Recently I joined a product testing & sampling program and I have had the opportunity to test out several products that are already on the market and give my opinion of them. I got full size samples of these products & discount coupons for future purchases. No additional compensation was received. Here are my thoughts on the recent products I have evaluated.
Wet Ones Anti-Bacterial Wipes: I honestly would not have bought these prior to getting them to sample since they cost more than baby wipes. But due to the fact that I have a newborn and it's flu season, it was the perfect time to try these. I am very comforted by the fact that I have a travel size pack of these in my purse for when we go places and I want to sanitize the area or us. I have used them on us, for other people, on shopping carts and on an activity toy at the clinic. I like to use them on my daughter after she plays at Playland at McD's. It just eases my mind to know they are anti-bacterial & I have to use in places with lots of germs & viruses are spread.
Ghiradelli Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares: LOVED these! But, it's chocolate, so what's not to love. I ate some of these and I also gave some to my daughter in her St. Nick stocking. She enjoyed them as well and immediately ate them. I thought the chocolate & peanut butter filling were very creamy and balanced amounts and tasted like they were of high quality ingredients.
Alouette Spreadable Cheese: I got the garlic & herb cheese spread. I loved it. I ate these on water crackers because I didn't want it to compete with any flavors that would be in crackers, which I think was a wise move. I am next going to try spreading a thin layer of it inside grilled cheese sandwiches. I think it will make them more special & flavorful. I definitely would recommend this. My only complaint it that I had to go to 3 grocery stores to find it and they only had this one flavor.
Sensodyne Toothpaste: Up until this pregnancy I never had a tooth sensitivity issue. So, this was another product with perfect timing. I am still testing this product out, but so far I am impressed. My sensitivity seems to have decreased, which is enjoyable because who wants to experience sensitivity when you are trying to enjoy something sweet. I am more likely to purchase this product in the future just because I have tried it and know it works. The flavor is a gentle mint flavor and it leaves my mouth feeling clean all day.
** I have been very pleased that I enjoyed all these products. There is something satisfying about trying a new product and enjoying it. I would recommend any of the above products.
We had our friends Lori, John & Rachael come stay with us for a couple of nights and celebrate Thanksgiving with them. It was a good time and we look forward to when we can see them again, maybe WI Dells this winter or a visit to their house this summer.
My daughter & I love to go to River Bend Nature Center to hike, play & explore. And while we are there I usually find a few interesting shots to take that are not of her. These were my favorites today.
Well, as the summer season comes to a close I thought I would reflect on my garden so far. We planted tomatoes, what we thought was lettuce in an embedded paper from Kraft - turned out it was some kind of flowery thing, turnips, watermelon, what we thought was cucumber - according to the package - turned out to be spaghetti squash, canteloupe (grew one plant but then it died away), pumpkins, zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash (so, yes, we have a bunch now), green beans, yellow beans, & peas. Also in pots are more tomatoes, hot peppers, mesclun greens, cilantro, nastrutiums, spinach (didn't work too well as I planted to late), & basil. And the perinneal herbs I have growing are chives, sage, oregano, terragon, mint & some cilantro that re-seeds itself every year.
We do a lasagna garden and I planted everything in mounds. The tomatoes are coming along nicely and we have recently been enjoying them. We planted Early Girls in pots, so we have had some tomatoes for a while, some cherry tomatoes in a pot & in the garden, and Big Boys in the garden. I think this year I will be chopping & freezing the tomatoes like I did with the ones I got from my mom last year (we finished using those up about a month ago).
We had a plentiful crop of zucchini (from one plant) and yellow squash (from 3 plants) and I made many dishes and shredded quite a bit & put in freezer to use this winter.
The spaghetti squash is new to us. I made it once & it's ok. The hubby didn't care for it as much, so now I need to find some recipes other than just "faux" spaghetti (which is how we ate it just the once).
