Tuesday, September 27, 2011

"What If's" Don't Make Sense

Someone recently commented they wished life had a do over button.  I'm sure we all do at times.  The "I wish I had only..." or the "What if I..." thoughts circle endlessly in our minds.  

  1. I wish I had studied harder in school.
  2. I wish I had gone to the college I wanted to go to rather than follow a boy somewhere I hated.
  3. What if I had said "yes" instead of "no" to that guy I crushed on for way too many years when he asked me out?
  4. What if I had a "real" career?
  5. I wish...
  6. What if...
The list can keep on going.  I can ask myself "what if" or say "I wish" all day, but I can't turn back time.  All I would end up doing is driving myself nuts with worry and/or regret.  I'm guilty of doing this just like everyone else, but I've realized I've wasted so many moments worrying about something I can't change.  Why waste that time?  

We have to stop looking behind us and instead focus our energy on the present and future.  We can't change the past.  This is not the movies.  This is reality.  We could be missing out on something precious that is right in front of us all the while we are off dreaming of what might have been.  Instead of holding on to something I can't do anything about, I'm going to hold on to what I can do something about...my life HERE as it is NOW.

  1. If I had studied harder in school, I would have had the confidence in my grades to apply to the college I wanted to attend.  By the way, my grades weren't bad, I was in the top third of my class...well, until I took some college classes in high school and failed one of them because I slept everyday.
  2. Had I not followed that boyfriend of mine to the college I ended up attending, I may not have met the guy who is now my husband.
  3. If I had gone out with my crush, I may have ruined the chance of marrying the man who is now my husband.
  4. If I had a "real" career as I had always dreamed, I would miss out on all the fun experiences of being a Stay-at-Home Mom.  I wouldn't see the light go on inside of my children when they learn something new.  Someone else would be there during the day to see them grow and learn, kiss their boo boos, or give them hugs.
I believe everything has a reason.  We may not always like the way things turn out at first, but when we stand back and look at the picture as a whole, it begins to all make sense.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Swell Giveaway!

If you haven't heard me say it yet, Swell Caroline is fantastic!  I love fashionable items, and they certainly have them.  The best part is they have so many affordable items on their site.

For one lucky winner here on my blog, Amy at Swell Caroline is giving a free pair of earrings.  You can choose between the three pair below OR you can choose a $25 gift certificate to use towards whatever you like on their website, Swell Caroline.
Choose a pair between these 3 or opt for a $25 gift certificate.
  • Look preppy for golfing, tennis, or horse racing events--these activities certainly play a large role where I live--while wearing their Preppy Chic or Monogrammed enameled jewelry.  
  • Go for accessible and comfortable, sporting their Scout Bags.  
  • Need something more elegant?  Search in their La Boheme or Heirloom Collection. 

Want to be entered in the drawing to win one of those FABULOUS earrings or the Gift Certificate?  
  1. Comment below on which earring you like best or if you prefer gift certificate. (This is absolutely necessary)

Want extra entries for an even better chance to win? 
(1 extra entry per activity completed)
  1. Go to Swell Caroline's facebook fan page and "Like" them.  If you already like them, just let me know.
  2. "Follow" My 2¢ With A Grain of Salt through GFC (Google Friend Connect), which is found near the top right side of the page.
  3. "Like" My 2¢ With A Grain of Salt on facebook.
The Swell Giveaway will end Friday, September 23, 2011 at 6:00 PM Eastern Time.  The winner will be announced shortly thereafter through a random drawing.  GOOD LUCK!

*****The Swell Giveaway ended Friday, September 23, 2011 at 6:00 PM Eastern Time.  Thank you to all who participated.  Check back soon for future giveaway opportunities.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Silverware Chest

Ever since I purchased a silverware chest for my parents as a Christmas gift years ago, I have wanted one for myself.  I would look at them while shopping in department stores, admiring the beauty of the sparkling silver or flatware perfectly lined within, however, I passed them up time and time again.  Why?  I didn't want to spend so much just to buy something that houses my silverware. Their prices average from $100 to $200 and sometimes, even up to $300 or $400 for the more exquisite designs.  The cheapest one I found at a charity/thrift store was $800, thank you very much, but NO thank you.  Are you kidding me?!

You can bet I was thrilled to come across one at a flea market (why do they call them flea markets?) for only $8.  This one even had some silver plated flatware inside, which I later donated.   

