Thursday, July 31, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Lower Your Water Heater-Lowering the temperature on your water heater from 140 to 120 degrees will reduce your water heating costs by 6 to 10%. Try it, its not as bad as one would think!
Learn about Heating and Cooling-
With high prices for heating fuels and electricity stalking the nation, it's good to know that there are some easy ways to save money in the area of climate control. According to the Department of Energy most households shell out 50 to 70% of their energy budgets on heating and cooling, What to do? Simply installing a programmable thermostat will save you approximately $150 a year, according to the EPA -- that means it will pay for itself in just a few months. In warm temperatures, resist the temptation to set the air conditioning too low, and be vigilant with heating when it's chilly.
Fact: Aiming for 78 degrees or higher when you're at home while reduce your cooling loads 10-20%. When you're away, make it 85 degrees and save an additional 5-12%. In colder weather, for every degree you lower the thermostat, you'll save between 1 and 3% of your heating bill.
Change out old appliances to Energy Star Appliances-
Energy Star was designed by the EPA to take the guesswork out of appliance buying. Look for the blue-and-white label, which means the item is at least 10-50% more efficient than standard models (depending on the class of product). That means lower energy bills and less pollution.
Fact: More than 18,000 products in 35 different categories are covered in the Energy Star program, and most major manufacturers participate.
Unplug Unused Chargers-
Even when they aren't charging anything, plugged-in cell phone, laptop and other chargers continue to draw electricity. Fact: Americans throw away about 8% of our annual electric bills this way, wasting billions of dollars.
The solution is simple: just unplug them, or plug them into a surge protector and flip that switch when your device is charges.
Toilets used to use 5 gallons per flush, but these days more efficient models are readily available. So-called low-flow models use less than a gallon, and work great.
Also save water and money, and still have ample water pressure, with a low-flow showerhead, which can slash bathing-water consumption 50 to 70 percent. The devices are simple to install and start at around $8.
Lawns take a huge amount of water in dry climates, which leads to both high water bills and a lot of hassle and worry. Plus, the possibility of mandatory water restrictions means the yard may end up looking unkept.
Instead, plant drought-tolerant native shrubs, trees and grasses. They won't require nearly as much water and will serve as habitat for local wildlife.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Remember Cookies For A Cause and The Divas In The Kitchen want to help make a difference one morsel at a time.
Learning of others who need our support inspires us all to give back. And if we all give back just a little, we'll make a huge difference in this world.
I am writing today about a little boy named Camden who was brought to my attention by a friend. He is four months old and has recently been diagnosed with Leukemia. He started his chemo treatment yesterday. He along with his mommy and daddy will be living at the hospital for about four to six months depending on how his treatment progresses.
As one can can only begin to imagine the grief, sadness and other emotions this family is going through.....they will also run into financial burdens along the way. So I was asked by a friend to say a prayer, and pass the message along.
If you can say a prayer or want to donate, it would be more than appreciated. This type of situation will bring a community together that these people didn't know existed and I am hoping to help make a difference in the life of this little boy.
Please visit his journey at www.camdensjourney.com and if you would like to donate please send a check or money order made out to Camden Kibler.
Mail it to:
P.O. Box 1065
Oakland, FL 34760-1065
Thank you for all your support! Remember to be kind to others!
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Tip: Recycle Your CFLs
Monday, July 21, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Monogrammed Card Holders:
Thursday, July 17, 2008
If you are an animal lover and looking to get involved in something local, look no further!
With town approval and the support of good neighbors all over North Mecklenburg, the Cornelius Animal Shelter http://www.corneliusanimalshelter.com/ is looking forward to their move from the current tarped facility to a new building.
In order to finish construction, they need help to help us raise the additional $250,000 needed for the new shelter!
You can simply donate money, host a Cookies For A Cause event (www.cookies4acause.com), or go to one of the events around town to show your support!
