Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Homemade Ice Cream

Wanna know how to make homemade ice cream with just the stuff you have in your kitchen? Out of ice cream and craving some? I just got done doing this with the kids (among many many other things today). The best part is that it only takes around 20 minutes! All you need is:

  • a quart sized Ziploc baggie
  • a gallon sized Ziploc baggie
  • 1/2 c. of milk
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla (or other flavor additives, whatever you want)
  • ice (I used a tray and a half)
  • 1/4 c. salt

  • pour milk sugar and flavorings into your quart baggie and close it.
  • place the quart baggie into the gallon baggie
  • pour in the ice and salt over the top of the quart baggie.
SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE!!! The ice and salt will cause a reaction, making the milk mixture freeze into delicious soft serve. It took about 10-15 minutes of shaking to turn ours into soft serve. It was amazing. Try it out!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Garden Plot

I'm so excited, I've started turning the ground for garden where I'd like it to be. It's in our back yard, fenced in. There's never been a garden here so the ground was hard. Overall it took about 12 hours with a shovel. Breaking it like this will make it easy to use a "claw" type cultivator or hoe to make the dirt finer, if you will. I don't know if you can tell by the photo but in this area we've got a lot of red clay in our dirt. It's not very goof for growing anything really, and it's heavy. I'm going to be buying some bagged potting soil/ seed starter and some top soil to "till" in with fertilizer. I'll be putting the wonderful trellis I found (yep, found) against the fence in the picture, towards the back of the garden for my green beans. Towards the left of the picture there's a good two to two and a half feet of unbroken yard where I'm going to grow carrots and potatoes in tires this year. I've never done this before so I'll be sure to keep everyone updated on how that works. I can't wait to start planting!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Borax crystals

Just showing you guys some pictures of the borax crystals I made using the recipe I was talking about not long ago. I'm going to hang mine on my Christmas tree like icicles :D Here's the recipe again!

The solution for these is 3 TBS of borax per cup of boiling water. I tied pieces of yarn to a bamboo skewer to make these but you can also cut up pipe cleaners to shape like a snow flake. I didn't, but you can also add a few drops of food coloring to color them! They're a great science project for the kids, really easy too. Just dissolve your borax and put into container. Some people use glass jars, I used a big pan I have. Hang whatever you made to be coated in the crystal on a bamboo skewer like me, or any kind of stick and dip down into the water. You'll start to see crystals in just a few hours, though the longer you wait the more they'll grow. They're very pretty!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mardi Gras Party!

Not many people celebrate Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday, or know much about it but I thought I'd stop and make a post on it for the holiday. I love Mardi Gras because the festival happens in New Orleans (and other places around the world) and is Louisiana is steeped in the French languages and traditions. I'm a big fan of France and all its traditions, the language and the food.  Fat Tuesday falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. During the 46-day Lent period, many Christians forego the eating of meat, either completely or on Fridays.
The traditional Mardi Gras colors are purple, green and gold. Purple is meant to stand for justice, green for faith, and gold for power. The bead throwing started in 1900's with plastic beads and now you never know what you'll get, beads are pretty traditional at Mardi Gras though you don't have to flash anyone to wear them! Masks are also very traditional at Mardi Gras, originally meant to hide the faces of the "krewes" who made the floats in secrecy. Doubloons are also a Mardi Gras tradition, handed out to the revelers by the "krewes" who made the fantastic floats.
I love food and dressing up so this is really a great holiday for me. Lots of foods that are Creole, Cajun, or French can be considered traditional to Mardi Gras. King cake is common at Mardi Gras and traditionally has a token (usually a small plastic baby to represent Christ as a child) that, when found, gives the finder good luck for the upcoming year.
Recipe for King Cake

1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs

1 cup packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

2/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup melted butter

  1. Scald milk, remove from heat and stir in 1/4 cup of butter. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. When yeast mixture is bubbling, add the cooled milk mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 hours. When risen, punch down and divide dough in half.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease 2 cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
  5. To Make Filling: Combine the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, chopped pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.
  6. Roll dough halves out into large rectangles (approximately 10x16 inches or so). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough and roll up each half tightly like a jelly roll, beginning at the wide side. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring on a prepared cookie sheet. With scissors make cuts 1/3 of the way through the rings at 1 inch intervals. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Push the doll into the bottom of the cake. Frost while warm with the confectioners' sugar blended with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water.

Fried Oysters

2 eggs, lightly beaten

  1. Heat deep fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Combine flour, salt and black pepper. Dredge oysters in flour mixture, dip in egg and roll in bread crumbs.
  3. Carefully slide oysters into hot oil. Cook five at a time until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Drain briefly on paper towels. Serve hot.
Easy Jambalaya

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

  1. Heat oil in large deep skillet or 5-quart Dutch oven on medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers; cook and stir 7 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, water and Jambalaya Mix. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. Stir in shrimp and sausage. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer or just until shrimp turn pink and rice and vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, if desired.

