Saturday, July 31, 2010

How To - 5 Ingredient Bacon Wrapped Chicken

This recipe is so yummy as well as quick and easy.  Serve it with a plate of your sliced home grown tomatoes.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 carton (8 oz) whipped cream cheese with chives
1 tablespoon butter cubed
6 bacon strips
Salt

Flatten chicken to 1/2" thickness.
Spread 3 tablespoons cream cheese over each.
Dot with butter.
Sprinkle with salt.
Roll up chicken.
Wrap each with a bacon strip.
Place seam side down in a greased 13 x 9" baking dish.
Bake uncovered at 400 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until juices run clear.
Broil 5 to 6 inches from the heat for 5 minutes until bacon is crisp.
Makes 6 servings.
This post links to:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Herbs - Summer Savory

Adding a spice or two can take a plain dish of food and turn it into a WOW dish.  Sometimes it is just the use of herbs that can make the home cook look like a true chef, providing she doesn't burn her dish!  haha  Even a simple use of herbs can turn a picky eater into someone who enjoys their vegetables and wants to try new things.  We all need to eat more vegetables!  Today I want to talk about summer savory because it is ready to be harvested and is such a versatile herb.  If you didn't grow it this year, try buying some fresh savory in the produce department and consider giving it a whirl next spring.

Summer Savory is an annual that adds just the right spice to many dishes.  You can add it to vegetables, egg dishes, soups, stews, meat, poultry and fish.  Try adding 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh savory to 1 pound of ground beef to make into hamburgers or meatloaf.  A favorite for many people is to add 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh savory to a pound of green beans.  It can be used as a salt substitute as well.  (Remember if using dried herbs to cut way back on the amount because dried herbs are so much stronger in taste.)

Summer savory is an annual unlike winter savory which is a perennial and can be grown into a hedge.  Both can be used for spicing food, but the consensus is most people prefer the flavor of summer savory.  It is easy to start from seed indoors and the seeds sprout in 1 to 3 weeks.  Transplant carefully outdoors after risk of frost has passed. 

If you have summer savory growing now in your garden, be sure to harvest half of the top of each branch as soon as it has lush foliage and again whenever it begins to flower.  Before the first frost, be sure to pull it out at the roots and dry the leaves for savory all through the winter months.

Give it a try!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Making Our Home a Haven - Episode #10 Being Productive

Hi Friends,
I wanted to let you know that the latest episode of Making Our Home a Haven is available to listen to.  In this episode I give tips on how to be more productive.  You can listen to it through my player here in the right sidebar.  You can also go to iTunes and in podcasts search Making Our Home a Haven and subscribe right there.
Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to Make a Candy Bar Card


Hi Friends,
Today I'm guest posting at a couple of places.  I am being featured over at Sew Can Do with a card tutorial.  I had sent her the card tutorial some time ago and have learned that it is featured today.  I give step by step instructions on how to make these sweet goodies using your Cricut machine.  I'm thrilled to have Cheryl featuring my project.  Be sure to pop over there and say hello!
This Post Links To:

The Spunky Diva

Hello ~ My name is Kimberlee, and I created and post on The Spunky Diva blog {my very own little corner of the web}.  Today I am very happy to be borrowing Nancy from you for a guest post on my blog.  I have learned so much through Nancy's posts that I know my readers will not be able to help but fall in love with her too.  Here is a little about myself: I am a fun loving wife, mom, and a card carrying craft-o-holic! Figuring out how to repurpose, refurbish, and refresh things is what makes stretching the dollar a fun challenge and I enjoy the opportunity to share ideas and links on The Spunky Diva blog with you.  I welcome you to come and visit me at The Spunky Diva!


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Lunch Link Party Starts Now!

Photobucket
 


The Party has Started!
Hi Friends,
The link party starts now!  The rules are simple.
1.  Link up posts to your summer lunch recipes and ideas.  There are still a few weeks before school begins and my kids are ready for some new lunch ideas.  I'm looking specifically for main entree lunches, meat or meatless are ok.  Quick, easy and kid friendly is the idea here.  Dig through your archives, as it doesn't need to be a current post.  Don't have a prewritten post?  Write about what you've been feeding your kids for lunch this summer.  Just make sure you are linking to a specific post and not just your blog's home page.

2.  Link back here in some way.  You can grab the button or write about the party and link here.  Just let others find the fun. 

3.  The party will be open until August 3rd.  At that time, I'll pick my three favorite lunch ideas and feature them!
This Post Links To:
Toddler Awesome
Smart and Trendy Moms
Only the Curious
Never Growing Old
On the Verge

Monday, July 26, 2010

Get Ready Summertime Lunch Link Up Starts in Just a few hours!

Hi Everyone,
Just a quick reminder to get you lunch ideas and recipes ready for the link up.  It begins bright and early tomorrow morning!

How To - Healthy Living - Week 4 Link Up - Water, Water and More Water

Hi Friends,
We are starting week 4 here of our healthy living program.  You can jump right in today if you like.  Everyone is welcome.  The point of this is to work on changing our habits in order to live a healthy lifestyle.  You don't have to focus on exactly what I'm doing this week, but link up to your specific post as to what you are doing this week to improve your health.  Share your goals and accomplishments.  You can even share your challenges and we'll try to encourage you to get back on track.

