Thursday, May 3, 2012

That's some easy salsa!


YUM!
It's Lizzie's night to cook.  After two weeks of school/projects/tests/papers, the skinny chef is back in the kitchen.  She's making Margarita Kabobs where she marinades the beef in Margarita mix.  Like I said before, YUM!
The munchies hit while the marinade was doing it's thing.  To stay in theme, we pulled out the tortilla chips and made a delicious, incredibly easy, salsa!  I got the idea from Mountain Mama Cooks (thanks!). Of course, I tweeked the  recipe a bit...it's what I do.
Here's how we made the salsa:

Tomatoes & Green Chilies
Ingredients


1 - 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 - 10oz can Rotel (I used Mild because my tongue is a wimp.)
1/2 small onion
1 clove of garlic (I cheated and used 1/2 tsp of minced garlic.)
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
a handful of cilantro (Picked from our very own mini-garden!)
juice of 1 lime (It was really juicy.)

Mountain Mama Cooks says that 1/2 to 1 jalapeno (with or without seeds) can be added, but as I stated before, my tongue is a wimp...so I didn't.

 Cilantro from our garden!  That's what hadn't made it into the Ninja when I remembered to take a picture.


Directions


This is the beautiful part... We put all the ingredients in our Ninja blender and pulsed it for about 5 seconds about 4 times (How's that for specific directions?)  This Ninja is kick ass so I kept a really close eye to make sure the salsa didn't get over-blended and soupy.

That's it!  Quick, fresh, and fun! (Remind you of anyone?)

We made enough to fill two 16oz mason jars after the mandatory taste tests... I volunteered.  Notice that when I labeled the mason jars, only one says Mild Salsa.  I'm giving the other one to Jeff so he can spice it up as much as he likes with Texas Pete, Tabasco, or one of his other go-to hot sauces (Hot Sauce Depot?  Really?!).
I have got to get some nice labels for my mason jars!

Update:  Lizzie's dinner was delicious.  She even made us Pina Coladas (virgin, of course).  The salsa was a hit.  Jeff liked it so much that he didn't add any hot sauce to it.  We are already down to one jar.  I can see that I'll have to keep the ingredients on hand.  This is going to be great for chips around the pool this summer.  


Dinner (and some of Lizzie's school stuff)

Margarita Kabobs



The Ninja doing what it does best!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New curtains for the craftroom


I had a bit if energy today so I decided to start working on the curtains for the guest/craftroom.  The curtains that are up now are cute - bright multi-colored hearts on a white background. They were inexpensive - cloth shower curtains that I picked up on clearance at Target.  They were easy to hang up - whimsical frog curtain rings hung over white wooden curtain rods.  They just didn't go with the decor that evolved in that room.  
They have been taken down, folded, and put away and await the next project inspiration.

I needed something inexpensive as well as easy to make.  I am by no means a seamstress.  I can sew in a straight line which tends to limit my sewing projects, but I was pretty confident that I could handle this one.

I wanted to cover the shades without blocking the daylight so i decided to go with sheers, but I also wanted a bit of color.   
My inspiration:  
Curtain How-to
Cute, right?!
I took a lot of pictures, but the fabrics are both so light that it's hard to tell fronts and backs...ugh, sorry.

There are three windows in this room so I bought three sheers at Target ($5 each).  

As to not risk putting up another set of curtains that didn't quite go well in the room, I bought the same fabric as one of the panels (green) that I made to cover the closet shelves. 
(It was a VERY easy straight line sewing project.)    
I bought 60" because the sheers are 60"wide.  The  fabric was 45" wide.  I have 3 windows to cover so I divided the 45" by 3 and I cut three 15" lengths.  (If I had 4 windows, I would have cut four 11" lengths and I think they still would have looked good.)

For each curtain:  I ironed a 1" hem around both lengths and 1 width.

I pinned the green fabric on top of the sheer curtain along the width that is not hemmed (FRONT of the green to the BACK of the sheer),
 WHAT?! NO PICTURE?!

To sew as close to the edge as possible, I lined up my fabric with the right side of the presser foot.

