Thursday, December 27, 2012

My 12 Month Organic Journey

One year ago I made the new year's resolution to switch to an organic way of life. I had already begun making my own green cleaning supplies in 2006 as a reaction to my son's bleach and chemical sensitivities. My daughter was born in 2010 and presented with the same sensitivities on a grander scale. So I decided to go beyond cleaning supplies and herbal remedies and change the way we ate altogether. Here is an overview of that first year transition.


The first thing I noticed was the price of organic food in the local Savemart. The only organic food there was Kashi cereal, bell peppers, granola snacks, and tomatoes. The bell peppers were $3.49 each pepper. The non-organic was $0.99 each. The organic produce was frequently spoiled and the produce that wasn't spoiled had sold out. I was very nervous about this decision.


I found an organic produce section in the same grocery store. There was tofu, bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and the usual granola cereals and snacks. The dairy case still didn't have organic eggs but there was organic milk by the gallon in one brand only for $6.05 compared to the non-organic 2 gallons for $5.


There were organic eggs by the dozen for a dollar more than the non-organic. They were brown eggs so I felt special. The milk was now only $1 more per gallon but it was always sold out. It was available in whole and non-fat only. I signed up for WIC and found that the only organic produce covered by the program vouchers was frozen organic vegetables and beans. These items were not available in my store. I hadn't had fast food since December. It was getting difficult to stick to only organic because of a lack of options. I purchased a Costco membership and found an organic haven. There were 2 gallons of organic milk for less than non-organic. There were onions, bell peppers, ketchup, tomatoes, potatoes, apples, cheeses, yogurt, snacks, coffee, 2 dozen pack of eggs, chicken breasts, whole chickens and cotton clothing.


I found interesting biological side effects. The children and I made the full crossover but my husband did not as he spent most of his time at my in-laws homes. The children and I found that our bodies had undergone a...purge. You know what happens after you eat McDonald's? We went through that. We began to sweat more than before. I lost 10 pounds without exercising. My skin began to glow. I actually thought I was pregnant for a moment. I had more energy and needed half as much coffee. Our taste buds changed. My children did not like the taste of most non-organic foods any more. My son said to me, "This chicken doesn't taste like a chicken. It a salty meat." My friend thought she had over-seasoned the chicken but the fact was that my son could taste the salt water injection. My daughter would break out in a rash and get very cranky if we ate a non-organic meal. Fast food was murder on our stomachs. Just the smell of Carl's Jr. made us ill. The children gained weight as they were under a doctor's care, but I lost weight because of my loss of appetite. I was more aware of when I was full. The only beauty treatment I needed was Noxema and lotion. My skin was radiant.

My husband on the other hand had an allergy cold that hit like the flu. It lasted 3 weeks. He and I both have sever nasal allergies. He was completely incapacitated by this cold. I didn't even have a sniffle on a high pollen day. I noticed that all of my in-laws and my husband had been sick four times since January with each illness lasting at least two weeks. They use hand sanitizer religiously. I am staunchly against it. He gained eight pounds.


We were no longer able to eat out, not even at a Chili's or a Denny's. The smell would make us sick and the food didn't taste right. These were once our favorite places. My Costco membership was wonderful I found organic seasonings, flour and sugar to be a great new addition. Salads, juices, and soft drinks were also organic now. Whatever produce that was in season was now available in organic. As a result, we ate more fruits and vegetables. We used less sugar and seasonings. Although I had WIC, I never used it. Nothing was covered and the items that were covered were not available. I eliminated sugar cereal and within two weeks my son's focus and school had improved by 100%, no exaggeration there. The local Savemart was now carrying a steady flow of organic milk in all sizes and percentages of milk fat. There was now "natural" peanut butter by Jiff and Skippy but it looked highly suspicious. There were a number of other non-perishable foods that were organic but I'd say less than 20% of the store was organic. There were now organic bananas for $1 more than the non-organic.


I suffer from Cyclothymia and found mood swings an difficult thing to control. However, lately, they had stabilized. It was so noticeable, that I brought it up with a therapist. I was afraid that I was in some sort of calm before the storm. I hadn't recognized this mood shift. Blood was drawn at a doctor visit and we found that although my lifestyle is still sedentary, my blood sugar was still low but my hypoglycemia was gone. My anemia was also gone as was my daughter's. My doctor had never seen me so healthy. I was no longer wearing make-up. and my hair was thicker and longer. People suspected I was using prenatal vitamins but I wasn't. I had planted an organic garden to help curb the costs of organic produce. It was a lot more work than I had anticipated but I was able to grow bell peppers, tomatoes, jalapenos, basil and other herbs with ease. This coupled with the organic groceries I bought encouraged me to cook fresh meals daily. I still had not been sick this year yet. My husband had come down with a stomach virus he caught from his sister.

Not only were my children and I never sick, but we never caught anything either. My daughter's twin cousins and come to a language class with runny noses and stomach viruses. My daughter, although she shared food with them, never got sick. We also, slept better and were better focused throughout the day. It felt wrong to sleep late at this stage.


All of our produce, dairy, and condiments were now organic. All of our drinks were organic. This was very expensive but I made adjustments to accommodate this new lifestyle. I complained to the Savemart manager and stopped shopping there for awhile to help emphasize my unhappiness. The produce department was now 25% organic. Only the produce that wasn't in season was overpriced. I learned that the bananas took longer to ripen and they were sweeter. I lost another five pounds and my sex drive had begun to increase. This was probably due to my consistently balanced mood. The 100+ temperatures did not bother me anymore. I simply drank more water.

My husband caught on to the health benefits of our way of eating. He noticed that when he spent a weekend with his parents, he would feel so ill that it was a waste of time visiting in the first place. It turns out, that non-organic food was making him sick as it did for me and the children just months before. He decided to stay with the organic food.

Our children had developed great palettes. My son could identify what he was eating by the taste of it. Both children were perfectly manageable. My daughter rarely threw a tantrum. I began to have trouble with my vision. I went in for an optometry visit and found that I no longer needed glasses. When I listened to my IPod, I actually had to turn the volume down now. I have an eidetic memory. It seemed to improve now that my diet was strictly organic. My reflexes improved and my hair continued to grow. I felt motivated to be physically active. I wanted to take walks and pick flowers now. Before, I just didn't have the energy to leave the house.


The cost of organic food had finally begun to cripple us. I had no choice but to go back to non-organic. We used our WIC vouchers and bought organic whenever possible. What a headache that was. We regularly had to bring out the manual to show the clerks that the vegetables and beans were allowed to be organic. It was like advertising to the world that we were poor. My mood began to falter slightly but I still felt normal. I gained two pounds and began to crave junk food. Once a week, I bought candy and chips so that whenever the urge struck me I could partake without guilt. I began to have mild breakouts and suddenly athlete's foot was a problem for me. I had my first allergy attack. However, the organic coffee I still had in the cupboards seemed to shut down my allergies within 24 hours of the first cup of coffee. If I didn't drink one cup a day, my allergies attacked at full strength. I couldn't afford to go to the doctor and get a prescription for nasal spray. So I had to maintain the coffee diet. This was a direct contradiction to my already upbeat mood. It made me anxious and my anxiety attacks returned. I began taking St. John's Wort.

