Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My God Is Bigger Than The Storm

I got a piece of news yesterday that was a little disturbing to me. Six months ago, the news would have ruined my day--if not several days--because I would have been filled with worry about something beyond my control.

Have you seen this quotation around on the Internet?

"Don't tell God how big your storm is. Tell your storm how big your God is."

I still tell God about the things that are bothering me because He is my friend, and He cares about what is bothering me. But then I ask that He work His will to resolve them as He knows best. Because I don't know about tomorrow and things that seem to be worrisome today may indeed be for the best. And after I've said my prayer, I move on.

That's not to say that I don't still have worries. But after having found a church that I love and that I feel God has led us to, I am feeling closer to God than ever. After all, "His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me." :)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wish List: Metal Bottle Caps

My husband and I are not true dumpster divers, but we do look around the dumpsters at our apartment complex for items that may be discarded but still usable. Reduce, reuse, recycle, right? I acquired a Lifetime table that I use for my crafting this way.

I am currently looking for metal bottle caps. I have found two outside, one a few months back and one recently beside the recycling dumpster. One came from a cream soda, the other from a Bartles & Jaymes wine cooler. I am going to use them for a project I am working on. So if you have any of these bottle caps, please feel free to contact me and let me know. I will gladly pay you the postage to send them to me!

Counting My Blessings!

Last week was Thanksgiving, and my husband and I listed the things for which we are thankful while we ate our dinner. But I find that with each passing day, I am learning to count *all* of my blessings. I donated a lot of my clothing to Goodwill, so I am having a bit of difficulty coming up with outfits to wear. But I have more than one outfit, so I am blessed. I am still eating Thanksgiving leftovers, but thank God that I have food to eat. My husband may have to go underway for periods of time, but we are so blessed to have a steady paycheck.

When I awoke this morning, the temperature outside was 68 degrees, and the temperature inside our apartment was nearly 80. After running downstairs a few times to do some laundry, I thought about turning on the air conditioner. But then the rain set in, and the outside temperature is now 54 and still dropping. I am so glad that I did not turn on the air conditioner! The heat that stayed in the apartment will help keep me a bit warmer until the time comes when turning on the heater will be necessary.

God blesses us in ways both big and small. Have you thanked Him lately? What if you were to wake up tomorrow with only the things for which you thanked Him today?

I'm on Pinterest!

I got addicted to Pinterest a few months ago when my husband and I evacuated to an inland hotel during Hurricane Irene. But I had to wait for my friend to send me an invitation. I have one now, and I am working on my boards! You can follow me. Just click on this button:

Follow Me on Pinterest

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mainstays Measuring Cups

For Christmas, my husband purchased me some wonderful measuring cups just like the ones my grandmother used to have. Because Christmas has not yet arrived and I needed some new measuring cups in a hurry, I purchased this Mainstay Measuring Cup and Spoon Set from Walmart to tide me over until Christmas morning. The price was right at $0.88 plus tax. But the product is very poorly made. The plastic is so brittle that the one-cup measuring cup broke this evening while I was hand drying it. I have had this product for approximately two to three weeks and have used the set fewer than ten times.

What should I have expected? These were manufactured in China. I usually try to avoid items made there, but in my haste to buy an inexpensive set of measuring spoons and cups, I failed here.

If you are looking for measuring cups, avoid these. Sometimes you do get what you pay for.

Planning for Thanksgiving Future

Since we celebrated Thanksgiving just last week and I still have Thanksgiving thoughts fresh in my head, I am currently working on planning for next year's Thanksgiving holiday. The day after Thanksgiving, I made notes of what food tactics worked—-putting pats of butter between our turkey's skin and meat and putting an onion inside the turkey—-and what recipes did not-—our homemade cornbread recipe, for example. I also made other miscellaneous notes such as my thought that I should bake pumpkin pie and carrot cake on Wednesday rather than on Thanksgiving Day and my realization that every dish that I made this year was baked or cooked in the oven at 350 degrees.

On a similar note, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I disassembled and stored our Thanksgiving decorations and made notes of where each piece of décor should be placed and what crafts I would like to make in the future. I also made notes of some traditions we might want to try establishing such as the creation of a gratitude banner throughout the month of November.

