Monday, January 31, 2011

Finding Great Recipes

I get a lot of compliments on my cooking. I always tell people that it's the recipes that are great. When you look through cookbooks you will see lots of recipes that look good, but how do you know whether it'll turn out well? I find that the ratings are the best way to know.
A while back I had a healthy catering company, most of my recipes came from the Internet. Cooking Light is one of my favorite resources. They use the database of For example when I was looking for awesome sandwiches for my business I searched for sandwiches at Cooking Light and then sort it by the rating.

When you see a recipe you want to try, go into the ratings and read what people have written. Many times people will suggest some variations that you may want to try.

Here are some of my favorites - all from Cooking Light.

Grilled Chicken and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches with Fontina Cheese
Proscuitto, Pear, and Bleu Cheese Sandwich

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Bedskirt Dilema: Solved

I recently got a steal on a bedroom set from Macy's. I picked up the California King Chantilly set from Martha Stewart for $139.00.

I really like it. Well, for the price, I really like it. The sheets are a little thin as is the Euro Shams (I can see my pillow print through it), but I plan on resolving that by lining it with white fabric.

So here is the dilema. We have a Cal King bed and I cannot lift it by myself, but I am eager to get the new bedding on. I decided I would make it a velcro skirt. I cut the skirt about 6 inches into the cheapo white fabric. Once I was finished I just started tucking it between my mattresses even though I didn't have the velcro yet.

Surprisingly, it has stayed this way for a month now with no slipping. I don't know why they don't make all bedskirts like this! Why oh why do we have to lift up the entire mattress to put the skirt on when the skirt usually gets messed up anyways when you put the mattress back on top! If not that, then when you step on it wrong it gets pulled out or a seam comes undone, or it just looks bad. This way I can fix whatever goes wrong with it. This was a great "light bulb" moment for me - although it's probably a no-brainer for you :)

I still have a lot of changes I'm doing to my bedroom now so I will reveal how it looks later!

Disneyworld - Pauper Style

We are taking a trip to Disneyworld this next week. We were fortunate enough to get some free airline tickets and hotel for the family through my husbands work. So, we just have to pay for food and Disneyworld. That still adds up. We are guessing about $1000 for the 2 days of Disney for 4 people, plus food.

I've been asking around about how to get Disneyworld tickets cheap. Unfortunately, there is no cheap way to get them. I know that you can take tours and get discounted tickets, but we don't have any extra time on this trip to do that.

A friend suggested looking on Craigslist to see if anyone is selling their unused days from their Park Hopper passes. I haven't had any luck yet, plus I'm a little nervous of getting ripped off.

Worst case, we'll just have to *ugh* pay full price. Not the end of the world since our airfare and hotel are covered.

I'll let you know what we end up doing.

For food, I am taking snacks with us. Ok, I know that may sound hokey to fly with snacks. However, we're staying at a disney resort so we won't be close to any grocery stores, and I don't want to buy all snacks and meals at disneyworld (it'd cost us a fortune!).
Today I bought Rice Krispie Treats, Beef Jerkey, Soy Nuts (like a trail mix), Fruit Snacks, and Granola bars. So, none of this food is chocolate and won't melt or make a mess on my kids. Secondly, none of this will get crushed if our bags are handled roughly by baggage claim. Thirdly, the beef jerky and soy nuts are acceptable for my diet :).
I'm also planning to bring some apples, but I realize they may bruise.

We will see what happens. If anyone (I know no one reads this yet :)) has any suggestions on how to make this trip better, let me know!!

Buying presents for kids birthdays

We have several kids in our life that we like to buy birthday presents for, but I try to limit how much I spend.

Kids are easy to shop for. Often I find myself stressing about them, but they always work out better than I think they will.

Tip 1: If you find a great deal on something stock up. For example, Costco had a hotwheels custom motors set that started out at $39.99. They kept dropping the price until it finally reached $9.97. (Hint: Anytime you see a price ending in .97 at costco it is a clearance deal). When it hit this I bought 3 of them for birthday parties of little boys.

I don't spend more than $10 on birthday presents even for nephews and nieces. Just a rule I go by.

Tip 2: The dollar store can have some fun things. One year my sister gave one of my boys 2 "laser guns" from the dollar store. They have so far lasted 2 years, and the lights still light up, and they are still played with every week. You don't have to spend a lot for it to be enjoyed.

Tip 3: If you are handy with sewing or drawing or any other art form you can make something for the child. I have made several dresses, tutus, etc for birthday presents. These can be more meaningful and can be very cost effective.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Steps to buying things online

This past summer we decided we needed a treadmill. My husband is a very tall guy and I am fairly short, so we had to consider both extremes in our purchase. We didn't want to spend $1000 on a nice treadmill, but we wanted quality too.

We started by doing our research and figuring out what brand and models we were interested in. Then, we decided how much money we wanted to spend. For us, we decided $300 was what we wanted to spend.

We searched craigslist for a couple weeks, and found several we liked. Some we called on, but others had already purchased. Others we weren't able to negotiate the price down enough, but then we found one that was a good brand, and had very good reviews. It had all the bells and whistles we wanted, and the price was right. I find that often if the pictures are poor people don't buy them as fast. So, if something has been online for a while and the price seems low you could explain that by bad pictures. Also, that's a good note for you to make sure you take good pictures (not with your phone) when you sell things online.

< t r e a d m i l l a d v i s o r . c o m >

We've had it for six months now and have had no problems.

Finding the right deal sometimes takes time. It's best not to be impulsive and not to be in a hurry. Do your research to make sure what you're buying is quality. If you are impatient you can still get a good deal, but you will probably have to sacrifice quality or price. But, you never know! You may get lucky and find the right steal at just the time you want it.

Warning: Always make sure you're safe when you go to pick things up from people. Take someone with you. When I don't take someone with me I always call my husband (or text or IM) and give him the address where I am going. I call him right before I go to the door, and I call him as soon as I'm back in the car. There are too many scary things that happen to people, and I don't want to be one of them!

A little privacy, please?

I love our home, but our front door always bugged me because there are two long skinny windows on either side of the door. Nice for light, but bad for privacy. We will eventually spend the money to get all the windows in the house tinted, but can't afford that yet. So, in the mean time I saw an awesome post on Centsational Girl about using frosted glass spray paint.

< c e n t s a t i o n a l g i r l . c o m >

Using this inspiration I thought, "why not use this to frost the glass by the door?".

Here is the window before and after.

With a handy bottle of frosted glass spray paint (I used Valspar and found it at Home Depot) our privacy problem was solved. The only comment I make about it is that when the sun shines in it kind of looks like a poltergeist shining into our window. LOL. Hey, at least we have privacy!

Gorgeous Urn Planters Makeover

I picked these up on craigslist for $45 for all three. I cleaned them up and sprayed them with Rustoleum's oil rubbed bronze metallic spray paint.

They turned out beautifully. There are some cracks in the lower lip but you can't tell from the top.

You can find lots of great deals on craigslist or other second hand means. Thrift stores and garage sales are wonderful resources. The only down side to garage sales is you have to wake up early to get the best deals :)