My daughter began throwing epic tantrums, partly because she was two, partly because she had gas and tummy aches. In fact, I avoided the children's bathroom due to the smell. It was like they were fed McDonald's everyday. Neither child was able to sleep through the night. My daughter began to snore and my son began to wet the bed. I developed insomnia. My husband gained five more pounds.


My son found his temper harder to control at school. He refused to eat the food served at school. He claimed that it didn't taste like it should. I went to school with him one day and I instantly understood what he meant. The chicken didn't taste like chicken the vegetables didn't taste right, and there was no fruit. I could afford to buy organic jelly and bread, but there still was no organic peanut butter. If I only drank water, there was money for organic juice boxes. Organic apple juice was not allowed by WIC. So I used the vouchers to get the milk and juice that WIC covered, and sold it to my friends at a discount so I could buy organic. I began making things that I had grown accustomed to purchasing to save money. Pancake mix, biscuits, juices, pasta, stocks, pastries, were all made from scratch to leave money for other organic foods. The price of organic food had dropped dramatically and the freshness had improved. I lost the two pounds I gained but I was regularly exhausted. I didn't have the drive to do much of anything. I became pessimistic but not depressed. My memory faltered and I could not focus on anything anymore.


My began to adjust to the loss of organic foods. Thanks to Costco, I still had organic condiments. I also found it cheaper to purchase organic meats and milk from Costco. So the organic to non-organic ratio was improving. My friends had begun to take on the organic challenge. It was nice to see the change in their lives. I found that I did not like the taste of non-organic food, neither did my children. I chose not to eat most times. This caused my stomach to shrink. I was unable to eat large meals anymore. I lost another five pounds. I still had not been sick this year. My son caught a stomach virus. But it lasted 24 hours. The first day, he had a fever and a stomach ache. By morning, he was fine, no fever or discomfort. Our dairy and produce was once again organic as the prices had come down. I had sold some items that I left wasting away in storage and used the money to stock up on goods. My energy level began to improve and my optimism had returned.


I lost 5 more pounds for a total of 12 pounds lost. My appetite did not return and I began a rigid workout routine. I had a healthy level of energy. I began to read more. I was no longer lacking sleep or suffering from poor sleep. My son and daughter regained their focus. My daughter's tantrums continued but only when she was tired. She was your typical two year old. I was able to afford organic foods again. Although the grocery store and about 30% of it's products listed as organic, Costco showed them no mercy in the competition. The only items in my Costco that weren't organic were junk food or precooked meals or meats. Once again our palettes were sensitive, our minds were focused. No one had been sick. I still did not need glasses. I was reading five books a month and I was no longer leading a sedentary lifestyle. I was consistently happy and had chosen to eliminate combative people from my life. My patience grew dramatically. It was very difficult to upset me. My sense of smell was heightened along with my hearing and sight. I began to see muscle definition and did not hit a plateau in my weight loss. We still had an aversion to fast food. We would eat it if we had no choice but it would make us very sick afterward. I began taking food with us to avoid this.


I found a system that allowed me to maintain an organic lifestyle . If it could be made from scratch, I made it. This saved money and allowed me to purchase more organic foods. I shopped around, any organic stores within a five mile radius was now in my IPhone. I could perform price checks before I went out to find which store had the best deal. I froze meals so that during those hard times, I could thaw out a meal and make the same groceries last longer. I sought out organic restaurants to replace Denny's and Chili's. My friends were now making the organic transition so, eating at their homes was nice. I provided my babysitter with organic food so that my children would have the same diet at her house. We still have not been sick this year. My daughter had a sniffle and mild congestion for 24 hours. I didn't medicate her. I flushed her system with water and she was fine. It turns out, she was catching her cousin's cold. Our bodies seemed to be able to fight illness better than family members who used hand sanitizer and ate non-organic food.

Have you switched to an organic food lifestyle? Tell me all about it!
Theredhousewife on Twitter. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December Childrens Book Picks

Llama Llama Holiday Drama

This addition to the Llama Llama series is seasonally appropriate. In keeping with the traditions set by the previous books, Llama Llama Home With Mama, Llama Llama Mad At Mama, the little llama spends the day shadowing his mama and learning as he goes along. This book is as entertaining as the others and your child will enjoy the colorful illustrations. For the new reader in your home it utilizes many of the December sight words that are listed in my last blog. It is just simple enough of a read to hold every child's attention when you read it aloud and not too simple to leave your new reader without a challenge. This book has more challenging words and longer sentences than the others in the series.

Bunnicula and Friends: The Fright Before Christmas

This is another book from a series. For those who are wondering, Bunnicula is a bunny that the other characters believe is a vampire. Hence the name Bunnicula. This level three book includes chapters, longer sentences, contractions and two to three syllable words. The story presents children with the idea of interpretation. The reader will learn how a misunderstanding can occur when statements are taken literally. The frightening aspect of the story is very gentle. It is presented in the form of the Christmas ghost and something going bump in the night. I would recommend familiarizing your child with the story of Scrooge so that the references will make sense to him or her. This book also utilizes about 80% of the December sight words listed in my last blog. It is a great advanced first grade reader but it is also an exciting read-aloud book if you are an expressive reader to your children.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sight Words for December

This is a list of the sight words my son brought home from school for the month of December. It has been combined with the list of sight words for gifted first graders. My son is transitioning to a school for children gifted in math and sciences. You child need not be in a gifted class to learn these words. Simply choose reading material that contains these words to expose them to your child thus making it easier for him or her to learn to read them when the are presented to him in class in the future.

Weather & Nature

Santa Claus

house chimney



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Tablet Talk

It's gift giving time and all your family and friends want are tablets. With so many versions of the same brands, it's difficult to determine which one is worth the money. Here is a breakdown of the most popular tablets and whether or not it's best for your giftee.

Apple IPad
$399.99 Minimum price

First let me say, I am a die hard Apple fan. That being said, I do not recommend this tablet to anyone. Unless you are a business or a full-time student, there is no need for this tablet. It is a bigger screen with more memory. You can do simple word processing if necessary. I've seen my Uverse technician use this with AT&T software. I've seen an interior designer use this with a client. I've even seen them used in Tribal TANF offices. But for the regular family member, there is no need to spend this amount of money on a tablet. Most people have smartphones. So you don't need the camera or space to save the photos and movies you want. If you use it to read, there are readers as low as $79 available. If you use it to watch movies, there are cheaper tablets with HD screens. It is also a major commodity for thieves. Take it from an Apple fan, you're paying for the name.

Apple IPad Mini
$329.99 Minimum price

Considering the price difference between the regular IPad and the Mini IPad, this really isn't worth the money either. True the price is more comparable to the Android tablets on the market. But those tablets are full sized. Why pay more for a Mini IPad than you would for a full sized Android tablet? Again, You're paying for the name.

