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Ice Chips Candy

‘Tis the season for all kinds of sweets and goodies, but these are the best I’ve run across in years.  Ice Chips Candy was started by two grandmothers in Washington state.  Saw them on the program Shark Tank last Friday night.  Quite a spunky, smart pair!  Had the “Sharks” fighting over them and walked out with a great deal to expand their production.

Ice Chips Candy is made with Birchwood Xylitol – a 100% natural sweetener.  Many of the benefits of Xylitol are listed on their website – www.icechipscandy.com.  Among them, Xylitol does not impact insulin levels and helps to strengthen teeth, a perfect choice for my little girl to have around the house. 

They call them Ice Chips because they look like Ice Chips – all different sizes in the tin!  Shards of healthy candy.

Be sure to check them out!  18 great flavors in all!

 

 

 

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Cleaning – Again

So, made it through the living room, dining room.  Now to tackle the Bathroom – always a challenge! 

1. Bath mats – put them in the wash.  I tend to not like mats because they trap wet, dirt and odors, but they are also a safety feature in most bathrooms – don’t want to slip on the tile floor while stepping out of the shower.

2. If you have a shower curtain, throw that in the wash or throw it away if you’re sick of it or it’s old and tired.  Get a new liner – love the ones with pockets for storing products and toys as I mentioned in a previous post.  Check the curtain hangers.  Do you need new ones because one or more is not closing and no longer holds up its area of your curtain and/or liner?

If you have glass doors, give those a good cleaning to get rid of any water spots. My neighbor keeps a squeegee in the shower stall. Great idea to get you in the habit of cleaning the doors each time you take a shower.

3. Pick up anything on the floor – trash can, toilet cleaner stand, scale, etc.., and move these to another room after having cleaned them all. 

4. Start at the top as always.  Any cobwebs, dirt, dust along the ceiling and in the corners?  Knock it all down on to the floor with a broom. 

5. Check your light bulbs, fan.  Make sure all are functioning.  If not, replace the bulbs, fix the fan (might have to call in help for this if it’s not working at all or just take the cover off and soak in warm soapy water. 

6. Now, get in the shower/tub area.  This may be your largest area as it comes with tile up the wall or possibly a fiberglass surface.  I like 20 Mule Team Borax as I’ve stated previously.  Old time, very good, natural cleaner.  There are also products from Ecover to use.  I am not a fan of the many main stream, chemical based cleaners – too many chemicals in their mix for me.

Evaluate your tub/shower area.  Any grout that needs specific attention?  Any caulking that needs to be addressed? Any spots on the fiberglass?  I make a paste of the Borax, apply to problem areas and let it sit for a while. 

7. Now that I’ve done this, I always fill a sink with hot water and Borax dissolved in it.  This is my basin for my rags and it gives the sink time to soak.  I can empty and refill as needed. 

Get a hot water soaked rag from the sink basin which has the Borax dissolved in it and go to town.  Wipe down the surfaces of the shower, tub, wall tile, fiberglass surround, toilet tank, toilet seat (both sides).  How is the mirror? Any toothpaste or water spots on it?  Clean the mirror and wipe it dry.  Any shelves, towel rods need to be wiped down.  Scrub the sink bowl(s).  Scrub the toilet bowl with a brush and make sure you get up underneath the bowl rim as well as the bowl itself. 

Drain the sink basin holding the hot water and the dirt and refill it with hot water.  Wipe everything down again with clean hot water from the basin for good measure. 

8. Next I look around to see how dirty are the sink cabinets or sink pedestal as well as the toilet base.  Wipe those down with a rag of warm water and Borax from the basin.  Are there any paint touch ups you need to do? Or, if you’re in the mood for something new, now is a good time to repaint in a different color. Be sure to use a low VOC made for the humidity of the bathroom.

9. Almost finished. Now tackle the floor. I fire up my electric tea/coffee pot.  Once the water is boiling hot, I carry it into the bathroom and dribble a bit of boiling water in the grout lines of the floor tile.  This is great!  You can see it lift the dirt out of those grout lines.  I put a cotton towel under my feet and scrub each tile’s grout lines.  Boiling water has many benefits – loosens dirt, kills more germs. I haven’t ventured into the purchase of a steam mop, mostly because I can’t decide which one to buy.

Make your way across the floor with this starting at the far side and backing your way out of the room.  Let this dry.  Then hang shower curtain liner and curtain.  Put down your bath mats again.

Enjoy your clean bathroom.

Kitchens – Think New + Old

I’ve already posted an article regarding my feelings your home kitchen should not resemble the back room kitchens of restaurants with all the stainless appliances, surfaces, etc…. Your kitchen should be another warm, welcoming room of your home which fits in with the decor of other rooms. Face it, noone had pot fillers over their stoves until a few years ago. Not that they aren’t practical, but the only place in the world they existed 10-20 yrs ago was in the back kitchen of your favorite restaurant. Really, do you need a pot filler to prepare food for the average family of four? NO, it’s a luxury item – and frankly, a huge pain in the ass to add to a kitchen remodel in many circumstances.

