Category: Food & Home

Habits to a Cleaner House

Posted on Apr 17, 2015 by 2 Comments

Ages ago, I read a book by Sandra Felton titled The Messies Manual. The book gave me practical ideas that worked for helping keep my house cleaner. Chores that often overtook me, like laundry, were broken down with helpful steps that I use to this day.

For instance, I use separate bins that allow me to sort laundry by color instead of one hamper. When one of those bins is full, it’s a load.

My biggest challenge though was getting clean laundry folded and put away. For some reason it tended to stay in the clothes basket.

By the time the kids were digging through the clean clothes for the shirt they needed, I had to refold. And the basket of clean clothes caused the next load to stay in the dryer. To break that habit, I got rid of the basket. It eliminated the problem.

Developing small habits like that can make the difference between a clean or messy house for me. Over the years I’ve developed several and have found that taking a little time on the front end makes a big difference when unexpected company shows up at my door. But even better, it makes a difference in how I feel each day. I’m less stressed and overwhelmed. My house is lived in, but it isn’t out of control.

In Felton’s book she talked about people who were natural “cleanies.” She also talked about 7 kinds of messies, and I was four of them rolled into one.

Natural cleanies will see something on the floor and pick it up. Some messies will step over it and think, “I will pick that up later.” And some don’t even see it is there.

For those of us who tend to be messier, it helps to develop habits to combat our natural tendencies. Make your bed when you get up, don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink, empty your dishwasher each morning, take 15 minutes to clean up clutter every day.

For those of us who don’t come by these habits naturally, they can be developed. It takes a little extra effort, but the reward is worth it.

Photo credits: My So Called Home

Link Round-up: Chocolate Banana Bread, Less Bloating, DIY Laundry Detergent, and More

Posted on Apr 16, 2015 by 2 Comments

Today’s link round-up has chocolate banana bread, tips for a bloat-free belly, DIY laundry detergent, and more.

Chocolate Covered Katie posted a recipe for dark chocolate banana bread.

Mind Body Green shared the one thing you should be doing for a bloat-free belly.

Study at Home Mama taught us how to make laundry detergent.

link ru chocolate mousse strawberries

A Beautiful Mess told us how to make dairy-free chocolate mousse filled strawberries.

Cupcakes and Cashmere showed us how to wear white lace shorts this spring and summer.

I Should Be Mopping the Floor showed us how to make pesto pinwheels.

Restyled Junk showed us how to turn old t-shirts into a shower rug.

Photo credit: Chocolate Covered Katie and A Beautiful Mess

Link Round-up: One-Pot Meals, Sides, DIY Bath Salts, and More

Posted on Apr 14, 2015 by 1 Comment

Today’s link round-up has creamy broccoli pasta, a look at what keeping the peace in a marriage can do, book recommendations, and more.

A Beautiful Mess shared a recipe for a one-pot creamy broccoli pasta.

A writer for Mind Body Green explained why keeping the peace for eight years destroyed her marriage.

Create Craft Love taught us how to make eucalyptus spearmint bath salts.

Study at Home Mama shared 12 multi-cultural books from around the world that are similar to the Cinderella story.

link ru southwest cabbage

Kenarry taught us how to make Southwest-style red cabbage.

Oh My Sugar High shared a recipe for chewy coconut and chocolate chip cookies.

Cupcakes and Cashmere shared tips for getting the perfect cup of coffee.

Photo credit: A Beautiful Mess and Kenarry

Dad Must Take Down Cardboard Fort or Pay Fine

Posted on Apr 14, 2015 by 2 Comments

Remember the days when you played outside, knew your neighbors, and people in the neighborhood actually talked to each other?

If you didn’t like something your neighbor was doing you’d talk to them about it, or if they saw your kids doing something they shouldn’t be doing, they’d talk to you.

Today that’s become more and more rare. Many places have enacted deed restrictions and homeowner’s associations to keep people in line – without neighbors even talking to each other personally.

A good example of this came up in Ogden, Utah, this past week. A father of two by the name of Jeremy Trentelman decided to build an elaborate cardboard-box fort in the yard for his kids.

It looked somewhat like a castle – something I would have thought fantastic as a kid. His kids thought it great as well and the project gave Trentelman the pleasure of seeing the kids crawl in and through all the little passageways and doors.

