Archives for category: tips and tricks

Here’s an easy way to remove scratches from dishes and make them shine like new.

Life Hacks - how to remove those little black scratches from your dishes - So easy and they look brand new

One of my favorite West Omaha restaurants closed recently (*sniffle*) and they auctioned off everything that was inside. I ended up with a lot (get it, a “lot”?!?) of wide rimmed soup bowls. Twenty of them, eek! I paid just $0.75 each and figure we can have all of our friends over for a soup party, soooo wild and crazy, right?!? Ha.

Anyway, these were obviously used for tons of restaurant customers, and were pretty scratched up (and literally black on the underside rim). Enter my secret weapon: BAR KEEPERS FRIEND.

I first tried this magical powder when we snaked out a toilet (um, gross!) and the metal snake left scratches in the porcelain bowl. I sprinkled some Bar Keepers Friend on the water, let it sit for a few hours, and when I scrubbed the bowl then flushed, the scratches were gone. It was awesome.

I bought a new container at Target for $1.99, but you can find Bar Keepers Friend almost anywhere that sells cleaning supplies. Bar Keepers Friend also comes in a liquid form, and a spray bottle with foam, but I stuck to the original old-school powder because I had such good luck with it last time.

So how do you use this miracle product? Just wet your dishes and sprinkle some Bar Keepers Friend on, then using a wet sponge or rag, start wiping until it makes a paste and rub all of the surfaces. Rinse off and dry.

Check out the difference:

Easy one step scratch removal for dishes

One step scratch removal for dishes - Tips and Tricks - DIY

How to remove scratches from dishes - Just 1 easy step

Hollandaise Over Roasted Potatoes Recipe – great way to use fresh and simple ingredients: eggs, butter, lemon juice, and potatoes.

Check out these fresh chicken eggs we bought from Barreras Family Farm. They are so pretty!

free range chicken eggs

I used them with some fresh lemon juice and melted butter to make my favorite sauce: Hollandaise. Then I topped some roasted potatoes and enjoyed an excellent dish while I sat outside eating ALL ALONE. Major accomplishment around here. 🙂

So…. here’s what I did. Start the potatoes first and while they are in the oven, make the hollandaise.

Hollandaise Sauce over Roasted Potatoes Recipe



  • 10-12 small potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1-2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Preheat oven to 450ºF. Cover a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray (or mist with olive oil).

Gently toss all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Spread evenly on baking sheet,.

Bake for 40 minutes or so, until potatoes start to get golden brown on the outside, and remove from oven.


While potatoes are roasting, make the sauce. 


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1-2 Tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 c. melted butter
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste


In a stainless steel mixing bowl whisk egg yolks and lemon juice until thick and doubled in volume. Here’s a tip for keeping the bowl from sliding around while you whisk.

Place bowl on a pot of barely simmering water (or double boiler) and whisk. Don’t let the water actually touch the bowl, and avoid getting the water too hot because the yolks will scramble.

As you continually whisk, slowly drizzle in the melted butter, just a few drops at a time. If you add the butter too fast it will coalesce the fat, which will make the sauce separate. Trust me, been there done that. 😉

Continue whisking until desired thickness is reached. Add a pinch of salt and a pinch of cayenne, to taste. If needed, add more lemon juice. Hold warm until ready to serve. If sauce gets too thick you can add hot water a few drops at a time and whisk.

Here’s some great information on making hollandaise, with lots of science-y information behind a good hollandaise and what to do if your sauce breaks or curdles:


You might also enjoy: Whole Roasted Chicken in a Slow Cooker Recipe

Awesome slow cooker recipe - Whole Roasted Chicken - just rub some spices on, throw in some onions, and set your Crock Pot


Kitchen Tips and Tricks - Keep your cutting board from sliding all over while you slice and dice

Here’s a quick tip to prevent your cutting board from sliding around. Protect your fingers AND help keep your knife cuts even with this easy trick.

Wet a dishcloth (or paper towel) and squeeze out the excess water.

Place it on the countertop, then put your cutting board on top.

