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In like a lion . . .

So March is upon us (finally!) and I really couldn’t be happier. February seemed to d-r-a-g on, and now that March is here, I can finally look forward to warmer months. March means PSSAs (and in three weeks they will be over), daylights savings time (more light at night, whoo!), and the official start of spring. I also feel like with work, March signifies the top of a (though long) peak and I can finally begin the downward slope towards summer!

With that in mind, I was reading a blog where the blogger had posted her goals for February, and I thought, “What a great idea!” So I’ve decided to post here my list of goals for March. I think March is a great month to begin this. First of all, by now, most New Year’s Resolutions have worn off by now (not that I really made any). By starting a list of monthly goals now, I am sort of rejuvenating 2009. Also, March seems like a good month in the few things it represents: first of all, we began Lent last week, which is a time of reflection in the Christian calendar. What better way to reflect than to try to improve my life? Also, with spring comes the notorious SPRING CLEANING, and seeing as how my list will undoubtedly involve some cleaning practices, it seems rather fitting. Plus, March is the month that comes in like a lion and out like a lamb, and I am hoping that my month will end a bit more peacefully than it began if I just focus on the tasks at hand.

My March Goals:

  1. Spend at least 30 minutes cleaning after work every day, BEFORE t.v., computer, etc., Monday-Thursday (I figure I have some leeway on Fridays).
  2. Go through my clothes and donate the unwanteds to charity.
  3. Read at least five books (this will also benefit my March’s book blog – February’s will be posted soon).
  4. Have a great (not just good) day at work.
  5. Walk the dogs at least once a week.
  6. Cook something from scratch at least twice.
  7. Host a dinner party.
  8. Get all my lesson plans for the rest of the year done (this could help number 4, as well).
  9. Cut back my internet time to 30 minutes a day (yikes!) – school work doesn’t count.
  10. Figure out a better way to organize our recyclables in the garage.

So there you go – my goals for March. I chose ten because I figure it was a good, medium number. Plus, a lot of the items on my list shouldn’t be TOO hard, as long as I remain devoted. So, I guess the real question remains – what are your goals for the Lion/Lamb month?

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Yummy, yummy, yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy

bsilvia_grunge_hearts_brushes.jpg

Since Valentine’s Day was yesterday, I thought I would do a little post in honor of that famous four-letter word (no, not THAT four-letter word). I promise I’m not going to make this mushy; rather, I want to reflect on all the little (and big) things in my life that I love. So here goes: my love list. 

I love . . .

  •  Lying on the couch with my husband watching our favorite television shows (Jon & Kate, Lost, Top Chef) after a long day at work . . . and I especially love it if he tickles my feet.
  • When my not-a-lapdog-sized dog tries to sit in my lap.
  • The smell of coffee in the morning
  • Having a piano in my living room ready to play at any time, at any moment . . . and the fact that it has been my piano since I was six years old
  • Bookshelves full of books
  • Down comforters and down pillows
  • Warm, sixty-degree days in the middle of February – proof that winter will not last forever and that spring will come soon!
  • The St. Luke family and going to church every Sunday . . . and the fact that even though my dad is not the pastor anymore there, I can still feel comfortable attending and being involved
  • My Complete Collection of Calvin & Hobbes (in three beautiful hardcover books)
  • Listening to NPR in the mornings on the way to work
  • Tranquil Mint and Eucalyptus Spearmint body wash, lotion, massage oil, hand cream, hand soap  . . . okay, basically anything in those scents . . . from B&BW
  • Stewie from Family Guy
  • My co-workers who keep me sane and let me know I’m not alone
  • Pasta, pasta, and more pasta
  • Our house that J and I are working more and more at to make a home (and getting our tax return soon will help us with that!)
  • Ben Linus from Lost
  • Being able to blog about whatever pops into my mind
  • Finding more and more ways to be eco-friendly in our everyday lives (and, coincidentally, wallet-friendly too!)
  • My family and J’s family
  • My friends

These are just some of the wonderful things in my life that I love . . . and no, don’t read anything into the fact that I stuck our family and friends at the end (I save the best for last, of course!). Anyway, it’s a wonderfully positive thing to list what you love, and I urge everyone to do so, on a frequent basis. I think I’m going to try to start working on a list of positives once a week to keep me focused on what’s really important. A blog I just started visiting does this weekly and calls it Grateful Sunday. . . perhaps I will follow suit.

