Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Countdown to our 2009 Divas In The Kitchen Membership Drive is upon us!


With 2009 quickly approaching, we could not be more excited to kick off our 2009 The Divas In The Kitchen Membership Drive!!
Start Your Own Chapter
In starting your own chapter, you become an official Hostess Diva - a position of honor and respect.
The Divas In The Kitchen Foundation will send you a Hostess Diva Membership package, including club information, an original Divas In The Kitchen Chapter Charter, signed by The Divas In The Kitchen Foundation, an official Divas In The Kitchen rolling pin (our form of "gavel" to call your meetings to order!), a Pink Polka Dot benefits badge (entitling you to discounts on The Divas In The Kitchen hostess goods), newsletter and email updates!
Hostess Diva Charter Membership is $20 per year. Welcome!

Join An Existing Chapter
You can join a chapter in your area and will be graciously welcomed as a Pink Polka Dot Member into your new network of diva friends!
For information on chapters in your area, send The Divas In The Kitchen? Foundation an inquiry email message at: thedivasinthekitchen@gmail.com. The Divas In The Kitchen Foundation will receive your message by email and contact you either by phone or email as requested.
Your Pink Polka Dot Membership includes club information, a Pink Polka Dot benefits badge (entitling you discounts on The Divas In The Kitchen hostess goods), newsletter and email updates!
Pink Polka Dot Membership is $20 per year.
If you'd like to join our organization, please send us an email at thedivasinthekitchen@gmail.com.
50% of your annual dues will go to your local chapter. The remainder of your dues goes to the administrative and maintenance fees associated with the operations of our organization.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Happy Holidays


From all of our staff we would like to wish you a very happy holiday season!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas China

My sister-in-law inspired me to collect china. The holidays are especially fun.

After searching and searching for the perfect pattern, here is my favorite:



It's Villeroy & Boch Toys Fantasy. There is a huge collection of accessories that go with this pattern.

They have coffee mugs, ornaments, coffee pots, bowls, figurines!
I am extremely interested in what other people like. Please post to this blog today and share with us your favorite holiday china pattern!
Happy Holidays!!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How do YOU help??

I was brainstorming with some other Diva's about how to raise money for a charity. We came up with some fantastic ideas, but was wondering what other great concepts are being done!

Our list included:

~A Vendor Day-Each vendor would donate a percentage of their profit for for the day

~A Boot Camp Fundraiser

~Make something, sell it and give a % of the profit to the charity

~Babysitting
Please share anything you have done to raise money or any ideas you might have!


Together we are making a difference!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Christmas Presents
From LoveToKnow Christmas


Although some people enjoy wrapping Christmas presents, others consider the task to be even more unpleasant than fighting the crowds at the mall on Black Friday. If you feel like you’re all thumbs with the tape and scissors, take our crash course in Gift Wrapping 101 to reduce your stress level this holiday season.


If you’re pressed for time, you may wonder why you need to wrap your Christmas presents. Here are a few reasons why the extra effort makes a difference:


Attractive gift wrap makes even a small gift seem special. Even if you’re on a budget, a thoughtfully-wrapped gift lets the recipient know that you care.


If you plan to display your gifts under the Christmas tree or in some other central location, beautiful gift wrap adds to the overall effect of your holiday décor.


Even though most gift wrap does end up in the trash, your gift wrap will still be preserved in your Christmas pictures. Do you want to be memorialized for future family gatherings as the relative who gave gifts that looked like they were wrapped by a preschooler?

Quick and Easy Gift Wrapping


Of course, decorative gift bags are the easiest solution to wrapping Christmas presents. While they are slightly more expensive than wrapping paper, you can often find attractive bags in a variety of sizes at your local dollar store. Another way to cut down costs is to reuse bags from previous years.


If you don’t want to use decorative gift bags, check out the following articles for easy to follow gift wrap tutorials:



If you’re feeling ambitious and want to give your gift recipient a special keepsake, use a decoupage gift box for your present. Choose either holiday-themed papers or embellishments that reflect the recipient’s hobbies and special interests.


While most people will use bows to add a finishing touch to their Christmas gifts, there are many other choices available. For gifts that make an impact, consider one of the following suggestions:


Pinecones
Small Christmas ornaments
Jingle bells
Paper snowflakes
Silk flowers
Candy canes


For more impressive ideas for wrapping Christmas presents, check out the following articles:
It’s a Wrap
14 Creative Holiday Gift Wrap Ideas
No Waste Gift Wrap Tips

Supply Storage


Once you’re finished wrapping Christmas presents, how do you store your leftover paper, tags, and ribbon? Since gift wrap is fragile, it’s not a good idea to just toss it in the closet. Consider purchasing one of the following storage products:



If you live in a small apartment, or simply don’t have much spare storage space, you’ll have to keep your gift wrapping supplies to a minimum. Instead of using paper with candy canes and snowmen to wrap your gifts, choose solid colors or simple geometric patterns. For example, a package wrapped in white paper and tied with a red velvet ribbon makes an elegant Christmas gift. But, when you change the ribbon to a pretty pastel pink or blue, you can wrap a lovely baby shower gift with the same basic supplies.

More Gift Wrap Ideas


Need a few more ideas for wrapping your presents? Check out our Christmas Gift Wrap Ideas gallery!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Isn't it time you joined together to support your community?


You're starting to see us everywhere!!


Become a member of the The Divas In The Kitchen today and start giving back to your community!!


Together, we can make a difference in the lives of others.


How You Can Become A Member of The Divas In The Kitchen...


The Divas In The Kitchen™ are an elite group of women who share a passion for style, sophistication and the art of fine food and entertaining!You can recognize us by our brown and pink hostess aprons accessorized by our gracious pearl necklaces!


