Category Archives: Living

Irresistible Shot Glass Sundaes

shot glass sundaes In the land of calorie counting, watching your figure and the latest diet trends, indulging your sweet tooth can prove to be an impossible challenge. Luckily, there is a way for you to let yourself indulge a little bit and not have to worry about a thing.

You will need:

  • 1 pint vanilla, peach, and/or mango ice cream
  • 24 1-oz. disposable plastic shot glasses

1. Line 15x10x1-inch baking pan with waxed paper. With miniature ice cream scoop, scoop ice cream and place in prepared pan (you should have 24 small scoops). Cover loosely; freeze at least 2 hours. Prepare desired combinations below. Serve at once. Makes 8 servings (3 treats per serving)

  • Peach: Peel, pit and coarsely chop 2 small peaches; toss with 1 tablespoon sugar. Divide mixture among 8 plastic shot glasses. Top with scoops of vanilla ice cream and toasted coconut chips*.
  • Popcorn: Divide 1/2 cup popped popcorn among 8 plastic shot glasses. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons purchased caramel ice cream topping. Top with peach or mango ice cream and additional popcorn.
  • Pear Ginger: Divide 3/4 cup coarsely crushed sugar cookies among 8 plastic shot glasses. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger. Top with vanilla ice cream and slivers of fresh pear.

You can make these mini treats with any combination you desire, whether it be a brownie, chocolate ice cream and chocolate fudge or vanilla ice cream, sugar cookies and caramel sauce. Let your imagination run wild.

These treats can be made for entertaining guests at a summer luncheon, a chance to make delicious treats that the kids can help with and enjoy, or any other event you have in mind. Enjoy!

Go Green in Your Garden

I have noticed that there are quite a few more “go green” commercials airing on television. Not only that, but many companies have seen to pick up the same tactics in all consumer media–Television, online, magazines; you name it, and it’s going green.

Companies want you to buy organically–Food, bath and body products, laundry detergents and so on, but when I got down to thinking, one place where you should most definitely be letting your eco-friendliness shine is when you’re using your green thumb.

Don’t let your plants and flowers soak up all the green in your garden. Many gardeners don’t realize simply how ironic it is that you’re growing green but you’re not necessarily going green when it comes to most small gardens and one of the most controversial elements when it comes to your garden are the products you are using to help keep your garden beautiful. One of the biggest things that can keep your garden from looking it’s best are weeds and instead of spending an entire day pulling weeds out by hand when you can be tending to the other aspects of your garden, you must find yourself an excellent weed killer.

Weed killers aren’t environmentally friendly; in fact, weed killers use harsh chemicals to kill weeds, but while you may think that they are getting the job done in that department, they are also harming your other plants–And that goes triple if you have a vegetable garden! Luckily, there is now an organic herbicide that is safe to use for you, your pets and children and the environment.

Nature's Avenger Nature’s Avenger is an all-natural organic herbicide that is completely natural and designed to meet the needs and demands of gardeners, homeowners and Mother Nature.

It has been approved for use in organic production, is fast-acting with visible results in just two hours or even less and it is also highly biodegradable. It is made with natural citrus oil, which means you aren’t dealing with harsh chemicals with harsh chemical smells. With Nature’s Avenger, your sense of smell, braincells and health of pets and children are fully taken care of.

Nature’s Avenger is available is a 24oz pre-mixed, pre-measured, easy to use spray bottle and also in 32oz and 1 gallon concentrates and can be purchased through their website or on Amazon.

Cozy Blankets Wrapped in Inspiration

I work from home and one of the things that I never really paid much attention to before, such as motivational and inspirational quotes, have become a very big part of my life. I find a quote I like and I will make a desktop background with the quote on it or write it down on a piece of paper and keep it on my desk. It is very little things such as this that give me my little jolt for the day–Oh yeah, and coffee. They are what take me from “Ugh, I don’t want to do anything today.” to “I need to work, I need to make money to keep a roof over my head and food on the table. This is what is going to turn my life around. This is what I do and I am damn good at it!”

One of the best finds I have come across lately, as well as something that has completely transformed my work ethic are the Affirmagy wraps. The blankets come from an all-woman business, which of course makes them top notch in my book, being a woman entrepreneur as well as a soon-to-be woman business owner and they also have a poster of Rosie the Riveter in the office, which just makes my love for this company grow and grow. They have been featured on Family.com, Entrepreneur.com, as well as in publications of Pink magazine, Fit Yoga and The Boston Globe.

