Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Who doesn’t love the taste of sweet, buttery caramel mixed with the rich aroma of a perfectly brewed cup of coffee? Perfect to wake up with, as an afternoon pick-me-up, or as a sweet treat to indulge in.
It’s love at first brew. The best part—you don’t even have to leave the house to enjoy this great creation.
Caramel O’Clock Coffee Recipe
1 Cup hot brewed Eight O’Clock Original Coffee
2 Tbsp Milk
1 Tbsp Caramel Syrup
Chocolate Toffees, chopped into small pieces
Drizzle half of caramel syrup into the bottom of mug. Pour coffee. Add milk. Add whipped cream. Drizzle remaining caramel syrup over whipped cream. Garnish with chocolate toffees.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Hershey's Homemade Chocolate Frosting Recipe
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2/3 cup Hershey's cocoa
3 cups confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar)
1/3 cup cold milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt the butter or margarine (I use butter) in the microwave or via the stove top. Pour melted butter into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar and cold milk, stirring after each addition. Use an electric mixer to beat the ingredients until they are of spreading consistency. Stir in the vanilla extract and beat frosting again. Spread the chocolate frosting onto your favorite cake, cupcakes or brownies.
Monday, May 21, 2012
“The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge” Invites Parents and Their Children to Submit Healthy Lunch Recipes for a Chance to Attend Kids’ "State Dinner"
New York, NY (May 21, 2012) – Epicurious and First Lady Michelle Obama, the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture are all teaming up to launch a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches. The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids' "State Dinner" invites parents (or legal guardians) and their children, ages 8-12, to create and submit a recipe for a lunch that is nutritious and delicious. All entrants have the chance to win a trip to Washington D.C. and the opportunity to be invited to attend a Kids' “State Dinner” at the White House in August, where a selection of the winning healthy recipes will be served.
The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge & Kids' "State Dinner" invites a parent or guardian to work with their child to create an original lunchtime recipe that is healthy, affordable, and tasty. In support of Let’s Move!, launched by the First Lady to solve the problem of childhood obesity, entrants are encouraged to reference the nutritional guidelines of the USDA’s site, ChooseMyPlate.gov, to ensure recipes meet the primary criterion of being healthier. Entries should represent each of the food groups, either in one dish or as parts of a lunch meal, including fruit, veggies, whole grains, protein and low-fat dairy foods. All U.S. states and territories are invited to participate, including Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Fifty-six winners (one winner from each of the 50 states, plus the U.S. Territories, D.C., and Puerto Rico) and a parent or guardian will be flown to our nation’s capital and will have the opportunity to be invited to attend a once-in-a-lifetime Kids’ "State Dinner" at the White House, hosted by Mrs. Obama, where a selection of the winning healthy recipes will be served.
"We all want to ensure that our kids are eating nutritious, delicious food at every meal, and as a mom I know that parents are always looking for new ideas to make that happen,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “With parents and kids all across the country getting creative in the kitchen, I know we'll find healthy meals that every family will enjoy. And I can’t wait to try the kids’ creations myself.”
“We are truly honored that Mrs. Obama is partnering with Epicurious to help raise awareness for the importance of healthy lunches, and healthy eating for kids, overall,” said Tanya Steel, editor-in-chief of Epicurious. "This topic has long been a personal passion of mine and I’ve supported the First Lady’s ‘Let’s Move!’ campaign through Epicurious. Through The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge, we are hoping to make a positive change in the way our children eat and live by showing them that meals, especially their school lunch, can be tasty AND healthy.”
The winning recipes will be chosen by a panel of judges that includes Tanya Steel, Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass, USDA and Department of Education representatives, as well as a celebrity chef. The winning recipes will be available free to all in a downloadable and printable e-cookbook that features nutritional analysis, and photos and drawings of the recipes, available via the contest web site, letsmove.gov, USDA.gov, and Ed.gov.
“This Challenge helps both parents and their kids to think about the basic ingredients of a healthy lunch, whether you make it at home or get it in the school lunch line,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Understanding the components of a balanced diet is important for a lifetime of healthy eating.”
“In the 21st century, healthy food is not an add-on to a good education. To succeed in the knowledge-based, global economy, children need tasty, nutritious food to help them excel academically,” said Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education. “Students of all ages can plant gardens to learn science, nutrition, civic and business skills. Even our youngest can learn how to healthfully prepare their harvest in the kitchen, take responsibility for nutritious meals and feel pride at a recipe well executed with his or her own two hands.”
