Freezing Blueberries

Freezing Blueberries is  easy to do. It is best to do it in summer when they are in season and at their best price. I have 2 blueberry bushes, but June /July is great for going to a local pick-your-own farm with the family and bringing home a bunch to enjoy all year long.

I recommend flash freezing them first rather than just dumping them all together in a container and tossing in the freezer. They will freeze all into one big glob and make it impossible to take out only a few at a time.

Flash freezing is the technique where you place foods to be frozen on a baking tray in a flat individual layer and freeze till each food item is frozen, then remove and store in a freezer container. Now they can be grabbed by the handful if needed.

  1. Line baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Spread berries in a single layer
  3. Freeze for about 2 hours till berries are frozen solid.
  4. Store berries in an airtight container in freezer for up to a year.


Talented Kitchen Spice Jar Set

Favorite Features is where I share products that I love and make my life easier! Today I am sharing my love for Talented Kitchen    Spice Jar Set!I am not getting paid or sponsored in any way to tell you about my Favorite Features I just happen to love them.

Favorite Features, is where I share things that I use and love. I am not receiving any products or incentives. In fact they don't even know I'm writing this! But I sure love them, let me tell you why!

My Small Kitchen; I have a small home and a small kitchen space to work in. Yet I still need space for a variety of spices like everyone. I do make a lot of my own homemade spice mixes and I also use these mixes as gifts also. I have grown tired of the warehouse sized jars (which I need) taking over the small cabinet I store my spices in next to my cooking / prep area. I also need these  jars for my homemade mixes. 

Ease of Use; I wanted a more consistent look and feel to my cabinet to make it easier to find all my spices. With all the different sizes it was becoming difficult to navigate the tight space. Some of the spices were getting crammed to the back of the shelves and lost to time. With a new jar system I could make most of my spices close to the same size and easier to find everything! LESS Frustration is a good thing! Oh.. did I mention their square shape makes it easy to nestle them side by side??? perfect for small spaces??

More economical: With everything all crammed in one small space and unorganized, It was easy to think I was out of something, and buy it again, only to discover, I did already have it. So  purchasing some lazy susan's for the shelves and using their great labels.. they have tons of pre-printed labels as well as tons of blank ones. they have clear labels with black print and they have black circle chalk board style labels also so you can choose the style you like best. 

Ease of use; These jars come with great snap on plastic lids that have shaker holes as well as a tab to open for a pour spout. it snaps right onto the jar and stays on tight. the metal screw on lid also works great and looks pretty as well.

I use these jars both for storage for my own spices but for gifting for my own homemade mixes! My most popular are: 

Whether for garlic bread, pizza, chicken, sandwiches, or more.. this go to seasoning quickly becomes everyone's go to seasoning for everthing!!! I gift it with either the recipe or a note to bring me the empty jar and I'll refill it! (they always do!) 

My father in laws recipe for steaks & burgers is simple and classic. It goes over fantastic everytime  I gift it! No worries on this one going over well, it always does! He has alzheimers now and we almost lost the recipe and it's exact proportions to this disease. It stands as a reminder to always document even the simplest of family memories / recipes! 

Porkers Rib Rub
This a wonderful dry rub for barbecuing ribs or pork shoulders for pulled pork!

A super crispy seasoning coating mix for baking chicken or pork chops 


Strawberry Applesauce

Strawberry Applesauce is such a deliciously easy thing to make! I love to make it to take along to a family reunion, a potluck or barbecue, because it is loved by young and old a like! You can't really mess this one up, so even if you are a "non-cook" but want to bring something homemade, believe me, you will "wow" them with this one!

It's perfect for afterschool snacks or to take to work for a little pick me up! (and imagine being given a little canning jar of this from a friend or coworker as a gift or if you were sick? )

I made mine with Splenda for my diabetic husband, but you can  substitute sugar or any sweetener to your own taste.

Jan's Tip: I prefer thicker applesauce so I start with 1/4 cup water. you can add more after blending the sauce if you like it thinner. You can also thicken  a "too thin" sauce by cooking it over med. heat for a few minutes after blending it to reduce the liquid till desired thickness.
 Printable Copy

Strawberry Applesauce
yield: approx. 12 servings (1/2 cup)

  • 8 med. apples peeled and chopped
  • 1 32 oz. container (or about 4 cups) strawberries, hulled
  • 1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute
  • 1/4- 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon

  1. Combine all ingredients in large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes till fruit is soft and cooked tender.
  4. Remove from heat, and cool slightly.
  5. Run through blender or food processor to desired consistency.
  6. Store in refrigerator.
  7. Use within 2 weeks.
Shared here:
    The Chicken Chick

    10 Tips for Choosing Insect Repellent

    photo credit: nowastewednesdays.com
    With summer approaching along comes the beginning of spending more time outdoors and trying to avoid insect bites.  Choosing the right types of insect repellents for your family can be hard. There are as many "right" choices as there are families. No one approach will fit all of us due to medical/health issues, life style choices, and our locations.  Here are a few tips to help you in your decision process:

    1)http://npic.orst.edu/ is the most amazing website!  It is the National Pesticide Information Center. They list all ingredients found in insect repellents! ( I could read their entire site for hours, but to go directly to the list: click on the letter I in the alphabet choices along the top then click on Ingredients. Or for more information on making choices, go to the letter I again, but choose Insect Repellents. They have lots of articles on different subjects to help you.