Next year, putting together the Thanksgiving holiday plans--both food and decor--should be simpler because of the planning I am doing this year.

Do you make written notes of what worked for your Thanksgiving holiday? Or do you rely on your memory?

MIA

I am sorry that I have been missing in action for over a month now. The reasons are many: sickness, then a visit to visit my parents, then more sickness, and finally the Thanksgiving holiday and preparation for it.

The main factor, though, is that I am a perfectionist--the kind that throws out the baby with the bathwater when something isn't perfect. And when I missed some posts because I was sick, I threw my blog baby right out the door. I have still been crafting and baking. A lot. I just have not been posting.

I think what would help me would be to get away from the schedule that I tried to create back in October. Some people are able to turn their blogs into businesses or at least into avenues by which they earn some money on the side. To grow or at least maintain their readership, they blog daily. Frankly, if my husband is home, I would rather spend my time sitting on the couch beside him watching television than be sitting in the second bedroom blogging. I like you all, but I love him more. :)

So I am throwing out the schedule. For the time being, I am going to blog as I have time and as I feel like it. And if I get back on a schedule or this blog grows exponentially, great! If it doesn't, I am pleased just to have you. You are still with me, right? ;)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Crafts: Book Bundles

Have you seen these book bundles from Pottery Barn?  Or these from Restoration Hardware?  They are no longer for sale, but for a while, people were drooling over them.  And they cost $30 to $40.  Yes, seriously.

But they are easy to make, and craft blogs all over the Internet revealed ways to make your own.  So I did.



Items You Will Need 
  • Old paperback books (mine were BOGO free with the first one for $0.99 at the local thrift store) (oh, and I majored in English, so I used Julius Caesar and Anna Karenina)
  • Jute, twine, or some other string or yarn


Directions 
  1. Tear the paperback covers off the books.  (I nearly had an anxiety attack doing this part!) 
  2. Tie the jute or twine around the books. 
Another easy peasy craft!  And don't they look cute with the 1949 law book I bought from the same thrift store for $2?


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sick!

I apologize for getting behind on the 31 Days of Organization, but I have been sick. I hope to catch up soon.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Crafting Tips: Cleaning Seashells

My in-laws and husband and I went to the Outer Banks with my in-laws a few weeks ago.  While we were there, my husband and I picked up some dead seashells from the beach.



I took them home and then decided to clean them up despite that they were not live seashells.  I started by boiling them on the stove and then soaked them in a 50-50 solution of bleach and water for an hour.  Afterwards, I dried them.  The result:  cleaner seashells.  




I intend to use these to make a wreath and a picture frame from these next summer, but I will have to go back to the Outer Banks to get some more.  I am terribly disappointed, as I am sure you can imagine.  =)

(Take note that this procedure is not the one for cleaning live seashells.  You will have to look online for that process.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Green Beauty: Adding Baking Soda to Your Shampoo

Unfortunately, I have a super oily scalp, meaning that my hair gets really oily and dirty looking about a day after I last shampooed it.  I have tried dry shampoos, but they usually make my hair look grey rather than clean.  Finally, I have gone back to the product my mother told me to use when I was in high school:


Yes, baking soda.  Isn't it great for just about anything?  I simply pour my usual amount of shampoo in my hand and then pour about a teaspoon of baking soda into the same hand and lather them together a bit before putting the shampoo-baking soda mixture in my hair.  I let the lather sit in my hair for at least a minute.  Then I rinse and then condition as usual.  The result:  cleaner hair for longer.  I usually do this at least once a week.  And I have no more need to buy an expensive clarifying shampoo!

Green Cleaning: Fabric Refresher

Are you constantly in awe of the cost of Febreze?  So am I!  It is a great product, but I am not paying upwards of $3 for it.  For a long time, I purchased the generic form of Febreze from Dollar Tree.  But earlier this year, I decided to rid my home of as many chemicals as possible. So when I ran out of my last bottle of the generic stuff, I decided to make my own. 

I took a (relatively cute!) spray bottle I purchased at Big Lots and put mostly distilled water, a few drops of essential oil, and a teeny bit of alcohol inside it.  I put the sprayer cap back on the bottle and then shook up the mixture.  And there you have it!  Fabric refresher.



