Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Great Green Bag Experiment Day Four

The lighting was a little different this morning but the brown spots on the bananas comes through well. Banana C is showing the effects of being refrigerated and certainly looks the worst at this point. Of the three bananas, the one kept at room temperature inside a green bag, banana B, definitely looks the best. I suspect C is still fairly good inside but the exterior is getting very unattractive.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Green Bag Experiment Day Three

It's day three in the great green bag experiment. As you can see from the picture, all the bananas are showing signs of age. They're certainly all still edible and none of them are too gross to eat. I suspect that the one refrigerated in a green bag (C) might still be the firmest inside but the outside isn't remarkably different from the others.

On a different subject, I've been checking around for deals on Halloween candy. A lot of the Sunday newspaper inserts contained coupons for $1 off on two bags of candy. Most of the drugstores (CVS, RiteAid) appear to be offering two bags for $4, so if you hit them with the coupon, two bags for $3 is still a decent, if not stellar, deal. Ya'll let me know if you run across anything better that doesn't require swimming the English Channel or suffering through masses of junk email.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Great Green Bag Experiment

It's day two of the great green bag experiment. All of the bananas still look edible but they're all beginning to get tiny dark spots. If I weren't doing this test, I'd be looking at banana A, which isn't in a green bag, and thinking that I ought to eat it very soon.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Green Bags

I'm not planning to blog on weekends but bananas wait for no blog. So I'm beginning the great green bag test. You'll see from the photo above that I've taken three bananas from the same bunch. That way, we can assume they were all exposed to the same conditions in the trip to my grocery store.

I've labeled them A, B, and C. A will remain in my fruit bowl, exposed to normal room temperature conditions. B will remain at room temperature but in a green bag, and C is in a green bag but will go into the refrigerator. I plan to post pictures of them daily so we can follow their progress.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Coming Soon!

My ISP was down so I wasn't able to post. So much for technology. The good news is that the PediPaws finally arrived. You've seen it on TV and wondered about it, right? Me, too. With four dogs and a cat, I'll have plenty of unsuspecting victims to try it on. I'll let you know how it goes and if it works. I'm also planning to test the green bags that are supposed to keep fruit and veggies from spoiling so fast. The way food costs are spiraling upward, I certainly hope they work.

And because it's cold and rainy here, I thought I'd share a picture of an almond ring my mother baked today. Tastes as good as it looks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Penzey's Spices

One of the first links I posted on the side on this blog was to Pensey's Spices. If you love to cook or eat, even if you're not a dedicated cook but one who likes to putz around in the kitchen, try the fresh and potent spices from Pensey's. http://www.penzeys.com

Grocery store spices are okay in a pinch but the difference is noticeable. For a few years, I stuck to the basics, oregano, pepper, thyme, but then I branched out and tried a few of their blends. I'm devoted to their Fajita Seasoning, even though I rarely make Fajitas. It kicks up a salad, and puts a fresh spin on standard chicken recipes. And I confess that I'm a slave to the Northwoods Seasoning. I used it throughout the summer to marinate meat for the grill. It's perfect for pork, even just sprinkled on before chops go into a pan.

The Dutch Process Cocoa is another favorite worth trying. The depth of flavor is fabulous. I don't bake with anything else. It also makes a yummy chocolate pudding.

Five Cupcakes!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This isn't a diva kind of thing but a lot of my writer friends order material from VistaPrint. If you're not a writer, you might want to check them out anyway since they're a reasonably priced source of promotional items. You can easily download your own picture or logo. They'll even come up with a logo for you -- for free. If you need help, their staff is quite knowledgeable and can work magic while you're on the line so you can check what they've done. Super for sport teams, office teams, family reunions, and kid's parties. The T-shirts are Anvil brand and seem to be fairly good quality.

Once you order from VistaPrint, you'll receive constant notices of sales. When you see one offering a deal on the item you need, use that email to click into the system. If you've tossed them all or don't have one, look for a site that takes you into VistaPrint with savings on the item you want. You'll find them by the dozen if you google "VistaPrint coupon code" (no quotes). My favorite is RetailMeNot.com. You'll also find coupon codes to use when you check out. The current ones are "summer" and "save50". (Don't use the quotes.) I've tried both. Their system is set up so that it only takes one coupon code but it allows you to try them out to see which one saves the most. I've added a little box on the side of this blog that I'll try to keep updated with the latest coupon codes since so many of us use VistaPrint regularly.

If you opt for their slowest shipping, it does take a little longer. In my experience, that means about two weeks. The shipping is actually fast (DHL) so they must send those orders to the back of the line to be printed.

