Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

What I'm Reading *The Choice*

*The Choice*
by Nicholas Sparks

Travis Parker has everything a man could want: a good job, loyal friends, even a waterfront home in small-town North Carolina. In full pursuit of the good life-- boating, swimming, and regular barbecues with his good-natured buddies--he holds the vague conviction that a serious relationship with a woman would only cramp his style. That is, until Gabby Holland moves in next door. Despite his attempts to be neighborly, the appealing redhead seems to have a chip on her shoulder about him . . . and the presence of her longtime boyfriend doesn't help. Despite himself, Travis can't stop trying to ingratiate himself with his new neighbor, and his persistent efforts lead them both to the doorstep of a journey that neither could have foreseen. Spanning the eventful years of young love, marriage and family, The Choice ultimately confronts us with the most heart wrenching question of all: how far would you go to keep the hope of love alive?
(picture and review courtesy of http://www.barnesandnoble.com/)
I pretty much love anything by Nicholas Sparks, and this one was not a disappointment. It really makes you think about how far you would go for the love of your life. It takes a very strong person to do what Travis did.

Thrifty Thoughts *Vinegar*

The other day, I saw on a blog that Vinegar could be used as fabric softener. At first I thought, "Absouletly not. I don't want my clothes to spell like vinegar. Yuck!" Afterward I figured I would do some research on it and from what I found it really did work. So I gave it a try on a load of towels, and...it really does work. The towels were really soft and didn't have a hint of vinegar smell. And what's better...vinegar is dirt cheap, and green (enviromentally friendly). Here is a list I found on all the different uses of vinegar. I haven't tried any of them, except as fabric softener, but they might be worth trying.

100 uses for Vinegar

Your House
1. Stainless steel: Wipe with a vinegar dampened cloth to clean.
2. The inside of the dishwasher: Pour a cup of white distilled vinegar in the dishwasher and run a full cycle to freshen.
3. Plastic food containers: Wipe with undiluted white distilled vinegar to remove stains.
4. The inside of the oven: Saturate with full strength white distilled vinegar and let sit for 10 or 15 minutes, wipe with a sponge to remove greasy messes.
5. The microwave: Put 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave safe dish. Bring to a rolling boil in microwave. Wipe clean.
6. The garbage disposal: To freshen, make some ice cubes with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Run a few ice cubes down the garbage disposal while running the cold water.
7. The refrigerator: Clean the inside with a mixture of half white distilled vinegar and half water. Clean the outside with full strength white distilled vinegar. To get rid of odors place 1 cup apple cider vinegar in a glass and set in refrigerator for two days.
8. Faucets and fixtures:
8a. To remove lime buildup use a paste of two tablespoons of baking soda and one teaspoon white distilled vinegar and scrub.
8b. To remove lime buildup on the end of the faucet tie a bag with 1/2 cup of undiluted white distilled vinegar around the faucet so the end is soaking, let sit overnight.
8c. To remove calcium deposits, soak a towel in full strength white distilled vinegar and wrap the faucet tightly with the towel, let sit overnight.
8d. To remove soap buildup use a solution of 1 part salt and 4 parts white distilled vinegar, scrub.
9. Sponges: To freshen, put them in just enough water to cover them and then add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Let soak overnight.
10. Cutting boards: To disinfect and clean your wood cutting boards or butcher block counter top, wipe them with full-strength white distilled vinegar after each use. Never use water and dish washing detergent, because it can weaken surface wood fibers. When your wooden cutting surface needs deodorizing as well as disinfecting, spread some baking soda over it and then spray on undiluted white distilled vinegar. Let it foam and bubble for five to ten minutes, then rinse with a cloth dipped in clean cold water
11. Remove odors from jars: Rinse smelly empty jars with white distilled vinegar.
12. The grill: spray white distilled vinegar on balled up aluminum foil. Scrub with the foil.
13. Grout: Soak with full strength white distilled vinegar for a few minutes. Scrub.
14. To make your own scouring scrub mix 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 tablespoon liquid soap. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to make a thick paste.
15. Shower door tracks: Fill tracks with full strength white distilled vinegar and let sit for a few hours. Rinse with hot water and scrub.
16. Shower head: To unclog a shower head mix 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup white distilled vinegar in a sandwich bag. Tie around shower head and let soak for an hour after the bubbling has stopped. Remove bag and turn on the water.
17. Toilet bowl: To freshen, pour a cup of white distilled vinegar into toilet and let sit overnight. Scrub.
18. Linoleum floor: Mop with one cup white distilled vinegar for each gallon of water. For stains, let full strength sit on stain for 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle with baking soda for extra tough stains.
19. Retainers or dentures: Soak overnight in a dish of half water, half white distilled vinegar.
20. Eyeglasses: Wipe each lens with a drop of white distilled vinegar.
21. White rings from wood: Use a solution of half vegetable oil and half white distilled vinegar, rub with the grain.
22. Fireplace: On bricks, use full strength distilled white vinegar and scrub with a brush. To clean glass fireplace doors use one part white distilled vinegar to two parts water.
23. Hardened paint brushes: In a pot, soak brushes in full strength white distilled vinegar for one hour. Then bring the solution to a simmer. Rinse clean.
24. Window blinds: Put on a white cotton glove, the kind sold for gardening is perfect, and moisten the fingers in a solution made of half white distilled vinegar and hot water. Slide your fingers across both sides of each slat. Use a container of clean water to periodically wash off the glove.
25. Remove candle wax: To remove candle wax from wood furniture, first soften the wax using a blow-dryer on its hottest setting and blot up as much as you can with paper towels. Then remove what’s left by rubbing with a cloth soaked in a solution made of half white distilled vinegar and half water. Wipe clean with a soft, absorbent cloth.
26. Cane chairs: Revive sagging cane chairs by sponging them with a hot solution of half white distilled vinegar and half water. Place in the sun to dry.
27. DVDs: If you have a worn DVD that has begun to stick or suffers from the occasional freeze-frame, wipe it down with white distilled vinegar applied to a soft cloth. Let dry completely before use.

