Best Kitchenaid Attachments

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10 BEST kitchenaid attachments! Have a Kitchenaid Check out these great attachments and what they do!

Oh how I love my KitchenAid stand mixer!  My hubby bought me one for Christmas two years ago.  I knew I was getting one because my mom spilled the beans a few weeks earlier but I was super anxious to open it.  What color did he get?!  What did it come with?!  What am I going to make first?!  I opened all my presents (including a vacuum that I swore was the Kitchenaid!) and no mixer.  He knew I was waiting for it so he left it in the garage until the very end.  Sneaky, sneaky!  

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He bought a beautiful turquoise-y blue one and I was instantly in love!  I had to rearrange the kitchen because it didn’t fit under the cabinets.  But that’s ok!  It’s out and I love it so!  

This past Christmas I asked for a few attachments for my beloved mixer.  At first I wasn’t specific with my family – I just said attachments.  Whoa.  There are so many out there!  I did a little research and found the best KitchenAid attachments, also known as the ones I requested for Christmas!  

Side note – if you purchase any attachments, double check that they fit your specific mixer.  My sweet hubby bought me number 3 and it was the wrong one!  

  1. Wire beater, dough hook and flat beater – these are the 3 attachments that come with most models.  And they are awesome!  I would say 90 perfect of the time I use the flat beater in my cooking and baking.  
  2. Pouring shield – After a few tries with my new mixer, I realized pretty quickly that I needed the pouring shield.  My model lifts the bowl instead of the title head ones so if I have a big bowl or measuring cup that I’m using, it’s hard to pour.  Without making a mess.  I take it off after I’m doing pouring.  
  3. Beater blade – This was another attachment that I knew I wanted right away.  It scrapes the sides of the bowl for you!  Yess!  No turning off the machine and scraping down the sides and then ack to mixing.  This little beater does it for you.  
  4. Shredder/slicer attachment – Oh, how I love this attachment!  I use it to slice veggies (like cucumbers), cheese and even to shredded my bar soap for homemade laundry detergent!  I use a baby bottle brush to help with cleaning and I am good to go! 
  5. Pasta roller – Yes!  I asked my brother for this attachment last year and squealed when I opened it!  It has easy recipes in the booklet for homemade pastas, but I haven’t used it yet!  I have big plans for a homemade pasta dinner this Christmas so I will report back at how it goes!  
  6. Grinder – This is one that I thought would be great for Ryon.  He brews beer and this would be perfect for grinding the barley.  I may get it for him for Christmas and then use it when he’s not looking! 
  7. Sausage stuffer – I know, I giggled at the name too.  But Ryon also hunts so he could use the grinder for venison burgers and then the sausage stuffer for fresh venison sausage!  It’s a win-win.  
  8. Spiralizer – I have this one of my list!  I think it would be great to use for things like zucchini noodles and apple chips.  
  9. Ice cream maker – How FUN is it that you can make ice cream with a Kitchenaid??  I have heard great things about the ice cream maker and how easy it is to use.  I bought a super cheap ice cream maker at Target a few years ago and it’s still going strong.  (Funny how that works sometimes!)  But once that kicks the ice cream bucket, I’ll snag one of these! 
  10. Bowl covers – Not an attachment, but SO handy to have!  My brother (he’s kinda awesome now that I think about it!) bought these for me along with the pasta roller.  They are perfect for covering your bowl and chilling it for later or letting your dough rise.  Again double check that you buy the right covers for YOUR mixer! 

I hope that helps narrow it down for you as far as attachments go!  There are so many great ones out there but these are my favorite/requested ones.  Also, double check that you are ordering the right attachment for your model!  I would hate for you to get an attachment or part and you can’t use it because it’s for the wrong KitchenAid!  Trust me – been there, returned that!  

7 Tips for better food photos

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Are you looking to take better food photos?  I’ve got 7 easy tips to help you go from meh to amazing! 

7 Tips for better food photos! Easy tips and tricks to help improve your food photography!

Hey yall!  I’m sharing something a little different today – 7 tips for better food photos!  I have been taking pictures for as long as I can remember.  I still have undeveloped rolls of film hanging out in my night stand.  It’s a challenge to get the perfect image and yet so rewarding when you do.  If you are looking to up your food photo game (or any type of photography really!), here are some easy tips to follow. 

