I've been asked to begin a blog that shows a "how-to" for the things that bring pleasure to my life. So, the intent of this blog is to share recipes, gardening, composting, sewing, crafts, art, everyday projects and even psychology tips to aid in healing wounds and living the life you're meant to live, a life with purpose!
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Today I have been getting ready for Easter: No-Sew EasY Cloth Easter Baskets, Rice Krispy and Popcorn Eggs on a stick, and Easter Cookie Pops!

For Easter Cookie recipes, scroll to near the end of post. First I'll share how to make the Easter baskets.

 ~Easter is approaching and I wanted to do something quick and simple for Easter Baskets this year. I have my son and our young neighbor to make something fun for. ;-)

I was brain storming what is easy, and the Glue Gun came to mind. Lol, glue guns are great at making a task so easy!

Here are thefinished baskets:
My neighbor's basket is made of Blue's Clues fabric and Winnie the Pooh ribbon.
My older, 12 year old son's fabric is Easter egg fabric and Bee Hive ribbon (no Winnie the Pooh or Blues Clues, lol).
This was really quick and easy. Here is what you will need:
Left over fabric from sewing.
Left over ribbon (I keep my scrap ribbons).
Baskets, I just save my unwanted baskets in my garage, until I can use them as gifts.
Hot Glue gun and glue sticks.
Cutting Shears.
Batting sheet from a previous project. (I have some left over from a quilt I did for Christmas).

Here are my recyled baskets:

Cut your Batting to fit with an overhang of about an inch and a half.

Hot glue the batting down.

Cut the fabric large enough for a 2 inch overhang.

If you cut your fabric to hang over about 2 inches over the side; it is easier if it can go past the batting on the side. Here I am starting to glue the batting down. 
Once the batting is glued down, next comes the fabric:

Getting ready to glue fabric down:

Once fabric is glued down over the batting. Take your ribbon and glue gun to glue the ribbon over the loose edges, making it look cleaner.

For the younger child, I am using Winney the Pooh ribbon.
 Fold edges under:

Younger child's finished basket:

For the older child, I only use the beehive side.

Older, 12 year old's finished basket:
Come on, who doesn't like candy? lol...

Now, Cookie and Popcorn Egg time! 
I also make Popcorn and Rice Krispy eggs and cookies. There is so much that you can do. You can put the eggs on a stick and the color choices are limitless. This photo I found on the internet and liked the Easter arrangement:
(disclaimer: Racz Photography picture)

The recipe:

3 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 package (10 oz., about 40) regular marshmallows or 4 cups miniature marshmallows
7 cups Rice Krispies cereal or popcorn

1 package (11.5 oz) white chocolate chips (or chocolate)
1 Tbs. vegetable oil

2-3 cups rainbow sprinkles (optional)
12 jumbo plastic eggs (cleaned and coated with vegetable oil; Pam works well)
12 popcycle or round skewer sticks (optional)
*This recipe is for marshmallow eggs; however, caramel eggs are wonderful too. I grew up watching my mom make caramel popcorn balls often. Either is awesome! I just think marshmallows are more "Easterish"...lol. ;-)
In microwave-safe medium sized bowl heat butter and marshmallows on high for 2 minutes.  Stir until smooth.
Take Rice Krispies or popcorn and put into an oil coated (I use Pam) large bowl.
Now add the marshmallow mixture to the Rice Krispies or popcorn.

Using greased hands, firmly press Rice Krispies® mixture into your hands first, making an egg shape, then place in one half, putting on the lid to the second half of the plastic egg. Press both halves together. Remove from molds. Place on wax paper. Cool slightly.

In a small microwave-safe bowl, heat white chocolate chips and vegetable oil on high for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Pour sprinkles in a shallow bowl or pie plate. Apply a thin layer of white chocolate over the top half of the egg. Gently roll the egg over the sprinkles to coat evenly. Place on wax paper and allow to set. Repeat for the rest of the eggs. Apply a thin layer of white chocolate to the bottom half of the egg and roll over the sprinkles to coat evenly. Allow to set before serving.
You can make them as many colors as you can discover with food coloring, adding it to the marshmallow mixture; note whether you use popcorn or Rice Krispy cereal, the recipe and directions are the same. Various colored celephane can be fun too:
I like to use plastic eggs as the molds for these:
 My son loves melted white icing and sprinkles on his:
He loves peeps too. Peep pops are too adorable! These are Rice Krispy squares. They are dipped in white chocolate candy coating, and a peep is placed onto the icing to dry attached. Sprinkles are optional. You can stick a stick into any of these treats, making them into an Easter pop! ;-)
Once the cookies white chocolate dries, icing will make cute designs (Have the kids do this part). You can add a stick inserted in the bottom to make a cookie on a stick;-):
Rice Kristy cups are fun miniture Easter baskets, you can use anything as a mold:
I like to use the plastic eggs as a mold whenever I do the egg shapes; but use a Pam spray first. Muffin tins are great to use to make these little baskets.

