Author Archives: Maureen
Author Archives: Maureen
Yields 4 servings
The dill pickle juice adds a wonderful briny flavor to this recipe. If you find the finished flavor is too strong for your tastes, it can be tempered by adding additional chicken broth when making the pan sauce.
10 minPrep Time
55 minCook Time
1 hr, 5 Total Time
We all have busy lives and no matter what you do in your life you and your family have to eat. Having raised 4 kids, I know your days are filled and by the time dinner rolls around meal time is a challenge so I’ve put together a series of posts to help you get some meals prepared ahead of time. Today’s post contains some great tips that that will save everyone some time and help you eat healthier.
Meal prepping is an excellent way to eat healthier and lose weight. You’ll also gain other benefits such as not spending money for last minute unhealthy food choices, running back and forth from the store to find items.
Saving time is also a perk of meal prepping, and that’s something that anyone can appreciate. Preparing meals ahead of time means you’re taking a break from the daily hassle of wondering what to fix for dinner at 5:00, running out the door without breakfast and frequenting expensive restaurants or high calorie fast food for lunch.
Those vending machines for snacks can also be expensive and unhealthy. Here are some meal prep tips to help you shop, cook and divide your meals into easily manageable choices for the days or week ahead:
Choose one time per week to cook. If you can, shop and cook your meals on one particular day and time each week. This means that the oven will only be heated once, the mess of chopping and slicing meats and veggies happens only once and you’ll have time during the week for things you want and need to do. When all of my kids were at home I often referred to this book, Once A Month Cooking for some of my family’s favorite “go to” recipes that I could make ahead and freeze.
My crock pot was another of my favorite time-saving meal time tricks. Use a crock pot save’s time and effort. The Internet is bursting with slow cooker recipes that can save you time, effort and money. Or – create your own recipes by tossing in some meat, veggies and yummy spices (plus liquid) and do your own thing while it cooks.
Plan for snacks. We all love to snack between meals and that can be deadly to a diet and fitness routine. Rather than leaving your fate to the vending machines, invest in some healthy pre-planned snacks to keep all week for when hunger and cravings hit unexpectedly. Sometimes snack preparation can be as simple as just having a variety of washed fruit in the fridge. The kids always loved having apple and carrot slices I had cut up in baggies or a cut up melon in the fridge ready to eat and jars of a few different kinds of raw nuts on the shelf. Everything wasn’t always what I would consider healthy, as the kids were older having things on hand like English Muffin Pizza fixings they could put together themselves and cook in the toaster oven were easy and enjoyable.
Another good thing to keep in mind is the timeline for freshness. Some foods, such as apples, will obviously last longer than other fresh fruits and they won’t last nearly as long as store bought packets of dried fruit.
Even though fruit begins spoiling more quickly as soon as it’s exposed to oxygen, cutting up small quantities of some fruit and veggies an placing them in the fridge for a grab and go snack are still a favorite choice of mine. Get to know your selected foods’ timeline for freshness you may need to wait for cutting or slicing until you’re ready to use them in a recipe.
Also, it’s okay to repeat meals during the days or weeks ahead. Enjoyment of your food is key here – and when you love a recipe or enjoy eating leftovers, it’s perfectly okay to make up a batch and serve it later on during the week. Doubling a recipe is a great time saver and if it’s freezable then you can easily have it again a week or two later.
It’s important to organize your refrigerator before meal prepping. You don’t want to be in a hurry to get out the door and have to rummage through the refrigerator for your carefully prepared breakfast. I find it’s most helpful to clean out all of the old stuff before I leave for my main grocery shopping trip.
These are just a few meal prep ideas. I know you’ll think of more great ideas to make meal prepping more fun and efficient as you go along. The Internet and meal prepping blogs are also good ways to see what others are doing. If you have a great meal prep tip please share it with our readers in the comments below if you want.
When was the last time you sat and did nothing? How long did it last? No, we’re not talking about sitting in front of the TV folding socks and t-shirts. We’re not talking about chatting on the phone with your mom. Or the day you sat down to work and ended up reading Yahoo articles and Pinterest recipes for an hour. We’re talking nothing. Doing nothing at all: simply sitting still and doing nothing. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Doing nothing has its value.
Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne said, “Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Many people will argue that we don’t do that enough. Stopping to listen has its benefits.
