Tuesday, August 26, 2008

100 Things About Me--This is getting hard! 20 more...

If you're interested, you can also see 1-20, 21-40, and 41-60.

61. I always have a Starbucks gift card in my purse.
62. I have never been to East Timor. (You're only gonna get that if your name is Carole and we spent eight hours together sitting at a table discussing the finer points of Arctic exploration and the methods of fencing in an apple orchard so that cows couldn't eat the produce...it was an excruciating day, and we were delirious when this little joke became the funniest thing we had ever heard.)
63. I took piano lessons as a child, but I didn't progress too much because I didn't want to practice.
64. I was on our high school welding team.
65. I had a huge crush on my swimming instructor when I was little (I was probably six or seven at the time) His name was Todd. I think. It's been a while.
66. My high school mascot was the Rebel. Yes, the Confederate Rebel. It was a tad bit controversial. Especially the large Confederate flag that was painted on the wall of our gymnasium.
67. I am named after a woman who would become the Superintendent of Schools for Webster County, Kentucky. (I told you, this is getting hard!)
68. I have been known to watch shows like Clean House and Clean Sweep so that I will not feel bad about my own housekeeping skills (or lack thereof). (Yes, that is sad and sadistic.)
69. I LOVE Graeter's Ice Cream.
70. I can write a word and its mirror image with my left hand and right hand at the same time. (Does that make sense? Here's a picture.)

71. My favorite summer Olympic sport is women's gymnastics.
72. My favorite winter Olympic sport is curling. I find it to be utterly fascinating.
73. Speaking of the Olympics, I have been to the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland.
74. Some people don't wear white after Labor Day. Personally, I don't drink Pumpkin Spice Lattes until after October 1st.
75. I don't consume Peppermint Mochas until the day after Thanksgiving. It gives me something to look forward to.
76. Apparently I say "Whoa" and "OK" quite often. I know this because my toddler now says them constantly, and he didn't hear them from his father.
77. I really don't like craisins. I find them to have an unpleasant tartness. I do like cranberry sauce, though.
78. Fall is my favorite season, and it's what I miss the most (besides my family) living in Florida.
79. I have stood on the Appalachian Trail. (Not hiked it, mind you, just stood.)
80. I LOVE to vote! If you're a Floridian and you're reading this on August 26th, be sure you vote today!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Goin' Paperless...

Whether it is because of a noble stand we're taking or because of the guilt I feel over a recent impulse purchase, we (and by "we", I mean "I") have decided to go paperless in our household! No more paper towels, no more paper napkins, and no more toilet paper...well, OK, the last one isn't true, but I thought it might be funny.

First of all, why should we go paperless? Well, for me it is a noble two-fold reason: 1)we waste way too much paper and 2)the paper we are throwing in the trash is pretty expensive. Why pay big money for inevitable trash? And, why kill a tree in the process? (What did a tree ever do to you, unless of course, a tree has fallen on you or your home, in which case, please accept my humble apologies--especially to my mother-in-law Donna.)

Now for my not-so-noble reason. I was sucked into one of those store gimmicks the other day where they announce over the intercom that an AMAZING product will be demonstrated in two minutes and only people in the store will be able to claim a free gift, etc. That day, the product was the Magicloth, a chamois-type towel that can part the Red Sea with it's absorbent power. I stood and watched, received my free gift (a small square of a Magicloth), answered a couple of questions (I tend to pay attention when people talk--it's the teacher in me) and received two more free squares of Magicloth. I watched the rag soak up water from a pie plate that was nearly overflowing (I can't tell you how often this has happened to me--don't you just hate it when your pie plates start flooding?) and then the presenter POURED a 2-Liter bottle of diet soda onto some carpet, and the Magicloth absorbed all of that, too. Now, I don't pour soda onto my carpet very often, but my toddler DOES pour chocolate milk on the floor occasionally. Could this be the answer to my problems? Finally, the presenter clenched the deal. "You can even replace your paper towels with these Magicloths!" That's all I needed to hear. I was almost out of paper towels, and the thought of going to Sam's to buy the industrial-size package and then STORE it was something I was not looking forward to. And, so, I became the proud owner of two packages of Magicloths (4 large towels, total). The price was about the same as the cost of the mega-pack of paper towels, so I thought, why not?

I took the lovely khaki brown towels home (they are approved for military field use, of course, so they must look like the desert) and cut two of them into four pieces each. I stashed the other two under the sink unopened in case I need a quick gift later. (Watch out, Teresa, your birthday is coming up!) I have used them now in place of paper towels for two whole days, and so far so good. They do wash well in the washing machine, and they dry pretty quickly (although, you must be careful to hang them dry--that was one of the questions I answered correctly at the demonstration). I DON'T use them to dry my hair as the instructions suggest is possible--that seems a little weird to me.

