Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Squash Those Soup Cravings

Got a craving for soup? Cold weather got you wanting something warm and nourishing? Make what I made for lunch the other day. It was really easy. I used a microwave-safe casserole dish with a cover. I combined one 15 oz. can organic butternut squash, one 12 oz. can evaporated milk, garlic powder and salt to taste, a dash of pepper, and a dash of ginger. I microwaved the whole thing with the cover on for seven minutes, stirred, and enjoyed! It was delicious, quick and healthy too! If you don't have ginger, you could substitute nutmeg or sage. Both taste great with squash.

I hope this simple soup recipe hits the spot. Anyone else have a speedy, effortless soup recipe to share?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beautiful Bloggers, Take A Bow!

I was recently honored with the Beautiful Blogger Award by my friend Preeti Bhatt (aka Zengirl) over at Heart and Mind I was in good company, with other fine bloggers Vaishali Honawar from Holy Cow, Earth Vegan Blog, Evelyn Parham from Becoming Healthier, Farnoosh Brock from Prolific Living, and Sybil from AlternaView.


If you are not familiar with Preeti's blog, Heart and Mind, you should really drop by and read some of her recent posts, including Feeling Overwhelmed? 8 Ways To Find Relief From It Preeti is a fine writer, who focuses on finding balance in your life between what the heart desires and the mind wants. You can subscribe to her blog on the homepage, so you don't miss any of her valuable posts!

One thing I am supposed to do as a part of receiving this award is to share seven things about me that my readers don't already know. Here goes:

1. I am a tea fanatic. I absolutely love trying new types of tea, and I rarely try one I don't like, but my all-time favorite is Earl Grey.

2. I am an avid reader. When I get busy, I really miss finding time to curl up on the couch with a good book and my cat.

3. I haven't driven a car in over 20 years. This is really odd for a resident of Southern California. I lived in cities where there was great public transportation for so many years I got out of the habit.

4. I love to garden. Where I live right now, I only have space for containers, but still grow about ten types of vegetables in addition to other types of plants.

5. I am a crafter. I enjoy rubber stamping, jewelry making and many other crafts.

6. I am a violinist. It has been many years since I have played, but I intend to get back in practice one day.

7. I have travelled quite a bit, all over Europe and the Middle East, and have lived abroad as well as in five different states in the US.

The most fun part about winning the Beautiful Blogger award is getting to select up to five other deserving bloggers to bestow the award on. This was a real challenge, as I follow so many fine, worthwhile blogs, written by smart, imaginative writers with lots of great information to pass on. After much thought and consideration, I selected the following five bloggers:

Terria Fleming at Daily Good. Terria writes about people and organizations who are doing good in the world through kindness, caring, and green living. If you are looking for something to counteract all the negativity in the news every day, this blog is it! You can subscribe to Terria's blog, or follow her using Google Friend Connect. Read some of Terria's latest posts here, including Best of Remodeling With Great and Unique Homes, about some truly unusual green homes, and The Love Kitchen, about 82 year old twins who are doing their part to end hunger by providing over 2,000 meals a week to Knoxville's hungry.

Fern at Life On The Balcony. Fern provides some great tips for the gardener who is either an apartment dweller, or severely space-challenged. If you enjoy Fern's blog, please subscribe. You can also follow her on Twitter. Check out her recent posts, including When You Can't Garden Outdoors Anymore, Grow Vertically Indoors, and Master Gardeners Dig Succulents.

Babe at Frugal Babe. Babe's focus is on living a rich life, without spending a lot of money. Her and her husband paid down a large amount of debt in a very short amount of time, while running a business and keeping a household afloat, so she knows what she's talking about! She would love to have you subscribe or follow her Tweets. You'll find her recent posts, including Ecofrugal Baby - Win Your Copy Here (there's still time to win) and A Better Gift Giving Guide (just in time for Christmas shopping!) here:

Jenn Fowler at Frugal Upstate. Jenn specializes in tips, tricks and techniques for living a good life on a budget. Make sure you visit her Crafts/DIY section for some unique and creative ideas. Her latest posts include Frugal Skills: Coloring Your Hair At Home and Poll: Planning For Holiday Spending. If you're looking for recipes and menu plans, Jenn has you covered here too. You can subscribe to her blog by email or RSS feed, as well as following her on Twitter.

MJ at Making Do With The Not So New. MJ has lots of great reuse projects on her site, and she even has them organized by material used, so if you are looking for something to do with say, chopsticks, you can go directly to the relevant projects. She welcomes tips from her readers, so if you have any to share please get in touch with her. According to the cool map on her blog, MJ has readers from all over the world, and I can see why! You can follow MJ using Google Friend Connect. Some of her recent posts include Patching Holy Holey Jeans and the clever Bottle Top Bag "Clip".

I hope you enjoy browsing through the blogs of the award winners I have chosen. Maybe some of you will find a new favorite!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dual-Use Dynamos

I like objects that can serve more than one purpose. They save money, and they save space. What are some dual-use items in your house? Here are a few of mine.

My microwave is used to heat up food, and also sometimes to store foods I want to protect from bugs, and my cat. One example would be freshly baked cookies. If left on the counter, they might be subjected to the lick test by our resident feline taste taster. When placed on a plate in the microwave they are sealed away safely from the eyes of the cat and from those of Mr. Bargain.

Another kitchen item I use for two different things is my plastic microwave plate cover. Not only is it great for preventing splatters when reheating food, it also makes a good colander for rinsing a few veggies under the tap.

Corks are another multiple use item. When they are done sealing my wine bottle, I reuse them for sealing bottles of cooking oil or vinegar. I also prop my washing machine open with a cork after use to allow it to dry thoroughly, preventing mildew.

Chopsticks are a similarly versatile item. When they are not being used to shovel Chow Mein into my mouth, I use them for various craft purposes. They are good for gently popping the bubbles around the edges of the mold when making soap. They are also good for tying wicks around to hold them upright in just-poured candles until they become solid. Another use is poking decorative doodads through the mouth of small bottles or glass ornaments.

On many occasions I have used a juice glass turned upside down as a cookie or biscuit cutter. Simply roll out the dough, flour lightly, press the glass down into the dough, then twist gently to loosen.

Rubber bands aren't just for holding groups of objects together. I use them all the time for holding plastic baggies in the dishwasher so they don't fall down onto the heating element while being washed. Place the baggie around six or so prongs, and pull the rubber band down over it to hold it on. The baggie will fill up with water. Once the machine is finished washing, simply empty it out before pulling the rack all the way out.

These are just a few of the dual-use items in my house. Please share some of yours. I 'm looking forward to learning some new uses for the objects I already have at home!