Monday, March 30, 2009

Gluten-free, lactose-free cake


Gluten Free Cake (Can be lactose-free too!)

Cake Ingredients:
2/3 cup corn starch
2/3 cup potato starch
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon guar gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon anise extract (or Vanilla)
1 egg (or egg substitute or 2 egg whites)
3/4 cup milk (Vanilla Rice Milk or Soy Milk)
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons oil (or applesauce)
*Fresh fruit may be added to batter prior to baking to enhance cake
Icing ingredients (Alternative to icing is honey or jam):
1/2 stick of butter (or alternative)
3 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk (Vanilla Rice Milk or Soy Milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Use a mixer to beat butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract to make the icing. Cool icing in the refrigerator.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking pan with shortening.
3. Sift together corn starch and potato starch in mixing bowl. Add in the following ingredients in listed order and mix with a spatula: baking soda, guar gum, baking powder, salt, anise extract, egg, milk, sugar and oil.
4. Once the ingredients have been mixed (batter will be thin), scrape the mixture into a round baking pan and bake for 25 minutes, until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a serving plate.
5. Wait until completely cool to apply frosting or icing. When using honey or jam, apply immediately before serving.
If you add fruit to this recipe (which is a nice addition) there are a couple things you need to consider:
*The fruit should be well drained.
*The bake time will be extended at least 10 minutes – maybe longer.

More gluten free recipes:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Clean Your Home: Non-toxic, Environmentally Friendly

If you are interested in ways to utilize non-toxic cleaning methods - or take an environmentally friendly approach to cleaning, this post is for you! 

Below you will find "quick tips" to help you reduce cleaning time or clean more efficiently as well as links to websites that have "recipes" for cleaning products.

*Keep a Magic Eraser (or other similar brand) in your shower/tub. Once a week when you jump in for a shower, turn the shower on and grab the Magic Eraser, wet it and wipe your walls and tub from the top down before going about your show routine. Removes soap scum/grime and you have no harsh chemical residue or fumes to worry about.

*Nontoxic "Recipes" for making your own cleaners can be found here:

* seventh GENERATION also has a line of products that are completely free and clear of dyes and perfumes...

*PureAyre - Eliminate odors caused by pets, cat urine, smoke, skunk, cigars, gasoline, cooking - anything. Powerful odor eliminator, PureAyre, the world's first odor eliminator made only from natural, food-grade ingredients. It is non-toxic and safe to use around pets and children and is safe for the environment! To purchase product, email or call 612-414-4764.

*I have not bee paid to endorse any of these sites/products.

Topic Suggestions?

Always looking for post ideas! What are you wondering about? Topics should be about information that would benefit the average person. Can't wait to hear from you!

Paperwork: What to keep and what to throw...

Most paperwork—even files associated with our retirement savings or taxes—outlives its usefulness pretty quickly. So pull up a chair, fire up the shredder and let's look at what you need to keep and what you can get rid of:

Keep Forever
Social Security cards
birth certificates
adoption papers
marriage licenses
mortgage paperwork
automobile titles (at least until you move or replace your car)
wills and estate-planning documents

Keep for Seven Years
tax records, including returns and any supporting documentation like cancelled checks, receipts or credit card statements. Many banks and credit card companies now maintain your historical statements online, so you may be able to avoid keeping paper copies.

Keep for One Year
monthly investment statements. Consider keeping your December statement on file if it summarizes the year's activity, but feel free to shred statements for the previous 11 months.
credit card statements (if not tied to your tax returns)
receipts that you are not using as supporting documentation for your taxes
*Don't forget to always file receipts with warranty info or your warranty is generally worth nothin'!

*Do you have a scanner? Once you have paid a bill and noted the Check #, date, etc on the bill, scan it in to your computer to a designated "bills" folder for that year. Be sure to regularly back your files up to an external source (zip drive or CD) and at the end of each year, do a full back up, label it and store it in a safe place. Then delete the files for that year from your computer and start the new year fresh!

