Saturday, January 24, 2015

How To: Cleaning and Conditioning Leather

We have a few older, leather items that have become very... gross. We received a gorgeous set of green leather boxes for our wedding many, many years ago (ok, 16 1/2 years ago) . We kept them in the house and used them for various things over the years, and then when we moved to Hiram over 10 years ago the big one ended up down in the basement. It isn't wet, but it has had moisture and over time and being ignored our beautiful leather box turned into a nasty, nasty mess. Just coated in layers of gunk and mold... BLECH. It looked like a biohazard to me.

However, since I was offered the chance to review Chamberlain's Leather Milk Leather Care Liniment which is a cleaner and conditioner for leather I decided not to give up on the old box just yet. 

I did a few quick searches on how to clean moldy leather and opted for the mild soap and water method. Day one, I scrubbed the bejezus out of it with a rag and some warm water with a mild soap. That took me nearly a half hour to get the mold and built up gunk out of every nook and cranny. It was pretty wet, and bedraggled looking when I was done but looking much better (and oh, the black, black water that was running as I wrung out the rag I used to clean it with said that I'd made at least SOME progress). I laid it out on a towel in a warm room to dry.

These four pictures are from the initial washing / scrubbing with a dish rag:

This is what it looked like after drying:

And after I applied the Leather Milk:

It is far from perfect, of course - it was pretty badly molded and neglected; however it does look and feel a MILLION times better! I can't wait to use the leather milk on other items we have that are also in need of some TLC!

Product Description:

Just like milk is a primary nutrient for life, Leather Milk is a vital nutrient for your leather! Originally designed for and recommended by Saddleback Leather Company, Chamberlain's Leather Care Liniment is a milky, water-based leather conditioner containing some remarkable leather enriching ingredients along with a few mystical properties. Our all-natural recipes are designed to gently strengthen, preserve, beautify and restore your leather, without overloading it with heavy oils or toxic chemicals. Distinguished by its pleasant almond fragrance (subtle enough not to detract from your leather's natural scent), Leather Care Liniment no. 1 is perfect for use on your leather bags, luggage, purses, shoes, boots, saddle/tack and leather apparel. Leather Care Liniment is also 100% Made in USA!

Chamberlain's Leather Milk (Leather Care Liniment No. 1) is used on all Saddleback Leather Company's products before the items are shipped to their customers. Here are a few leather care tips to keep in mind before using Leather Care Liniment: Read instructions fully before using. Leather Milk should not be consumed. Use carefully on unfinished leather. Not for use on suede. Test in a discreet area before using. Clean first with Straight Cleaner no. 2 or other leather cleaner if leather is excessively dirty. May darken lighter colored leathers; color usually lightens back up with use. Apply shoe polish after conditioning dress shoes.

*Full Disclosure: I received complimentary product from Chamberlain's Leather Milk for the purpose of review. I received no compensation for this post. All comments are 100% accurate and 100% my own.

Cheapskate Stew

This is a super easy dish that I really, really liked. My son and husband were both kind of "meh" about it, but me and my 16 month old ate this one up! I love that this is packed full of veggies, and has more veggies in the broth, so it was a good meal for my baby girl to enjoy. She still spit out some of the veggies, or pushed them to the edge of her plate, but she got a few in her at least!
I could have eaten this for lunch every day for a week. It is a very simple dish that is warm and cozy. It is perfect for the cooler weather we've been having, and would go wonderfully with some crusty bread. This isn't very "soupy", so if you like more broth you can always increase the water / tomato sauce, or add some chicken or beef broth, etc. Mix and match the veggies to you personal tastes and preferences (and what you have on hand). I had a Mediterranean Blend in my freezer that included red pepper, broccoli, whole green and yellow beans, along with squash that I threw in mine and loved the variation of those veggies.

Cheapskate Stew adapted from Laurie Brantley on AllRecipes

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 onion, diced small
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, beans, etc.)
2 cups water, more if needed
3 carrots, chopped
2 cups cooked elbow macaroni
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt to taste
ground black pepper to taste

  1. Brown the hamburger meat with onion and celery. Drain any excess grease.
  2. Add water and carrots, bring to a simmer and then cook until carrots are beginning to get tender (about 10 - 15 minutes).
  3. Add remaining vegetables, macaroni, tomato sauce, Italian spices, and salt and pepper to taste; simmer until the flavors blend and all ingredients are warm through. Taste test, and adjust seasonings if needed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Easy No-Cook Nutella® Smores

This is a delicious and SUPER easy treat to whip up and enjoy, using just a couple ingredients you probably have in your pantry! With just a little marshmallow creme, some Nutella, and a couple graham crackers you have the flavor of delicious, creamy s'mores without the campfire and sticks.

