Miss Ginsu: About/Bio


Recycled Bird (or Squirrel) Feeder

Correct me if I'm wrong, because I don't buy a lot of juice, but I believe this image is showing off a clever way to reuse an old plastic juice container.

Squirrel Modeling the Bird Feeder

Visiting in Minneapolis last weekend, mom and I stopped in at a roadside rest stop and found this little household recycling project swinging from the trees. (And come to think of it, that actually looks like an onion bag filled with suet in the background. Yet more great recycling. Go Minnesota DOT, go!)

Looks like all you'd need is a big plastic juice jug, a utility knife (to cut the flaps in the sides), a nail (to pierce a hole in the lid), a knotted piece of string (to push through the hole in the lid) a stick or dowel (to give the birds a perch) and a little premium bird seed.*

It's certainly not squirrel-proof, but with squirrels this charming, maybe you don't really want to repel them.

Squirrel Close-Up

As a kid, I remember using the canisters from orange juice concentrate to make pencil holders, but I'm a bit of out of the loop on the world of food packaging projects.

If you're so inclined, post in the comments if you've seen any other inventive recycling ideas lately.

In the meantime, I hope y'all had a delightful weekend!

Miss Ginsu

* And conveniently, we learned last week that buying premium bird seed lets credit card companies know that you're reliable and creditworthy.

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Day 13: A Homespun Holiday

This post marks Day 13 of Miss Ginsu's 2008 Advent Calendar. To find other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.

I got my holiday tree this week, and I realized it's one of those annual purchases that never creates buyers' regret for me. The pine scent, the warm glow of the lights and the homey little ornaments all add up to great joy for the few weeks it comes to visit.

Digging through the holiday box, it also struck me that the oldest and most humble ornaments are the best ones in the bunch. No doubt Hallmark makes spiffy things, but they never kindle the sweet sentimentality of the little homespun items.

Thus, today is dedicated to nifty homemade holiday decorations — the ideal combination of thrift and flair.

On a trip to the South Dakota State Capitol building (where they host tons of lovely trees every year), I snapped up five great ideas for what you and fam or friends can make with a few popsicle sticks, some glue, a bit of paint, crafting felt, raffia and other stuff you might have around the house.

Marshmallow Snowman
1. Marshmallow Snowman

Wood Spoon Cat
2. Wood Spoon Cat

Golden Walnut
3. Fishing Lures and Gold-Painted Walnuts

Dried Apple & Raffia Garland
4. Dried Apple & Raffia Garland (+ bonus Popsicle Stick Snowflake in the Corner)

Popsicle Stick Santa
5. Popsicle Stick Santa

All these things are cheap (and fun) to make and give... and maybe that's just what's needed in a year when a bunch of us have more time than money.

Holiday Cheer!
Miss Ginsu

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Day 10: Dough for Play

This post marks Day 10 of Miss Ginsu's 2008 Advent Calendar. To find other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.

Even if you don't have kids, you may find yourself in the company of little folks around the holidays. And wet, mucky, sleety days mean it's not so fun to go outside and play.

If you're anticipating small guests, (or maybe just playful older guests), you can plan ahead and make some homemade play dough for a nice kitchen-table activity.

Dough for Play

To my mind, there's two ways you can go with the homemade play dough. You can make it edible, or you can make it pretty. The pretty stuff isn't toxic... it just doesn't taste very nice. The edible stuff isn't visually exciting.

I've got recipes for both, and they're both easy to make, so you should just make your own decision on the pretty vs. yummy axis.
Snackable Play Dough (Makes 2 cups)

1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
2 cups powdered milk

1. Mix peanut butter, honey and powdered milk in a bowl until a soft, pliable dough forms.
2. Form shapes, snacking on the dough if you like.
3. To store, keep the dough, refrigerated in an airtight container.