Now I have a place to put my Mikasa.  What a bargain I had with his "unwanteds" because that silverware chest quickly became my treasure.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Forever Young

Eating healthy, exercise, and cleanliness will keep you healthy and young.  

We hear this all the time.  We repeat it to ourselves over and over, yet we continue to age.  In fact, I think I feel a wrinkle slowly stretching its crevice-like indention across my forehead right now as I type this.

My daughter is obsessed with age.  At times, I catch her staring and examining the creases and folds above my eyebrows and around my eyes.  Just like the rest of us, she dreads growing old.

I don't know when it started, but for as long as I can remember her talking, Caitlin has sworn off aging.  Each year as it draws closer to her birthday, she gets emotional, refusing to acknowledge the unstoppable number she is destined to become.  Tears well in her big, blue eyes as she tells me how much she really, REALLY doesn't want to grow up or get old.

I console her sensitivity, kissing her flawless face and hair untouched by streaks of grey or white.  I explain how much she will miss out on, how many activities she will never get to experience if she stays the same size and age.  Still, it ceases to discourage her from her goal...never growing old. 

For a bit of a laugh (or even pity), I have included some of the most recent comments (short stories) made by my ever enduring five year old.

1)  Caitlin bounced and twirled around the room in her pink leotard.  The biggest smile of determination played across her mouth.  Already breathless from her exertion, she leaped towards me.  Satisfaction filled her.  
"I'm exercising.  Do you see that, Mommy?"
"Mmm hmmm.  I do," I smiled at her.
"I'm going to keep taking baths and exercise so I stay young and NEVER grow up," she said as she spun in a circle before me.
Zach, her brother, who was sitting at the table drawing his latest masterpiece, hesitated and looked up to respond, "No, you will still age," he said casually  "but Mom said to keep us little, she needs to put bricks on our heads."
---Of course he was kidding about the bricks.  I would never really do that!---  

Caitlin was shattered.  She blinked at me, hoping for encouragement that her consistent baths and exercise was going to keep her five forever.  
"Yes, exercise and bathing regularly will keep you healthy and younger appearing, I imagine," I replied, making sure I worded this carefully.
"See!" She snubbed at her brother.  

Either she had forgotten or she was ignoring the fact that she had once been four and sobbed when she found she was turning five despite her bathing and exercise routines even then.  

2)  One evening while we were having dinner, Caitlin began to tear up.  I wasn't sure what upset her considering we were all having a good time.  I asked her if she was okay and what had caused her discomfort.  
Her face turned pink with color, and her lips trembled with sorrow as she spilled her worries onto me.  "I don't want to grow up, Mommy because I'll forget the very special memory."
Memory? I wondered.  "What memory, Caitlin."
"I'll forget the memory that I want to live with you forever.  If I grow up, I'll forget that is what I really want.  I don't want to forget," she confessed her heart as tears spilled to her rosy cheeks.  "I want to live with you always.  You're my Mommy.  I love you."  She tried to smile as she blinked back her tears.
It then occurred to me that amongst our many discussions, we had discussed the kids going to college, moving out, and getting married one day.  This was more to pick at our son who claims he will never get married.  He says he'd rather just have a lot of girlfriends.  
We will see dear Zach.  We will see...only time will tell.  

Unfortunately, for my tender hearted Caitlin, time is not on her side.  Americans are more geared to branching out and living on their own; starting their own families outside of their mother and father's dwelling.  

I fear, however, she says all these things now (wanting to live with me forever), but as she gets closer to her teenage years, she may be clawing her way out as most teens do.  
We will see dear Caitlin.  We will see...

3)  Last night, as Caitlin was in the shower, I put her pajamas on her bed.  It was going to be colder this evening than it had been lately.  Fall has crept up on us sooner than expected.
A little while later, she greeted me at my bedroom door.  I had the hairdryer and brush ready, but something was amiss.  Caitlin stood before me, not wearing those I had laid out for her, but instead in a summery type of pajamas.  I turned her back towards her room asking that she change.

Moments later, she returned after having changed...with tears in her eyes.  
What now? I wondered, sighing heavily.  I thought she was upset about having to change clothes.  "I have already explained this to you, Caitlin.  It is going to get cold outside..." I began to preach.

