Friday, February 10, 2012

I Love My Pet

For many of us, our pets are our children and we want the best for them. Needless to say, we do love to spoil them. And like children, they carry a huge responsibility, depending on their family for their care.
Of course fashion sense is a top priority with pet owners. There's no way we are going to let Fifi out the door without her designer sweater and doggy necklace. Not to mention, dressing up your dog is so much fun.

I love seeing a dog dressed up, especially during Halloween. But like children, you need to take the same consideration when buying their clothes and other accessories; are they flame retardant, do they have toxic dyes or are they easily broken, with small pieces your pet could choke on? Always make sure you verify the safety of any pet item.

For Halloween or any holiday, check the SPCA website for tips on keeping your pet safe.
Then of course there are the toys, carriers, dishes and bowls. Try GregRobert Pet Supplies for a huge selection of fun stuff for your furry kids. Like children, toxic issues need to be addressed. I like to make my own pottery and ceramics so it is only natural that I make dishes for my cats. But whether you are buying or making your food bowls, always make sure they are food safe. If you are not certain, don't use it. Not all ceramic glazes used on dishes and other pottery pieces, are food safe and could be toxic to your little ones.

Your pet's health is a top priority and when it comes keeping my pets healty, my preference is all natural.

Seven of the popular flea and tick control products on the market,  have adverse health effects in tested animals ranging from convulsions and body tremors to brain lesions, lung and liver tumors and thyroid cancer. When you think about it, you are putting a pesticide on your pet each time you place those drops on their skin.

Laboratory tests show Fipronil, an ingredient in Frontline and Frontline Plus, is a neurotoxin and a possible human cancer agent. This toxin can cause liver and kidney damage, thyroid cancer and other problems in your pets. Read more about these findings at How Safe is Your Flea and Tick Killer?

There are many natural alternatives to the commercial toxins on the market today.
Natural Wonder Products is one of my favorite shops for alternative pet care.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Budget Wise Cooking

I love cooking especially for friends and family. I started cooking when I was 5 years old, standing next to my mother and grandmother, learning the treasured family secrets. I was raised as a city girl but both my parents came from farm families, so I learned a thing or two about cooking.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned how to adapt many of our family recipes into healthier yet still budget wise meals. I have learned to combine a meat eating and vegetarian cooking style along the way, and I would like to share some of my favorites.

Beans and lentils are the most versatile foods among meat eaters and vegetarians alike. There is such a wide variety of this protein packed supper food that you could eat them several times a week and never get bored.

I have a book called 366 Delicious Ways to Cook Rice, Beans, and Grains. This book has some of the best ideas I have found. I never realized there could be so many.

The way I cook beans depends on the type of bean it is. Pinto beans I always cook on the stove top while white beans I cook in a slow cooker. I like soft beans with a thick juice, and unless you cook them on the stove, pintos are too hard and soupy for my taste.

When it comes to slow cookers, there are many to choose from. I have three in my home and use all of them. May favorite slow cooker is the Hamilton Beach 33967 Set 'n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. It’s programmable and has a locking lid. I am always taking food somewhere so the locking lid is a big plus.

I take a 1-pound bag of pinto beans; sort and wash, then let them soak in cold water all day or overnight. I drain, rinse and place in a pot, covering with 4 cups water and 2 cups chicken broth. Turn stove on high and let boil about 10 minutes then turn down to a low simmer. Cover with a lid and let slowly boil about two hours.

Tip: To avoid gas associated with pinto beans, cut a russet potato in half and add to beans when cooking.

Next I add a chopped onion and smoked ham hock. If you are a vegetarian, you can skip the hock and had a drop or two of liquid smoke. Bring back to a slow boil and let cook for another hour or until beans start to thicken and are tender.

If your beans are too soupy, take about a cup out and mash, then return to pot. Add your spices and salt let simmer for another 30 minutes. It is important that you do not add anything containing salt until the beans have cooked. Adding salt before cooked will make your beans tough. As for spices, you can add anything. I add chopped garlic, season salt, and cumin and ground oregano. I like to add chopped jalapeno for a spicier dish.

