Preparing Your Pets for the Holidays

chloeThe holidays are finally upon us, and with Thanksgiving less than a week away, I was unsurprised to find a mile long to-do list greeting me.  We’re travelling by car to visit’s the hubby’s family, and for some crazy reason, we agreed to bring the dog with us.

Yet between taking the dog on a 12-hour road trip and leaving the cat, 16 fish, and 70k or so bees at home, there are lots of last-minute to-dos to remember that relate specifically to our furry friends.  I’ve gathered my list here, in hopes that it might be useful for others.

If You’re Leaving Your Pets With a Pet Sitter

1.  Do a home visit with the sitter before you leave.  Continue reading “Preparing Your Pets for the Holidays”

Advertisement

Lattice Top Pies Look Hard, But Are Really Easy

IMG_1883

Pie has a bad reputation.  For whatever reason, people think it’s this super complicated thing that’s really hard to get right.

Newsflash: it’s not.  Making a crust from scratch is pretty straightforward (pro tip-use lard instead of butter!) But pie is also one of those things that’s ridiculously easy to do on a “semi” homemade basis that’ll still end up tasting great.  So when the hubby requested his favorite blueberry pie today, I didn’t break out my Kitchenaid – I broke out the refrigerated pie crusts and canned blueberry filling.  Easy peesy, and yet, I can post photos of the pie to Facebook and look like the friggin’ wife of the year.

IMG_1879If you really want to blow people’s minds, take it one step further – make a lattice top on your pie.  Something about the woven look BLOWS PEOPLE’S MINDS.  And yet just like pie, it’s really easy.

The secret?  You don’t actually weave anything.  Lay all your vertical pieces down, and then fold half of them back over on themselves.  Then, add your first horizontal piece.

IMG_1880Once that’s down, unfold the vertical pieces back to normal, and now fold the alternate vertical pieces back over your first horizontal piece – now add your second horizontal piece, and so forth.

After your lattice top is complete, tuck all the loose lattice ends in between the bottom crust and the baking dish, then smoosh them all to make a fluted crust (or go crazy and do something even fancier).

IMG_1881People will think you’ve done some voodoo and stolen Martha Stewart’s soul if you turn up to a party with a lattice-top pie.  Just go with it.  No one needs to know it only took you five minutes of prep work to make the whole thing. The secret’s safe with me.

Tomatillo Salsa Verde in Five Minutes

IMG_1871After a rather puny initial harvest, our jalapeno pepper plant channeled the Little Engine That Could and managed to pop out four late-season peppers of a decent size.

That could only mean one thing: salsa party!

My favorite salsa is ridiculously easy – it literally takes five minutes, can be canned or frozen for later use, and tastes great as part of a recipe or just with chips. Click “continue reading” to see the recipe! Continue reading “Tomatillo Salsa Verde in Five Minutes”

Getting rid of brass fixtures, on the cheap

IMG_1874 (1)I don’t know about you guys, but personally, I *LOATHE* brass fixtures. They just scream outdated and cheap and also clash with just about everything.  Unfortunately, our house was built in 1982 – a bumper year for brass, apparently.

Getting rid of the brass in our house has been a slow but steady process requiring the updating of light fixtures and ceiling fans, towel holders and shower rods. And we were about 90% brass free EXCEPT for the obtrusive eyesore lurking in every room of our house – the hinges and doorknobs of all our doors were still brass.

Looking at Lowes, getting the same type of interior doorknobs we had, only in brushed nickel, was going to cost us about $20 a piece. New hinges would cost about $3 each, or $6 per door.  Throughout our house, we have 12 doors (including all room doors, closet doors, and entry doors) needing to be de-brassed, meaning replacing all the parts would have run $312. Not awful, but not great, either.

Luckily, there’s a cheaper option.  Rustoleum is a brand of spray paint that can stick to pretty much anything – including metal.  And they just so happen to make a “satin nickel” variety, which is exactly the color we wanted.  For $15 and a little drying time, we got the exact same look as replacing all our door fixtures, for less than 1/20th of the price. Pretty sweet!

Meal planning for two: three tips to reduce food waste

Recently I had a conversation with a newly married friend of mine.  She and her husband had budgeted $60 a week for groceries for the two of them, but they were finding it hard to stay on track. Things just weren’t packaged for two people, she lamented, so they were overspending AND throwing out a lot of food waste – a double whammy.

To some extent, that’s just the “DINK tax”.  One of the prices you pay for living gloriously unencumbered by a bunch of kids is that you will never, no matter how hard you try, get through a full loaf of bread in a normal week between just the two of you.  But there are ways to reduce food waste when just cooking for two people instead of a whole brood – and it starts with plenty of advance planning.

This week’s “Highlight” Recipe: Spaghetti Carbonara from DamnDelicious.net

1.  Pick one “highlight” meal for the week, then go from there.

It’s easy, especially if you frequent the time suck that is Pinterest, to find hordes of so-called “easy weeknight recipes” that also somehow contain upwards of 15, even 20 ingredients. If you try and make 4-5 of these complicated and ingredient-heavy recipes each week, you’re undoubtedly going to be spending a lot of money at the store, and having a lot food waste leftover.

Instead, pick ONE new “highlight” recipe for the week, and then build the rest of your weekly meal plan off the ingredients you won’t completely use in that main recipe.  (Select “continue reading” to see more!) Continue reading “Meal planning for two: three tips to reduce food waste”