Tips and Tricks - How to secure your cutting board while you slice and dice

This also works for mixing bowls – you can use a damp towel to make a little “nest” for the bowl on your counter so you can whisk or stir with one hand and not worry about the bowl sliding around while you add ingredients with the other hand.

Tips and Tricks - How to keep mixing bowls from slipping

DIY greenhouses to protect your plants from rabbits and deer - I just used stuff from our recyle bins - awesome!

Spring is here! My tulips are sprouting, hurrah. Apparently, however, the rabbits think of them as an all you can eat salad bar. They have chewed a bunch of them down to nubs.

To try to keep the wasscaly wabbits from eating any more, I made some DIY mini greenhouses. I grabbed some empty containers from our recyle bin and cut them so the bottoms would be open, and poked some air holes in. I attached them to the ground with push-in gardening staples that I had leftover from a landscaping project.

I ended up reusing a strawberry clamshell container, a little milk bottle from a happy meal, a couple of soda bottles, a gallon milk jug, and an apple juice container. The white milk containers look “unique” in the flower bed (AKA not a lot of curb appeal), so I plan on replacing them with clear containers that blend in a little better and don’t look so obvious.

Sun, and air, and water can go in, and (fingers crossed!) rabbit teeth will stay out. Happy gardening!

DIY mini greenhouses - upcycle milk containers soda bottles and more

gardening tips and tricks - reuse containers and attach with lawn staples - awesome way to recycle AND keep rabbits away

DIY Garden Markers - laminated seed packets so you know what you planted, and where you planted it

DIY Laminated Seed Markers for gardens and containers!

It’s getting toward the end of the week (AKA time to grocery shop) and I was trying to scrape some ingredients together for lunch. I ended up with this: Chicken Mushroom Marinara.

This makes four servings (less than 180 calories each) and there are only 4 WW +Points per serving! I ate this as is but you could always place it on top of brown rice, whole wheat pasta, or zucchini noodles.

Skinny Chicken Mushroom Marinara - Just 4 WW points per serving



  • 1 lb. uncooked boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
  • 1 c. pasta sauce or marinara (I used a jarred chunky veggie pasta sauce)
  • 8 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced *tip: use an egg slicer to quickly and evenly cut your ‘shrooms 🙂


Spray large skillet with non-stick cooking spray.

Add chicken and cook on med-high for 5 minutes or so.

Add sauce and mushrooms, stirring to combine, and heat until chicken is cooked through.

Quick Tip - use an egg slicer to cut mushrooms

Quick Tip - Use an egg slicer to get evenly sliced mushrooms

Serves: 4

WW PlusPoints value per serving: 4

Estimated Nutrition Information per serving:

178 calories

4 g. fat

8.4 g. carbohydrates

2.1 g. fiber

25 g. protein

Here’s a quick tip for super fast sliced strawberries: use an egg slicer! Just cut off the leaves, place the strawberry in, and slice. It’s fast and you end up with slices that are all the same thickness.

You can also do this with mushrooms, kiwis, or any soft food that fits inside. Olives, fresh mozzarella, avocados, and even butter work well in an egg slicer!

Tip - Slice fruit use an egg cutter. It is fast, easy, and all the slices are the same thickness.


Tip - For an easy way to slice fruit use an egg cutter. It is fast and you get uniform thickness of slices.


Quick Tip - use an egg slicer to cut mushrooms

Set up a station before Christmas or Birthday Parties - tools, box cutter, batteries, etc so you're not running all over the place once the kids start unwrapping

Every year on Christmas morning, from a giant pile of wrapping paper and tissue paper, we hear “Mom can you open this?” and “this needs batteries,” and “here’s some trash.” This year we’ll be ready. I set up a little station by the tree with trash bags, a box for recycle, tools like box openers, screwdrivers, and pliers, and mass quantities of batteries (separated into gallon ziplock bags by size). This would also work for birthday parties, or showers — add a pen and paper to record gifts for thank you notes later. Happy Holidays!

Here’s an all-natural way to clean drains: shower drains, kitchen sinks, bathroom sinks, and more. I tried this on our kitchen sink (after a disgusting “mystery” smell took over, which was coming from the drain – gross!) and it worked great. The kids loved watching so they could hear the “fizz” in the drain after the vinegar mixed with the baking soda.