*Can you go paperless with your bills? If you can, it will save you a lot of paperwork but you will probably have many passwords, websites and accounts to remember. Try keeping all of your information (website/passwords/etc) on a portable drive as well as a printed list that you can store securely. (Create .pdf files using this freeware:

*Get organized and go green with EchoSign! It's geared primarily for business but has a growing future in personal use.

*Just want to organize your printed files effortlessly? Get started with the Financial Planning Organizer Kit. It fits into your filing cabinet and the index files tell you where to file documents and how long to keep the documents.

Here are some more great links with easy lists of keep or throw/shred and helpful tips:

Organizing Paperwork

Tips to KeepYour Paperwork Neat and Under Control

A Complete Guide to Effectively Organizing your Paperwork & Mail

Overcoming Paperwork Clutter

**This post dedicate to Ann.

Little Things You Can Do To Make Someone's Day

Sometimes it just feels good to make somebody else feel good. Here are a few little things you can do for loved ones or complete strangers to make their day.

* Leave a little note for them to find when getting ready in the morning. Something personal or just and inspirational quote.

* Give a hug.

* Hold the elevator/door for someone.

* Help a mother with her arms full pull out a shopping cart.

* Let someone with small children or appears to be in a hurry ahead of you in line.

* Bring dinner (or even just desert) to someone who is sick, elderly or just plain busy/tired.

* Send flowers anonymously.

* When driving, give others an opening in heavy traffic or give up a good parking space.

* Offer a loved one a shoulder massage.

* Pick up lunch for a co-worker who is really busy.

* Leave a favorite pack of candy or gum for someone.

* Sincerely compliment everyone you see.

* Drop off travel size toiletries at a local shelter.

* When shopping, pick up little things/clearance items you know somebody else can use.

* Remove the mailing labels from your (current but finished) magazines and drop them off at hospitals and clinics.

Remember, when someone does something nice for you, pay it forward!

Quote from the 200 Movie: Pay It Forward

"Some people are too scared or something to think things can be different. The worlds not exactly...shit. I guess it's hard for some people who are so used to things the way they are - even if they are bad - to change and they kinda give up and when they do, everybody loses."

Eating Healthy: Part 1 (Grocery Shopping)

Eating healthy is the easiest way to improve your health but searching the web for healthy ways to eat can consume hours if not days of your life. In my opinion, the best start to healthy eating is a healthy grocery list so I set out to find the "must adds" (and the "skip it") foods to get my weekly shopping list started. (I concentrated on on medical and health websites when researching.) Keep in mind, eating habits don't change over night so this will take time!

MUST ADD these to your grocery list:

The Mayo Clinic list these as top 10 foods:
* Almonds
* Apples
* Blueberries
* Broccoli
* Red beans
* Salmon
* Spinach
* Sweet potatoes
* Vegetable juice
* Wheat germ

Additional "good adds"
*Butternut Squash
*Grape Tomatoes (Tomatoes in general)
*Bok Choy (Chinese Cabbage) or Cabbage
*Citrus Fruit, Pomegranate, Apricots, Kiwi, Avocados, Raspberries (berries in general), Cantaloupe, Bananas...
*Watercress and Arugula
*Dried Beans (Beans in general)
*Edamame (young soy beans)
*Seafood (in general)
*Lowfat/Non-fat, Low Calorie Yogurt
*Oats (Oatmeal)
*Whole-grain rye crackers (usually called crispbreads)
*Quick-cooking or regular brown rice (more nutritious than enriched white rice)
*Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah or kee-no-uh)-can be used in place of rice, couscous or any other grain
*Olive Oil
*Onions & Leeks
*Brazil Nuts (nuts are generally full of essential vitamins, minerals and fiber)
*Pumpkin Seeds
*Skim Milk
*Cranberry Juice (low calorie or unsweetened)
*Unsweetened Natural Tea

