A Few of my Favorite Things—Labels with Class

Ball Not Just for Canning Labels

Ball Not Just for Canning Labels

A couple of years ago, I wondered if all the glue from the Space Shuttle program was sold to price sticker companies.  With a goo dissolving product, elbow grease, and a half hour of work per item, I managed to dislodge some stickers from numerous stainless steel cups that I had ordered from the Internet.  I never place another order with that company.  I want that day of my life back!

I have written about the virtues of the Ball Dissolvable Labels before, but every day I find more uses for them.  I use them on stainless steel and also on plastic Tupperware canisters.  I use them on plastic freezer storage containers.  Now I am using them on my Chill Chests since the Chill Chests are all the same color.  I also put labels on the sides of the Chill Chests.  Here I am storing several breakable Instant Pot accessories that I have purchased, such as ceramic ramekins.  The labels on the Chill Chest seem to be holding up well.  That is saying a lot since I had previously used fabric paint on one of my Chill Chests, only to have it rub off.  Little canning jar labels.  Who would have guessed?

A Way to Label Your Chill Chest Storage

A Way to Label Your Chill Chest Storage

PS If you are giving out homemade cookies or candies this holiday, please use a Ball canning jar label on any non-disposable gift container.  You are giving the homemade food gift and the gift of knowledge that dissolvable labels are a true time saver.  It will be a double gift that will be doubly appreciated and remembered.


A Few of My Favorite Things—Outside the Box

Chill Chest

Not just for cold food.

Life in a small home in Florida has two problems.  Hot and humid conditions most of the year and storage problems all of the year.  I solved both problems by buying several Chill Chests.

My first such foldable cooler was called a “Flip Box.”  It was smaller and more of a square shape than the more shallow and rectangular Chill Chest of today.  I still have my original “Flip-Box.”   I use it to keep things cold in the oven called my car interior.  If I lived up North, I would be using it to keep hot foods hot in a freezing car.

But the manufactures unintended use that I put the Chill Chest to is that of a sturdy foldable storage box.  After buying storage boxes starting with the letter S, that break and have separate tops that break or become misplaced, it occurred to me that the Chill Chest would be a better financial investment.  I could use them many more ways than separate storage boxes and cooler chests.  The tops are attached, so I don’t end up with open storage.  Since they are strong, I can use them to solve several problems. One time I stacked them to form a temporary bird cage stand!

If I could improve this product, I would made them in many colors.  This way I could color code my storage.  I would change the name from Chill Chest to something more associated with a box.  I would make them all stackable, but include some models that are deeper, so that a half gallon of milk can stand upright.  I would lower the price. People associate foam with cheap easy to crumple hot and cold drink cups.  They probably don’t think these folding boxes are worth the price.  I don’t think these are exactly the same as drink cups.  They are much more durable.  I wouldn’t have my original Flip Box several years later, if it were flimsy.

So, if you are looking for a multipurpose storage box, consider the advantages of the Chill Chest, and think outside the box.

A Few of my Favorite Things-Small Item

small kitchen stocking stuffer

Best stocking stuffer for the home cook!

Small but powerful, this kitchen tool: can be hung to save drawer space, mixes and rests on the pot without falling in, scrapes without scratching, measures just the right amount of pancake batter for my 10 inch bird safe fry pan, doesn’t discolor from curry sauces, and after a hard day of work for me, washes up on the upper rack of my dishwasher!

If I ever lost it, I would be lost in the kitchen.  I have owned it so long, I don’t remember where I bought it.  Unfortunately, the manufacturer did not put their name on it.  If you see them for sale anywhere, please let me know.  Buy several.  They will make great stocking suffers for the home cooks in your life!

One final note on bird safe equipment, please tell everyone about the dangers of Teflon and some space heaters with birds.  Let’s all have a happy and safe holiday!

How to 50 Shades your Bedroom

If you are looking for a decorating project that doesn’t require a lot of time or money, please watch my newest YouTube video. It is a very short slide show and will not take too much time to watch. Note that there is zero sewing involved and more time was spent shopping than actually completing the project. January white sales would make a 50 shades bedroom even more affordable.