"But these pajamas are for a six year old," she said fighting her tears.  "The tag says it is for a size six.  I'm not a size six because I'm still five and wear size five clothes."  She had been obedient and respectful by changing as asked, but she wanted to explain her feelings as to why she didn't want to wear them.
"Honey," I began to explain as I held her hands in mine.  "You are right.  These are for a size six, but I got them in a bigger size in case you grow a little bit.  I wanted you to be able to wear them now and hopefully next year, too."  I had said it as sweetly as I could, hoping she would understand.  I'm simply trying to think ahead and be frugal.  

It didn't help.  She smiled, but I could see the tears' pace had picked up a bit.

Then suddenly, a different idea struck her thoughts.  She took the conversation on a detour.  
"Mommy, Daddy said I can't play that game now because I'm too young, but when I get too old I won't be able to play it then either.  When I turn 99, I won't get to play that game because I'll always be in the bathroom."
"What?!"  I was completely confused.  Where did this all come from and where was this going?  "Why will you always be in the bathroom?" I asked both curious and afraid at the same time.

"Old people can't make it to the bathroom in time," she began explaining.  "I'd have to stay in there all the time so I don't go to the bathroom in my underwear.  I don't want to go in my underwear, but I want to play the game, too.  I won't get to play the game though because I'll always be in the bathroom so I don't go in my underwear,"  she began tearing up simply at the distressing thought that she would never get to play a game because she would always be in the bathroom in fear of "going" in her underwear.  Did you get all that?  LOL

She continued her spiel, "I don't ever want to grow up!  Maybe Daddy will just teach me how to play the game now.  I'm five.  Five is better than ninety-nine anyway.  I can at least play it now but I have to learn.  I can't play it when I'm ninety-nine because of the bathroom.  So, I don't ever want to grow up!  I want to stay five forever!"

(I'm really starting to worry about her obsession with age.)

So to all of you and my sweet, age obsessed Caitlin, just keep eating healthy, exercising, and bathing.  I'm sure you will look five when you are ninety-nine.  If not, good luck finding the fountain of youth.  Though, if anyone is determined enough to find it, I'm sure it will be Caitlin.  The question is:  Will she share?   :) 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Muscadine Pie

While France can boast on their multitude of grapes--and they have every right to do so because they are good--, the south has a little secret.  We have our own precious grapes.  Muscadines are large, deep purple sweet balls of southern heaven.  Eat them as they are, turn them into jelly, make wine, or create a masterful Muscadine Pie...good to the last bite!  

  • 5 cups muscadine grapes
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 recipe of your favorite double crust pie crust--I have one under apple pie.

  1. Squish the muscadines in a large pot.
  2. Heat them over medium-low heat until the skins start to change color (get softer), keep mashing.
  3. Cool the grapes.
  4. Pour the grapes and juice through a sieve, saving both the juice and grape skins with pulp.  
  5. By hand, take out all the seeds and discard.
  6. Put the skins and pulp into a food processor and process until they are smaller pieces.
  7. Put the mixture back in the pot with the juice.
  8. Add the sugar, cornstarch, and butter.
  9. Heat until it boils.
  10. Let it cool again while you make the pie crust.
  11. Pour the muscadine mixture into the pie crust.
  12. Top with the second layer of pie crust.
  13. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or until golden.
  14. Enjoy!

Fig & Strawberry Jam

  • 4 cups figs
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pkg strawberry jello
  1. Wash and remove stems from figs and strawberries.
  2. Process in a food processor until pureed.  
  3. Put in a large pot, and add sugar and water.
  4. Bring to a boil for about 20 minutes, stirring constantly.
  5. Remove from head and add jello, stirring until completely mixed in.
  6. Pour into hot, prepared jars.
  7. Put lids on the jars and let sit until cool.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Chocolate Secrets

"Nine out of ten people like chocolate.  The tenth person always lies." -John Q. Tullius

Ever since I was a little girl, I have craved the sweet, melt-in-your-mouth (or hand) goodness of chocolate.  I haven't been too picky about it either!  I have committed unthinkable deeds just to get a taste of anything, everything that has even a morsel of the velvety, rich flavor those dark little beans produce.  Here I bare it all...my chocolate secrets.

1)  When I was just four years old, I snuggled in my bed all cozy ready for sleep when I heard it!  I heard the crumpling of a wrapper.  I knew right away that was the sound of chocolate!  I sprung from the bed and practically ran into the living room to catch my mom sneaking a Reese's.  That was it!  As far back as that memory goes, I can remember sneaking chocolate.