    2) Insect repellents can be divided into two categories: Synthetic and Plant Based. The most popular and effective Synthetic is the widely known and used DEET. It is the most tested synthetic chemical to date, it is the most effective insect repellent, but some things  you need to know are: It is a solvent and can eat through nylon(like jackets) and spandex clothing (like bathing suits) it can ruin the elastic properties of the fabric.

    3) Another synthetic repellent is Picaridin. It is DEET free and has been used by the U.S. Military for many  years and is widely regarded as safe for children. 

    4) Plant based products can be quite effective in repelling insects, but testing has shown that they are not as long lasting as synthetic. If you are interested in trying some plant based repellents such as Lemon Eucalyptus oils, soybean oils, etc. be aware that they need to be reapplied more often than the "spray and forget" DEET  you may be used to. 

    5) Using plant based products  sometimes labeled as "natural"  does not mean you will not have a skin allergy or intolerance to the product. The plant based chemicals that make insect repellents can cause skin reactions just like the synthetic can, so don't be mislead into thinking your sensitive skinned child will not react to the plant based. They may or may not. Just be aware it is still a chemical you are applying, just derived from a plant not in a lab test tube.

    6)Wrist bands imbedded with repellant have been largely found to be ineffective during scientific testing. I could not find testing on the newer little clip on products that I have seen in the stores. 

    7) If being environmentally friendly is high on your list, make sure you know the source.  Many companies that produce plant based repellents may not be using environmentally friendly ways of growing & harvesting the plants, processing the plants to derive the oils used in the repellents or packaging the repellents. If you are passionate about reducing the impact of repellents on the environment, then just do your own research to ensure you feel good about the path your chosen product took to get to you. 

    8) Combinations of both synthetic and plant may be for you: Many people choose to apply  DEET to their child's clothing and plant based products to their skin. You may find this combination gives you the protection and peace of mind you need.

    9) Wash or bathe with soap as soon as you return indoors, especially DEET will remain on the skin unless removed with soap. This will help reduce the absorption through the skin. 

    10) Proper Clothing is the best repellent. In an outdoor setting like camping and hiking,etc. make sure to cover up with  long sleeves and long pants. It is the best protection against ticks and other critters. Don't let your kids off the hook in this area. Pulling ticks off of them is definitely worse than making them wear the long sleeves and pants.


    Repurposed & Reusable Centerpiece Form

    Head straight to the airconditioning section of your hardware store for this centerpiece holder! It's different but soooo versatile and handy to use in so many settings! From weddings to every holiday you can use these simple HVAC items to turn into a creative and beautiful centerpiece.

    A wonderful  centerpiece form that you can use to make centerpieces  of endless variety for years to come is just waiting for you in the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) aisle of your local hardware store!

    An HVAC vent cap ( I use the Shanty/Round) vent cap is perfect for making centerpieces of any variety!  They come in several sizes. I used a  smaller 4 inch vent for this picture, but I love the 8 inch ones, because the center opening is wide enough to nestle up to 3 candles of different heights together to create a tiered look to the candles.   I found mine at Home Depot.

    The great thing about using the Shanty/Round vent cap is that it can hold water, is a great height for a centerpiece, and can be used over and over for any kind of party or gathering.  They range in price from about $6-$8 dollars each.

    You may not be able to tell in the picture above, but I spray painted over the sheet metal with a super pretty brushed satin nickel metallic spray paint from Krylon. (Their brushed Satin metallic paint colors are breathtaking!) I chose a simple silver nickel so it would go with pretty much any table setting but a bronze, or gold or any color.. would be great!

    Once you spray paint them here's where your creativity kicks in. I used a candle in the center of mine. and then filled the bottom with some water and tucked some hydrangea cuttings from my yard in the side pieces. You can't really see it in the picture but I wrapped a ribbon around the round center part.  Silk flowers will work also. Think Christmas and poinsettia flowers, etc., Thanksgiving with autumn mums and mini pumpkins on skewers poked down in there. Fill in the gaps with greenery as needed.

    Another great use for them is as a serving piece.  PLace salad or dessert plates on the main section and fill in the side sections with napkins rolled up, silverware etc.

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