Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Burned a Pot to Death?

Have you ever forgotten something on the stove and severely burned your pot? I have. Once, I was making plum jam in my largest pot. I had it on a very low simmer and got distracted doing something else. It scalded to the bottom. Badly. I had to throw out the entire batch of jam and had a destroyed pot to boot. I soaked, I scrubbed, I scraped. I got some of the burn off, but not all of it. I was despairing for my pot! I even left it soaking for two weeks. Didn't help.

I got online and found a possible solution. Baking soda. Yes! Simple baking soda!

I put fresh water into the pot and added a cup of baking soda. I set it on the stove and heated it to boil. The baking soda worked on that burned on mess with bubbly action. After letting it work, I drained the water, cooled the pan and used a scraper. The burned on plum mess began to come off!! I removed all I could, then repeated the process once more. My largest pot was soon as clean as ever! I was so glad to have found this tip!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Free (and some not-so-free) Workout Tools

I saw a picture of myself a few years ago that I really didn't like. In fact, I hated that picture! When it would appear in our computer's screen saver slide show I would cringe. I still do in fact. However, instead of cringing in embarrassment, I now cringe in relieved regret. I have lost over 30 pounds in the last three years. Yes, that's a long time and people on The Biggest Loser lose that in two weeks. I know, though, that it took time to put that weight on, and it takes time to take it off. I think slow and steady is healthier in the long run.

So, how did I do it?

I stopped enjoying dessert every single night. We implemented "Saturday Dessert". Now we could look forward to enjoying some ice cream or a cookie, but it wasn't every night. The treat seemed much more like a treat, too! We have been eating more and more whole food for several years. Our diet overall was (and is) pretty healthy. But I saw a problem. I was often consuming carbs at every meal. Wholesome, complex carbs, but carbs nonetheless. I noted that it was pretty common for me to have oatmeal with toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and a dinner of meat, starchy-carby side, veggie side and roll. I changed my meals around to include only one carby serving of food a day. I greatly increased my water consumption (made all the easier by purchasing a Berkey water filter!).

Finally, I began exercising. I began doing Namaste Yoga.  It's an easy, energizing type of yoga that I was glad to find. I ignore the commentary which can be pretty 'eastern'. I also turn it off before the 'meditation' portion. I invested in The Biggest Loser DVD's from my local Costco. They were only $5.99 each! I especially like Weight Loss Yoga with Bob. It really makes you work and doesn't have any of the eastern meditation junk. Jillian's Yoga Meltdown is also well worth getting. Chaturanga push ups are amazing.

I also completed a FREE 6 week workout at Marine Style Fitness. This was an incredibly beneficial workout. I did not do the cardio portion much of the time. I wish I had! However, just doing the strength training really toned me up.

Bob Harper from The Biggest Loser also has FREE challenges on his website. These are HARD but they are only two to three minutes. You can do it! I only do these on occasion, but I imagine that they could be a workout program on their own! Of course he sells his DVD series, which I bet is well worth the money.

Currently I am doing P90. It's a tough and effective workout. I have lost only two pounds since beginning three weeks ago, but my newly purchased pants are once again beginning to droop from being too big. That's all that matters to me!

Livestrong has also been a help. I use the free portion only. It's so easy to log in your food and see how many calories you are really consuming. It helped me to see that my portions were still too big. I love, love, love that I can enter my own recipes and get a nutritional breakdown.

I can now see that I can workout in odd times rather than big chunks of time. Any activity is better than none. I brought in an extra cement block left over from building our garden and use it for a step. Why spend $20 on a plastic step? I can do 15 minutes of stepping while listening to a child narrate or read aloud. Then I can plug in the info on Livestrong or here to get an estimate of calories burned. Seeing those numbers encourages me not to eat a handful of candy corn when it's on the refreshment table at church. I also walk for an hour in the mornings before the children wake up. I stay within two or three streets of our home so I can hurry home if I need to. I bring my phone with me. I listen to my Mp3 player and enjoy The Word for Today or an audiobook from Audible. I really enjoy my time working out and I have seen the effort chiseling down my hips and thighs.

Working out and eating right doesn't have to cost a fortune. You don't need a gym membership. You don't need to have a fancy kitchen filled with special ingredients and fancy machines. Basic, simple, whole foods, walking around your neighborhood and working out in your living room can do it for you, too!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homemade Playdough

My children love to play with playdough, as most do. I can't stand the smell, though, so I used to say 'yes' less often than they'd like. Then I came across one of the many recipes online for homemade playdough. Not only is it much less expensive than storebought, I can scent it any way I want! I can make pink and red dough and scent it cinnamon-y or even black, scented with anise! My Lambies love the smooth texture.

Homemade Play Dough
4 cups cheap white flour
4 cups water
2 cups cheap salt
1/2 cup cheap canola oil
8 tsp. cream of tarter
food coloring and essential oils as desired

Mix everything together in a large saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon, over medium heat, until the dough forms. This only takes a couple of minutes. When the dough forms, plop is out onto a counter and knead a few times until smooth.

If you want different colors, wait to add the food coloring until now. Separate the dough into as many different colors as you want and add different food coloring to each. Knead it in and add drops until the color you want develops.

Store in zippy bags.

Fly Repellent

We live in an agricultural area. We therefore, have lots of flies. In the spring and summer they reach plague-like proportions. I read a tip on how to keep them out of the house a while ago, and tested it, and have found that it really seems to work!

Near your front and back doors, place a vanilla scented car tree air freshener. It must be vanilla, since apparently flies HATE the scent of vanilla. They will no longer linger near the doorways, buzzing in each and every time someone goes in or out.

These work so well that I keep extras on hand to give to friends who visit and notice the lack of flies in my house.