Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Make Money While You Shop

What could be better than making money while you shop? Well, I have found a great way to do just that..... Shop to Earn.

If you haven't heard of it, Shop to Earn is a great new company that allows you to shop via Internet at over 700 different stores, including Target, Home Depot, Land's End, Gap, PetSmart and many, many others.

Each time you shop you get a discount on the items you purchase AND get points that lead to money when you become a broker in the company.

This new shopping experience really is an exciting way to make money, save on merchandise and off-set your annual income.

Can you think of anything better than that?

Take a look at this brief overview of the company.... you will be glad you did!

Another one of the really exciting things about Shop to Earn is their commitment to the environment, with many of the stores offering eco-friendly merchandise, offering the largest discounts of all.

You may have recently heard about Shop to Earn on MSNBC, take a look at the article below....

Shop To Earn E-Commerce Business Model Gives Online Shoppers Cash Back - MSNBC Wire Services -

I'm really excited about the potential of Shop to Earn, as the wave of the future for shopping and e-commerce. Remember take a look and if you have questions, feel free to contact me through the comment section below.

Shop to Earn is the epitome of Home Made Easy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The kindness of strangers

I apologize that I haven't been posting very regularly, real-life has gotten in the way. What is always a busy season has become even more so with a crash of the economy and fear of lay-offs after January 1. It is a scary time, not just for me but everyone, however I hope the true story below will help you to remember that even in bad times, the kindness of strangers will win in the long run.

I live in a small quaint neighborhood. Wide tree lined streets, children playing in their front yards, dogs barking, neighbors being neighbors. In many ways it is an idyllic neighborhood.

One of the wonderful features of my neighborhood is a throw-back to my own childhood, the ice cream man. Back in the early spring the ice-cream man began to drive through our neighborhood each afternoon. Carousel style music from his van would fill the air and watching the excitement on the kid's faces is always magical.

The sweet simplicity of the ice-cream man was shattered on Wednesday, December 3rd, when less than a block from his home he was robbed and murdered.

Murdered for the small amounts of cash he had in his vehicle.

In the subsequent days after this senseless murder the carousel music went silent, but the cries of his family and our community have been overwhelming.

I never knew the Ice Cream Man, nor did the majority of our community.... we never knew him by name, we only knew him as a kind man who was working to bring back a simpler time, a time when the ice cream man was greeted by the squeals of children, sadly the senseless murder has also silenced those squeals.

In the days following the murder we learned a lot more about the Ice Cream Man. His name was Fresnel Atilus, a 32 year old, out of work construction worker. Mr. Atilus was a Haitian immigrant who, when he lost his job in construction, began selling ice-cream to support his wife and six-children.

From all accounts, all Mr. Atilus was trying to do was realise the American dream and support his family, a seventh child is on the way.

Although I never knew him, I was and still am heartbroken over Mr. Atilus murder. I didn't sleep the night of his murder, I just couldn't stop thinking about how this man had been gunned down for the money you would find on an ice-cream truck.

When I arose the next morning I decided I could be sad and do nothing, or be sad and do something, but what?

When I got to work, I sat down at my keyboard and began to write. I wrote an email to my friends and business associates, I told them how I never knew Mr. Atilus but how he affected my life. In a simple email I told his story. I asked my friends and associates to send me money, after all Christmas is just around the corner, there is a family with no father, a wife with no husband and six (seven) children who had been robbed of the magic an ice-cream man can make in your life.

I sent my email to about 60 people. Immediately I began to get emails back telling me a check would be in the mail that day. This past Monday, because of the kindness of strangers, I was able to drop off almost $2000 from people who never knew Fresnel Atilus. I am still getting checks. I received checks from people I don't even know, people who were sent the email from friends of theirs.

Many other people have stepped forward to help this family as well. A furniture store brought new mattresses and a dining room table, sadly the family had been sleeping on the floor. Toys and clothes have been donated by people throughout our community and a Fund was set up through a local bank to help the family with financial needs.

As sad as it is to think about someone being murdered for the money found on an ice-cream truck, the light of hope can be found through the kindness of strangers. My small contribution was minimal, but together many small contributions can, and will, make a difference for the family of the Ice-Cream Man, Fresnel Atilus.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My favorite new product.

A friend recently turned me on to this product and I LOVE it! Fabuloso is an all purpose cleaner that you can find in most big box stores. It cleans ANYTHING and leaves a wonderful fresh smell. I use the Ocean Paradise scent.
Try Fabuloso, I can't recommend it enough!
Fabuloso helps make Home Made Easy.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Change of plans

Last week I was telling you all how excited I was for Thanksgiving, I teased about my beautiful tablescape and the meal I was cooking. CHANGE OF PLANS!

The original plan was dinner at my house for 12, no big deal. As the week went on, the neighbors and I started talking and several people didn't have anywhere to go. Others had family coming in that they didn't want to be trapped with and with this in mind we decided to all have Thanksgiving together. One problem, 30 people.

Only one house in the neighborhood was large enough for all of us, so we moved the entire Thanksgiving celebration across the street.

