Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Yummyday Tuesday - Hashbrown Casserole

Southern Hashbrown Casserole
3/4 C. Chopped Onion
2 Tbsp. Melted Butter
1 Bag Frozen Shredded Hashbrowns
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
8oz Sour Cream
1 C. Shredded Cheddar
Salt & Pepper  - To Taste
Corn Flakes
1 Stick butter, melted (for topping)

Saute Onions in the butter until light brown in color. In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except the corn flakes. Place in large casserole dish. Top with corn flakes and drizzle with 1 stick of melted butter.

Bake at 350 degrees until topping is crisp and casserole is bubbling.

post signature

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yummyday Tuesday - Cranberry Chicken Salad


Another wonderful recipe from my neighbor, Barbara Evans. Do NOT leave off the cranberry - as it is what makes this recipe so good - and different! Each bite of salad should be accompanied by a bite of cranberry.

3oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1/2 C. Sour Cream
Dash of Salt
3/4 C. Chopped Celery
1/2 C. Chopped Walnuts
2 Tbsp. Green Bell Pepper
1 1/2 C. Cooked Chicken (or canned)
13oz can of Pineapple, drained
8oz. CHILLED Jellied Cranberry
Leaf Lettuce for Garnish

Beat together the cream cheese, sour cream and salt. Stir in the celery, walnuts and green pepper. Fold in the chicken and pineapple. Serve with a thick slice of cranberry on a piece of leaf lettuce. Yum!

post signature

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Celebrating Saint Patricks Day

Celebrate Green

Growing up blonde haired, blue eyed and fair skinned, after asking, "Are you a natural blonde?" people would always say: "You must be Irish." It wasn't until my thirties that I read, in full text, the family genealogy my grandfather spent the last years of his life researching. Turns out, I am more than just a little Irish.

Although my mother named me after the "girl" in His Girl Friday, my first name, Kendal, is a true Irish name. Its actually Celtic, (more on that later) and means, "ruler of the valley" and "rolling, river valley." 8 of the 10 known strands of my family are from Ireland: My immediate family - The Hustons, The Fords, The Browns (Brauns, they are also German), and The Waldrops. The Hustons (my mother’s father’s family) are direct descendants from Claud Huston, the earliest known land holder in Ireland. Luckily for me, I LOVE Saint Patrick's Day.

St. Patrick Day Facts and Legends
-Ireland was converted to Christianity from Paganism by St. Patrick.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrates the “Baptism of Ireland” and is the day St. Patrick died.

St. Patrick was not Irish, he was British. He was kidnapped at 16 and put into slavery. He escaped and went to a monastery – then “had a calling” to go back to Ireland and convert the Celtics.

St. Pat’s was first celebrated in America when Irish colonist brought it to Boston in 1737. The parade started in 1762 when the Irish members of the British army were recognized in a parade in NYC. Savannah’s first parade was in 1813.

This is the 186 celebration in Montreal – the longest running parade.

The shamrock symbolized the three holy spirits – Mary, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. St. Patrick used it to demonstrate this to the Celtics.

Blue, instead of green, used to be the color for this day. Green is not the color of Irish; in fact, it used to be a symbol of bad luck. It was thought to be the color of the “good Fairies” and if a person wore too much of it, the fairies would kidnap them. It now is the symbol of the Irish members of the British Army and on the Irish Flag.

The coloring of the rivers green began when the Irish in Chicago poured green Vegetable oil coloring into the river. Savannah stopped coloring the river in 1991 and now only color the fountain in Forsyth Park.
It is tradition for women spectators to kiss the Armed Forces men in the parade.

The Blarney Stone is a gem located in Blarney Castle in Ireland. The legend is that a witch cast a spell on the stone granting whoever kissed it the power to “talk eloquently” which means to be able to talk people into things. She cast this spell after the king of the castle saved her from drowning. You can visit this stone in Ireland still, although the have to lean, backwards and upside down to kiss it.

1940 was the first and only other time the parade had to be moved from March 17 due to the celebration falling on Holy Week. It will not happen again until 2160.