Happy Love Day, everyone! Make every day full of love!

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Baby, it really is cold outside

Well, it’s Wednesday, at 11:36 a.m. I sitting on the couch in my pajamas, a cup of hot coffee next to me, my laptop and a blanket on my lap . . . and if you look outside, you will know that, yes, it is another snow day for me. A winter storm blew into the area last night while we were sleeping, and I got the infamous phone call at 5:30 a.m. saying that Milton was indeed closed for the day, something we had all been expecting when we left yesterday. 

I have big plans for today, but as I’m typing this, I realize that it is almost noon and I have done nothing. Well, I’m kind of doing something – I soaked a towel in some vinegar and sprinkled some baking soda on it to put in our sink to see if it will get rid of some of the lime/hard water stains in there. But I’m not ACTIVELY doing something. And, seeing as I have an unexpected day off, I probably should.

So here are my oh-so-industrious plans for today:

1. Normal house cleaning (dishes, vacuuming, dusting, organizing)
2. Organizing the towel/medicine/toiletries closet.
3. Laundry
4. Cleaning our bedroom
5. Moving and cleaning under the couch since that hasn’t been done . . . uh . . . ever (whoops)
6. Lesson planning/grading

Plus, making dinner, plus, I’m kind of in a baking mood, but I should probably tackle the things on my list first before moving on to that. And it’s Wednesday, which means tonight is a LOST night (woot!).

Also, in case you’re wondering, I am working on my first book blog. I was going to post it on Sunday but the actually typing of it and reflecting on the books is taking me longer than normal. So hopefully I will find some time today to get that in there as well.

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Mouse hole . . . er, kingdom

So, an update on Thanksgiving.

Along with my family and most of J’s immediate family, we spent our Thanksgiving vacation in Disney World. It was awesome to get away, and in my six day break I managed to devote approximately one hour to school work in two small segments, both taking place in airports. It was also nice to see my parents and spend time with them. However, I discovered that Disney World in four days is nearly impossible, especially when one of those days is spent in a torrential downpour with tornadoes touching ground. But over all, it was a good trip, although it was definitely one of those vacations that felt like we needed a vacation from this vacation.

You should also be proud of me because I conquered my fear of the Tower of Terror. In fact, it was the very first ride we rode upon arriving at Disney World resort and I ended up riding two times. I actually was willing to go on it a third time, but we ran out of time. However, there is officially not a ride I will not go on at Disney World anymore . . . I am a mean, leaning, free-falling machine. On a similar note, we also got my mom to get on the Tower, Expedition Everest, and Splash Mountain, and both of my parents on Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain. My mom was hillarious on all the rides, especially on Space Mountain, where she screamed incessantly. She was behind my sister, J, and I, and Age and I were laughing so hard from my mom’s screaming that neither of us could breathe. At one point in the ride, J even said “Who IS that?”, where I tried to catch my breath enough to answer. In fact, after we rode Space Mountain, Age and I both agreed that we needed to ride it again to fully enjoy the actual ride, since we were both too preoccupied and in stitches over our mother’s constant wailing. I never thought I would get my mom on roller coasters, and now I am going to make it my personal goal to get her on as many as possible . . . even if it’s just to hear her scream for my own giggles.

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Future leaders of America?

I found this to be really, really funny. It’s fake, of course, but still . . . it made me crack up.

http://www.somethingawful.com/d/feature-articles/levi-johnston-hockey.php?page=1

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I’m just a child of nature

I think I’ve realized that, as I’ve contemplated this blog, I may have to hop onto the bandwagon and make this a “green” blog. Not because I’m trying to be trendy (like I said before) but because it has become so much a part of my life now that it’s what I want to talk about. Also, why blog if it can’t be used for the greater good? I figure I can at least provide some awareness to people who are close to me. And let’s face it, if a girl born and raised in rural Central Pennsylvania, in a town known for its Wal-Mart mecca and a yearly monster truck rally, can increasingly go green, then who can’t? This week I have become interested in two things: natural (not organic or whateverchemicalisbadforyou-free, but actual natural substances found in the environment) cleaning, for both people and home, and cloth diapers.

