50% of us do; 50% DO NOT. (I think more like 20%--80%). Do you wonder why you get viruses or junk mail? Do you hate it? Every time you forward an email, there is information left over from the people who got the message before you, namely their email addresses and names.. As the messages get forwarded along, the list of addresses builds, and builds, and builds, and all it takes is for some poor sap to get a virus, and his or her computer can send that virus to every email address that has come across his computer. Or, someone can take all of those addresses and sell them or send junk mail to them in the hopes that you will go to the site and he will make five cents for each hit. That's right, all of that inconvenience over a nickel. How do you stop it? Well, there are several easy steps. Try the following if you haven't done it before:

(1) When you forward an email, DELETE all of the other addresses that appear in the body of the message (at the top). That's right, DELETE them. Highlight them and delete them, backspace them, cut them, whatever it is you know how to do. It only takes a second. You MUST click the 'Forward' button first and then you will have full editing capabilities against the body and headers of the message. If you don't click on 'Forward' first, you won't be able to edit the message at all.

(2) Whenever you send an email to more than one person, DO NOT use the To: or Cc:fields for adding email addresses. Always use the BCC: (blind carbon copy) field for listing the email addresses. This way the people you send to will only see their own email address. If you don't see your BCC option, click on where it says To: and your address list will appear. Highlight the address and choose BCC: and that's it, it's that easy. When you send to BCC: your message will automatically say 'Undisclosed Recipients' or the principal addressee in the 'TO:' field of the people who receive it.

(3) Remove any 'FW:' in the subject line. You can re-name the subject if you wish or even fix spelling.

(4) ALWAYS hit your Forward button from the actual email you are reading. Ever get those emails that you have to open 10 pages to read the one page with the information on it? By forwarding from the actual page you wish someone to view, you stop them from having to open many e-mails just to see what you sent.

(5) Have you ever gotten an email that is a petition? It states a position and asks you to add your name and address and to forward it to 10 or 15 people or your entire address book. The email can be forwarded on and on and can collect thousands of names and email addresses.

A FACT: The completed petition is actually worth a couple of bucks to a professional spammer because of the wealth of valid names and email addresses contained therein. DO NOT put your email address on any petition. If you want to support the petition, send it as your own personal letter to the intended recipient. Your position will carry more weight as a personal letter than a laundry list of names and email address on a petition. (And don't believe the ones that say that the email is being traced, it just isn't so!) Some of the other emails to DELETE and NOT forward are:

1. The one that says something like, 'Send this email to 10 people and you will see something great run across your screen.' Or sometimes they'll just tease you by saying 'something really cute will happen. 'IT ISN'T GONNA HAPPEN!!!!! (We are still seeing some of the same emails that we waited on 10 years ago!)

2 Don't let the bad luck ones scare you either; delete them, they are trash.

3. Before you forward an 'Amber Alert', or a 'Virus Alert', or some of the other emails floating around nowadays, check them out. Most of them are junk mail that's been circling the net for YEARS! Just about everything you receive in an email that is in question can be checked out at Snopes. Just go to . It's really easy to find out if it's real or not. If it's not, please don't pass it on..

4. Before sending the email scroll down to the bottom and remove ALL the build up of 'Virus Protection Messages' and other advertising that get tacked on each time an email gets forwarded. So please, in the future, let's stop the junk mail and the viruses.

New Year New Resolutions

It's a new year so you have new resolutions right? Well, if you are me the only thing true about that statement is, it's a new year. My resolutions are still the same as they were last year. That is because I didn't quite achieve all of my resolutions. In fact, the only one I remember is my resolution to lose weight and that is because it is the same every year because I fail miserably every year. This year is going to be different I just know it. It is going to be a great year. I have two big milestones in my life to look forward too, I'm turning 30 and celebrating my ten year anniversary married to the love of my life. I wish the Black Eyed Peas would change the lyrics of their song I Gotta a Feelin to "this year is gonna be a good year". If you are like me you need some tips on having resolutions you can stick to so, here are a few tips for creating New Year Resolutions that you can keep.

The first thing you want to do is choose obtainable resolutions. If your resolution is to run a 5 minute mile and you are extremely overweight you probably won't be able to keep your resolution. A goal to run a mile is more realistic and can, with a lot of work be achieved with in a year.

Break down larger goals into little goals to help you achieve the big one. So, if you want to run a 5 minute mile make sure you can run a mile first.

Write your resolutions down and place them somewhere you can see them everyday as a reminder. If it is not written down it will be forgotten.

Work on your resolutions daily. Many resolutions are a "work in progress" like weight loss and getting organized. Do something daily to help you reach your end result.

Some resolutions are deeply personal but share the ones that are not with another person who can support you in your goal. Working towards a goal with someone who shares it also makes it easier.

It is never too late to start and if you break them start them up again.