Thursday, December 29, 2011

How do you make iced tea?

It's no shock to anyone around me that I'm not southern. I wasn't born in the south. I wasn't raised in the south.  I came here when I was 20.  There are many thing about me that will always be particularly northern.  I talk fast, faster when I'm around my northern family.  I always have a clean and dry walkways and stairs after every snowstorm even when my only tools are a dustpan, some kitty litter and a box of salt from the kitchen, and I pronounce the word OIL as though there is a Y in the middle of it (vs the more southern pronunciation of 'ole.')  However, after spending more than half of my life here, I have adopted a few southern habits.  I say "Y'all" a lot.  It's so much nicer than the northern version "you guys" and I drink iced tea all year long. Not just iced tea, but sweet iced tea. And yes, there is a difference.

It didn't take long for the iced tea habit to start.  It's available everywhere here, is generally bottomless where some restaurants charge for refills of soda (oh, and I call it soda!) and it's nice on a hot day and let's face it, we have a lot of hot days!  In New England, if we wanted iced tea, our options were canned, powdered, or simply unsweetened hot tea left to cool. They are all pretty horrible. I had no idea how bad things were until I tasted the real thing! The tea here is sweet and cold and clear.  It seemed so simple, yet trying to recreate it at home never seemed to work.  Thankfully, I met and married a southern man, who came armed with the secret to making iced tea at home.  He taught me how to do it, probably so I'd stop asking him to make more.  Once I had the knowledge, I became the person in charge of making the tea at my family functions, partly because the tea is good, partly because my cooking is that bad! Now I'm at a place in my life where I feel this knowledge needs to be shared not just with the world, but with my children!  Kids, the next time you ask me to make more tea, I'm emailing you a link to this page.  All this stuff is in the kitchen!

It's simple really.  You'll need a gallon pitcher, some tea bags, some sugar, a measuring cup, and a way to heat water.

Monday, December 26, 2011

How do you get a kid to take icky medicine?

While not an official reader question, I discussed this today with the nurse practitioner at a local walk in clinic while she was trying to prescribe medicine to my sick kid, (we'll call her "Princess," she's 10) She's asthmatic and now has pneumonia. The NP was trying to decide what to give her and Princess was critiquing her medicine choices. "Is that a big pill? I don't like big pills...Is that a liquid? Does it taste gross? I hate gross liquids" While I encourage the kids to play an active part in their medical care, since they need to be willing participants, especially with medicine, this was getting crazy. Because I knew there were 7 other people on the waiting list and this nurse hadn't had lunch yet, I suggested we just go with the traditional zithromax and prednisone. I suggested orapred, which isn't so bad, but Princess said no liquid steroids. (one course of prelone in one's lifetime will make anyone scared of liquid steroids. I'm 42 and I can still taste the horrific liquid my mom gave me when I was about 7!) I told the NP to just rx the tablets and I'd 'fix them' so she'd take them. Princess was happy with that. The NPs ears pricked up and she wanted to know my secret for making prednisone tolerable!

Over the years, I've been told various 'secret tricks' from doctors and pharmacists. One said to give the kids a spoonful of jelly before the medicine, one claimed the liquid from a jar of maraschino cherries before and after the medicine would block the taste, peanut butter, chocolate syrup, pancake syrup, soda, I think I've heard them all. I've also tried them all. Heck, one year I gave my oldest kid $1 for every dose of prelone he didn't throw up on me! The closest we've come to really masking the taste is chocolate. Letting the kids suck on a chocolate kiss before and after the medicine helped a little, but a few years ago, I took it to the next level. Chocolate coating!

This is awesome for prednisone, but also works with other chalky tablets like penicillin. It makes them more slippery to swallow and keeps the nastiness hidden from the taste buds just long enough to get it down. More after the jump, including pictures! Please ignore my dinner dishes waiting to be washed!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A holiday gift that keeps giving!

I've been seeing many posts and emails lately about ways to do holiday shopping that is less 'big box' and more personal and local. It's got me thinking about what we do for the holidays.  One of the things we like to do is grab an angel or two off the angel tree either at a local store, or one of the kids schools. A few charities ask for gifts for kids in need in the area and we like to be able to pick out a new outfit, some warm clothes and pajamas and a few toys for a child that may not receive much else. The kids are reminded of the importance of service and giving, and to be completely honest, I love shopping for stuff I think is cute but gets eyerolls from my kids!  (What's wrong with floral prints?!) Even though I will never meet those kids, it feels good knowing that this winter, they'll go to bed warm and wait for the school bus with a sweater on.

