Product Review: Tide Stain Release

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I got a tip for a favorite blog of mine that Tide was giving away FREE 10-packs of Tide Stain Release back in April.  I’ve been looking for a product that will help with the endless task of pre-treating or simply removing the many stains I now seem to encounter on a daily basis.  Thus far, I’ve had absolutely NO LUCK.  I thought I’d try to get a sample and see how they worked.  And here’s what I think…

Product: Tide Stain Release Duo-Pac In-Wash Booster

Price: $12.40 for 34 Loads (Price quote from Amazon.com)

How you use it: Add the gel pac to the washer after your clothes at the beginning of the cycle.  You just drop it in, there’s no opening or measuring anything.

Rating: ★★★★ (on a scale of ★ – ★★★★★) This is an excellent way to remove all of my fresh stains from the load without having to spray each one and wait 10 minutes before laundering.  It was not very effective at removing set-in stains, particularly set-in baby food stains, but I don’t really expect many products to be.

Pros: Easy to use, Saves time

Cons: Price, Ineffectiveness on set-in stains

I received a few $2 off coupons, and I’m sure if a great sale presents itself, I might consider buying some more.  It certainly saves time and money if I don’t have to re-wash items because the bottle of pre-treater spray failed again. 

Have you used any of the Tide Stain Release products?  What do you think?

What’s on the Menu? 7/10-7/23

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There is something about summertime (the exhausting heat I’d bet) that causes me to severely deviate from our menu plan.  We don’t eat out though, it’s more a sandwich and salad kind of substitute.  Anything really that doesn’t require heating the house up.

I changed my schedule at work as well leaving Wednesday nights as “Leftover” night and Friday nights as “Husband Fends for Himself” night.

And here’s what’s on the menu:
Sun, 7/10: Baked Salmon with Tomato relish, Creamy Polenta, & Cucumber Salad
Mon, 7/11: Homemade Chicken Salad with Grapes & Pecans on Sourdough, Pickles
Tues, 7/12: Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs & Marinara
Wed, 7/13: Leftover Night #1
Thurs, 7/14: Bratwursts, Pork ‘n’ Beans, Pickled Beets
Fri, 7/15: Leftover Night #2
Sat, 7/16: Bombay Curry with Chicken, Potatoes, & Broccoli (Husband’s Meal)

Sun, 7/17: Enchilada Casserole
Mon, 7/18: Bacon Turkey Cheeseburgers, Fries with Kalamata Olive Dipping Sauce
Tues, 7/19: Italian Sausage Pizza (with homemade crust)
Wed, 7/20: Leftover Night #1
Thurs, 7/21: Homemade Buttermilk Pancakes with Sausage
Fri, 7/22: Leftover Night #2
Sat, 7/23: Hamburger Soup (Seems silly, but we have what we need to make it!)

I’m also making the following “extras” this week: Zucchini Nut Bread (for the freezer), Whoopie Pies , and whatever decent recipes I can find to use up the zucchini!

Recipe: Zucchini Nut Bread

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I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of the heat this time of year, but I love when our garden starts producing vegetables that I can cook and bake with.  It’s amazing to be able to grow something in your own backyard and then enjoy it in a dish you prepare yourself. 

And if you don’t have a garden of your own, you can get great prices on locally grown produce in your grocery store, at fruit and vegetable stands, and farmers’ markets this time of year.

Our vegetable of choice for this recipe is zucchini.  This bread freezes very well so if you have copious amounts of the zucchini like we do, feel free to bake as many loaves as you can stand (preferably at night when using your oven won’t cause heatstroke) and freeze them for later.

Zucchini Nut Bread
Makes 1 loaf

1 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ cups zucchini, shredded (with peel on) and squeezed to remove excess moisture
1/3 cup buttermilk OR 1/3 cup whole milk + 1 teaspoon vinegar
¼ teaspoon almond extract (I prefer almond, but pure vanilla extract would work just fine)
1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray OR use the paper from your stick of butter to grease the pan.  (If you use the butter option, I’d lightly flour the pan as well.)

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon; whisk by hand until well combined.

In a large bowl with a hand mixer or the in the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the butter until well creamed.  Add the sugar, and mix until well combined.  Add the eggs one at a time, letting the mixer incorporate the first before adding the next.

Slowly incorporate the flour mixture into the batter.  Do not over mix or your end product will be tough.  The batter will be a little lumpy.

In the bowl you used for the flour mixture, combine the zucchini, faux buttermilk, and almond or vanilla extract.  Stir gently until combined.  Add this mixture to the batter by hand.  Fold in the chopped pecans.

Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan, place on the middle rack in your oven, and back for approximately 50-60 minutes. (How long it actually takes depends on your oven and what type of material your loaf pan is made of.)  When a skewer or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire rack for 10 minutes.  Carefully remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely on the wire rack.