The affirmawraps are incredibly soft blankets that come in a variety of colors that have inspirational quotes covering them. They have helped my work ethic due to me being snuggled up in my computer chair in mine since I received it.

Affirmawraps come with several different quotes on them, including abundance, courage, gratitude, love, motherhood, serenity, strength and wholeness. They also have a limited edition series which come with quotes for compassion, peace, inspiration and joy.

Being a freelance writer, website designer and web administrator, I obviously needed the inspiration wrap, needing all the inspiration I can get on a daily basis. It reads:

I live an inspired life. As I follow my dreams, I inspire others to do the same. Inspiration radiates around me. I love finding inspiration in the little things. The compassion of others inspires me. I attract extraordinary people. I am inspired every day. Each day I awaken my intuition. I follow my inspired heart.

inspiration Affirmawrap

Affirmagy wraps are absolutely amazing, in my opinion. They are ultra soft, cozy as well as the pick me up that so many people could use in their lives; they also make incredible gifts for anyone in your family, circle of friends, coworkers and they even come for babies and pets, which I think are great; I just wish I got one for my cat–Yes, she is incredibly spoiled.

Head on over to their website and fall in love with Affirmagy wraps, there is one there for absolutely everyone; and also be sure to check out Affirmawords, the Affirmagy blog by Kristen, maker of the Affirmawraps.

Planning Your Own Vegetable Garden

fresh vegetables Within the next five years, my partner and I are planning on buying our first home. While talking about the home of our dreams and about what a luxury it will be to not have to ask a landlord if we can paint the walls, hang up pictures and change the carpet in our rooms, he mentioned that he would love to have a garden.

Now first of all, my partner is very much unlike most guys you will meet–He loves to decorate, he has an eye for what colors and fabrics look best on me and he has a knack for cleaning the house a whole lot better than I could! I am a very lucky woman to have somehow attracted my very own straight gay man.

While thinking about this garden that he would love to have, we talked about not only having fresh flowers we wouldn’t have to pay an arm and a leg for, but also our very own produce; which of course, with the rising cost of gas to get to the store and the twenty percent increase in food prices that have hit America hard, having our very own vegetables would be a dream!

Being the dedicated blogger that I am, I thought I would share some information I picked up on how to make the thought of your very own vegetable garden a reality.

Like any major endeavor you plan to take on, a vegetable garden takes planning. You can’t just go out to your yard, pick a corner and start planting, you need to take into consideration how much sunlight your crops need, how many different varieties of vegetables you will be growing and where everything is going to go.

Vegetables have very particular needs unlike any other plants. Your vegetables required deep, fertile soil, a level ground and six hours of full sun every day at the very least. You also need to take into consideration that raised beds are better for growing vegetables because they have good draining, which rids your vegetables of disease and suffocation of the root systems. Raised beds also warms the soil a lot quicker than a regular bed and of course, since vegetables need six hours of full sunlight daily, they could use all the warmth they can get!

It is much easier to sketch your plan out on paper before you begin to plant. Decide what vegetables will go where as well as the size of the beds you will need. The best type of paper for this endeavor would be graph paper so you can plan to scale and also make sure you know how big your crops will grow so you can make sure that they are spaced out properly and not overlapping onto each other.

To make the raised beds that I mentioned earlier, mark off the bed layout with string and bamboo stakes. Make sure that your beds are not wider than 36 to 40 inches and using a shovel, carve out a series of lowered paths around the staked-off areas. Then, mound the soil onto the beds and use a rake to level the soil.

If you currently have your own vegetable garden, tell me about it in the comments, I could surely use all the help I can get and if you’re feeling really adventurous, take some pictures and send them to me using the contact form.

Planning Your Big Day: Wedding Registries

wedding registry kitchen items There are a lot of things to consider when planning your wedding and let’s face it, who can ignore the fact that there are presents involved?

Women have a tendency to over think pretty much everything regarding their wedding day; the term “bridezilla” didn’t come out of the sky, you know, and setting up your wedding registry is no different. There are some simple things you can do, however, to make the process of setting up your wedding registry.

First of all, start with the room you get the most excited about when you think about getting shiny, new things for it. If it’s your bedroom, go to the bedroom and take a look around. Take note of what you already have (and like) and think about what you’ve been wanting to add to the room that you haven’t already. If you have some items, like myself, that maybe your parents or your soon-to-be spouse’s parent’s handed down to you, would you like to update them? If so, in what colors or styles? Make a list of items you need as well as what you would like–It’s okay to be a little frivolous; in fact, it’s expected.

