Home Remedies for Dry Winter Skin

Harsh, dry winter air can do a number on your skin, but did you know that there are dry skin solutions hiding right in your kitchen cupboards and pantry? Check out these great home remedies:

For faces:

  • Avocado: Mash a ripe avocado and smooth onto a freshly cleaned face. Relax and leave on for 15 minutes.
  • Greek Yogurt: Spread a layer of yogurt onto a freshly cleaned face. Relax and leave on for 15 minutes.
  • Banana and Papaya: Mash the two fruits together to make a paste. Spread onto a freshly cleaned face and rinse after 15 minutes.
  • Honey: Spread warm honey onto a clean face and allow to cool and dry for 10-15 minutes. Wash off with a warm, wet cloth.

For hands:

  • Olive Oil: Work a few drops of olive oil into hands, especially dry knuckles.
  • Coconut Oil: A half teaspoon is plenty to serve as a rich and moisturizing treatment for dry hands or body. (Look for whipped coconut oil too, which is easier to spread.)
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: Wet a cotton ball with apple cider vinegar and wipe over itchy, cracked skin to soothe irritation. Follow up with an oil moisturizer.

For feet:

  • Baking Soda: Mix a 1/2 cup of baking soda for every gallon of warm water and give feet a 10-15 minute soak.
  • Vegetable Oil: Before bed, rub a modest amount of oil into cracked heels and feet, then cover with thick socks. Repeat for several nights.
  • Sugar: Create an exfoliating sugar scrub by mixing 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of petroleum jelly in your hands. Work the scrub into dry feet (or hands, elbows, or knees), then wash off with a mild soap before moisturizing.

For bodies:

  • Oatmeal: Grind one cup of oatmeal in a food processor until you have a fine powder. Add powder to running bathwater and enjoy a moisturizing soak.
  • Grape Seed Oil: Keep a bottle of grape seed oil in the shower. After showering, blot dry with a towel and immediately apply a liberal amount of oil to retain moisture all day long.
  • Citrus Water: Add moisture to the air in your home by simmering a pot of water on the stove with slices of lemons, oranges, or grapefruits. (It smells great, too!)
  • Avocado Oil: Used as an after-shower or before-bed moisturizer, avocado oil can help keep skin soft and moisturized.
  • Seafood: Cook salmon for dinner, order the tuna sandwich for lunch, or simply take an Omega-3 supplement each morning. The fatty acids are great for skin and hair.
  • Spicy Foods: Herbs and spices like tamarind, turmeric, cumin and coriander help promote the production of collagen in the skin and help you retain moisture.

{Image via Pinterest.}

How to Clean Salt From Shoes and Boots

Salt. It’s delicious on steak, but terrible on shoes. Walking around in winter slush can be hazardous to the life of your winter shoes and boots. Here’s how to keep them clean and low sodium, using simple ingredients found in your kitchen and pantry:

For Suede Shoes and Boots: Use a stiff-bristled brush to get as much salt and dirt off as you can. Next, mix one teaspoon fabric softener with a teaspoon of mild dish soap and two cups of lukewarm water. Dip a toothbrush in the mixture, shake off excess, and gently scrub the stained areas of the shoes in a circular motion until the stain lifts. Use a dry cloth to blot them dry, then air dry.

For Leather Shoes and Boots: Use a dry microfiber cloth to buff as much salt and dirt off the shoe as possible. Next, mix a tablespoon of white vinegar with room temperature water. Dip a rag into the solution and wring out any excess. Buff the stained areas and wipe dry. Allow to air dry.

{Image via Wikihow}

Recipe: Rice Pudding

Mrs. Fields Secrets Rice Pudding

If you’ve never made rice pudding before, it’s time to give it a try. Creamy, rich flavor comes together in a few simple ingredients to create a hot or cold treat. I love it warm for dessert with a handful of raisins or slices of mango. Give it a try on a cold winter night.

Rice Pudding
adapted from Mark Bittman

1/3 cup rice
1/3 cup sugar
4 cups milk
pinch of salt
1 cinnamon stick (optional)
1 star anise (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a casserole dish or oven-safe pot, stir all ingredients together and place in oven, uncovered, and bake for 30 minutes. Stir mixture thoroughly and bake another 30 minutes, and repeat the process again two more times for a total of two hours cooking time, or until rice is plump and soft and pudding has reached desired thickness. Remove cinnamon stick and star anise and serve warm with a fresh sprinkle of nutmeg.

Giveaway: Share Your Favorite Soup Recipe

Can you say brrrrrrrrrrrr? As record low temperatures are sweeping the country, we are opting to stay warm with a hot bowl of soup and an even hotter giveaway! We’re looking for your favorite soup recipes and in exchange, we’re awarding three great prizes:

Snowflake Popcorn Tub

Snowman Satchel

Wreath Tin

Here’s how to enter: Leave a comment with your favorite soup recipe. Write it out or paste a link, but make sure it’s a good one! We’ll choose our favorites to feature here on the blog and award three winners these great prizes!

Spread the word and stay warm!

Giveaway details: Must be at least 18 years old to enter and residing in the continental United States. One entry per person. Entries will be accepted until midnight, Monday, January 13, 2014. Winners will be notified via email.