Am I 100% confident that we will be able to use these towels to totally replace our paper ones? Not really. Already we realized while planning for the recent tropical storm that washable towels are great until it's not possible to wash them anymore because the electricity isn't working. We bought one roll of paper towels and agreed that they were only to be used in an emergency. So, we shall see how this paperless venture goes--stay tuned!

Be sure to visit Biblical Womanhood's Frugal Friday for ideas on saving money!

Do you have a great granola recipe? I would love to see it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

100 Things about me--20 more...

1-20 are here, and 21-40 are here.

41. I start my Christmas shopping in July.
42. The last song I downloaded was "These Are the Days" by 10,000 Maniacs.
43. I think foie gras is repulsive and I refuse to eat it ever again.
44. I like being in my 30's--I think it's the best decade I've had so far.
45. My first college major was Pre-Med.
46. My BA is in French with a minor in English. (I changed my mind.)
47. I frequently quote things I hear on the Food Network.
48. I'm not so fond of heights.
49. I have never been to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I've been to the bottom several times, but never the top.
50. I have been in 23 US states.
51. I never have ice--I just don't use it. When my Mom (who loves ice) comes to visit she has to freeze water in paper cups because I'm using my ice-maker to store frozen vegetables!
52. I obsessively check my e-mail. I don't always respond right away, but I usually read messages as soon as they arrive!
53. My first cat's name was Bubbles.
54. I had the same phone number for the first twenty-something years of my life even though we moved, and my parents still have that same number.
55. Our first house was a log cabin that my parents built themselves.
56. I collect Cinderella memorabilia.
57. I once spent double the price for a Cinderella ornament on E-Bay that I failed to buy in the store before it was out of stock.
58. I now buy the majority of the Hallmark ornaments I collect by October, and many of them in July when they debut. (yes, I'm one of those people)
59. I drink coffee every morning.
60. I find the flavored coffee creamers to be addictive, and I have to limit how much I keep in the house!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Let's have a contest!!!

I would like to start making my own granola, but I don't have a recipe for it. So...do you have one? Send me your tried-and-true but simple recipes for granola, and I will post the best ones in a future blog entry! (Your reward will be all of the notoriety and fame that being posted on my blog entails! lol)

My only rule: No craisins. I really don't like them.

I can't wait to see your recipes! Thank you for sending them!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pasta e Fagioli

Do you need a simple meal that is made with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry? This is one of my favorite soups--Pasta e Fagioli. There are many recipes for this particular Italian soup, but I have taken what I like and simplified it so that I can make it in a hurry. Enjoy!

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced (the smaller the cut, the quicker it will cook)
2 heaping tablespoons of sun dried tomato pesto (I use the one that Classico makes)
4 c. chicken stock
2 cans kidney beans (I use one can of red kidneys and one of cannellini beans)
1 cup short-cut pasta (I use Barilla Plus elbows)

In a large pot (whatever you use to make soup), cook the onion in the olive oil until it becomes translucent. Add the bacon and the carrot. Cook until the bacon is cooked and the carrots are becoming tender. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to soften. Add the pesto and stir to combine.

Add the chicken stock and beans. Bring the soup to a boil. Add the pasta, and lower the temperature. Cook for about 10 more minutes, until the pasta is tender. Taste, and season if necessary. (Makes at least 4 servings)

That's it! An incredibly filling meal that only takes a few dollars and a few minutes. Enjoy!

Would you like to see more frugal tips? Check out Frugal Friday on Biblical Womanhood!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Random Thought of the Day

What about a new Olympic sport? It's called Toddler Dressing. The first mom to chase her toddler around the house, catch him, possibly wrestle him for a minute, and get him completely dressed to the shoes gets the gold. Bonus points for the mom who can squeeze in a diaper change.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

100 Things About Me--The next 20...

Here we go--another installment of 100 Things About Me. The first 20 are here.

21. I have been to a Josh Groban concert.
22. I have been to a Trans-Syberian Orchestra concert.
23. I LOVED the show Alias and was devastated when it was canceled.
24. I earned my yellow tips in Tae Kwon Do when I was in college (that's one step above nothing, but I did break a board with my fist to get them!)
25. I sang a solo in first grade at an all-school assembly. The microphone shrieked, and that was the last time I sang alone in public.
26. When I was in college I worked at Patti's 1880's Settlement. I was a server, and I had to wear a Little House on the Prairie-style dress.
27. I celebrated the 2000 New Year in Rouen, France.
28. I coached girls' soccer for two years.
29. I taught high school French for six years.
30. I currently teach a French class for toddlers.
31. I have seen Rock City.
32. I could eat almond paste and marzipan every day.
33. I was the treasurer of my junior class. Or was I the secretary? I forget. We didn't do much.
34. I have been a member of ten wedding parties (including my own).
35. My favorite place to vacation is eastern Tennessee and the Smokey Mountains.
36. I go to our local library at least once a week (most of the time).
37. I have a myspace page.
38. I write foreign language questions for an academic tournament.
39. I freecycle. (FreeCycle)
40. I am currently reading the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.

