Saturday, March 9, 2013

Whole Orange Sugar Cookies - Sis 1

I won't lie to you and say that this recipe is good for you, but it is a lot better than normal sugar cookies. It also has a great orange flavor and stays soft and chewy for days (no need for frosting, but you can use it if you want). If you like cakey sugar cookies, though, it may not be what you want.

Whole Orange Sugar Cookies

1 whole orange, washed, but not peeled
4 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
5 1/2 cups flour

Throw the orange in your blender and blend as well as possible. Add the eggs and blend until smooth. Scrape the orange and eggs into a large bowl, using a rubber spatula. Mix in remaining ingredients. Dough will be very soft. If you want to make drop sugar cookies, do that now. If you want to roll and cut the dough, chill it for at least an hour first.

Bake at 350 degrees farenheit for 8-10 minutes, or just until done. If you wait until the cookies start to turn golden brown, they'll be harder.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Glue Resist Joy Pillow - Sis 1

My oldest daughter was invited to a Chinese New Year-themed birthday party for a girl named Joy. Since Joy is such an easy word to find in Chinese, we just couldn't resist giving her a present that said her name in Chinese. We hurriedly searched on the internet, but couldn't find anything that was suitable on Amazon Prime (comes in 2 days, which is what we had before the party.) So we decided homemade was our option.

I think this would be a fun present for someone who wasn't named Joy, as well, especially if they're interested in Chinese. But, of course, you can use any words or designs you want with this method.

We googled (yes, it's a verb) joy and chinese to find the characters that mean joy. There were several different versions, but this one seemed to be the most common, so it's the one we went with.

First, I we cut 17-inch squares of heavy white cotton percale. Cotton is important because it takes color the best. If you have a pillow form, measure the lengths and add a seam allowance for your fabric size.

Then I printed the character for Joy in Chinese as large as possible on a normal piece of paper. I also found an Asian script-looking font and printed the name Joy in English as large as possible for the other side of the pillow. I used "Calligraph421 BT" which just came with my computer. I wasn't thrilled with the kerning (the distance between the letters--see how the J is a little far away from the o), so after it printed, I folded the paper a little to manually kern the type how I wanted it.

This is difficult to see, but I centered the printouts under the fabric and taped them all to the counter with painter's masking tape. Then I traced the designs with white school glue. The flattened tip of the glue container helped to spread the glue to look like brush strokes. You could also spread it with a brush. Don't get it too thin, though. In the interest of time I used my blow dryer to dry the glue completely.

Then, working fairly quickly, we used a large paintbrush to wet the fabric, saving the glue-covered spots for last. My daughter who is attending the party  used watered-down acrylic paints to paint designs on the fabric, being sure to get paint over the glued areas. The idea here is similar to using crayons on paper to resist watercolors. Whatever is covered by the glue (or crayon) won't receive pigment from the paint and will remain white. The richer the colors you use, the better, as they will fade when you rinse it in the next step. We used red and yellow because they look Chinese to us. If I had been the one doing the painting, I would have tried to keep the colors a little more defined, as they came out more orange than I had imagined in my little head, but I do like how it turned out anyway.

As soon as you are finished applying paint, use a blow dryer to dry the glued areas and immediately around them. We went ahead and dried all of both pieces of fabric. Once the paint is dried, rinse the fabric in the sink. You will have to repeat this step quite a few times, until the water is mostly clear. Now transfer the fabric to your washing machine and wash it. I didn't use any detergent. The goal is to remove all excess paint and all of the glue, which will take a little while to dissolve. Once the cycle is complete, make sure all of the glue is gone. If not, wash again. Dry and iron your fabric.

Place right sides together with the characters and the english word both facing toward each other and right-side up. Starting at the bottom, sew all the way around three sides, leaving an open area on the fourth side. I find it easier to sew corners on my machine and leave part of the middle of the bottom side open.

Clip each corner as shown and turn the pillowcase right-side out. Stuff with batting or put a pillow form inside. When using batting, concentrate on the corners first, making sure they look good before adding batting to the middle.

Whip-stitch the hole together, trying to make the seam as invisible as possible. Ta-da! You've made a glue-resist pillow. I'm thinking Tee-shirts would be fun to decorate like this, too.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stinky Laundry? Fix it! - Sis 1


I have been the recipient of a lot of wonderful hospitality in my years, and I'm always thankful to have a nice place to stay, good food and great company when I visit family in far-away places.

But I have to admit that I'm not always so thankful to have a towel to dry off with. There have been numerous times that I have gotten out of a nice shower, hopefully smelling good, and dried off with a towel that reeked of mildew.

A couple of times, I have even babysat a baby who was very fortunately super cute, because I almost couldn't stand to hold her if it hadn't been for that. She smelled (because of her clothes) just like a rotten dish rag.

