Homemade Dryer Sheets

dryer sheets 2I’ve been waiting to post this to decide on the verdict of my homemade dryer sheets. Well, after about a month, I’m pretty happy with them!

So why did I decide to make my own dryer sheets? I read something online about the regular Bounce sheets being absolutely horrible for you. Now, who knows if this is scientifically backed and true because nowadays it seems like everything is bad for you. But I did a little research online about making my very own re-useable dryer sheets and decided to give it a go.

But for this homemade dryer sheet to be successful, it had to eliminate static cling. I absolutely hate static! And since¬†I have long hair, static cling means my hair makes that staticky sound against clothes. So that was my biggest concern of switching to a homemade alternative. But like I said, I’ve given it a month and don’t see any store bought chemical laden dryer sheets in my future!

All I used was an old white towel that I cut into smaller rectangular type shapes. Then I used an old large yogurt container (I save those! They can be used for lots of stuff!) and added in some good old fashioned white vinegar, tea tree oil and a citrus blend essential oil I had laying around from my body butter disaster! Remember that? ūüė¶ It doesn’t need the citrus oil but I added it for additional scent. I swirled that around, added in the towel pieces and tried to stir all around to get as much of the towels soaked as I could. My towels didn’t get really all that soaked, just the ones on the bottom that really sucked up that vinegar mixture but after awhile of sitting inside the yogurt container with the lid on, all of them were damp. During my “research” some people said you needed to squeeze out all the liquid onto the other sheets in the container and then toss your sheet in the dryer. I didn’t have that problem since my sheets weren’t all that wet.

dryer sheets dryer sheets 3I put one “sheet” in with each load in the dryer and when it’s all done, I just take that sheet out, stuff it into the bottom of the container to try to get as much liquid on it as possible and close the lid.

Have I had any static? No. Do the clothes smell weird from the vinegar? No. In the last month, have I had to make another vinegar batch? No. Do I like my re-useable sheets? YES! So here’s the “recipe”.

  • 1/2 c. white vinegar
  • 10 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 5 drops citrus blend essential oil (optional, for an added scent)

If you’d prefer your sheets to be more saturated, just double the recipe.

P.S. If you don’t have tea tree oil, GET IT! I started using it almost 4 years ago when lice started going around school. I heard that tea tree keeps those buggers away. And since there’s three girls and myself in this house, all with long hair, the last thing I wanted was a lice infestation. Every day before school, my kids dab a little tea tree oil around their hairline on the back of their necks and ears. Have we ever had lice? No! Knock on wood….

Cheesy Cabbage Casserole

cc 8These pictures are old! Like, Christmas time old! But, I’ve made this recipe so many times since and just haven’t posted it. Until now!

Don’t turn your nose up at it! I happen to LOVE cabbage. As does my husband.¬†I know some people don’t like it cooked at all, but if you’re one of “them” people, this recipe will change your mind and bring you to the cooked cabbage side.

Not only does this go well with a holiday meal, but it also goes great with a weeknight dinner. Especially steak. It’s a ttttttaaaadddd rich (AKA fattening) but momma needs to indulge sometimes!

Cheesy Cabbage Casserole (adapted from Taste of Home)

  • 1 head green cabbage, roughly shredded
  • 1/4 c. white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1/3 c. mayo
  • 1 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 c. panko crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp. each salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×13″ dish with cooking spray. Add in the shredded cabbage. Sprinkle the onion evenly over the top of the cabbage. Next, add the salt and pepper.

In a bowl, whisk together the soup, milk and mayo. Pour evenly over the cabbage mixture. Sprinkle cheese evenly over the top, then finish with the panko crumbs.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

cabbage casserole 2cabbage casserolecc 3cc 4cc 5cc 6cc 7The cheese and panko make for a delicious crust on the top. What a great combo. Yum!

This can also be made ahead of time, even the day before. I just wait and add the panko crumbs right before I pop it into the oven.

My parents have requested this dish when we’ve gone to their house for dinner and guess what? It’s the ONE dish that’s eaten the most. Surprising right? Not really. Because once you make it, you’ll understand the need to devour this!