That is until the city of Ogden warned him that the fort must be disassembled by April 13.

Why such a fuss over a cardboard fort? The “structure” was in violation of building codes. If he didn’t take it down, he’d be facing fines for the violation.

Does this seem absurd to any other common-sense people? It seems like a structure that rain can “bring down” would not really be considered a true structure that could be in violation of code.

Trentelman agrees. He said, “The whole thing is just ridiculous. I thought I was just building a fort out of cardboard, tape and a little love, but apparently it’s making a statement.”

Trentleman’s children are 3 ½ and 2 years old. He had collected several five-foot-by four-foot boxes, which were used to ship botanical trees at the home and garden center where he works.

He built the fort as a diversion from TV for his kids, but shortly after the project was finished Ogden delivered a warning. It wasn’t a citation, but an official letter letting him know he was in violation for having “waste materials or junk” in his yard.

While we can all blame the city, I have to wonder how the officials knew about the fort so quickly. I imagine a nosy neighbor peeking through drawn curtains mumbling about a neighbor building a fort of cardboard boxes.

If it really made them so unhappy why not go out and talk to Trentleman? Probably because they knew they’d look like a fool. Instead, they sent the city officials to do the dirty work. And if Trentleman didn’t comply he would have to pay a $125 fee.

He also had the option of paying $25 to contest it. He did consider doing that, but changed his mind. I can’t blame him. These types of things often do not side with common sense.

Photo credits: Sandy Miller

Now Research Shows Saccharin May Fight Cancer

Posted on Apr 13, 2015 by No Comments

Researchers have long looked for a safe artificial sweetener. For years saccharin was the sweetener of choice for those avoiding sugar.

It was discovered all the way back in 1879, but its use as an artificial sweetener didn’t really take hold until the sugar shortages during World War I. Then in the 60s and 70s dieters picked up on it as a calorie-free sweetener, with the little pick packets of “Sweet ‘n Low” becoming the most popular brand.

Dieters were willing to put up with the bitter after taste to cut calories, but then scientists found a link between saccharin and bladder cancer in lab rats. This led to warning labels, and a stigma that saccharin could cause cancer.

Subsequent research eventually found that rats have high pH levels, high calcium phosphate, and high protein levels in their urine – humans do not. Turns out that these proteins bind to the saccharin, and produce tiny microcrystals that harm the bladder lining — in rats.

By the late 1990s, the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, took a look at all available research related to saccharin and decided it is not a human carcinogen. In 2010, it was removed the Environmental Protection Agency’s “hazardous substances” list.

While it no longer carries a warning, it does still carry the stigma, but it looks like some of the newest research may actually undo some of that damage.

Turns out, that saccharin may be able to help treat or at least hamper some of the most aggressive types of cancer, according to Robert McKenna, PhD, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Florida. His research has taken a closer look at how saccharin binds to and shuts down a protein called carbonic anhydrase IX.

Time will tell the full story of saccharin. When it comes to cancer, it may actually turn out to be something good. For now it is a reminder that findings based on research performed soley on animals does not always reflect health consequences for humans.

Photo credits: wikimedia

Cauliflower Not Just a Side Vegetable Anymore

Posted on Apr 10, 2015 by No Comments

For those of us who count carbs, those of us who eat low-fat, and even those of us who try to combine the two for a low-carb, low-fat diet, cauliflower is a go-to vegetable.

I’ve always enjoyed it steamed as a side vegetable or in stir-fry dishes, and ate it with dip when I had the craving for something crunchy. But it is more versatile than that.

When I started to seriously count carbs I learned to make faux rice, a low carb rice alternative, by chopping the cauliflower in my food processor until it was the size of rice grains.

It’s an easy dish that can be made in the microwave just by adding a couple tablespoons of water. It turns out fluffy, and can be eaten as a side dish, or as a base for stir fry. This is a dish my whole family actually looks forward to.

Popcorn cauliflower
But recently, I learned another way to eat cauliflower pulled from the Paleo diet’s list of tricks. They call it ‘popcorn.’ It caught my attention because corn isn’t allowed on the paleo diet.

Turns out it wasn’t corn at all. It’s cauliflower, and it’s made by seasoning the cauliflower and roasting it. It’s a crunchy snack without all the fat and salt we eat with theater or microwave popcorn.

