Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Way Off Target

Target made it to my list of "Top 2 Places to Never Buy Clothes From Again." Again, for those of you who haven't seen my list:

1. Walmart
2. Target

Here's my story:

I bought four pair of Target's nice $12, no-stain, extra sturdy khakis for my 6 year old. The pants were worn only a few times (since he mostly wore shorts this summer).

One little pair had a clasp fall off.
One little pair had a rip in the bum.
One little pair had holes in the knees.
One little pair had holes by the pockets.

Now, I know my son is active, but this hasn't happened to his other pants that he wears.

Tell me this, ladies: Does it make more sense to buy four pair of crappy Target pants, or two good pair of Land's End or Gap pants.

What are your thoughts on the quality of Target's clothing? Have you had good experiences or bad? Do you buy mostly for quality or price?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

72 Hour Kits for Kids

Earthquake. Urban unrest. Flooding. Chemical leak. A big ol' bomb.

Who knows if any of those disasters will happen where you live. But if they do, you can go to one of those sites like www.end-of-days-emergency-kit-rip-off-supply.com and stock up on $89 waterproof 10,000 calorie energy bars. And be sure to buy a black flag so your neighbors won't loot your stuff.

After you've done that, it's time to get real. You'll probably be fine with a backpack full of pork 'n' beans, bottled water and a deck of playing cards (Hint: They can double as TP). Survival, my friends, is not pretty.

Mommy and Daddy have the official 72 hour pack. It's got food for the fam, water, matches and all the other things our family will need if we have to evacuate. But the kids each have their own 72 hour kit, so they can have a little more control in a situation where we may not know what's going to happen next. Good idea? It's my mom's.

Each kids' 72 hour pack contains:
  1. Change of clothes. They're in a gallon ziplock bag. Be sure to update each year. Kids grow fast! We packed long sleeve shirts, pants, socks, undies, and six diapers (for age 5 and under).
  2. Snacks. Mommy and Daddy have the real food, but the kids will have control over their snacks. We packed Powerbars, fruit snacks, beef jerky, and Emergen-Cs for them.
  3. Water. With a sport cap, just in case the bottle tips over.
  4. Emergency phone numbers. We put our home, cell, work, and both grandparents. If you have any relative living out of state, put their number on the list, too. Seal it in a ziplock bag or laminate it.
  5. Family picture. If your children are separated from you, a family picture may help calm them or help authorities locate you if you're separated. Be sure to put your address and phone number on the back of the picture.
  6. Book. My friend Michelle, who just survived the hurricane in Texas, said that it was very boring while the power was out. No email. No internet. No games. But lots of time to read.
  7. Wind-up flashlight. Kids will love winding it, and it won't matter if they sleep with it on all night. They cost between $8-10.
  8. Small toy. A soft doll, a toy car, colored pencils and notepad...anything imaginative.
  9. Purell or baby wipes. Good for lots of things.
  10. Money. Each pack has $5. I have no idea what they'll do with the money, but it's another layer of security.
  11. Fleece blanket. Fleece blankets are the closest thing to a mother's love.
  12. Mother's love. Write a little love note and seal it in an envelope. Cute!!
  13. FM radio. These are at the dollar store all the time, in lots of cool colors, too. They even come with batteries.
These packs aren't meant to save your child's life--they're just meant to make a hard time a little bit easier.

You've heard the saying "If Mamma ain't happy..."? Let me put it in perspective, "If your power is out, the toilets won't flush, your neighborhood is forced to evacuate, it smells like a gas line broke, and your kids aren't happy..."

Ain't nobody gonna be happy.

Good luck with your preparedness!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sunflower Farmer's Market

Tired of paying (insert insanely high prices here) for red peppers, avocados, celery, apples, onions, spinach, chicken, lamb, pork, etc?

Homemakers of the Rockies, rejoice! There's a new natural foods store on the scene called Sunflower Farmer's Market. And I love it.

Their motto is "Serious Food...Silly Prices." Por ejemplo:
  1. Grapefruit 10/$1
  2. Asparagus $.99/lb.
  3. Avocados 3/$1
  4. Gala apples $.39/lb
  5. Red bell pepper 2/$1
  6. Lamb $3.99/lb
  7. Boneless skinless chicken $1.59/lb
  8. And it goes on and on...
The unique thing about this grocery store is that they overlap ads. So last week's ad ends tomorrow, but the new ad starts today. I get to buy cheap asparagus and avocados. And I've never spent more than $50 for a week's worth of meat and produce. (That's even including a bottle of Odwalla for the ride home).

