Monday, September 6, 2010

Monday Weigh In #4

My husband has started something really brave, a public chronicle of his weight loss.  We're both really wanting to get into shape, and we're looking for other out there that are in the same situation.  If you're looking for some accountability and support, feel free to join his meme Monday Weigh In.

Weight loss for the weak!
Eek!  This is the really hard part.  You don't have to put your weight in if you're not comfortable with it, but I feel like I'd be cheating if I didn't.  So here it goes.  Current weight: 235.

Ahhhhhh!  I can't believe I just did that!

Struggles and victories of the weak!
Well, I'm not sure what to count this as, but my weight has been pretty steady for a while.  I guess it's a struggle because it hasn't gone down, but a victory because it hasn't gone up.

I'm trying to look at the number objectively and not as the end-all-be-all of this struggle.  I'm really starting to get turned on to the tenants of HAES movement (Healthy at every size), so I know that I need to look at my body as a whole to really gauge my health.

We did indulge in some fast food this week, which wasn't very good. I tried to listen to my bodies signals about fullness, and I did stop earlier on the pizza than I would have normally.  I felt pretty good about that.  Now I just need to focus on figuring out why I crave chocolate when I do, etc.  You know, get at the real reason why I'm eating.

I've completely fallen off the exercise wagon.  I was starting to do pretty well, but this week has been kinda ehh emotionally, so it's hard for me to get motivated to move at all, much less exercise.  We did go for a really long walk yesterday, and I didn't get tired at all.  I'm trying to count that as a victory and not let the nagging voice take it away from me.

How can I improve?
Exercise. Or at least get some kind of movement into my day.

I also need to start eating breakfast again.  I was doing really well with it, then we skipped the grocery shopping for a bit.  I can really tell a difference in my hunger levels and how I feel in general when I skip breakfast, and it's a bad habit I really need to break.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The hazards of having a dog and cream carpet

I love my dogs, I really do.  Look at how cute they are:
But when I find little "presents" that the little one leaves me, it makes it hard to acknowledge the cuteness.  So when you find an "accident" (aren't the euphemisms pet owner's use crazy?) and are out of whatever really expensive enzyme cleaner you usually use, try this inexpensive and very effective method.

Supplies needed:
  • Two spray bottles
  • One filled with water and about a tablespoon of dish soap
  • One filled with 1/2 and 1/2 white vinegar and water, with about two tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Paper towels
Dab up any liquid you can (or pick up solids, whatever your mess is).  Spray generously with the vinegar mixture.  Rub in lightly then soak up with towels.  Then spray with soapy water, rub vigorously, then dab up.  Allow to dry.

We have cream carpet all through the house (I still don't understand why rentals do that), and before we started this method, we had a terrible time getting up any stains.  There are still some lingering randomly.  But since we started this method, you can't tell.  Works like a charm and is much cheaper than what you could buy at the store, and you also have less chemicals to worry about.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

When the beast comes calling (or a quick chocolatey snack)

So I know that I have just started this whole Pura Vida thing, and so some people are going to call foul on this.  But I know my body and tastes and I've learned a few things from the times I've tried to "diet."

1. I still have cravings for chocolate.
2. They get bigger the more I ignore them.
3. I WILL give in to them.
4. When I do, I'll overindulge and blow my morale and any advances I've made.

So today (after a day tainted with some really bad emotions), I really wanted some chocolate.  But I wanted something small.  After searching the internet for a bit, I came across the following recipe for the Improved 5-Minute Chocolate Cake.  I played around with it a little and ended up with this:

In a large, microwavable coffee mug, mix:
  • 5 tbs flour
  • 3 tbs cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Mix thoroughly, then add

  • 5 tbs milk
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
 Microwave for about a minute (will still be some liquid-y batter, if you don't like this, cook for 20-30 seconds more).  Add a small spoonful of peanut butter on the top.

It was the perfect amount to satisfy my sweet tooth.  It's certainly not healthy, but it's better than the kind of splurge I have usually.

What small (healthyish) snacks do you use as your standby?

So the other night, I went to make this, only to find out we had no milk.  But we had heavy whipping cream...which made this 10 million times better. Seriously.  You might need to add a little water, because it makes the batter super thick.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Getting back on the wagon

Based in part on my recent trip to Costa Rica and learning about the motto "Pura Vida" (pure life) and reading my friend Casey's fully honest and hilarious blog about his struggle with weight, the husband and I have decided to get back on the wagon of healthy living.

