Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kindness Challenge

Hi Friends,
I wanted to touch base with you off and on throughout the summer about the kindness challenge that I'm participating in.  You can find my original post about it HERE.

Since writing the post, I've been truly focusing on the Bible scripture I had mentioned.  Here it is again.
You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)
Through this scripture, I've developed sort of a mantra that I say to myself during the day especially when I'm feeling frustrated.  I tell myself, "Love, Forgive, Be Kind, Patient and Compassionate.  Sometimes I just have to repeat these words over and over.  Each morning before getting out of bed I've been asking God to help me with these things as I go throughout my day.

Since starting the challenge, I've had a two instances where I was not happy with the circumstances surrounding them.  (ok I've had more than two, but these were two biggies)  I asked God to help me with my mantra items.  One of the instances was in letting a teenage boy stay in our guest room as he was visiting friends in the area and did not have a place to stay for a week.  (I have two teenage daughters and for me to do something like this is very out of character for me)  I was not a happy mama but hubby was understanding and compassionate to the boy's circumstances.  He was an acquaintance of my oldest daughter.  I was kind to him and in the end I think my daughter got to have some conversations with this boy to get things off her chest.  Things she didn't want to tell her close friends, just someone impartial.  So good came out of the situation.

In the second instance I was asked to do quite a bit of volunteer work.  At first I thought oh my why did I say yes to doing all this.  It was hours of unexpected work.  As I did the work, I asked God to bless those who would benefit from what I was doing.  I said my new mantra over and over in my head.  As I continued to work, I felt a sense of peace and comfort come over me and in the end I was actually happy that I was able to help out.

This is called a Kindness Challenge that was presented from the blog Along for the Ride.  As I said before, I'd like to think of myself as always being a kind person.  I also don't consider the challenge as being something for only 90 days as originally presented, but it is something that should be life long.

So to make a long story even longer, I wanted to let you know of the two specific instances that came into my life and of my mantra that I repeat throughout the day.  I hope in some way that my actions, especially in these two instances, have helped brighten someone's day and more imporantly that I shined in God's eyes.

I hope you will keep kindness in the forefront of your thoughts as you go about your day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Making a Compost Bucket

Hi Friends,
I've mentioned before that I'm wanting to do more composting in the garden.  You can read my fertilizing post HERE.  My soil is pure sand with no very little nutrients as I live in the desert.  I have been wanting to begin composting to create some nutrition for my soil.and so in my search, ran across this video on how to make a compost bucket here at Frugal and Simple Living.  I think it is a great idea.  They show how to use a 5 gallon paint bucket for composting.  Air holes are drilled and some mesh is added.  Being able to roll the bucket around to mix the contents should be super handy.  I actually made one of these the other day.  I will say, I only used a 3/16" drill bit so my holes are much smaller as I'm afraid my compost will dry out if I go larger.  I also did not add the mesh that they used in the video because I made smaller holes.  It's an experiment and I'll update you in a few weeks as to my results.
I do want a larger compost bin though and have been looking at Lowes and Home Depot at their composting containers  For a real compost container they want about $100.  I'd to make my own.  I'm wanting something larger than my paint bucket that I've started out with, maybe 10 to 20 gallons and have looked at lidded trash cans, but they seem like flimsy plastic and even some in the stores have a crack in them. 
Here is my question....Do any of you know where I could get a large 10 to 20 gallon round heavy duty lidded container for my composting?  I'm wondering if there is a type of business that receives shipments in containers such as this and would have some just lying around that they would be willing to just give away.  Any ideas here?
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Monday, June 28, 2010

How To Link Party Begins Now!!!


The Party has Started!

Come join the fun!

I'm going to keep the rules super simple, super sweet and lets have a great time.

1.  Link up your How To Tip here.  It can be a how to on anything such as homemaking, gardening, organizing, parenting as well as crafts and recipes.  How To links must be to Family Friendly Sites.

2.  Link up to your post, not to your main blog page so that we can find your tip easily.  Your tip can come from an older post on your blog.  It doesn't need to be anything you posted just this week.

