Monday, January 31, 2011

Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion Review

**Disclaimer:  This post has been compensated through a free product (s) or monetary payment.  Opinions are solely mine. All links are "no-follow" links.**

Skin MD Natural logo.jpeg
Skin MD

Recently, I was given the opportunity to review Skin MD Natural Shielding Lotion for Face, Hands, & Body.  This product was scientifically developed by dermatologists for healing tough to handle skin conditions.  Skin MD is advertised to work differently because it is a shielding lotion that assists the skin to absorb moisture while protecting the top layer of skin from irritants.

I wanted to put this product to a true test.   Knowing the perfect candidate, I recruited my brother because of a circulation problem on the lower part of his leg that leaves the skin rough, constantly dry, and prone to opening to a sore if not properly moisturized.

My brother tried Skin MD for a week and I photographed his progress during the trial.  The skin became more hydrated and the roughness seemed smoother from this humectant type of lotion, which draws moisture from the air.  Being a man, he also appreciated the lotion was scent free and non-greasy.

This test on my brother was only for a week using Skin MD and already there is some improvement in the way is leg looks.  I highly recommend this product for continued use for anyone with a severe skin condition or those seeking a beneficial moisturizer to shield them from dryness.

My brother's sore leg.jpeg
This area needs a lot of lubrication.

a different sore leg view.jpeg
This is how dark and rough the skin is in that area of his foot.

I also received two sample packets from the company.  Skin MD makes two versions of this lotion--one in the regular formulas such as I described and another with sunscreen SPF-15.

This is my honest opinion.  No money was exchanged.  I only received a free product for this review.  

Skin MD has a really nice blog with tips and even recipes for skin care that you can make yourself!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Treat the Family to My Homemade Cinnamon Rolls and Raisin Bread!

My Cinnamon Rolls are light and delicious!

Warm up the family quickly with a little lovin' from your oven--Nuts style!  Today, I have my favorite recipe for making delicious cinnamon rolls and raisin bread from the same sweet raised dough.  You'll never miss those bakery shop ones again once you make these.  Trust me, you'll be nuts for this recipe just like I am!  

My Favorite Sweet Roll Dough (Cinnamon Rolls/Raisin Bread)

7 to 8 cups sifted flour
2 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup warm water
1 package of active dry yeast  (1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon of sugar
3/4 cup of sugar (to sprinkle inside the rolled dough)
cinnamon (sprinkle as much as you like inside the rolled dough)
1/3 cup raisins (to add to the rolled dough of piece(s) to be raisin bread)

Test the water on the back of your wrist for the temperature.   You want slightly warm water, but not hot like you would do for testing a baby bottle.  When the temperature feels right, add the teaspoon of sugar to your water and yeast.  The sugar will help the yeast to grow and bubble faster.

Add 7 cups of the sifted flour with all the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Mix and add the last cup of flour gradually until the dough doesn't feel sticky.   When it feels like the right consistency, take it to a floured surface and knead until it forms a soft dough ball. 

Place in a greased bowl and cover.  Let it rise near a warm spot until doubled (about 1-1/2 to 2 hours).  

Punch down, then divide into three balls.  Let rest 15 minutes more before rolling each piece on a lightly floured surface.  Grease two loaf pans (9" x 5")  and one small cake pan (11-1/2" x 8-1/2") or you can make all cinnamon rolls or two giant raisin breads (use a cookie sheet).

My secret is brushing the rolled dough lightly with water--not oil or butter!  Then sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon before rolling up, beginning with the narrow side.  Pinch together so nothing leaks out, then place the seam side down on the greased pan.

Roll out the same way for cinnamon rolls but this time skip the raisins.  Shape the roll and then slice into pieces.  When I make the two loaves and small cake pan of rolls, I get 12 rolls.  Let them rise and double for about 45-60 minutes.  

No one can resist overindulging when I bake these.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes or until lightly browned.   Drizzle my Simple Glaze Nuts Style on your cooled rolls and bread.

Simple Glaze Nuts Style

1 cup of confectioners sugar (sift if lumpy)
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla or maple or lemon flavoring
Milk (About a 1 tablespoon)

Put everything together in your mixing bowl and beat until it's the spreading consistency you like.  If you want a thinner glaze add a bit more milk.  When rolls and bread are cool just drizzle the glaze on.

Raisin bread is just as yummy from my sweet roll dough.

Friday, January 28, 2011

L'uvalla Certified Organic Skin Care Orange Toner Review

**Disclaimer:  This post has been compensated through a free product (s) or monetary payment.  Opinions are solely mine. All links are "no-follow" links.**

Does your skin need a healthy boost of radiance then you should try L'uvalla Certified Organic Skin Care?  L'uvalla I have discovered goes the extra mile for the beauty consumer in producing environmentally friendly, effective skin care products that balance nature with the biochemical unison of your own skin.  Let me explain why I think L'uvalla  is different. 