To freeze extras: Follow all of the steps above.  When loaves are completely cooled, wrap twice in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil.  Don’t forget to label your product with the name and date you baked it!  

To ensure a fresh loaf, I would thaw and eat up to 3 months after the baked date. 

Recipe adapted from Reader’s Digest: Homemade

Organizing: My Coupon Binder

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I started using coupons when I moved out (9 years ago) to go to college – the real world, I quickly learned, is expensive! 

I started out using envelopes, graduated to an accordian file, and finally made my way to another unsatisfactory method of using a small 24-page photo brag book.

If I would have known about how to organize a coupon binder, I would have skipped directly to what this post is all about!

So finally, after missing a few good deals because I couldn’t see my coupons, I decided to bite the bullet and make my own coupon binder.  There are many ways to do it , and I chose a combination of the methods that I thought would work best for me. 

The link that inspired me most was one I found on You Tube.  Check out her video below:

I set a budget of $50 (these things can get expensive, or so I hear) and made my shopping list.  It looked a little something like this:

I found the binder ($10) and the tabbed dividers (2 sets, $3.58 each) at Wal-Mart, and the black card stock at Target (4 packs, 99 cents each), and after having no luck finding the pocketed protectors in any stores, I bought them all off eBay (links above.)

My grand total spent was $45.74.  So I even stayed under budget!

And here’s how I organzied it all:

These are the sections in my binder:

  • Meats
  • Condiments
  • Dry Goods
  • Cereal & Granola
  • Snacks & Candy
  • Beverages
  • Dairy
  • Frozen
  • Baby
  • Health
  • Beauty
  • Toiletries
  • Paper Products
  • Laundry & Cleaning
  • Pet Supplies
  • Misc.

In the front of my binder, I have a 3 slot protector. In the top pocket, I often tuck my shopping list. In the middle pocket, I keep my coupons that I will be handing over to the cashier at the check-out. In the bottom pocket, I put all coupons that I think I might use on my trip. If and when I do find a great deal, I transfer them to the middle pocket as I put items in my cart.

Once a week, I flip through the pages of the binder and pull any expired coupons – it’s so much easier than before, and it was well worth the $45.74!

I would love to hear how you organize your coupons – Fill me in on your tips and tricks!

Recipe: Cranberry Raspberry Iced Tea

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My default summer drink is Iced Tea, but sometimes, it needs a little makeover to make it a special treat.  You can use any juice cocktail in this recipe, but I highly recommend taking a few extra moments and making the Simple Syrup to sweeten it!

Cranberry Raspberry Iced Tea
Makes a 2-quart pitcher

6 cups water
6 tea bags (I use PG Tips)
2 cups Cranberry Raspberry juice cocktail
Simple Syrup (I add this by taste, ¼ – ½ cup works for me)
Lime slices (optional)

Put 2 cups of water in a tea kettle or in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Meanwhile, put the tea bags in a 2-quart pitcher.  Once the water is boiling, immediately pour it over the tea bags and allow to steep for 5 minutes. (I like my iced tea on the strong side and left mine in for 10 minutes.) 

Remove the tea bags and discard. 

Pour in the cranberry raspberry cocktail, the remaining 4 cups of water, and stir.  Taste the tea and begin adding the amount of Simple Syrup you desire. 

Slice a lime into ¼-inch slices and float in your pitcher of tea. 

Store in the fridge until well-chilled.  Pour over ice and garnish with a slice of lime.

If you really want to jazz this up, fill your drinking vessel (I love that term and needed an excuse to use it today!)  ½ full of the chilled tea and top off with club soda for a Cranberry Raspberry Iced Tea Spritzer.

Recipe: Simple Syrup

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Simple syrup is, in fact, one of the easiest things I’ve ever made in the kitchen. It consists of water and sugar, and is THE only way to sweeten your cold drinks in the hot summertime. I also use it in between cake layers to keep my decorated cakes moist and yummy. You can store leftovers in the fridge or at room temperature.

Simple Syrup
Makes approximately 1 ½ cups

1 cup sugar
1 ¼ cup water

Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Allow to bubble for 1 to 2 minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved; stir as necessary.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. 

Add to your favorite cool drinks, such as Cranberry Raspberry Iced Tea or Iced Coffee.

I prefer to store mine in the fridge, but it also keeps well at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.

[Expired] Deal: Free Father’s Day Photo Collage

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THIS OFFER HAS EXPIRED.

Need a personalized Father’s Day Gift?

Walgreens is offering a FREE 8 x 10 Photo Collage through Saturday, June 18. Just enter 1FREEBIE in the Promo Code Field upon check out.  You can pick up your collage at any Walgreens Photo Lab. 

I’ve ordered a photo collage from Walgreens in the past and was pleased with the quality. 

Thanks to Passion for Savings for the great tip!