Monday, June 14, 2010

The very best meatloaf, REVEALED!


This word has been known to strike fear into the hearts of young and old, alike! Often, when people prepare meatloaf for dinner, they are doing so to be thrifty. Thrifty does not necessarily have to mean boring, or bad! When I think of all the terrible meatloaves I've eaten in my lifetime, it's enough to make me cringe! I've had it dry, flavourless, crusty, spongy, drowned, and greasy. Most restaurant meatloaf is TERRIBLE. Never order the meatloaf! It's usually a badly-prepared and overcooked knock-off of Salisbury steak, swimming in vile packaged mix gravy, or covered in some type of stewed tomato goo.

I'm quite confident, that I make the best meatloaf on this planet, after having perfected my technique for over 10 years. If you follow this recipe, yours will be just as divine!


2 lbs. raw ground round (beef)
1/2 c. whole milk or half-and-half
1 1/4 c. quick-cooking oatmeal
1/2 c. applesauce
2 eggs
2 T. bottled barbecue sauce (any brand will do)
1 sachet Lipton's Beefy Onion soup mix
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1/8 t. baking powder (such as Clabber Girl)
1/4 t. fresh ground black pepper

1/2 c. Heinz tomato catsup
2 T. brown sugar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. dry mustard

In a large mixing bowl, combine beef, milk, oatmeal, applesauce, eggs, BBQ sauce, onion soup mix, garlic, baking powder, and pepper; mix well.

Spoon into a loaf (bread) pan. Bake for about 50 minutes at 350 degrees F., or until the juices run clear, and a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Before the last 10 minutes of cooking, combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl, and spread over top of the meatloaf. You may also finish cooking under the broiler, if you want an extra-carmelised topping (this is what I do). Total baking time is about one hour.

The oats give it a nice meaty texture, and soak up any grease that might otherwise be left floating in the pan. The pectin in the applesauce keeps it moist. The baking powder lends a bit of loft, so it's not like a rock.

I solemnly promise that this meatloaf will be tender, flavourful, and delicious....and the best you have ever eaten!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Homemade Vietnamese Iced the $3.95 you'd spend at St**b**ks!

As spring steals into summer, the temperatures are becoming too warm to enjoy one's usual hot caffeinated beverages. To hell with iced tea! I think it's quite foul, spent, cheap, and bitter-tasting, especially when over-brewed and overly-sweetened. Coffee, on the other hand, is absolutely divine, when it's made fresh, sweet, and creamy, and served over ice.

Sadly, a freshly-made iced coffee from the local cafe franchise can cost dearly (upwards of $3)! I'm about to show you how to make something exactly like it at home, for a fraction of the cost-- no more than 50 cents per serving! If you don't love me already, you will, after you taste this! The recipe serves 4, but it can be used for single servings, as well. Or, if you drink a lot of coffee, you can make the coffee mixture ahead of time, and keep it in a thermos, to pour over ice at your leisure.

You will need 4 tall coffee cups, if you're making this for other family members/company. If only for yourself, one tall cup will do.


* 4 cups water (1 cup per serving)
* 1/2 cup fresh dark roast ground coffee beans (2 tablespoons per serving)
* 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk (2 tablespoons per serving)
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (1/2 teaspoon per serving)
* cracked ice

Brew the coffee grounds with water, using your preferred method to make strong coffee. Spoon 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk, and 1/2 t. of vanilla extract, into each coffee cup. Pour 1 cup of fresh hot coffee into each cup, and stir to dissolve the milk. Fill the rest of the cup with cracked ice, and stir. You may add a sprinkle of cinnamon, if you like. You may also add a squirt of flavoured syrup. Whipped cream is also nice.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

An effective, homemade wasp/fly trap, for about 20 cents!

I hate yellowjacket wasps! I live in a manufactured home community, and it seems that every subsequent year I've been here, they've become more and more of a nuisance. Today, I'm going to show you a way to trap them, that is SO simple, and economical, you won't know why you didn't think of it!

You'll need an empty 2 or 3 litre soda bottle, some duct tape, a razor knife, 1 or 1 1/2 cups of brightly-coloured sweet liquid (such as over-sweetened orange Kool Aid, which I'm using here), and a bit of cord or twine.

 I've used a 3 litre pop bottle, in this demonstration. The label has been peeled off, but there is a bit of it remaining. This will be my guide to show where to cut. Using the razor knife, carefully cut into the bottle, about 1/3 of the way down (roughly an inch and a half below the top of the label). Cut it as evenly as you can, all around the circumference.

This is how it should look, when it's done.

Now, take the two pieces, and slide the piece with the bottle neck attached upside down into the piece with the base. Push it down as far as it will go, so there are no gaps around the edges, where the bugs could escape. It should fit very tightly.

 Now, take the cord, and wrap the ends in a bit of tape, to strengthen the bond between the cord and the duct tape when you fasten them on.

Tape the ends of the cord directly across from one another, on opposite sides of the bottle. Be sure to keep it below the edge of the bottom half, so you'll be able to remove the top half, and dump out the dead bugs.

When you're done, it should look like this.

Pour your sugary liquid into the wasp trap.

There should be about 3/4 of an inch, between the bottle rim and the liquid. This will make it too confusing for the bugs to get out.

Here you have it, the finished product! Hang it wherever you see a wasp nest close by. I managed to decimate an entire small colony of wasps within five days, last year, with a trap just like this one.

Good luck!

I'm not sure what I'll be posting about, next time. It'll come to me soon, so have no fear! Keep reading!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are you ready for our shopping date?