L'uvalla Certified Organic Skin Care toner and samples.jpeg
L'uvalla Organe Toner and samples
Recently I received a bottle of their Orange Toner for Dry/Mature Skin.  Upon breaking the seal of this generous 6.7 fl. oz. size bottle, I felt invigorated by the delicate fresh scent of bitter orange that awaited me, almost like aromatherapy.  Yet once I dabbed my cotton ball to that bottle and applied it, the skin on my face felt cleaner and more comfortable while feeling refreshed from the natural botanic ingredients of this COSMEBIO manufacturer (the first company to be certified as 100% natural)!  

It would have been helpful to have received all three products in this line to use together over a course of time, however, my package came with several sample packets of some of their other products instead.  Based on a few times use, I cannot give as accurate an opinion on the performance of those other products, as if I had done so over a span of days. 

Nonetheless, I was impressed when I gazed at my reflection the more I used the L'uvalla Orange Toner which is also advertised as age defying.  My skin looked renewed and more vibrant than before I discovered this product.  I can only imagine what magical benefits other  L'uvalla products hold in store!  For those seeking a healthier, toxin-free way to beautify, then you owe it to yourself to follow my example and try L'uvalla for yourself.

L'uvalla is giving Nuts 4 Stuff readers a 25% discount off their entire order!  Just enter (NUTS25) as the discount code at checkout.  This discount code will expire on Feb. 12, 2011.Also, please give your readers a discount code.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Why It's Important to Drink Enough Water

Water is essential for doing a body good.

How many times have you heard how important it is to drink more water? It helps cleanse your body and keep it hydrated for overall better health.  But if you drink only bottled water, which is expensive, you may be missing out on something good.  Drinking tap water provides flouride to help prevent tooth decay.

Yet, do you know how much water you drink a day?  If you're like me, then you probably can take a rough guess--at least, you think so.  However, if you want to know exactly how to drink more, then you need a plan.  

I'll share a little trick to get more of that precious fluid into you.  The easiest way I have found is to save one of the portable size bottles that came when you  purchased bottled water.  Clean it out, refill it from your sink, and throw it in your handbag.  You can measure the amount of water now since knowing how many bottles you'll drink by every refill.    

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recipe: Let Me Tempt You With Lick Your Lips Coffee Cake!

This coffee cake is so easy to make.

You may be wondering how this coffee cake got this unusual name.  Just blame the name on my silly family.  They love this cake so much that every time they want me to make it my gang does this crazy thing.   They sit around the table, look at me, and start licking their lips.  Weird, I know but they're yours and this is what they do.  Though goofy as they are, this little ritual was effective and became a running joke with us--and there you have it--the truth about Lick Your Lips Coffee Cake.

This is not your typical coffee cake with a coarse crumb.  The texture is a finer one and buttery while moist.  You'll be surprised at how well my recipe keeps too.  Before you know it, your crew will be licking their lips, hoping you'll get the hint and make it for them too!

Lick Your Lips Coffee Cake

This coffee cake is so tender and moist.

1 egg
1 cup buttermilk or 1 cup sour milk or 1 cup milk + 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda (dissolve in your milk)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup margarine
2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

My Easy Coffee Cake Topping

1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together and sprinkle on your batter once in your pan.

Cream the sugar and margarine thoroughly.  Add your egg.  Sift flour, salt, and baking powder together in your mixing bowl.  Add alternately with the buttermilk that you dissolved your baking soda in.  This will be a thicker dough. 

Mix well and place in a buttered 10-inch pie pan.   Sprinkle your Coffee Cake Topping over the batter.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-minutes or until you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


**Disclaimer:  This post has been compensated through a free product (s) or monetary payment.  Opinions are solely mine. All links are "no-follow" links.**

THE CREAM PERFUME COMPANY Rose Perfumed Body Moisturizer and two solid perumes.jpeg
Rose De Rose Perfumed Body Moisturizer and solid perfumes
Do you know what chemicals you're wearing when you reach for your perfume?  Can you believe such unfriendly ingredients as ethanol, and petroleum carriers besides other undesirable fillers are typical in those high-priced perfumes?  You can imagine how thrilled I was to discover The Cream Perfume Company because they take great pride in delivering quality French perfume without sacrificing your health, environment, or wallet.  You'll find no harmful ingredients here! 

This southern California company I got to review uses premium French made perfumes from  Grasse, France, ( the perfume capitol of the world) and turns those natural perfume oils and extracts into a solid perfume or a perfumed body moisturizer with 100% healthy natural and organic ingredients.  The Cream Perfume Company is also a Natural Products Association member and uses only ECOCERT certified organic essentials, absolutes and pure plant and fruit extracts.

