7 Kitchen Hacks to Save you Time and Aggravation

Email this Post
7 Kitchen Hacks blog

7 Kitchen Hacks to Save you Time & Aggravation

Over a period of time in the kitchen, you eventually start to learn things that make your life easier.  Saving time allows you to enjoy time doing the other things in life that you love.

Some of these tips & tricks are referred to as “kitchen wins” or “kitchen hacks” and there is a seemingly endless flow of them out there. The ones that are best for us are really unique to each individual. What you cook and how often is a large determining factor.

That said, here are seven kitchen hacks that many already know (of course I did not – LOL), but ones that most can use on a regular basis.

Boil potatoes with skin on to peel them

Making mashed potatoes without the skin used to be a nightmare. Peeling all those potatoes – especially when honestly, I do not even like mashed potatoes – but with an Irish husband, well you know.

Did you know that you can boil potatoes with the skin on and when they are done, the skin will literally peel off? No more peeling potatoes folks.  After washing just score the potato around the middle with a paring knife (just through the skin).  Once they are boiled, drain off the hot water.  Be very careful to allow them to cool before using your hands, but then run under cold water and peel the skins right off with your fingers.

What are your favorite POTATO Tips & Tricks?

Shake hard-boiled eggs to peel them

Another irritating thing to try to do in the kitchen is to peel hard-boiled eggs.  Of course using older eggs to hard boil always helps, but you can also SHAKE the shells off.

Place them in a tupperware container (or you can actually try using the pan with a cover as well) filled 1/2 way with water and shake them around for several minutes. When you remove the lid, they will come right off.

I am also going to try this really cool “Blow the Egg Out Method” by Tim Ferris…

What are your favorite Hard Boiled Eggs Tips & Tricks?

Use Non-Stick cooking spray to speed up grating

I have asked a million people.  When you grate things – cheese, veggies, garlic, anything – how the heck do you get the stuff off the grater.  Especially when it is something small like garlic.  I loose the whole clove in the grater.

Who knew that a simple spray of non-stick cooking spray could eliminate that problem completely? I didn’t but I do now. This works like magic with cheese in particular.

Do you have other Grating Tips & Tricks?

Core your lettuce by hitting it on a hard surface

I love this one because I can always feel like I am smashing someones head (some days you just need that – LOL!).  Some restaurants need this lesson as well.  If I get one more salad that is mostly core I think I will scream.

Anyway you can just take the core of the lettuce and aim it down towards the surface. Bring the core firmly down on a cutting board or hard surface and you can then pull the core right out

Obviously this is for a head of lettuce, NOT romaine – LOL!

Keep your knives sharp by using flat side to scrape items off cutting board

I wonder how many people do this? When you are cutting or dicing on a cutting board, do you turn the knife when you scrape things to the side or into a bowl?

Dull knives can really slow things down in the kitchen – as well as frustrate the cook.  Using the sharp side to drag things back and forth will dull them quickly. Flip it over and use the flat side of the knife for that.  If you have a knife block be sure to store them flat side down as well.

How do you keep your Knives Sharp?

Store Ice Cream in a Ziploc bag

After you open a gallon of ice cream store it in a ziploc bag.  This will keep it SOFT and fresh so you do not break your wrist or bend your spoon when you go for a scoop.

Put your most commonly used utensils right by the stove

This sounds obvious, but how many times are you digging through a drawer for what you need?  Pick the five things you use the most (tongs, wooden spoon, etc) and place them in a container directly beside the stove. Why not have the most common things you use handy, right? A mason jar, vase or even a cookie jar can make a cute option for this.

Wait until you see my solution for storing my new Elevate Utensil set (pictures coming this weekend – I hope).

These kitchen hacks are far from the only ones out there and may be obvious to you but not everyone knows.

What kitchen hacks, tips or tricks are you using on a daily basis that you can share?

I would love to post regularly on this topic, so send me your tips!