This week I lost 2 pounds for a total of 5 pounds lost.
25 pounds to go to reach my goal of 30.

I wish I could say that I made it to the gym every day this past week, but I only made it three times.  We had company staying with us.  How do the rest of you keep your routines when you have company?  My routines go out the window and I hate that.  We have company often so this is a struggle for me.  One of the things I did at the gym this week was to go to a low impact class.  It was almost all weights.  My muscles shook for a couple of hours after the class.  Guess it was a good thing though because it pushed me harder than what I have been routinely been doing at the gym.  I found the class not to be so fun.  Perhaps it was because I got to look at myself in a mirror for an hour while we lifted weights.  These young chickies in class who don't have children had super trim bodies. (I used to look like that before giving birth three times to 9+ pound babies.)  Then there was me, the over 40 mom.  I think working out on the machines and treadmills with the other over 40'ers is more my speed.  I do think though it will be good for me to go to that class every few weeks just to push myself.  I just won't compare myself to the young girls.

I also wanted to say that this past week has been very difficult to cut out the sugars like I mentioned last week.  I've been trying and have cut back on them some but will continue to work on this.

My focus this week is on drinking water.  Water, water and more water.  When I used to work for Physician's Weight Loss Centers we would encourage our clients to drink an extra glass of water for every #20 pounds overweight that they were.  This is above their 8 glasses of water to start with. 

Drinking water has many benefits and it is one of the best things we can consume.  Here are just a few of the benefits we receive from drinking water.  Water flushes out wastes, transports nutrients, and regulates body temperature.  It supports the chemical processes in our bodies.  It keeps skin moist, energy levels up and alleviates some headaches. Being well hydrated often helps to regulate appetite. People often mistake thirst and hunger, and eat when their bodies are actually craving fluid.   (I know I do this one, eat when I should be drinking.)

Not drinking enough water can also lead to many problems.  A few include: developing urinary tract infections, fatigue, headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness and preterm labor if you are pregnant.  There are many more problems, but this gives you an idea.

As I said before, be sure to link to your specific post related to healthy living.  If you've missed any of the previous posts, you can find them here:
Week 1 - Introduction
Week 2 - Exercise
Week 3 - Eliminating the wrong sugars

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Getting Ready For Christmas, Really??? Already???

I know it is July and Christmas is still 5 months away, but I wanted to give you a little to think about because the holidays will be here before we know it.

Make a list of people you know you will have to buy gifts for and keep your eyes open for things they would like that are on sale now.  I wouldn't recommend doing this for children as their wants change weekly as Christmas approaches.  Gifts for adults, teachers and so forth are who you can and should be thinking about now.

A second thing, because the holidays can be expensive, consider this tip.  Each time you go to the grocery store, buy yourself a $10 gift card to use during the holidays.  You might not notice an extra $10 each week now, but it will add up and will cover the cost of your holiday meals.  If you shop at a super store like I do, that extra gift card money can be used for gifts and toys for the kids as well.
One thing that is really important to note here though.  Some gift cards need to be used within the first 30 days.  If you don't use them in 30 days then there is a percentage of them deducted.  I despise those cards and will never buy them.  Ask though at the customer service.  There are plenty of places where you can get a gift card now and it never ever loses its value.

The third thing to work on is to get the craft projects started.  Are you making gifts, decorations, cards etc?  Get busy with them now.  While the weather is HOT, too hot to be outside, spend those afternoon hours crafting and creating to prepare for the holidays.  Host a crafting Christmas in July party for your family and friends where you all work on your projects.  All the fabric stores have holiday fabric on the shelves and many are having Christmas in July sales.  Craft stores also have holiday items in stock.  So get busy!

Finally, take some time now to develop a budget, or spending plan, for the holidays and stick to it.  Think creatively for ways to save money.  By planning now, you are ahead of the game.  If you start watching the sales now or making your own gifts and decorations, you may even come in under budget.  What a good thing that would be! 
This Post Links To:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

How To - Make a Household Notebook - Part 2

Hi Friends,
Here is the second and final part on how to make a household notebook.
Part 1 can be found HERE.
In the first picture above you get a glimpse into my kitchen.  I have a small section of counter between the refrigerator and pantry.  It's only good for making coffee and storing a cookbook and my household notebook, the white binder on the right.

Inside the binder I have folders that I punched with a three hole punch.  These are the folders that open up and have a pocket on each side.  This week they are on sale at Walgreen's for .09 each!  The white folder above says "menus" and it holds take out menus from restaurants in the area.  The other folders hold items for different activities such as Boy Scouts and other things we're involved in.

This calendar is one that was printed that shows Boy Scout activities.  Keep that three hole punch handy and it is easy to punch your holes and pop papers in the binder.

Here is a card holder.  This holds cards that I want from time to time, but they don't need to be in my purse.

In the above picture, it shows the divider tabs.  I have one for each member of the family.

