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My Favorite Things Part 1

Hi there!  I have been coping with some emotional and medical issues, and honestly tend to become even more introverted when dealing with things, so I tend to opt for things that distract me, and blogging makes me WAY too reflective to be considered a distraction.  *grin* I’m doing a little better today, so I wanted to take this opportunity to write.  J  In light of everything I thought I’d keep things light today and wanted to share some of my favorite things.  I don’t believe I’ve ever done that, other than recipes, so prepare yourself for an eclectic collection of items. I added the links to Amazon for what items that I could, in case you’d like to check them out, so just click the hyperlink and it should give you a new window with Amazon instead of steering you away from the post.  (I divided this into two posts with home and organizing being first and next with be electronics and entertainment.)

 

First up, I’m absolutely obsessed with all things Command related.  Hooks, bins, and picture frame strips; you name it, I have them all!  *grin* I especially love the cord hooks, wire hooks, and the all-purpose 3 lb. hooksI have a hanging shoe organizer on a door with all of my extra cords, label maker, candle melts, and other knickknacks, but dedicated an entire row to command products so that I always have a variety on hand when I spontaneously decide to organize things. I even have one of the bins on the wall beside the couch holding both of my e-readers in easy reach, yet safe from the animals, and still able to charge.  I’m tickled by the simplest things sometimes.  *laugh*

 

Second, although there are a few features that are definitely missed, I love the performance of my Shark Navigator Deluxe VacuumIt auto adjusts to carpet pile, which is my favorite feature, and picks up kitty litter really well, which is actually very rare.  I wish it had a light, a spot for all of the tools to attach, and an edger, but it’s a powerful workhorse at just $123.99.  It is super light and moves so easily, which means I can vacuum without causing myself more pain.  (Seriously, it is so effortless that people will keep vacuuming when I have them test it out, instead of doing just a push or two!)  Despite missing a few features that I like, I honestly wouldn’t trade this for a different brand.

 

shark

My absolute favorite kitchen gadget, which I have even given as gifts because I love it so much, is the simplest piece of plastic that is seriously handy.  The Jokari Baggy Rack Storage Bag Opener and Holder quite simply has clips that hold your zip bag open so both hands are free for filling the bag.  I know that you’re probably thinking I am the laziest person in the world to need and love this little device, but think of how many times a zip bag has folded in on itself as you tried to put leftovers or some meat in?  Or what about when you try to pour something with some sauce on it?  Or had it fold as you were trying to spoon corn into the bag with one hand and holding your pot in the other, and those evil little kernels of deliciousness found their way under the edge of the cabinet, under your mixer, or made a wet path across the counter?  I especially love it for when I’m doing meat prep, like chicken strips, and then I can even pour marinade in without worry (my wild, unexpected movements cause enough messes, so I need every bit of help available *laugh*).  The holder works really well when pouring bagged ingredients in, too, like making your own trail mix.  At $6.78 for a single unit and $10 for two, it’s a very cost effective gift that will be priceless for the recipient for years to come.

baggy holder

We bought a gas meat smoker and have been learning different techniques, etc., which brought on our first attempt to spatchcock poultry.  Prior to this we always bought broke down birds and we figured I should use what little energy I have on other tasks instead of trying to break down whole birds.  No shortcuts are allowed when smoking a whole turkey, though, so we did our research and bought the OXO Good Grips Spring-Loaded Poultry Shears (at an investment of $24.95).  According to the “Man of the Smoker” (yep, that’s my nickname for him when he messes with the smoker) it’s pretty easy to spatchcock a thawed turkey with these shears, although it would be a little more difficult for someone with less hand strength (like me).  They work so well in most food prep, though!  They cut chicken into pieces easy enough that I prep a lot more chicken than ever before, they make short prep work when used on vegetables such as broccoli, and can even cut hunks of clingy fat that some of my knives have trouble with.  The best part (for the one that has to do the dishes *laugh*) is that they come apart and are a breeze to completely clean. 