The first product I tested was their Rose De Rose Perfumed Body Moisturizer in the generous six-ounce size.  What impressed me first  was the safety seal to prevent contamination.  The moment I opened the cap the rose essence lifted my spirit while this luxurious anti-aging and hydrating moisturizer delicately scented my skin.  Trust me, I put this product on at 6:30 P.M. and woke the next morning still smelling like of rose. 

Next I tried their Ylang Ylang d'amore and Peach Baby solid perfumes.  Each comes in cute eco-friendly wood containers resembling a nut, which when you finish up with is the perfect size for storing a delicate chain in your jewelry box!  The scents themselves were a joy to wear, almost like aromatherapy with staying power.  Ylang Ylang d'amore made me feel sexier compared to the fruitier innocent Peach Baby. 

Besides a line to suit every woman's taste with 11 solid perfumes and three perfumed body moisturizers with one smaller size moisturizer for $7.00, The Cream Perfume Company is a real bargain from $12.00-$14.00 each. 

If you value quality safe fragrance, then I think The Cream Perfume Company should definitely be on your radar. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to Shop for Treasures at the Flea Market

You can find practically anything like my hard-working $3.00 toaster oven.

Some people wouldn't waste their time going to a flea market, swap meet, or garage sale.  They assume that everything is just "junk."  Ha!  The truth is you need to come and shop early or you'll miss that great bargain and end up with the same wrong opinion.

The Early Bird Catches the Worm

I just love hunting for treasures.  As I walk through a crowded flea market and browse tables filled with merchandise, I found some incredible deals, which I'm going to share with you from time to time in this special column.

If you're starting out a home, then you should definitely consider visiting a flea market or some garage sales because you can basically get everything you need to furnish a place cheap. 

Let me show you one of the things I picked up over the summer.  This is not a valuable antique, but it was something I needed since my built-in oven died.  I had needed to buy a toaster oven big enough to bake in, but I happened to stumble on this Hamilton Beach model at the flea market instead.  I never tried baking in any toaster oven until this fantastic $3.00 purchase! 

As you can see from the photograph, this is the same oven that I made my recipes in.  This is continuing to be my only oven until my kitchen is remolded and I'm rid of those 51-year-old built in appliances, which is a nightmare when it comes to replacing.  

My flea market find is larger than the small toaster ovens.  I can fit two bread loaf pans inside or the size of a small sheet cake pan like I shown you in my recipes.  This size is wonderful and I still bake just not the same amounts as I did with my old oven with big cookie sheets.  But for $3.00 I am happily baking and testing out a product I never used before, but I would buy again.  Shopping at the flea market, I got to test it out first before wasting about $100 for a toaster oven I may have hated.

Be Prepared to Walk Away If You Plan to Negotiate

For the record, I didn't even have to negotiate a price.  The seller just wanted to get rid of the oven.  To her, the $3.00 was better in her pocket than sitting around in her basement.

Another plus I learned from using this toaster oven was savings on my electric bill.  With such a good deal like this one, you would be nuts about visiting the flea market for your next bargain too!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recipe: My Five-Minute Microwave Chocolate Cake!

piece of five-minute-microwave-cake.jpeg
This chocolate cake is so easy and light as a feather.

What I have for you is one of the best microwave chocolate cakes that I ever tasted.  I found this particular recipe when my built-in oven finally died and I was in need of some chocolate cake. This recipe is just as light as a typical packaged cake mix instead of one using all-purpose flour. 

Trust me, I  experimented with lots of versions of this cake and no recipe compares to this!  However, I don't recommend trying to eliminate the cocoa for a yellow cake version.  Adjusting the flour does not work in the same way.  The cake is heavier and slightly gluey unlike the airy chocolate.
five-minute-microwave chocolate cake.jpeg
This microwave chocolate cake is so moist and delicate in its texture.

Five-Minute Microwave Chocolate Cake

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup hot water, divided
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla

Grease a round 8 x 1-1/2"-inch microwave baking dish.  First microwave the cocoa and 1/3 cup of the water on HIGH (full power) for about 40 seconds or until slightly thickened.
Now sift flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt together in your mixing bowl.  Add oil, the other 1/3 cup of hot water, egg, vanilla and the chocolate mixture.  Beat this until smooth.

Pour batter into your greased pan.  Microwave on HIGH for 5 to 6 minutes or until the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.  (It will look moist in some spots, but this will go away once the cake sits.)

Cool, then frost with my Simple Chocolate Frosting.

Simple Chocolate Frosting

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/8 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/8 cup margarine
1/8 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat everything in your bowl until creamy and spreadable!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

I'm Nuts About This Trick to Get Rid of Fish Odor!

