Happy Easter!  It feels like spring is finally here.  The sun has come out and the warmth has returned (for the near future) and that has us excited to tackle projects around the house.  It feels good to get some of our chores done and we can look forward to enjoying the increased sunshine with out all the guilt. 

We are also a week away from the GardenPalooza event.  Robin and David will be joining the hosts of our sister show, Garden Time, on the 14th at Fir Point Farms in Aurora.  The event is free and we will be giving away over 4,000 violas, so stop by and pick one up while supplies last.  We will also have a drawing for a free class at Geranium Lake Flowers and for the new award winning Eazistore Cookware from Natural Home Products.  This cookware is eco-friendly and saves up to 67% of your cabinet space over your old cookware.  You can find it at Target or JCPenney, but you can win a set at GardenPalooza!  Check out the GardenPalooza website for all the details and we hope to see you on the 14th!

Garden Related Décor

Bringing the outdoors inside can be messy, unless you find some really cool décor items that do the trick.  We found some really neat items at Terra Casa (503-577-8242) in Damascus.  Linda joined us to show us some hot indoor/outdoor items for your home.  The first thing she showed us was some very attractive lights.  These lights are different from your ordinary light because they look like flowers and leaves.  You can work them into your regular dried flower arrangements to really add the ‘wow’ factor.   Next we looked at a bunch of inspirational sayings that were etched on pots, plaques and stones.  These are not only great to look at; they carry some nice little messages as well.  These décor items are meant to slow you down while you are in the garden (or in your home) as you read them and as a reminder to take the time to relax.  The next items we looked at were place mats and coasters, but these had a little weight behind them!  That is because they are made out of small stones.  They looked great and you can be sure they won’t blow away at your next outdoor dinner party!  These are just a few of the great garden gifts and décor items at Terra Casa.  Stop by and check them out.  They are just 10 minutes east of Clackamas Town Center in Damascus.

Kaboodle Measuring Items

Does your kitchen ‘measure’ up when it comes to cooking or baking?  I know, it is a little pun, but we are talking about measuring devices and how they have changed in the kitchen.  We stopped by Kitchen Kaboodle (503-643-5491) and talked to houseware buyer Maryann Samsa to see what is new in the kitchen.  First she told us about liquid verses dry measures.  You can’t just use one type of measuring device to do both liquids and dry ingredients.  Using the right measuring device will make your cooking and baking more successful!

We started with measuring cups.  Pyrex has changed their design to a more flared cup that will allow you to read the measurement more accurately without bending down to see the side of the cup.  OXO has taken it one step further by having a measuring guide on the inside of the cup so you can see the correct amount by just looking inside the cup.  Chef’n has come out with silicone measuring cups that are microwave and dishwasher safe and they are in the shape of a beaker.  They won’t break or rust and when you pour, you can just pinch them to create your own spout for pouring.  Very convenient!   Other measuring cups included a lip on the front of the pour spout so they could hook onto the mixing bowl and you can pour ingredients without spilling! 

We then moved to measuring spoons.  A lot of the new designs for measuring spoons are oval, so you can use them with spice jars.  The newer designs allow you to place the spoon inside the jar so you don’t spill spices as you measure.  Another set of spoons had measurements for a drop, smidgen, pinch and a dash.  These are measurements that can be mentioned in older cookbooks and now you have an official measure for that.  This set also comes with a leveler for more precise measuring.  We also saw some measuring spoons that are magnetic so you can keep them together and even attach them to your refrigerator or stove if needed.  If you are looking to save space, they now have collapsible cups and adjustable spoons so you can cut down on the number of measuring devices you need.  They even have a device for measuring goopy and sticky items like honey or peanut butter.  If you have kids and you want to get them involved in the kitchen they have the ‘Head Chef’ measuring cup in the shape of a little man and some color coded measuring spoons and cups. 

The final item was a measuring cup that was also a scale.  This is great if you have recipes that call for a weight instead of a measurement.  Check out all the different measuring devices at Kitchen Kaboodle at any of the 5 Portland metro area stores.