As far as decorations for a Mardi Gras party, stay simple. Scatter beads, masks, gold coins and stick to the colors purple, gold, and green. Streamers and balloons with noisemakers would be more than sufficient. Don't forget to have some upbeat jazz music in the background too!

Here is a link where you can get 144 Mardi Gras colored necklaces for $10.50
Here is a link to some feathered Mardi Gras masks 15$ for 12
Here is a link on the same site to all their CHEAP Mardi Gras decorations
Here is a link to fake doubloons for Mardi Gras festivities 5$/144
Here is a link to chocolate doubloons 10.50$/60
Useful Links:
The History of Mardis Gras
Mardi Gras Around the World
30 Classic Mardi Gras Recipes from Southern Living!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Acetone Remover

Not long ago I mentioned using acetone to remove painted on labels from plastic containers. I believe the original idea was that you had to use pure acetone to do so. You can find pure acetone at any beauty supply store. I used part of what was left over from my liquor bottle drinking glasses- just regular nail polish remover- found just about anywhere. I didn't have to let it "soak" either. All I did was simply dampen a clean rag with the acetone and then wipe off the label. It came off pretty easily. There were a few very small places that were a little more stubborn but in no way hard to get off. The whole process was pretty simple actually. You have no way of knowing what it was a container for originally. Now, you can save those containers for other things like:
  • storage for snacks in a diaper bag
  • in a lunch box to separate food stuffs
  • gift containers
  • "measuring" cups
  • storage for left overs
  • to hold ingredients while cooking
  • toys for the kids (playing in dirt or a sand box, catching bugs)
  • planters for seedlings
  • lots and lots of crafts
and I'm sure, with a little bit of creativity you can come up with a lot more!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Changed Vanity

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I've been trying to "rennovate" our bathroom. It's just terrible, there's no other way of saying it. So far I've removed the shower doors, which I believe I mentioned earlier and painted the vanity. I thought I'd stop in and show you guys the vanity- I painted it black because it's not made of any type of stainable wood. the sink is a light blue so I figured black would be best- especially in such a small space. What do you guys think?
this is what I started with

primed and removed a bunch of floor tiles

black, a huge improvement

Friday, February 1, 2013

AMAZING Glass Top Stove Cleaner!

I would like to announce that tonight I have encountered another cleaning miracle. When I embarked on this project I did not expect it to work as well as it did. We have a glass cooktop stove. Every single glass cooktop I have ever seen eventually gets ugly. There's something about the glass that slowly builds up ugly crusty looking black rings around each of the hot spots. These rings are nearly impossible to get rid of. There are lots of stovetop cleaners out there that claim to be made just for this. Those cleaners are expensive and they never fully rid the glass of those ugly rings. Here's what mine looked like.

bottom left- burner 1
bottom right- burner 2

top right- burner 3
top left- burner 4

Yeah, it was pretty greasy too, due to those circles. Every time I clean it this is what it looks like till it dries, I'm suspicious that they're composed of all sorts of gross stuff, grease, burnt on food, etc. I've tried baking soda and vinegar, all sorts of cleaners and a small razor blade to scrape this stuff off before. It just doesn't come off. I've been able to minimize it but never make it look new again. Till now. This is what they look like now.

bottom left- burner 1
bottom right- burner 2

top right- burner 3
top left - burner 4

That's an amazing change if you can't tell. The circles are completely gone. They still had a little water and cleaning residue on them, but they look one hundred percent better. It's absolutely amazing. Here's what I used. A scrub stick, or scouring stick to scrub off the glass. Now, a scouring or scrub stick is just a stick of pumice or stone. They're sold at Walmart in the cleaning aisle for close to 2$ a piece. I have used them for several things, like porcelain, without scratching or scuffing anything- they're very very gentle. Here's what mine looked like after the first few minutes of scrubbing.

Gross, right? Ugh. Still, it just ate the circles right off. All in all the whole project took about twenty minutes. Just use water to keep the cooktop wet, hold the bar at an angle and start rubbing. It's amazing how well it works. Of course, included in my twenty minutes was cleaning what I could off with my homemade all purpose cleaner first, then spraying down with water and scrubbing. There was also quite a bit of time spent polishing the clean glass up with a felt cloth I have to make it look extra pretty. We shall see if the boys notice or not. By the way, the coils underneath the glass that heat it up are actually very pretty when clean. One more time:

bottom left burner 1 BEFORE
bottom left burner 1 AFTER


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spinach Pasta

I absolutely love this recipe, though I don't make it very often. I usually wait till I don't have much pasta left in the bottom of each box, not enough to make one dish for the whole family. So, I combine both boxes, in this instance you'll notice macaroni and farfalle in the pot. I also throw in whatever little veggie pieces I have left. In this one I happened to have half a bell pepper and I almost always have spinach left overs in the fridge. All you have to do is cut up what veggies you have, equaling about a cup to a cup and a half, I saute mine in a little butter for a minute to a minute and a half before adding 2 TBS butter to the mix and my cooked pasta. Then I add in a tsp and a half of Calvert's seasoning. They sell this at Walmart and it's a very versatile very tasty spice blend. Add a tsp. of salt and stir and you're done. It's healthy and tasty- the kids certainly love it as much as I do. The best part? Sneaking spinach into their diet :)

Make the Most Out of Your Tomatoes!