3.  Grab my button above and stick it on your post or sidebar or place a link in your post back to the party.  This is so everyone can find the fun.

That's it!  This blog party will be open until Fri. July 2nd.  I will pick my three favorite tips and feature them over the weekend.

This post links to:
Trendy Treehouse

Sunday, June 27, 2010

How To Link Party Begins at 1 AM Mountain Time


Hi Friends,
I hope you have been searching your blog for some How To posts.  As I've said before, they can be a How To on anything.  Family Friendly Only

This is my first link party here at How To Homemaker and I hope you will join and make it a smashing success.  I'm looking forward to visiting all your great links soon!

Do You Need a Blogging Break this Summer?

Hi Blogging Friends,
Are you ready for a summer break from blogging.  If you are, I'd be happy to do a guest blog post for you this summer.  I will be happy to post about a How To Homemaking Tip or a Recipe. 

On the day I am posting at your blog, I'll let my readers know where to find me and link to your blog.  My post for you will also include a link back here so it is a win-win for both of us as we let others know who's out there in the blogging world along with sharing great information.

If you are interested, please leave me a comment and be sure to include your e-mail.  You can also e-mail me directly at:
I'll get your blog scheduled on my calendar right away!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

How To - 5 Ingredient Dish - Grilled Brown Sugar Salmon

Hi Friends,
If you come to my house, this might just be what I will serve you.  I often serve it to guests as it is so easy and oh so good.
Grilled Brown Sugar Salmon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 whole salmon fillets
Preheat grill to a medium heat.  Lightly oil the grates.
While grill is preheating, heat on stove in a small saucepan the brown sugar, butter, dry mustard and soy sauce.  Heat until butter is melted stirring constantly
Place salmon on grill and brush with brown sugar mixture.  Be sure to brush both sides with mixture as you turn the salmon.
Grill for 6 to8 minutes per side until salmon flakes easily with fork.

Friday, June 25, 2010

"How To" Link Party This Monday

 It's a party!!!! 


Hi Friends,
I've been wanting to host a link party.  Everyone has so much fun at these and we get to meet some amazing blogs this way plus I hope we all learn some super How To Tips!

Coming up on Monday you can link your "How To" posts.  For this time around I will leave it open on how to do anything!  This could be any homemaking tips, gardening, organization, parenting tips, recipes, or craft or how to do anything you can think of.  (Links must be family friendly)
Mark your calendars and more details will come soon!

How To - Make Your Own Dryer Sheets

Good Morning Friends,
Did you know you can make your own dryer sheets.  Oh yes you can!!! 

Take a spray bottle.  In it mix 1/2 cup liquid fabric softener and 1 cup water.  Spray mist an old washcloth, or an old towel that has been cut up into rags.  Put the washcloth into the dryer with your clothes.  Just shake the bottle to mix the contents and remist the washcloth for each dryer load being sure to shake the spray bottle before each application. 

What a savings!  Just be sure to take a Sharpie marker and label the spray bottle with its contents.

Friends, if you are enjoying How To Homemaker, would you please let others know I am here on the web.  I would so appreciate it.  You can let others know by placing How To Homemaker on your blog roll, you can grab my button for your blog or you can mention me in a blog post with a link.  If you do any of these things, please let me know and I will be most happy to do the same for you!  Your sites for me to link to or for me to mention in one of my blog posts MUST be family friendly.  Either leave a comment here or send me an e-mail to basketmaster_nancy(at)yahoo(dot)com

Thursday, June 24, 2010

How To - Vacation Tip

Many people are going on vacation at this time.  Here is a vacation tip that I've done for years.  Sometimes electricity can go out in our home.  Most of the time it comes back on in a reasonable amount of time.  When you are on vacation though, you don't know how long your electricity has been out.  All you see is your digital clocks blinking telling you that their electricity flow was interrupted.  Now even with no electricity, your freezer foods can remain frozen for a couple of days as long as the door is not opened.  Put a glass of ice in the freezer.  When you return from vacation check to see if there are still cubes present.  (They may be smaller if it is a self defrosting freezer).  If the cubes have melted and the refrozen to where it is a solid block of ice on the bottom of the glass then you know the food is no longer safe to eat as it became too warm in your freezer.

