March 29, 2012

How To Cut Up a Mango

Posted by Ethne~

For those of you in warmer climates, this is probably well-known fact, but to us Northerners, cutting tropical fruit is not common knowledge.  Sure, we can do it, but not like experts.  More like a fruit massacre.  You oughta see me picking the seeds out of a pomegranite.  There is likely one swear word attached to each seed which = approximately 100 effenheimers.

My bff, DD’s husband, FD, is Mexican-American and man, can he make the most fabulous mango-watermelon smoothie.  I tried to re-make his smoothie one time myself and it was crap.  FD can also cut up a pineapple like nobody’s business.  And tamales…I thank the Good Lord for my taste buds.

At DD's house for my baby shower; I was cute
pregnant at 22 weeks...DD is wearing red

FD totally knows how to cut up a mango.  I’ve seen his hands in action.  For this demonstration, Thrifty Nana does the hand-modeling.

Thrifty Nana (my mom)

First, wash the mango.  Duh.  Who knows where it’s traveled from (obviously outside of MN for me) and how many people have handled it?

These mangoes are good and ripe

Second, find the black ‘eye’ – where the mango attached to the plant – and point it so that the ‘eye’ is facing you.

Ahoy Matey!

Third, hold the mango up on its edge (so it’s not laying on its side), still with the ‘eye’ facing you, and cut the mango lengthwise first on the left side of the ‘eye’ and then on the right side of the ‘eye’ (use your large knife for this).  This positioning will cut around the giant pit that’s in the middle, lengthwise, of the fruit.

Fourth, slice off all the rest of the fruit from the pit.  There isn’t any science to this.  I usually just shave as closely around the pit as I can.

Fifth, on the smaller pieces, cut the skin off with a smaller paring knife.  Then take your two larger medallions and lay them fruit-side up.  Being careful not to cut through the skin of the mango, make even slices from top to bottom.

Now turn the mango and make perpendicular slices from side to side – like you’re making a checkerboard. 

Try this criss-cross technique with an avocado before
scooping it out - makes easy cubes for salsa/guac

NOTE: I find that if I hold the mango in my hand and cut really carefully, it helps to keep me from cutting through the mango skin because I can feel the blade of the knife tip running past my skin – of course I am extremely careful.  Complete disclaimer here, Friends.

Sixth, turn the large medallions inside out, so the checkerboard pieces are sticking out.  Then just easily run the knife along the base of each cube and it’ll fall right off.

How easy is that?  And there is nothing like a mango.  To me, it’s like a silky-sugary-piney-peach flavor, and it’s divine.  Perhaps I can get FD to divulge his watermelon-mango smoothie on the blog.  It might help if you all put peer pressure on him by writing ‘MANGO PLEASE FD!’ in the comment section below.

March 28, 2012

THRIFTY TIP: Pedicures on Sale!

Posted by Ethne~

Thrifty Nana and I gave ourselves a TOTAL TREAT Saturday.  We got pedicures! 

OPI's 'You're A Pisa Work'

There’s just about nothing I hate more than having to paint my own toenails.  I’m perfectly competent, it’s just a pain in the a$$.  Same goes for laundry and cleaning the bathroom.  HORRIBLE!

Having my heels buffed up, my nails trimmed, and a fresh coat of spring-colored pink polish is heavenly.  Warning: do not shave your legs beforehand - I got TERRIBLE razor burn. 

Here’s the THRIFTY TIP.  Nail places kinda have it figured out that we are coming out of hibernation and wearing shoes where our toes show.  So they are having specials GALORE.

Pedicures normally cost $30-45, depending on where you are and whether you get certain services.  TN and I only paid $19.99! 

I won’t be doing this once a week, but starting off springtime with fresh feet is pretty darn nice.
Easy Mac took a picture of her foot - she's got pink tootsies too!

March 27, 2012


Posted by Lori~

A great big thanks to Ethne for covering the last few days!  But, I had to share photos on what we have been up to.  Mur-man went into the hospital last night and it looks like we might be here for a few more days!

He will be fine, but we have been struggling for two weeks with Mur-Man wanting to eat and when he does eat, keeping it down.

Not only that, but he has a cough that just keeps hanging on.

And so, we went to doctor trip #2 and it was decided that he would go into the hospital.  And, we were relieved.

And of course...there are a few tears!
So far, the diagnosis is pneumonia (not a very strong case), but we’re still not sure what is causing Mur-Man not to eat or keep the food down.  But, we are optimistic and Mur-Man is enjoying his stay so far!

March 26, 2012

Teensy Bead Angels

Posted by Ethne~

I have a few friends who need a guardian angel watching over them.  

Angel for my Friends

This is the angel my friend, SA, gave me shortly before I got pregnant with the girls.  I am certain that my guardian angel has checked in on us many times.  We are very blessed.  I gave an angel to my bff, SK, when she needed to be looked after.