I also use this concoction for air freshener, although my primary method of keeping our home smelling good is homemade candles.

You could also use witch hazel or even vodka in place of the alcohol.  Some people suggest adding some fabric softener as well.  I would have tried using fabric softener, but right now, we are using our last box of dryer sheets. After the box is empty, I will have fabric softener to use myself--but I intend to make homemade fabric softener, too, to avoid those chemicals as well!

Oh, and the best part about this fabric refresher?  You can include any essential oil you like, so you control the fragrance.  Thanksgiving?  Use spiced pumpkin!  Christmas?  Use sugar cookies!  Spring?  Use lavender!  You get the picture, right?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

31 Days to Organization: Day 6 - Shoes

Shoes can be organized so many different ways.  You can buy a shoe tree or a shoe rack.  You can even buy under bed shoe storage.  Eventually, I want to store each pair of my shoes in cute labeled baskets on a shelf.  But right now, I store them in six-quart Sterlite storage containers, which are about $1 each at Wal-Mart.  The key is to organize them in some fashion, whether you use baskets, storage containers, a rack, a tree, something that hangs over your closet door, or something that stores away under your bed. 

To organize my shoes, first I pulled all of my shoes out of the closet.  I put into the sell/Goodwill stack the ones that I knew I no longer wanted; if I had had any that were clearly damaged beyond repair, I would have discarded those.  Then I started wearing my shoes, making sure that all are still comfortable.  For example, I have problems with my ankles that my husband and I are fairly certain are caused by my Skechers Shape-ups, so I put those in the sell/Goodwill stack. 

I put the shoes I wanted to keep in the Sterlite containers. Then I labeled them using Avery 48860 EcoFriendly labels and the Grenouille font. 

Shoes Labels

Cute font, don't you think? If you want to modify these labels for your own use, you can install OpenOffice on your computer and download my labels file here

Finally!  Organized shoes! 


And yes, I know it *seems* as though I do not have many shoes. But fear not. I have eight pairs of flip-flops crammed into three of those containers. =)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

31 Days to Organization: Day 5 - Purse

My purse is usually a mess. I have improved over the last two years, though the improvements have usually come when I have been terrified I have lost something. I started putting my military identification back into its place in my wallet when I lost my first one and had to have a new one made. Then after I was terrified I had lost a few credit cards, I destroyed all but one of them; keeping up with one credit card and one debit card is a piece of cake.

But my purse was still messy. If I paid for an item with cash, I would throw the change in the middle section of my purse (the one with the zipper on it). When I received a receipt, I would fail to put the receipt in my shopping organizer and would simply put it in my purse instead. If my husband picked up any piece of paper, he would hand it to me, and I would put it in my purse. I also threw every travel sized lotion, hand sanitizer, and hairspray I had in my purse. I have a travel sized Lysol can *and* a travel sized package of Clorox wipes. Did I mention the antibacterial soap just in case? Or the two small flashlights? Yes, my purse definitely needed some organization.

This task is an easy enough one to handle. Just take everything out of your purse, discard what needs to be thrown away, file away what should be somewhere else, and put your things back in your purse in an organized fashion.

  • What was discarded: Continental Airlines' baggage policies
  • What I put or filed away: receipts, coupons I had not used and apparently put in my purse rather than in my organizer, Coca-Cola caps (after I entered the codes into MyCokeRewards.com; I am upcycling caps in a future craft project), extra bottles of lotion and such, the extra flashlight, and lots of change that was stretching out my wallet
  • What I kept: my wallet (with everything in its appropriate place), one of each bottle of lotion and such, my checkbook (yes, I still have one), two pens, one flashlight, my cell phone headset, and my list of John Grisham novels missing from my collection


See? All cleaned out! Okay, so you can't see inside it. But trust me, it is organized. =) And isn't my purse pretty? My husband bought it for me (on sale, of course!) for my law school graduation.

Cute Fonts: Week 1

I love cute fonts.  My favorites this week?


Sweetly Broken (used on my blog book)



Porcelain (used on my recipe book)


Are you crushing on any fonts right now? 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

31 Days to Organization: Day 4 - Closet

My husband and I have a huge walk-in closet in our apartment. It currently looks like this:


Our long-term goal is to organize everything into labeled baskets and hang all of the clothing on nice wooden hangers. But in the meantime, I would just like to weed out what we do not wear and make the closet look a little less chaotic.