I use my household notebook to hold things I want close at hand. This book originally came about because I would get piles of papers in my kitchen. These pieces of paper were things I wanted to keep for short term, less than a year, or that I wanted in my kitchen. You know when you sign your child up for an activity you get some important papers. I didn't necessarily want to file those papers in my file cabinet, what I consider long term filing. I wanted them more at my fingertips so they go in my household notebook.  I keep important school papers for the kids in the notebook as well, such as science fair information.  I used to use it to hold my cleaning schedule but I have that on the computer now.  I know some people use it for their bills.  I don't hold bills in it, but I have my budget in there.  There are various notes to myself that I keep in the household notebook that I want close at hand.  If you remember I wrote a page out of days and hours that various places were in operation.  My household notebook has changed over the years and has evolved into what works best for our home.  Basically though, if there is a piece of paper lying around the kitchen and it isn't trash or doesn't have a home elsewhere, chances are it will go into the household notebook. 

I also have heard of people putting their address book and phone numbers in their household book.  I keep my phone numbers in a Rolodex by the phone, but you might want your phone numbers in the book.  Something to think about.  Another thing to think about is using it to hold receipts for the month until you balance you bank statements.

One other section I have in the household notebook is notes for my menu planning.  Actually this is all in one of the pocket folders in the household notebook. 

Because of using this notebook, things are kept tidier in the kitchen and necessary items are at my fingertips.  I consider it to be a catch all of important mom information.  By the way, this is MY notebook.  I'm the one who adds and subtracts from it.  The family might use it to look up something, but they don't change anything in it.

This Post Links To:
It's a Blog Party
Mom's The Word - Make Your Home Sing
New Nostalgia

Friday, July 23, 2010

Heads Up for a How To Link Party this Tuesday!

Hey Everyone,
Starting on Tuesday morning, link up any recipes or ideas that you have for summer lunches.  I'm looking specifically for main entree foods, meat or meatless.  This can be an older post so dig through your archives.

If you house is like ours, the kids are getting tired of the same ol' lunch, yet I hardly feel like cooking a big meal at noon.  So, quick and easy as well as kid friendly link ups are what I am looking for!  Thanks!!!

How To - Tips for Handling Ground Beef Safely

Hi Friends,
Ground beef is a real 'go to' product for me.  It is a lesser expensive source of protein.  It is easy to prepare and so versatile.  Here is just a little information on the safe handling of ground beef. 

Be sure your refrigerator is set at 40 degrees or cooler.
Keep ground beef and other meat in the coldest part of your refrigerator, usually that is in the lower meat drawer.
Cook it within two days of purchase or freeze.  After cooking, use within 3 days.  Use within 6 months of freezing.
Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and then again cook within 2 days of thawing.
Wash your hands before and after handling the beef.  
Cook it to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.
Don't have a meat thermometer?  Get one.  They aren't expensive and are a necessary cooking tool.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How To - Reclaim Your Kitchen

Hi Friends,
It is amazing how quickly my kitchen can get out of control.  Even when I think I am staying on top of things, it doesn't take long when all of a sudden it feels like a hurricane went through it.  This is one of those times.  We are in our kitchen constantly. One of the reasons it feels like a disaster right now is because Mike and Tim have been getting ready for a Boy Scout campout.  It is times like this when there are many things that have found their way into my kitchen that don't belong there.  I want to give you some of my tips that I use to reclaim my kitchen and get it back in order.

The very first thing I do is make sure my dishwasher is empty.  Actually the very first thing I do is plug in my iPod and listen to a podcast.  I usually listen to spiritual, cooking or crafting podcasts.  Listening to these things helps take my mind off the work and makes the time pass quickly.  Perhaps though you would like to listen to some uplifting music to get you moving.

Next I start in one corner and work my way around the room.  I throw away trash.  (Always amazes me how I find trash on the counters when there is a trash can that functions perfectly well right there.) 

Dirty dishes get loaded in the dishwasher except for the hand wash items that get put in the sink.

Items that don't belong in the kitchen get gathered together in a basket for me to go around the house and deliver them to their proper home.

Stray papers get filed, trashed, or placed in the above mentioned basket.

At this point my counters are cleared from the unnecessary items so I wipe them down with soapy water.  I also wipe down the microwave and stove.

Next I wash by hand any dishes that couldn't go into the dishwasher.

At this point I'm ready to tackle the floor.  I take my throw rugs outside and give them a shake and now I'm off to sweep and mop the floor.

Whew...My kitchen looks and smells good now.  If needed I might straighten the pantry at this time or wipe down the refrigerator shelves but usually by the time the floor is mopped I'm done in the kitchen for a while.

Doing your best to stay on top of things is the best way to keep your kitchen from getting out of hand.  Wipe up any spills as they occur.  Make sure all the dishes are in the dishwasher or hand washed after each meal.  Don't go to bed with a messy kitchen.

My final tip is to make a menu plan for at least a week, or longer if you can, and follow it.  When you know what is coming up for supper you can do some of the prep work ahead of time such as cutting up onions or vegetables.  Then when it comes time to assemble the meal, you don't make such a mess.