When I made the girls’ teensy pink bead fairies (see how cute those are here), I had an inspiration – I should make bead angels.  Sure enough, they had teensy angel kits for sale at my local bead shop here in big city, MN.  At $3.95 each, the price for the kits was pretty reasonable.  But…I knew I could do better!

All you need!

I purchased faceted fire-polished glass beads to be the angel bodies.  These look quite a bit like Swarovski crystal beads but are a ton cheaper.  The bead store had a giant bowl of these beads selling at $2.30 per ounce.  I picked out the three beads I wanted and they cost me a whopping 14¢ - that’s 4.6¢ per bead.  (For comparison, an equivalent Swarovski crystal would be about $1.00 per bead.)

Sorry the pic is bad - the bead is about the size of a small pea.

I used the exact small wings bead that the bead store used for the kits.  Those cost 90¢ each.  Aren’t they cute?  These come in gold tone as well.

A 3mm white pearl is the face of the angel.  Those were 12¢ each.

The last bead is a tiny decorative disc bead called a small turk heishi.  No idea about that name; but they are cute and were only 35¢ each.  These also come in gold tone.

The most expensive purchase was a bag of 2” headpins to assemble the angels.  The bag of 50 headpins cost $3.50, which is .07¢ per headpin.  I’ll obviously have plenty leftover for future projects.

There were no instructions for the angel kit, but it was easy enough to figure out.  Here’s what I did:

Take your headpin and put the large crystal bead on it.  (If the hole of the bead is too big for the base of the headpin, put a little clear seed bead first, then the crystal.  I had to do that for two of my angels.)

Next put the wings on.

Then the pearl angel head.

Now the angel’s halo.

Use the technique from my fairy tutorial (here) to finish off the headpin so there is a loop at the top.  I’m still working on my skill at this technique, but I’m not terrible at it.

I have to say these are the cutest ever.  I know they will bring blessings to my friends.

I spent a total of $8.30 on the purchase, but broken down per unit, each angel cost $1.90.  But the price doesn’t matter, really.  I know that my friends will love them and the thought behind them.  Now hopefully the angels will arrive in the mail soon!

March 25, 2012

Homemade Jalapeno Poppers!

Posted by Ethne~

Shaun and I are big fans of jalapeno poppers from the freezer section of the grocery store.  Well, of course I figure I can make anything myself that could be purchased at the grocery store.

Exceptions: pretty much any French or Asian cuisine.

I saw a recipe online a while back, and I don’t remember where it was, but generally it was cream cheese, mixed with cheddar cheese, and baked onto an open-faced jalapeno pepper.

Not too difficult.

Shaun and I purchased several large jalapeno peppers at the store.  I already had cheddar cheese and cream cheese (I used low-fat ‘neufatchel’ cheese, which is the same thing, just fewer calories) on hand.

The poppers at the store are fully breaded and really don’t contain that much jalapeno.  Well, I don’t need fully-breaded.  To keep the breading essence, however, I used my Chef Robert's breading mix that I use all the time to coat fish and chicken: you don’t need to fry it, it makes a delish crust just by baking with it!  If you can’t find this breading mix, make up your own with a mixture of fine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper and a little flour.

I find this in the fresh fish section at Cub

Here’s what to do:

Halve six large (or eight small) jalapeno peppers and scrape out the inside membranes and seeds.  If you like things a little spicier, keep a few seeds and membranes in there – when the peppers are cooked they really don’t have a lot of bite left, as in the girls ate the poppers with no complaint.  (Of course, we’ve never held back on seasonings and spiciness for them so their palate isn’t bland.)

Mix together 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese with a ½ block of room temperature cream cheese.  I used a fork to smash it together. 

Shake in 1-2 teaspoons of garlic salt and mix well.

Place the halved jalapenos face-up on a greased cookie sheet (or a greased piece of tinfoil on a cookie sheet for no clean-up).

With a spoon, place a good dollop of cheese mixture onto each jalapeno half.

Sprinkle the cheese-topped jalapenos well with the breading mixture and put the pan into a preheated 350ยบ oven.

I baked them at 5-minute increments (since I was experimenting) until the cheese was melted and the breaded tops were slightly brown.  It ended up being 25 minutes.

The nice thing about this recipe is that the breading on top gives the poppers a crust and the cheddar cheese holds things together so the cream cheese doesn’t melt out of the pepper and onto the pan.  They were delicious – none leftover (and that’s the true test of if a recipe passes muster in my house).

See how the cheese is melted and the crust browned?

Also, this recipe is pretty easy to continue to experiment with.  You could use any kind of cheese and seasonings you want.  I told Shaun it would be interesting to try this out and wrap the poppers in crescent dough before baking – but the timing on that I’d have to experiment with.  You could chop up the jalapenos and mix the cheddar cheese with a stick of butter instead of cream cheese and spread the mix and peppers into the middle of a loaf of French bread and bake till all melted (wrapped in tinfoil) – I’ll have to try that and get back to you.

