How to Make Blueberry Iced Tea

iced tea

Blueberry iced tea is a great for a summer time gathering.  It serves 8+ people and can be made a day in advance. We were looking for a great beverage for our party and this one was a hit!  I made it in advance and it really did save me time on the day of the party.  Here is the recipe.

Ingredients:

2 pounds of blueberries (frozen)
1/2 cup of lemon juice
8 cups of water
9 Tea bags ( I used Lipton Decaf. Tea bags)
1 cup of granulated sugar

blueberry ice tea

I added the frozen blueberries and the lemon and cooked for about 5-8 minutes.

blueberry and lemon

It looked like this.
blueberry

Then I added it to a strainer and over a bowl I pressed the blueberries down to extract the juices.

blueberry in strainer

 

Then, in a clean pot I added the water and brought it to a boil.  Removed from heat and placed the teabags and the sugar in it for 15 minutes.

Then, I removed the tea bags and added the blueberry liquid and stirred.

I added about a cup of ice cubes and placed in pitcher in the refrigerator.

That’s it.

Great sweet treat for a hot summer day.  Enjoy!

Here is the recipe for you to print:

How to Make Blueberry Iced Tea

Prep Time 5 minutes

Cooking Time 8 minutes

Total Time 23 minutes

How Many Served 6-8

Serving Size 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of blueberries (frozen)
  • 1/2 cup of lemon juice
  • 8 cups of water
  • 9 Tea bags ( I used Lipton Decaf. Tea bags)
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Add the frozen blueberries and the lemon and cook for about 5-8 minutes.
  2. Then add to a strainer and over a bowl press the blueberries down to extract the juices.
  3. Then, in a clean pot, add the water and bring it to a boil. Removed from heat and place the teabags and sugar in it for 15 minutes.
  4. Then, remove the tea bags and add the blueberry liquid and stir.
  5. Add about a cup of ice cubes or more and place in pitcher in the refrigerator for a few hours at least.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Organizing Carry On Bag Tips

carry on bag

I know, yet again another travel organizing post.  I promise this is the last one for the year.  

Recently, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) decided to set the maximum for carry on bag to be 21.5 X 13.5 X 7.5 inches. To give you a visual on how small this size is, I use my smallest rolling bag as a comparison.  Here is some background on this bag.  It was my mother’s carry on. She traveled a great deal and wanted a bag that would be easy to carry and roll down the aisle while on the airplane and this carry on did just that. She purchased it from Brookstone.  I don’t even think they have it any longer, but I included the carry on bag page from their website above.  It is over 10 years old.

height of proposed luggage

My carry on’s length is about 1.5 inches shorter than the suggested length as you can see here.

width of proposed carry-on

The width of my bag is actually the suggested measurement – 13.5 inches. Wahoo!

depth of proposed carryon

But the depth is 1.5 inches too high when the pockets are full. If I never use the pockets in the front of the bag, it would just fit and that’s not going to happen.

After they announced these new requirements, there were several protests from airlines so IATA backed down.  But, I don’t think this change is gone for good.

 

To help you deal with the shrinking carry on luggage probability, here are organizing carry on bag tips:

As always, roll any extra clothes you plan on carrying with you.  First, flatten the clothes, even the socks, on top of one another and then roll them starting from one side to the other.  This will help minimize the space needed for items that must likely will not be used on the plane. Then, place them in a Space Compressible Bag BRS-9212ZG Vacuum-Seal Travel Roll Bags, Set of 4 as I mentioned in a earlier post.

Reduce your electronics to one or two devices. Have your phone and another device, like a tablet or laptop in your carry on bag.

If you have kids traveling with you and they have their own seat, have them carry a carry on backpack.  At age 5, we started having our kids carry their own bag.  The bag was smaller, lighter and didn’t hold much but it helped them be more independent and allowed us to have more space in our bag.  Note: Have them put the back pack on and walk around with it before your trip to help them get use to the weight.  Here is a cute one I found on Amazon.com.  If you want to buy it, click on the image below.

Fill the front pockets of your carry on with items you plan on pulling out during flight. Items that you can place in these outside pockets are pens, paper, notepads, gum, water bottle, cellphone, etc…  Note: Only place items in the outside packet if the pocket has a zipper.

Carry a smaller handbag that fits your essentials (like your wallet and cellphone) inside your larger carry on bag.  This way, you can take out that handbag when you get to your destination and not have to shuffle through your larger luggage.

