sit down and shop

Even if this is the year that you are anti-shopping there’s probably still a little essential shopping that you have to do. Here are some painless, good websites to help you:

Customized and Personalized gifts: Zazzle.com and https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnneGreenDesign

This website lists over 1,500 stores that will make a donation when you buy from them online- good idea because you’re giving twice: IGive.com

It’s good to buy things made in America, check out: MadeinTheUSA.com and MadeinUSAForever.com

A couple life-saver websites: stain removal guide-Web.Extension.Illinois.edu/stain/index.cfm

Bargain finder: DealNews.com

 

 


I’m doing great…

Dear Mom,  Over the holidays I am going to run into old friends that I haven’t seen in years and I’m in-between jobs, single and not doing much. I just don’t want to talk about it. What can I say when I am asked about my job, boyfriend and life?

Let’s assume that everyone is asking to be nice, even though they probably want to hear something bad, either way smile a little and change the subject without missing a beat. Don’t pause and don’t look uncomfortable just make a comment about someone else, “Did you hear about…?” People ask, but they only care about themselves!


enjoy

Whenever you’re crazy-busy eating brunch is great especially if you can do it during the week not just on Saturday and Sunday. If you plan it right you can get away with one terrific meal for the whole day…

thekitchn.com and MarthaStewart.com have some of the best brunch recipes 


this too shall pass

I am reading emails from people who are mostly overwhelmed by everything all at once right now.

The best thing to do when you’re chin deep in chaos is remember what’s really important and what really matters. Don’t spend much time on things that aren’t going to matter a week from now…


take a break

It’s a good thing to give yourself a break from the craziness going on.

Try to stop and listen to Ted.com. There are stories that you’ll learn something from, inspire you and some will amaze you…it is time well spent.


party girl

Mom- I was invited to a party. The email invitation said the time was around 6 p. m.. I don’t know what time that is and I don’t know what kind of party to expect. How should I dress? Should I eat before I go? Am I over-thinking this? 

Dress attire should be party-casual, emphasis on the party, eat a late lunch or snack before you go and yes you are over-thinking this. It’s really not that important what you wear, except to you. Relax and enjoy the party…


party-on

Dear Mom, I am planning a party and I don’t really care if anyone RSVPs, but if I don’t know how many people are coming I don’t know how much food and drinks to buy. I need help.

It sounds like you’re trying to plan an open party, but it’s a little too open. I hope that this is not a sit down dinner because it won’t work if you don’t know how many people are coming. As long as your party is buffet-style make sure that you have enough food and drinks for everyone you invited and a bit more. Chances are not everyone you invite will show up, but a few extras might!  A day or two before the party you should call most of the invited guests to get an estimate.

You can also ask a good friend or two to run over to the nearest catering/deli to get some ready-made food and extra drinks if this turns out to be the best party ever and everyone shows up and no one wants to leave! Even if you run out of food make sure that you have plenty to drink…


oh, fudge

When all else fails- eat fudge!

Classic Chocolate Fudge

Makes 8 to 10 1-inch squares

Ingredients
2 cups white sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of whole milk
2 tablespoons butter (plus more for greasing the dish)
2 teaspoons vanilla

Equipment
Measuring cups and spoons
Thick-bottomed sauce pan
Whisk
Heat-proof spatula
Wooden spoon
Pyrex pie plate or dish

Instructions
1. Measure the ingredients and whisk. Measure the sugar, cocoa and salt in the sauce pan you are using to cook the fudge. Add the milk and whisk until blended. Don’t worry about a few lumps, they’ll go away when you heat the mixture.

2. Bring to a boil. Bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-low flame. Stir occasionally with the spatula but not too often or your fudge will be grainy. Keep the heat as low as possible to avoid scorching.

3. Prepare pan, ice water, and water bath. While the fudge is cooking, butter the pan that will hold the fudge (see note). Fill a glass or jar with ice and water and set next to the stove. Fill your sink with several inches of cold water.

4. Determining when the fudge is done. Start checking the fudge for doneness after 10 minutes of boiling. If you are using a thermometer, your fudge is ready when it reaches 235°F. Or go old-school and use the soft ball test. Using a metal spoon, drizzle a little fudge in a cup of ice water. If it forms a soft, pliable ball, then it’s done.

Another hint that your fudge is almost ready is that it will go from a mix of larger and smaller bubbles to just the smaller, tighter bubbles. Begin testing as soon as you notice this change.

5. Add the vanilla and butter, and beat until cool. When the fudge is done, turn off the heat and gently stir in the vanilla and butter. Remove from the stove and place the pan of fudge in the sink of cold water being very careful not to splash into the pot. The water may sputter for a few seconds when the hot pan hits it. Holding the pot steady with one hand, beat the fudge using a wooden spoon until it is fairly cool but still liquid.

6. Pour into the pan. Pour the fudge into your prepared pan. It should be liquid enough to spread out evenly on its own.

7. Cool, cut, and enjoy. Allow the fudge to cool before you cut it. Usually about 1/2 hour at room temperature is good. Use a thin-bladed sharp knife to cut the fudge. You can dip the knife in hot water, wiping the blade dry with a dish cloth, if needed.

Additional Notes:
• A pyrex pie plate makes the squares too thin, so if you can use smaller individual gratin dishes. You can also just double the recipe, using the pie plate (or even an 8 x 8-inch square pan).

• Just before you pour the fudge into its cooling pan, you can stir in any number of extras. A chopped nut such as walnut, almond, or macadamia or tiny marshmallows, or experiment if you have a favorite.

I found this on thekitchn.com- whenever the chaos getting overwhelming it’s a good thing to turn to…


go for it

After reading lots of emails asking my advise for solving a problem what I know is sometimes it’s better not to follow the path of least resistance.

Don’t always look for the easy way out. Lots of things in life aren’t easy and trying to find the easy way to do them is not going to lead to the best results.

You probably won’t accomplish something great by taking the easy way out. Just don’t give up…


wondrous websites

I just came across some websites that look particularly good, entertaining or useful, so I’m sharing:

RoadFood.com

BeerAdvocate.com

RoadsideAmerica.com

eNature.com

DealNews.com

Web.Extension.Illinois.edu/stain/index.cfm

FOOD FINDS: ArtisanalCheese.com, Shop.EliCheesecake.com, SeattleFishCompany.com, GarrettPopcorn.com