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GIFTS UNDER $40 THAT GIVE BACK!

TIS THE SEASON FOR GIVING AND IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR a truly ‘feel good’ gift here are four that will keep on giving locally and globally beyond the holidays thanks to some terrific companies I’m partnering.  Best yet they are all under $40-so it’s a win win for all!

GIVE LOCALLY WITH THE GREAT AMERICAN MILK DRIVE! 

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You probably don’t know this nor did I but milk is one of the most requested but rarely donated items that food banks ask for each year. AND, this year you can give the gift of a gallon by donating to  The Great American Milk Drive in partnership with Feeding America, dairy farmers and milk companies.  It’s the first nationwide program to help deliver nutrient-rich gallons of milk to hungry families including 16 million children whom are food insecure in the US.  Just go to MilkLife.com/give and enter your zip code to insure milk is delivered to a local food ban near you and they’ll match your donation through the end of the month.  It’s a terrific way to also get kids involved too– just have them go on line with you The Great American Milk Drive to donate the glass of milk they would leave for Santa…Gotta love that!

 

PAY IT FORWARD WITH A HEALTHY ‘N SWEET ACT OF KIND…NESS!

KIND Cube

Next, this idea gives real meaning to acts of kindness and paying it forward to those around you. It’s the limited edition KIND Holiday Cube—It’s filled with 20 of KIND’s nuts and spices chocolate flavor bars plus it’s a healthy alternative to all our holiday indulgences since each only contains 5 grams of sugar or less. Better yet inside the cube, you’ll find a #KINDAWESOME card which you simply hand to a person you see doing a kind act like and that person can redeem the card for three FREE KIND bars, The cube is less then $40…so pay it forward and go on line to be Kind @ Kindsnacks.com !

 

IMAGINE THERE’S NO HUNGER: JOIN YOKO ONO LENNON ‘N HARD ROCK INTERNATIONAL TO HELP MAKE JOHN LENNON’S DREAM COME TRUE!

Imagine 2014 Earbuds

Here’s a a mind blowing stat: more than 16,000 children across the globe die each day from hunger-related causes….But for 7 years now Yoko Ono Lennon and Hard Rock International have teamed up for The Imagine There’s No Hunger Campaign. To date, IMAGINE has helped communities grow enough food to provide more than 9.7 million nutritious meals to children globally through donations and merchandise. This year, you can purchase Hard Rock’s Imagine earbuds which are only $10 and 50% of net revenue goes directly to charity partner WhyHunger.  Makes a great stocking stuffer too! Imagine that!  

 

SAVE A PET WITH THE PAW-FECT GIFT FROM PETSMART!

Pet Smart Logo

Lastly, here’s another staggering stat which is a paw-fect gift for the pet-lover: each year Over 8 million pets that end up in shelters are euthanized because they can’t find a home –That’s about 11000 pets a day. Yikes! And, it’s one of the reasons I saved my doggie Bagels a 4 year old Beagle last year.

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But for those who aren’t rescued and for as little as a $25 donation to Petsmart charities you can help save one pet’s life while they wait for a home by covering things like shelter space, food and vet services.   Plus 90 cents of every dollar goes to help these pets. Woof that! And, For the 11th year in a row, PetSmart Charities earned Charity Navigator’s top 4-star rating and remains in the top one percent of all charities ranked. Woof that! So please visit petsmartcharities.org to make a donation online.

Happy almost holidays!!!

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SOME FORGET ME NOT SPRING CLEANING MULTI-TASKERS

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Though it hasn’t been feeling very spring-like in the North, today is the first day of spring…YEAH! And, as part of my ongoing crusade to make housework less work so we have more free time, I’ve put together a few of my favorite spring cleaning store-bought multi-tasking products.  And,  I’ve partnered with  some companies to share their new twists on these staples which will help save us time, money and our manicure this spring cleaning season or any other day of the year!