Have all your important items in one place in your bag for access when needed.  Be sure to have it in a zipper pocket close to yourself for safety.

I really hope they do not make these required changes for a while because I don’t want to spend the money and buy new carry on bags.  How do you feel about these new proposed requirements?

I hope these tips help you make your next trip more organized. What is your favorite tip or item to carry with you in your carry on bag? Please leave a comment below.

Sabrina Quairoli

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July’s Organizing Challenge – Create To Do Lists

july organizing challenge

Do you have tasks that are not done yet?  Do you know what they are?  Do you have them written down?  This month’s organizing challenge is to go through and compile lists of tasks.

Benefits of writing lists:

  • Creates accountability – You now have to be accountable for the to-dos on the list.
  • Creates order and helps create priorities – You can then rearrange the order of the tasks to make the process go even quicker.
  • Helps with recalling what needs to be done – You can post the list and refer to it each weekend when you do your chores. For seasonal to do lists, you can re-use the list each year.

How to make a to do list:

  1. Determine what the to do list purpose is: Is your list for a trip?  Is your list for a home project?  Is it for project at work? Read this post about what to do before you make a checklist.
  2. Then go and start writing.  If you don’t know the order yet, try using index cards and writing down one task on each index card.
  3. Then sort it in order by priority.  Ask yourself this question?  What needs to be done first? Second? Third?

Samples of lists:

Here are posts that have FREE printable checklists you can use to create your own list.
Ways to Reduce Stress In Your Life
How to Make a Beverage Station
Winterizing Your Home
Dorm room organizing
Clearing Your Digital Clutter
Organizing Your Holiday Traditions

I hope this helps you achieve your goals for this month’s organizing challenge.  Let me know what list you created by leaving a message below. Do you have any additional to do lists I didn’t mention above?  Leave a comment below.  I would love to hear from you.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Peanut Butter Smores Cupcakes

smores cupcake

Since 4th of July is coming, I decided to do a dessert recipe that you can bring to your next BBQ.  It’s really easy and fun to make.  Get the kids involved and it will be even more fun.  I made it at my last BBQ and everyone loved it! I made two recipes one with peanut butter and one without peanut butter.  

Ingredients:
3/4 cup of butter (1 1/2 sticks) butter
14 graham crackers
1/2 cup confectioner sugar
12 tsp smooth peanut butter
24 -2 pieces of Hershey chocolate pips
12 regular size marshmallows cut into thirds

Instructions:

Spray regular size muffin tins.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the butter.
melted butter

Using a food processor crush the graham crackers and confectioner sugar.
Add graham cracker mixture to a bowl and pour melted butter into it and stir until wet. Wait till it cool a bit.
mix the melted butter to the graham cracker

Take a 3-4 tablespoons or more of the mixture and press it down into the muffin tins. Make a cup using the back of an ice cream scooper. Then bake in the oven for 9 minutes or until browned.
add graham cracker mixture to the muffin tin and press it down and to the sides

While baking in the oven, cut the marshmallows into thirds with kitchen sheers.
Take out of oven and Add 1 tsp of peanut butter per muffin. 

add peanut butter to topBreak apart the chocolate and add 2 pieces of Hershey chocolate pips to each muffin tin.

add the chocolate to the top of the peanut butter
Then place the three pieces of the marshmallow on top.

marshmallow cut
Then if you want the marshmallow browned, place it under the broiler for 1 -2 minutes. Watch it! It will burn.

baked peanut butter smores cupcake
Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then carefully remove from pan. They came out of pan nicely, but be sure to wait 15 minutes. 

Here is the final picture: 

peanut butter smores cupcakes

Here is the printable recipe:

Peanut Butter Smores Cupcakes

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cooking Time 16 minutes

Total Time 41 minutes

How Many Served 12

Serving Size 1 cupcake

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of butter (1 1/2 sticks) butter
  • 14 graham crackers
  • 1/2 cup confectioner sugar
  • 12 tsp smooth peanut butter
  • 24 -2 pieces of Hershey chocolate pips
  • 12 regular size marshmallows cut into thirds

