Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Earn some money (to decorate?) and save the environment!

Ok, so I know this is a homemaking blog, but being a Conservation major, I am all for helping the environment. (See last blog post- I love to recycle!)

Speaking of recycling, I was inspired last night by a chore I do once a month- bottle return. Although I live in RI for work and school, I am from CT. While RI does not have bottle return, CT does. So once a month I bring home all my cans and bottles to recycle them. The best part? You get back 5 cents for every bottle returned. This may not seem like much, but after awhile, it adds up.

And who doesn't like making back some money? That's right- you pay for your cans and bottles when you buy your beverages! However, bottle return is a way to make it seem like that tax never happened. AND you are helping the environment! I'd say this is a win-win. 

And what will you do with this money? Save up for a long enough amount of time and you can see some serious cash! Maybe you can spend some of this money to decorate your space, inspired by some of my posts! Or maybe you will treat yourself to a fabulous home-cooked meal. You can even turn the coupons your receive into cash, and put them in the bank.

Regardless of what you do with your cash, keep in mind that you helped the environment. Every little bit counts!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Organize your desk... artistically!

I've always been a fan of organization, and when it comes to my desk, I make no exception. I do most of my work here, and if everything is cluttered, not only will my efficiency decrease drastically, but I will also become more likely to become distracted.

Usually, I tend to organize my space in a very professional, office supply store kind of way:

However, lately I have switched! (Crazy, I know!) I love color, and I love anything vintage, so after flipping through a home-making magazine, I got some ideas. For example, the following:

If you like to draw like me, and you are a fan of color, the above way of organizing your drawing tools is a great start. Not only does it add color to your room and recycle your old pasta sauce jars, but it is an extremely efficient way to organize your tools so you do not spend so much time looking for that certain color you need on your paper. 

And what about all those small office supplies like pins, paper clips, binder clips, etc.? How about trying even smaller jars?!

This vintage way of organizing not only allows you to see exactly what you are able to use (I love the clear jars!), but can also be a neat (and cute) way of organizing those easy-to-lose supplies. If you are on a budget, don't go buy little jars from the craft store. Know anyone with a baby? Baby food jars are the perfect size! If not, I find that plenty of veggies come in small glass jars (peppers, artichokes, etc.). 

So there you go- not only an organizational tip, but also a great way to recycle all those glass jars you use! 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Getting ready for school... 2 months in advance!

Summer classes may almost be over, but for a planner like me, it is time to get ready for the upcoming school-year. This means I am about to embark on my favorite kind of shopping- BACK TO SCHOOL SHOPPING!

Is it sad that I love office supply stores? Or that I enjoy the smell of new paper, binders, and freshly-sharpened pencils? NO! IT ISN'T!

You may think it is too early to start the back-to-school advice, but believe me, it is never too early. So, here it goes.

Whether you are in college or middle school, it is important to keep all your work organized. Depending on the amount of work you have, or the amount you are willing to schlep around campus on your back, there are two great ways to organize your work: binders with dividers, or individual folders.

I have personally used both modes, but my favorite is the binder. For college, I have two binders: one for MWF classes, and one for TTh. This means I only carry around what I need for that day's classes. Each tab is color coded. One class is assigned one color, and this color corresponds with the tab in the binder and also the notebook for the class. This makes it SO much easier to find things quickly for a specific class! 

Another mode of organization you can use are what I call "accordion folders". Choose a different color for each class. These are great because you can store your notebook in this folder along with your paper, and only carry around what you need for a certain hour or day. (This is great if you live on campus)

Another great idea is to have a notebook with pockets for paper inside the notebook. However, these pockets only hold so much paper, so only use this method if you don't get a lot of handouts.

Have I inspired you to get ready for back to school? Or are you angry with me for bringing it up when all you want to do is relax and enjoy your summer? Either or, this will help you in the following school year!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Brighten up your day!

After the last few days being stuck inside due to the extreme heat, all I want to do is go outside. However, the sky is filled with dark rain clouds. I know that this rain will make all the heat and humidity go away, but I long to spend a day in the bright sunshine with a nice breeze...

So, in order to brighten up your day (and space) get a few accent pillows. These can add color and personality to any room without need for a large budget. Just a few pillows can change an entire room. Now, I'm not saying to go out and buy 30 pillows for your couch or bed. Try two or three to start out with.

Here are a few good examples.

If you have a sewing machine, you can even try making them yourself! Go to a local fabric store and find a pattern you like. Pillows are super easy to make, and in the end, you will end up spending a TON less! After all, if you are a student like me, you are probably living on a budget!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time to Cool Off

Sorry for my lack of posting lately! Life has been a hectic whirl of a full-time job, 3 online classes, graduation parties, and taking care of my grandmother.

So, in order to remedy this situation, I am offering a classic recipe that will be sure to cool you off on these hot and humid days, and also offer you something nostalgic: Sweet Tea!

If you know me, you know I have a wicked bad sweet tooth. So sweet tea hits the spot. Don't tell my British friends though - this would be an insult to their unofficial national drink!

Simple Sweet Tea: In just minutes!!

Boil 1/2 gallon of water in a pot on the stove. Once boiling, take off the heat and add 4 teabags of your favorite tea to the pot. Once steeped, return pot to heat. Once boiling again, add 2 cups of sugar. Take off heat once the sugar is dissolved, allow to cool, and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Key Lime Pie made easy...

Who wants a delicious key lime pie whose filling only takes three ingredients!

I have used Best Recipe's Key Lime Pie recipe for years. And I always get rave reviews. So here is how to make a fresh, from scratch key lime pie in just minutes!

Lime Filling

4 tsp grated zest plus 1/2 cup strained juice from 3 to 4 limes
4 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/4 cups of crushed graham crackers
3 tbsp granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Whipped Cream is optional...

For the filling: Whisk zest and yolks in medium bowl until tinted light green, about 2 minutes. Beat in milk, then juice; set aside at room temperature to thicken.

For the crust: Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix crumbs and sugar in medium bowl. Add butter and stir until well blended. Scrape mixture into a 9 inch pie pan, press crumbs on bottom and up sides. Bake until kightly browned and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Por lime filling into crust, back until center is set, yet wiggly when jiggled, 15 to 17 minutes. Return pie to wire rack to cool. Cool to room temperature, then refridgerate for about 3 hours.

See? Easy as that! Now go enjoy this wonderful summer classic!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting Ready for Father's Day

What are you doing for your Dad for father's day? Making BBQ? Perhaps a homemade card?

I am trying to think of things to do for my dad- I always make him a homemade card, but this year I want to go all out! After all, he did help me financially when I went to England last semester! (As well as the previous 21 years of my life)

So here is the plan: Make a scrapbook of me and Daddy pics, with a bunch from when he came to visit me in England. And then I am making high tea for him. Including dessert. He loves my Key Lime Pie, so I guess I'll make him that!

Look for my famous Key Lime recipe- coming soon to this blog!

Happy Father's Day!