FREE Daily & Weekly Planner Pages

Email this Post

Maven-Planner-Pages-Blog

It is a NEW YEAR which means we all need to GET ORGANIZED!

My facebook followers are the BEST even though facebook has made it VERY hard for you to see posts all the time.  You are all a great community who help each other out to save time, money, mind, body & soul!

So to help you reach your goals I have created this 5-page Daily & Weekly Planner packet for all facebook followers to help you get organized.  Here is what you will find:

Daily Planner page - features appointments, TO-DO items, food journal along with exercise & water checkoff

Week at a Glance – plan your week as well as document weekly goals

Weekly Fitness Plan – create a healthy meal plan, document & plan your cardio and strength training along with your fitness goals

Monthly Budget – Create your monthly Budget and track category spending

Expense Tracker - document expenses all month long to roll up into your Monthly Budget form

Hope some of these basic pages will help you.  Use them all or use a few – whatever fits your life and your goals.

DOWNLOAD the FREE Daily & Weekly Planner pages –>HERE

Facebook: How to See what YOU Want in your NEWSFEED

Email this Post

how-to-see-facebook-blog THIS IS A REMINDER in case you have not seen this is the past.

Facebook changes the algorithm daily it seems and I know you are not all seeing my posts.  BOO HOO HOO… BUT there are some things you can do to help that.

Screen Shot 2013-11-12 at 2.51.22 PM

Here are a few things you can do to help – see pictures above.

  • The first thing to do is hover over LIKED and make sure you have checked off “Get Notificationsand “Show in News Feed“.
  • Then click on settings and make sure that “all Updates” is checked off.  UPDATE: FACEBOOK is messing with us again, you can no longer do anything about Show in Newsfeed… you can only “Get Notifications” or “Add to Interest Lists…”
  • Of course the more you “LIKE” posts, “SHARE” and comment tells facebook you want to see the posts as well.  Remember that regardless of facebook, if you ever have a question, please feel free to comment.  We have a great group and if I do not know the answer someone else may.
  • You can also join the Maven Of Savin Deals Group - I use it primarily during the holidays for HOT deals, but may start using it more since I believe you get better notifications of posts.

  •  You can also do that directly from the post on the blog either next to the title OR below the post.  By the way, this also tells ME what to spend my time on!  Like you obviously LOVE Dunkin Donuts coffee – LOL!
  • Also make sure you always SORT by “Most Recent” in your newsfeed.  You will see the drop down in the upper right corner at the top of your feed.  I find I always have to change this – it is really annoying.

CREATE A FRIEND or INTEREST LIST on FACEBOOK

You could also create a LIST -The friend lists feature is just a way to create groups, so you can see just the updates from that set of friends, blogs, etc. at a time.  Here is what you do:

  • Go to your home page on facebook and look down the left side bar for the FRIENDS section – hover over it and click MORE.  (NOTE – you could also follow the same instructions under the INTERESTS section as well – whichever one works better for you)

  • Click on CREATE LIST in the upper right corner

  • In the pop-up box you can name the list and add members.  You do not need to add members at this time.  I prefer doing it in the next step.  Click CREATE.

  • Now you can click on ADD FRIENDS to search through and select people or pages for your list.

  • Use the drop down in the upper left of the pop-up box to select PAGES if you want blogs or select FRIENDS if you want to add people.  You will then see all of the people or pages you are following and can add them to your list by scrolling through or using the search box.  You can see this feature could also come in handy if you want to group friends as well – home vs. work vs college, etc.

VOILA – you should now have that LIST under your FRIENDS or INTEREST section in the left sidebar. When you check on facebook each day you can click on that and only see the newsfeed from those included in the LIST.

NON- FACEBOOK Options

There are many other ways to stay on top of all the deals on a daily, hourly, minute basis as well.