  1. Practice, practice, practice!  – If you take ONE thing away from these tips it is to practice your craft.  No matter what type of camera you have, practice as often as possible.  Take pictures of your dinner, or breakfast, or those homemade chocolate chip cookies you just baked.  Read your manual, try different setups, stock up on memory cards and shoot as much as possible!  
  2. Research – I separate my food photography research into two categories – visual and educational.  Visual is easy.  It’s any time you see an appetizing meal – study it.  Figure out why it appeals to you, what props did they use?  Do they have an eye catching background?  Take elements that you like and work on incorporating them into your own photography. 

How to make an iced Thai latte at home!

For example – I love the close up overhead shots of drinks.  It’s just fun and playful to me.  I had seen them in magazines and Pinterest and started practicing more.  Here is an example in my iced Thai latte post.  

The second is to research technique.  Search Pinterest for educational photography posts on things like aperture, ISO and shutter speed.  Pick a topic to focus on and read a few articles on how that technique works.  Take what you’ve learned and try and apply it the next time you photograph.  

3. Upgrade – Some people think that to take beautiful photographs you need the BEST camera right NOW.  And that’s simply not true.  The best camera is the one you have right NOW.  Once you have mastered your point and shoot or your old DSLR or even your phone, look into upgrading to a new model.  

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I used a point and shoot, then my phone and slowly upgraded to a Nikon D7000.  The picture above is my Finnish pancake recipe and was taken with my old cell phone a few years ago.  The image below is butternut squash pasta and was taken with my Nikon.  Huge difference!  But there are 3 years of practice between the photos.  

Easy on pot butternut squash and bacon pasta! Perfect dinner recipe!

4. Props – Oh, how I love props!  Props can take your boring food photo and make it exciting!  And there are so many options for food props.  You can go basic with a fun plate, or napkin.  I love to add silverware to suggest the food is going to be eaten immediately.  You can use an extra serving of food as a prop or the casserole dish the serving came from or fresh herbs sprinkled about.  Props are another way to get creative with your food.  

Pinch of yum has a great post on using every day items to improve your photography.  The old cookie sheets are always fun!  Play around with props (my favorite places to shop for them are World Market and thrift stores) and find your style.  

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5. Using natural light – Natural light is one of the best (and easiest!) ways to improve your food photography.  Look around your house and find the best natural light coming from a window.  Put a coffee table with your props there.  Natural light brings out the best colors in any type of photograph.  Do not – I repeat DO NOT – rely on your kitchen or home lighting for photography.  

Don’t have any good natural light?  My food bloggy friend Julie shares how she uses artificial light to help her with her food photos.  

Individual apple crisps baked right in the apple!

6. Make food appetizing yet approachable – This was a new concept for me that I learned at Mixed conference from Susan with Ahalogy.  Beautiful food photos are just that – beautiful.  But you want to be able to take a beautiful food photo and make it approachable for the reader.  If it looks too pretty or too complicated you may lose people’s interest.  If the photo is pretty and looks like something they can whip up in there own kitchen – well that’s a winning shot!  

7. Editing – One thing that can really set your food photography apart is using editing software.  I have used Photoshop for a few years now and was able to review Lightroom recently.  There are some amazing tutorials on how to use both editing programs (like these on Lightroom) but my best advice is to just practice, practice, practice!  (Are you tired of hearing that yet??)  

The cool thing about the Adobe Creative cloud photography plan is that you can take your images anywhere with you.  It’s all stored online in addition to your hard drive!  I really love being able to access my photos anywhere I go.  

There you have it!  Seven easy tips for better food photos.  I hope you have fun practicing and if you have any other tips you’d like to share – leave them on my Facebook page!  I am always looking for easy ways to up my photography game! 

Thank you to Best Buy for sponsoring today’s post as well!  

Learning to Blog – Adding Your Custom Domain

Adding a custom domain

Hey hey!  So happy to have you here for another post on Learning to Blog.  Last week I shared how to buy your custom domain – woohoo!  Today I’m going to go over how to add your custom domain to your blogging platform of choice.  It’s easier then it sounds, promise! 

 Adding a custom domain

Adding a custom domain to a blogger.com blog –

1. Log in to your account and go to settings

custom domain

2. Scroll down to “Publishing” and then “Blog Address”. 

3. Click on “+Setup a 3rd party URL for your blog” 

Note – you can also buy your domain directly from blogger.com.  I have not done this before since I have always used GoDaddy.  But it is an option!

custom domain2

4. Type in your blog domain in the box and hit save.  Be sure to type it like this – www.yourblogdomain.com.

5. You should see an error after you hit save.  You need to verify that you own the domain you are trying to use.  Keep that page open and then login to your domain registrar – like GoDaddy. 