One more tip though.  We lived in Florida the year hurricane Katrina came through.  That was the season we experienced 4 hurricanes in our area.  The first one was hurricane Charlie.  That is the one our home was most affected by.  Thank goodness for my wonderful husband who had the forethought to buy us a small portable generator.  We were able to keep our freezer and refrigerator running.  Some of our neighbors weren't so fortunate and lost freezers full of meat.  Here is something very important.  When you lose all your food, this is something that is possibly covered by your home owner's insurance.  (Loss of food was covered by my neighbor's home owner's insurance policy)  Before you take the spoiled food out of your freezer take a picture or two of it for insurance purposes.  If you go to file a claim later, having the proof of a photo with the date on it is extremely helpful.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

How To - A Simple First Aid Tip for a Cut

Hi Friends,
I was watching someone administering first aid treatment to a child who had a scratch.  What I saw is the mother putting first aid cream, an antibiotic ointment, directly on the wound.  That can be very painful to the child or injured person.

Here is a very simple technique so as not to touch the cut.  Run a strip of the antibiotic ointment directly on the bandaid itself.  The ointment will spread out on it's own as you then apply the bandaid to the cut. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to - Never Lose Your Scissors

Hi Friends,
I know some people who only have one pair of scissors and who hunt for them endlessly.  I personally have scissors for sewing, paper, kitchen scissors, yard scissors and a few extras. 

For specific scissors, take a fairly long piece of pretty ribbon and tie one end to the hole in the scissors.  Then tie the other end to where you want to keep it.  Just make sure the ribbon is long enough that you can cut with the scissors without having to untie it.

I have a little thread scissors tied to my sewing machine for snipping threads as I sew.
I have a scissors tied to a hook in the laundry room where I cut off loose threads that I notice when washing clothes.
I have a scissors tied to the bar in our closet to cut off tags from new clothing and loose threads.

It is a huge time saver to have scissors handy.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How To - An Extra Pair of Hands When Speed Cleaning

Hi Friends,
Here Your How To Homemaker has a tip for you today to help a bit in cleaning, especially if you need to speed clean.
Take a plastic grocery sack and tie one of the handles around your belt loop.  As you go around your house cleaning an picking up, you have a trash bag right on you and that will save you steps.

I must say, I have a trash bin in almost every room of the house and that helps, but it amazes me how much trash I find laying around that doesn't make it to the bin.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How To - Make a Candy Bar Card - Happy Father's Day!

Dear Friends,

I want to show you the card my children made for Father's Day. It is called a candy bar card. I bought quite a few candy bars and packaged candy with names I thought we could use for the card. The three children worked together and this is what they came up with. Note, you can always cover up letters you don't need and add letters to the front or end of a candy bar name.

The card reads: "Dear Mike (Mike and Ike Candy) and Dad, Even though you are a (Nerd) you are full of (Smarties). We think you are an (Extreme) (Lifesaver). Mom thinks you are a (Big Hunk) and a (Sugar Baby). You are a (Bounty) of fun and worth more to us than (100 Grand). You're a (Whooper) of a good dad. You're everyone's (Mr. Goodbar). We love you (Now and Later). So here's some candies including your favorite (Reeses). Happy Father's Day. Love, Mom, Tim, Katie and Emily

This was a favorite Father's Day gift for Mike.  He LOVED it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How To - 5 Ingredient Dish - Make Ahead Easy Carrot Salad

Hi Friends,
This recipe comes from my mother as it is something I used to eat as a child.  It is a great way for children to eat their carrots.  Best of all, make it the day before when you have a few spare moments and it will be ready for your meal.
Shredded Carrot Salad
  • 2 pounds of carrots, grated (a food processor makes quick work of this)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup Miracle Whip Salad Dressing (Do NOT substitute mayonnaise)
  • 1 can mandarin oranges drained
  • 1 cup miniature marshmallows
Combine all ingredients and its not necessary, but it tastes best if you refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight before serving.