2) Every once in a while we watch television and see a kid who has chocolate smeared around their mouth, and when asked, stares right into their parent's eyes and lies, "I didn't eat a cookie.  I promise."  They say it with the most innocent and yet surprised look on their face.  

That was me at five.  My mom had baked chocolate chip cookies but in a brownie pan so they were nice and thick.  Wow is all I can say!  Yep, I climbed on top of the counter and ate some while she was in the shower.  There was no need for the chocolate smears on my face - though they were clearly there - because I was caught still on top of the counter with the chunk of cookie-brownie still in my hand.  Oops.

3) First kisses are usually those treasured and remembered either with warmth or embarrassment of the awkwardness.  Mine?  I remember it for the Swiss Cake Roll.  Yes, you heard that right.  I was in the first grade and had a crush on this boy...even better, he knew the way to my heart...chocolate.  He had his friend (a tomboyish girl) bribe me with a Swiss Cake Roll for a kiss.  It was a win/win for me.  I got to kiss the boy I liked and got rewarded for it with chocolate.  Unfortunately, I saw him later kissing my best friend.  It was okay though because she didn't get a Swiss Cake Roll out of it! 

4) On nights I was allowed a treat after dinner, I was given 2 Oreo's.  Who can eat only two?!!  What did I do, I started eating a handful before my parents came home for dinner.  Then, after dinner, I could turn the offer down because I didn't crave them anymore.  On the plus side, it made me look like the perfect, in control child.  Problem solved!

5) When I was fifteen and had my license, instead of going to the mall, I went to the local pharmacy.  Why?  They always had the best sales on their end of season chocolates.  I would buy the Easter Reese's eggs by the boxes.  I stashed them in my closet on the top shelf behind boxes of shoes.  

Oh, don't worry...I shared them with my mom, too.  I couldn't hide this from her.  After all she was my role model, right?  She would come into my room for "talks" (as she explained to my step-father) but we really used that time to sit on the floor with a handful of Reese's in our laps, giggling away at our mischief.  

6)  One evening I had a friend over for a sleepover.  My mom had spent hours on a tall, TALL chocolate, fudge cake.  Then she and my step-dad went out for the night.  My friend and I took one look at that cake and dug in!  In a few short hours, we all about finished that cake.  We did, however, leave one thin sliver.  Why?  My mom asked that we save her a piece...she just didn't say how big a piece.

7) When I was pregnant, I started craving the chocolate chip cookie-brownie thing my mom use to make.  Problem was, none of the batches ever made it to the oven.  My husband worried that the raw eggs would be unsafe for our unborn son, but I couldn't help it.  To hide it from him, I would eat it after he fell asleep.  I would carry the bowl into the bedroom, plop it in front of my growing belly, and spoon away while watching 1950s reruns of the Mickey Mouse Club.  The Mouseketeers: Annette, Tommy, Doreen, Bobby, and that cute little Karen  (among others) kept my secret.  Thank you Mouseketeers!

8) I home school my children, so I keep a reward system in place to...well, reward them, of course!  Some of the rewards include treats.  What treat is better than chocolate?  My dilemma is NOT eating all the chocolate.  How can I resist?  There are bags of all sorts of chocolate candies stashed within my desk drawers.  Ugh!  The torture of it all!  

I admit it!  I confess!  While the kids are working on worksheets or projects that do not require my guidance, I sit behind my desk, slowly opening my drawers as not to arouse any suspicion, and gently unwrap the candy.  The moment it crinkles, I cough or stir loudly in my chair.  It's okay.  I console myself.  They didn't hear it.  You are in the clear.  Though, I'm sure they do wonder why at times, I duck beneath my desk only to rise moments later with a big smile and glassy eyes filled with joy.  I did it!  I congratulate myself.

9) This past Thanksgiving, I visited my dad out in Texas.  I had a cold and felt miserable.  Luckily for me, he made chocolate chip cookies!  Unluckily for me, I couldn't taste them.  In fact, I couldn't taste anything.  Luckily for me, he made so many cookies, eating 20 or so in hopes that I would eventually taste them, went unnoticed.  If they had, I would have blamed it on my husband. 

10) I keep stashes of chocolate throughout the house, but if you know anything about me at all, you would know I have a tendency to forget where I put things.  In other words, I forget where I put my stashes on many occasions and that I even have a stash at all.  

