Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Party Time: Whip up the dips

Got a sudden urge to have people over? Maybe you've just decided that a little Super Bowl gathering this Sunday is a must. These are two top rated, easy speedy dip recipes from Food Network magazine that are sure to keep the guests hovering around the appetizer table.

Avocado? Hummus? Pizza? Yes please.

~Avocado Hummus~

1 can chickpeas, drained
2 avocados, sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika

1) Place the first five ingredients in a food processor (chickpeas, avocados, lemon juice, garlic, and water). Pulse until blended.
2) Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking, pulse to combine.
3) Begin drizzling in the olive oil until the hummus gets to the right consistency, it should be nice and creamy.
4) Blend until smooth and serve topped with paprika and garnish with chopped cilantro (optional) and a drizzle of avocado oil (optional).
5) Place one of the avocado pits at the bottom of the dish. It helps prevent the avocados from turning brown. Serve with pita chips or alongside a veggie platter.

If you want to whip this up super fast, simply puree two avocados and stir in a 7 oz tub of store-bought hummus with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Super good too on a tortilla wrapped with turkey or chicken and some lettuce and tomato for lunch. Num numm! And as a St. Patrick's Day dip as well!

~Pizza in a Pot Dip~

2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup ricotta cheese
package of pepperoni
Mozzarella (diced)

1) Warm 2 ups tomato sauce in a saucepan.
2) Top with 1 cup ricotta and heat until warmed through.
3) Put mixture in a small ovenproof dish.
4) Sprinkle with desired amount of diced mozzarella and sliced pepperoni. Or try sauteed mushrooms or crumbled cooked sausage.
5) Bake at 350 degrees F until bubbling, about 10 minutes.
6) Top with torn fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with crostini, baguettes or small pieces of french bread.

Both dips serve about 8-10 guests.

Neither of these doing it for you? Check out Food Network's 50 Super Bowl Snacks; everything from easy dips, sliders, snack mixes and more.

If you're serving an entire meal and need a little inspiration, check out my last year's Super Bowl Menu Ideas Post. From apps to desserts and everything in between.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

If you do one thing this week...

Sit down and eat dinner as a family.

Life is busy. We get it. But this is important. Studies have shown that kids who eat dinner with their families do better in school, feel more socially connected to their parents, have better peer relationships, and are less likely to try drugs and alcohol," says Grace R. Freedman, Ph. D., executive director of eat dinner.org, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing awareness of the benefits of family meals. "Research also suggests that working parents feel like they're better at balancing their work and personal lives when they find time for family dinner, and families that eat together tend to have healthier diets.

Sadly, a 2010 Pew Research poll showed that only about half of families make dinner a daily ritual, and roughly one in five families eat together only occasionally, or never. The bottom line: Work as a team, make a commitment, start small, and don't get discouraged. Do it once this week. Try two times the next. It's worth coordinating and making time to do.

But don't just go through the motions. Actually engage in thoughtful conversation with them. Ask them questions in a non-threatening way. Encourage them to talk about what they are looking forward to, what made them discouraged. Genuinely ask them about their highs and lows were of the day. What their goals are for the week. You'll notice the benefits immediately. Nothing is more important than family so make time. You have the time.

Sweet Sunday

Need a little summer in your long winter days? This S'more Cobbler combines all the ingredients that remind you of sitting at the beach around a bonfire with friends wedging those perfectly golden gooey marshmellows between graham crackers and chocolate. Ahhh, those days can't come soon enough.

~S'more Cobbler~
Recipe courtesy of chef-in-training.com

1 cup whole milk
1 (5 oz.) package "cook and serve" chocolate pudding mix
6 whole graham crackers
1/2-3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1 box chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup butter
Bag of large marshmallows

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.
2) Combine milk and chocolate pudding package. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan and spread evenly.
3) Break graham crackers in half so that you have 12 squares. Place the graham cracker squares on top of the pudding leaving space between each square.
4) Sprinkle on the mini chocolate chips. Add a little more if you love as much chocolatey-goodness as you can get!
5) Melt butter in microwave.
6) Mix in cake mix to the melted butter until completely blended. Spread on top of the mini chocolate chips/graham crackers.
7) Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.
8) Remove and place large marshmallows on top to cover.
9) Bake another 5 minutes then switch oven to broil. Watch closely at this point because your marshmallows will brown fast. It should only take 1-2 minutes to brown after the oven has been switched to broil.
10) Take out of oven and let cool a little bit.

