Monday, May 31, 2010

Sex in the City 2 Soundtrack Does Not Dissapoint

Memorial Day Weekend means it’s summer movie season! This weekend I’m going to indulge in on my of favorite guilty pleasures, well besides roaming the home improvement store and dreaming of DIY projects to be, Sex in the City 2! I fanned the movie on Facebook (I refuse to call it Liking because that sounds needy Facebook) a while ago in anticipation for the movie to come out.

While I absolutely loved Sex in the City the series, I was disappointed in the first Sex in the City movie. I felt it was an example of a writer’s cheat. The “hey, let’s create drama by breaking up all of these happy couples we spent the whole series trying to get together” plot device.

I am optimistic for Sex in the City 2 and if it is anything like the soundtrack, I think I am going to much happier. Even though Alicia Keys messed up updated my favorite childhood hairbrush karaoke song "Rapture". Actually, Keys’ version of "Rapture" isn’t bad. She changed the Blondie rap to echo the camaraderie of the girls in Sex in the City and there’s some clever sampling of the original Sex in the City theme. But this new version is going to keep me on my toes when I request it on karaoke night.

How much you wanna bet Carrie’s impractical but fabulous
sunglasses are  going to be very popular this summer?

The Sex in the City 2 movie sound track is my new roll the windows up, crank the volume, and sing at the top of my lungs in the car CD. Generally, those CDs are to Broadway shows. I think this qualifies because Liza Milleni sings on it. Yep, Liza sings Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and makes it sound like a show tune. At this point in her life, I don’t think Liza cannot sing anything without making it sound like a show tune. Not that I’m dissing Liza! She is Judy’s daughter and for that fact alone, she is Broadway Royalty! And a gay icon.

A good chunk of the movie is set in Abu Dabi; the other is a gay wedding with Liza! The music reflects that - two extremely danceable settings. In fact, I got caught dancing to the Sex in the City 2 soundtrack by my neighbor when I was supposed to be cleaning out the garage. Note to self: shut the garage door next time I listen to it.

Can anyone tell me what. is. up. with those epaulets on Samatha's dress?

The Sex in the City 2 soundtrack is suitable for car karaoke. Especially, “I am Woman.” To be brutally honest, the song is fun to crank up and sing to because it is a female empowerment anthem. I’m not recommending that Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis or Cynthia Nixon, dump their current movie careers for musical theater. It sounds like they had fun doing it, but know your limits ladies. Leave that to Liza, K?

In case you’re wondering. Here’s the play list.

  1. Alicia Keys “Rapture”
  2. Dido “Everything to Lose”
  3. Cee Lo “Language of Love” 
  4. Erykah Badu “Window Seat”
  5. Natacha Atlas “Kidda”
  6. Michael McGregor “Euphrates Dream”
  7. Liza Minnelli “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”
  8. Ricki-Lee "Can't Touch It"
  9. Alicia Keys "Emire State of Mind (Part II) Broken Down"
  10. Jennifer Hudson and Leona Lewis "Love Is Your Color"
  11. Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon “I Am Woman”
  12. Sex and the City Men’s Choir “If Ever I Would Leave You”
  13. Sex and the City Men’s Choir “Sunrise, Sunset”
  14. Sex and the City Men’s Choir “Till There Was You”
  15. Shayna Steele, Jordan Ballard, Kamilah Marshall “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”
  16. Liza Minnelli with Billy Stritch “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”
  17. Cyndi Lauper “True Colors” – LOVE! More hairbrush karaoke!!
  18. Aaron Zigman “Divas and Dunes”
Have you seen the movie yet? I’m not too sure about the Aiden – Carrie – Big triangle thing – again? I’m still ticked at Carrie for breaking Aiden’s heart the first time! Now John Corbett’s left specializing in wonderful boyfriend/husband to high maintenance woman roles and voicing Applebee’s commercials. It just does not seem fair, does it?

Disclosure: I received a free copy of The Sex in the City 2 soundtrack from the One 2 One Network for review. I was not compensated for this review or to say nice things about the soundtrack. All opinions are my own and longtime readers know I am highly opinionated.

Further Disclosure: I dance when apparently people are watching and am a kick butt car karaoke singer.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Skinny Swedish Meatballs

Our friend Rick is in a concert band that marches in a few summer parades. When he found out that I twirled flag and rifle an eon ago in high school he asked me to twirl in their flag unit. Practices start less than an hour after Husband gets home from work. If I want to avoid a fast food meal on the nights I have color guard practice, I need a quick meal for dinner, like 30 minutes or less kind of dinner. Semi-homemade is one way to go because we eat most of our leftovers for lunch.

Enter Farm Rich. I checked the Farm Rich website and found that their food is free from trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup – things I don’t want in my food. Their meatballs are made from a combination of pork and beef, which made me think of Swedish Meatballs.

Every Scandinavian has their own version of how to make meatballs. Yes, even us Danes. My favorite meatball recipes are the Swedish ones that use both pork and beef (hold the veal thank you) in the meatballs and calorie laden heavy cream and butter.

Hm… I wonder if I can use the Farm Rich Meatballs and tweak a Swedish meatball recipe to make it a little less on the calories for a quick meal?

Lisa’s Skinny Swedish Meatballs

The picture isn't out of focus. That's steam raising from the meatballs.
Food photography is tough I tell you! (Seriously.)

Farm Rich Meatballs (or make your own from scratch) There are approximately 64 meatballs in a bag (when I finished it I used the empty plastic bag for doggie duty.) I was able to get two meals out of a bag.

Whole wheat pasta

1 cup of skim milk
½ cup of plain yogurt
2 Tablespoons margarine
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼-Teaspoon salt
¼-Teaspoon pepper
¼-Teaspoon ginger
¼-Teaspoon ground cloves
¼-Teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Meatball juices (optional)

1. Prepare the meatballs per the cooking instructions on the bag. I choose to bake mine for 30 minutes because it gave the meatballs a nice crispy texture. 

2. Combine skim milk, yogurt, margarine, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, ginger, and cinnamon over medium heat.

3. Stir in the cornstarch to thicken the sauce.

4. When the meatballs are fully cooked through, stir in combine the meatballs and meatball juices into the sauce (as desired) and heat through.

5. Serve over a bed of whole wheat pasta

It was delicious! The Skinny Swedish Meatball recipe is worth keeping. What about the Farm Rich Meatballs?

Pros

1. Farm Rich does not contain transfats, hydrogenated oils, or high fructose corn syrup in the meatballs or in any other Farm Rich product for that matter. Yay!

2. Farm Rich Meatballs can be prepared in the slow cooker, stove top, microwave oven, or conventional oven. I preferred the oven because it made the meatballs a little crispy and I could easily drain the juices if I choose.

3. These meatballs are probably going to be a better choice if you live in a small town or rural area like my parents and in-laws. They don’t have ready access to fancy schmancy gourmet groceries or as many choices to grocery shop at as I do in a large city. That's why I choose to review some less than perfectly green products like this, so you have options if you need them. As always, your mileage may vary.

Cons

1. Farm Rich Meatballs are a prepared food and I know some of you don’t like that. Sometimes our activities leave us in a time crunch for dinner and semi homemade is a better option because we refuse to eat in shifts. Family dinners are important to us even when the family consists of two people.

2. The meatballs are a bit high on the sodium scale but hey, it is a prepared food and that is not uncommon with prepared food including the organic stuff. Since I try to watch the sodium, it is better for me to eat Farm Rich Meatballs on occasion.

I’m not sure how to call this one. If I were a staunch person (and I am about some things), I’d pan them immediately just for that fact that Farm Rich Meatballs  are a prepared food in a resalable plastic bag. I reused the plastic bag for doggie duty because I have to bag it so again, I'm OK with the plastic bag while some of you may have issue with it. However, my life isn’t always so black and white and because that would be boring and unrealistic.

Farm Rich Meatballs taste good. They are something that allows me to do a quick meal that doesn’t have transfats, hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients, which I am staunch about avoiding as much as possible. However, the sodium is high and while we don’t have heart or blood pressure issues, we try to follow a low sodium heart healthy diet so those problems won’t crop up early. You’re welcome insurance company.

Nevertheless, we do make allowances along the lines of The Conscious Shopper’s 80/20 Rule because since Husband and I are so healthy, we can eat less than perfect food on occasion. Am I using the 80/20 Rule as a trick arrow for my quiver or as a cop-out? I will leave it up to you. What do you think?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ditch the Disposables: Try Reusable Produce Bags

One thing we haven’t switched over to is reusable produce bags. Husband is convinced that food stays fresher longer in a disposable plastic produce bag in our refrigerator. (Anyone? True? False? Any tips?) When I’ve attempted to not use a produce bag for something big like an eggplant at the store, Husband sticks it in a plastic disposable produce bag when I’m not looking. In the interest of martial harmony, I go along with it. I figure I can always use the empty produce bag for doggie duty.

Given the current empty produce bag population at our house, Blitzkrieg better get a lot more roughage in his diet. We buy fresh produce as much as possible and he has a lot of empty produce bags to fill. Just sayin’

Fortunately ChicoBag came to my rescue. ChicoBag has developed a line of reusable produce bags, called The Produce Stand Collection. The Produce Stand Collection is made up of three reusable produce bags that fold up into a little apple pouch. There is a Hemp-Cotton bag is for leafy greens or grains, a Mesh rePETe bag is for fruit, and a solid rePETe bag is for squash, carrots, etc.

ChicoBag offered to send me a set for review. I thought that if this product worked well enough to pass Mr. Skeptical’s test not only would I have one less thing cluttering up my house (and ultimately the landfill), but it must be a better than good product. While Husband doesn’t like waste or products with harmful ingredients that could poison our dog, he isn’t always gung ho just for greenness sake. The product has to be green AND work as well or better than its more conventional equivalent. I love this because he keeps me real.

My first test was kind of a cheat. I used the Produce Stand Collection at Trader Joe’s. I didn’t have a problem with using the reusable produce bags there or at the farm market. Oh, and the produce bags were the just the right size when Mother in Law gifted me with some rhubarb from her garden.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Five-Step Plan for Saving Money and Paying Off Debt That Works!

Debit. It's all the rage these days. I know this subject well. I was responsible for putting myself through college. I graduated with a lot of debt. I racked up more because it took awhile to get a very entry-level job in my field thanks to the economy (which looks ducky compared to the economy today) which made for some lean times.

I paid off most of my pre-marriage debt. With the exception of our mortgage, that is the only debt Husband and I have.

I’m so successful at living a big life on a little budget and paying off bills that I developed a very popular course on saving money and reducing debt when I worked at an e-Learning company.




My Five Step Plan for Saving Money and Paying Off Debt

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Make a Compost Bin Out of a Plastic Storage Tub

My HOA lawn service killed the compost bin I made from a garbage can with a lawn mower last summer.

A moment of silence please.

During the winter I researched and pseudo-shopped for a replacement. A Bokashi Bin looked interesting but higher maintenance than my old college boyfriend. A worm bin would freeze in my garage. I didn’t want to be known as a Stewart of the Earth and Mass Worm Murderer. A tumbling compost would work best for us, and if it was smaller than the garbage can model that would be perfect.

I had my heart set on a NatureMill Automatic Compost Bin because I liked that it did all of the mixing and tumbling for me and you got a batch of compost every few weeks instead of my year long wait till it rots method. But before I make the spendy investment I vowed that if I can get the green to brown ratio right, don’t have slime mold or maggots, and get at least one batch of compost out of a new homemade compost bin then I will consider buying the NatureMill compost bin of my dreams. Don’t judge me Internet. I know I’m a little more than pathetic because I dream of compost bins instead something important like world peace.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I Dream of New Kitchens

When Husband and I went house shopping his main requirement was a kitchen in which he could take a step because that wasn't happening in our rental's one butt galley kitchen. Not to mention that sad excuse for a kitchen was stuck smack in the middle of 1976. Ew.

The kitchen in our condo is the largest room in the house.


It's your basic boring builder's kitchen but at least it's ours!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

7 Areas for Easy Kitchen Spring Cleaning and Clutter Busting

Today’s spring cleaning topic is clutter. Who doesn’t have some of that? Hands up? Anyone?

Good to know I’m not alone.

Once upon a time I had a roommate who though my decorating style was sparse. I thought her style was cluttered. Who’s right? I don’t know. How do you know when you have too much clutter, not enough, or if everything’s just right?

For me it came down to one thing – kitchen towels.

One day I grabbed a fresh kitchen towel out of the drawer and lamented how worn and faded it was. The rest of the towels in the drawer looked just as pathetic. I decided right then and there to purge the worn kitchen towels as an incentive to replace them with new ones.

Guess what? I found that I had more than enough newer kitchen towels I deemed them “too pretty to use” (Help me - I’m turning into my mother!) and in the bottom of the kitchen drawer. I also found that I had enough to keep the towel rotation short so they wouldn't be so faded and worn in the long term.
After my kitchen towel clean out, it felt like I had more items not less, because I could find the nice towels easily and use the pretty ones every day.

Of course me being me, I cut the old towels in half and stashed them under the sink to use instead of paper towels. Save a tree, save some money, creative reuse, and all that stuff - high fives all the way around.

But finding new stuff in my old stuff gave me the incentive to purge each area in my kitchen. Fly Lady suggests setting a timer and doing this in 15 minutes increments so you won’t get overwhelmed. That works too. Although I find that when I’m in a mood, cleaning and organizing snaps me out of it. I like the metaphor of cleaning and organizing my outside surroundings to help me clean and organize what’s going on inside my head. As always, your mileage may vary.

I purged the excess and kept only the best of the following:

1. Reusable travel coffee mugs. We had several freebies that leaked and went into the recycling bin. By keeping 2 travel mugs per person we no longer have dribble drinking problems. It also keeps the kitchen sink from being cluttered up with dirty travel coffee mugs waiting for a hand wash.

2. Reusable water bottles. Same deal with the coffee mugs. The stainless steel bottles stayed. The plastic bottles that didn’t have a recycling number 2, 4, or 5 (the BPA free plastics) went into the recycling bin. I realize that those bottles are still usable but I feel like a hypocrite giving someone else a BPA plastic water bottle just because I don’t want my family using it.

3. Pens and pencils. Most of the pens and pencils were again, freebies from events and many were out of ink. I threw away the empty single use disposable pens. I replaced the empty ink cartridge on the refillable pens instead of chucking the pen back into the drawer and using another one (I’m sure you never do that – right?) I put the rest into a bag and sold the lot at a yard sale.

4. Storage containers. To keep Husband the Head Cook happy, we have some small plastic storage containers. Well, here’s a clutter busting tip: if you try to pull one container or lid from the cupboard and the rest of them routinely fall out of the cupboard and on to your head it’s time to purge! This purge was actually the easiest but most time consuming because apparently I never throw anything usable away. :)

  • First I matched the lids to the containers. The orphans went into the recycling bin.
  • Next, any container that wasn’t glass or didn’t have a recycling number 2, 4, or 5 (the BPA free plastics) went into the recycling bin. 
  • Finally any nicked, stained, or containers with cracked lids went into the recycling bin. I don’t microwave in plastic but red sauce and turmeric still stains my plastic containers.
5. Potholders. I purged the burn ones and washed the rest. Then I felt stupid for not realizing until that moment that my potholders are made of cloth and I could have washed them before they were so stained and burnt that I didn’t care what happened to them – idiot.


Amelia Sprout made and gave me this potholder at BlogHer last year. I should use it more often even though it's (say it with me), "too pretty to use!"

6. Chipped coffee mugs and orphan silverware – Most of these were around since our college days. I sold them at a yard sale two crafters took them. One makes wind chimes from old silverware the other makes mosaics from smashed mugs. Of course I could have repurposed my items doing the same crafts but I know me. I didn’t have a need for wind chimes or coffee mug mosaics. That stuff would have cluttered up my craft room instead of my kitchen because I’d never get around to doing those projects. It’s best to give them to someone who will use them right away. If I ever get the hankering to do these crafts, I can easily get the materials for cheap at a thrift store or Freecycle.

To keep everything in check, I started being a bit more selective about what useful freebie items I take when I’m offered them at street fairs, the mall, etc. because that’s where the majority of the not so great coffee mugs, water bottles, and pens and pencils came from. I’m also selective about product packaging when it comes to buying food items. I try to find something reusable/compostable/recyclable as much as possible.

What are your kitchen spring cleaning and purging tips? Have you found that you have a very large number of  items you only thought you had one or two of, like chip clips?

This post is part of the Get the Junk Out! Carnival where the topic is clutter hosted by Mandi at Organizing Your Way.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

13 Homemade Laundry Helpers

I’m Spring Cleaning and Stash Busting. I found a stash of laundry detergent and whatnot. Some of these old items aren’t compatible as they are with my High Efficiency (HE) washing machine because HE washing machine use less water and can overflow if I use my old mega sudsing laundry cleaners in it.

PhotobucketI hate to throw anything usable away. I’m also kinda cheap in that way too. So I found a way to repurpose and save money by making my own  green laundry stain spray, static cling fighter, wrinkle releaser, wool wash and laundry detergent. You can too. Here’s how.


Homemade Laundry Stain Figher

  • Mix ½ water and ½ laundry detergent in a spray bottle. Ta Da! Instant homemade laundry stain spray. This works with powedered laundry detergent too but you might have to shake the bottle to mix it up before each use.
  • Soak stained items in a bucket with borax and water does wonders especially for whites. The cleaning power of borax impresses me with each new use I find for it.
  • Pour shampoo directly on the stain especially if it’s a perspiration or ring around the collar stain.
  • Wet and rub a bar of laundry soap like Zote or Fels Naptha (I've used both) on the stain before popping in the water. Note: For those of you who don't like to use animal products both of these laundry soaps have animal tallow in it. This isn't an issue for me but it may be for you.
  • Soak stained items in oxygen bleach dissolved in water also works wonders.
  • Pour a bit of liquid laundry detergent directly on stain and scrub the stain with an old toothbrush is also effective. Why buy more items than you have to, right?
  • Scrub the stain with an old toothbrush and your favorite stain fighter. I mark the handles of old toothbrushes with nail polish so there’s no mistaking that the toothbrush has been repurposed for cleaning.

Homemade Static Cling Stoppers

  • Tennis balls in the dryer are the perfect homemade dryer ball. I got mine for free at dog events. Blitzkrieg donated them to the cause because isn’t a fan of hard toys. He’s missing some teeth from his bad old days.
  • Cut dryer sheets in half and use the same sheet more than once. You might be able to get away with cutting them into fourths too.
Homemade Wrinkle Releaser

  • Mix ½ water and ½ fabric softener in a spray bottle. I keep a small bottle of homemade wrinkle releaser in my clothes closet because I’m not a big fan of ironing but I do like wrinkle free clothing.
  • Spritz water in an old spray bottle on the wrinkle and gently stretch it out. I’ve had varying degrees of success with this one.
Homemade Wool Wash

  • Shampoo - works just as well or better than Woolite when hand washing wool sweaters.
Homemade Laundry Detergent

Do you have any laundry tricks or tips? Please share!

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If you are joining us from Something I Whipped Up MondayThe Persimmon Perch, Market Yourself Monday, Made By You MondayCraftastic MondaysTrash to Treasure TuesdayDIY Day, Today's Creative Blog, Penny Pinching Party. The Girl Creative, Toot Your Horn Tuesday, Second Time Around Tuesday , or Show and Tell Welcome!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

How to Replace a Beeping Hardwired Smoke Detector

My how to fix a chirping smoke detector post has been one of my most popular posts on this blog since I wrote it two years ago. I am glad I am not alone with the whole detector beeping and waking you with a false alarm in the middle of the night scenario.


I tried three out of the four ways to repair a beeping or chirping smoke detector except one – replace it with a new model. Turns out my smoke alarm was broken and beeped, chirped and otherwise drove us crazy and Blitzkrieg in to false alarm barking spasms for far too long.

*Enter the Condo Blues Whammy*

Of course my broken smoke alarm was in my bedroom – the only room in the house with the cathedral ceiling.

*sigh*

However it was a very easy and cheap fix to replace my broken smoke alarm with one that no longer beeps and wakes us up in the middle of the night due to a false alarm once we bought a very tall ladder.



You will need

A hardwired smoke detector (easily purchased at a home improvement store)
Screwdriver
Drill
A ladder (or if you’re me a HUGMOUSLY tall ladder)
Wire strippers
Electrical tape or electrical wing nuts or both

Warning: If you are unsure about your electrical skills please call a pro to do the job for you. I don’t want to lose any readers because you electrocute yourselves or fall off of a ladder and break something important.


Fix it

1. Shut the electricity off at the breaker to the room with the broken smoke detector. VERY IMPORTANT!

2. Remove the broken smoke alarm from ceiling mounting plate. Chances are the smoke detector will twist off of the mount plate with your hand.

Please excuse my photo quality for this tutorial. I had to choose between good photo quality and losing my balance and falling off of the ladder. I choose not to fall off of the ladder and my photo quality suffered for it. Sorry folks.

3. Unscrew the screws attaching the mounting ring to the ceiling to remove the old mounting ring from ceiling.


Yes, the plastic ring took some piant off the ceiling when I removed it. Oops.

4. Remove the electrical wing nuts and connectors from the wires in the ceiling. WARNING: Make sure the electricity is OFF to these wires or will get a nasty, possibly fatal shock. And we don’t want that now do we? Of course not.

5. Make the new connections. Follow the wiring diagram that came with your new smoke alarm. Use the wire strippers to remove the wire insulation from the tips of the wire if needed so you can twist the bare tips of wires together in order to make the connection.

Twisty and connected.

6. Wrap each connection in insulating electrical tape.


Use insulated electrical tape.

7. Screw on an electrical wing nut at each connection to ensure that the wires connect and are insulated. NOTE: Some say that you can use either electrical tape or electrical wing nuts to make and insulate two connecting wires. However, my Dad taught me to use both and since he is a stickler for doing things right and safe the first time this is the method I use too.

I reused the wingnuts from the old smoke dectector.

8. Attach the mounting ring of the new smoke detector to the ceiling by drilling pilot holes in the ceiling as needed and screwing the mounting plate to the ceiling according to the directions that came with the new smoke alarm.

You may have to drill new pilot holes for the screws to the new ceiling mounting plate.


9. Plug the smoke alarm into the ceiling plug.


Almost done!

10. Attach the smoke detector to the ceiling mounting plate according to the directions that came with your new smoke alarm. Mine was supposed to easily hand screw into the groves on new ceiling mounting plate.
The newly installed smoke dectector!

OPTIONAL: Give the new smoke detector the stink eye and mutter unprintable threats to your smoke alarm until you can coax it into place. TIP: Don’t let your dog hear you mutter unprintable threats to your smoke detector or he will make you put a dog biscuit in the swear jar for each offense and need a seven mile jog to work those treats off later. Not really recommended BTW.

10. Press the test button on the installed smoke detector to insure that it beeps and is installed properly and you’re done!


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You may also be interested in this post: Four Ways to Repair a Beeping Smoke Detector 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

40 Ways to Organically Repel Japanese Beetles

The natural predictors that keep Japanese Beetles from ruining plants in their native Japan do not exist here in the United States. That’s what makes Japanese Beetles so difficult to control and kill.

One of the best organic and pesticide free ways to keep Japanese Beetles from eating and killing the plants in your yard is to simply remove the plants that attract Japanese beetles from your home and landscaping.

If you have a Japanese beetle problem in your garden, you might want to thing twice about keeping or planting the following flowers, shrubs, vines, plants, and trees in your yard.


Eighteen Flowers, Shrubs, and Vines That Attract Japanese Beetles

1. Gladiolus - bulb/flower - Annual
2. Coneflower - flower - Perennial
3. Dailah - flower - Annual
4. Daylilies - flower - Perennial
5. Shasta Daisies - flower - Annual
6. Hollyhock - flower - short lived Perennial/Biennial
7. Hibiscus - flower - Annual & Perennial
8. Evening Primrose - flower - Biennial
9. Clemantis - flower - Perennial
10. Sunflower - flower - Annual
11. Cardinal Flower - flower -Perennial
12. Peony - flower - Perennial
13. Zinnia - flower - Annual & Perennial
14. Pennsylvania Smartweed/Heart's Ease - flower/herb - Perennial
15. Rose - flowering shrub/vine - Perennial
16. Viburnums - flowering shrub - Perennial
17. Climbing Hydrangeas - flowering vine - Perennial
18. Morning-Glory - flowering vine - Perennial


Six Food and Fruit Plants That Attract Japanese Beetles

1. Soybean - food - Annual
2. Sweet Corn - food - Annual
3. Asparagus - food - Annual
4. Rhubarb - food - Annual
5. Grapes - fruit - Perennial
6. Red Raspberry - fruit -Perennial


Sixteen Plant, Tree, and Vines That Attract Japanese Beetles

1. Common Mallow - plant - Annual or Biennial
2. Birch - tree - Perennial
3. Cherry - tree - Perennial
4. Elms - tree - Perennial
5. Fruit (some types) - tree - Perennial
6. Horse Chestnut - tree - Perennial
7. Japanese and Norway Maple - tree - Perennial
8. Lindens - tree - Perennial
9. Mountain Ash - tree - Perennial
10. Ornamental Apple - tree - Perennial
11. Pin Oak - tree - Perennial
12. Plum - tree - Perennial
13. Sycamore - tree - Perennial
14. Willow - tree - Perennial
15. Porcelain Vine - vine - Perennial
16. Virginia Creeper - vine - Perennial



Do you have any of these flowers, plants, or trees in your garden? Do you have a Japanese Beetle problem? How do you deal with it?


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This post is part of the Get the Junk Out! Carnival where the topic is pesticide hosted by Heavenly Homemaker.


This post is an updated and reprinted version of  the post of the same title that appeared on 7/22/08.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

French Meadow Bakery: Yeast Free Bread That Actually Tastes Good

French Meadow Bakery has a wide range of breads, bagels, tortillas, cookies, and brownies that are various combinations of certified gluten-free, lactose free, casein free, lactose free, trans fat free, vegan, yeast free, certified USDA organic, and low gylcemic for diabetics. They contacted me about reviewing their products. I don’t have food sensitivities but I know some of you do and as a foodie, my curiosity was peaked.

