Thursday, July 31, 2008

Carpet Cleaning

I took yesterday off to clean all of the carpets in the house with my trusty Bissell Proheat 2x. It was worth every penny for a number of reasons:

1. I like to clean my carpets every 6 months or so. With two big sporting dogs, our carpets get really dirty and it was cheaper to buy a carpet cleaner than to rent one of a continual basis.

2. Carpet is expensive! I would rather keep cleaning what I've got than replace it.

3. It works really well and gets out more dirt and dog hair than I ever thought possible.

That being said there are a few things I have learned that will help you maximize your carpet cleaning experience.

1. VACUUM First! -- The manufacture recommends vacuuming before shampooing. This does not mean a lazy pass of the vacuum, this mean a thorough vacuuming of all areas to be cleaned. In fact, I would recommend vacuuming the day before and the day of the cleaning to make sure you have picked up as much dirt/hair as possible. Trust me, it is worth this extra step not to have to pick out a wet hairball from the carpet cleaner.

2. Periodically Clean out the Carpet Cleaner -- If you are cleaning more than one room, stopping between rooms make the most sense. If you have a particularly large room on your docket you might want to stop halfway though. Turn the machine off, unplug it to be sure, remove the canister/tank where you fill it with water, and flip the machine upside down to get access to the brushed. Take you fingers (this is why your turn off and unplug) and pull out any clumps of hair, and there will be clumps of hair, and throw them out. if you skip this step, the machine will throw up the hair balls while you are cleaning and then you will have to pick them off of the carpet. It is easier to pull them out of the machine before they form a super ball.

3. Switch Arms -- This may sound like the stupidest tip ever, but there is a reason behind its inclusion. The first time I cleaned all of our carpets I pushed and pulled the machine with the right arm almost exclusively (i am right handed). I didn't think about it and my arm felt fine while I was doing it. It wasn't until a few days later when my arm was throbbing that I realized I over worked the tendons and gave myself tennis elbow that lasted for 6 months! Switch arms, save yourself.

4. Dr. Browns Bottle Brushes Work Best -- For cleaning out the intake (you know, the part that sucks up the dirty water). I found it impossible to get all the hair out of this part of the cleaner until I realized that these little brushes were the perfect size to get in there and grab all the fuzz. I keep the dead ones to use for just this purpose.

Now, in case anyone is interested I did find out that there are 2 types of organic/chemical free shampoos that can be used in upright carpet shampooers: one is by bi-o-kleen and the other by Earth Friendly Products.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


I noticed that there was a missed call and a voice mail on my cell phone but since I didn't recognize the number or the area code I didn't rush to find out who called. I had a spare minute today and listed to the voice mail. It was from some drunk guy at a Holiday Inn in Arizona looking for a prostitute!!!! The message is hysterical and slightly disturbing all at the same time.

Lest I Forget My Other "Children"

Summer is hard on a puppy!



Thursday, July 24, 2008

How I Store Baby Clothes

Although my baby boy is not yet 6 months old I am storing a heck of a lot of baby clothes. I don't know if we will have anymore children, but in case we do I do not want to have to start from scratch again, especially so much of what I have in the wee sizes are in gender neutral colors.

I was storing clothes in a giant Ziplock bag under Nate's crib a la Meredith, but I have kind of outgrown the bag and I can only fit one under the crib. Combine this with the fact that my house has neither a usable attic nor a basement, Nate's room has no real closet o speak of, and I have a real storage crisis.

The only place I have to store anything is a shed in our backyard. This is not ideal, but I will work with what I've got. So I decided that I would pack up the clothes according to size in Jumbo Hefty Zipper Bags (2.5 gallons), put the bags in Rubbermaid storage tote, and put the tote in the shed.

So, here is one of the bags. They are labeled with the size of the clothes and sometimes the type of clothes or the season.

Once I had assembled all the bags I put them in an empty tote an then labeled the tote with the contents "Baby Clothes" and the sizes.

Tomorrow or some time over the weekend the tote will make its way to a shelf in the shed.

