Tag Archives: every day tips and tricks

Toilet Paper Roll “Speaker” and Phone Holder

I don’t know about you, but I love jamming out to my favorite tunes when I’m cooking.  Maybe some Sinatra if I’m making pasta…maybe some bluegrass if I’m making some down-home stick-to-your-ribs comfort food…or, if all else fails, I’ll just pop on Pandora and hit shuffle!

But sometimes it’s hard to hear the phone speaker when I have pots and pans moving all over the place…and I always lose my phone under some towel or cookbook, only to find it when it ultimately falls on the floor…

So instead, I’ve found a crafty way to keep track of my phone AND hear my music better when I’m cooking!  The solution, funny enough, lies in your bathroom.

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Yes, I’m talking about toilet paper rolls.  Love em or hate em, these buggers are pretty useful around the house…and this little DIY Phone Speaker is a clever way to use it to your benefit.  All you need is some paper or Washi Tape to dress it up!

Make sure you put your phone or device into the holder speaker side down, which will help pump out the sound so you can jam to Dr. Dre when you’re cooking, cleaning or just chillin’ on the couch.

Toilet Paper Roll Phone Holder

Materials:

  • Toilet Paper Roll
  • Pencil
  • Craft Knife or Scissors
  • Washi Tape or Patterned Paper
  • Glue Sticks
  • 4 Push Pins

Instructions:

Place your phone on top of the toilet paper roll and trace around it to measure how big your hole will need to be.  Use a buddy to hold the toilet paper roll or tape it to your desk to prevent it from moving around.

Using a craft knife or scissors, cut out the hole.

Now it’s time to decorate!  You can use Washi Tape to decorate your phone holder quickly, or use patterned paper to glue onto the toilet paper roll.

Push one push pin into front and back of each round side of toilet paper roll.

Place your phone in the holder and jam out to your favorite tunes!

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Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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11 Awesome Backyard Games for Summer

I grew up in a small Chicago suburb among a slew of other young kids with young parents.  We all lived in a small condo complex that circled a huge courtyard and budded up to a small man-made lake that housed a snapping turtle (or so legend says!).  I remember running home from school with my friends only to throw our stuff on the porch and play outside until the sun went down.  In the summer, we’d often be out until 9 o’clock at night, playing tag, making crafts, or just sitting outside amongst the bugs and the dirt.

Now as a 30-something with a growing family, I rarely see kids playing outside, if at all.  Most kids I see at the mall or at restaurants are on a phone or tablet.  Kids I see at the bus stop all have their faces buried in their electronic devices and, come 4 or 5 pm, the streets of my suburban Chicago neighborhood are EMPTY.

11-backyard-games-for-summer

I’m often reminded of this George Carlin skit when I’m driving home most days and see the sidewalks completely void of any demarcation of childhood.

As a kid who grew up with a stick in one hand and an earthworm in the other, I plan on being outside with my family as much as I can, and these fun outdoor family games are a great way to get kids out of the house…especially when the weather gets warmer!

If you have older kids, have them help you construct these games.  Many of them are easy to assemble and even older kids and adults will have fun playing this huge game of Kerplunk! with their friends.

Also great for summer BBQ’s, graduation parties, or 4th of July picnics, these 11 Awesome Backyard Games for Summer are sure to give you quality time with the people you love!

11 Awesome Backyard Games for Summer

DIY Backyard Jenga
jenga

Large Connect 4
connect 4

Yard Yatzee
yatzee

Tic-Tac-Toe
tictactoe

Backyard Bean Bag Toss
beanbag toss

Ring Toss
ringtoss

Large Kerplunk
kerplunk

Flamingo Ring Toss
flamingo ring toss

Garden Twister
twister

DIY Cornhole Boards
cornhole

Backyard Bananagrams
bananagram

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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11 Healthy(ish) Vending Machine Snacks

The 10 am hunger slump…the 3 pm hunger slump…the daily stress that just makes you want chocolate ERR DA TIME…the fact that food is 100% more interesting than anything you’re doing at work…that hopeful thought you have every time you pass the break room…

 party food celebrities reactions jennifer lawrence GIF

Sometimes you just have to feed the craving.

If you work in a corporate job, chances are there’s a vending machine in your break room…probably filled with candy bars and packaged baked goods, these snacks have most likely been sitting in there since before you were hired, just waiting for a despite hungry worker to come buy an old granola bar when no one was looking…just to have a little munchy.