When: Thursday, July 17
What: Raffle tickets sold to win a flat screen TV go towards the shelter
Where: Midtown Sundries
When: Band nights, All summer long
What: Your cover charge supports the new shelter
Send a tax-deductible donations to:
Cornelius Town Hall Attn: Finance Department 21445 Catawba Avenue Cornelius, NC 28031. Please write on the check "Animal Shelter Construction Fund."
Just recently, C4AC held their first kick-off cookie book party and $1.00 from the sale of each cookbook was donated to the shelter.
I also hosted a Barefoot Book party and instead of receiving free merchandise, I took my sales percentage and donated to the shelter! (contact Lyndsey Burr if you are interested in hosting a Barefoot Books Party at www.mybarefootbooks.com/LindseyBurr)
We'd love to here what you've done! Please comment if you donate, host a party or attend an event.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
So with that being said my daughter's birthday is coming up and she has asked (as both of my children do every year) to make her cake. My mind races as I'm not the best baker. "What to make?" I ask myself. I want something different and wonderful she will remember and love! I finally come up with brownie popsicles (she is having a pool party). What a great idea I think, no cake to cut, plates and silverware to remember. Yes, perfect! I scan through my cookbooks, pick my friends brains, and finally sit at my desk to browse through the internet (don't you just love the internet you can find the right thing if you ask the right questions).
Courtesy of Betty Crocker
1 package Supreme brownie mix (with chocolate syrup pouch)
Water, oil and eggs called for on brownie mix package
24 wooden sticks with rounded ends
1 package (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
2 teaspoons shortening
Assorted decors or sprinkles
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9-inch pan with foil so foil extends about 2 inches over sides of pan. Spray foil with cooking spray. Make brownies as directed on package for 13x9-inch pan; cool completely, about 1 hour.
2. Place brownies in freezer 30 minutes. Remove brownies from pan by lifting foil; peel foil from sides of brownies. Cut brownies into 24 rectangular bars, 6 strips lengthwise and 4 rows across, each about 1 1/2 by 3 1/4 inches. Gently insert stick into end of each bar, peeling foil from bars.
3. In microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips and shortening uncovered on High about 1 minute; stir until smooth. If necessary, microwave additional 5 seconds at a time. Dip top third to half of each brownie into chocolate; sprinkle with decors. Lay flat to dry.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
Try a fresh chop chop salad and a tall glass of tea and you'll feel almost new again!
Chop Chop Salad
1 romaine lettuce heart
4 to 6 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked until crisp, cooled, and chopped
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, halved
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 English cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Light Salad Dressing (Ranch or Blue Cheese)
(I like to add grilled chicken.)
1. Chop the lettuce heart into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Combine it with the bacon (and grilled chicken), other vegetables, and nuts in a large bowl and toss the mixture well.
2. Keep the salad chilled until serving time. Then toss it again with enough dressing to lightly coat the vegetables, and season it with salt and pepper.
If you have any favorite salad recipes, please share them with us. (A Diva can never have too many salad recipes in her recipe box!)
Friday, July 11, 2008
A party may be good, but it isn't spectacular without the perfect centerpiece!
(photo courtesy of myweddingmania.com)
Or, a jester hat for a Mardi Gras party:
Whatever your style, keep it fun and creative!
You don't have to spend a lot of money and the internet has fabulous resources for ideas. One place I found is Google Images.
I also found a great craft supply store, Save-On-Crafts.com which has lots of unique items for great prices.
Share with us your centepiece ideas, we'd love to hear about them!
(jester photo courtesy of Love To Know)
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Share Our Strength
Give The Kids The World
Children's Speedway Charities
Elon Homes for Children
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
My mother always said that you spend hours in the kitchen and minutes at the table....
COOKIE- A flour-based, sweet, hand-held small cake (from the Dutch word "koekje," meaning "little cake"). Cookies can be prepared in different shapes and textures and are usually categorized by the way they are formed. Drop cookies are dropped from a spoon. Rolled cookies are made from a chilled dough that is rolled out and cut into shapes. Bar cookies are baked in sheets and then cut into squares or bars. Molded cookies can either be shaped by hand, stamped with a pattern before baking or baked directly in a mold. Bagged or piped cookies are shaped with a pastry bag or a cookie gun.
