Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Old loaf pans three ways

Out of a stack of quite a few loaf pans, I only have two good ones. The rest have holes or are exceptionally rusted.

No problem. I just found other ways to use them.

Use #1: 

Forks and spoons holders.

The silverware drawer in the kitchen was ALWAYS busy with people grabbing forks and spoons. (Imagine that.) 

I would often turn from the stove quickly to grab a spoon, only to run smack into someone's back as they rummaged through the drawer. Aaack!!

My son gave me a silverware set for Christmas a couple years ago, so I was able to set up our serving station in the part of the kitchen where hungry people need to be--the dining part. 

Stay out of the cooking area, will ya?

Anyway, no big whoop, but here is our humble serving station:

I use the Dr. Seuss method for stacking dishes. :)

Use #2:

Medicines and first aid organizer.

Our home pharmacy actually requires three loaf pans. That stuff is everywhere!

Use #3:

Seeds organizer.

This time of year, I'm especially glad to have all our seeds in one place!

These ideas are really just ways to use crummy pans to organize stuff. I could see these being helpful in kids' rooms or the garage or the bathroom!

In addition to organizing, I envision little ones using loaf pans as "skates" and scuffling around the house. My kids are too old for this only because their feet are too big. Maturity doesn't apply.

Do you use goofy things to get things done, too? 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Totally drool-worthy

Dream homes don't always offer granite counters, home theaters and tennis courts.


How about this property for a way-cool daydream?

Just think of the possibilities:
Wedding Chapel?
Community Center? (Wait a minute! That's my dream!)

If I had this place, I would spin and spin with arms outstretched. 

Cartwheels, too, maybe. 

Mr. Cool's vision of this place most assuredly includes sleep undisturbed by Little Weirdo's howls and Kitty Baby's nagging. 

Why there would be room for everyone!

What does your dream home look like?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Homemade tortilla chips

Oh my goo'ness, you simply must try these homemade tortilla chips.

They are super easy but also crispy and good!

Tortilla Chips

Soft-shell flour tortillas
Olive oil
Garlic powder (and any other spices which sound good)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Lightly grease a cookie sheet with olive oil.
Cut the tortillas into four pieces...or eight pieces. Up to you.
Place the cut tortillas on cookie sheet.
Brush with olive oil.
Sprinkle with a bit of garlic powder.
Bake at 400 degrees for 5 to 7 minutes--until they are golden but not too dark.
Salt the chips as they come out of the oven.
Serve with a bowl of salsa.

Shared on these neighborly sites:
Mad in Crafts
Flour Me with Love
Tales from Trish
Adventures of a DIY Mom
Growing Home Blog 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Happy Pretzel Day!

Who loves pretzels? I love pretzels!!

Here is how I make them...

Soft Pretzels 

4 teaspoons yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ¼ cups warm water

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve above ingredients and let sit for about 10 minutes. The mixture should foam a little.

Into the yeast mixture, add the following ingredients:
3 ½ cups flour
½ cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

On a floured plate or board, knead the dough. Add about one cup more flour as needed during kneading.

Lightly oil a large bowl and roll the dough in it, so that all sides of the dough are lightly covered with oil.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a greased towel and let rise in a warm place for about an hour and a half.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Shape dough into 12 pretzel shapes or about 24 twisty sticks. It seems twisty sticks are faster to shape, easier to handle, and brown more uniformly when baking (but you do what you want).

In a saucepan, dissolve ½ cup of baking soda into 4 cups of hot water. Simmer gently.

Dunk one or two pretzels at a time into the water. Use a slotted spoon or wire basket-type spatula so some of the water drains off. (Stir water mixture often to prevent baking soda from clinging to the pretzels).

Bake pretzels on a greased baking sheet for about 8 minutes or until golden brown.

Immediately brush with melted butter.

Then, enjoy them as is…or
*dip them in a bowl of parmesan cheese; or
*sprinkle a cinnamon/sugar mixture on top; or
*sprinkle course salt on top.

These are so soft and delicious--you’ll want to eat them all at once.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Photos of me? I'm scared!

Darn you social media gurus who say to use REAL photos of ourselves on our profiles!!

In an attempt to put a "decent" picture of myself on this blog, I went on a photo shoot with Mr. Cool.

I HATED the whole process.

And Mr. Cool kept saying, "Work it. Work it." What was that all about?

I call the above photo, "Candlelight Vigil" but it could also pass as "Ghost Story with Flashlight."

I thought I'd look better under the cover of darkness. Plus I had to do something about that pesky double chin.

Then I got my laser out and zapped away. Double chin be-gone!

Who walks around with a blast of light under their chin? Totally unrealistic.

If I owned a speakeasy, it would have one of those sliding windows on the door at eye level. This is what I would look like asking, "What's the password?"

Stop laughing, Mr. Cool. 

You're not being a very encouraging photography beagle!

The bright side? It's over and I have a photo on my sidebar now.

I didn't want to look too old or too stuffy or too double-chinny. 

Whatever. At a certain point you just gotta say, "That'll do."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

"People train runs outta Stubbville"

Does this motel look familiar?

This is where Neal Page (Steve Martin) and Del Griffith (John Candy) met up with Gus' son, Owen (Dylan Baker), in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles

The Braidwood Inn!