Here's to a clean and inviting kitchen that will help make your kitchen the heart of your home.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

How To - Make Your Own Groceries

Hi Friends,
Today I am guest posting over at Lisa's Blog, Mom's Misc. Adventures.  Over there I am talking about making your own groceries.  I also give a couple of recipes to save you money as well as ensuring that you are putting things in your pantry that are healthy and free from preservatives.  I hope you will take a moment to pop over and say hello!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

How To - Make a Household Notebook - Part 1

Before I get started here, I must confess I'm writing this post out of frustration and my blood pressure is high (at the time of writing which is yesterday for all of you reading now).

I have a three ring binder in my kitchen that I keep important paperwork that I want close at hand.  I'll show you pictures in another post.  Everyone needs a household notebook to keep themselves organized.  Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to buy a three ring notebook and a 3 hole punch if you don't already own one. 

I learned today, yesterday for all of you reading, that I NEED a new section in my household notebook.  I spent a little more than three hours of my life today at the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD).  My oldest daughter is now at the age where she gets a regular driver's license, no restrictions.  I had to take her to the MVD to get this taken care of and a parent needed to be present.  There were already about 20 people sitting in chairs, not bad for my local MVD, and I knew I needed to settle in for about an hour to hour and a half wait.  Thankfully I had my iPod to listen to some great podcasts, like the one I produce Making Our Home a Haven.  (shameless plug)

What should have been an orderly event became total chaos, you don't need all the details but lets just say the number system they had in place was NOT effective and frustration and chaos ensued among the masses.  I swore, and I don't swear, that NEVER again would I go there unless I am one of the first in line.  I took note of their hours.  They open at 8 am.  I WILL be there at 7:30 am camping out like I'm waiting for a concert to be one of the first the next time I have to go.

Here is where the household notebook comes into play.  I now have a new page that lists special hours and days for different places.  I've included in it the hours of urgent care, hours when I can first call the doctor in the morning, hours and days when my hair dresser works, the vets special hours and more.  I've always had a page with phone numbers, but I've never listed the hours.  Some of these places you forget when they open because you don't go there often.  With two more children in line to get driver's licenses, I will be going back to the MVD and I never want to forget that they open at 8:00 and that I must get there by 7:30.  It is also a good idea to write down what type of documentation is necessary to bring.  I always have to show proof of residency by  presenting a utility bill with our address.  I wrote that in the notes section of this as well.

Ok, I am a little more relaxed now after typing this and I think my risk of stroke has passed.  Be sure to get yourself a pretty notebook and we will be covering more of this soon.  I hope you all have a wonderful day that goes smooth with minimal frustrations.  And if you do get frustrated today, can you learn something from it to prevent those same frustrations from occurring again?
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Monday, July 19, 2010

How To - Healthy Living - Week 3 Link Up - What We are Eating

Hi Friends,
We are beginning week three!
This week I lost 1/2 pound making my total three pounds lost, 27 pounds to go.

I've been exercising at the gym EVERY day this week.  Yea!!!  I also have to report that I am already feeling better and have more energy.  My focus this week will of course be to continue exercising.  Now I also want to concentrate on what I'm putting in my body.  I have a seriously bad sweet tooth.  I crave something sweet after every meal.  It really is just a very bad habit.  I've tried already this week to start cutting out sweets, but my sweet little boy, Timothy, had his 13th birthday and that means cake.  I cut only a small piece for myself, but there is always something around our house that involves a celebration or holiday and that means sweets.  Yikes!
One thing I've noticed, and I'm not trying to divulge TMI, is I find that when I eat too many sweets I feel like a yeast infection is coming on.  I've also learned over the years that I can avoid head it off at the pass by drastically cutting out my sweets and carbohydrates such as white breads and pastas.  Those things also turn into sugar.  Yeast likes sugar you know.  If I cut those things out of my diet for a couple of days then everything goes back to normal on it's own.

I know white flour products need to be replaced with whole grain products.  That is my goal this week.  Eliminate those simple sugars.  I think I am fine eating whole grains, potatoes and corn in limited amounts as well as eating fruit.  I just need the right carbohydrates in my body so that's what I'm working on.  It's going to be a tough week for me this week......

Let me know how all of you are doing!  Be sure to sign in to a specific post that links to your healthy living.
Here's to us!!!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

How To - Make a Kitchen Fire Extinguisher

Hi Friends,
Having a fire extinguisher in your kitchen is a must!  You can't beat a commercial fire extinguisher for doing its job, but for small fat and grease fires that flare up on the kitchen range or under the oven broiler, baking soda will put out the flames effectively.  Then, after a quick rinse, your food might still be edible.

Fill a clean, 1 pound coffee can nearly full with baking soda.  Cover the can snugly with its plastic lid so that the soda will not lump.  Wrap the can in a bright red piece of paper.  Write on the paper FOR FIRE ONLY.  Place the can near your stove but not on it.  If a grease fire occurs, quickly rip the lid off and toss the soda on the flames. 

If you don't have baking soda, you can use salt in the same manner.  While salt is cheaper, it merely smothers the fire with its weight while baking soda both smothers and produces fire-stopping carbon dioxide.

Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  ALWAYS HAVE A FIRE EXTINGUISHER ON HAND.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

5 Ingredient Recipe - Cucumber Salad

Here is a quick and easy salad that makes for a nice change of pace with your summer meal.