We have about 5 pumpkins in the garden and they are almost fully orange. Next year I think I will plant them later. But they look great, pretty uniform and actually perfect looking and the vines are still healthy, so they are still out there. So, we will carve one or two this year and save the others to cook & make stuff with. I kinda wish I would have planted some bigger ones because now I wish I had one to gut & take pictures of the baby inside of, but he will be very little at Halloween (just born), so I might be able to use our pumpkins.
We didn't get to eat as many of the beans as I would have liked. We had something eating them, but I could never find anything except lots of holes in my leaves and half eaten beans. So, next year we will have to approach these differently.
We did good with the peas and ate most of those right out of the garden. But we did have several stir-frys with pea pods in, as well as putting some turnips in there (I am the only one who really likes them here.)
We had pots of basil inside & outside and the inside one did much better and is still growing strong. The pot of mesclun greens grew nicely (this was new to me) and I liked them, but the hubby didn't care for the mix of flavors. Oh well. I liked them and would mix with lettuce for a salad.
The peppers & nasturtiums did well and the kid loves the idea of being able to eat the flower, even if she didn't care so much for the radishy type flavor.
Oh! We also planted 2 raspberry bushes. One of them died on us, but the other did pretty good and we enjoyed a small amount of our own raspberries which we picked out there.. And we had planted strawberries in these hanging bag things, but they didn't work (or the cherry tomatoes in one too). So, we won't do those bag things anymore. I would like to get some strawberries established at some point.
Watermelon has been growing well. We had our first Sugar Baby watermelon the other night. They are quite juicy, but also quite seedy. We still have a couple more and the kid is very happy to have them and enjoyed the watermelon so far.
We are now attempting some late summer gardening. The kid & I planted more mesclun (which is up & growing already) and cucumbers on Sunday and just tonight planted some lettuce, spinach & radishes, as well as some cilantro in a pot. Not sure how the cucumbers will turn out because they need a couple months and they could get nipped by frost, but we thought we would try anyways, since we didn't get any. All the mounds for these are in the middle of the garden, so I can tarp if I need to. I just need to pay attention to the forecast & get out there.
The kid discovered that she loves cilantro and has been eating it out of the herb garden, although now it has all gone to seed & dried. So, while the seeds we collected continue to dry, I did buy some other cilantro seeds and we just planted some in a pot that we can bring inside and we will try to grow cilantro through the winter.
We have been collecting seeds to plant for next year and so far what we have drying is: yellow squash, hot peppers, Big Boy tomatoes, peas, & cilantro. We will harvest some zucchini, pumpkin & maybe some spaghetti squash (not sure about that yet) and our other tomatoes as well.
We'll see how the rest of the garden goes for the next 2 months and if any more garden spots open in the next month I might try to establish some more spinach. The organic gardening class I went to walked about how there are CSAs in MN & WI that grow spinach year round and discussed how to do that. I love spinach, so I might like to try that. But we'll see what else opens up and when the baby comes.
Next year I would like to create a small raised bed for kid to have as her own garden space and we can plant the beans, peas, & cilantro in there. And maybe some leaf lettuce. Those are all good things that she can pick herself and grow quickly.
This winter we try to keep some herbs going and also grow alfalfa sprouts again (just bought some more of those seeds). And we'll start some plants indoors again. The cherry tomatoes, watermelon & marigolds we planted early have done great. I also would like to expand my herb garden to include thyme next year, since that will come back each year in our zone. And next year I want to be sure to get in cucumbers and I think I will pass on the turnips since no one else eats them. Maybe we will try some potatoes next year. I think the kid will like cutting up potatoes and planting them.
Oh - the other thing I might like to get in the garden here soon is some garlic. It needs to be planted by mid-September at the latest (for our zone), so I need to get to a garden center to buy some bulbs. They overwinter and will be ready to harvest by the time I need the space for the rest of the garden.
Yesterday on our cabin vacation we went to Phelps Mills, MN and toured the old mill & viewed the dam. I thought there was lot fo interesting & beautiful pictures to be taken here, so I was snapping away. I was actually really pleased with how a lot of them turned out, which is why I had to make 2 different collages.