After you’ve finished with the room that you get the most excited about, move through the house in the order of what rooms give you that warm and fuzzy feeling and rooms that you would love some new gadgets for. However, it is also expected that you will forget some items that you’ll be kicking yourself later for not adding to your registry, so to help out with setting up your wedding registry, I Do Sugar, part of the Sugar blog network, has made a very convenient wedding registry [PDF] containing items that one can most often easily forget about to make sure that doesn’t happen to you!

You can download the file here; I can’t even imagine the number of sanities this file is going to save when it comes to wedding registry planning!

Natural Aromatherapy for Your Bathroom

aromatherapy As a person who has easily spent way too much money on aromatherapy home and bathroom products including skin care, bath and shower products, candles and incense, I recently found a terrific natural approach to aromatherapy guaranteed to lift your spirits and your immune system.

Head over to your local flower shop or crafts store and pick up a small bundle of eucalyptus, mint, or lavender and some natural garden twine. Hang the bundles off of your shower curtain rod using the twine, close to the shower head but out of the way enough so it won’t get too wet when you turn the shower on.

If you have a cold or would like to boost your immune system, eucalyptus is a natural decongestant. The steam from the shower will release the scent throughout your bathroom and it will also clear up your cold and prevent it from returning and others from attacking.

Mint is also used as a throat soother, if you’ve looked through your local store’s cold and flu section, you may have noticed some products that aid in the soothing of the throat or medicines that get rid of sore throats and most often, those products contain mint. What not a lot of people know is that mint can also aid indigestion, helping stomach aches and also chest pains.

Lavender is my favorite plant for aromatherapy. Lavender as an essential oil has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and it is also used to naturally soothe headaches if applied to the temples; I used to get horrible stress headaches and ended up buying myself a natural body salve with lavender essential oils that worked wonderfully. Breathing lavender in has a calming effect and it is used to soothe stress, aches and pains and is best for you when exposed to it right before bed, as it produces a deeper sleep rid of stress that is most often carried with you into sleep making you wake even more tired than you were before you went to bed and still carrying emotional baggage and stress.

This little trick can even be used just to put a nice, natural fragrance in your bathroom that will last for a few weeks.

Book Review: Chix Can Fix by Norma Vally

Home improvement books really aren’t my type of books, since I’ve always lived in apartments and can’t really take it upon myself to paint and redecorate without the approval of a landlord, whom most often are scared to death when you say “Oh yes, I’m thinking about black carpeting and green walls, what do you think?” However, Norma Vally’s Chix Can Fix tempted me because the book is not only geared towards home improvement, but also to fixing household appliances without the hassle of having to call in a professional and be robbed blind. I was also curious as to how a woman would speak to other women about home repairs and improvements, especially considering that traditionally, this book would have been geared solely towards men, had the author been a man.

I do not watch television; in fact, for three years I didn’t even have basic cable channels so my television was only used when I was watching a movie, so I had no background on who Normy Vally was or what this so-called “Tool Belt Diva” thing was all about going into this book. I was especially interested in this book to see how Vally represents women who do their own home improvement and repair work and because I had never made my own home repairs, nor knew who Norma Vally was, I went into this book completely clueless and came out just as clueless as before, but more offended than anything else.

Norma Vally speaks down to her readers, a true triumph since this book can be found in several clearance bins in many different home improvement and supply shops. She goes into explicit detail and over-simplifies already clear points as if she were a man imitating how one should speak to clueless women. She attempts humor quite frequently, but instead of coming off as humorous, her wording falls nothing short of being condescending and petty.

The self-proclaimed Tool Belt Diva had the perfect opportunity to publish a positive and helpful book for women, already knowing that women would be more inclined to purchase her book, but instead makes the same mistake as most other books of any nature do when attempting to appeal to a female audience–Speaking abut fashion and making every other sentence “cutesy” will not build a solid fan base; instead, this will provoke readers to look at the author of the book in a negative light, knowing that she does not take herself seriously, never mind being able to take the plight of her readers seriously.

If you are still inclined to purchase this book, you will find step-by-step instructions on a variety of different home improvement and repairs, such as plumbing, electricity, walls, floors, doors and windows. You will also find an estimated budget for every project in the book if you are saving up or would like an estimate for a particular home repair or improvement.

Chix Can Fix did not impress me, nor did I see what I had expected; I expected a woman-friendly book that went above the stereotypical “man job” demeanor; what I got was the reinforcement that because you’re a woman, you have no right to do these types of home improvement jobs, but if you insist on doing them anyway, Norma Vally would like to think she can help–while insulting your intelligence the entire time.