Instructions

  1. Spray regular size muffin tins.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Melt the butter.
  4. Using a food processor crush the graham crackers and confectioner sugar.
  5. Add graham cracker mixture to a bowl and pour melted butter into it and stir until wet. Wait till it cool a bit.
  6. Take a 3-4 tablespoons or more of the mixture and press it down into the muffin tins. Make a cup using the back of an ice cream scooper. Then bake in the oven for 9 minutes or until browned.
  7. While baking, Cut the marshmallows into thirds with kitchen sheers.
  8. Take out of oven and Add 1 tsp of peanut butter per muffin.
  9. Break apart the chocolate and add 2 pieces of Hershey chocolate pips to each muffin tin.
  10. Then place the three pieces of the marshmallow on top.
  11. Add back in the oven for 4 - 5 minutes or until the marshmallows look softened.
  12. Then if you want the marshmallow browned, place it under the broiler for 1 -2 minutes. Watch it! It will burn.
  13. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then carefully remove from pan.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Tips For Packing For Long Trips

packing for long trips

Taking trips are great 3 nights here, 5 nights there, all seems great right.  But, when you have to plan a longer vacation, like two weeks or more it can be stressful. What do you wear?  Where are you going? What is needed for the evening? It gets even more stressful when you are planning a family vacation.  One person is easy.  When you have to deal with figuring out what to bring for four people, it gets more tricky. Lucky for you, I recently went on a long trip and came up with some interesting tips for packing for long trips.

  1. Wash your clothes at least 3 days before your trip. People usually wear the clothes that are comfortable most often so you will probably be needing those clothes for your trip.
  2. Create a checklist.  Check out my post on Cruise Packing List for you to print for you and your family.
  3. Create large signs one for each day that describe your day’s activity.  I did this for my recent trip.
    daily activities
  4. To reduce the volume of clothing, use Space Bag Roll-up Travel Bags, Set of 4 (2 Carry On Bags, 2 Suitcase Bags). They work really well and really reduce space clothes take up in bags.
  5. Pack in your carry-on bag at least 1 outfit.  This way, if God forbid, your shipped luggage was delayed, you have at least an outfit with you to get changed.
  6. Place all your liquids in your luggage.  Use zippered gallon bags to hold toiletries for family.  Toiletry bags are designed for one person so having more than one bag will take up too much room. So, place everyone’s stuff together in a few Ziploc Double Zipper Gallon Storage Bags – 52 count
  7. If you are going on a cruise or a tour trip or adventure trip, be sure to read all the recommend information. Print out important instructions, directions, jot down notes, or add to your mobile device for reference.

I hope these tips help you make your vacation packing process easier and less stressful. Did I miss anything? Please let me know by leaving a message below. 

NOTE: The links above are to Amazon.com if you wish to buy them, I will receive a referral fee from Amazon.  

Sabrina Quairoli

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Home Movie Organizing

home movie organizing

Do you take home movies?  What do you do with them after you take the movie?  Do you transfer them to your computer, do you make upload them to social media?  What is the use of having home movies if you don’t watch them. I have been doing home movies since I was a teenager.  I took after my dad, he would always have a Sony video camera in his hand.  And, I see myself doing the same thing.  Every event, family gathering, vacations, I have on DVD.  Just to prove it to you how crazy I am about home movie organizing, here is my DVD binders.  I have three of them!

home movies

Yes, I know, I have made my fair share of movies.  Depending on how busy I was, would depend on how detailed the video was.

Here are some tips to help you with your home movie organizing:

  • Gather all the DVDs, VHS tapes and digital files together and determine an order: By doing this at the beginning, it helps you decide what you want to keep and what you want to discard. Some categories I have used in the past are: Order by date, by person, by trip, and by event.
  • Not all footage is good footage:  You do not need to use all the footage.  It’s OK to cut a shrink down your videos.
  • Convert VCR tapes to digital yourself by buying a software package: If you want to get your VHS tapes converted, buy a software converter that plugs into your VHS and your computer and convert the footage that way. Sending it out to get converted is quite expensive and you need to check their copyrighting restrictions because you may not be able to edit the footage after you get it back. Click on the image and buy on Amazon.

  • Converting Super 8 or 8 mm silent movies to digital can be tricky but it can be done: First, you need to have a white background like a white tri-fold poster board.  Then setup the Super 8 or 8 mm projector facing the tri-fold and next to it, place the video camera and zoom in on the projected image from the Super 8 or 8 mm.  It works nicely and if the movie is silent, you can add music behind it.
  • Save on DVDs or have a secure personal cloud drive just for the home movies: I am planning on gathering up the kids footage and placing them on the drive and have each kid have their own collect of their videos for a high school graduation gift. Click on the image and buy on Amazon.

  • Use a journal to keep track of all the videos or events you want to create: I have a little red journal that I write all my videos in when I had a lot to convert to digital.
  • Back-up the videos: If anything happens to the DVDs you will have a back-up of them.