Frozen Pancakes

frozen pancakesLooks like I’m on a breakfast roll, as my last two posts have been about the meal that starts your day. No recipe today, but just a little tip to make one of your upcoming mornings a little simpler.

My kids love breakfast. They literally gorge themselves before heading off to school. I completely don’t get this since I’m not a breakfast person! They usually eat cereal on the weekdays because getting three girls and myself ready, can get a little hectic in the mornings. Maybe I just need to get up earlier! Anyways, sometimes, I’ll make a big batch of pancakes over the weekend (or on a weekday morning if I’m feeling ambitious) and freeze whatever’s left.

Yes, you can freeze pancakes! They reheat so well, it’s like you just cooked them up!! After the first initial cooking, I let them cool and place them in freezer bags, zip and in the freezer they go. They’re super easy to pull apart for individual servings (not necessary in my house since my kids will eat the whole bag) and reheat in the microwave. I usually heat 2-3 pancakes for about 1 minute, and voila! Breakfast is served.

As for my kids’ favorite pancake recipe? Well, I’ve tried MANY. And the winner for them? The recipe on the Bisquik box! I almost always have the Heart Smart Bisquik in the pantry and for some reason, they always want those pancakes. If I had to choose my favorite pancake recipe? Cornmeal pancakes. OK, so there, you did get a recipe out of it! Just not one created by me.

So the next time you’re whipping up a batch of pancakes, double it! And freeze the rest. It will definitely make for a quicker start one day!

Spanish Rice

spanish rice 3I haven’t posted in over a week, which isn’t like me! But, as you hopefully read a little while back, our new little venture, Hanky Planky, has been keeping us super busy. And that’s a good thing. But between that, my daily transcription job, a three week cold that turned into bronchitis, my three kids and one of them starting softball (I’m team mom, again!), I’ve been a tad bit occupied. Aside from that though, here’s a good one for you.

You all know my love for Mexican food runs deep. It’s a craving that can never truly be satisfied because I could literally eat Mexican food every day. And with this rice recipe, your international meal will be complete!

My mom has made this recipe for as far back as I can remember. She’s always called it Spanish Rice, but since it’s always served with Mexican food, maybe it’s actually Mexican rice? Whatever it is, it’s so, so good! But, and I haven’t told her this yet (Hi Mom!), I changed her recipe. Just slightly though! And it was out of convenience that turned into a blessing in disguise. That change is the carrots. Our favorite Mexican restaurant serves their rice with carrots in it, and they’ve got some pretty good rice. So since the original recipe called for tomatoes and I didn’t have any, I opted to add in carrots in their place instead. And yep, this is the way I’ll make it from now on. Try it Mom!!!

Spanish Rice

  • 1 tbsp. bacon drippings or canola/vegetable oil
  • 1 c. white rice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1/4 c. tomato sauce
  • 1 green onion, sliced
  • 1/4 c. carrots, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. each cumin & ground black pepper

In a small to medium pot, heat on medium low. Add the bacon drippings or oil. Once melted, add in the white rice. Stir to coat the rice with the oil. Continue to stir the rice occasionally to keep it from burning. Make sure to keep heat on low, and do this for about 5 minutes.

Add in the garlic and salt. Stir together. Then add in the rest of the ingredients. Stir and turn heat up to medium/medium-high. Once it comes to a boil, put a lid on it and reduce heat to low (simmer). Cook for 22 minutes. Stir and serve.

spanish ricespanish rice 2Now that you have this recipe and my refried bean one too, what’s stopping you from making an authentic Mexican meal at home? Nothing, so get in that kitchen!

Simple Tomato Soup

tomato soup 5Winter in Southern California doesn’t exist. To attest to that, I’m currently wearing a tank top and sandals. I have jeans on too, in case you thought I was pantsless.¬†But seriously, this just isn’t right. I saw on Instagram yesterday that it was snowing in New Jersey. I know you East Coast people are probably sick of the cold and can’t believe that I’d complain about the 80 degree weather we’re having today but still…. I’d like to experience a mild winter for once. Since “winter” in California isn’t really happening, I thought now was as good a time as any to share my simple tomato soup with you. This is great for lunch on a cold day (I don’t know much about cold days) or a quick dinner. And this must be served with a grilled cheese. It’s a requirement. At least with my soup. This makes a medium sized pot and is supposed to be an accompaniment soup. Yes, I’m very fancy that way.

