4 Cool Ways To Use Ice Cube Trays

Filed under: Money — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:36 am on Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In my house, the ice cube trays are used constantly, but rarely for ice cubes. I use them to freeze a ton of other things, though. Here are 4 Ways To Use Ice Cube Trays:

savvyhousekeeping 4 cool ways to use ice cube trays

Freezing Coffee.

savvyhousekeeping 4 cool ways to use ice cube trays

Freezing Homemade Baby Food.

savvyhousekeeping 4 cool ways to use ice cube trays

Freezing Wine.

savvyhousekeeping 4 cool ways to use ice cube trays

Freezing Basil.

That last one is great for other herbs too, by the way. They’re great to throw an ice cube in soups, sauces, and other dishes.

Beet and Goat Cheese Terrines

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:28 am on Tuesday, May 21, 2013

This recipe for Beet and Goat Cheese Jewels is just gorgeous. It is different colored beets boiled until soft and then molded into a terrine with goat cheese holding it together.

The different colored beets look stunning. I’ll have to remember this next time I have a party.

10 Easy Ways To Save Water

Filed under: Money — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:43 am on Monday, May 20, 2013

The other day, I boiled some pasta in water. The next day, I put a basket in the same pot and reused the water to steam vegetables. Then the next day, I dumped the remaining water on my nasturtium plant. One pot of water was used three times.

I live in California and have a big garden, so I end up thinking about my water usage. A dozen little water-wise habits here and there seems to save a fair amount on my bill. I’ve become “water frugal,” I guess you might say.

Here are 10 Easy Ways To Save Water:

1. Turn Off Water Between Tasks.
For example: when you’re brushing your teeth, only use the water to rinse. When you’re washing your face, only wet your washcloth. When you’re shaving, fill the sink with water and dip the razor in instead of running it under a tap. Changing these little habits can save you money throughout the year.

2. Put A Bucket In The Shower. While you’re waiting for the water to heat up, gallons of water are flowing down the drain. Catch the water with a bucket and use it in the garden.

3. Take Shorter/Fewer Showers. I take short showers (about 5-7 minutes) every two days, and it works fine. In fact, hair stylists are always comment on how healthy my hair is. Bonus: this not only saves me water, it saves me money on bath and hair cleaners too.

4. Reuse Pasta or Boiling Water.
Any water used for boiling, cooking, or rinsing can be used in the garden. In fact, some people say that the nutrients from vegetables/pasta/etc. that leeches into the water acts like a fertilizer. Just make sure to let the water cool completely before using.

5. Compost Instead Using Of Garbage Disposal. The garbage disposal uses a lot of water and energy. I use mine as a last resort, usually after I’ve composted what I can.

6. Run Full Loads In Dish/Clothes Washers. Make sure that your appliances are full so you get the most out of every wash. This saves on energy too.

7. Water The Garden Early or Late. If you water in the full heat of the day, half the water will evaporate into the air. Instead, water when it’s barely light and you’ll make sure the water gets on your plant, not the air.

8. Wash In A Bowl, Not A Tap. This is a new thing I’ve been doing: when you wash vegetables, fruit, or other food, fill a bowl with water instead of cleaning under a running tap. Then dump the water in the garden. No wasted water.

9. Don’t Water Your Concrete. When you use sprinklers, wash your car, or otherwise use a hose, don’t let the water run needlessly onto the sidewalk or driveway, where it will just end up in the gutter. A hose nozzle is your friend.

10. Reuse Linens/Dishes. Reduce the number of loads you run by rewearing gently used clothes or drinking out of a water glass more than once. Bonus: this will save on your energy bill and reduce clutter too.

How do you save water?

Make Your Own Fire Pit

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:37 am on Friday, May 17, 2013

This Old House has a tutorial on How To Make A Fire Pit. Weekend project?

Arugula Pesto

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:37 am on Thursday, May 16, 2013

I’ve been eating arugula since January, and now the crop is finially finishing up and going to seed. It will self-seed and I should have another crop later this year without my having to do anything. Which is one of the many reasons I love growing arugula.

I’ve been experimenting with cooking and freezing arugula, and finding what I like to use it in besides salads. So far I find it’s too bitter when by itself as a cooked green, but it makes a good addition to a dish. I also tried freezing it by itself, and I’ll see how that works and report back.

Also, I tried arugula pesto for the first time. Several recipes were too spicy, until I discovered this recipe, which has you roast the garlic in a pan and microwave the nuts (instant roasted nuts taste with less work!), softening the flavors and making a very nice pesto.

Since pesto freezes great, I made a doube batch and stuck it in the freezer to use later on pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, and so on. Of course, you can also use it right away on fresh pasta, too.

Here is my slightly modified version of this recipe.

Arugula and Walnut Pesto
(Enough sauce for 4 people)


    2 c packed arugula leaves
    1/2 c walnuts
    1/2 c fresh parmesan cheese
    1/3-1/2 c olive oil
    6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
    Dash salt


To clean the arugula, fill a bowl with water and swish the leaves around. Remove, carefully blot with a paper towel or run through a salad spinner. Repeat twice more.

In a pan, brown the garlic cloves in their peels over medium high head, until the garlic is lightly brown and soft inside, about 10 minutes. Once they have cooled, remove the skins.

Heat the nuts in the microwave for two minutes, which gives them a roasted flavor. Great trick!

Put the aurgula, walnuts, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse while adding 1/3 cup of olive oil. Taste the pesto and add more oil as needed. I found that 1/2 cup was too oily for me and 1/3 cup was a little dry, so ended somewhere in between.

Add cheese and a dash of salt. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Enjoy!