These are a couple of pictures I took at Phelps Mills, MN yesterday. The top one was at the playground there. It is this cute old couple that were swinging on the swings together. I have just never seen an older couple like this on the swings. She was really cruising on the swings.
This is a WHAT NOT TO DO. Don't over over a dam in your kayak. We just hope that the owner of this kayak was smart & made it out before it went over.
Today has been a productive day for me. I got some laundry done & the dishes. I made some firestarters out of reusing products (egg cartons, old candle & lint). I made a Christmas stocking for my baby boy (if you remember 3 years ago, I posted a very frilly pink one I made for my daughter), and then made some small gift bags. Plus I have 2 crockpots cooking supper for tonight (pot roast & veggies) and tomorrow night (chili). It helps that my daughter played nicely by herself this morning and this afternoon she has been at a Preschool Day Camp, which I have to pick her up from soon. I hope she wants to take a nap after she gets back, because I know I could sure use one now.
Next week I will be posting about these on my Being Green Blog, but until then you can at least see the finished projects. I took a class at River Bend Nature Center this past Saturday on making Newspaper Bowls. It was a 2 hour long class and I still had to do the final step at home, so I would say it probably take 2.25 hours to make one the size I did.
On Sunday, we went to the Steele County Historical Society's 35th Annual Extravaganza. They had someone there doing branding & you could purchase boards of reclaimed lumber with number on them. So, we did ones with the years of birth for each of our kids. Then, at home I added some hooks (I bought a while but never used) and we plan to hang these in their room and are a place for them to hang their robe & pajamas.
This top picture is our 4th of July breakfast. Isabel woke up & wanted to make rice krispie bars, although I didn't have enough rice krispies, so we did have those & half cheerios and half white marshmealows & half strawberry marshmallows and added some mini chocolate chips. They are yummy.
And then there is a fruit salad, a flower Isabel picked from the yard, and some chocolate cherry muffins. Those were yummy too. I only kinda-sorta followed a recipe for them.
This is the rhubarb cream coffeecake I made a couple mornings ago. Very yummy! I also made a rhubarb strawberry crumb pie for Friday dinner. Our family from Spain was visiting with us and they don't have rhubarb in Spain, so it was a special treat for them.
* We're still dealing with the sale of the driveway issue. It's been over 2 years and every time we think it's finished someone wants something else. Of course after several phone calls this morning, I think we could be finished, but who am I kidding? And of course, it didn't work out the way it was supposed to and ther eis nothing we can do about that.
* It's hot & humid. Ok, well, not too hot today, but this humidity sucks donkey dick.
* The truck has something wrong with it. Last night it wouldn't start at the grocery store. Now it's getting looked at to see if it's a battery, starter, alternator, or who knows what else issue. And while it's there it is getting a transmission flush (it was due for one).....so how much cash is all that going to cost me. Or course, I'm the one who deals with the money & budget but they never call me (the shop or the hubby) to clear the repairs through me or let me offer suggestions. Kinda pisses me off that I am treated like I don't know anything and then I have to see this horrendous bill.
* Broken computers......we're making due, but computers add up. The desktop bit the dust and the hubby thinks he could fix it.....but what if he can't & he purchased a new motherboard that can't be returned for no reason & we still have to buy a new computer. We're using an old, old, slow, slow laptop w/ broken keyboard upstairs in the office. We have it hooked up to a wireless keyboard & mouse & a monitor, so it functions basically as a desktop, but it's just slow & old. We don't have much on it and plan to use it as we have it set up for now as place for Isabel to play her computer games. And the other computer, well, there is either something wrong with the power cord or where the power cord plugs in to. It keeps wanting to run off the battery. If it's internal, we are probably SOL. I ordered a new power cord this morning, so we'll see.
* Medical Bills.....I hate that our insurance doesn't have a wide network unless we want to pay an extra $1700 (or so) a year. We will be getting a bill for almost $100 because the hubby didn't make sure the provider was "really" in our network. Having to pay money I shouldn't have to or that could have been avoided really pisses me off.
