Monday, May 30, 2011

Coffee of The Week


Chocolate Vanilla Coffee
Super simple to make.  Simply super to drink.
Chocolate and vanilla are a natural taste combination. 
Each complement the other.  You can pour over ice for a cool taste, too!

1 tbs chocolate syrup
1/4 teaspsoon vanilla extreact
1 cup freshly brewed coffee
1/4 cuup heavey cream, whipped

Stir the chocolate syrup and vanilla into the hot coffee.  Top with whipped  cream.
Don't forget the coffee cake.

Chocolate Coffee Cake with Vanilla Butter Icing

Chocolate Coffee Cake:
3/4 cup (180 mL) hot brewed coffee
3/4 cup (180 mL) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened
2 cups (500 mL) packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla extract
4 tsp (20 mL) instant coffee granules
2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

Vanilla Butter Icing:
1 cup (250 mL) butter, softened
2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar
1 tbsp (15 mL) vanilla extract
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely grated semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp (30 mL) chocolate covered coffee beans


Preheat oven 350 ˚F (180 ˚C).
In bowl, whisk coffee and cocoa powder until smooth and let cool to room temperature.
In large bowl, using electric mixer beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition. In small bowl combine vanilla extract coffee granules and stir to dissolve. Pour into butter mixture and beat to combine.
In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and powder and salt. Stir into butter mixture alternately with cocoa mixture, making three additions of flour and two of cocoa mixture. Spread evenly into 2 greased and bottom parchment paper lined 9-inch (1.5 L) round cake pans.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until cake tester inserted comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from cake pans and let cool completely. Remove parchment paper. 

Vanilla Butter Icing:
In large bowl, using electric mixer beat butter until almost white. Beat in sugar and vanilla extract smooth; set aside.
Place one layer on cake plate and using palette knife spread half of the icing to edge. Top with second cake layer and remaining icing and make decorative swirls with icing. Sprinkle edge and centre with grated chocolate and garnish with chocolate covered coffee beans.
Chill in refrigerator for 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 27, 2011


 Don't throw that out!  
Instead get creative and crafty with the little ones.

Egg cartons are really caterpillars, alligators and dragons in disguise: With scissors, glue, paint, and imagination that is.

Oatmeal boxes become castle towers and doll houses.

Transform plastic milk jugs into piggy banks or "fund" banks.  Decorate them to reflect that special toy or event they are saving for.

Cardboard paper towel or toilet paper rolls turn into puppets or telescopes.

Used Kleenex or tissue boxes make awesome dinosaur, clown, or monster feet/shoes.

Plastic tops from milk bottle are great game pieces and counters for those first math lessons.

Coffee cans are perfect for storing puzzle pieces, crayons, and small toys.

Dad's old shirt can become a painting and crafting smock that keeps your children from decorating their clothes when creating their master pieces.
The sky's the limit. 
Imagine . . .

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday's Fantasy

I want to be her when I grow up.
Turn off Music Above

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Broccoli Rice

Here's a fast and easy dish that will get your children to eat their broccoli and celery.  Although "Cheez Whiz" may not be the most nutritious choice, kids dig it.  The Cheez Whiz can always be replaced with any real melted cheese.  Still not a true cheese, I prefer using Velveeta.  Give your little ones a double whammy of fiber by using brown rice as opposed to white.  Rice must be prepared and cooked prior to making this recipe.

Broccoli Rice
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 pkg.  frozen chopped broccoli
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 c. COOKED brown or white  rice 
1/4 jar (8 oz.)  Cheez Whiz

Saute onions and celery in butter or oil until soft.  Add soup and bring to a boil.  Add broccoli.  Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add Cheez Whiz, stir well.  Add rice, fold, and heat thoroughly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Buyers Tip Sheet

Fresh Vegetables and Fruits 
In choosing quality produce, experience is always the best teacher. Here are a few pointers in selecting quality fruits & veggies.