I love to eat fish.  It's low-calorie and easy to prepare.  Yet, there is a down side to cooking fish with the awful odor it leaves behind on hands and throughout your house.  However, I did find an easy way to solve both of those obstacles once and for all. 

Sprinkle some cinnamon on a cookie sheet and bake at 250-degrees for about ten minutes.  You'll be surprised at how quickly that spice will clear the air in your house. 

All you do for your hands is to get some lemon juice, fresh if possible.  Rub some of the juice on your hands and wash again.  The lemon juice will effortlessly remove that foul odor as well.  

No one will even know there was fish cooking in your house if you follow this advice.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Importance of Table Talk

One of the best things I remember growing up was always sitting together with my family for dinner.  Like clockwork, we sat down around the table at six o'clock.  Mom never failed to have a home cooked meal with meat, potatoes, vegetables, and dessert. 

It seems those days are gone for many of us.  We live our lives in a rush. Today, most of us have to juggle work with family and still try to be everything to everybody from wife, employee, mother, chauffeur, maid, friend, tutor, and etc.  Many of us are too tired to cook from scratch or because of work obligations cannot even sit down together for a meal.  Husbands often are forced to work longer hours in this present economy and often miss dinner.  Even the teenagers land up eating on the run. 

However, I honestly believe eating a meal together as a  family is one of the most important ways to strengthen it.  Talking about each other's days helps children feel more emotionally stable and able to relate better.   This time is a good way for each family member to learn about each other's day, whether happy or sad.  Keeping this connection open can make a big difference.  

After this important family mealtime and all the important topics were discussed, try to have each member tell of one happy incident in their lives, to leave the table uplifted with happy thoughts.  Try this and watch how this simple form of togetherness will open the door for building an even closer family.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Scratchy Throat? You Might Want to Check Your Pantry!

I'm not giving any medical advice, but the next time you get a scratchy feeling in your throat I do have a suggestion.  You may want to try an old folk remedy.  Measure one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in one glass of warm water, gargle, and then swallow. You might want to do this gargling routine every two hours if possible.   I know this sounds disgusting but I personally use this as a first line of defense before visiting the doctor.  If you're prone to allergies like me, this little trick really helps that's why I wanted  to pass it on.   After all, it can't hurt!

Be sure to brush your teeth after each use.  Vinegar is acidic and may damage tooth enamel if left on.  

To tame a cough you might want to try taking a half glass of warm water to an equal portion of tomato juice, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of Tabasco sauce and slowly sip this drink.  This old-time folk remedy will heat up your chest and settle the cough.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Stressed Out? Try This DIY Herbal Bath!

Stress melts away through the benefits of aromatherapy.

The next time stress is getting the better of you, I hope you will try this simple fix for your bath.  I'm nuts about this homemade helper because it definitely makes a difference in making me unwind.

All you need is some cheesecloth or a sheer sort of material that water can penetrate through easily and a few herbs.  Herbs, on the most part, are easy to grow.  You can grow  them in your garden like I do and dry them out for the future. 

Take a piece of cheesecloth and wrap equal portions of dried lavender flowers, rosemary, thyme, and mint together to form a little pouch.  Secure this little bag with a tie of some sort.  Place this herbal pouch into your tub and run very hot water over it.  Allow the herbal formula to steep in this bath water for at least ten minutes to fully unleash the soothing effects of the mixture.

Now your private sanctuary is ready.  Jump in that tub, close your eyes, lean back while you clear your mind so the healing water can take over.  By the time you finished soaping up, you'll feel much better in both your body and spirit.  You'll feel more relaxed and ready to sleep.  So do try this little recipe and you'll be nuts about it too! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Need a Quick Lower-Calorie Baked Treat? Try My Favorite Scones Recipe!

These delicious scones only take about 12 minutes to bake.

If you crave something sweet but hate to punish yourself with all those terrible calories, then I have the perfect solution to your troubles--the marvelous scone, which can be ready in approximately 12 minutes!

To those unfamiliar with this remarkable little treat, scones (pronounced scons) come to us from the Scottish people who invented them as a cheap form of bread.  However, their popularity quickly spread across the entire British Isles where they are usually served with tea.

Although scones are closely related to biscuit dough, my favorites are the sweeter varieties.  Since there is only a small amount of sugar in the recipe I'm sharing, raisins are nice  compliments as they naturally sweeten the tiny quick breads while giving you some extra iron.  If you want fewer calories, you just skip the raisins.  These scones even taste good with less sugar (a tablespoon or two) if you prefer an even skinner bread version to serve with dinner.

I found the secret to prepare a first rate batch of scones is not to overwork the dough.  Do not use a rolling pin, instead just pat the dough and cut into squares.  Too much fussing will produce a tough scone, but your baking efforts will be rewarded with tender flaky scones if you handle the dough only slightly!