* Cell Phone troubles.....I keep getting a hangup tone when I first try to call the hubby or it gives me some message about the subscriber not being in service or some other BS. I called the phone company last night & they told me to call back to troubleshoot (we all know that means to turn off your phone & on again, then do it again & remove battery & on again, you know that stupid shit that I have tried already but they, for some reason, need to witness that I did.) So, I did that this morning and the f-ing phone freezes up completly on me (shit! that has never happened before) and won't turn off, so out comes the battery & try again....this time it just stalls, so we turn it off again and this time it works fine and the call went through on the first try to the hubby. It's all documented on my account, so we'll see what happens when this happens again.
* I am mad at myself because I screamed at the kid when she was nagging me for a snack and I was try to do stuff. I made her choose to run to the couch and ball her head off and then I had to go apologize and comfort her and explain that mommy is concerned about money and having to pay for bills. That's touch to explain to a 3 year old. She told me to just go to the bank and they will give me more money. I tried to explain that they only give me money that I give them to keep in a safe place and if I don't have any money in that safe place then they can't give me any. But the nagging does get quite annoying.
* Our video baby monitor is a POS. The switch broke on the monitor when the kid was about a year old. So, we called the company & bought a refurbished monitor. Well, when the kid was about two the screen on the "new" one went out. WTF? Well, now she is three. We just didn't use one for the last year, and that was fine. But with kid #2 on the way, I WANT, no NEED, a video monitor. So, I called the company again (today) and they no longer carry that model AT ALL and do not sell anything to do with it. Damn it! Now I need to find a monitor on eBay, which I am guessing will last me all of a year again. Or buy a new system. Will any work any better? Those things are expensive and we just don't have that kind of money to be throwing out the door.
* The hubby's job is stressful right now and he brings that stress home. I don't think he realizes how much that stress is stressing me out. I know he needs to talk & bounce ideas off me.
* I'm 22 weeks pregnant. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I tried to make sure I was in control of my emotions and not become a stereotypical crazy pregnant lady. It's either just too much this time or my hormones are more out of whack with this pregnancy, but I seriously felt like wanting to punch or break something this morning.
* Other people pushing their negativity on me is frustrating.
* I get frustrated with other people lack of commitment or follow through.
* Phone company is raising the price on a fee. I know it's only $6/year, but it's $6 more out of my pocket.
* I'm tired. Not sure that being tired was initially an issue, but after crying from the stress of everything I am now sleepy. Crying makes me sleepy.
* I have some allergy thing going on and it is driving me nuts. Well, today it is more just annoying that driving me nuts. The other day I was more miserable. I don't normally have much for allergy issues, but I guess pregnant woman are more susceptible to acquiring new allergies during pregnancy, Bah!
I am sure there is more that my pregnancy brain is just forgetting right now.
I am very happy to see that my pink peonies and old fashioned roses have started blooming before I leave for a little visit to family & friends with my daughter. The lilacs have been blooming as well. A couple of lilacs bushes have bloomed last week and now another couple bushes (different varieties) are blooming. The old fashioned rose bush will bloom several other times this summer, but the peonies are just once. I planted these years ago and missed seeing them last year. I picked them out & planted them, the blooms haven't actually opened all the way yet, so you can't see the bright yellow in the middle of the pink petals.
My daughter was super excited to see that the rose bushes had more flowers on them and when I showed her the peonies she started giggling and squealing with excitement. I am really beginning to believe that she could grow up to be a botanist. When she was a baby we could take her outside to look at the leaves on the trees and it was calming to her and as she grew into a toddler I would take her outside to look at the bushes to stop a tantrum. She is always asking to go outside and she loves to collect leaves, sticks, seeds, flowers, etc. and loves to plant. It's just that these days she will get upset if I tell her we have to go back inside, although the promise of going outside is will brighten her mood.