 

ALLERGEN FIGHTER ‘n  AIR FRESHENER:  Spring cleaning usually means we focus on cleaning  windows, curtains and our bedding.  But we often overlook the areas that harbor dust and dust mites like on our bookshelves, plants and lampshades.  Introducing the latest and greatest my savior:

Swiffer 180 Duster with Gain:  It has fluffy fibers to help trap ‘n lock the dust instead of the old-fashioned feather duster which I feel just move dust from one place to another.  It can get in tight places like underneath furniture, nooks in your coffee table and corners of picture frames!  PLUS this new Swiffer freshens the room by leaving behind the joyful scent of Gain for all we Gainiacs!!!

 

GOOD TO THE LAST DROP:  For years, I’ve been soooo frustrated by the fact that I know there’s more spray left in my cleaning products but no matter what I do to access the remaining liquid I either spill it on a surface-wasting it or I just chuck it.  Well no more!  Thanks to the brilliant peeps at Clorox they’ve come to my (our rescue!) with SMART TUBE (R) TECHNOLOGY! It’s a built in tube that reaches all the way to the bottom of spray bottles, allowing you to spray every drop. It’s available on bottles of Clorox® Clean Up®, Tilex® and Formula 409® Cleaners.  Hmmm now if a wine maker could invent similar technology for that lil bit of wine left at the bottom of the bottle that would really be grape to the last drop!

 

NEVER HALF BAKED: NUMERO UNO MULTI-TASKER: If I was left alone on a deserted island the one thing I’d want with me is baking soda…It’s so useful for so many things around the house from cleaning, to fixing drains to stain removal to odor absorption and all else betwixt n between. And now Arm & Hammer has answered my dreams with a laundry product that has an incredibly strong cleaning power aptly enough named Arm & Hammer Ultra Power 4X liquid laundry. It’s super concentrated so you need less to get more. It costs about 50% less than the leading detergent per load, so you have more money to get that manicure! And with the small bottle, it’s easier to carry around and pour!

 

LIGHTENING THE LOAD:  I love anything that saves me time as you know particularly when it’s a chore I abhor and do far too much of like laundry.  But alas having a teenage son this is my fate, which is why I love, love this LG Washer.   It will save your health, time and energy!  It has steam technology, with cleaning options like an allergen reduction cycle that will get rid of 95% of common household allergies. Great timing with those spring allergies in the air! The Turbowash technology will save up to 20 minutes per load, and you can fit an entire set of king size bedding, including the comforter, in a single load. And this model has earned ENERGY STAR “most Efficient” designation, meaning that this washer falls in the top 5% in its class! That’s lightening the load on all fronts!

 

A MANI-CURE’S TWO BEST FRIENDS: 

 1. HABIT BREAKER-MANICURE SAVER: Old habits are hard to break but this one my friends you should run don’t walk to do!!  Usually I pre-wash my dishes and during spring cleaning I wash those party plates, platters and glassware that lay in my cabinets collecting dust.  Forget that! New Cascade Platinum that is a manicure’s best friend since it requires NO PRE-WASHING.  Simply scrape off large food pieces and place those babies right into the dishwasher.  You can even leave them there for 24 hours and they’ll come out sparkling clean…my martini glass never shined so!  And, it’s another multi-tasker since it will help prevent filming on the walls of your dishwasher machine.

 

2. HABIT BREAKER-MANICURE SAVER: Betwixt the New Cascade ‘n this LG TrueStream technology dishwasher is so powerful that you practically eliminate pre-washing for all your dishwasher safe dishes, glassware, pots and pans will be a rarity in your life — OMG!!!  There is also a sanitary rinse option that rinses your dishes with 160 degree water, for an optimal clean. It is also Energy Star qualified and saves nearly 5,000 gallons of water a year vs. hand-washing. With the EasyRack Plus adjustable rack system, it minimizes the frustration of fitting everything that you eat, drink, serve or cook on in there. And BTW if you really want to multi-task tightly wrap a salmon filet with a lil bit of butter, white wine, and mustard in piece of aluminum; run it full cycle with a dishwashing load and viola you’ve also got some Clean Cuisine!  Bubbly optional…as in champagne J

And, BTW here are a few tips on the best way to load your dishwasher to insure the best results!