Friday, June 18, 2010

How To - My Favorite Way to Fertilize the Garden

Hi Friends,
I just wanted to share with you a little about how I fertilize my garden and shrubs.  I just gave all of my plants their June feeding.
Of course you need to know about what zone you live in depending on your altitude.  We live 5200 feet in elevation and are in a high desert climate.  Our winters are mild to moderate with only a few inches of snow if any. 
For my climate I fertilize the plants in March, June and September.
My favorite fertilizer is the shake on Feed an Grow fertilizer.  I can just shake in on, around the trunks of the trees and shrubs and it will do its work for 3 months.  It is super quick and easy.
Early in September is the last month that I will put on any fertilizer because I don't want to encourage too much new growth before it starts getting really cold.  Depending on where you live, you might not want to fertilize after July or August.  Plants need to put their strength into their roots and staying healthy over the winter months rather than focusing on new fragile growth just before it turns cold.

When I plant my vegetables, like my tomatoes, I make sure the soil is well fertilized before setting in the plant.  After my vegetables are planted I put on only a little Miracle grow a couple of times in their early young stages.  Fertilizer will help the plants grow and become leafy.  It can really hinder the setting on of blooms.  Also, if you fertilize vegetables too much it can also give tomatoes a blah taste.  I put a little bit of liquid miracle grow on my tomatoes today, but that will be the last time.  Now all they need is the warmth of the sun and water.  Most of the blooms won't start coming onto my plants for another month yet so I was ok in fertilizing them today.

Contact your cooperative extension office and find out the best information for your specific area so that you will get the best out of your plants.  HERE is a link where you can find your local office.  Much of their information is free for you.  They WANT to help you be successful in your gardening.

My next thing to learn about is how to make a compost bin.  I've been reading up on this and hope to make one sometime over the summer so that next spring, I'll have some rich nutritious dirt to add to my sandy undernourished soil.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How To - A Kindness Challenge

Dear Friends,
One of the things about being a homemaker is our attitude towards our work and more importantly towards others.  It can be easy in today's society to develop a negative attitude with all we see in the media and also how we are treated by others, even complete strangers as we go to the store.  Even worse, the negativity all around us can become a habit with us. 

This past week a sweet friend had a sister who passed away.  I spoke with her one day and she told me her sister was going to receive care from Hospice.  I spoke with her a couple of days later and she said her sister was having some good days and she might have 3 good months left.  Then she called me and said her sister had passed the very next day. 

When my friend mentioned that her sister might have three months to live I really was hit hard with what would I do with my life if I was told that I had only three months to live.  I felt that anything on my bucket list truly no longer would really matter.  What I would want is to spend my time with family.  I also wanted to spend my time making people happy and to make people happy every day.  As I continued to think about this I felt why would I ever wait until I only had three months to live to make people happy.  Why don't I make a conscious effort to make people happy right now!  I'd like to believe I'm a good person and do my best to always do what is right, but what can I do to go out of my way to make other's happy? 

I'd like to invite you to take a look at Laura's blog, Along for the Ride, where she is hosting a 90 days of Kindness Challenge.  Laura is asking us to pray and reflect and choose one area of our life that we would like to focus on.  As I had already been thinking about this before I read her blog post, I had decided that I was going to focus on my family and work on going above and beyond in showing them extra kindness and to be the example that I want them to be.

You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own.  So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else.  You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you.  And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity.  (Colossians 3:12-14)
I won't be posting all of my acts of kindness every day, but I will post from time to time about this throughout the summer.  I hope you will consider joining me in this kindness challenge.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How To - A Mid Afternoon Refreshing Pick Me Up

Hi Friends,
It is almost 2:00 in the afternoon here and I am ready for my summer mid day pick-me-up.  Do you still have a little coffee left in the pot from this morning.  I do.  I have one extra cup waiting for me.  I'm going to take that cup of coffee and put it in a tall glass.  I'll add the normal amount of my favorite coffee creamer which happens to be hazelnut.  When I say normal amount, I am using the same amount of creamer that I would normally put in my morning cup of coffee.  Now I'm adding 7 or 8 ice cubes and one scoop of vanilla ice cream.  I slip in a straw and my pick-me-up is ready.  Mmmmmm........So good on a hot day.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

How To - Cleaning Steak and Kitchen Knives

Hi Friends,
Today I would like to mention a couple of tips for cleaning your sharp knives.
My steak and kitchen knives have wooden handles thus I have to wash them by hand rather than putting them in the dishwasher.  Once they go in the sink and are covered with soapy water you can't see them and you don't know where their sharp blades are. 