What better way to start then to try a recipe from Cookies For A Cause First Annual Cookie Book.
One of my favorite cookies from the book is:
PEANUT BUTTER BARS
1 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup peanut butter
11/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
4 Tb peanut butter
In medium bowl, mix together the butter or margarine, graham cracker crumbs, confectioners' sugar, and 1 cup peanut butter until well blended. Press evenly into the bottom of an ungreased 9x13 pan. In a metal bowl over simmering water or in microwave, melt the chocolate chips with the peanut butter, stirring occasionally until smooth. Spread over the prepared crust. Refrigerate for at least an hour before cutting into squares.
Buy the book, pick your favorite cookie and tell us about it...or one of your own favorites.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I think for so many of us, these questions become so overwhelming that it is better to ignore than to make small changes.
"Going green" means to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, which can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations.
First, let me say that I am not an expert, but I am learning to "go green" with style and sophisticaton one small step at a time.
Here is my journey to becoming more "green".I have been making small changes for about 3 years now since I took a class at the gym and learned about partially hydrogenated oils http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans_fat and high fructose corn syrup! http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/archive/2004/02/18/FDGS24VKMH1.DTL
I went home and began checking all food labels in our pantry. I was shocked to see all the foods that contain these 2 ingredients! EVERYTHING!! I have found alternatives for most of the foods we eat at home. This was a pretty easy change because little by little, I just replaced the food products with a healthier choice as I grocery shopped! This change led me to my next change.....
Now 3 years later- not only do I buy foods without these ingredients but now I buy foods that are all natural and/or organic (grown with no pesticides, hormones, etc). My newest goal is buying more locally grown foods.
One of my most recent changes has been to use my own bags at the grocery store and other stores I visit. If you want a more stylish look check out these really hip modern totes at http://www.reusablebags.com/ You can't go wrong with the quality & style of Envirosax reusable shopping bags.
Fun Fact: Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.
And last but not least, we are recycling like crazy! Things I never thought about recycling are getting to the recycle bin now. Check out this site http://ecologue.com/ShowArticle/Sorting-Your-Recycling to figure out how and what to recycle if you are just getting started.
We'd like to hear from you....What are you doing to "go green"? or What is going to be your first step to help the environment?
Also, please share any and all products you use that have style!
Monday, July 7, 2008
Mine, while simple, has a lot of meaning to me.
My grandmother, Sylvia, taught me how to make lasagne when I was a little girl. One day, when I was about 8 years old, Grandma Sylvia took me into her kitchen in McKeesport, PA and said, "I'm going to teach you how to cook one of my favorite recipes and you can pass it on to your family one day!" Wow! What a responsibility. I'd been in the kitchen helping before, but to actually learn how to make something from beginning to end was a whole new ballgame! I had arrived! I was a young lady now and was going to learn the traditions of my family!
I didn't know at the time how true Grandma Sylvia's words would be. For one thing, she did teach me how to make a delicious lasagne. And for another, I do cook this for my family. I've changed the recipe slightly and consider it my way of adding to a family heirloom. One day, I will show my daughter how to make it and hopefully she'll keep the tradition going. Again, simple, but meaningful. And quite honestly, it's the little things in life that I have truly come to appreciate!!
So here we go (this one's for you Grandma Sylvia! I hope you don't mind me sharing our little secret!)