Sunflower Farmer's Market is a natural foods store, so you'll find tons of great deals on other natural products like organic dairy, bulk grains/nuts, and breads. The store has a relatively small footprint so I can get my shopping done way faster (and cheaper) than El Big Box Store.

Currently they have locations in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas. If you have one near you, go check it out.

If you'd like to have a location near you, give Sunflower Farmer's Market a call: (866) 890-8949

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Door-to-Door Salesfolk (A True Story)


Guy on Front Porch: Hi! I'm selling house alarm systems.
Me: Goodbye.

(Next day) (Ding-dong)

New Guy on Front Porch: Hi! I'm selling magic cleaner spray.
Me: Goodbye.

(Next day) (Ding-dong)

Kid on Front Porch: Hi! I'm selling overpriced wrapping paper so the PTA can continue to promote it's agenda all under the guise of "education for kids!"
Me: Goodbye.

(Next day) (Ding-dong)

Woman with son: (in broken English) You like buy tamale? Twelve for ten dollar? They hot. Six chicken. Six pork.
Me: Mmmmm....tamales. Let me grab some money.

(Later that evening)

Me: I love tamales.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Contents of Purse

The internet is a jolly good place to dump out the contents of one's purse.

My purse is usually a pretty tidy place. I like being able to find my lipstick in the same place where I left it. I like having only the essentials on hand. Simplicity is my motto.

Take a look-see:
  1. Day-planner: It has my calendar, ward directory, postage stamps, cash and blank paper. It's also where I keep my favorite mechanical pencil and hide the only Sharpie in the house.
  2. Keys: House key, car key, minivan key. All on a key ring with a Leatherwoman and my engagement ring. Nice fobs.
  3. Cards: Debit card (I don't believe in credit cards), library card, Sam's Club card (just for the butter, chicken base, cheese and free samples on toothpicks), and Utah Driver's License.
  4. Lotion: Aveda Hand Relief is what's on tap. It works and smells herbal and natural. It's wicked expensive unless you have a sister who works at an Aveda salon.
  5. Gum: I used to always chew Extra Peppermint, but when they changed the color and flavor of the gum that I had chewed for twenty years, I decided it was time to switch to Trident. I only chew a half piece, which officially makes me the weirdest person on the planet. (Hi, friend!)
  6. Lipstick/balm: I usually have both. MAC and Burt's Bees peppermint.
  7. MP3 Player: It's a Sansa Fuze 8gb with heaps of old time radio podcasts. I heart Jack Benny, Gracie Allen, Green Hornet, and My Friend Irma.
  8. Cellular Telephone: I use it to check what time it is, and to call my mom or husband while I'm on errands.
  9. Digital Voice Recorder: I use it for recording compositions, funny things the kids say, and songs I am learning/performing.
  10. Camera (not pictured): It's usually in my purse. I keep it there in case we're out and about and something beautiful happens.
  11. What I Left Out: gum wrappers, extra diaper (if I'm lucky), wipes, loose change (for parking downtown), hair clip.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Quick and Dirty Bathroom Remodel

Here's a quick remodel job that you can do in an afternoon, ladies. It costs $12, plus a roll of masking tape, newspaper and an old sheet.

If your shower area is tile (and ugly tile at that) then follow these simple instructions to have a sparkling new shower area:
  1. Scrub tile with steel wool and cleaner. I used a homemade cleaner of baking soda mixed with Dr. Bronner's peppermint castile soap. I scrubbed every square inch so that the paint would stick to the tile--not the soap scum.
  2. Rinse off tile with water and dry with an old towel. Make sure area is completely dry.
  3. Mask off EVERYTHING. (Sorry for yelling!) You'll be using spray paint, so when the paint sprays it will will get into the air and settle like dust--permanent dust! Listen to me! Wear a bandana! Cover the floor! Protect your sink and tub!
  4. Spray with glossy enamel spray paint--any color--about 3 or 4 cans will do. For this part, you have to pick your own method. Do you want to spray broad strokes or small square-by-square sprays? I did a little of both and thought it was most effective to spray a square completely then move to the next square.
  5. Take breaks. Running the fan, wearing a mask, opening the windows and holding yor breath while spraying also work well. Send your kids outside.
  6. Let it dry/cure for a day or so.
If your shower area is nasty-'ol ugly, then you have nothing to lose. It may end up being the best $12 you ever spent on your bathroom.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Cooked Salad

I just invented something!