Stalks should be tender and firm.
Tips should be close and compact.  
Choose stalks with very little white.
They tend to be more tender. 
Since asparagus toughens rapidly, 
use asparagus soon after purchasing.

Choose plump, solid berries with bright color.  
Avoid stained containers. 
This indicates wet or leaky berries.  
Check carefully for mold.  
Blackberries and raspberries with 
clinging caps may be under ripe.  
Strawberries without caps may be too ripe.

Flower clusters on broccoli and cauliflower 
should be tight and close together. 
Brussels sprouts should be firm and compact. 
Broccoli, flower heads, or florets,  
should be a darker green than the stalk.  
Look for stalks that are firm but not rubbery or tough.
Choose cauliflower with bright green leaves and 
compact, creamy white florets. 
Older cauliflower will have little black mold spots 
and a yellowish tinge.  ew.
With brussels sprouts, use color as an indicator of freshness.
Leaves should be bright green and fresh looking.
Give sprouts a squeeze to make sure they are firm, 
tight and compact, not puffy.
Check stems to make sure they are clean and not discolored.
 Look for blemish free, smooth green skin 
without discoloration.
  The outside will be bumpy,
but there shouldn't be tears in the skin.
A fresh cucumber looks a little bit plump. 
A not-so-fresh cucumber has tiny wrinkles in the skin and
  looks like it's starting to deflate.
Make sure cucumber is firm and not squishy.  
Check both ends.

Look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon 
free from bruises, cuts or dents.
Since watermelon is 92% water, 
lift it up and make sure it is heavy for its size.  
Turn it over to check the underside. 
It should have a creamy yellow spot indicating
where it sat on the ground and ripened in the sun.
If it is white or pale green on either side,
it is not ripe.

Pick it up, take a deep breath 
and give it a good deep whiff.
 If it omits a musky sweet fruity smell, you have a winner. 
Can't smell anything?  
It will most likely be tasteless so put it back.
Test it's ripeness by pressing 
on the opposite end of the stem.  
It should give a little.

When a honeydew's rind has a creamy to yellowish color, 
it's ripe. 
Immature honeydews are whitish green.
Always avoid overly soft melons.

Oranges, Grapefruit, & Lemons
Choose those heavy for their size.  
Thinner, smoother skins usually indicate more juice.  
Most skin markings do not affect quality.  
Oranges with a slight greenish tinge may be 
just as ripe as fully colored ones.  
Light or greenish yellow lemons are 
more tart than deep yellow ones.  
Avoid citrus fruits showing withered, sunken, or soft areas. Generally, the sweeter and more fragrant the smell, 
the fresher the piece of fruit is.
Winter is the season of citrus fruits, 
& offers the best selection to choose from.


Avoid those with any signs of decay.  
Select firm, fairly evenly shaped with even skin color.
Deep orange colored sweet potatoes 
have the most nutritional value.
Bronze to rosy skins are soft and sweet when cooked.  
Yellow to light brown ones are firmer and less moist.
Never store in the refrigerator.
Doing so will produce a hard core in the center.
Store in a cool, well ventilated, dry container.
For best flavor & freshness, 
use within 7-10 days after purchase.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Coffee of the Week

Blended Banana Coffee
I  highly recommend you drink this yummy concoction as soon as you can after making it.  You don't want it to settle.

1 tbs butter
1/2 banana, peeled sliced, & mashed
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup hot freshly brewed coffee
1/2 c heavy cream
1 tbs confectioners/powdered sugar

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Stir in the banana, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Now simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from the heat.  Place the coffee, cream, and sugar in the blender and add the banana mixture.  Blend for 15 to 20 seconds until smooth.
Serve at once.  Yummy for the tummy.
Personally, I've always been one to indulge excessively.  If you're going to go banana, go banana all the way with a chocolate banana coffee cake.


Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 1 hr
  1. 1 Set oven to 350 degrees.
  2. 2 Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan.
  3. 3 In a bowl, cream butter and sugar on medium speed of electric mixer.
  4. 4 Add in the eggs and beat until smooth.
  5. 5 Add in vanilla and mashed bananas; mix until smooth.
  6. 6 In another bowl sift together flour, baking powder and baking soda.
  7. 7 Add to banana mixture alternately with sour cream, ending with dry ingredients Pour half of the batter into prepared baking pan.
  8. 8 In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp (or more) of cinnamon.
  9. 9 Sprinkle half of the cinnamon/sugar mixture over the batter in the pan.
  10. 10 Top with half of the chocolate chips.
  11. 11 Repeat the layers.
  12. 12 Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until cake tests done.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


 Once upon a time . . .
Tiger Beat consumed a large part of my allowance.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Oldie But Goodie

Turn Off The Music Above

The Hair Dryer

A second hair dryer in the kitchen?  
Why not?
  1. Use it on "cool" to dry salad greens, on "warm" to set icing on cakes or sugar cookies, on "hot" to soften ice cream for scooping.
  2. If hard water spots up your glasses, dry them with a cloth, then blow dry to remove spots and lint. 
  3. Freshly baked cake left out too long on waxed paper lined pan?  Run your hair dryer over the bottom of the pan, then carefully invert it.  The cakes drops right out.
  4. Blow dry your salt and pepper shakers after washing to keep the condiments from lumping.
  5. Dry the inside of  your rubber kitchen gloves. 
  6. Quickly and safely remove candle wax by blowing warm air slightly above the drips.  The heat softens, the wax, which can then be wiped away with a paper towel, thus leaving no scratches.  Better yet, switch to soy candles and cleanup is a snap with just soap and water.
  7. Hair dryers work great for removing old contact paper from kitchen shelves when used on warm setting.  Work on one section at a time and gently pull at edges.  This tip comes in handy if you have little one who tend to decorate with stickers in places where they shouldn't.
  8. Remove crayon marks from wallpaper by using a hair dryer set on "hot".  Heat up the wax and the crayon will wipe right off.  Use a damp cloth and a small amount of oil soap cleanser.  I prefer Murphy's.
  9. Open windows in spring and summer cause screen and sills to collect fuzz and pollen. Ew.   For a quick cleanup, blow the debris back outside with your blow dryer.
  10. Loosen a too-tight screw by warming it with your hair dryer.  How do you like that on DH?
  11. When a hot compress is needed, wet a hand towel in hot water and put it on the injury.  Turn on the hair dryer to keep the compress hot; keep it moist with a spray bottle of water.
  12. Clear up diaper rash by drying baby's bottom with a hair dryer set on "warm" and held at least 7-9 inches from the skin.
  13. Speed dry your pantyhose by hanging them on the shower rod and blowing them dry.
  14. Quick wrinkle remover:  Lightly dampen the wrinkled area with a washcloth, then blow dry with your hair dryer. 
    Hair dryers.  Who knew?

Fun and Flirty Fashionista Friday: The Thrift Store Way

Total Spent:  $7.75

Top $0.75 Cents

Found this at a yard sale for 75 cents.

Necklace $1.99 at Fallas Discount Store.
Sewed together 2 skirts to make one.

$1.50 at my favorite thrift store.
  50 cents at the same store.

Boots $3.00.  
Scored these babies for 3 bucks.  
They were marked at $6.00, but I go shopping on half price days, so yeah, 3 smackeroos.  
Okay, now before you start with the "ews",  & the
"Used" shoes?  "Uh, . . .no".
 Know this, I am the Queen of "ew".  
But these are Tony Lama people and they are beautiful IRL.
Seriously, purchasing second hand shoes is cool and unless the previous owner had some serious foot fungus or flesh eating disease, a little Lysol Disinfectant Spray will suffice.  