 ChickachickaWHAT? Cloth diapers?! I know what the majority of you are thinking, and no, I am not pregnant, and not even close to being so. However, ever since I was engaged, I have spent a lot of time on the discussion boards on theknot.com and its sister site, thenest.com. Now that the wedding is over, I have found myself increasingly on the nest, and have found some great green ideas and environmentally friendly posters on a green board. Unfortunately, this green board, and the only one on the nest, is technically considered a “baby” board, so a lot of the posters on there have babies/children, and almost every single one of them cloth diapers their kids. So, while I have been getting some great ideas about using white vinegar as a disinfectant and floor cleaner (making me regret that Swiffer wetjet I just bought a few weeks ago, even though it smells wonderful), and how to compost (considering this for next summer, as well as maybe a tiny garden?), I have also read many, many posts on cloth diapering. And, I must admit, I have become intrigued. When I was a senior in high school, my chorus teacher had a baby, and informed us that she was using cloth diapers (I forgot why she told us). Anyway, I thought she was nuts, but now that I have read up on it a bit, I’m kind of catching her drift. Let me tell you, first of all, cloth diapers no longer have to be those fabric squares that we use to clean our eyeglasses and burp our babies. A lot of them look like disposable diapers, complete with velcro tabs. And apparently cleaning them is not the big of a deal either.  I mean, yeah, it’s a little gross, but let’s face it, diaper-changing in general is gross.  Plus, there are many reasons for cloth diapering your kids – you save tons of money (in my reading some estimates were in the thousands of dollars), your kids are not exposed to funky chemicals near their “dainty” parts, they look cute (and I’ve seen pictures. They do), and finally, all those crappy diapers aren’t going to landfills. And if you think about how many diapers a baby goes through, times all the babies that are in diapers now plus all the babies that have EVER used disposable diapers (I read a statistic online that says that all plastic ever made is still on the planet, and another statistic that says it takes 500 years for a plastic diaper to break down in landfills), and . . . ok . . . that’s a LOT of diapers. And am I willing to contribute that much junk towards landfills? I really don’t think so.

The other thing I have become interested in is natural cleaners. I’ve been reading some other green blogs, and one talked about how they make their own shampoo and bath products; use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and other natural products to clean their home; and avoid any type of cleaner or beauty product that has any kind of warning or caution on the bottle (including commercial “organic” or “natural” cleaners). Those who do this swear their houses are cleaner, their hair is in better shape, their skin is softer, etc, and so I have become rather intrigued. Right now I’m using some natural products to clean, mainly vinegar (I just bought a huge bottle of it at the grocery store yesterday for less than a buck and a half), but I also use a lot of commercial natural cleaners (citrus magic, which, according to the label, doesn’t look too bad) and some non-natural cleaners (my swiffer wet jet, Lysol, Febreze). I am considering switching to all natural cleaning products once the ones I have wear out, but I’m a little nervous for a few reasons, the main one being natural cleaners’ disinfectant properties. While many who clean green swear that vinegar works just as well as commercial products in disinfecting surfaces, I have also read studies that show that it really doesn’t. And with a puppy around who is still going through the house-breaking stage (unfortunately), I don’t know if I am willing to risk the presence of germs and bacteria for green. The same goes for my raw-meat cutting boards and the toilet. I mean, okay, I’m trying to cut out chemical cleaners that can potentially harm our health, but for what benefit? To get sick from e.coli and salmonella and all that other fun stuff? I don’t know about that.

Anyway, that’s where I’m at right now. We’ll see how this journey plays out, I guess. Next up: less paper towels and eating seasonally.