If I haven't already bored you to death with lists and litany, then you're still with me! As the old saying goes, "All work, and no play, can make one's life extremely dull." Well, I refuse to come off as a dull, matronly authoritarian (as I'm anything but)! Today, we're going to have a bit of fun, and do some internet window shopping, on one of my favourite websites,!

If you're not already familiar with Etsy, it's a site created expressly for the buying and selling of handmade and vintage items, and the supplies with which to create your own projects. I've hand-picked some neat items and sellers to showcase, that I hope you will like! The practical, the artistic, the stylish, the eclectic, and the nostalgic, are all qualities of the products I'll be featuring.

After all, what good is a home, if you don't have wondrous, interesting objects to keep within, and to surround it?

Seeing as it's the end of spring, starting into summer, I'm going to begin with a few neat items to jazz up your gardens.

First of all, I just LOVE this organic birdhouse! "Handmade with jute, hemp, pine needles, moss, sticks and other forest finds." I think it's the cutest use of natural materials, EVER! The crafter claims it to be sturdy, and weatherproof. It costs $29.95, and is available here, from Bear Paw Rustics.

Here's another great birdhouse for your garden! This one is a decoupaged with images from "Ziegfield Follies" sheet music. If you love items with a vintage cabaret/pinup theme, this is for you! It's available here, from Connelly Art, and costs $49.95.

I don't know about you, but I think these "literal" garden marker stakes are an absolute hoot!!!!! Parsley, sage, and thyme, are shown here. They're made from polymer clay painted with a clear glaze, with metal stakes, and are available here, for $9.00 each, from The Rows Garden.

As everyone knows, I am a huge Wile E. Coyote ("Super Genius!") fan. I truly admire his Rube Goldberg-esque plans for trapping the Roadrunner, and his tenacity. Here is a super-cute garden 'whirl-a-gig' stake, featuring my fave cartoon character! He is made of wood, hand-painted with patio paints, and sealed with polyurethane, to keep him weatherproof. He's available here, from Dust and Clay, for $45.

I've also found a few great vintage items, for your kitchen! Check these out!

This "Hey Diddle-Diddle" (like the nursery rhyme) teapot and cups set is so completely kitschy, novel, and quaint, I could just kiss it! It is an older collector's set, made by Department 56 (famous for their Christmas village collectibles), so it's very desirable. You can find it here, from Vintage Wares, and it costs a measly $40! (if anyone would like to buy this for me, I would love you forever!)

I'm a complete sucker, for vintage enamelware. This little colander is precious! It's metal, painted with cream and forest green enamel, and bears the motto, "Out with the bad, in with the good" painted upon its base.Sure, it's a bit dinged-up, but that only adds to its shabby charm. This little beauty is available here, from Change of Plans, for a meager $8!!!! Snap this one up, it's special, and so reasonably priced!

What a great vintage aluminium canning sieve, with wooden pestle! I had one of these, years ago, that I bought from a boot sale. It became an indispensable gadget, in my kitchen! Snap this one up, kids! Kitchen ware of this age and quality is becoming more and more difficult to find! It's available here, from The Plaid Curtain, for a very-reasonable $24!

Here's another great vintage piece! I happen to LOVE Fire King glassware. It's an oval cooking-and-serving casserole dish, with lid. This baby is like new, and comes in the box, along with the original metal stand and chafing burner. It even has the original candle that came with it! It can be purchased here, from A Glimpse From the Past, for the low price of $24! Don't let this great deal pass you by!

Now, for some neat functional housewares, and decorative items.

This is an absolutely lovely Imperial Russian lavatory towel valet, from the turn of the century. It screws into the wall, next to your washbasin, and the clip holds your hand towels. Sure, it's rusty, but it's still charming, and very functional! This little gem is available here, from Imagined Place, for $35. I just love it!

What a great little Mastercrafters vintage clock! It's made to give the illusion of a mantle and fireplace, with a fire burning inside. It hails from the 1950s, and is in working order. Who wouldn't love to have this wonderful creature sitting on their side table?! It's available here, from Blyth House Vintage, for the sum of $70. Love it!

I love the modern, streamlined look of this Mid-Century Goodform aluminium chair! The vinyl upholstery is worn in a few places, but it could easily be restored. It can be purchased here, from Otter Tales, for $110.

Everyone who knows me, knows that I am all about arachnids!!!! They are my favourite living creatures, aside from felines. This is a neato original acrylic-on-canvas painting of a female Argiope bruennichi, or Wasp Spider. It's 8" x 8", signed, dated, and titled by the artist. You can purchase it here, for $40, from Beaded Frog. So awesome!

I've saved the best find, for last! I'm completely in LOVE with this devil/Krampus/Pan/satyr face ashtray!!!! Isn't he a complete hoot?!?!?! There is some interesting history behind him, too. He was found in an archaeological dig, on an old battlefield. This guy was most likely made by a bored soldier, from melted-down spent munitions. Whoever made this beguiling fellow, was a very gifted artist! I think this little devil is just the cat's a$$, don't you? He can be purchased here, from Imagined Place, for a mere pittance-- are you ready-- $75!!! What a fascinating piece of history, to be had for a song!

Thus ends our little shopping trip, down Etsy lane. I hope you've enjoyed these awesome items I have featured in my blog, as much as I do! Take care, until next time!

In my next blog entry, I'm going to show you how to build a simple, yet effective, homemade wasp and yellowjacket trap! I hate those little buggers!