I turned over the fabrics so that now the BACK of the green is against the FRONT of the sheer and I ironed down the top.
Turning the sewn pieces

I pined the bottom edge of the green to the sheer and sewed the sheer and the green fabric together across the bottom edge at 5/8" from the edge of the green fabric. 

I sewed across the width at the top.  This formed the pocket for the curtain rod.  OF COURSE, I DIDN'T GET A PICTURE OF THAT EITHER.  I had very thin wooden curtain rods so about 1 inch worked for me. (I said I was not a professional.)  Determine how wide your rod pocket needs to be depending on the width of your curtain rods. 

I inserted the curtain rod in the rod pocked and put up my beautiful (if I may say so myself) new curtains  --  My hanging hardware was up from when Hubby put up the previous curtains.


That's it!  I'm done!  I told you it was easy.  Sorry that I missed some pictures.  I'll do better next time.

One curtain down, two to go and I feel optimistic that I can complete them before my ADD kicks in and I move on to another project.

Cheers!

UPDATE:  All three curtains are finished and hung.  Yay! 
Maybe, on another day, I'll get some better pictures and I'll post them.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Bathroom Cleaning Day

UGH!  I absolutely hate cleaning bathrooms!  Ummm…that’s why I pay someone to do them for me. *sheepish grin* Don’t judge.  Once upon a time, I was sofa bound.  I don’t say “bed bound” because they couldn’t keep me in bed, but I couldn’t make it past the sofa.  A decade of undiagnosed Lyme disease will do that to you.  But I was going to keep this house clean and organized and I was going to take care of my family on my own IF IT KILLED ME … which it almost did (that’s another story for another day).  Eventually, I gave in (something about not being able to lift my head off the pillow -still on the sofa- or open my eyes enough to chew some food) and we hired help.  Fast forward ten years, I am able to do most household jobs on my own, but I can’t clean bathrooms, yet (I have a doctor’s noteJ).
Today, she ran out of bathroom cleaner and I didn’t have time to run to the store.  My neighbors would have been happy to share, but I insist that all our cleaning products be natural.  One whiff of a cleaning agent and I get a headache for the rest of the day.  The same happens with perfumes and colognes.  I think that may be part of the reason why I don’t like big formal gatherings.  Ten minutes into a wedding reception and my head is ready to explode. 

Anyway… we ran out of bathroom cleaner and decided to make our own.  Of course, we could only use things that we already had at home since, as we already established, I didn’t have time to run to the store.  I did have time to go online and on Pinterest, however.  I found a lot of ideas; most involved vinegar and I have a big bottle because I use it for a lot of stuff at the barn.  I tried different combinations and this is what we decided to stick with:

All-Purpose Bathroom Cleaner
½ cup hot vinegar
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons dishwashing liquid
Plastic spray bottle (we always seem to have new ones around the house)

Heat the vinegar in the microwave.  Pour into the spray bottle.  Add the corn starch and the dishwashing liquid.  Put the top back on the spray bottle and swirl until the ingredients fully mix.  (Shaking will probably create a lot of bubbles...so I didn't.)

There was a lot of discussion online about which dishwashing liquid works best.  On our first batch, we used the green Dawn, on the second batch we used the green Palmolive, and on the third batch we used an orange store brand … no difference, from what we could tell.  The vinegar is the real cleaning ingredient in this mix.  The dishwashing liquid is mainly so the vinegar has some stick-to-it-ness and clings onto the surface being cleaned.  By using corn starch, another thickening agent, we were able to get away with only using a small amount of dishwashing liquid.  Not only is the corn starch less expensive, but I was afraid that if I used too much dishwashing liquid, it would take forever to rinse off the cleaner.  Each batch was enough to clean an entire bathroom.  I suppose we could just triple the recipe, but I suspect that the “hot” vinegar is an important ingredient so we heated up the vinegar and made a new batch for each bathroom. 

To use, spray the surfaces to be cleaned.  Let sit for 15-20 minutes; scrub with a sponge if needed and rinse well with cold water and a cloth. 