Cucumber Salad

1 1/2 cups peeled and chopped cucumbers
1 cup seedless red grapes
1 (8 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup bacon ranch salad dressing

In a large bowl combine all ingredients making sure all are coated with dressing. 

This Post Links To:

Friday, July 16, 2010

How To - A great tip for Zesting Citrus Fruits

Hi Friends,
It seems like when a recipe calls for lemon or orange zest that is when I don't have lemons or oranges on hand or the price of them is high.  On the flip side, when I do have these wonderful fruits, I'm not needing their zest.  I don't know why I never thought of this before as I think this is super clever.

When peeling oranges, lemon or other citrus fruit, peel strips of zest first and collect them in a zip lock bag.  Tell your kids you want the fruit peels when they reach for an orange.  Store these strips in the freezer and keep adding to them.  When the bag is full, just run the frozen peals through a food processor and again refreeze them.  You will now have zest on hand and won't have to buy citrus when the price of it is high.  This also makes a pretty garnish to some vegetables.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

How To - Cooking Terms

Hi Friends,
I wanted to share with you today some cooking terms that can easily confuse the new cook.
Beat - To make a mixture smooth by rapidly mixing with an electric mixer.
Combine - To place several ingredients in a single container and thoroughly mix together.
Cream - To beat butter, margarine or shortening alone or with sugar using a mixer until light and fluffy.
Moisten - To add enough liquid to dry ingredients while stirring to make a wet but not runny mixture.
Soft Peaks - To beat cream or egg whites with a mixer until soft, rounded peaks form when beaters are lifted.
Stiff Peaks - To beat egg whites with a mixer until stiff, pointed peaks form when beaters are lifted.
Whip - To Beat rapidly by hand or with an electric mixer to add air and increase volume.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Make Ahead Freezer Meal - Enchilada Lasagna

Hi Friends,
Here is a super easy recipe that you can easily double, triple, quadruple etc. and put the extra dishes in the freezer for another night.

Enchilada Lasagna
1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 tsp. chili powder
1 can (10 oz) enchilada sauce
6 (8 inch) flour tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
Salsa
Sour cream

In a large skillet, cook the ground beef, onion and peppers until meat is no longer pink; drain fat. 
Stir in cream cheese and chili powder.
Pour enchilada sauce in a shallow bowl.  Dip tortillas in sauce to coat.
Place two tortillas in a 13 x 9" baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Spread with half of the meat mixture.
Sprinkle with 1/3 cup cheese.
Repeat layers.
Top with remaining tortillas and cheese.
Cover, wrap and freeze for up to 3 months or bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until heated through and cheese is melted.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Serve with salsa and sour cream.

To use frozen lasagna, thaw in refrigerator overnight.  Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.  Bake as directed above.

This post links to:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How To - Save Money at the Gas Pump

Hi Friends,
I don't know about you, but I'm finding myself driving more since the kids have gotten out of school.  They want to go here and there.  Because of this I thought it would be timely to share a few tips on how to save money at the gas pump.

Anticipate that the light will be turning red and ease off the gas rather than gunning it to fly across on the yellow.  Easing off on the gas is much better than having to brake hard.

Turn off your air conditioner.  Um... I guess I could do that in the morning and evening hours.

Use your cruise control when traffic is light.  It keeps your speed constant eliminating the need to accelerate.

Reduce weight.  Hahaha. I'm laughing at this if you read yesterdays post about me exercising and trying to lose weight!  No seriously, get things out of the car and trunk that don't need to be in your vehicle.  That will save gas.

Pick a better route.  Pick a route with fewer stoplights.  Sometimes the shortest route is not always the best on fuel.  Sometimes the stoplights in my area are a two full minutes.  There are areas where I can actually drive around the block or take a slight jog in my route to avoid these long lights.  I'm not exactly sure if doing these maneuvers saves on gas, but it does keep my blood pressure down.

Speaking of pressure, keep your tires at their recommended inflation pressure.

Reduce drag.  Remove any luggage roof rack or bicycle rack if you are not using them.

Use the correct grade motor oil.  Consult your handbook for what is best for your vehicle at this time of year.  If you use a wrong grade that can cause more friction of the engine, causing it to run hotter and causing it to use more gas.

Drive less.  Combine your trips.  Ok, this one goes with out saying.  It is just hard for me when the kids are bored in the afternoon and want to do something.  One thing I try to do is to talk to the kids about the plans for tomorrow and see if we can't combine some of our activities.  I like going shopping in the morning, but lately, I have to put my preferences aside and adjust my shopping time to coordinate with the kids going to the pool. 
This post links to:

Monday, July 12, 2010

How To - Healthy Living - Week 2 - Exercise

Good Morning Friends,
We are starting week 2 of Healthy Living.  Before I go any further, I want to let you know how I'm doing on my goal of losing 30 pounds.  This week I lost 2.5 pounds!!!!!  Yippee!!!!

How have the rest of you done this week?  I've got a Linky thing at the bottom here so just put a link to the post where you tell us what you've been doing this week to live healthier.

