Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wow...What a Week!

Well, I wanted to come on and say hello to everyone and write a brief blog posting. I have been ill since Monday and suffered some sort of allergic reaction on Thursday evening...which turned me into a giant strawberry...ahhhhh! Luckily, it wasn't severe and able to be taken care of with medicine. Only downside, I have to try and retrace anything new added into my life within the last couple of, lotion, etc. So as I begin my investigation, I hope you all are enjoying your last week before Christmas! Be safe and stay warm :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Keep Yourself Healthy

As I woke up this morning, feeling pretty icky, I decided that I would share some home remedies that have been given to me over the years to help prevent sickness during the winter months. Well, they will work anytime, but they seem most appropriate since sickness is creeping up all over this season. Of course, these never take the place of a Doctor, and should be used with your best judgement. They simply may relieve symptoms, but again, do not replace your health care regimen.

If you have an ear ache, especially if you feel that there is excess moisture in your ear, fill a clean tube sock with one cup of dry rice and heat in microwave for about 15-20 seconds, just until it feels warm to the touch. Place your affected ear on the warm, rice filled sock (place it on a pillow and take a snooze) for about one hour (or longer if you can). The dry rice will attract moisture out of the ear and the warmth will help to soothe the ear ache.

Think you are starting to get a cold? Rub a thin layer of vapor rub on the bottom of your feet and cover with socks. Wear it all night and wash off in the morning.

Stuffy nose? Add 2 cups of hot water to a medium-sized container (best if you use something that will only be utilized for non-food related purposes), something like a dishpan. Position your head over the container and place a bath towel over your head and the container. The steam will help to break-down the mucus. You can also eat something slightly spicy, like salsa, it will help to open up those passages!

Well those are just a few of my home tips and tricks...hopefully they will help me to feel better this evening. Have a great and healthy day!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Outside the snow is falling...

The snow will soon be falling and I am just getting myself in the mood for a chilly weekend! Tomorrow is the Home for the Holidays event in downtown Winchester and the square will be filled hustle and bustle during "A Dickens' Christmas"! I will be at The Cashmere Cat from 3-5pm, so come in and say hello! We'll have refreshments and lots of items for you to browse. So, in honor of the Christmas spirit, I wanted to take the time to share with you some homemade gift ideas that are sure to put a smile on ones face and not break the bank!

Homemade Candle

Do you have leftover wax from a burnt-out candle or some broken crayons? Don't throw it out! Melt left over wax, crayons, etc. in a double boiler and pour into a cardboard or heavy card stock container (half-n-half cartons work well) in your desired shape and add wick! Let cool and remove (typically cut) container. Voila! You may add scented oils or such to make them smell extra good. Don't want a candle? Use broken crayons and follow the same steps, but pour them into lined-muffin tins. When cool, you have large, new colored crayons! This beats the new $30 crayon maker!

Recipe Collection

Take a few of your favorite recipes and write them out by hand or make copies on festive paper. Add them to a recipe box, recipe scrapbook, etc. and gift them to the ones you love.

Creative Floral Arrangements

Floral pieces during the Christmas season can be so expensive and limited! Look at your local grocery or super-store for a bouquet of fresh flowers or potted plant. Dress the plant up with ribbons, tinsel or small ornaments within or on the planter. Opted for loose flowers...choose a clear container and cut flowers to size (don't forget to cut on an angle) and add to vase. Now you can add that extra special touch...float cranberries in the container with the flowers, color the water with gel food coloring (if you have white flowers, they will turn colors) or add slices of fruit! Keep your flowers fresh longer by adding a teaspoon of bleach to the water!

Enjoy and make something special this season :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

I am so thankful!