My first tip is just wash them one by one holding onto the handle at all times so you know where the blade is.
If you are like me and do put several in the sink at once, put all the points towards one corner of the sink and the handles towards the opposite corner.  Then when you put your hand in the soapy water you know where to reach.

Three or four times a year put a little vegetable oil on a paper towel and rub the oil into the wooden handles to keep them looking nice and lasting longer.

For those of you with knives that can go in the dishwasher, if you lay them on the top rack, again put all the points going in one direction.  If you put them in a silverware rack be sure to put them in the rack point down.

Monday, June 14, 2010

How To Turn Dollar Store Items and a Recycled Cereal box into Gift for a Teenager

Hi Friends,
I was presented with a Dollar store craft challenge and I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  I began with inspiration from HERE which was just paper folded into a box to look something similar to this. 

I wanted more strength so my project began with an old cereal box.

I cut a window out of the front of the cereal box.

Then I covered the outside of the box with pretty scrapbooking paper.

Next came some paper embellishments.

Add to this more paper embellishments and some Dollar Store Stationery.

Take a look at the finished cereal box.  Total cost $5 for the different Dollar Store items.  I already had the scrapbooking paper and rick-rack on hand and no cost of the empty cereal box.  What a fun gift to give a teenage girl!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

How To - Keep Crawling Baby's Shoes Looking Great

Hi Friends,
I remember the days when my little ones were crawling all over the place.  They had the sweetest tiny little white leather shoes.  They would crawl and crawl and crawl.  It wasn't long before the toes were scuffed up from all that crawling. 

I would clean the shoes with a damp cloth and then polish them up.  To help prevent them from getting scuffed up again I would put a little clear nail polish on the toes of the shoes.  It really did help to keep the polish on the shoes longer and they stayed nicer looking.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

How To - 5 Ingredient Dish - Rigiatoni with Olives and Bacon

Here is an easy recipe.  Just serve with a salad and rolls and it makes a light and delicious summer meal.
Rigatoni With Olives and Bacon
Serves 4

  • 6 slices bacon

  • 1/2 onion thinly sliced

  • 8 oz uncooked rigatoni or other small shaped pasta

  • 12 black olives pitted and chopped

  • 2 oz fresh Parmesan cheese
In a medium skillet, cook bacon until crisp.  Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  Crumble bacon.  Saute onions in bacon drippings until soft, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions.  Drain pasta.  Place pasta in a serving bowl.  Toss pasta with bacon, onions and olives.  Serve with shavings of fresh Parmesan cheese.

Friday, June 11, 2010

How To - Get the Grease Off! My Secret Weapon

Good Morning Friends,
Today I'm going to share with you one of my secret weapons.  It is GOJO.  It is a gritty hand cleaner.  I've found that it works for much more than just hands.

(I'm not getting any reimbursement from GOJO and this is NOT an advertisement for it, but sometimes I think I should buy stock in the company as we like it that much.) 
We keep a bottle of this under our kitchen sink because it is so handy.  I get mine in the super size at Sam's Club or Costco.  I'm going to tell you what I use it on but...

*Because this has a grit to it, test it in an inconspicuous location first to make sure it doesn't leave a scratch.*

I use it to clean the grill, both the outside of it and the grates.  The outside of the grill gets plenty of cooked on grease splatters and this takes it right off.  I'm not a clean freak and I don't clean the grill often, but if we are having company over for a patio party, I want the grill to look decent.