Over 750,000 people attend the Savannah festival in 2006. For more info on Savannah's parade, visit: www.savannahsaintpatricksday.com

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine upon your face
The rains fall soft upon your fields
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

post signature

Thursday, March 15, 2012


There was a time when I loved a mailbox stuffed full of catalogs, sales papers, magazines and, well, just junk. Now that I am trying to be more "earth-friendly" AND trying to save money, I have banished the junk mail. No more costly magazine subscriptions to magazines I can't find the time to read. No more catalogs full of stuff I used to buy but never really needed. Gone are the piles and piles of credit card offers in the mail just waiting to be plucked by some identity thief! How did I dwindle down my mail? Read on to see the steps you can take to BANISH YOUR JUNK MAIL!

I Opt out – Whenever I join a club, register for a conference, apply for ANYTYING, I always check the “Opt Out” box. This keeps the company I WANT to give my info to from selling or passing it onto someone I DON’T want to contact me. Many companies have “sister” companies they will pass your info onto, creating a new line of junk mail.

I think twice – Before I sign up for any type of newsletter at my gym, event calendar from my daughter’s ballet or the library’s mailing list – I rethink…..Can I check the info on-line instead of getting a mail out? Is there a monthly email newsletter? Anything that will keep my MAILING address off a list – I chose that route! Every piece of paper, every envelope very stamp printed counts. According to 41pounds.org, the average amount of junk mail each American adult receives in a year is, well 41 pounds!

Speaking of Mailing Lists – The Direct Marketing Association will remove the names of everyone in your household for three years for $1 per person. Visit www.dmachoice.org/mps or the-dma.org/consumers/offmailinglist.html for more info. The DMA says that doing this will reduce your junk mail by 80%!!!!

Credit Bureau Mailing Lists – All Pre-approved credit offers and insurance offers come from these guys. Visits www.optoutprescreen.com to be removed for 5 years. This not only reduces junk mail but is a good precaution against identity theft.

Valpak coupon Mailings – Rarely do these packets contain coupons you will actually use. www.coxtarget.com/mailsuppression/s/DisplayMailSuppressionForm will remove you.
Use online catalogs – www.catalogchoice.com lets you search by catalog name and cancel the ones you want to stop. As you get catalogs in the mail, take the time to visit this site and remove your name. Use the online versions instead.

Contact the marketer directly. Sometimes all it takes is an email or phone call to be removed from a mailing list. Ask the company to send you online material instead. You can still get the great offers but not the paper version. If you don’t care about their sales and info, you can always add them to your email “junk” inbox and never know the difference!

You won’t be able to stop every single piece of junk mail from finding its home in your mailbox, but you can significantly reduce the flow. Visit earth911.org for more info.

How have you reduced your paper junk mail?

Thursdays in the Simple Life Series are all about reducing the clutter (mental and physical) you bring into your life in the first place, starting with our “green” tips. I will let you know what I am doing to make simple changes in my own life. I hope you follow along and try some of these steps yourself. Please let me know how you are coming along by leaving comments at the bottom of each post. Tell me what works, what doesn’t, if you are bored – whatever – we are learning and growing together. Hopefully by the end of this process, you will have a better view of your health, your money, your lifestyle, your dreams, your regrets and use these findings to make steps to improving your life overall.

post signature

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Worry Wednesday - Pitiful Plants

Small steps make big impacts.
By working through small steps you build a strong foundation for the
larger areas in your cluttered space

House Plants - Real and Plastic

Plastic = dust=allergies. Plastic also equals cheesy, lazy and, well, senior citizen. Real plants that are dying, trailing across the floor and wilted brown are worse - they can change the entire look and feel of a room! I am a true believer in live houseplants, if you can keep them alive. They make a room brighten up, help clean the air and can be very enjoyable.
Assignment, Phase One: Go through and collect EVERY SINGLE plastic, fake or dried arrangement and BAG it! Even those fake trees in the corner with spider webs all over them! OUT! OUT! OUT! Please Note: Yes, this does include those dried out roses your prom date gave you back in 1990. Take the bag to the Assisted Living Center in your town. The senior citizens will be thrilled to have these (they make arrangements with them to resell). Okay, you are done - wasn't that easy?
TIP: You may think you have a brown thumb instead of a green one, but plastic arrangements are not the answer. They fade, gather dust (and spiders) and just take the life out of your home decor. Put a large, empty, pottery vase in the fake plant's place - it will up-grade your decor AND it's easier to dust!