Things to SKIP (don't worry - substitute suggestions included!)
*Chips (substitute with Rice/Popcorn Cakes)
*Non-dairy topping i.e. Cool Whip (substitute vanilla yogurt)
*Doughnuts (substitute with Whole Grain Bagels)
*Alfredo Sauce (substitute with red sauce or a homemade, low fat version of the Alfredo sauce)
*Traditional pasta (substitute with whole grain pasta)
*Sausage (substitute with turkey sausage)
*Fried Chicken/Chicken Nuggets (substitute with grilled/boiled/baked chicken - use fiery spices and grill to enhance flavor)
*Processed cheese (substitute with the real thing - in moderation)
*White bread/buns (substitute with whole grain wheat bread/buns)
*ALL frozen/prepackaged "restaurant appetizers" and breaded products ("In-a-hurry" substitutes: frozen stir-fry with grilled chicken or shrimp, precooked grilled chicken with microwave brown rice/veggies...)
*TV Dinners (If you must - watch labels for calorie, fat, sodium and nutritional facts!)
*Frozen Pizza (If you must, watch labels and chose varieties such as DiGiorno Harvest Wheat Thin Crispy Crust Supreme Pizza)

I once heard that if you shop only the outer ring of the grocery store and the "natural foods" isle, you will save yourself from the temptation of "bad foods" and I think (looking at the list above) there is some truth to this idea.

What to do with these things once you have them home? As I find good/easy recipes for these foods, I will post them!

If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please.

*It is understood that many of these items do not fall into everyone's budget - but if you pick and choose what's on sale each week, you can do quite well! Watch for my post on saving $!

Organizing Your Home

Here is a link to a site that gives you room-by-room advice on organizing!
And below is what I wrote before I found the site...


There are two categories for organizing. Getting organized (big project) and staying organized (daily maintenance). The job is not done once you have something organized. It takes mental commitment and scheduled time to keep it that way.

Getting started:

  • Decide what you want to accomplish – the big picture.

  • Think about what is holding you back.

  • Break the big picture into parts/tasks.

  • Write down each part as a separate goal and a date you would like to have it finished and post it on the fridge.

  • Share the list with everyone in the house and get their support/help.

  • Choose a day/time and commit to working on the first part/goal.

  • Decide what items you need to accomplish only the first goal and collect them right before you are ready to start working on it.

  • PLAN A REWARD FOR YOURSELF for each section completed.

Make a Plan:

  • Collect a file organizer or a couple bins (clear or color coded) or other method of storage.

  • PLUS a garbage can, donation box and OTHER box. The OTHER box includes things that need to be returned to other people or passed on to others.

        • See additional section on organizing toys.

Set Guidelines and Get Started:

  • Guidelines Examples:

    • If you haven't used something in 2 years, it goes. If you haven't worn something in 2 years, it goes. If it's worth something it goes in the donation box. If it's not, the garbage.

    • Evaluate how you determine emotional value and make a commitment before you start. How much space can you commit to “memories” items? How often will you look at those things and reminisce? How big are they? If many things relate to the same memory, can you just keep one or two things and get rid of the rest? Can you take a picture and create a “memories book” separate from your other photo albums?

    • Would someone else like to have the item that would make you feel good about sharing it?

    • Is it worth more now if you sell it than if you wait a few years?

  • If you find some thing that doesn't belong in that area, put it in the OTHER box/bin and keep working in that area – do not leave the project/area or you may get distracted.

  • Is this the appropriate are to store this item/these items? Is this the most convenient place to put this if it is used regularly? Where do I put seasonal items vs regular use items?


  • Immediately load the donation box into your car and carry the garbage box out of the house.

  • If you have additional time, you can start sorting the OTHER box.


  • Evaluate:

    • Think about the functionality of a toy. Does it do multiple things?

    • Is it broken? Missing important parts?

    • Does your child(ren) enjoy playing with it?

    • Is it agonizing to take out and put away?

  • Sort:

    • Sort your toys by set using bins or sturdy bags. Many small sets can then be put in larger clear bins for storage.

    • Choose a place that will hold ½ or more toys and put the bins away.

      • Make a rule: When something comes out, something goes in. This is a game of “trade” that will make the organization last longer and help keep your sanity.

  • Trade/Recycle:

    • Find friends with children of similar ages and agree to trade a bin of toys for a month.