We are organized by chapters all over the country and come together to share our ideas, enthusiasm and creativity in the world of cuisine and presentation.We share a common "Diva Spirit!" - in other words, we take pride in ourselves for accomplishing the modern day balance of sophistication and traditional homemaking with zest and flair!


The Divas In The Kitchen™ are an emerging network of talented women who bring our unique experiences, education and sense of pizzazz to something we enjoy that has been around for centuries - hostessing elegant affairs, large ones or small, dinner parties or book clubs, intimate gatherings or soirees - it is our pride in preparation and detail that unites our group.


Most importantly, we share more than good times, we share our support with our communities.


As members of The Divas In The Kitchen ™, we dedicate at least one of our events each year to support our favorite charitable cause. While enjoying eachothers' company, we share our time to help make a difference in the lives of others.


The Divas In The Kitchen™ are on a mission: to celebrate our achievement in taking hostessing and homemaking to the next generation as well as to give back to the communities we so deeply cherish!


Congratulations. You have just taken the first step in receiving formal recognition as a true Diva In The Kitchen™ (You've been one for years – now you're finally being treated like one!)


Start Your Own Chapter

In starting your own chapter, you become an official Hostess Diva – a position of honor and respect.


The Divas In The Kitchen™ Foundation will send you a Hostess Diva Membership package, including club information, an original Divas In The Kitchen™ Chapter Charter, signed by The Divas In The Kitchen™ Foundation, an official Divas In The Kitchen™ rolling pin (our form of "gavel" to call your meetings to order!), a Pink Polka Dot benefits badge (entitling you to discounts on The Divas In The Kitchen™ hostess goods), newsletter and email updates! Hostess Diva Charter Membership is $20 per year.


Welcome!


Join An Existing Chapter

You can join a chapter in your area and will be graciously welcomed as a Pink Polka Dot Member into your new network of diva friends!


For information on chapters in your area, send The Divas In The Kitchen™ Foundation an inquiry email message at: divas@cookies4acause.com. The Divas In The Kitchen™ Foundation will receive your message by email and contact you either by phone or email as requested.


Your Pink Polka Dot Membership includes club information, a Pink Polka Dot benefits badge (entitling you discounts on The Divas In The Kitchen™ hostess goods), newsletter and email updates! Pink Polka Dot Membership is $20 per year.If you'd like to join our organization, please send us an email at divas@cookies4acause.com.


50% of your annual dues will go to your local chapter. The remainder of your dues goes to the administrative and maintenance fees associated with the operations of our organization.

Did you know????

*Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 380 gallons of oil


*The average American uses 7 trees a year in paper and wood, but by recycling one-tenth of your newspapers would save about 25,000,000 trees a year


*Recycling 1 glass bottle can light a 100-watt light bulb for 4 hours


*The US uses more than 80 million aluminum cans each year and by recycyling 1 can save enough energy to power a tv for 3 hours


*An estimated 28 billion plastic water bottles are bought each year. Almost 8 out of 10 bottles will end up in a landfill which takes over 1000 years to docompose!



Enough said....Do your part!!

Friday, December 12, 2008


Holiday Entertaining

By Fine Living.com


'Tis the season to be jolly! Gather your friends and family, and share some holiday cheer with these entertaining ideas.

Decorate Naturally


It's time to deck the halls! For your holiday gathering, create a festive atmosphere in your home, but forego those store-bought decorations. Do it simply and naturally with real boughs of holly, ivy and mistletoe. According to English-gardening.com, holly represents immortality and is a plant of good omen; ivy is thought to bring good luck and happiness; and mistletoe offers protection, peace and bestows life and fertility. It'll give your home a festive, earthy feeling - plus that mistletoe just might give your guests something to talk about!

http://www.christmasholly.com/

Holiday Scents

A great way to welcome friends into your home is through the aroma of simmering mulling spices. You can steep the spices in either low boiling water, allowing the scents to fill the air; or you can use it for mulling wine or cider, and serve as a warm winter beverage. Make your own mix by simply combining cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg, dried orange and lemon peel, allspice, berries, cloves and crystallized ginger. Place in double layers of cheesecloth and then get brewing! Visit our link for recipes.

http://busycooks.about.com/library/recipes/blmullingmix.htm

Go Potluck

Want to entertain without all the stress? Throw a potluck dinner. Try something different and encourage guests to bring one of their favorite holiday dishes. Traditional favorites include turkey and stuffing for Thanksgiving; Christmas pudding and oyster stew for Christmas; sufganiyot (donuts) and latkes for Chanukah; and sweet potatoes and banana custard with raisins for Kwanzaa. To find a variety of delicious recipes, visit our link.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/

Seasonal Spills

When you invite people over for a festive gathering, chances are something is going to spill. If red wine stains your carpet, first blot it with a clean cloth, then sprinkle a little bit of salt on the area. Leave it until it has absorbed the stain, and when it's dry, vacuum it up. Or, if you find water rings on wood, use a combination treatment of an abrasive and lubricant, such as an auto-polishing compound, to buff and polish it away. We've got more holiday quick fixes for you.

http://www.ivillage.com/home/experts/clean/articles/0,,165864_548542,00.html?arrivalSA=1&arrival_freqCap=2

Hostess Gift

Got a full social calendar during the holidays? If you've been invited to someone's home, bring a hostess gift. It's not obligatory, yet it is a thoughtful way to give thanks and show your appreciation for their hospitality. Try to think about your host's interests, such as bringing a nice bottle of wine to the oenophile or aged balsamic vinegar for the gourmet. We've got some great ideas that won't break your bank, especially when there's a party every weekend!