And, if you’re one of the really lucky ones, you might have a vending machine that has a nice assortment of options…filled with chips, granola bars, and a few sweets here and there for those emergency moments.

And for those of us who are trying to be healthier, the vending machine can be a pitfall of despair, offering little to no options to actually help the hunger slump.  However, if an emergency hits, there are better options than others hidden in that vending machine.  So, if you are in dire need of a snack or something to get you through the day, here are 11 Healthy(ish) Vending Machine Snacks that won’t drag you down and make you feel like a slug.

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11 Healthy(ish) Vending Machine Snacks

Overall nuts, granola, trail mix or anything high in fiber and protein will help tame the hunger beast.  Look out for meal replacement bars that are packed with sugar or fatty snacks masked as healthy options. 

  • Snyder’s of Hanover Mini Pretzels (110 calories)
  • Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bar, Chocolate Chunk (110 calories)
  • Sun Chips Original (140 calories)
  • Planters Honey Roasted Peanuts (160 calories)
  • Planters Sunflower Kernels (160 calories)
  • Nature Valley Granola Bar, Oats & Honey (180 calories)
  • Fig Newtons (190 calories)
  • Baked! Lays Original (210 calories)
  • Traditional Chex Mix (220 calories)
  • Triscuits (240 calories, but packed with fiber)
  • Peanut M&M’s (250 calories)

…And a Few You Should Avoid

All those muffins, pastries, and candy bars may look tempting, but they’re just gonna drag you down even more.  Plus, most of them carry tons of trans fat, sugar, and empty calories that are just no good!  If you must indulge…because really, sometimes you must, share these with a friend!

  • Austin Cheese Crackers with Cheddar Cheese (210 calories, also high in fat)
  • Doritos (250 calories)
  • Skittles (250 calories, also high in fat)
  • Twix (280 calories, lots of fat and saturated fats)
  • Lay’s Potato Chips (280 calories, packed with BHT)
  • Snickers Bar (280 calories)
  • Pop-Tarts Frosted Strawberry Pastries (420 calories)
  • Drake’s Apple Fruit Pie (440 calories)
  • Entenmann’s Jumbo Iced Honey Bun (660 calories, a serving is half a bun!)

 

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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Seasonal Produce Printables

One of my favorite things about summer is going to local farmers markets.  For those of us who live in the Midwest, it’s often hard to find fresh seasonal produce at our local stores, so whenever the farmer’s markets come to town, we do our best to stock up on fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies.

And one of the best ways to buy your produce is to know what’s in season when you’re out shopping.  Buying produce when it’s in season often means fresher, cheaper, and tastier ingredients…and who doesn’t love that?

To help you learn what is in season when, here are some handy printables so you can see what fruits, veggies, and herbs are in season every month of the year.  Happy shopping!

Looking for clever ways to use your favorite herbs?  Check out this herb printable for some handy ideas!

SUMMER PRODUCE

summer

FALL PRODUCE

fall

WINTER PRODUCE

winter-veggies

SPRING PRODUCE

spring

Download All Produce Printables Here!

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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12 Easy DIY Lip Scrubs

As a life-long trumpet player, I know all about taking care of your lips.  The cold, dry weather, the heat from the sun, it can all wreak havoc on your skin, especially your more sensitive areas on your face.

In the winter, I easily go through a few tubes of Chapstick before the season is over, but sometimes it just doesn’t do the trick.  When I need to bring out the big guns, I use lib scrubs.

easy-diy-lip-scrubs

Lib scrubs are so amazing, and once you start, you’ll find it hard to stop.  Made using anything from sugar to coffee, these scrubs help remove the dead skin and dirt from your lips and leave them feeling super soft.

Omaze love kiss the walking dead i love you

While you can buy scrubs in a variety of flavors and styles, it’s just as easy to make them at home…and chances are you probably have everything you need in your pantry already.  So don’t fear the extreme weather…make your skin super soft with these easy DIY Lib Scrubs!

PS – you can also use these on your feet and hands, too!  We won’t tell!  😉

12 Easy DIY Lip Scrubs

  1. Honey Lip Scrub
  2. Raspberry Lemonade Sugar Scrub
  3. Vanilla Mint Lip Scrub
  4. Cotton Candy Lip Scrub
  5. Cinnamon Lip Scrub
  6. Mint Lemonade Lip Scrub
  7. Cucumber Mint Sugar Scrub
  8. Dark Chocolate Lip Scrub
  9. Rose Petal and Mint Lip Scrub
  10. Pineapple Lip Scrub
  11. Vanilla Peppermint Lip Scrub
  12. Lavender Vanilla Lip Scrub

Celebrate creativity every Wednesday with a “Creativi-bee” post, where I share easy craft tutorials, project ideas, and craft collections.

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9 Foods that Help Cure Hangovers

First thing’s first – HAPPY NEW YEAR! Phew, 2016 is finally over and done with and I bet we’re all ready to move on to bigger and better things.

I hope you all had a wonderful, fun, and SAFE New Year’s celebration! After a night of drinking and celebrating, it can be hard to get up and going the next day…especially if you’re nursing the common New Year’s hangover…

But you don’t have to suffer through it! There are things you can eat and drink now to help put a kabash on those headaches and stomach pains so you can get 2017 off to the right start!

cure-hangovers

Unfortunately, the science of hangovers (and how to prevent them) hasn’t quite made it to the research table…leading to brave souls inventing their own “cures” for morning headaches, nausea, and overall crappy-ness.

Though there is nothing that exists – that we know of, at least – that can act as a 100% cure all elixar, there are certain foods and drinks that are better for refuling than others. Stick to foods high in fructose, vitamins, amino acids, and minerals to banish those horrible headaches and help break town the toxins that are causing the reaction…and remember that alochol is a diuretic, which means it pushes water out of the body…so keep drinking water before, during, and after your night of drinking to help avoid a horrible morning.

If you still need some help getting out of bed today, here are a few drinks and foods that will help re-energize you, as well as a few foods to avoid so you don’t have problems later on!

9 Foods that Help Cure Hangovers

Water
Well this is a no-brainer. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means is pushes liquids out of the body (which is why you have to pee so much when you drink). For nourishment, the body will draw water from any available source, including the brain…thus the headaches. Drinking water before heading to bed and when you wake up can help prevent, or at least lessen, the hangover headache.

Sports Drinks
Sometimes there’s just nothing like the taste of a good ol’ fashioned Gatorade to get you back on your feet. Packed with electrolytes and sugar, sports drinks can help restore liquids and help you feel like your normal self.

Ginger or Peppermint Tea
If the nausea bug’s got you down, try an herbal tea. Ginger and peppermint are both known to help reduce nausea and motion sickness and may help ease stomach pain.

Coffee
If you drink coffee on the daily, keep on keepin’ on. The liquid in coffee can help rehydrate your body and skipping it may even lead to a worse headache. However, if you’re not normally a coffee drinker, the caffeine in coffee could make your headache worse…so to each his own.

Eggs
Ugh, eggs are literally one of the last things I want sometimes, but they are chock full of amino acids, which boost liver function. They also help break down the chemicals in alochol that cause headaches.

Bananas or Leafy Greens
Bananas have been praised for ages for having a lot of potassium, but there are actually some greens out there that pack more potassium than bananas…regardless, anything with potassium can help restore important electrolytes in the body. Add yogurt to your banana for an even stronger boost of the good stuff.

Chicken Noodle Soup
All us Jews out there know…this stuff is magic. Chicken noodle soup can help restore liquids in the body as well as restock sodium levels. The chicken is also packed with nutrients that are great for liver recovery.

Oats
A hot bowl of oatmeal contains a ton of essential nutrients, including B vitamins, calcium and iron. Oats can also help neutralize acids in the body and raise blood sugar levels, giving you an instant energy boost.

Watermelon
Any water-rich fruit will help hydrate you and watermelon is loaded with potassium and magnesium, as well as other amino acids that help boost blood circulation.

WHAT TO AVOID

Greasy Foods
I know, I know…everyone says that a greasy spoon breakfast is what you need to fix everything, but actually a hamburger and fries is much better at PREVENTING a hangover than curing it. If you’re planning a big night of drinking, down a good pub meal beforehand to help prevent alcohol from being absorbed into the stomach lining and bloodstream. Eating food like this after you’re already hung over may actually cause more hurt by irritating your stomach.