My kitchen stove is gas and I use GOJO to clean the cast iron burners.  I also use it to clean the knobs on the stove.  I've used it in the oven as well, but I'm sure to use a wet rag and make sure it's all removed before running the oven.  GOJO does have an orange fragrance to it.

I use it to clean the bottoms of my skillets from time to time (maybe once a year) when I'm thinking they are looking disgusting.  My skillets and pots hang from a pot rack in the kitchen so they are in plain view all the time.

My microwave is directly above my stove.  I've used GOJO to clean the outside of the microwave and get the grease splatters off of it.

I use it on my clothes.  Yes, you heard me right.  If I spill something on my clothes, I rub a bit into the spot and rinse it out.  Most of my clothing is t-shirts and jeans material.  I've not tried it on any delicate fabrics.

I've even use this on the carpet when the kids spilled some raviolis with tomato sauce.  (don't ask me why they were eating on the living room carpet)  It took the stain out with a little elbow grease.

When using it on my cast iron burners or the grill,  just rub it on with a terry cloth rag.  I don't even wash it off of those items, I just wipe it off with a clean rag.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Making Our Home a Haven - Loving Up Your Home

Hi Friends,
I just wanted to let you know that my latest podcast episode of Making Our Home a Haven is ready for you to listen to.  It is episode #9 and the topic today is Loving Up Your Home.  I give tips for using your five senses to love up your home and making it a place where you and your family want to be.

This episode runs just shy of 15 minutes.  You can listen to it from the player on my sidebar here at this site.  You can listen to it from Talkshoe HERE, or you can download it from iTunes.  When you go to iTunes and are in podcasts, just type in the search Making Our Home a Haven and it will take you right there.  You can also subscribe to it in iTunes so as not to miss a single episode.  Past episodes can be listened to from any of the three locations as well.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

How To - Your Car First Aid Kit

Hi Friends,
With my background in nursing and my family being very involved in scouting we follow the scouting motto of "be prepared".  We always have a first aid kit in each of our vehicles.  You can always get a complete store bought kit which is fine and contains many items.  I just have my own items in a plastic pencil box.  You can pick up these plastic pencil boxes for a quarter right befor school starts.  Today I want to share with you what I keep in our kit.  It is very basic but it does the trick when needed.  Unfortunately, it is needed far too often.

  • Bandaids of various sizes, but mostly the size that is a strip which will wrap around a finger

  • Tube of Neosporin or antibiotic ointment

  • Twissors

  • Small bottle of Tylenol

  • Small bottle of Ibuprofen

  • Small bottle of Tums

  • Sharpie marker
The Sharpie marker is to mark on the little medicine bottles.  Those little bottles are expensive so I refill them from a larger bottle that I get at Sams Club or Costco.  When I refill the little bottles I use the Sharpie marker to write the expiration date on the little bottle of what the expiration date on the large bottle was.
Having a Sharpie marker has come in handy from time to time as well for things other than first aid.

One more thing I keep in the vehicles but it doesn't fit in the first aid kit is a container of antibacterial hand wipes.  I personally prefer this over things like the hand sanitizers because I feel with a hand wipe I can actually remove dirt from our hands.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How To - 5 Ingredient Fast One Dish Meal

Hi Friends,
Your How To Homemaker has a fast to fix meal that our family enjoys and I think yours will too.  I honestly find this recipe to be very flexible as I can exchange beef with chicken.  I can use different Ramen noodle flavors.  I can use different vegetables.  This recipe is just a framework and you can exchange ingredients to what you have on hand or what your family likes.

Asian Beef and Noodles
Serves 4

  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef*

  • 2 packages (3 oz each) Oriental flavor instant Ramen noodles**

  • 2 cups frozen vegetables - Use Mixed Veges, Cauliflower and Broccoli, Carrots, whatever you have on hand

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1 onion chopped
In a large skillet, begin cooking ground beef and onion.  Brown ground beef breaking it until no longer pink.  Remove beef with slotted spoon and pour off fat.  Season beef with one packet of seasoning from noodles and set aside.  Back in the skillet, combine 2 cups water, noodles, vegetables, ginger and remaining seasoning packet.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Cover and simmer 3 minutes or until noodles are tender stirring occasionally.  Return beef and onion mixture to skillet and heat through.