Serving Beverages

Raise your glass and toast the holidays! When you have people coming over, interior designer Sheila Bridges recommends premixing your cocktails so you can spend your time mingling; keep drinks on ice in galvanized steel or plastic containers; and use unique containers for a creative look. To get into the holiday spirit, skip the eggnog (too heavy!) and warm the cockles of their hearts with holiday cocktails such as Hot Buttered Rum, a classy Kir Royale or Gingersnap Punch. We'll get you mixing in no time.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/081184157X/qid=1065608251/sr=1-21/ref=sr_1_21/002-8186594-7643260?v=glance&s=books

Tree-Trimming Party

This season, invite friends over for a tree-trimming party. It's a fun and interactive way to celebrate. You supply the tree, your guests supply the ornaments. Go eco-friendly and choose a potted version, such as a deciduous or evergreen tree. This way you won't have to throw it away when the season is over. Make sure the pot is proportionate to the size of your tree; it should have a drain hole; and try to find a potting mix that is equal proportions of compost, shredded bark, leaf mold and sand. For a list of trees that thrive in containers, visit our link.

http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/gl_trees_shrubs_deciduous/article/0,1785,HGTV_3644_1390120,00.html

Festive Finger Foods

At your soiree, be sure to serve a variety of finger foods. Minimize your time in the kitchen by serving room temperature items that can stay out on your table during the duration of the event. According to foodnetwork.com, professional caterers estimate 10-12 items total per person for appetizers. Before you entertain that crowd, explore our link for a variety of savory foods, including White Bean Hummus Dip, Grilled Eggplant Bruschetta and Herbed Spiced Nuts.

http://www.hgtv.com/hgtv/ah_entertaining_occasions/article/0,1801,HGTV_3115_1383352,00.html

Sending Invitations

So, you've chosen a date and marked your calendar for your festive fete. Now it's time for the invitations. If it's a formal event, send custom printed invites four to six weeks in advance. Going casual? Use store-bought invites and mail them two weeks in advance. Be sure to include the day, date and time of party; the place; suggested dress (casual to formal); and a phone number for RSVP. Visit our link for more holiday planning ideas.

http://superpages.com/holidays/holiday01/planning.html

Throw a Holiday Party

Long on friends but short on square footage? Why not invite friends over for an open house where guests simply drop by at different times during your soiree. If you stagger the arrival of each guest, you won't be overwhelmed with too many people in your home at the same time. Now even apartment dwellers can invite the whole clan. For more tips, visit our link.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cookies For A Cause™

The 2008 Cookies For A Cause Gala was a huge success! It was the largest cookie exchange in town with over 120 people attending. It was held at the Mint Museum Craft and Design, Uptown Charlotte. Thousands of Dollars were raised for Charity!! Charities Supported were: Cookies For A Cause, Barium Springs Childrens' Home; Humane Society; Lymphoma Research Foundation and Ace & TJ's Grin Kids.

COOKIES FOR A CAUSE™ is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization where participants host gatherings anywhere in the United States, put money in a cookie jar and donate the cookie jar proceeds to their favorite charitable cause.

The mission is simple, help others.

Check out the website for more information. www.cookies4acause.com

I am so proud to be a part of the "CHANGE" we are creating!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Catalog Choice


If you want an easy way to start going green, here is your answer! Do you get catalog after catalog in the mail. What do you do with them?? Where do they end up?? Do you really need all of them or could you do without some!

Catalog Choice is an easy, free service that allows you to decline unwanted catalogs, reducing the number of catalogs in your mailbox and the number of trees that get sent to the paper mill.

Join me by clicking the link below: https://www.catalogchoice.org/signup

If you do get lots of catalogs, make sure you at least recycle or reuse them! Some ideas of how to reuse them is to let your kids look through and cut out pictures and words...etc.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Ace and TJs Grin Kids Foundation


Their mission is to take as many children as financially possible to Disney World with their parents and siblings. Because of their special needs and financial strain, this is an experience that many of these children and families would not be able to know without the help of ACE & TJ's Grin Kids.

Ace & TJ's Grin Kids is a non-profit 501(c)3 charity, created by morning show personalities Ace & TJ in Charlotte, North Carolina in January of 2000. The name of the organization comes from Ace & TJ's motto on their morning show, "You Grin, You're In!" Ace & TJ's Grin Kids is designed to enhance the lives of children in our listening areas who are terminally ill and chronically handicapped, ages five through twelve, by taking them to DisneyWorld with their entire family. Each year, Ace & TJ's Grin Kids charters a 727 to take these children, with their sibling, parents, and health care workers to Disney World in Florida. Because of their special needs and financial strain, this is an experience that many of these children and families would not be able to know without the help of Ace & TJ's Grin Kids. Over the years, Ace & TJ's Grin Kids has taken over 200 Grin Kids and their families to Disney World. And during the 5-day vacation, all expenses are paid, including air travel, ground transportation, Disney Park-Hopper passes, meals, hotel rooms at a Disney Resort, and Disney Dollars for souvenirs. During the Grin Kids trip each year, the Ace & TJ Show broadcasts live from Disney World and shares the stories, the excitement, the fun of the trip, allowing listeners to share in the experience of a lifetime. Grin Kids is funded exclusively by listener donations. Some are large, some are small, but without the listeners, the "Radio Family" participating in various fundraising events, the Grin Kids trip would not be possible year to year.

Cookies For A Cause is doing a fundraiser with Ace and TJ in February. Come back for more details soon!

Together We Are Making a Difference!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Banana Bread

As Christmas gets near I get that baking bug. So over the weekend my daughter and I decided to make banana bread. So I pulled the bananas out of the freezer to thaw out and the butter to soften. We like to get all of our ingredients and any measuring items out on the counter before we start(just to make things easier). We follow directions as written and follow through with greasing pan and preheating the oven. Forty-five minutes later we have yummy warm banana bread out of the oven. I don't know about you but I always use the timer and set it 10-15 minutes less then suggested time. After the buzzer goes off I usually set the timer every 4 minutes checking the bread with my oven light and not opening the oven door(every time you open the door heat escapes).