This is best eaten warm! Enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fancy Friday

Wondering what tickled my fancy (aka; something I enjoyed, adored or was satisfied by) this week?

Hands down the Chicken Taco Chili I made in the crock pot. Similar to last week's "Meal in a Can" recipe but with a little more kick and ingredients. This is so freakin' easy. Beyond delicious on a chilly evening. High in protein and fiber and of course low in fat. Would I make it if it was any other way?!? Nada. And if you're a Weight Watchers guru, it's low in points too! Bonus.

Having a Super Bowl gathering at your house? Whip up a big batch of this with some corn bread and you've got yourself a crowd pleaser. Great for the kids too!

~Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili~
Recipe courtesy of skinnytaste.com

1 onion, chopped
1 16-oz can black beans
1 16-oz can kidney beans
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
10 oz package frozen corn kernels or 1 16 oz. can of corn
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies (mild or spicy depending on your tolerance)
3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 packet taco seasoning
1 tbsp cumin (optional)
1 tbsp chili powder (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1) Combine both beans with their juices, onion, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker.
2) Place chicken (can be frozen or thawed) on top and cover.
3) Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.
4) Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred.
5) Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in.
6) Top with fresh cilantro if you wish.

We particularly enjoyed it as a true chili with a dollop of sour cream and low fat shredded Mexican cheese mixed in. But you can also beef it up and serve it over rice. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Get fit: Fat burn or cardio setting??

I get asked all the time - If the "fat burn" and "cardio" setting on exercise machines both torch calories, which one is better?

My theory is as long as you are moving you are burning calories. But the harder you work, the higher the number of calories burned will be.

To explain it in real easy terms; the preset cardio programs on most stationary bikes, treadmills, and ellipticals shed calories by working with intervals - sandwiching challenging periods of training between easier ones. Fat burn sessions, on the other hand, typically keep you moving at a consistent pace and exertion level but for a longer period of time. That can be helpful if you're just starting an exercising routine or trying to improve endurance.

To get the biggest bang for your buck, I personally believe the CARDIO option is the best bet. The highs and lows of the intervals will get your heart rate up and keeps it there - even during the short stints. The bursts of speed and intensity strengthen your ticker and rev up your metabolism to torch the most calories.

And if you really want optimal calorie burn - adjust the incline or resistance. Challenge yourself. And don't forget to warm up and cool down after each workout. Drink plenty of water and replenish your body with healthy food choices. Just because you worked out, doesn't give you free rein to hit up the McDonald's drive-thru on the way home.

Monday, January 23, 2012

If you do one thing this week...


Not just the pillow case. The entire pillow. Ten percent of the weight of a two year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings. Gross.

According to HGTV & Good Housekeeping, you are supposed to put your pillow through a spin in your washing machine every three to six months. My guess is that this is something you've never done. If so, this is the week so hop to it!

How to: Always wash two at a time and read washing instructions on pillow label.

For synthetic filled pillow - wash them two at a time, with detergent, on the gentle cycle with hot water. An extra spin cycle will remove excess water and keep bacteria and hold at bay claims Lisa Shives, M.D., a sleep expert in Chicago. Tumble dry on low, fluffing pillows every so often. When drying the pillows you can also add a new tennis ball or dryer ball to help the pillows retain their shape.

For pillows filled with down or another natural filling - follow washing instructions. Some might advise to be sent to the dry-cleaners. If washed at home, it is usually recommended that they be hand washed in warm soapy water and air dried.

For Memory Foam pillows - hand wash with warm water and soap and lay flat to dry. Do not put in the dryer.

And if you don't want to wash your pillow - you should replace it every two years. Use a pillow protector and you can get away with every four years.

If your not convinced - watch this video about what really gets into your pillow over time. While it's hysterical - it's not pretty. After you watch it, I think you'll put this on your list of to-do's this week!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fancy Friday

Is it Friday already? Man did this week fly by despite the fact that I was dealing with not one, but two, sick kiddos. Definitely not something that tickled my fancy this week. One thing that did however is the 2012 Spring/Summer Pantone color trend report that had me jumping for joy with all the rockin', eye-popping vibrant colors that we have to look forward to.

