Thursday, April 17, 2014

What we can learn about life from #LifeBelowZero

Last weekend I discover a new show.  An awesome new show.

#LifeBelowZero follows 7 people surviving in the Alaska "outback" many of them near the Arctic Circle.  It is amazing.  It follows the struggle to provide for themselves, families and even there animals.  I literally watched it all day Sunday while I was Spring Cleaning my house.  I think that I admire them because it is something that I could NEVER do.  I wouldn't make it a week.

It's awesome.  Sue and Erik are my favorites.  They are doing this literally on their own.  The only way to describe Sue.  She's bad ass, and so brave that I don't how she does it.  Last season she went hunting whatever it was that was hunting her.  I would have called for an airlift.

Based on Erik's bio he is pretty young, but he seems pretty wise and has this thing figured out.  But he said something on the one of the episodes that stuck in my head.  It was something to the effect of "Eat when your Hungry, Sleep when your tired, and work when you have too"  - brilliant.  How can we apply this to our own lives.  I mean the majority of us to do not live lives that require us to fear for our safety or kill our dinners every night.

Eat when you are hungry is pretty simple.  But think about this.  How many times to you eat at your desk or say I'll eat after my next meeting and then you realize that it's 4:00?  Used to happen to me all the time.  I think that we can interrupt this as feeding ourselves.  Make time for your self.

Sleep when you are tired.  Have you ever caught yourself doing dishes (or finishing one more load of laundry) at 11:00 at night when you need to be up early the next day?  Give yourself a break.  Laundry can wait, the dishes are going anywhere.  Make yourself a priority.

Work when you have to.  Wow...this is a thought right.  Erik works to survive.  He has to haul his water to his house from the river, sometimes at night, in the snow and cold.  The lesson I take from this.  Get what you need to get done from 9-5.  Prioritize your work, prioritize your life.  Make your family a priority.

See Erik's works made me wise.

The one last lesson I take away from this show is...Enjoy your surroundings.  Take a minute every now and then and just sit in the sun and look around.

So the new season starts tonight at 8 cst on National Geographic.  Tune in and let me know what you think!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Life Skill: How to Boil an Egg

Boiling an egg should be really easy right? 

We all know better, you think everything is fine and then you go to peel them, and you realize that it order to get the shell off, it requires removing half your egg white.

The good news is that are some tricks and tips that can make it a lot easier.

First, start off by adding your eggs to a medium saucepan, cover those eggs with cold water, completely covering them by an inch of water. 

Over a high heat, bring them to a boil, then remove them from the heat and cover the pan.

After about 10 minutes, remove the eggs and immerse them in a cold water bath until they have completely cooled down.

Next, remove them from the water, place them in a bowl and put them in the refrigerator.  I like to refrigerate mine over night, but I think a couple of hours will do the trick.

The shells will practically pop right off when you try to peel them. 

Now its easy.


Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Dinner: Part I Dessert - Carrot Cake

This is the first in a three part series getting you ready for Easter dinner.  Upcoming posts include preparing your sides, and the main course (ham!) - with a lot of tips and tricks along the way to limit your time in the kitchen, and  maximum your egg hunting time.

Like the centerpiece?  Find out how to make one here.

Shouldn't dinner always start with dessert?  Especially on Holidays?

I am going really traditional on Easter dinner this year.  In past years, we have grilled turkey and casseroles, this year will be a traditional back to my roots dinner.

That being said, let's get started with what is the most important part of the meal.  Dessert.

I have never made a carrot cake from scratch before.  It seemed too much.  Turns out it's not that hard.

I found a great recipe on All Recipes, and do not been turned off by the healthier in the name of the recipe, although it is healthier, it is doesn't taste like it, it's pretty tasty.

I will let you head over there and get the recipe, but I thought that I would give you my notes, to maybe make it alittle easier.

  • This recipe takes 3 cups of grated carrots.  That is about 9 medium carrots peeled, and shredded. 
  • I added a small can of pineapple tidbits, and a couple of handful of raisins.  
  • Soften your butter, for the frosting, by placing them on the stove while the cake is baking. 
  • Make the frosting while the cake is cooling and place it the refrigetor to let it set-up before trying to frost your cake.
  • Do not frost the cake until your cake is completely cooled, you will want to frost what I call a 'primer' layer of frosting to pick up all the crumbs.  Completely clean your knife and any crumbs that have make it into the frosting before adding the reminder.  Sometimes, I place the cake in the refrigetor between the primer and final coat - makes frosting so much easier.
  • I free handed the carrot, using just green and orange Sparkle Gel.  
After you have frosted the cake, you will want to keep it cool because of the cream cheese frosting.  This cake is great, because it can be made a couple of days ahead of time (if you feel you can hide it from your family well enough) before you plan on serving it.  It actually tasted better as the week went on.

Stay tuned, lots more Easter prep tips and tricks to come.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Time to get started with the Spring Cleaning!

Can you believe that it's FINALLY time to start Spring Cleaning?

I know that none of us thought that Spring was actually going to come this year, but it's here and it's time to get cracking!

This Spring I'm going to have a series of posts tackling each room.  But, to get started it's important to put a plan together.  In my opinion to do spring cleaning right it takes more that a couple of days. Typically, I spread mine out of a couple of weekends, working room from room.  Spreading it out over that amount of time it's important to be organized so let's start there.

