Condo Blues

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mom’s Mexican Vintage Tablecloth

In honor of Cinco de Mayo I wanted to use one of my favorite vintage tablecloths that my mom embroidered when I was wee little or even pre-me, I’m not sure which. Anyway, it’s square and didn’t fit her table so she gave it to me.

Kitschy, Free, and Festive! What's not to love?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Crock Pot Slow Cooker Lasagna

No matter what you call it - by its brand name Crock Pot or the more generic name slow cooker that bad boy is one of my best cooking friends! I put food in it in the morning and by evening I have dinner for pennies worth of electricity. All on it's own.

It's better than having cookie baking elves living in a tree in my front yard I tell ya.

What does this have to do with making lasagna in a Crock pot? Well, one of the foods I remember my material grandmother making for family dinners was lasagna. However I haven’t made it in oh forever because it is a massive cholesterol bomb and takes a long time to make. Time is something we usually don’t have a lot of in the evenings around dinnertime and who needs more cholesterol in their diet?

I heard that you could cook lasagna in a slow cooker. I did an Internet search. Some insisted you have to use no boil lasagna noodles while others didn’t. Some used jarred spaghetti sauce (cheater!) while others made their own which didn’t sound as good as Grandma’s sauce.

So I decided to adapt Grandma’s lasagna to bake in the slow cooker. I also tried to make Grandma’s lasagna it a little less of a cholesterol bomb too. Several people on Twitter and Facebook asked me for my recipe.

Here it is.

Crock Pot Slow Cooker Lasagna a la Lisa

You will need:

Sauce Layer

Olive oil
1 pound ground turkey
1 chopped onion
3 cloves crushed garlic
2 small cans of tomato sauce
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 pinch of hot pepper flakes (My addition. Totally optional)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
½ package of fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional. I had some mushrooms I needed to use.)

Cheese Layer

1 carton light cottage cheese (instead of ricotta)
1 package shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook it!

1. Strain excess liquid from the cottage cheese if desired. (Mine was very soupy when I opened the carton so I drained it. Depending upon the brand your mileage and desire may vary.)

2. Drizzle olive oil in a frying pan. Brown the ground turkey, and onion until translucent.

3. Drain any grease from the mixture and return it to the pan.

4. Mix in the tomato sauce, garlic, oregano, tsp basil, hot pepper flakes, salt, pepper, and mushrooms to taste and set aside.

5. Mix together mozzarella cheese and cottage cheese in a separate bowl and set aside.

6. If you want to oil the slow cooker, so it doesn’t stick while baking do it now. I didn’t do this because I forgot and it didn’t stick to the sides of the crock. As always your mileage may vary.

7. Layer it. Spoon a layer of the sauce into the bottom of the slow cooker.

8. Add a layer of uncooked noodles. Break the noodles into pieces so they fit into the Crock pot if needed (chances are it will be needed.)

9. Spoon a layer of the cheese mixture over the noodle layer. Make sure you cover the noodle layer completely with the cheese layer.

10. Alternate noodle layer, sauce layer, and noodle cheese layer until you’ve reached the top of the slow cooker. Important: Make sure you begin and end with a sauce layer.

11. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese.

12. Cook on warm/low for 8 hours.

13. Chow down!

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Coconut Shrimp with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce

I’ve been dealing with an itchy flaking scalp for the last six months and tag teaming the problem with my hairstylist and my family doctor. Two shampoos and a new prescription later both suggested I add more Omega 3’s to my diet. Translation: eat more fish.

I settled in on shrimp because it is most of the affordable (AKA frozen) type of fish I can get in land locked Columbus that is environmentally OK.  That and I really like to eat shrimp. Cooking shrimp is a slightly different story because it’s easy to overcook. I’m not a fan of stir fried rubbery shrimp bits. I did some poking around the internet and found a recipe for coconut shrimp. Husband is a big fan of all things coconut. However I’m not a fan of the mess involved with hand breading things.

So I cheated. I bought SeaPak Coconut Shrimp.  I wanted to do something a little different and took a recipe suggestion off of the SeaPak site to serve it with Thai peanut dipping sauce instead of using the marmalade dipping sauce that came with the shrimp. I put the marmalade sauce aside and will get clever with that later.