Your Clothes
28. Cleaner clothes: Add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar to the last rinse. The acid in white distilled vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, yet strong enough to dissolve the alkalies in soaps and detergents. Besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew.
29. Whiter whites: Add one cup white distilled vinegar to a large pot of water, bring to a rolling boil and drop in items. Let soak overnight. (I’m assuming not boiling all night.)
30. No run colors: To prevent bright colors from running, soak your new garments in a few cups of undiluted white vinegar for 10-15 minutes before their first washing.
31. Pantyhose: Add one tablespoon of white distilled vinegar to the rinse water when washing, and your pantyhose will last longer.
32. The washing machine itself: Put one cup white distilled vinegar in the washer and run it.
33. Barbecue, spaghetti, or ketchup stains: Use a solution of half water half white distilled vinegar.
34. Smoky smell in fabric: fill the bathtub with very hot water and add one cup white distilled vinegar. Hang clothes in the steam and close the bathroom door.
35. Wrinkles: get the wrinkles out of clothes after drying by misting them with a solution of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water. Once you’re sure you didn’t miss a spot, hang it up and let it air-dry.
36. The Iron: To remove scorch marks from the bottom of your iron, scrub it with a paste made by heating up equal parts vinegar and salt in a small pan. Use a rag dipped in clean water to wipe away the remaining residue. To unclog steam holes, pour equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and water into the iron’s water chamber. Turn to steam and leave the iron on for 5 minutes in an upright position. Then unplug and allow to cool. Rinse with water.
37. Water and salt stains on shoes: wipe them down with a solution of half white distilled vinegar and half water.

