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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Giveaway: 5 Tandoor Chef Meal Vouchers

Disclosure:  This Giveaway is sponsored by Tandoor Chef.  All opinions are mine.


Indian Food

Readers may remember a few months back that I reviewed Tandoor Chef frozen meals.  I LOVE these meals because they are all natural and have an ingredient list that I understand, in other words, clean eating.  No junky additives and other crap.  I also LOVE the taste!  They are sooooo yummy!  In fact, the entire fam loves the meals.  You can read my review HERE and you will definitely want to enter my giveaway for 5 Tandoor Chef Meal Vouchers.  (Please note, the photo shows four dinners, but the giveaway is for 5 vouchers.)

The Selfie Thing

Selfie--wasn't even a word a few years back but now it is more popular than sliced bread.  Yep, I have taken a few selfies, mainly because, as the photographer of the family, that is the only way I get my picture taken.  I could pretty much care less about getting my picture taken (especially since I am very "un-photogenic"), however, since I have kids, I know that some day they might want to look back at pictures of their mother.  I have also take some with the kids and spouse or friends for fun.

And then I look on  social media.  Some people post selfies like they are going out of style.  Articles in the news, magazines and the internet detail how to take the perfect selfie.  The selfie craze is in full bloom.  In fact, last year, "selfie" was the Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionary (although blogger still things is is a misspelled word).

Our culture has developed a fascination with ourselves (rather than others).  My heart really goes out to the young girls (or adults) who feel like they have to have the perfect picture and spend hours trying to acquire it.  I just wish they knew they were perfect just the way they are, flaws and all.

Rachel Marie Martin at Finding Joy wrote a great article about selfies entitled why you are worth more than the perfect selfie.  It is definitely worth a read and questions the meaning behind the selfie and what we are teaching our children when we take picture after picture striving to get the "perfect" selfie.  It is great food for thought.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Make the Old Look New with this Homemade Furniture Polish #green #cleaning

I have seen a few places on the internet how you can make old wood furniture look new by using homemade polish.  I have wanted to try it on our baseboards and railings as they have been beaten up and sun damaged since before we moved in.  I have tried numerous products and polishes that improved it slightly.  However, from the photos I have seen on the net, this recipe looks like it is da bomb (hmm, been hanging around 8th graders too long).  Anyhoo, I was eager to try it and see if it is as good as I have read.  I finally had the opportunity today.

The recipe is very easy.  Mix 3 parts olive oil with 1 part white vinegar.  Since I wasn't fully convinced this stuff was going to be better than sliced bread, I started with a small batch of 3 TSP olive oil to 1 TSP white vinegar just to give it a try.

I started with the baseboard at the steps.  This is right at the entrance and looks awful.  For over 9 years I have lived with this:


But now I have this to look at:


All I can say is AMAZING!  So I went to town.  Next, the piano bench that was scuffed up when I purchased it from a garage sale.  I previously used Old English dark wood polish on it and the piano, which helped.  However, that stuff is messy and if you get it on your carpet, there is no getting it out.  Not to mention the price tag on it.  I did the left half the bench in the first photo below with the homemade recipe.  You can see the difference.


Then I did the entire bench.  It didn't cover everything, but boy, what a difference!


Then I went back to the steps.  The rails and more baseboard needed help.  Much of the rails were damaged from sun streaming in the window prior to moving in.  Once we got here, I added a blind, but honestly, I thought that some day I would need to refinish it all and was not looking forward to that.  I wasn't sure this was going to help.

Before:


And after:

Holy cow!  Looks almost new!  

I kept going...



I used an old baby wash cloth to rub on, however, any soft cloth would work.  For deeper gouges, I dipped my cloth in the the mixture and pushed it in the gouge a bit.  

I will have to admit, then I was on a roll.  It was so fun seeing the old look new again that I did all the wood doors in my hall as well as the baseboards and door frames.  And, the added benefit is that my hands feel super soft from the olive oil!

I just mixed this up in a small ramekin and dipped my rag, but putting it in a squirt bottle might work as well.  And if you like a spray, you might try an olive oil sprayer.

Happy cleaning!


Friday, July 18, 2014

National Cell Phone Courtesy Month--Tips to Avoid Offending Others

I have always found it amazing how rude people can be when it comes to cell phones.  Most of the time, I don't even think they realize it.  Once, I was walking around Kohl's with my 2-year old daughter and a woman was shopping in the same area--baby clothes.  She was talking on her phone and obviously upset with the person she was talking too.   She was talking very loudly and was pretty annoying.  I tried to move away from her, but not before she let out a string of obscenities, including the F-word.  Fortunately, my 2-year old did not repeat that word.  Another time, I was in the children's section of the library and I could clearly overhear a mother talking to someone about a third-party and the organization they were part of.  She had no problem bashing this woman and the organization.  What she didn't realize, was that I knew both the woman and others who were part of the organization and now very clearly knew her negative stance about it all.  

I could go on and on about other situations and I am sure my readers have their own stories to tell.  So, in honor of National Cell Phone Courtesy Month, I wanted to share these tips from etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore.

To avoid offending others, Whitmore offers this advice in honor of National Cell Phone Courtesy Month:

-          Be all there: When you're in a meeting, performance, courtroom or other busy area, let calls go to voicemail to avoid a disruption. In some instances, turning your phone off may be the best solution.

-          Keep it private: Be aware of your surroundings and avoid discussing private or confidential information in public. You never know who may be in hearing range.

-          Keep your cool: Don't display anger during a public call. Conversations that are likely to be emotional should be held where they will not embarrass or intrude on others.

