Germs in your carpets

Waves_20150309  Did you know that your carpets are essentially a catch all for germs. Carpets harbor bacteria, pollen, pet dander, dead skin, dust, insect feces, insect husks, mold; I think we can stop there. Your carpets can be 4,000 times dirtier than a toilet seat!! It can hold about 200,000 bacteria per square inch.

Most people don’t realize the kind of things they are trapping in their carpets. Around seventy five percent of people walk on their carpets with dirty shoes. Your dog could step in feces outside and bring E coli in onto your floors. Dead skin cells in the carpet become food for dust mites. The main risk for people with carpeting are allergens. mites

How can you protect yourself and your family from these threats? Vacuuming of course is crucial, at least once a week.vacuum Experts recommend that you get your carpets cleaned every six months to a year by a professional. Many people use in home rental machines but these aren’t ideal. They can leave a layer of moisture that can create mold and mildew. These machines do not do the water extraction a professional service might do. Deep cleaning of your carpets should become an important item on everyone’s spring cleaning list.

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Irish Colcannon Mac and Cheese

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In honor of St. Patrick’s day, I’m going to share a yummy dish with you. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish of mashed potatoes with kale or cabbage. This Irish dish is combined with an American favorite for a pretty amazing combination.

Ingredients:IMG_0356

  • 8 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups shredded cabbage (I used a bag of pre-chopped cabbage)
  • 2 leeks, sliced and cleaned
  • 2 large baking potatoes, cleaned and cooked until fork tender
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons all -purpose flour
  • 1 cup Wisconsin Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Wisconsin Sharp White Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup Wisconsin Havarti, shredded (you may have trouble finding Wisconsin specific, do the best you can)
  • 1/2 cup panko or plain bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup scallions, sliced
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked

 

Directions:

  1. First you will clean and peel your potatoes. Then you can either bake them or boil them in a pot of boiling water. Cook them until the are fork tender. When they are cool enough to handle, shred them with a box grater and set aside.IMG_0360
  2. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add your bacon and cook until it is crispy and browned. Once cooked remove it form the pan and place it on a plate with IMG_0362paper towels. Leave 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease in the pan. Stir in the onions and garlic and saute for around 5 minutes, until soft. Add the cabbage and leeks. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, and the red pepper flakes. Stir and cook for about 5 minutes more until soft. Fold in the the shredded potatoes and remove from the heat.IMG_0364 Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and bring it barely to a simmer over medium heat. IMG_0366
  4. Return the large pot to the stove and turn it to medium-high heat. Add the butter allowing it melt. Whisk in the flour and cook it for 10 seconds or so. Next pour your warm milk in slowly, whisking continuously until all the milk has been added and its all mixed together. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the mixture has thickened. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper and the paprika. Once mixed well and thickened remove from heat. IMG_0367
  5. I a medium size bowl, mix together the cheeses. Add the cheeses to the thickened milk. Save about 1/2 of cheese for the top. Stir the mixture until the cheese has melted.IMG_0368 Fold in the cooked noodles, the cabbage mixture, the bacon and scallions, until well combined. IMG_0369Pour the mixture into a prepared 9×13 baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs and your reserved cheese. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly. Place under the broiler for a few seconds to brown the top. If you want you can top with more scallions when you serve. I promise this is a dish that won’t disappoint. IMG_0371

DIY St. Patty’s Day Banner

IMG_0305St. Patrick’s day is coming up. Today, I am going to show you how to make a simple burlap banner that can be used in your home or classroom, for some festive decorating. You can do this type of banner for any holiday, just make it your own.

What you will need:

  • Roll of burlap (I use a roll of jute, it has a tighter weave)IMG_0050
  • Green felt in St. Patty’s colors
  • Twine
  • Green thread
  • Sewing scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron & Ironing board
  • A piece of card stock
  • Shamrock template
  • Wax Paper
  • Paintbrush
  • Modpodge

 

Directions:

  1. To begin this project I searched for a shamrock image to make a template. I just went online found my shape and printed it out.IMG_0053 Next you will need to draw out your banner shape on your card stock. I chose kind of a pendant shape. Once you have it drawn out, cut it out. IMG_0051
  2. Next grab your roll of burlap. I like to lay mine out on the ironing board and iron if necessary.  You will need to measure the area where you think you will hang your banner. This will help you know how many parts you need for your banner. If you are using a mantle you can take your template and eye ball how many you will need.
  3. Next lay your template on the burlap and cut out each banner piece carefully.IMG_0052 I needed nine burlap pieces for my banner. Once you cut all those out, get enough wax paper to lay each banner piece out. On each raw edge of the banner pieces, paint a little bit of Modpodge. This keeps the pieces from fraying or unraveling. IMG_0213.JPG
  4. While the burlap pieces are drying you can work on your felt shamrocks. Cut out your printed shamrock piece. You can pin this with straight pins directly to your felt and carefully cut out however many shamrocks you need for your banner. I used two shades of green and cut out 9 shamrocks to match my 9 banner pieces.IMG_0215.JPGIMG_0216.JPGIMG_0220
  5. Once your burlap pieces are dry, you can pin a shamrock to each piece of burlap. Then using your matching thread sew each shamrock to the burlap pieces. Take your time turning the curves of the shamrock. IMG_0226IMG_0227IMG_0228
  6. Now that your shamrocks are sewn on, you can move back to the ironing board lay out each banner piece in a line. At the top of each piece fold over about an inch or whatever looks right to you. Iron it so its flat and even. IMG_0299The fold will be towards the back of the banner piece. Now you can run your twine in each fold and pin it in place. Leave a little twine showing in between each burlap piece.IMG_0300
  7. Once you have your proper length of twine and your whole banner pinned together, you can move back to the sewing machine. At the top of each banner piece sew all the way across. If you hold the twine in place as you sew, you can get it to were it be sew through and not be able to pulled out of the banner pieces. I like to use a fancy zigzag stitch at the top of my banner. How you finish it is up to you. You can use the green thread so it stands out or a brown that matches the jute and blends in. Once you have it sewn, trim the twine on the ends and its ready to hang. Hope you had fun with this little project.

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Memory Pillows

img_9463.jpgWhen a loved one dies, there’s always an abundance of clothes and things to deal with. Some things we have no desire to keep and some things we do simply because of the memories. Clothes are a great way to make memory items. There are so many different things you can do with them, teddy bears, quilts, etc. Today I will show you a simple way to take a man’s shirt and make a memory pillow.

What you will need:

  • A man’s shirt for each pillow you want to make.
  • A pillow insert
  • Sewing machine
  • Matching thread
  • Memory patch
  • Embroidery thread
  • Sewing scissors
  • Straight pins

Instructions:

  1. To begin this project I started with the special patches that would go on each one. You can special order these and they may look more professional, but I wanted to hand stitch mine. They were for my children and I just wanted it to be more personal, but many people make these patches on Etsy, etc. I used a pocket off our loved ones jeans to write a special memory statement.
  2. I wrote my statement with pen and then carefully sewed with embroidery thread each letter.IMG_9102 This was the most lengthy part of the project and may not be for everyone. I enjoy hand stitching and it was important to me to do it myself so I didn’t choose the easy way. You don’t have to do the pocket like I did. You can sew words right onto the shirt pocket, or purchase a patch to sew or iron on.56946122905__DF192B33-25C6-452D-B1A7-907C97885F12

3. Next you will cut your square out of the shirt for your pillow. I have seen some really nice pillows that included the collar. I decided to not use the collar just to make it a simpler project.  Lay your shirt out flat and measure out the size square you need. IMG_9453 I actually marked mine with a ruler and a pen.  I chose to use a pillow insert rather than stuffing. It simplifies the project and makes a nice even pillow. My pillow was sixteen inches, so I cut my square to seventeen inches because you need a sewing allowance.img_9454.jpg

After my squares were cut I sewed my jean pocket square over the area where the pocket was on the shirt. IMG_9458

 

4. One you have your squares cut out you can prepare them to sew. The great thing about using the pillow insert is that you can sew the whole edge of the pillow. Place the sides of the shirt you want on the outside of the pillow facing each other and pin the edges. IMG_9456Leave one button unbuttoned so after you sew the two pieces together you can simple turn it inside out. Sew the squares all the way around on the sewing machine. IMG_9459

After you are done sewing trim your edges and corners so you get a nice edge when you flip it.

5. Now that you have your sewn square ready you can flip it and unbutton a few buttons. Then all you have to do is fit the insert into the sewn pillow and button the buttons back up. This is great because you can unbutton the shirt and take it apart and wash it if you need to. IMG_9460That’s all there is to it. An easy project to make a special memory item from a loved ones clothes.