Recipes can be submitted May 21 through June 17, either online at http://recipechallenge.epicurious.com or via mail at: “The Healthy Lunchtime Challenge c/o Epicurious.com,” 1166 Avenue of the Americas, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036. Winners will be notified on July 16. The White House Kids “State Dinner” is currently scheduled to take place in August 2012. Westin Hotels will be providing hotel rooms for the winning families, and Delta Air Lines will provide air travel to Washington, D.C. For more information and contest rules, visit recipechallenge.epicurious.com.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Though a detailed review of your finances and a realistic wedding budget will need to be devised, cutting back on certain expenses will ultimately lead toward a debt-free celebration. This doesn't mean you have to put your entire life on hold until you say "I Do," however. Instead, make a few budget tweaks to kick off your wedding savings.
Here are 10 easy ways to help you spend less and save more.
1. Dine out less.
With an expensive event to save for, look for areas in your lifestyle that can greatly reduce the amount of money you spend. Dining out regularly, for example, eats into your budget to the tune of $200 per month, according to the National Restaurant Association. Cooking at home will not only save money, but also provides a unique bonding opportunity with your soon-to-be spouse.
2. Sell your stuff.
Peruse your closet for clothes, shoes and accessories you haven't worn for a year and start purging. Post the goods online via Craigslist and eBay, or sell through your local consignment shop. The same goes for furniture, home goods and sporting equipment. You can even exchange gift cards for cash on sites like GiftCardGranny.com.
3. Trim salon visits.
Whether you're a hair-color fiend or addicted to manicures and massages, it's time to trim those salon visits. Let your hair grow out a little longer to stretch time between visits and save on cuts. Give yourself at-home mani-pedis with inexpensive drugstore kits. Though weekly massages may help you relax, make a date with your bathtub and suds it up with a little mellow music to help you unwind.
4. Movie night alternatives.
Skip the $5 movie from you cable provider for a $1 Redbox rental, or get your cinema fix via online streaming with Hulu. You can also pick up free DVDs at your local library, or swap movies you own with friends for something new to watch.
5. Find a side gig.
From weekend bartending (up to $300 nightly) to watching the neighbors kids ($15 per hour), you could supplement your savings with extra cash from a side gig. Just make sure you don't spread yourself too thin with the added workload. Wedding planning takes time, after all, and you don't want to kill yourself saving up for an extra plate of foie gras.
6. Nix dry cleaning.
Instead of paying $10 to $20 per item for dry cleaning, use at-home dry-cleaning kits ($13 for 6 pouches), which freshen up your clothes in the dryer instantly. Going forward, check clothing labels for care requirements and try to avoid dry clean-only garments.
7. Brew your own cup of joe.
Wake up a few minutes early and make your own coffee. This is one of the most common -- and yet most overlooked -- daily savings tips. With coffee and espresso running anywhere from $1 to $5 per serving, potential savings could reach $35 per week or $140 monthly.
8. Redeem reward points.
According to a study by Colloquy, the average household participating in loyalty programs -- like those offered by credit cards -- earns approximately $622 in rewards annually, and fails to redeem $205. If you're guilty of leaving 200 bones on the table, now is the time to start redeeming those points. Get gift cards to use toward wedding expenses or try to pay for a portion of your honeymoon travel expenses with the points.
9. Use your tax refund wisely.
The average tax refund in 2011 was nearly $3,000, according to CNNMoney. If you're fortunate enough to receive that kind of sum again this year, open a high-interest savings account and deposit the refund immediately. Then, review the W4 you have on file with your employer and adjust your withholding. You don't want to miss out on an extra $250 of income each month going forward.
10. Mass transportation for massive savings.
For city dwellers, vow to take the subway or bus to work instead of a taxi to yield a savings potential up to $20 per day. For those who cab it around town because alcohol is involved, many props to you. However, you may consider electing a sober driver or ween yourself from the costly activity altogether.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. She is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
As the proud owner of two Labrador-Australian Shepard mixes, I'm no stranger to the rising cost of pet care. In addition to frequent exercise and annual check-ups, my husband and I save hundreds of dollars on pet care by adopting the following savvy strategies.
1. Create an Emergency Fund
There are at least nine reasons for an emergency fund, according to Kiplinger, including the ability to offset a costly vet bill should your beloved animal need expensive treatment. When my dogs were just 12 months old, one choked the other during aggressive play and -- $1,700 later -- we had a very tired but recovering puppy. Our savings account kept this traumatic experience from creating a financial hardship.
2. Don't Skimp on Food
Food is likely the most expensive necessity next to vet visits, but that doesn't mean you should opt for low price over quality. By purchasing healthy food, you're enhancing your pet's quality of life and ultimately saving yourself from costly vet bills down the road. Purchase discount gift cards to PetSmart and other stores from sites like GiftCardGranny.com to nab some savings.