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6. Find your DNS area and look for “Host”.  Click edit (the pencil in GoDaddy) and enter ghs.google.com where it says “www”.  Save.

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7.  Next hit “Add Record” on the top left above “Host.” 

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8. Enter the first set of symbols from your blogger profile in the “Host” and the second set in “Points To”.  Click finish.

9. Now you have verified that you are the owner of the domain you are trying to register!  You need to wait an hour before finishing though.  Sometimes it may take a little longer. 

10. After a bit, go back and repeat steps 1-4 again.  Your new domain should be active now! 

 

Adding a custom domain to a WordPress.com blog –

1. Log in to your WordPress.com blog and then go to https://wordpress.com/domains/. 

custom domain for wordpress

2. In order to add your custom domain to your WordPress.com blog there is an annual charge of $13/year to do this or you can purchase your domain through WordPress.com. 

I would assume the process is similar to the blogger.com setup on configuring your custom domain that you already own.  You need to set the login into your DNS file and change your host.  Since I don’t have a WordPress.com blog, I wasn’t up for paying the $13 to find out the exact steps.  You can find more details on here on how to set it up.

 

Adding a custom domain to a WordPress.org blog –

1. In order to add your custom domain to a WordPress.org blog you need to have a host first.  I highly recommend RFE hosting!  You can also sign up through GoDaddy or any other hosting company.  (Blue Host, Host Gator, etc.) 

2. Once you have hosting, you have to point your domain address to your new host.  Log in to your domain registrar account and your hosting account.  You will need information from both. 

3. Find your “cPanel” on your hosting site and head to your “DNS” section in your registrar.  I’m not going to lie – the cPanel scares the pants off of me!  I don’t want to break anything and there is A LOT of information back there.  But fear not!  You only need a few easily accessible things to set your domain. 

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4. Scroll down until you see “Shared IP Address” on the left hand side under “Stats”.  Copy that IP address down. 

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5. In GoDaddy, click “Add a Record” in your DNS Zone file on the top left.  The window above pops up.  Enter “@” for Host and the IP address for Points To.  Click save. 

6. Give it a few minutes to transfer then head back to your cPanel.  Find the WordPress icon at the bottom.

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7. Click Install then find your domain where it says “Choose domain”.  Change the “Site Name” and “Site Description” under Site Settings.  That is what will show up on the menu bar of your website. 

8. Create a username and password for your WordPress.org blog and click install.  It will run for a minute or two and then you should be all set up!

9. To login into your new blog you go to yourblogname.com/wp-admin and use the username and password you just picked out.  You are now ready to start designing your blog!  Woohoo! 

Holy cow!  Are yall still with me??  I hope so!  I also hope that you were able to set up your custom domain as well!  If you have any questions or comments or need a little more help, join our Learning to Blog Facebook group.  I’ll be back next week with another post on setting up your blog design! 

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Learning to Blog – Blogger vs. WordPress

Learning to blog - blogger vs Wordpress.  Which platform to choose and the proscons of both

Welcome, welcome!  Today is the 3rd installment of the Learning to Blog series here at the Grant life.  [First part was where to start and second was naming your blog.]  I was going to go straight to how to register a domain but I realized that I needed to take it down a notch and talk about picking a platform first.  I’m just going to cover the two most common ones (and the ones I have the most experience with) blogger vs. WordPress.

Learning to blog - blogger vs WordPress.  Which platform to choose and the proscons of both

A blogging platform is the actually place where you write and share your content. It all may look intimidating at first but once you start using your blog regularly everything becomes routine.  But which platform do you pick?  Today I’m sharing the pro’s and con’s of using a Blogger.com blog and both versions of WordPress. 

Option number one – start a free blog on Blogger.com

Pros –

  • Its free! You literally sign up and start writing. They even walk you through the design process with free basic templates.
  • Its user friendly. Very user friendly. The dashboard is easy to navigate and contains everything you need to write a post. Also, the design side is easy to customize with a few simple tutorials.
  • Its common. The majority of bloggers that I know start on a blogger blog and some very successful bloggers still use and love blogger!
  • You can monetize it. You can put Google Adsense or outside advertisers on your blog to help generate an income.