My most recent blunder was my Easter stash of Reese's (here we go again).  I hid them in a hurry so my children wouldn't ask for them. I hate telling them no, but I really hate saying yes and sharing....here's my mom's influence again...so I hid them.  Weeks and months went by and eventually I completely forgot about the Reese's eggs.  

One afternoon, I was looking for something in the microwave cabinet.  I had broken my microwave melting crayons (save that for a later story), so I had begun to keep napkins, wheat, my wheat grinder, and other items in the cabinet.  As I was getting the item, I knocked something over and it had fallen behind the bag of wheat.  I reached farther in to retrieve it.  In my quest for the fallen object, I saw a box of low calorie drink mix hidden behind the wheat.  Ooh I didn't know I had these!  I started to pull the box out when I noticed the tip of a yellow wrapper poking through the open top.  I recognized it right away!  It was my beloved stash of Reese's!  I had to do it!  I had to stay hidden and eat them before the kids saw me.  If they did, I would lose my stash forever.  

Next thing I know, my husband walks into the kitchen and stops just behind me.  Half-eaten Reese's egg in hand, I slowly turn my head so I can face him.  He busted out laughing as he observed me bent over, head still inside the cabinet, wrappers all around me, and yes, probably a smear or two of chocolate on my face.  I've been caught!  I've been caught eating Reese's with my head still stuck deep within the microwave cabinet!  Has it really come to this?  Yes.  Yes, I'm afraid it had, and it only gets worse.

11) Since the holiday is coming up, I should go ahead and mention this one.  No sense in holding back now.  Halloween is the best and worst time for me.  All that chocolate!!!  Every year, just like my mother did with me (yes, mom I know you did!) I eagerly wait for my children to go to bed after a night's worth of trick-or-treating so I can raid their candy bags.  Guilty as charged!  My choice of poison?  You guessed it!  Reese's.  Oh, I still enjoy Twix, KitKat, and 3 Musketeers, but Reese's is my favorite.  

One year in particular stays with me.  They had hit the motherload of Reese's.  After they were sound asleep, I went to work.  Before I knew it, I had eaten at least half a dozen packages of those chocolate covered peanutty centers.  I was floored!  I thought about giving them back to the kids, but a thought crossed my mind that I might dig them back out again and find myself within this precarious position.  I did what I thought would be best.  I threw them away.  

Remember that episode on Sex & the City (Season 4 Episode 52) where Miranda can't stop eating chocolate cake and ends up digging it out of the trash?  Uh yeah, that was me.  The thought of those perfectly wrapped Reese's sitting in the trash, going to waste, saddened me.  They needed saving and I was going to be the hero.  I can't believe I am admitting this, but I dug them back out with all intentions of eating them.  

Then it hit me.  What on Earth am I doing?!  I am acting pathetic!  I am digging chocolate out of the trashcan.  I couldn't just throw them back into the trash.  I knew it would only be a matter of time before I dug them back out again.  I had to do something drastic.   Bang!  Bang!  Bang!  My poor husband.  He must think I'm crazy.  He came running from the bedroom, probably thinking the worst.  Instead, he was faced with me, hammering away at my crux.  He dodged as pieces of chocolate and peanut butter flew in the air.  "What are you doing?" he confusingly asked.  "Killing it so I won't eat it from the trash," I breathlessly answered.  I put the hammer down, but I wasn't done.  Just in case, just to make sure I had one more trick up my sleeve.  I scooped the handful of mess and ran it under water before tossing it back in the trash.  There!  I had defeated it...well, until the next year.

"My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start.  So far today, I have finished two bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake.  I feel better already." -Dave Barry

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Cinnamon Buns

 Mmmm...the smell of cinnamon rising from the warm oven as I pull out a tray full of cinnamon buns...is there anything sweeter to offer up for breakfast?  Twelve delicious swirls disappear as little fingers swipe one after the other.  Fingers get licked to taste every last drizzle of icing.  Sweet goodness!