To prove that I’m not completely useless in the kitchen I made a Thai peanut dipping sauce  with natural peanut butter instead of buying a premade sauce. I served the coconut shrimp with brown rice and steamed broccoli. The rice was the most difficult part of the meal because it has the longest cooking time, which really isn’t saying much because it only took 30 minutes. The shrimp took about 12 minutes to bake – let’s hear it for quick food!.

Pardon my plating. I don't know how food bloggers do it. I really just wanted to hurry up and eat dinner, not style photos.

The taste? Pretty darn good. Husband said, "It was light. It was crispy. It was yummy, even better with your dipping sauce."


  • Mighty tasty and not soggy like our control - Kroger brand coconut shrimp (purchased with my own money), and this comes from someone who routinely and weirdly prefers the taste of generic food over the name brands. 
  • The SeaPak coconut shrimp were butterflied unlike the Kroger brand coconut shrimp they were tiny and sad looking.
  • Not too bad on the packaging. The only thing I threw away is the small plastic bag holding the marmalade dipping sauce. I shredded and composted the paper box. I rinsed and reused the small plastic bag holding the shrimp for Blitzkrieg doggie duty.

  • The marmalade dipping sauce has high fructose corn syrup in it. That was easily avoided by making my own Thai peanut dipping sauce or just going without the dipping sauce. 
  • The Kroger brand coconut shrimp had 5 more shrimp in the box for the same price as the SeaPak coconut shrimp. Although there was a definite difference in the taste – the SeaPak tasted much better.

This is definitely a you get what you pay for situation. The Kroger brand shrimp was slightly less money per shrimp but failed the taste test in comparison to the SeaPak Shrimp. The SeaPak shrimp are a better tasting product.

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Disclosure: SeaPak provided me with a free sample to facilitate this review because I probably wouldn't have considered this product otherwise and now I'm glad they did. They did not compensate me in any way and all opinions are my own. SeaPak didn’t ask me to compare their product to a store brand. I did that on my own which I purchased with my own money if you were reading this post carefully.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Zestra Natural Nookie Giveaway!

Guys, I don’t blog about women-only topics often but you might want to go and read this post about how I garden with a jackhammer because I’m going to be talk about lady bits.

Oh and if you’re my parents or in-laws you might want to click away too. I don’t think you really want to know what goes one between the sheets with Husband and I.

OK now that it’s just us girls – let’s talk.

When I made my 2010 New Year’s Resolution to green the rest of my health and beauty aids, I didn’t think it would change how Husband and I do things in the nookie department because that department as been well, just awesome. In fact we just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary. Congrats to us!

But when I got the chance to try something that would enhance that department and was based on essential oils, well – how could I not take the chance to spice things up – for the good the environment – right?

I’m greening my s*x life for you Mother Earth – be grateful.

I mean resolutions are resolutions you know.

I got the chance to try Zestra, an “essential arousal oil” (which I’m quoting Zestra because that’s the best G rated way I know to describe it) that when applied improves your feelings of “satisfaction” ifyaknowwhatImen.

Zestra is hormone free. The ingredients in Zestra are PA-free Borage Seed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Angelica Extract, Coleus Forskholii Extract, Theobromine, Vitamin C ,and Vitamin E.

I applied Zestra to my lady bits and felt a rush of tingly things – wow! Then Husband and I began, um, product testing.

Wowie, wow, wow, wow!

Things with Husband have always been good – like fireworks. With the addition of Zestra they were like a fireworks grand finale!


I can’t believe I’m blogging about this.


  • It was good. Real good. Like awesome real good.
  • Zestra’s made of plant based ingredients.
  • If you order Zestra online your order comes in a plain padded envelope with Semprae printed on the return address label. This is good because you never know what would happen when you go the mailbox and one of the nosey old lady neighbors sees you and strikes up a conversation with you after you’ve gotten your mail. Really. *blushing again*

  • It comes in a box with tiny foil packets for each application - increased waste in my wastebasket but easier to get through airport security travel restrictions.

Zestra Giveaway – Two Winners!!

If you don’t believe me enter my Zestra giveaway and find out for yourself. Zestra has generously offered a Zestra 2-pack for not one, but for two winners!

To enter: Visit Zestra and leave a comment on Condo Blues telling me a tidbit or factoid that you’ve learned about Zestra. You must leave your email address so I can contact you if you win or your entry will be disqualified. If your email address is available via your Blogger profile that counts.