For those of you who would like to join me on my quest for healthy living, just come on along and jump right in.   Anyone can join in at any time.  EVERYONE who wants to live healthier is welcome.

This week I personally am going to focus on exercise.  I think exercise gives me my biggest bang for my buck when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. 
Exercise helps increase bone density thereby increasing the strength of bones.
Exercise helps lower our cholesterol and triglycerides.
Exercise tones our body and gives it a nice shape.
Exercise gives us more energy.
Exercise helps increase our concentration and make our memory sharper.

I even joined a gym.  Yep, I did it.  I looked at a lot of factors before I signed up.  The one thing that kind of disgusts me is that I know I can exercise at home for free, but I just can't make myself do it.  I have tried and tried over and over.  It just makes me disappointed in myself for that.  Anyway, I joined a gym because I wasn't getting any exercise other than just routine housework and gardening.  I want this to go on record right here and now.  I HATE exercise.  I always have.  I just need to find an exercise that I hate less than others.

A few things I looked for in a gym are the following:  Cost, Variety as I don't want to become bored, Distance from home, hours and days open.  I joined one that had a month to month plan so if I find I don't like it I'm not locked into a year or more that some require.  Some gyms have child care available, but I don't need that.  Another thing I looked at was the noise level.  I listen to my iPod while exercising to help keep my mind busy.  Some gyms were so noisy I wouldn't be able to listen to it.  I've been going for one week now and so far I'm happy.  I choose equipment that is easy on my knees.  There are quite a few over forty moms working out at this gym of all shapes and sizes so I don't feel out of place.  There are a few muscle builders lifting insane amounts of weight and jocks running at insane speeds on the treadmill, but there are even elderly who use canes and get up on the treadmill.  They can hold onto the edge of the tread mill and go their very slow speed and I am just cheering them on I'm so proud of them for moving their bodies.  I'm proud of myself for moving MY body.  The nice thing is I can work out according to my schedule for as little or as much as I want.

This week's tip:  Move your body just a little more than you were before.  If you are already exercising.  GREAT!  If you don't exercise, can you add just 10 minutes of focused exercise to your day? 

It should go without saying, but check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.  You know your limits.

What are you doing this week to improve your healthy lifestyle?  Let us know!  Again, please link to your specific healthy living post.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How To - Pet Care

Hi Friends,
I don't know if you've ever done this or not, but I have.
You know the oily flea and tick treatment that goes on your dog or cat in which you squeeze it and apply between the shoulder blades?  Have you forgotten that you applied it and go to pet your sweet animal and receive an oily hand?  If you tie a colorful ribbon onto their collar, it will serve as a reminder not to pet your animal in the shoulder area for a few hours.

One more thing, if you do get the medicine on your hands, it should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How To - Uses for Dry Cleaning Bags

Hi Friends,
Ever wonder about ways to recycle those plastic bags that cover your clothing when you pick it up at the dry cleaners?  Here are a few ideas.
You can use them to cover out of season hanging clothing to keep the dust off.
You can wrap your shoes in them when you travel to keep the dirt off your other clothes.
Tie a knot in one end and it can line your trash can.
Use it to wrap breakables like Christmas ornaments.
Stuff them in out of season purses to help the purses keep their shape.
I think its great to find another use for things like this rather than have them end up in our landfills.
Enjoy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

How To - An Aluminum Foil Quandry - Shiny Side In or Out

Hi Friends,
I've received a question about using aluminum foil for baking.  Does it go shiny side in or shiny side out?
Great question as it seems like everyone has their thoughts.  The short answer according to Reynolds Aluminum Foil...It doesn't matter.  One side becomes shiny and one dull during the processing of it.  Having one side in or out doesn't affect the cooking in any way. 
There you go!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

How To - So Easy to Preserve



Hi Friends,
If your garden is like mine, it is starting to all come in and beautiful produce is getting ready to be picked.
I want to let you know of this publication so if you are interested, you have time to get it before your crops explode with excess.
The book is called "So Easy To Preserve".  It is published through the Georgia Cooperative Extension Office.  This book is not available on Amazon and I don't believe you can get it through the bookstores either.  It is something that can probably only be purchased directly.  HERE is the link.  The book is 375 pages that are FULL of valuable information.  If you have any questions about preserving, this book will answer it in detail.  The book costs $18.  I'm not an advertiser and I'm not making any money from your orders.  I ordered my copy a few months ago and have been HIGHLY impressed with it.  If you are a beginner at preserving, it will hand hold you step by step through the process.  If you have experience, it also goes into some scientific information about preserving and how and why it works the way it does.  There are 185 recipes and it covers all forms of preserving including:  canning, freezing, drying, jellies and jams, and pickling.

Here is my opinion.  I'm a big believer in information from extension offices.  I think they keep themselves always up to date with research and the latest information.  I've been doing some canning for quite a number of years.  As years have passed, new and improved techniques have been developed which means ways to preserve food that are safer for us to eat.  If you have been using an older recipe, such as your mother's recipe, you may need to at least explore on the internet to make sure you are preserving properly.  Much research has gone into the acidity and alkalinity of foods and at what pH level foods need to be preserved at.  This book happens to be the 5th edition and was published in 2005.  I certainly feel I got my money's worth.  They do have DVD's that go with the book but I did not purchase them.  They also offer a discount for ordering a quantity of the book so if you belong to a group, buying several copies can give you a discount.  When I ordered my book, it came in about 10 days.