3. Consider Pet Insurance
If you're the type of pet owner who will spare no expense for veterinary care, consider signing up for pet insurance. The number of pet insurance carriers has increased significantly from just ten years ago, and most offer several levels of coverage. Visit PetInsuranceComparison.org for information on available policies, reviews and questions to ask providers.
4. Take Advantage of Clinics
Some veterinary practices offer free clinics one or two times a year, waiving appointment fees that compound the cost of annual visits. My husband and I always schedule check-ups and vaccinations during these times. If your vet doesn't offer this service, check with your local Humane Society or animal-control unit for recommendations.
5. Research Your Options
When facing a hefty vet bill, you might assume your only option is to throw down a credit card and pay off the expense over time. However, there are other sources for financial aid, including state programs and breed-specific organizations. Consult this article from the Humane Society for more information.
6. Buy Discount
I shop discount retailers like TJMaxx and Ross for clothes and housewares, and always peruse their pet-care aisles for deals. I've found great pet beds, bowls and toys for much less than pet-store prices, though I avoid treats and food items since I'm not familiar with the brands. Ultimately, new pet owners can score serious savings by stocking up on discount supplies.
7. Be Loyal
PetSmart and PetCo each have free loyalty programs that offer discounts and, in the case of PetCo, 5-percent cash back on purchases. You should also sign up to receive email notifications about upcoming sales and exclusive discounts, and stock up during these specials to tide you over until the next promotion.
8. Order Meds Online
Most pet owners know medications purchased directly from the vet come with a hefty price tag. Unless it's an emergency, request the prescription information and shop online at sites like 1800PetMeds.com. I save 34 percent on our dogs' heart worm medication by ordering online and using the generic alternative.
9. Fix for Less
Neutering or spaying your pet is crucial to avoiding the exponential expense of caring for a litter down the road. The average cost of the service from your local vet is between $200 and $300, but many organizations offer this service for less to curb the number of homeless animals. Consult ASPCA's Low Cost Spay/Neuter Programs page to find a provider near you.
Though I wouldn't attempt to clean a cat's teeth, there are several services you can administer at home to save money. Brushing, ear cleaning and nail clipping are just a few necessities you can likely handle without the assistance of a professional. In fact, your vet will happily share with you the best techniques for at-home care, as they'd much prefer to spend time on more specialized services.
Monday, May 14, 2012
My day started out pretty good until I was on Twitter earlier this morning. For many weeks now I have been following Dentyne Gum on Twitter as it is/was one of my favorite brands of gums. I have been chewing on Dentyne since I was a teen and I am now 40+ years old. (YOU CAN CLICK ON THE GRAPHIC TO ENLARGE IT)
However, The person managing Dentyne Gum's Twitter account thought it would be cool to RT one of their other followers tweets this morning. This person who is following Dentyne Gum and who Dentyne Gum thought it would be cool to RT goes by the user ID on Twitter as "IRecycleHoes". Wow!
Frankly, I would NEVER as a company or brand EVER RT anything by a user named "IRecycleHoes" as that is totally offensive just seeing their name come across my Twitter stream. It is offensive to women and I believe men (good men that is) would also find that offensive.
While you can tweet and RT whatever you want on your personal Twitter accounts, Companies and Brands need to watch who and what they are retweeting over there on Twitter. I am totally outraged and offended as a woman that Dentyne Gum thought it was okay to RT their follower named "IRecycleHoes". (ugh, I feel like vomiting even typing that onto my blog).
When you are doing Social Media work and representing a brand/company on their Twitter account you hold responsibilty for what you are tweeting and retweeting over there. Dentyne Gum has since deleted the tweet which I quickly screen shot before it got deleted. Instead of apologizing to their followers for that "offensive mistake" their Twitter person decided to BLOCK ME from following them! What the heck is that about? I didn't do anything wrong but tweet at them that I was totally offended by that retweet.
I have since emailed Kraft Foods about this matter as I am outraged about it! This person should of deleted the tweet (which they did) and then apologize to their followers for it. But instead, she/he blocks me because I bring the offensive tweet to their attention. Well, that isn't going to fly with me and I will continue to follow up with Dentyne Gum and Kraft Foods.
As a christian woman, I am very offended by this. Dentyne Gum, you need to make this right and apologize for it and that includes removing me from BLOCK when I did nothing wrong.
Sunday, May 13, 2012
For the past 15 years...My adult daughter has always gotten me a hanging basket of flowers for Mother's Day and to this day, the tradition continues. I got a new basket today and it's already hanging. Every year a mommy house finch bird builds a nest and has babies so I am hoping for the same this year. This evening it's bubble bath time and 2 movies with the hubby.
I had an excellent day and totally enjoyed all the attention I received. I hope you all had a fantastic Mother's Day with your families too!
