Friday, January 19, 2007


I previously posted about how much paper is wasted during the holiday season. I think a great way to cut down on paper usage is by using free e-cards. I've done this for years and have always been happy with the results. A few benefits of e-cards:
  • Save on paper!
  • Forgot to send a card ahead of time? Just click a button!
  • Animation and music, which you don't usually find in paper cards.
  • Brighten someone's day for no reason at all.
I recommend American Greetings. They have a large selection of cards and the site is easy to navigate. Here are some specifics about American Greetings membership:
  • Membership for one year, which includes unlimited cards, is $13.99.
  • You can sign up for a 30-day trial membership before paying.
  • Prepare cards in advance and select when they should be sent.
  • Send the same card to multiple people.
  • Personalize your messages and pictures.
If people really want to keep their cards they can print them out. Everyone else can save the paper!

This has been a PayPerPost ad.

Beans and Rice

Beans and rice have a long-standing reputation as a cheap and filling meal fix. Although this is true, there are many ways to turn beans and rice into tasty and unique dishes as well. Every once in a while I make a huge pot of beans and rice (usually white rice and chili beans, sometimes I vary this a bit.) I often add hot sauce, hot peppers, cheese, salt, pepper, onions and garlic. Here are a few ways I use the beans and rice:

  • Casserole - I layer one or two casserole dishes with the mixture. This creates a layer in my enchilada casserole or becomes the bulk of the casserole.
  • Burrito Patties - My own invention, I take homemade uncooked tortilla dough, wrap it around a scoop of beans and rice, and either fry or bake it. I then freeze them for instant lunches on busy days. Very filling!
  • Burritos - Just wrap a scoop of the mixture in a tortilla for an easy lunch or dinner sandwich.
  • Tacos - Beans and rice make a great meat substitute in vegetarian tacos. Sometimes I prefer TVP or plain beans, but the already-seasoned beans and rice work well.
These might seem obvious, but I'm always amazed just how long a pot of beans and rice can last! They have become a staple around here. I often have extra beans and rice frozen in the freezer. Last week we ran out of rice and it was beans and rice panic! (To put this in perspective, I'm usually on top of the grocery shopping and pick up extras before we actually run out.) Oh, this is also an easy crockpot meal. In fact, I prefer the crockpot because I don't have to stay near the stove making sure the rice doesn't burn.

Any other beans and rice ideas? I'm always open to suggestions...

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Get on the Map

Have an extra minute or two today? Head over to Rocks in my Dryer and put yourself on the map! Shannon and her sons are trying to get comments from all 50 states and around the world. They're marking each location on a map. They've set a goal for 675 comments and, last I checked, they were up to 395. Make some kids happy and let them know where you're from!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Mice, Mice, Everywhere...

...but, don't worry, they're not real! We have accumulated a disturbingly large number of cat toys. This isn't because we think the cats need a lot of toys. They like to play with those stuffed, cloth mice and they tend to chew through them. When the basket of cat toys is looking empty we buy new mice. When I'm cleaning I occasionally find them under bookshelves or chairs and I put them back in the basket. Well, today a small ball rolled under the stove and we had to go fishing for it with a broom handle. Now, let me preface this by saying that I do regularly clean under the stove and have even found cat toys under it before. The ball was in the far, back corner and took awhile to get out. In the process we unearthed five or six little stuffed mice! I understand that the cats batted them under the stove, but I have no idea how they all ended up so far back! Luckily it wasn't too dirty under there and the mice were all still in good condition. Our cats are so spoiled and now have a full basket of mice to play with. Oh, well. At least they didn't hide the real thing under the stove!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Reusing Plastic Containers

Many restaurants put take-out food in rather sturdy plastic containers. In my opinion these are much better than styrofoam containers because they are recyclable and, often, reusable. I've actually found these containers to be sturdier and more useful than containers I've bought in stores. The next time you bring home take-out in a plastic container try and reuse it. You'll save money on tupperware and help the environment at the same time.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Hot Soup on a Cold Day

What can be better on a snowy day than curling up with a nice bowl of hot soup and looking out the window? Actually, in addition to soup this evening I made cornbread. I wanted to try something different so I got the inspiration from this recipe. It turned out great! Oddly enough, as a person who loves spicy food, spicy cornbread never occurred to me. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Make a Child Smile

After I wrote this post about the Red Scarf Project it occurred to me that I haven't shared with you some of the other organizations that I support. Make a Child Smile is a website I stumbled upon about nine years ago and I've been checking it monthly ever since. Each month they post brief biographies of three featured children, each with serious medical conditions. The idea is that anyone can send these children (and their siblings) notes, cards and gifts that will brighten their lives a bit. I don't send things every month, but when I have time I send cards or handcrafted items. I encourage you to check it out!