Bright Ideas

Helpful Thanksgiving Tips and Reminders

Turkey

With Thanksgiving only a little over a day away, it’s easy to get caught up in the run around and forget some things. Make this a Thanksgiving to remember with these helpful little reminders:

  • Defrost the Turkey! If you haven’t started to defrost your turkey in the refrigerator yet, there are some alternatives. Did you know that you can defrost a turkey in cold water? Keep the turkey in the plastic package and place in cold water for about thirty minutes per pound, changing the water every thirty minutes to make sure it stays ice cold. Be sure the turkey doesn’t get to room temperature, though. That’s when bacteria begins to grow.
  • Make as many dishes ahead of time as possible including pies. This will help free up your oven for all of that turkey and stuffing!
  • Run through all of the recipes and dishes you plan to make on Turkey Day and make one list of all things you may have forgotten to eliminate multiple trips to the store.
  • Dust, vacuum, mop, and tidy up before Thursday. This will save you time on Turkey Day when you are making last minute dishes and entertaining your guests.
  • Be calm! Thanksgiving is about counting your blessings and spending time with family and friends. Just remember that if something doesn’t go as planned, it will be alright – you’re making memories!
  • Use a meat thermometer to be sure the turkey is 185 degrees Fahrenheit at it’s thickest part.

Happy Thanksgiving from the Ginny’s family to yours! We would love to hear your tips and tricks for a successful Turkey Day. Is there anything we missed?

source: http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/tools-and-techniques/question5161.htm

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Pumpkin Carving Tips and Ideas

Carving pumpkins takes many of us back to when our kids were little and the looks on their faces when they dug their hands into the pumpkin’s stringy insides for the first time. It also reminds us of the mess that pumpkin carving can leave behind. Luckily, we have some tips and tricks for easy carving using common kitchen utensils that you can use with your kids and grand kids!

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Before digging into the pumpkin…

  • Gather all of the tools you plan to use. We used a garbage bag, mixing bowl, serrated knife, ice cream scoop, potato peeler, and tooth picks. Gathering all of the utensils before you get started will save time and minimize hand washing since you won’t have to keep digging into kitchen drawers for more tools.
  • Turn the garbage bag inside out and use it as a work surface. When you are finished scraping the sides of the pumpkin, we will show you how to turn it inside right for easy clean up!

Use a serrated kitchen knife to cut the top out of the pumpkin, then…

  • Scrape the stringy pulp and seeds from the sides and bottom with an ice cream scoop.

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  • Dump the pulp towards the bottom of the garbage bag.

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When you’re finished cleaning out the pumpkin…

  • Use a permanent marker or pen to mark out the design you plan to cut.
  • Carefully use the serrated knife to cut out the design.

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  • A potato peeler can be used to help clean and  trim out the curved parts of the pumpkin so more light can shine through.

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After the pumpkin is carved…

  • Toothpicks can be used as pegs to reattach accidentally removed sections.

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  • Fingernail Polish Remover can be used to lighten extra marker or pen marks left after carving.

When it’s time to clean up…

  • Toss the kitchen utensils in the dishwasher.
  • Separate the pumpkin seeds from the pulp and put them in the mixing bowl. Set them aside to use for our Baked Pumpkin Seed Recipe.

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  • Turn the garbage bag work surface with all of the pumpkin pulp and removed pumpkin sections inside right and throw away.

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Happy Halloween!

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Ideas for a Simple Family Reunion

There’s nothing more important than family. Having a family reunion is a great opportunity to catch up with those you don’t see often, rehash old memories and create new ones.  We have some ideas to help guide this year’s family reunion along smoothly and without one family member doing all the work.

Bring a Dish to Pass

Making food for an entire family can be a huge task.  Ask each family to bring a dish to pass to help be sure there is enough food for everyone without spending the entire week before in the kitchen.

Dish to Pass Recipes

We have some simple recipes on our website that would be great for a family reunion dish to pass. Follow the links below to check some of them out!

Summertime Mango Salsa : http://bit.ly/Qdzs8B

Veggie Pizza: http://bit.ly/KBMMzn

Fruit Dip: http://bit.ly/MSFBX4

Baked Beans:  http://bit.ly/Le65QT

Corn Casserole:  http://bit.ly/MzbO3N

Salami RollUps: http://bit.ly/LOfe3j

Brats in Beer Sauce:  http://bit.ly/OrPfn4

Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf:  http://bit.ly/MVAKkr

Baked Sloppy Joes:  http://bit.ly/LzSUhu

Table Service

For family reunion picnics, ask that each family provides their own table service; plates, forks, knives, spoons, bowls, cups.  Cleanup is easy and everyone is responsible for their own items.