      • Place forks and spoons facing up and knives down – this ensures that you get the most detergent interaction, but keeps things safe!
      • Glasses mugs, plastics and bowls go on the top rack at an angle to allow water to properly drain off.
      • Plates, bowls, cookware go on the bottom rack and must be spaced out to allow the water and detergent to clean everything.
      • Before starting your machine, run the sink in your kitchen until the water is hot.  This helps ensure the water that enters your

machine is at the optimal temperature.

 

TRIED ‘N TRUE ‘N SOMETHING BOU-QUET:  Though I wish I could put everything in my dishwasher certain items are a no no like my fine crystal.  That’s why I always use the classic uber grease-fighting Dawn Ultra which has 2x the grease-fighting ingredient vs the leading non-concentrated dish soap which means your suds last longer and you save money cause you use less. WIN WIN!  I also use it to wash my microwave plate which sports those coffee overheats and spills!  And, with spring in the air, it’s a no brainer for cleaning my vases and then filling them with a beautiful bouquet of flowers…Aahhh tra la tra la…spring is in the air!

HALLOWEEN TIPS ‘N TREATS TO SATISFY ANY BOY’S OR GHOUL’S SWEET TOOTH

Halloween is a holiday packed with scary goblins, spook-tacular activities and lots of our child’s favorite treats (and ours too!).  And, half the fun of the day is the time spent going door to door seeing how many treats they can collect. The trick as parents is making sure that our children wait until they get home to go through and enjoy their bounty.  Allowing your children to enjoy their candy in moderation is ok and don’t get too concerned with the type of sugar in the candy (sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup) as experts agree i’ve learned from research and partnering with the Corn Refiner’s Association, that it’s all about balance and moderation as sugar is sugar and all sugars are nutritionally the same.

So here are a few tips and treats to help you balance the sweets they eat and satisfy their sweet tooth:

TIPS

  • Don’t send them out hungry
  • Satisfy their ‘sweet tooth’ pre trick or treating
  • Instruct them not to eat ANY items before they arrive home
  • Compromise ‘n remember you were a child once too and Halloween was a day  for eating a few more candies then usual J

TREATS

YUMMY MUMMY Makes 4

What You Need:

  • 1 8 oz. can of refrigerated crescent roll, seamless if available
  • Cookie sheet
  • Aluminum foil to fit sheet
  • 4 slices of American or cheddar cheese
  • Plastic knife
  • 4 Pre-cooked sausages
  • 1 raw egg, scrambled or cooking spray
  • Mustard

How to Make Them:

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Unroll dough on tin foil
  3. Use knife to cut 4 even sized squares
    1. If not seamless dough connect two crescents together to create four mummies
    2. Place cheese slices on dough before cutting ‘wrapping’ strips and cut at same time as ‘dough’.
  4. Place cheese slices on dough before cutting ‘wrapping’ SP from center
  5. Place ‘mummy’ i.e. sausage in center and wrap strip over strip
  6. Brush with egg or cooking spray
  7. Bake per dough package instructions or until brown:  approx. 10-12 minutes
  8. Use mustard to make the eyes and mouth

TRICK OR TEETH:

What You Need:

Pear or Apple cored and sliced in approx. 1/4 inch slices width-wise

How to Make Them:

  1. Cover the ‘jaw’ i.e. fruit slice with a thin layer of ‘gum glue’ i.e. peanut butter or Nutella
  2. Place the ‘teeth’ i.e. mini marshmallows around the edge of the ‘jaw’ (fruit)
  3. Open your mouth wide and enjoy!
  4. Optional:
    1. Make an upper ‘jaw with teeth’ and place on top
    2. Dye one or several of the teeth using food dye

i.     Red for blood

ii.     Black or blue for rotten

 SPOOK-TACULAR SPICED TEA-Makes a Quart

What you need

Gummie worms

Ice cup trays

2 cups water, boiled

2 caffeine free, apple cinnamon spice tea bags

8 ozs. Apple cider

8 ozs. Ginger ale

4 tsp. sugar

How to make it:

Put a gummy worm in each ice cube compartment and cover with water.  Freeze 2-3 hours.