Sigh... just so many fun things to do for Easter, how does a bunny decide which ones to do this year? I hope you have fun with your Easter holiday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Today I tackled the science projects.... in my fridge.

How to clean and organize your refrigerator and have your family keep it that way!
This is the before with fingerprints and all. Time to tackle the beast, we call our fridge.

The Before pic's:I especially love how the condiments are falling out of the door. Gives it a certain touch, don't ya think?
Before: Isn't this mess of a freezer lovely? How on earth do we find anything? Wait, we don't, lol. I find I buy meats that I later find in this frozen mess.

I started with a plan; it is so important to have a plan. I have found what works for me is tools. Unless you are simply an organized person by nature, tools are key. Labeling and having a place for every item a family uses is the only way to be able to say, "It takes just as long to put it away in the right place as it does the wrong place." You are setting your family up for success!
I began by purchasing these produce bags at Publix. They should keep my fruit and vegetables fresh longer; saving me money in the long run. I also purchased some square plastic wear for items like lunch meat, and shredded cheeses. I am not completely done with this project yet because I have one more square container to buy for the kid's (snack) broccoli; I will show a pic of it later. ;-)
The refrigerator:The second thing I did was empty out the refridgerator and freezer completely and clean it. ...Looks like new. --There is something about looking at all these empty shelves that I like, sigh... If feels like we have hit a clearing amongst all the trees of the forest! You know the place, it is the meadow where all the deer gather. "Or, Houston, we have a clearing..." I know the astronaut's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin must have felt good with their clearing. Okay, not the same thing, but you get the picture of the type of feeling I'm speaking of. ;-)
   Next the Freezer:

Before pictures of my produce drawer on the bottom, my meat and cheese drawer on upper left, and my other, taller spaced produce drawer on the upper right. Remember those bags I bought? Now you can see why I needed them. Produce all over the place!
I took the produce bags and began putting all my produce in them. Here are the bags for lettuce or greens. I put a mixture of the greens from my garden in one. The other one currently is housing a cauliflower. The white bags are one hundred percent cotton. The others are a mesh bag, that is easy to see through. The idea is to wash the produce first, making sure it is as dry as you can get it and place it in the bag, now ready to use.
This is the same drawer's before pic:

After:  I put baby boc choy, mini sweet peppers, apples, oranges, grapefuit, tomatoes, limes and lemons in these bags too. Note: fresh tomatoes that are purchased from a local grower, farmers market or that you grow yourself needs to be kept in a 55 degree area, or on your counter (always on your counter if they are not ripe yet). On the counter, if they are ripe, they last about 3 days, in the fridge about one week. However, in the refrigerator, they start to loose their flavor and will go toward being tasteless. --Just fyi because I would not want to lead anyone in a wrong direction. And in case you wondered why these are in the fridge; they were bought out of the refrigerated section of a grocery store; and we were heading out of town for the weekend. ;0)
I am planning on leaving the strawberries in the containers they come in, unless anyone knows of another way that preserves them better.

After:  I labeled square shapped containers for items I that I often cook with. I chose retangular or square shapes because it wastes less space and stacks well. The pickles are next to the pop, ready for lunch:

Here is the before picture of what is meant to be the meat and cheese drawer:
 This is the after picture of the meat and cheese drawer:
You can see the string cheese is no longer scattered about the drawer as it was before. It is now ready for snacks. The American cheese and lunch meat is ready for sandwiches. The empty hotdog container is ready for me to run to the grocery. Adler loves hot dogs, and the ketchup sits just above it, lol! As well as, just above the lunch meat is all the condiments for sandwich making.
And lifting off the top containers, here is the bottom:
Patrick and I have date nights with fine wine and excellent cheeses. So, they are housed in a container labeled, "gourmet cheese;" the shredded cheeses I left in bags because there are several kinds that I cook with, but now they are all together in one place that is labeled, lol, "Shredded cheese."