People often get their best ideas while doing nothing. Walt Disney spent countless Saturdays in Griffith Park watching his daughters play on the carousel, waiting for hours until they were ready to go. It made him wish there was a park where kids and parents could enjoy things together. Was Mr. Disney doing nothing? Um, only coming up with the idea for the greatest theme park in the world…
Writers, songwriters, actors, inventors and philosophers have all been known to get their best ideas while doing nothing. Whether it’s a nap, a shower, driving, yard work, or cleaning, creativity is often at its peak when we allow our minds to not focus on the problem we’re trying to solve, but instead let it rest. Problems get solved, final acts get written and songs get composed.
Stephanie Meyer says the concept for her Twilight series came to her in a dream. J.K. Rowling says the world of Harry Potter came to her fully formed while she was riding a train. The song “Pretty Woman” was written when Roy Orbison was just playing anything that came to mind. His wife said she was going to go to the store, his partner, Bill Dees, made a comment and Orbison sang “Pretty woman… walking down the street.” The song was finished that day, recorded a week later and a week after that the song was out.
Monks spend hours sitting in meditation. Are they doing nothing? They’re lowering their blood pressure, clearing their minds, improving their circulation and perhaps learning something about themselves. There’s an old Zen saying recommending meditation for 20 minutes every day unless you’re too busy – then you should meditate an hour.
Consider Baloo’s advice from the cartoon Jungle Book: “If you act like that bee acts…. Uh-uh… you’re working too hard….I’ll tell you something true… the bare necessities of life will come to you.”
Back in the day, people would sit on their front porch. They’d basically sit and do nothing. Watch a butterfly or birds in the yard, sip lemonade, or swing on the porch swing. The lazy summer days are nearly gone now – today’s porch sitter would be texting, reading Twitter updates or news headlines. There’s no time for sitting. Maybe there should be.
Next time you’re headed out on a neighborhood power-walk or heading out to sit on the deck, consider leaving your phone and tablet behind. Just sit there, sip your coffee and look around. Sometimes a little rest, a little daydreaming, a little cloud watching or stargazing is good for the soul. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.”
Shopping at a good flea market is a blast. You can get some really amazing deals. But there are a few things that are not a smart purchase at a flea market, no matter how much you may need it. Many things are great bought from a flea market. Let’s start with some of the things that are good to buy at a flea market if the price is right.
Now this is not an all-inclusive list. It’s only ten really great things to look for when you go to the flea market next.
1. Furniture – You can find some already refurbished completed pieces at a flea market, but where you’re going to get your real bargain is with something that needs a little TLC. Be careful, though. Look for furniture that is solid wood, as opposed to particle board and make sure you can fix it up with a little effort and paint and sanding.
2. Tools – Power tools and hand tools.
3. Bikes – Old vintage bikes might not be able to be salvaged as a bike again, but you can use the parts to create something really unique.
4. Home decor – Picture frames, glasses, bowls, or a table cloth. This isn’t a bad place to get a bargain on some pretty unique and possibly even antique items.
5. Books – You really never know what hidden treasures you might find amongst books. A first edition copy of A Tale of Two Cities, perhaps? Who knows, but don’t pass up looking through books.
6. Media – Really any sort of media, whether it’s old records or 8-track tapes. Make sure you check it out first, though.
7. Sports equipment – Even exercise equipment. Buying this stuff brand new can cost a fortune, so if your kid is interested in tee ball, then check out the local flea market or some tag sales to see what you can find.
8. Clothes – Vintage is in and if you’re looking for some vintage style clothing that’s the real deal, then this is a great place to find what you’re looking for. Just make sure your item does not smell of smoke (because you’ll never get that smell out no matter how many times it’s laundered or dry cleaned), and wash it before you wear it.
9. Gold and jewelry – Make sure you know what you’re looking at in this category. You can get taken for a ride, but if you know how to tell if something is really gold or really silver and not just gold or silver plated, then you might have more success.
10. Toys – Be very careful in the area, though. You probably don’t want to buy toys for very young children to play with from a flea market or yard sale, especially if you think it was made earlier than the 1980s or it wasn’t made in the United States. You don’t want a child getting lead poisoning from playing with these older toys. But when it comes to collector’s items, this is a great place to find some old-fashioned toys.
