Friday, February 25, 2011

Favorite Friday!

Each Friday I post one of my favorite things.  This week I want to share an item that is cheap, simple, and totally changed my life.  No joke. 

I've always struggled with clothes piling up on the floor until it resembled a small mountain.  However, living in 350 square feet only emphasizes messes and even makes them seem worse than they are.  So, it didn't take too long to realize my bad habit of just tossing my worn clothes on the floor was causing me serious trouble.  Walking into the bedroom I would immediately get angry and stressed out from the mess. 

The HubLub (my brilliant husband) suggested one day to get over-the-door hooks for our closet to hang jackets and things, since our closet is small to begin with.  We picked up something like this from Target, and did some closet re-arranging. 

The clothes hamper ended up inside the closet, right beneath our hanging clothes, and our make-shift dresser is right next to that.  So, when I come home from work it's super easy to hang up everything in the closet, dump the dirty clothes in the hamper, and change into my jeans and t-shirt.  (This habit was encouraged by a post on about only touching something once.  Instead of putting the clothes on the floor, and then days later picking up the clothes and then hanging them up, you save energy and time but just immediately putting things in there rightful place right away.  For some reason that really struck me, and always pops in my head when I need the reminder.  It really does save energy, time, and peace of mind.)
Now, when I see a clothes item on the floor, instead of getting angry or stressed out, I don't even think about it-I just grab it and hang it on the hook.  It's amazing the peacefulness that's come about by not having clothes on the floor.  It's my zen :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Love is still in the air!

Here's a recipe you can look forward to for Valentine's Day next year, or just use different cookie cutters and food coloring and who cares what day you're celebrating!

These are a family Valentine's Day tradition.  My grandma used to make them for her Sunday school children, and my mother made them for us kids' classmates for Valentine's Day (6 kids x 25 classmates . . .  a LOT of cookies on our dining room table, granted not all 6 kids were in elementary school at the same time, but still!).  She would even go so far as to write each child's name on their cookie.  My mom is the Original Martha! 

I have very fond memories of Valentine's Day and want to continue that tradition in my house.  Since I can't and shouldn't eat an entire batch by myself and I don't have any kids I decided to make them for my co-workers, and skipped the elegant bordering and writing, which they didn't miss at all.  They devoured them and came back for more.  I did the fancy frosting for my husband and myself, though.  Although, the cookies unfrosted were surprisingly great. 

This recipe is based off my mom's recipe, but I've tweaked it a bit to make them more soft and added some almond flavoring because I love that subtle flavor in sugar cookies.  Please try this, I promise you'll love them and get tons of compliments!  Please email me or comment below if you have any questions about the recipe.

Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies or Conversation Heart Cookies

1/2 cup Crisco
1/2 cup margarine (room temp)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
Cream until fluffy

4 1/2 cups flour (measure by spooning into measuring cup, then level off top)
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoon baking powder
mix with wire wisk, pour slowly into creamed mixture

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk
Add before all the flour has been added.

Chill dough to make easier to work with.  Roll out 1/4 inches thick.  Cut 3 inch hearts, and transfer to cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat liner.  Bake at 375 degrees for nine minutes or until no longer shiny and edges are just barely turning light brown.  Cool slightly on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

1 pound of powdered sugar
1 cube margarine (cold)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
red food coloring
4 tablespoons milk (or less)

Put powdered sugar and margarine in food processor, blend well, add vanilla and almond extracts then a few drops of red food coloring.  Add milk to get desired consistency.  Make one batch of pink frosting, and one batch of white frosting for the borders and names.  Frost cooled cookies and allow frosting to set and harden a bit.  Do one think layer of pink frosting all over, then using pastry bag with star tip, outline edge of heart with white frosting.  Use a small round tip to write names on inside with white frosting.  Be careful when transporting, as frosting will get smashed relatively easily.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Favorite Friday!

I'm introducing a new feature to this blog: Favorite Friday!  I will be featuring something each Friday that is a favorite of mine.  The idea is mostly to share products that make my life easier, and may make your life easier too.

This week my favorite thing is those silly rubber gloves they sell at the grocery store!  My mom used these growing up and I thought they were so ugly and dumb.  I hated how the inside coating made my hands smell funny.  However, they are great for bathroom cleaning, so I bought a pair recently.  One day I was doing the dishes (we don't have a dishwasher, so all our dishes are washed by hand) and thought, hey maybe I could wear those dumb gloves while I do the dishes so my hands don't get so wrinkly and chapped (like they always do).  That was my "a-ha! moment".  My hands still smelled funny, but a quick wash with soap after I was done with the dishes and a little bit of lotion made me forget all about it.  Recently, our apartment complex installed a new water heater with a much higher temperature, so the gloves really save my hands from getting irritated from the hot water.

Now, I'm kinda wanting those even sillier, pretty rubber gloves . . .