Garlic Angel Hair Pasta Recipe

Angel-Hair-PastaTrying to find an easy, quick meal for dinner tonight? Look no further, because this recipe is not only super easy to prepare, its fast too. And delicious and even your picky kids will eat it. Add chicken or shrimp for a twist.

Garlic Angel Hair Pasta Recipe

8 oz. angel hair pasta, uncooked
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved (you can use garlic salt or powder if you’d like to even further simplify… add about 1 to 2 tsp. – add more if desired)
1/4 c. butter, cubed
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. chives
salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the angel hair pasta according to the package directions, adding garlic cloves to the water. If you don’t want to use the garlic cloves, don’t add anything to the water. Drain; discard garlic cloves if used.

Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl; add butter. Toss gently until butter is melted. Add the Parmesan, chives and garlic salt if desired; toss to coat. Makes about 6-8 servings.

Looking for Writing Software?

software2I’m always on the lookout for writing software for my laptop that will help or enhance my writing. My favorite program for novel writing, which I have mentioned a few times on this blog, is Liquid Story Binder. Simplistic, but perfect.  It offers so much, and has seriously helped me get FAR more organized than I used to be. Plus they offer a free download so you can try it out.

I know there are many of you though, who are looking for other options and other types of writing software.

Here are some terrific writing programs:

Character Pro – Great stories begin with great characters, yet creating memorable, well-defined characters can be one of the hardest things to pull off. Now there’s writing software that will help you find the perfect character every time!

Dramatica Pro – Dramatica Pro software is your creative writing partner. Create great characters. Plan your plot from start to finish. Dramatica Pro blasts away those writer’s blocks. Dramatica Pro is the only story development software to receive four stars from Writer’s Digest magazine.

Power Structure – Power Structure helps you shape your good ideas into a great novel, screenplay, or stageplay.

Know of any other great software for writers? Especially free downloads or trial/demo versions, please leave a comment and a link and let us know!!

Character Development Helpers

Been working on my characters for the past few days, and found some useful websites that I thought I would share. I figured these would help anyone that was doing any type of character development.

Need a last name?

Need an Irish first name? (this is really for myself, because I am working on something that required me to have a very Irish first name.)

Need a first name for any culture or country?

Need to know your character inside and out?

Need to know the legal age for any magnitude of things in any country?

Need to find a job for your character? - This site tells you salary, education requirements and what you would be expected to do in each job. I love this site… great resource.

This is another great job locating informational site!

Find out how much you would be paid to do any job in any state.

Want to learn more about people/areas/etc. in your stories?

Need to know more about an ailment/disease/medical condition?

Learn about any world religion.

So, that’s it for now. I have lots more resources, and I will add more as time allows. Enjoy and if you find something useful, please leave a comment with the link or links below. Thanks guys!!

10 Random Coffee Tips

I am an avid coffee drinker, yes, I drink like a pot a day. I really wish I didn’t do that, but recently I read an article about the good properties of coffee, and that it has been proven to actually contain anti-oxidants and other things that ward off all kinds of problems. I’ll take that. At any rate, I have dozens of lbs of coffee grounds at the end of a week or two, and sometimes even leftover coffee, so what can I do with all these extra’s and exactly how do I make the perfect, hot cup of coffee? Read on to find out.

1. Always use cold water when filling your coffee maker. Do not use hot water. The cold water allows it to work slowly, getting the full effect and allowing you to use less coffee grounds and still make a perfect cup of coffee.

2. To flavor your coffee, just add extracts to the pot. Taste test until desired flavor is sought.

3. For the freshest, fullest flavor, buy whole bean coffee and only grind as much coffee as you plan on using that day. It is less expensive to purchase the whole beans and it keeps your coffee fresher for longer.

4. Not being a big fan of black coffee (a little bit too bitter for me), I tried this tip and actually enjoyed the flavor quite a bit. Make your coffee full strength which is about 2 level Tbs. per 6 oz. of water or 2.5 – 3 level Tbs. per 8 oz. of water, and then mix hot water into the strong coffee. The cup of coffee I enjoyed was quite a bit smoother with no bitterness than my typical “black cup”. While I still wanted my cream and sugar in it because that’s just me, it tasted a LOT better.

