Thanksgiving recipes: Use a ricer for the best mashed potatoes

Yes, the turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving Day dinner, but there are many key players. My favorite every year is the creamy, buttery mashed potatoes — no one can make them like my mother. This year, I finally asked: what’s the secret?

Using a ricer instead of whipping or hand mashing potatoes creates smooth, lump-free spuds fit for melted butter, gravy or both. Cook’s Illustrated recently put a few model to the test and picked two models on our site as their top two favorites.

  • RSVP International Potato Ricer: This food press features a sturdy handle and pot hook so it stays in place while you process your potatoes. The rectangular shape makes it easy to fit spuds of all sizes, plus the interchangeable disks allow you to master a range of different textures. It’s also a great model for making your own baby food or removing extra moisture from cooked greens. Plus, it’s dis-mountable and dishwasher safe!
    Cleaning: ∗∗∗  Ease of Use: ∗∗∗  Performance: ∗∗∗
  • OXO Three in One Adjustable Potato Ricer: This ricer from OXO is made for more than one job. The adjustable grates are great for ricing potatoes, but can also be used to cube veggies for soups and other recipes. This model also features a pot hook so it can be rested on the side of your pan while you process potatoes. Made from stainless steel and BPA-free plastic, plus it is safe to use in the dishwasher.
    Cleaning: ∗∗∗  Ease of Use: ∗∗1/2  Performance: ∗∗∗

Tips for the best mashed potatoes:

  • Season the cooking water: potatoes can be bland and the best way to season them is to salt the water you cook them in.
  • Get butter and cream warm before adding: Using cold cream or butter can cause potatoes to get gummy. Heat up the butter and cream beforehand.
  • Infuse: Steep crushed garlic and your favorite herbs in your warm butter before adding to your potatoes. This way you get flavor without lumps or chunks.
  • Use a ricer: Obviously, using a ricer will give you the smoothest potatoes, but make sure you do it while the spuds are still hot.

How To Leave Work Earlier

outlookI have recently moved my office into my home. I’m actually enjoying the integration of “home” and “work” life. It’s not the distraction that I thought it would be. As a matter of fact, my biggest problem is working too long and late into the evening.

Today I received an email from Marcia Francois – to my rescue again!

Try these suggestions for organizing your day and not over-working yourself: Read more

A Legacy of “Stuff” (Part 4)

rusty screwsIn the previous 3 blog posts (Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3), I wrote about what to do with the stuff of loved ones who have passed away, and how important it is to communicate with your friends and family about the stuff that YOU might leave behind.

So the questions to start with is: what you are leaving behind and why the heck are you hanging on to that? Read more

What to do when it all gets too much…

too muchI get so many emails from people telling me that it all just gets so overwhelming they don’t know where to start.One day everything is okay and the next it seems as if the paper is all over the place, they can’t find what they need on their computer, they have thousands of emails in their inbox and they’re paralyzed with overwhelm.

They can’t even get to urgent tasks, let alone the important ones that will help them reach their goals.

This is what I suggest: Read more

A Legacy of “Stuff” (Part 3)

bowlIn A Legacy of “Stuff” (part 1) and A Legacy of “Stuff” (part 2), we discussed what to do with the “stuff” left behind by someone who passed away. It was hard to write and hard for you to read. Now let’s move into an even MORE difficult area — the stuff that WE will leave behind. (By the way, I can’t find any material already written on this subject. Apparently, everyone else also thinks it’s hard to write about.)If you plan to leave something to the next generation or to your friends, do some very good communicating with them now to see if they would want it. If not, realize that your cherished items might be more burden than bounty to people you love. Most of all, let them know what is important or valuable, so they don’t decide everything you own is clutter, and toss it out. Read more

7 secrets of the Super Organized

PlannerWe all know people that seem to be Super Organised. They never forget birthdays, can find an email within seconds and know exactly where to find anything in their homes.The actual definition of organized is being able to find anything within a minute or two. These are items in your home to an email, document or photo on your computer.

Shhhh – I have a confession. Some people say this about me too, so I’m going to let you in on some of my own secrets and also those I’ve observed from watching fellow Born Organized people. Read more

A Legacy of “Stuff” (Part 2)

A Legacy of This week we continue with the difficult subject of being overwhelmed with the “stuff” left behind by a loved one who has passed away.

