Thursday, November 8, 2012

Prevent the Holiday Light Tangle

Whenever I think of pulling the holiday lights out of the box to sort through and hang, I always picture that scene from Christmas Vacation with the humongous knot of lights that Rusty has to sort through. In the movie, it is a welcome respite from spending time indoors with the extended family, but in real life, it's just a headache.

Now, every holiday is getting a string of lights. I have orange lights for Halloween and so many Christmas lights, and I'm sure it's only a matter of time until Valentine's Day, Saint Patrick's Day and the Fourth of July get in on the action too. I need a way to store them all without making myself crazy.

I got this idea from the way my dad has stored his Christmas lights for years. He would wrap the strands around the box the lights came in. I decided it'd be a good idea to do the same, but I ran into a few problems. First of all, for the most part, lights don't come in long, thin boxes any longer, and if they do, the boxes are really flimsy. And secondly, I move a lot, and the lights get all jumbled and end up falling off their boxes and into a big mess in the holiday tub. So, I tried to fix those problems by using some spare corrugated cardboard and some scissors.

First, you start at one end by making a slit with a notch at the end. This is where you will start your cord. (I got the idea to do the post after I already got started - hence the lights wrapped around the board.)

Then, make triangular notches the length of the board at whatever interval you like. I did a notch about every inch. I think making the whole edge notched is a good idea, but I didn't think of it til I was done. Now you just wrap your lights down the length of your board. Be careful that you don't overlap too much because you'll end up with a tangle when you take them off later.

The handy thing about his method is that you can pull your lights out of storage, plug them in and see if you have any bad bulbs or strands. 

You can easily see in the picture there is one orange bulb that needs to be replaced.

If you have your lights all jumbled together, it's almost impossible to see dead lights or to figure out which strand has gone bad. I find it's easier (it will never be easy) to check each bulb on a bad strand without everything getting tangled up. I also store the extra bulbs taped to the board. That way you know which strand they belong to, and you can make easy repairs.

Now your lights are ready for storage until next year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Unstuck a Candle

Quick Tip:

If you need to get a candle out of its container, just pop it in the freezer for a few hours. 
The wax shrinks and falls right out.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini

This one is tasty and very versatile. Basically, you just scoop the innards out of a zucchini and add whatever suits your fancy and then heat it all up. I adapted this recipe to fit my needs and pantry supplies on any given night.

For tonight, I wasn't really in a cooking mood, so I did a very uncomplicated version. Here it is! Fancy it up any way you like. I put some other possible ingredients at the bottom of the post. 

Wash the zucchini and cut off the ends. 

Slice down the middle and scoop the seeds out by dragging a spoon down the middle of the zucchini. You can use the stuff you scooped out in your stuffing if you feel like it or toss it. It's your call, but be aware that some of the big zucchinis can have some tough, old seeds inside them. 

Then, what I did was melt about a ½ tablespoon butter and mix it with bread crumbs, a little parmesan cheese, and a few sprinkles of basil, cayenne, garlic, salt, and pepper. 

We grilled our zucchini tonight, but you can just stick it under the broiler or in the oven until the zucchinis are a little soft and the topping is brown – about 10-20 minutes.

Possible Adaptations:
-cream cheese
-whatever your heart desires, go crazy

Saturday, May 12, 2012

German Apple Pancake

I love an easy and tasty breakfast. In the morning, I wake up hungry and angry (also known as hangry) – I need food, and I need it now! Yeah, I'm one of those people. 

I end up saying this to my husband on a nearly daily basis.


So, how to get tasty breakfast on the table stat? Stumble into the kitchen, cut up some apples, dump them in a pan. Cook. Dump in some more ingredients and bake. Other than cutting up a couple apples, this recipe is a snap. And did I mention tasty? So good! I edited a recipe I found on to suit my liking. Hope it works for you!

German Apple Pancake

Set your oven to 425F and set your cast iron skillet on medium heat.

Peel, core and slice two large tart apples. Butter your skillet and arrange the apples in a single layer.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon brown sugar, ½ teaspoon cinnamon (or more to your liking), ½ teaspoon nutmeg over the apples. Saute for a few minutes until the mixture starts bubbling.