Since I won't have time to post things when we go travel since I will have access to primarily just dialup for a while (gasp!), I thought I would do it ahead of time.
Our travel plans are local (somewhat, well, our home state & friends & family in a neighboring state).
We are starting out our time at the MN Landscape Arboretum. Isabel is so into nature & flowers, so this will be perfect. We are using the BOGO coupon in the Entertainment book and Isabel is under 15 (obviously), so she is free. So, it will only cost $7 for all three of us to go there. They also have a special family event on weekend (linked above) and we will get to make minature May Baskets while we are there and plant them. So, that will be a fun thing to do.
Afterwards, we are going camping at a KOA . I didn't get any deal here, but we plan to make the most of our time there. It's only for one night, but we'll get there a little early probably (called to make sure that was ok) and stay until checkout. We are staying in a Kamping Kabin, so no tent or air mattress to deal with. My in-laws and a BIL are coming with, maybe even a nephew. But anyways, I chose the particular campground I did because they had an indoor heated pool (which I called to verify was up & running). So, we will be going swimming several times.
The rest of our vacation time is spent staying with family & friends, so I don't have lodging costs, just gas costs. Depending upon how our days shape up, we plan to go to the NEW Zoo in Green Bay on Wednesday night, it's free after 4pm. We went last year (using our zoo pass from another zoo, which has now expired) and it was a very nice zoo. We also plan to go to Bay Beach Amusement Park (we went here every summer at least once when I was a kid) and now I have taken Isabel the last 2 summers and this summer will be no different. The great part about this place is that it is VERY affordable, 25 cents a ticket and most of the rides Isabel will go on will be 1 ticket, a few are 2 tickets, but I will probably only need to buy $3 in tickets for both of us.
I am not sure if we'll do it the same day we go to the amusement park or if we'll make a separate trip, but I'd like to take her to Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. It's free. I have not taken there before.
As we head down to visit some friends in the town we lived in last year, we will stop in Sheboygan to see my sister & her family, but not before we stop at the Old Wisconsin factory store (probably). They have some really great bargains in there and Isabel loves their sausage.
Then it's to stay with friends. We will be getting in late there, but we will still have 2 full days to hangout. I don't know what we will do exactly. I do have a pass to the YMCA that we once belonged to, which has a nice little waterpark in it. So, we may go there. I do know that we will stop at the Brownberry Outlet before we leave & stock up. The prices there are far better than in the store and I love Brownberry breads. I can print off a 20% off coupon from Entertainment.com, so that will be even more helpful on the budget in upcoming months.
Other things we will do will be to visit my favorite area cheese factory, Springside Cheese, and get some curds & string cheese, and hopefully they will have some good specials while I am there. And the other place I need to stop is the Sausage Haus (they don't have a website that I could find) and pick up some fantastic sausages that they make there to grill. They are no bargain by any means, but they are mighty tasty.
I am sure there will be a couple more things we will do, just because I didn't make any concrete entertainment plans with our friends. So, I will have to blog about them later. And I wish I could find something to stop at for an hour or so to do with Isabel halfway across the state (or further), it would help break up the trip and give us ample time to stretch our legs and see something. Anyone know of anything fun to do in Abbotsford or Wausau areas?
Having a big garden has been long overdue for me. Last one I had was the year Isabel was born. Then the year after that I didn't plant one because we were planning to move and the year after that (last year) we were living in WI. So, now I can have one again.
I planted it yesterday and hopefully am free of an frost danger now. Over the years I had been working on establishing a lasagna garden. The first year we started it we didn't know that we got a BIG (two pickup truck loads worth) load of bad compost. It wasn't sifted and we didn't really know to make sure it was sifted and it had a lot of weeds & thistles in it. Now we pay the price because we have a thistle garden. We had been mulching layers on the garden and had it covered for over a year, but that didn't get rid of all the thistles. Actually, the wind blew over some of the cover and the thistles just sprouted up. It was really unsightly when we moved back.