Update 4/28/10: I'm not getting many entries so I suppose that you're shy about attaching your real name or user name to this giveaway. I'm really only interested in having your email address so I can contact the winner - you'd be amazed how many people enter my drawings without giving me their contact information. Which means I can't give them their prize and that makes me sad. So I'm taking a page from Chunky Chicken's book.if you want to enter but be anonymous you can use a Bond Girl name like "Honey Ryder" as your user name. Can't come up with one? Try using the  use the Bond Girl Name Generator

You can earn extra chances to win by doing any of the following after you’ve made your initial comment on my blog:

  1. Blog about my contest with a link back to Condo Blues. Please leave the URL of your blog post so I can verify it.
  2. Subscribe to Condo Blues by Email.  
  3. Subscribe to the Condo Blues RSS feed.  
  4. Follow Condo Blues on Twitter AND tweet about the contest. Please leave your username and the URL of your tweet in your comment so I can verify it. 
  5. Become a fan of the Condo Blues Facebook page
  6. Put my Condo Blues button on the sidebar of your blog.
You must leave a separate comment for each method you used to enter the contest. If you choose to use every method of entry, you have up to seven chances to win!

I will use a random generator to select the winner. The Zestra Natural Nookie Giveaway runs from April 26, 2010 – May 9, 2010 12 midnight EST. Good Luck!

Here ya go FTC: Zestra provided me with a free sample to facilitate this review. They did not compensate me to say nice things about their product or run this giveaway. All opinions are my own at the time of this writing and longtime readers know I can very opinionated.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Prince of Wails Onsie

I’m going to be an Aunt again! Nephew Number Nine is due in July. Little Mr. H is going to a big brother for the first time and he is thrilled! In fact, he’s so into helping his Mom and Dad pick out things for his baby bro that I joked that it’s really Mr. H’s baby – mom and dad were just responsible for its construction.

*SPOILER* Jennifer if you’re reading my blog you need to STOP READING RIGHT NOW OR YOU WILL SPOIL THE SURPRISE. Go outside and play with Mr. H. Thank you.

I want to make Naughty Number Nine something because I am his Crafty Aunt as well as the World’s Most Fabulous Aunt (trademark pending). Yes, double titles are a tough thing to bear. Especially when they are self inflicted. I persevere.

I came across a new baby snapsuit, some people call them baby onsies, in my craft stash. I’m not sure whose baby I bought it for to begin with. So um if your baby was born nekkid because I didn’t decorate and give this onsie to you I’m sorry. However, it is the perfect last Dollar Store Craft's Stash Bust Challenge project to do for April.

It helped me use up a little turquoise embroidery floss I had left over from a project that I just couldn’t toss because, well, Hello! It is turquoise.

I used an uneven font that was very forgiving of my embroidery skills

It says The Prince of Wails.


I’m going to put the baby snapsuit in a gift basket of cool eco baby items. I’m sure they pretty much need everything because as luck would have it, Jennifer sold or gave away all of her baby stuff thinking Mr. H just might be it.

I hear about a lot of cool environmentally friendly baby products from fellow bloggers but I'm not sure what is just nice to have and what is needed. Some of these items I have repurposed for our use (Yes, I steal things from children but it’s for the planet. Or Blitzkrieg. Or because it’s useful for me too. Don’t judge.)

Help a gal out. What items that you find/found useful or were a very cool and unusual and useful for babies or toddlers that I can put in Mr. N’s gift basket?

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If you are joining us from Something I Whipped Up Monday, Metamorphosis Monday, The Persimmon Perch, Market Yourself Monday, Made By You Monday, Marketing Mondays, Craftastic MondaysTrash to Treasure TuesdayDIY Day, Today's Creative Blog, Penny Pinching Party. The Girl Creative, Toot Your Horn Tuesday, Second Time Around Tuesday , or Show and Tell Welcome!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day - Is Your Glass Half Empty or Half Full?

Earth Day. Wow what a long strange trip it’s been since that first grassroots college teach in day in 1969. 40 years later and Earth Day is celebrated and talked about world wide. I guess I could be like others and point to my city’s low recycling rates and get curmudgeonly and say, “See? Things are just as bad or worse, as they were 40 years ago on that first Earth Day!”

But are they?


I don’t think so.