1/2 lb lean ground beef; 1/2 lb lean ground sausage; 1 package pepperoni slices; 1 large can of sliced mushrooms; 1/2 medium sweet white onion, diced; 1/2 lb dry lasagna noodles (requires 9 lasagna noodles - unbroken);1/4 cup sugar;1 28 oz can tomato sauce;1/2 28 oz can (16 oz) stewed tomatoes;1/2 6 oz can (3 oz) tomato paste;1 lb Ricotta cheese; 1 1/2 lb Mozzarella cheese (large flat square slices); 3/4 lb freshly grated parmesan cheese; Garlic Powder; Oregano; Italian Spice; Salt; Garlic Salt;1 Garlic Cloves, minced; White wine vinegar
1 Brown lean ground beef and lean ground sausage in skillet until lightly browned and cooked through. Drain off excess beef and sausage fat. Add diced onion to skillet, brown for a few minutes on medium high heat, add browned beef and sausage back to the skillet, lower the heat to low and continue to cook for 5 more minutes stirring frequently.
2 Transfer browned beef, sausage, and onions to large pot. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste. Open stewed tomatoes and dice, then add to pot. Add seasonings. Add a dash of white wine vinegar. Stir and allow sauce to simmer 15-45 minutes to thicken. Set aside.
3 Cook 1 lb lasagna noodles in larger pot per cooking directions. Drain and allow to sit in cool water.
4 In lasagna pan, spoon one cup of sauce and spread along the bottom of the pan. Apply a layer noodles 3 or 4 length wise (edges overlapping). Spoon sauce over noodles. Apply a layer of mozzarella cheese slices on top of lasagna sauce. Place ricotta cheese dollops (about a Tablespoon) every 2 inches in center of noodles on top of mozzarella cheese slices, sprinkle grated parmesan cheese in thin even layer on top of ricotta cheese. Add a layer of pepperoni slices and mushrooms. Apply second layer of noodles, repeat three time topping with noodles. If you have extra sauce and cheese you can spread that over the top. Tent lasagna pan with aluminum foil.
Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Friday, July 4, 2008
We're turning our Fourth of July festivities into something bigger this year - we're raising money for Half the Sky Foundation, an organization created to help China's orphaned children.
Every year we do what most American families do on the fourth of July -we cookout, watch our children play in the backyard, eat ice cream, then watch the sky light up with magical fireworks. All of us become kids again as we take the time to enjoy one another, slow ourselves down to appreciate the lights in the sky and reflect upon how lucky we are to be a part of this wonderful country.
One of my neighbors, Diva Jen W., is hosting this year's Fourth of July celebration! At her celebration, she has decided to honor Half the Sky Foundation, the organization that helped her and her husband, Peter, connect with their daughter, Leah, a once orphaned child from China. If it were not for this organization and the freedoms affored to us by our own country, Leah would not be here in America today, nor would the lives of her parents be as rich and complete.
When her guests have asked what they could bring to the party, Jen W. has simply asked that they bring a small monetary contribution ($1-$5) to be donated to the Half the Sky organization. With just a handful of guests, we're likely to raise a couple hundred dollars for this organization. Wow!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
You know the story. You spend all day, balancing, juggling, running around to get your to-do list done, all so you can be done in time to go to your girlfriend's little get together. You're getting ready to walk out the door when it dawns on you - you forgot to pick up a little hostess gift to bring! So you go flying around the house looking for a presentable bottle of wine, wrap a bow around the top and say "oh well, boring, but I guess it will do!"
For a long time, that was me. Then one day a light bulb went off! Why don't I get a little stash of hostess gifts built up so I can bring something cute without scrambling the day of the party?!? Genius!
So, in my "spare time" I do what I like best - I shop! I look for trinkets and small gifts, clever ways to wrap the beauties, and create personalized gift cards. I buy them, wrap them, and on a moments notice am out the door with a hostess gift I can be proud of!
Here's a few of my favorite items:
pink paisley round platter
Here's a great resource for wrapping supplies:
And, here's a great place to have personalized gift tags made:
Be creative. Remember, you don't have to spend a lot of money. Presentation and personalization is the key! If it's cute and you put some energy into it, your hostess will really enjoy the token of your appreciation!
For lots of great hostess gifts, you can also visit:
Our hostess boutique at Cookies For A Cause. 100% of all profits go to charity.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
What's For Supper Ya'll?
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)
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