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Kitchen

Want to start your new year off with some great resolutions for your kitchen? Improve and organize the most important room in your home by incorporating twelve simple resolutions. Try a new one each week or even each month and reap the benefits of a better kitchen (and a better you, too)!

1. Keep the kitchen sink clean. Instead of using the sink as a holding cell for dirty dishes for hours (or days), commit to washing dishes immediately or loading them into the dishwasher. It takes barely a few seconds more to move the dishes along, and now your sink is always ready for food preparation.

2. Clean the garbage disposal. Eliminate odd smells coming from your disposal with this simple remedy. It’s worth doing once a month, or whenever you notice odor Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain immediately followed by 1 cup of white vinegar. Allow it to bubble and fizz. Once it’s quiet, turn on hot water and allow it to run for 3-5 minutes. While the water is running, cut a lemon into quarters and turn on the garbage disposal. Put the lemon pieces down the disposal, one piece at a time until it is gone. Enjoy a fresh, clean scent.

3. Switch to reusable grocery bags. If you’re not already in the habit, start now. Clear out your old grocery bags, take them to a local recycling collection site, and invest in some durable grocery bags. You’ll save money, clutter, and the planet! Plus, the heavy duty reusable bags come in handy for much more than groceries! Another hint: after unloading your groceries, store your reusable bags in the car. That way you never forget them.

4. Replace baking soda boxes. If you use baking soda to keep your fridge, freezer, and cupboards smelling fresh, it’s probably time to replace them. When you buy replacements, pick up an extra set and set a reminder in your email or smart phone to replace them in 3-6 months.

5. Clean your appliances. When is the last time your stand mixer, toaster, or coffee maker was cleaned? Never? Ouch. Grab some disinfectant wipes and give it a thorough wipe down. Use toothpicks or Q-tips to get gunk out of hard to reach places.

6. Toss out old spices. How old is that paprika? Take inventory of your spice rack and toss anything Jurassic. Use this helpful guide to know how long spices last.

7. Defrost your freezer. If you have a deep freezer, take time to defrost it at least once per year. It will help it last longer and will also keep your frozen foods better preserved with even temperatures.

8. Wash cupboards and baseboards. You’ll be surprised at the fresh gleam in your kitchen after taking a warm, soapy rag to cupboard doors, handles, and especially baseboards. This is an especially good idea during cold and flu season!

9. Clean your oven. No need to dread this task. Most modern ovens have a self-cleaning function, but if not, there is no need to buy dangerous chemical cleansers. A spray bottle of water and a box of baking soda will do wonders.

10. Clean your dishwasher. If you’ve never done it, it’s time to give your dishwasher a break and a special clean cycle. Think of it as a spa treatment for your hard working machine.

11. Toss old plastic containers. They seem to breed in the dark cupboards and drawers, and soon they are falling out and overtaking everything. Find matching pairs and keep no more than two or three containers and lids of each size. Donate or recycle extras.

12. Use menus and shopping lists. This simple habit will save you time, money and space in your fridge and pantry. If you need help getting started, download a menu-planning app and commit to using it for a month. You’re likely to notice that you spend less, eat healthier, and have a more organized fridge and pantry because everything that goes in and out has a purpose.

May your new year and your kitchen be clean and bright!

3 Ways to Spice Up Your New Year’s Ham

Ham is a New Year’s tradition for many, but it doesn’t have to be a boring tradition. The salty, robust flavor of a juicy ham pairs perfectly with spicy and sweet sauces and spreads. Here are a few home-run recipes to serve with your ham, on the side or spread on sandwich bread. Either way, it’s a great way to spice up the new year!

Southern Jezebel Sauce

1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/2 cup pineapple preserves
1/2 cup apricot jam
3-10 tablespoons horseradish, depending on taste
1 teaspoon ground mustard
dash of salt
dash of pepper

Directions
In a small saucepan over low heat, stir all ingredients together, using a minimum amount of horseradish. Taste and add more horseradish if desired. I like it to give a sweet bite, with a little bit of resonating heat in the back of my mouth. (Remember, you can always add more heat, but you can’t take it out!)

Hot Mustard Sauce

1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup hot water
1/4 cup vinegar

Directions
In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, and cornstarch. Stir in hot water and vinegar over medium heat until  mixture is thick and boiling. Serve  as a gravy or sandwich spread.

Maple Mustard Sauce

1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup spicy mustard (dijon or deli)

Directions
Heat ingredients together in a sauce pan over medium heat until well combined and warm. Serve hot or cold over ham. HINT: The finer the syrup and mustard, the better and more interesting the flavor. This sauce is worth a splurge on the good stuff!

Homemade Heating Pads

Here’s a cozy DIY idea that’s perfect for a cold, winter night. It keeps you warm and smells great and can be reused again and again. With just some simple sewing (use old fabric scraps or clothing) and ingredients you might have in your kitchen, you can create homemade heating pads. Here’s what you’ll need:

Homemade Heating Pads
1/2 yard of fabric
7 cups dried cherry pits, buckwheat, flax seed, or rice
1 sprig dried lavender or peppermint

Directions
Cut a piece of fabric to 20 x 14 inches, then fold in half lengthwise, right sides together. Sew one short side and one long side together with 1/4 inch seam allowance.  Turn the fabric right side out and push corners out. Fill the bag just less than half full with your dried ingredient and dried herb. Close the open end of the bag with a top stitch.