*  Sometimes I will use 3 or 4 large chicken breasts cut up in small pieces in place of ground beef
**  I will substitute other flavors depending on what I have on hand

If you have already precooked your meat then your time is only about 10 minutes to make this. Otherwise it takes about only about 15 to 18 minutes to make. What I like about this is it is just one skillet, it's fast, and it tastes great.  It has protein, carbohydrates, and vegetables so all I have to do is add some fruit to the meal and get the kids to drink a glass of milk and I have a balanced meal on the table in just a few minutes with little cleanup.
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Monday, June 7, 2010

How To - A Great Storage Tip for Quilters

Hi Friends,
I have a great tip for those of you who quilt.  My mother is a beautiful quilter and makes some amazing quilts for the bed or to be hung on the wall.  The quilts are seasonal and need to be rotated. 

When you make a quilt, take your scraps and make a pillowcase out of them.  This does several things.  The quilt can be stored in the pillowcase when not in use.  Because the pillowcase is made out of the same fabric, you know what is in the pillowcase.  This is perfect for those of us who rotate our quilts.
The pillowcase is usable for the bed as it matches.
If you quilt ever needs to be patched, the pillowcase can be taken apart and used to make the patch.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

How To Make a StairStep Card

Hi Friends,
Your How To Homemaker is addicted to crafting of all sorts so you will see crafts here from time to time.  I'm seriously addicted to making these cards.  They are soooooo much fun and simple too.

I've made all these just using scraps of scrapbooking paper.  How thrifty is that!
You start with a piece of paper that is 5" x 10".
You are only going to make one straight cut in the paper and the rest are five little folds.  On my diagram, the cut is done where the solid line is an the folds are the dashed lines.

The cut is made 2" in from the left side of the paper.  The cut starts 1" down from the top and goes to 7 1/2" down.
The scores are made at 1" down, 2" down, 3 1/2" down, 5"down, and 7 1/2" down.
Fold the paper as shown here.
The two pieces of paper below are actually the same size 5" x 10".  The photograph just makes the left one appear smaller.

Embellish your cards as desired.  I used my Cricut machine and cut some shapes.  Just in case you are interested, for the birthday card I used the Sweet Treats cartridge.  For the 4th of July card I used the Stand and Salute cartridge, and for the Hope card I used the Home Decor cartridge.

Give the stairstep card a try.  I think after the first one you will be hooked!

One more thing Friends.  I'm still feeling like a little fish in a big pond here, new blog on the block feelings.  Would you be so kind to tell others I'm out here so people can find me.  Could you write and let people know where I'm at here on the web or grab my button.  I'd also be very happy to do a guest blog post on your blog with a homemaking tip.
Many Thanks!
This Post Links To:
Somewhat Simple

Saturday, June 5, 2010

How To Know What Foods Do NOT Freeze Well

Hi Friends,
Today I would like to let you know about some foods that do NOT freeze well.  This information comes from the National Center for Home Food Preservation.  This website has helpful information not only for freezing, but for canning, drying, pickling and other food preservation methods.

Freezing is the type of food preservation that I do the most often.   I find it easy and convenient.  One of the things I like to do as I've already told you, when making one dish, multiply it and make several dishes at the same time.  One to eat now and one or more to freeze.  It is helpful if you know what foods DON'T freeze well so you know what recipes you can and cannot do this with.  My post on How To do Multiple Make Ahead Meals can be found here.

Thank you to the National Center for Home Food Preservation for this useful information listed below.