For this second dough, you can omit the food color until the end of the process, divide the dough in two parts, and color each part separately. If you do this, you may want to use latex gloves to avoid colorful fingers.
Colorful Play Dough (Makes 2 cups)

1/2 cup salt
2 cup warm water
2 cup flour
1 Tbsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
Food coloring

1. In a small saucepan, blend salt, water, flour, cream of tartar and vegetable oil over medium heat.
2. Whisk until smooth, adding 5 or more drops of food coloring to the mixture.
3. Stir until the mixture begins to thicken and clump. Remove from heat and cool.
4. Knead the dough to achieve a pliable consistency.
5. Form dough into shapes. This dough can also be dried and painted.

I'd advise you to keep both doughs away from the carpeting and pets. You'll also find that cookie cutters, chopsticks and dull butter knives make fun accessories to the play dough playtime repertoire.

Happy Play!
Miss Ginsu

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FoodLink Roundup: 07.21.08

Cupcake's Link Roundup
As surmised, last week Cupcake was visiting the handsome polar bear at the Musée d'Orsay. Where in the world is Cupcake this week? Be the envy of your friends and the bane of your enemies by posting a guess in the comments.

Vertical Farms for Urban Areas
Critics question zucchini-in-the-sky visions: “Would a tomato in lower Manhattan be able to outbid an investment banker for space in a high-rise?”

Cutest. Spaghetti film. Ever.
I love this short so much. PES, you rock.

The Food-Truck Revolution
NY Mag offers up a handy map of NYC's most mobile meals... with recommendations, of course.

Red Hook vendors in the red
I know they mean well, but I kind of hate the health department.

felt egg cosy
I can't say I've ever had need for an egg cozy, but... OMG SO CUTE!

Is Eco-Wine Better?
An exploration of the "green" wine spin factor.

Parker's Wine Vintage Chart
A good "print out and take along" reference for the next time you're out wine shopping.

Fun with Toxins
MUG sends out a call to New Yorkers... Help keep consumer labeling on your milk!

Good Fish, Bad Fish: A Consumer Guide
Think wild Alaskan (sablefish, salmon) or think small: mussels, oysters, anchovies, sardines

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FoodLink Roundup: 03.03.08

Cupcake Goes Western
Where in the world is Cupcake? Post in the comments if you think you know...

Recent interesting food news found roaming out there on the world wild web:

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Day 11: Rice + Sock = Comfort

This post marks Day 11 of Miss Ginsu's 2007 Advent Calendar. To click into other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.

I'm sure we're all well aware that December can be a taxing month. Weather issues make the commute challenging. People tend to feel a lot of pressure to buy gifts, write out cards and fulfill extra holiday obligations. Less sun means more Seasonal Affective Disorder. Critters that cause colds and flu float around offices, schools and public spaces. Dozens of events, gatherings and errands stuff the calendar. It's a recipe for stress.

If someone you know (maybe you?) is in need of comfort, here's a quick and supremely easy-to-execute tip I picked up from my last roomie: the rice sock.

Rice Sock
Rice... It's not just for takeout anymore

Thanks to the miracle of the microwave, you can zap a sock filled with rice, and in mere moments, you have a malleable heating pad that's ready to soothe sore muscles.

Toss it in the freezer for a cold pack that won't freeze your skin. It's a cheap and easy therapy tool for sore necks, shoulders or whatever part of you happens to need some warm (or cold) comfort.

In essence, it's just a 100% cotton sock filled with uncooked grain. Just close up the end with a knot, a few stitches or a pretty ribbon. Voila!

To chill, freeze for 45 minutes or more. To heat, microwave the sock for 30 seconds (in powerful microwaves) to 1 minute (in standard microwaves).

The rice sock molds to the body and holds its temperature for a surprisingly long time. Unlike a cold pack or a bag of frozen peas, it won't sweat and make your skin damp.

It has a pleasant, rice-y scent (no big surprise there), but Wikihow has an involved DIY guide to making them, that includes options for scent add-ins if you'd prefer to smell lavender or lemons.

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