Scheduling

These days, schedules fill up quickly – especially during the summer.  Help everyone plan ahead for the Family Reunion by having it the same weekend every year.  For example, schedule the reunion for the first Saturday in August every year.

Funding

If your family reunion is somewhere that requires a rental fee, ask for a donation or collection from each family for the next year’s fee.

Family Pictures

Capture the memories by asking someone to take pictures throughout the day.  Each year, display the pictures from the previous years to see how things have changed. Also, you can take pictures of each individual family every year. It’s fun to see how every family grows.

 

We hope you have a great reunion this year and would love to hear your ideas and stories.  Also, don’t forget to like us on Facebook! http://www.facebook.com/ginnysbrand

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Protecting You and Your Family from the Sun

Now that summer is in full swing, I find myself lathering on sunscreen to protect myself from harmful rays.  But sometimes I wonder; “Is all of this hassle really worth it?” “What is truly recommended?”  After some research, I thought I would share what I learned with you!

UVA/UVB rays and the UV Index:

We all hear the terms UVA, UVB and UV index when we watch the weather on television, but I never knew what exactly they meant.  As it turns out there are two types of rays from the sun, ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultra violet B (UVB). UVA rays are known for aging and penetrating skin; affecting the immune system and keeping it from protecting you from the growth of skin cancer.  UVB rays burn the skin.  Both types of rays are measured using the UV index.  A higher number on the index predicts a higher chance of damage from the sun.

The effects of sun:

-In the past 31 years the number of people with skin cancer is greater than the number of people with all other cancers combined.

-Over the course of their lifetime, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer.

-About 40-50 percent of Americans that live to be 65 will have some type of skin cancer at some point.

Protecting your skin:

Did you know that even on a cloudy day, you can still be exposed to up to 80 percent of the sun’s rays?  This would explain how I have gotten sunburned on a cloudy day.  Doctors recommend using water-resistant sunscreens that protect from both UVA and UVB rays and have a SPF (sun protection factor) 30 or more.

Sunscreen should be applied to all areas exposed to the sun about 15 to 30 minutes before enjoying the sun and apply again every two hours.  But, if you are sweating a lot or swimming, sunscreen can stop working after 40 minutes so re-apply accordingly. 🙂

Here’s a fun fact – The food and drug administration (FDA) requires that sunscreen stays at its initial strength for at least three years. This means that you don’t have to start with a fresh bottle every season unless it’s expired. But, if applying the recommended amount (about one ounce per application to all exposed areas) one bottle of sunscreen shouldn’t last too long!

I hope you’re enjoying your summer with a family and friends.

Have a Great Week!

 

Sources:

http://www.skincancer.org/Skin-Cancer-Facts/

http://www.aad.org/media-resources/stats-and-facts/prevention-and-care/sunscreens

http://www.epa.gov/sunwise/uvandhealth.html

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Spring Cleaning Hints

"Pink Tulips"

 

It is hard to believe that March is already almost half over.  With the first day of spring just 10 days away, it is time to start thinking about spring cleaning.  Cleaning up after a long winter isn’t always the easiest task, but with these hints, you can hopefully save some time and energy!

Microwave

Over time, food splattered on the inside of a microwave is harder and harder to clean off.  If you microwave a dish of water for a few minutes, the steam will loosen up the stuck on food.  Also, when there aren’t any household cleaners on hand, the outside of a microwave can be cleaned with baking soda and water.

Windows

For the best results when washing your windows, wait until the sun is not beaming on the window.  The sun makes the cleaning solution dry quickly leaving your window with streaks.  To make your own window cleaning solution mix ½ cup of ammonia, ½ cup of white vinegar, and 1 gallon of warm water in an open area.  Did you use spray on “snow” at Christmas time and it left a film?  Try cleaning it off with one part vinegar and three parts of warm water.  If vinegar doesn’t do it, try ammonia.

Stove

In a perfect world, we would have the time to clean up spills on the stove right away.  But, we know that this doesn’t always happen.  For cooked on messes, spoon boiling water on the mess and let sit for a few minutes. This will make the mess easier to scrub off.  Also, to clean glass stove tops, you can use Windex or window cleaner after the stove top has cooled and wipe with clean cloth.

