Monday, June 28, 2010

How to Keep Your Lettuce Fresh and Crisp

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I went to a cooking class a while ago and learned an awesome little trick on how to keep your lettuce fresh longer.  What's the trick?  Paper towels!  That's right!  You just need to put a folded up paper towel in your bag of lettuce.  Now, in the previous post, one of the foods to never buy again was bagged lettuce since it's much cheaper to buy a head of lettuce.  So if you buy a head of lettuce, you want to wrap the lettuce with a paper towel to remove all of the water they spray on it at the store.  Once you have removed the excess water,  get a new paper towel, wrap it around the lettuce and put it back in the produce bag.  This will seriously lengthen the lifespan of your lettuce.  Other things you can do are: keep it cool and give it room to breathe (store it in the produce drawer with lots of room so the leaves don't get bruised).

15 Foods You Should Never Buy Again

Pin It A while ago I found and article on on 15 foods you should never buy again. Now, I'll be honest, I will probably still buy some of these items again at some point because of convenience, but I the article helped me realize ways that I can still buy have these foods, but there are cheaper/better ways to get them.  You can find the article here: but I will be summing it up for you too :)

1 - Gourmet frozen vegetables - You can add butter and herbs to the normal frozen veggies.
2 - Microwave sandwiches - Pre-made sandwiches of any kind are extremely over priced.
3 - Premium frozen fruit bars - The article said you pay nearly $2/fruit bar.  They suggested buying the ice-pop molds or small paper cups and making your own.  This is the recipe they gave for fruit bars:
Throw 2 cups cut-up fruit, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice into a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. You might wish to add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water so the final mix is a thick slush. Pour into 4-ounce pop molds or paper cups, insert sticks, and freeze until solid.
4 - Boxed rice entree or side-dish mixes - These consist of basically rice, salt and spices.  You can buy a bag of rice add your own herbs/seasoning and then cook the rice according to the package directions for much cheaper.
5 - Energy or protein bars - people think they are more wholesome than a candy bar, but they are also very high in fat and sugar contents and usually just as caloric as a candy bar; plus they are $2-$3 a bar!  The suggest eating a piece of fruit, a yogurt or a small handful of nuts.
6 - Spice mixes - Grill mixes and other spice mixes seem like a good buy, but when you look at the list of ingredients you will see the first ingredient is salt, followed by the vague "herbs and spices".  They suggest making your own rubs.
7 - Powdered ice tea mixes or prepared flavored ice tea - they suggest making your own.  Apparently most tea-bag boxes have recipes.  I don't drink tea, so this one didn't apply to me so much.
8 - Bottled water - It's a bad investment for many reasons - tap water is much cheaper, it's not even better for your health than the stuff coming out of the tap.  Buy a filter if you want and save money, but hate tap water.  All of the bottles are a waste also.
9 - Salad kits - While they can be a time saver, they can cost 3 times as much as buying the same amount of a head of lettuce.  Even more expensive are the kits that come with a small bag of dressing and a small bag of croutons.  If you are wanting to save even more money, you can make your own croutons by toasting cut-up stale bread that you would otherwise toss.  I myself have switched to using heads of lettuce and it really does save money, not to mention my salads look/taste better.
10 - Individual servings of anything - Buy a big box and then parcel out the single servings.  We all know buying in bulk is cheaper!
11 - Trail mix - The article said they were shocked when they found that the trail mixes sold in the candy isle were costing about $10/pound!  They suggest making your own, it's cheaper and you get to add what you want.
12 - "Snack" or "lunch" packs - I loved lunchables as a kid, but now I realize just how over priced they really are.  You can make your own for soo sooo much cheaper!
13 - Gourmet ice cream - There is usually at least one brand of ice cream on sale.  Don't pay $6 for a gallon of designer brand ice cream.
14 - Pre-formed meat patties - The timed it, and it takes less than 10 seconds to form a flat circle and throw it on the grill.  I think 10 seconds is probably a little too short to patty the burger AND put it on the grill, but it definitely doesn't take long to do it and fresh is always better!
15 - Tomato-based pasta sauces - They suggest making your own sauces from canned, crushed or fresh tomatoes.  Here is a little recipe of theirs: The easiest method is to put crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh) into a skillet, stir in some wine or wine vinegar, a little sugar, your favorite herbs, and whatever chopped vegetables you like in your sauce — peppers, onions, mushrooms, even carrots — and let simmer for an hour. Adjust the flavorings and serve. Even better: Coat fresh tomatoes and the top of a cooking sheet with olive oil and roast the tomatoes for 20 to 30 minutes at 425˚F before making your stovetop sauce.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Baby Headbands

