Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Great Service at www.bikerackshops.com

Honey bought a bike rack for our van from this website: http://www.bikerackshops.com/

Within an hour, a representative from the company called to let us know the one we ordered was out of stock, and not expected to be re-ordered. As an alternative, he offered to give us a more expensive bike rack at the cost of the original one. How cool is that!

I don't have any affiliation with this company, no kick-backs or anything. Just a happy customer that wants to let people know that I appreciated the time they took to call us personally and give us a satisfactory alternative. They could have just as easily shot out a standard "Sorry, it's out of stock" e-mail. But they were interested in making sure we were happy with our order.

If you are in the market for a bike rack, please visit their website. I don't get any referral bonuses, I just want to spread the word that we are happy with the company.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

I should have thought to post this recipe before Memorial Day picnics. But I made it today, and thought I'd share my recipe:

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1 can low-sodium black beans, rinsed and well drained
2 cups frozen corn, cooked slightly (not mushy) and well drained
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 green onion, finely sliced
2 tsp. dried cilantro
1 tsp. (more or less to taste) chili powder (I used chipotle chili powder this time.)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients into a bowl. Refrigerate before serving.

I didn't take a "pretty" picture of the finished product. I figured that real-life cooks don't always serve picture-perfect glamour food, but it still tastes delish!

Friday, May 20, 2011

First Green Beans

I just picked a batch of green beans from my garden:

This year's garden is going to be weird. We had a hot stretch of extremely high, record setting heat, which killed off all my spinach and lettuce. My cucumbers are only a couple of inches tall, but they already have blossoms. I've never harvested green beans this early. These were the beans that were big enough to eat--I still have lots of little baby beans that are still growing. I am worried that my broccoli and cabbage won't make it through the heat.

On the plus side, I have two itty bitty, very thin asparagus shoots sprouting! I've never grown asparagus before, so it'll be a fun experiment to see how they do. (Which reminds me, I've got the sprinkler going on them. I need to go turn it off before they drown!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Paint and Hydrangeas

I mentioned last fall that when we got new windows, the house paint looked dirty and dingey. Honey has been working hard to repaint the house, and I really like how it's turning out.

The trim and shutters used to be a buttercream yellow, which was okay. (I'll try to scrounge up some pictures, but I'll have to hunt them on CDs. I'm too tired and/or lazy right now.)

The new windows have a white vinyl trim. So the buttercream color looked old and tired.  If we painted the windows, we'd lose the warranty on them, which I don't want to do! So Honey and I thought that white trim with a black door and shutters would look nice. I think it's turning out great! He still needs to paint the front door and screen, they'll be a high-gloss black.

I think the black shutters bring ot the dark tones of the bricks for a deeper, rustic feel. Here's a close-up:

Since I was already outside with the camera, I thought I'd take a picture of my purple hydrangeas:

Did you know that you can control what color your hydrangeas will bloom? The color of the blooms depends on the pH of your soil. A pink bloom indicates an alkaline soil, and a blue bloom means an acidic soil. Purple is neutral. When we first bought the bush, it bloomed a really pretty pink. We've been putting our coffee grounds on the bush, so I think it's affected the pH. Since purple is my all-time favorite color, I am pleased with the results.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pink Eye. Ewwwwww! & Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer

I've got it. It's gross. This is only the second time I've ever caught it, thankfully. The first time was 20 years ago, and I caught it from the kids at the preschool where I worked.

This time, I have no idea where I got it. In all likelihood, I picked it up from the Wal-Mart shopping basket. I am pretty fastidious about wiping down all my shopping carts with disinfectant wipes. But this time I didn't have the boys with me, and I only needed to pick up a few items, so I didn't bother to wipe it down.

(Big mistake!!)

The doctor I saw told me that I probably did get it from the cart, and she told me another nasty fact: The shopping cart seats and handles are crawling with E. coli bacteria. They are infested because many parents put their kids in the grocery cart seats while they have dirty diapers. How nauesating is that?! Blech!

Now I am not at all a germaphobe, but I do try to avoid the fecal matter of strangers!! In the words of my church's youth group, "That's GROSS nasty!"

So from now on, without fail, I will always wipe down the grocery baskets when I go to stores. If there aren't any wipes available, I will slather on the hand disinfectant gel I keep in my purse.

While I'm thinking about it, here is an economical way to make your own hand santizer:

3 parts rubbing alcohol
1 part aloe vera gel (the stores carry it in the sunscreen aisle)
Shake together very well.

I came across this recipe when H1N1 flu virus was all over the news and stores couldn't keep hand sanitzer in stock. I've never bought hand sanitizer since I've made my own. It works great!

Now excuse me while I go disinfect my hands (again), the computer keyboard (again), and the doorknobs (again)!

Maybe the video works now?


Let's see if this works. This is the video of the baby I wanted to upload a couple of weeks ago.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thanks, Mrs. Cleaver.

