Mommy Finds

Hot new finds across the Internet.

DIY Shrinky Dinks! January 10, 2009

Filed under: Arts and Crafts,Kids,Kitchen — mommyfinds @ 6:44 pm

I was surfing around one of my fav. blogs, Parent Hacks, when I found this great idea! Do-It-Yourself Shrinky Dinks from plastic salad containers!!!


It was originally posted at Skip To My Lou. The basic idea is to find and collect the clear salad containers you get at grocery store delis. They are #6 plastic. Your kids can color the plastic with permanent markers and punch a hole if you’ll want to hang them on anything, like zipper pulls. BEWARE! They will shrink by about 1/3.  Put the new creations on a cookie sheet lined with foil and bake at 350 for 2-3 minutes. They will curl up, then flatten. Take them out right when they flatten! You can even make rings!!

Check out the complete directions at Skip To My Lou. What a fun project on a rainy day!

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The Husband Project-Mission #4-Man Food January 8, 2009

Filed under: Kitchen,marriage,The Husband Project — mommyfinds @ 6:59 am

The project for today was to make Man Food for your man. Smothered steak, meat and potatoes-type stuff. Sounds easy, right?

Okay, I have to admit, this project was originally called, “Man Food Monday.” Today is Wednesday. Oh, well. I don’t think I’ve made an actual, thought-about-it-ahead-of-time meal since…last year? Sometime before Christmas? A long time ago…

Anywho…I asked BigMac (my blog name for my husband, to protect the innocent) what his favorite meal might be. Ah, anything, he said. Well, thanks. Thanks so much for your help. It reminds me of when my mom said she wished my dad would make one dinner suggestion. It’s hard to come up with meal ideas for 35 years. Now 45 years. Oy!

I planned out a week’s worth of meals and did a grand shopping trip (thanks for the cookies, Safeway!). I made meatloaf, mashed sweet potatoes, and lima beans. BigMac doesn’t like meatloaf, except mine! I don’t have the heart to tell him I just follow the directions on the back of the “meatloaf seasoning” envelope. The mashed sweet potatoes were to try something new, but somewhat safe. Lima beans…hmmm…he’s really been wanting to add more fruits and vegetables. Plus, my 4 year old has been reading a cute picture book called Stripes about a girl who secretly likes lima beans.

How did it go? Fantastic! I received my best cooking compliment ever…from my 4 year old. BigMac had to work late. He missed dinner, had to nuke it and eat it over the sink (his choice). He said the meatloaf was very tasty.

My best compliment? My sweet little dear has been asking lots of questions about “heathen” which is how she says heaven. She asked if there would be candy in heaven. I said sure, but there might be even better stuff, like Super Duper Awesome candy that we’ve never even tasted before. My little angel said, “You mean like this?” pointing to the meatloaf. Awww….

So, lessons learned…

1-Never have high expectations. Things change. If I would have been all stressed out about it, BigMac would have walked through the door into a battle zone. Silent treatment? Passive aggressive behavior? Who knows. Instead, he had children who were fed and in PJs, very excited to see Daddy. A wife who was chill about everything. Pretty good evening.

2-I thought about BigMac all day today…while I was planning the menu, shopping, and cooking dinner. Even though we didn’t have the Man Meal I was hoping for, I was really looking forward to seeing him. If nothing else, my mind was in the right place.

I’m so excited to see what’s in my inbox tomorrow!

PS-The Husband Project is a secret. If you happen to know BigMac, keep it on the DL…you know, the Down Low. Yo might be thinking, “wow, this chick is so 5 years ago,” or you might think ,”wow, she’s so hip.”

Enough rambling…I’m off to read my new book in the bathroom!


Now THAT’S Spicy! December 30, 2008

How old are your spices? Older than your kids?

I’m on a little organizing kick I hope will last. My first mission zone is the kitchen. I decided to hit the spice rack. Start small, right?

As I was clearing out the area, I recognized a few of the spices  from my single years, over a decade ago. I knew those could go. But what about the others? Random numbers and letters don’t help me much. So, I set off for a little detective work!

For your information, Schilling Spices haven’t been made for at least 7 years, so they are all bad. Not poisonous or anything, but they have probably lost a lot of flavor.


Next up, McCormick. They have a handy dandy “Spice Check Challenge” where you can input the product code and the city where it was made and it will tell you how old your spice is. HINT: If it’s from Baltimore, it’s at least 15 years old!


Spice Islands has a lovely area to Register Your Spice . Basically, input your product code and they will tell you how long your spice will last. They will even send you an email when it’s time to replace it.

Finally, I headed to Spice Advice . This site represented nearly all the rest of my spices. They didn’t have quick little tools, but they do tell you what’s what. Here’s what they have to say:

How can I tell how old a spice product is?