Cabbage*, celery, cress, cucumbers*, endive, lettuce, parsley, radishes - As raw salad they become limp, water-logged,quickly develops oxidized color, aroma and flavor

Irish potatoes, baked or boiled - In soups, salads, sauces or with butter they become soft, crumbly, water-logged, mealy

Cooked macaroni, spaghetti or rice - When frozen alone for later use it becomes mushy, tastes warmed over

Egg whites, cooked In salads, creamed foods,sandwiches, sauces, gravy or desserts - They become soft, tough, rubbery, spongy

Meringue - In desserts become soft, tough, rubbery, spongy

Icings made from egg whites in cakes and cookies - becomes frothy, weeps

Cream or custard fillings used in pies, baked goods - Separates, becomes watery, lumpy

Milk sauces - For casseroles or gravies - May curdle or separate

Sour cream - As topping, in salads - Separates, becomes watery

Cheese or crumb toppings - On casseroles - Becomes soggy

Mayonnaise or salad dressing - On sandwiches (not in salads) Separates

Gelatin In salads or desserts - Weeps (Nancy's Note:  I've found Gelatin that has been mixed with cool whip or pudding for salads or desserts does freeze well)

Fruit jelly used on Sandwiches - May soak bread

Fried foods - All except French fried potatoes and onion rings - Lose crispness, become soggy

* Cucumbers and cabbage can be frozen as marinated products such as "freezer slaw" or "freezer pickles". These do not have the same texture as regular slaw or pickles.

Friday, June 4, 2010

How To - A Quick Kitchen Tip

Here's a super quick tip for you.  If you are like me, you save the rubberbands you aquire.  You know the fat rubberband that comes around produce like a bunch of broccoli?  Keep that rubber band handy in your kitchen.  The next time you have a jar lid you're trying to open and can't get a grip on, place the rubber band around the lid.  It makes hanging onto the lid and opening it 10 times easier.
Happy Homemaking,
Nancy - Your How To Homemaker

Thursday, June 3, 2010

How to Make Your Own Vinyl Clings and keep Children busy on long Trips

When I was a child I remember playing with a toy called Colorforms.  They were pieces of shaped vinyl that would create a scene.  You could restick the vinyl over and over again on the board that came with it.
Today in the craft store near the scrapbooking die cutting machines they sell colored vinyl on the roll.  You can cut the vinyl into shapes.  The children can create their own scenes on the car or airplane window.  The vinyl cuts easily with scissors, but if you have a die cutting machine that works great.  Some ideas you might like to try cutting are: a doll with different clothes to dress up, a garden with vegetables, a plate with different food to pretend and eat, a jungle with trees and animals, little boys might like dinosaurs, how about outer space with stars, planets and a rocket ship.  If you are traveling at Christmas, you could even cut a nativity scene and let your child create it with Joseph, Mary, Jesus and all the animals and wise men.
Get creative and make your own Colorform play set.
One final tip...It can get costly to buy many colors of vinyl.  Consider getting just white and coloring the shapes with Sharpie markers.
Nancy - Your How To Homemaker

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How To Make Guacamole - Ultimate Recipe

I love avocados these days.  My husband Mike found Alton Brown's Guacamole recipe a year or two ago from Food Network's website and let me tell you it is the best guacamole around.  One of Mike's favorite shows is Alton Brown's "Good Eats".  Mike enjoys the scientific reasoning behind why we cook things the way we do.  We made this recipe for our Memorial Day picnic.  This guacamole is some serious good eats and it really is quick and easy to prepare.
Hope you'll give it a try.
Nancy - Your How To Homemaker

Here is Alton Brown's Guacamole recipe:


3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
1 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 clove garlic, minced

In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How To Keep Birds Away from Fruit Your Trees


Hi Friends,
We planted a cherry tree and this is it's third year to give us cherries so it is still a young tree.  We treasure all that yummy fruit it gives us as the tree is still quite small and we don't get much from it yet.  Not only do we like the fruit, but the birds like it too!  Sorry birds, I love having you around, but we don't have enough to share. 

A simple trick to keep the birds out of the tree is to hang old Cd's on it.  I hung 8 Cd's around the tree.  I just used some fishing line to make a hanger for them.  As the breeze blows they really are quite pretty as they catch the sunlight.  Best of all though, the glimmering it creates keeps the birds out of the tree.
As our grapes ripen over the summer, I'll be hanging some of these on the grapevines as well.
Happy Homemaking,
Nancy - Your How To Homemaker


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