My husband is not always terribly tactful and has told people that their towels stink, and he usually gets a reply like, "My towels don't stink!" So, you may not know it if your laundry smells horrible. Don't be offended. Just assume that if you are not actively preventing mildewy towels, your towels are stinky. And just washing and drying doesn't count.

If your towels are white, you're in luck. You can use bleach to kill mildew. Always use vinegar in the rinse water.

If your towels are colored, you are still in luck. You can use ammonia to kill mildew. Again, always use vinegar in the rinse water.

If you have a high efficiency washer (HE), you put the ammonia in the little section for bleach* and the vinegar in the section for liquid fabric softener. If you have been blissfully unaware of your stench for a long time, you may need to soak the towels in ammonia water for a few hours, which will require a bucket, sink or tub unless you have a top loader.

For white towels, drying outside also helps, but for colors, you will probably see some fading.


I have been faithfully working out for several months now, but in just the last month and a half, I have really stepped up the intensity of my workouts. I have been soaking my (and my husband's) workout clothes in ammonia water  before running the wash cycle. In the past that has always seemed to work, but this morning, when I put on my newly washed exercise shirt, I noticed that I already smelled like a gym rat. (I left it on to go walking and smelled awful--sorry ladies!--but when I got home, I decided to fix that problem, too.)

Here's the simple solution: Get pet urine remover. I got mine from DollarTree. Spray on stinky clothes, making sure to saturate the extra-stinky spots (armpits for me). Wad the clothes into a ball and squeeze tightly several times to make sure the spray is getting into the fibers. Let sit at least 10 minutes. An hour is better. Launder as usual.


A couple of years ago, my favorite black suede (leather) jacket spent a weekend at a chain-smoker's house. When I retrieved it, I thought I was going to die. It had soaked in the smoke and I could hardly breathe, just wearing it. I took it outside and febreezed it, letting it hang in the shade (I didn't want it to fade) for several days. No luck. Then I googled and decided to try freezing it. I stuck it in my freezer for a day and then got it out and let it thaw in the shade. Again, no luck. I was afraid I was just going to have to throw my poor jacket away.

Since I was faced with the prospect of trashing it anyway, I decided I would (gasp) wash it. I used cold water and detergent, plus a good amount of baking soda. That helped, but the smell was still there. So I washed it again, this time with a lot of vinegar (love the stuff!). That did the trick! And, after drying it, in the dryer on low heat, my jacket was just as soft and supple as ever, had not shrunk a bit and smelled good. Yay!

*NEVER mix ammonia and clorox (chlorine). The fumes could kill you. Ammonia and vinegar are fine. Clorox and vinegar are fine. Baking soda and Borax are fine with either one. But DON'T mix them. If you are going to put ammonia in your bleach compartment, rinse it with water first.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Whole Orange Cake - Sis 1

My parents gave us a huge bag of tree-ripened oranges at Christmas time, which are delicious. I put a bunch of them in the fridge, because I was quite sure we wouldn't eat them all before they went bad on the counter. Good thing I did. The last few that I left out were very hard on the outsides by the time I used them. The others are still great, but I don't want them to get bad, so I've been thinking of ways to use them, besides just eating them, which I have been doing, but nobody else in the family has.

So, I came up with a cake recipe. Because what could be better than adding fat, sugar and flour to oranges?

Whole Orange Cake
1 large orange, washed, not peeled
1/2 cup coconut oil
4 eggs
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder

3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup powdered sugar
zest of one orange

Preheat oven to 325 degrees farenheit. Put the orange in the blender and blend it up as well as possible. Add the oil and eggs. Now you can blend it up well. Add remaining ingredients a little at a time, blending between additions.

Pour evenly into a greased and sugared bundt pan. I used coconut oil to grease my pan, but the cake didn't slip out very well, so you might want to stick (no pun intended) with Crisco.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack until you can remove the cake easily. (Or use a knife to loosen the edges and make them crumble, like I did.)

Mix the glaze ingredients well in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue boiling for two minutes. Remove from heat.

Use a long toothpick or a spaghetti stick to poke a bunch of holes in the cake and slowly pour about half of the glaze over the top. Wait about 15 minutes then slowly pour the rest of the glaze over the cake.

Enjoy your cake while thinking what a great and healthy choice you've made by eating whole oranges for dessert.

P.S. It's just a hunch, but I think lemons would work well in place of oranges here.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Toothpaste Laundry Magic - Sis 1

Not too long ago, one of my lovely sisters-in-law very kindly allowed me to use her wardrobe for several days. I had driven 5 hours to get near her house and hadn't realized that I had completely forgotten my suitcase. I had always suspected that we wore about the same size of clothes, so I called and she packed me a bag of clothes, including two different choices of dresses and shoes to wear that Sunday. They all fit me well, and I was very thankful not to have to wear the same clothes for 5 days straight.