Zebra Rocker

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:35 am on Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This Zebra Rocker is pretty cute. But expensive for $269. Maybe you can make you own, like this rocking camel instead.

My 2013 Garden Part 2

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:42 am on Tuesday, May 14, 2013


Going on from yesterday, here is My 2013 Raised Bed Garden:

BED 3:

In this bed, I’ve got squash (zucchini and butternut) and Kentucky green beans.

I tried an experiment with the zucchini this year. I tried one with the addition of cow manure and the other without. So far, they are exactly the same. Hm. Okay then.

The green beans haven’t reached the trellis yet, but they’re getting there.

Bed 4:

This is the most boring bed because I just planted it. It’s three melon plants and French green beans. The melons are crane and Boule d’Or melons, two of which I grew from seed myself.


I have pots scattered around the yard too. Eventually I’m going to get a dolly out and move them to a more attractive location, but in the meantime, from left to right I have:

    Potatoes. I used this new method and they seem happy so far.

    Garlic. They are planted too close together, but they are dealing with it.

    Apple Melon. I’m going to try to trellis it.

    Fennel Bulbs. I read that fennel doesn’t get along with a lot of other plants, so I put it by itself in a pot. The seeds aren’t sprouting, so may have to re-plant.

In the pot in the back, I have Cosmos and Pincushion flowers. The two small pots in front are yarrow plants I dug up from other parts of the yard.

Other plants in pots that are not pictures include: Scarlet Runner Beans, parsley, more basil, thyme, savory, chamomile, chives, dahlia, and nasturtium.

Side Plot:

The side plot are all perennials. It starts to the left of the raised beds and run all the way behind them. All the plants are in gopher cages. They include: strawberries, artichoke, asparagus, yarrow, hops, raspberries, and one bedragled peony.

The strawberries, artichokes, asparagus, yarrow, and sad peony are all plants I transplanted from other parts of the yard. It’s gratifying to see them thriving in their new environment (except the peony, poor thing).

I harvested asparagus for the first time, which was so cool! The strawberries don’t look that exciting compared to the pillowy things you get in the store, but they taste approximately 1000% better.

So there you have it. How’s your garden going so far?

2013 Garden Update Part 1

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:24 am on Monday, May 13, 2013

Garden Update 1
Garden Update 2
Garden Update 3
Garden Update 4

In My 2013 Garden Plan, I mentioned we are putting in raised beds this year. Well, they’re in.

I wanted a permanent structure, so what you’re looking at are 2-foot-deep redwood beds with two layers of gopher wire on the bottom. While Mr. Savvy could have built me such a thing, the local hardware store was selling finished raised beds for about the price of the redwood lumber, so we bought and assembled them instead.

They are working out great so far. So far, the plants are the healthiest I’ve ever put in.

Let’s geek out about my garden, shall we?

BED 1:

In this bed, I have plants all grown from seed. It’s a little hard to see, but I have a row of leeks (the grass-looking things in the front) and heads of lettuce under the wire mesh. The mesh is there to give the lettuce relief from the sun. Behind that, which you can’t see, are some spinach.

To the right front of the lettuce, I have what’s left of a row of radishes. I already harvested most of that crop and have replanted with dragon tongue bush beans, which I’ve never grown before. Between the radishes I have baby carrots and yellow beets.

In the three tomato cages behind the lettuce, I have three variety of snap peas. In the far right cages, I have two lemon cucumbers. I have a third cucumber growing in the ground in a gopher cage, too. I couldn’t resist because I love cucumbers.

There’s also a basil plant in there too.

A couple of things I’ve learned from Bed 1 so far:

    1. It seems to work to plant a bunch of lettuce close together and then thin every couple of days, pulling out the baby lettuce plants as you go along. If you are diligent about this, you get a steady supply of lettuce as they grow bigger. Now that the lettuce are starting to form heads and suddenly need a lot more room, it’s a little hard to choose what to pull out and what to leave in, but my salads have been fabulous so far this year.

    2. I am seeing cucumber beetles for the first time. They look like this:

    I’ve been picking them off. There’s so many good bugs in the garden this year, I’m reluctant to spray.

    3. Baby beet greens taste great raw and are excellent in salad.

BED 2:

This much simpler bed has three things in it: tomatoes, bell peppers, and one purple basil plant.

The tomatoes are the main reason the beds are so deep. Many nurseries will tell you a tomato will thrive in a 10- or 15-gallon pot, but when you look at how I plant tomato plants, you’ll see why my tomatoes need a lot of space for roots.

These tomato plants are doing great so far. They are a brandywine tomato, a beefsteak, and an early girl.

The peppers are two spicy pappers, a jalapeno and a thai-like spicy pepper. The rest are chocolate, yellow, and red bell peppers. This year I’m going to make jam with my excess peppers.

I’m trying one more thing with the peppers: I read that if you snip off the flowers early on, it makes the plants bigger and then they produce more peppers because they’re stronger plants. I tried it with the two at the far left and indeed, they did seem to redirect their energies and get bigger than the other plants. We’ll see if they produce more peppers that way.


Make A Lace Window Screen

Filed under: Recycling — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:58 am on Friday, May 10, 2013

For an alternative to a regular window screen, use lace. Zandi from Radical Possibility bought a lace tablecloth from a thrift store for $2 and stapled it to the window frame, like so:

Then she used a rotary cutter to cut off the excess lace.

This is a clever way to add some grace and prettiness to the room without spending a lot of money. [Via The DIY Adventures]

Savvy Housekeeping Now On Pinterest!

Filed under: News — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:27 am on Thursday, May 9, 2013

Well, I finally did it. I set up a Pinterest account. CLICK HERE to check it out!

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