Kettle Corn

Kettle Corn is the perfect snack when you are craving something a bit sweet. It turns popcorn into dessert and is very cheap for the budget conscious family. Pop some for a family movie night in or pack in your cooler for a night at the drive in!

My friend Heidi shared with me the way she makes Kettle corn and I tweaked it slightly. We buy our sugar from Azure Standard and the popcorn kernels from Costco.

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Tools

2/3 to 1 cup popcorn kernels
3T (heaping) evaporated cane juice sugar
3-4T coconut oil
Sea salt

In your large cast iron Dutch oven, melt your coconut oil over high heat. Add your sugar and stir to combine. Add your popcorn kernels and put the lid on. Give the pot a shake. When you start to hear the popcorn pop start shaking the pot back and forth so the corn does not sit in the hot oil in one spot and burn. When you hear the popping start to slow down (like with microwave popcorn) remove from the heat. Immediately sprinkle with sea salt and serve. Word of caution: because you are using sugar it will burn faster and more easily then popcorn on the stove with just coconut oil. Keep your pot moving!

Cleaning Your Blinds

I am not a housekeeper. Things like dusting fans and washing blinds aren’t things that naturally come to me! My dear mother thinks of these things, I did not inherit this trait. That’s why I love my Motivated Moms calendar. It reminds me to do things like change the air filters and wash light fixtures.

Today my calendar told me to wash the dining room blinds. The last time this chore came up, I had no idea how to quickly and efficiently wash the blinds- but my mother did! And today I pass on this knowledge.

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Tools:

Washcloth
Dish soap (something like Dawn works well)
Dish rag
Several old bath towels

Take your blinds down. Don’t unscrew them from the wall! Remove the piece that keeps it securely in its holder. I store this piece on the top of the window frame so the pieces don’t run away with little children.

Next take all of your blinds to the bathroom. Put your bath towel laid flat on the floor next to the tub. Place the first set of blinds into the tub and turn on the hot water. Add a squirt of your dish soap. You don’t need to fill the tub up, just cover the blinds with water.

Use you rag to gently wipe the blades of the blinds. Be careful not to rip the vinyl thin blades if that’s the kind you have!

When you are finished wiping them down you could fill the tub with rinse water. I find just picking the blinds up and letting them drain off excess water is enough. Then move the blinds to the towel on the floor and repeat with the other sets of blinds.

Use another bath towel to gently blot the blinds. I usually let them sit there for a few minutes and then hang them up. They usually have a few drops of water but aren’t dripping. They air dry easily while hanging up.

And that’s it! Easy to do and makes the room feel so clean!

Rag Curls Before and After

Before After
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5 Hair Styling Books for the Amazon Kindle Fire

In honor of the new Amazon Kindle Fire tablet PC, we’re sharing some hair styling books you can buy to read. Prices for ebooks are usually cheaper than for paperback or hardcover books and these ebooks about hairstyling are no different. Prices range from $2.99 to $11.95 That’s not bad for the rich, bold color pictures and descriptions on how to style your hair.

Hair Styling TipsFresh Hair Styling Tips – For Beautiful, Healthy, Rockin’ Hair! – Modern hair styling tips and strategies for keeping your hair looking healthy and stylish from a top fashion professional. Michael has styled the hair for many magazine spreads and fashion shows as well as working with high end salon clients. These are the proven tips he gives to all his clients to keep their hair looking beautiful and healthy distilled from his years of working in the beauty industry. Useful, informative, fun, easy to read and follow tips for keeping current trends and looks.

Styling Your HairThe Tweens Guide to Styling Your Hair – The Tweens Guide was started to help you get the tween hairstyles you want and to learn how to do it yourself! No more sitting on a chair and making your Mom style you up. It’s time for you to figure out the hair thing on your own. The first part covers basic hygiene explaining how best to wash your hair, how much shampoo to use, how to massage your hair, and what to do with the conditioner. Following these hair styling tips, your tween is going to really know how to style their hair.

African-American Hair StylingHair Care For African American And Bi-Racial Children Styling Guide – Hair Care For African American And Bi-Racial Children hair maintenance guide to allow you and your child to have a more enjoyable bonding experience during hair styling and grooming sessions. You will be amazed at how long healthy and manageable this hair can be with proper knowledge. You will be giving short cuts and secrets by a 25 year veteran Licensed Cosmetologist/Hair Care Consultant Darlene Matthews, who wrote it to help a friend out in a jam. This is a wonderful guide for adoptive parent of children of other hair-types.