I read a discussion at GardenWeb about tomato plants recently that was very intriguing. Apparently, a tomato plant can last for years. With a little pruning and care you can keep one indoors. Now, keep in mind that a lot of tomato plants are actually vines and will continue to grow and produce, so they would need a lot of space. I think there's a possibility that it would be more work than it's worth. You'd have to watch out for the chlorine in tap water. Also, tomatoes are full sun plants- they love the sun- and indoors they'll start thinning themselves out to survive so a UV bulb close by would also be a good idea. The soil would also have to be taken into consideration, because you'd have to add fertilizer pretty regularly. What do you guys think? Would having fresh home grown tomatoes year round be worth the work?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Sweet and Salty Recipes

What two things go together better that sweet and salty? I love things that have that combination though I tend not to be a sweets fan at all. Unless it's salty too I'm probably not going to eat chocolate- I just don't like it. Gasp, yup, I never really have. I figured I'd share some sweet and salty recipes for those of you that love it too. Valentine's day is coming up, so why not? Some of these recipes are going to strike you as odd, but seriously, don't knock it till you try it.

Chocolate covered potato chips:

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Makes 1 (15 ounce) bag 

1½ cups chocolate chips (milk, semi-sweet, dark is your choice)
1 (15.25 ounce bag) bag ridge-cut potato chips
1. Place chocolate chips in a heat resistant bowl and place over a pot of simmering water. (make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl)
2. Completely melt chocolate until smooth and begin dipping the chips, about ½ way.
3. Shake off any excess chocolate and place chips onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.
4. Allow chocolate covered chips to dry completely before serving.
5. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

NOTE: You can decorate these however you'd like, designs with more chocolate on the top or vary between a white chocolate and milk chocolate (or dark) drizzle, sprinkles, colored (food coloring) or plain white chocolate, sparkly colored or white sugar- be creative.

Chocolate Dipped Pretzels:

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  • 15 large salted pretzels
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • Rainbow sprinkles


  1. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds then stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again – at this point, the chips should be melted. Keep stirring until they are totally melted and smooth.
  2. Lay out a piece of wax paper on the kitchen counter. Pour your sprinkles into a small shallow bowl for easy dipping. Dip half of each pretzel in the white chocolate then into the sprinkles. Lay flat on the wax paper to dry. Repeat with remaining pretzels.
NOTE: You can decorate these however you'd like, designs with more chocolate on the top or vary between a white chocolate and milk chocolate (or dark) drizzle, sprinkles, colored (food coloring) or plain white chocolate, sparkly colored or white sugar- be creative.

Chocolate Dipped Bacon:

Chocolate Bacon

It sounds unusual, but it’s really delicious.
6 pieces thick cut bacon
8 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate
Sriracha hot sauce
Cook bacon until crisp. Cool on paper towel to absorb excess fat. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Dip cooled bacon into chocolate and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Leave in a cool place until chocolate hardens. Serve with hot sauce.

 Rolo Pretzels:

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What You’ll Need::

  • 1 bag of rolos
  • 1 bag of buttersnap pretzels. You know, the ones that look like little window panes
What To Do::
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees
  2. Place aluminum foil on a cookie sheet, or grease and flour if you’re out of foil
  3. Cover cookie sheet in a single layer of pretzels
  4. Place one rolo on each pretzel
  5. Place in oven for approx 3-5 min. You just want to warm the candy, and you’ll know they’re ready to come out when the chocolate starts to sweat a bit
  6. Place one more pretzel on top of each rolo and smoosh it down, so that the two pretzels are stuck together with the rolo
  7. Allow the candied goodness to cool before serving
  8. Enjoy!!
Sweet and Salty Brownies:

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For the caramel filling

1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel
1/4 cup sour cream

For the brownie

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces quality dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


For the caramel filling

1. Combine the sugar and corn syrup with 1/4 cup of water in a medium saucepan, stirring carefully so as not to splash the sides of the pan. Cook over high heat until an instant-read thermometer reads 350F or until the mixture is dark amber in color, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat, and slowly add the cream, and then the Fleur de Sel. Whisk in the sour cream and set aside to cool.