Just 60 more to go...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Simple, Big Fun for Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers

Want to occupy your toddler for hours? (OK, 15 minutes tops, but that seems like hours when we're talking toddler time) Here's my secret--puff balls. Lots of them in different colors and sizes. The possibilities are endless with these little marvels. I started with a modest package of same-sized primary and binary colors (all but purple--I was a little disappointed). With the success of that set, I went on to buy a package of 750 assorted puff balls in all sizes, colors, and designs. What do we do with them? Well, at first, we just threw them. Everywhere. The LG thought it was fun, and I was relieved that he wasn't throwing hard things, so I let him have his fun. Here are some other ideas for puff ball games:

1. Count them.
2. Add and subtract with them.
3. Sort them by color or size, then count them again.
4. Compare sizes.
5. Glue them to paper to make 3-D pictures.
6. Glue them together to make puff-ball sculptures.
7. Have an indoor snowball fight (big fun for those of us in no-snow parts of the country!)
8. Have a puff-ball hunt. (Like an Easter Egg Hunt but without the candy!)
9. See how many puff balls it takes to fill containers of various shapes and sizes.
10. Take turns making pictures out of the puff balls. Try to guess what the other person is making.
11. Just throw them up in the air and watch them fall. This works best for my LG!

Want more toddler fun ideas or the inspiration to create your own? This book has 365 practical and creative ways to keep your toddler industriously "busy"--I use it nearly every day!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My "Not to do" List

Making a "Not To Do" list was the first step I took to leading a simpler life. Before, I had a list of things in my head that I wished I could do, thought I could do, and felt guilty about not doing. Seeing those things on paper and knowing that I wouldn't be doing them was such a relief! It took a few minutes to get started, but once I did, my list grew to be pretty long. Here are some examples of my first "Not To Do"'s.

1. I don't work out in the morning.
2. I don't bake French pastries.
3. I don't make candles.
4. I don't write novels.
5. I don't read every book in a series unless I actually like the book.

You may be shaking your head at some of these, but if you had seen the pile of candle-making supplies that I decided I needed because they were 1/2 price at the craft store...well, I need to do something to keep myself in check!

A "Not to do" list can be ridiculous or serious as long as it is liberating. (It can be used as a path to de-cluttering, too. I looked at that huge slab of wax and stack of wicks and I said, "I do not make candles," as I put them in the yard sale box. I sold every bit of it and recuperated some of the money I had wasted, but the person who bought it probably should have had a "Not to do" list, too!)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


I am in a constant struggle to conquer my toxic perfectionism (I'm keeping the productive perfectionism--it's what has made me successful), and this blog is really about me trying to keep things simple so that I can enjoy life more fully. I'm certainly not an expert, but I have made a ton of mistakes, and if you can learn from my shenanigans then maybe my writing will have served a purpose.

I look forward to posting tips, anecdotes, reviews, and probably some rants. Also, I hope to give you some inspiration for simple things to do for enjoyment, especially with your kids.

Thank you for reading, and please be sure to check back often!

100 Things About Me--the first 20

I am new to blogging, so I thought I would start with an introduction. Here are 20 things that you may be interested to know about me (more to come later):

1. I was born in rural Kentucky (and yes, I was born in a hospital).
2. My DH and I just celebrated our six-year anniversary.
3. We have an almost-two-year-old son, our Little Guy (LG).
4. I have a sister and an almost-three-year-old nephew.
5. I was once almost arrested for taking a picture of the US embassy in Paris. (OK, maybe not arrested, but they did threaten to take my camera away and I talked my way out of it.)
6. I am probably one of the only people in the world who has a picture of the US embassy in Paris.
7. I love to read cozy mysteries.
8. I actually email companies questions about their products.
9. I was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority in college.
10. I was a cheerleader in high school.
11. I have visited five countries other than the US.
12. I collect Christmas Ornaments.
13. I once drove to Canada to buy a specific candy bar (we visited Niagara Falls while we were there).
14. I like giant insect movies.
15. As a child I helped my aunt and uncle strip tobacco in the winter. (They paid me a quarter!)
16. I plan many of our vacations and trips around places I hear about on the Food Network.
17. I am slightly obsessed with ice cream.
18. I took gymnastics as a kid, but I was never able to do anything spectacular because I was afraid to go backwards.
19. I'm a Fly Baby. (FlyLady)
20. I prefer Coca Cola to Pepsi.

To be continued...