So there you have it.  Fashionista Friday's look of the week.  Until next time, this Thrift Shop Fashionista will be hitting yard sales, rummage sales, thrift shops, and flea markets in search of another affordable look.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Stains. Ew.

Pre-soak in cold or warm water for at least 30 minutes.  If stain remains, soak in lukewarm ammonia water.  Use 3 tbs ammonia per gallon of water.  Rinse.  If stain still remains, work in a laundry detergent, and wash, using color safe bleach.

Use a dull knife to scrape off as much wax as possible.  Place fabric between 2 pieces of parchment paper or wax paper and press with warm iron.  Remove a tinted wax stain with non-flammable dry cleaning solvent.  Wash with detergent in the hottest water safe for fabric.

Rub area with ice, then scrape off with a dull blade.  Sponge with dry cleaning solvent  or kerosene  allow to air dry for about 30 minutes.  Rinse well with hot sudsy water.   Wash in detergent with hot water.

Pre-soak stain in cold or warm water.  Sponge with hydrogen peroxide then wash in hot water.

For a fresh stain, sponge or soak with cold water as soon as possible.  Wash, using detergent and color safe bleach. For a set in stain beat an egg yolk and then with a terry cloth, apply it to the stain.  You'll need to work the yolk into the stain for a minute or so.  Now rinse it thoroughly with water. The stain will disappear.

Scrape with dull blade.  Wash, alone,  in hot water with laundry detergent and 2 cups of baking soda. Or,
turn the stained fabric inside out and spray the back of the stain with WD-40. Let this sit on the stain for about five minutes. Apply liquid dish washing soap to the back of the stain with a paper towel, and work it into the fabric.  Wash in hot water and air dry.

Sponge area with white vinegar.  If stain remains, soak with denatured alcohol.  Wash in hot water.

Dissolve two aspirins in 1/2 c of water. Pour onto the stain & let it soak for 2 hours or so. Now add a few drops of clear liquid detergent & massage between your fingers.  Wash as usual.

Scrape off dried egg with dull blade. Now sponge off as much  of the stain as possible with warm water. It is really important that the water is warm and not hot because hot water sets the egg and will make it smell really bad.  ew.   If stain is still present, make a paste from water and cream of tartar. Mix in one crushed aspirin.  Apply this paste and leave on for 30 minutes. Rinse with warm water.

Spray stain with hairspray. Allow the spray to set for a minute or two, then wipe it with a clean white washcloth. Or massage a dab of extra whitening toothpaste on the stain—not the gel variety, but the old fashioned, original white paste, gently between your fingers. Rinse with cool water.


Take the garment outside and brush off mildew/mold with a stuff brush.  I'd recommend wearing rubber gloves and a dust mask so you will not breath in any spores or get it on yourself.  Sponge with lemon juice and salt.  Heat and sun will kill mildew so leave fabric in the sun to dry out. Launder using hottest water, detergent, and color safe bleach.


Rub stains with salt and lemon, and leave in the sun to dry. Wash as usual.  Or, wet stain and dab with a bit of cream of tartar.  Let it sit for 30 minutes and launder as usual.


Cover stain with another cloth that has been soaked in hydrogen peroxide.  Iron on low until mark disappears.  Rinse well.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Did You Know?

