Learning each and every day

My quest to edify myself a bit every day

Archive for the category “Random”

Day 364 & 365 – December 30 & 31

Well, I’ve arrived at the final post of the year!

Dec 30 – I was listening to NPR this morning, and they were replaying their most popular stories of 2012. When I tuned in, they were talking about the fungal meningitis outbreak from October 2012. While listening to the story, I learned about compounding pharmacies. Well, I didn’t learn what they were, I had to go check wikipedia. I did learn that they existed. Just in case you, like me, have never heard of compounding pharmacies, here’s a quick definition. Compounding pharmacies create their own products to meet the needs of their patients. This may mean taking out a non-essential component that the patient is allergic to, changing the form from solid to liqud or to get the exact dosage needed for that particular patient. It could be as simple as adding flavor to a medication, or more complicated. As I understand it, not all pharmacies are compounding pharmacies.

In any case, this particular pharmacy created a liquid formulation of a medication and it ended up having mold in it. This is generally not a good thing, and especially when it’s going to be injected deep into your back. Several of the people affected were interviewed for the story, and they mentioned that now their confidence in the healthcare system was shattered. I could go into a discussion of how utterly broken our healthcare system is, but the point here really is just to share my new knowledge and not my tangentially related personal opinions. ūüėČ

Dec 31 – I wanted to make something special to eat on New Year’s Day and also for New Year’s Eve. I had bookmared a recipe in my bread cookbook for Snow Ring Holiday Bread. The recipe makes two loaves of bread that are to be cooked in a bundt pan. I only had one bundt pan, so I used a tube pan. I think the tube pan I have (which I got from an estate sale), is defective. Everytime I put batter in it, it drips out the bottom. To combat that problem, I placed foil paper in the bottom and then added the insert. The helped with the drippage, but I still ended up with a nice, gooey mixture in the bottom of my oven. The bread is sort of like monkey bread in that you place balls of dough all around the pan and the gooey topping goes in the pan both before and after the dough. The bread that baked in the tube pan didn’t bake as completely and the resulting bread was more chewy.
tube pan snow ring

The bread in the bundt pan turned out beautifully and it was very yummy!
bundt pan snow ring
I was going to make a dark chocolate sauce to drizzle over the top, but the bread disappeared too quickly! I guess that means that the family approved! And on that note, the year comes to a close.

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Day 349 & 351 – December 15 & 17

Dec 15 – Five and a half years ago, I joined the ranks of lactating women. I’m now on my 4th nursling, and I had never heard of lactation cookies until today. A friend posted on Facebook about some that she had made and I thought, “What in the world are lactation cookies?” When I really thought about it, it wasn’t all that strange. They are just regular old cookies with a few additional ingredients: oatmeal, flax seed meal and brewer’s yeast. All three of these things help to boost milk production, why not put them into a cookie? I was curious to see how they would work, or if they would work, so I whipped up a batch using this recipe. I made the same changes my friend had made: omit the coconut, add 4T water, 2T flax seed meal, 2T brewer’s yeast, 1/2 cup cranberries. They certainly aren’t as delish as my chocolate coconut lime cookies, but they were definitely good enough to eat and eat and eat. I could have done without the fresh canberries, dried cranberries would have been better, I think. In any case, they are healthy enough that I’ll probably have these laying around when I need extra calories or when I need some nutrition. As far as boosting milk supply, I didn’t really notice any difference. Then again, it’s hard to know exactly how much milk the little boss is getting, so maybe there was a bit more. :shrug:

I had a rehearsal last night for a Sunday night concert. When I woke up this morning, I realized that I was knocking at laryngitis’ door. I had lost my voice about 2 weeks ago, and now it was threatening to leave again. NOT what I was needing the day before a concert Sooo, I went searching for natural ways to relieve chest congestion, which would then help the laryngitis . . .at least that was my logic.

The first concoction was to grate a clove of garlic into a tablespoon of honey. Wow . . .that was totally gross! And really, not sure that it made any difference. The next concoction was sage tea made of dried sage leaves in water. It wasn’t delicious, but it wasn’t great, either. I drank what seemed like gallons of water with the hope of loosening the mucous. In the end, I’m not sure that it helped. I didn’t lose my voice, and was able to sing, so that was good. I suppose that had I not done any of the above, I might have totally lost it. That’s something I’ll never know.

Dec 17 – A few days ago, I happened to see some black rice at the grocery store. I was intrigued, so I bought it. My original plan was to just use it under a mushroom based topping. That changed when I saw the recipe on the back of the bag for black rice with sweet potatoes. The rice was cooked separately from the sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and ginger, which were sauteed until the taters were tender. I cooked the rice in a rice cooker, but had to do it twice, adding more water. Overall, I thought it was quite good. I put too much ginger, but that’s because I didn’t bother to measure and just eye-balled it. The babes thought it was okay, but they didn’t love it enough for me to pay the high price for black rice on a regular basis. I’ll probably make it just for me and give them regular white rice.