We pull it out and let it cool on the rack. We slice into it later and it seems to be very thick in consistency. As my husband takes his slice and bites into it he says "It tastes great but its dry."

Dry...Dry???? How could it be dry?

Over beating the butter can soften it too much, which will diminish its ability to trap air.
Over beating the eggs
whips in too much air and creates tunnels in the baked good.
Over beating once the flour
has been added, promotes gluten formation and toughens the recipe.

My daughter likes to help like any other child. In helping she likes to pour the ingredients into the bowl and stir, stir, stir so the only thing I can think of is that she/we over beat the batter.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The giving holidays are on the way~



How can you shop green for the holidays?? If you like giving items check out this website and you will find almost everything you are looking for.

I love the way the Daily Green puts it....to give without just giving stuff!! This year especially with the economy you can do a lot more than just give an item. You can give through volunteerism, charitable donations and more. Just to name a few in our community....Barium Springs is looking for people to provide a few items for kids at their facility. The schools in Mecklenburg county are also trying to help families in need. If you are interested in sponsoring a child or family, just let me know and I will provide you with information. :) Be creative and give from your heart!

Monday, December 1, 2008

What's For Supper Ya'll? Fruitcake!


Fruitcake Recipes
Recipes and tips for making delicious holiday fruitcakes
By Diana Rattray, About.com


Fruitcakes get an awful lot of bad press, especially the mass produced varieties, but a rich homemade version can be incredibly delicious.


The South, with it's great love for baking cakes, has offered many fruitcakes through the years. In Mary Randolph's "The Virginia Housewife" (1824), there is a recipe for "A Rich Fruit Cake" with a pound cake batter and 9 pounds of assorted raisins, currants, almonds, and citron. "Mrs. Hill's New Cookbook" (1872) gives recipes for five, including a "Cheap Fruitcake," "Confederate Fruit Cake," and "Black Cake."


Generally, fruitcake is a mixture of fruits and nuts with just enough batter to hold them together. When wrapped in cloth and foil, saturated with alcoholic liquors regularly, and kept in in tightly closed tins, a fruitcake may be kept for months or even years.
Have It Your Way...If there are certain fruits you don't like, you can always include more of another, or some of your own favorites. Dried fruits cooked in juice can take the place of candied fruits, and seeds can replace nuts. To convert a favorite "dark" fruitcake recipe to a "light" fruitcake, leave out the dark spices, use light colored fruits (golden raisins, dried apricots, etc.), and replace dark corn syrup or molasses with light corn syrup.

Fruitcake-Making Tips
To prevent overbrowning, line the bottom and sides of the pan with foil. If you leave extra foil overlapping the sides, it will be easier to remove the cake.
When baking, set the fruitcake pan in a baking pan (13x9-inch) half-filled with water to prevent burning around the edges.


Let fruitcake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
For long-term storage, bury the linen and foil wrapped fruitcake in a tin filled with powdered sugar.


Fruitcake Recipes and Related Cakes and Cookies

















Friday, November 28, 2008

Turkey Leftover Recipes!

Top 10 Turkey Recipes - Delicious Leftovers
By Diana Rattray, About.com

Here are some of the most popular leftover turkey recipes on this site, including turkey sandwiches, casseroles, turkey pot pie, and turkey and rice recipes. Scroll down past the top 10 to see more leftover turkey recipes, along with roasted whole turkey, recipes using turkey cutlets, and more.

1. Savory Turkey Cobbler
Diana Rattray
This savory "Gobbler" cobbler is yet another great way to enjoy leftover turkey. Serve this cobbler with cranberry sauce on the side and a tossed green salad or fresh sliced tomatoes, if desired. If you're short on time, top the filling with your favorite homemade or refrigerated biscuits just before baking.

2. Turkey Pasta Casserole With Asparagus and Cheddar Cheese
Diana Rattray
I used mini penne pasta in this hearty casserole, but elbow macaroni or small shells would work just as well.

3. Creamy Parmesan Turkey Sauce With Country Ham and Peas
Diana Rattray
Serve this delicious sauce with pasta or over hot creamy grits. Feel free to add more cheese to this sauce, and smoked ham may be used in place of the country ham.

4. Turkey Casserole With Havarti Cheese
Diana Rattray
Prepare this turkey dish for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Feel free to use shredded Swiss or a mild Cheddar cheese in this flavorful turkey casserole.

5. Creamy Turkey With Artichokes
Diana Rattray
Serve this creamy turkey and vegetables over hot baked puff pastry shells, or serve over toast or split biscuits.

6. Turkey Pot Pie with Cornbread ToppingAn easy pot pie, made with cooked diced turkey, frozen peas, milk, cream of mushroom soup, and a cornmeal topping.

7. Turkey SupremeAn easy sauce is combined with sliced turkey breast and cooked rice or noodles. This is easy and delicious. Serve with a little leftover cranberry sauce and green beans for a complete meal.

8. Turkey Macaroni CasseroleAn easy turkey casserole, made with macaroni, chopped celery and peppers, Cheddar cheese, almonds, cooked diced turkey, and cream of chicken soup, along with milk and seasonings.

9. Turkey and Rice BakeTurkey and rice bake recipe, made with bacon, spinach, sliced turkey, cooked rice, seasonings, and a bread crumb topping.

10. Turkey a la KingAn easy recipe made with leftover turkey and veggies, along with cream of mushroom soup and seasonings. Serve this turkey over rice or toast.

