Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones! This has been a year of growth and transition for me. Thank you for viewing anything I have written. For you and myself, I wish great prosperity for 2014!


Monday, December 2, 2013

Mason jar obsessed

I love new uses for mason jars. I saw this gem in the new Uncommon Goods brochure.

It is a speaker and amplifier! Yes, it costs $65. I can definitely see this as a DIY project. What awesome mason jar projects do you have up your sleeves?


Friday, November 8, 2013

Sweet and sour sausage

Sweet and Sour Sausage

A colorful stir-fry featuring smoked sausage, pineapple, carrots and vegetables in a sweet and sour sauce.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Makes 5 servings

1 regular size package Eckrich® Smoked Sausage, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1-2/3 cups long-grain white rice, uncooked
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 medium carrots, diagonally sliced
1 medium green bell pepper, coarsely chopped

Cook rice according to package directions, using 3-1/3 cups water.

Drain pineapple, reserving juice; set pineapple aside. Add enough cold water to juice to measure 1-1/2 cups; set aside. Mix brown sugar and cornstarch in medium bowl until well blended. Gradually add juice mixture, mixing until well blended after each addition. Stir in vinegar and soy sauce. Set aside.

Cook and stir sausage, carrots and bell pepper in medium skillet 6 minutes, or until carrots are crisp-tender. Add juice mixture; cook and stir until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Stir in pineapple; cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Serve over the rice.

Source: Eckrich

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What nail polish says about you

iVillage just covered this topic a few months ago.

"Red = You're Passionate

“Any shade of red boldly says that you are energized and passionate about life! You're full of purpose and love to make things happen. Choose a shade with an orange undertone for a more playful look, then put on the charm with a deeper shade."

I am feeling so red today. I am entering a new career and I feel confident. The red helps bring out the confidence.

To be perfectly polished: 

1. Clean old polish off nails
2. Brush on a clean nail protectant (like Wet n Wild Wild Shine). Let dry for 2 minutes.
3. Brush on polish of choice (like Spolied in Slumming On Sunset). Let dry for 2 minutes.
4. Brush on clear top coat (like Sally Hansen Insta-Dri). Let dry for 2-5 minutes.

What does your polish say about you today?



Saturday, October 19, 2013

Never enough barbecue

 Admit to throwing ingredients together that I have on hand. And, the simpler the better. Here is a very easy and fast barbecue sauce recipe.

  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (can be omitted if not on hand)
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (1/4 teaspoon if you like more heat)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

  1. Add all ingredients to a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, and continue simmering for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and allow to cool. 
  4. Add ribs or other meat, or place in an airtight container to use as a base for a future dish. Keep refrigerated for up to one week.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Peach Dessert

I love simple recipes, and I have a feeling you do too. This peach recipe, which comes from an Amish bakery, is as simple as it gets. Give it a try and let me know how it turns out for you.

2 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons flour
2 eggs
2 cups milk
2 Tablespoons vanilla
4 Tablespoons melted butter
4 cups fresh peaches, cut fine
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Grease a 9x13 pan. 
2. Preheat the oven at 325. 
3. Mix all ingredients except cinnamon in a large bowl. 
4. Pour batter into the pan. 
5. Sprinkle cinnamon on top of batter. 
6. Bake at 325 until the center is almost set, which is 30 minutes.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Very easy cornbread

I am not a food blogger by any means. I just like sharing simple recipes that I use all the time to please my family. If you happen to try them out, please let me know.

This very easy cornbread recipe is a must-make. It is from Jiffy, and it is really titled "Spoon Bread Casserole". I make it for every pot luck and holiday.

1 pkg. Jiffy corn muffin mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 can (8 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (8 oz.) cream style corn
1 cup sour cream
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Grease 1-1/2 quart casserole dish or small baking pan. I use cooking oil spray.
3. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix with a wooden spoon until all is combined well.
4. Pour into pan.
5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until center is firm.
6. Enjoy warm!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mason jar recipes - Cupcake in a jar

Red velvet cupcakes

Lemon cake

Wicked Good Cupcakes


German chocolate

Other link:

10 uses for milk bottles




Decanter or beverage

Indoor garden

Christmas decoration

Buffet label holders

Candy holder

Sand art

Of corse, milk storage

Visit me Etsy shop today for milk bottles:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Finance Fridays: Organized Coupons

I am not a gambler, but I am willing to bet that we all organize/store coupons in different ways. I have stored them in my wallet, in a box in my car, in a binder, and in an accordion coupon book. I settled in the wallet-size accordion coupon book from Dollar Tree. It comes with lettered tabs.

