Friday, December 31, 2010

My New Year's Gift To You

Target has a 4-pack of Scott bath Tissue on sale for $2.69. Red Plum had a $1.00 off coupon and Target had a $2.00 off coupon making the toilet tissue free. Here's the good part, when you purchase the product you get a catalina for $1.00 your next Scott Tissue purchase. Pair that catalina with another $1.00 Red Plum coupon and get a second 4-pack for 69 cents.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

101 Cookbooks

Had to share. I found this cool cooking blog and loved the recipes. It's called 101 Cookbooks. Check it out.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Roasted Veggies - no salt added

Autumn's vegetable harvest brings a bounty of flavors. Sometimes you tire of the same old casserole or stir fry. I decided to roast my veggies and much to my surprise, I found a very similar recipe in the November issue of "Better Homes and Gardens" magazine by Tyler Florence. I like my version better.

In a 13" x 9" glass baking pan drizzle two tablespoons of olive oil. Cut up one medium eggplant in 1 inch chunks, slice one fennel bulb, cut up two small green peppers, crush 4 cloves of garlic and about a cup of heirloom grape tomatoes and spread the mixture in the baking pan. Top the veggies with the juice of one lemon and some sprigs of oregano. Drizzle the mixture with another tablespoon of olive oil. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about an hour.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Are You a Savvy Saver?

“Reduce, reuse, recycle” – we’ve all heard that phrase. And in these days of leaner paychecks and higher prices it’s suddenly become trendy to own less stuff. The new “in thing” is to have fewer pieces of furniture, fewer cars, fewer houses. Less is truly more.

Instead of buying that truck, save your money and pay cash for a fuel-efficient car. Or have money from your paycheck placed in a separate vacation account. Whatever you want whether money for college, a new house, a laptop, or increased dollars for retirement, now is the best time to begin reaching your goal.

How much interest does your money make at the local coffee shop or department store? Zip. Nadda. Zero.

Let’s say you want a new vehicle and you live close to a bus route. Consider buying a bus pass for additional savings. Car-pool with fellow employees at least twice a week. Walk or ride a bike to a local store. Bring your lunch to school or work. Use coupons to maximize your spending. Smoke fewer cigarettes. Small steps add up to big bucks over time.

Another benefit to more exercise and fewer cigarettes is you’ll be in better shape. A healthier you means fewer doctor’s visits and less cash outlaid for prescriptions. Maybe instead of buying a new car, you just might want to use your new found wealth to show off your trim and fit body on some warm beach.

What if you don’t live by mass transportation and you’ve cut back as much as you can and still are having trouble making ends meet? Consider a second job utilizing skills you already have. Maybe you’re an excellent vocalist. Talk to local religious groups or organizations about singing for weddings or special events. If you are good with animals, you could create flyers letting friends and neighbors know you’re available for pet sitting or walk dogs for people working two or three jobs. Do your neighbors love to decorate for the holidays but hate taking down the lights from their gutters and trees? Set up a business that focuses on seasonal help.

Too busy to start up a side business? There are still ways to reduce spending and save. Instead of buying wood chips and mulch around your plants use newspaper. That’s right. Spread out a ¼ inch deep section around veggies and flowers. Place rocks or a thin layer of soil on top of the paper. This method suppresses weeds, helps water retention and conditions the soil. Make your own window cleaner from vinegar and water – equal parts of each. Wipe the surface clean with newspaper for a streak-free finish. If you decide to clean out your garage or basement, sell your unwanted items on ebay, craigslist or take them to a consignment shop. More and more retail establishments offer money - usually 50 percent – to sell your gently used furniture, clothing, records, CD’s, jewelry or tools.

When you have a goal, anything is possible. Start saving today and you’ll reach your dream faster than ever.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fall Planting

Recently, I made a raised garden bed out of southern yellow pine. I lined the box with landscape fabric and filled it with rich humus, manure, sphagnum peat moss and top soil then planted my fall crop. Not a huge garden in autumn, but nestled with cool weather plants. Plants like peas, arugula, radishes, lettuce, parsley and swiss chard. It's a nice mix that will carry into late November harvesting.