Blinds

Try taking metal or plastic blinds to a do-it-yourself car wash.  Hang the blinds up using the floor mat clips and clean them using the high pressure washer.  If you can’t make it to the car wash, let the blinds soak in a bathtub of warm water and detergent, wipe clean with a sponge, and fill the tub again with clean water to rinse.  Then dry the blinds by hanging them back up.  Place a towel on the floor under the blinds to catch any dripping water.

Helpful Household Items

Baking Soda – Use small amount of baking soda on a damp sponge to erase crayon, pen and pencil marks on painted walls.

Lemon Juice – Make a paste of lemon juice and cream of tartar to clean grout in bathrooms and kitchens.  Apply the paste, and rinse with water.

Cooking Spray – Spray a small amount of cooking spray on the vinyl floor in front of hard to move washing machines or dryers.  The spray will allow you to move the appliances more easily and clean behind them.

Sources:

Cleaning Magic by Joey Green

Clean House by Mary Ellen Pinkham

Real Simple – 799 New Uses for Old Things

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10 Tips for Better Sleep

It’s the time of year for New Year’s resolutions. Have you made any? If you’ve made a health-related resolution like eating better or getting more exercise, consider another important aspect of health: sleep. Your sleep habits can impact all areas of your life, yet many people struggle to get the good sleep they need. Sometimes, a small change, like getting a new pillow or blocking outside light, can make a difference*. Here are a few simple tips for pleasant dreams:

1. Get into a routine. Try going to bed and waking up at the same time each day–even on weekends.

2. If you can, avoid eating a few hours before bed. When your body’s busy digesting food, it can be harder to fall asleep.

3. Avoid alcohol right before bed. While alcohol can make you feel drowsy, it actually keeps you from sleeping as well as you could.

4. Exercise regularly. You don’t have to hit the gym–even going for a walk can get your blood pumping and benefit your sleep schedule.

Rise and Shine Natural Wake-up Light
Rise and Shine Light wakes you up gently

5. Keep your room dark. Light affects your circadian rhythm–your internal “clock” that determines when you sleep and wake up. A dark room signals your body to get drowsy, while too much light can keep you from getting deep sleep.

6. Wake up without disturbing the last stages of sleep. Instead of a blaring alarm clock, try the Rise and Shine Natural Wake-Up Light–it gradually gets brighter for a gentle, natural wake-up call.

Egyptian Cotton Sheets are silky soft

7. Make your bed extra comfortable with high-quality sheets. Not only do they feel great, they’ll also last longer than lower-quality sheets. For example, our 400-thread count Egyptian Cotton sheet sets feel luxuriously soft and smooth and turn your bed into a cozy retreat.

8. Upgrade your pillow. A flat or lumpy pillow can keep you tossing and turning all night. Try a pillow made for the way you sleep: if you sleep on your side, a plump, supportive pillow can give you proper neck support, and if you sleep on your back, a soft yet cushiony pillow can cradle your head. Sensorpedic Dual Comfort Jumbo Pillow has a firmer side and a softer side, so you can customize it for the way you sleep.

 

Sensorpedic Mattress Topper

9. Improve your mattress with a mattress topper. It adds an extra layer of comfort and support to your bed. This is a great idea if you’d like a better mattress, but don’t want to spend that much money right now. For example, Sensorpedic 2 1/2″ Supreme Mattress Topper covers your bed with a combination of memory foam and fiber fill to cradle your body in comfort.

Complete Bed Set
Bed Sets brighten up your room

10. Get some fun, cozy bedding that you’ll enjoy using. Choose a playfully patterned set like one of these Complete Bed Sets to make your bed beautiful AND comfortable. While this won’t necessarily help you sleep, it will create a sleep environment that you’ll look forward to spending time in!

*Note that sleep problems may be linked to other health issues–talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.

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Yard & Home Ideas for Fall

What are you doing to enjoy autumn and prepare for winter? Here in Wisconsin, we’re busy raking up leaves, carving pumpkins and enjoying the gorgeous, cooler weather! While those in warmer climates may not have to contend with piles of leaves and cold weather, there’s always something to do when the seasons change. Here are some ways you can get your yard and home ready for the upcoming winter months.

EZ Leaf Hauler
EZ Leaf Hauler

Make raking a little less work.

Leaves are lovely when they’re changing color, but a lot of work to clean up after they’ve fallen! Here’s a way to make it easier: upgrade from your rake to a leaf blower, like our 3-in-1 Blower Vac. It’s a blower, vacuum and mulcher in one! This devices makes light work of yard clean-up. Plus, all the leaves you vacuum up will get mulched and can then be used in your yard and on your garden beds.