Once upon a time, I wrote a post about called Easing into Shape about the Couch to 5k program.  Well, living in the south the whole jogging outside thing would only work from 3am to 5am.  And as much as I want to be healthy, I don't think I could make myself do that.  It would be a job and something I resented as opposed to enjoyed.

So while the hubby is making himself job in the afternoons, this delicate southern blossom can't handle that yet.  (Maybe by the time next summer rolls around my heat tolerance will be higher).  So instead I'm doing the dreaded work out video at home.

Luckily, I've found one that's actually pretty fun, so I thought I'd share it with you.

10 Minute Solution is a series of DVDs that include ten minute workouts.  Now, I 'm not stupid enough to think that ten minutes a day is going to change my life; I know it takes more than that.

One of the things that I really like about the series is that each DVD has several workouts and that you can then select which ones you like the best and build your own routine.

Currently, I'm using Dance Off Fat Fast: a collection of basic dance/aerobics. 

The dances are pretty easy to follow, even for someone as dance-handicapped as myself.  And they're actually enjoyable.  And I know that if I was doing the routines in a roomful of women, I wouldn't enjoy myself nearly as much.  Self-consciousness would keep me from rolling my hips or shaking my butt too much.

The workouts also range from medium to high intensity (and of course are as intense as you want to make them), so it's good for big girls like me that are just getting started.

The series is enjoyable (and inexpensive enough) that I plan on getting several other DVDs in the series.  It's nice to have an alternative when the weather doesn't cooperate with a walk.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Birthday Pie--Take One

So if you follow my other blog, you know that yesterday was my birthday.  The husband and I did a very low-key evening at home, and for my guilt free desert (because you can eat anything guilt free on your birthday), I made a chocolate pie.  It turned out good enough to post, but I'm going to make some changes in the recipe for you guys.  Hope you enjoy!

The first draft of the pie.  Yours will look different.

  • Oreo pie crust
  • One cup milk chocolate chips
  • One package neufchatal cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Walnuts to garnish
  1. Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler.  Add a splash of milk to thin.  Spread over bottom of Oreo pie crust.  Allow to cool. 
  2. Mix the neufchatal, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the cocoa and milk, mix until thoroughly combined.  Spread over chocolate layer. 
  4. Garnish with walnuts.
  5. Allow to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. (Best the next day)

I changed the layering because the chocolate becomes so hard that when you cut the pie, the soft layer just oozed out.  You could also do a thinner layer of chocolate, but that's just no fun. Is it?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

No-Bake P.C.O.-The perfect size snack

If you're anything like me, you have cravings for something sweet in the middle of the night.  My problem is if I have something store bought, I eat it right away.  There's no such thing as an unopened box of Oreos in my house.

So lately I've taken to making my own desserts.  I've tried Coconut Cream pie, and a chocolate cream pie (I can eat the filling all by itself).  The problem is that it makes too much.

Portion control is the only way I have any self control.  So while browsing through my recipes the other day I found this great, easy, and small recipe for No-Bake P.C.O. cookies (Peanut butter, chocolate, and oatmeal).

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/4 cup fat free milk
  • 1/4 cup butter 
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (crunchy or creamy)
  • 1 3/4 cup quick-cooking oatmeal

  1. In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar and cocoa.  Add the milk and butter.
  2. Over medium heat bring to a boil and cook for one minute.
  3. Remove from heat. Add the peanut butter and stir until melted.  Add oatmeal, stir.
  4. Drop by teaspoon onto wax paper.  Let stand until set.
The original recipe said it makes three dozen.  Ha!  I made a dozen healthy size cookies. It's the perfect size to share with a person, solve your craving, and still not feel really guilty about!

Hope you enjoy!

PS--You could probably make this a healthier recipe if you wanted, but really, what's the point?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Marie Callender's Made Me Do It

So a couple of weeks ago, we had to drive to the north side of town three times in one week.  Every time we passed by Marie Callender's restaurant the sign would blink "Coconut Cream Pie." I'm usually all about chocolate, but when you add coconut to the mix, I really can't resist. 