So my husband and I started a new task on October 1st: to log the clothing we wear each day in a clothing inventory. Everything we keep must be capable of making at least three outfits in order to stay in our closet. Along the way, we are going to make notes of anything that needs to be professionally cleaned or mended and have those articles of clothing tailored and cleaned.

Our spreadsheet currently looks something like this:


We are going to keep working on this task. On October 31st, I hope to post a picture of a more organized clothing closet.

Do you go through your clothes from time to time and organize your closet? Perhaps you turn your hangers the "wrong" way so that you know whether you have worn something in a particular season. Or maybe you go through your closet once a year and throw away everything and buy all new stuff. Ideas?

Fall Decor: Cylinder Vases

I love fall decorations.  Unfortunately, they are sometimes "spendy," as my husband would say.  But they do not have to be.  You can easily make your own fall decorations for much less than you would pay to buy store-bought ones.  Starting this week, I will feature a new fall craft every week through Thanksgiving.

The first item of fall decor is easy peasy--and yummy, too, at least to my husband!  I grabbed the cylinder vases I made and poured a $1 bag of candy corn in each.


You could set a tea candle on top of the candy corn.  And if I had another two bags of candy corn on hand, I would fill them a bit more.  But my husband loves candy corn!  He will eat all the candy in a week, and then the vases will be empty anyway.  Regardless, for me, this craft's expiration date is Halloween.  So I will do something else with the vases soon enough. 


Crafts: Cylinder Vases

I love this dollar store craft idea.  A lot of people have done them on a multitude of craft blogs.  So I looked for the clear cylinders at Dollar Trees near and far, but had a hard time finding any like them.  I did find another style of candleholder and tried making a similar craft, but I was not as thrilled with it as I was with the ones in the original tutorial. 

But I kept looking.  And finally I found the cylinders--but only in one size.  So while I could not do graduated cylinders, I was able to make two matching cylinders: 


These are so elegant, yet so simple to make.  You could put different things in them and use them for seasonal decorations. 

Items You Will Need 

Directions 
  1. After reading the directions on the E6000 glue, spread the glue on the tops of the candleholder and then center the cylinder on the candleholder. 
  2. Wipe away the excess glue with a paper towel. 
  3. Turn the craft over and put a book on top of the candleholder. 
  4. Let the glue dry about 36 hours, and then decorate with the cylinders.

An easy peasy craft! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Swag Bucks

A good friend and I conversed last week about Swag Bucks.  She was not aware of the Swag Bucks program, so I gave her a bit of information.  Just in case you do not know anything about Swag Bucks either, I am providing a very brief tutorial below.

The Swag Bucks program enables you to earn prizes ("swag") by doing things you might already be doing online.  You can sign up on the Swag Bucks web site.  If you are not already a member of the program but want to be, please click on this link to sign up so that I get referral Swag Bucks.  I would greatly appreciate it! 

After you have signed up, you can easily earn 15 Swag Bucks (SB) per day by doing tasks you may already do online or by doing tasks that take only a second or so:

  • Install a tool bar and make sure you open the browser for which it is installed every day to earn 1 SB. 
  • Complete a poll each day for 1 SB. 
  • Complete the no obligation special offers (NOSO) path each day for 2 SBs.  Just click the "skip" buttons at the bottom of each offer.  You do not have to sign up for any of the offers to get the two SBs. 
  • Complete trusted surveys.  I am completely honest in all of my responses, and I NEVER answer any questions about how much money my household earns.  So I usually spend a few minutes a day starting but never actually qualifying (finishing) for the surveys.  I get 1 SB for each for up to five surveys and thus up to 5 SBs per day.  If I do not get all 5 SBs per day because fewer than five surveys are available, I complete at least one profile for 2 SBs each.  On occasion, I am able to complete a survey that usually takes much less time than advertised and earns anywhere from 50 to 100 SBs. 
  • Join Swag Bucks Tricks on Facebook to be notified via a Facebook story in your news feed that a bonus Swag Bucks code is available.  If you see a message that a code is out, click on the link in the news story and follow the instructions.  You should be able to get 3 to 8 SBs with these if you catch them in the appropriate time window. 
  • If you are like me and you like to play games online, you can play Swag Bucks games to earn SBs.  You can play ten games per day to earn up to 10 SBs per day.  Once upon a time, I played games both online and on our PlayStation for a few hours a day.  The maximum of 10 SBs per day keeps me from gaming away all of my time online--and I am earning something for playing.  Also, while the advertisements are playing before the games start, I do my morning tasks (getting dressed and brushing my teeth, tidying the dining room, tidying the living room, taking out the recycling, checking the electricity and water meters, making the bed, tidying the bedroom, cleaning the bathroom, making tea and juice, and eating my mid-morning snack). 
  • You can watch Swag Bucks TV, where you can earn 3 SB for every ten videos you watch.  I watch the segments on occasion.  My favorites are the HGTV and DIY Network episodes. 
  • You can also earn Swag Bucks by searching using the Swag Bucks search bar.  I rarely search using Swag Bucks, but I do on Mega Swag Bucks Fridays when people doing searches are frequently awarded significant Swag Bucks (I usually get about 11 SB) just for searching. 

My total Swag Bucks earned today?  50.  You can see my current Swag Bucks total on the Swidget in the right sidebar.

Some people in the Swag Bucks program really put a great deal of effort into this program.  These people have developed a large number of referral relationships, and they work quite a bit on tasks, do a great number of searches, and use alternate e-mail addresses to do surveys and sign up for product samples they would never use outside the Swag Bucks program.  These people earn a lot more Swag Bucks than I do each month.  I use this program to try to get one or two $5 Amazon gift cards per month and use those toward Christmas gifts or random purchases I might not make if I were spending my own money.  You get out of it what you put into it.  But remember that if you are spending eight hours a day on this program and making only $50 or $100 per month or even week, you may just consider getting a job instead. 

31 Days to Organization: Day 3 - Filing Cabinet

I have every owner's manual for every kitchen, hair, and office appliance; every piece of technology and software; and every game system I have owned since I was in the sixth grade. My husband thinks that I should throw away the owner's manuals and other documentation to many of these items--the original Nintendo Entertainment System and my Wilton cake pans, for example. But I refuse(d) to do so. If I still have the item--and even if not in many cases--I still have (had) the owner's manual (and likely even the original receipt unless it was a gift).

Nonetheless, I did recognize recently that our filing cabinet was crammed with not only all of these manuals, but also tons of superfluous and unnecessary documentation regarding our last three apartments as well as records regarding our health and dental insurance. So I decided to sort through these items and try to organize them in some fashion.

I started by discarding owner's manuals for items no longer in my possession. (And yes, since I still have my original Nintendo, I still have the owner's manual for that.) Along the same lines, I shredded documentation we no longer needed regarding our two previous apartments.

Then I grabbed some sturdy decorative file folders and matching file jackets I bought on clearance and grouped all the above documents by category. I put apartment, utilities, and health and dental records in file folders and owner's manuals in larger file jackets. Then I used the Pharmacy font to print the titles of my different categories of items on Avery 48860 EcoFriendly labels. The result is a much nicer looking filing cabinet:


Just in case you want to use or modify these labels, I am including them below.  You can download the PDF and print them on Avery 48860 labels using Adobe Acrobat or you can download the OpenOffice format and modify them with your own titles using OpenOffice software

  • Filing Cabinet Labels
  • OpenOffice

I am sure that as I continue to organize, I will discover other items that need to go into the filing cabinet as well.  I will update this post when I do!  In the meantime, how do you organize your important documents? Maybe you have a drawer for owner's manuals? Or perhaps one of those expandable files? Any great ideas to share?

Recipes: Japanese Steakhouse-Style Fried Rice

I love Japanese steakhouses!  Unfortunately, the cost of the meals at such establishments is detrimental to our finances.  But a few months ago, I was blessed enough to find a good recipe online for Japanese steakhouse-style fried rice, and I now make this dish at least once a week. 