 Instead of the generic tabs, I made labels with my label maker for months of the year.
 This method allows me to sort through coupons as I find them and organize them b expiration month. I used to store by use (I.g., cleaning, makeup, etc.), but I did not purge expired coupons. Storing them by month forces me to purge expired coupons.
 You can find a similar coupon book at Dollar Tree. 

What works best for you?


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ode to a Bathroom

Oh dear, dear bathroom. With your accessories so cheap and falling apart. I count the days to your departure (via Goodwill donation, of course).

Like many used home buyers, I acquired a home with the cheapest possible fixtures, carpet, floors, Formica, etc. Slowly, and I mean turtle pace, but surely, we have replaced several problem areas. I am focusing on quasi-ceramic and plastic bathroom accessories. See this beauty below.

 Exhibit A; Toilet paper holders. Plastic rod with off-white ceramic frames. They were installed poorly and not anchored to the wall. You don't want to see what lies behind the frame! The hole is massive, and the toilet paper holder falls out of the wall every day. Sad, right?

And not to forget this gem.
 Exhibit B: Towel bar. Ceramic ends and plastic rod. It jiggles when you while your hands, and is not anchored in the wall at all. As you can tell, the former owner cut corners everywhere.

The goal this week is to replace all three bathrooms with brushed nickel accessories, installed correctly.

Hello gorgeous!


I will post before and afters ASAP.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Finance Fridays: Houseguests

I bet you know what it is like to have a big family. That means that members of the family may visit and stay with you from time to time. As large as my family is and the fact that they live around the world, I have to prepare well for guests. Here is how to avoid going broke while being a great hostess.

DO rent a bedroom set, which is delivered and set up by the rental company. 

DO purchase new beddings (I watch for sales) and a mattress cover. Rented beds shouldn't appear used to your guests.

DON'T plan expensive events to entertain them, like shows or concerts.

DO visit area attractions outdoors, art museum, street fairs, and malls.

DO stock up on good items from the grocery store, like fruit trays (can make yourself), raw veggies, raw fruit, nuts, breads, sodas and juices. Eggs are versatile, so pick up a few dozen. Buy a nice dessert in the grocery bakery while you are there; prices are better there.

DO stock up on travel size toiletries for them to use and take with the.

DON'T forget that they are there to see you and talk lots with YOU.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Simple mashed potatoes

I take the opportunity to short cut recipes often, such as not pealing potatoes for a simple mashed potatoes recipe.

6 russet potatoes or any on hand
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. butter or margarine
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash potatoes under running water, scrubbing well with a vegetable brush.
2. Chop potatoes into small pieces and place in pot. Run water over potatoes until covered well.
3. Bring to a boil on high heat, the lower to low heat for 20 minutes.
4. Drain water from potatoes and return to same pot.
5. In pot, mash all potatoes with a fork.
6. In pot, add all other ingredients. Mix well with a spoon. Serve right away.

No flavor is overwhelming. This is my go to recipe for mashed potatoes, mainly because it takes less than 30 minutes! They are so forgiving that you could add anything, even bacon bits, chives, onions, etc. Try some today.


Must-make mason jar recipes

I can't get enough of reuses for mason jars. I recall my grandmother canning vegetables from the garden and pickling peppers. Boy, are those days long gone. Today, mason jars have hundreds of uses. My favorite use is packing a meal. Check out these must-make mason jar recipes.

Chopped salad to go 
Lazy lasagna 
Ranch chicken salad
Peach yogurt parfait 
S'mores cake  
On my wish list is the s'mores cake, but the peach yogurt parfait is the easiest to assemble. I will try these all! Let me know if you do too.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Finance Fridays: Work lunch

While you can't avoid spending money on a business lunch with a client or prospective client, you can save money on making your lunch at work every other day. Below is the strategy I use to avoid spending $20 to $50 per week on restaurant lunches.