  • Visit and bookmark Maven of Savin.
  • Follow me on twitter @MavenOfSavin for up to the minute updates.
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed to have it delivered through your reader of choice.  I use Feedly now that google reader is gone.
  • Subscribe to my daily emails and get a newsletter each day around 3pm listing all posts from the last 24 hours.  NOTE that although you will see all the deals, some may not be in a timely manner.
  • The newest way to get the deals is to follow me on Google+.  The format is similar to facebook, though looks like a more basic feed right now.  I am new over there but am working on chatting over there more often and making sure all the deals get there.  Are you active on Google+ – would love to know what you think.

SO – I hope all that helped. My goal is to try to get you the info you want when you want it. So remember to LIKE or SHARE posts to tell ME what you want to see, but to also tell facebook that I am the bomb (just kidding!).

So Facebook, CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?

Winter Weather Survival: Stranded on the Road

Email this Post

Winter-Weather-Survival-stranded Winter Weather SURVIVAL: Stranded on the Road

As the arctic weather bears down all over the US, I thought it appropriate to remind you of some Winter Weather Tips

The winter season brings plenty of joy and happiness, but it also can bring it’s share of tragedy. Every year, winter weather travelers find themselves broken down in terrible weather conditions. Fortunately most survive these dangerous situations, but a few are not so lucky. What sets those that survive and those that don’t apart? Often it is simply having the right knowledge and then acting on it.

If you broke down or God forbid got in an accident in freezing temperatures in the middle of nowhere, would you and your family know what to do?

First of all I hope you have a cell phone, AAA and already packed your car with a Winter Weather Survival kit.

If you are going no where fast, be sure to heed this advice:

Don’t Pretend to Be a Survival Expert

Even Survivorman will succumb to sub-zero temperatures and they have training, so what chance would you have? Understand that trying to be a hero can get you killed. Go with what you know and stick to the basic, safe decisions.

Stay in the Vehicle

Rule number one through ten is to stay in the car. Leaving the car and trekking into unknown territory is a recipe for disaster. If you are in the car, you are out of the elements and more easily recognized. Stick with your car.

Make your Car Visible

Put up your hood so people will understand you are broken down and tie something bright to your antennae.  Every so often you should go out and sweep the snow away from your vehicle. This will help the car to remain visible to potential help in the air or on the ground. A snow buried vehicle will not be spotted anytime soon.

Run the Engine Sparingly for Heat

Hopefully your vehicle has plenty of gas since you were prepared from the other Winter Weather Safety topics we’ve discussed.  If you keep your tank topped off, running the engine for about ten minutes of every hour will ensure that it lasts a good long time. The heat is vital, so be sparing with it.  Use your blankets, coats & hats as much as possible to conserve gas.

Assume You are Going to Be There For A Long Time

If you are lucky enough to have food and water, ration it carefully. Assume you will need it over a long period of time and eat accordingly.  Remember we said to pack high calorie foods because your body will burn LOADS of calories to keep warm.  If you run out of water or drinks you can melt snow to drink.  Melt it with matches and a small container or over a fire (if you are in a position to light one). This will make the snow safe to drink and will not lower your body temperature. Just eating snow is a bad move because it lowers your body temperature doing it so melt it and drink it.

Remember Sweat Means Wet

As you keep your car visible make sure to not strain yourself.  Slow steps means that you stay dry. Dry means you stay alive. You lose heat 25 times faster when exposed to cold water than when exposed to cold air so your body cools super fast when it is moist.  Sweat will make you wet so you want to avoid doing things that will make you perspire. Do everything with purpose, but always be mindful of your body.

Always Keep Windows Cracked

Ventilation is also very important in an abandoned vehicle that is running. Keep the windows cracked slightly and always keep the exhaust pipe clear from the snow. This is a very common way that people get hurt because carbon monoxide poisoning is silent and quick.

Stay Awake

If you must sleep, do so in shifts. You need someone awake to keep the heat going and someone to notice if rescue comes near. Keep someone awake and alert at all times and check on one another regularly.

Stay Together

In the movies, John goes one way and Mary goes the other and they ultimately end up finding their way. In real life, John and Mary splitting up might get them killed. Never split up and always stay together in an emergency situation. You will be much better off facing challenges as a team then you would going solo.