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Baby headbands and flowers can really add up when you want to have one that matches every outfit.  My cousin Mindy, gave me a little headband for my baby shower that was made out of tights.  It has a ribbon on the top so you can easily clip on new flowers.  I was at Robert's Craft and found some flower kits in their scrap booking section.  I was able to make 24 different flowers to use for Claire's headbands.  I also saved ribbon from gifts and made bows that could be clipped onto the headband.  I purchased some little alligator clips at Roberts as well, though Mindy told me you can get clips at Sally's for really cheap.  I'm gonna try that next time.  Here are some of the little flowers/bows that I made:
 Rather than paying $4 for each separate bow I was able to make 24 of them for close to $12 and will be cheaper next time since I already have the ribbon :)  If you need help in making them please let me know.  I can help you out!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Grillin' Cupcakes

Pin It I had some leftover cupcakes from when I made the hamburgers, so I decided to try these also.  I saw them on Fun Family's website.  Since I had leftover yellow cake cupcakes, I used chocolate frosting for the dark part of the cupcake.  I believe Fun Family used chocolate cupcakes and didn't frost them.  Then I put a few orange sprinkles for the "fire/coals"  - which in hind site, I think needed to be brighter.  I mixed the red, green and yellow frosting I had left over from the hamburgers and added a little blue food coloring to get the purple/gray color of frosting for the "grill" part.

Then I grabbed some hot tamales and used chocolate frosting to make the grill marks on them.  That completed to hot dog cupcakes:
For the shish kabobs, I cut up hot tamales and starbursts and put them on a toothpick:

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mini Hamburger Cupcakes

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We are having a BBQ at our friends house tonight.  I had seen these online at Cupcakes Take the Cake before and wanted to try them out.  There are some things I would change the next time I do them - which I will mention a bit later.

The first thing I did was bake brownies in a 9x13 pan.  I then used yellow cake mix to make some cupcakes.  My first batch of cupcakes, I followed the normal directions and filled the cup 2/3 full with the batter.  The cupcakes were too tall and much too wide at the top.  The next batch I filled the cups 1/2 full and they were perfect. Next time I make these, I would like to try baking the cupcakes without the paper cups so the "buns" don't have little indents.
I cut the cupcakes in half and then started working on the meat part (the brownies).  To make the burger patty look more realistic, I molded the brownies.  To do this I just cut out little circles and then patted them out until I had the right shape and size.
For the cheese, I used white chocolate that I dyed with food coloring.  I spread the chocolate out on wax paper and let it harden.  
 Then I cut out little square and using a large knife, I lifted up the pieces and placed them on top of the brownie.
  DO NOT lay the top of the cupcake down on the counter.  Put the cut side down.  The top will get stuck to the counter and your bun will not look as nice.

Next, I took a package of frosting and colored it red, yellow and green.  For the ketchup, mustard and lettuce.  On the site I mentioned above, they used shredded coconut that was dyed green for the lettuce.  I would like to try that sometime, but I wasn't sure everyone who was going to be at this party liked coconut.

Since I do not have a cake decorating set, I just used ziplock bags to do my frosting.

I wasn't able to get the dark red color I would have liked, and will probably just by some red frosting next time.  After I put the frosting on, I topped the burger off with the top of the cupcake.
On Cupcakes Take the Cake, they put sesame seeds on top of the cupcakes.  That didn't sound very good to me, so I didn't do it.  Here are the finished products:

Monday, June 7, 2010

Baby Dress Out of My Old Skirt

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I have heard of people making baby clothes out of their old clothes.  I decided to try and make my daughter, Claire, a dress out of one of my old skirts. Here is what I did:

Here is my old skirt before I cut it up:
I then measured the length that I wanted the bottom of the dress to be and cut off the extra.
This skirt had two layers, the top layer is sheer and the bottom layer is a cute salmon colored fabric.

Using a dress of Claire's, I traced the pieces I would need for the top of her dress.