So how do you store baby clothes?

[Sorry about the picture quality and lack of quantity.]

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Improbable Tips #1

I don't know about men's magazines, but women's magazines are filled with tips. Tips for cooking, for cleaning, for de-cluttering, for looking thinner, for shinier hair, better arched eyebrows, a better smelling cat, the list goes on and on. Some of the tips in these magazines sound so far fetched that you would never believe they work... but sometimes they actually do.

my case in point, my mother-in-law read something that said to wipe your dog down with a dryer sheet if they are afraid of thunder storms because what they are actually afriad of is the static electricity in the air, or something along those lines. That sounds a little wacky to me, but she has a dog that is PETRIFIED of thunder storms. Higgins (said dog) was even prescribed some sort of doggie tranquilizer to take but he is so freaked out that he won;t eat so that was not a very good solution. The other night, my mother-in-law decided to give the dryer sheet trick a try and low and behold... it worked!

So, here is my very first Improbable Tip for ya'll... if your dog freaks out during thunder storms, give Fido a rub down with a dryer sheet.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Method Cleaning Products

Two Method cleaning products I Like:

Who would have thought that there was non-toxic toilet bowl cleaner. I was using white vinegar but it didn't seem to be cutting it anymore. This works very well and although it is heavily scented it is not a chemically scent.
I HATE cleaning my shower. This product means I don't have to, or at least I don;t have to scrub very often.

One I don't:

I was excited by these because they are paper and biodegradable unlike the generic Swiffer cloths I am using now. They may be all of that, but they are also expensive and not very effective. I could probably use a paper towel and be a effective. If you are than concerned about the environment use a microfiber cloth and wash it, or better yet, how about a regular old dust mop or even {gasp} a broom.

And One I have to try:


What I brought for lunch today:

Garlic Lime Talapia
A Peach

What I ate for lunch today:

Meatball Shortie with Provolone from Wawa
Herr's Kettle Chips
Orange Soda
A Peach

oh well... can't be good everyday!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Bountiful Harvest

From the grocery outlet that is...

For $43.50 I got:

2 bottles of Real Lime lime juice
1 box Near East Cous-Cous
3 cans of Campbel's Tomato Soup
1 box Nature Valley Cereal
1 box Kashi Heart to Heat Cereal
2 bags Hershey's Cinnamon Chips
4 box Bakers White Chocolate
1 box Cup o Soup
4 bottles Gatorade G2
2 cartons Tropicana OJ
3 bags Peperidge Farm Pretzel Fish
1 Can Hunts Tomato Sauce
2 200 oz bottles Wisk

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Our New Addition

An honest-to-god Lazy Boy recliner. What does it mean? What does it mean????????

It is super comfy and great for rocking the baby but I'm really afraid that it signals my descent into middle age.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Coconut Almond Granola

I had some extra energy last night and decided to make a big batch of granola. I do lots of things with this granola... eat it with milk, make muffins with it, make cookies with it, it is very versatile and very easy to make.

6 Tbs. Canola Oil
6 Tbs. Honey
1/2 tsp. almond extract (you could also use vanilla or you could leave it out completely)

4 Cups Rolled oats
6 Tbs. Dried Milk
1/2 Cup coconut (more or less to taste)

1/2 Cup Almonds (flaked, slivered, or substitute another nut or dried fruit)

Mix the first 3 ingredients together in a larger bowl. Add the next 3 ingredients and mix well.

Spread the mixture onto an un-greased jelly roll pan and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Stir once during baking.

Remove pan from oven. Mix in almonds and return to oven for another 3-5 minutes to toast.

Cool and serve.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Notes from the Grind

A few weeks ago, Meredith asked her readers if anyone made their own sausage. She was wondering if it was really as messy as she thought it would be and I responded glibly,

"We have the grinder attachment for the kitchen aid. We made our own ground beef, It really wasn't messy at all. I don't think sausage would be any messier. The nice thing about the kitchen aid, is that all the pieces come apart and can go in the dishwasher. That makes clean up very easy."