Then the next week when I opened up my IGoogle homepage, there was a recipe for "Classic Toasted Coconut Cream Pie."  I'm pretty sure it was a sign from God.  So I tried out the recipe and here's what I got (or what's left of it):

Not the prettiest pie in the world, but it tasted really good.  I got the recipe from Epicurious, but I made a couple of very minor tweaks.  Here's my version:


Crust--Frozen one from the store.  If Paula Dean says making pie crust is too much hassle and the frozen is just as good, the guilt is off my shoulders.

  • 2 1/4 cup canned coconut milk (stir well)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tbs all purpose flour
  • 2 tbs corn starch
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbs butter (room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla flavoring
  • 1 cup toasted coconut
Whipped cream:
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla flavoring
  • 2 tbs powdered sugar
  • Toasted coconut for garnish
Putting it together:
  1. Turn on your broiler, put the coconut on a cookie sheet and toast until light to medium brown (watch carefully, it can burn really easy) and set aside to cool.
  2. Heat your coconut milk in a to a very light boil in a medium sauce pan. Then take off of the heat and put a lid on the pan to retain the warmth.
  3. Beat the sugar and the egg yolks in a bowl with your mixer on high.  Mix until pale yellow and they've roughly doubled in volume.
  4. Turn down mixer and add flour, cornstarch, and salt.  After incorporated slowly add the warm coconut milk.
  5. Pour everything back into your saucepan and cook until boiling. Make sure to whisk constantly. Boil for about a minute, or until the mixture thickens.
  6. Remove the pan from heat, add the butter and stir until melted.  Add the toasted coconut and vanilla.
  7. Put the mixture in a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.  Stir about every 30 minutes to keep a film from forming.  After cooled, cover the surface with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.  (The recipe says for at least 2 hours, but I kept mine overnight).
  8. Bake your pie crust according to the directions.  Fill the crust and set aside.
  9. Beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar on high until you reach stiff peaks.  Add the vanilla and incorporate.
  10. Top pie with whipped cream and toasted coconut (I think chocolate shavings would be really good, too).

After making whipped cream for the first time, I have to say, I don't think I'm ever buying it again.  It was SO good, I could have eaten a pie of just it.

Hope you try this out and enjoy!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

I feel loved!

 I just found out I got my first blogging award! The Sunshine Award. It's from TabithaVenasse at Taking apart the complexities that are me.  This is a great blog where Tabitha shares her struggles with trying to live a Godly life in a world we can all admit is less than.

I was surprised that I got it for Miscellany Shortcuts, because this poor little blog doesn't get the attention that my other blog Cerebral Lunch Box does.  A good part of that is because I don't post to this one nearly as much, but it means a lot that Tabitha choose this one to honor. 

The Rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog within your post.
2. Pass the award on to twelve bloggers.
3. Link to the nominees within your post.
4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and the link to the person from whom you received this award.

Here are my twelve spots of light that brighten up my day, in no particular order:

1. Jamie at Finding Bliss in a Life More or Less Ordinary. Jamie is a real life friend of mine.  It's funny, but I think through blogging and the internet we've gotten closer since I moved away than we were before.  She's a single mother who is discovering new things about herself every day.  I'm really proud of her and what she's been able to accomplish in a short time.

2. Rachel Elizabeth at Delete the Adjectives. Every one of Rachel's posts start with a beautiful quote, which she always follows up with thoughtful posts that uplift, but make you think, too. 

3. The Cupcake Queen at 52 Cupcakes. A blog all about cupcakes.  Need I say more?  The pictures are beautiful, the recipes delicious, and her dog adorable!

4. Kate Dalgleish at I Am the Worst Blogger. Talk about dedication!  Kate posts something at least twice a day everyday.  Sometimes it's the craziness that can be found in the depths of Youtube or a cute Pokemon cross-stitch she's made.  No matter what she posts, it's always a bright spot in my day.  I can't tell you how many times she's made me actually lol.

5. Allie at Hyperbole and a Half. This blog gives me hope that as a spastic, hypochondriac, kind of neurotic girl, I too can achieve success.  I love her Paint illustrations to her stories and not uncommon for me to laugh so hard I actually tear up.  Plus she's been sick lately, so she needs a little sunshine.

6. MB at Support for Partners of Software Developers. Another RLF that I infected with blogging.  A blog mostly dealing with planning for her upcoming wedding, the tone is sometimes confessional and sometimes a hilarious over the top list of details.