No, no, no, no! Pleeesssaae!

Assignment, Phase Two: Now, gather all the live plants you have into one spot, preferably in your garage or back porch. TOSS the completely dead ones into your compost bin , garden or trash. TIP: Shake as much dirt off the roots of the dead plant and re-use it to top off the good plants. If the plant has signs of life, prune it back the best you can, give it a little fresh dirt, and set it aside. Next, see which plants have outgrown their current pots. TIP: If the dirt is compacted around the base of the plant or you see roots growing from the top or underneath the pot - it's root-bound and needs a larger pot. Make note which ones need new pots and add that to your notepad. Instead of buying new plants, take cuttings from the ones you have and make multiple smaller versions. To your note pad also add one bag of potting mix, a household fertilizer, a spray bottle and a household watering pitcher (with a long spout.)

TIP: PLAN what type, size, color and material the new planters should be before you leave the house. When purchasing new planters, try to stream line all your plants. Instead of terra cotta or plastic planters, be creative and try other items such as pottery vases or clear glass planters. You want them to be subtle and fade into the decor, not be the decor - that's the plant's job.

Once you get the new planters, carefully cut back your plants and repot. The little trick of keeping just a FEW plants in subtle containers will make your area seem cleaned and less cluttered. Don't crowd your home with too many plants. It's your home, not a jungle.

REASON THIS HELPS YOU CONTROL YOUR CLUTTER: Faded, dusty plastic plants and dying real plants scream "clutter!" If you can't keep it alive, don't have ANY plants in your home. The dead leaves drop all over the floor, the spiders love to hang from plastic tree limbs and your mis-matched planters call attention to the already dreadful looking plants. Streamlining your planters and keeping live plants ALIVE will reduce the area's smothered feeling.

Wednesdays in the Simple Life Series are for YOUR CLUTTER (and yes, it multiplies in my home too). I will let you know what I am doing to make simple changes in my own home to clear out my clutter. I hope you follow along and try some of these steps yourself. Please let me know how you are coming along by leaving comments at the bottom of each post. Tell me what works, what doesn’t, if you are bored – whatever – we are learning and growing together.

post signature

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Yummyday Tuesday - Corn Beef and Cabbage

EASY Corn Beef and Cabbage
This dish, which still turns up on some Irish tables at Easter, has become familiar to people of Irish descent as the traditional favorite to serve on Saint Patrick’s Day.
4 slices bacon
4 tablespoons butter
1 head green cabbage, coarsely chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 can corned beef
Cook the bacon in large pot over medium heat until almost crisp. Remove the bacon from the pot and set aside. Melt the butter in the pot with the bacon grease. Add the cabbage, stirring well to coat the cabbage in fat. Add about 1/3 cup water, and salt and pepper, to taste.

Cover pot with a lid, and cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the bacon into small pieces.

Remove the lid from the pot, and scatter chunks of corned beef and chopped bacon over top of the cabbage. Cover and cook until desired doneness.

post signature

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Why Worry Wednesday - Home Office Horrors Part 1 - The Little Things

Clearing your clutter helps clear your mind. If your work and leisure spaces are cluttered, then you can't concentrate because you constantly worry about "when will I have time to clear this stuff up?" Keeping your work and relax spaces organized where you can find what you need easily will help reduce this stress

Mission Nine:
Office Supplies

This mission is designed for your home office, but the principles can be carried over to your work office.

Is your desk a pile of folders, un-read magazines (it shouldn't be if you completed Mission 6!), and junk mail? Do you have to search for a pen that works and do you pull out a wad of rubber bands when you need just one? How many coffee cups or Coke cans are there?

Take heart, I will not ask you to completely clear your desk. Some people work better "in stacks" and know where every paper they need can be found. Some people let their stacks get out of control before they know it and can't find anything! Either way, there are some common ground rules that will apply to most everyone.

Your Assignment: Below is a list of common items found in a home office. Complete each item before moving on to the next. TIP: You may want to set up a table in an a-joining area to help make room for the things you will work with here. You may also want to gather a few empty baskets (or shoe boxes) to temporarily help with the clutter-clearing.