I'm ready for my bumper crop!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

How To - 5 Minute Organizing Tips

Hi Friends,
Today is my day to guest post over at Jillian's blog Prenda Le Stelle
Jillian says this about herself:
Hey ya'll! I'm Jillian, a 23 year old SAHM of a one year old son! I blog about a variety of things, mainly my son. But don't be fooled, I'm not just another "mommy blog"! I'm crude, I'm rude, I'm wonderful! *And obviously sarcastic.* I have a few things up my sleeve regarding my blog, so I hope you all stay tuned for that! And a big giant thank you to Nancy for this short blog break!
Over at Jillian's blog I'm giving tips on 5 Minute Organizing.  You will be surprised what you can accomplish in only 5 minutes. 
Pop on over and say hello to her and I'll be back here tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

How To - Make a Map of Your Grocery Store

Here is a tip that can save you hours over the course of a year. 

Make a map of your grocery store.  I do 99% of my shopping at one store.  It accepts coupons and matches prices and it is close to home!  There is no need for me to spend time or gas running from store to store to catch the sales at other places. 

The next time you are in your grocery store, take a notebook and pen.  Write down, Aisle 1 and what is in it.  For me it is produce, deli, and bakery.  Aisle 2 for me is bread, coffee, and tea.  Continue for each aisle. 

Next, on your computer, make a shopping map page according to the aisles.  Have the aisles typed along with what is in each aisle then leave a space between for writing your list.  As you make your weekly shopping list, write each item in the space of the appropriate aisle. 

I like to shop from the back of the store moving to the front.  On my paper, I have the first aisle listed as the aisle to the back of the store.  Then as I move down my shopping list I am working my way to the front of the store.  Doing this helps eliminate going down the same aisle multiple times and criss-crossing back and forth through the store needlessly.  I promise you that a little bit of time spent up front saves hours later.  For those of you with small impatient children, this will help you get in and out quickly

When you finish writing up your grocery map, make several copies to keep handy in the kitchen.  Teach your children how to use this shopping map too.  When they use the last of the ketchup, teach them to write it in under condiments (aisle 4 for me).  One more thing.  Some grocery stores provide a shopping map at their customer service desk.  This will save you time upfront from having to take the notes in your notebook. 

Here's to quick and efficient shopping!


http://www.thethriftyhome.com

Monday, July 5, 2010

How To - Healthy Living - Do you want to Join me?

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Hi Friends,
Today I have an embarrassing post to write.  I need to lose weight.  30 pounds to be exact.  I've been watching the pounds creep up on me week after week and I need to put a major halt onto this weight gain and stop my unhealthy habits. 

There are several reasons my weight has gone up.  I quit exercising a year ago because of my knees.  I'm turning 46 next month so my metabolism is slowing down.  My youngest turns 13 this month and I will have three teenagers in the house, a cause of stress eating. 

I know what to do to get the weight off.  I just can't seem to do it.  about 20 years ago I worked for a company called Physician's Weight Loss.  I was their nurse and would draw blood, do EKG's, assist the physician and do lots of nutritional teaching. 

I know if I went to my doctor right now, my blood pressure would be up, my cholesterol and triglycerides would be sky high.  I just don't feel good right now nor do I feel good about myself and what I'm eating.  I've been thinking about this for some time now and have made a firm decision to make a change.

Will you join me?

My first tip to you is to fully decide weight loss and improved health is something YOU  TRULY desire and are committed to.  I'm at that point now.  You can't get healthy for someone else.  It has to be something that only you desire.  Next tip, make yourself accountable to someone.  I'm making myself accountable to you.  Those who are most successful in weight loss are accountable to someone else.  That someone might be at a weight loss program counselor, a family or friend, or a blog buddy.

Even if you are at your goal weight and are just wanting to live a healthy lifestyle, go ahead and join in.  We can all learn from each other.  If you are currently in the middle of a weight loss journey, join as well.  Anyone who wants to eat right and live healthy is welcome.

I've put a link up that you can join if you like.  We can check on each other weekly.  I don't think it is necessary to post our actual weight, but it is helpful to post our goal (my goal is to lose 30 pounds) and how we are doing weekly.  We can also post if we are doing anything special to help us with our new healthy lifestyle including recipes.  I'm very familiar with Weight Watchers as I'm sure some of you are as well.  If you want to post point values of food then go right ahead.  Each week I'll post how many pounds I lose and how many I have to go to reach my weight.  (Didn't that sound positive?  "How many POUNDS I'll lose")I'll also be posting a tip that I am focusing on for the week. One thing, most of my posts on weight loss and healthy living will be on Mon, but I have an occasional guest post I've already scheduled for some Mondays.  In that case, look for the weight loss update and links on Tuesday.

Be sure to sign in on McKlinky below so we can find you and stop by your site.  If you want, I have a "Lets Get Healthy" blog button for your blog.  This is not required though for you to join in.