Beauty Makeup and Fashion Tips101 Beauty, Makeup & Fashion Tips – Are you a fashionista? Do you love makeup, fashion and beauty? This is the book for you! With OVER 101 tips on giving yourself professional manicures, how to organize your clothes closet, how to organize your makeup, how to choose classic outfits with style, hair styling, makeup application tips & tricks, makeup selection for bridal makeup, selecting classic jewelry, and finding your signature scent.

Highlights and LowlightsHairapy: Highlights & Lowlights – Written by self-proclaimed “hair-a-pist” Amy Miller. With over 20 years in the hair business Amy has assembled some of the funniest stories for you to enjoy. From shampoo girl to salon owner and everything in between, Amy has done it all and she brings her stories of personal triumph and heartache to you in this immensely enjoyable and delightful book. From the beauty school mishaps, to cross dresser clients, to the most embarrassing salon moments, this book is sure to keep you entertained! What people have shared with her will literally curl your hair. You don’t have to be involved in the beauty industry to find the humor in this book. Quite simply, if you love to laugh, you will love this book.

Christmas Cards 2012 are done!

And that took WAY more time than I had intended! But aren’t they awesome? I can’t wait for Shutterfly to send me my goodies!  The process was super easy, unless you have ridiculously adorable children that make the decision of picking pictures really difficult!

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.

Vita-Mix 1300 TurboBlend 4500

Vita-Mix TurboBlend 4500 is a heavy-duty, commercial-quality blender that delivers optimum performance and power. Superior engineering strengthens each part, ensuring a product that will last.

  • Heavy-duty, 2+ peak horsepower motor with 2-speed control
  • Virtually unbreakable, 64-ounce, polycarbonate container
  • All stainless steel enclosed blade assembly with sealed ball bearings
  • Metal-to-metal driver, thermally protected motor for optimum performance
  • Measures 20-1/2 by 7-1/4 by 8-3/4 inches; 5-year warranty

Here’s what one reviewer had to say, “I love this blender!! It seemed pricey to me, but I’ve had mine for about a month (down to about $10 per smoothie!) but I love it and expect it to last a long time, based on what friends have told me about their machines.

Two great things about this blender. First, it is so easy to use: no assembling to use and disassembling to clean. It is one piece. I find myself using it in place of my food processor also because I don’t have to go through the hassle of putting the pieces together.

Second, I have become hooked on “green smoothies.” I can put anything in this blender and it purees it into a smoothie consistency. I put spinach and raw carrots in and then add whatever fruit I want with some cold water and the blender can make it into the consistency of thick juice. I’m experimenting with broccoli next. My whole family is eatting tons more fruits and veggies and that makes it worth the price to me.”

About Cast Iron Skillets

Whether you’re preparing a hearty beef stew, cooking a seafood gumbo, or trying your hand at Southern fried chicken, there’s a cast iron pot or skillet just right for the job. We understand clearly that the proper cooking utensils are a must if we are to succeed and, more importantly, enjoy our job cooking.

With documented roots as far back as the Middle Ages, cast iron is one of the oldest types of cookware in existence, and in the United States, Lodge Manufacturing has a cast iron legacy spanning 100 years. Today, the company produces an extensive line of cast iron cookware, including skillets, Dutch ovens, chicken fryers, griddles, bakeware, and servingware. The company also produces cast iron amenities, including hearth and barbeque grill accessories.

Good cooks know you can cook anything better in cast iron, but cast iron’s benefits go beyond taste: Cast iron has nutritional and economical qualities every cook should consider. One of the most important things about cast iron is its durability, with some pans lasting over 100 years. Cast iron has also been proven to be a very economical way to cook because of how evenly it cooks and retains heat. And cast iron is a great value, providing non-stick-like qualities for less cost than actual non-stick pans.

Nutrition benefits of cast iron have been documented to impart a significant amount of dietary iron into food cooked in cast iron, which is absorbed into the body when eaten. “Studies indicate cast iron cookware commonly found in American kitchens significantly contributes to the iron content of many cooked foods,” says Dr. Craig Walker, a renowned cardiac specialist of The Cardiovascular Institute of The South.

How to Clean Cast Iron Skillets

Cleaning is Easier Than You Might Think

Unless you’re hanging your newly seasoned skillet for looks, you’re going to need to care for it slightly differently than you would your other cookware. Because it must be maintained differently, cast iron frightens away many people, but if cared for correctly, you may find clean up time is actually faster than with other pots and pans.

The main rule of cleaning a cast-iron skillet is never to use soap detergents with it. It won’t ruin it, but it will remove some of the seasoning that you’ve worked to build up – and seasoning is not just for taste – it’s what makes it non-stick, too. Most messes can be cleaned with hot water, a stiff-bristled brush, some salt, and occasionally a potato (slice a fresh potato in half and rub, then rinse clean, dry, and apply a light layer of oil to the cookware). A hot pan is easier to clean than a cold skillet because the metal is expanded and more likely to release what is stuck to it. Place a hot pan under running water and scrub it with the brush to remove the stuck-on bits.