Google Nexus 7
$199.99 Minimum price

About the same size as the Apple IPad Mini, this tablet is perfect for the"PC not MAC" person. It's an Android tablet at a reasonable price. It runs mostly Google programs (Google Maps, Gmail, Google +). You download your books and media from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This is more user friendly and cost effective. There is no rear facing camera. Honestly, you won't miss it. Most people use their phones anyway.

Kindle Fire HD

I have the first Kindle Fire. All I kept saying is, "I wish the internet were faster. I wish it had a camera to Skype. I wish the speakers were better." They heard me. It is the only tablet with Dolby speakers. It is also the first tablet with dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi. It makes almost 50% faster than the IPad. Many are calling it the best 7" tablet on the market. 

If the Apple IPad Mini were $199, I would choose it before any tablet because it is an Apple and I am a fan. With the exception of my Kindle Fire, I have an all Apple home. But I would not pay more for an Apple tablet, the computer, yes. I am not a fan of Google either, so I would purchase the Kindle Fire HD. But considering the fact that I am usually watching and listening to movies with headphones on my tablet, I can continue to use my regular Kindle Fire without a complaint. I have a smart phone so I don't need the camera. I don't need the extra memory, I have the Cloud. I also recommend it for parents who want their children to have an e-reader that grows with them. You can even lock them out of the internet to keep them from signing onto a questionable website.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The End of Weekend Cleaning

So many women email me and ask me what they can do to keep from cleaning all weekend. They ask me how to get their weekends back because they're tire of cleaning all day. There are many different ways to accomplish this based on the way your life is organized. But here is how I keep from cleaning all day Saturday or Sunday.


The first Monday of the month I clean the carpet in my living room. I dust the bookshelves and electronics. I take everything out the living room that is not supposed to be there and separate it into a designated bin for each family member. When everyone comes home, they can put away their own crap.


The first Tuesday of the month I clean the dining area carpets. I dust the chandelier and put away anything that is out of place.


The first Wednesday of the month I clean the carpet in the children's room. I do their laundry and put it away. I never do more loads of laundry than I have the time or energy to put away in that moment. I remake their beds with fresh sheets and dust. I also clean their bathroom.


I mop all of the floors in the house. I do this every week.  I declutter the kitchen and refrigerator.


I don't do a damn thing in the house. I might clean my car out if I am going somewhere. But other than the usual touch ups, I don't do any cleaning.


My bathroom is the cleanest in the house. So while I'm getting ready, I clean it. While my children are napping, I do my own laundry and and clean my carpet on the first Saturday of the month. I wake up between 6 am and 7:30 am depending on my children. I am done with my room by the time we leave the house at 9:45am.


I don't do anything. I make my children clean up their own room and touch up their own bathroom.

This is why I am never cleaning house all weekend. Doing a little everyday allows you more time to do other things. Daily touch ups prevent a 12 hour day of scouring something that could have been cleaned up days earlier. I also keep a bin in the living room for all of my toddler's toys to be thrown into at the end of playtime. It's less work than carting them all the way back to her bedroom just to see her drag them back out. I keep everyone's laundry separate so that if only one person's laundry needs to be done, I don't have to sort through an entire house of laundry to find it. Also, it allows me to wait until I have more time and energy to do the other laundry. By touching up the floors at least every other day I find that the bucket mopping is less labor intensive. Cleaning the carpets at least once a month prevents irreversible damage and make your house look cleaner that it is.

Do what ever works for you. Just make sure you divide your chores among a five day period. And of course, delgate!

Monday, November 5, 2012

What Moms Want Everyone To Know

No Means No

You are at the bank and a child wants a free sucker. The mother tells the child no. Along comes a stranger that has heard her deny your child this piece of candy. They bend down and hand the child a piece of candy anyway. Here is what the mother of that child is thinking.
     1. If I wanted my child to have the candy, I never would have said no in the first place.
     2. By giving my child that candy, you have inadvertently taught my child to accept candy from strangers.
     3. You have no idea what dietary limits my child has. What if what you just gave him makes him sick?
     4. You are undermining my authority as a parent. I said no, that should be the end of it.

Always respect a parent's wishes. They know what's best for their child. You have no right to grant permission to have or do anything of which a parent has explicitly denied. It teaches a child that if mom says no, someone else will say yes. You have now shown this child to ignore his mother's authority. 

Mind Your Business

You are at the grocery store and you turn the corner down the cereal isle. You hear a woman speaking sternly with her child. She says, "Stop it, right now. Do NOT make me take you outside." The child seems to be recovering from hysterics or at the very least a crying fit. You don't like what the mother is saying to the child so you stand by and watch or decide to talk to the child to lighten the mood. Here is what the mother would like you to know.
     1. You have no idea why this child is in trouble and you are therefore incapable of determining the appropriate tone I should take when resolving this issue.
     2.  I finally get my child to calm down after throwing an epic temper tantrum after I have told him for the fourteenth time in three minutes that he could not have any sugar cereal. Here you come giving him an audience, thus encouraging him to drag out the tantrum even longer.

When you come upon a child that is in the midst of discipline, play deaf and blind. This deprives the child of an audience. It is very embarrassing for the adult to have to publicly discipline their child. In today's society, a mother is constantly concerned both about someone accusing her of abuse, and someone confronting her for not disciplining her child enough. A mother is not free to be a mother under those circumstances. As long as there is no abuse taking place, you should allow the mother the freedom to do what she feels is necessary to solve the problem. Some discipline must take place publicly to discourage public meltdowns by the child. Ironically, it is those who join in on the discipline and take the mother's side who offer the most help.

I once came upon a mother with twin toddlers and a son about two to three years older that them. He was not listening to her instructions. I stayed out of the situation to allow her to parent. But then the child knocked all of the cans on the shelf to the floor in a raging fit. The mother looked like she was about to literally break his neck for it. I intervened. "Pick-it-up...nooow." I said in my Amittyville Horror voice, leaning down over the child. "Don't you ever embarrass your mother in public again." The child was caught off guard. Strangers were supposed to step in and save him from punishment not call him on his bad behavior. The mother was grateful and the child behaved for the remainder of the shopping trip. I stepped in because I could see that the power struggle was about to escalate to a potentially unhealthy level. But in intervening, I maintained the mother's authority and reaffirmed the expectation of the respect he owed her.

Stranger Danger

You see the cutest kid you have ever seen walking down the street with her mother. You can't resist the temptation to talk to her. You say hello, and ask her name. The more you talk the closer the mother holds the child. You sense that she doesn't want you talking to her child but you don't understand why. Here is what the mother is thinking.
     1. You are a stranger. You have no business approaching my child.
     2. How can I teach my child about stranger danger if you're in her face talking to her when you should be talking to me?