Have a nice Monday!

March 22, 2012


Posted by Lori~

That’s right, I will be in Ethne and my hometown this weekend and we are taking COUPON 101 on the road.  First stop, Williston, ND.

Here we are at our High School graduation!
I will teach you the ins and outs of saving real money while having fun!  Not only that, but it doesn’t take a lot of time and it puts real money in your pocket.

You can find me at Faith United Methodist Church in Williston, ND at 2:00 p.m. this Sunday and I can’t wait.

Like, I have taught my Mur-Man, “ROCK-ON:  COUPON!”

March 21, 2012

CRASH MY STASH: No-sew Fabric Flowers!

Posted by Ethne~

Well, Friends, now that it’s officially spring, I have Spring Fever!  It has kinda felt like we flowed right from fall into spring with this whack job winter we’ve had, but I’m in full-on spring mode now.  Time to rock it.

I may or may not love pastel colors, which, unless you’re decorating for a baby nursery, is not cool to admit.  Which means, I’ll deny it to the grave.  But…a very colorful palette is just what I need to brighten my days until the leaves fully pop.  The lilac outside my house is trying really hard, so it’ll be soon!

So, I’ve scoured some of Lor’s and my fave blogs and Pinterest.  If you aren’t on Pinterest yet, you are still in the dark ages like my dad, and that’s saying a lot since he just got an iPhone last weekend.  He even sent me a text pic of his lazy cat.  We’re talking the equivalent jump in modern science of Einstein coming to his Theory of Relativity.

Dad & Mom Connie's lazy cat Louie

And on a complete tangent, I Google searched the Theory of Relativity the other day and according to Wikipedia, and I’m paraphrasing, Einstein’s postulate leaves open the possibility of time travel.  Be sure you take my interpretation of this scientific leap and its applications to, among other things, finding new planets by looking at their gravitational pull on their home planet.  WTF?  I’ll leave theorizing aspects of the known universe to Stephen Hawking and get back to the equally important task of brightening my day with…no-sew fabric flowers!!

Soon enough!

I found 16” long dowels in the woodworking section of JoAnn’s – 20 dowels for $.99.  Oh yeah.  I wanna say the width of the dowels are ¼”.  CAUTION: you can find similar dowels in the cake-decorating section – 10 for $3.  Forget that.

Sprayed sticks

I purchased apple green spray paint on clearance for $2.97.  Shaun helped me spray the sticks {outside} by inserting them into a piece of cardboard just enough for them to stand up tall.  Don’t worry about that little end that won’t get painted – you cover that up with the fabric of your flower and no one will be the wiser.  It took just a minute to spray them, and they were okay to handle in 20 minutes.

While my dowels were drying into their apple green glory, I cut strips of colorful fabric – crash my stash!  My strips are 2” wide by 16” long, give or take.

Ready, Set, Glue!

Warm up your glue gun and spread your materials in front of you.  You’ll have to be careful not to burn your fingers.  I’ll admit that I had a blister by the end of this project.

Making these is not an exact science.  It took a little practice to get the fabric to look just like I wanted it, but basically, this is what I did:

Gather about 3-4 pleats of the end of your fabric strip and squeeze a dab of glue onto the center of it.  Smoosh the un-painted end of your dowel flower stem into the glue and try to keep the fabric gathered together.  This will make the start of your flower.


Keep gathering a couple of pleats at a time and secure with glue as you wrap the fabric strip around and around.  I found that I needed secure the pleats on the inside and outside as I wrapped.  Just secure with glue wherever you need to. 

I made and glued a few pleats at a time

Keep your wrapping a little loose so it looks like a rose as it’s opening.  I found it looked nice to angle the fabric strip downwards slightly as I wrapped the fabric to give it some depth.

Angling down a little bit

I wrapped a little circle of felt, with a snip cut up the center of it, around the base of the flower to cover the glue and fabric ends.

That’s it!  No sewing, nominal mess, and a pretty quick project.  You can throw this together for your own house or for a bouquet to bring to Easter.  Mine went on my new counter-height dining room table (which we were forced to buy since Emma broke one of the last solid chairs from our old table set.  Sure, we could’ve gotten new chairs, but we’ve wanted a table for a long time so it was just the right time).

Please excuse the unsightly accessories around my lovely vase;
this was an in-progress shot.

Have a wonderful spring, y’all!

March 20, 2012


Posted by Lori~

Remember Ethne and my trip to Home Goods.  You can read about it here.  I had never been and LOVED IT!  I made one purchase, silicone cupcake liners.  Total cost was under $4.00 and I thought this could be a thrifty way to save while saving the earth.

And guess what…it worked!

I washed them, and filled them with the cupcake mix (of course out of the box).  Baked them and they popped right out.

Mur-man is 2 now and loves making cupcakes!  A great activity for a toddler and I am saving money doing it.  My only regret—not buying more!