While the bathrooms were being cleaned, the house smelled “vinegary”, but that’s WAY better than “Cloroxy”!  Big Sis wanted to know why the house smelled like salad.  Brother was concerned about the “toxic smell” in the house.  I really need to insist that he eats more salads, if not for nutritional reasons, at least so he can recognize the difference between a dangerous chemical and vinaigrette.  Goo has her nose in a book and is probably completely oblivious to what’s going on outside her room, so no comment from her (this time).

Since this worked so well, we've decided to continue to use it and not buy any bathroom cleaner at the store.  Periodically, we get some blue stains when the water is getting hard (we're on well water).  Those blue stains are tough to clean.  I haven't found a natural cleaner that will do the job, but now I'm inspired to make my own.  I'm thinking Borax, washing soda, vinegar ...
Oh, if my chemistry teacher could see me now! 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Indoor Spring

I took a quick trip to the pharmacy at our grocery store.  I had blinders on because a "quick trip" can turn into an hour long excursion for me; especially if I run into someone that I know ... I love my friends!  Blinders and all, I didn't make it to the pharmacy counter because I HAD to stop at the flower department.  The pictures don't do it justice.  There were so many colors and they were so bright...and it smelled so good; fresh (not at all like the inside of a grocery store :)  It made me REALLY want Outdoor Spring.
I just wanted to share:





Monday, April 2, 2012

World Autism Awareness Day




1 in 88

There is an autism epidemic in the United States.  The Center for Disease Control numbers show that 1 in 88 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism.  That means we now have over 1 million children directly affected by autism in the U.S. at a  cost of $126 billion annually. It's true that part of this increase in diagnoses can be explained by a broadening of the diagnosis, improved detection, and more awareness.  Still, over 50% of the increase remains unexplained.

These statistics were presented by Mark Roithmayr, president of Autism Speaks, at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta on March 29, 2011.  Behind these statistics are real people who struggle every day.  Some struggle with medical challenges; others struggle with social challenges; while others struggle to find meaningful employment where they can use their skills and abilities to be contributing members of society.  As the representative of the nation's leading science and advocacy organization and in the interest of these million children, adults affected by autism, and their families, Mr. Roithmayr made a call to action for a comprehensive National Strategy to:

*Funds more basic science uncovering the genetic underpinnings of autism.
*Funds more environmental research detecting the causes of autism.
*Accelerates the funding and development of effective medicines and treatments.
*Commits to a strategy where all children with autism from every background are diagnosed no later than 18 months of age.
*Commits to a National Training Corps recruiting more therapists and service providers as well as specially trained teachers and teacher assistants into the field.
*Addresses the growing issue of adults with autism specifically around continuing education, employment, housing/residential living and community integration. Here too, we need a focus on a National Training Corps to recruit and train professionals to work with our adults.

Mr. Roythmayr called for further commitment from President Obama to each of the Republican candidates for President to all Members of Congress... Dr Frieden and the CDC and Dr. Frieden... Secretary Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services... and Dr. Francis Collins and the National Institutes of Health.

For it to be "a true public-private partnership," Mr. Roithmayr called on the private sector as well as state and local governments to be part of this National Strategy:

 "*Right now insurance companies and the majority of self-funded plans under ERISA discriminate against families with autism denying reimbursement for the basic, evidenced based services that can often dramatically improve the quality of life for their children with autism.
*There are pharmaceutical companies who can speed the process of effective medicines for people living with autism to improve communication, socialization and behavior, the core symptoms of autism.
*We need companies across all industries to commit to hiring the 74% of adults with autism who believe they have the potential to be employed if just given the opportunity.
*And we need employers of all parents who have children with autism to become much, more family friendly as way too many mothers of children with autism have had to stop out of their careers to be able to care for their loved ones because their work environments could not find a way to accommodate their schedules.
*We need local school systems to deliver individualized and quality driven plans to meet autism's ever growing demand for appropriate special education services.
*We need faith based and community based organizations who can provide respite services for parents and caregivers as well as recreational and community integration opportunities for people with autism."