We were blessed to have such a beautiful Thanksgiving season this year! 5 Thanksgiving get togethers, plus an Anniversary party and I may need a new wardrobe that includes bigger pants ha ha! Only kidding, I minded my eating (mostly) and even received a comment about losing a few pounds (totally made my day). I thought that I would take this opportunity to list everything that I am thankful for this beautiful day:

My amazing husband
My beautiful family
My sensational friends
My health
My happiness
My job (soon to be jobs)
My home
My freedom

God Bless you all as you enter this holiday season and remember the true meaning of what we are about to celebrate!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chasing my own tail :)

Wow! 70 degree temps in the middle of November...what state do I live in again? The weather has been so gorgeous and it gave me the perfect day to get lots of errand running accomplished, yay! Next week is the Randolph County Extension Homemakers annual Time for Trees event and I have been blessed to be a part of the planning committee for the past 3 years. Local home ec clubs, businesses and organizations decorate 3' Christmas trees or wreaths and show case them while accepting silent bids. We also have very generous businesses, organizations and individuals that donate gifts/gift certificates that are used as door prizes or silent auction items. Let me tell you, the people of Randolph County are simply amazing! We have had such an out pouring of generous support and I am sure my husband will be the first in line to place some bids (he loves auctions). All of the proceeds go to the local food pantry and we typically raise well over a thousand dollars to donate! There will also be refreshments, live entertainment and a visit from Santa and his lovely wife. So, if you would like to support us, please visit Husted Hall from 10:00am-6:00pm on November 18th. Entertainment will begin at 3pm.
Winchester is also getting ready for its annual Christmas on the Square. This year I will get to work at The Cashmere Cat and show off some of our fantastic items. I know that I am a bit partial, since I work there and all, but the shop is simply lovely and we have very quality items. We recently brought in Kellie's Kreation air fresheners and they are so wonderful and affordable! $2.00 and your car, room, storage area, etc. will smell amazing! I have the love spell (made popular by Victoria's Secret) in my van and it permeated the space within 25 minutes! My Mom bought the coffee scent to put in her kitchen...I came in last night to the disappointment that coffee was not brewing :( However, her kitchen smells like a Sunday morning! We also got a new shipment of the FireSide coffees and cocoas...whaooo! Marta and I are especially fond of the pumpkin pie mocha! So if you have a chance, stop by the shop.
Well there is my little spiel for the day...just my thoughts and tidbits rolled into one. I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful day!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Baby steps!

The first day of any change can be scary, but this was happy and exciting! Isn't it strange how we can start to transform ourselves with one tiny adjustment in our habits? That is exactly how this journey is going to move forward, small adjustments and transformations...all in baby steps! It didn't all creep up on me one day, so it sure isn't going to creep off of me overnight either (oh I wish). I guess patience truly is a virtue that I must hold on to.
Last night, I sat down and watched Biggest Loser with Steven. These contestants are power-houses with exercise energy that only most can imagine. I realize that they have very unique circumstances (no job, no family, nothing to do but work out while at the ranch), but they still show dedication at home of the finale of the show would be pretty boring. I do draw encouragement from the show, but have the where-with-all to realize that losing 20 pounds in a week isn't realistic or very healthy. I would be happy to lose that in a month!
So, what baby step should I incorporate today? More water! Yes, I am going to strive to drink the necessary amount of H2O today, so wish me luck! Water is by far not my favorite drink, but I shall learn to love it!

Have an amazing and blessed day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Journey

Wow, I cannot believe that it has been so long since I have posted any new blogs...shame on me! Well I am starting into a new journey in life and I wanted to share it will all of you :) Last evening, I had the honor to listen to the teachings of John Muncy while attending revival at our church (Voice for Christ) and it was quite the wake up call. He spoke on the changes of our culture today and the strong influence of our media, especially on our youth. He also made us stop and think about our role in the church and if we were inviting in God or something else...we need to do some cleaning. In all honesty, those 2 hours gave me a whole new perspective on a lot of areas of my life, the first being my health! Today is a brand new day and I am going to treat it as such. I have been given this life to live to the fullest, so I better start doing just that! So, here are some steps that I want to take in order to achieve my goal weight. I would like to be at goal within 18-24 months!