Hair of the Dog
The Scandinavians were the ones who gave us this popular saying, but boozing in the morning is not the best solution to curing that hangover. Alcohol can help take the edge off, but it will further dehydrate you and make your hangover symptoms worse throughout the day.

Every Monday is a “Reci-bee” post, where I share my favorite recipes, recipe collections, and cooking and baking hints and tips. 

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How to Make a Holiday Baking Cheat Sheet

OK, guys…Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is JUST around the corner.  While everyone else is on the hunt for antacids and stretchy pants, I’m raiding the baking section of my local grocery store to plan for my holiday cookie platters!

Baking Christmas cookies is a tradition I picked up from my dad.  He used to bake cookies for family and friends every year, and since he’s now passed, I’ve taken on the duty of turning my own little kitchen into a butter and sugar paradise.

I always make his favorite cookies:  gingerbread snaps, peppermint canes, butter cookies, almond cookies, and cranberry bread…but every year I try to make a few new cookies to help switch things up.  This year I have a lot of new recipes I want to try, and it can definitely be daunting to figure out exactly how much of everything is needed so you can buy all your supplies in one shopping trip!

holidaybakingtips

However, I’ve found a way to make this insanely easy and stress-free.  The answer?  EXCEL.  Excel is seriously a life-saver.  If you don’t have Excel, you can also use Google Sheets…it’s free and works exactly the same.  PLUS, you can access your Google Sheets from any device that can connect to the Internet, which is super helpful in a pinch.

For my purposes, I’m using Google Sheets this year, as my home computer doesn’t have Excel.  And I’m gonna take you on a step-by-step tutorial on how to use any spreadsheet program to make your holiday food shopping so much easier!  While I use this for cookies, you can also use this for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any occasion when you have to bake or cook several recipes at once.

First things first—gather all your recipes.  Open up Google Sheets or Excel and, in the first row, type “Ingredients” in the first column, “Amounts” in the second column, and “Recipe” in the third column.  Then you’re just going to import all your data, putting the ingredient in column 1, how much of that ingredient is needed in column 2, and what recipe that measurement belongs to in column 3…so your chart should look a little something like this:

cookieplatter1

Keep going until all your ingredients for all your recipes are listed.  It will also help you in the long run if you list ingredients the same throughout the sheet.  For example, list “flour” and “all-purpose flour” just as flour.  That will make this much easier to sort in the next step!

Also you can freeze row 1 so it remains at the top of the sheet as you scroll down through your data.  To do that, just highlight the first row, then go to View—Freeze—Row 1 and the top row will remain at the top as you scroll down your list.

Once everything is added, create a new tab and copy and paste all the info from the first tab into the second.  Highlight everything but the top row:

cookieplatter2

Then do a right-click, select “Sort Range” and sort by Column A, AàZ:

cookieplatter3

Now all your like ingredients are grouped together.  As you can see, I have Heavy Cream, Salt, Sugar, and Butter listed several times:

cookieplatter4

Now comes the fun part!  Next we’re going to combine all the double-listed ingredients.  So for butter, I’d combine all the measurements (1 cup, 1 cup, ½ cup) and type “2½ cups” in the “Amounts” column, then delete the two rows I don’t need:

So this:

cookieplatter5

Becomes this:

cookieplatter6

Go ahead and do that with all instances of doubles.

Finally, I like to add one further step of organization and just put like ingredients together so I’m not running all over the grocery store.  For that, I turn the “Recipe” column into an “Area” column and type in the section of the grocery store where I would find said item:

cookieplatter7

That way I can walk through the grocery store once, get everything I need, and head out.

This method has been pretty foolproof for me since I started using it about two years ago.  It makes it so much easier when I don’t have to guess how much stuff I need and I know I’m getting just enough ingredients to make everything I want to make.

If you plan on baking a lot like I do, you might have an instance where, after you tally your totals, you end up needing something like “40 cups of flour” or “15 cups of sugar”.  For instances like that, keep in mind that one bag of flour can contain anywhere from 15 to 20 cups of flour, depending on the type of flour, the brand and whether or not it’s sifted.  There’s really no great conversion for how many bags of flour you’ll need, but a 5 lb. bag should give you a good 15 cups at least.  For sugar, the average is about 2¼ cups to 1 pound…so a 4 lb. bag should contain about 9 cups.

Knowledge is power!  Learn fun facts, hints and tips, and creative ways to use every day items with “The Buzz” posts on Thursday.

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