Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Monday, December 22, 2008
There's no place like home.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
I changed my "recipe" just a bit and started adding Kirk's Hardwater Castile and Biz to my soap. I have used about 1/4 scoop of Biz for a few years in my laundry to help remove stains so I started adding it directly to my soap, but I cut down on the Borax so there wasn't too much stuff in there.
Now I use:
1 bar Fels Naptha
1 bar Kirks Hardwater Castile
2 cups Arm & Hammer washing soda
1 cup Borax
1 cup Biz
OK, so I don't have 18 kids like the Duggars but that didn't stop me from using an idea I saw on their show: making your own laundry soap. The links I found online made the liquid version look like something from a science fiction movie in the 80's so I opted for the dry powder version instead. It seems weird to use something "homemade" to wash my clothes instead of the standard Tide that I've used for over a decade but all the comparisons I found online seem to point to the homemade detergent cleaning just as well as Tide or other name brand detergents. It is frugal and best of all, phosphate free so I am doing one more part to earn my crunchy halo. I made one batch for our laundry last weekend and so far, so good. I made a larger batch today to donate to a shelter that is in need of laundry detergent and documented so you can learn too; aren't you thrilled?
2 cups soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer Washing Soda
Borax can be found at most grocery stores in the laundry aisle although you may have to find a smaller grocery store for the washing soda and Fels-Naptha.
2. Grind soap into a powder using a food processor.
That is all! Store in an air tight container. Some sites say to use 1 tablespoon, some say to use 2 tablespoons. If you have figured out the secret to kids keeping their clothing clean you may only need 1 tablespoon. The clean kid fairy hasn't blessed me yet, so I use 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons per load.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Now I know it is something new, involving popcorn in the stuffing and all. But give it a try, I thought it was perfect for people who just are not sure how to tell when poultry is thoroughly cooked, but not dried out.
8 - 15 lb. Turkey
1 cup melted butter
1 cup stuffing (Pepperidge Farm is Good.)
1 cup uncooked popcorn (ORVILLE REDENBACHER'S LOW FAT)
Salt/pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush turkey well with melted butter salt, and pepper. Fill cavity with stuffing and popcorn. Place in baking pan with the neck end toward the back of the oven.
Listen for the popping sounds. When the turkey's ass blows the oven door open and the bird flies across the room, it's done.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
1 pkg. ground beef (I used 1.6 lbs but would have bought up to 2 lbs. Just don't try making it with 3/4 of a pound; chili needs meat.)
1 pkg. Williams chili seasoning (seasons 2 lbs, hence the reason you need nearly 2 lbs of hamburger)
2 cans Bush's mild chili beans
1 can Bush's seasoned kidney beans (I have no idea what they are seasoned with, the can looked good.)
1 can petite diced tomatoes (because I don't like chunky tomatoes, if you do get bigger chunks)
1 15oz. can tomato sauce
***These 2 cans need to be pureed in a food process or blender before adding***
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1 can Mexican style stewed tomatoes
Brown your meat with the onions and then drain the fat. While the meat is cooking puree your tomatoes. I pureed one can completely and I pulsed the second can so it wasn't tomato juice. Pour into the pan along with the seasoning and other cans of beans and tomatoes. Make sure you throw your can graveyard into the recycle bin.
Here is where it gets tricky. We had a couple of errands to run and I knew if I left the pot of chili on the stove without stirring it would turn black on the bottom and we'd have black flakes of chili floating around (don't ask how I know this.) So I decided to try out the oven proof pans I've had for 7 years... in the oven! I turned it to 300° and placed the pot (with a lid) in the oven and left the house. I really didn't know what to expect when we returned; I've never baked chili after all. The solids sank to the bottom and the juice rose to the top but one quick stir and it looked like chili again! The oven somehow changed the consistency and made it really delicious; J said it was his favorite chili ever.