Ada Jenkins Center



Do you want to get involved in your community and help make a difference??? The Ada Jenkins Center is a great organization that makes a difference right here in our surrounding counties!

Their mission is to improve the quality of life for the residents of our communities through the integrated delivery of health, education, and human services.

The Divas In The Kitchen™ will be doing a drive to support Lydia's Loft (1 of the many services that Ada Jenkins provides). Lydia's Loft provides free clothing and household items to people in need in the North Mecklenburg and South Iredell regions. The program accepts donations of clothing and household items. Tax receipts are provided.

Please visit http://www.adajenkins.org/ to learn more about how you can get involved.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Craft

Now that Thanksgiving is upon us I am trying to finish the last minute things that I need to do to make it a great day for not only my family and our friends but also for me so I can sit,(ok maybe not sit) but relax and enjoy. I went searching for the great Thanksgiving craft that I can have the children do while waiting to enjoy all our wonderful and tasty dishes. I figured that there would be enough of them that they could tackle this one on their own. Plus with help from the older children this should be a lasting memory to add to our collection. Also what a great centerpiece for the children's table (if you were to have one).



CRAFT MATERIALS:
Large brown paper bag
Piece of corrugated cardboard
Paper plates
Stapler
Mod-Podge glue
Colored paper
Orange or red balloon and googly eyes
Glitter, stickers, or other notions
Craft clothespins
Tacky glue







**For thorough directions an how to assemble please take a look at

family fun.com


http://jas.familyfun.go.com/arts-and-crafts?page=CraftDisplay&craftid=11307

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Check out this BLOG!



1 Green Mommy is a wonderful blog http://onegreenmommy.blogspot.com/ for all you women/moms that are looking to "Go A Little Greener". It is written by a suburban mommy of 2 looking to make a healthy life for her family. She does not claim to know it all, but she has learned a lot and shares it throughout her blog. Even though I have written on many of the same topics, it always great to hear/see it again and also see it from a different perspective.

Each time I look through it, I learn something new. My newest favorite is that if you turn in 5 clean plastic Target bags, you get a reusable shopping bag. What a great way to recycle! Check it out on her blog.
And don't forget to share anything you are doing green!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Divas In The Kitchen™~ First Chapter

WE PROUDLY INTRODUCE OUR FIRST CHAPTER---
Lake Norman Divas

This Chapter was created September 2008 and held its first meeting in October! It is made up of women from Lake Norman, NC. We share a common "Diva Spirit!" We take pride in ourselves for accomplishing the modern day balance of sophistication and traditional homemaking with zest and flair, but most importantly, the support we have for our community! We started with just 9 women and in one month we have grown to 15...
You can recognize us by our brown and pink accessories and by our BIG HEARTS! We plan on doing different drives throughout the year to help make a difference in our community, as well as a variety of fund raising events to raise money for one local charity.
If you'd like to join our organization, please send us an email at divas@cookies4acause.com.

Join An Existing Chapter
You can join a chapter in your area and will be graciously welcomed as a Pink Polka Dot Member into your new network of diva friends! For information on chapters in your area, send The Divas In The Kitchen™ Foundation an inquiry email message at: divas@cookies4acause.com. The Divas In The Kitchen™ Foundation will receive your message by email and contact you either by phone or email as requested. Your Pink Polka Dot Membership includes club information, a Pink Polka Dot benefits badge (entitling you discounts on The Divas In The Kitchen™ hostess goods), newsletter and email updates! Pink Polka Dot Membership is $20 per year.


Start Your Own Chapter
In starting your own chapter, you become an official Hostess Diva – a position of honor and respect. The Divas In The Kitchen™ Foundation will send you a Hostess Diva Membership package, including club information, an original Divas In The Kitchen™ Chapter Charter, signed by The Divas In The Kitchen™ Foundation, an official Divas In The Kitchen™ rolling pin (our form of "gavel" to call your meetings to order!), a Pink Polka Dot benefits badge (entitling you to discounts on The Divas In The Kitchen™ hostess goods), newsletter and email updates! Hostess Diva Charter Membership is $35 per year.

Each year 10% of your annual dues will go to the organization Spotlighted for the Cookies For A Cause Gala. The remainder of your dues goes to the maintenance fees associated with the operations of our organization.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Pretty Napkins

If you're throwing a dinner party in the near future, you can add a great decorating piece with a few napkin-folding ideas. If you fold your napkins in a fancy or creative way, you can add another level to your place settings and the appearance of your table. Proper napkin folding, involves more than just a creative flair. So many designs, precise measurements and materials are needed for the best results. With a few creative napkin ideas, your next dinner party can be the talk of the town.

Here is one from the back of the Cookies For A Cause, Divas In The Kitchen First Annual Cookie Book.

The Fan, pretty on a plate.

1. Fold top and bottom edges to center

2. Fold top and bottom edges to center a second time.

3. Pleat firmly from the left edge. Sharpen edges with hot iron

4. Spread out fan. Balance folds of each side on table.

Well-starched napkins will hold shape.




There are so many more designs to pick from. Here's a great website http://www.napkinfoldingguide.com/

Have you thought about your cookware??


You should take a closer look at your pots and pans!

By cooking at very high temperatures, the coating on many nonstick cookware can degrade, exposing you and the environment to harmful chemicals. Also, while these nonstick coated pans (such as Teflon) are being manufactured, dangerous chemicals are released into the environment.

Avoid using nonstick cookware at prolonged high temperatures! Be aware not to use any type of mental spatula or knife because that could expsose the chemicals from the surface. You should also contact your local waste management division about recycling pans with obvious chips or peeling surfaces.

Some alternatives would be iron, stainless steel, glass or ceramics and look for earth-friendly nonstick cookware that's safe for you and the environment.