Let's get started: If you completed Mission 5-7, then you can skip over the first three steps here, if not, then shame on you and read on.....

 - Books, magazines and catalogs - I know there are a few of you who have skipped to this assignment and did not complete Missions 5-7 - shame on you! What I need you to do now, for this assignment, is remove EVERY book, magazine and catalog off your desk and onto a working table. This includes software instructions, notebooks, reference guides - anything that is bound! You will sort through these later, but for now, remove them from this area completely.
 - CDs, DVDs, Software Disks, other multi-media - Again, if you did not do this in Missions 5-7 you need to remove EVERY type of Multi Media to your work table. Take the cases too. Don't organize them yet - we'll do that later.
 - Electronics, power cords, wires, earphones, etc - Your extra credit in Missions 5-7 was to do this, but if you didn't you should collect them now. Make two piles - one of things you use everyday such as your phone charger - the other of things like your old mouse, extra computer cords laying under your desk and the 15 extra ear buds that are tangled together in your top drawer. Put all these on the table.

MAIL - You probably have your own way of sorting your mail but here is a 'MUST" tip for your desk. Designate ONE place to put your mail and keep it all there. Whether you open it right away or not, put all mail together. Once it hits your desktop, it is more likely to get mixed in with other pages.
Un-filed Folders and Papers - Any file, folder or stack of papers on your desk can be gently straightened and set on the floor until you have time to organize them. That step is up to you - you know better than I where they need to go. Don't stress about that now - just move them out of the way or straighten them to make a clear work space for now.

Okay, what is left? A cup holder full of pens? A drawer full of paper clips and tape? Those coffee cups still there? Take a survey and clean up. Anything that belongs in another room other than your office space, put in a box or basket to return LATER. Remove any cups, plates, and other half eaten snacks (yes it is okay to finish up that Twinkie!). Throw out any trash that is in on your desk or around on the floor.

TIP: Start at the far left side of your work space and work clock-wise until you are done. DO NOT SKIP AROUND! This is the biggest mistake people make when clearing ANY space. Stay in one area until it is done. take each step as a single project, then begin again in your left hand corner until each step is complete. Don't try to do it all in one sweep.

GENERAL OFFICE SUPPLIES - In a shoe box, collect every single paper clip, rubber band, binder clip, staples, etc. In a second box collect every single pen, pencil, and marker. In a third, collect items such as the stapler, tape, scissors, and calculator. In a final box, put stray items such as photos and scraps of notes. Take the empty pen holders and organizational trays and wash them out. (Now would be a good time to note if you need new ones.)

TIP: Buying matching, FUNCTIONAL pen holders and supply trays will help you keep you desk looking nice and neat. Walmart and Staples offer inexpensive sets. Buy only what you need - not the entire set - especially if you have limited space. Buying holders that fit inside your desk drawers are even better - they hide your supplies and keep your desk clear of clutter.

Sort through the box of writing items first. PENS: You only need a dozen or so. Make sure the pens you keep WORK or even better, throw them ALL out and buy one dozen pens in the same brand. (Currently, pens cannot be recycled, visit Earth911.org for more info.) Either way, don't keep the extras in the bottom desk drawer. If you keep them, you will eventually start digging through them looking for one that might work - which is counter-productive! PENCILS: Keep half a dozen in easy reach. Extra pencils can be kept because they don't dry up but keep them together with a rubber band and in the bulk supply area. MARKERS: Pull two highlighters and two dry erase markers out . If you use more than one color, pull one of each color. Same with your makers. It is probably easier to buy a new set than figure out which ones work, but if you are game, test each one until you have a full set.

TIP: You may be tempted to pass your old markers onto you kids for crafts and that's great, but if they don't work then they will just make clutter in your child's space too and they may end up back on your desk. An easy solution is to make a game of it for your child. Give them the box and tell them every one that works, they get to keep. For every one they find that doesn't work, you will give them a prize such as a dime for each. Immediatley throw away the ones that don't work.