These are a yummy snack to whip up and serve alongside some fresh cut fruit for an after school treat, or as a tasty dessert. You (ok, and your kids too - if you share) will enjoy these ones any day of the week.

Easy No-Cook Nutella® Smores from Amber on AllRecipes

4 whole graham crackers, broken into two square halves
2 tablespoons chocolate-hazelnut spread (such as Nutella®)
2 tablespoons marshmallow creme

  1. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons chocolate-hazelnut spread onto 4 of the graham cracker halves. Spread 1 1/2 teaspoons marshmallow cream onto the remaining 4 graham cracker halves. Press 1 chocolate-hazelnut graham cracker half together with 1 marshmallow cream half. Repeat with remaining graham crackers.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

#Review ~ AYL StarLight 300 Lumens Ultra Bright LED Lantern

There is so much to like about this little lantern! We have used a couple different battery powered lanterns over the years, primarily for emergencies (yes, I have eaten by lantern light in my house before during a blackout!) and for camping.

The AYL StarLight 330 LED Lantern is perfect for those scenarios, and many others as well! Anywhere you need portable, clean light, this little lantern will go. It has a wonderfully bright light and has a little hook that you can pull out to hang it from a tree, pole, rope, etc. anywhere you might need stationary light.

The LED lights will last forever, putting off almost no heat, providing bright, even light whenever you need it. 

Product Description:

Protect Your Family During Power Outages and Emergencies, and Power Your Outdoor Adventures with the Brightest and Longest Lasting LED Lantern

The AYL StarLight 330 LED Lantern combines the latest LED lighting technology along with an innovative design that results in unsurpassed performance.

300 Lumens blows away the competition and provides the brightest LED lighting in its class

Super high-efficiency LED light generates little to no heat and can be used continuously for up to six days, making it a must have for any type of emergency and safer and longer lasting than any type of emergency candles!

Sturdy rubber and ABS plastic construction for maximum durability and water resistance

Removable top for focused forward lighting or for use as a hanging area light

LED lights are guaranteed for up to 100,000 hours of use and never need replacing

For Recreation. For Safety. For Peace of Mind.

Whether you are camping out in the wilderness, waiting out a storm, or simply telling stories to your children under the blankets, you can rest assured that the AYL StarLight 330 will be there to light the way. We've designed our lantern to be the most rugged and durable available, while utilizing the latest advances in LED technology.

For use during

A money-back guarantee plus a lifetime warranty is included.

Requires 3 D-size batteries (not included)

Macaroni and Cheese Pizza Bake

I am not a huge fan of boxed macaroni and cheese - especially when there are so many good and tasty homemade recipes using real cheese out there! However, I typically have a couple boxes for "emergencies" in my pantry - and then they sit there for a really long time and I start thinking I should probably use them or toss them. Macaroni and Cheese Pizza Bake to the rescue! I found this recipe while browsing AllRecipes and thought it looked like something my family would probably enjoy - and they all did! My hubby, son, and my 16-month old all ate this one up happily.

I thought this was a good, quick meal to serve up - good with a Caesar salad and some cheesy garlic bread on the side too. I love that everyone was happy with this dish, and would definitely make it again - but skip the boxed mac and used a homemade version (unless I had a couple boxes in need of rescuing from the pantry again)! :)

Also, if you want the mixture more heavily seasoned or "Italian flavored" - you can always mix in some Italian seasoning, minced garlic, and / or garlic powder to the macaroni and cheese mixture before pouring into the baking dish.

Source: Amazon
When I was removing this casserole dish from the oven, I used the AYL Silicone Heat Resistant Grilling BBQ Gloves I recently received via Tomoson - and I have to say these gloves are pretty fantastic! They work wonderfully to protect your hands from heat, but are thin and flexible enough to allow you to grip your casserole dish or baking tray with ease. You can use these for working around your stove and oven, or when you're cooking on the grill to keep your hands safe and burn free. Silicone gloves are definitely the way to go - no more worrying about having to wash your oven mitts or hot pads if something you're removing from the oven gets on them; just rinse these off, air dry and you're all set to go!

Click the Amazon link below to learn more about these great gloves, and maybe get your own set!

Product Description: AYL Silicone Heat Resistant Grilling BBQ Gloves Set - One Size Fits All

★ Perfect For Use As Cooking Gloves, Baking, Smoking, Or Potholder ★ For Use on Hot Food in High Temperature In The Kitchen, Use As Grilling Gloves, Oven Gloves, Or Even Camping! ★ Protect Your Hands And Avoid Accidents With Insulated Waterproof Five Fingered Grip ★ Far More Protection And Easier to Use Than Oven Mittens!