And lucky me - we had a lovely, light rain last night that lasted a couple hours. Perfect weather for starting a fall garden.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ryobi Pole Saw at Home Depot

What a deal! Home Depot has a 2-cycle, Ryobi pole saw for $49.07!!!! This brand new, in the box saw was $199.00. I know it is this price in metropolitan Detroit. Not certain if it's this price on line or in other areas of the country.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Apricot Sorbet Redoux

The apricot sorbet was amazingly simple to make, delicious and under 50 calories per serving.

I did make some adjustments to the original recipe. For every six apricots I blended, I added 1/8-1/4 cup of sugar to the mixture. The photos show the progression of the dessert.

1. Remove pit from apricots
2. Place apricots in blender
3. Puree the fruit until smooth
4. After freezing the mixture, scoop the sorbet into serving dishes topped with mint garnish.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Easy Apricot Sorbet

I purchased 5 pounds of apricots for a terrific price. Very ripe apricots. And I needed a quick and easy recipe that didn't require heat. It's just too hot in Michigan right now and I don't need to compound that by turning on a stove. That meant making jam was out of the question.

What to do?

After searching the web I found an easy recipe for Apricot Sorbet.
Puree' the apricots in a blender. Place the mixture in a freezer safe container. Remove when frozen and garnish with sprigs of mint.

This is my kind of recipe. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Cucumber and Peach Salad

An unusual combination of peaches and cucumbers melds well with mint and lime juice for a refreshing summer salad. I adapted this recipe from the Johnson Company's "Right@Home" web site for a cucumber and mango salad. Peaches are almost as sweet as mangoes. And I substituted chives for onions and topped the salad with salmon. Yum-a-lish!

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large peaches cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • a bunch of chives cut finely
  • 3 Tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 3 oz. of Alaskan Salmon
In a small bowl, mix the sugar, cumin, lime juice, salt and olive oil. Set aside. In a medium-size bowl, mix together the peaches, cucumbers, chives and mint. Toss with the dressing and place the salad on a serving platter. Sprinkle with cheese and salmon on top of the salad.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wild Sumac in Michigan

While riding my bike, I spotted a grove of sumac trees. Not certain if this is the edible variety or poisonous version. I learned recently that Middle Eastern cultures use a type of sumac to flavor some of their food. Michigan has a large population of people of Middle Eastern descent and I have seen people picking the flowers and fruit from these plants.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Monday, May 31, 2010

Growing Allium from Seed - It Can Be Done

This is a photo of allium I grew from seed pods. When one of my neighbors threw away the spent flower last year from their allium, I retrieved the seed pods, placed them in the freezer for 4 weeks and planted the seeds in late November. The photo shows the result. The soil is compacted, not very rich, yet the allium grew. It can be done.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Deep Red Iris

A co-worker and his wife were updating their yard and tossing out lots of plant material. Sight unseen, I dug up perennials and donated them to various non-profit organizations. And I kept a couple of irises. That was two years ago. Take a look at the beautiful burnt red color iris with a bit of yellow on each flower petal that finally emerged this spring. The flower buds look black.

Did you notice puppy is in one of the photos? She's patrolling the yard.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Human Hair Needed for Louisiana Oil Spill

You read correctly, human hair is needed to soak up the oil off the Mississippi River Delta. Scientists proved that hair is more effective at soaking up oil and containing it than plastic buoys. Tell your hairdresser or barber to send washed, clipped hair to Matter of Trust. This organization also takes donations of fur and animal hair, but studies have shown that human hair works best. Who couldn't benefit from a shampoo and trim? And you would indirectly help clean up the Louisiana Gulf Coast environmental spill.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New Tulip Variety

Hybrid flowers have a tendency to revert to their original strain after a while. That's what must be happening to my red tulip. It usually just has yellow at the base of each petal. The photo shows the daring tulip with the yellow swash. Hope it comes back next year.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Sowing Peas Today

