Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tulips. Amazing. Everyday.

image via Google

Look through any home magazine and you will see at least one room styled with fresh flowers. The images are striking, breath-taking. It’s just not the beautiful furnishings, décor, flooring and the fact that everything is perfectly in place that makes you think I’d love to live here!  It’s the flowers! The extra special little touch makes such a big statement.  Designers and stylists know that flowers make a room look warm and inviting.

Knowing this trick of the eye, I make it a point to purchase a bunch of fresh cut flowers every week, but there is a method to my madness and I like particular flowers each season.

I love Tulips this time of year! First, they appear in vases around my home, and then by April they will be in full bloom in the garden in front of my house. 

The first year I planted tulips I anxiously waited for the red and black beauties to bloom. I checked their progress every day until one morning I knew they would be in full bloom by the time I arrived home from work. Since I was new to tulips I was didn't know how much the squirrels enjoyed them too. When I arrived home they had bitten off every beautiful bloom. ARRGHH!  The next year I learned to place dried hot peppers around the tulips to ward off the squirrels.

There are a few things to keep in mind when working with fresh cut tulips.

  • Because tulips continue to grow even after being cut, they will bend to conform to their container.
  • Cutting an inch off the stems every 2 days will promote water intake making them stay fresh longer.
  • Tulips do not like direct sun, heating vent and drafty places.

image via Wisteria Home

My freshly cut tulips.

image via Wisteria Home

My daughter-in-law carried tulips on her wedding day!

It is no coincident that red tulips are my favorite as they are the most popular variety.  Just like roses, red tulips symbolize love. Legend has it the first red tulip were tears shed by a Persian Prince who was completely devastated by an unrequited love. Red roses have become quite common to show true love but red tulips are a more unique flower to show true love.

So if you want to chase the winter blues away, make your home look amazing every day, or show some one how much you love them…pick up a bunch of red tulips!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Lemons. Amazing. Everyday


loveorfear||meyer lemons (by Abi Porter)
image via Pinterest, via abi porter



Lemons can be stored in the refrigerator for about three weeks. I like to keep some in the fridge and some on my counter in a pretty room. They liven up the atmosphere. Out in room temperature the pretty yellow fruit will keep for a week or two. However, we use them a lot in our home and rarely do they have a chance to go bad on us!  


If you have a problem with your rice being too sticky a teaspoon or two of lemon juice added directly to the water will do the trick. Your rice will have the slightest lemon flavor to it. We liked it so much that we now add lemon as a seasoning to our rice at the table. I find it cuts down some on our salt intake!


I love to replace the vinegar in my salad with lemon juice. You’ll want to play around with the measurement, keeping in mind the 1 part acidity to 3 parts olive oil ration. A pinch of sea salt, a dash of fresh pepper and you have a perfect dressing! Now add some fresh Parmesan… Delissimo!


Adding a little lemon juice to your fruit salad will not only add a lovely flavor but will. The lemon juice will keep fruits like bananas and apples from turning brown.


To get the most juice from a lemon it is better to choose lemons with thinner skin. Wash the lemon in warm tap water. Then roll the lemon on a flat surface like your kitchen table. The inner membranes should break at this point. This will allow you to get more juice from the lemon.


Rumor has it that by simply adding a tablespoon of lemon juice to your dough by replacing tablespoon of cold water with one tablespoon of lemon juice makes a taster crispier crust.


By adding little bit of lemon juice to the water before boiling your eggs should end up whole and unbroken.  A drop or two will do the trick


Lemons are often used by chefs to tenderize meat. Marinate the meat with about ¼ cup lemon juice to each pound of meat, leave in refrigerator overnight.  

Instead of harsh cleaners that often leave you gasping for air, that aren’t environmentally sound wipe down your kitchen counters and cupboards with a solution made from lemons. Fill a mug with hot water and about half a cup of lemon juice. Soak your towel or sponge in the mixture and wipe away the grime!

Place half a lemon in a bowl of water in your microwave. Cook it on the highest level for five minutes. With a damp rag simply wipe away the food, grease and grime!

Cut a lemon into four pieces, using one piece at a time; rub the fruit directly on to your window. When you are done wipe your window down with a damp cloth, then with a dry cloth. This works like magic! Alternately, you can wash your windows with water containing a few tablespoons lemon juice. This is a great alternative if you happen to have some lemon juice on hand but no fresh lemons.