After: Here are the doors, much better, lol... the stuff is not falling out of the door because the family just put stuff anywhere. That is the problem with things not having a specific place, it all gets messy. ;-( Small items can be a pain. In the second shelf behind the chile pastes, (it is not really visible, but is in shade) sits a small 1 1/2 inch square container, without it's lid. In it is tiny stuff like pesto and anchoy paste, both come in a thin tube. I also put the small wasabi packets that came with sushi in there. Much, much better.

The small container with the purple lid is where the pine nuts will now go. I use them frequently and they have to be refrigerated; kept in their original bags had lead to their spilling more than once.

The kid's section has veggies washed and ready in plastic containers (I still need to get a container for the broccoli), and individual mini dips for them. They also have caramel dip for the apples that are in the drawer beneath the dip. I want to purchase a plastic tub to house these items together, so whenever the kid's want a snack, they can simply pull the entire snack section out. That way, it is easier for them to see what their choices are, as well as encourage them to pick something more healthy than grabbing an easy cookie. Making snacks easy is so key for dieters too. Set up a snack tray for yourself; it is a good idea, not just for the kids. So, I am not completely done with this project yet. ;-) And next to the kid snacks are the peanutbutter's and jellies (numerous preserves because I use them to make food like bries).
  • Eggs: You can barely see the egg cartoon on the right, I like to keep the eggs in their original containers because they stay fresh longer. If taken out of their container and put into slots, they loose their freshness.
  • Behind the eggs are the ingredients that I will use for tonight's dinner. That way the family knows what food is off limits. Have you ever gone to make a dish, and someone ate one of your main ingredients? I have. 
  • I also have a tray for raw meat on the bottom shelf. I keep the meat in it's Publix plastic grocery bag, and place it on the tray. This is in case of a blood leakage. And the bottom shelf is chosen, because you do not want raw meat juice dropping down on anything else in the refrigerator.

Here is the leftover shelf, it will house nothing else, but leftovers! This is a great way to make sure they do not get lost and forgot about, making a science project in the back of your refrigerator. They are eye level and an entire shelf is given to them. Note I am using a round shaped container for the leftovers. Usually square is more efficent, but I wanted to separate the leftovers from the refrigerator's staple items. Anything in a round container needs to be used up in 3 days, or trashed. Putting dates on leftovers helps. These round containers are collapsable, so they take less space in your cupboard while not being used. The square "meat" container is a staple, we always have leftover meat for sandwiches and I wanted that to be something the kids related to the sandwich items.

 Since the top shelf is the coldest, it houses all the dairy. On the far right is items I cook with frequently, like fruit nector, chicken stock, and various puff pastry type crusts:

 After pictures of the Freezer:

 My ice cream bowl is on top, I like to make ice cream with my ice-cream maker in the summer.

Kid's corner in the freezer: On the far left are the kid's vacum packed meals that I make them. (It is about that time to make more, their supply has dwendled and I think they got bored with the same ol' stuff).
I will also get another plastic retangular tub to hold all the kid's frozen meals, so that they can take it out and see what their choices are. Again, I am making it easy for them to pick a quick and healthy lunch. These bags are microwavable or they can be boiled.

Bread: The middle section is all the frozen bread items. My wheat flour is in the plastic container (it stays fresh that way and prevents bugs from getting into your wholegrain flour), English muffins are on the bottom, dessert shells, and Pita's:

Prepared meals on the far right:

Pizza drop closed, lol, it was burried, and unusable.

The pizza drop is now usable! Yea!

Fruit for protein smoothies:

Vegetables. The corn was blanched and bagged from the garden, so anything from the garden that I want to freeze will go here:

Here is my protein section. I like to cook most meats fresh. Those are black beans in the plastic bags at the bottom of the picture; I like to make beans from the dried version and freeze the extra to save time.
 An After picture of the entire freezer: "Tada", lol; I love saying that whenever I am organizing something. Another fav saying of mine is the song, "I feel Good...NaNaNaNa Na...." Hee...
Ice cream on top right.

Tada, the entire refrigerator. "I feel good..."

I just love After pictures, and I love going back and seeing the comparison of the before pics; give it a try. It will brighten your mood. Oh, and putting on some great music while you are "doing" the job helps tons too. ;-)