In the spirit of helping other this year, I'd like to ask that you all take a moment and think about registering as a bone marrow donor.  There are so many people that would like to go to bed not just warm but healthy this year.  Donating marrow is a little more involved than just donating blood, but still only takes a few hours out of your day.  It's a few hours that could save a life.  What a great gift that would be!

DKMS is a registration organization that will send you a free kit and allow you to register for FREE.   All you have to do is swab your cheek and return the sample in their envelope.  They send you back a card with a member ID and they'll contact you if you are a possible match.  There is no obligation to donate even if you do come up as a match.  Please use the widget below, it'll take you right to the website where you can sign up and ask for the free kit.

(disclaimer-I get nothing for this, no compensation, just a widget with a counter.  I am a registered donor with DKMS, but that's all!)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Help my closet!

My closet is a crowded mess!  Do  you have suggestions for closet organizers, those hanger things that let you put 4 or 5 things on one hook or vacuum bags?  Do they work?

Chances are, you don't need a special organizer, you just need to get rid of some stuff!  There are a few things you can do to make it easier to know what should stay and what should go.

First, go to the back of the closet and grab anything that's crammed back there that you know you aren't going to wear again.  Be honest and realistic. Try not to get nostalgic. Sometimes we hold onto things not because they fit well and we like them, but because they were a gift, or we paid a lot of money for them or we think we may need them later.  I had a dress in my closet that I kept because it was fancy and expensive. I kept telling myself,  "I might wear that to a wedding or special event" but every time a special event came up, I'd try the dress on, realize I hated it!  It made me look like a circus tent.  I'd feel frumpy and I'd go out and buy something new!  Eventually, I realized that just seeing it in the closet made me feel bad about my size, and for spending money on a dress I never wore so I donated it to a charity thrift shop.  It will look great on someone else and she'll get a great dress at a bargain.  She'll probably see it in her closet and feel good about herself! That's much better than the negativity it brought to my closet!

While you're back there, box up everything that you're saving for when you lose all that weight.  We all have that pile!  Do yourself a favor, when you do get back to that weight, buy yourself some nice things that flatter your new body!  You'll have earned it!  When you do that, be sure to box up all of the clothes that used to fit and get them out ASAP so you aren't tempted to backslide! Let someone else get some use out of them!

Now that you've got some space, take a few minutes and turn all your hangers around the other way.  It's a bit of a pain, but it will help.  Really!  Jot down the date on a post it and stick it to the closet wall.  As you wear your clothes and put them back in the closet, put them back in the normal way.  Every 3 months, go back and re-evaluate anything on a backwards hanger.  Do you really love it?  Do you really need it?  If not, put it in the box.  When you hit the 1 year mark, anything still on a backwards hanger needs to go.  No excuses about the seasons, or that you haven't had the right occasion to wear it.  It's been a whole year.  You've had time and occasions and you picked other things.

The only exception should be funeral clothes.  I can understand wanting to keep a dark dress or suit that is suitable for a funeral, but perhaps not dressy or festive enough to wear out to dinner.  And hopefully, you don't have to go to a funeral every year so it doesn't pass the hanger test.  If you do keep a funeral outfit, make sure it fits, is in good condition and there is only one!  If it doesn't meet all those criteria, I would encourage you to box it up, and make do for the occasional funeral with dark clothes in your regular wardrobe.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Thanks Bemis!

A while back, I told you guys about a new toilet seat I bought for the kids bathroom.  It was made by Bemis, had a slow close hinge and it popped off so you could clean under and around the hinges.  It was the coolest thing ever in a house with 3 little boys!  Well, time marches on and I still have that toilet seat.  It still works great.  I love that the kids didn't slam their fingers in it.  I love that I don't hear the lid slamming all the time.  I love that I can pop it off, toss it in the tub and spray it with cleaner and rinse it with the shower!  My only beef with it was that it sometimes shifted a little because the bolts didn't sit properly in the holes in the porcelain.  I blamed the toilet, because the holes are a bit off center. I suspect the toilet was a factory second purchased by our homes previous owner! Toilet seats never fit on it right and the kids broke (like broke, in half) several before we found the Bemis seat.  Recently, hubby and I have been doing some much needed home repairs in preparation for putting our house up for rent. We're moving to a larger house a few miles down the road.  While fixing up the kids bathroom, the topic of that toilet seat came up.  Do we leave it for the tenants, knowing it wiggles a little?  Do we take it with us because it's oh so quiet and easy to clean? If we take it with us, won't it just wiggle in the new house? I hadn't seen the same seat for sale in a while, and assumed they had discontinued it. I decided to check the company website and see if they sold replacement bolts, or the little rubber gaskets that we needed to replace so we could keep using the seat, regardless of the house in which it lived.