 My Favorite Scones!
2 cups flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup margarine
1/2 cup raisins
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup water

Sift together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Cut in the margarine until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the raisins just to mix.  Make a well in the center and add all at once the beaten egg and water.  Stir with a fork until the dough follows it. 

Then turn the dough out on a floured surface and cut into squares.  I like to make 15 larger scones out of this recipe.  If you want to eat less, then just make smaller ones by dividing your dough into more pieces.  (Remember, smaller ones will bake faster.)

Grease a baking pan.  I use a 11-1/2" x 8-1/2" size for the 15 scones.  Bake at 450 degrees for approximately 12-15 minutes until very lightly browned on the bottom  for the larger size like I made with this recipe.  Smaller ones bake in approximately 7-10 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's Better Washers or Ceramic Discs for a Faucet?

Why is it that faucets always leak soon after replacing a new part these days?  For us, the battle is with washers.  Plumbers blame the high water pressure that causes washers to go.  But I had a pressure regulator installed to handled the pressure problem.  Guess what?  Our faucet still leaks frequently. 

Replacing old style washers and seats over time will cost more because you're replacing them every few months.  The problem might be people cranking the handles too hard to stop every last drip.  This tears up the rubber washer and damages the metal seat, which cost about $3.50 to replace yourself--more if a professional does it.  But I was told faucets made with ceramic disc cartridges will be cheaper in the long run to use. 

We have Central Brass faucets.   They do not have a lifetime but a one-year warranty on their faucets with ceramic disc cartridges.  However, Kohler, American Standard, Price Pfister and many others have lifetime warranties, which sound like they expect they won't fail.

Tell me what which do you prefer washers or ceramic discs for a faucet? 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Good Things Will Happen If You Follow This Advice

Whenever you run across a person that you have an unconscious feeling to help and you act without any expectations of praise or returning the favor, and you do this kindness from the heart, then you will be rewarded. 

I know from personal experience you will get paid back for that unselfish gesture in one way or another.  On the other hand, if you do for others in hope of being rewarded, you won't get anything but disappointment. 

No matter what your personal situation is, there is hope to expect good things can come to you if you follow this basic rule.  Just remember if something is given without the thought of any reward, you indeed, will be rewarded and probably more than you could have imagined.  I believe this with every fiber of my being to be true.  This simple philosophy can change your life-- if you set your mind to use it without thinking.

A true act of charity is one that you do without expecting any recognition or even thanks.  You do the kind act because it needs to be done!  Trust me, it will relief stress as well.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Want a Dewy Complexion and Your Makeup to Last All Day?

All women have their own special beauty secrets.  When I want to look my best and have my  makeup last all day I discovered how incredible rose water is to set all my work in place.  After the foundation, blush, and translucent powder, I found that misting with rose water can make a big difference.  Using this product,  I also noticed what a dewy freshness my face suddenly had while those cosmetics I wore looked more apart of me and natural.

You can just mist over your makeup and pat lightly with your fingers like I do.  Another way is to dab a clean tissue very gently over your face and lightly blot away the excess so you avoid any streaking.  Whatever way you choose, I can't believe how nice this product, which is made by many different companies, works.

Even on a rare day you can go without makeup, you can let your skin breathe and still benefit from misting your clean face with rose water.  You'll notice the lightweight silky feel of the moisture, almost like the feel of  rose petals themselves, against your skin.  Your skin will look more radiant and healthier, too! 

This is just my honest, sincere opinion on a wonderful, but often neglected beauty product that I'm nuts about--and so should you!  

Friday, January 14, 2011

How to Fight Mildew Naturally

Growing thyme is useful in the fight against mildew!

Mildew is a frustrating problem for practically everyone.  Doesn't it seem like no matter how often you clean or what product you use those ugly mildew spores keep making us constantly work?   However, I found a natural homemade solution you may want to consider trying.

Place some sprigs of fresh thyme inside a plastic spray bottle and cover with white vinegar.  Allow the herb and vinegar to blend inside for two weeks so the herb's essential oil can be activated.

What you'll get is a healthier, green living type cleaner that will cut grease and grime while helping to kill future mold spores.

Another plus to using this cleaner is knowing the stimulating effect of thyme on the nervous system in the way it increases the information flow to your brain and muscles.  As a result, you'll feel an increase in pep from the scent of this herb's essential oil in the cleaner so you'll clean even faster!  Now you can understand why I'm nuts about this easy remedy.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Something to Consider When Buying Cookware

If you're planning on buying an expensive cookware set in the near future, I suggest you plan ahead.  Will you be using a gas range or an electric one with coils forever?  As we all know, most pots can work on a gas range or an electric one with coils.  If you say yes with all certainty, then you don't have to worry.  