Shears

Another often used kitchen gadget is my professional SaladShooter.  I bought this through Walmart’s website years ago, so I have no idea what I paid back then, but I found one that looks almost identical to my unit and attachments here for $44.66.  We mainly use it for cheeses, since we’re kind of obsessed with cheese and it’s a lot cheaper to buy a block at Sam’s Club.  We had a lot of problems with packaged shredded cheese molding quickly too, especially during our humid, hot summers, but only shredding a few cups at a time when we want it on hand, and covering up the rest of the block until the next time, has massively cut down on waste.  To top it all off it is running perfectly over 5 years later!  If you buy one, make sure to keep an old toothbrush (dedicated to this task) with your kitchen washing items, since that’s the most effective way to get the cheese grime off of the grids and out of the grater holes. 

saladshooter

 

Lastly, I thought I’d throw in one of my favorite desserts.  The best part is that it’s a diet ice cream that tastes and feels just like the real deal in our opinion.  Edy’s Slow Churned Ice Cream has several flavors with that awesome slow churned texture, yet they have half the fat and a third of the calories of regular ice cream (depending on what you eat, of course).  I actually prefer this ice cream over regular ice cream, now!  It can sometimes be difficult to find some of the flavors in the Midwest, but even plain ole vanilla floats my boat.  *grin*  I am a big sucker for the Mint Chocolate Chip though and it helps cool down my GERD, too, so I almost always have a legitimate excuse to eat ice cream whenever I’m wanting it without anyone making me feel like I’m just being a pig.  *biiiiig grin* Yeah, I’m shameless sometimes. 

edys

Tune in tomorrow for the other half, when I totally get my nerd flag flying.  Until then, happy pampering!

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Cleaner

I wanted to share a homemade cleaner recipe that I’ve altered from Pinterest.  A lot of people would like to go more natural lately and there are others, like me, that have some sensitivities that make commercial products a little dicey at times.  I’ve developed a chemical sensitivity to bleach and similar strong cleaners, so I had to look for some alternatives.  I found the following recipe by Frugal Foodie Mama named “Homemade Kitchen Lemon Cleaner” and I’ll discuss a few other options after the instructions/recipe.

“Ingredients

1 tsp baking soda

1 squirt of your favorite dishwashing liquid

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

water

2-3 drops doTerra Lemon Essential Oil

16 Oz plastic or glass spray bottle (bottle can be larger than 16 oz)

 

Add the baking soda, dishwashing liquid, & vinegar to the spray bottle.  Without capping the bottle, give it a few swirls to mix.  **I would suggest mixing this in your sink.  There is a possibility of a foamy “volcano” forming because of the reaction of the baking soda with the vinegar and soap.  Never shake the bottle to mix to keep the chances of this happening down. 

Fill the bottle with lukewarm water to the 14 oz line on your bottle.  Add the 2-3 drops of lemon essential oil, and swirl it around a few more times to mix well.”

 

This is a pretty easy recipe to recreate and I found an easy way to deal with that chemical reaction.  When it starts to foam just swirl a long straw in the solution and it won’t foam over.  It also helps if you add the water slowly and pause every so often.  Now, although it seems like it would mix better if you added the EO before the water the reason that you do it afterward is that you might lose the valuable EO if the solution does foam over, so make sure to follow the instructions. 

 

I used my favorite brand of EO, Crafter’s Choice, and it doesn’t change the recipe one bit, so don’t worry about scouring the internet for that brand.  I admit that I added a ML of lemon EO because one, I don’t have an orifice reducer on my bottle, two, I prefer to be able to do exact measurements with a pipette, and three, it didn’t have nearly enough scent for my taste.  Even with all of that I wanted more kick, so I added .50 ML of Meyer Lemon FO (fragrance oil) to the solution and stirred with my long straw.  (Nice thing is that this is a cleaning solution, so a quick rinse and the straw is all clean.  Lol.)  Now, my second bottle isn’t so close to the original recipe.  *grin*  I can’t let my other scents sit quietly when they can freshen my house up for me.  I decided to play with other antibacterial EOs (essential oils) that play nicely with my favorite FOs.  I mixed a bit of Peppermint EO, Eucalyptus EO, Wintergreen EO, and then a bit of Santa’s Tree Farm FO in place of the lemons.  It’s a bit more uplifting with a lot more aromatherapy benefits, plus they cover the smell of the vinegar a bit better for my super sniffer.  Just like in cooking a product recipe is just a starting point.