For the brownie

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Butter the sides and bottom of a glass or light colored metal 9 x 13 inch pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper, and butter the parchment.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa powder.
4. Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl of the double boiler set over a pan of simmering water, and stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and combined. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water of the double boiler, and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be at room temperature at this point.
5. Add three eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until just combined. Add the remaining two eggs and whisk until just combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage, or your brownies will be cakey.
6. Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there is a just a trace amount of the flour mixture visible.
7. To assemble the brownie, pour half of the brownie mixture into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Drizzle about 3/4 cup of the caramel sauce over the brownie layer in a zigzag pattern, taking care to make sure the caramel does not come in contact with the edges of the pan or it will burn. Use your offset spatula to spread the caramel evenly across the brownie layer. In heaping spoonfuls, scoop the rest of the brownie batter over the caramel layer. Smooth the brownie batter gently to cover the caramel layer.
8. Bake the brownies for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, and check to make sure the brownies are completely done by sticking a toothpick into the center of the pan. The brownies are done when the toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
9. Remove the brownies from the oven and sprinkle with an extra 1 1/2 teaspoons Fleur de Sel and 1 teaspoon coarse sugar.
10. Cool the brownies completely before cutting and serving.

Sweet and Salty Caramel Snack Mix:

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Chocolate Dipped Peanut Butter Filled Bugels:

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  • 1 (7.5 oz) bag of Bugles
  • 2 (9.5 oz) bags of Dove Milk Chocolates..use whatever chocolate you most prefer
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2+ Tbsp of milk
How to Make
  1. In a large bowl combine your peanut butter and powdered sugar. Add milk 1 Tbsp at a time until it's smooth. (I used 2 Tbsp)
  2. Beat until smooth.
  3. Using a piping bag or a Ziploc with the edge snipped off pipe the peanut butter into the Bugle.
  4. Melt your chocolate in the microwave for 1 minute on 50% power, stir and repeat for 15 seconds until melted.
  5. Dip the peanut butter end of the Bugle into the melted chocolate and set on a wax paper lined baking sheet.
  6. When all are dipped put in freezer until set and ready to eat.
Sweet and Salty Popcorn: AKA: Kettle Corn

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4 Tbsp. coconut oil
2 Tbsp. white sugar
2/3 cup popcorn kernels
salt, to taste

Put everything in a tall pot and begin cooking over medium-high heat. Once it starts to bubble, place the lid on it and swirl it around as the kernels begin to pop. You kind of want this part to go fast so the last kernels to pop don't get burned. Quickly pour the popcorn out into a very large mixing bowl and immediately sprinkle with salt and stir until evenly coated.

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Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Ritz Sandwiches
Makes 16
2 cups milk chocolate chips
½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
32 Ritz crackers
1. Place chocolate chips over a double boiler and melt.
2. Place peanut butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.
3. Spread a small amount of the peanut butter mixture onto a cracker and sandwich together with another cracker.
4. Repeat until all the crackers and peanut butter filling have been used.
5. Place crackers onto a parchment line baking sheet and place in freezer for about 30 minutes.
6. Once the chocolate has melted, using a small pair of tongs, or tweezers, dip the chilled peanut butter sandwiches into the chocolate until completely covered.
7. Shake off any access chocolate and place back onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
8. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches and set aside to dry, about an hour.
9. Carefully peel from the parchment and serve.

I've got more, I just think this particular post has gone on too long already. But, other recipes you might consider would be maple bacon donuts, chocolate covered peanuts, bacon chocolate chip biscotti, beer caramel ice cream, salted caramel shortbread cups, salty caramel sauce, strawberry pretzel bars, as you can see the list goes on and on. As always, these are recipes I have saved for my use, but I didn't come up with them, the titles (like all my recipe titles) will take you back to the original recipe I found.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Special Spa Party

I'm not going to say why just yet but I've been thinking of a special party I'm going to throw. Again, I can't say why just yet. It will however be a spa themed party and won't take place until it's warm outside. It's going to be a special party thrown for just four girls, counting myself. I've been searching for a long, long time to find ideas for this party and I've noticed that Google has abandoned me. Well, the Internet community as a whole has anyway. There's really not much on spa themed parties for adults. So, as usual, I've mixed in every thing and thought I would share my ideas.That way it will at least be easier for my readers! Oh, and I'm going all out spa for this one so there will be every thing.

Setting the Scene:

I'm going to automatically make our breeze way into the spa area. It's already white and is basically a screened in porch with access to a small deck that would be perfect for laying out to tan. I'm going to move a few small tables out there to hold food and every thing else we're going to need and I'm going to set out several bouquets of fresh flowers in vases and lots of white candles. I'll probably use the "clean laundry" scent. I'll also have four folding lounge chairs out there with little tables of some kind between them for setting drinks and for more candles. In the center of the table I'm going to have one of those small electric water fountains for the sound. Several baskets will be placed in between the chairs to hold magazines of different types. I'm also considering draping white paper streamers from the light in the center of the room out to drape down the wall in a tent like fashion. Any breeze will blow them around and make a really relaxing swaying effect.