We divided up the tasks for the meal and I was responsible for a vegetable and dessert. My life just got much easier!

We had a fabulous Thanksgiving and really enjoyed our time together, but I must admit I was disappointed as I enjoy cooking the meal and doing the tablescape, but alas neither was necessary.

I did want to share with you what I had planned for the tablescape and apologize that there are no photos, but like I said, it never happened.

  • Plain white linen cloth
  • Antique crocheted overlay
  • Wrought Iron Candelabra that runs the length of my table
  • Petite votives
  • Assorted photos in frames of various sizes of family and friends who I am thankful for. The photos would be interspersed along the table and at varying heights.
  • Cobalt blue linen place mats
  • Solid white china
  • Silver flatware
  • Cobalt blue water glasses
  • Long stem crystal wine glasses
  • Blue and white plaid linen napkins with silver napkin rings
  • Place cards were to be my special message to each guest. On a white card and written in silver ink the card would say "Leigh, I am thankful for your kindness." "Clint, I am thankful for your generosity." etc. etc.
  • Each person was to also have "to go" bags. Using craft paper lunch bags and tied with festive ribbons, each person would have taken away their left-overs for the next day.

Oh well, it didn't happen this year. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that your celebration was Home Made Easy.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pomegranate Spritzer

I received an email from a reader asking about one of the items on my Thanksgiving menu, the Pomegranate Spritzer.

This is something I made up a month or so ago and it has become a favorite for my friends. The drink is refreshing and smooth.

Wine isn't a taste that I enjoy, so I decided to make the spritzer and I enjoy it as an alternative for dinner and cocktail parties.

The Pomegranate Spritzer is a simple drink to make, I use a moderately priced zinfandel, pomegranate juice and 7-Up.

Mix equal parts each. Chill and serve.

The Pomegranate Spritzer, Home Made Easy.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The menu

Thanksgiving is my favorite meal to cook each year. I enjoy the whole process, a full day of prepping and cooking and setting the table and making everything look perfect.... for me the preparation of the meal is better than the food.

I begin the day early, usually with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade playing in the background. I start by stuffing the turkey, basting and putting it in the oven. Followed by preparations for my dressing and desserts.

The last items of the day are the side dishes.

I like to begin serving appetizers around 2PM followed by dinner at 5 sharp.

This year's menu is a very traditional meal filled with family favorites.....

stuffed with apples, celery, onion, orange and potatoes
Cornbread Dressing
(recipe below)
Broccoli Casserole
Sweet Potato Souffle
Deviled Eggs
Green Beans
Black Eye Peas
Seven Layer Salad
Mandarin Orange Congealed Salad
Cranberry Mold
accented with fresh fruit salad topping
Mini Pumpkin and Pecan Pie Tarts
Pomegranate Spritzer
Ice Tea

When I moved to Florida, my friends had no idea what I meant when I mentioned dressing for a Thanksgiving gathering. I found that dressing is typically a southern dish (and for those of you who don't live here, Florida really isn't southern....who knew!), in the rest of the country people just stuff the bird and serve stuffing. In the south we make dressing.

Growing up my mother and grandmother would spend hours discussing the dressing, you could never make it too perfect and in our family the challenge was intensified..... some of us (the smart ones) like the dressing super thin, the family members who have no culinary taste like the dressing thick. My mother and grandmother would work diligently to make sure everyone got what they wanted, so they would always cook 3 pans of dressing.... one thick, one thin and one medium. The medium pan was for nibbling as we prepared for the main feast.

I have carried on the tradition of 3 pans as well, whether I am surrounded by family or friends, it just makes Thanksgiving a bit more special when I prepare those three pans of dressing in a salute to my mama and ma-ma.

If you haven't tried dressing give it a try sometime, it isn't difficult; however, it is time consuming, but worth the time and effort when you see the satisfaction on your guests face.

Cornbread Dressing Recipe

Buttermilk Cornbread (I make it from scratch)
1 Package of Seasoned Stove Top Stuffing Mix
Loaf Bread (Preferably white)

The breads for your stuffing may be cooked on the day of service or 2 - 3 days ahead of time. Crumble all the bread items together and set aside.

1 Large Onion Chopped
Celery Chopped

Smother the chopped onion and celery and combine with the breads

6 hard boiled eggs, crumbled and mixed with the other ingredients

8 cups of Chicken Stock mixed into the dry ingredients

4 sticks of butter melted and mixed with the other ingredients

Fresh herbs

salt and pepper to taste

Poultry Seasoning to taste

Combine all the wet and dry ingredients. Press into a large pan or cast iron frying pans. Bake at 350 for approximately 45 minutes.

Serve with turkey as a side dish with gravy or dry.

Cornbread dressing makes a GREAT accent to a turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving, so enjoy this southern tradition, it is Home Made Easy.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Things to Come

I am incredibly excited about Thanksgiving. I have planned a traditional menu, but I am most excited about my table scape, I will be setting it up this weekend, so make sure you stop in later for all the details and photos.

To make the table scape even more interesting, I am not buying ANYTHING, it is being created by things I have around the house.

Now that, my friends is the epitome home made easy!