On our way to Chicago a couple months ago, we drove through Braidwood, Illinois. I was bouncing on my seat as we passed this iconic building. 

It's now called the Sun Motel but it will always be Edelen's Braidwood Inn to me.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Fettuccine Alfredo for weeknights

Around here, this recipe has become a lifesaver on busy nights.

The ingredients are usually on hand and it takes mere minutes to get to the table.

Fettuccine Alfredo

8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 pound (8 oz.) fettuccine or other long noodles

Boil the fettuccine (or other noodles).
Melt other ingredients over low heat until smooth and heated through.
Drain the pasta.
Mix the noodles and sauce together.
Serve with steamed broccoli.

You may find everyone clamoring for more. 

Fortunately, this recipe doubles easily!
This post was shared on:
Mad in Crafts
The Prairie Homestead
Flour Me with Love

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sugar cookie bars. No big whoop.

These bars are quick to make and use ingredients you probably have on hand. 

Sugar Cookie Bars


2 sticks butter (or 1 cup of butter-flavor shortening)
2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Naked sugar cookie bars.
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Grease and flour a jelly roll pan.
  3. Cream butter and sugar.
  4. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix.
  5. Combine dry ingredients. 
  6. Mix dry ingredients into wet dough.
  7. Spread mixture into the jelly roll pan.
  8. Bake for 18 minutes.
  9. Cool.
  10. Ice with a glaze made of powdered sugar, water and vanilla. (Tint the glaze if you like...and add sprinkles!)

Monday, April 8, 2013

The origins of spring cleaning

Time to work on taxes.

But first!!
  1. Give the dogs a dry shampoo
  2. Paint that weird spot on the ceiling
  3. Arrange the patio chairs better
  4. Check the expiration date on the lemon juice 
  5. Organize the cabinet above the fridge
Now I understand the motivations behind spring cleaning.

Nothing gets the house quite as clean as tax season does!

Are your taxes finished or is your home spotless instead?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Snip, tie and dry

Oh no! The basil is in bloom. Shame on me.

Snip, snip, snipped.

Ditch, ditch, ditched the flowery parts.

Tie, tie, tied with raffia and hung to dry. 

I used the pasta drying rack my husband made for me. 

(I really should make some pasta.)

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Eco-altruism eludes me kinda like reaching a human by phone at one particular toy company

Because of my loving devotion to procrastination, I never found out how to dispose of this toy. 

Don't get me wrong. I don't want to ditch a perfectly good toy. This one is broken in a couple places. There are sharp edges. This little garage saw lots of hardcore playtime; but I just can't donate it.

Today I called our recycling company. The toy does not have any recycling numbers on it. The representative said toys like this are made from hard plastic which they don't recycle.


So, I called the toy manufacturer. I snort-laughed at their elaborate caller blocking scheme meant to wear me down until I give up.

I don't want to brag, but I've been told I stand in line VERY WELL. It's my superpower.

It must have cost good money to implement such a complex telephone system as it was seemingly co-created by M. C. Escher disciples and professional hockey goalies.

Options like:
Press one for number of employees in line at the microwave in our break room; press two for the types of flowers planted in front of our building; press three for each of our vice presidents' favorite dog breeds. 

Yet with each new choice I GREW STRONGER. 

I get it. They don't want to talk to their customers. Or potential customers.

But I needed to talk to them.

And then I heard,
"Customer Service. This is Jeanine."

Her voice caught me off guard. After working the phone for so long, I had to wipe away tears of gratitude. At long-last, the home stretch. It was almost over.

I composed myself and explained the toy dilemma to my new very best friend, Jeanine. 

I told her how I've had this toy for a long time. How the kids loved it. How it was broken so I couldn't donate it. How my local recycling service wouldn't accept it. How some of the sound effects still work on it, though, crazy as that may seem.

Her response?
"Home phone number, please."

I didn't understand how that was relevant, but I told her anyway. 

Eager to get Jeanine's sage advice on this years-old recycling issue of mine, I was on the edge of my seat. In addition, I'd dedicated a good chunk of my day to reaching an actual human.

Then she said,
"First and last name, please."

I told her my name as my frustration escalated. 

I guess callers who are annoyingly persistent enough to arrive at the final stages of that phone labyrinth must then pay the company with INFORMATION.

I could only imagine what sorts of marketing I was agreeing to by complying. 

As I expected, she continued,
"Home address, please."

No. No. No. 

The answer to my recycling question does not depend on my phone number, my name and the location of my home.

I refused to give her my home address. 

Curiously enough, she was OK with this.  *shrug*

So, what WAS Jeanine's assessment of my recycling problem? 

She didn't know.

The end.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Dessert for lunch? Mom's gone loopy.

What? Mom's serving dessert for lunch? She's so weird.

Look again my little angels!

This treat has components of a healthy lunch (and dessert, too):
Combine peanut butter and rice cereal. 
Add raisins or other dried fruits. 
Top with chocolate chips. 
Surround with sliced apples for dipping.

This is a very flexible dip. Use what's handy in the pantry and sounds good.

Mom's weird in other ways.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What a difference a week makes

Mr. Cool 's ramp was perfect for sledding last week.

What a difference today. Yay springtime!