Tips to keeping an Organized and Clean Kitchen as you Cook

Your kitchen counters can get pretty full when you start preparing a meal, especially during the holidays. Bowls for mixing, cutting boards with veggies and food needing to be chopped along with pots and pans on the stove and in the oven…whew, its either a lot of work for some or a labor of love for others. In the end you have meal that is enjoyed by all and then… who wants to clean up the kitchen!

After eating the last thing on the list is to clean house, so why leave a big mess to conquer. Clean as you go is easier then you think and how great to just have a few pots and pans to throw in the dish washer, turn it on and walk away.

Here are some tips to clean as you go and keep the kitchen organized.

Make stations on your counters for the food preparation. Lets say you are making a holiday dinner with all the fixings. First pull out your pots and pans that you are going to cook with. Timing is everything when cooking and if your planning a turkey or ham for your holiday meal, it will take the longest to cook in the oven. You will want to get this going while you prepare the rest of the dinner and time it so that everything can be finished at the same time.

If the main entree’, turkey, ham, etc needs to cook say four hours and your side dishes need 2 hours to prepare and cook, go by the longest cooking time for a side dish to the least amount of time needed to get started in your preparation.

If you have a meal with vegetables and other foods to be cut up, put them in one place with the cutting board and knife. Have bowls ready to toss the foods in for mixing. Example: Making a salad; Have the bowl ready that your going to serve it in and add everything but the dressing. Put in the refrigerator until ready to serve. A cold salad is the key to crisp veggies and lettuces. Add the dressing and toss just before serving. Move on to the other foods that need chopping and peeling and finish them. Once the cutting board and knives are no long useful, clean up and put away.  As you add veggies and other foods to pots to cook, wash up the bowls or put into the dishwasher.

As you complete each task, clean up the counters and the bowls, pots and pans and utensils or put them in the dishwasher. Cleaning as you go will give you a cleaner kitchen, much more organization and much less to do when the meal is done except the dinner dishes.

Merry Christmas :}



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Season of Giving – Help Out Animal Shelters This Holiday Season

You can enjoy this holiday season by giving your time, a money donation, food, treats, blankets and more to your local animal shelter or others across the U.S.

Giving your time gives a pet waiting for adoption, love and attention and brings out their great personality. You could volunteer as much or as little as you want and help out with feeding, bathing and walking dogs or giving attention to a kitten or cat. Not only is this good for the animals, but also good for the volunteer. Read here about the benefits volunteering your time.

Some Animal Shelters are run on funding while others depend on donations. Every bit counts in taking care of the pets from feeding to medical.. See here The Five Ways Animal Shelters Keep Their Doors Open.

If your limited on time and money, you can always drop things to help out like food and water bowls, treats, toys, blankets and more. Go Here for a list of 20 Simple Things to Donate to an Animal Shelter.

If you love to crochet, knit or sew you can help out with the blankets and has been doing this for 10 years… They have as of December 5, 2017, given out over 50,000 handmade blankets to animal shelters across the United States. The blankets even go with the pets once they are adopted to help them feel more comfortable with something familiar in their new home.

You could pick up blankets at yard sales, department store or make them yourself.

For Knitting or Crocheting Go Here for Free Patterns for Blankets and more!

They even have a pattern for a Fleece blanket that requires no sewing… Get that here.

Take the whole family this holiday to volunteer and show the kids how wonderful it is to give.. Who knows, you just might go home with a new furry family member…

Merry Christmas…



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How To Choose and Care For A Real Christmas Tree

ID-100221169While the artificial trees are convenient and decorate up beautifully, sometimes its nice to have a real one. That Christmas aroma of strong pine scent filling the house, and yes, the needles falling off here and there, you know you have the real deal.

To pick a healthy tree, check the freshness by pulling off one pine needle, bend it in half and if it snaps apart you have a good tree. Taken care of will last you through the holiday season.

Must Have Water:

One of the things this tree needs just like any other plant is water. Once you pick out the perfect tree at a tree lot, have the helpers cut 1″ off the bottom or do it yourself once you get the tree home. This opens the tree to absorb water.

Be sure to give it water within a couple hours after you get it home and check it daily. Do not let the water level get below the fresh cut, or the sap will come out and close off the bottom and prevent the tree from getting water. Try to find a stand that will allow about a gallon of water for the tree. The first day home it can drink up to two gallons.

Do not put your Christmas tree near any heat source, like a fireplace, wood stove space heater or computers. This can sap up the moisture and cause a fire.


Wishing you  a very Merry Christmas!