Cinnamon Buns
  • 1 (8 oz) carton of sour cream or 1 cup of buttermilk--either is great
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 pkg (2 1/4 tsp) yeast
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 Tbsp butter, softened-not melted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 sprinkle nutmeg (seriously a sprinkle or it will be too strong) *optional
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Tbsp milk 
  1. Heat sour cream (or buttermilk) on medium-low till it reads 105-115 degrees F.
  2. Combine warm sour cream (or buttermilk), 2 Tbsp butter, 3 Tbsp sugar, salt and baking soda in large bowl.
  3. Add egg and yeast.  Blend.
  4. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour, beating at med speed until well blended.  Gradually stir in enough flour until a soft dough is made.
  5. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times.
  6. Roll dough into a 18x6 inch rectangle.
  7. Spread butter over dough with the back of a spoon.
  8. Sprinkle 3/4 of the mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg over the buttered dough.
  9. Roll up dough starting at long side, pressing firmly to eliminate gaps and air pockets.
  10. Pinch ends to seal.
  11. Slice roll into 12 slices (sometimes it is easier to refrigerate, wrapped in cling wrap first-then slice).
  12. Place on lightly greased baking sheets.
  13. Those on the ends with very little filling, sprinkle the remaining 1/4 of the cinnamon sugar mixture on top.  
  14. Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm area for 30 minutes.
  15. Bake at 375 for 12 to 15 minutes. * Putting a thin slice of butter on top of each before baking adds an extra gooey touch...mmmm! 
  16. Loosen from pan immediately.
  17. Combine the powdered sugar and milk (cream works great also).
  18. Drizzle over buns.
  19. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Hydrogen Peroxide

With two kids in the house, and with all the warnings of what is or isn't safe, I try to use healthy, nontoxic products to clean my home.  The low cost of these easy use products is just icing on the cake as I journey further into the frugal world of living.  Below is a list of uses for hydrogen peroxide.  Please keep in mind to only use the 3% solution unless otherwise suggested.

In the Home & Kitchen
  1. Hydrogen Peroxide is a natural bleach.  Use it to bring your whites back to life.  
  2. Also use it to remove stains.  Most of the new oxygen infused detergents contain hydrogen peroxide (H2O2).  Just remember it is a natural bleach so watch closely when using it on dark colors.   
  3. Vinegar is a great bacterial killer.  What it misses, use hydrogen peroxide as a back up. This is perfect to use on cutting boards and kitchen counters.  
  4. Hydrogen peroxide kills mold and fungi as well.  Spray it on, let it sit, then clean off.  BUT if you put hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle, please make sure it is a dark, solid colored bottle.  Light breaks down hydrogen peroxide, which is why it is sold in dark brown bottles.
  5. Keep your plants healthy by mixing 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide with 4 cups of water.  Water your plants as usual.  It adds some oxygen to your plant and helps keep root rot away.
  6. Pour 1/2 to 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide into your toilet bowl and let sit 20 minutes.  Then, scrub clean.  You can do this with vinegar as well.
  7. Clean your fruits and vegetables with hydrogen peroxide.
Personal Use
  1. Using ear swabs to clean children's ears can be a bit tricky.  Make it fun!  Pour half a cap full into their ear and let it tickle away the wax.  Let it bubble and do its magic for about 5 minutes, then have them turn over to let it drain out.  
  2. Once in a while (some say every day, I think every week is safer) swish 1/2 peroxide with 1/2 water and spit out.  This whitens your teeth, kills bacteria, and cures any mouth sores.  Please do not swallow.
  3. Toothpaste can be made from 2 Tbsp of baking soda and 1 Tbsp of hydrogen peroxide.  It gives an extra whitening boost to the baking soda.
  4. Give yourself subtle natural highlights with 6% hydrogen peroxide.  Mix 50/50 with water and spray on wet hair, comb through, and let it dry.    
  5. Despite many suggesting to use hydrogen peroxide on cuts, it has now been found that hydrogen peroxide kills healthy cells and slows the healing process.  Instead, wash with soap and water.  If it is a small cut, dab with rubbing alcohol.
*Again, only use 3% unless for hair highlights (6%).  It is disputed whether ingesting hydrogen peroxide is safe, so please do not ingest just in case.  When using as a toothpaste or mouth rinse, always spit out rather than swallow.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Banana Muffins

I'm sure you all read that I eat bananas with a fork...one of my quirks.  Furthermore, I only eat them at a specific time of ripeness, which lasts only one to two days at the most.  Anytime after that, I offer them to my children.  When they get spots and no one wants them, that is when I put them to use in recipes.  One of my favorites (probably everyone's favorite) is banana muffins.  Try these with chocolate chips for an extra bit of sweetness!

