Monday, July 1, 2013

Soap Scum Killer

Every time I test a new homemade cleaning product, I always cringe at the thought of posting pictures online.  

Yes - I'm that self conscious about anyone seeing my home dirty or messy. 


For me this is the worst of all - but I must give an accurate review of what I try.  I only post the ones that actually work for me and I use in my home.

So here's the before of my bathroom shower/tub. *sigh*


Yea, this is horrible.  In my defense, we use these great containers to store Olivia's bath toys and they seriously hide soap scum and buildup. 


So I try the soap scum spray first and do one sweep with my sponge.  Already I notice a huge difference:


Since this level of dirty is unacceptable, I know it's going to take more than one pass. 


Oh, don't I look happy?

I'm honestly shocked as I rinse down my tub after round two, lots of scrubbing. 


It's actually looking like a usable space again! 

                            Hallelujah !!! 

This mix is definitely worth a try, but remember to make it right when you plan to use it as it does not store well.

Soap Scum Killer

2 cup of HOT white vinegar 
    (Microwave it)
1 cup of Dawn dish soap (blue)

Pour into spray bottle and shake, use immediately.

Yes, that's it.  How easy?  Now get to cleaning and if you need some extra power check out the BathTub Paste for grout and water lines. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chicken and Blueberry Summer Salad

I have worked my butt off today at the Hot Rod Car Show, which was a total blast! 
                 (I love the 1950s style)

When I arrived home it was 94 degrees outside and my house was 82.  There was no way you could pay me to turn on our oven.  So, I had to figure out a cook free meal.  That is when I came across a few different salad recipes.  I combined what I'd found and came up with this:

Blueberry and Chicken Summer Salad:
1 package of fresh baby spinach
3 cups of strawberries, stem and slice
2/3 cup of pecan halves, roughly chopped
2 cups of blueberries 
1/2 tomato, chopped
3 cups of chicken chopped (Use leftover chicken breast, this is optional) 
Dressing
1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar 
1 lemon with zest and juice
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil

Mix your dressing first by pouring in your balsamic vinegar, pepper, lemon zest, and squeezing lemon juice.  Whisk together and slowly add in your olive oil.

While that sits assemble your salad with the ingredients listed above to your desire.  (The amount above made 2 adult servings and 1 child serving) 

Pour a small amount of your dressing on the salad and enjoy! The flavors taste wonderful together. I honestly didn't have high hopes.  Even my six year old cleared her plate.  

Great for a refreshing meal on a hot day!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Strawberry Freezer Jam

Who doesn't love homemade jam?  As a kid I remember getting in my grandma's fridge and lathering my toast with the delicious jam. 

Now that I'm a mom, I want my daughter to enjoy this delicious treat too.  So I decided to try making my first batches of jam.

This was so easy and I'm baffled that I never tried it before now.

Ingredients for one batch
2 cups of mashed strawberries
4 cups of sugar
1 package of pectin 
1 cup of water 

Buy scrumptious strawberries from your local organic market!


Wash and stem your strawberries.


Mash your strawberries in a bowl.


If you want thicker, mash until chunky. If you want smooth, mash until liquid like.


Stir in four cups of sugar and allow your mix to set for 10-15 minutes.


Turn your burner on high.  Pour 1 cup of water into a small sauce pan, slowly pour in your Pectin packet while whisking.  Keep stirring until your mix comes to a boil and stir for one minute. 


Pour your pectin into the bowl you have had sitting and stir for three minutes.


Ladle out your mix into your clean freezer containers and leave 1/2 inch for the mix to settle.  Let sit for three hours then freeze.  

You're done! 

This is two batches


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Breastfeeding explained to a 6 year old

My daughter is one of the most animated people I know.  We all say she will become an actress, a politician, or a mobster.

I'm rooting for actress.

So today we are on the way to her Grandma Patsy's house and we see an adorable kitten playing in a field.


Olivia: Awe a baby kitten. Did you know baby kittens get their milk from their mommies.

Me: Yes, they do.

Olivia: All animals do, it's how mommies take care of them! Except humans.

Me: Um, actually, yes, humans too.

Olivia: (silence

Me: That's how I fed you.

Olivia: (screams) What is wrong with YOU? That's disgusting.  (gasp) Oh my goodness, it can't be true.  

Me: (laughing) Yes honey, it's true.

Olivia: I just can't handle this.



It's a hard reality for a six year old and she's been avoiding the topic all day.

Sorry honey, you were a breastfed baby.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Local Gallery

Many years ago I had an itch to paint however, I never pursued the desire.  When Bill and I began dating we talked about our life dreams and goals.  I brought up how I'd always wanted to paint.

One day, we went shopping at my all time favorite store, Michael's.  He asked if I still wanted to paint and I giggled.  Really? Um...yes.