We kept piling on layers, hoping to continue with the lasagna garden and smother out those darn thistles. They aren't too bad yet, but I will have to keep up with picking them. I decided against spreading roundup on the entire thing because 1) I didn't want chemicals on my garden 2) because of the mulching layers the roundup might not really reach deep enough for how deep the roots need are 3) the roundup could spread to other parts of my garden.
I thought about having it tilled up, but then I asked at my organic gardening class and they said tillingwon't work to get rid of them and may just make the problem worse. They said to dig down & get all the roots or I would have to resort to chemicals (you could almost hear the gasp in the room as they suggested that.) I went online and did some research and everything was pretty much confirmed. You don't want to till the thistles because the roots will be chopped and MANY new plants will sprout off those chopped roots amking your problems worse. Whew! Glad I didn't do that!
So, we added more layers and I have to get out there & pull. The good things is with the mulching layers in a lasagna garden the roots of thistles don't have a very strong hold on anything like they would in black dirt, so pulling them out is a cinch. Pulling out the thistles in my herb garden that is not mulched, not so easy.
Yesterday, I bought 480 pounds of peat, sifted compost, & dirt to mix together to create mounds on top of my layers to plant my plants & seeds in. We also bought some straw (looked to be free of seeds, but you can't guarantee a few don't get in, so hopefully that won't be out next issue) to add another layer to the garden. We will continue to add grass layers throughout the summer.
So, what did I plant. In the garden I have some Big Beef Tomatoes (seedlings bought from Menards), sugar baby watermelon & cucumber (seeds we started at home), and the rest are seeds we planted: zucchini, yellow squash, spaghetti squash, pumpkin, cantloupe (Isabel was insistant we plant this), green beans, yellow beans, lettuce (that free seed thing that came on the back of the summer kraft food & family), peas & turnips.
In the herb garden we have chives, sage, tarragon, & oregano that come back year after year. We also put down some parley & dill seeds and some sunflower seeds (saw that 2 of those came up). We plant the sunflowers for the birds. We planted some raspberry bushes this year too, two of them.
In my hanging pots I have cilantro (bought fom a local nursery), and then planted seeds of: spinach, basil, & nasturtiums. In other pots on my deck & cement patio we have roma tomatoes, banana peppers (both from seeldings I bought), some red pine seedlings (free from McD's last month), more nasturtiums (you can eat the flowers on those), basil, mixed greens, & lavendar, and several pots of flowers. And then I have these 2 hangings bag things with seedlings I bought that have cherry tomatoes & strawberries in them.
And since the baby isn't due until the end of October I should have time to do a bunch of canning . Maybe canning & freezing will be my nesting this time instead of cleaning.
So, these are the coasters I mentioned yesterday that I made. They are made from tiles, spray adhesive, spray laquer (I went the spray route for both because you can get thinner coats and it dries faster - but it would have been cheaper if I didn't), and stick-on felt pads, oh and napkins. I bought the napkins at Longwood Gardens while visiting Kendra and this was the craft idea I had for a thank-you gift for her. Actually, the napkins were the single most expensive item.
I still plan to make a set for ourselves, but I have to get back to Lowe's to buy more tiles. So, she is getting one set and my friend Jessi is getting the other set to go with the rest of her bridal shower gift.
I had also sent Kendra a package before arriving of Caribou coffee (she can't get that in PA and loved it when she lived in MN, although I suppose she could order it online) and 3 different jams & jellies I made (grape, strawberry & basil). I had to send the package because I knew it would probably get tossed (the jellies at least, since they are "gels") from my carry-on at the airport and I wasn't checking anything. This is the complete 2 sets. Click on the pictures to see them up close.