Day 346 – December 12

Over the past few days, I’ve been learning about flat panel TV’s. The last time I bought a TV was back in 2001, so our TV was old. Someone gave us a gift certificate to buy a new TV. Apparently she thought our old TV was a piece of junk and we needed to update it. That struck me as rude, especially since our old TV was perfectly functional. But, whatever. If she wants to throw a wad of cash our way to buy a new TV, then we’ll indulge.

So I learned that LED TV’s don’t really exist. They are basically the same old LCD TV’s that use LED’s to create the light as opposed to the CCFL’s that traditional LCD’s use. Funny, because you pay more for the LED. I didn’t buy an LED . . . I didn’t like the crazy brightness and the colors seemed unnatural to me.

I also learned that it can be tricky to hook up an old DVD player to an HDTV, but it’s only tricky if you don’t know what you are doing. So the HDTV that we got has the red and white audio inputs, but not the yellow video input. So clearly, the red, white and yellow cable wouldn’t work. I tried using the component cable (red, green and blue) along with the audio cable (red, white), but that totally didn’t work. I was resigned to the fact that I’d have to buy a new DVD player. Resigned, that is, until I went into Best Buy and talked with one of the salesmen. Turns out that my red, white and yellow cable would work just fine. I could just plug the yellow video cable into the green component slot on the TV. Then he showed me how to set the TV up so that everything would work. Voila! Needless to say, I was pretty pleased that I didn’t have to fork over the money for a new DVD player!

I’m still not convinced that the HDTV is better than our old one. But, I have until mid-January to decide whether or not I want to return the TV.

Day 350 – November 23

Quite a few months ago, I pinned this recipe for a stove-top potpourri mix. Since I happened to have an extra bag of cranberries in the fridge, and since I was in a festive mood, I decided to give it a go. The smell was delicious, but it really didn’t get much past the kitchen, which was disappointing. I was hoping it would make at least the dining and livingrooms smell delicious . . .no such luck. I’m thinking maybe I’ll dump the whole mix in the slow cooker. The only problem with that is that I’d have to have the slow cooker going the whole season, which seems kinda silly. DH jokingly turned on the exhaust fan to help circulate the fragrance. (Our exhaust fan doesn’t actually vent outdoors. It just sucks up the air and redepoits it close to the ceiling. Kinda pointless if you ask me!) The other problem with the stove top potpourri is that it seems it would be super easy to forget that you had something simmering on the stove. I could just see myself leaving the house to run errands with the stove still on. Not a good thing.

Sooo, maybe I’ll just pitch this recipe and add it to my list of things that “seemed like a good idea at the time.” Oh well!

Day 331 – November 13

It sure seems like I haven’t been learning much this past month, at least my lack of posts would signal that. Have no fear, I’m about to starting learning things left and right. It looks like the boss has a milk intolerance, so I’m going to be cutting dairy out of our diets. This is a big deal because as vegetarians, dairy is a big part of our diet. I’m a pretty decent cook, I just have no clue how to do it without dairy, and still be happy about what I’m eating. Sooo, mass amounts of learning are on the horizon. I’ll be sharing any new recipes that I find and little tidbits about being dairy free!

But for today, I tried a twice baked sweet potato recipe. I got the recipe from our grocery store. Actually, the babes picked it out. The potatoes get baked, then you scoop out most of the potato and whip it up with milk, butter, nutmeg and cinnamon. There were several problems: 1) not all of the potatoes were totally cooked, so some of the chunks were still hard. 2) it wasn’t all that tasty, so I added about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar.

Once the flavor was acceptable, I scooped the mixture back into the shells and baked for another 10 minutes. I didn’t think that they were very good at all, I’ve definitely had sweet potatoes that were leagues more delicious. It would seem that the men in the family felt differently. The 5 year old at an entire sweet potato, and they were giant potatoes. That ended up being the entirety of his supper as he didn’t touch the black bean soup, which is usually a big hit with him. The 2 year old at his potato, and then moved over to the 4 year old’s spot and finished off her potato. Hubby had a potato and a half. I’m guessing that meant they liked it? Unfortunately for them, this recipe isn’t going to be sticking around!

Day 312 – October 25

Based on my lack of posts, you’d think I hadn’t been learning anything new for the past 10-ish days. I suppose that’s mostly true. I haven’t learned anything interesting enough to share. I have, however, been busy learning all the quirks of my newborn. He’s not really any quirkier than the previous babes, he’s just a new little person that I have been getting to know. Figuring out when he’s hungry, when he’s sleepy, when he has to go potty, you know, the essentials of babydom.

But, amidst all of the baby learning, I did manage to accidentally learn something today. I’ve been using computers for years and years and know my way around a computer. In fact, the computer tech person at my first job straight out of college dubbed me the office super user. Imagine my surprise today when I pressed a combination of keys and my screen flipped 90 degrees! I sat there going, “What just happened?” I wasn’t totally sure what keys I had just pressed, but a bit of experimentation revealed the following:

Ctrl + Alt + any of the arrow keys = your screen will flip. The direction and amount of flippage is dependent on which arrow key you press.