  1. Dunk the tea bags in the hot water (which should be in the measuring cup) until it turns dark.  About three minutes, and, then, throw them out.
  2. When the tea has cooled, pour it into the pitcher.
  3. Add the apple cider, ginger ale, and sugar.  Stir with the wooden spoon.  Pour over ice, and get ready to enjoy a spook-tacularly spiced drink.

BLACK CAT CUPCAKE CONES Makes 12

What you need:

1 box (1l.25 oz) cake mix

12 flat bottom ice cream cones

12 cup muffin pan

1 16 oz can vanilla frosting

Black gel coloring

Decorative icing tubes in assorted colors

Assorted Candies:  red gum drops, twizzlers, Reeses Pieces, Red and Black shoe laces; Candy cones; M & M’s

How to Make Cupcakes:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 325
  2. Prepare batter per box instructions
  3. Fill each cup 3/4 way up with batter
  4. Stand cones straight in muffin pan
  5. Bake 25 mins on center rack…use toothpick to test doneness.. it should come out clean
  6. Cool for 10 min.

How to Make Cat’s Face:

  1. While cupcakes are baking make ‘black paint’ for face with frosting and adding black gel per instructions
  2. Spread on black paint with a plastic knife
  3. Suggestions on making CAT face:
  • Ears:  Candy cones
  • Eyes: White icing to draw slanted football shaped eyes and use colored M & M of choice for pupils
  • Nose:  Red round sugared gum drops
  • Whiskers:  Red shoe lace candy or icing color of choice
  • Mouth: Red icing or red twizzlers torn into 1 “ pieces.

 Goes purr-fect with big glass of milk! 

SPILLIN’ ‘N CHILLIN’ AT BLOGHER12 NYC

Happy almost  first friday in August Happy Hour 🙂 Can’t believe it’s already August though i always feel once the Fourth of July passes the summer flies by…and so does the time before my son leaves for his freshman year! Yikes only TWO WEEKS…a blog or two or three about that is coming to a laptop near you in the days ahead!

But this blog’s about the amazing fun I had hosting a private soiree  for Carpet One Floor and Home where pomegranite martinis, pedicures (with or without your stilletos on!),

Life is good!! Cheers!

a  SPILL ‘N CHILL BAR showed how their Relax it’s LEES carpet is the perfect accidental housewife way to go since all you need to clean almost any stain is with good ole water whether it’s grass, mud, pee pee or red wine.   And though you know i like to use and have had great success with some everyday household items like white vinegar, Arm & Hammer baking soda, vodka (Of course and no not because if i drink some the stain doesn’ t look so bad LOL! it really works but use the cheap stuff 🙂 ), shaving cream and so on some stains just don’t come out…which is why i rearrange my furniture every few months to cover those stubborn ones up!  Kidding aside…i like my other gal pal bloggers were amazed.  

I’ve got more pix and things to share from that in the next day or so ..having some tech probs so apologies, as you’ll see by these fuzzy pix:  One of a very appealing fellow I met there!  And the other of me trying out a new vacuum to replace my good ole broom and fly home on from Samsung 🙂 Come to think of it maybe it’s not my camera but the person whom took it who may have had a few too many ‘tinis at the Spill Bar 🙂  Spread the glove!  http://www.juliestips.com  

Trying out a new ‘travel’ vac-broom 🙂

Goin bananas 🙂

“ME TARZAN, YOU JANE” MEET WE HOUSEWIVES :)

As the legendary  comediene Phyllis Diller once said, “Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?” Brilliant words indeed.  And, it’s how i approach the level of attention I give to it which in part led me  to embracing and admitting that i am an accidental housewife vs. Martha Stewart or Suzie Home-maker. I’m all about doing just enough to keep my son from starvation; my home looking terrif with minimal upkeep; health inspectors away and lest we not overlook: my sanity and manicure in tact.   That’s why whenever I discover something that also saves me time, money and the environment it’s a tri-fecta and I’m all over it…

