Archives for September 2015

How To Soften Butter Quickly: 6 Different Ways To Do It

I do a lot of baking and cooking, and when I do, I usually use a lot of butter. Now with most cooking, it’s not an issue to pull a stick out of the fridge and quickly melt it. But when I bake, I always forget to pull butter out of the fridge so that it can soften. Sticking it in the microwave usually softens it too much, which will affect whatever your baking. So I’ve been trying to figure out how to soften butter quickly, in the easiest way possible.

How do you know when butter is softened? It’s softened and ready to use when it you can easily squish it between your thumb and forefinger.

If you're wondering how to soften butter quickly, look no further! I've got 6 different ways to do it that don't take much time at all.

How To Soften Butter Quickly

Cut It Into Chunks –  Cutting the butter into chunks will help it soften much more quickly than leaving it as a whole stick. Get the butter out first, before gathering all of the other ingredients and equipment you need, and cut it into thin chunks. I even slice it and then cut each chunk in half. It takes just a few seconds, and by the time I’ve gotten everything all together, it’s usually softened. Tip: Leave it next to the preheating oven or stove and it will soften even more quickly!

If you're wondering how to soften butter quickly, look no further! I've got 6 different ways to do it that don't take much time at all.

Now if you’re a gadget girl, you might want to check out the Butter ‘N Slice Container. It even has teaspoon, tablespoon and ounce measurements tp make it super easy get the exact the amount you need…which of course is important in baking!

Grate It – Yep, use a cheese grater. This is super easy to do and works fantastically, especially when you need to cut in the butter, like for shortbread or a crumble topping. Not only does grating it speed up the softening, it helps keep the butter from clumping up, too.

If you're wondering how to soften butter quickly, look no further! I've got 6 different ways to do it that don't take much time at all.

 

If you’re a gadget girl like me, you might want to get this Butter Knife that grates, slices, and curls!

Don’t Put It In The Fridge In The First Place – No really, if you go through as much butter as we do (the kids want toast almost every morning), leave your butter out of the fridge. We go through a stick of butter every couple of days, so there’s no chance of it going rancid.

If you're wondering how to soften butter quickly, look no further! I've got 6 different ways to do it that don't take much time at all.

But if you don’t use butter as often, you can get a Butter Keeper that allows you to safely leave butter out of the fridge. A butter keeper uses water to seal out all air which keeps the butter soft for up to 30 days, without refrigeration.

Use A Warm Glass – I haven’t tried this one but it seems like it would work really well. But it also seems like more work than the other methods I’ve mentioned. Check out how to soften butter quickly by using a warm glass.

Pound It – I haven’t tried this one out either because it sounds like way too much trouble. Put the butter in a ziplock bag and use a rolling pin or meat pounder to flatten the butter out. Seems like it would be hard and messy to get it out of the ziplock bag, but some people swear by it.

Others say to but it into the blender or your KitchenAid stand mixer  but that seems pretty messy too, unless you’re using the mixer to make your recipe!

Microwave It – As a last resort, you can stick it in the microwave, but you really have to pay attention and make sure it doesn’t melt! Put the butter on a dish (take it out of its wrapper if it’s a foil wrapper) and stick it in the microwave. Heat it on High for 4-5 seconds, and then flip it over. Repeat a few times until its softenend.

See? It’s easy to soften butter quickly! You’ll find even more kitchen tips & tricks here. And now that you’re thinking about baking, check out my Breads and Muffins recipes! I’ve also got lots of baking recipes on my Desserts & Sweet Treats Pinterest board.

How do you soften butter quickly? What other tricks can I add to the list?

thankyou-150x150

Mommy of a Monster and Twins is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Learning With LeapFrog is FUN!

InRPQmhY-MnbZZrb7TPpi_Fvvi3nwb2HoK17qbY9X0U We LOVE LeapFrog products, and I’ve been using them with the kids since Ethan was little. The LeapFrog Tag Reader is one of the girls’ favorite things. It’s really helped them to read by themselves, and that gives them the confidence they need to keep reading! And last year, Santa brought each kid a LeapBand, which they still use regularly. When LeapFrog selected me to be a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador I literally leaped with excitement! I’m very proud to be a part of the LeapFrog MomSquad!