Walk Room to Room

Make a list of what you want to accomplish in each room. Below is part of the what I put together for my kitchen.

  • Pull out refrigerator and stove, sweep and mop behind each
  • Run self cleaning cycle on the stove
  • Re-organize cans in pantry
Enlist Help

You can't tell from the picture, but this is my Hubs, helping me scrub down the inside of the refrigerator.  You cannot (and should not) do all the work yourself.

  • Kids can pick-up their rooms and sort through toys and clothes (with your guidance) that they would like to donate.
  • Spouses and Partners - should be responsible for their offices, and clothes.  They should also share in the bathrooms and kitchens.  
  • Other tasks that family members should share are common living areas and playrooms. Team work decreases the amount of time and energy it takes.
Donation Bags and Boxes
  • Have one for each room
  • As soon as a box is full, take it to your car!
Stock Up on Supplies
  • Make sure you have enough trash bags, sponges, dust rags, etc.
Plan a trip to the Laundromat
  • Think comforters and drapes things that are too big for your washer at home
So this is the first post in several over the next few days!  

Happy Spring!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Get Ready for Summer with Cynfully Wonderful and Müller Yogurt - Enter to Win!

Spring is finally here!  I can hardly believe it!

Just in time to start celebrating the warmer temperatures, Müller has released some yummy new yogurt flavors, they were nice enough to let me sample them and they are going to fit right in with your busy summer activities.

Now with my busy schedule, yogurt is always one of my go-to breakfast and lunch favorites.  If you were like me and sometimes get tired of the same old flavors, you are going to love the new twists that they put on their creamy, low-fat yogurt.  The summer variety pack comes with Luscious Lemon, Splendid Strawberry and Orange (the orange is my favorite!)  You can stop by Costco to pick up a great variety back of 4 each.

But, let's get summer started the right way.  Let's give some away! I am happy to help Müller give away a prize pack of 15 free yogarts and some neon sunglasses to get you ready for summer.

Entering is simple.  All you have to do is leave me a comment below.  What I really really want to know is what is the one thing that you are excited about this summer?  Maybe a vacation, maybe just sitting on your back patio enjoying the warmer temperatures. The contest will run until midnight, on 4/20.

Let me know and enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Quick Spring Centerpiece

Just a quick craft for a Sunday afternoon.

I made this centerpiece to add alittle 'Spring' to our kitchen.

It takes less than 20 minutes with of time to put this together, but keep in mind the drying time is alittle longer, I actually let mine dry over night.

What you Need:

Glass Enamel Paint (Michaels, JoAnns, check out the canning section of your grocery store)
foam brushes
large mason jar
Silk flowers to match the paint

How to do It:

Start with a clean mason jar, and from bottom to top, add a layer of paint, making sure to cover all surfaces, I went with vertical strokes.

Let it dry, and then determine if you need to add a second coat, typically the paint seems darker with every coat.

Cut the steams on your flowers to size.

Your done!


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Life Skill: Learn to Hem Pants

A couple of weeks ago I was reading my favorite fashion article in the weekly newspaper.  When I say fashion, it's not high fashion, the questions are more like "Can I stop wearing pantyhose?" questions.  At the end there is always a rant section.  They are pretty funny.  One that really made me laugh was a rant about how all the young people today wear their pants too long.  Seriously, it was great.  That got me thinking, if they knew how easy it was to hem pants, would they do it?

Mind you, this comes from a short woman, who has always had to have her pants hemmed, and until the last couple of years (and still occasionally) will haul pants that need to be hemmed 6 hours to her Mom to have her hem them.  Don't let that fool you, it's pretty easy. 

What you need:

Straight Pens (and it's not required but I like to keep a tomato shaped pin cushion)
Tape measure
Metal tailors ruler
Thread ripper
Tread of a similar color to the pants being hemmed

You can put together a pretty inexpensive little sewing kit, typically under $10 dollars, some retailers (think big box) even sell these items together in a pre-made kit.

Now that you have what you need, let's get started.

Start by trying on the pants, and deciding now much you think you need to hem the pants.  Typically, I start with an inch (I know I am really short).  I will some times just stick a pin in my pants (sideways, so that I don't poke myself) to mark where I want to hem. For demonstration purposes, lets pretend that you have decided to hem your pants up one inch.   Here is step-by-step guide.

1.  Take off the pants.
2.  Turn them inside out.
3.  Create an even fold, by folding the cuff of the pant inward.
4.  Ensure that the fold is even all the way around the pant leg.  Using either the metal tailor ruler or tape measure to ensure the measurement is the same. 

5.  Place pins about 3/4 of the way up to the top of the cuff, making sure that you go through both the material you are hemming up and the pant leg itself.  Space out the pins leaving about 1/4 of an inch between the end of one pin and the beginning of next pin.
6.  Repeat with next leg.
7.  Turn the pants inside right, and then try the pants again.  Make any adjustments you feel you need.
8.  Once you are happy with it, turn the pants inside out again, and get ready to sew!
9.  Make sure that you cut off enough thread to sew the entire pant leg.
10.  Tread your needle, make a double knot an the end of the thread. Pick a starting point.
11.  Starting on the inside (so the knot will end up there) and pull all the way through.
12.  Run the thread back through from the outside to the inside. 
13.  Repeat all the way around the pant leg, until you reach the knot from the other side.
14.  Repeat on the other leg.

Know was that so hard?

Now you know.