The Tables

Table 1. will hold all of our "essentials" for the spa day. There will be stacks and stacks of white towels, jars with cotton balls, lots and lots of nail polish colors, bowls with the pre made face masks in them- ready to slather on, nail polish remover, loofahs for the body scrubs and foot baths, hair remover, nail files, a bowl of cucumber slices soaking in aloe vera gel, a box of teeth whitening strips, Listerine, hair rollers, shower caps, lotions, fake nails, and hair dye (colors pre-chosen by my girls). At the back of this table I'm going to have three crock pots- one for the hair mask, one for stones (hot stone massages) and the last one with hot hand towels. More on those later.

Table 2. Will hold all of our snacks. I like the idea of cupcakes, which I'll order from GiGi's- they're an amazing place close to home, small tea sandwiches, fruit and veggie trays with varying dips, and -if I can find the fountain or fondue pot to borrow- chocolate fondue with cut up fruits and sponge cake for dipping. Drinks will be tea, lemonade, smoothies and bottled water.

The Attire

I'm going to have a white terry cloth robe and slippers or flip flops for each girl. The robes are 12$ at walmart. I'm also going to request that they have a nice outfit for afterwards but a bathing suit of some kind for the spa part and maybe swimming at the local water park before hand.

The Activities

1. As I hinted earlier we're going to do a hot stone massage. I can't afford for a masseuse to come to the house so I'm going to get some rounded smooth stones (these can be found in your yard, creek/stream bed, or craft store) and place them in a crock pot of water, placed on warm. The stones should be hot but not too hot to handle. If you have problems holding it, it's too hot. Once your stones are at the desired temperature, place them down the center of the persons back and cover with a towel. When they grow cold, repeat the process.

2. Facials. I'm still debating about this. I know I definitely want to do a mask. I just haven't decided what mask to do yet. I've also considered purchasing a chemical peel OTC to use before the masks. I can make my own mask or I can purchase some I saw at Walmart in little individual packets.

3. Hair masks and treatment. These can be made out of sooo much stuff it's crazy. The ones I've heard the most about are the avocado hair masks, mayonnaise hair masks, and just plain conditioner. I will include links to the avocado and mayo masks at the end of the post. Now, I really just can not find the link to the article I read about using hair conditioner. I'll probably end up using that one. You put the conditioner in your hair, massage it in and let it sit for ten minutes. Dry hair will soak it up so keep applying and waiting the ten minutes until you hair just isn't soaking it up any more. At that point put on a shower cap and let it sit for about thirty minutes. After the thirty minutes is up, use a blow dryer on a low setting to heat up your scalp gently while massaging. Then rinse. Just so you know, I'm using the crockpot (or blow dryer) to heat the hair masks because it opens up your pores and really gets into your scalp. Before- and I probably should have mentioned this first- you want to start with clean hair that has been rinsed with Listerine. The Listerine also needs to be rinsed with just plain water and the hair be dry before using the hair mask. Why Listerine? I'm not crazy, I promise, dermatologists really have recommended this. Listerine does not dry out your hair or make it sticky or give it split ends from doing this every once in a while. It's good for your scalp, removes build up from your hair (helping the mask work better), hits dandruff harder than most dandruff shampoos (some even call it a cure when done regularly), stimulates hair growth and kills lice. Yes it does, look it up. I've done it. It made my hair and scalp feel amazing. No it didn't make my hair smell either.

4. Mani/Pedi's. Manicures for sure, because everyone loves manicures. None of us have nails, except for maybe one (I'll have to look) so I'm going to be providing every thing including the fake nails, to have manicures. We can either do these ourselves or do them for each other. By the way, did you know you can get fake toe nails too? Yeah, sure can. I think it's neat because mine are ugly. I'm seriously considering those as well.

5. Hair removal. I'm still not sure if I'm doing this one or not. I am seriously considering it though and having something like veet hair removing cream there for our legs. Not sure yet though. If I do it would have to be done about the time we do the hair masks so that everyone can go rinse both at the same time.

6. Foot soak. At the end of each chair I'm going to have a small plastic tub. I'm not sure what they're exact name is really but they're like the small storage tubs you see on those racks for kids play rooms. They're just big enough for one person's feet and are really cheap. I'll include the recipe for the foot soak solution at the bottom as well. To add my own creative touch I'm going to personalize the tubs with each girl's name so they can use it to hold all their little left over and take home stuff.

7. Now this one is my favorite. I'm going to do hair cuts, dye and style with makeup. I have a friend who will come over to do these pretty cheaply and another friend who works in a salon where I could go really cheaply. I'll most likely end up doing them at home. That's partially why I'm going to have the foam curlers available and my straightener, that way they can get their hair done however they like.

8. Dinner and Shopping. Now, without being too obvious as to who is invited to this party (can't spoil the surprise) two of these girls have never had sushi. So we're going to go out to dinner at a local sushi restaurant and I'm going to get them to try it. I may have to hold one of them down lol. The shopping will be to purchase something very specific and I can't say what without giving away the reason why.

That's it for the party, it's really not as expensive as it sounds. It's going to be awesome though. What do you guys think? Comment and follow.

As promised, more helpful links:

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Beautiful With Brains Foot Soak Recipes (I'm using the Softening Foot Soak for this party). There are three on that page.