Now that you know what to buy at a flea market or yard sale, here are the things you definitely do not want to buy. Some may seem very obvious to you, some maybe not so much.
Ten Things Not to Buy at a Flea Market
1. Bathing suit and underwear – Unless the underwear items are sealed in their original package and the bathing suit has tags still on it, do not buy these items at a flea market. You just never know where they’ve been.
2. Hair ties – Whether it’s a pony tail holder or a bobby pin, just buy these new. They’re not that expensive to begin with.
3. Bike helmet – Unless you don’t plan on using it for its intended purpose, you just don’t know if it has been in an accident before. Don’t risk it.
4. Car seats – Same as with bike helmets. If a car seat has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, even if it’s minor and the child wasn’t in the seat, the manufacturers recommend replacing it because they can’t guarantee that it did not sustain any cracks or damage to its shell.
5. Small kitchen appliances – With can openers, toasters, coffee makers, just buy new. These likely don’t work or don’t work well and it’s just not worth trying to repair.
6. Mattresses – This is just something you really should buy new. A used mattress could be infested with bed bugs or just simply be too worn for it to be worth the savings.
7. Tires – There are things about tires that unless you are a tire specialist, you just might not see. So again, unless you are using them for something besides their intended use, then go to a tire specialist to buy tires.
8. Cribs – Due to ever-changing regulations meant to make cribs a safe sleep space, purchasing a used crib to use with your baby could pose a danger to your child. While a vintage baby crib might be a great find, you should only buy one if you don’t intend on using it with a baby.
9. A breast pump – Yes, pumps are expensive, but the flea market is not the place you want to get one. This is a product much like underwear that you simply must buy new.
10. A toothbrush – It goes without saying why.
So there you have it – the do’s and don’ts of flea market shopping.
When I was in college me and some sorority sisters were invited to a Mary Kay party. None of us were over 20 and the lady giving the party was probably our grandmother’s age. We all showed up not sure what to expect. Her plan was to make us all over which sounded fun so we all went along. To this day I’ll never forget the bunch of us all with diversely different hair, skin and eye colors with the same awful blue eye shadow on. She mixed this blue powder with water and when she applied it we all looked a bit like Mimi on the Drew Carey show. We laughed for days about that awful blue eye shadow and not one of us looked natural or better. Like I said earlier, this woman was older, but she was beautiful and had a smooth flawless complexion. One thing I always remembered that she said is that you age 7 days for every day you go to bed without washing your face; especially washing off makeup. Now I don’t know if there is any science behind that or not but it is certainly important to wash your face and moisturize daily to keep your skin looking young.
Aging gracefully takes work for most of us and as we get older it should be our goal to age as gracefully as possible. There are many things a person can do to look younger. No matter what our age is, incorporating even a few of these suggestions into our lives, we can stave off looking old before our time. We may even go from frumpy to youthful in a very short time.
Don’t Dress Too Young
Even when looking youthful is your goal, avoid going overboard and dressing like someone far younger than you really are. Stay away from extreme trends and showing too much skin. This will backfire and have the opposite effect of what you were hoping it would. Look for modern clothing that shows a combination of your style and good taste. And no matter what your age, leggings are not pants, they are intended to be worn with other clothing that covers your derriere.
Take Care of Your Skin
This is one of the biggest beauty secrets. Skin that is taken care of is skin that will look young. And skin that looks young makes your entire appearance change for the better. Cleanse your skin every morning and before bed. Be sure to use a good quality moisturizing cream. Avoid sun overexposure and wear a hat in the sun. These things all add up to vibrant skin that will shave years off of your appearance.
What goes in will come out. And what we eat will show up in every area of our appearance especially your skin. If you indulge regularly in rich, processed foods, your skin will begin to look sallow and unhealthy. Instead, choose healthy whole foods and watch how you begin to glow.
Wear Neutral Makeup
It can be tempting to want to follow all the latest makeup trends. Bright colors are fun, and we can be fooled into thinking they will take us back to our young days. If you choose to experiment with color, use it on one facial feature only, and choose a subtle version of the color. Keep the rest neutral, and you won’t look like you are trying too hard.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body. It will make you feel and look younger. Exercise keeps every body system running smoothly, and gives you energy that makes you feel like a younger version of you. It also keeps the blood flowing, which gives you a rosy glow. The added benefit of toning your body gives you the extra bonus of looking youthful and healthy. Exercise will also keep your posture in good alignment. It keeps your bones strong so you can prevent injuries as you get older.