This week's tip is to be 110% committed to better health and to be accountable.  I want this to be the last time I ever have to lose this weight. 


Sunday, July 4, 2010

"How To" Link Party Winners!

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A huge thank you to all of you who participated in the party and left some great links with "How To" tips!  I was delighted with the ideas.  All the links were wonderful, but I chose three that really resinated with me at the moment.  I was thrilled to get such a great variety of tips too.  For those of you featured, feel free to grab the 'I was featured' button for your blog!
Happy Homemaking!
Nancy


 Haupi gives us a great post on the many things you can do with Baking Soda.  Baking soda is such a versatile and frugal product to have around the house.  It can clean most anything around your house, even your teeth.  Keep it in the kitchen to smother a grease fire!


 Mmmmmm....Chocolate pie from scratch including the crust.  I just love, Love Love pies!  Betty has some great photos and takes us step by step through the process.  If you've been afraid of making pie crusts before, it really isn't difficult and the photos walk you through it perfectly.

Rachel at Redpunzel shows us how to make a sweet hair bow holder.  The hair bows just slip under and clip onto the ribbon strips.  Super cute and practical for a girls room.



Saturday, July 3, 2010

How To - a Speedy Fire Starter for Camp Fires

We are a family who loves to camp and many of you may be camping this 4th of July weekend. 

Paper towels with a little grease make a GREAT fire starter.  The grease burns longer helping to allow the wood and other kindling to catch fire.  If you happened to make bacon for breakfast, use a paper towel to wipe out the bacon grease from your pan and save that paper towel for helping you make your camp fire later in the evening.  If you didn't have bacon, you can always put a little butter on a paper towel or even put a little vegetable oil on it. 

This tip also works great when starting your fireplace in the winter.  Remember those pine cone starters that have been dipped in a grease?  It is the same principle.

Please have a fun and safe 4th of July holiday weekend!





http://www.thethriftyhome.com

Friday, July 2, 2010

How To - Ice Cream Tips

Hi Friends,
If it is as warm at your house as it is at mine, then you are reaching in the freezer for the ice cream.  I thought it was very timely to post some ice cream tips.

It is best if you do NOT store ice cream in the door of your freezer.  It is something that should be kept on the shelf.

If you are serving some pretty ice cream treats at a party, chill your plate or dish before serving up the ice cream treat.  This will keep it looking nice for a longer time.

For easy scooping, set the ice cream on the counter for about 5 minutes.  You can also dip your ice cream scoop in some water to help it scoop easier.

If you break your ice cream cone, don't throw it away, just crumble it up and use it as a crunchy topping on your dish of ice cream.

Do you ever need vanilla sauce in a hurry?  Just take some vanilla ice cream and melt it.  Instant vanilla sauce.  This was great over my rhubarb bread pudding that I made a few weeks ago.

Ice cream has air whipped into it.  That's what makes it smooth and scoopable.  When purchasing a quart of ice cream, look at the weight to determine exactly how much you are getting.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

How to Make Blue Cheese Flavored Butter

Hi Friends,
I got my hands on a book called Flavored Butters and it is my current new favorite book.  I like to read and sometimes I run across a book that really speaks to me.  This happens to be one of them.  Flavored Butters is by Offerico Moaz.  I counted 65 butter recipes in the soft cover book.

Yesterday I made Blue Cheese Butter and it is oh so tangy and creamy.  I want to share this one simple recipe with you from the book.  Prep time is only 10 minutes.

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup blue cheese, at room temperature
Cracked black pepper

In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients, adding the pepper to taste.  Use a fork to crumble the blue cheese and work into the butter.  Once the cheese is well crumbled, continue blending together with a wooden spoon until you have a fairly smooth paste. 

It goes on to mention you could do this with a food processor.  I found it easy enough to mix by hand.
Variations to the recipe are given (which I did NOT count in the 65 recipes) and serving suggestions are also given. 

Let me tell you what we are having for dinner tonight. 
I've got a loaf of French bread for this Blue Cheese Butter
I'm making my 5 ingredient Grilled Brown Sugar Salmon
I'm grilling some asparagus
I've got a bottle of Sutter Home White Zinfandel in the refrigerator (I like wine a bit sweet)
Watermelon is cut up and in the refrigerator will be our dessert

Talk about an easy, elegant and yummy meal.


Here are just a few of the recipes in the book;
Honey Mustard Butter
Garlic Parsley Butter
Kalamata Olive Herb butter
Parmesan-Bacon Butter
Pesto Butter
Sun Dried Tomato Butter
Hot Chile and Garlic Butter
All Natural Peanut Butter
Cashew Butter
Pumpkin Seed Butter
Crabmeat Butter Dip
Smoked Salmon Butter
Cinnamon Honey Buttercream
Maple Butter
Vanilla Rum Buttercream
Clarified Butter
Port Wine Butter Sauce

I can't wait to try more and I'm thinking Christmas gifts here.  Wouldn't a flavored butter be great as a neighbor gift.  Add to it a loaf of homemade bread.  I'm going to have to start watching for some pretty jars at the garage sales going on now to put my butter in.




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