Cons –

  • Its owned by Google. Which means Google owns all your content on your blog. Yes, you wrote and published it, but since you are using a free service provided by Google, they technically own your content. And can shut your site down at any time. I have had this happen to friends and its scary. One friend almost lost 3 years of content because Google wrongly shut her down. Not trying to scare anyone, just letting you know all the facts first. 
  • Not as SEO friendly. SEO means search engine optimization or how people find your site through search engines. (Ie google or yahoo) SEO has to be hard coded into your website which should be done by a professional.
  • Switching later is tough. If you ever want to switch off a blogger you either need to read up on it or hire someone to do it. It can be costly and you may lose content. 

Option number two – start a free WordPress.com blog

Pros –

  • Its free! Again, you sign up and are walked through a simple design process before you start blogging. Takes a few minutes max.
  • It has plugins. Plugins are essentially apps for your blog that do different things. They are only on WordPress blogs and do a wide variety of things to help your blog. (More on plugins later)
  • SEO friendly. Unlike a blogger blog you can download plugins that help with SEO (search engine optimization.)

Cons –

  • You can not monetize your blog. WordPress.com blogs are not allowed to have any sort of advertisements on their site. Its against the Terms of Service when you sign up.
  • The plugins are limited. You don’t get the best plugins, although you do get a wide variety.
  • Less user friendly

Option number three – start a WordPress.org blog

Pros –

  • Fully customizable – Most professional websites and blogs are built on wordpress.org sites. You can totally customize your site using this platform.
  • Unlimited plugins. A WordPress.org blog comes with all the bells and whistles for optimizing your site. There are unlimited plugins available to use.
  • SEO Optimized – There are a bunch of different plugins that are based only on SEO (search engine optimization).
  • You own your content. No one can take your content from you. Its yours and you don’t have to worry about your site being shut down for good.

Cons –

  • Its not free! If you start a WordPress.org blog then you have to buy your own domain and hosting for your site. Granted its not a lot, but its money you have to spend out of pocket when the other two options are free.
  • Less user friendly then a blogspot blog. 

Most professional blogs are WordPress.org blogs, that’s just a fact. They offer the most options and control over your content. I started on a blogger blog and transferred to a WordPress.org site after a year. There was a slight learning curve but I am fortunate to have great friends that are willing to help.

–> Tip: Pick whatever platform you feel comfortable using. Just do your research on each one first. You can move from one platform to another but it may be a hassle (and potentially expensive) to change. <–

Hope that helps you make a decision on which platform to use for your blog!  If you have any more questions or want to join others in your blogging journey, head over to our Facebook page

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Learning to Blog – Picking a Name

Learning to blog series - picking a name!

Hey yall!  Welcome to week 2 of the Learning to blog series.  And thank you for the positive feedback from last week’s post on getting started!  It’s nice to see so many people interested in starting their own blogs.  Don’t forget to join our Facebook group so you can join in the conversation with us!  Ok, on to today’s topic – picking a name!

Learning to blog series - picking a name!  

I feel like the name of your blog is almost as important as the content you choose to write about.  It sets a picture in peoples minds on what you expect when they come to your site.  No pressure, right?! 

I spent a lot of time in the beginning thinking about my blog name.  I had a handful of names and I tossed them around for 2 weeks or so.  I asked my husband what he thought, I asked my mom, I asked anyone who would listen really.  Which was smart because I avoided some names that I thought were great but didn’t convey my topic properly.  In the end I went with the Grant life, and almost 4 years later I’m still happy with it!

The name of your blog is almost as important as the content you choose to write about

Like I just mentioned, I spent a lot of time thinking about my name – and you should too!  Think about it, toss around a few names and ask for opinions.  I would suggest giving yourself at least a week before you settle on one.  (Unless you have a totally awesome name and then in that case, ignore me and go with your awesome name!)

I know a few people that have changed names multiple times in their blogging journey.  It happens.  People change topics they want to blog about or they are just wanting to start something new.  Either way, when you change your blog name you have to switch over URLs, blog designs and social media accounts.  It’s a lot of work to change over everything!  I’m not saying this to scare you – I’m hoping to help avoid some frustration down the line. 

So how do you pick the perfect name?  Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Make it unique.  – There are millions of blogs out there and probably hundreds of thousands in the niche you are writing about.  So how do you stand out?  With a unique name and content.  Make it something that reflects you or what you will be writing about.  Things not to do – find a blog you really like and make a play on their name.  Or copy their name completely and just change the .com to a .net or something of that nature.  Not cool and not unique. 
  • Make sure its available. – Do a quick Google search to see if the blog name you are thinking about is taken.  Check social media and then see if the domain URL is available.  (If you plan on having your own custom domain.)  It would stink to fall in love with a name only to find out a week later, it’s taken!  Do the research up front and see what’s out there.
  • Think long term. – There are a lot of fads that come and go and that can be reflected in some blog names.  Once the fad is over the name seems irrelevant and out of date.  Make sure you think long term when you are considering your blog name.  Think 2 or even 3 years down the line.  It will save you from having to change it later! 
  • Think it over.  – Like I mentioned, give yourself some time to mull over your new name.  If you are serious about blogging, then you have to be serious about a big part of your blog.  Ask friends and family and give yourself a week or two before you decide. 