5. In the summertime in particular, I really enjoy an iced coffee once in awhile. Now you don’t have to just drop ice cubes into your coffee to turn it into iced coffee. Try this: Brew a fresh pot of coffee, remove it from the warming plate and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze. Drop these into your coffee and when the “cubes” begin to melt, your iced coffee will not become weaker. They really work and are quite refreshing.

Now to change pace a little and give you some “recycling” methods for your coffee grounds, etc.

6. Use coffee grounds to fertilize your plants or garden. Used coffee grounds are nutrient-rich for flowers and plants that thrive in an acidic soil. Just sprinkle and then mix into the soil. Works especially well for carrots and radishes!

7. Do you fish? Mix the coffee grounds into the soil before dropping your worms in, and they will stay alive longer. I’m not sure why this works but we tried it and it did.

8. Deodorize your refrigerator or freezer. Place coffee grounds in a bowl and place on shelf of either. The smells will go away.

9. Coffee grounds make a fairly abrasive cleaner. Mixed with the acidic nature of the grounds, they are great for removing tough cooked on foods, etc.

10. Believe it or not, coffee grounds are great for your skin and hair. Use as facial mask, and then when removing, use to exfoliate your skin. Be sure and use them to wash your hair as well. Those with brown or darker hair, will find natural shiny streaks and highlights after a quick wash through. We tried this on my daughter’s blond hair, and her hair was very bright and shiny afterward. She loved the result and her hair seemed softer.

Do you have any strange/odd/obscure uses for coffee grounds or know of a terrific tip for getting the best cup of coffee?

This Year’s NaNo or NaNo ’09

I have quite a few ideas running through my head for this year’s NaNo. Today I came to the conclusion, I just need to figure out which one I want to go with, so that I can concentrate on planning/plotting and outlining.

I decided to be creative (though I was last year too, I just don’t know where the banner went….) and create a book banner for this year’s NaNo. I know I could make it better, but I like it like it is.

irishthunder

Freezer Cooking Will Help with the Rising Cost of Food

It is easy to notice the recent increase in the price of food. With the increase, there is a rise in the number of families exercising freezer cooking as a method to save money. When the economy turns sour, the prices go up and this affects families and budgets in ways that weren’t planned for.

Freezer cooking can help a family save thousands of dollars a year if used actively. The rising cost of food is what typically hurts a family budget, not the cost to prepare the food. If freezer cooking is excercised it goes without saying that obviously there is a meal plan in place. Planning is an important part of freezer cooking and as such, takes some time to get used to. Cooking sessions are time consuming, but warrant wonderful results. A freezer full of food is security for any sized family, and eliminates stress from time constraints, and daily meal planning. It seems relatively convenient to most mom’s to open a freezer and select a meal from the options inside.

Convenience is only one benefit of freezer cooking. Cooking ahead of time allows for meals to be prepared from scratch which is a large money saver. Statistics show that a family of four can save up to $1800 dollars per year by preparing meals from scratch, avoiding boxed and convenience meals, and eliminating restaurant eating.

In today’s economy it is important to make adjustments to accomodate a budget and a rising cost of living.

After the Garage Sale

Yard-Sale3-fbOur garage sale is over, I’m exhausted and we made some cash and got rid of some things. Problem is, we still have so much that we have planned to have the sale again next weekend on Saturday and Sunday mornings. We discovered that the Friday night pre-sale only works if you are having a neighborhood garage sale, or if it is really popular in your area. Our area didn’t quite know what to make of us sitting outside on a Friday night. Amusing and frustrating all at the same time.  I am however, really glad we are not having it this morning too.

We did sell quite a bit on Saturday and all together we made quite a bit of money, but we still have way too much stuff, and we are going to give it one more go. After that, we’ll be listing the rest on Freecycle, just to clear it out.

Have you ever listed your garage sale on Craigslist before?

I haven’t, but my friend suggested it as an additional advertising tool, and I’m game. If you have, did it help bring more people in? What are your favorite ways to advertise? I have seriously exhausted all of my ways to advertise, so I will be posting those in tomorrow’s post. I’m eager to hear what inexpensive and free ways all of you advertise your garage sales. I’m also curious what works in your area, as we are figuring out many techniques work differently, depending on your state, city, or area.

At least I have another week to find more stuff!

Advertising for a Garage Sale

garage sale signsAdvertising is key to having a successful garage sale. You can have the nicest stuff in the world to sell, and it might be all nice and clean and even fairly priced. If you don’t advertise the sale correctly, you could wind up with few customers and more stuff that you counted on to put away at the end of the sale. Here are some of my favorite tricks, techniques and tips for advertising for your garage sale.

* Use lots of signs. The more the better. Place them on the side of the road that the cars are traveling. Place two outside your neighborhood, once faced one way and the other faced the opposite way to pull traffic from both sides.

* Be sure that all of your signs look the same or at least have common similarities. Many people just “follow” the signs, and don’t have time to jot down address’, etc. Make it easier for them by helping them to see your signs.

* Attach balloons to each sign. I recommend helium filled because they won’t get in the way of the words written on the sign and they are easier to spot. You might use seasonal colors. But make sure all the balloons are the same color, again to make the uniformity of the signs.

* Try craigslist. If craigslist has a section in your area, definitely place an ad. They are free and you can say whatever you want. This is the first garage sale I have ever used craigslist, but I have received a huge response. It has done me well.

* Use the library bulletin boards, grocery store, college campus (especially if you have items that a college student might be interested in), newsletters for church or school, etc. to place ads. Most places will be fine with you posting an ad, as long as you remove it at the end of the sale.

* Take out an ad in your local newspaper. In our area, an ad costs $15.00 and runs in three area papers. The cost of the $15 is quickly made back, because anytime I have placed an ad, I have had dozens of people at my door the moment I am ready to open my sale. If you don’t want early birds, be sure to specify that in the ad. You might still get a few…. die-hard garage salers are relentless. LOL

* When creating signs for the garage sale, write big and bold and legibly. It is important that it be read from a distance.

* When you have placed all your signs, drive by EACH sign and double check that it can be seen from the car, and if need be, move it as quickly as possible.

* A new idea I was just told about for this sale in particular, was to send out invitations. On the invitations, request that your friends spread the news about your garage sale. Even invite them to throw some stuff into the sale if they would like. Remember that word of mouth is a great advertising technique for anything. I modified the invitation idea, and sent out an email to my local friends and family with a brief list of what I was offering, and the dates, times and locations. I encouraged them to forward the email to their local friends and family members, which I hoped would continue to circulate until the date of the sale. I also included a link to my address on mapquest which I figure took the guess work out of it for anyone they forwarded it to. Plus my address in unincorporated so its difficult to get to come up on mapquest and other map sites. This made it easier.

What are some of your favorite tips for advertising your garage sale?

Making Your Own Starbucks Coffee Recipe

cappuccinoI absolutely adore Starbucks, and quite honestly could be dubbed a Starbucks-aholic. I could grab a cup of Starbucks  coffee every single day, possibly a few times a day, but if I did – my bills would definitely not get paid. Designer / Gourmet coffee might taste pretty and delicious, but it is extremely costly. It really isn’t worth it, especially if you use a little ingenuity and try it at home.  You can purchase a machine if you want, but it can be done without and get a similar taste. Doing it this way will save you  a lot of money and you can still enjoy your delicious coffee too.

This is how I make my special coffee at home, it is definitely the perfect coffee treat.

Pour your coffee into a fun mug or cappuccino mug. Add a little bit of french vanilla coffee creamer – add as much as you like until it tastes the way you like it, if you don’t enjoy really sweet, use less. Now, spray whipped cream all over the top. Taste to be sure it is made the way you like it. You can use flavored coffee’s to get different tastes, or different creamers too.

This might not be as good as real Starbucks gourmet coffee, but it sure tastes AWESOME and certainly cuts back the cost of grabbing that expensive Starbucks coffee when the mood strikes! I do it several times a week, and I change out my coffee creamers and coffee flavors often. Try the pumpkin spice in your coffee that way – in the fall it is simply heavenly. Oh yummy, now I want a cup!

You can also experiment with different flavored extracts, coffee syrups, herbs, spices, etc. Add loads of ice to make any coffee iced.

Do you enjoy gourmet coffee? Do you get out and get them much anymore?