I know that some children are so adorable that you just want to love them, and pet them, and call them George. But your actions are that of a stranger. A small child lacks the ability to reason whether a person is a dangerous or safe stranger. Approaching a child and asking their name is placing them in a situation they are not equipped to handle. You are also forcing the mother to decide between being rude to you or allowing you, a stranger, to talk to her child. Consider the safety of the child before you approach her. Tell the mother how cute you find her to be. Ask the mother what the child's name is. Leave the child alone.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Non-Medicinal Cold Treatments

At the first sign of a cold, most of us run to the local drugstore and buy a bottle of cold syrup or a box of cold pills. We also add lozenges and drinks, anything that will make us think we are getting better. The reality is, there is nothing that will help you get over a cold faster. There are several medicines that will make your symptoms go away, but the virus is definitely still there. How many times have you gotten over a cold and then a week or two later someone else in your home has the same cold? This is because you never got rid of your cold. You hid your symptoms and eventually passed it on due to a false sense of security. By treating your cold without medicine, you can be more aware of what is happening in your body and will be less likely to spread it throughout your family.

Runny Nose and Sneezing

If these are the first symptoms of your cold, chances are high that you are suffering an allergy cold. When your nose runs, it is because your nasal receptors have been irritated by an allergen. Your body tries to rid itself of this irritant by expelling it with a sneeze. If that doesn't work, it turns on the water works. If you know what you're allergic to, rid your home, office and car of it immediately. You can avoid the cold that follows. If you must use medicine, use a nasal allergy spray. Keep using it until the symptoms stop. This means your body is winning the battle with the allergen and doesn't need any more of your help. Document the first sign of the attack so that you can be prepare for the next one. If you don't have medicine the best thing to do, other than avoid the allergen, is to blow your nose. If you use a medicine for a runny nose, it will stop the process that was designed to make you better. By blowing your nose, you prevent the mucus from thickening and causing congestion and you prevent the thinner mucus from draining down you nasal passage into your lungs, (post nasal drip).


Coughing is such an annoying and painful symptom to have to live with. In order to cough, your lungs fill up with air and your diaphragm forces the air out in an attempt to force the phlegm from your lungs. It is your body's way of preventing bronchitis and pneumonia. This process causes aches in your core muscles, your neck, your head, and even your shoulders. The best way to deal with it is to listen to your own cough the same way you would listen to and evaluate a child's cough. If something is coming up, your body doesn't need any help from you. But if the cough is frequent and causing discomfort, blow your nose. Yes, blow your nose. If you find that the cough is coming in waves or cycles, then post nasal drip is the cause. Post nasal drip leads to the lungs and causes a cough. Prevent the mucus from getting in there in the first place. After blowing your nose drink water or hot tea with honey. The water washes the mucus down so it can't cause further damage. It also detoxes your body so it can spend less time trying to hydrate you and removing toxins, and more time fighting the virus. The hot tea warms the phlegm in your lungs making it easier to cough up. The honey soothes your throat. If you must take medicine, Robistussin is the best on the market because it isolates specific symptoms and treats them with different formulas so that you aren't taking medicine for symptoms you don't have. Consider this, if you go to the emergency room with bronchitis, they give you Robitussin with Codine.


For those who partake, this could make having a cold a less unpleasant thing. One of the active ingredients in cough syrup is alcohol. It helps with sleep, aches, and coughs. Alcohol increases blood flow to the capillaries. This makes coughing easier and thus more productive.

Cayenne Pepper

It's a disgusting remedy but a remedy nonetheless. Spicy foods in general increase blood flow which allows for quicker healing. So sprinkling this spice into some tea will deliver it to your throat and help it heal faster. You could also put it in a spray bottle. Of course there is always Chloraseptic.


My favorite to drink is the organic, rainforest blend available at Costco. I drink it whenever I have an allergy attack or a regular cold. The caffeine increases blood flow which helps with nasal allergies and coughs.


This helps you sleep and lets your muscles recover from the intensity of making you shiver or cough.

Hot Toddy

It matters not how you spell it or what recipe you use. The bottom line is that it makes you feel good. Why? It's alcohol. You feel warm and tingly and cough less. You'd be better off with a glass of wine or a shot of rum.


Very helpful in opening nasal passages and providing that cooling menthol feeling.

Vapor rubs

Made with eucalyptus it allows you to breathe and makes coughing easier. If you add a few drops of camphor oil, you will find that it relieves aches as well. Grab a tube of Icy Hot and you will see camphor in the ingredients. 

Ibuprofen vs. Acetaminophen

Whenever you take your child to the pediatrician or urgent care, she is given Tylenol which is acetaminophen. They recommend it as a fever reducer because it is more difficult to over-medicate with it. If you read the bottle, there are more doses allowed in a 24 hour period than there are for ibuprofen. However, take your child to the emergency room with a fever, they give her Motrin, which is an ibuprofen. They never get concerned about a fever not coming down with Tylenol. But tell them that Motrin didn't work and watch them bring out the doctors and monitors. Typically, acetaminophen is for headaches and sharp pains. This is why it is given in stronger doses after surgeries. Ibuprofen works best for swelling and muscle aches. After my cesarean, I was given acetaminophen. After my natural delivery, I was given ibuprofen. For a cold, if you must use one, I recommend ibuprofen. It's your muscles that ache and the fever that wipes you out.


The cold weather is what makes you sick. This is false. The common cold is a virus that is spread by way of saliva and mucus. Since the germs from a cough can travel approximately 3 feet after you've coughed, it's easy to see why everyone in your house is always sick. When you step out into cold weather, the mucus and phlegm thickens, causing the infected person to cough and sneeze harder. The uninfected are just sitting ducks. Most people take cold medicine which means they think their cold is gone when it is merely subdued yet contagious like chicken pox scabs. So that person comes out into the world rubbing their nose (mucus), coughing into their hands and clothes, (more infected mucus), touching doorknobs and computer keyboards, talking to you (spit=infected saliva).

Hand sanitizer is helpful. As much as I am against hand sanitizer because it makes you sicker and makes recovery more difficult, this is a fact. The cold virus lives for 3 days on objects. So the infected should use the hand sanitizer, not for their own benefit, but for others. Use disinfectant wipes on doorknobs, steering wheels, remote controls etc. Consider this fact. The air in all transportation vehicles is recycled. Sometimes there is nothing you can do to avoid it.

Colds only last about a week. This is false. By the time you know you have a cold, you have potentially carried the virus for up to a week prior. Cold medicine labels tell you to see a doctor if symptoms persist after 7 days because they are manufactured to prevent the symptoms. If this isn't working then there is something seriously wrong. But your cold will persist beyond 7 days without symptoms. This is why your family members get sick. You think you're healthy and you're infecting others.

Honey works better than cough syrup.  This is true and false. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, "dextromethorphan is used to temporarily relieve cough caused by the common cold, the flu, or other conditions. Dextromethorphan will relieve a cough but will not treat the cause of the cough or speed recovery. Dextromethorphan is in a class of medications called antitussives. It works by decreasing activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing." As of March 14, 2012 the same source states that,
"Cochrane reviews have assessed the effectiveness of over‐the‐counter (OTC) cough medications, but none have studied honey as a cough relief. A review of two small randomised controlled trials (RCTs) showed that honey was moderately better than 'no treatment' for the relief of cough, reducing bothersome cough, improving quality of sleep for children and parents and reducing the severity of cough. This review included two small trials involving 265 children, aged two to 18 years. The effects of honey and dextromethorphan on symptomatic relief of cough, bothersome cough, and quality of sleep for both child and parent did not differ. Honey may be better than diphenhydramine for symptomatic relief of cough, reducing the severity of cough, and improving sleep quality for both parent and child. Dextromethorphan and diphenhydramine are both common ingredients in cough medications." As a parent, i'll take the natural remedy over the drug with the overdose warning. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

What Every Woman Should Know About Her Vehicle

Cars made after 1994 are made with fuel injection systems. They replaced carburetors. If your mechanic starts talking about a carburetor for your 2006 Toyota Corolla, you have a problem.

