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Showing posts from August, 2010

Well Seasoned: Thinking "Outside the Box" About Buying Spices & Herbs

5 years ago, some friends gave my husband and I a unique gift for our wedding--a Grill & Broil Crate from Penzeys Spices.  Over our first year of marriage we enjoyed trying out each of the spice mixes, and Bicentennial Rub continues to be a staple in our pantry for chicken roasts, while Lemon Pepper often makes an appearance when we have salmon.  The spices are strong and fragrant, and came packaged just as you see in the picture--in a sturdy wooden crate (that now holds our potatoes), surrounded by bay leaves, cinnamon sticks (so good!), and nutmeg.  This box turned me into a Penzeys fan for life, and I've since given their spices as gifts myself.  As an alternative to the tiny, overpriced herb and spice selections available at most grocery stores, I can't recommend them highly enough as a source for stocking your spice rack.  Penzeys also puts out an excellent catalog full of recipes and the occasional coupon, and you can request one here.   

Penzeys isn't the only…

Zucchini Cake & Zucchini Bread

Vegetables?  I like them. Vegetables in cakes and breads?  I like them even better. We have 4 enormous plants in the raised beds of our garden this year, one each of yellow summer squash, a standard green zucchini, Sunburst Patty Pan, and Costata Romanesca.  Here are two new recipes I've made with them recently, a delicious change when you've had just about all you can stand of the exuberant things grilled or sauteed:

Chocolate Zucchini Cake (adapted from this recipe)

IngredientsFor the cake: 2 c all-purpose flour 2 c white sugar 3/4 c unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder 2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp ground cinnamon 4 eggs 1 c vegetable oil1/2 c unsweetened apple sauce 3 c grated zucchini1/2 c mini semisweet chocolate chips 
For the glaze:

3/4 cup po…

Sites To Help You Get a Great Deal Online

I'm doing more and more of my shopping online.  It saves me time and money, allows me to make more informed decisions about my purchases (when I can read reviews), and spares me the stress of lugging two squirmy children in and out of stores.  But I probably don't have to sing the praises of online retail for you; I just want to pass along some sites that you might not know about that can help you get a great deal online--with a percentage or dollar amount off, a free shipping code, or a special sale price. - This is, as far as I'm concerned, the best coupon site to have in your back pocket.  Simply search for the website you'd like to purchase from and up come the related coupon codes.  Users rate them based on success, so you probably won't have to try a bunch of bogus codes.  I NEVER make a purchase online without checking here first. You can even find printable coupons if you'd rather head into a store! - Another great coupon site.…

Design Brainstorming with Polyvore

If you read a lot of blogs, chances are you've seen a set of images created on Polyvore.  Polyvore is an intuitive website for constructing inspiration boards.  The site is able to search and pull images from numerous websites, allowing you to put together a professional looking collage of just about anything in minutes!  There is even a button you can add to your toolbar that will allow you to clip images while you're surfing the web into Polyvore for later use.

The most common use for Polyvore?  Creating fashionable looks for others to view and shop from--all boards designed on Polyvore link to the sites where the products are sold!  (Check it out on the image below.)  My favorite use for Polyvore?  Brainstorming room re-designs. 

Our first floor bathroom needs help.  Courtesy of our home's previous owners, it proudly features a sage green sink on an ugly laminate cabinet, a tiny chandelier-ish pendant light, and floral, Victorian wallpaper.  Pretty awesome, huh?  It…

3 "New" Baby Products I'm Loving

When we were preparing our registries prior to the baby showers and arrival of our first child, a girl, we researched, researched, researched, and then chose as many gender neutral items as possible.  Blues, greens, and yellows dominated the gear we were given (but boy did we dress that baby in pinks and purples!), and now that our second child (and Lord willing, not the last) has come along in all his maleness, we are pretty glad that was the case!  Aside from clothes and diapers, I haven't had to buy much for baby number 2, but here are 3 things that are new this time around that I absolutely love.

1.  The Moby Wrap.  This is the most comfortable baby carrier I've tried...and I've tried a lot.  I own a ring sling, a pouch sling, a Snugli/Bjorn-style front carrier, and a backpack frame carrier.  The Moby is like wearing a t-shirt, and it holds baby so close and snug.  Bewildered citizens stop me everywhere I go with it to compliment it and ask how I've gotten baby in …

Getting Started With Homeschooling

When I first tell people I'm planning to homeschool, the question I'm most often asked is something akin to "how do you know what to do?"  It's a good question, one I've received from fellow moms and seasoned public school educators alike!  One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is your ability to pick curriculum that fits you, and fits your child.  The endless choices can also be intimidating.  I'm extremely fortunate to have a great resource in my mother in law, who homeschooled (or is in the process of homeschooling) 5 children with great success.  I've picked her brain a lot.  (Mom, if you read this--thanks!!)  I chose a lot of our preschool curriculum based on her recommendations and experience, but I also chose a few extra things I thought would work well for our family. 

I want to know that my child is learning at the level (or above the level!) of her public and private school peers.  So as I've been lesson planning and consider…

The Start of Something New

Fall marks the beginning of a new chapter for our family, with a big change for me personally--I'm starting homeschool with our oldest child!  We'll be doing an hour or two of preschool each day.  It's informal at this point with no reporting to do to the school district, but I am treating it as "serious business" in every other way.  I'm planning to stretch preschool out over two years, as our girly won't be 6 until December 2012 and we are also working hard to bring her speech up to speed with therapy multiple times each week.  This week, one of the last of summer before school begins, I'm knee deep in lesson planning.  I'm blocking out some long-term goals and deciding on units of study for the next two years as well as doing more detailed week-by-week planning for September through December, at which point I'll reevaluate and plan the next few months out over Christmas break.  As much as I love the computer, there's something to be sai…