Which leads to a new carpet that my buds at Carpet One Floor & Home sent me to try out.  It’s called Tigressa…love the name-somehow conjures up images of ‘me Tarzan you Jane’ lying on the carpet getting wild…or in their case lyin on a Leopard skin:

Okay well maybe that’s a stretch , must be my imagination going wild with a mild case of heat stroke courtesy of the record-breaking warm weather here in the NorthEast!  So forgive my di-gressa from Tigressa 🙂  

Lots of companies send me products to try out, and having worked with Carpet One a few years back and their commitment to Breast Cancer Awareness, I was happy to oblige when Terri Daniels, their head public relations guru, all around terrif person and fellow Dirty Martini lover reached out to me.  That, and two other reasons:

1. I am a humongous slob and notorious/repeat red wine spiller…another reason for my ‘accidental’ moniker!  And, why God created my favorite carpet cleaning service Stanley Steemer whom i now have on speed dial!

2. I am thinking of refinishing my basement and want to be sure I put in carpet that looks good, is soft on my feetsies, durable, affordable and mega stain resistant for my many ‘accidental’ spills…( a reason i am thinking of drinking only clear libations …long live my ‘Tini LOL!)

And, dare I say Tigressa is the besta:

  • Looks terrif-love it’s black since it doesn’t show most any dirt or stain!
  • Soft on my feet and comfy to lie on solo or …
  • Passed the Accidental Spill Test: Though i didn’t do this accidentally, I did spill my fave dirty tini on the rug and to my delight it pooled up making it a housewifely dream to blot and quickly clean up.   That also means moisture won’t get trapped below and possibly cause mold to grow–major sanity saving plus!  

    Look mom! No gloves required...Love that! Back to 'tini time!

  • And, just in case that glass of red leaves a  mark, Tigress comes with  a Lifetime Stain Warrantee (20 years) which means they’ll replace it gratis…love that!
  • Oh one more thing too–it’s eco-friendly!
So my friends, if you’re in the market to do some Spring Freshening of your floors that is also terrif if you’ve got messy kiddies (duh! is their any any other kind) and pets,  visit a Carpet One store (www.carpetone.com/tigressa), take your shoes off, spill some water (or wine if you have your sippy to go cup but don’t tell ’em i told you to!) and see all the 1000 colors and textures Tigressa’s avail in…Not to mention it’s on sale now….BTW, imagining yourself as Tarzan ‘n Jane will be your call…of the wild. Meow!  Spread the glove!

CELEBRATING ST. PADDY’S DAY ‘N YOUR FAVE BREWS MANY USES

Top of the morn ‘n Happy St. Paddy’s Day!  

Lucky's St. Paddy's Tip!

Another stellar day here in New Jersey for a parade, bike ride, finding a four leaf clover, and indulging in some corned beef ‘n cabbage, shepard’s pie, and/or beer of any shade! So in the spirit of the day, I wanted to share some unusual ‘n money-saving uses for that ole pint of brewsky should you not trade it as “Lucky’ has or have any left over tomorrow!

1. Brass Pot Cleaner- Use an old soft cloth and rub some onto the pot.  Let sit ‘no have a brewsky if you like then return, rinse and buff with another soft clean cloth.

2. Wood Furniture Polisher-Actually this is perfect for any flat beer you have left from celebrating. Dampen a microfiber cloth and gently rub some on your wood furnture to bring back the luster.

3. Gold Cleaner-If you were lucky enough to find that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow or have some dull looking gold jewelry just put it in a bowl with enough beer to cover it.  Let sit for a bit, rinse then polish with a dry micro-fiber cloth. 

4. Red Wine Stain Remover: If red wine is your drink of choice and ye miss your mouth, first sop up as much as you can with some paper towels then dab with a light colored beer.  Steam clean when finito and then switch to white 🙂

5. Skin Softener: Rub a dub dub not as in have someone pour it over your head but in chilling and taking a real bath in your tub.  The yeast and other ingredients in beer are terrific for softening, exfoliating and cleansing your skin.