-          Learn to vibe: Always use your wireless phone's silent or vibration settings in public places such as business meetings, religious services, schools, restaurants, theaters or sporting events so that you do not disrupt your surroundings.

-          Avoid "cell yell:" Remember to use your regular conversational tone when speaking on your wireless phone. People tend to speak more loudly than normal and often don't recognize how distracting they can be to others.

-          Follow the rules: Some places, such as hospitals or airplanes, restrict or prohibit the use of mobile phones, so adhere to posted signs and instructions. Some jurisdictions may also restrict mobile phone use in public places.

-          Excuse yourself. If you are expecting a call that can't be postponed, alert your companions ahead of time and excuse yourself when the call comes in; the people you are with should take precedence over calls you want to make or receive.

-          Focus on driving: Always practice wireless responsibility while driving. Don't make or answer calls while in heavy traffic or in hazardous driving conditions. Place calls when your vehicle is not moving, and use a hands-free device to help focus attention on safety. Always make safety your most important call.

For more of Jacqueline Whitmore's etiquette tips, visit http://www.etiquetteexpert.com/

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Bad, the Ugly and the Good #NeoReady @insfluenster

Disclosure: I received samples of items mentioned below. 

On my last camping trip, I had a bit of an accident where I busted my nose.  I wish I had a great story to go with it, but I don't.  And note: this accident didn't involve alcohol either.  That was the bad news.  The good news was that I had ice on my face within seconds and I had a Neosporin to Go that I had just received complimentary in my most recent Vox Box from Influenster.  I was amazed at how quickly I healed up.  Here is the ugly damage:


And just 4 days later, this is what I looked like!  Notice all the little cuts are gone, and the two deeper ones are nearly healed! (Also note that I had no make up on in the photo below, but did in the above photo.)


And 10 days later nearly gone--just the one on my chin (which I seriously thought may have needed a stitch or two, but we were camping in the middle of no where):



Another item in my Voxbox was a bar of Ivory Soap.  Love Ivory Soap in the laundry room to get stains out of clothes.  Great for everything as it is 99.4% pure!

Disclosure: I received samples of both of the aforementioned items to facilitate this post.

10 Little Things that Lead to Happiness

Are you looking for ways to become happier?  I have created a list of suggestions of things you can do to feel better about yourself and your life.
  1. Try to live a balanced life. That means not too much of anything--not too much spending, not too much working, not too much playing, not too much eating, etc.
  2. Get plenty of rest. This is difficult when you have young children, but I think it is important to get enough sleep. It's okay to take naps--just don't lie there all day. Having a brief rest can refresh you for the rest of the day. 
  3. Don't procrastinate. Putting things off just leaves a spot in your mind of one more thing you have to get done. Get it done and your mind is free and clear. Research clearly shows the efficacy of exercise in decreasing symptoms of depression. Take a walk, do some jumping jacks, use the stairs instead of the elevator.
  4. Prioritize your time. The only way you have time for something is to make time for it. What is most important in your life? Is it really spending hours on Facebook or Pinterest, or is it exercising or spending time with those you love? This ties into living a balanced life.
  5. Learn to delay gratification. This is a secret that happy people know. People are able to wait for the reward appreciate it more.
  6. Live within your means. This ties into number six. People who spend what they don't have are usually end up feeling stressed and unhappy. Before buying, ask yourself, "Will buying something I can't afford really make me happy in the long run, or will I just end up stressing about the bills?" And don't be fooled by little items, thinking this is only $10 (or whatever price). The little items add up quickly.
  7. Have fun! Get down and play with your kids, hike through the woods and let your imagination run, be silly, put on fun music and dance like crazy, draw, try something new.
  8. Eat right. It is amazing how foods can effect your mood. Eating healthier can make you feel so much better.
  9. Spend time with God everyday and list out what you have to be thankful for. Focusing on what you have to be thankful for can shift your mindset.
  10. Help others.  Helping others takes the focus off of ourselves and our problems and allows us to focus on someone else's needs.  Visit a neighbor, make dessert for a friend, volunteer.  There are so many little things you can do to help others.  In turn, you will help yourself.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Garden Beauties: Squash Blossom #Recipe

Summer is my favorite season for many, many reasons.  One reason I love summer is squash blossoms.  You can't go out and buy them, you have to grow squash plants to be able to take advantage of these lovely blossoms.  What, you may ask, would I want squash blossoms for?  I use them in a recipe that has been passed down for generations in my family--squash blossom patties.  I love them and my kids love them.


We were late getting the garden planted this year due to weather and my mother's illness and passing.  However, this is the week we finally have squash blossoms!

The recipe is very simple.  When picking your blossoms, make sure you pick the ones that are not producing fruit.  It is easy to tel because the fruit producing blossoms will have a ball at the stem of the blossom.  It is best to pick in the morning before they close.  If picking later in the day, be cautious as sometimes the blossom closes with a bee trapped inside.  Gently wash blossoms can keep in the refrigerator in a bowl of ice water till ready to use.

Squash Blossom Patties

1/4 cup of flour
1/4 cup of milk plus extra (to thin batter)
1 egg
4-5 cut up blossoms (you can use the entire blossom, however, I toss the stamen out)
Salt to taste

Mix the flour, milk and egg.  Add the blossoms.  You may want to add a bit more milk for a thinner batter if you like.  The thinner pancake is crispier, which we prefer.

Squash blossom batter
I cook mine in an oiled cast iron skillet, however, you could also use a griddle.  Add salt to taste while cooking.


After cooking, place on paper towel lined plate to absorb grease.



 Enjoy!

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