Chopping blocks harbor all sorts of bacteria and it’s vitally important to keep your chopping board clean and free from bacteria. By scrubbing lemon, a natural antiseptic, you’ll not only rid your chopping board of harmful bacteria but you’ll be able to remove those stubborn stains as well. Sprinkle some coarse salt, if you wish, for a deeper clean.  Naturally this is a great non-toxic solution. I do suggest tossing your chopping boards into the dishwasher as often as possible as well.

Lemons are a natural insecticide. Pesky house flies and mosquitoes do not like lemons! Lemons can help reduce those annoying flies and mosquitoes. Look around for places you suspect those nasty insects may try to enter your home and pour some lemon juice around those spots and cracks. It has been suggested that lemon juice is also effective for keeping ants away. Be sure to squirt some lemon juice around your window sill.

A half a lemon dipped into salt and baking powder should clean your copper beautifully. It is important to rinse well with water and dry with a dry rag.

You need to polish your furniture from time to time if you want the wood to stay fine-looking. An easy way to make homemade furniture polish is to mix olive oil with lemon juice. Use twice as much olive oil as lemon juice. Your homemade furniture polish will work beautifully and help your furniture last longer. (If you have any leftover you can pour it onto your salad for lunch!)

Lemons are perfect to clean chrome. Rub with lemons. When you are done rinse with water and finally wipe with a dry rag.  The result will absolutely amaze you.

Use half a lemon and rub it on the stains on your crystal vase or crystal glasses. Wipe off the lemon with a damp cloth and finish up using a dry cloth.
Remember to rinse with a rag damp with clean water and wipe dry.

Use your left over lemon peel to freshen up your garbage disposal. Throw in the lemon peels, add some ice and grind. The lemon rind will leave your garbage disposal smelling fresh and the ice will clean the blades. (This works well with all citrus fruit!)

The next time you need to change your vacuum bag be sure to place a cotton ball, dipped in lemon, juice inside the bag before you use it. Your room will smell lovely!


Lemons are great for skin. Lemon is a natural remedy. One should remember that Lemons are very acidic and therefore you should do a patch test on an area of your skin to be sure that you are not overly sensitive or allergic. Lemons also increase photosensitivity, so do keep away from the sun’s harmful rays after you have applied lemon juice to your skin.  

For soft and pliable cuticles soak your fingernails in warm water containing lemon juice for a few minutes. Do not ever cut your cuticles. 

After soaking your feet in warm water, give your feet a “lemon treatment”. Dip a half a lemon into some coarse sugar and massage all over your feet. When done rinse your feet in lukewarm water. Lemon squeezed onto a cotton ball and dipped into sugar will work as well.

Age spots are simply pigment left in the skin. You can use lemon juice to make these age spots fade some. Dip a cotton ball in some lemon juice and pat it on the age spots once a day. Continue this process until you notice the age spots fading. Because lemon is very drying, you may want to mix some lemon juice with some grapeseed oil. The mixture should be three parts lemon juice to one part oil. This will hydrate your skin beautifully.

Dab lemon juice on the blackheads every evening before going to bed. Rinse off the lemon juice in the morning. You may have to do this for a few nights, but it is well worth it. It is a natural, cheap and easy way to get rid of blackheads. If you find this leaves your skin excessively dry, rub a few drops of vitamin E oil into your skin. Massage well.


Lemons, when mixed with hot water, can help relieve many digestion problems. These include, but are not limited to nausea, heartburn, indigestion, bloating and gas. Lemon water can keep you regular, and can cure constipation. Lemon juice acts as a liver tonic and helps you digest your food by helping your liver produce more bile. It is also thought to help dissolve gallstones.

Lemons can cure skin-related problems. Rich in vitamin C rich lemons are a citrus fruit that enhances your beauty, by rejuvenating skin from within and thus bringing a glow on your face. Daily consumption of lemon water will not only keep your digestive system on track but can make a huge difference in your skin’s appearance.

 One of the major health benefits of drinking lemon water is that it paves way for losing weight faster, thus acting as a great weight loss remedy. Lemon water is known to aid in weight-loss.

The high potassium content of the lemon makes it a perfect natural solution to help with the control of high blood pressure, dizziness,  and nausea.  The wonderful aroma released by the lemon provides mind and body relaxation and can reduce stress and depression.

Lemon water can treat a person who is suffering from cold, flu or fever. It helps to break fever by increasing perspiration.