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Responsible is what we are, and I know that we can take it

When you get married and live on your own, there are a certain number of changes that occur. Many of these are obvious and expected, i.e. you now are 100% financially responsible, you are now responsible for a house and all its upkeep, etc. However, there are some other responsibilities that are not so apparent until they come up. One of these responsibilities has come up recently in my life, due to the fact that J’s birthday is in 5 days. This is the responsibility of hosting parties.

Now, in college you “host parties,” but those are much more different in the fact that a) there’s probably a lot of booze and b) no parents are there. However, at the end of this week, I will be having a birthday party for 15 family members are our house for J. This is a bit of pressure for me because this is the first birthday that J is not spending at his old home; it is the first birthday that is celebrated post-wedding. While Jason’s parents would be happy to host his birthday celebration at their house (in fact, I think his dad did think they were for a little), I think it is important that we have it at our house. However, this brings on some more stress for me, such as making sure the house is clean, cooking, and ordering the cake, in addition to getting his present (which, by the way, is very awesome, but since he reads this blog I cannot write what it is here right now). Prior to this year, I would just show up at his birthday dinner with my presents for him and be the girlfriend/fiancee of the birthday boy. Now, however, I am the wife of the birthday boy, and with great power comes great responsibility (Star Wars, anyone?) . . .

. . . Okay, so maybe I’m overdramatizing this a little bit. In fact, I am excited to have everyone over and show off my cooking skills. But really, it is things like this that come up post-married life that one doesn’t really consider before (at least, I didn’t). Just wanted to keep you all aware, I guess.

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You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog.

So as many of you know, over the course of the last 6 months Jason and I have managed to rangle ourselves into not one, but TWO dogs. And these are not just any dogs, mind you, they are BASSET HOUNDS. Unfortunately, neither of us really knew what we were getting ourselves into when we adopted the first basset (Baxter), and we REALLY didn’t know what we were getting into when we adopted the second (Molly).

First of all, I just want to say, if you plan on adopting any type of animal, but especially a dog, please make sure you do some research on the breed beforehand. Because we definitely didn’t. Not that I would trade these dogs in or anything, or that I even regret getting them in any way (I definitely don’t – well, most of the time), but I think it’s best for both you and the animal if you choose the right breed of dog for you and your lifestyle. For instance, according to some research on did on the internet, you should not get a basset hound if you don’t want a dog that: 1) sheds 2) drools 3) howls 4) is stubborn (and doesn’t housetrain easily). Yeah . . . a shedding, drooling, howling, stubborn dog! Who DOESN’T want that?

Well, the damage has been done, and considering that neither of us are the type who are willing to give up dogs, we’re in it for the long haul. And to be perfectly honest, they do have their cute moments, like when Baxter opens his mouth all the way and looks like a crocodile, or snuggles with you on the couch; or when Molly plops down on her butt and looks up at you with her freckly face and very cute eyes. Of course, they have their other moments, too: racing around the house like a couple of banshees, peeing on the floor, barking incessantly, chewing on our slippers or chairs . . . I have come to the conclusion that basset hounds are more like basket cases, and they are definitely not the lazy “porch dog” that you would think.

But, eh, what can I say? We love ’em anyway.

 

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‘Cause now I feel so fine, and I feel so peachy

Yeah, yeah, I know, two posts in one day. However, I had to share my yummy dessert I made. I found this recipe on a forum (thenest.com, maybe?) and had to make it since I’ve been getting some delicious peaches lately from a local farmer. It was realllly easy to make, too.

Peachy Easy Cheesecakes (I actually made this name up; I don’t know what they’re called).

1 cup peach juice/peach pulp
1 box instant vanilla pudding
1 8 oz package of cream cheese
1 egg
1 cup sugar
1 cup sour cream
Pre-made graham cracker crust (I used the mini cupcake size ones, but you could also do a large pie sized one).

Mix all ingredients together (except crust). Pour into crust and bake at 350 degrees until done (took about 25 minutes for me). Refridgerate until firm.

It was really delicious. The only mistake I made was that baked them for about 15 minutes and I THOUGHT they were done, but then when I went to take them out of the fridge a little bit later they were definitely still gooey, so I popped them back into the oven for about 10 more minutes. I’m not sure if this is a bacteria breeding ground waiting to happen or not, but both J and I ate one and so far, so good. We have been eating well.