I cannot stress enough how important that Winter Weather Car Survival Kit is, so start putting yours together now.

What other Winter Weather Survival Tips do you have?

Custom Chalkboard Decals $12.99, Chalkboard labels $6.99 and more

Email this Post


Chalkboard-decals

I love using chalkboard paint all over the house but for those places that does not work, or for temporary use, check out these Custom Chalkboard decals for $12.99 from Jane.com.

Chalkboard Decal measures approximately 14.5” x 21”, and can be customized with the word “MENU”, “TO-DO”, “MESSAGES”, “GROCERIES”, a first or last name, or it can be left blank. Adheres well to refrigerators, walls, mirrors, wood, or nearly any other smooth surface.

It is $4 shipping for the first one and only $1 for each additional.  There may be one in my refrigerators future!

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 9.34.23 AM

There are so many other cute things as well like these Chalkboard labels which I love and these Dry Erase Chore Chart Magnets

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 8.24.02 AMCheck out all the Daily Boutique Deals at Jane.com (formerly Very Jane).  There are jewelry, accessory and apparel boutiques that last 1-3 days so check back often.

Winter Weather Safety – What Every Car Must Have

Email this Post

Winter-Weather-Safety-1

Winter Weather Safety – What Every Car Must Have

When it comes to winter weather safety out on the open road, you can’t afford to fool around. There are countless examples every winter season of someone that took weather safety lightly and paid a very high price. When you travel via car in a cold weather area, you have to prepare yourself.

Full-Gas-GaugeFirst and foremost follow local safety warnings about staying off the road when they are too dangerous for travel.  If you MUST travel or you may end up in unexpected weather conditions make sure you always FILL-UP the gas tank.  Now is not the time to let it go too low hunting for the best price.

Preparing your car with a WINTER WEATHER SURVIVAL KIT can literally save your life in an emergency.

Here are some things you need to include in your kit:

First-Aid-KitFirst Aid Kit

A good first aid kit can be found at many stores.  I like this AAA 121-Piece Road Trip First Aid Kit but any complete kit will do. The key is to keep it up to date and be familiar with how to use the contents. This basic life saving item should be in your car regardless of the weather.

Emergency-Road-KitEmergency Road Kit

Cars break down and you will eventually need to fix something on them. Having AAA is GREAT and I highly recommend it.  However sometimes having the right equipment on hand is vital as well. A good car first aid kit includes a set of general tools, clamps, hoses, fluids, booster cables and other basic car accessories. Duct tape is also an absolute must. Duct tape fixes most everything – LOL!  Check out this AAA 73 Piece Premium Excursion Road Kit which has some of what you need.

blanketsExtra blankets, sweaters and warmth

The last thing you want to be short of in a cold weather emergency is blankets. Throw a few in the back of the car and it might just save your life. A couple of well made sleeping bags work wonders or grab these Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets.  Some car kits come with hand warmers as well – and remember gloves and hats!  Hats keep loads of body heat where you need it – in your body!  I just remember all the times I am just running out quick and do not even throw on a coat since the car is warmed up – God forbid I break down with out even a basic winter coat on – EEK!  I always grab my coat now.

Shovel-Kitty-litter

Shovel and kitty litter

If you have ever been stuck in the snow or ice, you would be amazed how much this can help.  The litter is for traction and the shovel is to clear a path. It just so happens you can use it for a million other emergency type uses as well. Make room for it and you will be thankful at some point.  This of course assumes you already have an ice scraper and brush in the car – standard winter must haves.

flashlights-flaresFlashlight and flares

Make sure you have a way to illuminate yourself and your car if you break down at night. Being found might be the most important thing on your mind. That means plenty of light. Don’t forget the extra batteries!