To determine the year and month when a spice was packaged, look for a series of black numbers and letters printed on the bottom or side or the spice container. This is not the UPC code and it is usually printed directly on the container, not the label. On dry packet mixes, the numbers and letters are pressed or indented into the edge of the package. The first number indicates the year of the decade. For example, if the first number is 3, this means the product was packaged in 2003. The second letter refers to the month. “A” stands for January, “B” stands for February, “C” is for March, and so on. So, if an item was packaged in March of 2004, the code would begin with 4C. (Other numbers and letters will follow, but the first two digits indicate when the product was packaged).
What is the shelf life of most spices?

We strongly recommend replacement by the Best if Used by Date (available on some products), due to diminished flavor and visual characteristics. Spices have a long storage life — up to 2 to 5 years, depending on the spice and whether it is in whole or ground form. A rule of thumb is that whole spices (peppercorns, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, etc.) have the longest life, while ground spices and herbs in general are more fragile. The recommended shelf lives of some of our other products are as follows:
Pure and Imitation Extracts 4-6 years
Dromedary Box Mixes 1 year
Durkee Lemon Pie Filling 18 months
Durkee Coconut 1 year
Famous Sauce 1 year
Dec A Cake icings and gels 1 year
Dec A Cake sprinkles 2 years
Durkee or French’s Sauce and Gravy dry mixes 18 months
Tone’s Soup Base 6 months (after opening).

What is the best way to store spices?

Proper storage of spices will ensure maximum flavor and color retention. Heat, light and moisture are all enemies of dried spices. Heat causes flavor loss, light will fade the naturally bright colors and moisture might cause ground and powdered spices to clump. Don’t measure or shake spices over open boiling pots. Keep spices in a cool, dry, and dark cupboard away from the range or any source of intense heat. Any of the red spices retain their color and are best protected from insects if stored in the refrigerator or freezer. These include paprika, chili powder and red pepper, among others. If you are using the Tone’s Chicken or Beef Soup Base, be sure to store in the refrigerator, and use within 6 months after opening. (HINT: Store in the freezer for a longer shelf life. To use, simply let the jar sit on the kitchen counter for 5 to 10 minutes to soften enough to spoon out the desired amount. Then return to freezer.).

So, after tossing at least half of my spice collection I started to wonder if this is some sort of conspiracy among spice providers. Then I thought, hey, if I’ve had the same spice for 15 years and I haven’t used it, perhaps, just perhaps, I don’t actually need it.

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5 Reasons to Purchase Your Own Custom Magnetic Spice Rack! (Now THAT’S Spicy, part 2)

Filed under: Kitchen,Organization,Product Reviews — mommyfinds @ 9:52 pm
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How does your spice area look? Mine is a mess. Hopefully, I can soon say it WAS a mess. Let’s start at the beginning…

I just started reading this book I received as a Christmas present. Yes, it was from my Amazon wishlist, no big hints about my home!!


I’m hoping to write a book review soon, but I want to wait a few weeks to see if it “takes.” Anyhow, in January we are working on the kitchen. In week 3 I am told to write down my kitchen frustrations. One of them is my spice area. Basically, if a recipe calls for something more than salt and pepper, I have to take down every spice I own. I’ve tried different spice racks and shelves, but nothing really works. As I was doing a little online research, I decided I really like the idea and look of a magnetic spice rack, but they are very expensive if you have more than, oh, 5 spices. Then I found this (cue the angelic voices…aaahhhhh):


I am so excited to order this for 5 reasons:
1) It looks great. I’m hoping to mount this to the inside of my cupboard door, but I think I’ll like it so much I may have to start leaving my doors wide open!
2) My husband is not handy, so I think even I can manage to peel off the backing and apply the magnet to the inside of my cupboard door.
3) I can tell at a glance if I’m almost out of a spice.
4) I’m hoping I can write the expiration date on the back of the canister so I know when I should throw it out. (see note below)
5) I’m really excited to try the 8 oz. Bravada tins to stack in my pantry for brown sugar, cornstarch, powdered sugar and such. My pantry will look so together! Again, I might just throw open my pantry door when company is about to arrive!

Go check out Custom Magnetic Spice Rack to see what you like!

How do you store and organize your spices? Any tips?

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Get it Anyway You Like It December 23, 2008

Filed under: Kitchen,Organization — mommyfinds @ 6:03 pm
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Custom Etsy Product


As I mentioned in my Etsy post, you can have items custom made. You can post them in the “Custom” section and have crafters bid on them. Or, break the rules like I did, and find a vendor with items you like and ask them to make a custom item for you.

I have a weird space in my kitchen. It’s above my junk collection area my desk and below a glass front cabinet. I’m hoping to organize that area, but I still need a place for some papers, invitations, and such. This space has outlets and switches, so the size is unique at only 10 inches wide. Everything I was able to find was 12 inches, so I was stuck.

I searched through tons of esty crafters then I found one I really liked. Adorable products! I asked if she would be able to make a bulletin board only 10 inches wide. No problem. I told her some colors I liked and that same day she sent me pictures of fabric choices. I made my choice, made my payment and received my beautiful, fabric covered bulletin board in no time.

I’m sorry to say my desk is still a tremendous junk collector, but instead of cringing each time I look at it, I smile at the beautiful custom product I now get to look at every day!

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