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Yummy Banana Bread

img_0043-1.jpgIn honor of National Banana Bread day on February 23rd, I decided to share my go to banana bread recipe with you. There are many many ways to make Banana bread, this one is a Martha Stewart recipe, its yummy and not overly complicated. Banana bread is a great thing to make when you have bananas that are starting to look not so great. They are still great for baking. So get those bananas that were going to be wasted and get cooking.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter at room temperatureIMG_0031
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached plain flour
  •  1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed very ripe bananas( about 3)
  • 1/2 sour cream (you can also use plain or vanilla greek yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • I add a little applesauce to mine, you don’t have to do this step
  • optional add chopped nuts (I typically make it without)

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Get a loaf pan prepped. (If you save the wrapper from your butter stick you can use it to butter your pan.) Set the pan aside.IMG_0032

2. With an electric mixer, cream your butter and sugar till its light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until they are incorporated.IMG_0033

3.  In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Mash your bananas and add them, the sour cream and vanilla and applesauce if using; mix to combine. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.IMG_0034IMG_0035IMG_0036IMG_0040IMG_0041

 

4. Bake at 350 for around 1 hour-1 hour ten minutes depending on your oven. Use a tooth pick to test, once it comes out clean it’s good to go. Let it sit about ten minutes to cool. Then you can turn it out on to a rack to cool. Then slice and enjoy!

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Cupid’s Crunch

IMG_9890.JPGValentines day is almost upon us. If you have school parties to take food too, or just want a fun treat for your kids, Cupid’s Crunch will be a hit. It’s simple yet festive, and super tasty!

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 bags of microwave popcorn, or 1/2-2/3 cup popcorn kernels, popped
  • 12 oz bag Wilton candy melts; I used pinkIMG_9871
  • 2 cups mini pretzels broken into pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups valentine colored M&Ms
  • Valentine colored sprinkles (I couldn’t find any this year but Michaels and other places that have Wilton cake supplies sell small packages of individual colors, so I made my own. IMG_9875.JPGIMG_9876.JPG

 

Instructions:

1. First you will make your popcorn. I chose to make mine on the stove because my IMG_9873.JPGIMG_9883(1).JPGmicrowave likes to burn the bags and its nice and fluffy made on the stove. Once the popcorn is popped, place it to the side.

2. Toss the pretzel pieces and M&Ms in a bowl with the popcorn. (I used my roasting pan, because it gave me more room to mix)IMG_9884.JPGimg_9886.jpg

3. Melt the candy melts in the microwave at 30 second intervals, stirring as you go. It can be easy to burn this way so be careful. If you have a double boiler that works well it just IMG_9882.JPGtakes longer.

4. Once the candy pieces are melted pour half over the popcorn mix. Combine using spoons or rubber spatulas work great.

5. Next spread the mix out on wax paper. (I used two cookie sheets lined with wax paper) Drizzle the remaining melted candy over the mix and sprinkle with your sprinkles.IMG_9890.JPG

6. After the chocolate dries, break into bits and store in for up to a week in an air tight container. Its that easy! Hope you had fun making it! Enjoy!

 

Low- Carb Million Dollar Zoodle Spaghetti

It’s the beginning of a new year. Many people are trying new diets and trying to stay healthy. Here is a delicious low- carb recipe that even kids will eat.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher Saltimg_9560
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh parsley (or dried flakes)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 pound spicy Italian sausage (I used mild)
  • 1 1/2 cups marinara or spaghetti sauce
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

 

Instructions:

1. Heat your oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8×8 baking dish.

2. Using a spiralizer, make your zucchini noodles (if you don’t have a spiralizer, most stores carry pre-made zoodles).img_9561

3. Cut pieces down if any of them are super long. Put the zoodles in a colander with small holes. Toss the noodles with the Kosher salt and allow to sit in colander over an empty bowl. Let them sit about 20 minutes. This allows all the extra moisture to be released.IMG_9565.JPG

4. While you are waiting on the zucchini, whisk together the eggs, parlsey, and Parmesan in a bowl. If you are using dry Parsley you can cut the down by at least half.img_9564

5. Give the zoodles a squeeze and get rid of the last of the excess moisture.

6. In a medium skillet, melt the butter and add the zucchini noodles.  Turn off the heat and add the eggs mixture. Quickly toss the mixture until well coated and creamy. Then add the ricotta and cream cheese, and toss until combined and no chunks are left. IMG_9566.JPGTransfer this mixture to your prepared baking dish.

7.Heat a medium skillet to medium high heat. Add the sausage and brown it all over. Remove the sausage from the heat and stir in the marinara sauce. Spread the mixture over the zoodles. Add the mozzarella to the top.IMG_9567.JPGIMG_9568.JPGimg_9569

8. Bake 30 to 40 minutes until the cheese has melted and lightly browned. Cool for five minutes and serve.

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Hope this gives you a new found love for zoodles! They are great in many recipes. Enjoy!