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How To Stuff Cook and Carve a Turkey – Step by Step by Taste of Home

Taste of Home takes you step by step to cook a Thanksgiving Turkey. Weather this is your first time or you have been doing this for years, this is information worth looking at.

They start with preparing the bird (removing the giblets and fat) they also take you through the cooking process from start to finish for an non stuffed bird. A cooking time chart for a non stuffed turkey is available and timing for a stuffed turkey is just under the chart.

How To Cook a Turkey – Step-by-Step Turkey Roasting

Once your have cleaned out your turkey and you want to have that oh, so wonderful stuffing that comes from the hours of cooking in the bird. Taste of home offers you steps for stuffing the bird for the best results.

How to Stuff a Turkey

Once you have let the Turkey rest, you are ready to carve. From removing the drumsticks to perfect slices of the white meat they show you how in 6 easy steps.

How to Carve a Turkey

What would be a delicious turkey with stuffing without the gravy…Yes, its easier then you think.

How To Make Gravy From Pan Drippings




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Ways to Help Out This Thanksgiving in your Community

Help out at a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter. – Thanksgiving day and just before is going to be very busy in each of these places. Food needs to be collected and donations are usually the main source. If you cannot give your time, how about a donation of vegetables, Turkeys, stuffing, pumpkin pies or anything you can spare. Call ahead or go there in person and ask what they need.
Can you cook? Can you offer time to cut vegetables, cook a turkey, make tea?

The preparation is just as important for volunteers as to getting the Turkey dinner on the table. If you cannot help with the preparations, how about a few hours to set up tables, greet people as they come in, walk around with a water pitcher during dinner or helping clean up after.
To see where you can help out, contact your local Salvation Army, Chamber of Commerce and Churches in your area.

Donate to your local food bank – Click Here and enter you zip code to find one near you.

Visit nursing homes, hospitals and veterans associations
Call ahead to find out what specific hours are allowed for you to stop by. Just sitting and talking with someone, to hear their story, share what is going on in your life is very uplifting for both of you. You could also take a small gift like fresh baked cookies or a small bag of treats for the holiday.

Ask around and you are sure to have someone be able to tell you where volunteers are going to help out in your community this Thanksgiving. Get the family involved and share the giving..

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Fall In Florida! It’s Time for A Family Picnic

The Florida Summer heat is finally cooling down a bit, which makes outside activities more pleasant. This is a great time to get outdoors in the fresh air and have a picnic with family and friends and bring on the goodies that go with it.

Instead of the normal fare of sandwiches or take out, why not bring yummy homemade food in mason jars. They are perfect for so many recipes and serve as the dish you will be eating out of (no paper plates or other plates to clean) and when done, the jars can be closed back up and packed away for the trip home.

Plan ahead for your picnic by picking out the perfect spot. The beach, a park, along side a river or lake, anywhere outside in the sunshine and fresh air is wonderful. Pack up a blanket or beach chairs, a garbage bag and any outdoor fun games or toys. A baseball glove and ball to play catch with the kids, small bucket and shovel for the beach to build sandcastles, Frisbee, etc and don’t forget the Sunscreen. Time to put the phones, laptops and other electronics you have away and just enjoy family time.

Pack in a plastic gallon baggie, eating utensils, napkins and straws and add to your picnic basket or cooler.

What to add to the Mason Jars? You can make so many recipes ahead of time and be ready to the day of the picnic.

Make up a pitcher of your family favorite drink like homemade lemonade and pour it into individual jars for each family member.

Put slices of veggies like carrots, bell peppers and celery in a large jar and in another smaller jar a dip for the veggies. Or you could add the veggies to the bottom of the jar and a plastic container small enough to fit with a dip and cover.

See these video’s for idea’s –



A few jars could contain, pretzels, chips or candy. You know your family and friends, get creative and make it fun with your homemade cooking.

Pack up your cooler with lots of ice and put the mason jars on the bottom and the lighter things on top.

Enjoy :}








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Gardening Tips For Fall – Ornamental Cabbage and Kale

ID-10068558While Summer is getting a bit cooler here in Florida, it is a great time to think about fall gardening and getting started on sowing seeds.
Many gardening centers are offering something different then flowers, they have beautiful Kale and Ornamental Cabbage. They come in a variety of shades with their rose shaped leaves, in greens, purples, creams and pinks.
Check out your local gardening centers and farmers markets to add these plants to your garden or as a decorative plant along side the house. Most of these plants are very hardy and will usually last until the first frost.

As far as doing double duty as a pretty plant and an edible plant, they are not really good for eating as they can be bitter.
Get more information over at Hicks Nursery website…


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