I only recommend baking your chili in oven proof pans (and lids). If you put a lid in the oven that has a plastic handle it will melt; this goes for crockpot lids as well; take my word for it.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Last Friday, Jacob was home from school because he didn't feel well. He slept until noon and then woke up feeling recovered so we went out and got some soup for lunch and headed to a furniture store (one thing better than chocolate snack cakes is new furniture.) Right next to the furniture store was the Hostess bakery outlet. Mmmm...I love me some bakery outlet goodies. I used to buy all of our bread at the outlet and would occasionally pick up the bag of powdered donuts for the kids. Don't bother pointing out that powdered donuts are just as bad a white goo-filled snack cakes; I won't hear of it. So when we pulled into the outlet parking lot Jacob got excited and said "Mom, can we get some powdered donuts here too?"
Well, this bakery outlet was lined with an entire row of every Hostess snack cake made and I was having a particularly sweet tooth day. I stopped myself at 4 boxes and tried to make myself feel better by buying two things that were Lite or Low-fat. I only looked at the nutrition label once and that was on the low-fat crumb cakes; 90 calories per cake. I instantly felt better and stopped looking.Jacob and I shared an individual package of Ding-Dongs in the van before ever leaving the parking lot. I also had to pick up one of the fried fruit pies so the kids could try it; again they had no idea what it was. When J got home we talked about eating them as a kid and how delicious they were with the sugary glaze on the outside and the crunchy shell. Well, there is a reason that kids remember them fondly; it is the one thing that gets left for the kids because they taste nasty to adults!
To make this story even better we went back to the furniture store the next day so I could show J the table I want. He saw the bakery outlet and after hearing my stories of the towering snack cake pillars he needed to see too. We left with two more boxes of snack cakes and a gallon of milk. At least we came away from the bakery store with one healthy thing in two days. I am now soliciting all the neighborhood kids to have snacks at my house so I can clear the closet of these snack cakes injected with whipped high fructose corn syrup goo.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
That should have been the theme to the work that happened here yesterday. We are having visitors this weekend so the pressure is insurmountable to get the house ready. Let me tell you now, it will not be ready. It will be very close but not completely done.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Now that the bathroom is finished, take a look at my laundry room. Geesh, can't we just sit and do nothing?! We ripped it apart Sunday, I removed the luan Monday during the day and J cut and cemented the backerboard last night. It is drizzly today so I doubt we will be able to start tiling this evening; I'm sure I can find another project to work on instead. See the lovely hole in the wall to the left of the window? We hear that the original owners had a black lab that scratched huge holes in the drywall so they put up wood paneling to cover it. Sometime later someone removed paneling from that location and installed 2 cabinets with a countertop. We removed those to put in the tile and ewww, that was nasty. Black dog hair that is at least 4 years old isn't a pretty sight to find.
While driving back from Chicago I saw the "Maverick Steakhouse;" I had to take a picture. I wonder if they do things different from mainstream steakhouse practices; instead of steak and potato, you get steak and boiled eggs. They probably figured out that mainstream steakhouse followers don't really care for steak and boiled eggs so I'm sure they have abandoned their own practices and now serve steak and potatoes. You have to do what the people want to stay in business, right?
Friday, October 3, 2008
Sunday- We slept late in our dark, quiet room and then caught the bus to the Museum of Science & Industry. I was slightly bummed that we didn't get there until 11 but quickly realized that they didn't even open until 11. The place is HUGE and we knew there wasn't any way we could possibly see everything before they closed at 4. The most awesome part of the museum is their new Smart Home; a home that was built with sustainable and energy efficient materials. Guess what?! They used bamboo floors in the Smart Home! We got so many great ideas but unfortunately our home is 14 years old and we won't be making it as environmentally friendly as the Smart Home. J and I did gather many ideas that we would love to incorporate into a future house though.
With so much to see and so little time we grabbed a snack in the food court. If you ever visit the museum, make the food court your definite stop for lunch. They had many different choices including a full taco bar. We were in a hurry for our Smart Home tour so we all split a chicken finger meal and kept on trucking.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped and ate at Chipolte. We said we wouldn't eat somewhere that we could eat at home while on vacation but it was right around the corner and we were all tired.