I came upon these pics today and hope to get you to think – overcome, adapt – is really my goal. Let’s have a look at the first one.

Love this table. Bought one in 1988 myself. Perfect for an island in the kitchen or for a dining table. Now, we’re 25 years down the road – almost. I sold the table I had like this at the neighborhood yard sale a couple of years ago.

But I want you to think about this table for minute. I could have decided to take apart the table – the legs unscrewed from the table top. Here are my ideas if I hadn’t sold the table.

One idea – remove the top, keep the structure and visit the local stone, granite distributor. Options, new top of marble from the distributors’ “bone yard” resting upon the wooden legs and support sides – or soapstone or solid stone. Gorgeous and would fulfill using natural substances in a contemporary/modern kitchen as well as keep the feel of the table natural in a rustic kitchen. I don’t dig the tree stump seats – screams I will be uncomfortable while keeping you company, but makes for a nice picture – doesn’t say “sit and stay a while” to me. The other option is purchase iron/steel legs, mount those to the wooden top and again, achieve a contemporary look or a rustic look.

I have seen in a very expensive kitchen where they took a tree stump as a base for a round table at the end of the counter run. I like that, but they had a stone top for the surface of the table.

Now, this next picture. Let’s study it – so many elements to notice.

Windows – giant and abounding along one wall. Now, I know, not all of us have this beautiful option for daylight into the kitchen. But, if you can get it, get it! Natural light incorporated into a home is my very favorite thing to achieve – so long as it’s unique and inspiring. I disagree with the cookbooks on the counter near the sink – trouble to be had. Splashing water, in the way of using space for prep, pretty in the pic, but not practical.

LOVE the table. Now this is very rustic and this level of rustic may not be your thing, but, envision a marble top from boneyard – or solid surface, granite, etc….Paint the base a different color. Make sure the drawer slides easily. Love and appreciate the shelf below – great storage opportunity, get things off the countertops, but keep them readily available. This photo shows produce in old boxes; however, you could keep your kitchen appliances (food processor, blender, juicer) as well as some fresh produce. GREAT all-in-one workstation. Only made better by making it a fixture and putting a round sink with faucet on one side – plumb the water line up one leg of the table – and achieve a fully functional prep table in the kitchen with some warm, antique appeal. OR, throw a stainless top on with sink, paint the base a pewter color or any other choice of bright color and call it contemporary.

Stainless is a great surface for prep and cleaning for many reasons. And I love stainless for it’s practicality, functionality, but can’t stand seeing it on EVERY surface – work, appliance, etc…. Mix and match and make your kitchen warm and a part of your other rooms if in an open space.

Here’s another final tip for either of these. If you were to use either of these tables as a prep station in your kitchen, router an opening the width of the countertop, mount a cookie sheet underneath. (this is easier than it sounds – a couple of 1×2’s from front to back and put the cookie sheet on top of these. This is the perfect, wonderful idea for a “crumb-catcher”. Chop, sweep remnants through the slot cut in your surface and empty the cookie sheet when needed. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this as a feature. Keeps your surface clean while you work.

Alright, my thoughts for these tables.

Let me know what you think!

Smoked Salmon & Goat Cheese Fritatta

Here is the recipe I referred to last night in my Salad Abounds post.  Full disclosure, this is a recipe I downloaded from the Barefoot Contessa show on the Food Network a couple of years ago.  This is a great recipe on its own – have cooked it many times – but have also modified it now and then for something different.  I’ve tried it with crab meat and Gruyere cheese, have also used Asparagus with Goat Cheese for a veggie + cheese version.

The video here is to demonstrate how easy it is to make a fritatta.  She uses 12 eggs.  I’ll admit, I’ve cheated and used the “Better Than Eggs” mixture from Crystal Farms and I’ve also done this with 1/2 yolks + 1/2 whites.

Easy to adapt and to make for brunch or “Dinner for Breakfast” with a salad.  It’s also great as a leftover.

 

I’m posting a link to the video of her preparing this to see how easy it is!
http://www.foodnetwork.com/videos/smoked-salmon-fritatta/18022.html

Compile ingredients in 10″ saute pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 60 minutes.

FOR THE BASE:
1 medium onion (or mix in some onion with shallots if you prefer)
1 TBSP butter
12 extra large eggs (Better Than Eggs from Crystal Farms is a substitute I’ve used as well as 1/2 yolks, 1/2 whites)
Salt & Pepper to taste

FOR THE FILLING:
As written, you will need:
4 OZ Goat Cheese and;
1/2 LB Smoked Salmon
3 Scallions (from your Salad Abounds garden) chop the white and green pieces

For substitutes use Lamb Sausage, Feta Cheese or Asparagus (chopped) and Goat Cheese
One of my favorite subs is Crab Meat with Gruyere Cheese

Get creative. Look about your pantry, try something new.