Monday, November 17, 2008

What's For Supper Ya'll? Chili!


Here are some wonderful Chili Recipes to try!

Quick and Easy Chicken Chili

INGREDIENTS
1 (15.5 ounce) can corn
1 (15.5 ounce) can white hominy
2 (15.5 ounce) cans pinto beans
2 (15.5 ounce) cans kidney beans
1 (12 ounce) jar salsa
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 cup water
1 pound shredded cooked chicken

DIRECTIONS
Stir together the corn, hominy, pinto beans, and kidney beans in a large saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Stir in the salsa, chili powder, cumin, and water; return to a boil. Cook another 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken to serve.


Seven Peper Chili
INGREDIENTS
2 pounds beef tip
1 (18 ounce) bottle barbeque sauce
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, diced
2 tablespoons diced habanero pepper
2 pepperoncini, diced
1 tablespoon diced serrano pepper
1 tablespoon diced fresh cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon diced pequin chile pepper
2 tablespoons diced jalapeno chile pepper
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 pounds ground beef
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained
DIRECTIONS
Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate. Brush beef tip with barbeque sauce and grill 5 to 8 minutes on a side, or to desired doneness, brushing frequently with sauce. Set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion and bell, habanero, pepperoncini, serrano, cayenne, pequin and jalapeno peppers until onion is translucent. Stir in cumin, paprika, oregano and chili powder and cook until fragrant. Stir in ground beef and cook until brown. Drain.
Stir in tomato sauce, any remaining barbeque sauce and beans. Cut grilled tip steak into bite sized pieces and stir into chili as well. Continue to cook until thickened and flavors have blended and mixture is thoroughly heated. Thin with water if desired.


Fruity Chili
INGREDIENTS
2 (14 ounce) cans tomato sauce
2 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon cooking oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 banana pepper, chopped
1 apple - peeled, cored, and chopped
1 peach - peeled, pitted, and chopped

DIRECTIONS
Combine the tomato sauce, kidney beans, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and cayenne pepper in a large sauce pan; bring to a simmer over low heat.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat; place the ground beef in the skillet; season with 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and the cayenne pepper; cook until brown; add to the sauce mixture.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat; cook the onion in the oil until slightly browned; add to the sauce mixture, along with the apple, peach, and banana pepper. Allow to simmer another 1 to 2 minutes until hot.




Friday, November 14, 2008

Time to Polish Your Silver



How to Care for Silver Flatware and Holloware
Enjoy the Beauty of Silver by Caring for It
From About.com

Do you love the look of silver but not the work involved in keeping it beautiful? Do you avoid using your silver so that you don't have to polish it? Is your silver dull and tarnished?
If you think about it, though, you know that it doesn't really take long to polish pieces of silver, after all. If you have the right materials and just a little time, your pieces will be looking like new in no time.

See our tutorial on how to polish silver, with simple step-by-step directions.

If a piece of silver just needs polishing, it has a gold or yellow tone. This is easily eliminated. But when pieces lose their finish or become very tarnished, you might need to have the piece professionally cleaned or re-plated. This is a process that requires a professional whose work takes several weeks and is very expensive.

To avoid having to have your silver pieces repaired, just take a little time to take care of the silver pieces you have. Polishing an average bowl should take less than a minute, so it is definitely an activity with instant rewards!

Polishing Tips
Rinse each silver item in hot water to remove surface dust.
While the silver is still warm, use a moistened foam sponge to spread the silver polish.
Spread the cream quickly over the silver piece to cover it completely.
Gently rub each tarnished area. Move around the piece, inside and out, until the tarnish is gone.
Wash with mild dish soap and rinse in warm water.
Dry with a very soft cotton flour-sack towel to remove all water.
Avoid using a silver tarnish dip except for pieces with small intricate cuts or curves or for the tines of a fork. The dips tend to leave a yellowish residue on silver. Also, you won't want all areas to be perfectly shiny. Darkened areas add beauty to the look of old and intricate pieces.

When it's time to actually repair a piece of precious silver, contact a local company that repairs metal pieces.


There are also online companies to which you can send your pieces. They can remove dents, replace bent, missing, or broken parts and add a new coat of silver plating. The result should be like a new piece.

Store silver in special flannel bags infused with particles of silver that will retard tarnish on your stored pieces. Look for these in jewelry and department stores in the silver and china section.

They are often brown and sold under the name Pacific Silvercloth. Be careful to keep the silver bags dry. Water causes them to lose their tarnish retarding properties.
See more information about using silver in your home.

How To Polish SilverRead about how easy it is to polish silver. Get some helpful tips and techniques to keep silver looking beautiful.


Silver Replating, Repair, and RestorationFind links to sources where worn silver can be repaired or replated.


Tableware Cleaning and CareTips on cleaning, maintaining, and storing silver and tableware.

Serving Pieces for TeaSee some traditional serving pieces used at tea parties, including a cake plate, tiered cookie plate, crystal, silver, and more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Feeding America


America’s Second Harvest changed it’s name to Feeding America. This new name best conveys the mission—providing food to Americans living with hunger—and will be supported through expansive public outreach campaigns that will raise awareness of domestic hunger and our work.


This network is nation wide and is a great way to get involved in the community! In our area (Charlotte, NC) the network is called Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina (SHFBM) http://www.secondharvestcharlotte.org/Home/index.cfm and the goal is to make strives through education, advocacy, and partnerships to eliminate hunger by the solicitation and distribution of food. They serve 14 counties in North Carolina. SHFBM has been in existence since 1981 and provides food for over 600 partner agencies--from soup kitchens to low income day care centers.


You can help by giving a financial donation. This is the best way to help because every $1.00 contributed provides 6 pounds of food. You can also donate food or host a food drive, every pound supplied is the equivalent of 1.25 meals for a hungry neighbor.