What is the best way to clean a dirty pan?

Make sure your pan is hot before you try to clean it. Pour in 1/2 tablespoon of water and a tablespoon of kosher salt. Wad up a paper towel, hold it with tongs, and rub it over the surface of the pan to loosen anything stuck to it. The salt will help grind it away. When the salt looks dirty, dump it out, wipe the surface clean, and your pan is sealed and ready for storage.

If you have a particularly big mess or if your paper towel starts to fall apart, don’t use soap detergent until you’ve tried cleaning it with oil first. Pour two tablespoons of salt (kosher or pickling salt works best) in the skillet and cut a potato in half. Hold the potato like a scrub brush and rub it firmly over the surface of the skillet. The salt should act like scouring powder to help you rub off the stuck-on food. Neither the potato nor the salt will damage the surface of the pan and the potato will protect your fingertips from abrasions.

If you still can’t remove the mess, which is more likely to happen with a new skillet, try scraping it with a butter knife. Do this only if you have to as this may scratch the pan and result in spots that are lighter than the rest of the pan. The spots will disappear after a few uses, but the scratches may not. If nothing else seems to help, use some hot and soapy water. This should be a last resort since it does remove some of the seasoning.

5 Reasons to Use Cast Iron

Cast Iron Heats Evenly

Using cast iron makes it easier to cook a variety of dishes because iron is thick, dense metal which absorbs and conducts heat slowly and evenly. Although a cast-iron skillet takes longer to get hot after placing it on heat, it’s more likely to stay hot when you add cold ingredients. The even heating also makes it great for cooking sauces or things that may burn easily like milk or cheese. If the pan is properly manufactured, it will keep relatively the same temperature on the edges as it does in the center of the skillet – and since cast iron retains heat so well, you can also serve in it – saving you time and leaving one less dish to wash.

All-Metal Construction Means Less Pans to Wash

In addition to being able to be used as a serving vessel, cast iron skillets offer one other versatility which you may not have thought about. Since most cast-iron skillets are manufactured from a single, solid piece of metal, you can begin the cooking process on the stovetop and finish in the oven or under a broiler without having to switch to a new pot or pan – thereby saving yourself time and from having to wash another pan. Skillets that come with a tempered plastic or a wooden handle aren’t as flexible as they are limited to the stove top only and would require switching the food to bake-safe pan before switching to the oven.

Cast Iron Promotes Crisping

Not everything that comes out of a cast-iron pan is going to be crispy, but if you’re cooking something that should have a crispy or even crunchy exterior and a soft interior, cast iron is the best choice. The surface of the pan encourages food to brown and crisp better than even the most expensive non-stick skillet on the market. Even a brand-new, freshly seasoned skillet can give food a crispy, delicious texture.

A Seasoned Skillet Leads to Healthier Cooking

Cook dishes with a high fat or oil content the first eight to ten times you use a new cast iron skillet. As your skillet gets more seasoned, you’ll need less fat and oil. And because the surface and metal used in your skillet will help you create a crust on foods, you won’t miss the fat. With cast iron, even your boneless, skinless chicken breast will look like browned comfort food.

The Ability to Cook on High Heat

Many non-stick and other lightweight pans cannot be used over high heat. Because the metal is thin and conducts heat quickly, they can get too hot and then cool off easily. But with cast iron, you can place your pan over high heat. You can even place your pan directly over the hot coals on a grill or over a campfire, which makes them perfect for camping.

Lodge Cast Iron Skillets

How to buy a new cast iron skillet:

When buying new cast iron cookware, look for skillets that don’t have any large pits, bumps, or cracks on the cooking surface. These imperfections can make it harder to cook with your pan. Ideally the pan has a similar texture to that of a piece of high-grit sandpaper. The pan should be dull gray and it shouldn’t be smooth. As you cook with it, it will become blacker and smoother. And finally, you want to make sure that the thickness of the bottom and sides of the pan is even. Pans with bottoms and sides that get thinner around the edge are less likely to conduct heat evenly and are more likely to break.

Lodge Cast Iron skillets are cast from molten iron in individual sand molds, which are only used once, making each pan unique. And although there is not a written warranty for Lodge Cast Iron skillets, they do stand behind every product manufactured and if you encounter any product problems, you can contact Lodge Customer Service who will solve the problem to your satisfaction. In addition, if purchased through Amazon.com, most kitchen items and housewares purchased can be easily returned within 30 days of receipt of shipment. These items must be in new condition with original packaging and accessories. Lodge Cast Iron Skillets are made in the USA in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.

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