Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How To Remove a Pesky Price Sticker

   The other day I purchased a few Christmas cookie tins with huge price stickers on the bottom. As I started to attempt to peel one off, the sticker kept ripping into little sections, making it very difficult for me to remove it. I could see that these stickers were not going to come off without a fight! Another problem I was having was when and if I was able to remove the sticker, it would leave behind a sticky residue on the tin. I had to figure out a way to get these stickers off! Sure, I could have soaked all of the tins in water, but who has time for that? I needed another fast solution. After searching the Internet for all of the possible liquids I could rub on it (Seriously, who has lighter fluid handy? Vegetable oil sounds messy!) I came across a method that worked so beautifully, I just had to share it!

   I got out my good old hair dryer, blew it on the sticker for about 15 seconds, and the sticker came off without a problem, glue and all! That's it! How simple is that? I was thrilled! I saved myself so much time! Just be careful if you are doing this method with cookie tins like I did because those suckers can get hot! I love time-saving tips like this, don't you?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Chex Mix

   Do you have certain foods or treats that you like to make only at certain times of the year? I know I do. One of those treats that shouts winter to me is Chex Mix. When I was little, it was tradition for my whole family to get together at my Grandmother's house on Christmas Eve. Everyone usually brought some kind of snack food and they usually always brought the same ones each year. One of those items I always looked forward to was my Aunt Kelly's Chex Mix. She didn't do anything special to it, it was just homemade and delicious and I could count on it being there every year! Now, every winter, I look forward to making Chex Mix for my own family and continuing the tradition with my own child.

   For my Chex Mix, I pretty much follow the recipe on the box like my Aunt did (Once again, I do not claim to have invented this recipe, I am simply sharing it. You can thank the General Mills or Ralston Purina people or Betty Crocker for creating it. Better yet, you could write to them to find out who invented it!). However, I have a small family so, I've made a few adjustments here and there. I also don't like certain ingredients so I've added some things and excluded others. Anyhow, the recipe I use for my small family is as follows: 

1 1/2 cups Corn Chex cereal 
1 1/2 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup Cheerios
3/4 cup peanuts
3/4 cup pretzels
5-6 Tbsp butter or margarine
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt (Lawry's)
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

1. Mix cereals, nuts, and pretzels and put them in a glass rectangle Pyrex dish.  
2. Melt butter in a glass measuring cup or bowl in the microwave for about 40 seconds or until melted, taking it out to stir about ever 20 seconds. Add Worcestershire sauce and seasonings to the butter, stir, and then pour it over the cereal mix. Mix well. 
4. Microwave the mix in the Pyrex dish uncovered for 5-6 minutes stirring every 2 minutes. 
5. Remove from microwave and spread on paper towels to cool. Store in airtight container.

   The other great thing about making a small batch is that you have plenty of leftover ingredients for other tasty treats, such as Puppy Chow (or Monkey Munch for my East Coast friends)! You can click here for that delicious recipe!

   For the Original Chex Party Mix full recipe, please visit http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/original-chex-party-mix/2c7708d0-f7ba-423c-954c-128da4606f02.             

Thursday, November 8, 2012

How to Make a Handprint/Footprint Turkey

   I just want to start by saying that I did not invent this project. I saw it done somewhere else a long time ago (although I can't remember where) when I was teaching preschool and thought it was a cute project to do with my school kids and son. I am simply sharing it!

   I love to decorate the house for the holidays! Thanksgiving, however, is just one of those holidays that I don't have a whole lot of decorations for. That's why I LOVE stumbling across paper craft projects like this one! You need very little supplies to make it, you don't feel bad about throwing it away after the holiday, and it's easy to make again next year! I'm going to show you how to create a festive construction paper turkey using your child's handprints and footprints. 

Things you will need:

Four different colored sheets of construction paper (I used brown, orange, red, and yellow)
Glue stick
Googly eyes (optional)


1. To make the feathers, place both of your child's hands on one of the sheets of construction paper and trace around them. Cut both handprints out (I layered the 3 sheets and cut them all at once so that I wouldn't have to retrace his hands on each sheet OR you can use the first handprint and trace it). You will have 6 handprints total when you are done. 

We're only tracing one hand in this picture but you get the idea!

2. To make the body of the turkey, have your child stand on the brown construction paper and trace around both feet. Cut them out.

3. Glue the two footprints together at the heels so that the top part of the body is smaller and the bottom part is larger.

4. Using the orange paper, cut out two feet and a beak. 

5. Use the red paper to cut out a wattle.

6. Glue the feet, beak, wattle and googly eyes onto the body.

7. Glue the handprints on the back of the body, alternating colors so that they look like feathers sticking out. 

Now you have a fancy Thanksgiving turkey to hang in your home or in your classroom!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to Prepare for a Power Outage/Hurricane

WARNING: This article is area-specific. I live in the woods and hills of Western Massachusetts, so what I would do to prepare for a hurricane is very different than what someone in Florida would do (or the people in New York city). Please research the ways to prepare for a storm for your specific area if you are facing a natural disaster. 