Sounds pretty easy, right?  Now it’s time for some homework!  The fun kind though.  

  • Week 2 Homework – write down 10 different names that you are considering.  Add new ones to the list or delete ones that don’t work or are taken already.  Try and come up with a name you think will work long term and do a quick search to see if its taken. 

One other tip – buy a blog notebook.  Its great for brainstorming posts and ideas that you think you will remember but don’t.  (Maybe that’s just me?!)  I have a small one I keep in my purse and two or three big ones at the house.  They really help!

Ok so next week I’ll do a quick tutorial on how to register your domain and social media accounts!  Want more blogging tips?  Be sure to sign up for our emails and have them sent to your inbox!  And don’t forget to join or Learning to Blog group!

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Learning to Blog – Where to Start

Looking to start a blog  Where do you start  Here are some GREAT tips!

Hey yall!  I’m going to be starting a new series about starting your own blog this year.  From where to start to how to monetize and make money from your site.  Ill cover it all!  I hope to break it down enough that everyone who is interested in starting their own blog will be able to follow along.  And if you have a blog already, I hope to be able to help you take it to the next level!  [Whatever that may be for you!]

In a few months, I will have been blogging for 4 years!  Holy cow.  It honestly doesn’t feel like that long – but it has been so fun.  Trying at times, but something that I truly love learning to do.  When I started I knew nothing about blogging but I got this crazy idea that I could and just went for it.  I have made more mistakes along the way – but that’s how you learn, right? 

Looking to start a blog  Where do you start  Here are some GREAT tips!

 

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing posts on how to get started on your own blogging journey.  Whether for profit, your business or just for fun – I hope you pick up something new and useful along the way. 

Ill be covering:

  • Naming your blog
  • Picking your platform
  • Buying a custom domain
  • Design basics
  • Social media basic
  • How to make money and more!

If at any time you have questions feel free to email me [thegrantlife@yahoo.com] and join our Learning to Blog group on Facebook!  Ill be giving “homework” after each blog post in the group. 

So let’s get started!

The most important thing to decide before you start blogging is what are you going to blog about.  I know it sounds simple but it will guide your whole blogging journey.  If you already know what you are going to blog about – great!  You have made a huge decision about your blog!  Still need a little help?  No worries!  Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do I love doing? 
  • What can I write about long term?
  • What will make me stand out in a crowded blogging world?
  • What do I spend most days doing/learning/reading about?
  • What am I truly passionate about?
  • What topic do my friends ask me for advice on?

I started blogging about everything.  Literally, everything.  Crafts, reviews, makeup, family, DIY!  I even had a fashion series at one point.  I tried everything because I liked it all.  Was I passionate about all of those things?  No, not really.  I enjoyed them and they were fun, but I didn’t have a passion for doing all of those things.  And it showed.  My recipe posts were far more popular then my crafts.  Or my fashion ones!  The ONE question I wish I had asked myself sooner is:

What do I NOT want to blog about?

I could have eliminated a lot of topics and started blogging about food and family sooner.  It’s great to set boundaries early and know up front what you don’t want to blog about.  It’s actually empowering to say “No, I don’t want to do that.”  Or “no, that doesn’t fit my blog.”  It’s 100 percent ok to say no to certain things and pursue what you truly love. 

Learning to blog - find what you truly love to do

Find your passion – no matter how big or small – and think if you can write about that passion long term.  If the answer is yes – then you have a winner!  Congrats! 

  • Week 1 Homework – Make a list of your hobbies and passions.  Ask yourself if you can write about each topic long term – think at least a year.  It’s ok to have more then one topic you want to write about, but narrow it down to 2 or 3.  That’s a great start! 

Check back next week for tips on naming your new blog!

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Best Kitchen Tips

Best kitchen tips - from readers just like YOU!

One of the best things about blogging is getting to learn new things.  Sometimes I learn by trial and error or by researching.  Or sometimes I learn from my readers.  I asked my Facebook and Twitter fans to share their best kitchen tips.  And just like that – I learned at ton of new things!  [Boom!]  I rounded up all the tips [and added a few product recommendations] so that I can share what they shared with me with everyone.  [Makes sense, right?]  Here are some of the best kitchen tips around!