If you are looking for another recipe to try aside from this one, I have a different recipe for banana bread but you could also use it for muffins.

Banana Muffins
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 or 2 bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, nuts, or peanut butter chips *optional

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  
  2. Add egg, banana, milk, and oil and mix. 
  3. Stir in the chips or nuts.
  4. Spoon into greased or lined muffin tins.
  5. Bake at 400 for 20 min or until lightly golden on top.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Buttermilk Biscuits

A southern home cooked meal doesn't seem complete unless it has corn muffins or biscuits.  My family loves biscuits.  

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk  
  1. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.  
  2. Add shortening and buttermilk, using a pastry blender to mix them all together.  The trick is to do it at the same time rather than shortening first.  This creates a fluffier biscuit.  
  3. Once the milk and shortening have been incorporated into the flour, scrape dough out onto a floured surface.  Do not knead.
  4. Use a rolling pin to roll dough out to 1/2 inch thickness.
  5. Cut with a biscuit cutter.
  6. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet.
  7. Bake at 350 for 15-20 min or until golden on top.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happily Married With Kids

"It's Not a Fairy Tale."  I wish someone had told me that years ago.  My husband and I have a great marriage, but it hasn't always been so easy.  We got married young.  I was eight days away from turning twenty and he was twenty-one.  We met in college and were so ready to spend our lives together.  We just didn't know what that meant yet.

Within weeks of getting married, my husband got a job with a firm designing house plans.  It was his dream to design homes, but at a cost...he was rarely home.  He would stay late working on projects until three o'clock in the morning some nights (or I guess I should say days).  I had envisioned this dream that being married would entail us spending all of our time together, yet, here I was eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner by myself.  He was doing his best to provide for us.  I mistook his absence as a way to have freedom from me. 

A little over a year later, my husband was fired.  He came home a wreck, but later that night, the owner of the company came to our door and said his decision was made in haste.  He was remorseful and asked for my husband to accept his apology and return to work.  Among the discussion of returning, the announcement was made that the company was uprooting and moving to another state.  What?  We weren't moving.  My husband turned him down and decided it wasn't worth it to return.  I was both scared yet thrilled.  I was going to see more of my husband.  So, we set off to creating his own business.  It was hard, very hard.  We were broke, and under much stress.  Little did we know what was ahead for us.  A few months later, I found out I was pregnant.   

The first year of our son's life was hectic.  My husband was busy with his own business, designing house plans for clients.  In addition, he struck a deal to work with a contractor in the area.  He oversaw the construction of every building constructed by the contractor as well as the designs of those he created.  Once again, I felt alone...only this time, I felt like I was raising our son by myself.  I was a new mother.  Babies didn't come with manuals!

When he came home, he was tired from the long hours of work, and I was desperate to get some time to myself without a baby crying in my ear.  I felt like my husband had it made!  He got up in the morning, showered, and left for the day to have adult conversations, lunches with clients, and an overall quiet day.  I usually didn't get a shower until he would come home.  I cooked, cleaned, washed, burped, fed, cooed, and tried to soothe a crying baby.  I didn't think to ask if my husband was under any stress.  I only thought about myself.  He was doing his best at what he felt he should do even though he had hard days with subcontractors, clients, and even me because when he walked in the door, I usually gave him a glaring look.  It certainly didn't help matters that our sex life went askew.  I already felt unattractive because I had gained nearly sixty pounds during pregnancy.  Furthermore, I didn't want to be intimate after having a baby latch itself to me all day.  My husband didn't see it that way.  He thought I napped, read books, and played with the baby.  He would see me spending all my time with our son, and he felt left out.  He wanted to be close with me, too.

As I began to suffer from insomnia, I could feel myself spiraling into a depression.  We were drowning in our own lack of communication and understanding for each other's needs.  It wasn't until I snapped one day that we realized we needed a major overhaul on our marriage.  I really hate admitting this about myself, but I left.  It breaks my heart to remember my actions.  I simply should have shared my feelings with my husband, asked for help, and told him how much I loved him and needed him there.  I should have asked how he was feeling and what I could do to help him feel more important.  Instead, I got on a plane and flew to Paris.  I remembered how happy I was when I went to Paris with my mom many years prior.  I wanted to relive that.  I wanted to forget about all the strain and stress...all the diapers, the spit-up stains...all the cooking and cleaning.  I wanted to be me again.  I wanted to feel free.