So when a huge box arrived from LeapFrog, I had a really hard time NOT opening the box until the kids got home! They were just as excited as I was, and we weren’t disappointed with what we found inside.

If you're looking for a great way to combine play and learning, look no further than LeapFrog! LeapFrog makes learning fun, and your kids will love to play!

Inside the box, we found the We got the LeapFrog Word Whammer and LeapPad Platinum with Imagicards!

If you're looking for a great way to combine play and learning, look no further than LeapFrog! LeapFrog makes learning fun, and your kids will love to play!

The LeapFrog Word Whammer has been a lifesaver for Lila. Since she’s not a huge fan of reading and struggles with it, the Word Whammer has really helped with her word-building skills (there’s 100+ words) and with her letters and their sounds and phonics skills. She loves to play with it! There are 3 games to play by twisting and tapping the handle. She likes it because it’s a lot of fun. I like that she likes to play with it and that she’s learning at the same time. Another bonus? It adjusts to your child’s skill level. It goes everywhere with her!

If you're looking for a great way to combine play and learning, look no further than LeapFrog! LeapFrog makes learning fun, and your kids will love to play!

The LeapPad Platinum is an all-new tablet featuring a 7” multi-touch screen with sharp, crisp graphics, a fast and powerful processor and a sleek design. And of course LeapFrog was smart – they created the LeapPad Platinum with a shatter safe screen and wrap around bumper, so if (when) it’s dropped, it won’t break. Other features include:

  • Kid-Smart Fun: Access 1,000+ games and more (sold separately) designed or approved by LeapFrog educators with select titles featuring Just For Me™ Learning.
  • Wi-Fi with Kid-Safe Web: A safe, protected web browser serves up a ton of kid-appropriate videos and more—all reviewed or approved by learning experts.
  • Exciting, interactive gameplay: LeapFrog Imagicard™: Unlock more gameplay with 6 bonus LeapFrog Imagicard™ digital game and interactive cards including a demo game, photo fun, trivia and more. (Game download required.)

This is Mia’s favorite because it’s packed with a ton of games! She also loves that she can take pictures (it holds up to 40,000!) and videos with it. I love that I can let her go on the web without worrying about what she might find. It’s packed with a ton of stuff, too: 8GB memory, and 10 apps: Music player plus 10 songs, Pet Pad Party, Pet Chat, Photo Fun Ultra, 5 Utility Apps and a choice of 1 app download.

If you're looking for a great way to combine play and learning, look no further than LeapFrog! LeapFrog makes learning fun, and your kids will love to play!

The LeapFrog Imagicards are really cool. The kids use the LeapPad camera to activate characters and curricular cards that they then play with. There are currently three sets available:

PAW Patrol – Unleash Math Skills

  • 17 Learning Activities
  • 50+ PAWsome Trivia Questions
  • 33 Cards Bring It All to Life

Letter Factory – Step Right Up to Reading (Note: This has really helped Lila!)

  • 6 Games + 18 Carnival Attractions
  • 50+ Trivia Questions
  • 30 Cards Bring It All to Life

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- Deploy Shell-tastic Math

  • 15 Learning Activities
  • 50+ Turtle Trivia Questions
  • 33 Cards Bring It All to Life

LeapFrog Imagicards comes with a branded tin for easy storage and a play mat for card sorting and offline learning activities. All of the cards are digitally included in the game so no worries on missing out on games if the cards are lost.

If you're looking for a great way to combine play and learning, look no further than LeapFrog! LeapFrog makes learning fun, and your kids will love to play!

We really love LeapFrog, and I bet your kids would too. It’s a great way to put play and learning together, and I don’t feel at all guilty giving them screen time.

You can learn more about all LeapFrog product at LeapFrog.com!

And of course don’t forget to follow LeapFrog everywhere! They always have fun contests, giveaways, ideas, deals, and more!

Disclaimer: As a LeapFrog Mom Ambassador, I receive products, promotional items and educational material to use and share. All opinions expressed are my own.

Waiting

She awoke suddenly, the traces of a nightmare still lingering. She sat up, and immediately grabbed her head. There was a screaming pain running from the back of her head down her spine. She felt a goose egg sized bump near her forehead, and realized she had no idea where she was. She tasted blood.