However I was cautious about the taste. I’ve heard people with Celiac Disease  describe something as “not bad for gluten free” which in my very limited experience (a 3 ounce taste of gluten free craft beer to be exact) that roughly translates as “not completely wretched.”

Since I don’t have any food sensitivities, I think I can give you a straightforward review of this bread and if it tastes like real food. The best thing that could happen is I find a yummy new bread. The worst thing that could happen is…well, I do have a compost bin.


Husband I tried the French Meadow Bakery Hemp Bread (Low Glycemic, Vegan, Yeast Free), Healthseed Spelt Bread (Organic, Vegan, Yeast Free), and Flax and Sunflower Seed Bread (Organic, Vegan, Yeast Free.) We ate each flavor of the bread as toast with honey and again in a sandwich with turkey, sliced mozzarella cheese, and leftover homemade Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce. We taste tested multiple times because we have a habit of eating breakfast and lunch each day.

The French Meadow breads are much more flavorful and chewy than the whole wheat bread I regularly buy. I’m really surprised because I was lead to believe that most gluten free food tasted terrible. There is a nice mix of grains and I really enjoyed the dense flavor and grainy texture of all the breads I tried.

There were a few noticeable differences. The bread is sold frozen in the freezer case because it doesn’t have any preservatives in it. This isn’t an issue for me because I usually buy my bread four loaves at time and store them in the freezer until I’m ready to make a sandwich. As always, your mileage may vary.


Pros

  • The Hemp and the Spelt had a nice multigrain flavor which is what I like and look for in dark breads. 
  • The Flax and; Sunflower bread reminded me a lot of a rye or sourdough in taste. So much that I have to keep double checking the package to make sure it was neither rye nor sourdough bread. Good job French Meadow. 
  • The Hemp bread is made from industrial hemp. In other words, the THC levels are so low it’s impossible to get high from eating the bread. Or from smoking a slice if that’s your thing.

Neutral

  • Since the bread is a little denser, it took a bit longer to defrost and toast. Not really a good or bad thing, just something to be aware of.

Cons

  • Husband didn’t like the Hemp bread. He said it had an after taste that he didn’t like. I couldn’t detect what he was talking about but then again I liked it (and not because I got a free loaf of bread. One loaf we got free for review. The other two we bought with our own money because they looked interesting.) 
  • This stuff is expensive - Up to $5.50 a loaf. Fortunately French Meadow Bakery has coupons
  • The slices of Spelt and Hemp loaves were significantly smaller than a traditional loaf of sliced bread. Makes sense since all of the breads we tried are yeast free.

The verdict? While a bit more expensive than regular sandwich bread, I’d buy it again on occasion because it tastes good, which other than being transfat and HFCS free, is what I want in bread. Based on my good experience with the breads, I’m going to be on the lookout for French Meadow Bakery’s other products in the future and give them a whirl if I find them for sale. If you have gluten, yeast, dairy, vegan, or sugar sensitivities French Meadow Bakery’s breads are a great option that doesn’t sacrifice on taste. Well done French Meadow Bakery!

Update 4/9/10 3:43 PM - I updated the types of bread with their designations. Turns out I didn't buy the gluten free varies of bread that I first thought I had but all are yeast free which is something I haven't tried either. Based on my experience with the breads I tried I will try to find the gluten free flavors of bread.

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Hey FTC in case you weren’t reading carefully: French Meadow Bakery gave me one free loaf of bread so I could conduct this review. I bought two more loaves with my own money for comparison. French Meadow Bakery didn’t pay me to say nice things about their product all opinions are my own and longtime readers know I can be very opinionated.


Further Disclosure: I feel like a jerk going into this review and thinking this bread might taste terrible based on my limited experience with a gluten free beverage. I am so happy I was wrong about that.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I Donated My Hair to Clean Up the Gulf Cost Oil Spill

When I grew my hair long I had every intention of cutting it off and donating my hair to Locks of Love, an organization that makes wigs for kids who have lost their hair.

I never managed to meet all of requirements when it came time to cut my hair.  I didn’t want to just send it in anyway because children's wig charities have to throw away thousands of unusable donated ponytails each year.

Not enough hair for a child's wig, but enough hair to donate to clean up an oil spill

Instead, I decided to donate my hair to Matter of Trust for them to weave into hair mats that are used to mop up oil spills.

Really.

Hair attracts oil and repeals water. They weave it into hair mats or stuff it into old nylons to make boons that are used to clean up oil spills. The good thing about using hair is that they can rinse the mats or boons and reuse them. Makes sense once you see an otter’s fur covered in oil.


