Friday, August 10, 2007

Glow, baby! Glow!

This is more of a product recommendation than a tip or trick (though if you don't tell anyone that you are using it, it could be considered tricking them).

Dear Pasty People of the World (or those who like a little summer tan),

If you have not already gone out and bought yourself a bottle of L'Oreal Sublime Glow tanning lotion, I highly recommend it! It gives you a natural looking tan that appears gradually as you use it. The lotion also has a beautiful golden shimmer that makes your skin luminous, on top of the tanning benefits. And for those of you with fair skin: you do not need to buy the "fair skin tones" bottle. Go medium if you want. It just gives you a slightly deeper tan (it doesn't get weird and orange-looking like some brands), and who doesn't want that ?

Once I was told that the only tan I could get was an Irish tan (which pretty much means that the sun brings out all of your freckles and there are so many of them that they start connecting and looking like a tan). Now, this fair-skinned, redheaded, freckled girl has a lovely shimmering tan without the skin cancer risk or the bathing suit trauma.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Story of the Lampshade and the Three Cats

Once upon a time, there was a lampshade. She was pretty and off-white. She sat happily upon her lamp. Every now and then, she would say hello to her twin across the room on the other lamp. One day, lampshade begin finding unwanted body hair. "What is all this fur on me?" she asked. The fur began to get thicker and thicker. She had a hard time seeing her poor twin sister, who was suffering the same fate. Then she saw them....frolicking around the room in the same fur that seemed to be covering her: three cats! Long-haired, short-haired, grey, white, tan, brown, black, fur of every kind getting everywhere. Her despair increased as she realized that those cats just kept growing and shedding all that fur. She thought her beautiful off-white sheen was lost forever. She would never create the soft glow from the light she was supposed to. Alas, what was she to do?

Then, one day, brightness came. Along came her giant owner with a little roll-y thing in her hand. the roller down her sides. With each zip, the fur was pulled away. Her beauty was again revealed and her soft glow appeared. She was so happy. She saw her twin, who also was beautiful again, and rejoiced. And they lived happily ever after. The End.

The moral of this story: Lint rollers are not only good for getting pet hair off of clothing. They are great for cleaning off lampshades, too!

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Wrinkle-free World

I do not iron. I hate to iron. I am not good at ironing. For years, I would wander around with my wrinkled pants convinced that gravity would make the wrinkles fall out. Alas, gravity, though powerful, could not defeat my wrinkles. And then came Downy Wrinkle Releaser. A quick spray, a little smoothing, and I was a happy wrinkle-free girl! You can even spray this stuff on when you are wearing the clothing (as I often do when I am running out of the house in the morning). Even my husband "irons" his clothes now. Truly a miracle product. If you haven't done so already, go out and get yourself some Downy Wrinkle Releaser. You may never plug in your iron again!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Hello, Weeknight Meatloaf!

Meatloaf is one of those meals I used to not cook on a weeknight. By the time you did all the work to make the meatloaf, you still had an hour and a half left before the thing was done cooking. I don't know about you, but I don't like dinner at 8 p.m. One night I was seriously craving meatloaf and knew that I must find a way to cook it faster. When I want something, I will find a way. So, I am rummaging through my kitchen cabinets and I see my ramekins!


The ramekins are about 5 - 5.5 oz. each and are oven safe. Fill them most of the way, and you have a perfect little personal-sized meatloaf. So, I fill up about 6 ramekins with the meatloaf mixture, pop them in the oven on a baking sheet at the same temperature for the whole meatloaf. And voila! Meatloaf in 30 minutes and perfectly portioned. You can take them out of the ramekins to serve (use an oven mitt - they get very hot...being in the oven and all). They are adorable and yummy at the same time. Hello, Weeknight Meatloaf!

p.s. If you love sweet ketchup-y sauce on your meatloaf, mix about 1/4 cup of ketchup, a tbsp of mustard, and 1-2 tbsp brown sugar. Spoon this on 10 minutes before the meatloaf is done cooking. mmmm....