FDA Approved and BPA Free, Pure Food Grade Silicone Grip Gloves

When you purchase AYL Grips today, here is what you should do: When that awesome Amazon brown box arrives in the mail, rip that tape off, open it up and check out our cool packaging! And just wait until you get a feel for the Ayl Grips, there is nothing with more quality and durability than our BPA-Free, FDA approved 100% pure silicone - just waiting for you to be introduced to the kitchen and the grill!

You should know what separates us from the competition, its simple really:
- The Most Popular Silicone Cooking And Grilling Gloves Available!
- Heat Resistant For Temperatures Up To 425 Degrees Fahrenheit
- 100% Waterproof, Covers Your Wrist, Keeps Hands Safe and Dry
- Lightweight, Flexible, No Slip Grip Design To Allow Safe Movement Of Hot Items, Easily Grab Carved Hot Juicy Meats
- No Staining or Smell: Even After Long Term Use
- Dishwasher Safe, Easy to Clean
- BPA-Free
- FDA Approved
- 1 Size Fits All

It is time to Throw Your Old Oven Mitts Once And For All!

Macaroni and Cheese Pizza Bake from Chad on AllRecipes

2 (7.25 ounce) packages macaroni and cheese mix
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 (16-ounce) jar spaghetti sauce (such as Classico Four Cheese)
1 (4-ounce) package sliced pepperoni, or to taste
Optional: 1/2 lb ground beef cooked with 1/2 small diced onion
Italian seasoning and garlic powder, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x13-inch baking dish.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook elbow macaroni in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until cooked through but firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Drain and return pasta to pot. Add butter, milk, and powdered cheese mixes to macaroni; stir until evenly mixed.
  3. Stir the beaten egg into macaroni and cheese until incorporated. Add 1 cup mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese stirring until just combined. (Note: if you are using the cooked ground beef and onion, mix it into the pasta along with the cheeses before moving onto the next step).
  4. Spread the macaroni and cheese mixture into the prepared baking dish; evenly spread the pizza sauce over the top. Sprinkle the remaining 2 cups mozzarella cheese over sauce. Cover the cheese layer with pepperoni and season with Italian seasoning and garlic powder.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until cheese is melted, about 30 minutes.
*Full Disclosure: I received complimentary product from AYL for the purpose of review. I received no compensation for this post. All comments are 100% accurate and 100% my own.

Flavor Infused Water ~ 10 Combinations

It's the New Year - and with that often comes resolutions, and working harder to achieve goals, whatever they may be. For me, one key goal is to DRINK MORE WATER! We are not too big on soda in our house, though our consumption has been increasing over the past year or so and I want to make an effort to reduce that, but most importantly to focus on getting my fluids in as water. I get bored with the taste, or lack of taste, as do many. So, when I was offered the chance to review some double walled fruit infuser water bottles I was so excited! What a great opportunity to get my whole family on board and focusing on more water in our daily diets.

I hope you will check out these fantastic infuser bottles, they come in 6 fun colors: red, green, light and dark blue, pink, and purple (2 of each color) and hold 20 ounces. They are nice and thick, and are made with bpa-free acrylic.

When you fill your basket with your preferred combination of ingredients, you can then place it into the cup of water and place the tumbler in the refrigerator and allow the infusion to begin; the longer you let it sit, the stronger the flavors will become! Fill up a few cups with different combinations, stash them in the refrigerator, and you'll never get bored with your water!

Here are some ideas for fruit / vegetable combinations to put in your infuser bottle (always leave rinds / peels on to infuse more flavor in your beverage):
  1. a couple orange slices with a slice or two of pineapple
  2. a couple slices of lemon with a few chunks of cucumber
  3. a few chunks of watermelon combined with some cucumber
  4. a few slices of lemon, lime, and orange
  5. strawberries and crushed mint leaves
  6. blueberries and crushed mint leaves
  7. mango chunks and pineapple slices
  8. apple chunks and strawberry slices
  9. raspberries and blackberries
  10. kiwi slices and strawberry slices
There are TONS of great ideas out there for infusing water with combinations of fruits, herbs, spices, vegetables, etc. Get creative, and get your water in!

Learn more about these infuser tumblers, and pick up your own set by following the link below:

*Full Disclosure: I received complimentary product from L and Z Inc. for the purpose of review. I received no compensation for this post. All comments are 100% accurate and 100% my own.