I just want to wish everyone a Happy Easter. I hope you are all enjoying the spring season.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Tuesday, March 7, 2017
March has certainly come in like a lion. The wind has been wildly blowing for a couple of days now, and I am surprised I have not seen trees or animals flying by. Prior to yesterday was actually warm and humid to the point of being uncomfortable, but the wind has taken care of that. Brrrr.
For today's Tasty Tuesday, I am sharing a yummy and satisfying hot vegetable casserole with the main attraction:
Layered Hot Dish
1 large package of frozen broccoli and cauliflower
1 can cream of celery soup (do not add water)
1 8-ounce jar of Cheez Whiz
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 can French fried onion rings
Layer ingredients in greased casserole dish according to the order listed above. The French fried onion rings will go on the top. Bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. I cover the casserole for the first 30 minutes of baking and then remove cover and bake for the remaining 15 minutes so onions can get crunchy.
A nice hot comforting dish to compliment a main dish, or you can have this as a meal in itself if you prefer.
Friday, March 3, 2017
Happy Friday, Everyone!
It's the beginning of March, the month where we in the Northern Hemisphere are turning toward the freshness of spring. I have the cleaning and organizing bug, but I am running out of inventory space in my tiny home to accomplish the organization! To remedy this, I am offering discounts between 10 and 30% on many items in my eBay store. I have several items that would make great Easter or Mother's Day gifts.
You can visit my store here: http://stores.ebay.com/abundant-empress
Thursday, March 2, 2017
Hello Everyone -- My apologies for delays in posting. Things have been a little crazy around the home front.
Dollar Tree Craft Item Review:
To jump right in, I have a review of a Dollar Tree craft item that I intended to post last week and forgot. Many people have jumped on to the adult coloring book trend. People often find coloring relaxing, that it helps them to remove themselves from the hassles of the day and to focus on other things. Some of the images available in adult coloring books are really beautiful and can be used as art to decorate walls or made into book covers or made into place mats, and more.
Dollar Tree has many adult coloring book choices from floral and garden designs to geometric designs to famous places around the world and more. It's easy to see what you are getting when you can flip through the books, see the images, and get a feel for the quality of the paper.
But what about the colored pencils for use in coloring those images? Dollar Tree carries a convenient pack of colored pencils, but you can't really tell how they will work or how the colors will look on paper until you get them home.
I picked up a pack of the Dollar Tree colored pencils. The brand is Liqui-Mark, and the pack contains 10 pencils. The colors look very vibrant in the package, and I was pleased to see that they were already sharpened to a fine point. Colors included are: dark green, brown, red, orange, yellow, bright green, sky blue, violet purple, black, and navy blue (the black pencil is in the box, did not realize it had not shown up until after I posted the photo). I thought, "not bad for a buck."
But how do they work and look on paper? I tried each one by coloring a little swatch of each color on a piece of white paper. I found them to work smoothly on the paper. I did NOT press hard with the colors because I have arthritis in my hands and do not want to use art or craft tools where I have to really press hard to get them to work. Thankfully, that was not an issue as the color went onto the paper well, and the pigment was good without having to go over and over it.
Here is how the colors came out on paper. If you go to Dollar Tree and wonder about the quality of the Liqui-Mark colored pencils, here is how they look. I think for a dollar, you can't really beat it.
The black one (because I forgot to use it on the example with the others):
The colors would probably be more vibrant if I chose to go over them a few times or to press hard with the pencil, but for basic colored pencils to keep on hand for your coloring books or journals, this is a great buy, in my opinion.
Now, how about a fun salad or dessert idea for Saint Patrick's Day?
Pear Salad (to get your Green on)
1 3-ounce package of lime jello
1 cup pear juice
2 3-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 16-ounce can of pears, drained (save juice for the 1 cup of juice required)
1 8-ounce carton of Cool Whip
1) Bring the 1 cup of pear juice gently to a boil. Remove from heat. Remove juice from pan and put into a medium size mixing bowl.
2) Dissolve jello in the hot pear juice.
3) Beat the cream cheese into the jello mixture.
4) Crush the drained pears, and add them to the jello mixture.
5) Chill until the mixture is turning thicker (like syrup).
6) Fold in Cool Whip, and chill until firm.
Wishing everyone a great weekend coming up!
Monday, February 20, 2017
To celebrate Presidents' Day, I have put most items in my eBay store on discount pricing.
I hope you will come on over and take advantage of the sale pricing.
My eBay store can be found here: http://stores.ebay.com/abundant-empress
Today's post is Part 2 of my Dollar Tree experiences, likes, and opinions. Today I will be talking about Dollar Tree food.
As well as checking the expiration dates on food items at Dollar Tree (and any other grocery store), you might want to check the label to see where items are produced. I am happy to say that I have found many Dollar Tree food items that are produced in the USA. Some are produced in Spain, Germany, and other European countries. Some are produced in China, India, and other countries in the near and far East. It's up to you which items you choose to purchase.