At work in the fridge, keep a lunch box, like this one from California Innovations that I purchased at Kroger. Inside, store mayo, lunch meat, cheese, cream cheese, and anything else you need to create your meal at work. I also like mason jars filled with lettuce and toppings for a great salad. I keep cream cheese for my morning bagel too!

In your desk, keep a bag of bread and chips or crackers. I keep pretzels in a plastic storage container in my desk drawer. This is much cheaper than the $1 tiny bags of chips in the vending machine. My bread bag, as I call it, also has a bag of bagels for those hurried mornings that I miss cereal at home and can't be late to work. Knowing that I have something waiting for me is a big help.

Lastly, don't be shy to take free things left in your office kitchen after a meeting, like granola bars, cookies, or something similar. Just don't take all of them. Keep some in your desk for snacking later or to accompany your lunch.

This week, I spent $16 for all the items I used for lunch this week. I assemble my lunch in the kitchen or in a private conference room or at my desk. Your work kitchen likely has plastic utensils and paper plates, like mine, so help yourself.

If you make your lunches at home or work, you will have plenty of money left over to treat yourself to lunch with a friend once a week. Let me know what you do to save money on lunch.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Things I always buy at Dollar Tree

Dollar Tree, the leading discount store in the US, offers everything from toiletries and food to housewares and craft supplies. It is my favorite store for so many things. Now, some brands are top name brands, such as Sharpie, while other brands are less known or not know at all. I suggest that you shop at Dollar Tree ignoring brand names. Instead, focus on the item and its quality. Also, determine how long you need the item to last and if a less quality item will just do.

I always purchase the following items at Dollar Tree, and only Dollar Tree:

Garbage bags - I swear by the 13-gallon white bags with drawstrings
Sandwich bags - there are multiple sizes with zip tops
iPad screen protector - it works like a gem and it comes with a cleaning cloth
iPad case - today was the first time I saw this
Cleaning supplies - microfiber cloths, sponges, dish soap, dryer sheets, and sprays

The items I stay away from are shampoos, lotions, makeup (except Elf brand), toothpaste, baskets (fall apart quickly), and food items (except name brand candy). Use your best judgment and really inspect each item you select.


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Finance Fridays: Online Discounts

I swear by Clark Howard's book, Living Large in Lean Times. He offers the absolute best advice with website links so you can start saving and spending smartly.

I purchase things online, just like you do. But, I really love a discount. I first stop by for promo codes and web coupons. Then, I view the retailer's clearance and/or sale sections. Lastly, I view regular priced items. For a retailer like Jos A Banks, men should check online first and foremost since there are very deep discounts there, not in the store.

I have tried doing a web search for the words coupon and the retailer's name. This always results in questionable sites and sometimes viruses. I trust the retailer's site, like Target, to send me coupons directly to my email once I sign up on the site. I definitely use Kiirkland's for that reason.

If at all possible, select the ship to store option during checkout. I do that for retailers I live and work near. This all results in free shipping!

Lastly, visit retailer sites, select items you want, and come back to your shopping cart another day. Please delay your urge to checkout the same day. I often review the cart items later and realized I saved myself from bad taste.

Let me know what online shopping tricks you have.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Not Your Grandma's BBQ Sauce

In a desperate need to make barbecue chicken, I searched for a sauce recipe with ingredients I already have. Ketchup is a well-known base for the sauce, and I like the flavor from soy sauce. So, try this recipe for your next cookout.

1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, optional
2 tablespoons mustard, optional
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
Mix all ingredients. Store in the refrigerator for several weeks or more.
I omitted mustard and Worcestershire sauce. I do not like that much tang. The sweeter the sauce the better.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Simple Italian Dish - Easy Spaghetti

I am always looking for recipes that 1) use very few ingredients, 2) take little time to prep and cook, and 3) taste good. Today, I made a simple spaghetti with butter, garlic, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

Butter Garlic Spaghetti

1/2 lb. whole wheat spaghetti
2 c. water
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 or whole stick butter
1/2 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1/2 c. or handful of shredded parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic in a jar, or 4 cloves

For spaghetti:
In a medium saucepan, boil water with salt to a rolling boil. Add pasta and simmer on low-medium for 7 minutes. Drain half of the pasta water. Keep pasta in half of the water until sauce is done.