Pinned Image
image via Pinterest

I drink a lot of this in the summertime and during the rest of the year when I feel like I need to lose a couple of pounds. I started off drinking lemon water, but then wanted some more flavor. I now add lime, cucumber and when I have it around, mint.

In a 2 quart pitcher I squeeze the juice from a lemon, slice it and toss it in. I add 1 sliced lime, 1/4 of a thinly sliced cucumber and some mint springs. I bruise the fruit with a wooden spoon and add water. If you want a slightly sweetened drink you can add a couple of tablespoons of honey to your mixture (which also has purifying qualities) or a non-calorie sweetener such as Truvia or Splenda. I keep this in the fridge all day. However, if you want to keep this in the fridge overnight, I might suggest you remove the limes as they can make the beverage rather bitter over time. Also make sure the pitcher is filled to the top.


Information culled from and

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jambalaya Soup: Hot Stuff for a Cold Day!

This article first appeared at The Entertaining Kitchen and has been reprinted with permission.

My children come home from school tired and hungry. At the end of the day I'm tired and hungry. And cold. We all crave foods that will nurture our souls and yet trying to feed my family warm comfort food that is not loaded with unnecessary fat and calories can be hard to do. My family does love soup, but they like hearty soups. I loosely followed Emeril's Mardi Gras Jambalaya - I took the idea and his ingredients and made it my own. As a busy mother of three children, I do not have hours to spend in the kitchen and yet I do not want to cut unnecessary corners. I want to prepare a nice meal that won't cost me what little free time I have. This worked wonderfully!

1 red bell pepper, finely diced
1 yellow pepper, finely diced
3 stalks celery, finely diced
1 medium to large onion, finely diced
4 Tbs Olive oil
1 lb chicken breast, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
1lb chicken sausage
1 1/2 cups of excellent quality jarred salsa
2 cartons organic chicken broth
1 cups of rice
2 bay leaves
Emeril's Essence (Recipe follows)

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly. 
Yield: 2/3 cup
This creole seasoning is fabulous and should be a staple in your pantry!

Traditional jambalaya does not use salsa but chopped or canned tomatoes. I like the ease of the salsa and the additional flavors it brings to this dish. It's also a good way to sneak some extra veggie into my kids' diets!


In a large pan saute sausage. (I remove  bite-sized bits from the casing and toss them into the pan) When sausage is nicely browned -- the darker the better -- place into a paper towel lined bowl. Add 2 tbs of olive oil to the pan and toss in vegetables. Cook until nicely browned. Add 1 tsp of Emeril's Essence. When done, add the vegetables to the bowl the sausages are in. Add 2 more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan and add the cubed chicken. Season with another teaspoon or so of Emeril's Essence. Cook until well browned. Add to bowl.

In a large sauce pan cook the rice per directions on the box. When the rice is done add the broth, salsa, bay leaves, meat and veggies. Simmer until ready to serve.

We sliced up and toasted a Parmesan baguette and used it to sop up the broth. Fabulous!

This soup is Amazing Everyday! I hope you enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Deep Clean your Kitchen: A Guide

This article, first appeared on the Housewife Bliss website in October 2011. Reprinted with permission by Coryanne Ettienne.

The holidays are now behind us and for the most part we'll slow down on our entertaining and cooking for large groups. Our pantries are leaner; our refrigerators are no longer jam-packed and 
as the cold, dark days of winter remain with us for a while there is no better time to really go through your kitchen and give it a top to bottom scrub. Sooner than we can imagine, the weather will be warmer, the days will be longer and we will want to spend our time outdoors on our decks or in our gardens. 