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Arctida's Creations DIY avocado hair mask recipe

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How to apply a mayo hair mask at IKnowHair.

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How to do an all out hot stone massage at livestrong.

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DIY hot stone massages and where I got my ideas at, from tipnut.

Supplies list: These are just examples, you may find cheaper elsewhere or homemade recipes that do better.

  1. 3/4 sleeve terry bath robe, $12 at Walmart
  2. acrylic toenails at walgreens for 5.49
  3. lumbar massager for 7.50 at walmart
  4. 96 unscented votives at walmart for 29.97
  5. Kiss brand fake nails at walmart for 5.97
  6. 500 ft of white streamers from oriental trading for 4.50
  7. TRESemme Nourishing Rituals Rejuvenating Mud Masque for 4.48 at Walmart
  8. Olay Microabrasion Peel kit for 22.44 at Walmart
  1. Party Vegetable Sandwich Spread
  2. Easy Cucumber Party Sandwiches
  3. Ham and Dill Pickle Spread
  4. Smoke Salmon and Egg Salad
  5. Homemade Facial Peel

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Sorry I haven't posted lately, things have been super hectic. I still haven't heard back about the promotion from work, as I missed my scheduled meeting to find out whether or not I got the job Friday (huge ugly ice storm). They won't be back in to let me know until Monday. I also can't get my paycheck till Monday. Let me tell you, this sucks. I have a really busy to do list including getting my taxes filed, day care (finally) taken care of completely, big furniture moving, and more garden planning as well. I have lots of meetings and paper work that needs to be filed at the office and lots that needs to be done at the house- as usual. However, I did manage to do every single piece of laundry Brandon and I own as well as getting it all hung on hangers and put where it goes in the closet. I think I'll file my taxes online tonight sometime, as well as the FAFSA.

That's right, the FAFSA. I'm seriously considering going back to school and I'm going to see if I can't get Brandon to go too. I'm going to check and see if I can get school covered through an accredited online program (through a state university of course) and I'm considering Penn State- with a simple associates degree. It all depends on how much the FAFSA will help me out with ha ha. I've also decided to completely get back in shape and quit smoking. I didn't have a Mountain Dew all day yesterday and only one today. Considering that I normally drink six in a 24 hour period I think I'm doing pretty well. I've already lost five pounds just from laying off the snacks. That's really not enough for me though. I feel the need to get thinner and I think I'd feel so much better and so well rested more than I do. As for the smoking... I'm not sure how I'm going to accomplish that.

I've also been talking to a debt consultant to help me with my credit score. It's 378 right now by the way. For those of you that don't know what that means, I'll explain. If I were to be on fire the bank would not loan me the water to put me out. It's that bad. Once I was told, while speaking with a loan officer, that if I were to apply for a five dollar loan with my mother's house as collateral that I would still be denied. That's bad. That's really bad. So now you guys see why I use the word poor a lot. Because I am. I'm working on it with these people though. Normally I wouldn't go for a place like this because I consider most things like this too good to be true and a hoax. However, a good friend (and coworker) of mine has used them and he just raves about how awesome they were for him. Another coworker used them and almost doubled her score which was as bad as mine. You can't ever beat reviews from people you know! I'll definitely keep you guys updated on that. I'm also going to work on paying off other debts and such. Oh and the weight loss, I'll definitely keep you updated on that as well... 2013 is going to be a good year. Because I said so.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Part of My Garden Plans

Spring is coming up fast and I'm getting really excited. It's almost time to start the veggie garden and that makes me so happy. I feel like, somehow, my father figured out how to brainwash me in my younger years. My brother and I got up early almost every single morning to work on our own large vegetable garden at home. We had several acres of fruits and veggies and it was a long time consuming task that I hated with a firey passion. Now that I'm an adult and dad is gone I still feel the need every year to get out and do something. I can't help it, it's like an uncontrollable itch. Brainwashed.

We sold our vegetables back then, that's why we had so much to do. I don't intend on selling mine though I will do some canning and a little giving away of what I grow. I just don't have the time or manpower to go quite that big. I am going big though. Go big or go home ha ha. I've been looking all over at seed varieties and prices and studying up on the new plants I want to grow. I'm going to do something a little different this year and include artichokes, asparagus and okra in my garden. Mainly because these are things we enjoy here that are kind of expensive. Artichokes are about three dollars a piece at my local grocery store and I feel that that is outrageous. I'd much rather grow them and can the hearts for use during the colder months- canning only what I don't steam and eat with a cup of melted butter (yum!).