Nicole's Steps
1. Limit fast-food and restaurant food! I love to cook, so why not spend less money and make something at home that typically tastes so much better! Only eat at places that are really worth my splurge (yes, Waffle House is included lol). For those of you that do not know, I absolutely love the Waffle House in Englewood, OH!

2. Eat fresh! Be careful of the pre-packaged food that I eat and try to make as many things from scratch as possible.

3. Move more! Even a little bit of movement is better than nothing.

4. Build a support network. Gather friends and family that will encourage this journey, not hinder it!

5. Limit wasted media time. Check email, facebook, etc. a couple of times per day. Only watch television shows/movies that really interest me and then get up and do something else.

Okay, so there are some of my steps that I am going to work on this week. I am going to try and do a better job of blogging and updating all on my progress! Have an amazing Tuesday :)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I Love My Hometown!

I absolutely love this time of year and the little things that make my hometown special really start to shine! The Farmer's Market on the downtown square started last weekend and they seemed to have a fairly packed group. Fresh baked goods, home grown veggies, garden decorations and the list could go on and on. We've only had this for the past couple of years and it just continues to grow! As I mentioned in the last post, we are seeing quite a bit of business really starting to boom in Winchester, as well as other places in Randolph County. Jason's Meat Market, On the Square and Sweet Sensations (open soon) are just a couple of our recent additions. Since my parent's and my brother-in-law own locally owned and operated businesses here in town, it makes me happy to see other "Mom and Pop" establishments. I would love to take the time to do a complete history on the evolution of the downtown square...all of the businesses that have come and gone, families that have been in business for generations, etc. Even in my twenty-some years, the square has almost completely changed, more than once! With the addition of the Winchester Main Street group, we have been able to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of our community and build upon what we do best...mid western hospitality! The updating of some of the downtown buildings (making them business ready) has been a tremendous asset and I think that the investors in these projects should be commended for their hard work and efforts. Some no longer live here and still want to give back to their great! We may be small in number, but we are mighty in spirit. We are very well known for our school sports, coins, racing, pies, chocolate and golfing...what more could you ask for? I love being a small town girl :-) I mean, the Mayor is my facebook friend! So take the time today to see what makes your hometown special. God Bless!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Summer Tummy...fill it right!

I love summertime and the abundance of freshness that it brings with it! Farmer's Market is in full swing, flowers blooming and the smell of grilled food fills the air of our quaint town. With the addition of Jason's Meat Market in downtown Winchester, grilling season has taken on a whole new is wonderful to be able to pick up ribs, roasts, steak burgers, etc. right here in our own backyard! It is also nice to keep all of the heat outside, not in the house! Grilling out also gives me the opportunity to utilize all of the Stonewall Kitchen products that are being sold at another new downtown business, On the Square. Winchester is having a HUGE revitalization...come visit us! Since spending time in the water sounds like more fun than staying in the kitchen on these hot summer days, here are a couple of my picks for great eats, with less heat!

Orchard Salad with Chicken: So all of the produce at the market was too good to pass up and those two left over chicken breasts needs be used in something...hmmmmmm. 4 cups of town romaine lettuce (or whatever you have), at least a half cup of each fruit (I like blueberry, sliced strawberry and pineapple) and 2 sliced chicken breasts. Want to kick-it up? Add some nuts or toasted sunflower seeds. I serve with a honey mustard dressing and yum-o!

Fiesta Corn Salad: This may sound like a side dish, but there is plenty to satisfy a summer hunger! Cook roughly 2 cups of corn (fresh, frozen, canned) in the desired method. While corn is cooking, chop one red bell pepper into small pieces and saute in a small skillet with 1 Tablespoon of butter. Add to corn when finished. In a medium sauce pan, add 1 8oz block of room temperature cream cheese, 2 Tablespoons butter and 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar and warm throughout. While warming, chop 2 green onions and add to corn mixture. When sauce has warmed, add corn mixture and stir. Place mixture in a serving dish and chill for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, crush BBQ corn chips on top! So delicious :-)

As always, enjoy and be safe!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sweet, treats and blooms!