Fluid Checks
Most car problems begin with a poor management of fluids. This is everything from gasoline to radiator fluid. Know how, where, and when to check your fluids. If the light is on, it's too late. When checking your fluids do it when the car has sat for at least an hour. Otherwise, removing a hot radiator cap will do more than burn your hand. When checking your oil, wipe the dipstick clean with a rag, reinsert it, then pull it out again. If the oil is below the fill line your oil is low. If it is below the add line, you have NOT been taking care of your car. Add oil immediately and go get an oil change. Make sure they change your oil filter. If your oil is dark or black, get an oil change.

The most obvious sign you need new brake pads is a squeaky sound. However, if you have a Jeep Grand Cherokee made no later than 2005, you will hear squeaking no matter what. Another sign you need new brake pads is brake dust on your wheels. If your wheels have a reddish brown or coppery colored dust on them, usually only on the front wheels, you have gone passed the point of squeaking and really need new brake pads now. Go longer than this stage and you will hear and feel grinding. Your brake pad replacement price just doubled. You are now grinding your rotors. Nine times out of ten your rotors can be resurfaced. But depending on how bad it is, it's safer just to replace them. If you suspect your mechanic is snowing you over, which happens the moment they see the brake dust, ask to see the rotors. If they can't show you or haven't even removed the tires or brake pads, leave.

Jumper cables
When connecting the cars, make sure the car that's doing the charging (#1)is in the same class or higher than the car being charged (#2). Don't charge a Ford Expedition with a Dodge Neon. Use an F-150 or an Escalade for example. Turn off all power to car #1. Place both cars in park or neutral if standard. Turn on the heater or air conditioner of car #2. This protects your electrical system. Connect the red terminals first. Use the red jumper cable clamp on car #2 battery first, and then the red terminal on the good battery in car #1. Next, connect the black cable on any unpainted metal surface on the engine bay of car #2. This will act as a ground. Connect the other end to the negative terminal on the good battery. Make a VISUAL inspection of the cables, making sure these are not loose in any way. Start the engine on car #1. Lightly step on the gas to increase RPM to about 1,500. The alternator will be charging the battery and giving enough voltage to charge the dead battery momentarily. Start car #2 engine. As soon as the engine starts, turn off the A/C or heater. Let both engines run for about five minutes, to give the dead battery enough charge. Disconnect the jumper cables starting with the black terminal on car #1, then the grounding cable on car #2. Then disconnect the red terminal on car #2 and then the red terminal on car #1. When in doubt, read the instructions on the bag the cables came in, assuming you still have it. If the battery sputters out shortly after, you need a new battery.

Flat Tire
Always travel with a full sized spare in your car. Have one mounted if you can't have it in your car. There is nothing worse than being on a road trip or somewhere far from home with your kids and your dog in the car, and all you have to get you home is a donut or nothing at all. If you drive an SUV or a truck, a full size spare is CRUCIAL. Always test the jack that comes with your car, every car comes with one. Make sure it is the jack that was intended for that car. You don't want to find out in an emergency that you have a jack meant for a Mini but you drive a Suburban. Standard jacks, the ones that the manufacturer included, always come with a tire iron or a tool to remove the lugs (the bolts holding the tire on). Always place the jack close to the wheel under the actual frame of the car. If you aren't sure which place is safest, check your manual. Do not change a tire on a hill. Loosen the lugs on the tire. This might take some elbow grease. But don't remove them. Raise the car just high enough to lift the tire off of the ground. Remove the lugs, put them in your pocket or your bra. If you've ever seen A Christmas Story you will know why this is important. Remove the tire by pulling it towards you and rolling it away. This is a very easy and simple process. If it has become difficult, you're doing it wrong. The most difficult part is lifting the spare tire if it's large, keeping track of the lugs, and the exertion of removing them. Remember, righty tighty, lefty loosey. Put the new tire on, you will need to support the weight of the tire as you line it up and slide it on. Apply the lugs by hand, then tighten them with the tire tool. DON'T OVER TIGHTEN. Make sure the tire is flush against the disc behind it. You don't want it tilted in any way. Lower the car. Tighten the lugs as tight as they will go without stripping the lugs. When you get home, Leave your spare in place and buy a new tire to replace the spare.

There are two major causes to an overheating vehicle, radiator leak or a failing water pump. The radiator is always behind the grill of your car. If there is any moisture or green liquid on the ground at the front of your car. You have a radiator leak. Do NOT drive your car. Call a mechanic. If you heard a strange swishing sound, like rushing water, or the sound of pump running out of water, your water pump just quit. Fix it immediately or your fan belt will be next.

Tension Pulley
Ever stop at a red light and hear an infernal squealing coming from under the hood of the car idling next to you? That's the sound of a tension pulley going out. It holds the serpentine belt. When the tension pulley goes out, the belt is no longer aligned. You will hear a constant squeal whenever your car is running. The belt will eventually shred and break. This will lead to a host of problems no one can afford. If you hear this squeal, pull over and call a tow truck.

Always ask for your parts back. Don't just say that you want your parts back, write it on the estimate or any document you are asked to sign. If work is done on your vehicle and the parts are not given to you as requested, the work is free. Also, if a mechanic does any work on your car without asking you first or that is not included on the estimate, you are not responsible for it. They will threaten you or refuse to release your car. Simply call the police or contact the Bureau of Automotive Repairs. Unauthorized work, no matter how necessary they say it is, is still unauthorized. Know what the parts you request should look like. If they show you brake drums and your car has brake discs for the rear brakes, then they aren't giving you the parts. Keep the parts they give you as proof that your parts were not returned.

Know what is wrong with your car before it goes wrong. All Ford SUV's and trucks from 2000 to 2010 run the risk of blowing a spark plug. There is a kit for this issue provided to any mechanic looking to fix this problem. But if you don't know that this is an expected problem, you may spend more money in the long run. Why pay for a spark plug change in a car that is prone to blowing spark plugs in the first place? Solve the recall problem instead. The tune up is included. Do the tune up first, and you wind up paying for the two services separately.

Know what's covered under warranty. It's better to take your car to the dealer when you have a warranty. Get a diagnostic on the car so that you are aware of what's wrong with it or potentially wrong with it no less than 3 days before the warranty expires. This way, if there is a problem with your car, and a mechanic says you need a new this or that, you can show the diagnostic that says he's wrong. However, if he's right, he'll stand his ground. You may have an issue to take up with your dealer. Even though the warranty has expired, the problem existed before it ended. They have to make the repair for free.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gumbo Vs Gumbo

Every Fall I am asked the same questions. "What is in traditional gumbo?" "Where does gumbo come from?" " What's the difference between Cajun and Creole gumbo?" Hopefully this post will help clear up the confusion. 