With this one pot of beans, you can make several meals. The first meal, serve beans with cornbread or fried potatoes. Take your leftovers and make into chili. Just add meat, or leave meatless, tomatoes, chili seasonings and fresh peppers. With your chili, you can eat it plain or make Frito pie or chili spaghetti.

Turn your leftover beans into refried beans for a south of the border dinner. You will want to use a heavy frying pan. I prefer a cast-iron skillet. Heat 1 tablespoon of lard, bacon fat or oil to pan. Strain your beans and add to skillet, mixing well then add ¼ cup water and stir. Using a potato masher, mash the beans while they are cooking in the skillet. Add more water as needed, keeping your beans from drying out. Mash until they have a puree consistency.

Another easy, economical dish that will appeal to vegetarians is Veggie Noodles. Just serve this quick, nutritious meal with garlic or Italian bread for a satisfying meal.

You will need:

2 small zucchini squash

2 small yellow squash

1 egg plant

2 cans of Italian or other spiced tomatoes

¼ cup olive oil

Cooked fettuccini

Grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cut vegetables in small chunks, leave skins on. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low, stirring constantly until vegetables are tender but not mushy. Mix in cooked fettuccini and add tomatoes. Cook until heated through. Add cheese and mix well.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Buying American

In a recent article I asked, “Should we buy American?” The answer may be difficult as many believe we no longer have access to many American made products.

While there are thousands of foreign made products in our marketplace, we still have many choices for products made in America. You may have to look a little harder but, there are many, high quality, American made items.

To buy American, you just have to commit to read labels. We still have food produced in American factories as well as other items. Did you know that Kimberly Clark, think Scott Towels, is an American company? While they ship globally, and have factories all over the world, they keep Americans working with over 20 facilities here in the United States. Whirlpool, Bun-O-Matic and Nesco are all American companies, with factories across the country, employing Americans. You can find a comprehensive list of American manufacturers at Still Made in the USA.Com.

American flags; what better way to show your support for buying American made. Try buying American made furniture, anything from wine racks to a dining room table. American made furniture has always been some of the highest quality you can find.

There are some amazing American made supplies and toys or designer clothes, jewelry and collars for your special pet. Wouldn’t you love to see Fido in his custom-made, studded collar?

More American made products are available than most people think. It just takes some research but if your purchase of a Nesco Cooker helps to put someone to work, it is worth it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Emergency Kitchen Food Storage

In my article, Food Storage Tips for Your Emergency Kitchen, I discussed the ways to store bulk item foods. Doing so does require knowledge of shelf life, what items store best, and containers for your food stuffs.

I love to freeze things but you must know what will and will not freeze. Will It Freeze? is a great book listing foods that will or will not freeze. This book was written by a British author so you may need to cross reference some things. However, it is a great resource for anyone wanting to preserve their food.

Food storage is a lot easier if you have the proper equipment and some, I consider, a necessity for a well stocked pantry.

I think a vacuum sealer is a must have for anyone preserving food. This is my third sealer and my favorite.

Some say these do not preserve your food any better than freezer bags. If sealed correctly, a good vacuum sealer will extend the life of your food; sometimes doubling it. It takes a little practice getting a proper seal but, once you learn; you'll wonder how you did without one.

This is going to be my next large purchase. Not only do I want the mill but I want the accessory kit and the motor. I would love to grind my own grain for and my goal is to have this in my home by May of this year. I know it is a huge investment but for the health of my family and the long term savings, the price will be well worth it.

I love books and have at least one for everything I am interested in. For cooking and preserving, I have so many, I can't tell you the exact number. I do have my favorites though, and this book is great.

What I love about this book is that it is not an apocalyptic, doomsday book but a well-written  book that is full of no-nonsense suggestions. This book is written on the basis that stuff happens and everyone needs to be prepared...I love this book.

