Category Archives: Living

Free Betty Crocker Cookies, Bars & Cakes Magazine!

Betty Crocker Cookies Bars and Cakes So within the past few months, I have become a complete and utter Betty Crocker fanatic. You may have noticed this if you’ve been checking out our Recipes section, as I have shared the Betty Crocker email newsletter love with all of you a few times! Betty Crocker has some of the most innovative, out of the box, and just plain fun (not to mention easy!) recipes ever! Which is why I was so ecstatic when I received an email a few days ago with a link to the new Betty Crocker Cookies, Bars and Cakes Nxtbook!

What’s a Nxtbook? Super awesome technological magic that allows magazines to be seen as they were intended to be seen in print, just on your computer screen! Cool, right?

Betty Crocker’s entire Cookies, Bars and Cakes issue is out in Nxtbook. It is full of the most requested recipes (over 70 in all,) and within just a few minutes of browsing this issue of Betty Crocker, your mouth will be watering for these desserts! I already have over 10 picked out that I need to pick up the ingredients for so I can (attempt to) bake.

Check out Betty Crocker’s Cookies, Bars and Cakes issue!

Sweeten Up Your Valentine’s Day with Chocolate Body Paint

chocolate body paint No matter what your plans are for this upcoming Valentine’s Day you can always make it a little sweeter and your sweetheart will be glad you did. This delicious chocolate body paint will have your honey clawing the bedsheets as you lick it off.

You will need:

  • 17.05oz high quality dark chocolate (semi-sweet or bittersweet) chopped
  • 13.5oz cream
  • 1/2 bunch mint, finely chopped
  • 1 chili pepper, finely chopped
  • double shot espresso

1. Divide cream into 3 indivdual pans.

2. Add mint into 1 pan, chili into the second pan and espresso into the third pan.

3. Slowly warm each pan to a near simmer and remove from heat allowing flavor to infuse for 15 minutes.

4. Place dark chocolate in a small bowl and set over a small saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir this constantly until chocolate melts.

5. Remove pan from heat.

6. Divide chocolate into 3 small pots.

7. Return pans of cream to heat and once hot, strain each pan of cream into 1 chocolate pot, creating 3 separate flavored chocolate body paints.

Get a soft paintbrush and let your imagination take over!

Donate or Recycle Your Old Mattress

What did you do with your last mattress after you bought a new one? Haul it out to the trash and let the garbage truck take it away to a landfill? If you’re like most people, then you did and when most people are throwing away their mattresses, landfills are filling up with everyone’s dirty mattresses. About 20 million mattresses are thrown away every year just in the United States and for every 10,000 people that either donate or recycle their mattresses, it would save eight feed of landfill space–An entire American football field.

In some places, throwing out your mattress is illegal requiring people to donate their mattresses where recyclers can separate the fiber, foam, steel, and wood for remanufacturing and can make new mattresses.

There are a few options for you if you’re looking to get rid of a mattress. You can either donate it to either a crisis center, halfway house, Craig’s List or Freecycle. Make sure you clean your mattress before donating it! For instructions on how to properly clean a mattress, check out Instructables.

To recycle your old mattress, go to Earth 911, type in “mattress” in the start recycling “what do you have?” field and your zip code in the “where are you?” field for a recycling drop off sight near you.

Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks? The Truth is Out!

Dunkin Donuts Starbucks Which do you prefer, Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks coffee? Well, if you’re like 54.2% of frequent (or obsessive) coffee drinkers, you would be shouting from the rooftops about just how much you love Dunkin’ Donuts. I mean, come on, there is absolutely nothing bad to say about Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (their flat bread sandwiches, however, well yes, there are a lot of negative things you can say about those) it’s insanely affordable and downright delicious and according to that 54.2% of frequent coffee drinkers, it’s better than Starbucks, not to mention more than half the price of what a Starbucks coffee costs.

An independent taste test was conducted by A&G Research Inc., under the counsel of claims test advisor Al Ossip, of coffee drinkers across ten major US markets last May and June. The US markets included Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, and Starbucks’ own home of Seattle. The taste test included 476 adults, all of which had consumed regular, brewed coffee within the past week.