    • Buy from garage sales and purge often. You will get more “new” stuff, spend less and feel better about getting rid of stuff.

      • Your child may feel good about giving an “old” toy to another to enjoy if you let them choose.


  • This topic is hard for many. The best suggestion I have found was to evaluate the most convenient place to store it.

    • Example: If you bring the mail in, have a basket by the door (or the first place you always go) for incoming/out going and empty it AT LEAST once per week.

      • To empty it, check the outgoing daily on your way out for mail, permission forms, etc. Take all of the incoming to the place where you pay bills when you have at least 10 minutes (more for a larger pile), which should also be the place where you file bills/receipts/etc and keep your shredder or paper garbage.

      • Open the file before you start and place the “save” papers directly into the file as you look at them and the “throw” pieces into the garbage.

      • Papers that you do not get to should be placed back in the incoming basket to ensure the organization remains.

There is so much more – but you get the idea! I can't repeat enough - you have to budget the time and commit to it if you want to be organized...

Have You Looked At Your Resume Lately?

How's your resume? Even if you are currently employed, it is important to keep it updated. Any time your job responsibilities change or you achieve a milestone in your career, a resume update is a must. Think of it as house keeping. Do you wait until the power goes out to pay your electric bill? Didn't think so. Don't wait until you have no job to update your resume.

To get you thinking....
  • Does your resume go back more than 12 years or 3 jobs? It shouldn't.
  • Does your resume include at least three of your greatest accomplishments for each position? It should.
  • Is your resume more than one page? If yes, that's OK but you need to have a condensed version.
  • Have you had any recent training or education relevant to your career field? It should be on your resume - the long version at least!
  • Do you have personal information like hobbies on your resume? They need to go!
  • Have you corrected all grammatical and spelling errors? Sounds like a no-brainier, I know...
  • Is your contact information current? Yikes! Wouldn't that be a problem?
  • Get a second opinion. Once your resume is written, ask a trusted friend or colleague to review it and give you honest feed back.
  • No resume and not sure where to start? Contact a resume professional for advice or look for resume templates online... but remember a template is just that (Wikipedia Definitions: a pre-developed page layout in electronic or paper media used to make new pages with a similar design, pattern, or style; Form letter, a standard letter in electronic or paper media used many times with details for individual recipients added)
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
Thomas Edison

Positive Outlook for a Happier Life

Don't let things in your every day life drag you down! Positive people are happier and more successful.
This post is meant to be an open forum for ideas to keep you going... Let's get the ideas flowing!
  • Start each morning with something(s) that you enjoy. Examples: Your favorite song, your favorite coffee, your favorite scent, you favorite scripture...
  • Keep and optimistic quote on your bathroom mirror, in your pocket/wallet and other places you frequent.
  • Smile at yourself in the mirror every day.
  • Be conscious of your thoughts. If you find yourself thinking something negative, try to find the up side/positive side/lighter side of the situation.
  • Join a charity or volunteer organization. Choose something that you are passionate about or reflects your values. Be sure to actively participate at least once a month on a regular schedule to give yourself something to look forward to without feeling overwhelmed.
  • Take 10 minutes a day to sit alone and just focus on your breathing, read inspirational passages/stories/quotes or listen to soft, positive, calming music.
  • Make a list of 10 things you appreciate/love in your life. Make a second list of 10 positive things about yourself. Read them before you go to bed to end your day on a positive note. (Count your blessings!)
  • Avoid negative people and negative conversations - especially when you are having a bad day.
  • Positive people attract positive things/people.
  • Think about your past successes and focus on the success you would like to obtain in the future. Make a list of your past accomplishments as well as your goals (limit this to 10 or your may feel overwhelmed) and review it monthly making necessary adjustments/additions.
  • It takes 30 days to form a habit...
  • Be prepared. Think about the next day (or week) and what you need to do today to avoid conflict/complications. Make a list if there are things you need to remember and then let it go and get a good night's rest!

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
Albert Einstein

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
John Wooden

It is not what they take away from you that counts, but what you do with what you have left.
Hubert Humphrey