It was dark – nighttime? No. She began to slowly understand that she wasn’t in her own home. Where was she? She tried to stand, and realized she was on the floor. A matress on the floor in a completely black room. Maybe the nightmare was real.

She tried to feel around, and her hands struck a wall in front of her. She ran her hands along the wall and realized it was cinderblock or something similar. No windows anywhere. No carpet underneath her feet, only cement. Within just a few feet, she met the corner of two walls. She continued to feel her way around the room, and determined it wasn’t even a room. It was more like an oversized closet.

She started around again, panicking and realizing that she couldn’t find a door and there was nothing else in the room.

The clothes she had on were torn and wet. From her own sweat? Or was it blood? Water? She tried to smell her blouse, but couldn’t detect any odor.

She called out a loud hello, with no response. Banging on the walls would be useless. She screamed a terrified HELP, and was not surprised by no response.

Bits and pieces of the nightmare were coming back to her in glimpses as quick as the blink of an eye. A man. A stranger? Her running. Her cell phone falling from her hand as she tried to dial 911.

Oh my god, this is real, she thought.

And what scared her more than being in a pitch black room in an unknown place, was the fact that there was nothing left to do but wait.

Are you listening? A short piece of fiction inspired by the word "listen".I wrote this for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop for Prompt #5: Write a blog post inspired by the word: wait. But there’s more to this story than that. This past weekend while we were barbecuing at my mom and dad’s house, I was under the palapa in their backyard. I was standing underneath a ceiling fan that fell and hit me! It left a huge bump and bruise in my hairline on my forehead. That bump and the word wait actually inspired this very short piece of fiction.

Easy Ways To Conserve Water

Tracking Pixel

If you live in California, you are probably feeling the effects of the drought. I'm sharing 5 easy ways to conserve water that you can start using today!

If you live in California, you are probably feeling the effects of the drought. Just take a look at the lawns in our neighborhood and you’ll see that people are trying to conserve water by cutting their watering time. While it helps to make a difference, there are so many other ways that you can conserve water! I’m sharing 5 easy ways to conserve water that you can start using today. A big shout out to Scotts® for sponsoring this post so I could share some easy ways to conserve water that are working for us.

Easy Ways To Conserve Water

Don’t use the toilet as a trash can. Did you know that every time you flush, five to seven gallons of water is wasted? So if you blow your nose and flush the tissue, you just wasted a ton of water. I’ve even gotten to the point where if the kids go “Number 1”, I don’t scream and yell if they don’t flush.

Install water-saving shower heads and take shorter showers.  Water-saving low-flow shower heads or restrictors are easy to install and worth the cost. If you’re not ready to go that route, cut down on shower time: a four-minute shower uses approximately 20 to 40 gallons of water! Limit your shower time to the time it takes to wash and rinse. If you shave in the shower, soap up and then turn off the water while you shave.

And don’t let the kids play; shower time is not fun time.

Only run your dishwasher and clothes washer with full loads. Sometimes you have to do a smaller load, I get it. If you do, make sure to adjust water levels to match the size of the load. And remember, Energy Star rated washers use 35 – 50% less water and 50% less energy per load. So if it’s time for a new washing machine, you may want to consier an Energy Star rated one.

Turn off water when brushing your teeth. I’ve always done it, but the kids are the worst at letting the water run! Teach them to wet their toothbrush and turn the water off. Then brush and when they’re ready to rinse, turn it back on.

Lastly, cut down on the time you are watering your lawn and WHEN you are watering. Your lawn may not to be watered daily, or multiple times a day. An easy way to check to see if you need to water is to step on your grass. If it springs back up, it doesn’t need to be watered.

When you water is extremely important as well. Water during the middle of the night or early in the morning. Don’t water if it’s windy or raining. Make sure that you adjust your sprinklers so you aren’t watering your driveway and sidewalks…and whaterever you do, PLEASE DO NOT use your hose to clean off your driveway or sidewalks!

If you live in California, you are probably feeling the effects of the drought. I'm sharing 5 easy ways to conserve water that you can start using today! Especially by using Scotts® Everydrop ™!

Here’s my favorite watering tip: use Scotts® Everydrop ™ water maximizer for lawns and landscapes. EveryDrop™ is a water maximizer for lawns and landscapes that’s designed to help move water into the soil,  even in dry, hard-to-wet soils. Our houses were built on clay, so to say our soil is dry and hard to wet is an understatement. But by usingEveryDrop™, we are now using 25% less water and our lawn and landscape is healthy and hydrated.