Source:  Yahoo Answers

Ingredients
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. peas and chopped carrots
1 egg
1 c. cooked rice, cooled (I use homemade rice, but some people use the bags) 
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. soy sauce

Directions
Sauté the onion, peas, and carrots in the olive oil.  Move the vegetables to the side of the pan and lightly scramble your egg in the resulting space.  Add the rice and butter and sauté for five minutes.  Add the soy sauce and sauté for one minute. 

Tips
  • Try adding more vegetables.  You may also want to try brown rice. 
  • I usually move the rice to the side of the pan and then sauté another 1/2 cup of chopped onion in the olive oil and 1/2 tablespoon of soy sauce.  I place those onions atop my rice. 

Formats
  • PDF:  Fried Rice
  • OpenOffice (just in case you want to edit the format to fit a recipe book you have created)

Recipes: Baked Pancake Casserole

One of the first cookbooks I ever received was the Loveless Cafe cookbook, and although it omits Carol Faye's biscuit recipe, the cookbook remains one of my favorites.  The first recipe I made from it was this baked pancake casserole, an easy breakfast recipe. 


Source:  Southern Country Cooking from the Loveless Cafe:  Fried Chicken, Hams, and Jams from Nashville's Favorite Cafe

Ingredients
4 tablespoons butter
6 eggs
1 cup pancake mix
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt

Directions
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Melt the butter in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish in the oven.  Combine the eggs, pancake mix, milk, and salt and pour the mixture into the dish.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the top puffs up. 

Tips
  • Serve this pancake casserole with syrup that has been warmed over in the microwave. You may also want to try eating it with whipped cream or--my favorite--cream cheese frosting. 
  • Add a teaspoon of vanilla to the mixture before you pour it in your baking dish. 
  • You may want to experiment with adding fruit or chocolate chips. 

Formats
  • PDF:  Baked Pancake Casserole
  • OpenOffice (just in case you want to edit the format to fit a recipe book you have created)

Recipes: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I am a faithful follower of the Cozy.Cottage.Cute. blog.  Earlier this year, Sarah posted a recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins.  I had posted it on my earlier blog, but these are good enough that I think they are worth posting as the first baked goods recipe on my new blog. 


Source:  Cozy.Cottage.Cute.

Ingredients
2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. chocolate chips
2 c. mashed very ripe bananas (about 4 large)
1/2 c. (1 stick/4oz.) butter or stick margarine, melted
1/4 c. milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions
Preheat your oven to 375°F.  Grease 12 large muffin cups (or about 18 regular muffin cups) or just spray your muffin pan with some cooking oil. 

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Stir in the chocolate chips. 

In a small bowl, blend the bananas, melted margarine, milk, eggs, and vanilla.  Add the banana mixture to the flour mixture, stirring until only just blended (do not overmix).  Fill the muffin cups or the muffin pan. 

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes (slightly less if you are making regular sized muffins) or until the muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.  Let the muffins stand several minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool. 

Tips
  • I prefer using chocolate chunks in these rather than chocolate chips.  The muffins are so much more chocolate-y! 
  • Make sure your bananas are VERY ripe.  Otherwise, they are going to be a little more difficult to mash. 
  • Add a little more vanilla extract if you are feeling like experimenting. 
Formats
  • PDF:  Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
  • OpenOffice (just in case you want to edit the format to fit a recipe book you have created)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Commenting on My Blogs

I am using an updated Blogger interface for this new blog, and I have not figured out all of its idiosyncrasies just yet.  In fact, I realized just today that I had not enabled comments on any of the posts so far.  I have fixed this problem.  Please feel free to comment on any of my posts now! 

If you are new to blogging and having a similar problem with Blogger, try fixing it this way: 

  1. Go to Blogger's home page.  Sign in if you are not already logged in to your account. 
  2. Click on "Settings." 
  3. Click on "Comments." 
  4. Make sure you have enabled "Show" under "Comments." 
  5. Make sure you have highlighted "New Posts Have Comments" under "Comments Default for Posts." 

Problem fixed . . . I hope!  =) 

31 Days to Organization: Day 2 - Medicine Cabinet

Our medicine cabinet has been seriously disorganized for at least a month or two: 


And there is no reason it should be. So I spent day 2 of the 31 Days to Organization organizing the medicine cabinet items. 