-The down arrow will flip the screen upside-down.
-The right arrow will flip the screen so that the top of the page is now at the right.
-The left arrow will flip the screen so that the top of the page is now at the left.
-The up arrow will flip the screen back to the normal orientation.

I had no idea! How many times have I had to look at pictures with my head craned to the side because the uploader didn’t flip them. That won’t be a problem anymore. Someone sends you a picture oriented the wrong way, just flip your screen!

Who knew!

Day 297 – October 10

Today I went to the dentist and got my teeth cleaned. I discovered that I have some recession in my gums, likely due to the way I brush. Apparently, you are NOT supposed to brush left to right. Instead, you should brush in circles and with a flipping motion from top to bottom or bottom to top. How in the world did I get to be 36 before hearing this information? I mean, really, in all of the toothbrush/paste commercials, you always see people brushing their teeth with a back and forth sawing motion. Why is it that the correct information isn’t being distributed? Seems like lots of people with sensitive teeth (due to receeded gums which expose nerve endings), would not have sensitive teeth if they knew how to properly brush.

So, have YOU been brushing your teeth the wrong way for years? Here’s a vid from YouTube showing the correct way to brush.

Day 275 – September 17

The year is about 3/4 of the way over, and I’ve discovered that learning doesn’t happen on a daily basis. I can go several days without learning or trying anything new. And then the next day, I’ll learn/try 3 or 4 new things. Today is an example of that. Since I usually do lots of food posts, I’ll start with the non-food thing.

I’ve been making my own laundry detergent for quite a few months now. I use the Fels-Naptha bar soap and grate it up. It works pretty well, and is inexpensive to make. But all of that grating can be, well, grating. So I found this recipe that requires no grating. It’s basically washing soda, borax and dish soap. Super easy to make and I think it works. I’ve done about 3 loads of laundry with it . . .so far, so good. I only made a little bit, just in case it’s terrible. I have yet to wash a really muddy load, so we’ll see how it does with that. I’m hoping this works well as it will be much easier to make.

For dinner tonight, I tried a zucchini rice recipe from the blog Smitten Kitchen. I really like it when recipes tell you how many people it serves. This recipe turned out to be not very much, more like a side dish than an entree. It wasn’t my favorite. DH thought it smelled funny, but tasted good. I think the smell came from the sun-dried tomato cheese, and I didn’t really care for that flavor. But, I didn’t have any parmesen, so substituted the sun-dried instead. I think I would have used more rice, at least twice as much. And the proportions of the veggies seemed off. I didn’t have enough zucchini or tomatoes to do two full layers. Eh, oh well.

The other recipe I tried was for no-bake energy bites. I think this name is a real misnomer. Energy bites makes it sound like they are really healthy and you can snack on them all day long. But let’s be realistic here, people. It has lots of peanut butter in it and chocolate chips. Don’t get me wrong, they are easy to make and yummy (the babes kept asking for more and more). I just wouldn’t consider them to be particularly healthy.

DAy 223 – August 1

I’ve been busily watching the Olympics during prime time this week, which means I’ve been going to bed late. ¬†That would be fine, if the little humans would sleep in. ¬†. . .. They don’t believe in sleeping in. ¬†So going to bed late and getting up early makes for a very tired mama, too tired to be motivated to learn much of anything! ¬†lol

Today I did learn a tiny little thing, but I think it’s going to save us some money! ¬†We had been needing to buy more dishwasher detergent and I kept forgetting. ¬†Of course, we needed to run the dishwasher and had nothing in the house, and I was too lazy to run out to the store to buy more. ¬†I had made some homemade dishwasher detergent before, and it was terrible! ¬†Fortunately, I found another recipe . . .. ¬†it worked like a charm and is going to be my new soap. ¬†It’s super easy:

Fill the cups with baking soda
Add a few drops of dish soap

That’s it! We always have lots of baking soda on hand, and we still do some dishes by hand, so there will always be dish soap laying around, too! Hooray for saving money!

Day 171 – June 10

Today I learned about “filling your bra.” I’m guessing it’s not what you are thinking . . . .it has nothing to do with drag queens needing some “help”. I learned it in the context of using a ring sling. Confused yet?

A southern mama from Alabama posted a video showing a few tips on how to get a good seat for your baby in a ring sling. Her method was the “fill you bra” method. She basically put the baby in, leaned over (this is the filling your bra part), then finished up the carry. Even after watching the vid (which you can find in her blog post here), I was still thinking that the “fill your bra” referred to actually stuffing your bra with socks, TP, whatever. I couldn’t figure out why you’d have to lean over to do that.

Well, I was educated in a thread over one thebabywearer.com (TBW). Apparently, it’s not about stuffing things into the bra, it’s about making sure the girls are well seated, shall we say, in the cups. The leaning over bit makes sure everything is where it’s supposed to be. Who the heck knew! I’ve been bra-wearing for over 20 years and I’ve never heard of that. I know I’m not the only one, because a whole slew of other moms on (TBW) were like, “Oh, THAT’S what you meant!”

So there you have it, now you, too know what it means to “fill your bra”. Do ya feel enlightened? =)

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