Last weekend I had Andy install my clothesline. Actually, he had to dig the hole 2 feet deep (which wasn't easy because we have VERY ROCKY soil) and then set the holder in stones & cement. The actual line itself collapses down and can be removed from the holder for easy storage & to keep it from being a constant eyesore in the backyard or from getting in the way of the mower. So, today I used it for the first time. Right now you can see I have 2 loads of laundry on there. The first load was almost dry, as we have a nice gentle breeze today. I have one more load to go on there yet and a fourth load of jeans/pants that will go in the dryer (those just get too stiff and I know Andy would complain if he pants were stiff.) So, I am happy. I hope this helps us do more of our part to help the environment and save us some money on electricity too.
I've actually had a pretty productive day today. We visited with a friend this morning and gave her a belated wedding present (hey! we have a year and she was only married 2.5 montsh ago). Then we went to storytime and picked out some new books & a couple of videos (I am having a hardtime stomaching many of these shows we tivo for Isabel. I have gotten sick too many times while I heard their theme songs and it made a negative psychological imprint.)
Then we went grocery shopping and to KFC for lunch. We came home and put groceries away and started laundry. While the first load of laundry was being washed we laid landscaping fabric in a small area, planted 2 raspberry bushes there and put down one bag of cedar mulch (I need to go buy another, the area was a little bigger than I thought.) Then we planted 2 rose bushes in the front of the house, and a couple tomato plants in pots and 6 strawberry plants in a hanging bag (never done this before, so we'll see).
Then it was time to switch the laundry & hang the first load. Then I started working on a coaster project. I made 2 sets of tile coasters (which I will post about after they are dry & I take a picture). I bought part of the supplies while I was on vacation in Philly when the idea came to me as a thank-you gift to send Kendra. And today while I was thinking about what I was going to get my friend Jessi for a bridal shower gift, I thought I would make her a set too (originally I bought 2 sets of tiles because I was going to make a set for us but that can wait, gifts for others come first.) Each set is a little different, but I think I know which set I like better.
Then, switch the laundry again, get the mail, play some in the yard with the kid. The inside for storytime & a snack. She's resting now while I type this (I should rest too!) and the last load is in the washer.
Last week Thursday through Sunday I traveled to Pennslyvania to visit with my dear friend Kendra. She picked me up from the airport and we went back to her cottage to rest for a bit until we met Tim for dinner at Buckely's Tavern in Centreville, DE. The next day we spent the morning walking around West Chester, PA. And that afternoon we want around (in mist & sprinkles) touring Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA. That evening, Don came over and she made us some vegetarian tacos. She made me lots of wonderful vegetarian meals my entire visit. It was such a wonderful treat to have someone else cook for me (& do the dishes!) And that evening we watched the movie Twilight. I am not sure how much they 'really' wanted to watch that movie, but they knew I just finished the books and wanted to see the movie.
On Saturday, we started out our morning by going to a park (in Brandywin, PA, I think) to walk around. Then we went to Philly and did some shopping there (I bought a new maternity dress, something to wear this summer). We did a lot of walking. We figure about 3 miles walking around Philadelphia. Then we went to Don's apartment (& went to see the house he is purchasing) and he made the three of us dinner. He was very sweet & made scallops since I mentioned I was hungry for them. Afterward, we went for another walk around the city and went to Capogiro for some dessert.
The pictures here of Kendra's cottage are just taken with my camera phone. I only took pictures of the main level & sent all these to Andy, but upstairs there is also 2 bedrooms & a bathroom. She rents this cottage out in the country on a horse farm.
I had a really nice time and was glad to have spent some time with her. Unfortunately, I never did take any picture with either one of us in them.
Here is the first flower of spring in my yard. It & the other 4 flowers that were near it didn't last long, because Isabel thinks she can pick any flowers we have in the yard to bring in the house to put in a vase. I told her several times not to pick the flowers, but then after about 10 minutes I think she forgot and went & pick them. Oh well.
After taking this picture I did pick out all the dead stuff from this flower bed, but still have plenty of other flower beds to pick out.