7. ChoirChic at Big Girl's 5k. As a big girl, myself, this blog really helps me feel good about my progress to a healthier lifestyle.  ChoirChic is also going through the Couch to 5k, and I see my struggles reflected in hers.  Keep going for it!

8. Chelsea at Chalk Wharf. A very new blog, but one that shows a lot of openness.  You have to applaud someone for putting really personal thoughts and worries out there for the world to see.  Chelsea's struggling with getting laid off recently, so she could use some sunshine and support.

9. Sarah at Confessions of the Un-Published. A great place to find book reviews, goals to strive for, and a group of other wannabe writers.  Yeah for the un-published!

10. Another David at I've Never Been Good With Titles. I have to admit that when David starts talking about economics, I don't always get it all, but I still read through it (which means a lot coming from an English Major). Whether posting videos on Tuesday, drunk blogging, or begging people to fill out their census forms, he manages to make it all a fun read.

11. Badass Geek at The Badass Geek. I embrace my geekdom, so I really love this blog.  He's not afraid to tell some really hilarious but embarrassing stories about himself.  He's the kind of guy that could fit like a glove in my little circle of friends.

12. Not So Clever as My Friends at Inappropriate Remarks. This one probably isn't fair (a bit of nepotism) as this blog is written by my Husband.  Definitely not a very sunshiny blog in and of itself (it's a place to share funny rants at the craziness of life, media, and society), he is a giant source of light in my life. If you enjoy anything I write, it's based on his support and push for me to write.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Banana Pudding Cake

I meet every Tuesday with a great group of folks who are also dealing with the death of a loved one.  As baking and desserts are kind of my thing, I've wanted to bring something for a while.  However, as so many of them are Catholic, and I know a lot of people give up sweets for Lent, I didn't want to be a bad influence.  Yesterday I baked what I'm calling "Banana Pudding Cake" and brought it.  Everyone really liked it, and most took a piece home.  Try it out and tell me what you think!


  • Yellow Cake Mix
  • 1 1/3 cups of water
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 medium bananas mashed (about a cup's worth)

The prettiest cakes I've ever made.  I finally tried the trick of lining the bottom of the pans with wax paper.  It worked like a charm.  No sticking or anything!

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  •  3 tbsp flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten (do this first)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8oz package of Neufchatel cheese (or cream cheese if you prefer) 
  • 1 package sugar free banana cream pudding mix
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • Milk to thin frosting (sorry didn't measure)
  • Vanilla Wafers to garnish

The cake during the icing stages. I always have the hubby ice my cakes. He has a much steadier hand than I do.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut wax paper to fit the bottoms of your pans and grease the sides. Mash the bananas.  I chopped mine coarsely first.  You can leave small chunks. 
  2. Combine came mix, water, eggs, and oil.  Beat until moistened then beat for two minutes.  Add bananas.
  3. Pour into pans and back for 30-35 minutes.  Cool pans for 15 minutes, remove cakes, let them completely cool before frosting and filling.
  4. While cakes are cooking prepare your filling.  Separate your eggs and beat slightly in a small bowl. Heat your cup of milk to almost boiling (it can boil, just keep an eye on it, because it can scorch.)
  5. Mix sugar, flour and salt, blending well.  Gradually add the hot milk to the bowl of dry ingredients.  Make sure you stir!
  6. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan, turn to low heat.  Cook this for about five minutes.  Stir constantly!
  7. Temper your eggs with some of the hot mixture.  Then pour into the saucepan, cook for about two more minutes.
  8. Take your pan off the heat, add the butter and vanilla, stir until melted.  Pour your mixture into a bowl and press plastic wrap onto the surface (keeps a weird film from forming).  Cool in the refrigerator until ready to fill cake.
  9. Make your icing: place cheese, butter, and vanilla into a bowl.  Beat until smooth.
  10. Add pudding mix.  You will now basically have a dough like substance. 
  11. Gradually add powdered sugar, adding milk to thin when necessary.  You want a thick bodied frosting for this.
  12. Put cake together, garnish with vanilla wafers.  And enjoy!

Next time I plan on putting crushed wafers on the top. Having the whole ones made it difficult to cut.

I am a notoriously messy baker. This is why the husband's happy I don't bake all that often!

I hope you enjoyed the recipe!  I cobbled it together from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book and Incredibly Easy Cake Mix.