To use: Heat in the microwave about two minutes, then apply to cold fingers or toes for up to a half hour of warmth!

 

10 Fun Family Games for Your New Gadgets

Got a new gadget for Christmas? Get to know it with the whole family. Here are some great apps that can facilitate family fun:

1. Family Feud – Based on the popular TV show, this will help you and your family duke it out (and make great memories along the way).

2. Just Say It – Similar to the popular game Taboo, this two-team game is perfect for family parties, or a lazy holiday afternoon.

3. Marble Mixer – You may have grown up playing with real marbles, but this virtual edition is fun for every generation and (bonus!) no marbles get lost!

4. Party Doodles – Similar to Pictionary of the past, this game will test artistic ability and creative thinking, with a huge helping of laughs.

5. Reverse Charades – A great new twist on an old classic, this version has a whole team act out a clue while only one person guesses. Hilarity ensues.

6. Backwords – The app plays a word or phrase backward and it’s up to you and your team to decipher the correct version.

7. Ramses II – This is not your old-fashioned memory game. It’s so much cooler. Fun for little ones and big ones too!

8. Puerto Rico – This board game-gone-mobile is a serious game of strategy and (uh-oh) chance. Having everything digital keeps this board game moving fast!

9. The Game of Life – This classic board game has a modern upgrade and is so much fun for the entire family.

10. Mad Libs – Your favorite fill-in-the-blank game from childhood is back and easier to use than ever! Gather the family around and give me an adjective!

Do you have a favorite game app? Share your ideas in the comments!

Recipe: Orange Pistachio Cookies

Mrs Fields Secrets Orange Pistachio Cookies
From all of us at Mrs. Fields and Mrs. Fields Secrets, we wish you a very Merry Christmas and thank you for letting us be part of your celebrations. Today’s recipe is beautiful, festive, delicious—something fun to make in a kitchen full of friends, family, or your favorite music. Fresh orange zest and crushed pistachios make up the creamy filling and crushed pistachios adorn the outside. Every bite is pure delight. They are as pretty as they are delicious.

Orange Pistachio Cookies
adapted from Star Tribune

For cookies
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar, plus extra for rolling dough
½ cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract

For filling
1 cup raw shelled pistachios, divided
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 orange, zested and juiced (see below)
1 teaspoon orange extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar and baking soda, and reserve.  In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter,  sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg, vanilla and orange extract and beat until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, in thirds, mixing until just incorporated.

Form dough into ½-inch balls. Roll dough balls in granulated sugar and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set but not browned, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 2 minutes before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

To prepare filling: In food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse ½ cup pistachios until very fine. In a bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter with orange zest until light and fluffy. Add orange extract and vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly combined. Reduce speed to low and add powdered sugar, in thirds, alternating with juice, beginning and ending with powdered sugar, and beat until smooth (you may need another tablespoon or so of liquid to reach desired consistency). Fold in pistachios, mixing until thoroughly incorporated.

Finely chop remaining ½ cup pistachios and place in a shallow dish. Spread a generous dollop of filling on bottom of a cookie. Top with another cookie, bottom-side up as if making a sandwich, and gently press cookies together until filling is just at edge of cookies. Roll filled edge in chopped pistachios. Repeat until all cookies form sandwiches.

10 Fun Activities While The Kids Are Out of School

If you’re worried about a little cabin fever over the holiday break, here are 10 fun ideas to keep everybody entertained:

1. You’ve got an abundance of snow and an abundance of time, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to build a proper snow fort. Gather up your shovels and buckets and get to work. Need some inspiration? Start here.

2. Have a movie marathon. Pop the popcorn, gather your favorite stuffed animals, and watch two or three movies in a row. It’s a blissful indulgence, perfect for a winter afternoon.

3. Are you sure you know the best cheeseburger in town? Pile the kids in the car and choose four places to compete. Buy one sandwich at each stop, share it, and tally the votes.

4. Arrange a progressive play date with your kids’ friends and their parents. Kids can spend 1-2 hours at each house, giving all the parents a short shift, and a lot of peace and quiet after!

5. Visit a different library and discover new titles, new reading nooks, and new ideas.

6. Play “restaurant” with the kids. Plan a menu, write it up, let someone play cook and waiter and serve the other family members. It’s up to you whether to charge real money.

7. Spin the globe, pick a random spot, and take a virtual vacation. Jump on the Internet and find out what to do and see while there. Where would you visit? What would you eat? Find YouTube videos about it and enjoy a virtual escape.

8. Turn the house into a full-service beauty salon. Manicures, pedicures, hair styling, and makeup are just a few of the services you can offer in a day full of fun.

9. Almost every digital gadget these days has a camera, so have the kids make their own movie or recreate one of their favorites.

10. When was the last time you built a house of cards or made a domino chain reaction? You’re due.

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