After a weekend of rain in southeastern Michigan, I decided it was a good day to sow peas into the soil. This year I selected Burpee's, "Wando" variety. The company claims it is cold and heat tolerant. You never know what Michigan's weather will deliver. That's why I planted these peas. I'll plant more next week and then the following week so I'll get a steady crop. Sometime in late July, I'll sow more seeds for a fall harvest. Let's hope the rabbits stay away from my yard.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rain Water Collection

I have been looking at getting a rain barrel. The Apartment Therapy blog featured a terrific version called the, "Rain Hog". These collection vessels can be placed horizontally - think between deck joists or vertically and use a small footprint to hold a large amount of water. Take a look.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Paper Lawn and Leaf Bag Deal in Metro Detroit

How would you like to get paper lawn and leaf bags for 24 cents each. It's possible. Vince and Joe's markets in Clinton Township and Shelby Township have the bags on sale this week. you have to purchase 50 bags to get this great price. Let's face it, if you are already buying these refuse bags, why not stock up. The price is $12.00 for 50 bags. Click on the weekly specials link to view the pdf. Consider stores that price match if Vince and Joe's is too far of a destination.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Home Tweet Home Birdhouse

The Master Gardener's banquet requested members bring a birdhouse to decorate the festivities. Rather than buy one, I decided to make a birdhouse out of paper mache. Looks like something Diego Rivera would have designed.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hawaiian Birdhouse

At a Master Gardener banquet, participants were encouraged to bring birdhouses they had made or purchased. My friend brought this lovely little version that would fit in nicely in a tropical paradise. The exterior has pebbles that adhere to a wood cylinder and is outlined with shells. The top looks like a thatched hut. And the flowers on the roof are a nice touch to this lovely home for birds.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hailing in Michigan

Had to share some photos of hail that landed in my yard. The pieces averaged 1-2 inches and looked like abstract sculptures. What was unique was the hail stayed intact in my yard while the ice formations melted in my neighbor's yard.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Paraben in Tortillas

How do you feel about eating wax? Not the kind from a honey bee, but the petroleum-based substance. Wax does not rank high on my list of foods that I want to eat. Imagine my surprise when I found two wax preservatives in the list of my tortillas ingredients; methyl paraben and propyl paraben.

I began eating corn tortillas thinking they were healthier than the pasta I was eating. More fiber, more natural substances. I was wrong. So I changed my buying habits. I bought masa and started making my own tortillas. Masa is finely ground corn with a trace of lime. Don't confuse masa with cornmeal - they have completely different textures.

I found that since I began making tortillas from scratch, I eat fewer and enjoy them more. Now if I could only find a tortilla recipe that is baked instead of fried my life would be even healthier.

What's my cautionary tale? Always check the ingredients, even on foods you are comfortable and familiar with. I have sensitivity to malted barley and just found that product in a brand-name, all-purpose flour. What's next? Will I have to check the ingredient list in oatmeal?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Do It Yourself Bailout

I apologize for not posting for a a little over a week. More volunteer work. This time it was for the Accounting Aid Society as an income tax preparer.

After hearing stories of how people lost their jobs and are living with family members to get back on track, I thought that our economy hadn't taken a turn for the better.

Then I heard a broadcast on National Public Radio on "The Takeaway" program. It was about taking charge of your financial situation - the do it yourself bailout. Personal financial expert Beth Kopliner talks about determining what's important, setting priorities for saving and more in the weeks to come.

Today's program focused on little things you have done that have saved you money in this recession. For example, I have budgeted five dollars a week for food. That may not seem like a lot, but I actually have eaten very well on that budget. This week I spent 99 cents for a ten pound bag of Michigan potatoes, $1.58 for 16 ounces of mushrooms and 79 cents for a head of cauliflower. That comes to $3.36 out of pocket. The remainder of the money goes into next week's food fund so if there is a sale on cheese or whatever, I can afford to buy some.