They *always* have free items available. Usually only one or a handful of something as a teaser to get you to order more. And be careful, even though the item might be free, a different color, high gloss or using your own picture or logo might incur a fee. Still, they're a very good source and overall, I've been pleased with my purchases.

Monday, September 22, 2008

One Touch

Well, you knew I didn't love everything, right? Here's an item I want to love. I adore the concept of the One Touch battery-operated can opener. No ugly can opener cluttering the counter. Sleek, easy to hold, easy to clean, fits into a drawer. Unfortunately, I've had no luck with them. Of the two I've owned, I just never could get one of them to work. The other one operated for about nine months and then gave up the ghost. When it worked, it did so grudgingly, almost as though the cans were too thick to open. Seems unlikely that my cans would be more difficult than most, though. I tried different types of batteries, including heavy duty, but that didn't seem to make much difference. I'm hoping someone will post a better experience with the One Touch because the idea is great.

One cupcake for a terrific concept.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Guiltless Indulgence

People are asking about the terrific fudge bars I mentioned a few days ago. They're from Julie's Organic Ice Cream, delicious, and the best part is that they're only 100 calories per bar. If, like me, you can plow through half a pint of ice cream but then feel enormously guilty, this is a great way to limit yourself but savor the same creamy ice cream flavor. Julie's also makes adorable 100 calorie ice cream sandwiches. They're tiny and would be perfect for children's birthday parties. Dress them up for princesses or cowboys or serve them plain. They're organic, made of real ice cream and taste wonderful.

I've been trying to come up with some kind of rating system and I think I'm going to use the cupcakes at the top of the blog. Julie's organic fudge bars and ice cream sandwiches get a whopping five cupcakes! Top score.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

KitchenAid Mixers

Yesterday I was trying out the fourth version of Natasha's Aphrodisiac Cake (aka Catch Your Man Cake) and realized again that one of my very favorite things is my KitchenAid mixer. If you bake, you owe it to yourself to try one. I cut a stick of butter into sixteen pieces and the KitchenAid creamed it in no time. No thumping, no lumping, just plain, quick creaming. I have the special plastic rim that can be attached for adding ingredients, but I find that it's so powerful that even if I turn the speed down so that flour doesn't fly up at me, the mixer still does the job. Perfect for whipping potatoes, too.

They're not cheap. Depending on the model, you can expect to spend between $300 and $500. But the good news is that this is a mixer that won't burn out on you and you won't find yourself replacing it after a few years. I've heard of mixers that were handed down from mother to daughter, so these powerhouses keep going. They're readily available everywhere from Macy's macys.com/kitchenaid to QVC and come in a rainbow of colors. There's even a pink Cook for the Cure edition.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pillsbury Coupon Page

I've been to a number of the grocery coupon sites and I find them a little frustrating because they usually don't have the coupons I need. If you happen to be a fan of Pillsbury products (who doesn't use flour?) they have an entire page of coupons. You have to join their mailing list but that's a typical price. Check it out at http://www.pillsbury.com/coupons-promotions/.

Thanks to Betsy, our coupon expert, for this timely tip!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Coupon Codes

Welcome to The Diva Dishes. If you're like me, you love to shop, but you hate to waste money. So many wonderful products to buy. But do they work? Are they worth the price? Or are we throwing money out on another gadget that will end up in the trash or being sold for fifty cents at a yard sale?

What about the clever things advertised on TV? Does the announcer shout louder when the product isn't all it could be?

I'm going to use this blog to share some of my favorite things. And some of my not-so-favorites. I'll talk about food, too, because when you find a really great 100 calorie chocolate ice cream popsicle, well, that really ought to be shared. Everything I report here will be based solely on my opinion and my experiences. I readily acknowledge that anyone can end up with a lemon and that doesn't mean all the fruit in the basket is sour. I hope you'll post your own opinions and experiences. If something worked or didn't work for you, let us know.

Today I'll introduce you to two important words. If you order anything on-line, you need to commit this phrase to memory -- coupon code. Like me, I'm sure you've ordered something on-line and noticed the little box for gift certificates and coupon codes. I wondered recently where everyone was getting codes -- why didn't I have any? Eureka. All you have to do is search "coupon code name-of-store" (don't include the quotes, though) or "coupon code name-of-product" (again, no quotes). There isn't a coupon code for every product or every store but you'll be amazed how easy it is and how readily one can find them.

Some stores allow a consumer to use more than one code. Others only allow one code and you have to try several to find which is the best buy. Think it sounds like it's too good to be true? I recently saved money by using coupon codes at The Territory Ahead and at VistaPrint. I recommend searching for a coupon code because they're all over the net, but my favorite at the moment is http://www.retailmenot.com/.

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