Also, Dollar Tree will often carry its own brand (Greenbrier Farms) of many different items, but you will also find several well-known name brands at Dollar Tree such as Campbell's, Kraft, Libby's, Uncle Ben's, and more.
NOTE: Not every DT carries the same things at the same times. Each DT store carries what they are able to procure at any given time. You will find many of the same items at each DT, but also different items as well.
NOTE 2: If you find something you like at DT, buy it then, and don't wait. You can never be sure that same item will be in stock the next time you shop there. Inventory, brands, types of items change all the time. Once it is gone, it may not come back.
On to the photos:
Above, I have a photo of some of my recent food purchases.
Back row first:
1) Crush sugar-free drink mix -- 6 packets, intended to put one packet of mix per one 20-ounce bottle of water. I only purchase water by the gallon, so I just add a packet to a regular glass of water. The flavor is a bit stronger that way, but I like it. The Crush flavor shown is Pineapple, which I like. DT often carries other Crush flavors like Strawberry, Orange, and Grape.
2) Hawaiian Punch sugar-free drink mix -- 8 packets, also intended to add to a 20-ounce bottle of water, and I also just mix this with a regular glass of water. This flavor is Wild Purple Smash (grape), though there are usually a few kinds of Hawaiian Punch mix at DT. I see the fruit punch quite often and more types as well.
3) Campbell's Chicken Gravy -- Great over potatoes, rice, noodles. I frequently mix this with baked chicken and cooked veggies to put over egg noodles. Yum.
4) Cream of Wheat in Cinnabon flavor -- OMG. In my opinion, this is so good. There are 3 packets of instant Cream of Wheat in this box. If the sidewalk outside tasted like Cinnabon, I would eat it, so this flavor is A-OK with me.
1) Butterfield Farms White Meat Chicken -- Chunk style, 5-ounce can. Packed in water which is almost like a broth. I add the water to whatever I am cooking with the chicken. This is very good for adding to casseroles, and I often add it to soups to increase the protein content. Made in my home state of Minnesota.
2) Palmer's Peanut Butter Hearts -- These are similar to the peanut-butter cup idea. They are shaped like hearts and taste very good, though they do not taste the same as Reese's so don't expect that they will. The hearts might be sold out now since Valentine's Day is past, but Palmer's is a pretty good candy manufacturer and I have enjoyed their candies at each holiday.
Other foods I purchased recently:
1) In the foreground, there is a 4-ounce pack of Planter's Salted Peanuts. I keep a pack or two of these around because I like to add peanuts to my cooked ramen noodles, and I like to add peanuts to my home-made coleslaw (to add some protein).
2) From the left in back is a 10-ounce jar of the Pampa brand mushroom pieces and stems. This product is made in Holland. This comes out to be a great deal since a 4-ounce can of mushroom pieces and stems at my regular grocery store runs about 75 cents.
3) On the bottom is a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, It is 13.8 ounces, and it is condensed, so you do add a can of water when preparing. This item is a staple in my household, and I do add the canned white chicken (see above) to increase the protein content in this soup. This size can is 25% larger than the regular can of chicken noodle soup in the regular grocery stores, and it only costs one buck.
4) On the top of the soup is a can of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli. And while you can often get this product for the same price or even a bit less than a buck at your regular grocery store on special or with a store coupon, it is handy to get at Dollar Tree if you are already there. Also, my local grocery store often charges $1.25 per can, while DT is always a buck. To add more protein and nutrition to this, I often heat up some frozen broccoli and add it to the pan of ravioli, along with some of the mushroom pieces I mentioned. It makes a nice meal in a hurry. It isn't fancy, but it tastes pretty good and fills the tummy.
5) Next, we have a shaker container of Garlic Salt. Because this is salt, I do use it sparingly, but it is perfect for adding that little extra flavor to a dish. Dollar Tree has a great selection of spices -- each for a dollar. Such a great deal compared to the regular grocery stores.
6) Next, there is a can of Libby's Whole Kernel Sweet Corn. The Libby's vegetables at DT sell for 79 cents per can. I know I can get canned vegetables cheaper at Aldi, but if I need something and I am at DT, I will often purchase it rather than make the drive to Aldi. I love Aldi, but the closest one to me is almost 10 miles.
7) On top of the corn, there is a pouch of Velveeta Cheese Sauce -- the kind of cheese sauce that comes with the Velveeta Shells and Cheese. This particular pouch is Jalapeno Cheese Sauce, which I did not realize when I picked it up, but it is fine with me since I enjoy Jalapeno. DT also carries the regular flavor cheese sauce. I use this product in making a quick pasta casserole with cooked chicken chunks, steamed veggies, and a bit of chopped onion. I add a little bit of milk if it needs more moisture.
So there you have it, folks, just some photos and thoughts and opinions on Dollar Tree from my perspective.