As for my other plants I've decided to go strictly heirloom. For those of you that don't know the heirloom varieties of fruits and veggies are the oldest seeds/plants that haven't been changed genetically for mass production. This means that an heirloom plant or seed is not a hybrid. That means that you can take the seeds from the heirloom plants and save them for next year and still get the exact same species, you won't get that from the grocery store. Heirloom varieties are often much more flavorful as well. I love the idea of only having to buy seeds once. Let's think about this for a second. The average ear of corn has roughly 700 kernels on it. The average stalk of corn can produce between 2-4 ears (this varies by species and care). One kernel (or seed) of corn can grow one corn stalk. It's not garunteed that every kernel will grow but your chances are good. I'll let you do the math. FYI: Seeds store best in a bag (plastic or paper) and ideally in your refridgerator. They can last up to three years. Using this method you can give seeds away as gifts!

Here's my list:

okra (clemson spineless or dwarf long pod)
asparagus (mary washington)
artichokes (green globe)
green beans (KY wonder)
bush beans (red kidney)
lettuce (loose leaf haven't decided on type yet)
tomatoes (early girl, beefsteak, and brandywine)
yellow squash (early summer crookneck)
zucchini (black beauty)
carrots (danvers are my personal fave)
broccoli (atlantic)
cabbage (all season)
cauliflower (snowball)
celery (tendercrisp)
cucumber (straight 8)
onions (unsure probably vidalia)
peas (progress no.9 and sugar snap)
Bell Peppers (california wonder and sunbright yellow)
Hot peppers (cayenne jalapeno and habanero)
Spinach (noble giant)


Basil (italian large leaf)
Dill (boquet)
oregano (italian)
Parsley (flat green leaf italian)
summer savory

We have a huge back yard for being as close to the city as we are, and it's fenced it. I'm going to utilize that fence to the best of my ability, of coursse. I'll use part of it as a trellis for the pole beans. Kentucky Wonder beans are fast growing and very heavy. They will definitely need the fence for support. I'm also going to grow corn and okra along the fence. I considered growing the beans with the corn but then decided I didn't want my beans to drag down my corn. My sun sensitive plants like my lettuce and leafy greens, artichokes,and cauliflower closer to the taller plants and the more the plant loves the sun the further into the yard it will go, most likely with the peppers at the end. Some will also be in containers on our porch. I'll map it out and let everyone see later.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Gardening 101 Plants and Soil

Want beautiful soil like that? compost!

I love to grow things. I've never been sure if I have a green thumb or if I have only been good at it because of what my late father taught me. Dad came from a different style of living where gardening was a way of not only survival but life. It's just what they did. If I were to add it up I would say that my dad grew about five acres or more each year of different crops. We grew tomatoes of all kinds, silver queen, hickory king, peaches and cream, and several other types of corn. Along with that Dad grew sweet potatoes, red (new) potatoes, Kentucky runner green beans (they are very hardy), bell peppers, yellow squash, cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, and the list goes on but those were the regulars. Oh, and the strawberries. The strawberries were great. There's just something unappealing and tasteless about the grocery store strawberries. It's just too far from being the same thing.

If you're wanting to start your own garden my biggest piece of advice would be to study up on the specific plants you want to grow. For example, early girl tomatoes and Roma tomatoes are not the same kind and are often used for different purposes. We grew both and I've found that people just really preferred to can with romas. Early girls are amazing on sandwiches. The type of cages you would use are completely different as well. We grew a certain kind of tomato for a long time. I'm not sure of the exact breeds but we called them all German tomatoes. They were heirloom, of that much I'm sure. Most were a dark blush pink, some were purple, and some were yellow with pink stripes coming out. I believe these were called Mr. Stripey. These tomatoes are awesome. They're big, the flavor can't be beat and they produce more meat than flesh, being good for just about anything except maybe juicing. These German tomatoes however, were completely different from romas or early girls. They. Were. Huge. You know those little wire tee pee style tomato cages you can get at any hardware store? Yeah, forget those. These tomatoes will outgrow those wimpy little cages fast and snap them into pieces or bend them over completely. We tried every thing, but they were just too heavy. One day dad got fed up with them and went to the local hardware store and bought some square fencing. We spent all day rolling and cutting the fence into souped up tomato cages. We never had to buy another again. However if you have limited room this is not the solution for you, these cages are large and need a lot of storage space.

I suppose if you were wanting to start your own garden I could give you a few basic ideas. The first thing you would need are tools and good soil. The seeds or plants are no good if the soil is no good. You can order a soil test kit online or you could do it the old fashioned way. Dig up some dirt and put it in a mason jar (a little less than half full), fill with water and shake it up. Shake it really well. Then walk away and let it settle for a while. You want your dirt to be in three pretty close to even layers when it settles. The three different layers are sand, clay, and the topsoil which is a lot like compost. You can test to see if your soil is acidic or alkaline using this method:
  1. Scoop some soil into a container. Then, add a half-cup of vinegar. If the soil bubbles or fizzes, it's alkaline.
  2. If there's no reaction, scoop a fresh soil sample into a second container. Add a half-cup of water and mix. Then, add a half-cup of baking soda. If the soil bubbles or fizzes the soil is highly acidic.
  3. Amend your soil with wood ash or lime, if it's acidic. Amend your soil with sulfur or pine needles, if it's alkaline.
If you'd like a more professional and definite test contact your local agriculture department, ag extension office, or agriculture division of you nearest university, they will be able to assist you. I feel like this post has gone on long enough, I hope you guys enjoyed it!