Whether you're an event planner, a designer, fashionista or just the average girl that likes to stay current, this palette promises brighter days ahead with lots of energy and optimism. Something we all are hoping for after the dreary, cold winter days.

Leading the pack is Tangerine Tango, an enticing juicy orange, while Solar Power provides a jolt of energy that radiates warmth and cheer. Bellflower and Cabaret keep the purples and pinks in the center of attention. Quieter hues include Sodalight Blue and Cockatoo, a tactile blue-green that adds a whimsical touch to the palette.

Margarita lifts spirits with its refreshing and stimulating glow. Fragrant and delicate Sweet Lilac adds a touch of romance to any occasion. Neutrals, so essential to every palette, include Driftwood, which has a weathered feel and Starfish, a warm summer neutral that goes with all the colors in spring’s top picks.

I personally am pretty freakin' stoked about the pink palette. I love me some obnoxiously loud pink. Pink to me screams confidence. I've yet to get the courage to put it on my lips but I love fuchsia on my nails, bathing suits, and tops. Navy, white and fuchsia is a color combo I'm crazy out. I'll definitely be looking out for a stripe top in that combo.

And I love the light aqua aka "Cockatoo" paired with a smoky grey aka "Driftwood." Add a pop of yellow with that...Ahh love.

Which is your favorite?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A must have for every baby

I didn't have these with Chase. I did with Lance (thanks Jodie!). Definitely a MUST HAVE. Babies don't need shoes anyway so save yourself the money and buy your 'lil peanut a pack of Trumpette socks. I get stopped all the time by people saying, "Oh what cute shoes!" Then they quickly realize they aren't shoes but socks. How clever. There are so many cute patterns from sweet maryjanes to Van's inspired skater ones. They even have an adorable collection of tights for little girls.

These make for a fantastic baby gift especially for the mom & baby who have older siblings and seem to have everything. They retail for $26.50 for a pack of 6. What I love is you can mix and match with different outfits instead of always having the same one or two pairs of shoes. My personal favorite are the ever-so-popular Chevron print (pictured above). They go with every little boy's outfit.

You can purchase online at http://www.trumpette.com/ or can find them in your local Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Sak's Fifth Ave, Land of Nod, Barney's, Bloomingdales and FAO Schwarz.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Budget Friendly, Functional Organization

From the kitchen to your entryway closet, fill your home with over-the-door shoe organizers without actually splurging on footwear. Designed for vertical storage, their multiple pockets make them a must-have companion for organizing an endless number of items while maximizing space.

You can use the linen/fabric shoe organizers but I prefer the clear, plastic ones. You can easily see what's in each pocket and are easy to clean. They are also nice because you can see when you need to stock up on something.

Eight ways to use a shoe organizer for budget-friendly, functional storage:

1) Bathroom essentials and medicines - Hang on the back of your linen closet or bathroom door. Great place for your hairdryer, flat or curling irons, toilet paper and a functional way to keep medicines up and out of the children's reach.

2) Cleaning products - Bottles, brushes, sponges, and rags all in one spot. Remember to keep the most toxic in the upper pouches to keep out of children's reach.

3) Kitchen necessities - Free up shelf space in your pantry by hanging a shoe organizer on the inside of your pantry door. While the options are nearly endless when it comes to what you can place in the pockets, try using them to organize potholders, snacks, reusable bags, pet treats and hand towels.

4) Winter gear - Whether in a mudroom or entryway closet, a shoe organizer is handy during winter months. Place gloves, hats, scarves, earmuffs and more into the pockets and consider designating a row of pockets for each family member.

5) Toys - Organize all types of small toys in the pockets of a shoe organizer. For toys that come in lots of colors, like building blocks, use a different pocket to organize each color. If you have children of varying ages, place toys for older kids in top pockets and age-appropriate toys for younger children in the bottom pockets.