Origin of Gumbo
Gumbo came from Southern Louisiana in the 18th century. It's name either comes from the Bantu word for okra, (ki ngombo), or the Choctaw word for file', (kombo). The dish combines ingredients and culinary practices of several cultures, including French, Spanish, German, West African, and Choctaw.

Types of Gumbo

Louisiana Gumbo
This was the original gumbo. It was merely an okra soup with file', chicken stock and the Holy Trinity (bell pepper, onion, celery). It was served over rice or with bread. 

Cajun Gumbo
The base for this soup is Louisiana Gumbo with a dark roux made of flour and pork lard. Chicken and sometimes andouille sausage is also added. The bone is left in the chicken. In recent years the okra has been removed from the recipe.

Creole Gumbo
It also has the Louisiana Gumbo as the base with a roux but the roux is not as dark. Instead of chicken, there is shrimp and andouille sausage. There are also tomatoes and less cayenne pepper. In recent years, the okra has been removed from the recipe.

Gumbo Du Monde
This is the most common and most recent version of gumbo. It contains the Holy Trinity, roux, file', chicken stock, andouille, chicken, shrimp, crab, cayenne pepper, hot sauce and tomatoes. It is the collaboration of all of the different meat gumbos, hence the "du monde". In my family's version, we do not use okra or tomatoes. This is very common especially for families originating from voodoo practicing Creole ancestry. 

Gumbo Z'herbes
This gumbo is for the Lent season. There is no meat involved. It's a combination of the greens, turnip, mustard, collard, spinach. They are cooked until they are a mush and strained. This is mostly eaten in Germany.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

10 Places Allergens Are Hiding In Plain Sight

1. Vacuum- Admit it, you've never cleaned the filters inside your vacuum. Well, obviously that is a source of allergens. But so is the brush and the outside casing of the vacuum. Every time I go to someone's house and see their vacuum the outside is just as dusty as the bin. Take a wet wipe to it after you vacuum to keep the dust away. 

2. Bottles- Look on your bathroom counter. It looks clean, but what about the lid to the Noxema, or the bottle of lotion, or the perfume bottle on your dresser. There is always some collection of dust around the nozzles or the on the lids. 

3. Headboards- It doesn't matter if you have one made of wood, metal, or fabric, allergens collect there too. If you have a fabric headboard, use the upholstery attachment of your vacuum and remove the allergens. If you have a wood headboard use wood cleaner and a wet wipe if its metal. 


4. Vents- Whether you have them on the ceiling, in the wall, or on the floor, chances are, you can't remember the last time you dusted there. The return vent, the one usually low on the wall under your air condition, is always the dustiest place in the house. If you have pets and long haired family members, all that hair, dander, and vacuum dust blow back ends up there. Use the vacuum home to clean there daily. 

5. Curtains- No one ever takes down the curtains to wash them. It's too much of a hassle. But I bet you never shake them out either. The curtains are the first line of defense against dust and allergens in your home. When you open the windows, everything blows past them first. You can either shake them out or use the upholstery attachment once a week to keep them allergen free. Personally, I like to spritz them with homemade Febreeze to keep the allergens away, keep them fresh and to keep the new dust from settling so easily. I vacuum them once a week. Homemade Febreeze works better than the store bought for this purpose. 

6. Blinds- Most people dust the blinds when the see the dust. But by then it's usually an inch thick. Spray a little furniture polish like Pledge on your favorite dusting tool and swipe them clean once or twice a week. he dust won't settle or build up.

7. Sofas- I have a leather sofa so I don't have this problem. But if you have a fabric sofa like my mother does, you have an allergen magnet. There is a reason it's call an upholstery attachment. When doing your daily vacuuming, give the sofas a few swipes with the attachments. You can probably get by with weekly cleaning but if you have severe allergies I recommend doing it daily. 

8. Plants- Sure, flowers are the obvious allergen. But did you know that when vegetable plants feel they are about to die they release as much pollen as they can as an attempt to live on in a new plant? When you have flowers you might hold onto them until they die. But once they begin to wilt, you will need to either get rid of them or remove the dying buds. The same goes for your herb garden. 

9. Appliances- The dryer blows air, so all around it and on top of it will be lint and dust. Don't forget to vacuum under it with a nozzle if you can. Don't forget to wipe down the kitchen counter top appliances. 

10. Clocks- We notice the dust on the picture frames because they contain images of our cherished family members. But we never notice the dust on the clock. We barely notice the time. When you dust the picture frames, don't forget the clocks.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Business of Rape

You've all heard me say it before. Graphic rape scenes are not necessary in American cinema. It was unnecessary in Rob Zombie's Halloween, the remake and sequel to The Hills Have Eyes, and it was unnecessary in The Last House on the Left. I continue to stand by the belief that the use of gratuitous, graphic rape scenes cause a desensitization our nation cannot afford to have. I was watching American Dad last week and counted, yes counted, 14 different rape jokes. I didn't bother to count the rape jokes in Family Guy. With Quagmire, I would have probably lost count. Don't get me wrong, i'm not blaming anyone but the rapist for the rape. My complaint here is that society doesn't take rape as seriously as it should because of the trivialization of the issue in the entertainment industry. To this day, I refuse to watch a movie that depicts graphic rape.

This line of thinking led me to some pivotal moments. I suddenly realized that it must have been torturous for other rape victims to watch a movie and see an unexpected, graphic rape scene. When a movie receives an R rating we are told that there is strong sexual content. Perhaps the more appropriate term is "violent rape". I also began to wonder, why would an actress submit to such a horrifying portrayal in a movie that really has no need for a rape scene as it does not even pertain to the story? That led me to Girl 27.

Girl 27 is a documentary about Patricia Douglas. She was a movie extra with MGM Studios. One of the studio executives David Ross poured scotch down her throat before violently raping her on the studio lot. "I want to destroy you." he said before robbing her of her innocence. The studio published her name address and photograph but would not release the name of her assailant or the studio. This documentary is available on Netflix Instant Watch. There are no depictions of rape. There is only the gripping account of descendants of those that covered up her story and the painful snowball effect the rape had on Patricia Douglas, her children and her grandchildren. I recommend everyone watch this documentary. If possible, you should also read the April 2003 Vanity Fair Article by David Stenn, "It Happened One Night." Perhaps the person that should also read this article and watch this movie is Todd Akin. Hearing Patricia Douglas's account of how the rape and the cover-up effected her entire life would probably make him more sensitive to survivors of sexual assault.

Here is where I may surprise you. I don't think that Todd Akin should drop out of the race. He is not beyond redemption. The fact that his comments were so entirely ignorant illustrates just how little people understand what sexual assault victims are subjected to. He should make a better, more heartfelt apology. He should acknowledge that he is completely ignorant about the subject of rape. He should then make it his mission to right that wrong by creating or supporting an informational program, existing or otherwise, that helps dispel the myths and misconceptions of rape and victims of rape. Perhaps he should start a petition to take rape out of Hollywood movies. Whatever he does, he needs to educate himself on the subject or never speak on the subject again.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Zulilly Review

So, I finally decided to give a chance. I bought four adorable little sundresses made by Sugah and Honey. The price was excellent. It was on average about $12 per dress. They looked just like they were advertised and fit perfectly. But my positive review ends there.