Kitchen deep-cleaning guide 

The kitchen is, now more than ever, the heart of the home, and with that lofty title comes the heavy foot traffic and mess that hides behind corners slowly building up into a shocking sight that would send even the cleanest of home owners running from shame.  It might seem like a huge task but deep cleaning your kitchen is good for your health and for your soul.
Roll up your shirt sleeves, put on your cleaning gloves and spend the day (gasp, yes probably a day) making your kitchen sparkle and shine just in time for the holiday season to arrive and messy it up again.
Scrub your walls, skirting boards, back boards and floors.  Start from the top and work your way down, the daily dirt that has been piling up is no longer noticeable to you, but the difference you will see from a light scrubbing will make your kitchen brighter and more inviting.  Don’t forget to move all large appliances and large furniture away from the walls to ensure that even those hidden areas are given a deep clean.
Clean out your refrigerator and freezer.  Frozen food diminishes after 6 months, and odours can penetrate the surface of even the cleanest fridge, so take the time to follow my guide to loving your refrigerator and freezer.
Clean your dishwasher.  One would think that an appliance that cleans for us would not need cleaning itself, but alas, that is not the case. If your glasses have ever carried a musty or sour smell, washing your dishwasher will put a stop it by following this simple 30 minute deep clean routine:   use 1 part vinegar, 3 parts warm water to wash the inside of your unit, clean out the filter (usually located at the bottom of the unit), wash the racks in warm soapy water and then place a 1/2 lemon on the top rack and run a high temperature wash.
Wipe down your cupboards and drawers.  Any number of undesirable elements can collect in your drawers and cupboards, vacuuming them and then washing them down with a damp cloth can turn a drab storage area in to a sparkling clean one.
De-clutter your pantry.  Spices, if stored well should last up to 6 months in  your pantry.  Your pulses, grains, rices and pasta that have not been stored in air tight containers may be ready for replacement, and those condiment jars that you had to have 3 years ago, if not yet used are just taking up space.  Check the expiration dates on everything and only keep items that are usable. Once done,  make a list of what you need to replace and restock your pantry using this pantry guide.
Examine your cookware.  Warped baking pans, scratched non-stick pans, mismatched lids and chipped serving platters, no matter how well loved, have lived a good life and need to be replaced.
Sharpen your knives.  A dull knife not only wastes time in the kitchen, it is dangerous. Your knives should be sharpened every 6 months.

For more fabulous household tips please visit Coryanne Ettienne at her blog HousewifeBliss

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How to clean your pantry in 5 simple steps

This article was originally published on the Housewife Bliss website, on October 2011. Reprinted with permission by Coryanne Ettienne.

After the holidays my pantry looks as though it's been ravaged by a tornado - perhaps even two! This is the perfect time to clean out the pantry by taking advantage of our emptier shelves. Soon Spring will be here and we will, once again, find ourselves in the thick of entertaining, hosting garden parties and barbecues. 


Peaking into someone’s pantry is a bit like peaking into a private diary of daily life, there is always a story to tell and not always one that you want everyone to read.  Like those candied gingers that you bought last Christmas but never had the time to create the magazine recipe that called for them; the hidden packets of ramen noodles that you swore you would never buy, but keep hidden away for emergencies; and the 17 tins of tomatoes that you buy each time you go the store because you can’t remember if you need them or not.  Cleaning out the pantry is not something people do often, but when it is done, it makes you feel fabulous and you can’t help but show it off …yes I have been know to be so delighted with my sparkling clean and orderly pantry that I could not help but ask a friend to “be a dear and hand me the sugar in the pantry, the bowl seems to be running low”.

5 Steps to a cleaner, prouder pantry
Step 1 |  Purge :   Place a large rubbish bin by your pantry and start purging everything expired and all those half empty cracker boxes that are no doubt stale by now.  Flours, spices, and dried herbs will only last for 6 months, be ruthless now to avoid disaster when you use them next.  Sugars and syrups have a long life and may only need to be tidied up.
Step 2 | Clean: Fill a bowl with warm sudsy water and wipe down all the shelves and walls.  If you use lining trays or baskets, give them a good clean too.  Once done, sweep your pantry floor and vacuum the corners. Before placing everything back into your pantry, dust your boxes and wipe down your cans.
Step 3 | Donate:  Take stock of your tinned goods.  If you are bursting at the seems with canned goods, place them in a donation box to drop at a food bank later …..and make a mental note of your tendency to over stock on your canned goods.
Step 4| Organize : There is a method to everyone’s madness, here are my 2 cents on organzing a pantry….
  • Use old jars to store flour, salts, sugars, rice, pulses and other loose items that need to remain airtight.
  • Everyday items should go at the most accessible levels;
  • Excess & seldom used items should go at the top;
  • Periodic items should go at the bottom;
  • Cluster your items by type so you always have a view of what you have;
  • Use baskets to keep track of smaller items and for those easy access items that you are forever needing (like snacks);
  • Be creative with  your space, pantry doors are fabulous storage areas.
Step 5 | Restock: Make a list of everything you purged that will need to be replaced, and if you feel like a complete re-organziaition is in the future, think about what you want to store, how you want to store it and what you need before heading to the shops…there is nothing worse than coming home with organizing supplies to find that none of them really work for your pantry.

For more fabulous household tips please visit Coryanne at Housewife Bliss!