Simple Tomato Soup

  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes (or crushed)
  • 1/2 small white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning (or 1 frozen basil cube)
  • 1/2 c. half & half
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

In a medium sized pot, heat olive oil on medium. Once heated, add the onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Then add in the tomatoes (juice too) chicken broth, sugar, salt, pepper, bay leaf and the rest of the seasonings. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. Remove bay leaf and then with an immersion blender, pulse soup a few times to thin it out to a smoother consistency. Turn off the heat and add the half & half. Stir and taste and add more pepper or more sugar if necessary. Serve immediately.

tomato souptomato soup 3tomato soup 2tomato soup 4tomato soup 6tomato soup 7I’m still holding out hope that a little bit of winter will¬†arrive¬†soon. That snow on New Year’s Eve was a total fluke and won’t happen again for at least¬†another 10 years but I’m still¬†wanting to get some use out of my boots. But for now, sandals it is.

DIY Pendant Necklace

necklaceI’m not the “craftiest” of people, unfortunately. I hate messes therefore, I don’t like most crafts. Glitter makes me shudder. But a couple months back over Thanksgiving break, I really wanted to do something fun (and not messy) with my kids. I had seen polymer clay jewelry on Pinterest for awhile and since I love jewelry (and so do my little girlies), I decided to give it a try.

We headed over to Michaels armed with my good ol’ 40% off coupon. And I stocked up on clay! Since this was my first time using polymer clay, I bought a variety pack with a bunch of different colors and spent about $15 total on the jewelry making supplies. And I have a bunch leftover and we’ve since made quite a bit of pieces.

Am I now an expert jewelry maker? God, no! But, I’ve made¬†some pieces since our first initial¬†try¬†that have turned out pretty good. My kids love their jewelry and not only did they get to be “crafty”, but they can actually wear/use what they made. All my kids are in elementary school and were completely capable of doing this. We started out simple that day and just rolled out balls and made necklaces. But what I really wanted was a stone looking pendant necklace. I’d been eyeing one on a website that I really wanted but with my new stock of clay, I figured it was worth a try. And here’s how I made it.

necklace 2Supplies Needed:

  • Polymer clay, in any color/colors you choose
  • Waxed cotton cording
  • Necklace clasp (if you plan on having a shorter length necklace)
  • A toothpick
  1. Choose your color or colors. For the above necklace, I chose a bronze and silvery color clay.
  2. Grab a piece of each color. I did less of the silvery color because I wanted it to be streaky looking like a natural stone. Hold in your hands to condition (warm up to make more pliable) the clay.
  3. Roll into balls.
  4. Smoosh the balls together, working them into one ball.
  5. In between your hands, roll the ball back and forth until it turns into a longer, ovalish shape.
  6. Press between your hands into a pendant like shape, smoothing out any fingerprints.
  7. With the toothpick, push it through the top to create a hole to put the cording through.
  8. Place on a baking sheet (I use a disposable lasagna pan) in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes. (I used another sheet on top to cover it).
  9. Remove from oven and let cool for about 15-20 minutes.
  10. Measure out your cord and put the pendant on it. Tie cord into a knot if doing a long necklace, or attach a necklace clasp to each end if doing a shorter necklace.

necklace 11necklace 10necklace 9necklace 7necklace 6necklace 5necklace 4necklace 3necklace 8My oldest daughter and I did this together because she wanted a pendant necklace as well. She also was making birthday presents for some friends and made them some really pretty necklaces which they loved.

This stuff is really easy to work with and pretty inexpensive. I bought the cheapest clay at the store and am really happy with it. So even if aren’t the “craftiest” (like me!) this is still a fun activity to do alone, or with your kids.