This is a great "Cause" to give to when hosting a "Cookies For A Cause" event. How exciting to know that every dollar raised will provide 6 pounds of food to people who are hungry!


If you are outside of Charlotte, you can look for the closest network by visiting http://secondharvest.volunteermatch.org/

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stress FREE Thanksgiving





Thanksgiving is the time to gather with your friends and family, turn on some football, and enjoy your Thanksgiving meal. This meal is the one meal of the year that you usually know what to expect and what you will be eating. Every family has different thanksgiving traditions, that must be prepared. Honor your family traditions and make the traditional foods expected. Then add a new dish that you would like to introduce.
The Thanksgiving dinner is a simple meal to prepare. All it takes to pull it off is some advance planning. The best advice is to write down everything you'll do and then prioritize according to you. Here is a great plan to help you get organized and ready for your Thanksgiving day so you can enjoy family and friends.








We all kow how much fun it is to get our families together and have the kids run around and play. What if you had something fun that they could take home to remember that wonderful day? Check this site out for great ideas for kids.






Friday, November 7, 2008

Thanksgiving Centerpieces

Beautiful Thanksgiving Centerpieces
by decorvillage

It's time to start thinking about your Thanksgiving centerpieces. Here are a few ideas:

Purchase or make small grapevine rings to use as a base, or bend a piece of coat hanger into a circle. Next, wire on small stems of berries, leaves, and flowers using thin wire wound tightly around the base. Use fresh flowers for a one-use decoration. Or find pretty silk blooms for a longer-lasting design.



Though this sample may be too tall for a dining table, this arrangement will be the talk of your guests. Place it in an entryway or on a sideboard, or make a shorter version for a centerpiece. The top of a white pumpkin was hollowed out, then fit with a vase filled with soaked floral foam. Stems of leaves and berry branches are inserted into the foam that holds everything in place.










What better way to celebrate the Thanksgiving harvest feast than by creating a centerpiece using gorgeous green vegetables. To make the asparagus and green bean wrapped candles, stretch two sturdy rubber bands around a white pillar candle, then insert vegetable stalks underneath the band. Cover the bands with a circle of satin ribbon and decorate the platter with a few white mums and coffee berry sprigs.














Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Baking Safety Tips

Wash hands for 20 seconds (before starting, when returning to food) with warm water and soap all over hands and wrists, rinse well, and dry with a clean towel.

Clean dishtowels. Change daily.

Work surface and sink cleaned before, after, and as needed (sanitize with 1 teaspoon bleach added to 1 quart water).

Eggs stored in cartons (not refrigerator door) at 40°F. (Any raw egg drips cleaned up immediately).

Hair tied or held back.

Raw dough or batter is not to be eaten. Dough or batter should be covered and refrigerated if not baked right away.

Oven rack is placed where it is needed before preheating the oven. An oven thermometer should hang inside.

Two clean, dry oven mitts or pads available by the oven.

Counter space and cooling rack ready for hot baked good when it is removed from the oven.

Make sure there is a clear traffic path to it.

Clean containers or new plastic bags should be used for storing baked products.

Making Your House Smell Good

Freshen the air inside your home without the use of commercial air fresheners that are filled with chemical substances!

Instead of plugging in a commercial air freshener or dousing your furniture with "fabric refresher," fill a pot with water, dried cloves, cinnamon sticks, and orange rind and let it simmer on the stove top.

Essential oils, such as orange, lemon, or peppermint, can diffuse pleasant, unobtrusive aromas into the air. Add a drop to furniture polish composed of olive or vegetable oil, and give your tabletops a quick swipe. Another great idea is to dab the surface of a light bulb and allow the aroma to diffuse throughout the air.

Just one more way of using natural substances instead of items filled with chemicals.

Monday, November 3, 2008



It's a wonderful time of year - Autumn!!! Another excuse to create a delicious dessert! Here are some ideas.



There's something so comforting about the desserts we make when it's cold out. Seasonal fruits can be turned into cakes, pies, and drinks that are comforting finishes to any dinner or holiday meal.

Enjoy!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick Or Treat Give Me Something Good To Eat!


Frankenstein Cupcakes
By: Family.go.com

Ingredients
2 dozen cupcakes from your favorite recipe
3.4-ounce box of vanilla-flavored instant pudding
green food coloring
1 cup of green melting candy (we used Wilton Candy Melts)
24 large marshmallows skewers
waxed-paper-lined baking sheet
M&M's Minis
small serrated knife
chocolate frosting
black gel green
Tic Tac mints

Directions
Bake and cool 2 dozen cupcakes from your favorite recipe.

Prepare a 3.4-ounce box of vanilla-flavored instant pudding. Stir in drops of green food coloring until you have a shade you like, then place it in the refrigerator to chill.

Next, microwave 1 cup of green melting candy (we used Wilton Candy Melts, available at party supply stores) for 1 minute at 50 percent power, then stir. If necessary, heat in 15-second intervals until completely melted.

One at a time, spear 24 large marshmallows with a skewer and roll them in the melted candy, coating the sides. Set them on a waxed-paper-lined baking sheet, add M&M's Minis for eyes, and place them in the refrigerator to chill.

With a small serrated knife, remove a 1-inch-wide chunk from the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a tablespoon or so of the pudding, then spread chocolate frosting around each pudding hole.

Cover each pool of pudding with a chilled marshmallow. Add black gel facial features and 2 green Tic Tac mints for bolts.

Finally, top each monster head with a bit of frosting and muss with your finger or a fork. Keep the cupcakes chilled until serving time.

Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 27, 2008

What's For Supper Ya'll - It's a Family Affair Part 2

What To Serve At A Family Reunion

Article Reprint from Epicurious

Feeding a crowd can be a challenge, so careful planning is mandatory. Choose the menu style that works best for your group: potluck, communal cooking, or bring-your-own.
A potluck works best with an established menu, where contributors are assigned specific dishes and a number of servings. Don't leave anything to chance! Request "baked or fried chicken drumsticks to serve 24," and not "chicken." This will prevent duplicate dishes and ensure that you don't run out of food. Ask folks with dietary restrictions to bring dishes that they will enjoy and that can be shared with others. If reheating facilities aren't available, ask for dishes that can be served at room temperature.

Communal cooking is perfect for a family of great cooks, especially if the party takes place in a spacious kitchen with lots of refrigeration and stove space—if available, large, commercial-sized pots and pans make the job much easier. Cooking together is an excellent way for relatives to reconnect and offers an opportunity to re-create heirloom family recipes. It will help if one person serves as "head chef"—he or she can make a detailed prep list for the recipes and assign chores.

If you go with communal cooking, establish a firm budget, and get contributions from attendees before the event. Be aware that shopping, prepping, and cooking for a big group could take two to three full days. With careful planning, you can buy canned goods and nonperishables well ahead of the reunion, leaving just the meat and produce for a final shopping trip a day or so before you start cooking. You may also find it easier to divide the shopping between volunteers.
For either the potluck or communal cooking methods, you'll need to establish a menu. If you want to get the family involved in the planning, set up a recipe box on Epicurious so you can upload and share recipes.

Keep in mind that many tastes need to be satisfied—overly spicy or esoteric dishes may be savored by only a few. Stick to familiar, time-honored dishes, perhaps with a twist. For example, instead of the expected barbecued chicken with sweet tomato sauce, try Grilled Chicken with White Rosemary Barbecue Sauce, or make an out-of-the-ordinary potato salad, such as Potato and Pea Salad with Chive Aioli. When planning your menu, look for recipes that can be easily doubled or tripled. Cake recipes for instance, don't always multiply well, but a dessert like Berry Tiramisù is simple to make in quantity and couldn't be more delicious.

Bring-your-own is the most hassle-free approach. Each family unit supplies its own meal, which lets them establish a menu to meet individual tastes and set their own budget. It also keeps a rein on cleanup, as each group does its own. If each family makes extra, there can be enough food for a fair amount of sharing. For family members who are coming from out of town and can't cook, have a list of good take-out places available, or ask them to provide beverages.

Of course, there are different combinations of the above that could work for your family. For our upcoming family reunion, we're providing hamburgers and hot dogs (with volunteers working the grills), but assigning side dishes and desserts, and asking folks to bring their own beverages. Another option is to ask everyone to bring their own picnic meal (if grills are available, folks can be responsible for their own charcoal), and to make extra (about ten servings) of their favorite picnic item for a communal buffet. This allows for the fun of sharing and a more familial atmosphere, and if there's too much potato salad, who cares! Whatever approach you choose, be realistic about the time and energy required of you and your family.

Knowing How Much to Make

When considering how much food to prepare, it's always better to have a little too much than to run out. Only you know the average appetite of your group—in my family, I've seen teenage boys eat four hamburgers while their sisters ate half a hot dog without the bun. With a group that includes hungry teenagers and folks who like to load their plates, you should allow more than one serving per person. Ten to fifteen percent extra is a good rule of thumb: If you have 50 people coming, make enough food for 60. And have plenty of plastic bags and containers to store leftovers.

Drinks

When it comes to beverages, try to avoid a full bar, as it requires stocking numerous liquors, mixers, juices, and garnishes. Instead, limit choices to beer, wine, and plenty of soft drinks, especially if the party is during summer and if there are lots of kids. You can create a budget and fund for communal beverages, or again, ask everyone to bring their own in an ice chest.
Again, personal choices come into play: Does your family prefer wine or beer? Expect adults to drink two to three alcoholic beverages each, and remember that a standard wine bottle contains about five glasses.

As a summertime cocktail that everyone can enjoy, I like to serve homemade lemonade, as it can be sipped on its own or spiked with a splash of gin, vodka, bourbon, or rum. An electric juicer makes quick work of squeezing the fruit, and is a fun make-ahead job for kids.
You'll need ice for the coolers (about 20 pounds for each large cooler) and to fill cups (allow a pound per person). Bring a clean hammer or ice pick to help break up the ice. And, if you plan to serve coffee or tea with dessert, you'll need a large-quantity coffee urn and a way to boil water. For an outdoor party without electricity, hot beverages can be transported in vacuum containers.

Easy Chicken Pasta

Easy Chicken Pasta

What's For Supper Ya'll?

White Beans, Pasta and Chicken
8 ounces dried cavatappi, fusilli, rotini, ditaloni, or other short pasta tubes
1 15- to 19-ounce can cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
12 ounces cooked chicken, shredded
1/4 cup snipped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional - I usually skip it)
Olive oil (optional - but I recommend at least a little for moisture)
Directions
1. In a large saucepan, cook pasta according to package directions; drain well and set aside.
2. In a blender or food processor, combine 3/4 cup of the beans and the chicken broth. Cover and blend or process until smooth. Place bean puree in pan used for cooking the pasta; bring to boiling. Return pasta to pan.
3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook garlic in 1 tablespoon hot olive oil for 1 minute. Add tomatoes; cook for 1 minute. Add the remaining beans, shredded chicken, snipped parsley, pepper and salt. Heat through.
4. Add the tomato mixture to hot pasta; toss to cost. Top with parsley sprigs and additional olive oil. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
Posted by Stacy Nelson, Easy Dinner Recipes.blogspot.com

Featured Charity of The Week

If you're looking for a cause...

American Red Cross