Sunday, January 31, 2010

New Kitchen Floor

After years of living with our ugly, outdated, beat up linoleum we finally got it changed to porcelain tile. I struggled with my decision of what color to choose. I am always keeping in mind the next buyer of this house and thinking in terms of what might appeal to a broad range of people. I thought our black countertops called for a darker tile. I finally found a beautiful darker porcelain tile at Lowe's that I felt worked well. The thumbs up from a friend with a good eye for color gave me the courage to take the plunge. I'm so glad I did. I used my 10% off Lowe's coupon from the Post Office change of address envelopes and saved a bundle on the cost of the materials!

After living without a kitchen for several days I am even more appreciative of our modern day appliances! I have a great admiration for those people that do larger remodels and live without these modern conveniences for months. How do they do it?

Here are some before and after pictures.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Best Kitchen Rug Serves Many Functions

Keeping my kitchen floors clean is a constant battle. It seems that we live in this room more than any other and the floors show it. Years ago I purchased some very cushy all cotton rugs, the kind you normally see in a bathroom. They don't have the rubber bottom that is notorious for staining linoleum. It was a wonderful purchase.

I use them to mop up little spills. Just grab the rug with your foot and clean up the spill. Prevents a spill from becoming a mud puddle and keeps your floor cleaner. They lasted a long time. They were easy to clean. Just throw in the washing machine. In a pinch, you can just flip them over to quickly hide a stain.
They were comfortable for my feet. I spend a lot of time standing in the kitchen and my back and feet can get fatigued easily. Standing on these rugs really helps.
They are starting to come in a variety of colors. Seeing as how I just changed out our kitchen floor, I'll be shopping for a new one soon myself.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Keeping your eyes open can save you money

Pets are expensive. Anyone with a pet will agree. I'm always looking ways to cut my bill for my pets without sacrificing quality.

Both of my pets have special needs. My dog has skin allergies, thyroid problems, recurring ear problems and is overweight. We get a special food for her that is free of corn, wheat and beef to alleviate some of her skin allergies. It isn't cheap. My poor old Persian cat is over fifteen years old. I don't think chewing hard food is easy for her now. I also use a dry food that I wet down and alternate between that and canned soft food. Her stomach is very sensitive so I have to get a high quality food. I noticed a big change in her "perkiness" when I switched to a higher quality food. Look how cute she is above playing like a kitten with the ball.

We have a Petco near our home. I signed up for their Petco Pals program. After purchasing 10 of the same brand and size of cat or dog food, I get a free bag. I get the smallest bag I can and have gotten several bags free so far. I also get coupons in the mail from Petco. Recently I got a $5.00 coupon only to realize that it expired before I could use it. I almost threw it away but I took it in and talked with the manager. He said that Petco coupons that are expired will actually be honored for several days after the expiration date. Today I also noted that a sale sign was up for the canned cat food after the actual date of the sale. I asked the manager if he would honor the sale price since the sign was still up. He said he would absolutely honor it. Also, Petco will sometimes give you a coupon for $2.00 for answering a few survey questions. Check the bottom of your receipt for this money saver! Today alone I saved $21.09 in free items and with a 10% off coupon and I got a $2.00 survey coupon for next time. I spent $44.47.

It really pays to talk with a manager. I saved $11.54 I wouldn't have normally if I hadn't spoken with a manager. The worst they can say is "no" and I have rarely gotten that answer.

Keep your eyes open and check your receipt. Just today I got charged the old price and not the new lower reduced price advertised on a trash can. I caught it when I was checking out and the clerk corrected the price on the spot.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Sunshine in a jar - Lemon Curd

Probably one of my favorite things on earth (and maybe in heaven if they stock it) is Lemon Curd. I am crazy for it. Lemon Curd is sort of like lemon flavored sugar clouds.

I was sorely disappointed when I purchased an expensive jar of imported scottish Lemon Curd for a tea party. I was running low on time and grabbed a jar at the store to save me from having to make it. Big mistake. It was bland and quite horrible.

I have a wonderful recipe for old-fashioned lemon bars. You know the kind with a delicious shortbread, a tart lemon spread and powdered sugar on top. Just typing that makes my mouth water. Well, you can just make the Lemon Curd from this recipe, stick it in a jar and enjoy. It isn't difficult and makes a fantastic gift. It is like sunshine on a cold winter day!

Lemon Curd

8 egg yolks
1 1/2 c. sugar
6 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter cut into Tablespoon size
1 1/2 Tbl. grated lemon peel

In a heavy saucepan, whisk together the yolks, sugar, lemon juce, and butter. Cook the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it has thickened. (I usually let it come to a slow boil, turn down my heat a bit and set my timer for 5 minutes, stir constantly) Strain the curd into a bowl and stir in the grated lemon peel. Pour into a jar. Keep in the fridge. Serve with Scones and you will find yourself quite popular amongst your circle of friends.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Christmas Eve Traditions

During the hustle and bustle that is Christmas at our house, Christmas Eve dinner is a nice respite. I try to make it simple and delicious to counterbalance the overindulgence of sweets and rich foods served throughout the holiday season. It doesn't get simpler than chicken and sausage gumbo. It is also easy to make and pretty much cooks itself. I love to serve it with homemade crusty french bread and potato salad. Yes, potato salad. A nice creamy "eggy" mustard potato salad is the best compliment to a gumbo. Most real Cajun people put a nice dollop right on the side of their bowl and take a bit with each spoonful of gumbo. There is nothing better. Now while I cannot give you my gumbo recipe (it is top secret), I will give you the recipe for my simple potato salad.

Cajun Potato Salad
6 medium sized brown potatoes peeled and cubed
3 eggs
Mustard (regular not brown)
Mayo (real not Miracle Whip)
2 Sweet gerkins pickles finely chopped (optional, if you family isn't a fan of pickles, just use the juice from the jar)
1 Tbl. of Tony Chachere's Seasoning
1 tsp. Onion Powder
1 tsp. Garlic Powder

Boil the cubed potatoes and eggs together for 24 minutes or until a fork goes through the potato easily. Cool and peel the eggs. Take out the yokes and mash them with the back of a fork. Then mix it with 5 large spoonfuls of mayo and 1 large spoonful of mustard. Add the onion powder, garlic powder and Tony Chachere's seasonings. Add 1 Tbl. of juice from the Gerkin pickle jar. Add the pickles (optional). Chop the egg whites and add them to the yolk mixture. Add the potatoes to this mixture and mash them with a potato masher until it is creamy. Add more Mayo if it is not creamy enough. Stir with a large spoon to ensure all the ingredients get mixed well. Enjoy!


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