However, if you are not sure and could possibly want to switch one day to a smooth top or even an induction range, then you could have a problem.  Induction is slightly different from the regular smooth top electrics.  Induction is a faster cooking surface that needs ferrous metal (iron) in the pot or pan to get the induction cooking to work. 

That beautiful cookware could no longer work for you.  When cooking on an electric flat surface range without coils, it's a good idea to avoid copper bottom pots and cast iron.  They can leave marks and damage the surface if you forget while the heat's on and nothing is in the pot.  

The sales people might recommend you should only buy induction cookware for flat surface electric cooking.  Of course, the induction pot set looks fantastic. Yet, I have discovered a cheaper solution.  Bring a magnet with you to the store before you purchase.  If the magnet adheres to the bottom of the new pot, then you have a winner! 

Remember one thing, if you buy really nice pots and pans, quality ones, they will be around for a while.  If you can't afford induction cooking now, you might in a few years when they become less expensive.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Need to Unwind? De-stress Nuts style!

All of us lead chaotic lives these days.   With constantly rising prices and the current job market keeping it together can be a challenge at times.  However, I found several ways to lessen the stress.  At least, these simple tricks work for me.  I do hope you'll try them.

Sometimes, I have found something as simple as watching a funny television program will make me feel better.  Laughter is a powerful tool when it comes to stress!

A cup of chamomile herbal tea is a relaxing natural hot soother you might like to try.  A cup of hot milk also works well for me.

Try a hot soak in the tub with some fragrant bubbles and enjoy your private quiet time to relax. 

When I can't stop worrying about something, is the time I clean until I'm too tired to think about anything.  Sometimes, I have found that burning that negative energy into work can free my mind temporarily.  My advice is to exercise the problem away until exhaustion takes over.  Your tired body will fall asleep faster.  After all, tomorrow is another day.  Perhaps, when you wake, you'll have the solution.

How do you handle ridding yourself of stress?  What are your secrets?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recipe: Try My No Work, Eggless Yellow Sheet Cake!

This sheet cake is delicious and great for anyone with an egg allergy.

Cooking or baking for anyone with food allergies can be tricky enough.  Sometimes, you give up on the ingredient known to trigger the allergy or try substitutions, which may or may not work to your satisfaction.  Lately, I have been experimenting with ways to avoid eggs when baking cakes. A recent effort proved delicious and simple with the yellow sheet cake I'm about to share. 

This recipe will produce a cake more on the order of a pound cake with a denser grain than a light cake like a typical one of a layer cake.  Still, this cake is about the easiest one you can whip up since it involves no creaming of butter or margarine.  All you need is your electric mixer to blend all the ingredients and then bake into a nice sheet cake for when the urge for cake calls.

This is an easy yellow sheet cake.

No Work Eggless Yellow Sheet Cake

3 cups flour
2-1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Sift all the dry ingredients together, then the wet.  Pour into your small greased sheet cake pan (about 11-1/2" x 8-1/2") and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Frost with your favorite frosting or try mine.

Lemon Frosting

2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons margarine
1/4 teaspoon lemon extract

Mix everything and beat with your electric mixer until creamy and ready to spread.


Monday, January 10, 2011

My favorite Place in Pittsburgh, PA to Buy Yeast!

The cost of those little active yeast packages in the grocery can be expensive.  However, if you go to a warehouse club or a store such as GFS Marketplace, you can buy a bag of yeast so much cheaper.  I pick mine up at GFS in a one-pound bag for about $5.00.  Each tablespoon in a bag is like one of those little packets in a three-pack of dry yeast at the grocery store that runs about half that price for about three loaves! 

So even if you think you'll never use an entire bag, then you're still going to be saving in the long run just by using it a few times.  A bag of yeast is usually dated for at least a year.  You can make pizzas, buns, sweet dough, etc. in no time with some of the future recipes I'll share with you. 

Another suggestion is to split your bag up with a family member or friend.  Whichever way you choose, you still will be ahead and able to enjoy real bakery type bread instead of those less filling airy commercial loaves! 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

My Easy Bread Recipe for the Food Processor

Making yeast bread in the food processor is easy and less messy.

No smell can outmatch homemade bread baking.  It can fill a kitchen with such a wonderful aroma while you impatiently wait for those loaves to bake to perfection!  So if you love fresh homemade bread but hate the mess, I suggest investing in a food processor. 

My recipe is so easy that I promise it is fool proof even if you never baked yeast bread before.  No more sticky hands and doughy fingers when baking bread if you have this appliance.  All you have to do is follow my directions and measure accurately while your processor does the sloppy work!
Once you taste homemade bread, you will be spoiled for that spongy commercial variety.

Foolproof Food Processor Bread
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoon margarine
2 eggs
1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups sifted flour

Heat your water and margarine over low heat until very warm--but not hot. 