6) Gardening supplies - Hang your shoe organizer from a garage door or on the wall of a shed or garage. The pockets can be used to store gardening tools, seed packets, gloves and more. During spring, you can even grow plants in the pockets by hanging a fabric shoe organizer outdoors, filling each pocket with soil and seeds.

Tip: A shoe organizer can be used to sort seeds for the avid gardener. Seal your seeds in plastic bags, placing each type in a different pocket. To clearly display the contents of each pocket, use a safety pin or binder clip to attach the seed packet to the outside of the pouch.

7) Craft supplies - Shoe organizers are great for sorting craft supplies like yarn, paint, scissors and more. Try sorting paint by the shade, using one pocket for shades of red, another for shades of blue and so on and so forth. Hang in the closet or back of the door.

8) Home essentials & tools - Get your hubby organized by designating pockets for hammer, screwdrivers, nails and screws, tape measure, batteries, light bulbs. Hang in the garage for easy access.

Tip: Make cute paper labels to describe the contents of a pocket. Attach the label to the pocket with a binder clip or clothespin.

You can find these all around town - Target, Walmart, Home Depot. Bed Bath & Beyond for under $10.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

You might want to think twice...

Before giving your kids another cup of Kool-Aid, read this quick tip, found on Apartment Therapy, that is quite disturbing:

Quick tip: Clean your toilet bowl with orange Kool-Aid.

Come again?? You mean a product meant to pass through our digestive system is being recommendeded for the same use as an industrial cleaner?

Yep. They claim that all you have to do is sprinkle the contents of the package in before you head to bed, swirl it around with a toilet bowl brush, and let the citric acid sit over night. The acid in the drink mix will go to work cleaning away tough stains and build up if you don't have tough water.

Not that I buy Kool-Aid to begin with but you better believe it's now never making it's way into my cupboards or my toilet bowl.

Monday, January 16, 2012

If you do one thing this week...

Pencil in a car de-junking day.

Is your car full of old coffee cups, kid's socks, and crumpled water bottles? If so, it's time to conquer the chaos. It's amazing how quickly the car can get filthy when you're running from school to soccer, PTA meeting to music lessons. Snack (both the snack itself and the wrapper), changes of clothes, balls, school papers. It all seems to float from front to back and everywhere inbetween.

If you're embarrassed to open the door or are constantly making excuses for your dirty car, these six steps are going to help you tremendously;

1) Carve out 30 minutes to empty the entire car and vacuum inside. Sort stuff into two piles - what belongs in the car (registration, maps, napkins) and what doesn't (bubbles, hair brush, screwdriver).

2) Buy a "car-bage" bin. Don't get debris get too comfy. Besides being dirty, it's germy and certain things can become moldy and toxic. Outfit your car with a functional trash can. This particular one from Amazon can be anchored under a car mat to the floor, hung from a headrest or attached directly to the carpet. To take it a step further; put a small trash bin in your garage. Before going inside do a quick sweep of the car and toss any trash from the day on your way inside. This works wonders for me!

3) Limit passengers. Meaning - Barbie. Elmo. Woody. Of course, let the kids pack a friend or two for the ride, just not the entire toy box. Keep extra playthings in a tote that lives in the car.

4) Toss trash while you pump gas. One of my favorite multi-tasking activities. Spend half a minute throwing garbage into those convenient bins at the pump. Even if you only can get the front seat and cupholders cleaned of loose wrappers, it will help.

5) Don't let anyone leave the car empty-handed. As a rule - everyone should get out of the car with what they came in holding; soda cans, video games, homeworks, hats.

6) Put your trunk to work. You're most likey to clean the car if you don't have to run inside to fetch your keep-it-neat supplies. Two essentials worth storing in the trunk or in a small plastic bin in the back of your SUV; 1) a handheld vac (the Eureka Easy Clean 71B for $40 on Amazon gets high reviews) and 2) Car Upholstery wipes (try Armor All Cleaning Wipes, $5.50 for 25 at Walgreens).

Here's to a productive week ahead!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sweet Sunday

Moist. Heart-healthy. Fiber-filled. Satisfying. Start your day off with this yummy Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries and Bananas from skinnytaste.com and never leave the house hungry. Which if you're on the weight loss kick after the New Year you know that to jump start your metabolism for the day, you must never skip breakfast. And there's nothing better than old fashioned oatmeal. Doctor'd up of course.