Recently, I have finally completed my parents silent movie collection.  It has taken me several years and about 2 specialty bulbs and a lot of hard work and time.  But, I did it and now all the silent movies are on DVDs.  So, happy to get it done.  Now I can get rid of the Super 8 projector that has been in my house for years.

I hope this helps you get your home movies organized. Now it is your turn, do you have a family home movie collection?  How do you store it?  Do you make a movie or just keep the raw footage on your devices?  Do you have any times to organize your home movies? Please leave a comment below.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Easy Potato Salad

easy potato salad

I recently made potato salad for a party we had for my daughter’s birthday.  It was delicious and everyone enjoyed it.  Potato Salad is a great side dish for a crowd and this one is really easy!  I call it “Easy Potato Salad”.  And, an added bonus to help you make the potato salad, I created a video for you.  This recipe serves 8 – 10 people.

Ingredients:
5 lb Red potatoes
1/2 cup celery
1 cup red onion
1-2 cup Mayo
2-3 Tbsp Capers
3-4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper

Instructions:

Boil 5 Pounds of Potatoes -20 minutes.
While Cooking Potatoes,
Dice 1/2 cup Celery.
Dice 1 cup Red Onion.
Cool Potatoes in ice bath.
Then Dice Potatoes into small pieces.

How to make the dressing:
Mix together 1-2 cups of Mayo
2-3 Tbsp Capers
3-4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
And mix with the vegetables.

Here is the video:

Please watch the video and share!

Below is the printable recipe if you want to print it.

Easy Potato Salad

Prep Time 15 minutes

Cooking Time 30 minutes

Total Time 45 minutes

How Many Served 8-10

Serving Size 1 cup

Ingredients

  • 5 lb Red potatoes
  • 1/2 cup celery
  • 1 cup red onion
  • 1-2 cup Mayo
  • 2-3 Tbsp Capers
  • 3-4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. Boil 5 Pounds of Potatoes -20 minutes.
  2. While Cooking Potatoes,
  3. Dice 1/2 cup Celery.
  4. Dice 1 cup Red Onion.
  5. Cool Potatoes in ice bath.
  6. Then Dice Potatoes into small pieces.
  7. Dressing: Mix together 1-2 cups of Mayo. 2-3 Tbsp Capers, 3-4 Tbsp Dijon Mustard, Salt and Pepper (to taste), and mix with the vegetables.

Sabrina Quairoli

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10 Ways A Father Helped His Daughter

father helped daughter

My father was a shorter Italian man with short curly hair and blue eyes that were the color of a crystal clear ocean. He was a straight and to the point person who had the lungs of an Italian, loud and passionate man who loved his family and loved life.  He taught yoga at night for years when I was younger and did electrical work for his own business during the day. He also became a Minister for The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness and would volunteer often.  He had a big heart and loved spending time with people.  He would say he would bring “light” into everything he did. Get it, electrician, light, LOL.

When he passed years later, I was cleaning out his filing cabinet and found this letter addressed to me.  I don’t know when he wrote it but it stated,

“Dear Sabrina, I came to this country with nothing and we don’t have much.  But, there is one thing that I can give you and that is the gift of fresh air.  See, I will stop smoking for you. Love, Dad”  

Apparently, before I was born and in Italy, my father smoked cigarettes.  It’s very common in Italy and at that time. It was a short letter but every Father’s Day since he passed, I have thought about that short sweet letter from my daddy.

To honor Father’s Day and him, I wanted to share the 10 ways a father helped his daughter be organized and self-employed.

  1. You can make anything happen in your life, just plan some of it, and then take a risk.
  2. Knowing where your stuff is is so important.  “Everything must have a home”.
  3. Take 20 minutes to 1 hour each day to take care of yourself. 
  4. Don’t give others power over you.  Only you can control you.
  5. Refine your processes and make sure they are safe for everyone physically and emotionally.
  6. Only keep those items that you treasure and take care of them.
  7. Have fun and be yourself, always and in all ways.
  8. Self-discipline is a so important.  You need to respect yourself and self-discipline will help you respect yourself.
  9. Be creative in anything you do.
  10. Food must taste good and satisfying. Accept quality over quantity. 

I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day.  I also hope that your father also has a great one whether he is here on Earth or somewhere else.