And whether you’re counting carbs or calories, it is low! I mean a whole head of cooked cauliflower is only 145 calories and 29 carbs. Compare that to popcorn served at the Regal Cinemas which weighs in at 670 for a small and 1,200 for a medium and never mind the large.

My Fitness Pal cites 28 carbs for a small bag. When you compare that to a whole head of cauliflower at 29 and you can see a clear benefit.

For a flavorful snack that’s still good for you, choose healthy toppings, such as garlic, Italian seasoning and, if you like, some sea salt, or try one of the many cauliflower popcorn recipes found online.

Photo credits: dara

Link Round-up: Sweets, Quick Meals, Canvas Art, and More

Posted on Apr 9, 2015 by 2 Comments

Today’s link round-up has sweets, quick meals, canvas art, and more.

Chocolate Covered Katie showed us how to make healthy carrot cake cupcakes.

Confessions of an Overworked Mom shared five fast meals to make in under 30 minutes.

I Should Be Mopping the Floor showed us a DIY gamer canvas art project.

Tone It Up’s annual bikini series is starting soon and they’re sending out their start-up packages when you sign up now.

link ru creme brulee oats

A Beautiful Mess showed us a delicious steel cut oats crème brulee recipe.

Homemade Interest showed us how to make dark chocolate cherry truffles.

Makeup and Beauty Blog showed us what she considers to be one of the cutest water bottles in the history of the world.

Photo credit: Chocolate Covered Katie and A Beautiful Mess

Avocados Offer 3 Times the Potassium of Bananas

Posted on Apr 8, 2015 by No Comments

There was a time I avoided the creamy deliciousness of avocados because they are high in fat. I didn’t want to add those calories to my calorie conscious diet.

Then I learned about MUFAs (monounsaturated fatty acids), and that all fats are not created equal. Since then, I also had to unlearn my no- and low-fat mindset.

The monounsaturated fat in avocados is good for us, but it turns out that this fruit offers other health benefits, too. Along with healthy fats, they are also rich in potassium, which is lacking in most people’s diet.

Studies have shown that increased potassium intake combined with lowering salt intake can actually cut your stroke risk by 21 percent, and may also lower the risk of developing heart disease because it helps protect blood vessels from oxidative damage and prevents vessel walls from thickening.

As adults, we need 4,700 mg of potassium a day and avocados offer 3 times the potassium found in bananas. They also deliver lutein and zeaxanthin, which are phytochemicals that help guard against cataracts and macular degeneration. Avocados are also an excellent source of folate (one-quarter of a day’s worth), and contain vitamin E which is good for our skin.

Along with all of this, researchers from Ohio State University have also found in a recent study that avocados can help the body absorb phytochemicals from other foods and believe the fat content of avocados aids the body in absorbing these antioxidants.

To think of all the years I avoided avocado because it was high in fat, I was actually missing out. I’ve since added about a half of an avocado per day, most days. It’s great as a salad or sandwich topper, and I’ve heard it’s a nice addition to a morning smoothie. I even like to eat it as a snack straight out of the skin.

One of the added benefits of inserting avocado back into my diet is that it keeps me satiated. Just goes to show you. Good fat is good fat for many reasons.

Photo credits: wikipedia

Link Round-up: Healthier Rice, DIY Beaded Pendant, Sweets, and More

Posted on Apr 7, 2015 by 3 Comments

Today’s link round-up has a trick for cutting rice calories in half, a DIY beaded pendant guide, frosted sugar cookie bars, and more.

A Beautiful Mess showed us how to make a cute pendant for much less than the ones sold in stores.

Blogilates shared a trick for cutting rice calories in half.

Makeup and Beauty Blog shared a recipe for a Pink Power smoothie.

link ru lavender chamomile soap

A Pumpkin and a Princess showed us how to make lavender chamomile tea soap.

Pursebuzz reviewed the new NYX highlight and contour palette.

Tastes Better from Scratch taught us how to make frosted cookie bars.

Two Healthy Kitchens showed us how to make creamy Crock-Pot chicken stew with potatoes, carrots, and tomatoes.

Photo credit: A Beautiful Mess and A Pumpkin and a Princess