So you’ve raked your leaves into a big pile, but besides jumping in it, what do you do with it? While you could take it to the curb in a wheelbarrow or on a tarp, our EZ Leaf Hauler is so much easier. This is like a giant dustpan for leaves, making it easy to rake them up and move them. It’s much easier to carry than a tarp, and holds a lot more than most wheelbarrows.

Solar Lights
Solar Lights

Light up your yard.

As days get shorter and darkness comes earlier in the day, lights twinkling from your garden beds or walkway can be a welcome sight. Solar lights like these don’t even need any electricity or batteries to run!

Feed the birds.

Bird Feeder Station
Bird Feeder Station

Help the winter birds get the sustenance they need, and enjoy the colorful show! Different birds like different types of seed (and even different types of feeders). Find out what birds are common in your area and how to attract them.Then, set up a Bird Feeding Station that offers plenty of space for several feeders–turning your yard into a veritable bird buffet!

Planters
Metal Embossed Square Planters

Bring some green indoors.

Bring a bit of the outdoors inside with houseplants. If you don’t already have them, consider easy-to-grow plants like jade, aloe, philodendron and spider plant. Show off your green thumb by displaying your plants on these colorful planters.

Maintain your home’s humidity.

A humidifier puts needed moisture back in the air, which is vital when the weather’s dry and your heat’s on. Your skin, nose and throat will thank you!

Keep your air fresh.

Electric Fireplace
Electric Fireplace

Since you’ll probably be inside more often and keeping your windows shut, you won’t be getting as much fresh air circulating through your home. An air purifier can remove dust and allergens from the air, keeping it fresh and clean.

Stay cozy.

Nothing beats the warmth and ambiance of a fireplace. You can get all the benefits of the real thing without the smoke and odor–try an electric fireplace.


Most of all, enjoy the changing seasons!

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10 (Free!) Ways to be Sweet this Sweetest Day

Tomorrow is Sweetest Day.

While some think of it as a second Valentine’s Day, it was actually founded as a day to bring cheer to the less fortunate in your community. Today, it’s a great opportunity to take some time to show the people you love how much you care.

Celebrate Sweetest Day by doing a little something for anyone who makes your life special—maybe a child, spouse, parent, grandparent, neighbor, or friend. Here’s a list of simple (and free) things you can do for anyone on Sweetest Day–or ANY day!

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Simple, Sweet Ideas for Sweetest Day

1. Give a hug. Many people, especially those who live alone or in nursing homes, don’t get hugged often enough. Do you know someone who would just love a hug? Give them one!

2.  Play a game. When was the last time you played a board game? Get out the checkers, Chess, Scrabble or Monopoly and have some fun.

3.  Write a letter. Maybe even an old-fashioned one on paper—everyone loves seeing something for them (other than a bill) in their mailbox.

4.  Bring a gift from nature. Pick some flowers or find an unusual pine cone, colorful feather or stone.

5.  Write a little note. Jot down something that you appreciate about them, a memory of something you did together, or even an uplifting quote. Leave it in a place where they’ll find it.

6.  Or draw a picture. You know the way kids draw pictures as gifts? Just because you’re a grown-up doesn’t mean you can’t do it, too! It could just be some stick figures or a heart drawn with crayon—you don’t have to be an artist!

7.  Bake or cook a treat. Cookies, cupcakes, bread, soup…it could be their favorite meal or a new recipe you know they’ll love. Or bring them a few pieces of fresh fruit.

8.  Do 15 minutes of housework for someone else. This might not sound like fun, but it can mean a lot. Rake leaves, clean gutters, wash the car, vacuum the carpet…anything that’s easy for you that would make their day.

9.  Get out! Go to a park, ride a carousel, pick apples, see a ball game, go window shopping.

10. Just talk. Call up someone you haven’t talked to in a while, or stop by a neighbor’s house to catch up.
hand with flower

Of course, if you do want to buy a special gift, we have some great ideas for you at Ginny’s!

What are your favorite fun, unexpected ways to show your loved ones you care?

3 thoughts on “Bright Ideas

  1. What to do with bits of leftover veggies? Instead of throwing them away, put them in a plastic container in your freezer. When the container is full, pull them out and make a wonderful pot of soup.

  2. Want to reuse that pickle jar, but can’t get the smell out? Place a wad of newspaper in the jar, cover and leave it over night. Voila! the smell is gone!

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