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Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

Re-purposing Coffee Grounds & A Homemade Exfoliating Scrub

Anybody else here live off of coffee? For the hubs and I, it’s just part of our morning routine, and as integral and necessary as say brushing our teeth or getting dressed. Don’t expect me to function if I haven’t had my coffee. But speaking of coffee, as you stumble your way into the kitchen, wiping the sleep from your eyes, how much thought have you given to the coffee grounds when you add them to your Keurig or coffee pot’s filter? If you’re like the hubs and I, of course you didn’t give them a second thought, before you used them OR after you threw them away. They’d served their only purpose in life, creating the lifeblood of our people. But if you’re also like us, one day you’re going to have a friend over and offer to make them coffee. Then you’re going to react with confusion and dismay when you toss the used coffee grounds out and they react like you’ve just thrown dollar bills down the disposal. And then you’ll be thanking the dear sweet Lord for the sweet sweet nectar of the gods while you’re lectured educated on the many, many, many used for coffee grounds. And then you’re not going to be able to forget. And then it’s going to click that you could be saving some money, and since you’re not above being cheap to do so, you’ll do some research and before you know it you’ll see coffee grounds floating down the drain as money washing away or it spilled on the counter as loose change to be scraped together. And pennies make dollars, people.

So yeah, coffee has A LOT of uses in a variety of applications beyond just being vital to starting our day off on the right, non violent, foot. Here’s a list of some of our favorites, with my personal favorite — a frugal exfoliating scrub — last, but not least.

1. Deodorizer – Did you know that coffee, much like the tried and true baking soda, is a deodorizer and can keep your fridge odor free? Place clean, unused coffee grounds in an open bowl or cup at the back of the refrigerator to eliminate food odor. They can even be used in the freezer. You can also make closet freshening pouches with coffee. Take cheesecloth or another breathable material (the hubs prefers using coffee filters because they’re cheaper) and wrap around a small amount of coffee grounds, secure the sachet closed, and hang or place it somewhere in the back of the closet. Got babies? Putting a packet of coffee grounds in the bottom of the Diaper Genie works wonders! Hate the way your hands smell after chopping onions or garlic, even after scrubbing them with soap? Keep some coffe grounds handy near or under the sink and rub a  handful of them on before washing and they’ll absorb any smelly, lingering odors.
2. Healthier Harvesting: When it comes to gardening, coffee grounds are an unsung hero. You may think of worms as just another pest problem, but in the garden they’re a welcome sight. They’re little unsung, unseen miracle workers. They enrich and turn your soil just with their own body processes. Guess what brings all the worms to the yard? Coffee grounds mixed in with your garden soil. Planning on planting carrots or radishes this year? Sprinkle some coffee grounds in with the seeds at planting to help keep bugs and pests away and to increase your yield. Composting? Don’t toss out those used grounds with the trash. Add them to the compost bin for a healthy boost of nitrogen.
4. Pest Control: Slugs won’t cross over a perimeter of the stuff, and Ants are sensitive to strong smells so sprinkle a little (used or unused) at their point of entry to encourage the little buggers to find food elsewhere. Do the neighborhood cats liked your yard, or maybe your garden beds in particular? Sprinkle coffee grounds mixed with orange peel where you don’t want them to go and sit back and wait until your neighbors come asking for your secret!
5. Touch up furniture scratches – Overtime, all furniture begins to show signs of wear and tear, especially wooden furniture, but before you go by an expensive can of finishing wax, get ready to strip it down to refinish, or consider throwing it away, find some instant coffee. If your wood has a darker stain, mix the coffee grounds with water to form a thick pasta and rub it into the scratches, repeating as necessary until the scratched area matches the rest of the wood.

And lastly, I love, love love, using coffee grounds as a cheap (yep, I said it!) and very effective exfoliant. Add clean coffee grounds to a body wash. Massage into skin and rinse. It’s a great remover of dry skin. You can also use them for a great facial. Mix a few tablespoons of grounds with enough water to make a paste. Pat it on skin and let stand for a few minutes and then massage in circles. Rinse thoroughly.