(You can read Part 1 here.)

The struggle is that we are trying to find practical ways to survive having someone’s lifetime-of-stuff joining our own lifetime-of-stuff, while also trying to survive all the emotions that come with this deep painful loss.

Based on the huge number of emails I received after Part 1, last weeks post resonated with many of you. One woman told the story of how for seven years, all of her parents’ belongings were stacked to the ceiling in her basement – furniture, clothes, stuff. So much so that they could not even make a path through it all. Read more

A Legacy of “Stuff” (Part 1)

sadEmails arrive so often describing how — in addition to all the heart-rending emotions of a death — there is the overwhelmed experience of not knowing what to do about all the “stuff” of a beloved person who has passed away.

One woman wrote that her usually uncluttered home is filled with all the items she cleared out from her mother’s house after her mom died. She said she often bursts into tears seeing paths through this new clutter in her house yet she doesn’t know what to do with any of it. She was clear that she did not want or need the stuff but she knew these were things her mother loved Read more

Web Accessibility For All – We’ve Got It!

web accessibilityStacks and Stacks is doing something new to reach out to seniors and the disabled!

We have a new icon on our website that offers a link to a web accessibility tool for seniors and the disabled! The tool is absolutely free to download and free to use, and can help people with impairments navigate the internet and our website. Read more

5 Organizing Tips for Working Moms

office organizersIt’s not quite Spring yet, but it may be time for a bit of Spring Cleaning – for your office!

Michelle Maffei has written a great post over at with some timely and helpful tips on doing just that. Here’s an excerpt:

Whether you work from home or just use your office for family purposes, giving your home office a spring cleaning will boost productivity while reducing stress. From categorizing the clutter to keeping at-home kids happy so you can work, give yourself a career spring cleaning and organize your office with these tips for working moms.

1) Put clutter into categories: Read more

Do You Know What You’re Cleaning With?

toxic-cleanersAccording to the National Research Council, only 20% of chemicals have been tested for acute effects less than 10 % have been tested for chronic or reproductive effects and 80% does not have toxic information available and only 1% of toxins are required to be on a label. Yet, all of these things are on our grocery shelves, can harm us, our children and the environment.

We are constantly hearing about second hand smoke, smog, emissions from cars and factories ruining our air supply. Yet, the one thing that we use in our home to rid it of bacteria, mold and bugs, no one seems to question. Read more

Beware of Vampires!

vampire-powerEven when household appliances are turned off, most are still using some electricity. Beware of vampire energy in your home, sucking the money right out of your wallet and producing over 50 million tons of CO2 emissions in the U.S., equal to 11 million cars.

My friends over at Big Green Head have put together a cute interactive post to show potential energy vampires in your home and how to eliminate them. Check it out…[LG]A Valet with built-in power strip![/LG]

The Mind-Body Clutter Connection

clutterDo you follow the advice of clutter experts and still feel overwhelmed and unable to crawl from underneath the piles of stuff? Sheila Hawkins over at ChaoticClutterKing has written a great post on what the real issue may be! Here’s an excerpt from the post:

You can’t clear the clutter by focusing on your “stuff”. How many times have you eliminated that pile, the overflow in the closet or even cleared the clutter from an entire room only to have it come back to haunt you Read more

And While We’re Quoting…

Just found this quote in an EXCELLENT post, What NOT To Say in the New Year, on The Clutter Diet Blog!

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

Please read the rest of the post here! Thanks again, Lorie!

How to Stay Motivated in 2011

motivated!Here is a great article by Lesley Alderman/Real to help you stay on track when it comes to those New Year’s Resolutions:

9 Secrets of Motivated People: Real-life strategies that will help you to actually accomplish the goals you’ve set for yourself this year.

New year, new you. It’s the perennial January catchphrase that holds such conquer-the-world promise. And then, well, you get sidetracked with conquering your to-do list. But even the loftiest resolutions (running a marathon, writing a book) don’t have to fall by the wayside come February. Staying motivated―and achieving what you set out to do on that bright New Year’s Day―is surprisingly possible. Just follow these nine mantras, provided by researchers who study motivation and backed up by women who have used them to realize their biggest ambitions. Read the full post here.[LG]Here’s a great Planner to get you started![/LG]

Eliminate Your Growing Clutter…Weeds!

weedsLet’s start by defining clutter.