I should start our by saying "sorry" for my continual lags in is a promise to actually doing this on a more frequent basis. Since I have been on the hunt for a new job these past couple of months, it has given me the opportunity to be more creative in the kitchen and dive into some passions that I did not have much time to do before. In preparation for the upcoming JuneFest that will be happening in downtown Winchester in the next couple of weeks, I have been preparing to make about 8 cheesecakes, some sweet dips and cake balls. Yes, I said cake balls! After seeing a post about these delicious little treats, my curiosity got the best of me and it was time for some research...and I am glad that I took the time to look these up! Simple, delicious bites of heaven! Bake a cake, crumble it up in a bowl, add a can of icing, freeze, dip in chocolate coating...voila cake balls! Here are a few flavor creations I am hoping to attempt:

Monkey Madness (banana as the main flavor)
Cordially Yours (cherries)
Strawberry Patch (you guessed it)
Luau Love (tropical flavors)
Wedded Bliss (oh yes, traditional wedding cake)

Have a flavor you want me to try, let me know! I am fairly game for anything! Of course, the famous Fields' Cheesecake will be making its triumphant return and Cheesecakes for a Cause remains in effect...all profits from our JuneFest booth will be donated to the American Cancer Society for the Relay for Life of Randolph County. Come see us!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Growing Our Garden

Steven and I have been active in a new church for the past two months and learning more about how to live "Right here, Right Now" with God. Yes, we have both been in church since birth, but Voice for Christ just brings something different in our lives. We've met so many great people and now know that we have a tremendous church support system. Blessings have been flowing and we want to give back.

Since we have been married, we have maintained a decent size garden on the back part of our property and plan to expand this year in order to participate in a share garden with our friends. Mr. Fields has quite the green thumb and a great reputation for his hearty onions! He would eat onions on just about it saves us big bucks in the spring and summer months. S0, we will make sure to plant extra onions to share with our fellow gardeners. For example, Phyllis is in the mood for squash and zucchini, so she will share her bounty with us in exchange for some onions. What a great way to have LOTS of summertime produce without having to cultivate a large garden! I am most excited for herbs...nothing beats home grown chives, cilantro, dill and of course basil!!! I am going to utilize terracotta pots so they can live outside in the summer and come inside for the winter...makes my mouth water!
At the end of the gardening season, the share gardeners will be hosting a canning party to keep our veggies and fruits tasty throughout the winter months. I will honestly say that I have never canned anything, so it will be a learning experience for us all. This will be a prime time to ask Mom Darla for some assistance. The last thing I need is exploding pressure cookers in my kitchen. :)
Another great tip on how to save on your grocery bill and add some variety to your dinnertime...casserole swaps! The process is simple and the possibilities are endless! Gather a group of friends (2-4) and have each family fill out a brief survey of likes, dislikes, allergies, etc. and pass out a copy to each member of the group. It is also helpful to send an extra casserole dish to each of your friends...these can be purchased for under $5 and can be very helpful for your swap buddies and saves the environment from all of those tin-foil pans! It will also save a lot of money in the long run. Then purchase enough ingredients to make yourself a casserole (or main dish) and then for an additional casserole to pass out to your swap buddies! Think of creative dishes that are fairly inexpensive (tuna noodle, chicken casserole, pizza pasta bake) and easy to make in the masses. Send your casserole (usually ready to bake) to your swap buddies and enjoy! So now you have your tuna noodle, the next door neighbors crunchy chicken and your best friend's zucchini bake...yum-o!
We can plant a seed with little and watch it grow into something fruitful. A small investment of time, resources and love can yield a mighty crop. Hope everyone has a blessed day.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Meat the Savings

One of the most expensive items that you will purchase for your family is that of the protein variety. However, here is a sure fire way to save on the most needed staple!

