Friday, December 28, 2007

Cute Ways to Use Your Leftover Margarine Containers

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I also hope that most of you are snuggled warm in your beds as I write this and not slaving over your computers.

Here’s a cute article on the many things you can do with your leftover margarine containers. By the way, I hope everyone used margarine in their recipes for Christmas!

Before you discard common household items, think about whether they can be reused. Recycling is great, but preventing waste is always your best option — and often your most frugal one. Today, readers share multiple uses for a simple empty margarine tub. Consider these ideas before you decide to toss them.

DONATE: I give mine to the school art department. They use them for paint projects and storage. — Laurie, Florida I give them to the local soup kitchen to send home leftovers to the clients. — Missyali, Ohio

ODDS AND ENDS: I use them to store small things, such as hair accessories, buttons and tea bags, or leftovers for the fridge. I use neon-color labels on them. I use them to bring food such as dry cereal, crackers and fruit to work, too. — Shorty, Canada

PERFECT PORTION: I use them to make sure I have 1 pound of hamburger in each freezer package. The 16-ounce container will be just 1 pound filled. I also use them for freezer containers. I mark each one with masking tape and label what's inside and the date I froze it. One pound of homemade soup frozen is two small bowls. Most of my leftovers go into them, too, and they stack well in the freezer. — Brat, e-mail

SAVE MONEY: I send my husband's lunch to work in them. He never brings home my containers, so this way I'm not losing any money. — Sherry, Michigan

CRAFT RECIPES: I use them for the kids' homemade play dough. — Heather, New York

GARDENING: I use them to start seeds in and to scoop potting soil. — Denise, Colorado

CATCH DRIPS: I use the lids as trays under houseplants and for pantry items such as molasses, honey and corn syrup. — Marcia P., via e-mail

REFILL AND REUSE: The small tubs are great for filling from larger containers of yogurt, ice cream, bagged snacks, gelatin and nonfood stuff like glue and paint. You can use them for kitchen compost scraps or to save leftover vegetables for soup. I've used the larger containers to hold coffee filters and brown sugar, too. — Paula, e-mail

PIGGY BANK: They're perfect little snack cups for kids. They're easy to make a small change jar/bank with or use in a backyard sandbox or at the beach, too. — Janine T., e-mail

HOMEMADE BUTTER: I whip my own butter to increase the volume and store it in plastic tubs. Just whip half a pound of butter and 1\/4 cup of milk, or try 1 cup butter and 1\/2 cup canola or olive oil. You can experiment with a variety of flavors, like adding jam or honey. — Jennifer B., e-mail

CUPCAKE KEEPER: I keep small margarine containers because a cupcake or muffin fits perfectly in them for the lunch box and they do not get smashed or soggy. I reuse them when I have something gross like chicken skin and freeze them until garbage day. That way it does not stink up my trash. — Debra, Nebraska

FOR PETS: I use them as scoops for pet food and as drinking bowls for pets. — Brenda, e-mail

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stomp Out Those Butts

In celebrating the overall theme of my blog, Heart Health, I would like to congratulate a good friend of mine for quitting smoking. He has been a pack-a-day smoke since he was 18 (he's 28 now) and honestly believed he would never be able to kick the habit.

We all know that smoking kills. You hear it time and time again but for many people, it just doesn't sink in. My friend has long recognized the fact that smoking was very bad for his health but had never really made the effort to quit. Almost everybody I know that smoked has said quitting is the hardest thing they have ever done. Yet, it has also been the most positive.

There are many methods for quitting. Some go cold turkey, others prefer to pick a day and stop then. Many use cessation methods such as the patch, the gum, the inhaler pr prescription drugs. Each method is different and the individual must find what works best for them. There is no tried and true method.

Whatever method you choose, make the decision to stop. Your heart will certainly thank you.

According to the American Cancer Society:
20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drops
12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function increases.
1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after quitting.
10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing smoker's. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas decrease.
15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker's.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Happy TGIF!!

Thank Goodness it is Friday!!! This week, with all of the holiday hustle and bustle plus all the craziness at work, has been absolutely insane. I plan to do some major Christmas shopping this weekend (along with the rest of the world) so there's quite a bit to do.

I'm off to go send some emails and return some calls but I hope everyone is getting into the holiday spirit. Cheers to all!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chocolate Sanwiches - Perfect For Kids of All Ages!

Kids of all ages will love this recipe because it's not only fun to eat but it's got food coloring in it, which kids adore.

Chocolate Sandwiches

Yield: 36 Servings

½ cups margarine
1 cups Sugar
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1¼ cups All-purpose flour
½ cups Unsweetened cocoa powder
¾ teaspoon Baking soda
¼ teaspoon Salt

2½ cups Confectioner's sugar
¼ cups Butter; softened
1 teaspoon Vanilla
2 tablespoon Milk
Red food coloring
Green food coloring

Cream butter, sugar, egg and vanilla until fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Add to creamed mixture. Shape dough into two 1½" thick rolls. Wrap in waxed paper. Chill for several hours. Place slices on ungreased cookie Bake at 375 F for 8-10 min. or until almost firm.

Meanwhile, combine filling ingredients except food coloring and mint or strawberry extract. Beat until spreading consistency. If desired, divide filling half - tint half pink and half green. Add appropriate extract to each one. Cool cookies, then spread wrong side of cookie and top with second cookie.

Your Chocolate Sandwiches is ready. Good luck!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Vancouver's Largest Gingerbread House

This story is just one of the many reasons I’ve vowed to spend more time in Canada. This is great and puts me in the Christmas spirit!!!

The World's Largest Gingerbread Man has, unfortunately, retired from the Hyatt Regency Vancouver's annual Gingerbread Lane, making way for Vancouver's Largest Gingerbread House.

The house is 11 feet high and 15 feet wide, and consumed 1.6 kg of brown sugar, 5 kg of icing sugar, 4 kg of margarine, 4 kg of molasses and 4 kg of flour.

For the next two Sundays, Vancouverites are invited to come to the hotel to decorate a gingerbread man for charity, with proceeds going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of B.C. and Yukon.

"We invite everyone to enjoy the spirit of Hyatt's Gingerbread Lane," said Steve McNally, Hyatt Regency Vancouver's General Manager. "The event is not only a feast for the eyes with gingerbread displays, but it raises much needed funds."

The event, which began last week, also features a four-foot-tall gingerbread man cut-out that people can put their face through to take photos. There will also be a collection of 36 handcrafted gingerbread houses on display from both professional pastry chefs and high school students.