This particular recipe for our coffee sugar scrub helps nourish skin and lessen the appearance of stretch marks and cellulite.  The coffee itself acts as a temporary anti-inflammatory helping skin appear firmer. The almond oil and vitamin e will moisturize your skin leaving it silky smooth. If you’ve got oily or acne prone skin, opt for lemon or tea tree essential oil instead as both help control oil production. This works either applied to a specific area, like hands, feet, or face, or even used as an overall body scrub.

Homemade Coffee Brown Sugar Scrub

Coffee Sugar Scrub

1 cup ground coffee, used or unused
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4-1/3 cup almond oil
1/4 tsp vitamin e oil
10 drops orange essential oil (optional), or 10 drops lemon or tea tree essential oil for oily or acne prone skin

Directions

1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir together until everything’s evenly incorporated.
2. Before full use, apply a small (very small amount) to a small patch of skin and check for a reaction to make sure you aren’t allergic to anything in the scrub. Wet the desired area. Apple sugar scrub and gently massage into skin in circular motions.
3. Use a dry rag or paper towel to remove as much as you can.
4. Wash away the rest in the sink or the shower, depending on your application.
5. Store in an airtight container.

How To Shred Chicken…The Easy Way!

I can’t wait to tell you about this awesome trick I recently discovered! This is the absolute, without a doubt, easiest way to shred chicken and have it be consistent. An added bonus? You keep your hands clean and cramp free! I use shredded chicken in my recipes. A lot. I used to have to use 2 forks, one to hold the breast while the other one pulled. This takes a long time, especially if you’re doing more than one breast.  I used to positively dread the task, and would put it off until the last minute. Now I can shred up to 3 chicken breasts in under 1 minute! Maybe I’ll time myself next time. I bet I can even do it in under 30 seconds!

How To Shred Chicken…The Easy Way!

4 Sons 'R' Us: how to shred chicken the easy way

1. Cook your chicken breats however you normally would whether it be poached, oven roasted, or even in the crockpot. When the chicken is fully cooked, place up to 3 breasts in the bowl of your stand mixer. Don’t attempt to do more than 3 at a time. Trust me on this one, I had to learn it the hard way. Chicken chunks flew everywhere. It wasn’t pretty.
2. Start off slow and increase the speed, as needed, to shred your chicken more. In a snap you will have this! Perfectly shredded chicken with no mess, and no hand cramps. I couldn’t believe how simple this was. I will never EVER shred chicken with 2 forks again! Take a look at how fine the shred is, it would take forever to get that with 2 forks!
3. Proceed with your recipe of choice and use your shredded chicken however the meal requires.

Boss status…achieved! You’ve owned that chicken & your kitchen.

 

DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

I love the sons to death, but sometimes I wish they’d stop badgering me about what’s for dinner. They’re like a whole revolving chorus of broken records with the question. It’s like some insane versions of food-related whac-a-mole. Get one to stop, another one pops pipes up. It makes me want to scream, and tear out tufts of hair. Sons, I’ll let you in on a little clue…if I’m not even done clearing/cleaning the breakfast dishes, I am not ready, in any way shape or form, to address the dinner issue. Sometimes when you ask me what’s for dinner…..I honestly don’t know yet! It’s not like I have an inexhaustible source from which I can pull creative meal plans to begin with, and I’m horrible under pressure. As you may have noticed. Repeatedly. To be clear, I am not, nor will I ever be, a short order cook. Some days I can barely get it together to prepare ONE meal for us all. There’s a lot of pressure to make something healthy and enjoyable for everyone…and some nights that even proves impossible. Let’s be honest, NO matter what I finally do tell you is for dinner, at least one of you will be unhappy. At least one of you, somedays more, either before sitting at the table, or in between giant mouthfuls you can barely chew, will make sure to ‘express yourself’ and rebelliously declare that you don’t, or you may have, liked it if I’d only done A or B differently. Can I just put it out there again, how much I loathed being asked the revolving question (6925x) of what’s for dinner? Even when I’d refuse to answer, the sons would continue.