Once upon a time, I stored my family's medications, vitamins, supplements, and first aid items in willow baskets in my closet.  But earlier this year, I found document boxes and a CD/DVD storage box at Office Depot for $5.99 each.  They were attractive, and they held our medicine cabinet items well in the cabinet over our sink.  I highly recommend these or another type of storage box or storage container to hold your medicine cabinet items.  Finding such a great storage item is the first step to getting your medicine cabinet under control. 

After you have found the perfect boxes or containers to store your medicine cabinet items, the second step is to review the items in your medicine cabinet.  Go through all of them once a year and check the expiration dates.  (We had a ton of prescriptions and over-the-counter medications WAY past their expiration dates.)  If you discard medication, crush any pills and then put the medication in a sealable plastic bag and then mix the medication with cat litter or coffee grounds or another substance before sealing the bag completely and putting it into the trash.  DO NOT flush medications.  Doing so harms our environment and our drinking water.  Before you discard any prescription bottles or other containers, ensure that you peel off the identifying information with your name and other information on it, and then shred the label.  I am currently trying to get in touch with a world health organization that accepts empty prescription bottles.  If I receive a response, I will update this post with the address so that you can donate yours. 

The third and final step is to sort the remaining items and to label the containers if necessary.  I created mine using a font I liked in my word processing program on my computer, printing and then cutting and inserting the "label" into the appropriate place on the storage boxes.  You may wish to use Avery labels or another kind of labels entirely.  My labels: 


You may wish to get more specific and divide your cold and flu items from your digestive aids and such. 

And there you have it.  Your medicine cabinet items are organized! 


Imagine how much easier you will find the Excedrin in the middle of the night now when you need it.  =) 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Canning: Pizza Sauce

I am a newcomer to canning.  Oh, sure, my grandmother and mother canned food when I was a child, but I never really got into that sort of thing as a teenager or young adult. 

Now that I am an older adult, I am fascinated with the idea of not buying things pre-made.  So I am thrilled at the prospect of canning.  When I saw this post about canning pizza sauce, I thought this would be the perfect beginning step for me.  I went to Wal-Mart and bought a cheap stock pot (just over $6; I checked the thrift store, but for some reason, the ones there were more expensive!). 



I also bought the Ball Home Canning Discovery Kit (around $11) and the Ball Utensil Set for Preserving (around $7).  (Note:  The instructions were the most helpful part of the discovery kit.  I did not care for the canning rack, and I could have bought the three jars cheaper separately.  I do like the utensil set, mainly because of the jar lifter.) 



Then I came home and almost immediately started canning.  I used the pizza sauce recipe from the blog I noted earlier.  The next day, the jars had indeed sealed, and I had pizza sauce to put in my cabinets: 


Source:  Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom

Ingredients
1 14-1/2 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1/8 c. of water
1 tsp. of salt
1-1/2 tsp. of sugar
1 tsp. of garlic powder
1 tsp. of onion powder
1 tsp. of dried basil
1 tsp. of dried oregano

Directions
Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan or skillet.  Saute on medium heat until the sauce begins to bubble. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

While the recipe is simmering, wash and then boil your jars and lids.  When the sauce is ready, funnel it into your jars leaving about 1/2" to 1" headspace.  Run a rubber spatula around the jar to release any air bubbles.  Wipe any food from the jar rims.  Then center the lids on the jar and screw on the bands until they are tight--don't tighten the bands so they are impossible to unscrew later!  Completely cover the jars in boiling water in a stock pot, and boil them for 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the jars continue to sit in the water for five minutes.  Carefully remove the jars from the water, and let them sit for 12-24 hours.  You can then check to ensure the jar is sealed by seeing if the lid pops up.  If the lid pops up and down, your jar did not seal; if it is rigid, your jar did seal.  (Note:  I have heard a distinct popping sound during cooling for every jar I have canned so far.  But my mother said you should check the lid anyway.)  If your jar did not seal, you can always use put the pizza sauce in the refrigerator and use it  for dinner.  You can also attempt re-sealing, something I know nothing about at this point, thankfully!  (No worries if you have a jar that does not seal because my mother assures me that I will encounter this obstacle at some point.) 

Formats
  • PDF:  Canning - Pizza Sauce
  • OpenOffice (just in case you want to edit the format to fit a recipe book you have created)