The dresses were made from paper thin fabric with no lining. I bought a $5 dress from Target that had a lining and bloomers. As you can see from the pictures, the dresses were poorly sewn. I actually had to break out my serger and repair the dresses before my little girl could wear them. Perhaps they were cheaply made because they were made in China, another negative since I am on a Made in America kick. This information is not available on the site.

The shipping is another problem. It took 10 days just for the items to ship and another four days for them to arrive. I used the Zulilly IPhone app to make my purchase but found that my $10 credit could only be applied if I used a regular computer.

Will I order again? Maybe. If I don't need the item for 2 weeks or if I have purchased from the manufacturer before, then yes, I would.

Zulilly, great price, poor quality.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Good Friends Vs Best Friends

As women we are all guilty, at least at some point, of referring to someone as a best friend that truly doesn't deserve that title. Perhaps it is the length of time that we are with that friend that causes us to consider that friend a best friend when they should be classified as a close friend. Maybe it's because we have told this friend so much of our personal business, we assume that makes them our best friend. But sooner or later we find ourselves discussing that best friend's shortcomings with the person we consider just a good friend. Here are some tips to help sort out which is your best friend and which is your good friend.

A Good Friend Loans You Money. A Best Friend Gives You Money.

We all know the old warning about lending money to a friend. The quickest way to lose a friend is to loan them money. The reason is that if the money isn't returned, there will be irreparable damage to your friendship. Also, some people make terrible bill collectors. Then there are those that like to remind you that they loaned you money, long after you paid them back. Even still, a good friend wouldn't allow you to go without, even if the money they give you is just a loan.

A best friend will simply give you the money. It doesn't matter to them that they are out the money they hand you. The reason is not that they are rich and can afford to throw money away. The reason is actually that you have such a reciprocated friendship that when that same friend is in need you take care of her the same way she takes care of you. It's the "if I got it, it's yours" principle.

A Good Friend Listens To Your Problems. A Best Friend Helps You Solve Them. 

When you're angry or hurting and need someone to turn to, that person is often your good friend. A good friend will listen to you. She will let you say all that is on your mind so that you can get it out of your head. She will comfort you and help you feel her presence and support in your time of need. We all need this type of friend.

A best friend will not only listen as you cathartically expel all of your grievances. She will also help you solve the problem that has you so upset in the first place. Talking things out is nice. But a friend that walks with you to the end of the road is better. What good is sitting in a corner crying into a glass of wine? You need a friend who will help you figure out what to do next, even if the decision you make isn't the one she helps you come up with.

A Good Friend Considers Your Feelings. A Best Friend Considers Your Health.

Many women have ended friendships over comments about their weight or romantic relationships by their friend. We all seek out that friend that makes us feel good about ourselves. If we feel fat, our good friend helps us love ourselves. If we are in love with someone who consistently breaks our heart, she helps us mend it and remains understanding when you choose to go back to him.

A good friend doesn't care about what we want to feel like when it comes to what's best for us. A best friend is like family. She will tell you the truth no matter how much you don't want to hear it. Denial has never helped anyone. She will tell you that you need to lose weight because she doesn't want you to have heart disease or diabetes. She will tell you that the man you're with is a loser that will have you suicidal in a matter of months. She cares about your well being when you can't see the forest for the trees.

A Good Friend Remembers Your Birthday. A Best Friend Remembers Your Family's Birth dates.

A good friend will always remember your birthday because it is the polite thing to do. She will send you a text message or an email or a Facebook status shout out to wish you a happy birthday. She may even buy you a gift. That's what good friends do.

A best friend will pick up a phone and call you on your birthday. She doesn't have your birthday saved in a phone or on a calendar because they have it memorized. She knows your husband's birthday and all of your children's birthdays. She never misses a step. She knows what your children want for their birthdays and is there to babysit for your husband's birthday.

No one likes the feeling of realizing your best friend is really just a close friend. The worst is when an acquaintance is a better friend than that best friend. But it does happen. The best defense is to choose better friends in the first place. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

5 Products Women Don't Need

It almost seems unfair, men make fun of women for shopping, all the while commercials are geared directly toward you. Perhaps even more unfair is the fact that many of the products "made for a woman" aren't even necessary or useful for a woman. Here are five "must haves" you can cross off of your list. 

1. Activia
The most recent commercial I've seen suggests that if you eat three Activia yogurts a day, your digestive system will begin to run normally again. What that means is, you won't be constipated or irregular if you eat three cups of this special yogurt a day. It has clearly been geared toward women as there are only women chatting with Jamie Lee Curtis in the commercials, smiling and shoving spoons into their mouths. There's just one problem. You don't need it. The USDA food chart shows that if you take in three servings of dairy a day, you will have met your daily requirement. You can drink three servings of milk or eat three cups of any other brand of yogurt and have the same results. 

2. Lysol Automatic Soap Dispenser
Have you ever seen mold growing on a bar of soap? How about on a liquid soap dispenser? That's because soap by definition is antibacterial. Sure, when you touch the soap, however it's dispensed, you put all of your germs on the soap. But then, you wash the germs away before drying them. Unless you need more soap than anticipated, you don't go back to the soap. The automatic soap dispenser is marketed by showing a woman panicked over the animated germs that are crawling all over her sink area. It's pretty. It's convenient. But you don't need it. 

3. Microdermabrasion
Once celebrities like Halle Berry, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jenifer Lopez claimed to use microdermabrasion to keep their skin smooth and glowing, every housewife in the country sought out less expensive ways to have the same treatments. Every company from Olay to Garnier offered some version of microdermabrasion. In recent months we have even see the return of the electric face scrubber. I still have my old one from 1993. It cost me $5. Now the same one costs $35. The fact is that using something as simple as baking soda with your usual face wash can generate the same effect without the need for a large floppy hat to protect your skin from the sun. If the electric face brushes are too pricey, try using a simple exfoliating sponge. 

4. Tide Stain Release
We've all been in the position at least once when we held our breath while removing a previously stained garment from the wash. We cross our fingers and hope that the tough stains came out...this time. Enter Tide Stain Release. It claims to boost the cleaning power of its regular detergent. The product does work. But you don't need it. The problem can be resolved much more cheaply by adding baking soda or Borax to your wash. You could resolve the problem for free by changing the settings on your washer. Believe it or not, it's the ratio of water and agitation to the size of the load of laundry that helps your clothes get cleaner. Ever overload a washer to same time or quarters? Notice that the laundry isn't as clean. If you set your washer load size to the next size up, your stains will come out easier. Pretreating and prompt washing will also help boost the stain removing power of your detergent. You can also switch detergents. 