Raw, Vegetarian and Vegan Cheeses

Just about everyone loves cheese, but with the proliferation of artisan cheeses and milk allergies some people have a lot of questions about what is in their cheese and if it is safe for people who might have lactose allergies.  To learn more about cheeses we went to see the ‘Cheese Man’, Bill Stephenson.  Bill works for DPI Specialty Foods, a local distributor of food products.  They distribute 1,000’s of high quality products to stores in Oregon and SW Washington.   Bill has had to answer tons of questions over the years about cheese and diet.  The first question that David brought up was one about raw milk used in cheese.  Raw milk has been used in cheese making for centuries.  In the US the use of raw milk is regulated and so raw milk cheese is safe.  The rule is that raw milk cheese has to be aged for 60 days before it can be consumed.  During that time the acid, salt and loss of moisture inherent to the cheese makes it safe.  These cheeses tend to be hard cheeses.  If a cheese is aged for less than 60 days the milk has to be pasteurized.  Softer cheeses, because they are aged less than 60 days, must be made with pasteurized milk.

The other question that Bill gets a lot has to do with vegetarian cheeses.  This has to do with the Rennet.  Rennet is what makes cheese.  It contains enzymes that separate the solids in milk (curds) from the liquids (whey).  If the rennet is made from an animal source then a vegetarian can’t eat it.  There are non-animal sources of rennet and the best way to find out is to read the label.  If it isn’t clear on the label, then ask a store clerk if they have any other information from the producer.  If that doesn’t work you can contact the distributor. 

Finally, a question about vegans and cheese.  Vegans cannot have anything made with milk, so you would think that there are no cheeses that they can enjoy, but that is not true.  There is actually a soy-based product that is a cheddar flavored alternative.  If you are a cheese fanatic DPI Specialty Foods has a website called Cheese U where you can learn all about cheese and where it comes from.   It is a great website and should be your first stop if you are looking to try some new cheeses or learn something new about an old favorite!    

How to Build a Home Gym

Getting in shape shouldn’t be a chore.  It should be fun and stimulating.  This time of year everyone seems to want to get into shape.  We stopped by Exercise Equipment Northwest (800-659-0421) and talked with Kim Moore about how you can set up a home gym that will keep you motivated.  The first mistake that she sees people make is in the choice of a piece of exercise equipment.  Everyone seems to think that they need to get a stationary bike or a treadmill of some sort.  Kim mentioned that you should consider a machine that will help build muscle mass.  The only way to do that is with weights.  Aerobic exercise is good, but muscle mass burns more calories and will help you drop weight faster.  Muscle will continue to burn fat even after your workout is done.  And it is easy to get started.  First determine a dedicated space for your workout area.  You don’t want to hide the equipment in a closet or under a bed; if you do you’ll never use it.  Kim showed us a compact home gym that could fit into the space of a small table.  When looking for a home gym you want to choose something that will do 8-10 exercises and is comfortable for your frame.  If the home gym is a little too much you can go for a dumbbell set.  But forget about the old dumbbells that have a huge rack of weights, we found one called the PowerBlock which can adjust from 5 pounds of weight to 50 pounds.  It is great for those very small apartments or rooms.  No matter what goal you are looking to accomplish, whether it is losing weight or getting in better shape, Exercise Equipment Northwest can help you achieve it!

Making a Cabinet Template

Getting the handles placed correctly on your cabinets is hard and if you goof it up it is hard to fix, so do it right the first time.  To learn a trick for getting the handles uniform we stopped by Parr Lumber (866-214-7277) and talked to Amber.  She happened to be installing handles at the store and they looked perfect!  She showed us her trick, it’s called a jig!  This template is designed so you can uniformly install all your handles without worry.  First you need a scrap of wood to use for your jig (about 6” x 6”).  Then you will make and ‘L’ shape to mimic the 90 degree angle of your cabinet door.  You then drill 4 holes on the outside edge of the ‘L’.  This is where you will place the dowels to complete the jig.  The final part is to figure out where the handle goes on your cabinet.  Hold it up to the cabinet and see what looks good.  Then measure from the edges of the cabinet to the center of the screw holes.  Make sure you measure twice to get the right distance.  Now, use those same measurements on your jig (on the inside of the ‘L’) and drill the holes to create your template.  Now that you have your template you can just move down the line and mark the holes for your handles and everything will line up perfectly!  For more tips and the tools you need to finish any home project, stop by your local Parr Lumber store!


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April 13, 2012.