DIY all natural drain cleaner - bathrooms - showers - kitchen sinks - just 2 ingredients you probably already have


  • equal parts baking soda and white vinegar (I used 1 cup each)
  • boiling water (a few cups worth or so, to rinse afterward)


  • Sprinkle baking soda down drain.
  • Pour vinegar on top.
  • Let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Rinse by pouring boiling water down the drain (turn garbage disposal on to clean blades, if one is in the drain).


Here are some more ideas for easy DIY cleaning solutions:

baking soda deodorizing disks

3-ingredient granite cleaner

microwave cleaner

dishwasher rinse-aid

baking soda & vinegar carpet spot cleaner

baking soda and essential oil carpet sprinkling powder

Here’s an all natural recipe to remove pet stains from carpet. It’s just 2 ingredients that you already have: baking soda and vinegar.

All natural carpet stain remover - just 2 ingredients you probably already have.

We adopted a little chihuahua mix from our local humane society, who is ALMOST potty trained, sigh. We are going through carpet cleaner like crazy and I cannot wait for the glorious days when she’s completely housebroken. 🙂 Until then, here’s what I’ve found is a great stain remover.


  • mixture of half white vinegar, plus half water (I mixed mine in an empty spray bottle)
  • baking soda (approximately 2-3 spoonfuls for a small stain, and more for larger areas)


  • blot the stain with a white paper towel or rag to remove as much of the moisture as you can
  • wet the stain with the vinegar mixture, then sprinkle baking soda on top, which will soak up the liquid eventually
  • make sure to do vinegar first and THEN baking soda, otherwise you might end up with a foaming volcanic situation
  • place a bowl or plate upside down on the area to keep pets (and/or kids) out of it
  • let sit a few hours – the baking soda will soak up the mosture
  • remove as much of the paste as you can, then vacuum remaining baking soda

spray bottles


Baking soda and essential oil carpet powder

Vinegar + water to steam clean the microwave

Baking soda deodorizing disks for diaper pails, garbage cans, laundry rooms, etc.

Ditch the Jet Dry and use white vinegar in your dishwasher



Buy ground beef in bulk and freeze in ziplocks. Smoosh down flat to save room in the freezer. Also includes 20+ freezer-friendly recipes. YUM.

As you can tell from this blog, I’m a huge fan of freezer cooking. I freeze meals as well as individual ingredients to use later.

Recently I split up a 5 pound package of ground beef. Here’s what I did: sectioned up the meat into individual 1-gallon freezer bags (I did two with 2lbs, and one with 1lb), and labeled them with a permanent marker. I smooshed each one down flat like a pancake, getting all of the air out, then sealed them. I placed the packages flat in the freezer. This way, when they are flat and thin, you can stack them to save room in the freezer. Plus when you go to thaw or defrost them, it takes less time since they are super thin.


Buy ground beef in bulk and freeze. Smoosh down flat in individual freezer bags to save room, and you can stack em like books in the freezer. Site also has tons of delicious freezer meals.

I saw another tip on, which looks pretty nifty too: after the ground beef is flat in the bag, section it off into squares to break off individual portions.

Also, here are some of my freezer-friendly recipes:

Mother-In-Law’s Famous Meatloaf

Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken

5-ingredient Cheesy Pork Chops and Potatoes

3-Ingredient Cheesy Ranch Pork Chops

3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Ranch Pork Chops

3-Ingredient Fiesta Chicken

8 Can Chicken Taco Soup

Spinach Lasagna Roll-Ups

Greek Marinated Chicken

Cilantro-Lime Rice

Chicken Teriyaki

Citrus Chicken

Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Cream Cheese Banana Nut Bread

Kickin’ Buffalo Lime Chicken

Braided Pepperoni Pizza

Garlic Ranch Chicken

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Garlicky Goodness Honey Mustard Chicken

The “No Recipe” Chili Recipe

Cream Cheese Mints

Ranch Parmesan Chicken

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Slow Cooker Korean Ribs