Anything you would try differently?  I'm always up for improvements!

PS--Other cooking bloggers out there, how do you make your food so pretty?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Veggie burgers--need a tweak

So last night I tried my hand at making black bean burgers.  The taste was fabulous!  But the texture was a bit mushy.  Hopefully you guys have some suggestions that can put them over the top.

I got the idea from

My version:

  • Big can (25.6 oz) of Bush's black beans
  • half an onion
  • whole bell pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbs Tony's
  • 1 tbs ground cumin (my new favorite spice)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • sliced Provolone cheese
  1. Drain, rinse, and dry can of black beans. Then mash them (a hand masher works best)
  2. Mince onion, pepper, and garlic in a food processor.  Then add to the bean mix.
  3. Add spices, egg, and bread crumbs to the mixture. Form 5-6 patties.
  4. Pan fry on medium head for about 5 minutes each side.  Put cheese on top, lower heat, and cover the pan.  Let cook for about 3 more minutes.
  5. Serve and enjoy!
The burgers were pretty mushy.  I really loved the taste of these, so I hope you try them out!

Any tips on how to make the burgers more sturdy?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Quick N Easy

My husband and I are trying to finish the remnants of our grocery shopping.  You know, the odds and ends that will go bad soon, so you need to use them fast?

Here's what we came with last night:

Almost Manwich

Extra lean ground beef (about a pounds)
Onion (diced)
Minced Garlic
About 3/4 a cup of BBQ sauce
About 1/8 of a cup of Worcestershire sauce

  1. Cook onions and garlic in Olive Oil until tender.
  2. Add hamburger, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper to taste.  Brown.
  3. Add BBQ sauce and let simmer for 15-20 minutes (until a little of the liquid cooks off)
We had it on the last hamburger buns from a pack.  It turned out pretty, good.  Almost the Manwich of our childhoods. :)

What other thrown together recipes do you make when you have odd remnant ingredients?

Friday, March 26, 2010

I love Apps!

For Christmas this year, my husband and I both got Motorola Droid phones for ourselves.  It does have a bit of a learning curve if you're upgrading from a Razr, but I have to admit I love it now and couldn't go back.

One of my favorite things about my phone is the ability to download Apps.  So here's a review of some of the ones I can't do without.

PS--They're all free, too!

(Disclaimer: These are all through the Droid Marketplace.  I know some are available for the IPhone, but I'm not sure about all.)

  • Shazam
    • What it does: Ever heard a song on the radio and wondered who sang it?  Shazam will take just a few seconds to listen and analyze a song, then give you the artists, title, and record.  It even gives you the option to buy the song.
    • Wishlist: It works 99% of the time, but sometimes if the volume isn't very loud (as in a store or a TV across the room) it won't work.  Otherwise it's spot on every time.
    • Where to get it:

  • Daily Strip
    • What it does: You can choose from 108 (currently, always new ones being added) comic strips to view.  It also has a calendar function, so you can go back to the start of a story line, if you like strips with those.  Has some very unusual ones that aren't in your typical Sunday edition of the paper.
    • Wishlist: There are times that the program can be a bit glitchy (i.e. freezes, has to force close, or takes a looooong time).  But it is a free program that relies on other people's systems as well, so I can't complain that much.
    • Where to get it: Only through the Android Market. Sorry.

  • Pandora
    • What it does: Type in a song or artist that you like.  Pandora will stream similar music.  A great way to broaden your music base.  You can create multiple stations to fit your mood or create a quick mix of all of your stations at once.
    • Wishlist: Pandora can be a bit of a battery hog, and can sometimes freeze or become glitchy.  But it is handling a lot of information all at once, so it's to be expected.  Also dependent on the quality of your 3g connection.
    • Where to get it:

  • EEBA
    • What it does: A mobile version of the envelope system made popular by Dave Ramsey.  You set us categories, budget money into them, then record expenses.  The main screen is a bar graph system that allows you to see how much is left. The great part of this app is that multiple people can use the same account, so Mom, Dad, and kids can enter in their expenses.
    • Wishlist: When first beginning, the interface can take some getting used to.  But, I have to really credit the developers too, because they really listen to their users.  Since I first started using this, three or four different versions have come down the line with new features, all based on user suggestions.
    • Where to get it:

  • Our Groceries
    • What it does: A mobile grocery list.  You can have multiple lists going at the same time (I have a normal list and a wish list), and multiple people can enter in items.  So if Dad realizes he needs more shaving cream, he can add it to the list while at work, instead of trying to remember until he gets home.
    • Wishlist: Sometimes the lists can take a while to refresh and show changes.  More than once I've had to exit the app to get it functioning correctly.
    • Where to get it:

    • What it does: This is a file management system.  I'm pretty OCD about my pictures and like to have them in themed folders. ASTRO will allow you to do this, and also find those pesky download files that you can't seem to access.
    • Wishlist: The interface can be a bit hard to understand at times. (They recently just added online help, so you'll have it made!) But most of my problems come from not knowing/understanding the folder system built into my phone.
    • Where to get it:

  • Calorie Counter
    • What it does: Allows you to keep track of what you've eaten, you're exercise regimen, and your weight.  It even has a barcode scanner that will enter in the food automatically.  You can save favorite foods and exercise regimens.  It's been really helpful since I've started Couch to 5k.
    • Wishlist: This is my newest app, so I'm still trying to figure it out.  The interface isn't very user friendly at times, and you sometimes have to get creative while keeping your food diary (food's won't be listed, or be another brand, etc.)  I haven't used the weight diary, but other users have said it can be glitchy.
    • Where to get it: (This is the online version of the app.  Apparently you can only get the app through a marketplace.)

  • DroidLight
    • What it does: Turns the flash for your phone into a flashlight.  Much stronger than you would think!  Very helpful in movie theaters, or when your husband turns out the hall light before you come to bed. :)
    • Wishlist: The on/off function is easy to accidentally turn off. 
    • Where to get it: Through the Droid marketplace

  • Lightning Bug
    • What it does: A relaxation/white noise generator.  Will play in the background or the forefront.  Also has a built in alarm clock with a wide range of non-teeth-grating alarms.  Lightning Bug comes with six different themes to choose from, each with several customizable features.
    • Wishlist: I stopped using the alarm clock, because some days it just wouldn't work.  There have been a couple of different versions since then, so the issue might be fixed.
    • Where to get it:

  • Ringdroid
    • What it does: A music editor that allows you to cut clips of songs to use for ringtones, notifications, and alarms.
    • Wishlist: Won't edit all types of music (but feel that's probably because of copy protection on the files).  The editing process can be a bit tedious, as well.  But I guess that depends on how OCD you are. :)
    • Where to get it: 

What are your favorite apps?

    Wednesday, March 24, 2010

    How DO you clean an iron?

     Once upon a time, I thought it would be a cool idea to melt some beads with my mom's iron.  It didn't go well (sticky, gooey mess), and I tried to hide the evidence of my crime (scrape off the big stuff and cross my fingers).

    If only I had this tip from Jamie Council (Check out her blog at, I might not have gotten in trouble!

    You have Stitch Witch residue on your iron (I'm working under the assumption that it would work for other things, too.)

    Iron over a dryer sheet, then a paper towel. Repeat as many times as you need to remove the mess.

    Jamie gives it a big thumbs up!

    Monday, March 22, 2010

    Easing into shape

    My husband and I have decided that enough is enough.  We want to get into shape, but without paying for a gym membership.  Based on a friend's FB status, we're going to try the Couch to 5K program.  It's designed to take you from a sedentary life to the ability to run a 5k in 9 weeks.

    It's based on running for small spurts in the beginning, coupled with brisk walking.  As the weeks go on, the running (or jogging) becomes the majority of the workout.

    To help keep track of the time, I'm going to be using the Running into Shape podcast.  It includes a good mix of workout music, timed to the workout.

    Day one starts today.  Pray for me if you don't hear from me soon. :)

    Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Scouring Power

    I don't know how it happened, but my tea kettle has formed some nasty burnt areas on the bottom.  This week I tried out two different scouring solutions. 

    Option 1
    Salt, yup. That's it.  Some sites recommend Kosher salt, but I used plain table salt.

    It seemed to get some of the heavy lifting done. 

    • Cheap
    • No chemical smell at all
    • Got majority of work done
    • Too harsh for more delicate pieces.  I noticed some scratching
    • Didn't do anything for discoloration
    I'd recommend this for heavy duty pots.  Definitely got the job done, but wouldn't work for something scratch prone.  I wouldn't use this for non-stick pans, for instance.