Sabrina Quairoli

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9 Ways To Use Carabiners

carabiners

 

Over the years, my husband came home from conferences and brought home carabiners in different sizes and shapes. So, I began to think, what can we do with all these carabiners?  Well, here are 9 ways to use carabiners in your home: 

1st Way To Use A Carabiner: We use them to hang tool bags in our tool closet.  It works great for smaller bags.  We hung it from the wire shelves and it worked great. 

carabiner

 

2nd Way To Use A Carabiner: Last year, I created a vertical garden and used carabiner to hook the chains together so I could hang the wire baskets together off my deck.  

carabiner

 

3rd Way To Use A Carabiner: We have some computer cables that we keep for emergencies.  It’s not a lot.  These carabiner works great for individual cables to hang them up for easy access. 

carabiner

 

4th Way To Use A Carabiner: My husband uses it for holding keys on his bag when he travels.  It works great and he doesn’t lose his keys in your larger bag. 

carabiner

 

5th Way To Use A Carabiner: To keep the carabiners together, we hook them together and hang them instead of placing them in a drawer loose.

carabiner

 

6th Way To Use A Carabiner: With the smaller carabiner, we use them as a zipper extender on bags.  It helps zipper up bags easy. 

carabiner

 

7th Way To Use A Carabiner: This one, my husband knew a coworker who did this.  And, to this day, he still uses it on his bag.  It’s a great quick replacement for the plastic buckle that sometimes breaks when you travel. 

carabiner

 

8th Way To Use A Carabiner: The smaller carabiner can be used to hold index cards for various tasks.  My kids use them for their foreign language vocabulary.  I like to use it for note taking for the car. 

carbiner

 

9th Way To Use A Carabiner:  This one is the best!  These rubber bands get lost so easily.  They can now be stored in the car and won’t get lost. 

carabiner

 

I hope this gives you some ideas on ways to use carabiners.  They are very cool tools and can be used to help you get organized.  What do you use your carabiners for?  I would love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment below.

Sabrina Quairoli

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Taco Mac and Cheese with Beans and Tomatoes

Taco Mac and Cheese w black beans tomatoes

My husband and I were at Williams-Sonoma the other day and we found this great Mac and Cheese Starter package.  So, we decided to try it. So, the next night, when we started to prepare it, we thought, we didn’t just want to do plain old taco mac and cheese. We wanted to add something to it.  It was so plain and boring.  So, here is how we prepared our Williams-Sonoma Taco Mac and Cheese Starter.

Taco Mac and Cheese William Sonoma

If you want to buy this Taco Mac and Cheese, click here. They also have a variety of Mac and Cheese starter flavors to choose from though this is the only one we tried.

Ingredients:

Williams-Sonoma Taco Mac and Cheese starter
Milk (as the package instructs) though I used soy milk light
Butter (as the package instructs) though I used dairy-free butter
1 can of Black Beans (rinsed)
1 can of drained diced tomatoes
1 pound of elbow pasta (I used gluten-free elbow pasta)

Instructions:

Make the pasta as instructed.

Rinse the tomatoes and the black beans.

Rinse black beans and diced tomatoes remove juice

After the pasta is finish, rinse and add the ingredients of the package, the milk, and butter and mix well. Then, add the tomatoes and black beans and mix.   Here is the taco mac and cheese.  Doesn’t it look amazing?

Taco Mac and Cheese with black beans and tomatoes

Here is the printable recipe:

Taco Mac and Cheese with Beans and Tomatoes

Prep Time 10 minutes

Cooking Time 15 minutes

Total Time 25 minutes

How Many Served 8 cups

Taco Mac and Cheese with Beans and Tomatoes

Ingredients

  • Williams-Sonoma Taco Mac and Cheese starter
  • Milk (as the package instructs) though I used soy milk light
  • Butter (as the package instructs) though I used dairy-free butter
  • 1 can of Black Beans (rinsed)
  • 1 can of drained diced tomatoes
  • 1 pound of elbow pasta (I used gluten-free elbow pasta)

Instructions

  1. Make the pasta as instructed.
  2. Rinse the tomatoes and the black beans.
  3. After the pasta is finish, rinse and add the ingredients of the package, the milk, and butter and mix well. Then, add the tomatoes and black beans and mix.

It was truly delicious!  I loved how it tasted and it really did taste like homemade.  I definitely will buy this one again or may even try the other ones too.  

Full-disclosure: I did not get paid for writing this recipe review post.  I will only write posts for food and organizing products that I truly enjoyed making and using.  If you would like me to write a review for your food or organizing product, please contact me.

Sabrina Quairoli

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