The day I arrived, I realized my mistake. Within hours I called my husband bursting into tears and asked for the next flight home.  Stepping off that plane when it arrived back in the States, felt like stepping into a new view on my marriage.  I saw my husband there with our son strapped in his stroller.  Both of them with this look of relief and confusion on their faces though my son was too young to understand or remember.  Had I broken them both?  Had I ruined my life?  Those questions swirled in my head stinging my eyes with tears.

I was lucky to have a husband who loved me enough to let me go and loved me enough to forgive me.  From that moment on, we began mending our relationship.  We talked about everything.  We shared our feelings and thoughts, and we have ever since.  We learned how to work together as a team.  There isn't a he/me anymore...there is a we.  Today, we have two beautiful children, ages eight and five.  And I can honestly say I am happily married with kids!

Carol Ummel Lindquist, Ph.D.
Some couples may not be so lucky.  Some may give up, refuse to apologize or refuse to forgive.  We needed it [help] but somehow managed to get through without it.  Couples who are going through a tough time in their marriage need help.  They need an outside perspective, someone who can help each other see through their spouse's eyes, open communication's door, and work as a team.  Dr. Carol Ummel Lindquist's book, Happily Married With Kids: It's Not a Fairy Tale gives couples the help they need.  She guides couples to talk to each other, learn from each other, and keep their intimacy going in order to help their marriages grow. 

So many couples experience culture shock once their children are born.  Their lives turn upside down.  Wives find that they do most of the diaper changes, feedings, and regular chores around the house.  This leaves them to feel unappreciated and overworked.  They wait until the last minute to ask for help from their husbands, usually leading them to yell in frustration.  Husbands may feel inadequate in helping with the child, so they focus on what they can do best, working.  They stress over whether they are providing enough monetarily, not realizing they need to provide emotionally as well.  Neither of them are mind readers!  Without proper communication, most marriages head toward demise.

Dr. Carol Lindquist is a therapist who strives to bridge the gaps between the husband and wife.  She says there are five stages of couples:

  1. Bliss Stage 
  2. Differences Stage
  3. Identity Stage
  4. Friends Again Stage
  5. Bonded Stage
She explains that couples start out in bliss, googly-eyed and in love.  Then once the "honeymoon phase" is over they realize they have differences, some of which may annoy the other and lead toward each wondering why they got married in the first place.  When couples reach the identity stage, they have decided what kind of spouse they want to be.  They have decided to work on themselves in order to better their marriage.  It is when couples reach Stage 4 they decide to be friends and begin to create their bond once again, allowing for mutual respect.

In her book and within her counseling of couples, Dr. Carol Lindquist brings awareness that while having children is a blessing, it can also be taxing on the marriage.  This is not the child's fault but rather how the adults handle the situations.  Do they handle them together or do they try to do them alone without working as a team?  

To make a marriage work, communication needs to be open, listening needs to be instilled, and appreciation for each other should be an every day occurrence.  My husband and I had to learn this on our own (thankfully we made it through), but maybe if we had seen this book, we could have avoided all those agonizing months of hidden resentment.  If your marriage on the outside seems perfect, but inside you know it needs help, don't shy away from asking for it.  If you wait too long, it may be too late.  

Dr. Carol Lindquist wants to help.  She has her book Happily Married With Kids: It's Not a Fairy Tale, her Couple Vision Weekend Retreat, and Couple Vision Webinars available.  If you are interested in her Couple Vision Webinar, please leave a comment below or contact me privately through my email (located in my "about me").  I can arrange a FREE Couple Vision Webinar with her for you and your spouse.  You may also visit her website at http://www.doctorcarol.com/ where you can buy her book or ebook.   You may also purchase her book from Amazon.com by clicking the picture.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dishwasher Detergent

I enjoy using my dishwasher.  I wash pots, pans, and other dishes occasionally by hand, but I really enjoy the simpleness of having a dishwasher cleaning most of my dishes.  I also enjoy the simpleness of being able to make my own dishwasher detergent.  It is so easy and saves my family money.  Don't forget to put vinegar in the rinse cycle to save even more money!

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup citric acid (can be found at Hobby Lobby) BUT if you can't find it, use 2 pkg of Lemonade Flavored Kool-Aid.  ONLY LEMON otherwise you will dye your dishwasher.

  1. Mix it all together and store in a container.