    Option 2
    Baking soda and a tiny bit of water (enough to make a thick paste).  I let it sit for a few minutes.

    This worked more for the discoloration and the small areas that the salt missed. 

    • No chemical smell
    • Worked at removing some discoloration.
    • The baking soda changed color while I scrubbed, so I could really tell the difference.
    • Not as powerful as the salt for big areas.
    I'd recommend this for more delicate pieces or for set in stains.

    My husband added the thought that including lemon juice with the salt might boost the power.  I think I'll give it a try next time. 

    Monday, March 15, 2010

    Indian Tex-Mex (Is that a thing?)

    I've been trying to add more variety to my cooking repertoire lately, much to my husband's chagrin.  Some times they turn out good, others bad.  This one turned out good, although my husband and I both agree it's an occasional dish.  Maybe when we're feeling really international.

    It's based on a subscription recipe card that I inherited from my mom.  I know for a fact she only used a handful of them.  Most of them are very strange, but this one turned out pretty good, with a couple of tweaks.

    It's called Nasi Goreng, but we call it Indian Tex-Mex.

    • 1 lb ground meat (we use lean ground beef, but it's up to you)
    • 1 bell pepper
    • 1 medium onion
    • 1 large apple
    • 1 large tomato
    • 2 small tomatillos (these look like green tomatoes, they have a papery husk on them.  Make sure to remove the husk and wash well)
    • 1 clove of garlic
    • 2 tbs curry powder (as hot or mild as you'd like)
    • Cooked rice (we use brown for the extra texture)
    • Brown the ground meat, add garlic.
    • While browning, chop the vegetables and add them as you go.  I usually put them in in this order: onions, bell pepper, apple, tomatillos, tomato.
    • Add curry powder and cook until vegetables are tender. (As slow as I chop, that's usually only about 5-10 minutes after I finish)
    • Serve over hot rice
    It's a pretty easy dish.  I added the tomatillos for their tartness.  It counteracts the apple and the sweet curry taste without drowning them out completely.  It could look fancy if plated correctly.  Let me know what you think!

    Let it Flow!

    I live in an area notorious for hard water.  While at my house, it's not that bad, I can still see the effects of it.  One of the biggest problems was my shower head.  It's a standard issue, but half of the holes were completely clogged, or barely issuing out a spray.

    I had used some commercial products, to little avail.  They helped a little.  I found the following idea on  (At the time of posting, the site was down.  Hopefully it will return soon)

    I put a sandwich bag filled with enough vinegar to cover the holes and tied it around my shower head.  Then I let it soak overnight and flushed it with water the next morning.

    I think it worked pretty well!  It seemed to have unclogged the shower head completely. It worked as well as the commercial products, but didn't blow them out of the water.

    • Cheap, as always
    • Set and forget style of cleaning
    • Awkward to set up
    I'd recommend this to anyone, as long as they have a stepladder and a spotter! More and more, I'm astonished by how much vinegar does!

    Sunday, March 14, 2010

    Wow! That looks fancy!

    I'm not sure if this really falls under the realm of review, or just a shameless plug.  Either way, I'd like to introduce you to a great website that I've used a ton in my professional and personal life:

    The site is created, obviously, for scrapbookers in mind.  It has a great section for layouts and products.  However, the section I've used is the font section.

    They have the coolest fonts!  And they're free!!!

    I don't know how they collect their fonts, or who creates them, but if you want something in font form, they have it.

    Need a specialized font for your newsletter about spreading germs?  Check out the G category for "Germs."  It's a great, creepy crawlie font, where the letters have eyes and teeth.  That'll make the kids wash their hands!

    One of my personal favorites is in the C category, Catholic School Girls.  It's that bubbly, flirty handwriting I always wish I had, but never mastered.

    The W-X category is a huge cache of recognizable scripts.  They have the Walt Disney script, Willy Wonka's font, and two different Wild West Themes.

    Whether you are spicing up a form or creating invitations, this is your one stop shop for creative and unique fonts.  I can guarantee that someone will ask you where you got your cool fonts.

    Saturday, March 13, 2010

    Linoleum Woes

    My second try at a green cleaner was for my linoleum floors.  We live in a rental house cursed with faux stone linoleum.  It looks nice and all, but I believe in every inch of my being that it leads to people mopping less often, especially if you live in a rental house.