I have struggled with perfectionism all my life. Even in elementary school, if I got a 99% on a test, I'd be upset about the question I missed.
I want to be Mrs. Cleaver so bad. I want the perfect house, I want to have warm cookies ready for my kids when they come home from school, I want to cheerfully clean my house while wearing a crisp, clean dress that never wrinkles. Heaven forbid I break a sweat while doing it! And those cute heels I will wear all day will not hurt my feet or give me bunions.

In my logical self, I know that just ain't gonna happen. No way, no how. Truth be told, it's almost 10:00 am, and the boys and I are still in our PJs. I did feed them breakfast, but now they're playing with cars and watching cartoons while I waste time on the computer. I'm sucking down my second big cup of coffee right now. (It's decaf. I'm high-strung enough on my own.) Have I told you that my 11-month old has slept through the night a whopping 4 times his whole life?

I'm sleep deprived.

I can't remember the last time I vacuumed, but I was so proud of myself for getting it done. You see, all my kids AND the dog are terrified of the vacuum cleaner. Even when my daughter was in middle school, she would rush to the couch and tuck up her feet. (Don't tell her I told you that.) My two-year old screams bloody murder in fear. My 11 month old screams bloody murder because it sounds cool, and he wants to be just like his big brother. The dog runs for cover. So you can see, I have a valid excuse for not vacuuming my carpets.

I promise you, I have never ever chased my children or pets with the vacuum cleaner. This fear must be genetic. (Maybe I have a genetic fear of the vacuum too, and that's why I don't like to use it.)

But I must get my house clean, because a really great friend of mine is coming to visit on Thursday. I haven't seen her in almost 5 years. She's got a young'un I've never met. So even though I'm trying to forgive myself for not having a clean house that doesn't require me running around like a crazy cleaning lady with OCD about fingerprints and dust, I still want to have a clean, inviting home when my friend arrives. I know the kids will mess it up, but it will look good for the first five minutes of her visit.

I will greet her with my June Cleaver smile.

June Cleaver had a hot body, too. That lady ate full-fat roast beef, and I'll bet she made her mashed potatoes with cream and butter, too. But her figure was lean and svelte, like a model on a magazine cover (sans the trashy bikini). She had cake every night for dessert.

I want to eat like Mrs. Cleaver. I do eat more like Mrs. Cleaver than Cindy Crawford, I'm sure. But I want the hot body to go with it. (Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?)

Because I struggle with perfectionism, I am sick and tired of carrying these extra 45 lbs. of weight that I gained during pregnancy number 2. I am tired of coming home from the clothing stores in tears because nothing fits.

I have tried doing exercise videos at home, but my boys don't let me. The first time I tried, I was able to work out a whole 2 minutes before they were both clawing at me and weeping big alligator tears, because I wasn't paying attention to them or letting them watch Sid the Science Kid. The second time I tried, I was able to exercise for 10 minutes, but my 11-month old climbed the fireplace hearth and almost fell off and cracked his noggin. So much for exercising at home.

So my Honey gave me permission to do something completely unfrugal--I joined a gym. I have gone twice, and I plan to go again today. It felt great to get on that treadmill and walk/run. It felt great to do arm curls and stomach crunches. It felt totally awesome to come home and calculate that I burned 350 calories in an hour. (Yes!! 350 down, another 157,150 to go!)

My muscles didn't feel great the next day, but I went again. This time I hit the treadmill for thirty minutes while I watched a PBS documentary. It was so refreshing to watch a grown-up show!! (Oh yeah, the exercise was good too.)

I will keep a clean house with little effort when my kids are grown. Some day I will have a lean, strong body. I'll keep exercising though, mostly because I feel better and more energized when I do. In the meantime I'll try not to compare myself to June Cleaver with her clean house, well-fitting dresses, or her skinny, Pilates-esque body.

But I'm gonna cook dessert when my friend and her kids come to visit. Maybe apple pie.

Friday, May 6, 2011

That's My Boy!

This afternoon I was busy cooking dinner in the kitchen. Normally my two boys are pretty whiny at this time, and I think it's partly because they're getting hungry, but mostly because I'm otherwise occupied and NOT paying attention to them.

My two year old was being especially whiny, and kept saying "Pease! Pease!" nonstop. I kept answering, "Mommy's cooking dinner, it'll be ready soon." But he wouldn't stop; in fact, he got even more whiny. Finally, at the limit of my patience, I looked him in the eye and said, "What do you want?"

He responded, "Salad pease!"

Yep, he wanted salad! I stopped everything I was doing and made that boy a big bowl of salad. He ate almost all of it.

He's such a good boy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Baby's Walking!

My 10 1/2 month old started walking about a week ago. I have the cutest videos of him toddling around, but blogger keeps hiccupping and won't allow me to upload any of them.

So you'll have to take my word for it--he's walking now! Maybe I can get a video uploaded soon.