Handy Paint Containers

This is a tip that I found a couple of years ago from my friend Melissa @ 320*Sycamore. At the time, we were renting a house while going through school, and were not thinking about putting the money into painting something we didn’t own, but I LOVED the idea. So I kept it filed away in my brain, and used it as soon as we started painting things in our house.

It has been great for everyday life moments. Like when your son (who shall remain nameless) decides to use the knob on your bathroom cabinet door to hoist himself onto the counter and does it in just the right way so as to rip one of the hinges clean off of the cabinet. Here is the damage that remained after I re-screwed the hinge on:

Here is the close-up. The screws are one of my favorite parts there. And the dinged up paint.

Looks pretty classy.

BUT, the pain of repair is lessened because I don’t have to drag out my paint can, heave it open, and then debate as to whether I will dip my tiny brush directly into the can, or whether I should go through the pain of dumping the small amount I will need into a dixie cup. No – I know exactly what to do. Just pull my little handy paint container out from my laundry room. Hooray!

All you need are some of the inexpensive Rubbermaid containers, and the paint from your house. These containers are the ones with the lids that screw on so the lid doesn’t pop off if it gets dropped. When you’re ready to use the paint, you can just give it a shake to re-mix the paint, and it is good to go.

That’s all there is to it. When you’re done, you just screw the lid back on and put it back in the laundry room until the next accident occurs, or when you notice a spot that needs a quick touch-up.

Much better! Enjoy!

Fluffy (and Stink-Free) Towels

For any of you who have had towels or washcloths over time that have lost their fluff, or have gotten something of a mildewy smell – try this tip.

This is something that we do every time I do a load of towels. It works so well. I had a friend who had mentioned it, and thought I would give it a try. It is great, and is a cheap fix. Over time as you are using your towels, residue builds up on them causing them to lose fluffiness. Using dryer sheets can also add to the residue problem. And over time having something be wet consistently will cause it to be stinky. I think we’ve all been the unfortunate user of a stinky towel or washcloth, be it ours or someone else’s. This will take care of that problem.

Enter stage left: vinegar. That’s it.

Load your washer up with towels, and then instead of detergent pour in 1 cup of vinegar (or 2 cups, if your towels need some more help) and run it through a normal wash cycle. The vinegar will kill the yuckies and get your towels clean. When you stick them in the dryer, do not use a dryer sheet (or fabric softener in the wash) – this will start your film problem all over again. By nature of it being a towel, you don’t really have to worry much about static anyway since whatever is using it will be wet. Just sayin’.

When they are dry, you will have fluffy, fresh-smelling towels again. Hooray! Happy fluffing! :)

SSC 6

Awesome Sweet & Sour Chicken

I found this recipe on pinterest, and decided to try it – it claimed to be “baked” and “impossible to stop eating”. Well, who could resist that?

First, a point of clarification – yes, it is baked, but you FRY it first. In oil. Enough oil to add 56 grams of fat if all of that ends up in your final dish. And some – if not all – of it will. Therefore it is not technically “baked” like a baked homemade french fry that is not covered in oil and therefore is healthier than a true french fry. This recipe is still fried, even with the baking afterward.

HOWEVER, it was AMAZING. Seriously. We even messed up the recipe a bit, and it still was hands down some of the best sweet and sour chicken we have ever tried.

 

Ingredients:

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

salt & pepper

1 c. cornstarch

2 eggs (beaten)

1/4 c. canola oil

3/4 c. sugar

4 T. ketchup

1/2 c. vinegar

1 T. soy sauce

1 tsp. garlic salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Heat your oil in a large skillet. Rinse your chicken breasts in water, then cut into cubes. Season with salt and pepper to your liking. Dip the chicken first into the cornstarch to coat, then into the eggs. Cook your chicken until browned, but not cooked through (this is where we messed it up).

While you are browning your chicken, mix the sugar, ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce and garlic salt in a small bowl – this is your rockin’ sauce.

When chicken is browned, dump the chicken into a GREASED 9×13 baking dish and dump your sauce over the top. Bake for an hour, turning the chicken every 15 minutes. When you are done, you will get this deliciousness:

Here is where we messed up, which may not have been a bad thing. Both my husband and I worked on this one together. Here goes: one of us had put the oil on a mediumish heat initially, and the other one suggested that we turn it down to low. So down to low it went. So the breaded chicken never really “fried” properly, the chicken was definitely cooked through before we put it in the oven, and a good amount of the breading was in the sauce. Because the chicken was cooked through, we only kept it in the oven for 30 minutes or so, turning it halfway through. Still, it was fantabulous. Next time, though, we will keep the oil temperature up.

Initially the sauce tasted kind of like the Polynesian sauce from Chick-Fil-A (which I love), but it settled down to more of a sweet and sour flavor within a couple of minutes. The next time we make this, I will probably toss some drained pineapple and chunkily chopped green peppers and I think it would then be absolutely perfect.

This one is a keeper!

TBP 11

Best Soup EVER. Pretty much.

We made this soup last night. And we have made it three times since we found it two months ago. I think we like it a little bit……possibly. I found it over at 365 Days of Slow Cooking (the link will actually take you to where the recipe lives now). It is so creamy and delicious, and yet feels light too and has a fantastic subtle crunch from the veggies. It’s awesome. We have made it both in the crock pot and on the stove – it is great either way.

Here is the recipe – I organized it a little differently than on the original site so it’s a little easier to follow:

Ingredients

2 cans diced tomatoes (14.5 oz. each)

1 cup carrots (finely diced)

1 cup celery (finely diced)

1 cup onions (finely diced)

4 cups chicken broth (or 4 chicken bullion cubes and 4 cups water)

1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 T fresh)

1 T dried basil (or 1/4 c. fresh)

1/2 bay leaf

1/2 c. butter

1/2 c. flour

1 c. parmesan cheese (freshly grated, if possible)

2 c. warmed half and half (or milk – will give you lighter flavor and will be a little bit healthier)

1 tsp. salt

 

How to:

1. Combine first eight ingredients (through bay leaf) in large pot. Start simmering. OR you could dump all of it into a crock pot and leave it on low for 5-7 hours. Yummy! :)

2. In another pot, melt the butter. When it is melted, whisk in the flour. Wisk continually for 5-7 minutes. Congratulations – you’ve now made a “roux”. If the rest of the soup is in the crock pot, you’ll do this step at the end of the 5-7 hours.

3. At the end of the 5-7 minutes, slowly stir in 1 cup of the hot soup. I like to move the “roux” pot over to the simmering veggies for this part. It will thicken up immediately. Then add 3 more cups of the hot soup. At this point you will have used a good deal of the soup mixture, and it will still be thick at the end.

4. Dump the “roux” mixture into what is left of the soup. Simmer and stir constantly until the soup thickens. Then wisk your parmesan. I actually prefer less than the 1 cup, but it’s up to you. Then add your warmed half and half (or milk) and salt. Simmer this over low heat for 15-20 min.

5. Serve up, and enjoy!!

 

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