Using the knife blade, process yeast, sugar, salt and 1-1/2 cups of your sifted flour for a few seconds to mix.  With the processor running, add the heated margarine mixture in a steady stream through the feed tube until well mixed (about 10 seconds).  Add eggs and process an additional 10 seconds.  Add rest of the flour and continue processing until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 60 to 90 seconds).

Dough will be ready to be shaped into a smooth ball at this stage.  Place in a large greased bowl, greasing the top and covering.  Place in a warm area until doubled in size (about 45 minutes).

Punch down after doubled and shaped into a 9" x 5" loaf pan. 

Cover and let rise again until doubled (about 45 minutes more).

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped.  This makes one big loaf.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Did You Know About the Health Benefits of Cinnamon?

I have always loved the taste of cinnamon even before learning about the wonders associated with this simple spice, which has antioxidant and antibacterial properties.  In addition, I discovered how as little as 1/2 teaspoon daily can really help lower cholesterol or may improve your blood glucose levels, especially for those people with type 2 diabetes.  Now I'm even more nuts about spreading the word of this powerhouse of a spice.

At our place we like to eat a bowl of cooked oatmeal most mornings.  Old-fashioned is the favorite in our house.  We sprinkle some cinnamon and a teaspoon of sugar over our oatmeal instead of adding milk.  Some days we like to add some raisins to the mixture for some extra iron. 

Other days we like to add a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the water until it is heated, then add your oatmeal and cook as usual.  Add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of peanut butter to your chocolate oats, two teaspoons of sugar and you get a cooked cereal your kids will gobble up.  This stuff tastes like candy--not something that is good for them to eat!

Even when we skip our cinnamon oats routine, I use cinnamon more freely and include it in my dishes whenever possible.

Friday, January 7, 2011

My Solution for Frozen Car Door Locks--Fragrance!

Winter weather can bring more than tricky road conditions.  Frigid weather can also play havoc with the locks on your car door.  So what do you do if suddenly your car door lock freezes and you must be somewhere?

You could always pick up a can of de-icer and treat the lock the night before the temperatures drop drastically to freezing.  However, if you're like me and forgot about picking any up, you could also try heating your car key and then inserting into your lock.  Sometimes, this trick will be enough to get in. 

Then again, you could spray that frozen lock with something you probably carry in your handbag anyway.  Grab your perfume, cologne, toilette water and spray your lock.  For some reason, the chemicals in fragrance can melt through the ice barrier.  Using this little tip can get you on the  road before you finish scraping away that snow or ice from your windshield!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Need a Cheap Leather Conditioner?

You can condition all leathers except the buttery soft variety what you learn here.

Take a tiny bit of petroleum jelly on a soft cloth and rub on your clean leather shoes that you were about to polish.  Do not use this method on suede.  Allow the petroleum jelly to soak in a bit before wiping away with another clean cloth.  Once you try this thrifty tip, you'll be just as nuts about how it works to condition leather as I am.

Petroleum jelly also works well on a leather purse except not on any of the super-soft leathers of expensive bags.  Thicker handbag leather, more on the order of shoe leather that takes to shine, will work.  Conditioning with petroleum jelly can save an aged bag from cracking. Those buttery soft leathers should be treated more carefully though with recommended leather cleaners.

If you follow this simple tip, you will be surprised at how supple your older bag or shoes will be again.   You'll save your cherished older bag from getting those fine cracks in the leather. You may even skip the shoe polish for a while longer! 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How to Get Rid of Clutter and Make Quick Cash

Cleaning your clutter can be profitable.

If you don't know what to do with all those toys the kids don't play with anymore, clothes they outgrew, books you've read, or simply anything in your house that you're tired of--then I have a suggestion.  Plan for a future selling day at your local flea market. 

Decide What You Don't Need and Prep Your Items

Buy several of those plastic tubs with lids and start now.  Once you find something needing to be rid of, price it, and then put it in your tub.  By the time the warm weather rolls around, you'll have those tubs filled and ready to go.

Make sure everything that you stick in your tubs are in good condition.  Clean toys bring more money than ones parked in the garage with grime or dusty books.  Don't expect ripped or spotted clothes and games that are missing pieces to sell. 

Maybe you are without card tables for displaying your merchandise.  No problem!  An old blanket, shower curtain, or spread works well on the ground.  Another solution is displaying your things from your container or boxes.  Customers love to root through boxes, hoping to get  treasures first.

Take Someone With You to Help Setup and Deal With Sales

Encourage your husband and children to join you for a nice family outing.  Kids can learn the value of a dollar selling along Mom and Dad and responsibility as a part of the team.  Allow them to help bag or watch your items.  Reward them with a set amount to search for their own treasure, perhaps, with you or Dad later.  