Best kitchen tips - from readers just like YOU!
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  • When it comes to citrus fruit, they’re easier to zest when cold, and easier to juice when room temperature.  Recommended: Micro plane Zester
  • Figure out your oven’s hot spots. I burned half of everything I baked until I figured out the front of the oven was much hotter and I need to turn everything halfway through.
  • When measuring sticky stuff like peanut butter or honey spray measuring cups with a non stick spray or coat with a little oil.  It will slide right out.  Recommended: Stainless Steel Nesting Cups
  • I reuse the rubber band around asparagus (usually a wider band) to help open jars. You put it around the lid for extra grip!
  • I dip bananas or peaches or any other fruit (not avocados) in Sprite or 7-Up instead of lemon juice. It has no after taste and the fruit tastes fruit instead of fruit dipped in lemon.
  • Get a chart of all common conversions and substitutions, and use it as a poster.  Recommended: Grab your free printables here. 
  • Use cookie scoops to fill muffin cups, less mess and they are more uniform in size.  Recommended:  OXO Cookie Scoop
  • Instead of throwing away cheese rinds such as Parmesan, wrap them up and freeze them and use them to flavor soups. When the soup is simmering, throw in the cheese rind. The rind will soften and impart the flavor of the cheese into the soup.
  • Organize your spices and condiments by alphabetical order.  Recommended: 3 Tier Spice Organizer
  • Invest in a good set of knives and a good set of wooden spoons. If you take care of them they’ll outlast most everything in your kitchen. Recommended: Chicago Cutlery
  • I use my silicone baster for spreading Crisco inside muffin tins. No paper towel waste, or cooking sprays needed.  Recommended: OXO Silicone Pastry Brush
  • Use a meat thermometer to see if your meat is done. If you cut it to check all the juices escape which makes the meat dry.  Recommended: Classic Meat Thermometer
  • Always keep your best cookie recipe handy. There is nothing worse than not being able to find it when you need it.

Aren’t those all amazing tips?!  I’m totally keep the rubber bands from the asparagus, but never thought to use them as a grip.  So smart!

A few of my favorite tips are:

  • Use prep bowls to make sure you have all your ingredients before you start.
  • Clean the dishes as you go.
  • Use hot water from the tap when boiling to cut down boil time.

What tip would you add to the list?  If you leave a comment below, I can add it!

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Farmer’s Market Tips

Farmer's Market Tips

One of the great things about living in south Texas is that our growing season is longer then most places. We have mild winters that allows for some seasonal vegetation when most places are covered in snow. Our farmers market is open year round so we always have fresh produce to buy.  I have started going to our farmers market every weekend with the kids.  I just love love love having farm fresh produce to cook with.  Plus, I get so many great recipe ideas just browsing the available fruits and veggies for sale.  [Hello leek and asparagus pasta.]  I have this crazy dream that one day Ill be able to actually sell my veggies at the market.  [Say what?!  I know, its crazy!]  Until then, here are some farmers market tips to help you pick the best fresh produce for your family! 

Farmer's Market Tips Image source

1. Know prices – I love buying local produce from family farms but I’m not going to pay double if I don’t have to. I know that I can get leeks cheaper at the farmers market then my local grocery store but that broccoli is three times the price then the grocery store.  Its good to know how much you can get the same produce elsewhere. 

2. Come early – the best produce sells out fast so be sure to stop by your local farmers market as soon as it opens.

3. Bring your own bags – if you plan to buy a few things be sure to grab a few reusable bags to carry all your goodies. Some vendors don’t have bags and it’s just easier to have your own.

4. Bring cash – out of all the vendors at our farmers market, only one has a credit card machine. Yours may be different but cash is easier and always appreciated over credit cards with fees.

5. Shorter shelf life – fresh homegrown produce has a shorter shelf life then fruits and veggies from the grocery store. Buy what you need to use within a week and plan to freeze or can the rest. It’s a shame when your farmers markets goodies go bad before you are able to use them

Now that Spring is here local farmers markets should be opening. Find one near you and enjoy the benefits of farm fresh home grown good for the soul produce!