“Fried” Drumsticks

Well, so much for winter. After our¬†New Year’s Eve snow,¬†(which actually hung around for a few days in the shady spots of our yard and the neighbor’s) the weather forecast has shown that it will be in the 80’s tomorrow. THIS is one of my gripes about living in Southern California. It just shouldn’t be 80 in January, a week after it snowed.¬†It’s absolutely ridiculous. I just refuse to wear shorts in January! Anyways, now that I’ve gotten that complaint out of my system, onto the food. January means it should be cold, and cold weather means comfort food. So there.

I made these “fried” drumsticks awhile back and this is the way to make them. Although I love traditional fried chicken (your U.S. citizenship is taken away if you don’t), this is easier and makes for quicker cleanup. And you can completely customize this to suit your tastes. You just need to know the method to do it.

“Fried” Drumsticks

  • 8-10 drumsticks
  • 1 cup flour
  • Seasonings of your choice (I used paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt & pepper)
  • Cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, add flour and¬†generously sprinkle the seasonings of your choice into the bowl as well. Stir to combine. Dredge the drumsticks in the flour mixture and place on a baking sheet that’s been sprayed with cooking spray. Once all the drumsticks have been dredged, completely spray them with cooking spray. Place in the oven and¬†cook for 35-40 minutes. You can tell they’re done when the meat starts pulling away from the bone.

fried chicken 3fried chickenfried chicken 2And there you have it! These drumsticks come out with a crunchy skin and are moist and flavorful. Like I said, customize it to suit your tastes and use what seasonings you like.

Even though winter seems to have come and gone (please come back), you can’t take comfort food from me!

DIY Christmas Decor

As far as Christmas decorating goes, that pretty much falls¬†on the man of the house. At least, the outside of the house.¬†He’s very into the lights being just so and all that. Tight and straight, no sagging lights. For a couple years, he even decorated the street light in front of our house. The whole entire thing! Yes, the enormous concrete pole. It took a huge ladder propped against the pole and laying¬†halfway into the street, with our neighbor watching and making sure a car wouldn’t run right into it. Last year I insisted he NOT do that again, since I’m pretty sure I lost a few years of my life watching him do that.

This year, I decided to change things up a little bit from the standard indoor decorations we usually have. But decorations are expensive (unless you get them AFTER Christmas) so I went the semi-homemade route. And I’m very simple about holiday decorating. Kudos to you people out there that switch out everything! The bathroom, the kitchen, EVERY ENTIRE THING¬†IN YOUR HOUSE! I’m not up for that kind of work, nor do I have room to store everything. So simple it is! Here’s some mason jars that I filled with sand (from my very own backyard) and holly that I got on sale at Michaels. The ribbon was leftover from Christmas last year.

decor 3I also saw this Christmas card holder on a boutique website that they were originally selling for $12.99 but was marked down to $5.99, not including shipping. And all you got was twine and clothespins. Well, that stuff was sitting in my garage for $0.00, so it got strung up across the mantle. Now I need some more Christmas cards to hang up there!

decorI got these pinecones at the park on my street a few years ago. I brought them home and Adam spray painted them for me.

decor 2So there you go! Simple, rustic, inexpensive Christmas d√©cor made mostly out of things laying around my house. And I love it all!! But if you don’t happen to have this type of stuff laying around, any kind of dollar store will most likely have some things to get you started. P.S. Dollar Tree is my favorite!

And this Christmas tree is planted in my front yard. We bought it three years ago because we wanted a live, uncut tree that we could plant and watch grow over the years. When we got it, it was only about a foot and a half tall. Now, it stands about 7 feet tall!!! If I had a bigger yard, I’d buy a live tree and plant it every year.

tree

Potato Cheese Chowder

potato cheese chowder 3Rain is in the forecast! Not that I really want it to rain because that means I have to clean a total of 8 Boxer paws whenever they go outside and need to come back in (which will be immediately after exiting the house), but I just really want to comfortably wear long sleeves and boots. I’d prefer cool comfortable weather, but one day of rain, I’ll take it.