5. Olay Age Defying Body Wash
Don't get me wrong. I LOVE this stuff. If it weren't for the overpowering perfume, I'd buy it again. The fact is that you can get the same effects with exfoliating gloves and body oil. It doesn't matter if it's baby oil or Avon Skin So Soft oil. Applying mineral oil while still in the shower allows the minerals and moisture to be locked in. It's moisture that keeps skin looking young.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Fellowes P-5S Shredder Review

My Fellowes P-5S shredder is slightly different from the one pictured. Mine has a rectangular button and the shredder completely covers the bin. There is a little opening cut out of the front similar to the P-55c. 

The price of the shredder was decent. It was about $25 on sale at Target. It is a 5 page shredder with with reverse. It has a notch on the bin that must line up with the shredder to prevent shredding when it is not on the bin and of course a reverse option. 

Even though the price was decent, this shredder isn't worth the paper I shred. I spend more time unjamming the shredder than I spend shredding. Every single time I have used the shredder I have had to take a pair of needle nose pliers to it to pull out a shredded strip of paper that is only 3 pages thick. When I actually try to shred 5 pages as it boasts it can handle, it reduces speed and overheats. As a result, the shredder shuts off and I have to wait 30 minutes before I can use it again. 

On the rare occasion when I shred only one piece of paper it doesn't jam, but it does shut down after about 2 minutes of shredding. If you are anything like me, you leave the shredder running while you open your mail and then shred as you go along. That would be a bad idea with this shredder. I have been in the middle of shredding a 15 page document, (should be relatively quick since this shredder is capable of handling 5 pages at a time), and found that the shredder shuts off after the first 5 pages. Then, you guessed it, I have to wait 30 minutes to use it again.

The bin should be taller. The shredder disposes the paper vertically until it curls up. This causes it to fill up quicker. You only have 2 minutes before the machine shuts off. But after about 30 seconds, you have to stop, empty the bin, reassemble the bin, clear any jams, turn the machine off and on a few times, then resume shredding. I could chop up a stack of checks by hand quicker than this shredder could shred them. 

This is definitely something you should not buy. Perhaps a different brand.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Harajuku at Target

I was raving with excitement when I saw that Harajuku by Gwen Stefani was now at Target. I ran to the store with my RedCard in hand with the intention of spending that month's entertainment budget. My eyes were met with a technicolor rainbow. There were neon greens and pinks, color I haven't seen since the eighties. There were those loveable Harajuku girls, some with mermaid fins and some without. My personal favorite was the one with the afro. This is perhaps the first disappointment for me. I bought a makeup bag with the same Harajuku girls on it from Sephora. Those girls were all shades of brown, from dark to light. There were no brown Harajuku girls in the Target version. 

The styles were adorable. There was military styled jacket, reminiscent of a jacket Michael Jackson once wore. There "scants", a word I use to describe those pants that have a skirt attached. They look like skorts only they have pants instead of shorts. You'd have to be a woman to understand. There was plaid and overalls, something I was sad to see leave in the nineties. There were shoes, barrettes, headbands, sunglasses and knee-high socks. The universal theme was nautical. It was evident in the navy blue and stripes, along with the anchors and military jackets. 

My problem was with the style and the price. See I like the real Harajuku style. I was expecting the line to be a little more eclectic and interchangeable and a little less Garanamals meets Macy's fashion. Each piece in the line was at least $12.00. That was for a pair of barrettes. I wouldn't have minded if the afro Harajuku was at least brown. Most of the main clothing pieces were $20 a piece. My husband took a stab at the Harajuku line while I was at work. He didn't know that there was such a thing as matching too much. He bought the light blue hoodie with the mermaids on it, the matching light blue onesie with the pink haired mermaid on the chest and the light blue skirt. Too much blue for me. I added a two pair pack of knee-high socks and a pair of barrettes. The barrettes, socks, hoodie, shirt and skirt cost him almost $80. The same outfit in a Circo version was $30. So you really pay for the name. The items constantly sell out and do not get replaced. I'm assuming either they aren't selling as well as expected or there is another line, spring perhaps, that is on it's way in. 

Although there are no brown Harajukus and each piece is slightly overpriced, I will purchase more when or if there is more to buy. The reason, I can't resist the urge too make my daughter look like the Harajuku version of Rainbow Brite as I once did when I was a child.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Holidays Are Over. Now what?

Swag without Christmas elements can hang all winter.
If you're anything like me you are crashing hard from your holiday high. If you need to drag out the season until the end of winter here are a few tips to help that happen. 

Gingerbread withdrawal- Everyday in December I drank a non-fat Gingerbread Latte with whipped cream. I'm still wired from the caffeine. Now that Starbucks is no longer selling the 260 calorie treat I had to find a way to do it myself with less calories. Step one, brew your own espresso coffee at home, 6 calories per cup. Step two, sprinkle allspice in your coffee instead of the discounted gingerbread latte creamers at the grocery stores. You add zero calories to your coffee but get that gingerbread taste. Add the Cool Whip instead of creamer and stir. There are 25 calories in 2 tablespoons. Total calories, 56. Your sugar adds about 10 calories per teaspoon but if you use the regular Cool Whip, you won't need as much. 

Gift Card shuffle- So now you have a full deck of gift cards from your Secret Santas and that relative that can't stand you but doesn't want to be mean. What are you supposed to do with them, go the mall and be mauled by the post season shoppers? No, absolutely not. Although, that may be what that nemesis of a relative may have planned to have happen to you in the first place. Studies show that people spend as much as 150% more at a store from which they have a gift card. Here's how to beat that gimmick. Shop online. You know that $50 card to Best Buy isn't enough for much more than a DVD or CD nowadays. But shopping online gives you more control. Did you know that the shelves closest to the checkout lines are called "impulse buys"? Stores rearrange their shelves every season to force you to walk through the entire building before you buy what you need. This is done by monitoring what is most frequently purchased at the store and placing it in the middle or in the back of the store. If you're shopping online, you can use preferences to your advantage. Click the boxes that limit your shopping to the value of your card or less. If you still have too many items to choose from, limit your search to item that you need, then look for things that you want. You are guaranteed to spend less money online than if you redeem your card in person. Of course there is always the option to sell the gift card altogether. 

Donation central- Now its time to face the fact that you will not wear those jeans or those boots you bought this fall. Help someone less fortunate by donating the warm clothes you haven't worn. It's only the beginning of winter, so there will still be time for someone else to enjoy your clothes, even if you are re-gifting them.

Leave 'em hangin'- Did you know that the Christmas tree is a pagan ritual? So is the wreath and the mistletoe. If you believe it is bad luck to have these things up but you can't stand the thought of chucking such expensive pine in the dumpster just yet the solution is simple. Wreaths were originally an expression of wealth or your occupation. Redesign the wreath and leave it hanging as a symbol of winter or your occupation. Mine is called "swag". It's not circular but hang vertically like the leaves of a tree. I decorated mine with gold, flocking, acorns and pine cones. I tied it with a ribbon and now I have a winter decoration and not a Christmas one. The pine needles in my tree are sitting in jars of almond oil. Pine oil brings money and good fortune when you anoint a candle with it. It also smells nice in the house throughout winter. Add it to your ammonia when you mop the floor and you have Pine-Sol.