Friday, May 30, 2008

Delicious Banana Bread Recipe

What you need:
3 medium ripe bananas
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs (if you do not want to use eggs, substitute 3 TBSP milk - it won't rise as high but tastes just as good)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

What you do:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mash the bananas, add softened butter, sugar and eggs, beat just until mixed. Add all dry ingredients (except nuts) - beat for 2 minutes on medium speed OR 300 strokes by hand. Stir in walnuts by hand. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan (5 1/4 by 9 1/2). Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. I put a foil "tent" over my banana bread after 35 minutes of baking. I then removed it when there were 10 minutes left on the bake time. I didn't want the top to get too dark.

Let bread cool, slice and ENJOY!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vodka, Peroxide and WD40?

While browsing this morning I stumbled upon 10 crazy "green" uses for vokda! Which made me think about all those emails I receive about old fashioned ways to use hydrogen peroxide or other uses for WD-40 so I went on a hunt through my inbox and found those crazy tips and I thought I'd share my favorites with you.

-Touch poison ivy or get a jelly fish sting? For those of you who take vodka in hikes through the forest or to the beach, pour some on your sting or where you touched the ivy! The vodka just might wash away those ivy oils that make you break out in an awful rash or take away some of that awful jelly fish sting. (Some say it has to be 100 proof to work and it's a lot better than being pee-ed on, a la Chandler and Monica)
-Shine your chrome, porcelain or glass fixtures with vodka and elbow grease!
-A few drops along with a teaspoon of sugar can help your cut flowers last longer.
-It's a bug repellent! Just put some vodka in a spray bottle and spritz your arms and legs while outside, or spray directly at bugs - and it's DEET free!
-It can get rid of pesky harmful mold. Just spray vodka on mold, let sit 15 minutes and scrub

Hydrogen Peroxide?
-Soak your toothbrush in it to kill germs!
-Rinse your wooden cutting boards with it to get rid of salmonella and other bacteria.
-Fill a spray bottle 50/50 water and hydrogen peroxide to use as a disinfectant spray in your bathroom and shower stall!
-If you have a cold or plugged sinuses, use that same 50/50 mixture to pour in your nostrils, let bubble, blow nose - it should help you breathe easier (just don't use the exact same mixture as your bathroom cleaner - I don't want you spraying it up your nose!)
-Use peroxide to clean mirrors with no smudging or smearing!

-Have a spotty shower door that nothing will clean? Try using WD-40!
-It protects silver from tarnishing.
-Keeps flies off cows (what??? okay - for those of you who have cows who hate those pesky flies, spray away!)
-Untangles jewelry chains (oooo, handy!)
-Removes stubborn dirt and grime from your BBQ grill.
-Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, as well as vinyl bumpers.
-Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).
-It takes away the sting from fire ant burns!
-Removed crayon marks from the wall (did you know that mommies out there?)

Hope you found these tips handy, helpful or at least a little bit funny. Have any other uses or fun tips for basic household products? Happy cleaning, breathing, untangling and de-flying everyone!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Chicken Parmesan with a kick

I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight. (That was from some commercial a long time ago - for the life of me I can't remember whose commercial it was).
The other night I made Chicken Parmesan and I'm going to share the recipe!

Grocery list -
1 -2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts (depending on how many mouths you are feeding)
breadcrumbs (I use Italian style)
Parmesan cheese
2 large cans crushed tomatoes (see picture)
olive oil
crushed red pepper (ooo - the kick!)
spaghetti noodles (or whatever type you prefer)
mozzarella cheese

Got everything? Let's begin!

First let's make the chicken. Clean off your chicken breasts and pound the heck out of them with a mallet. (This makes them so tender!). Heat a couple TBSP of olive oil in large skillet. Put 1/4 cup of flour in a gallon sized bag and add chicken breasts, shake to coat. Now we need an egg wash bowl and a breadcrumb bowl. Beat 2 eggs in bowl (add a little splash of milk) for your egg wash bowl. And add 1 cup breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup parmesan cheese in other bowl. Take chicken breast out of flour bag - dip in egg mixture, coat with breadcrumb mixture, and throw in heated skillet. Brown both sides, turn heat off and cover with lid to keep warm and tender.