Your husband may not be able to come.  Take along a friend with you on selling day--and return the favor to help her de-clutter.  A second pair of eyes is helpful to watch your items  when you need a bathroom break.  

A Fanny Pack and Packing Your Own Lunch Is Helpful and a Conversation Starter 

Make sure you wear a fanny pack with enough change to catch that sale.  People usually go to the banking machine and return with twenties for you.  Have a few bundles of change: a ten-dollar bill, five-dollar and five one-dollar bills ready.  

I recommend packing your own lunch the night before.  Make a thermos of coffee or take soda.  Throw in a large straw hat and wear sunscreen.  By all means, bring plenty of plastic bags for all the items you'll sell!

Don't get me wrong.  You won't come home a millionaire.  However, you will come home with some extra money you didn't have before, probably a nice "perk" of something you never expected to find like an out-of-print book you wanted to read for so long but missed or maybe a collectible vase for that vacant spot on your mantel.  The possibilities are endless and you'll have fun!  

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Simple Tricks to Perk You Up--Try Scents!

The next time you need some extra energy you might want to try a trick aromatherapists use--cinnamon.  Keep some of this spice in a small cloth bag in the top drawer of your desk.  So every time you open that drawer, you'll get a stimulating whiff and more concentration.

Inhaling peppermint oil is known to improve mental accuracy in tasks such as typing and filing alphabetically faster.  Sucking on mint candy can also help boost brain function according to experts in one study.

Smelling coffee alone can get your brain revved up.  Try keeping a small dish with some beans on your desk and sniff when you feel yourself winding down.

The scent of lemon is great for lifting your mood as well as stamina.  Something as insignificant as switching to a lemon-scented cleaner or air freshener could possibly do the trick.  Another helpful thing to try is a squeeze of a fresh lemon into a glass of water.

The scent of floral jasmine can stimulate the brain also.  If you drink some aromatic jasmine tea, you find yourself feeling more alert by the time you finish! 

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Cheap Shine Booster for Dyed Hair

If you dye your hair and want to get truly glossy hair, you probably have a tube of the conditioner that came with your package of hair color.  According to the instructions, you are meant to use most of that tube after your initial coloring.  The rest you save for a weekly rinse out treatment until the tube runs out. 

However, I found that if you put a dab on your freshly washed hair (about 1/4 teaspoon) and leave this conditioner in, your hair will really shine.  I do this every time I wash my hair and have received compliments from strangers that come up and ask me what I'm using.  I'm not saying this conditioner will do the same thing for you.  The texture and condition of your hair probably have a lot to do with the way this will work.

My hair is dyed close to my own medium brown color, a normal texture with no radical processing like others that switch from dark to light.  For example, my mother has thick, coarse hair and does not see any benefit from this like I do.  

Still, what do you have to lose if you dye your hair?  You probably have a tube of this conditioner around so why not put it to the test for yourself.  I call it "magic cream."  Maybe, my new hair miracle will be yours too!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Love Comes in All Forms!

Love transcends species.

My apple tree that produced all those delicious pies finally needed to be chopped down last summer.  The tree became infested with bugs.  It was painful for my family as well as the squirrels and deer that fed on the apples, but it was the only decision to be made.

The squirrels were vocal when I went outside the day after the tree came down.  Out of nowhere, they gathered in the surrounding trees in my backyard and made a ruckus around me, an angry chattering sound, like they were yelling at what I had done.  And those rascals kept it up until I went back inside.

The Rabbit and Its Love of Bread

Out of guilt, I decided to leave some bread on that stump in hopes of shutting them up.  The bread remained for a while but later that afternoon I looked out my kitchen window and saw something unusual--a rabbit was on my stump eating pieces of my homemade bread.

Now I don't know about you and the animals where you live, but a bread eating rabbit is rare in my neck of the woods.  So when I saw the rabbit finished what I left, I decided to see if it would come back the next day if I left more.

After I prepared another mixing bowl of bread pieces, I headed toward the stump before returning inside to watch from my window.  Shortly after, I saw the hedges move near the stump and that rabbit emerged.  Once again it went to my stump and ate every bite.

A day or two later I decided to leave the bread but remain in the yard to see what would happen. The rabbit stayed in one part of the yard and waited until the stump had its bread before hopping over to eat.

Love is constant despite the species.

Whenever I saw that rabbit I would hurry downstairs with my mixing bowl of bread and go outside.  I named it Bread-eater because over the rest of that summer we became good friends.  Bread-eater would see my silver mixing bowl and hop closer toward the stump--and me as I remained closer each time.

A Mother's Love Is Universal Regardless of Form

Bread-eater finally trusted me enough to bring her baby to the stump.  Watching that rabbit nudge that tiny bunny up toward the bread was something I'll never forget--the love a mother shows for its young, regardless of species.  Bread-eater was a good mom!