In the mean time, mix you dry ingredients. ½ cup all-purpose flour, ¼ cup wheat flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and a pinch of salt

Combine wet ingredients and mix with dry ingredients. 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3 eggs, 2 tablespoons melted butter, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup milk

Pour the batter in the skillet evenly covering the apples. Pop the whole thing in the oven for 15 minutes.
It gets all puffy after a bit in the oven

After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 375F and cook for another 10 minutes.
This raises the question: Was I cooking breakfast at 11:30? or did I set my timer wrong? 

Remove from oven and flip pancake onto the serving platter. Cut your pancake into wedges, and it's meal time!
I use a pizza cutter whenever possible. It's especially handy for this. 


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Clean, White Kitchen

I've been loving white kitchens for a while. And my kitchen was white enough, I thought. I figured I'd just update the hardware and call it a day. But, after a while, the cream cabinets started to feel dingy, so Bob and I set out to freshen things up.

We painted all the cabinets and the back splash in one marathon painting session. We removed all the cabinet doors and hardware on Friday night. We painting Saturday and Sunday. We gave the paint a bit of time to dry and reinstalled everything on Wednesday. Not too painful at all. We used a paint sprayer hooked up to an air compressor for the cabinet doors, and we used a foam roller and paint brush for everything else. So, we have hardly any brush strokes. Pretty fancy.

Here's how it looks now. Excuse the naked drawers, I have to do some hole-filling and drilling to fit the new pulls on. Here's what they look like, so you'll have to use your imagination to fill in the empty drawer fronts.
And without my hand in the way.

We still need to:
-replace fridge and dishwasher with stainless steel versions
-install drawer pulls
-paint or replace oven hood
-replace sink faucet with a brushed nickel one
-replace outlet and light switch covers with white

Paint Colors:
Cabinets - Lemon Edge Valspar
Back Splash - Ballet White Benjamin Moore

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

April Showers

These beautiful tulips that my wonderful husband got for me really brighten up my freshly painted windowsill on this rainy spring evening.

 Pictures of my newly painted kitchen coming soon! I'm just waiting on the cabinet hardware I ordered last weekend.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Tiny Noodle Soup

This recipe is an adaptations of this meal makeover from the discontinued, online magazine, Ready Made.

I made a few changes to the recipe to fit my pantry supplies and my tastes, and now it is my husband's favorite meal that I've ever made. I have been instructed to make a '50 batch' whenever I make this soup. (A 50 batch is like a double batch, but 50 times over instead of twice – yes, it's that good.)

First, dice ½ a medium onion, preferably red, but any color is fine. And cut up ¼ cup of carrots. Saute the onion and carrot in a medium saucepan over medium heat in a little olive oil or butter for 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups chicken broth and a handful of bite-size frozen green beans. Bring to a boil. Throw in some basil – about ½ tsp of dried basil should do. You can add some salt and pepper to taste as well.

Add ¾ cup orzo pasta and boil for 6 minutes

Add ¼ cup frozen corn and boil for another 3 minutes.

Reduce heat to low and add a little cheese wedge or some cream cheese. You can also throw in a little cream or milk if you have it handy. Simmer and stir the soup until it is nice and creamy – 1-2 minutes. This is supposed to be a thick soup, but if your soup is turning into sticky noodles, you might need to add a little more broth or water at this point.


Tiny Noodle Soup
2 servings

½ medium onion, diced
¼ cup carrot, diced
1 tbsp olive oil or butter
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
½ tsp dried basil
salt and pepper
handful frozen green beans cut into bite size pieces
¼ cup frozen corn
1 garlic and herb Laughing Cow cheese wedge or
2 tbsp cream cheese
1-3 tbsp cream or milk (optional)

Heat olive oil or butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and carrot and saute for 10 minutes. Pour the chicken broth into pan, add green beans and bring to boil over high heat. Add orzo and boil for 6 minutes. Add corn and boil for an additional 3 minutes. Lower heat, add cheese and milk to mixture and simmer for a minute or two. Add broth or water as needed. Serve hot.