Today, it is difficult to find someone that is not touched by autism whether within the family or a friend or neighbor.  Why the increase?  We need more research to answer that question and put a stop to this national epidemic.


*To learn more about Autism Speaks:  http://www.autismspeaks.org/

*To contact Autism Speaks, send emails to editors@autismspeaks.org

*Follow Mark Roythmayr on Twitter @markroythmayr

*For more on the new autism prevalence numbers released by the CDC, visit our prevalence page:    http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html

 *Why I care: 

Our future


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Hubby!


Yay!  It’s Hubby’s birthday!  Not "the big one" just yet.  I'll let you know.
At Cheesecake Factory

He started the day by running the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in DC.  He ran beautifully.  He kept a steady pace through the entire race.  He still has two weeks before he runs the Boston Marathon on April 16th.  Crazy, I know.

I put up the Birthday Flag at midnight (not ‘cause I’m that particular, but I just happened to think about it then).  My previous flag pole, which was “donated” to the girl scouts, had this rubber ring that slid onto the pole after the flag.  The flags stayed on the pole properly.  It worked perfectly.  This new pole (not so new anymore, actually, but newer than the older oneJ) did not come with the rubber ring.  Needless to say, the flags always slide down to the base.  What to do?!  I didn’t know that most flags come with a little tab sewn on the inside, at the top of the rod pocket.  Who knew?!  That completely explained the plastic clip attached toward the top of the flagpole.  This clip is supposed to be fastened to the little tab and the flag is supposed to stay in its place.  That’s theoretically speaking, but I couldn't tell you for sure.  I have never been able to open the hard plastic clip wide enough to attach it to a tab.  It is a bear to do!  I hated coming home to find a flag toward the bottom of the pole, but I just couldn’t get that clip open.


Then, I had a light bulb moment.

Light bulb moment:   I have several metal rings... the kind that swing open and you use to, well, clip things together.  I bought a pack several years ago to bind one of the kids’ school projects.  I attached the smallest metal ring that I had to the plastic clip on the flagpole and then closed the metal clip around the little tab.  I was so tickled.  I love finding little ways to make life lots easier…or at least not as frustrating.

So the birthday flag is up and will stay up through the week, Birthday Week, and taken down on Friday morning.  This is so it’s down at least 24 hours before it goes up for Goo’s birthday.  We take our birthdays very seriously and there is not to be any sharing or overlapping of Birthday Flag time.  Crazy, I know.  But hey, it keeps us going.
Yes, I know it's backwards, but there was this HUGE spiderweb on the other side and I wasn't about to get close to it to get a better picture.  You get the idea.

Again, happy birthday to Hubby!  May this be a year filled with love, laughter, health, and success.   I love you oodles!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Looking for Homeostasis in all the Wrong Places

Homeostasis: The ability or tendency for an organism (like our bodies) to strive toward and maintain balance.   
Example:  Cortisol, an adrenal hormone that influences or regulates many of the changes that occur in the body as a response to stress (e.g.: a quick burst of energy for survival reasons – running up a tree to escape a hungry lion).

Problem: In today’s high-stress society, the stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always get the chance to return to normal (picture running up a tree to escape a hungry lion and while you're up there, you get a call from your boss telling you that he needs the proposal in two days, but your twins are having their dance recital tomorrow, and your hubby is out of town on a three-day grueling golf trip).  This can lead to health problems due to too much Cortisol circulating in the body or from too little Cortisol in the body if the adrenal glands have become chronically fatigued (Adrenal Fatigue).

Warning: Possible T.M.I.

Today I mail the saliva testing kit back. Even though it’s my own spit, I get nauseous just typing it. The doctor thinks that I may be experiencing Adrenal Fatigue…that’s not the only part of me that’s fatigued. So we’ll send off these 4 spit-filled vials (gag) to the lab and see what they find. I won’t bore you with details, but if you’re curious about Adrenal Fatigue (think chronically fatigued, but sleep doesn’t relieve tiredness, muscle weakness, overweight, cravings, inflammation, insomnia…sound like fun?) check out these links: