Sunday, August 15, 2010

BLAZING BRUNCH

Good Sunday morning everyone! How are you doing this beautiful Sunday morning? I am doing well... quite tired and somewhat sore but excited to wake up to the sun shining and the fresh air in my lungs! The DN left this morning and its time for cleaning, organinzing, and some super cool craftiness! Why don't ya grab yourself a cup of coffee and have a seat and let's chat!

First off, its time for more frugal advise and today is a topic very close to my heart... AIR CONDITIONING LOL! Living in Texas where it seems a constant heat advisory, the air conditioners running can be heard and felt everywhere you go. I know I am in love with my AC units LOL! To the tune of some skyrocket electric bills... but I don't care! I must remain cool! LOL. Well I found some tips and frugal advise to try to control those expensive bills and I thought I would share with you!

How to Reduce Air-Conditioning Costs With These Money-Saving Tips

There are ways that you can reduce your electric bills quite significantly if you have central air conditioning or a window unit. This article will attempt to show how to reduce air-conditioning costs, even in very warm climates during the summer months.

Consider the size of the room and base your air conditioning on that when buying a unit as more does not mean better in every case. Other factors to consider are in respect of what will affect the room temperature such as number of windows, direction it faces etc. If you buy a unit that is too large for the room, it will need to work much harder and end up costing you more money.

When in the market for a central air conditioning system, always check that the SEER number (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) is above thirteen (fourteen for warmer climates). Less efficient systems’ running costs will be more and so for room air conditioners, look for an energy efficiency ratio of eleven or above. High efficiency units will cost you more on the initial purchase but, particularly if you live in a hot climate, the extra cost will more than be recovered over a few years from lower electricity bills.

Make sure that you maintain your air conditioning unit and regularly check and replace the filter (every month) during the cooling season and have it professionally serviced every year at the start of the cooling season.

Cooling systems are renowned for being the largest consumers of energy in the home. Depending on your location, it will probably only be outdone in the energy sapping stakes by your heating system. If your system is aged with a SEER rating below eight, it may be worth consideration to replace it with a more energy efficient system.

You may also want to consider installing a thermostat that you can program in order to vary the temperature according to the times when you are actually at home. A setting around seventy eight degrees Fahrenheit is okay for when you are present. If you are away from your home for more than a few hours, it may be apt to set the temperature higher (around eighty five degrees) for the time that you are away.

The location of your condenser is another important consideration. Make sure that it is in the shade and has enough room to dispose of the hot air that it removes from your home. Do not place shrubs or plants around it – enable it to breathe. You can, however, plant shade trees and plants around the house to assist in reducing the heat from the sun, particularly on western and southern sides to your home. This could result in a reduction of up to thirty per cent on your cooling costs.

Close all curtains and blinds on the sunniest side of your house to prevent the heat coming into your home and wherever possible, install awnings on the windows. Sealing any air leaks in your home will reduce costs of your air conditioning as well as your heating costs and remember to check that all seals around drying vents, plumbing are closed. Fill in any gaps that there may be around places like chimneys and weather tape any doors or windows that cause drafts.

You may wish to consider putting in ceiling fans into rooms and running them on hot days. If it is too warm for you, use the fan without air conditioning but if t is hot enough for it, using both together will allow the temperature to rise by five degrees, therefore reducing costs. Only use ceiling fans when you are in the room as running it alone doe not actually lower temperatures – it is the movement of air increasing skin evaporation that causes coolness.

The colour of the exterior of your home will also make a difference. The darker it is, the more heat it will take in so bear this in mind when building, repainting, buying property in the future. Choose light colours for the outside of your home.

Did you know that thirty per cent of heat in homes is absorbed through the roof? Ensure that any attics are ventilated sufficiently. Vents in the eaves will allow for cooler air to enter. A ridge vent or even an attic fan can reduce cooling costs significantly.

Any heat that is generated within the home will need to be removed by your system of cooling so avoid it whenever you can. Try grilling or barbecuing food outdoors or if you have to cook inside use the microwave or a crock-pot.

Following just some of these tips on how to reduce air conditioning costs will help your wallet and also make your life that little more comfortable during those long summer seasons.

• Turning down the thermostat even a few degrees helps a lot.

• Moist air feels warmer. Make sure you maintain adequate humidity during the more dry winter months. Open the dishwasher to dry dishes and release steam and hanging clothes to dry will not only cut down on your electric bill but also add humidity.

• Wash laundry in cold water only. This is very cost effective and most clothes wash just fine in cold water only.

• Do you have naturally warm areas in your home? Make them work for you. My warm rooms are the kitchen and the furnace room. I keep the furnace room door open with a small fan blowing out into my family room. The heat gleaned just from that is enough to keep the family room warm. When I do a big baking day, I also run a fan that blow the warm air out into the remainder of the home.

• On a good blustery day, get down on your hands and knees and feel around. A stick of burning incense helps to find drafty areas, but even just feeling for cold areas with your hands will help. Cutting down on those drafts will go a long way in cutting down on your heating bill! A trip to the local hardware store will help you find a bevy of cost cutting products, but simple, inexpensive things like homemade draft dodgers, towels, and window quilts will be effective as well.

• Turn down your hot water.

• Do you have a fireplace? Most people don’t realize that modern fireplaces with deeper fire boxes, are not effective heat sources and the reality is, they suck air from your home. You actually LOSE heat when you run your fire place unless you have fireplace doors that you keep closed (basically going just for the ambience) or you can close off that room and minimize the flue draft. If you really want your fireplace to work for you, consider fireplace inserts, inset stoves and that sort of thing.

• Put on an extra layer of clothes if you’re always cold. Adding a layer on top such as a sweater or sweatshirt OR a layer underneath, like silk long underwear help a lot.

• Wear a hat to bed. The human body loses a huge amount of heat through the top of the head. Keep your head warm and you’ll be warmer. If you’re a bit chilled crawling into bed, make a microwave cozie to warm it up first!

• Keep a lap quilt for those times when you’re sitting down and reading a good book and getting cold versus turning up the heat. Sticking that microwave cozie under the quilt with you is pretty nice, too.

• Consider major home improvements. We have our garage under one end of our home and that end of the house was always cold. The old wooden doors had almost no insulation value (R-value), let in snow and cold air from underneath and barely kept the garage above freezing. We invested about $1800 to have modern, well insulated doors installed and the results were amazing! The average garage temp is now about 45 degrees, that end of the house is much warmer and we have averaged about $400 LESS in heating expenses per year. Major things like new windows and doors can be a bit more costly and take more planning and saving, but will be worth it in the long run.

Tammy Paquin is the owner and publisher of frugal-families.com. You can reprint this article with an active link back to Frugal-Families.com

And now its time to craft... sewing, which also uses some electricity LOL, to me is a very enjoyable and rewarding hobby. Now when my mother was helping me declutter the other day, one thing we did is went through clothing and bagged it up for donating, freecycling, etc. I had my DH join in on the fun LMAO! Well he was going to get rid of some button down shirts he no longer fits and I snagged one out of his hands to put in the "sewing and crafts" pile. And I did that because I recently ran across another crafter's ingenious idea for making summer clothing for women by upcycling/recycling MENS button down shirts! I want to try this, so since I wear my DH's shirts ANYWAY, I figured it was worth a shot! And I bring this idea to you because I think its a wonderful project and wanted to spread the word! Make sure to go to the website for beautiful step-by-step instructions and photos!



Craft Idea of the Day: Heat Wave Halter

Materials Needed:

upcycled man's shirt (short-sleeved is fine...I used a size XL.) Note: this size fit me perfectly when I was done, and I have a small frame. If you think you might need a larger size when you're done, start with a 2XL or 3XL. There are plenty of those out there, too, and it's better to guestimate on the larger side from the get go, rather than go through all of your steps and find out that your final product is too small)
1/4" elastic, in a length 3" smaller than your upper bust measurement (the measurement right above your breasts, almost around your torso under your underarms, where a halter top would rest)
cording, long t-shirt scrap or crocheted chain, to use as a tie
safety pin
coordinating thread
elastic thread
sewing machine
serger (optional, but nice)

Alright... Welcome to the final day of HOPPIN JALAPENO WEEK and to finalize this heat wave, I am providing you with a virtual buffet of happy hotness LOL! From start to finish... appetizer to dessert. Cocktails included! I'm glad to hear that all of you had fun with this week and got lots of inspiration. You can search the internet for thousands of recipes that involve jalapenos. Here is one that I brought you many of this weeks recipes... its called Jalapeno Madness and you really need to check it out for more great hoppin jalapeno dishes! So here's your Sunday Supper... Eat & Enjoy!



Jalapeño Rolls

6 Fresh jalapeño peppers
Stick Cheese
6 corn tortillas

Stuff fresh jalapeños with stick cheese (works good cause you can just stuff it in).

Heat corn tortillas till soft ( use toothpicks to hold them together).

Wrap around jalapeño.

Freeze for about an hour.

Deep fry until crispy. Tastes great when dipped in Jalapeño Toad

Jalapeño Toad

1 pound jalapeño peppers
2 cans cocount milk
2 tbsp lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Take about a pound of green jalapeños and remove the stems. Puree in a processor until smooth. Add coconut milk, lime juice, and cilantro. Blend. Simmer over low heat for however for 10-12 minutes (or so.) Chill. Tastes great on anything. Really!!



Cream of Jalapeno Pepper Soup

This Cream of Jalapeno Pepper Soup recipe is sure to kick start an evening of pure jalapeno bliss. For a stronger pepper flavor, include more peppers. For more heat, keep the seeds in the recipe. Serve as an appetizer, or in a bread bowl with a side salad as a lighter main course

.Ingredients:

6-8 jalapeno peppers, minced
8 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoons butter
1 cup white onion, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 small avocado, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon fresh basil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cooking Directions

Heat butter over medium heat in a large saucepan

Add minced jalapenos, onion and garlic. Sauté until soft.

Set sautéed vegetables aside and stir in avocado, tomatoes, and heavy cream.

Return mixture to the saucepan and reduce heat to simmer.

Simmer approximately 15 minutes.

Stir slowly and frequently.

Stir in fresh basil, then simmer an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve.

Serves 6-8.



Jalapeno Flank Steak Sandwiches

This recipe makes a delious dinner. The jalapeno pepper spiciness complements the deep flavor of the flank steak. Don't forget the fresh jalapeno spears at the end for the additional kick.

Ingredients

4 jalapeño peppers, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced into long spears
1 1/2 lb. beef flank steak
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons brown mustard
12 slices white bread, toasted
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 small onion, sliced
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt to taste

Cooking Directions

In a large mixing bowl, combine together garlic, jalapeño peppers, olive oil, lime juice, mustard, and salt. Whisk firmly. This is your marinade.

Trim fat from steak and tenderize with a meat tenderizer. If you don't have a tenderizer, score the steaks with a knife on each side.

Marinate steaks in refrigerator with above marinade 6-12 hours, or overnight if you wish

Drain meat and cook 12-16 minutes over medium heat cooking to medium doneness, or as desired.

Slice steak into thin slices.

Spread toasted white bread mayo and sprinkle with chili powder.

Add sliced steak, onion, and cheese.

Top with remaining toast and serve with jalapeno spears.



Jalapeno Cornbread

Cornbread is typically served as a side dish and can often be a little dry if not prepared properly. This recipe turned out extremely moist and deliciously flakey. And absolutely nice and spicy! We made this up for a little dessert, but it's perfect as a side dish as well.

Ingredients

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 small jalapeno peppers, diced

Cooking Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Lightly spray a baking pan


In a large bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder and mix

In a separate bowl combine egg, milk and olive oil and beat

Combine both bowls and mix well

Add jalapeno peppers and mix well

Pour into baking dish

Bake 20-30 minutes (depending on how thick your pour) or until cornbread is done in the middle



JALAPENO CHOCOLATE DESSERT COOKIES

If you love chocolate for dessert and jalapeno peppers, this is the recipe for you!
Recipes galore!

Ingredients:

1 large jalapeno pepper, minced
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons cocoa
3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups oatmeal

Instructions:

Bring sugar, milk, and cocoa to a rolling boil. Stir contantly.

Addn butter and peanut butter. Stir until melted.

Remove from heat.

Stir in oatmeal and jalapeno peppers. Mix well.

Spoon mixture onto an oiled cookie sheet in small globs.

Refrigerate and let sit until firm, about 3-4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Bake cookies 12-14 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.
Serve warm!



Three-Alarm Midnight Madness - A Spicy Drink Recipe

Your lips will feel this drink for a while after you drink it. Of course the heat level will vary depending on the hot sauce chosen, but do not forget to include the spicy jalapeno peppers, which will happily include the extra kick you need for your midnight drink. Yes, we do recommend you drink this at midnight, chinging glasses with your friends. See who backs down first! It does have a distinctive tequila flavor, and works great as a marinade.

Ingredients

1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
2 ounces Effen Vodka
2 ounces Patron Silver Tequila
8 ounces light beer of choice
5 splashes hot sauce of choice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Ice cubes!

Mixing Directions

To a beer glass, add jalapeno peppers, soy sauce, hot sauce and 3 ice cubes.
Add vodka, tequila and beer.

Stir with a large spoon and serve!

Comments: You can use a martini shaker to strain out the seeds and serve it in a martini glass. Or, lose the soy sauce to lighten the color.

Alright folks, I'm wrapping it up for the day. DN is on the way to church with his mom, so I am baby free for the next 3 days. I got lots of cleaning to do and "recon" if you will. Plus I am gonna get a major amount of sewing done I hope... got some more mending to do and some projects from rescued clothing to do! Keeping my word and killing some clutter! I wish you fun and happiness today and remember to smile... its good exercise LMAO! Until tomorrow... HUGS!

1 comment:

  1. Debbie "MOM"August 15, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    I sure feel lonely in this little comment box, with no other commentors. LOL Good afternoon everyone. How is your Sunday going?The article on air conditioning was very informative. I am happy to report that my home is compliant with many of the listed items. YAY for me! It never hurts to reinvestigate ways to be efficient and frugal.
    The shirt craft is very cute, especially for younger girls. They could have a field day adorning the halter with beads and sequins or puff paint to make it unique to them.
    So many recipes....where do I start? I think I will just link to the website in the blog and spend the rest of the day reading and drooling. LOL The jalapeno cornbread could use a big pad of butter on it. LOL And that sandwich.....OMG! I'm so hungry now. I shouldn't have skipped lunch. LOL
    OK. Think I'm gonna go eat now. Til next time.......

    ReplyDelete