You can make this with any combination of fruits and nuts you like - the possibilities are endless. This also makes for a great after school or mid-day snack. Pop in the micro for a few seconds and

~Baked Oatmeal~

2 medium ripe bananas, (the riper the better) sliced into 1/2" pieces
1 1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup honey (or agave)
1 cup uncooked quick oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 cup fat free milk (or any milk you desire)
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 tsp vanilla extract


1) Preheat the oven to 375° F. Lightly spray a 8 x 8" or 9 x 9" ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

2) Arrange the banana slices in a single layer on the bottom of the ceramic dish. Sprinkle half of the blueberries over the bananas, 1/4 tsp of the cinnamon, 1 tbsp of the honey and cover with foil. Bake 15 minutes, until the bananas get soft.

3) Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the oats, half of nuts, baking powder, remaining cinnamon, and salt; stir together.

4) In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining honey, milk, egg, and vanilla extract

5) Remove the bananas from the oven, then pour the oat mixture over the bananas and blueberries.

6) Pour the milk mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the mixture as evenly as possible over the oats. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries and walnuts over the the top.

7) Bake the oatmeal for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal has set. Serve warm from the oven.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note...and starts your week off on the right foot!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fancy Friday

Hello readers and happy Friday. It's that time; where I tell you about something that tickled my fancy during my week - aka; something I enjoyed, adored or was satisfied by.

This week it was Costco. I love me some Costco. I'm that bi-weekly repeat shopper whose list always consists of the same few items; frozen chicken breasts, broccoli, lettuce, strawberries, apples, grapes, bananas, oatmeal, raisins, tuna, diaper wipes, paper towels, SprayWay glass cleaner, toilet paper, gum, garbage bags. Ok, clearly more than a few but hey, the price is right.

I usually don't veer away from my list but Tuesday was an exception. The Bare Fruit Cinnamon Apple Chips just sounded oh so tasty. Note to self; don't go shopping while you're hungry.

Besides the delicious taste, what I love about these particular apple chips is:

1) 100% Organic
2) Baked and dried
3) No preservatives
4) Gluten Free
5) Low calories, no fat
6) Made with only two ingredients - apples and cinnamon
7) No added sugar
8) Big bag is only $4.99
The frustrating part about blogging about Costco is that every Costco stocks different items. Argg. So the next time you are at your local Costco, ask a sales associate to look up if they carry them. If so, snag yourself a bag. They make for a healthy, grab and go snack for you and the kids.

If your Costco doesn't stock them, you can always put in a request (I do it all the time!) or you can buy them off Amazon. Unfortunately for double the price. :(

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Would you wear these?

My quick and easy answer: Nope. Nada. No way.

It just blows my mind that these are $175 at Tory Burch. I'm sorry but these do nothing for me. Am I missing the boat? Tory is usually on top of fashion forward trends but these look like a shoe my grandpa would have worn.

How on earth would you describe these anyway? According to Tory -- "Topsider meets espadrille in the Metallic Blanton Espadrille, our witty, tomboy take on two summer staples. Wear it with jeans or a feminine dress for an unexpected twist."

Unexpected? Yeah - unexpected like, "wow, I expected her style to be better than that!" I do agree that the metallic shade can be fun, and a cute little boat shoe is super easy to slip on and pairs beautifully with dark jeans or a pair of cutoffs. But if you're set on a shimmery boat shoe, why not save a few bucks and get something alittle cuter like these slip on Sperrys for $90.00....

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's for Dinner Wednesday: Meal in a Can

After complaining about what to make for dinner, my little sis introduced me to the EASIEST meal on the face of the earth. I call it "meal in a can" because it's essentially just that; canned chicken, corn, black beans and diced mild tomatoes with green chilies. It literally takes 3 minutes of prep work and 10 minutes on the stovetop.

There are so many variations of dinners you can make with this concoction. We use it as filling inside tortillas and top it with lettuce shreds, shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa and a dollop of guac. I love it over a bed of lettuce with quac and sour cream as my dressing. You can also put over rice with the same toppings. Never tried it over guinoa or couscous but I'm sure it would be just as tasty.