  • Fresh lemon juice will take away the smell of onion & garlic from your hands.
  • Soaking colored cottons overnight in strong salt water will prevent them from fading.
  • Marigolds will prevent rodents.
  • To prevent egg yolks from crumbling when slicing hard boiled eggs, wet the knife before each cut.
  • Add a little vinegar to the water when an egg cracks during boiling.  This will help seal the egg.
  • To prevent crust from becoming soggy with cream pie, sprinkle the crust with powdered sugar.
  • Cut drinking straws into short lengths & insert through slits in pie crusts to prevent juice form running over in the oven.  This permits steam to escape.
  • If juice from a fruit pies does run over into the oven, shake some salt on it.  This will cause the juice to burn to a crisp so it can be easily removed.
  • You can get more juice from a dried up lemon if you heat it for 5 minutes in boiling water before you squeeze it.
  • Adding a little milk to the water in which you are cooking cauliflower will help the cauliflower remain attractively white.
  • Potatoes soaked in salt water for 20 minutes before baking will help them bake faster.
  • When making fruit salad,  dip your bananas in lemon juice right after they are peeled.  This will prevent them from turning dark.  The same goes for apples.
  • Keep a toothbrush near the kitchen sink.  It's great for cleaning rotary beaters, graters, choppers, and similar kitchen utensils.
  • Plant a few sprigs of dill near your tomato plants to prevent tomato worms from invading your plants.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Makeup Monday: Cover Girl's Tropical Fushion

Drug store cosmetics have come a long way.  Now that I have been penny pinching, I've realized that I can achieve great makeup looks without going over budget.  Cover Girl Eye Enhancers 4 Kit Eyeshadow Set is a great buy for under $5.00.  I picked one up at my local Walmart awhile back and was quite impressed.  The pigment is vibrant and blends well.  With this eyeshadow quad, one can create numerous looks.  It's perfect for the up coming summer months.  Just like it's name suggests, Cover Girl's Tropical Fushion, is a delicious paradise of vivacious color which fuse together perfectly to create many fun looks.

Turn Off Music Above

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Coffee of the Week

Coffee and Chocolate are two of my most favorite things.
Here's a simple formula for a delectable treat  anytime and anywhere.  This particular drink adds the taste of chocolate to a Cafe au Lait.  The proportions of coffee and milk may be varied to suit your particular taste.
Chocolate and coffee make the world a better place!

Cafe Mocha
2/3 cup fresh brewed coffee
2 tbs chocolate syrup
1/3 cup milk
Sweetened chocolate powder  *Optional

Pour coffee into a cup.  Stir the chocolate syrup into the coffee.  Steam the milk until hot and frothy, then add to the coffee, leaving a layer of foam on top.  Sprinkle chocolate powder on top, if desired.
Indulge.  Enjoy.
Serves 1

Variations:  For a Cafe Mocha Mint, (YUM), stir 1/8 teaspoon mint extract into the coffee along with the chocolate syrup.  Proceed as directed above and garnish with a fresh mint sprig, if desired. 

For a TDF Mandarin Mocha,  stir 1/8 teaspoon orange extract into the coffee along with the chocolate syrup.  Proceed as directed above.

I am a huge biscotti fan. Enjoy your coffee of the week with chocolate biscotti.

Chocolate Biscotti

2 cups (280g) flour
3/4 cups (75g) top-quality cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup (125g) almonds, toasted and very coarsely-chopped
3/4 cups (120g) chocolate chips
For the glaze
1 large egg
2 tablespoons coarse or crystal sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) degrees.
2. In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, beat together the 3 eggs, sugar, and vanilla & almond extracts. Gradually stir in the dry ingredients, then mix in the nuts and the chocolate chips until the dough holds together.
4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Divide the dough in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into two logs the length of the baking sheet. Transfer the logs onto the baking sheet, evenly spaced apart.
5. Gently flatten the tops of the logs. Beat the remaining egg and brush the tops of the logs liberally with the egg. (You won’t use it all). Sprinkle the tops with the coarse or crystal sugar and bake for 25 minutes, until the dough feels firm to the touch.
6. Remove the cookie dough from the oven and cool 15 minutes. On a cutting board, use a serrated bread knife to diagonally cut the cookies into 1/2-inches slices. Lay the cookies cut side down on baking sheets and return to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet midway during baking, until the cookies feel mostly firm.
Once baked, cool the cookies completely then store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. If you wish, the cookies can be half-dipped in melted chocolate, then cooled until the chocolate hardens.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Beauty On A Budget