Put the one dozen pens, six pencils, highlighters, dry erase markers and color markers in your desk or in your cup holder. Whether you bought all new ones or kept old ones, once they run out of ink, IMMEDIATELY trash it. Don't put it back in the stack. The ink won't magically reappear and you WILL reach for the dried out one every time. When you get down to three pens, make a note to pick up a new box.
PAPER CLIPS, RUBBER BANDS AND THE LIKE: In your box of these supplies - use your kids again to sort them into piles. If you don't have children, then it's up to you! You can 1) donate the entire box or 2) Sit down and sort it all out. If you don't have a drawer tray, use small Tupperware containers to keep them separate. From now on, every paper clip and rubber band you use will immediately go into its space, not in a pile on your desk or cast off to the floor. Don't throw them away! Re-use them!

OTHER ITEMS: "NEWSFLASH" You only need ONE stapler, one tape dispenser, one calculator, one letter opener and ...well, you get the picture. If you have more than one of each, put it in the donate pile. Chose the one you like the best (be sure it works properly). Keep one box of staples in the drawer and one extra tape roll. It seems like such simple things to do but you'd be surprised to know how many people have 5 staplers on their desk!

BULK SUPPLIES: Designate one area for all extra supplies such as ink cartridges, boxes of fresh pens, and packs of printer paper. If you have multiple boxes of something, mark "LAST ONE" on one box so you know when you need to buy more. By designating one area instead of throwing them into your desk drawer, you will always know where to look when you need something and when to buy when your supplies are running low.

TIP: Staples has clearance sales after the kids go back to school that are great for stocking up - just don't buy 50 rolls of tape if you never use tape!

REASON THIS HELPS YOU WITH YOUR CLUTTER: By now, your desk, if not free of the un-ending paper trail, at least should be workable. By sorting all the little things that you need to work with, it makes working easier. No more frustration of grabbing three pens in a row that don't work. No more odd paper clips under your keyboard. No more rummaging through the bottom drawer looking to see if you have another box of staples. A little less stress - a little more time to work. We will tackle your office in more detail later but that's it for now - unless you still have all that stuff on your table! Go back to Mission 5-7 to work through these items. DO IT NOW - don't put it off - or you've just created a new place of clutter!

EXTRA GREEN CREDIT: Place a small shredder and two recycle boxes by your desk. Immediately shred your papers instead of collecting them for later. This reduces the piles (and chore) and the appearance of clutter. Place all magazines, catalogs, and newspapers in one of the recycle boxes. When it is full, sort and transfer the items to your regular home recycle center (if you don't have one, click here to an easy way to set one up.)

In the 2nd box, place all paper that you can re-use on the back. When you need scrap paper, need to print out something or your child needs coloring paper, pull from this box. It reduces your waste and your paper consumption.

Also, keep a shoe box (or basket) to place used ink cartridges, batteries and other recyclable items. I use the styro containers that fruits come in for these bins. This will make it easier to find them all later when it's time to go to the recycle center.

Next Wednesday - MISSION TEN: Plants - you know, those brown things in the corner.....

Wednesdays in the Simple Life Series are for YOUR CLUTTER (and yes, it multiplies in my home too). I will let you know what I am doing to make simple changes in my own home to clear out my clutter. I hope you follow along and try some of these steps yourself. Please let me know how you are coming along by leaving comments at the bottom of each post. Tell me what works, what doesn’t, if you are bored – whatever – we are learning and growing together.

post signature

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Yummyday Tuesday - Stuffed Irish Potatoes

Great filling appetizer for the upcoming Saint Patrick's Day Celebration

Stuffed Irish Potatoes

Start by baking the potatoes in the microwave - three or four at a time - using the pre-set potato button. I used small red potatoes here, but most any type will hold up. As soon as a batch is done, slice them in half and place the skins to the side.   In between batches,  mix together 8oz. softened cream cheese with a 10oz package of real bacon pieces. The more bacon, the better! Add 1 Tbsp. of Lady and Sons Seasoning and mix well with your hands.

Use a melon scooper or spoon to remove the potato insides. (You will not need the inside "meat." I usually make mashed potatoes out of it.) Be careful not to puncture the peels. Leave a thick layer of "meat" if you have problems with the potatoes falling apart.

Fill each potato skin with a spooonful of mixture and heat in the oven until cheese is soft. It will not melt like regular cheese so becareful not to over-cook them.

post signature