As a person who studies way too much history – for fun mind you! – I see a lot of big scary environmental problems found and fixed since that very first Earth Day in 1969. For example:

  • We have gotten on the ball, and cleaned up environmental problems and put laws into place to prevent harmful materials to be included into our products. You can’t buy lead paint anymore. Its sale was prohibited in 1978. In 1994 federal law restricted toilet tanks to 1.6 gallons per flush to save water although some states regulated this earlier. You might already have a low flow toilet in your home and not even realize it! 
  • No more river fires and the dumping of toxic chemicals is illegal. Growing up on Lake Erie, I heard about the 1969 Cuyahoga River Fire. A spark from a road bridge set the sludge and waste factories dumped into the Cuyahoga River on fire. Because of this Congress passed the Clean Water Act in 1972, started the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.) We now have regulations on what we can and cannot do with industrial waste products and the sale and use of many hazardous products are illegal. Whether these regulations are followed, loop holed, or enforced to the letter of the law is another story and may need work. 
  • No more smoggy foggy skies. How many references to Victorian London talked about fog enveloping Good Old London Town? It wasn’t fog – it was smog from factory chimneys. Los Angeles was famous for its smog too. Now I rarely if ever hear jokes about smoggy days from late night comedians located in Beautiful Downtown Burbank. 
  • Items like recycling, reusable shopping bags, reusable water bottles, and green cleaners and more! Are commonly talked about and used. Many cities have recycling programs built into their waste management programs. Where cities have fallen short, local, national, and nonprofit organizations and businesses that have stepped up to recycle items such as eyeglasses, ewaste, cell phones, makeup tubes, batteries and hard plastic bottle caps. Even people who may not agree with recycling or going green are still aware enough of all these things to make fun of them by name :)
  • There is a wider array of environmentally friendlier products available to mainstream shoppers and small town America. Some people may think it’s the end of days now that more mainstream companies are offering environmentally friendlier versions of their products, purchasing smaller green companies as subsidiaries, or at the very least redesigning their packaging to use less material or contain recycled content. Not me. I like that companies that once upon a time thought of green consumers as some crazy hippie niche are trying to serve us because we as consumers are voting with our dollars when a company takes steps in a greener direction. And we as consumers are also willing to stop buying products from those companies that think natural ingredients don’t work as well or are as good as petrochemical mixes.
For the most part, our big environmental worries have been noted and we’ve made steps to fix or prevent them from happening. For example, when was the last time you heard about factory waste causing acid rain?

Are there environmental hazards still out there? Well, of course there are. The thing is, our science has gotten better and with it we are able to find and fight more environmental bad guys, like questionable ingredients in our cosmetics or health and beauty products. Of course, politics plays a role this too. One country can't really march on over to another and make them to stop doing something without incident. Diplomacy is key in solving this matters althought it may sometimes takes more time than we like.

Sometimes we are are own worst enimies. Part of the problem is hat the term “green” is unregulated. Green means something different to almost everyone. While we care passionately about protecting our homes, families, and all that surround them we can get hung up on the minutiae of if something is or is not green. Do petrochemical ingredients in a 100% recycled content container count? What if it's 100% organic ingredients in a plastic container? Or possibily 99% organic ingredients and 1% of synthetic ingredients but created in a factory powered by renewable resources?

You get the idea. The list of parsing components out goes on and on and more time can be spent on aruging that then actually formulating a plan and doing something.

But I’m hopeful. I see it every day. I see kids from a family who’d rather trash toys than donate them get excited when I mention I’m gathering stuff from our event to take home and put in my recycling bin. I see it when even places like Aldi, Big Lots, and Dollar General have reusable shopping bags for sale next to the cash registers and not my just Hippie Mart. I was happily surprised when I went to a blogging event with a group of lifestyle bloggers and one of the women started a conversation about watching Food Inc. and everyone knew what she was talking about or had already seen the movie. I should also mention that I was the only green blogger at the event. And someone else brought up the movie as well as Food Rules.

So yes, I’m hopeful. There’s a growing awareness and people willing to campaign, and blog, and do what they can on a personal level to make their little parts of the world a better place.

So what about you? Is your Earth Day glass half full or half empty?

Updated 4/22/10:Correction. Sorry folks I got my dates mixed up. Food Inc. played on PBS April 21, 2010.Sorry about the mix up. Check if your library has a copy to see it for free.

 Disclosure: This post contains affliate links. If you chose to make a purchase using the link in this post, I earn a small commission (really small) which will help me with my goal of making Condo Blues a self hosted blog at no additional cost to you. Although I encourage you to check your local library for the items mentiond in this post first.