1. Check the front and back pages of most supermarket circulars, that is where most chain stores advertise their weekly meat savings. Do you use a lot of chicken breast and they happen to be a steal? Buy them and freeze the extra, just make sure to mark the date on the package so you know when they need to be used by. You aren't going to save much if you waste much!
2. Always talk with the butcher or meat-case manager, they may be able to make deals on bulk purchases that are not on sale. It is also wise to check the fresh meat counter vs what is already pre-packaged, you may find a better deal at the counter! You may also get alerted to upcoming sales from the sales staff...if they know you and what you typically buy, they'll be more eager to tell.
3. Look for package deals! Many stores are selling meat packs for $20 or less that include: chicken, ground round or chuck, bacon or sausage and some type of roast. Even if you don't see any in the display case, ask! The last time we purchased one, we ended up saving well over $5.
4, Stretch! Use less meat and add more veggies and grains to keep you full. Make fajitas, stir fry, pasta toss, etc. Just use your imagination!
5. Remember that meat is not the only source of protein. Nuts and beans can certainly make great additions to salads and soups to give you your needed protein and a meal without meat. For a family of four, take a head of lettuce and core and chop into 4 large wedges. Cut one granny smith apple into julienned strips and divide. Add 1 oz of pecan and drizzle with your favorite dressing. Oh so good and makes your tummy happy.

Hope that these tips help. Happy Meating :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gourmet Girl...on a Budget!

My big plans for 2010 include more inventive cooking, organizing and getting back to my scrap booking. While I am getting back into the swing of things, I want to be more resourceful and budget-friendly! Being married to a resourceful man that also moonlights as an awesome cook, I think that I am in luck :) I've been working on recipes that utilize fresh ingredients as well as items that I can buy/cook in bulk to use later on down the road. I think that this is also a great time to start sharing meal times with our families. It usually only costs pennies more to include one of our families in our meal, so why not? So, I have decided to talk about my journey and include gourmet budget and time saving tips! Today, I have decided to talk about my grocery store tips that will save you time and money!


1. Keep a layout or an aisle listing of your favorite or most frequented stores. This will help you write a grocery list in the order of how you travel the store. In some cases, larger stores will have maps on their website or at the customer service desk, so go ahead and check it out. If not, make a list of your own the next time you visit. It may help you from running back and forth!

2. We all need the staples from the inner aisles of the store, but fresh produce, meat and dairy are almost always around the perimeter. Try only going down the aisles that house products that you absolutely need and you are bound to save a few dollars.

3. Check the circulars for your area and see if your favorite store does a price match on items that you use frequently. It is also best to do a quick check of their price match policy. Some stores only offer price match on items that say the actual price, not buy one get one or 2 for a certain price. Some also require that you have the circular or sale bill in hand, so make sure to take it. I place post-its for each item on the front of the ad and hand them the little note. If they need the ad, I have it, but they don't have to flip around that big circular! Trust me, the cashier will be happy if you are organized.

4. Coupons and store savings clubs are also great ways to save. Most stores are now accepting online coupons, but it is best to check their policy. I check a variety of websites, such as those of my favorite stores, redplum and other coupon sites. The Sunday paper offers coupons, but most of them are becoming few and far between. Some in store savings clubs also print coupons at the register for items that you normally purchase, which can be very helpful for future trips. Get a coupon at one store but want to use it at another? Ask the store if it can be counted as a price match. If they are eager to get your business, they will more than likely oblige. If you are swapping coupons, make sure you belong to a legitimate group or know those that you are trading with...many people print out coupons or copy them and try to sell them on auction sites at a decent price. With a bit of work, you can save on your own, with no up front costs.

Just keep a few tips in mind and you are sure to save. Keep track of your grocery expenses and see how they shrink! Happy shopping!