What have you done to save money? Let me know, I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fascinate Test from Sally Hogshead

Like to take tests? Not many people do. Here's one from Sally Hogshead that let's you know what your fascination strengths are, rather what makes people listen to you. A very interesting premise. The test indicates your primary, secondary and dormant triggers. Try it!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Salmon Casserole Courtesy of Kiwi Magazine

This recipe is courtesy of the February/March 2010 issue of Kiwi Magazine, a publication dedicated to raising healthy children. As always, I modified the ingredients to what I had on hand and reduced the levels of sodium. And it's still a very tasty dish!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cook 8-10 ounces of whole wheat rotini noodles with 1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh broccoli. Once cooked, drain the pasta and veggies and stir in 12 ounces of canned pink salmon. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Whisk in 1/4 cup whole wheat flour to the olive oil. Add 2 cups of skim milk to the rue along with a tablespoon of dried dill (the official herb of 2010), a finely sliced shallot, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, and a tablespoon of hot sauce. Once the rue starts to thicken, remove the mixture from the heat and add 1/2 cup onion dip (sour cream combined with onion). Blend the creamy ingredients into the pasta, salmon and broccoli. Place mixture into an 8 x 8 inch glass pan and top with 1/2 cup bread crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes or until topping begins to turn golden.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Coconut Coffee

Coffee has never held any real appeal for me - unless it's filled with sugar and cream. Then it's dessert. And I love dessert.

Lately I've been experimenting with adding different flavors to coffee to make it more interesting. My new favorite is coconut. Add between a quarter to a half teaspoon of coconut extract to coffee. Mix in sugar and skim milk and you have a wonderful cold weather sensation that smells like the tropics with a promise of warmer days to come.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Homemade Whole Wheat Pitas

These pita breads look delicious - and they are. If you have read my posts, you know that I love to bake. When I found a recipe for pitas I had to try to make them. While the end result is wonderful, the process is more costly than going to a local bakery outlet and purchasing eight whole wheat pitas for 59 cents.

The recipe I used asked for 3 cups of whole wheat flour, oil, salt, a large, plastic resealable bag (ziploc, hefty or glad), a baking stone and water. The bread had to rest in the refrigerator overnight. Pitas were then baked in a 500 degree oven.

I love the fact that I know everything that goes into my baking projects, but when you do the cost comparison, the bakery outlet version wins hands down.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Five Dollar Coupon for Talbots

Try on a pair of pants at Talbots and get a $5 coupon. Love their accessories like necklaces and purses. And every little bit of a discount helps these days.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Dannon Lawsuit Settlement Form

Did you know Dannon settled a lawsuit regarding DanActive and Activia? The yogurt company is providing up to $15 restitution for purchases without a receipt. Anything over $15 requires proof of purchase. Here's the link to the on-line claim form.

Apparently, the lawsuit centered around false advertising claims. It doesn't pay to lie.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Crocheted Animals - Crochetdermy

Shauna Richardson has taken crocheting to a whole new level. She creates masterpieces in wool using one type of stitch in varying wools. Each piece takes about a month to complete. It's a cross between taxidermy and the needle arts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fern Artwork

I have been busy volunteering lately. Seemed there was no time for home projects, except for this one. I had two white picture frames with artwork I didn't care for. I flipped the art to the back of the frame and glued two fern fronds onto the matte board, replaced the glass and voila'. I transformed the picture frames into artwork I loved.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Norma Kamali at Walmart

Imagine a designer look at deep discount prices. That's Norma Kamali's clothing line for women at Walmart. I don't go out of my way to shop at Walmart which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see Kamali's fashion at this big box store. The top shown here is organic cotton for just $10.00! And I found beautiful dresses for $24.00 and under.

WARNING! - Don't Heat Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I love cooking with extra virgin olive oil. Laddle a tablespoon or two into a hot pan on the stove before adding fresh veggies and garlic. How yummy does that sound?!

After watching the Steven and Chris show, I got the shock of my life. Extra virgin olive oil turns into a trans-fat when heated and worse, it can become a carcinogen after cooking with it! This does not apply to regular olive oil. (I included the overview of the program on the link, but it does not mention this tidbit - you have to watch the video of the show to hear the statement.)