So this week when Pathmark had whole bottom round roasts on sale for $.99 a pound, I decided to buy one and grind it into ground beef. $.99 a pound is way cheaper than what ground beef if going for so I thought it would be frugal and I would get to use the grinder attachment I was talking about.

Well, 17 pounds is a lot of ground beef, so I carved off two 3.5 pound roasts and froze them separately. Then I trimmed off any fat, skin, tendon, yuck that we didn't want to eat leaving me with approximately a 7 pound piece of meat to grind. I cubed and ground, wrapped and froze, and when all was said and done I had 7- 1pound packs of ground beef in my freezer and a HUGE mess in my kitchen.

I almost burned out the motor on my beloved mixer and it kind of looked like Sweeney Todd was barbering in my kitchen.

So, here are my tips from this borderline disgusting experience for all meat grinding in the future:

1. Make sure the meat is cold. And I mean frosty. After it is cubed, put it in the freezer for a little while. Frozen meat grinds better than non-frozen meat and this mean less blood splatter in the kitchen.

2. Grind in small batches. This will save your mixer from over heating. Grind some, and then package, clean up a little, and then grind some more.

3. Use the die with the BIG holes. The grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid come with two dies that the meat gets pushed through. One has big holes and one has little holes. I started out using the die with the small wholes and it was such slow going, the die with the bigger holes made less work for the mixer.

4. Stop periodically to disassemble the grinder attachment and clean it out. Towards the end of my grinding nothing was coming out because the die was clogged with sinew making the mixer work harder. Had I stopped and cleaned it out halfway though I could have saved the wear and tear on the motor.

5. Have a strong stomach. As I mentioned above it looked like Sweeney Todd was working in my kitchen. There was blood and little flecks of meat all over the counter and me. Along with that there was a not so pleasant squishing sound while I was pushing the meat into the grinder. if you have a weak stomach or are faint of heart, buy your meat pre-ground.

Had I thought about these things before I started I would have had a much easier time cleaning up. Since I hadn't it took me longer to clean up than it did to grin the meat. I actually washed all of the grinder pieces and then put them in the dishwasher. I cleaned all of my cabinets and counter tops and then sanitized them with bleach and water. I washed every stitch of clothing, toweling, etc that was in the kitchen or on me in HOT water (and I don't wash anything on HOT water).

Would I do thins again? Absolutely. Not only is it cheaper, the meat tastes SO much better and I know that it is fresh, I know that it has not been artificially dyed pink to look fresh or injected with gas to puff it up.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Pricebook Reconsidered

I could never get really enthusiastic about a pricebook even though everyone who has one swears by them. It seemed to me like it was a lot of work to create with a product that would be very short lived what with the price of groceries changing every day.

I am beginning to reconsider my position because of my recent shopping activities.

I have spoken before about my love of King Authur Flour's White Whole Wheat Flour. I decided that I was going to start stocking up in case flour went "sky high next year" (to quote Scarlett O'Hara). These were theprices I have seen recently for the same 5 pounds of flour

Trader Joes -- $3.99

Giant -- $4.29

Whole Foods -- $3.19

Genuardis -- $5.99

I was shocked that Whole Foods would have the best price and that Genuardis was $2.80 more expensive.

Since I was only comparison shopping one item it was easy to keep all of these prices in my head but it does make me wonder how many other items would have the same outcome.

Maybe this will be the start of my pricebook.

Do you keep a pricebook? How do you do it? How many itemsdo you monitor the prices of? Do you find it useful?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The Candle Burned Out

I guess I was right... it turns out I have Strep throat. The baby is not sick THANK GOD!!! I will definitely be taking it easy on my long weekend.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends--
It gives a lovely light!

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay
This is how I feel today. My candle is burning at both ends. Between working, mommying, wifeing, cleaning, cooking, etc. I am spent. I think I am getting a cold. I think Nate may also be getting a cold. I have a 5 day weekend coming up and I know I should relax, put my feel up (if possible) but all I can do when I look around my house is see things left undone. How do you turn that off?