Ok - this year I am getting a lot of offers in my inbox for my birthday this Sunday. Most of them came this past Sunday and are good for 2 weeks (week before & after your birthday). Check them out and see if there are places that you have/haven't signed up for:
Buca di Beppo (free dessert with entree purchase) Noodles & Co (free entree, no purchase required) Qdoba (free entree, no purchase required) Pizza Ranch ($5 off, good for 30 days) Culver's (free one-scoop sundae, no purchase required) Ponderose Steakhouse ($5 off entree & pop) Cold Stone Creamery (Free cone, no purchase required) Dairy Queen (BOGO 16oz. Blizzard) Caribou Coffee (free drink on *ACTUAL birthday, no purchase required) Fazoli's (free dessert, no purchase required) Arby's (free roast beef with purchase of same & pop) Champps (free slice of Mile High Ice Cream Pie, no purchase required) Old Country Buffet (BOGO buffet) Timberlodge Steakhouse ($10 off) * Menards (free multi-tool tool)
Of course, most of these will never be used. I used the Noodles & Co. one today when we met Andy for lunch after seeing our play. I will probably use Caribou Coffee, Culver's, Timberlodge & Pizza Ranch since those are all within a few miles of us. I don't see getting to most of the rest since they are a much further drive & they have to be used by next Sunday.
*If I get any more in my inbox I will add them to the bottom of the list and put an asterix at he front.
Here is a picture of my sprouts. The picture was taken over a week ago. They were very tasty and I am going to buy more seeds and maybe try some other kids of sprouts. Next time I will halve the amount of seeds because I made twice what you would get in a container in the store. A container of organic sprouts will cost you $1.50+. I paid 75 cents for organic seeds for this double batch. So, really I save about 75% by growing my own. Plus they taste much fresher and last longer (since they are not on a store shelf).
Here is another shirt I customized for Isabel. I actually made two of them. One for her and one for some friends we are seeing this week. This one I used fabric, heat-n-bond, & fabric paint.
So, I bought some alfalfa seeds from the organic food store I go to. I bought enough to make one jar full of sprouts. Although, I think next time I will use half as much. So, here you can see the pictures of them so far. It is supposed o take about 6 days, but because we had cloudy days for a couple days, I think it might be 7 days before mine are ready to eat. I am using the instructions on this website to grow mine. Isabel helped out with pouring in the water & seeds & covering them.
I got this idea from Daily Danny. I have really found this blog and have really been enjoying it. I have gone back and read all his old posts. These are super simple to make. I think I made these five in 10-15 minutes, and that's with explainging to Isabel what I was doing & showing her slowly & taking these pictures. My favorite one was made from a bag from Harry & David.
The excess pieces that I cut off can be recycled. I recently found out that the natural food co-op we are members of collects bag (grocery bags, bread bags, fruit bags, cereal bags, water softener salt bags, etc.) to recycle. So, that is really cutting down on what goes in the trash because before those things we were not recycling.
I am proud to report that that last 3 weeks we have only filled one bag of garbage each week plus the empty bag from dog/cat food/litter (seems like each week there is one of those bags that gets emptied). It helps that the kid is potty trained and we don't have all the diapers in there. But I have been working on composting even more items, like napkins and popsicle sticks. I was composting food waste already (what dog didn't eat). I also recently started washing out my plastic sandwich bags and reusing them, thanks to the Christmas gift (bag dryer) Andy made me.
Plus we freecycle & donate a lot of items we no longer use/need.
I made myself a cup of Macaroon-flavored coffee and a bagel w/ Nutella and was going to imagine myself somewhere somewhere exotic, but then I ruined that image by looking at the back of the label and saw it was made in Canada. Ok - not helping as they are colder than us. Maybe the coffee? Well, that package doesn't tell me where this warm weather crop of coffee came from, just that it was distribute by Target in Mpls (bah! I'm here already!) The bagel? Lake Mills, WI. Seriously people, I want to imagine myself some place warmer.
So, maybe I'll add some Irish Cream. It's actually from Ireland and the high for Dublin today is 47 degrees with rain.
I'll take it! That's a good 50-60 degree difference today.
Mmmmmm! Booze in my coffee at 9am. We're off to a great start!