Like many of you, I have heated EVOO. Well, no more. It's regular olive oil from now on and just drizzling cooked foods with cold, extra virgin olive oil.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stylish White "Pottery" Vases

What to freshen up a room or furniture? Paint it. Short on cash but love new looks. Paint is your best friend. Deb Nelson from Deb Nelson Design feels the same way about decorating. She is a regular contributor on the "Steven and Chris" show on CBC television.

Deb had a great decorating tip when she was redoing a viewer's kitchen. Take glass containers and make them into stylish white "pottery". So easy! You can use old vases, wine bottles, any glass container will do. You might want to use plastic containers or tin cans for the project.

Here's what you do. Paint the container with white primer. I used KILZ white spray paint primer - two coats should do the trick. Buy textured white paint. You know the stuff you use to paint fabric (Joann's Etc stores have the large size of this paint on sale for $1.13 this week). When the primer is dry, create designs on the painted glass. Dots work especially well.

Once you have completed your artwork, give it about 24 hours before handling the objects. Then, wait for the compliments to roll in. (Thanks Deb Nelson Design)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lemon Walnut Pesto

So many lemon recipes are for desserts. What about using lemons in an entree or side dish.

I found a terrific tasting lemon walnut pesto recipe that goes great with pasta or rice. It uses just a few ingredients found in most pantries and takes less than two minutes to prepare. My kind of cooking, fast and delicious!

Lemon Walnut Pesto
Grate about a teaspoon of lemon zest. In a food processor, chop 3/4 cup walnuts. Remove walnuts and mix with the and a juice of half a lemon, 1/4 cup olive oil, a half tablespoon dried parsley and a teaspoon of Frank's Red Hot sauce. Add lemon zest. Stir and pour over pasta or rice.

I used the pesto on top of broccoli and pasta and it made four servings. It's my new favorite dish! Enjoy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

An Easy Egg-Substitute

I am one of the many people that have an allergic reaction to eggs. Because of my allergy, I cannot receive the H1N1 vaccine. The vaccine is incubated in eggs. According to the CDC, egg allergy suffers should not get the nasal version of the vaccine nor the injection, rather persons with egg allergies should request anti-viral medication if they develop the swine flu.

This information motivated me to share an easy egg substitute recipe courtesy of Carol M. Bareuther, RD in "Today's Diet & Nutrition" magazine:
Mix 1-1/2 tablespoons water, 1-1/2 tablespoons oil, and 1 teaspoon baking powder. This substitutes for 1 to 2 eggs.

You could go the more expensive route and purchased a commercial egg replacer usually made from potato starch. The above version is just as good and easy to create.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pumpkin Pasta

Doesn't this sound scary; pumpkin and pasta with pumpkin pie spice. It's actually very tasty. I got the recipe from the November, 2009 issue of "Parents" magazine.

This fast and fiber-rich entree has as much iron as a burger and just 308 calories per serving. What prompted me to experiment was I am trying to eat foods from my pantry rather than stockpiling. I had all the ingredients and thought, "Why not try the dish?".

I made some slight modifications to the original recipe including using slightly more pasta, an onion and skim milk.

Recipe for Pumpkin Pasta:
Cook 13.25 ounce box of whole wheat pasta (like rotini). Drain and return to pot, covering to keep pasta warm.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan or 5 quart saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium heat. Add a small, chopped onion or 1/2 teaspoon onion powder. Cook onions until transparent. Whisk in 1-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth, 1/2 cup skim milk, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, a 15 ounce can of pumpkin puree, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Continue to cook for 4 minutes uncovered.

Mix pasta and sauce. Serve in bowls and top pasta with parsley and grated parmesan cheese.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Winter Classic at Fenway Park

Boston Bruins win the third Winter Classic hockey game at Fenway Park. Great game and great goal by Recci. Wonder when Detroit will get to host this event? They could play at Comerica Park.