As for the lack of pictures for this recipe, I apologize. This meal came about because I literally had no meat at all in the freezer. But I did have some bacon. And some potatoes. And it was slightly cool out so I decided to make some soup with what was laying around. I wasn’t sure if it would be that great so I didn’t take very many pictures. Well lo and behold, my favorite man told me that this soup may have surpassed Corn & Cheese Chowder! *gasp* That is a huge compliment because Corn & Cheese Chowder is by far my favorite soup, EVER. And he thoroughly enjoys it too. So that big of a statement means it’s good.

I know the rest of you are probably already cold and long overdue for a comforting recipe. So here you go!

Potato Cheese Chowder

  • 6 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 6 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme, dried
  • 1/2 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • dash cayenne pepper

In a stock pot of Dutch oven, heat on medium. Add bacon and cook until almost crisp. Add the onions and saute for a few minutes, then add the garlic and potatoes. Cook, stirring for 3 minutes. Add in broth and all of the seasonings. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat¬†and let simmer for 12-15 minutes. Turn all the way to low and with an immersion blender, pulse 2-3 times. Mix together the flour and half & half, using a whisk (this is a slurry). Add into the soup and bring back up to a boil. At this point it will thicken. Once thickened, reduce heat, add in cheese and stir. That’s it!

potato cheese chowder 2potato cheese chowderGreat additions to this soup would be extra bacon crumbled on top or even some chives. Like I mentioned above, I was really limited on what I had on hand in my kitchen and this soup as is was delicious! Also, if you don’t have an immersion blender, a hand masher or even putting a portion of the soup into a blender will do. Using the immersion blender will smooth out the soup but just pulsing it a couple times ensure texture.

Refried Beans

refried beansSomething that used to intimidate me? Dried beans. Yes, dried beans. As silly as it sounds! I’ve always been a canned bean kind of girl and it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I decided to give dried beans a go.

I knew they were time consuming (soaking them and cook time). But what I didn’t was that they are actually incredibly easy to make. And so much better tasting than their canned counterparts. And even though you’re supposed to soak them, it’s not a requirement.

Truth be told, I’ve had quite the trials with my refried beans. There have been many a time where I’ve added way too much salt and they were basically inedible. Or I didn’t let them cook long enough, and they really weren’t as tender as they needed to be. But lo and behold, here’s a recipe that works.

These “refried” beans taste pretty authentic. I use quotes because they are not traditional (no lard involved) however, if you can get that authentic taste at home, I consider it a win. I’ll say it before and I’ll say it again, getting authentic international flavor at home is hard to accomplish. I think that’s why so many people go out to eat, because you can’t get that same flavor at home. But here you go. Make this and you’ll feel like you’re at a Mexican restaurant. That’s in your very own kitchen.

Refried Beans

  • 2-2 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. bacon grease

Rinse the beans. Add to a large pot (I use my Dutch oven) and fill with water to just about 1″ above the beans. Let soak. If you don’t have the time or you just simply don’t remember this, that’s okay. I think the longest I’ve ever let my beans soak is about 4 hours.

Add the ham hock to the pot. Heat the pot on high until it comes to a boil. Cover with a lid, and reduce to a simmer for 3 hours if beans were soaked, about 4 hours if beans were not soaked. Make sure to check on these a couple times throughout the cooking time to make sure the water hasn’t evaporated. If you feel the water level is too low, you can add a little more water to the pot.

Remove lid and stir in the rest of the ingredients, except the bacon grease. Cover with a lid and let simmer for an additional hour.

After the hour is up, mash lightly (I use a potato masher) until your desired consistency and stir in the bacon grease until it melts. You can leave the ham hock in and mash around it or remove and discard. My dad loves them so when he’s over, the ham hock is his. But I just use it to flavor the beans. Also, if you feel the beans are too runny, you can let them simmer a little bit longer with the lid off until they thicken further.

This recipe makes a large amount. Enough so that I can usually freeze the other half which in my opinion, is so worth it so we can have beans at the ready for the next time we want Mexican. refried beans 6refried beans 5refried beans 4refried beans 3refried beans 2