6. Hair Lightener  & Conditioner – Simply soak your hair in beer and lay in the sun to both lighten and condition…think of the money you’ll save vs going to your hairstylist!

7. Stuff the Bugs Us Trap-With springtime upon us and for those who love to garden just put some in an empty jar and ‘plant’ the jar leaving the open rims at ground level.  Slugs ‘n snails love the smell so they’ll ‘drop in’ for a cocktail 🙂  BTW also works to get trap mice who will simply get drunk and then you can set them free outside.  Roaches too, but you’ll have to put a thin coat of Vaseline around the rim so they so they can’t escape.

Spread the glove!

GETTING INTO THE GROOVE WITH SPRING ALIVE AND ABBOTT ‘N COSTELLO

Last eve my best bud Marla, Franky, Doug and  I ventured into NYC to see an Off Off Off B’way musical called Spring Alive starring Spring Groove (I know quite a name!) which I learned about and saw thanks to Mamma Drama NY’s co-owners Erin Leigh Peck and Holly Fink.  

The show is a one act, one person terrific musical  of one Jewish woman’s journey/evolution from a typical NY gal to a rasta haired Yogi ….Or as the booklet described, its the ‘sing, pray, love’ version of  the wonderful book, “Eat, Pray, Love“.  Marla loved it and could relate totally as she’s a certified Yoga instructor.  I on the other hand am not a Yoga person and though I have dabbled in it my idea of doing The Sun Breath or Crouching Dog Position(forgive me if I’ve got the name of that pose wrong) is to crouch on my couch breathing in the bouquet of a fine wine..But i love theatre and particularly entertainment that elevates and inspires which is exactly what Spring did…along with an ensemble of dancers who brought another level of calm, grace and energy to the production.

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Spring de joie...love those pants want a pair

But part of the fun of the eve was simply trying to find the theatre after eating at a hip enough restaurant called “Inoteca” located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Not only was the food and wine terrific but Marla and I agreed that the lighting was perfect too:  as in low enough to make one look good no matter how tired or over 30 you are!

Anyway,  pleasantly stuffed and with a slight buzz on ’twas time to find the theatre…As you may be aware NYC is filled with theaters all over the place and peeps trying to make it here cause as  Liza Minnelli has sung time ‘n time again if “You make it here, you’ll make it anywhere.  It’s up to you .New York. New York”. And, while most of us are familiar with Broadway shows and some off broadway hits like “The Fantastics“, there are lots of hopeful gems like Spring Alive which are Off Off Off Broadway.  And, for we New Jerseyians who were off, off, off our beaten path, we couldn’t find  the theatre since it had a dual address: Dawson Place and 179 A Christie Street. So as time tick ticked and we walked up and down the street again and again, each of us taking turns asking ‘where’s dawson”, “who said it was on Christie” , I felt like we were somehow living a version of Abbott & Costello‘s famous baseball routine “who’s on first?”

Now, past 8:00 and curtain time, we decided  to call for help. Marla buzzed her son  Zach whom lives nearby and is, I might add, the coolest twenty something year ole, successful hard-working hipster living the NYC dream that I know and have known since he was five. Well, within seconds,  Zach quickly pointed us in the right direction which was  right across the street from where we were standing!!!

But we weren’t home free yet since being late we were directed to the back stage entrance.  As we went down the stairs, I began to get that ‘something’s not right here’ feeling, and did my own version of crouching dog laughing when I saw that the next door said “Stage Members Only”.   At this point, my wine buzz now a distant memory, we decided to throw caution to the wind and hope the door didn’t lead us to Spring on stage and our Off Off Off Broadway debut.  Well, the good news is it didn’t.  Nope it led us onto the balcony and we took our seats without disturbing anyone.  Within seconds we settled into the calm and got into the Groove with Spring. And, the rest as they say is Namasta…Spread the glove!