Tow-rope

Tow rope

A tow rope could help you out of a jam if the kitty litter isn’t enough to get you free.

matches-lighterVarious matches and lighters

In a cold weather situation, few things are more important than warmth and fire. Lighters and matches are invaluable in an emergency like this.  You could even throw in a Magnesium Fire Starter

Several kinds of high calorie foods

The last thing you want is to be stuck in the snow with no food. If you are taking a trip through a dangerous weather area, foods that are high in calories but that keep well are in huge demand. Beef jerky, peanut butter, nuts, granola bars and anything else that will keep without refrigeration will do.

Back up cell phone

If possible take along two cell phones.  One to leave fully charged but powered off and the other for normal use. You could also use a spare, fully charged battery.  This way if you break down you have a fully charged back up phone in an emergency. Also make sure you bring the car charger.

You can find many of these items in the AAA 65-Piece Winter Severe Weather Travel Kit as well as the other kits I noted above.  Though not specifically winter weather related, you may want to toss in a Car Emergency tool – seat belt cutter/window breaker.

This basic car kit can be a little bit of a pain, and it certainly can eat up some precious vacation travel space in your car. BUT even more importantly it also might save your life.

Winter-Weather-Safety-Collage-1

10 Tools Every Home Should Have

Email this Post

10-tools Top 10 Tools Every Home Should Have

When you first move in to a new home or apartment, it does not take long to figure out that you are missing a ton of stuff. More often than not, at least half of that missing stuff you need are tools. Unfortunately you do not always realize that until you NEED them!  Tools make everything go smooth and easy around a home. Without them, we are constantly finding things to put off and “work on” some other time. When we have the right tools, we are much more likely to go ahead and fix what needs fixing.

Here are ten tools that every home should have to keep it running smoothly (at a minimum):

Screwdrivers1. SCREWDRIVER

A screwdriver is among the most basic tools you can find and without it, you will constantly be dealing with loose fitting things around the house.  A phillips head (x shaped on the end for tool rookies) and flat head screwdriver will do nicely in both large and small.  Something like this Stanley All-in-One Screwdriver which has 2 size Phillips head and 2 size flat head tips is perfect.

Hammer

 

2. HAMMER

You have to have a hammer to hit the things you can’t fix, right? Actually a hammer is absolutely vital to keep things in working order or even to hang a picture.

Level

3. LEVEL

A level is incredibly handy when it comes to hanging pictures, installing virtually anything with a surface or generally working around the home.  Especially if you are OCD like me and cannot stand when things are not balanced.

[Read more...]

Motivated Mom’s 2013 Planner $3

Email this Post

Motivated-Mom

Motivated Mom’s Mid-Year Sale

If you missed it at the beginning of the year, it is never too late to get your house in order.  Right now you can save 50% on the Motivated Mom’s 2013 Planners – only $4.

If you plan your life more around the school year, there is also a new 2013/2014 Motivated Mom’s Planner that runs July 2013 thru June 2014 available for $8.

BUT RIGHT NOW YOU CAN SAVE $1 using code FBFRIENDS at checkout.

This means the 2013 versions can be had for just $3 and the 2013-14 versions for $7.

If you are not familiar, Deann has created Chore Planner printable chore lists that are an e-book to be downloaded and saved to your computer.

She spells out daily chores (things you do everyday) as well as scheduling other needed chores throughout the weeks/months. It is literally a checklist to help get you through the overwhelming task of keeping your house in order.

What I love about them (other than their inexpensive $8 price) are all the different variations that are available. There are weekly versions, daily versions, full page or half page (to fit in Franklin Planners or Day Timers). I personally prefer the daily version as it has an appointment schedule on each page. The level of detail is awesome – like it spells out when to change your dishtowel, when to water the plants – LOVE IT!!

Do you use Motivated Moms??  if so, let me know what you think.

eMeals: Meal planning coupon code – eat healthier this year!

Email this Post

Looking to eat healthier in the New Year – aren’t we all?  Right now eMeals is offering 15% off any of their meal plans using code NEWYEAR at checkout.