This is another favorite. I have had this book for years and use it all the time. There is everything from cake mix to meatball mix. If you do once-a-month cooking, using a mix is ideal. It is so easy to pull out a jar of a pre-made mix to start my monthly freezer cooking.

These are on my list of must have stock. If you are serious about storing food for the long term. You need these bags. For long term food storage, these Mylar bags block sunlight and provide an additional oxygen and moisture barrier.  They are easy to seal, just iron the opening shut with a hot iron. When I want something to last a long time, I use these. With their water-tight seal, these bags work well for canoe trips or camping and backpacking.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today I thought I would list e-books. I am a fanatic when it comes to books, both print and e-books. You should see my book cases. They are full of all kinds of jewelry and craft books (I have 4 very large book cases).

Here are some e-books for your jewelry and selling your jewelry that I thought might be helpful. Some of these I already have and others, I either know the author or the e-book has been recommended.

Rena Klingenberg is one of my favorites. You can’t go wrong with any of her books.

Ultimate Guide to a Profitable Jewelry Booth

Guide to Profitable Jewelry Booth

This isn’t an e-book but I had to put a plug in for my favorite program. I love this software. I use it for my jewelry and my sewing. The only program that I love just as much is my soap maker software. It is “well” worth the investment

Bead Manager Pro

I actually bought this one some time ago when I needed some tips on doing home parties. Lorri has some great tips and ideas.

Start Your Own Jewelry Party Business

I know some of you are just starting out and looking for reference in the beading side of making jewelry. This is an awesome book. It even guides you in the healing properties of different types of stones.

The Complete Bead Guide

This e-book was recommended on one of the other lists I am on by a reputable member. I know we have a lot of newbies and this sounds like the perfect e-book for beginning wire artists. I may order this myself, even though I’m not a beginner.

Wire Work Secrets

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Save Money and Still Eat Well

In my article, Eating Well on a Tight Budget, I listed several ways to feed your family and still keep within your budget. Below I have given you several resources to help accomplish my suggestions.
For people like me, it comes as second nature since I was fortunate to be raised in a family where everything was done with our household budget in mind. Whether it was growing or raising our own food to cooking and preserving. But it seems that when my generation started raising our families, we got farther away from doing things ourselves and the mega million dollar business of fast food took over. Not only has it made a negative impact on  our health, it is now making a negative impact on our budgets.

If you haven't read my article, please click on the link above. If you have read it, then I have listed some products that will help you on your way to controlling your household food budget. All of the items I have listed are extremely helpful in moving you toward tighter control on the dollars spent each week for food.

Growing Your Own Food

Organic Food Gardening Beginners Manual

Food 4 Wealth - Great Investment

How to Grow Herbs and Vegetables in Small Spaces-Kitchen Gardens - No Space? Try this.

My Shed Plans - This is a great package. I love this one. I have done several projects with this. Not excatly gardening but it will help with storage issues.

Canning and Preserving

My favorite canning book is Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. This book covers everything with many recipes and a time table chart for all types of food.

Good equipment is a must. Your most importan investment is going to be your pressure cooker. I use the Presto 1755 16-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker/Canner. This will hold 7 quarts or 10 pints and is made of sturdy, cast aluminum.

A must have is a complete set of canning utentsils like the Presto 7 Function Canning Kit. This has everything you need.

If you plan on canning fruits a Columbian Home 33-Quart Jar Canner and Rack is the perfect investment. This canner will hold 7 quart jars and is very durable.

I love this steam canner. I use it for all my high acid foods like jams, jellies, pickles ect Victorio Vkp1054 Aluminum Steam Canner, 7-Quart

I love dehydrating and own a small dehydrator Open Country 4 Tray Trialmaster 500 Watt Dehydrator Kitand a large square one Excalibur 3900 Deluxe Series 9 Tray Food Dehydrator - Black .

I also use my counter top convection oven Hamilton Beach 31199XR Countertop Convection Oven.This works very well then the rest of the year I have a second oven to bake in.