Well, before I could remember to check the website, Bemis fixed my problem!! For FREE!  I took kid#3 to home depot today to grab a tile cutting blade for my rotary tool and found a tent event going on.  Many of the the big tool companies were outside and some smaller companies were scattered around inside.  As we meandered our way from rotary bits to the tile section to peruse cove base, we happened upon 2 representatives from Bemis.  They were there showing off their new and improved "Easy 2" seat.  I mentioned that I already had 2 of their seats and loved them, except for the wiggle problem.  The rep laughed and said that was their #1 complaint with the old seat and the new seats had solved the problem with a special new seat bolt.  She verified that I did indeed have the "easy clean" hinges and then gave me 2 packages of the new bolts, and showed me how to install them.  I am eager to try them out, but at the moment, the hall toilet is in the tub, while the tiles cure on the floor.  Soon! Soon!

Oh, for the parents of the smaller set, they also make a family friendly potty seat!  Same easy close hinge, but with a seat for small bottoms added in.  The child seat fits into the lid and clips up magnetically so it's not in the way of adults.  When kiddo needs to use it, they can flick it down easily with no pinched fingers! I got to see it up close.  It's great!  Where was this when my kids were potty training!

Anyway, thanks Bemis for acknowledging the problem with the original seat bolt design and offering a fix for it, even several years later!  Just for the record, I'm not affiliated with Bemis, just a happy customer!

How long can I keep lunch meat?

I bought a package of sliced turkey last week.  The expiration date has not passed, but it smells a little funny. Is it still ok to eat?

Probably not!  Throw it out!  Lunch meat is not that expensive and you risk a trip to the hospital if it's contaminated with bacteria.   An unopened package of lunch meat can have an expiration date that is a few weeks away but once it's open, the CDC says to throw it out after 3-5 days!  Meat you have sliced at the deil is also considered an open package and should be tossed after a few days.  If you don't want to run to the grocery store every 5 days, consider buying smaller bags or splitting up a larger bag, and freezing it.  In the freezer, away from the door, it can last up to 2 months.  Just take out the package a day or two before you need it and let it thaw in the fridge.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Are you a foster parent?

Are you a foster parent?

While this one wasn't emailed to me, I've been asked this several times over the past month or so.  Often enough to make me wonder exactly what it is about my demeanor, or my children, that make people think they aren't mine!

Ok, I admit, one of those times I was at the mall with a friends 3 month old baby who's racial heritage is much more interesting than my own and her gorgeous complexion shows it! While her mama is as fair skinned as I am, no one assumed she was my baby but they at least factored in that I could be related.  Other than the one foster mom question that day, several people asked if she was my granddaughter! Ouch!  That hurts!  I'm not THAT old, am I?

The other times I've been asked about fostering I've been out with my own kids.  When they were smaller, I was asked repeatedly if I ran a daycare!  I guess now that they are old enough to not be day care kids, the next most logical option is foster care.  Is 4 kids just that far outside the norm that people would think foster mom before assuming they were simply mine?

I think it's a little funny that people were more likely to assume that the ONE beautiful, little, cocoa skinned baby I pushed around the mall could have been related to me but the 2 gangly teenagers and 2 hyper preteens I took to McDinner had to be given to me by the state! I know there are times when we are out in public that I WISH I wasn't related to them, but yeah, they are all mine!

Parents of larger than average families and foster parents, do you get quizzed?  How do you answer?

I'm Back!

After a long hiatus, I am back! I appreciate all the emails checking in on me and asking me where I've been! It's been a crazy few years, probably best summed up by "3 surgeries, multiple ER visits and 4 simultaneous cases of whooping cough!" That's not all, but it's a representative sample, and none of that was for me! Whoever says being a stay at home mom is easy has never stayed home with my children! Things seem to be settling down and I hope to be better able to field your questions from now on! Send them on in!

Please excuse the construction, as we fiddle with the website and layout. We're still 'moving in' over here and hope to get it nice and comfy soon!