A simple version is Ground protein (beef, chicken or turkey) Cottage cheese.

Get creative and Enjoy!!!

Container Recipe – Salad Abounds

Picked up a great book a year or two ago – I pick up so many, sometimes I forget. I read through them, make notes and save those notes. I also have a habit of passing along books to friends and neighbors to encourage them to get started with a garden and eating healthier, so I lose track of what came from where.

Anyhow, in my notes I found an “easy to grow in the window box or container” recipe for great salads. So to all of you who live in lofts or apartments or with limited space- maybe a patio or deck, this is a great container recipe with which to start that will give you the pleasure and satisfaction of actually growing something you will enjoy to eat!

For the most dedicated and adventurous, start seeds early and transplant. OR, visit your local nursery, buy the starter sizes, plant those and reap rewards faster. And get to eat a gourmet salad at home once in a while. Lettuce is an easy grow crop – very forgiving until the heat of summer comes upon you.

This Salad Abounds container recipe as written calls for Arugula, Chervil, Lettuce, Mizuna, Radicchio, Scallions and Winter Purslane.

Now, think about placement in the container. Scallions and Chervil will be the tallest so they are good for the center or rear of a window box container. If you don’t like Chervil – bit of Anise taste – plant more Scallions or Chives. Every recipe has Scallions – soups, frittatas, salads, etc.. Oh, which reminds me of a great smoked salmon and goat cheese frittata recipe. Will pass that on to you as well.

Lettuce can fill in the gaps around the edges of your container. Select a variety or just your favorite. I prefer Boston or Butterleaf for use in salads and wraps – great for wraps as they are so pliable, yet strong. Romaine and other “stiff-leaf” lettuces are perfect if you’re adding some grilled salmon or steak or chicken to the salad – they hold up better. Think about colors of the lettuce as well – the red leaf will have a tinge of red at the top of the leaf. Some are a lighter green, others very dark.

I’m going to adapt this to include Scallions, Chives, Butterleaf and Red Leaf – my daughter won’t eat Radicchio – and I’m not going to venture into Mizuna just yet with her. These four are what I know we will eat and can be used in many recipes. Arugula is easy, but I’ll take it in small doses. I’ll throw one in for good measure. Will let you know how it goes. Really, I’d like to plant a pot full of Butterleaf – may still.

Hope these container plants offer you a good start at a salad harvest. Rewards come quickly with these. But know that Spring and Fall are best for lettuce.

Spring is Coming, Much to Do!

Spring fever is setting upon me.  The wild daffodils I inherited in random places along the fence are starting to push their way up through the ground!  Lists of things I must do as well as those I want to do is forming in my head.  Always first is that deep clean of the house.  Second, prepare the yard.  Third, decorating desires and fourth, planning the garden.

Here’s a list to get you started for the living areas and bedrooms.  I’ll share more in upcoming posts for the kitchen, bathrooms, basement and closets.

Deep Cleaning.  I start at the top and work my way down. This also gives you a great opportunity to make a list of the little things that may need to be repaired as you go.  Knicks in the woodwork that may need some touch up paint.  Knicks on the corner of walls which may need small repairs and paint, or in my house, crayon or marker remnants that may need a bit of scrubbing.  And so on.

  1. Check all corners where the walls meet the ceilings for cobwebs
  2. Clean crown mouldings with  a cotton rag dampened in a mild cleaning solution*
  3. Ceiling fan blades always need dusting
  4. While you’re up there, check the batteries in your smoke detectors and replace any that are not functioning.
  5. Take down any shades, blinds and curtains and give those a good wipe down or wash – put blinds in the shower and rinse with warm water to remove any loose dirt
  6. Open window sashes and clean any dirt or cobwebs you may find hiding there
  7. Clean window glass
  8. Clean woodwork around windows and doors, just like the crown mouldings
  9. Wipe down walls with a damp cotton rag.  This shouldn’t hurt your paint if you just use a bit of warm water, but if you have marks, a mild cleaning solution will help.
  10. Pull furniture from walls and dust the backs of buffets, dressers and other pieces of furniture
  11. While the furniture is pulled away, clean your baseboards with a damp cotton rag and a mild cleaning solution
  12. Sweep, vacuum and mop floors thoroughly

OR, you can always bring in some help.  I’ve received several offers in my inbox lately for cleaning services and their spring specials.  If you do go this route, be sure they are reputable, are thorough and use non-toxic cleaning products.

*mild cleaning solution.  My favorites are the old vinegar with a bit of water, Ecover All Purpose or Seventh Generation All Purpose cleaners.

My Love Is Your Love

Another post to Whitney.  You can hear her daughter as a little girl on this song.  I appreciate that b/c my baby girl likes to sing along with me and my favorite songs……