I bought some green fabric and sewed it around the neckline.
Then I sewed the top pieces together - making sure to leave arm holes an the bottom open.  I did a gather on the top of the "skirt" part of the dress.  I then sewed the top and bottom pieces together and added some ribbon to the bottom.  This is the finished product:
 And here is Claire modeling it for you:
For my first attempt at doing this, I think it turned out pretty well.  I can't wait to make another one!If you have any questions about how to do this, please ask!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Repainting Furniture

Pin It We recently moved into a new place and I wanted a nice dining table and chairs.  We had a table my dad had built when my parents first got married and some chairs that matched.  While they were in pretty good shape, the colors on them just didn't look nice.  The top of the table was stained brown, but had many many spots where the stain had come off.  The apron and legs were white painted white. Rather than going and buying a whole new dining set, we decided to paint our old ones.   I wish I had taken a "before" picture, but I was so excited to get started on my project, I forgot.  Since my "dining room colors" are red and black, we decided to paint our table and chairs black.  The primer, paint and brushes ended up costing me $25 total.  Here is the "after" picture:

My friend, Maddy did a blog on her repainted kitchen hutch.  Just like me, she forgot to take a before picture.  She was able to find a picture with the hutch in the background:

Here is the finished product.  I LOVE how fresh and clean it looks!

The moral of the story is that you don't always have to go and buy new furniture, you can repaint your old stuff and it will feel/look like new.  Or look on KSL for pieces you want and can fix-up.  It's fun to make them your own!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Getting Out Grease Stains

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A couple weeks ago, I was making carnitas for a LOST party we were having with some friends.  I had just finished setting everything out to be served, when I looked down and saw this:

Grease stains!

This was one of my favorite shirts and I thought it was ruined for sure.  Before throwing it out, I decided to do some online research to see if there was anything I could do to get out the stains.  One thing I read about was to use dish soap.

I used Oxy since that's what I had in my kitchen at the time:

I put soap on the stains and then rub it in to the fabric.  I then let my shirt soak in hot water for 15 minutes.  I put it in the washing machine and then let it air dry - just in case the stains hadn't come out.  Once my shirt was dry I checked it out magic the grease stains were gone!  Yay!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Fruit Smoothies

Pin It My mom has been on a fruit smoothie kick and I'm lovin' in!  I finally got all of the ingredients I needed to make my own.  The best part of these smoothies, is that they are super healthy!

There is no set recipe so you can add whichever fruits you want to create several different smoothies.  The secret to keeping them healthy is in the sweetener.  I use agave which is an organic sweetener that is much better for you than sugar.  I also use Light & Fit Vanilla yogurt to cut down on the fat content.

Recipe for the smoothie shown above:
Freshly squeezed orange juice from one orange
1/2 of an orange, peeled
1/2 red lady apple, with the seeds cut out (leave the skin on)
A couple handfuls of blueberries
6-8 Frozen strawberries
1 slice fresh pineapple (a new addition to the recipe - it really makes the smoothie pop)
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1-2 Tbs agave
Blend until smooth then add 6-8 ice cubes and blend again.

The Grocery Guru

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My Mother-in-law recently introduced me to this website:

The Grocery Guru helps you know when and where your coupons (usually found in the Sunday paper) can be used.  This can be helpful for those who clip coupons and forget to use them or to help you put together a shopping list using your coupons.  He sometimes has deals for restaurants and other things on his site.


Pin It As a new mom, I am still surprised by how much diapers cost.  However, COSTCO has put my mind at little more at ease.  If you buy COSTCO's brand (Kirkland) diapers you will save yourself some money.  A package of 216 size 1-2 diapers cost me $29.99 while at Walmart, a package of 168 size 1 Huggies diapers is $39.  I have used both Kirkland and Huggies size 1 diapers both and have actually had less blowouts with Kirkland's.
When I went to COSTCO before I had my daughter, I didn't see any newborn sized diapers (maybe you can by them online), but I thought I would at least mention that the newborn Huggies did not work for us at all.  My daughter leaked out of them and they just didn't fit her well.  I liked using Pamper's swaddlers newborn diapers.

Hard Water Stains

Pin It We recently moved and had to go through the whole process of deep cleaning our old apartment for "check-out".  We had everything but the tub/shower ready.  No matter how much we scrubbed and scrubbed the hard water stains just wouldn't come off.  Right before the check-out I was talking to my mom and she told me I should try vinegar.  It worked great!

Don't waste your time and money on cleaners like this 
that don't work well and can be expensive,

When distilled white vinegar gets the trick done faster and with much less scrubbing.

Price comparison on these two products: 
Kaboom is about $6 for 32 oz and Vinegar is $3.66 for 1.32 gallons

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Why this blog?

Pin It Some of you may be asking yourself, "Why is Madelyn starting another blog?" Well to answer your question, today I was thinking about all the small things I learn or hear about on a daily basis that would come in handy in ever day life.  So I thought I would share these helpful hints with others, thus the name "Sharing the Wealth".  I will be posting on a variety of subjects ranging anywhere from cooking to photography to parenting and many others.  I hope you find this new blog helpful and if you want to share the wealth with me and other readers please do!