In the meantime, let's make the sauce. Heat saucepan (at least 2 quart saucepan) on medium high. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil, 2-3 cloves of crushed garlic, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (this gives the sauce a nice kick - for a bigger and yummier kick, make it 2 tsp but only if you like spice!). Let that garlic mix sizzle for 1 minute. Add 2 cans crushed tomatoes. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer.

Time to assemble! Preheat your oven to 350. Put chicken breasts in 9x13 glass pan, put a mound of shredded mozzarella cheese on each chicken breast. Add the tomato sauce (I scoop it out with a large spoon so it doesn't splash everywhere).
Then add more mozzarella to the top of each chicken breast (I do that so I know where to find them - and who doesn't like extra cheese?) Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until edges are bubbling and cheese is browning.

While chicken is baking, boil some water and make your noodles. When everything is finished - put a scoop of noodles on your plate and add a chicken breast with a heaping scoop of sauce. Yum! Enjoy! :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens...

It is Friday again and I decided to give you a few more of my favorite things. Maybe this will become a weekly installment!

LittlePinkPosies - this adorable shop is run by a mom with 2 kiddos. Her shop's name was a play off her daughter's nickname, Little Pink Princess, since as she says "the child was born to wear pink!" The shop carried gorgeous hair clips, for both big and little girls, but what caught my attention were the posy girl(TM) pendants. Each pendant is 2 inches tall, hand painted and finished with varnish. You can even customize your own posy girl and choose her hair color, color of her dress and the letter on her little necklace! Adorable for those little girls on your gift list - check out LittlePinkPosies and happy shopping!

Ulljas - COOKIES! Need I say more? Well, how about we let the picture speak for itself? These are Ulljas personal trademark shortbread cookies that are shaped like ice cream scoops. They taste thick and almost fudgey.

Ulljas is run by a professional pastry chef who has a European Pastry and Bakery Shop in central Texas. There were so many requests for online orders, was born! I ordered the Raspberry Margarita package for my mom for Mother's Day - 4 delicious raspberry chocolate chip shortbread cookies and 4 key lime cooler shortbread cookies. Mmmmm....Now wipe up that drool and visit Ulljas!

SheerWhimsy - I entered a giveaway contest on the Downtown Boutique's blog and I won!! How great is that? And this is what I won - the mushroom gadget garb! These tiny little pouches are just big enough for your cell phone, ipod, or small digital camera. They are made with the utmost attention to detail - there is a layer of ultra thick batting to protect your little tiny technology, beautiful coordinating material, a vintage inspired button on the flap, a hand appliqued mushroom (or blow dryer, tree, cupcake, paw print, etc...) AND a tiny little sheerwhimsy label on the inside. I am in love with my gadget garb - it holds my cell phone, keeps it safe, makes it easy to find at the bottom of my purse and it is just so cute!! Check out SheerWhimsy's shop and you'll agree, the shop name fits.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Did Ya Know?

I just learned 2 new things today and both surprised me. One - that most of the flowers that we send out moms on Mother's Day are imported from Columbia, Ecuador and the Netherlands. And two - charging your cell phone battery overnight is bad for your battery! I know these are two totally separate and random facts and you are probably wondering where I got them. I signed up for The Green Guide to Go, a newsletter from National Geographic's magazine, The Green Guide, and I received a link to The Tip of the Week.
Did you know that the flowers from the countries I mentioned above can spray their crops with pesticides that are banned in the United States? These pesticides are banned here because of links to respiratory illness and cancer. The pesticides not only effect the workers who harvest the crops but residue can linger on the petals and leaves. A much safer, healthier and locally supportive option is to go to your local farmer's market to pick up an arrangement or you can order from an organic delivery service like Diamond Organics.
My second tidbit of knowledge came from reading a blurb written where the author was woefully talking about her dying cell phone battery and how she has been toting her charger along with her wherever she goes and asking to plug it in at shoe stores and restaurants. She wondered why the battery wasn't holding a charge very long and she did some research. And one of the surprising recommendations it to not charge your battery over night! The longer a battery is subjected to a heat source, the quicker it can wear down. And than includes leaving your cell phone in a hot car or sitting in the sun next to you while you are at the pool! There are a few other common sense recommendations (power saving feature, turn off phone at night or while at a movie) but I was surprised when I read the charging recommendations. Who knew?
Now maybe you can say that you learned two new things today. Unless you already are full of wisdom and knew these factoids and in that case, I urge you to go to The Green Guide and learn something new. Now unplug those cell phones and go get your mom some pesticide free flowers! Oh, and sign up for The Green Guide's newsletter, The Green Guide to Go - just go to the website and send in your email address.