 

To save you some time having to research EOs the following ones are thought to have antibacterial/antiseptic properties: Oregano, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Clove, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Orange, and Lemon.  Of course scientists can never agree, so some others believe that Peppermint, Wintergreen, Juniper, Black Pepper, Geranium, Lavender, Pine, Camphor, Cardamom, Cedarwood, Citronella, Clary Sage, Frankincense (although I warn you this one is super expensive!), Rose, and Ylang Ylang.  There are tons of options, tons of disagreement, and a wide range of costs.  The great thing is if you don’t want to get too in depth with homemade natural cleaners and aromatherapy, then you can find some of the basics even at Hobby Lobby, like Eucalyptus and Peppermint.  Now, please note that these are all EOs, not FOs, since the essentials are the natural workers.  Never ever, despite temptation, use an EO straight out of the bottle on skin, please!  They need what is called a carrier, since they’re so concentrated and can be very harmful and toxic when concentrated. 

 

We’ve had a bit of a bug here after a cute Boy Scouts Honors event, so that’s why I picked the second blend that I made.  Peppermint and Eucalyptus are great for clearing the sinuses (think the gooey Vicks Rub that your mom used to rub into your chest) while also fighting the good fight against the bug.  I figure that I’m smelling it as I clean anyway, so it needs to do some double duty for me.  *grin*  Wintergreen has health benefits too, but it also reminds me of my grandpa’s wintergreen chew.  I remember sitting on his lap in his rocking chair and having the scent of wintergreen hug me as snug as his arms.  I usually dislike anything tobacco, but it’s one of the few childhood memories that I always have even when my illness fogs my mind and I can’t remember even my address.  The pine and balsam FO blend in Santa’s Tree Farm leaves that clean and fresh scent trace.  We don’t pick Pine-Sol for the color, after all.  *teasing wink*

 

Now, this isn’t the super cleanser that works miracles, but it does a great job as a regular cleaner.  I used it to clean my stove surface (it wasn’t a heavy duty job, but worked great on the little bit that had gotten away while making pizza), all of my kitchen counters (even got some Kool-Aid out of the surface that my husband had missed, which impressed me), door knobs, and it worked really well against pet slobber.  *cracking up*  The big test for me was my big mirror and the front door, since I seldom can do them because I usually can’t be around commercial window cleaner.  Plus, Bo, my dog, has super snot and slobber that sticks as well as those stupid sticky hands I had as a kid that I threw onto walls and stuff.  *shudder*  It’s weird to think I loved those things and the thought of it now grosses me out so much I think I’m developing a wrinkle from scrunching my nose right now.  Lol.  Anyway…with just a little elbow grease (and I mean little, since my muscle weakness keeps me from having much umph, so for a “normal”, it should work doubly well for you) I was able to remove all traces of slobber, snot, bird droppings (I don’t know how that bird aimed at the storm door, but kudos, although it needs a little less fiber I think), dirt, a light skin of woodstove smoke (*embarrassed look* yeah, I missed that whole Spring Cleaning thing and am just now cleaning Winter off the inside of the storm door…doh!), and even a smooshed mosquito.  It didn’t remove the tiny bit of sap that has been on the door for the ten years we’ve lived here (I don’t know what the previous owners were into since there’s sap on the door, glow in the dark nail polish spots on the carpet, and weird packaged mac & cheese-like bright orange-yellow stains on the linoleum, but whatever), however this is the cleanest the storm door has EVER been, even when I was healthier and able to clean more.  This definitely passed the test for me.  The vinegar is seriously amazing (kills germs, bacteria, and mold!), so I’m tickled that I found this simple blend.  *On a side note, I’ve been bragging on vinegar for a few years now, and I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but even if I did, it’s worth mentioning again.  Vinegar is awesome at sterilizing your cutting board.  You don’t think about it, but those tiny cuts in the board love to hold nasties that you can’t see and think you got out when you washed the board.  After you scrub and rinse your board,  pour some plain white vinegar over the board, give a light rub (preferably not with a rag or sponge that you just contaminated, so go for a second one), and rinse.  The vinegar will keep working and help keep those nasties from contaminating your next meal or even cabinet.  You’ll notice that it’ll smell fresher too, since the stinky bacteria is dead.  You can go ahead and do a happy dance once you’ve tried this.  It rocks that much, so I understand. 

 

I hope you give this a whirl and that you have as much success as me.  If you have any questions or whatnot, please feel free to comment.  If you look me up on Pinterest the original pin should be under “Useful tips” if I remember right.  Happy pampering! 🙂

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