How to Organize Greeting Cards

How to Organize Greeting Cards

Buying ahead saves you time and money, but it only really works, if you have a way to keep everything organized. I’ve made a lot of strides in that department over the years, but it’s something I’m still working on. Something I will probably always be working on. Because life evolves, and your organizational systems have to continue to evolve with it.

I can always tell when I’ve come up with the right organizational solution because things just seem to stay neat and orderly on their own. That’s definitely been the case with the binder system that I created last January. It’s so easy to file papers now that everyone in the house just does it. And they actually put things in the right place. That part is always shocking for a mom.

But there are other areas of our home that aren’t as organized as I’d like them to be. My gift closet is one of those areas. [Read more…]

Pan Substitutions

Have a recipe that calls for a pan size you don’t have? No problem. Just use these charts to find other pans that you can use instead:

Pan Substitutions - Rectangular Pans

Print Rectangular Pan Substitutions Chart

Pan Substitutions - Round

Print Round Pan Substitutions Chart

Pan Conversion - Square

Print Square Pan Substitutions Chart

Baking Times:

If the substituted pan is the same depth as the one called for in the recipe, you shouldn’t have to adjust the baking time. However, if the substituted pan depth is shallower, (a 1″ pan, instead of a 2″), you’ll need to shorten the baking time. If the substituted pan depth is deeper (a 2″ pan, instead of a 1″, you’ll need to increase the baking time.

It’s also worth noting that foods cooked in a glass pan may take 5-10 minutes longer than those cooked in a metal pan.

Use This Instead of Cheesecloth

Use Paint Strainer Bags Instead of Cheesecloth

There are lots of kitchen items that I love. Cheesecloth isn’t one of them. Don’t get me wrong; it’s useful when you need it. I use it to strain pumpkin puree and broth, to make spice bundles and – on occasion – to make cheese. But it’s awkward to work with, hard to clean and it wears out quickly. There has to be something better.

And you know what? There is. While walking up and down the aisles of my local hardware store the other day, I spotted paint strainer bags. They’re simple mesh bags designed to fit over a five gallon bucket, so you can – you guessed it – strain paint. But you know what? They work just as well in the kitchen. Because they have a wide elastic band around the top, they fit beautifully over a mixing bowl, and stay right where you put them (something cheesecloth never wants to do), and since they have a finer weave than cheesecloth, they do a better job of straining, too.

Strained Butternut Squash Puree

Liquid from Butternut Squash Puree

My husband used them to strain the butternut squash puree that he made last week (yep, he’s a keeper) …

Straining Ham Broth

Strained Ham Broth

and I used them to strain the ham broth that I made yesterday. They performed perfectly in both situations.

And since they cost just $1.50 a bag and are machine washable, I’d say they’re an all-round winner. Don’t you love when you find a better way to do something?

New Uses for Shower Caps

New Uses for Shower Caps

When you stay in a hotel, you probably snag the shampoo and maybe even the coffee and tea, but I’m betting you leave those shower caps behind. Not me. I take them home, and use them for all sorts of things. Take a look:

[Read more…]

Ocean Spray + SodaStream = Genius

Ocean Spray + SodaStream = Genius

Cranberry juice is a big deal in my house, so when I heard SodaStream had released Ocean Spray sparkling cranberry juice mixes, I was psyched, and had to try them right away.

Sparkling Cranberry Juice

The verdict: Delicious. Totally delicious. There’s a Cranberry, Cranberry Grape Mix
and Cranberry Raspberry version. I’ve tried the Cranberry and the Cranberry Raspberry mixes so far, and they’re both brilliant.

SodaStream Sparkling Juice

I love that it’s sparkling juice, rather than soda because it’s something that my whole family can drink. My kids could count the number of times that I’ve allowed them to have soda on one hand, so they’re really excited about the new sparkling juice mixes, too.

I’ve also been experimenting with my own soda concoctions, so expect to see some homemade soda recipes from me very soon. I made one with cranberry juice and fresh basil from my garden, and it was out-of-this-world good. I may just kick my half-a-glass-of-Mello-Yello-a-day-habit yet.

Thinking about asking for a SodaStream for Christmas? This is the one that I have:

SodaStream Source

It’s the Sodastream SOURCE Metal Edition.

**SodaStream provided samples**