Your Body
38. Hair Rinse: Rinse hair with one cup of white distilled vinegar and warm water. Brings out highlights and removes shampoo buildup.
39. Hair protection from chlorine: Keep your blond hair from turning green in a chlorinated pool by rubbing 1/4 cup cider vinegar into your hair and letting it set for 15 minutes before diving in.
40. Acne: Use a solution of half white distilled vinegar and half water.
41. Aftershave: use full strength white distilled vinegar.
42. Fresh breath and white teeth: brush teeth once or twice a week with white distilled vinegar.
43. Heartburn: Drink a mixture of vinegar and water to relieve yourself of the severe chest pain caused by heartburn.
44. Backaches: Soak in a bathtub of hot water and 2 cups white distilled vinegar for 30 minutes. It will help relieve a minor backache and soothe sore muscles.
45. Leg Cramps: Use a soft cloth soaked in full-strength vinegar as a compress to ease pain.
46. Sinus infection and chest colds: Add 1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar to vaporizer.
47. Sunburn: spray with ice-cold white distilled vinegar will feel great, and may prevent blistering and peeling.
48. Insect bites: dab them with a cotton ball soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar.
49. Cuts: use white distilled vinegar as an antiseptic.
50. Bruises: speed healing and prevent bruises by soaking a piece of cotton gauze in white or apple cider vinegar and leaving it on the injured area for one hour.
51. Sun and age spots: Pour some full-strength apple cider vinegar onto a cotton ball and apply it to the spots for 10 minutes at least twice a day. The spots should fade or disappear within a few weeks.
52. Foot odor: wash feet well with antiseptic soap, then soak them in undiluted cider vinegar for 10 minutes or so.
53. Corns: Soak a crumbled piece of bread in a 1/4 cup of vinegar. Let sit for 30 minutes. Apply bread to the corn and tape in place. Leave overnight. Reapply if necessary.
54. Hiccups: Swallow one tablespoon of white distilled vinegar. Cures hiccups instantly.
55. Colds: Mix 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup honey. Take one tablespoon six to eight times daily.
56. Warts: Apply a mixture of half white distilled vinegar and half glycerin. Use daily until warts are gone.
57. Arthritis: Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water. Drink before each meal. Allow three weeks to work.
58. Lose weight: Drink some apple cider vinegar in a glass of water a few times a day. Add a little lemon or honey for a nicer flavor. This will also help reduce your appetite.
59. Longer lasting nail polish: Dampen your nails with some vinegar on a cotton ball and let it dry before applying your favorite polish.

Your Food
60. Tenderize meat: Use white distilled vinegar in marinades or when slow cooking any tough, inexpensive cuts of meat.
61. Cheese: Cheese will last longer if you store it in a vinegar soaked cloth.
62. Poached eggs: add a little white distilled vinegar to the water. The whites stay better formed.
63. Pasta: Add a dash of white distilled vinegar to the water as the pasta cooks. It will be less sticky.
64. Salad dressing: use 1 part white distilled vinegar to 4 parts oil. Add some cream for a creamy vinaigrette.
65. Getting those last drops: When you can’t get the last bit of mayonnaise or salad dressing out of the jar, try dribbling a little of your favorite vinegar into it, put the cap on tightly and shake well. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve been wasting.
66. Wilted Vegetables: soak in cold water containing a spoonful or two of white distilled vinegar.
67. Make buttermilk: Add two tablespoons of vinegar to a cup of skim or 1 percent milk; let mixture stand five minutes.
68. Shiny rolls and pie crust: Brush with white distilled vinegar just before finished. Return to oven to finish baking.
69. Canned Soup: Add a teaspoon of red or white wine vinegar.
70. Perfect rice: Add a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar to the boiling water.
71. Jello molds: Adding a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for each box of gelatin used will keep them from melting in the summer heat.
72. Chocolate Cake: Add a spoonful of white distilled vinegar for extra moistness.
73. Frosting: Add a drop of white distilled vinegar, it will keep white frosting white and shiny.
74. Fluffy meringue: Add a teaspoon of white distilled vinegar for every 3 to 4 egg whites used.

Your Pet
75. Dog’s Coat: For a shiny coat spray or rub with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar to 1 quart water.
76. Stop ear scratching: wipe them out regularly with a soft cloth dipped in undiluted white distilled vinegar.
77. Control your cat: Cats hate the smell of vinegar. Spray white distilled vinegar on the item that you want to keep your cat away from.
78. Litter box: Control odor by pouring ½ inch of white distilled vinegar in the empty litter box. Let it stand for 20 minutes, swish it around, then rinse with cold water.
79. The birdbath: Scrub it often with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Rinse well.
80. Fishbowl: Remove gross deposits by cleaning with white distilled vinegar. Rinse well.
81. Skunk odors: use full strength white distilled vinegar to get the smell out.
82. Bird droppings: spray them with full strength apple cider vinegar. Or pour the vinegar onto a rag and wipe them off.