Make Your Favorite Restaurant Dishes at Home

Kid Approved Meals - Every mom needs this to plan their week

Feed a Family of 5 for Only $50 - This is great for people like me that has a hard time planning meals


Complete Survival Course - This has it all. Gardening, canning and preserving and what to do in a disaster. I highly recommend this to those that want to be prepared

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A New Venture

I am going to go way off my usual jewelry-crafting venue here and talk about something I recently stumbled on to that I wanted to share with you. And right up front, I am going to tell you that, yes, if you follow the link I give, you will be helping to build my team. So no surprises there.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but with the way things have gone with the economy, we have struggled to make ends meet. Our gas and groceries are now more per month than most of our bills put together. This puts a crimp on making things to sell because I no longer have the extra money to put into the materials. Other than getting a second job, I really didn’t know what to do.

During my vacation around the Thanksgiving holiday, I was up late one night, restless and unable to sleep. Nothing was on TV so I decided to check my emails and see if I could get a little writing done. I had decided to start writing again but I was getting discouraged at the paying opportunities out there. Most places want you to write pro gratis or for very little, many times only about five dollars for an article. I was considering going into copy writing since the money for article writing is very small. However, this would mean a slight learning curve since I only dabbled in copy writing through my work.

As I was searching for ways to make copy writing pay, I ran across an affiliate marketing site known as SFI. Normally I would just close out of a website like this because many of them are scams and I didn’t want to waste money trying them out. Right before I clicked on the home button, something caught my eye; no cost to become an affiliate. Okay, maybe I will take a look. I am sure there is a catch I mean really, no one lets you into these types of programs free. So there I sat until 2:00 in the morning researching this company. Much to my surprise, I liked what I read. I have always wanted to work online but never could find anything that sounded even remotely legitimate. But, there it was, right in front of me, SFI.

After researching and reading reviews for the next couple of weeks, I finally decided to join. I wasn’t going to know if this would work unless I tried. Plus, it was free to join; no $69.95 to learn about the company, then another $99 to use a coaching system just to understand the offer. So, I entered my information and I was off to investigate a little more deeply.

While there are a lot of rip-offs and scams out there, what I found during my investigation is that SFI “is” a legitimate company with lots to offer. Their training program is great and there is a lot of help for all of their affiliates. Even if you have no internet marketing experience, with all the success tools SFI offers, you can do this.

This is not a get rich quick plan. If you want to make a lot of money in the first few months, this is not the way to do it. In fact, I don’t know of any plan that will do that unless rich Uncle Fred left you money in his will or you do something not so legitimate. What SFI does offer is tons of support for their affiliates and a base of thousands of products through their online stores and their penny auctions.

Some people join and sit back and wait for something to happen without putting in any effort. Some take a few weak stabs at selling some products or signing up distributors then give up because they didn’t make $500 in the first week.

The bottom line is, growth of any business, whether it’s selling Tupperware or timeshares in Mexico, will depend on the time and effort put into it. And yes, as in any business, you can’t expect to not invest some money and be successful. To make money, you really do have to spend money.

SFI makes it very affordable to get started and become successful. I have never seen an affiliate marketing program that offers so many cost efficient means to build your business. Even if you choose not to invest any money, you can still earn by leading people to one of their professionally designed websites. After that, SFI takes over. Should they make a purchase, they are automatically assigned as your customer. SFI will process the payment, deliver the product or if necessary issue refunds. The affiliate receives a commission for the sale. No getting out in the ice or snow to deliver the Tupperware product someone ordered.

For all of us jewelry designers and other crafty people, SFI offers an added bonus. You can list your jewelry, supplies or anything else. The cost is minimal and they have a better listing fee structure than Ebay.

Now, here’s my pitch; at least sign up and research it. And yes I want you to sign up through me!

It won’t cost you a thing to just sign up. I do ask that you do start out by going through the To-Do list on your main affiliate page. This is excellent training, plus you gain valuable points that help to boost your business.

The SFI affiliate program is a great place for a beginning internet marketer to get started. Plus, it has added perks for those of us already trying to get our own items out there.