He loaded the cart with beginner supplies and headed the check stand.  I kept saying I had no talent and couldn't do it. He would just smile that wonderful smile and said well have you tried?

When I got home that night, I tried.   I searched Pinterest for tips, for inspiration, for something.  I found many great ideas and tried a craftsman style Santa using acrylics. 

This was my end result.  He's kind of cute right?  My Aunt Chris mentioned how much she loved him and I gifted him as a present that year.  She proudly displayed him until February.  

Looking back now, I did everything wrong but I did it.  I tried.  Then began my desire to try more. 

See what I could. Anything.

My mother had mentioned a painting she saw and liked.  I made my own version for her with acrylics. 


It was a hit.  This one was a little easier.  I basically painted the background, and drug my brush to make a tree.  Added some gems, painted then glued on lettering.  She loved it!

Now I was really interested.  After talking with friends, I found out our local gallery held classes for painting lessons.  $10 for your first oil painting, inclusive of all your needs.  

Umm...oils? 

Scary!

Yet, I tried.  I loved every lesson.  Every chance to try the brushes with direction from a wonderful teacher. Following her lesson plan for my first painting, a required landscape to learn the fundamentals.


When it was done, I gifted it to my exceptional boyfriend for all his love and support.

My second painting bumped my class fees to $15 per lesson.  However, my skills had improved.  Here is my second oil painting in class:


If you want to paint, find PINs that help you.

            Try something, anything!

Your talent is just waiting to be released!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Flavorful Spaghetti

I am sure you are laughing.  A recipe for Spaghetti?  Come on!

Here's the deal.  I have been to a number of people's homes or "community feeds" where Spaghetti was served and truthfully, it is terrible.  Folks, I have some information that will save your wallet and make everyone beg for this simple meal.

Just humor me.

Flavorful Spaghetti
1lb of ground beef
2 cans of tomato sauce
1 can of diced or stewed tomatoes
1 pkg of Lawry's or McCormick Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Packet
1 pkg of Spaghetti noodles (normally half will do fine for a family of four)
Garlic Salt
Pepper

Brown your ground beef as it is cooking season to your preference with garlic salt and pepper.  Don't be scared, just don't go crazy!  While it's browning, boil your noodles (add a tsp of olive oil to keep it from getting sticky).  Now that your hamburger is browned, drain all grease.  

Once drained, return to pan and dump in your cans of tomato sauce and diced or stewed tomatoes.  Mix together then add your seasoning packet.  Allow to heat on low until warmed stirring frequently.  Once your noodles are done (throw one at the wall, it sticks - they are done) drain them and put them in a bowl.  

Taste your sauce, it should be hot by now and if needed add in a little extra pepper and garlic salt to your suit.  Just make sure you stir and taste, wait a few minutes before adding more so it can set.

Now throw your meat/sauce into a bowl and your done.  I promise the best you've had yet!



I just want to be a farmer

Do you eat packaged food in America?  If so, you are most likely eating a fun thing called GMOs.




I am sure all of you at some point have heard of GMOs in recent years aka genetically modified organism.  Just in case you haven't here's a quick definition:



"...GMOs, or “genetically modified organisms,” are plants or animals that have been genetically engineered with DNA from bacteria, viruses or other plants and animals. These experimental combinations of genes from different species cannot occur in nature or in traditional crossbreeding.
Virtually all commercial GMOs are engineered to withstand direct application of herbicide and/or to produce an insecticide. Despite biotech industry promises, none of the GMO traits currently on the market offer increased yield, drought tolerance, enhanced nutrition, or any other consumer benefit.Meanwhile, a growing body of evidence connects GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights...."



I always remember this quote and honestly, it scares me.  "We are no longer eating foods.  We are eating food like products."  I don't want to wonder what I am eating, I want to know that a carrot is carrot, that a cow is a cow, that pasta is actually pasta.  This is not a game, this is my family's health, their well-being.

The major problem I have with GMO foods - I don't TRULY know which ones are and which are not.  The United States does not have a requirement to label these science experiments.  There has been a lot of work to hide them as well by corporations due to growing US fear.  However, a lot of national attention is trying to change this, but so far we are not getting anywhere with the movement.  I was very hopeful that when Obama was elected, this would change.  However, it hasn't...here is a great example:


Obama appointed Michael Taylor, former VP of Monstano (leading in GMOs) to Deputy Commissioner of the FDA.  

I have no words.