Monday- The one place Emily wanted to go in Chicago was the American Girl Place. I had waited until the last day to take her because it just worked out best. Imagine my surprise when I got online Monday morning and found out they were CLOSED. They were moving across the street so they shut down the store for 2 days- Monday and Tuesday. It absolutely broke my heart to tell her they were closed. She has listened to two of her friends talk about their breakfast there and the doll salon for weeks now so she was so excited to go.
But, Emily and I were up and out of the room by 9am to try and salvage the shopping day. We took the subway over to the Magnificent Mile and found the Lush store. She had a good time sniffing everything but eventually the bath bombs started fizzing inside her nose. I was able to turn her day around with a bath bomb and a set of pajamas; my daughter knows the good things in life.
The boys took the bus over to the Field Museum and had a good time looking at all the REAL mummies and other interesting artifacts. Emily and I joined up with them around noon and viewed all the creepy mummies as well. The kids really liked Sue, the most complete T-Rex dinosaur ever uncovered.
Mid-afternoon we took the train over to Ed Debevic's (where they are mean to you). We had gotten so many "you must eat at Ed's" comments that we walked in the rain to eat (up hill both ways too). We should have ate there on the weekend because 4pm on a drizzly Monday is not a popular dining time. We were eventually the only ones there and honestly, we should have had Chicago pizza again.
Tuesday- So sad; it was time to check out of our hotel and return to the reality of life. But first we walked to get some breakfast at The Corner Bakery and then walked over to Millennium Park. It is full of cool sculptures and beautiful gardens. The pictures of the kids in the mirror is a giant mirrored sculpture that is supposed to resemble a drop of mercury. Once you know that and look at it, it DOES look like a drop of mercury!
We lost the valet ticket for the car but unfortunately they were able to locate it with our last name and room number; no Lexus for me today.
The hotel we stayed in was The Silversmith. It was lovely and fancy and quiet and all those other things that my house isn't. I hid all the Italian toiletries each day so the housekeeper would leave me more; I now have a few weeks worth of lotion and shampoo! I usually don't let housekeepers in the room while we are gone but I figured if I wanted more good-smelling lotion I would need to compromise on my routine a bit. We were on the same street as an elevated train line so we could hear that but it wasn't that bad and it was very convenient having a stop right outside the hotel door. We were within walking distance to Millennium and Grant Parks, the Sears Tower and shopping on State St. I would definitely stay here again but I would definitely go through hotels.com again as well. We paid approximately $60-$80 less per night by booking through hotels.com.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
- We saw a set of fresh burn-out marks on the road and Matthew piped up: "That is a spin-out and I know how you do that. You put one foot on the stop pedal and one foot on the go button at the same time and keep it that way; then it makes a squealing noise and leaves the marks." I then turned my attention to J who gave me a look of "I have no idea how he would know that, I would never take part in that sort of activity." Then Jacob says "Yea, and its really fun too."
Monday, September 22, 2008
We now have a toilet on the patio; it makes for such a nice "getting back to nature" experience. I wish we could always have such tranquility while pooing. If the project goes on too long I might just fill it with potting soil and plant some bulbs in it for next spring. It would complimented nicely by some daffodils.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I had been meaning to tell my sister about this boxed dinner because I thought it was something she would enjoy. Yesterday while talking to her she says "We had a pasta boxed dinner last night that was so good, it was actually like I went to the restaurant." I immediately knew we had eaten the same thing. Sure enough, she was also talking about the Creamy Basil dinner kit.
We will be trying out the other varieties now that we know they actually taste better than a box of pasta and sodium.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The best part, they end it with a sweet jingle "Don't suffer in silence." No really, we want to hear all about it the next time you are invited over for dinner.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
Then I asked if they knew else was running for president and Emily answered again, "Iraq Obama." I told her his correct name just as Obama was entering the stage. She said "I think he's better and will be a better president." I asked her why and she said "because he's not old like that other guy."
Gotta love kids.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
The fireplace before any work:
This is after all the tiles have been set; the only thing left to do is seal the stone and then grout.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
We worked for seven hours on Sunday and installed approximately 180 square feet of flooring.