If I remember correctly, my sister said this was a Weight Watchers meal or a similar variation. Good news for all you on the weight loss kick. This meal is packed with protein, fiber and low in fat and carbs.

~Meal in a Can~

2 large cans of Swansons (or Kirkland Signature from Costco) chunk chicken packed in water*
1 can Rotel diced mild tomatoes with green chilies
1 can corn - I prefer no salt added
1 can of black beans - I prefer low sodium
1 packet or 1/4 cup of taco seasoning

*If you prefer, you can boil your desired amount of chicken breasts and shred.

Open all cans with a can opener.
Drain the chicken, corn, and black beans - leaving the tomatoes as is.
Dump all ingredients into a skillet on the stove top.
Mix together and stir in taco seasoning.
Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

And...that's it. You can also top with green onions or cilantro to give it that extra flavor. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dirty Laundry

Have you ever found yourself putting laundry into the washer only to find some serious stains that you have no idea how to get out? Or, pulled laundry out of the dryer only to find it still has a stain on it that you were sure would come out on its own? If so, then you’re in some serious luck! Thanks to Laurie from Tip Junkie and GreatCleaners.com, here is her Stain Removal Guide complete with common types of household stains and how to get them out.

The printable is so handy and helpful that it's pretty frame worthy. See? Now you don’t have to try to remember what works best for which stain when doing laundry, the information is right there!

This makes for a great gift as well. Pair the framed list with cleaning products from the list in a laundry basket.

Print FREE Stain Removal Guide here.

If you don't want to frame, simply print it out and use this Stain Removal Guide as a quick reference for when you’re doing laundry. Here are the suggestions on how to treat these common stains:

CHOCOLATE - Remove excess and rinse with cold water. Next, rub in liquid laundry detergent and let sit for 5 minutes. Then, soak garment for 15 minutes in cold water. Periodically rub the stain between fingers to loosen the stain. Rinse thoroughly. If an oily stain persists, use OxiClean Max Force Gel Stick and wash normal.

COFFEE OR TEA – Rub liquid laundry detergent and a little cold water into the coffee stain. If an stain persists, use a stain stick and let sit for 5 minutes, then wash normal.

CRAYON – Sprinkle Baking Soda on a damp cloth and rub gently.

FRUIT or RED WINE – Treat immediately, but if you’re in a hurry, pour a little Baking Soda on the stain, and then later run hot water through the back of the stain.

GRASS - Remove excess stain then spray OxiClean Maxforce directly until saturated. Rub in and let stand 5 minutes. Then wash normal.

GREASE - (butter, oil, mayonnaise) Apply liquid detergent to the stained area and let it sit for 5 minutes. As it soaks into the fabric it begins to break down the grease. Wash in the hottest water safe for the fabric.

INK (BALLPOINT) - Dab rubbing alcohol onto the stain, blotting with a clean cloth. Continue until no ink remains. Rinse then apply liquid laundry detergent and soak for 5 minutes. Wash in the hottest water that is safe for the fabric. If rubbing alcohol doesn’t work, rinse THOROUGHLY then try nail polish remover, using steps above.

INK (FELT-TIP) - Place a rag under the stain. Saturate stain with an alcohol-based hair spray. Blot the stain with a rag and repeat until stain is removed. Launder as usual.

LIPSTICK - Start by treating the oily/waxy component of the stain with a pre-treater like OxiClean Max Force Gel Stick. Then rub with liquid detergent and water. Scrub stain lightly and rinse in hot water. Next, wash in the hottest water suitable for the fabric using detergent and an all-fabric bleach like OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover.

MUD - Soak and rub the stain in cold water before washing in a color safe bleach like OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover for 30 minutes. Then launder in warm water with detergent. If stain remains, soak an additional 30 minutes, then rewash.

MUSTARD - Treat the stain with a heavy-duty liquid detergent and then rinse thoroughly. Soak the garment in a dilute solution of all-fabric bleach like OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover. Launder as usual in cool water. Do not dry the garment if the stain remains. Repeat the steps until stain is removed.

PERSPIRATION - Scrub in a paste of Baking Soda and water then let it sit for an hour. Wash as usual.