A&G Research served each of the participants fresh packaged coffee in the most popular flavor purchased in each brand’s stores, Dunkin Donuts Original Blend and Starbucks House Blend. The coffee was brewed using the exact equipment recommended by each brand and was served black.

The independent taste test results clearly showed where each coffee brand stood when it came to consumers because among all participants, 54.2% preferred Dunkin’ Donuts coffee compared to just 39.3% who said they preferred Starbucks and 6.3% expressed no preference.

Dunkin Donuts was founded in 1950 and with a little under 60 years in the coffee-making business, this taste test has proven that no other coffee chain, sofas, music and ambiance included, can be matched by Dunkin’ Donuts, which is proven with the fact that nearly 1.5 billion cups of coffee are sold each and every single year by Dunkin Donuts.

Above all, this taste test has proven that America really does run on Dunkin.

Dunkin Beat Starbucks

Visit Dunkin’ Beat Starbucks to see how Dunkin’ Donuts unmistakably delicious coffee is made and also for hot deals going on at Dunkin’ stores near you!

Top 10 Produce You Should Buy Organic

USDA organic Ideally, everyone would be eating the freshest and safest foods possible–Everyone would be eating 100% organically, however, budgets are tight and a great deal of people simply cannot afford to purchase a great deal of organic foods. That’s completely understandable, I can’t afford to eat all organically, but it is important to make sure you’re purchasing some organic foods, mainly produce.

Produce, as many may know, contains a great deal of pesticides if not grown organically and more than 80% of the most common pesticides are potentially carcinogenic, meaning that they contain an agent directly involved in the promotion of cancer or in the increase of its propagation. Scary, right? I know! Luckily, the Environmental Working Group has put together a downloadable wallet guide containing the worst and best produce, in terms of pesticide levels.

For your immediate attention, here is a list of the top 10 produce you should most definitely be buying organic, every time.

1. Peaches – pesticide load: 100
2. Apples – pesticide load: 96
3. Bell Peppers – pesticide load: 86
4. Celery – pesticide load: 85
5. Nectarines – pesticide load: 84
6. Strawberries – pesticide load: 83
7. Cherries – pesticide load: 75
8. Lettuce – pesticide load: 69
9. Grapes (imported) – pesticide load: 68
10. Pears – pesticide load: 65

But can’t you just wash or peel your produce to get rid of pesticides?

While you may think that washing or peeling your produce can effectively remove pesticides from your food, the truth is that while these tactics may reduce levels of some pesticides, it does not eliminate them. The best option is to eat a varied diet, wash all produce, and choose organic when possible to reduce exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.

Get in the Mood for Fall with Pumpkin Butter

pumpkin butter The chilly nights and mornings are here and with that, we’re noticing the climate change as it becomes Fall here. Fall is my favorite season; the leaves change and everything is just beautiful and I tend to get in the mood for fall a lot sooner than I should. I’m already thinking of pumpkins, pumpkin patches, and children trick or treating. It’s just a beautiful time and the weather is perfect. So while I’ve been ready for fall since August, it is finally time to really get in that spirit and it’s time to mix things up a little bit and get your taste buds in the mood too!

Here is a fabulous recipe for pumpkin butter; perhaps a recipe to save for after Halloween and you have all of those extra pumpkins laying around. Don’t throw them away, use them in your cooking!

You will need:

  • 2 pounds peeled, seeded, and diced sugar pie pumpkin (substitute canned if needed)
  • 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt

1. In a stainless steel pot, combine pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, and salt; bring to a simmer. (If using fresh pumpkin, stir until it’s tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.)

2. Continue simmering until the mixture starts to thicken, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender; blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot and heat for 10 minutes on low until it reaches desired thickness. Remove, cool, and serve.

And that’s it! You can do a few things with this butter and probably a lot more if you start to think out of the box a little. Of course it can be used on top of breads and toast and also on top of bagels, muffins or even in muffins or in between layers of a vanilla cake; just cut the pastry in half, layer pumpkin butter on the bottom and put the top back on! Have fun!

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.

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.