Monday, May 5, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things....

I've had bloggers block and haven't been sure what to write about lately. Today while browsing through my favorites on Etsy I realized my favorite shops and items are so colorful and so fun that I wanted to share them. You'll probably get a little glimpse of my personality through these shops. I hope you like them as well. And if you have any colorful and funky favorites, send them my way!

TheFlashBulb - this shop is SO COOL! The artist behind this shop lives in Austin Texas and has her items in a couple of stores. She specializes in sewn art! Her shop is full of some of her originals along with prints and notecards of her originals. What a fun and funky shop! If I ever have another little one I might have to get some sewn art for the nursery.

Gracie Designs - the shop owner behind this store is married to an etsy artist and her sister is on etsy too. She makes the neatest mini wallets, check book covers, business card holders, coffee cup cuddlers and ice cream cuddlers as well! She also makes aprons and headbands and hair clips but my favorites are the "organizers" like the business card holder, mini wallet and checkbook cover, Plus they make your purse insides really pretty. :)

CurlyQCuties - okay, how cool is a shop filled with fun and funky plush toys and monsters? These cuties are made by a mom in central Texas who started making cuties for her kids and has branched out and started offering them on Etsy! She has all sorts of monsters and cuties AND tooth fairy pillows that you hang on the bedroom door at night with the tooth in the pillow's back pocket and the tooth fairy can easily access the tooth and put a couple quarters in it's place.

I'll leave you with these 3 shops to check out. There are so many wonderful shops on Etsy and such talented artists. I am always browsing to see what new shops I stumble upon. It's wonderful being an Etsy artist but sometimes it is even more fun being an Etsy shopper. :)

Friday, May 2, 2008

5 Minutes for Mom

I stumbled upon yet another new site out there in the wide WIDE world of web sites. 5 minutes for mom is a site for moms (go figure!) and its purpose is to bring the best of the internet to you in 1 spot by promoting, supporting and encouraging mom-run sites, stores and blogs . The site is run by twin sisters who happen to be mommies AND internet junkies. The site has directories for blogs, stores and sites that are run by mothers as well as contests to enter, feature articles to read and faith lifts for inspiration. Right now on their home page there is a contest to win a trailer bike, a sampler post from one of their favorite blogs, a Mother's Day photo contest and tons of great giveaways (personalized note cards from Come Together Cards, the SAK Dakota Shopper and a Cuddoozle Nursing Pillow). You could easily spend hours on this site and not even crack the surface. One of my favorite features is "Tackle it Tuesdays" where each week a new household chore (or nagging task they have neglected) is tackled They even show before and after photos and encourage YOU to blog about something you tackled this week and post a link. They have tackled Christmas shopping, clothes sorting, thank you card sending, kitchen organizing and even cutting your kids hair (how successful that actually was is up for review. LOL. And I can say that because I have a son and I have cut his hair before - hey! 2 year olds can get away with jacked up hair!) :) Another feature I really enjoy is the Mom Sites where I found Print N Learn Preschool PrintOuts and printed out a potty training chart and some coloring pages. They also have flashcard printouts and reward certificate print outs. There is an organizing section in the Mom Sites and oh my gosh! ListPlanIt has has over 250 lists and planning pages such as grocery lists, to do lists, calendars, meal planning and cleaning lists - and for those of you who know me - I LOVE LISTS. I am seriously considering signing up for this site.
Anyways - 5 Minutes For Mom is a great site to find all things mommy and it's a fun place to poke around. Check them out!