PROTEIN (blood, egg) - Scrub in a paste of Baking Soda and water then let it sit for an hour. Wash as usual.

RING AROUND THE COLLAR – Mix a paste of 4 tablespoons Baking Soda and 1/4 cup water and rub it onto the collar. Add a additional vinegar to the collar and then wash as usual.

RUST - First sprinkle salt on the stain and then squeeze lemon juice onto the salt. Spread out the garment in the sun to dry. Tip: Test on a seam or inconspicuous spot to see if bleaching occurs.

SAUCES (tomato, ketchup, barbecue) - Remove excess stain then spray a deep cleaner like OxiClean Maxforce directly until saturated. Rub in and let stand 5 minutes. Then wash normal.

VOMIT or BABY SPIT UP - Sprinkle Baking Soda on the site and rub it in prior to washing. This will also eliminate the smell from lingering.

WAX OR GUM - Harden by using an ice cube or put in freezer for several hours. Scrape off excess. When all been removed, treat the remaining spot with an equal mixture of liquid dish washing soap and white distilled vinegar. Rub in gently and then wash the garment as usual.

Monday, January 9, 2012

If you do one thing this week...

Stop OVERcommiting.

For busy women — and who isn't busy these days? — daily life is a constant negotiation between the things that need to be done and the time available to do them. That means we're always on the lookout for shortcuts and time-saving strategies, but often those don't go far enough. We wind up stressed out and disheartened, feeling as if time manages us.

This past year I made a personal commitment to stop trying to be here, there and everywhere. It hit me one day when my biggest priorities - my husband and kids - were suffering at the expense of me saying yes to something I should have never committed to doing. It was there that I learned it was time to say no.

I see so many women - moms especially - being pulled in too many directions. I've had numerous conversations with my mom who agrees that being overly busy is a generational thing. When she was raising our family, she never felt the pressure to volunteer on every committee. Have us kids in 3 overlapping sports. Teach Sunday school. Run a marathon. Teach a workout class. Do mommy and me Gymboree. Sound familiar?

Overcommiting is the human tendency toward optimism and the planning fallacy at work; many overschedulers simply assume it'll be no problem to run the charity auction while also preparing a year-end report and throwing an anniversary party. Couple this over-optimism with a lack of assertiveness or a need to prove yourself, and you've got plenty of reasons for taking on too much. "People-pleasers often have a hard time saying no, for fear of losing favor or angering others," explains psychologist Wiegartz, and that fear may spring from a lack of self-confidence. People-pleasers may say yes to requests as a way to prove their worth both to themselves and to others, she explains.

Need a way out??

As a self-described "recovering 'yes-er,'" Welch says, "Building your 'no' muscles is easier than you'd think." The first step is to interrupt your automatic tendency to nod your head and form the word "yes" before you know if you can or want to do what someone is asking of you. Buy yourself some time by saying, "Let me think about it," and then assess your schedule, priorities, and desires. Welch recommends memorizing a couple of scripts and practicing saying them out loud; her favorite is "My heart says yes, but my calendar says no." She also suggests instituting "policies" (a softer word for "rules") so that when you do say no, you feel you have a legitimate reason for doing so. For instance, if you make it a policy to volunteer at only one school function per semester, it's easier to turn down a request to help out at a second event. Just try this script: "Oh, I'm sorry, but I can't do the Senior Picnic because I've already committed to Career Night."

After 22 years of mothering, Colleen Scholer, 50, a communications consultant at a research firm in Cedar Rapids, IA, has developed her own rationale for turning things down: "After a bit of burnout and experience, I can easily say no to projects. I justify it by explaining that I've already put in my volunteer time, and now I just want to spend time with my kids." Not that she's dropped out of volunteering altogether; she just has a more realistic view of what she's capable of — and interested in — cramming into her schedule.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sweet Sunday: Healthy Apple Butter

Ahh the Crockpot; aka - the Slow Cooker. In 2012, my goal is to utilize my crockpot more. Maybe a dinner once/week? No set goal, just making a more conscience effort to use it. Why? There are some serious benefits to crockpottery;

1. You can set it and forget it. Nuff said.
2. It’s almost impossible to put something in the crockpot that won’t come out yummy.
3. Your whole house will smell deeeeelicious as your meal crocks it up in there.