Clean Healthy Teeth
Having a set of yellow or dirty teeth can make even the most beautiful individual look like they are many years older than they really are. Keep your teeth clean through regular brushing and flossing, as well as cutting down on foods that stain them such as tea and coffee. If you must drink alot of coffee, tea or juices then drink them through a straw. Make dental visits a regular part of your schedule and you will always have a beautiful smile not to mention the money it will save you on your dentil bills.
Your best beauty feature will always be your smile. If you were to view two identical people, with the only difference being that one is smiling and one is not, the one smiling will appear younger every time. This simple trick will keep you appearing younger, not to mention it will bring joy to everyone around you. If you are old enough that your skin is a little saggy at the corners of your mouth, a smile will give you a natural lift.
While getting older is an inevitable part of life, no one actually wants to look their age. There are many things a person can do to keep themselves looking young. Give yourself a confidence boost and incorporate a few of these tricks today to look younger and feel great.
If you are like me, there is stuff everywhere in your home. No matter where you look, there is always something that needs to be put away. And in a perfect world I’d have a place for everything and everything would be in its place. Here are a few of my favorite, easy storage tips that anyone can do without hiring a professional organizer. I find that every little corner that I tame the clutter in, makes a difference for me and it will for you too.
Most of us just need a little originality and a bit of creativity to inexpensively organize our homes without the need of hiring a professional organizer.
The “Junk” Drawer
If you are like most homeowners, your kitchen has a junk drawer and your junk drawer is a mess. Purchasing those inexpensive kitchen organizers for your drawers will save you time and energy when you need to find something.
If you want to be a little more creative and save some cash you can use different shaped gift boxes. Gift boxes for bracelets, rings, and necklaces make for excellent storage compartments. Sort and arrange them in whatever way fits your drawer best. You can custom pack your drawers with many different shapes and sizes, to hold anything from corn on the cob holders to tie backs for plastic bags.
Back in the day, mason jars were used to can sauce and foods for winter. Today mason jars have many uses. They make great storage for uncooked pasta and oatmeal, and and any dry good such as brown sugar or chocolate chips. I use a mason jar for cotton balls and Q-Tips in the bathroom and one in the kitchen to keep wooden spoons handy by the stove.
If you are a crafter, you know the frustration involved with storing different colored masking tape and ribbons that seem to run all over the place. Keep them organized and easy to use by storing them on a paper towel dispenser.
A Hanging Shoe Bag Is Not Just for Shoes Anymore
Use those over-the-door shoe racks to store anything you want other than shoes. You can store sewing supplies, arts and crafts, kids’ crafts, and anything you could imagine in an over-the-door shoe rack. Those plastic compartments fit so many good things that there is an endless list. The beauty of these storage containers is that you can hang them up on a hanger and place them anywhere from the hall closet to the kitchen pantry. One of my daughter’s live’s in a very small house with a very tiny closet and she has one hanging inside her closet door to keep all of her belts, hats and scarves. I have cut one down to just 6 pockets and use it in the shower in my r.v. to hold shampoo and body wash bottles. The uses for these things are endless.
Has your standard garden gotten boring? Are pests invading your painstaking work? Sometimes it’s good to turn things on their head, to see the world from a new angle. Enter the concept of upside down gardening. Upside down gardening is exactly what it sounds like – your plants will hang upside down. Here are some tips about creating your own upside down garden.
Why Upside Down?
* Low maintenance – When you’re growing plants upside down, you don’t have to do any tilling of the soil. No rakes or other large tools are needed. You don’t have to do any weeding. Only your plant will grow upside down in the designated container. Staking becomes a thing of the past. In addition, upside down plants are much easier to water and drainage is readily available. There’s no danger of the fruit touching the soil on the ground because the plant is hanging upside down – it’s not going to touch the ground.
* Great for small spaces – You don’t need acres of farmland for upside down gardening, or even a yard. An upside down garden can grow on your patio, in your kitchen, or anywhere you have a place to hang it.