[rating:.5/5]

Recipe: Natural Mango Banana Soup

mango banana soup Eating well is definitely a must and a big trend now among people is eating naturally. When you’re in the mood for something sweet, instead of breaking out the chocolate, it would be much better for you to indulge yourself with some fruit. Fruit is not only all natural and very good for you, but it has also been proven to making a person happier.

Here is a great recipe for all natural, Mango Banana soup.

You will need:

  • 1 large ripe mango, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • ½ cup plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup (optional)

Add all the ingredients to a blender or food processor, and puree. Test taste and add more sweetener if desired.

This is not only delicious, but during the winter months we tend to be attracted to the hot dishes and the filling stews and rolls. This will perk up your spirits as well as make you think it’s spring.

The Holy Grail of Coffee Machines: Senseo Single-Cup Coffee Maker Review

Senseo If there is one thing that I am absolutely crazy about, it’s coffee. This love of mine started at a very young age and has fueled two prior full-time jobs of mine in cafes as a barista and the greatest caffeine tolerance I’ve come to know. I love coffee in all of it’s precious forms, flavors, consistencies and blends and am always interested in new flavors and concoctions that can be made from the comfort of my own kitchen. When a friend of mine hooked me up with Senseo, I was ecstatic, to say the very least.

Senseo is a sub-company of Sara Lee and makes an excellent coffee pod system that literally transformed the way I have my coffee every day.

The Senseo system makes absolutely delicious (and delightfully strong) single serving amounts of coffee with their innovative system that is so easy to use that once I took it out of its box, I was using it within minutes. While brewing my first cup of coffee, I realized that the Senseo actually made foam each and every single time automatically, which makes the coffee that you are brewing at home stand out even more so than a regular cup of coffee you would purchase at any coffee shop.

The coffee that the Senseo produces is also quite different than your average cup of regular coffee. The Senseo cup seemed to go down a lot of smoother than normal coffee does, even my boyfriend, who usually can’t stand coffee and its gritty behavior going down, will drink it if it is made with this machine!

One of the best things about the Senseo that I was also surprised to find is that the entire thing is set up so that it is an absolute dream to clean. There are no small crevices that you simply can’t get your hands into to clean, the back of the system comes right off so you can fill it up with water and sits right back onto the machine with ease. Best of all, the system uses individual coffee pods that the water goes through so they have completely eliminated the horror of coffee grounds winding up in your mug and also the grounds that tend to go everywhere during the cleaning process. Within just a short amount of time using the Senseo, I gave my fully-functional, almost brand new typical coffee pot to a friend of mine because I hadn’t used it once since using this this machine.

There are a variety of different coffees and even teas that are made specifically for the Senseo coffee pod system, so each and every coffee and/or tea drinker out there will benefit from this machine. You can order the Senseo coffee pod system as well as coffee and tea pods at their official online store, Target, Walmart, or even Amazon.

Special Promotional Offer

There is a special promotional offer going on with the Senseo machine right now. At Share Senseo, they are giving people the chance to receive a free Senseo single serve coffee pod system just by filling out a questionnaire; the only sum of money you will be responsible for, for this machine that is regularly over $70, is the shipping and handling of just $15.

What are you waiting for? Share a Senseo today.

*This is a limited time offer and is open to US residents only. Promotion ends June 30, 2008 or while supplies last.

Changing Table to Drink Cart Baby Furniture Makeover

baby changing table For those of you who have old baby furniture stowed away in storage that you swore you would give away to charity, GoodWill, or to expecting parents but never got around to it, fear no more! There is now a way to not only keep furniture you spent good money on maybe years earlier, but actually reuse it and get a lot of use out of it now.

If you have an old baby changing table, Better Homes and Gardens has a wonderful idea to work it back into your everyday life without even hinting towards what it’s purpose used to be.

drink cart Take your ordinary baby changing table, get a little creative with it and apply your own personal taste. The table’s waist-high and size and shelves makes it the perfect object to make over into a drink cart. The exterior can be polished, painted, and decorated and it’s shelves give perfect space for bottles, glasses, and snacks. Attach some wheels to the bottom and you’re good to go for your next entertaining event or relaxing night at home.

If you’re not the type to have a drinking cart or don’t have a need for one, your changing table can also be remade into a decoration piece or microwave stand for your kitchen. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Have fun!

Photos via Better Homes and Gardens