The worst part is how far behind America is at banning the use of GMOs in our food.  Nearly everywhere else in the world, GMOs are banned or restricted.  Here's a look:
"Africa: In Africa, both Algeria and Egypt have laws restricting GMO foods. In Algeria, both the planting and distribution of GMO foods is illegal, while in Egypt, GMO foods must be approved before they can be distributed. 
Asia: In Asia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Japan and the Philippines all have laws limiting GMO foods. Both Sri Lanka and Thailand had bans on imported GMOs as early as 2001, while the rest of the countries have had more recent bans. 
Europe: In Europe, Norway, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Luxembourg and Portugal have put in place GMO restrictions. France made an important step in the no-GMO movement by specifically defining exactly what "GMO-free" means when it comes to food labeling. Ireland has banned all growing and cultivating of GMO foods and the European Union -- a governing coalition of European countries -- has considered a Europe-wide banning of GMO foods. 
The Middle East: In the Middle East, Saudi Arabia has banned the growing of GMO foods and the importing of GMO wheat. 
The Americas: While the United States still largely allows for the growth and import of GMO foods and does not demand food labeling, South American countries such as Brazil and Paraguay have restrictions on GMO foods."



So here we are America...behind the curve of health, of our substance, our survival.  Why you may ask?


Big Business...

Profits...

Corporate America.

So, let's learn a little about Monsanto, the US leading biotech company:
"Monsanto was among the first to genetically modify a plant cell, along with three academic teams, which was announced in 1983, and was among the first to conduct field trials of genetically modified crops, which it did in 1987. It remained one of the top 10 U.S. chemical companies until it divested most of its chemical businesses between 1997 and 2002, through a process of mergers and spin-offs that focused the company on biotechnology. 
Monsanto was a pioneer in applying the biotechnology industry business model to agriculture, using techniques developed by Genentech and other biotech drug companies in the late 1970s in California.[7] In this business model, companies invest heavily in research and development, and recoup the expenses through the use and enforcement of biological patents.[8][9][10][11] Monsanto's application of this model to agriculture, along with a growing movement to create a global, uniform system of plant breeders' rights in the 1980s, came into direct conflict with customary practices of farmers to save, reuse, share and develop plant varieties.[12] Its seed patenting model has also been criticized as biopiracy and a threat to biodiversity.[13][14][15] Monsanto's role in these changes in agriculture (which include its litigation and its seed commercialization practices[16]), its current and former agbiotech products, its lobbying of government agencies, and its history as a chemical company, have made Monsanto controversial."

What happened to the days our food sources were controlled by the average American family?  Farmer's working all day, dirty hands, pride, and information passed down from generation to generation.  We are at the point in America where we are allowing ONE COMPANY to manage our entire food source. Biotech companies have been able to obtain patents with which to restrict their use. As a result, the companies that make GMOs now have the power to sue farmers whose fields are contaminated with GMOs, even when it is the result of inevitable drift from neighboring fields. GMOs therefore pose a serious threat to farmer sovereignty and to the national food security of any country where they are grown, including the United States.

I don't even want to get into the issues of power, market cornering, and overall ETHICS.   Best part is? Monstano is taking over our food source without you knowing.  They have been slowly controlling the seed distribution, ensuring Monstano seeds are grown and distributed in YOUR local grocery store.  These modified crops are also sprayed with harmful chemicals and protections in order to kill off pests.  As well as killing our bee populations.


Those farmer's who are avoiding these concerns, growing safetly and in a healthy manner?  They are having to pay numerous fees and certifications in order to become certified organic.  Making there crops cost more than the poison filled GMO products.  How does this make any sense?  


I could go on and on for days on the health issues, corporate issues, and so forth.  However, I just wanted to give you an quick informational post about what you are buying.  I encourage researching your foods, finding ways to avoid GMO projects and please, vote to label GMOs.  Make your loved ones aware.  If you'd like some information, check out these sites:




Educate yourself.  

Grow a small garden with GMO free seeds.  

Know what you are putting in your home for your family to eat.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fast Philly Cheese Steaks

I was in the mood for some Philly Cheese steaks.  However, I am working on keeping a tight budget and wanted to use things I had around the house already.  After searching Pinterest, I found a recipe that suited my craving with most things I had on hand.  Just a few substitutes and here it is:

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 green bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 3 thin chucks of steak, sliced thin
  • few dashes of garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons Italian dressing
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 4 (2.5-oz.) soft rolls, split (I used big hot dog buns because I had them on hand)
  • 4 (1-oz.) provolone cheese slices (I used monetary jack because its what I had)
Directions

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms, and sauté 13 minutes or until onions are golden brown. Add steak strips and garlic powder; sauté 3 until brown. Stir in dressing then season with salt and black pepper to taste.

2. Arrange steak mixture evenly on bottom roll halves; top with cheese and remaining roll halves. Arrange on a baking sheet.

3. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes or until toasted.