While it’s ideal to apply the granuales in late spring before the summer heat hits, I didn’t get to try it until last month. All you do is set and fill your spreader so each pass is 5 feet apart. One cup covers about 185 square feet, so unless you have a huge yard, 1 bag should last you quite awhile. Then reapply every 4 weeks. That’s it! Everydrop’s™ unique formula is designed to help move water into the soil to reduce the wasteful runoff and pooling that occurs without it.

If you live in California, you are probably feeling the effects of the drought. I'm sharing 5 easy ways to conserve water that you can start using today!

Well-fed lawns and plants are more efficient at using water. Feed your lawn and plants with Scotts® and Miracle-Gro® because both products will allow you to make the most of all the available water so that you have to water less frequently, and it keeps your grass green and landscaping looking great! (Tip: Gerbera daisies are drought tolerant and stay happy look how pretty mine look thanks to Scotts® Everydrop ™!

If you live in California, you are probably feeling the effects of the drought. I'm sharing 5 easy ways to conserve water that you can start using today!

For additional details about Scotts® Everydrop ™ and to see a demonstration of how the products works please visit: www.scottsmiraclegro.com/california. For more tips on living green, check out my posts on green living.

What easy ways to conserve water do you have to share?

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Scotts® EveryDrop™.

Guardian Bikes: The Perfect Bikes for Kids

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. We were invited to learn more about Guardian Bikes during a preview event. All thoughts and ideas remain my own.

Looking for the safest bike for your child? Check out Guardian Bikes, with SureStop braking making it virtually impossible for your child to flip over the handle bars! Last weekend, we were invited to get a sneak peek at a new bike for kids, Guardian Bikes. Designed in California, Guardian Bikes are made for children ages 4-12. What makes these bikes different from other bikes out there is that they were designed specifically with safety in mind.

Guardian Bikes have a brand new braking technology called SureStop. SureStop is a single lever brake system that operates both the front and rear brake simultaneously, making it virtually impossible to flip over the front of the bike due to a sudden stop. So if your child stops abruptly, they won’t fly over the handle bars.

Looking for the safest bike for your child? Check out Guardian Bikes, with SureStop braking making it virtually impossible for your child to flip over the handle bars!

Another cool feature about Guardian Bikes is that they only weigh about 20 pounds, much lighter than other children’s bikes. These bikes are made mostly of aluminum, so Guardian Bikes are easier for a child to control.

The kids got a chance to try the bikes out. Ethan loved that it was “smooth” to ride and so light. He also liked that he wasn’t afraid to brake, something he’s always worried about since he has flipped over the handle bars.

Looking for the safest bike for your child? Check out Guardian Bikes, with SureStop braking making it virtually impossible for your child to flip over the handle bars!

Mia absolutely fell in LOVE with this bike! She even asked if I thought Santa would bring her one!

Looking for the safest bike for your child? Check out Guardian Bikes, with SureStop braking making it virtually impossible for your child to flip over the handle bars!

I’ll be honest – Guardian Bikes are not cheap. Think of it as an investment in your child – it’s a bike that will grow with your child. The seat post adjusts as your child grows, so it’s really worth the price. And factor in the additional safety, it’s definitely with the cost!

Safety FeaturesGuardian Bikes

SureStop Brakes

  • No front wheel lockup
  • Easier for children–only one lever controls both brakes

Easy Ride Geometry

  • Wheel base is extended and bottom bracket is lowered for an overall lower center of gravity, making the bike harder to tip over and easier to ride.

Sturdier Steering

  • Guardian Bikes’ steering components make it easier for kids to steer as they ride

Lightweight

  • Mostly made of aluminum, Guardian Bikes are easier for a child to control due to their light weight

High Quality Components

  • SureStop Brakes
  • Shimano shifting
  • Kenda tires
  • Double wall rims for durability

Guardian Bikes are available in 20” and 24” size frames. They’ll be available online and at specialty retailers beginning in September 2015. Current pricing for each bike is $369 for the single speed bicycle, and $399 for the 6 speed bicycle. For more information about Guardian Bikes, visit www.guardianbikes.com.