I would love to tell you I already meal plan – NOT!  I just cannot get into it and make it work.  Now if someone gave me a meal plan, with a shopping list… hmmmm….

eMeals is the online meal planning solution with a wide variety of lifestyle meal plans including Clean Eating, Paleo, Low Fat, Low Carb, Natural & Organic, Portion Control, Gluten Free, Classic, and Vegetarian meal plans.  What a great way to save money, stay organized (which I need!) and eat healthier all for under $5 per month.

Here is how it works…

  • Pick your Plan based on your eating style, family size and grocery store
  • Every week, your meal plan arrives in your inbox — complete with seven simple, creative, family–friendly dinner recipes. Each includes an entrée and side dishes.
  • You will also get a grocery list to go with it.

So if you have been thinking of giving eMeals a try, now is the time.

Do you already use eMeals?

Get 15% off eMeals NOW

This post contains my affiliate link. Please read my DISCLOSURE POLICY here.

Christmas 2012: Strategies to Succeed

Email this Post

Mavens-Christmas-2012-Savin-guideTwas 12 weeks before Christmas, credit card companies are reeling
Parents did not budget again and their debt will hit ceilings.
Will they pay crazy fees to buy gifts for their kin
Or be smart, use coupons, follow Maven of Savin’

This is an updated version of last years post that I hope was helpful to you in planning your Christmas shopping.

OK, so I am still not a poet, but I wanted to start the holiday season with some strategies to simplify Christmas and avoid paying WAY TOO MUCH during your holiday shopping this year.

The first thing I cannot stress enough is Don’t Buy Stuff you Cannot Afford.  I know it seems obvious, but seriously – the holidays are about family, not about material goods.  I will be posting lots of deals, but that does not mean you need to buy them all.  A deal is not a deal if you cannot afford it.  You may save $100 on an item, but if you are charging them to credit cards with high interest rates, you may end up paying more in the end.  Do not use credit cards to finance your holidays – it is not worth it in the end.

Watch out for crazy shipping fees.  I love FREE shipping and highly recommend Amazon Prime.  You can get a FREE 30 day trial you can use for holiday shopping.  Then it costs $79/year which you can SHARE with other family members (yes at different addresses) – totally worth it in my opinion.

Also, beware of Layaway as well – make sure you understand the terms and fees associated with it to determine if it is the right thing for you.  Sometimes the fees end up being more than the interest on a credit card.

We have cut way back at our house in an effort to save money, but also teach out children the meaning of Christmas and the value of a gift.  Christmas’s of the past had so many gifts, some remained untouched for months after Christmas morning.  It was unnecessary and wasteful so we have moved to the “WANT, NEED, WEAR, READ” method and the kids really enjoy it.

I highly suggest you budget and keep a list handy of the gifts you need.  Even if it is not specific, at least have the names handy so you can cross them off as you grab their gifts.  Here are a few resources that may help:

There are many tools out there, or create your own, just make sure you create some sort of PLAN.

In the coming weeks I will strive to bring you all the great deals on the must have holiday items – keep an eye out for this tree to mark if I think it is a good holiday gift idea, but please keep the following in mind:

  • Some deals are time sensitive and may not be available for long so make sure to check facebook and twitter for the most up to date information.  Prices can change by the minute.  Or download the Maven of Savin toolbar to see the latest Holiday deals right in your browser.
  • I am an affiliate for a lot of stores (you will see my disclosure policy linked on the posts), but I will only post deals that I think are good.  I appreciate when you use my links as they support the up keep of this site, but please do not feel you need to.
  • If a deal is time sensitive and I do not know or have the time to research, I may post it but clearly state that I do not know if this is a great deal, so please use your own judgement.  I am human and I cannot possible know everything about everything.  So please let me know when you find a great deal or if what I posted is not a great deal – nicely please – LOL!

You will see the above button on my sidebar and you can click on it anytime to see all the latest Christmas deals.  I will also begin to spy out the Black Friday Deals as we do every year.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE have a plan and do not dig yourself in a financial hole this season.  You can still have a fulfilling holiday without a bunch of meaningless STUFF.