   Growing up in Flint, Michigan, the only natural disasters my siblings and I ever had to worry about were snow storms and tornadoes. We didn’t do much of anything to prepare for a snow storm (except pray that school would be closed) or for a tornado. When we’d hear the sirens go off, we’d gather up all of our important belongings into our pillowcases and go sit in the basement (Unless you were my dad, in which case he would be listening to his Ham Radio and running outside to watch the funnel clouds. Apparently, he had no fear.). That was pretty much it. So when I moved out east and into a location where I didn’t have city water, I wasn’t sure what I needed to do to prepare when a hurricane was predicted last week. 
   Last year, during the massive October snow storm, we lived in the city so we still had access to water and we had a gas stove in our apartment (which was very helpful). However, it was still chaotic when we finally lost power. We drove for an hour in search of coffee. We eventually found one McDonald’s with power and there were so many people there that a line had formed out of the parking lot and down the street. I’ve never seen people in such a state of panic! People were pretty much camping inside, sipping coffee and making use of the free Wi-Fi. Eventually, we had to drive to New Hampshire to find a hotel room. It was pretty nuts. Anyhow, after doing some research and talking to the people that live in my city, I created a list of things that I needed to do in case the power went out. Here’s what I did to prepare for the storm:

1. Bought extra water. I knew we’d need water for drinking, cooking, brushing our teeth and washing our hands, so I made sure that I had several gallons and bottles.
2. I also put a gallon of water in the freezer to freeze. I read that if you have a large, solid block of ice in your freezer, your frozen items will stay cold longer after the refrigerator shuts off.
3. Bought a bag of ice. If we needed to put items in a cooler to travel somewhere, I wanted to be prepared. Obviously, the ice would have eventually melted had we been without power for days, but the idea was that if we needed to leave, we would have a way to save a few items while we were traveling.
4. Filled two large plastic storage containers with water from the hose, as well as filled our bathtub with water. This water was going to be used to fill the tanks of the toilets if we had to go to the bathroom. We put one container of water in our half bathroom, next to the toilet, and the other container we kept out in the garage (and then we had the bathtub of water in our full bathroom). If the power stayed out for days and we ran out of water, we planned on putting the containers out in the driveway to collect rainwater.
5. Ground a few days worth of coffee and stored it in air tight containers in a dark place. We also cleaned our French Press and put everything near each other so that we could easily make coffee in the morning.
6. Did laundry. We wanted to make sure our clothes were clean ahead of time!
7. Stocked up on propane for the grill. Unfortunately, we no longer have a gas stove so we needed something to cook on. We also had a small burner for camping that we should have purchased some fuel for, but we ran out of time and the stores ran out of supplies.
8. Stocked up on candles, matches, flashlights, and batteries. Luckily, we have these items all of the time so this wasn’t really an issue.
9. Stocked up on wood for a camp fire. If it wasn’t raining and we needed to cook, we planned on making a fire in our pit to save propane.

10. Planned meals. We had a lot of meals already in the freezer (because that’s what we normally do any way) so we already had some soup, chili, and meatballs that we could have thrown in a pot and put on the burner on the grill. We also purchased some hot dogs and tofu because we knew these things wouldn’t spoil as fast as raw meat. 
11. Purchased snacks and food that wouldn’t require cooking. We had a lot of bread, peanut butter, beef jerky, nuts, and fruits for snacking on (or if we ran out of meals). 
12. Charged our phones, computers, and iPods. We probably should have purchased some battery operated chargers too, but we didn’t get a chance to do that.
13. Filled the cars with gas.
14. Parked facing the street in our driveway. That way, we didn’t have to worry about backing out.
15. Picked up small items from the yard. We had some flower pots and building materials that could have been blown around so we just made sure we picked it all up and put it in the shed.
16. Stocked up on paper products and plastic ware. That way we wouldn’t have to worry about doing dishes. We also wanted plenty of trash bags, toilet paper, and paper towel.
17. Made sure all prescriptions were filled. We didn’t want to run out of medicine if the pharmacy was closed. 
18. Picked up things from the basement floor in case of flooding. We live on the side of a hill, so we didn’t have to worry too much about flooding but we wanted to be prepared just in case. 
19 Took out some cash. We didn’t take out large amounts of cash but we had some paper money on hand in case we needed it.
20. Stocked up on toiletries. You'll want to make sure you enough of your soap, shampoo, face wash, feminine hygiene products, and all of that good stuff. 

   So there you have it! That was our hurricane preparation list. Most of these things were easy because we just live this way all of the time. My dream is to make the house more self-sufficient so that won’t have to do much to prepare in the future (like converting the fireplace back to a wood-burning fireplace, fixing the chimney, getting a gas stove or one that can run on propane, and purchasing a generator that runs on propane). I learned a lot this fall and preparing helped me feel like I had more control if disaster was to strike. My heart goes out to all of the people in New York and along the east coast who couldn’t do anything to prepare or had to evacuate their homes! Please donate to help out the Hurricane Sandy survivors if you can!