I washed her clothes in my mother-in-law's washer, except for what I was wearing at laundry time, which included a white shirt with a stain on it. So, as I was washing those clothes out by hand in the bathroom sink, I was determined to get the stain out as a "thank you" for her kindness in letting me borrow the clothes.

This stain was not just any old stain. It appeared to be made by black permanent marker, and I could tell that she had scrubbed the thing before. It didn't show when I wore it, as the shirt was used only to make another shirt more modest, but any stain's a bad stain, right?

I was scrubbing away, not making any progress, when I noticed a tube of whitening toothpaste on the counter. I thought, "What the heck, I'll try it." And it worked.

I told my husband about my discovery on the way home from our trip. He decided to test my findings. He got one of his white dress shirts that had some armpit and collar stains. He scrubbed with bleach on one side of the shirt and toothpaste on the other. (Yes, he does most of his own laundry--we just won't get into why.)

I don't know how he applied the bleach on the one side of his shirt, but I think he just poured it on directly (he IS a man.) Instead of removing his stains on that side, the bleach actually made bigger yellow stains on the shirt (I've had this happen on white cotton towels before. It's very maddening, because it looks like big old pee spots.) The toothpaste removed the stains from the other side of the shirt, and then my husband used it to remove the bleach stains on the bleach side of the shirt.

So, I now have a dollar-store tube of extra-whitening toothpaste in my laundry arsenal. I haven't tried  it on colored clothes yet. If I get brave enough to do it, I will update the post, but for now, I have a great stain remover for white clothes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tea Bag Tanner & Cellulite Cream - Sis 1

I was browsing Pinterest a week or so ago and saw a pin about black tea as a replacement for sunless tanner. I thought that was a great idea, since you can dye a lot of things with tea, so I followed the directions.

I went to Family Dollar and bought some tea. Not being a tea expert, I'm not sure if what I got was what they were talking about when they said to use black tea. It's actually orange pekoe and pekoe cut black tea. It was $1.49 for a box of 100 tagless tea bags.

The directions said to boil 6 teabags with 2 cups of water, wait until the water is cool to the touch and then spray it on your legs with a squirt bottle and let dry naturally. That's what I did. And I liked the color. (On parts of my legs.)

The problem with the spray-bottle method is that you get blotchy color with run lines. That may be slimming, but not natural looking.

So here's my solution. I had used the 6 tea bags, so I had 94 left. I covered them in water in a pot. Then I simmered them until the water was nearly gone and let it cool. Since I didn't want my hands tanned, I put on rubber gloves and squeezed the liquid out of each tea bag and threw the bag away. Next, I boiled that liquid down to nearly nothing.

Once cooled, I poured my VERY strong tea into a bottle of dollar-store lotion and shook well. Now I have a bottle of sunless tanner that goes on colored. You just rub it in (wear gloves) and you don't have to wait for the color to change. You won't have streaks, because you can see the color going on.

And here's the great thing (that's unproven): black tea has lots of caffeine. Caffeine has been shown in some studies to improve the appearance of cellulite. So maybe using your homemade sunless tanner that cost you a total of $2.49 will make your cellulite go away. Happy Day!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Suncatcher Ornaments - Sis 1

Every year, I like to let my kids make some ornaments and give one to their school teachers, along with some sort of goody for Christmas.

This year, we made suncatcher ornaments. They are SUPER easy and difficult to mess up. My 3-year old made several of these and they're nearly as good as the ones made by my 10-year old.

First buy some transparent plastic beads. I'm pretty sure that any style will work.

Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees farenheit and turn on the fan.

Now let your kids put a single layer of beads in the metal container of their choice. The round one shown was done in a muffin tin. The heart was done in a metal cookie-cutter sitting on top of a cookie sheet. We also did star shapes, but they didn't come out as well because of all the corners. Maybe if we had put a few beads more than a single layer they'd have filled in better.

Bake your beads in their metal molds for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. Pop your ornaments out of the cookie cutters or muffin tins. To get some of the ornaments out of the tins, I had to flip the tin upside down and give it a sharp tap with a butter knife. The rest came out easily.

Now for the holes to string them with: Use a power drill and your least favorite drill bit. Place a piece of scrap wood under the ornament and drill through the plastic. It really becomes more of a melting than a drilling, once the bit heats up. I found it helpful to let the plastic spin through the other side of the hole for a few seconds to remove extra plastic buildup from the drill bit. I also had to pull the plastic from the tip of the bit while it was still warm so that it would work on the next ornament. I broke all of the plastic off of the bit when I was finished, but it wasn't extremely easy.

We put the ornaments around the necks of sparkling juice for our teachers. I wrote "To Mrs. Blank from Child's Name 2012" on the backs (flat, unshiny side) of the ornaments in mirror letters with a very-fine tipped sharpie. You can read it better through the shiny side than from the side you wrote on.