This really came out good, very flavorful and exactly what I'd wanted.  I paired the meal with Paula Dean's Potato Soup from last night and bam!  Dinner is done it took me maybe 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Source: http://pinterest.com/pin/41376890298104610/

Friday, January 4, 2013

Simple Potato Soup

I cannot get over how easy Paula Dean's Potato Soup is, seriously EASY!  The best part? It's simply delicious.  I will recommend making homemade cream of chemical...I mean cream of chicken soup.  It's on my previous post so simple to find and easy to make.

Throw in Crockpot
(30 oz.) bag frozen hash-brown potatoes (I used the shredded style but only a 14oz bag)
2 (14 oz.) cans chicken broth
1 (10.75 oz.) can cream of chicken soup (See my post on making your own, easy!)
1/2 chopped yellow or white onion
1/3 tsp. ground black pepper
 
At the end
1 (8oz) package cream cheese (softened)
Optional Garnish: minced green onion, cheese, a few strips of crumbled bacon if you'd like
 
Directions:
Throw in slow cooker, combine potatoes, broth, soup, onion, and pepper.
Cover, and cook on low for 5 hours.
Stir in cream cheese, cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until combined.
Garnish if desired.
Next batch will include some razor clams!
 
I decided to try this out because I had everything on the list already.  It was cooking while I made dinner and literally overtook the smell of the entire home.  Can you say amazing?  What was the coolest part was watching it turn to soup when I stirred in the cream cheese.  I was a little worried about it being stringy but it was nice thick soup.  My boys loved it! 
 
I'll be making another batch tomorrow with clams and some other ideas.  I think this would also be an excellent use for your base potato mix. 
 
Keep this one near by!
 

 

Chicken and Black Bean Casserole

It's a lazy day and I don't feel like working my butt off in the kitchen. Which means...simple and easy meal tonight.
 
Enjoy:
 
 
Chicken and Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Ingredients
2 chicken breasts diced or shredded chicken breast meat
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can of corn, drained
1 (4.5 oz) can rotel, drained
1 (10 oz) can green enchilada sauce (you can use red if you prefer)
8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (I used sharp)
1 (8 oz) container sour cream
 
Instructions
 
Preheat the oven to 375°. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add small amount of olive oil to avoid sticking. Sauté chicken with garlic, cumin and coriander until chicken is cooked through. Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the corn, black beans, and rotel.
Spread half of the enchilada sauce over the bottom of an 11x7 inch baking dish that has been wiped lightly with olive oil. Place 4 tortillas over the sauce, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half of the chicken mixture over the tortillas, and sprinkle with half of the cheese and half of the sour cream.
Spoon the remaining enchilada sauce over the cheese, and make another layer of tortillas. Layer the remaining chicken mixture over the tortillas.
 
Cover dish with a oven safe lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven.
 
Remove the cover, and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top and dot with sour cream. Continue cooking, uncovered, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese melts.
Let stand 10 minutes before serving.
 

"Cream Of" Soup

It seems as though ever recipe I try, I find a line: "Cream Of" soup required.  Since I am very big on cooking whole foods that require little preservatives, this feels like a slap in the face to my attempts.  I have tried excluding it but lost a lot of the recipe in the process.  So I said enough.

Recently, I began searching Pinterest for more options to rid myself of the cream of chemical slop.  You'd be amazed on how many others agree on this, which meant a lot of options to make your own.  Now, I hate complicated recipes.  If I cannot do it in 30 minutes or less, I just move on to another option.  Most of the ones I found were extremely involved and I don't have time for tons of extra work.

Then I found the one.

Here's the recipe, which I tweeked a little:
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth (I used 1 can, it was decently close)
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ¾ cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon seasoning mix
    • I used: 1/2tsp onion powder, 1/2tsp garlic powder, 1/2tsp black pepper, 1/2tsp salt
  • Want to add your own? Combine a mix of the following until you equal about 1tbs: ½ tsp. onion powder, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. salt, ½ tsp. parsley, etc/  Feel free to try whatever fancies your recipe.
Directions
  1. Combine the chicken broth and ½ cup of the milk in a large saucepan. Bring to a low boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the flour and seasonings into the remaining 1 cup milk until a smooth, thick mixture forms.
  3. Pour the flour and milk mixture into the saucepan with the broth mixture over low heat and stir continuously, whisking as the mixture simmers. Continue to simmer and stir/whisk until the mixture is smooth and thick, 5 minutes. The mixture will thicken a bit as it cools.
 
This made me almost four full cups of soup.  It looked like the canned stuff but had that good old homemade feeling to it - smelled a lot better too.  The best part?
 
I noticed no loss of flavor and I felt SO MUCH BETTER about what I was feeding my family.
 
Enjoy!
 
Source PIN: http://pinterest.com/pin/176836722840236592/
 
 
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