Thursday, May 10, 2012
VOGA has earned numerous awards and accolades for their sleek and sexy glass cylindrical bottle with unique resalable cap, presentation and most importantly taste. The collection retails from $10.99 to $15.99 and includes Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Moscato, Quattro, and Sparkling.
BerryTini Cocktail Drink Recipe
3 oz. VOGA Pinot Grigio
.75 oz. peach schnapps
2.5 oz cranberry juice
Combine VOGA Pinot Grigio, peach schnapps and cranberry juice in a shaker over ice. Pour in a martini glass and garnish with your favorite fruit.
Disclaimer: We were given some cocktail recipes to share with our blog readers from the PR firm that represents Sparkling ICE to share with our readers. You must be 21 years of age or older to consume alcoholic beverages.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Mr. Charlie will come up and eat peanuts right out of your hand! He doesn't attack our bird feeders but will sit underneath them and eat the seeds that drop out from the other squirrels attacking it or from the birds dropping them.
So there you have it...a photo of "Charlie" on my backyard patio having a bird seed snack! You can click on the photo here in my post to enlarge it which really shows him nicely. What a great squirrel!
Saturday, May 5, 2012
We both work extremely hard and don't get as much time off from work as we used to, so we only get to go down to the condo about 5-6 times a year. *sigh* I really need to do something about that!
Anyway, in less than a month we will be down at our favorite beach and doing some R&R and hopefully, having some fun! I really need this R&R break and it can't get here soon enough! I hope that we have nice hot weather with plenty of sunshine as weather in early June can be a little tricky down there.
Some starting today, a red X will be placed onto my calendar to count off the days until vacation time. Yeah!!!!
Friday, May 4, 2012
This year we have a beautiful female (she is all brown) and we named her Ding. She had a few male companions with her last month but they flew the coop! However, she has 3 new male companions with her now so we are hoping for some duck mating so that we can get some babies!
These particular 3 male Mallard Ducks are being really protective of Ding and don't like us coming near her. She is people friendly to a point but those boys want her for themselves right now. She does have what looks to be a nice sized nest near the one end of the stream so we are hoping that she will mate soon and baby ducklings will soon be on their way.
I just had to share a photo today of Ding's boyfriends! They are super colorful and very handsome!
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
I thought I would share with all of you some tips that worked great for me and got my microwave oven sparkling clean once again.
* Take your carousel out of the microwave and hand wash it or toss it into the dishwasher. Once it is out of your microwave, spritz a non-toxic all-purpose cleaner inside. I like to use Simple Green. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then wipe it out with a clean damp sponge. Spritz your microwave again with some water and then clean up that water with a damp sponge and towel dry.
* If you still got some icky stuff in your microwave, fill up a 2 cup glass measuring cup with 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1 3/4 cup of water. Place it into the microwave and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes. You want it to work up a good steam. Remove it (carefully as it will be hot) and finish wiping down the inside of your microwave. This always works well for me and leaves my microwave smelling citrus-ly clean!
* If you own one of those Mr. Clean Magic Eraser cleaning sponges, those always work well for stubborn burnt on food particles and I have had to use one of those a month ago for burnt spaghetti sauce and it took it right up for me.
So, what about you....how do you like to get your microwave sparkling clean? Any tips?
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
I just love going out to dinner and grabbing a few drinks at our local Chili's! They always have great tasting food and you just can't beat the friendly service! With all of the summer events coming up, Cinco de Mayo, Graduation Parties, Birthday Parties, Family Reunions, etc. Chili's is the rocking place to be!
Next month I am planning a big "Girl's Night Out" with 5 of my bestest friends and we are going to go out and try the new CoronaRita at Chili's and dine on some great tasting food! I am a huge fan of their "Big Mouth Burger Bites" so I will probably get that from their delicious looking menu. My friend Renee usually goes for their sliders and a salad. Once we are done dinning it will be drink time and the CoronaRita Margarita is at the top of our list!
The CoronaRita Margarita is made with Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila and Coronita, sounds totally delicious to me and the perfect drink for our Girl's Night Out party! Have you tried the new CoronaRita Margarita yet? If so, what did you think of it? I bet it's delicious!
I am super excited for our "Girl's Night Out" next weekend that I can hardly contain myself! The super fun part about all of this is that the very next weekend I will be at Chili's again to celebrate my daughter's 27th Birthday. We have been taking her to Chili's every year for birthday since she turned 21. We always have a great time and it's a great family-bonding time too!
The next time you want to go out for some great tasting food and some drinks, you should consider heading to your local Chili's. Once you dine once, you will be back for more!
Disclaimer: You must be age 21 years or older to consume alcoholic beverages. Please drink responsibly and always use a designated driver when consuming more than 1 drink. Thanks!