I thought since it's still January - you know the month 90% of you have set a resolution to eat healthy - that something light and fruity with no added sugar would be a perfect Sweet Sunday post.

So without further ado, here’s the deets on apple butter in the crockpot. And yes, you can make more than soups and casseroles in your crockpot.

~Slow Cooker Apple Butter~
7 cups applesauce, natural/no sugar added
2 cups apple cider
1 1/2 cups honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves, optional
1/2 tsp Allspice

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients.
Cover and cook on LOW for 14 to 15 hours or until mixture is a deep brown.
Spoon hot apple butter into hot sterilized jars and seal, then process half-pints or pints 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Makes 4 pints or 8 half-pint jars

Wondering what to do with Apple Butter? It makes for a nutrious snack for you and the kids. Here are some ideas;

~Mix it in cottage cheese or plain or vanilla yogurt to sweeten up your breakfast
~Make a vinaigrette with apple butter, walnut oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Use to dress a salad of endive, radicchio or similar. Top with candied walnuts or pecans and small pieces of brie.
~Mix with white wine and dijon mustard for a delicious glaze for pork or chicken.
~Put it on a turkey or roast chicken sandwich or wrap.
~Spoon it over vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.
~Pair it with brie on crackers, toasts, or maybe even just spread on baked brie fresh from the oven. Its sweetness works really well with salty stuff.
~Use as a dip for graham crackers or pretzels.
~Spread on pancakes, crepes, etc.

I hope this ends your weekend on a sweet note! Cheers to a productive week ahead! xo

Friday, January 6, 2012

Time Saving Money Apps

If taking charge of your finances is one of your New Year's resolutions, then this post is for you. Anymore it's naive to think you have to stand in line at the bank or be near a computer to take care of your money. It's 2012 people - managing your money from a mobile device is legit and has many advantages. In fact - Carl Scheible, managing director of PayPal UK, claims that by 2016 you'll be able to leave your wallet at home and use your mobile as the 21st century digital wallet. Crazy huh? Seems alittle Jetson'ish but I guess it's the sign of our digital times.

So if you're pressed for time, want to feel more organized with your accounts and/or feel like you need to become more current with how you do your finances, give these mobile apps a try;

Pocket Money -- Allows you to track unlimited accounts (checking, savings, etc.), make deposits and transfers, and much more. Sync with certain desktop expense programs for easy data tranmission. ($4.99, iPhone & Android).

Pageonce -- Provides a one-stop place to view all of your accouts (bank, credit card, frequent flier, 401(k), IRA, etc.). You can set it up to recieve bill due date reminders too. (Free, iPhone, Android & Blackberry).

PayPal -- Lets you send cash from any of your linked accounts on the go. The new version allows you to take a photo of a check you've recieved to auto-deposit into your PayPal account. (Free, iPhone, Android & Blackberry).

Expensify -- Makes expense reports a snap. Import charges from a credit card or bank accout, and when you take a picture of receipts they automatically become part of the report. (Most features Free, iPhone, Android & Blackberry).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

3 Major Beauty Trends in 2012

Ahhhhh - I'm back!!! Sorry for going MIA. Wasn't my intent but it was sure a nice break away from the computer. Miss me? Probably not. Actually I hope not. The holidays should be devoted to family and close friends. Taking time away from this addicting cyber-world was very refreshing and it was a good reminder that there is more to life than blogging and having Facebook suck the life out of me.

With that said, I do plan to still blog. I love it. And I hope you do too. So with no further ado, here is the first blog of 2012 --

It's a new year. Maybe a new you. Maybe you've decided it's your year to actually become "trendy" or at least attempt. And by trendy, I don't mean you have to become a Hipster. Or wear blue lipstick. Let's be reasonable here. I encourage you in 2012 to do a few things here and there that make you feel special. Glamorous. Current.

To get you going in the right direction, here are three upcoming trends in 2012 according to Glamour magazine that take minimal effort to try. Behold:


Vivid! Eye-catching! Fun! Exclamation-pointy!!!!


Oh, so bouncy.


I'm sure the real trend will be way more wearable than this, but it sure makes for a pretty picture.