    This recipe is meant for a traditional mop and bucket, so it takes a little more effort than a Swiffer, etc., but it seems to do a better job for me.

    • 1 cup vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon Murphy's Oil Soap (Made with vegetable detergents, advertised at 98% natural)
    • 2 gallons hot water (or enough to fill up your bucket)
    It worked pretty well.  I have to say, it worked about the same as any floor cleaner I've used.  When you mix it together, it does turn a milky color, so it's easy to see when you need to change your water.  It doesn't leave a "clean" perfume afterward, but that may be a plus for you if you're sensitive to perfumes.  I did notice I had to go over the mud tracks a my dogs leave a couple of times to really get it clean, but I think that has more to do with the amount of dirt than anything else.

    • Very cheap.  It cost roughly 15 cents to fill my bucket.  You couldn't even tell I had used any of the Murphy's Oil Soap.
    • No heavy perfume smell
    • Easy to tell when to change the water
    • No stickiness after cleaning, no need to rinse
    • No heavy perfume smell (if you like that sort of thing)
    • Not a very heavy duty cleaner, more for everyday
    On the whole, I think I will continue to use this recipe.  It worked as much as any commercial cleaner does, but is a lot cheaper.  I'm still shocked to see what a big part vinegar has in green cleaning.  It's apparently the main ingredient in everything!

    Thursday, February 25, 2010

    Please, please, not another PowerPoint!

    Whether you are a teacher trying to incorporate technology or a business person trying to not put everyone in a coma, there is one dreaded foe for attention.

    The PowerPoint presentation.

    I've found a free, yes you heard me, free alternative to PPT.  Through a website known as Prezi, you can create unique presentations.  They zoom around, going to fine print back to super print.  They can be as complicated or simple as you wish.  The one thing is, they aren't PowerPoint.

    • Simple learning curve.  With the videos on the website you can easily put together your own presentation in just a few minutes.
    • Unique.  Enough said.  
    • Impressive looking.  I promise, you don't have to tell anyone how easy it was.  They'll think you are a genius!
    • Limited functionality.  If you are one of those people that likes to use animated gifs or music in your powerpoints, you're out of luck.  You're limited to embedding only pictures and pdfs.  
    • Limited customizability.  They have nine color schemes, two of which aren't in English. Each color scheme has three fonts available.
    • Internet connection.  While you can download the presentations or embed them in a blog, you do need internet connection to create them.
    I'd highly recommend Prezi.  It's not something I would use everyday, because after a while the new-ness will wear off (like any other presentation tool).  It's easy to learn and does look fairly impressive when done.

    More information:

    An example of a Prezi I created in about 10 minutes.  Press the forward and back button to zoom in and out.  You can also click more to watch it in full screen.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    No More Bloody Cuticles Ever!

    I've come to a recent realization: If a cleaning product makes my cuticles bleed, it can't be that good for me. Now, I will admit I have more sensitive skin than most, but I can't be the only one.  So after this epiphany, I decided to jump on the green bandwagon.

    Yup, I'm joining the Gore Force.

    However, after searching for popular brands online, I noticed one thing.  Green is not nice for the Green in the bank.  Even if a product is Green, it is still marketed, process, and packaged.  All of those steps cost money.

    So, I searched some more and found a solution: creating my own cleaning products.  I'm going to be trying out several in the coming weeks and telling you how it went.

    First on the list:

    Glass cleaner

    • Equal parts water and white vinegar
    • About a tablespoon of lemon juice
    • Mix in a spray bottle
    It worked!  Great!  It even cleaned about 90% of the hard water stains on my shower door without scrubbing (I did, however let it sit for a few minutes).  Easily some of the cleanest mirrors I've probably ever had.  I was worried about a lingering vinegar smell, but it seemed to dissipate after it dried.

    • Very, very cheap (about five cents to fill my small spray bottle)
    • Very effective, without a chemical smell
    • No bleeding fingers :-)
    • Can be hampered by the dirtiness of your mirror. I had a mud splattered mirror that took several cleanings to perfect. Long story.
    • Your hands will smell a little like vinegar after, but washes off quickly
    Overall, I'm never buying cleaner again.  This is way too cheap and easy to not use.  I've also heard that using crumpled newspaper works great instead of a rag or paper towels.  Haven't tried it, but if you have, let us know how it went!