On a related note, I foresee a slight problem: we have perhaps been eating TOO well. We went to see Jason’s parents last night for the first time in over two weeks, and one of the first things his dad says was, “J, it looks like you’ve gained some weight. Are you eating well?” Now, I don’t think he has gained weight (or, at the very least, LOOKS like he does), but now I’m thinking I should try to make some more meals with lower calories (yeah, my husband will love that). Salads and more vegetables (especially since so many are in season) and stuff like that. I made my delicious pasta and veggies on Wednesday night, which has almost has much zucchini, peppers, and onions as it does pasta, so that’s good, but I’m going to see if I can find some more low-cal recipes, especially for my slow cooker.

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She’s a lean, green, eco-friendly machine

I don’t know if it’s been the “liberalization” of me over the past four years, or the fact that you can’t turn on the television or read a newspaper or magazine without being hit over the head by it, but within the last year or so I have found myself becoming very environmentally conscious. I mean, in many ways, I have always been a bit on the “green” side; my family has recycled for as long as I can remember, and waste in our house was discouraged, to a degree. However, lately, I feel as though the green side of me as really emerged and taken over, so much so that I am incorporating it into many aspects of our daily life. I’ve started keeping a tally of how J and I are doing our part to live in more earth-friendly ways, and I gotta admit, our list is rather long:

  1. The latest appliances we purchased are energy-star appliances (meaning they use less energy), and in addition, our washer is a front loader, which uses far less water than a typical top loader.
  2. We recycle almost everything we can (although I think we could do better when it comes to the paper products).
  3. We use a Brita to filter our water and use reusable water bottles so we don’t have to use plastic water bottles (meaning we cut back on plastic both in the bottle and in the packaging).
  4. I use microfiber cloths (which are reusable) to clean instead of paper towels (and they work a lot better, too!).
  5. Instead of driving the almost-new, smooth-driving, comfortable Pathfinder with a working air conditioner and CD-player, J takes the 9 year-old, bumpy Altima with no air conditioning and a non-working CD player to work because his commute is 30 miles each way. The Pathfinder gets about 22 miles to the gallon while the Altima has been averaging well over 32. We usually drive the Altima when it’s the two of us, too.
  6. I wash all our clothes in cold water (saves oil for the boiler).
  7. I’ve become really interested in organic cleaning products that are natural and safe for the environment (my new favorite is Citrus Magic).
  8. I buy local produce to cut back on packaging and shipping (it tastes better too!).
  9. I try to buy things in bulk to cut back on packaging. For example, I buy organic yogurt, and instead of getting it in individual containers, I buy one large container for re-use.
  10. We use the compact florescent light bulbs.
  11. Unless we really need it, we keep the air conditioner off and cool the house with open windows/doors and ceiling fans (it works, for the most part, except on really hot days).
  12. We use re-usable nylon bags for grocery shopping instead of those pesky plastic bags.

There are also some changes we are planning to make in the future. The big one is another car. With me driving to Milton every day starting in a few weeks, taking the Pathfinder would be negative both environmentally and for our wallets. So we have talked about getting another car that gets better gas mileage, and we have even discussed perhaps getting a hybrid. While I’m not sure if we’re both leaning 100% in that direction right now, we both, I know, are thinking LESS GASOLINE, whether monetarily or environmentally.

I know that being “green” has become trendy, but honestly, it is not why I am doing it. There are many reasons why: the re-usable grocery bags hold more food; the organic cleaning products smell really good and work really well; driving the Altima is a lot cheaper at the gas pump; you can haul a lot more water in my 32-oz Nalgene bottle . . . However, when it comes down to it, I figure that the efforts we are making are a) not that difficult and b) are doing more harm than good, right? I’m not trying to be “trendy” when it comes to my greenness. I am honestly trying to make the world a better place in the ways that I can. And it just so happens that I get more gas, better-tasting fruits and veggies, and a cleaner home out of it (to name a few). And perhaps a world that is just a little bit better.

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