Your Car
83. Chrome: Polish with full-strength white distilled vinegar on a soft cloth.
84. Bumper stickers: Remove them by covering them with a cloth soaked in white distilled vinegar. They should peel off in a couple of hours.
85. Windshield wipers: Wipe them with a white distilled vinegar-soaked cloth to remove grime.
86. Frost free windshields: In the winter, coat your windshield with a solution of 3 parts white distilled vinegar to 1 part water.
87. Clearer windows: Remove the hazy film that builds up inside windows by spraying them with white distilled vinegar.
88. Odors: Leaving a bowl of white distilled vinegar overnight on the floor to remove odors.
89. Carpet: Remove stains with a mixture of half white distilled vinegar and half water. Remove road salt residue by spraying with a mixture of half white distilled vinegar and half water, then blot with a soft towel.
90. Leather seats: Make ‘em shine by cleaning it with hot white distilled vinegar and rinsing with soapy water.
91. Rusty bolts: Remove rust by soaking the bolt or screw in white distilled vinegar overnight.

Your Garden
92. Weeds: Pour full-strength white distilled vinegar on them.
93. Cut flowers: Add 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar to a quart of water in a vase. It will preserve fresh flowers and perk up droopy ones.
94. Fresh vegetables: Wash with a mixture of 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar in 1 1/2 quarts of water.
95. Ant hills: Remove them by pouring in white distilled vinegar.
96. Moths: To get rid of them, use a mixture of 2 parts white distilled vinegar and 1 part molasses. Place mixture in tin can and hang in a tree.
97. Rabbits: To keep them from eating your plants, put cotton balls soaked in white distilled vinegar in a 35mm film container. Poke a hole in the top and place in the garden.
98. Hummingbird feeder: Clean with white distilled vinegar—soap or detergent can leave behind harmful residue.
99. Terra cotta pots: Clean off mold by soaking in a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar, 1 cup chlorine bleach, and 1 gallon of warm water, then scrub with a steel wool pad.

For Fun
100. Freak out your kids: Turn a chicken bone into rubber by soaking it in a glass of white distilled vinegar for three days.

Things I Love *Sugarland*

I am absolutely lovin' Sugarland right now. Here are a couple of my favs. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Future Zoologist

Cole loves playing with his animals and he's built up quite a collection. In Cole's farm, all kinds are welcome and all get along...including dinosaurs, whales, sharks, pigs, bears, cows, zebras, sheep, horses, elephants, rhinos, deer, giraffe, lions, tigers, chickens, monkeys, alligators, sea lions, and even a hoot owl.
We have to get them all out and set them up like this almost every day. I even found out today he can name all but a few, even alligator and dinosaur.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Backyard Fun

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Buddies *Part 5*

Thoughtful Thursday

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." - Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Potty Training

This may be "too much information" for some, so I will appologize now, but...

...Cole went pee, pee in the potty.
We aren't officially potty training yet, but I got Cole a potty chair and put it in the bathroom to see what would happen. Last night while we were getting ready for his bath, he said he wanted to sit on the potty. I thought, "sure, why not?" After about 10 minutes of sitting (and playing), HE DID IT! I'm keeping my expectations low, but it's a start.

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, March 23, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

Life is rarely exactly as we would like it to be.
Instead, life is exactly as it is.


Cole has always been a good eater, even including vegetables. He likes green beans so much I'm afraid he might turn into one. The other night I gave him steamed broccoli, and he ate it. He pushed it around on his plate forever, but once he put some in his mouth he couldn't get enough.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


A couple of weeks ago, Cole and I went to the Zoo for a few hours. We didn't stay long so they aren't very many pics.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

YUM-O! *Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff*

2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
1 to 1 1/2 lb boneless beef round steak
(I use london broil or some other tougher/cheaper cut of meat)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup water
1 envelope dried onion soup mix
1/2 cup sour cream
9 oz jar sliced mushrooms
Step 1: combine flour, garlic and pepper in slow cooker
Step 2: cut meat into strips (or cubes) and toss in flour mixture until well coated
Step 3: add mushroom soup, water and soup mix. Stir until well blended.
Step 4: cover, cook on High 3-3 1/2 hour or Low 6-7 hours
Step 5: Stir in mushroom and sour cream. Let the sour cream and mushrooms cook about 30 minutes or until heated through.
Step 6: Cook egg noodles or rice according to package directions.
Step 7: Serve Stroganoff over noodles with a veggie and salad.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Elmo's Green Thumb

For Cole's birthday this year, we opted out of toys, and decided to get Cole tickets to see Elmo Live instead. He loved it...and almost made it through the whole thing. (Don't those people know kids can't sit through an intermission...THEY GET BORED!!!)

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