I also want to let you know that Dollar Tree accepts manufacturer coupons, and they often carry products on which you can use those coupons.
Overall, I love Dollar Tree, and I actually need to limit my shopping trips because there is a tendency to spend more money than I intend because everything is only a buck (or sometimes less). And saving a buck is sometimes wiser than spending a buck. But Dollar Tree has great products available when I need them. So YAY for Dollar Tree!
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Today I am posting some photos for you of items I purchase at Dollar Tree.
If you have never been to Dollar Tree, or don't go often, or if you just enjoy shopping at Dollar Tree like I do, this is a post for you.
If you went to a dollar store over 10 years ago and did not like what you found, if the food items were expired or very near expiration or if the cans were mostly dented or damaged, then you need to know that Dollar Tree is not like those old sad dollar stores.
You should be checking expiration dates on food items at any store, but here is the deal with Dollar Tree -- most of the food products that I find at Dollar Tree either expire in 1 to 2 years, or are at least months out from their expiration dates. And the instances of finding dented cans has gone way down. These days you might find a few dented cans, but not more than you find in just about any grocery store.
Dollar Tree might not always be your least expensive store on some items.
Yes, one might be tempted to think Dollar Tree means rock-bottom savings. This is not always the case. But Dollar Tree offers some really great items for a price lower than you can get at regular stores. Dollar Tree also offers convenience and an easier time shopping since you don't have to wander a huge store to find what you are looking for. And Dollar Tree changes up their inventory a lot, so part of the fun is finding something you have never seen there before. Sometimes Dollar Tree will acquire name brand items that you cannot even touch for a buck in the regular stores.
The short list of best items I have found at Dollar Tree:
1) Party supplies -- paper plates, napkins, gift bags, gift wrap, cards -- lots of variety, and fun.
2) Hair styling products -- headbands, head scarves, brushes, barrettes, pony-tail elastics, combs.
3) Nail polish and supplies -- I personally like LA Colors nail polish the best of any I have tried (including brands like Revlon and L'Oreal. For me, that brand is the most long lasting and goes on nicely even with my clumsiness.
4) Body wash and soap -- Lots of selection here. Generally, DT carries a lot of Soft Soap products. They have also been carrying Dial hand soap in the pump recently, and I like that a lot. If you do purchase a product in a pump, test the pump first to ensure it will function. I have run into some off brands that are good, but the pump does not work.
5) Hair care products -- Now, understand that great name brands like L'Oreal or Wen will not generally be available at DT. But for the basic "get the job done" to get your hair clean and conditioned, there are several good choices. VO5 is a common brand at DT, or White Rain shampoos and conditioners. DT also carries Silkience products and more.
6) Facial tissues, paper towels, and toilet paper -- Not all brands are equal, but I do like the Bounty 1-ply paper towels (44 count for a dollar). You can get this same pack for 97 cents at Wal-Mart, but I don't generally enjoy going to Wal-Mart as it is just too big for me. Scotties brand facial tissues are 120 count for a buck. I always get a box or two when I go to DT. They are soft enough to not bother my nose when I have a cold or my allergies are acting up. And surprisingly, the Home Store brand toilet paper is not bad at all. I place it a step up from Scott toilet paper and a step down from Northern. I actually prefer it and pick up a pack when ever I am at DT. There are 4 rolls in a pack for one dollar, and I have not paid that little for toilet paper since I was in college (a long time ago).
On to the photos --
Cleaning / Household Supplies:
1) Good Sense Lawn and Leaf Bags -- In my opinion, the Good Sense brand has decent trash bags, both for the kitchen can and for the large garbage can. I feel the same way about the lawn and leaf bags which I just use for garbage. These are NOT heavy-duty bags, but they are good for normal use. Don't over-stuff them or stuff them full of heavy books or boxes with corners, and they will be okay. Do NOT buy the brand with the really thin bags -- the thin bags will break even as you are filling them. Good Sense bags work much better.
2) Good & Clean Disinfectant Wipes for the bathroom or kitchen -- I personally find that these do the job just as well as any other similar wipes I have tried. These are 24 wipes for a buck.
3) White Distilled Vinegar -- I use this for cleaning windows, mirrors, and to clean the hard water scale off of the ends of faucets. Works really well. 32 ounces for a buck, and it does not take up so much room like a gallon jug from a regular grocery store. Those of use with limited space need to think about that stuff.
4) Baby wipes -- I like these particular Sesame Street Baby Wipes, but DT carries several brands. I use baby wipes all the time in making art projects and for cleaning small items where a rag is too thick. This pack contains 72 wipes, and they do not shred apart or disintegrate when used.
5) Brillo brand household gloves, great for protecting hands while you clean or work on projects. I am able to re-use a pair at least 4 times.
That is it for my post today, All.
I will post Part 2 tomorrow, Monday, Feb. 20. Part 2 will contain food items and a craft item.
So long for now.