Other Useful Links:

Pinned ImageFine Gardening- A post about using wood ash to improve the quality of your soil.
Pinned Image Traditional Fools- steps on building your soil to improve gardening success.
Pinned Image Scout's Stitches- stretching garden soil.
Pinned Image Plant Care Today- How to improve garden soil.

Garden Tools

Garden Tools

Having your own vegetable garden can save you a lot of money. The veggies are of higher quality, better taste and you know how they were grown. Not to mention if you're a "prepper" like me, you'll have plenty of produce to can and stock up for food stockpiling. If you're planning on starting your own garden you're going to need tools to prepare your soil. I've already went over testing your soil, and compost. Now we're going to talk about tools. Tools are very important to gardening and what you tools you'll need depend on what type of garden you're going to have.

For flat bed gardens (just a turned over piece of soil) I highly reccomend investing in a small tiller. However, you're going to want to keep costs as low as possible. After the initial investment with the first garden you'll probably break even financially. However, you will have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what was used in growing your food and the taste can't be beat. I'm personally spoiled on home grown and I feel that the majority of fresh fruits and veggies you get at the grocery store have little to no flavor compared to home grown. If you only buy organic and you grow your garden organically you will, most likely, save money.

Choosing what tools you'll need will be, in my opinion, your biggest expense. You can knock down that cost by putting more work into what you're doing. On the other side of that coin you can make things a little easier by purchasing better tools. It's the difference, price wise, in a tiller and a cultivator.

1. Number one on my list is your basic garden hoe. Go with quality on all your garden tools but with this one specifically. After working forever with my father I feel that the hoe is the most important of the tools. You'll use this to first clear the grass for your garden bed. Which you don't have to do, but I would reccomend it. Grass left over will continue to try to grow. You can also use a good quality hoe to cultivate the earth like a tiller. The hoe is also used for keeping your soil chopped up. It's so handy and you'll find that if you turn it at an angle you can use the corner of the hoe to assist you in smaller places. It's a little hard to get used to but, you'll learn it. A hoe is also good for making hills easily for plants that require a hill for planting.

2. This wonderful tool is called a mattock, or a steel pick mattock. You'll use this to get your soil busted up initially for your garden bed. The sharp end will help break through the packed soil and the flat side, along with the hoe, will help chop it up finely. That's all I've ever used this for, and it efficiently get the job done faster than the hoe by itself.
Husqvarna 205cc 17-in Rear-Tine Tiller (CARB)
Garden Weasel 3 In 1 Corkscrew Action Tiller Pro
3. The tiller. Ok, so this could go in so many directions. This beauty is the Garden Weasel brand sold at Lowes. I've never tried this one before. I can't say which one I tried because I had to modify it and I don't want to give any negative reviews. Let's just say that if you purchase one that has a pin holding the head onto the handle- replace that pin with a small bolt and nut- it will break. This tiller is hand held and will cost you around 25$ but you can buy the much more expensive motorized tiller at varied prices. The handheld version will do the job though. If you have one you may not want to purchase the mattock at all, though I still would to make it easier on whichever tiller you purchase. A tiller basically chews up soil, turning it fine and nice, and wonderful. However, if you don't prepare the soil by at least breaking it up before hand and just stick the tiller down into compact soil it's tiller abuse. It's hard on it and not a good way to treat your investment.

True Temper 30-in L Wood-Handle Forged Spading Fork4. The hay fork, or compost fork. You will need this tool to turn your compost- helping it decompose faster.
5. A pair of ordinary household scissors. You'll need these for pruning any vegetable of fruit plants, if the need arises. I know that most tomato plants in my climate want to bloom way before the plant is really ready to support the weight of the fruit so I snip off the blooms. Using a pair of regular scissors wil make the cleanest cut and hurt the plants less than pinching or pulling off blooms.

6. The rake is a handy thing if you live in my area. We're prone to pretty rocky soil and once it's prepared it's a real pain to get down and remove every single rock by hand. The rake will do it for you, easily. You'll want to be sure to get a garden rake though, not a leaf rake, it's thin tines are a real pain to work with and it just doesn't do as good of a job as the garden rake does.

Any other tools you would need are simple at this point, a small trowel (hand shovel) for transplanting, a water bucket for watering and maybe a water hose. There's also of course a hat for protection from the sun, and gloves. With these tools and a little hard work you should have no problem getting your garden ready for planting. If you need any thing else you'll learn as you go. There are no set rules to gardening tools, it all depends on the gardener, the plants, and the soil. For instance if your soil is rocky you'll need a rake, if it's not, you won't ever use it much. I really can't stress enough how much this is tailored to you, what you're growing and what you are capable of.

So get out there and grow your own vegetables, you'll love the feeling of accomplishment you get, the money you save and the very best part the taste!