So much to write about and so little time. Our daughter is in her second year of veterinary school and my mother will be going on six years since her major surgeries. When she was staying with us during her recovery, we had decorated our guest room with colors that she liked. Now it’s time for a makeover. I thought about a modern theme that adults would like, but not look geriatric! I decided to make a 50 shades bedroom, since we have no little children or grandchildren. We also have no dogs or cats. Although, our daughter will be giving us a grand-bird soon. More about that next year!

My budget has been very thin. Not counting the new drape panels purchased from a bedding specialty store (which were on 50% clearance plus an additional 20% off with a coupon), and the fact that I already had six new pillows still in the original plastic packaging, my cost was about 25 dollars. I spent four dollars on gray pillow cases from a dollar store. Two new white pillow cases were purchased from a big box chain store for just under five dollars. From a thrift store, I purchased eight men’s ties for about two dollars each. After hand washing the ties and letting them drip-dry, I was ready to begin.

We have a metal bed frame, but if your bed is different you might gain an idea from the color scheme and theme of this room. Let this be your guide or inspiration.

Make Ahead Make Over 4 Bean Salad

4 Bean Salad

4 Bean Salad, no sugar added recipe

Recently, my mother was ill and I catered her a meal that included four bean salad.  Store bought mixtures are far too sweet tasting for me, so I made over a recipe from the early 1970’s.  This original recipe was in the Better Homes and Gardens Blender Cook Book.  My make over version eliminates table sugar and cuts the sodium by at least half.  You can find my version by going to my main web site, www. floridafuntimes.com and clicking on the “Cooking At Home” tab.

If the site is down for maintenance, it means that I am busy posting the recipe and check back in about 20 minutes for the computers to update.  But do check out this recipe.  It is fast, easy, nutritious, and can be stored in the refrigerate until you finish eating it up.  I have never seen it go bad, although I am sure it’s possible.  I enjoy having something like this that can be eaten cold, which is great for catering, picnics, hot weather, and a spur of the moment pot luck dish.

In the case of my mother, I had to drive more than an hour to her home.  All the food I took could be eaten cold and kept well in a cooler with ice.  It was just luck that I made this and other recipes when she happen to need it.  She was better by the next day; I think having good food ready for her to eat had something to do with it.

Hibiscus Tea and Fruit Punch Recipe

hibiscus tea and fruit punch

Hibiscus tea and fruit punch

The Twinings Tea Company, which has a presentation at the Festival Center at EPCOT, this weekend, has inspired me to make this post of a herbal tea and fruit juice punch recipe which I created. I was told that Twinings carries a hibiscus, pomegranate, and raspberry tea. This sounds delicious, and when I find it, I will try it.

Although I didn’t know about the Twinings hibiscus tea, and am not using it for this recipe, it is possible that you might use it to substitute for the Nile Valley brand which I am using. Depending on the amount of flavorings in the Twinings tea, you might want to reduce some of the fruit juice in my recipe.

This might make the punch recipe a bit more economical, as pure cranberry juice is quite expensive and difficult to find. Usually, I need to make a trip to the health food store. Big box stores carry apple juice flavored with cranberry juice. Pure doesn’t mean 100 per cent one type of juice. Read the ingredient statement carefully. The labels are very misleading.

Here is my original recipe, it has a sweet tart flavor and it’s very addictive:

Florida Fun Times Hibiscus Punch

6 pure hibiscus tea bags (I order this from Nile Valley Herbs)
spring water
3 stevia plus monk fruit packets, I use the Kal Brand
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup 100 % cranberry juice with no additives, sweeteners, or other juices
2 cups Pom Wonderful juice, or other brand of 100 % unsweetened pomegranate juice

In a saucepan, place tea bags and enough spring water to cover plus half inch. Bring to a boil. Boil for five to seven minutes. Turn off the heat and let the infusion of water and tea sit until it is cool.

Meanwhile squeeze and measure out 1/4 cup of lime juice. Set aside.

When the tea has cooled, remove each tea bag, and give them a good squeeze to save every drop.

Place a canning funnel, or other funnel, on top of a 64 ounce glass container. Pour in the hibiscus infusion. I usually sit the glass container in the sink. It’s easier that way.

Kal Stevia plus Monk Fruit

Kal Stevia plus Monk Fruit

With a table knife, one at a time, stir in each of the three Kal packets, mixing well after each one with the long table knife.

Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring well.

Add enough spring water to fill the glass container. Cover with the container top, or with waxed paper and a rubber band.

Keep refrigerated. Enjoy over ice, or straight up.