For sauce:
Slice stick of butter and bring to a boil in a large skillet/pan. Stir in pepper. Once boiling and bubbling (not burning), add pasta and pasta water to pan. Stir in garlic, and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Shut off heat and add parmesan cheese. Toss with tongs and plate. Enjoy!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pretty Chandelier

After seeing this chandelier online and in person at Lowes, I knew it would be worth every penny of $180. Installation was done by a contractor who installed our television, but he had an easy time getting up there. If you appreciate crystal chandeliers, you are looking for a wow factor, and you like cone-shaped lights, this is the one for you. I have received a ton of compliments. To me, it is worthwhile.

See link here.

"Magic Cake" - Perfect Custard Cake

Jo from Jo Cooks has a tremendous cake recipe called Magic Cake. It is a simple custard cake with ingredients like flour, eggs, butter, milk, sugar and vanilla. I bet you have these ingredients in your home right now.

I grew up eating a cake called cremesh, a European custard cake with powdered sugar on top of a crispy layer on top of the sweetest creme ever. I remember contacting Jo about cremesh, and this is a perfect version.

Recipe here

The cake sunk a bit once out of the oven. It should cool for some time in order for the creme inside to congeal and come together. Can't wait to slice into it!

I have made several of the recipes on her site. I have not been disappointed even once. She is amazing.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Handbag Downsizing

I can't be the only one constantly improving and organizing my handbags. Not only do I worry about the look of the handbag, but I also consider the size. I have a large and a small handbag. 

First, the large handbag is a Madison tote from HSN (below in black). It is massive. I can put my laptop, iPad, and so many other things inside. However, the large the bag, the more I accumulate. My arms were hurting! 

Second, the small Nine & Co. handbag (below in white) that I got from Kohl's is my new go-to handbag. It is very light, it has a nice and easy zipper, and there are few compartments that I have to get confused with.

I have been very successful with handbags from HSN, especially those from designer Joy Mangano. I always get compliments from other women. However, they are large and tend to weigh me down. The prices are good, abut $20 to $40. The Madison tote is on sale today for just $27. If you need a large tote to do it all that does not tear and is made well, this is the one. I think I am going to use my small handbag much more.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Guest Room

I have had family member after family member stay with me in the last few weeks. The guest room has had a workout. I treat each guest the same, family or not.

1. Stock the guest bathroom with unopened toiletries:  toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, tampons/maxi pads, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, loofah sponge, bar soap, toilet paper, and fresh towels.

2. Provide new magazines in the guest room. This can include a couple of small novels.

3. Provide at least 10 hangers in the closet.

4. Purchase new pillows for the guest room bed. Dust mites are a very real thing.

The guest room in your home should be better and cleaner than any hotel room. Provide guests with as much care as you would expect in top tier hotel. Other things to remember:

5. Stock the refrigerator with fresh fruit, a veggie tray, and other grab-and-go items. Guests hate to bother the homeowners when they are hungry off meal hours.

6. Stock the pantry with cereal, oatmeal, bread, cookies, and chips. Again, grab-and-go items that they don't need to ask permission to take.

7. Leave a notecard in the laundry room with instructions on how to use the machines. This is especially helpful for out-of-the-country visitors. Yes, other countries have different machines, settings, and soaps.

Lastly, and it goes without saying, keep noise to a minimum, let the guest always have the remote, and always ask if you can get them something to drink. Being courteous goes a very long way.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Statement Necklaces

I have been on a hunt for low-priced statement necklaces to fill my wardrobe for Summer. Since I knew I needed a lot of necklaces, I searched countless Twitter and YouTube feeds. One lucky day, I found out about I immediately purchased pretty necklaces for $1.99 to $4.99. I also purchased a purse, but that came with a defect. The necklaces are perfect and exactly what I was looking for. At stores like Target or Kohls, chunky necklaces are over $10 a piece.

Below are photos of the necklaces. The order shipped in the matter of three days of placement, and I chose the $5 shipping option (USPS). If you are looking for something similar, visit the site. Let me know what you find.