* Keeps critters at bay – Because the plant is hanging upside down, it is much more difficult to access. With an upside down garden, you don’t have to worry about any bug infestations. Likewise, because of the height, the plant is protected – invasive animals can’t eat the fruit.
What Grows Well Upside Down?
Tomatoes and cucumbers are easy choices, but herbs and flowers also grow well upside down. Beware of overly large tomatoes, which can weigh down the vine. Cayenne peppers, basil, eggplants, squash and beans all work well. Marigolds are also a good choice for the upside down garden.
How Do I Do This?
Organize some containers, potting soil, and plants. Consider the amount of sunshine in your location and take into account the size of the plant when you’re selecting containers.
* Take a bucket and turn it upside down. Using a sharp blade such as an exacto knife, cut a hole in the bottom large enough for your plant to grow through. About 2 inches should suffice.
* Turn the bucket right side up. Poke two holes in either side, and use heavy string or wire to loop three rings through so that you can hang your bucket. Cut a half-inch hole in the middle of a sponge, then cut a straight line from the middle to the edge (it will look like a C).
* Remove a plant (probably 6” would be a good size) from its container and place it through the hole in the bottom of the bucket.
* Put the sponge inside the base of the bucket to hold the plant in place.
* Fill the bucket half full with soil.
* Place a tray under your bucket to catch excess water.
* Water your plant lightly, then fill in the rest of the bucket with soil.
* Hang your plant. Water it thoroughly until water runs out the bottom and then check your plant for moisture frequently.
Rotate your plant clockwise every week to ensure the plant receives adequate sunshine.
* You can even plant other plants in the top of your bucket.
Upside down gardens can be a rewarding way to have maintenance-free gardening, especially for people with limited gardening space. Remember to choose smaller plants so that they fit your container well, and be sure your space has adequate sunshine. In this way you’ll have a wonderful crop of upside down vegetables, herbs or flowers to show your friends.
Some social situations are naturally enjoyable, and you look forward to being with the people there. Then there are those other situations… the ones you dread every minute leading up to, and then count every second until your time together is over.
Although there are certain people that we would rather not have to see on a regular basis, it is important to know how to treat every person we meet with respect. It’s a good idea to have a small list of conversation starters for those times. Sometimes the meeting is planned, such as a family party, and sometimes it is spontaneous, such as running into your not-so-favorite person at the grocery store. No matter what the occasion, keep this list of ideas for any moment when you can’t think of anything to say.
“It’s Great to See You!”
This is a great way to begin any conversation that you are feeling awkward about. Whether the person you are speaking with is your boss, or a family member you feel guilty about not making more of an effort with, this will begin the conversation on a positive note. Being able to bring up a positive attitude about the person standing in front of you will give both you and the other person positive feelings.
“What Have You Been Busy With Lately?”
This is a basic question, but one that can keep a conversation going for great lengths of time. If you need a time filler to prevent the conversation from lapsing into uncomfortable silence, this is the question for you! It’s a creative way to ask them about themselves without specifically using the words “tell me about you”, which can often feel phony when said.
It is a great question because when the person you are speaking with answers, it can easily be followed by another question from you. If they answer that they have been busy with work, ask them more details about their work. If they mention their kids, follow up with questions about their children.
Find Something in Common
Almost everyone has something in common with one another. Use this commonality to find something you both enjoy conversing about. Maybe they are wearing a sports jersey, and you love sports. Or perhaps they mentioned a vacation they are planning, and you have been to the same place. It doesn’t take long to find a topic you both enjoy if you put a little effort into it.
Give Them a Compliment
This is not about phony, over-the-top gushing that some people are prone to do. Rather, think about something you like about the person you are conversing with. It could be as deep as admiring them for facing tough circumstances in their life, or as shallow as you being in love with the shoes they are wearing. Find something about them you admire, and let them know it.
Know When to Say Goodbye
Last but not least, know when to end the conversation. Sometimes this is the hardest part, because you may be afraid they think you are trying to get rid of them. Be confident and when it is time to go, let them know you enjoyed talking but you really must go.
Everyone has people they enjoy socializing with, but that doesn’t mean that you need to give everyone else in your life the cold shoulder. Put these conversation ideas into practice and watch your confidence soar as someone who can hold a great conversation with anyone you meet.