Donating my hair to clean up an oil spill might be the most crunchy hippie treehugger thing that I’ve ever done. However, I think it’s important given the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. And besides, what I am going to do with my hair once it’s off my head anyway? I could recycle my hair by putting it in compost bin or I could sprinkle my hair in my flower bed to deter deer from eating my plants. However Blitzkrieg keeps the compost bin filled with dirty fur and I don’t have a deer problem.

What I do have, along with all of my American readers, is a horrific oil spill problem in the Gulf of Mexico. Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! They get to recycle my hair.

It’s kinda like my Gift of the Magi to the environment.

I imagine that even the most hardened not so hippie treehugger person watches the news about the oil spill and sees the thousands of people who depend upon the ocean for their livelihoods and wishes that they could do something to help. You can. Get a hair cut. Get your kids hair cut. Heck, take your dog to the groomer and get their fur cut and donate the clippings.

Here are the guidelines if you’d like to donate your hair or old nylons to be made into hair mats and boons to clean up oil spills. Obviously there is a great immediate need to help contain the Gulf Coast oil spill. Matter of Trust takes hair donations on an on-going basis, not just in times of emergency.

You can do a one time donation of your own hair or you can get a hair salon or dog groomer involved and make on going donations. The company that makes the hair mats also sells them to organic farmers to use to suppress weeds in their fields as an alternative to harmful chemical fertilizers.

Here are the hair donation guide lines.

  1. Your hair must be shampooed and dry. 
  2. Any length of hair and every type of head hair is fine (straight, curly, all colors, dyed, permed, straightened) 
  3. Every type of dog fur/waste wool is fine as long as it is clean. 
  4. Your donation does not have to be bundled in a ponytail or braid. Just sweep in all clippings, without other trash such as gum, metal clips, etc. and put it in a plastic bag inside a box for shipping. 
  5. They also accept washed, used/with runs nylon stocking donations to make the boons. You can put these donations in a separate bag in the same box with your hair donation. 
  6. They also accept other natural fibers such as horse hair, dog fur, feathers, and waste wool.
When I got my hair cut, I told my hairdresser that I wanted to save the clippings to donate to Matter of Trust. She didn’t think it was weird but I get my hair cut in one of the crunchier parts of the city. She only asked if she had to bundle my hair into a pony tail and cut it off – the answer is no. 

My hairdresser washed and cut my hair as usual. When she was finished she swept up the hair clippings and put them into the empty bread bag I brought with me for that purpose.

I signed up with Matter of Trust. They emailed me the address where I should mail my donated hair. Since there is an emergency oil spill clean up they are sending hair donations to be made into boons to multiple points along the Gulf Coast. If you donate now you will most likely get a different address than I did.

I trooped down to the Post Office and mailed my package. Easy!


In case you’re wondering, here’s the new ‘do.

Have you ever donated your hair to a worthy cause? Have you even considered it?

Update 5/5/10: I got an email from Matter of Trust (I'm on their mailing list now because of my donation) that said that Hanes is donating a bunch of nylons to be stuffed with donated hair and made into oil soaking bones to help clean up the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. Very cool. Neither organization is  paying me to mention this. I saw it and thought you might want to know.


This is my post for the Green Moms Carnival, which is all about transportation hosted by Big Green Purse  Monday, May 10, 2010.



Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to Recycle Plastic Makeup Tubes and Containers

I’ve been making one small environmentally friendly change each month from January to Earth Day as part of the One Small Green Change Challenge. So far I have:

All of the changes were easy to implement and have stuck, with the exception of the humidifier because we aren’t running the furnace anymore. That’s a seasonal change.

I have to admit, after doing my 20% Energy Reduction Challenge and tackling some of the more common green changes like switching to reusable shopping bags and resuable water bottles  (well not really switching, more like trying to use them more often), and using cloth table cloths and napkins. I didn’t think there were a lot of changes I could make other than the big, expensive ones like buying a hybrid car.

The One Small Green Change Challenge changed my thinking because I started to look at those little things that I knew I should switch out like that flaking Teflon griddle but didn’t because it’s easier to not use it and stick in back into the cupboard.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mom’s Mexican Vintage Tablecloth

In honor of Cinco de Mayo I wanted to use one of my favorite vintage tablecloths that my mom embroidered when I was wee little or even pre-me, I’m not sure which. Anyway, it’s square and didn’t fit her table so she gave it to me.

Photobucket
Kitschy, Free, and Festive! What's not to love?