For almost 2 decades I worked in the cosmetic industry and had all the hook ups to the top of the line department store skin care and makeup lines.  
Well times have changed and
I am now a penny pinching housewife on a strict budget. 
I've done my research, gotten creative, and have replaced Bloomingdales with Walmart.  No worries.  It's all good.  Here are a few tricks I've picked up.
  • No need for fancy smancy exfoliants.  Miracle Whip salad dressing removes dead skin just fine.  Now I'm talking Miracle Whip brand ONLY.  Regular Mayonnaise will not work.  Begin by washing your face and patting it dry.  Now rub a small amount into your skin and let it dry a few minutes.  While the skin is still slightly moist, start massaging your face with your fingertips, rubbing vigorously.  You will be surprised at how much dead skin will roll right off.  Ew.  This treatment also works great on feet, elbows, and knees.
  • Toners smoners.  Restore the natural Ph-balance or acid mantle to your skin with apple cider vinegar.  Pour some into a basin of warm water and splash your face thoroughly.  Let it dry without towel drying.  Do this every morning before applying moisturizers or makeup.   Misting a thoroughly clean face with mineral water is great too and if you prefer, mix up a cup of water with 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, place the mixture in a spray bottle and use this to mist your face.
  • After you've applied your makeup, spray your face with mineral water or soak a tissue in mineral water and lightly dab it all over your face.  This will set your makeup and keep it fresh longer than usual.
  • If you're grossed out by the Miracle Whip suggestion, a paste of oatmeal and water makes an awesome facial scrub and exfoliant.  Apply to face and allow to dry until it feels tight.  Rub off with your fingers in a back and forth motion.  Not only will this slough off dead skin, it will help get rid of blackhead.  Concentrate around the nose area.
  • Tried and true, a teaspoon of sugar with soap lather is another great method of exfoliation.
  • Did you know that the fastest way to dry up a blemish is with lemon juice?  Well, it is.  Dab it on your juicer a few times a day and it will clear up in no time.  
  • Castor oil, in its odorless form, makes a seriously good eye cream.  I've learned that plastic surgeons use it on their patients following surgery.  Before bedtime, apply a light amount of Castor oil around your eyes.  
  • Everybody should know that placing fresh cold cucumbers on your eyelids will rid them of redness and puffiness.  Well, cold teabags work well too.  I recommend green tea teabags
As for facial masks, I could go on and on and on.  There are oh so many yummy facial mask recipes you can whip up right in your own kitchen that will do wonders for your skin.  One of my favorites is simply applying an egg white to my face.  After it hardens and drys, I rinse it off and my skin is unbelievably smooth and firm.

How about one of these?
Rose and Honey
Honey and oats are used in the beauty industry to soften and heal the skin tissue and help attract moisture to the skin
  • 1-2 tbs of honey
  • 1 cup porridge oats
  • 1 tbs of rose water
Mix ingrediets together adding more honey if required. Avocado Face Mask Choose the ingredients which feel most suitable to your skin today. Avocado Face Mask
  • half ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (normal or oily skin)
  • 1 egg yolk (normal to dry skin)
  • 1 tbsp plain yoghurt
  • 1 tsp olive or avocado oil
Peel and mash the avocado half in a bowl Beat in the remaining ingredients and use immediately. Banana Face Mask banana face mask
  • half medium size banana
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp plain yoghurt (oily skin)
  • 1 tbsp cream (normal to dry skin)
Peel and mash the banana in a bowl Beat in the remaining ingredients and use immediately. Pineapple and Cornmeal Pineapple is a natural exfoliate. pineapple is a natural exfoliate
  • 1 slice of pineapple half an inch thick
  • 2 tblsp plain yoghurt
  • 4 tblsp cornmeal
Puree the pineapple. Put the puree in a bowl and mix in the yoghurt and enough cornmeal to make a thick paste. Leave it for 5 minutes before using to let the cornmeal soften.

Here are a few more links for reference.