It's called Cooked Salad. I promise it's not wilted lettuce or boiled potatoes in mayonnaise. When I was trying to come up with a catchy name for my new invention, my husband offered "Stir Fry." It's so much more than stir fry. Just hear me out.

Cooked salad is:
Nutritionally dense
Visually stunning
Looks festive and delicious
Creates it's own dressing
Easy to make

Cooked Salad
1/2 lb broccoli (bagged, frozen is easy)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 zucchini, sliced
soy sauce (maybe a couple Tbs.?)
sugar (about a Tbs.)
handful pecans
asiago cheese

Steam the broccoli and add to serving bowl. Then, saute the red bell pepper, mushrooms, and zucchini. Add the soy sauce and sugar to the sauteed veggies to create a "salad dressing." Layer the sauteed veggies on top of broccoli. Next, toast the pecans in the saute pan for a couple minutes. Layer the nuts on top of the sauteed veggies. Grate asiago on top and serve.

The important thing is to NOT disturb the layers. That way it looks more like a salad. Oh, and don't serve it with rice. It's not stir fry.

Too Poor for Butter, Too Smart for Margarine

Most of my blog stalkers, groupies and followers fall into the "Too Poor for Butter, Too Smart for Margarine" category. When they see butter on a 2/$5 sale, they buy as many as they think they'll need until the next sale comes around again. Their freezers make room, at the expense of ice cubes, boo-boo bunnies, and freezer-burnt frozen peas, for boxes and boxes of butter-on-sale.

These same people who savor the flavor of cubed and quartered cow's gold, also rightly turn up their noses at the Gold 'n' Soft, $.59/lb. fool's gold. Yes'm, margarine looks like the real thing, but it ain't no substitute fer real butter. I couldn't agree more.

I'm about to say something shocking.

Please don't click away.

You can make your own "margarine." Really, I mean, a "buttery, reduced-fat spread." (At this point I've already lost the respect of true disciples of butter...)

Chillax, and let's make homemade, healthy margarine! It's a great way to economize when butter's expensive. This Buttery, Reduced-Fat Spread spreads well, takes advantage of butter's super powers, and it's a wee bit healthier than straight butter.

Buttery, Reduced-Fat Spread (a.k.a. Margarine!)

1 cup butter/2 sticks (that's a good start...)
1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin, that's too strong!)
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt (I just like being kosher sometimes)

Put the butter in a food processor. Process it until it's creamy and smooth. Then, with the processor on, drizzle the olive oil. Then drizzle the water. Then add the salt. Turn off the processor, scoop the buttery, reduced-fat spread into a bowl, and chillax. Oh, and stick this spread in the fridge, covered.

You can spread it on toast, waffles, and baby bottoms. (I've even used it as a wrinkle cream!)

(Just kidding!)

(Actually, I'm not!)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Proposition 8

If you live in California, are over 18, and want to do something that will protect the sanctity of marriage, please vote yes on Proposition 8.

Proposition 8 protects marriage between a man and a woman.

If you don't know what Prop 8 is, just wiki it. If you're wondering why this even matters then read the whole wiki article (all the way to the bottom), or go to the lds.org newsroom and watch the video on Prop 8.

Marriage is great. The girl/boy way of doing marriage is fantastic for so many reasons...too many to list.

Vote yes.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Current Economic Crisis

A box of Nabisco Honey Maid honey graham crackers is an astonishing $4.29. And for Pete's sake it's not even a full pound!

The humble graham is a boon to teething infants, can easily be transformed into a sturdy base for pie crusts and has endured as a comfort food with a tall glass of 2%. Graham crackers, with their pious roots, were once a staple in every homemaker's pantry.

But paying $4.29 per box during this economic crisis is disturbing and irresponsible. When you have to choose between paying the mortgage and buying a 14.4 ounce box of graham crackers, well, the choice becomes pretty clear.

What's a home economist to do?

Below, I outline one simple way that you and your family can weather this economic crisis. Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.

Graham Crackers

1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbs honey (or agave nectar)
2 Tbs molasses
1/4 cup water

Mix the dry ingredients in a food processor. Add the butter and process until it looks like cornmeal.

Add the honey, molasses, water, and vanilla. Mix until the dough becomes a big lump.

Place a layer of parchment on a large cookie sheet. Place the dough on the parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough and roll out to 1/8 inch thick. Remove the top layer of parchment paper.

Poke the top of the dough with a fork about a zillion times. Cut crackers with a bench scraper or pizza cutter.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until browned on the edges. Remove from oven and let it cool.

Now, enjoy your homemade grahams with a tall, cold glass of fresh squeezed cow.