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Simple Food Swaps for Kids

Simple food swaps for kids

One of things that we have been doing is researching our food products more.  We are trying to cut down on processed foods and eat better in general.  But its tough and sometimes we just want our comfort foods.  The kids are no exception.  They are good eaters and eat what we do most of the time, but sometimes they just want some mac and cheese.  Or lucky charms.  [Chucky charms as we call them in the Grant house.]  I can’t make cereal from scratch appear, so I have to find an alternative.  A healthier alternative that doesn’t contain all kinds of junk.  Here are some simple food swaps for kids that make our lives and our bodies happy.  [And my kiddos love!] 

Simple food swaps for kids

  Simple food swaps for kids - mac

Macaroni and Cheese:

Swap -> Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

First, it took me awhile to even find the ingredients on the Kraft website.  And I can see why.  Their mac and cheese is chocked full of processed and dyed ingredients.  Dyes are a no go for me.  I’ve read various reports that link them to childhood illnesses and I just don’t see why they need to be added to our food.  And if you really want a reason to ban Kraft from your house read this article about a warning label they use for overseas products.  Its not pretty.  And it really bums me out that its so overly processed.  I grew up on Kraft! 

Kraft Classic Macaroni and Cheese – Enriched Macaroni Product (, WHEAT FLOUR, NIACIN, FERROUS SULFATE [IRON], THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID) , Cheese Sauce Mix (, WHEY, MILKFAT, MILK PROTEIN CONCENTRATE, SALT, SODIUM TRIPOLYPHOSPHATE, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: , CITRIC ACID, LACTIC ACID, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM PHOSPHATE, MILK, YELLOW 5, YELLOW 6, ENZYMES, CHEESE CULTURE)

For -> Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese

A few basics and sodium phosphate as a preservative.  No dyes, non GMO wheat.  And it tastes good too!  

Annie’s Classic Macaroni and Cheese – ORGANIC WHEAT MACARONI, CHEDDAR CHEESE (CULTURED PASTEURIZED MILK, SALT, NON-ANIMAL ENZYMES), WHEY, NONFAT MILK, BUTTER, SALT, CULTURED WHOLE MILK,  SODIUM PHOSPHATE, ANNATTO EXTRACT FOR COLOR

 

Simple food swaps for kids - cereal

Cereal:

Swap -> Lucky Charms

Again, with the food dyes.  This is more obvious though since we know the marshmallows are different colors.   And I’m going to get really real about this one.  Like talking about poo real.  My kids poo a rainbow after eating lucky charms.  Its not pretty and I can tell it upsets their little bowels. 

Lucky Charms (Oats, (Whole Grain Oats, Flour), Marshmallows (Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Dextrose, Gelatin, Calcium Carbonate, Yellow 5 & 6, Blue 1, Red 40), Artificial Flavor, Sugar, Corn Syrup, Corn Starch, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Artificial Color, Trisodium Phosphate, Zinc And Iron (Mineral Nutrients), Vitamin C (Sodium Ascorbic), A “B” Vitamin (Niacinamide), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Vitamin B1, Thiamin Mononitrate), Vitamin A, (Palmitate), A B Vitamin (Folic Acid) Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Vitamin E (Mixed Tocopherols) Added To Preserve Freshness.)

 

For -> Bear River Valley Marshmallow Avalanche

bearrivervallet

Still the same basic cereal but without the junk and the food dyes.  Its flavored and colored with fruit.  I love that.  And my kids love this cereal.  [So do their bowels.  TMI.. I know.]

  Simple food swaps for kids - hot dogs

Hot Dogs:

Swap -> Oscar Meyer Classic

My first question is – why do we need corn syrup in a hot dog product?  Answer – we don’t.  And mechanically separated means its a big pile of parts thrown into a processor.  And all those sodiums at the end are for flavoring, to retain color and to kill fungus and bacteria.  You can read more about all that here.

MECHANICALLY SEPARATED TURKEY, MECHANICALLY SEPARATED CHICKEN, PORK, WATER, CORN SYRUP, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF SALT, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM DIACETATE, SODIUM BENZOATE, SODIUM ASCORBATE, FLAVOR, SODIUM NITRITE

For -> Applegate Organic Beef

Real beef, real spices and no sugar.  That’s what a hot dog should be.  [In my opinion.]  

Organic Grass-Fed Beef, Water, Sea Salt, Organic Paprika, Organic Dehydrated Onion, Organic Spices, Organic Nutmeg Oil, Celery Powder

Simple food swaps for kids - yogurt

Portable Yogurt:

Swap -> YoPlait Go-Gurt

There is so much in these that I’m not sure where to start.  Sugar as the second ingredients means there is a lot.  [The first ingredient on any food shows what it contains the most of in the product.  So milk is number one ingredient and sugar is number two.]  And again with the food dyes. 

Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Low Fat Milk, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Kosher Gelatin, Tricalcium Phosphate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Potassium Sorbate Added to Maintain Freshness, Carrageenan, Red 40, Vitamin A Acetate, Blue 1, Vitamin D3. Berry Blue Blast: Cultured Pasteurized Grade A Low Fat Milk, Sugar, Modified Corn Starch, Kosher Gelatin, Tricalcium Phosphate, Potassium Sorbate Added to Maintain Freshness, Carrageenan, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Blue 1, Red 40, Vitamin A Acetate, Vitamin D3

 

For -> Stonyfield YoKids

Stonyfield is all organic, even their sugar.  I’m not saying that its best, but its better.  Not having dyes is what is the winner for us. 

CULTURED PASTEURIZED ORGANIC REDUCED FAT MILK, ORGANIC SUGAR, ORGANIC TAPIOCA STARCH, ORGANIC STRAWBERRY JUICE FROM CONCENTRATE, ORGANIC CAROB BEAN GUM, NATURAL FLAVOR, PECTIN, CARRAGEENAN, ORGANIC NATURAL VANILLA FLAVOR, ORGANIC BEET JUICE CONCENTRATE (FOR COLOR), VITAMIN D3.

 

That’s a lot of information, isn’t it?  And this is not meant to scare anyone.  I didn’t go out one day and buy all of our swaps and say “done, never going back.”  I slowly started adding the new things into the kids diets one product at time.  The price difference really isn’t that huge and now I don’t even notice it.  [At first going from 99 cent mac to almost 2 mac was huge.  Now, its what I pay to keep my kids healthy.]

 

A few things that I like to note:

I had the hardest time finding nutritional information on our pre-swapped foods.  Its like its hidden on their website away from us.  The swap foods?  Easy to find and very up front. 

Most of the foods that we swapped and are currently eating are smaller companies.  They don’t advertise as much or even at all.  They keep their prices low that way.  I had a finance professor tell me once that you should never invest with a company that has TV ads, because you end up paying for those commercials in fees.  And its sort of the same with food.  You get what you pay for. 

Also, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist or anything of the sort.  I’m just a mom who wants to know what the heck is going on.  Take my advice with a grain of salt.  Do the research your self and find out what works best for your family.

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How to Easily Remove Mascara

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Today is the first day of my natural living series for the month and Im going to share something that I use often. I can’t even take full credit for this one either – my mother in law told me about it years ago and I have been using it ever since. Its how to easily (and cheaply) remove mascara.

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I use waterproof mascara because it works better on my eyelashes and I dont have to worry about it rubbing off during the day; but man is it hard to take off. I was using name brand makeup remover to take it off but it was expensive, left my eyes feeling greasy and full of nasty chemicals. This is a list of ingredients found in a Maybelline eye make up remover:

Ingredients-
Aqua/Water/Eau, Butylene Glycol, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Poloxamer 184, Polysorbate 20, Parfum/Fragrance, Methylparaben, Disodium Edta, Myrtrimonium Bromide, Benzyl Salicylate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Linalool, Benzyl Alcohol, Alphaisomethyl Ionone, Glycerin, Moringa Pterygosperma Seed Extract, Litchi Chinensis Extract/Litchi Chinensis Pericarp Extract.

I know what maybe 3 of those ingredients are and the rest are foreign to me. And at $6 a bottom it isn’t something that I wanted to continue to use on my eyes. On one of our trips to visit my inlaws I accidentally left my makeup remover at home and asked if my mother in law had anything to take off my waterproof mascara. She said she had petroleum jelly and I just kind of stared at her.

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A small dab of petroleum jelly will remove waterproof mascara. [Boom. Mind blown, right?] And its so much better for your eyes then any commercial product on the market. Oh, and a heck of a lot cheaper too. I think what sold me on it was the fact that it didn’t leave my eyes greasy after. With the name brand products my eyes would have a film over them because some of it had gotten into my eyes. [Ick.] Not anymore. Apply a pea size amount of petroleum jelly to your finger and rub it across your eyelashes. Wipe clean with a washcloth and your done.

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Seriously this may be one of my favorite tips. Its so easy and saves a ton of money and spares you from a bunch of other chemicals. I have a few more natural living tips to share this week and they will all be beauty/health care/bathroom related. If you want to keep up with the 30 day mom series be sure to sign up for our emails or follow the hashtag #30daymom.