Son: “What’s for dinner?”

Mom: ‘Food’

Son “What type of food?”

Mom: ‘Edible’

And then I had an epiphany. The menu board! Not only would it better help me plan my weekly menu in advance (at least for the chaotic dinner rush), but the sons could finally have answers without ever having to ask! It was a Monday morning miracle!! Hallelujah! There’s was no light bulb, but there was a heavenly chorus and golden beams of light shining down all around (well, at least in my head). The sons, knowing me, know that you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit, or you may lose your plate. This little God-send has helped save my sanity and has actually helped curb complaints. It’s in writing. On the board. It might as well be set. in. stone.

I no longer have to get cranky and frankly driven a little past crazy when they ask what’s for dinner for the eleventh time on any given day. I know my obligation to make dinner. And I do truly want to nourish them. Most nights I even enjoy it. The menu board is a promise. If somethings marked in for the day we can all just assume that at some point it will be dinner time, and at that point the sons can rest assured, I will put some form of decent –albeit occassionally uninspired– nutrients on the table for your consumption.

The world has become such a more peaceful place for the six of us. Well, seven, if you include the dog (who has, ahem, yet to ever complain about anything I’ve fed him…..just sayin’).

So simple, but cute and life-saving fully functional. Don’t have dinnertime issues? Use it as a weekly memo board so the kids (and Mom) know what the big plans are for the day.

DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

4 Sons 'R' Us: DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

Scrapbook paper in colors of your choice

stickers, or other accents of choice (I opted for stencils)
8 frame picture frame (I purchased mine from Walmart for around $10) and you can choose from woodgrain or black frame.
Glue

Ta-Da! Turn those few supplies into this…

4 Sons ;R; Us: DIY Weekly Menu/Memo Board

Directions

1. Using the paper inserts (ya know the ones with random people smiling at you!) as templates for your scrapbook paper and cut out 8 rectangles.
2. Lay out your pieces of paper in the direction and order you’d like them to hang in the frame.
3. Keeping in mind which directions your board will hang, vertical or horizontal, decorate each piece to coordinate with a different day of the week.
4. Feel free to ‘bling em out’ a little but, just be careful not to over clutter as it will make it hard to write over.
5. When you’re done decorating, reassemble, and enjoy your new menu board or weekly planner.

Easy Oven Roasted Bacon–Perfect Every Single Time

At first I was skeptical of ‘roasted’ bacon. Give up cooking those amazing strips of crisped perfection in my trusty skillet? I couldn’t imagine an oven version being able to compare. But I was game to at least give it a try. After all, I am always the one encouraging the sons to at least try things before sticking their noses up in the air, or saying ‘ I can’t’. Gotta practice what I preach! After that first batch I was quickly converted.

Love bacon? Hate the mess? This is the easiest way to prepare and enjoy that unhealthy, yet damn delicious, treat. Even better than less mess, bacon cooked in the oven cooks more evenly, and requires a whole lot less work from you! Throw it in the oven, set a timer, forget about it and go about your business ’til the buzzer.

Oven Roasted Bacon

4 Sons 'R' Us: Oven Roasted Bacon

Oh. Em. Gee! How can you stop at just one strip?!

8-10 strips of your favorite brand of bacon
parchment paper
baking sheet

4 Sons 'R' Us: oven roasted bacon

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan.
3. Lay the bacon on top of the parchment paper, as best you can without the strips touching each other. The less overlap, the more crisp & crunch.
4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bacon is really crispy.
5. Use a pair of tongs to remove the bacon from the tray and drain on paper towels immediately (so it stays crispy!) and serve.

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