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Do you latte?

My favorite summertime shortcut! I love, love, love coffee and lattes top my list of yummy drinks. Something I don't love is the $3+ price tag of a latte at pretty much any coffee shop. My solution? Brew it up at home. Yes, you do need an espresso machine. You can find an affordable machine for less than $100. If you buy a daily latte at $3, that's over $20 a week. The cost of the espresso machine will pay off faster than you think.

Summer lattes must be iced, but spending the time to start up the espresso machine to brew espresso for a single latte takes longer than I would like. My little iced latte secret: brew for the week on the weekend. On Saturday or Sunday, I run 8-10 shots of espresso. I store it in the fridge in one of those shake-up salad dressing containers (you can get one on Amazon for about $5, though any container would work - I just happened to have one of these).

Ready for a latte? Pour some espresso and milk into a glass, travel container, etc (1/3 espresso to 2/3 milk). Add some ice. Like flavors? Try adding some Hershey's syrup for a mocha. Grab some caramel sundae syrup for a caramel latte (forget the crazy expense syrups they sell at specialty stores and Starbucks - this stuff is just as good and less then half the price). This method to my madness keeps me well caffeinated, saves me money, and prevents the temptation of just getting that one donut or pastry with your coffee!

Bacon! Freeze and feel stuck?

Okay bacon-lovers (whether its the real deal or turkey for your health), I have a great little trick for you. I don't know about you, but I tend to only use a few slices at a time and mostly on weekends. Which means, when I buy a pack of bacon at the store, I'm gonna have to freeze some. Ever tried to pry a few pieces of bacon off of the frozen chunk? Yeah, me too. Hence the trick (and another favorite product): Press 'n Seal wrap.

Here's the deal: Rip off a long piece of Press 'n seal. Take your bacon, portion it into individual servings, and place on top of the Press 'n seal wrap. You will want to leave about 1/2 - 1 inch between each bacon pile. Now, take a second piece of Press 'n Seal. Lay it on top of the first piece and the bacon piles. Run you fingers between each bacon pile and along the edges to form a seal between the two Press 'n seal layers. If you need the cooking instructions, write them right there on the wrap. Roll up the bacon wrapped in Press 'n Seal and pop it in the freezer. Next time you need bacon, you can cut off a section or just peel back to the first section and take out your serving. No more bacon falling apart when trying to pry it from a frozen chunk!

Bananas too ripe? Like Smoothies?

No matter how many bananas I buy, I never seem to be able to eat them all before at least one of two gets riper than I like. Since I hate throwing away perfectly good food, I wanted to find another use for the ripe bananas. Instead of tossing them, I peel them, cut them into 1 inch chunks, and place in a single layer in a ziploc bag. Put them in the freezer, still in the single layer, and let them freeze overnight. Once they are frozen, you can break up the layer and store the bag anywhere in the freezer.

So, now you have frozen bananas. What are you supposed to do with them? Smoothies! Use the bananas instead of ice cubes. They add the cold and a wonderful creaminess to a smoothie. Toss in some yogurt, honey, some berries, maybe a little cinnamon, and blend (add a little milk if its too thick). ENJOY! And feel good about not throwing away perfectly edible food!

For the love of cream sauce (and not love handles)

I love creamy sauces. My husband loves anything with the word alfredo in it. I cringe at the idea of pouring heavy cream into the pan and searched for another way. I found Wondra flour. Using Wondra, I can turn skim milk into a creamy, yummy sauce. All you need is a little Wondra + skim milk + simmer time (about 1 minute) and you will have a sauce you would swear was full of heavy cream.

Look for Wondra in a grocery store near you. I find mine in the baking aisle with the regular flour.

Tips and Tricks of a Redhead

As I go through life, I assemble all sorts of tips and tricks to get me through life. These ideas help make my life easier. I find most of my ideas are for the kitchen. This is just a simple blog to share these things with anyone who is willing to take the time to read them.