That’s what being a Rik Rak Sister is all about after all. I’m just making sure that we’re on the same page before we get to the meat of the matter.

Clutter – n. A confused or disordered state or collection; a jumble; a disorderly heap or assemblage; litter

That’s according to some on-line dictionary I found. But I don’t need to mince fancy vocabulary with you. Let’s get down to brass tax and say what it really means…
Clutter = all the crap that’s in your way. Read more

Friday Favs (On Monday – Oops!) Green Blogs

green-happyWhether in big ways or small, all of us want to do our part in conserving our environment. Featuring everything from world news to bizarre creatures to DIY green gifts, here are some of my favorite “green” blogs on the net – enjoy!

Small Space Organizing: Converting A Closet

office-closetI currently live in a newer house, and it most definitely has its benefits. But I do miss my days of living in an older, arts and crafts period home with all of its lovely woodwork and creative built-ins.

One wall in our living room had built-in bookcases straddling a closet with French glass doors lined with lace curtains which we used as a beautiful hide-away for our entertainment center.

HGTV has a great article on remaking your closet space into something else altogether, and some of their ideas are reminiscent of the arts and crafts style. Read more

Friday Favs: Top 5 Mom and Kid Blogs

my-favorite-thingsI come across some fantastic blogs during my daily surfing expeditions across the internet! It’s high time I started sharing some of my favorite blogs with you. So, without further ado (drum roll, please)… Here are my top 5 Mom (and kid) blogs:

1. Because I Said So is written by Dawn Meehan (who has a book coming out soon!) and is an incredible humorous accounting of daily life with six kids (all of whom are named after U.S. cities). Her post about Mother’s day is a classic example of her whit. Read more

Now Everyone Can Volunteer!

volunteersEver get that urge to volunteer, to make a difference somewhere? I do. But if you’re anything like me, you don’t have a lot of extra time and even less extra money. Makes it hard to find meaningful ways to help give back to my community.

Well, I guess there are a lot of others out there like me, because I found a volunteer website created just for these busy times. It’s called The Extraordinaries. Read more

Unclutterer Teaching Kids to Fight Clutter

moon-and-stars-media-storage-carouselIf you’re anything like me you’ve probably experienced first hand the fact that the older we get, the harder it is to break a bad habit or to create a good new one. Mandi Ehman has a great guest post over at Unclutterer all about teaching your kids to fight clutter at a young age.

Mandi stresses things like setting limits while still allowing your children to make choices on what to keep and what to toss. And to involve them in the de-cluttering process so they can learn while still maintaining some control of their “things”. You can read the full post here…[LG]Check out our Toy Storage![/LG]

Stacks and Stacks December Charity Spotlight

give a gift to charity this yearChristmas is the time for giving and Stacks and Stacks has a great way for anyone to be able to give back this year!

Friends of Colombian Orphans, Inc., is a grassroots, non-profit charity dedicated to improving the quality of life for children in and from Colombian orphanages. Established in 2007 by parents who adopted Colombian children, the Friends focus on physical plant improvements of orphanages in need that are open to outside aid, and to providing vocational and entrepreneurial training to older children who will leave government care. 100% of donations go toward projects. This is an amazing charity with an equally amazing way for you to help! It only takes a few seconds and doesn’t cost a thing. Simply click on this link and vote for them. The three charities with the most votes will get eBay gift cards: $2,500 for the top vote-getter, $1,500 for second place, and $1,000 for third.
But hurry – voting ends 2 pm central time tomorrow (you can vote once every 4 hours till then)!
You can also visit their site if you’d like to donate, or visit their blog!

12 Ways to Plan Ahead and Save Money

making-cardsHow early do you plan ahead for the holidays? Two months? Six?
Sara Noel of Frugal Village has an article here with some great ideas for planning ahead NOW for Christmas to save you some big bucks! Here’s an excerpt:

Christmas is over, and the tree and decorations are put away. Phew. But frugal people are already getting a jump-start on Christmas 2009. Read more