Thursday, September 4, 2014

Doll Bed

The new American Girl doll catalog arrived in the mail yesterday.  My oldest daughter loves the bed in the book.  I was curious, so I looked at the price...

ay ay ay!  $175.  Not doable.  So, I began searching the web for an alternative--one that would be more affordable and I found this...

http://ana-white.com/2012/12/plans/kid039s-kit-doll-bed

I've printed off the plans and look forward to trying to make two with the kids!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Listening

I was telling my girls that I love to talk to people because I care and I love hearing people's stories, but I have to admit that I also do love the little things that I learn from people.

Last week, I listened as a friend remarked that she always filled her glass half full of water before adding sweet tea from a bottle.  I felt my brain go, "Hmmm..."  And since we had almost a full bottle in our fridge this week after having friends for dinner last week, I experimented.  I filled my glass half full of ice and then filled that half with water.  Then, I added sweet green tea to fill the glass.  It tasted just fine!  And I have to admit that I felt better about having less caffeine and sugar in the process.  I did buy Tradewinds Tea because it was made with sugar instead of Arizona Iced Tea's comparable version made with high fructose corn syrup.  It was pretty good!

The same friend and I were talking on the phone a few weeks ago about high school math.  Her husband teaches their children math at that level.  She shared his sentiment that any solid high school math book will work.  I asked whether he had ever needed a teacher's edition.  She answered that he hadn't and that all high school texts have the answers to the odd problems in the back of the book.  I had completely forgotten this!  In school, teachers always assigned the even problems because they didn't want us to cheat on our homework.  BUT, as a homeschooler the answers are handy if my child's honest.  They will keep me from needing a separate answer key!  Yay!  I am glad that I will get to save money on high school math and just purchase a public school text!

Little things... but they're little things I'm glad to know!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Appliance Warranties

Every time we buy a new appliance or piece of technology, we face that question, "Should be a warranty?"  In the past, we bought a warranty on the washing machine we bought and the refrigerator we bought when we moved into this house.

I've gotten pretty disillusioned with warranties the past few years.  Often the cost is on you to return to the manufacturer.  When we had a television go bad on us from Costco, it was a bear to get someone out to inspect the television.  The verdict ended up being that it was unfixable.  I think it took several months to get it resolved and get a check from the company so we could get a replacement television.

But, some companies have figured this out and they now offer warranties that they tout as "no deductible" and of great benefit.

Two years ago, we did decide to buy a 5 yr warranty on our side by side Samsung refrigerator.  The warranty cost $250, but because the refrigerator would be expensive to replace since it was a counter-depth fridge, we thought it was worth it.  This is one of those rare occasions when it was.

Two weeks ago, I called HH Gregg because the LED panel that shows the temperature/ice/water controls wasn't working properly.  The man asked all sorts of crazy questions (that were meant to deduce if the malfunctioning was my fault or not).  It wasn't my fault.  It was a glitch.  We hadn't done anything to it.  It was covered.  But, at the same time I asked about one of my refrigerator shelves that showed several cracks on the sides of it.  Verdict?  Not covered.  The new shelf, thankfully, only cost $61, including tax, and I was able to swap out the new and old shelves myself.

The cost of the new part and installation would have been about $500.  So we did get our money's worth this time.  But, most of the time breakage (statistically) happens right after the warranty runs out.

Last year, the computer in my oven went out.  I wish, wish, wish that I had just had it fixed instead of replacing the oven.  The oven barely fits in its spot and I dread the new one ever having to get replaced.  The repair would have cost $400.  I don't feel like I made the right choice on that one.  

We don't have a warranty on our television because the warranty would have cost half of the television price.  

Warranties are tough.  You gamble when you buy a warranty.  Will it break?  Or won't it? Will it break before the warranty runs out?  I once read that statistically, warranties are designed to run out right before an item is statistically likely to break!  What a discouraging thing to read!

I'm learning that with some appliances it's wise to get a warranty and some it's not.  I wish there was a way to know, but I think it has more to do with knowing how much it would cost to replace the appliance if something breaks on it, whether you could replace the appliance if you need to, how much repairs typically cost (and how likely they are to be needed), and how long you'll have to wait for it to be repaired.  

The LED panel on my refrigerator thankfully didn't affect its ability to dispense ice and water and monitor the temperature.  I did have to wait 2 weeks for the part and the repair after the initial visit.  A friend of mine had her washing machine fixed and it took 6 weeks for it to get repaired.  No matter how you cut it, it's crummy when an appliance breaks and we depend on it every day!  Repair time doesn't diminish if you have a warranty, the warranty just diminishes the cost.  
   

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Family Medical Records

This morning I'm working putting together a binder that I should have done a long time ago.  But, like most projects, you tackle them when I get the chance.

I think I've mentioned that my mom is sick.  She's been quite sick for about 4 months now.  I have been going to all of her appointments with her.  She carries with her a folder in which she keeps all of her records. Along the way, I bought a tiny lined notebook to carry with me in my purse on which I write notes down about her appointments.

As I was planning for the upcoming school year this past week, I realized that I really should put together a family medical notebook for us and one for my mom.

I was on the Mom's Toolbelt website that I have a membership on (link to Mom's ToolBelt Site).  Side note...I purchased a membership on the site over 5 years ago when I was trying to compile free forms to make my own planner.  At the time, the cost was worth it because it saved me a lot of time trying to scour the web and find free forms.  I have to admit that I am very thankful for it because it is one of those few memberships that I've really found worth it over time and I like that it isn't an annual fee.

I started by getting out a binder and putting a handwritten form on the side saying "Family Medical Forms".  Then I placed 5 dividers inside and labeled them for each member of our family.  In the front, I placed copies of these forms:
1. Pages 2,3, 5, and 6 from http://www.anthem.com/ca/provider/f2/s2/t1/pw_a118331.pdf?refer=provider

Under my husband's and my tab, I placed
1. the Doctor, Medication, and Medical History Logs from Mom's Toolbelt
2. the vaccination form from: http://www.immunize.org/catg.d/p2023.pdf
3. Lab Work/Tests/Procedures page from: http://cshcn.org/planning-record-keeping/care-notebook

Under the kids tabs, I placed
1. the Doctor, Medication, and Medical History Logs from Mom's Toolbelt
2. the immunization record from: http://www.cigna.com/personal/health-and-well-being/hw/media/pdf/hw/form_ug3271.pdf
3. Growth Tracking Form and Lab Work Page from: http://cshcn.org/planning-record-keeping/care-notebook

I know that immunization recommendations have changed over time and the CDC has the most up to date form/schedules on their site, but they were more difficult for me print off and follow than the forms I have linked to above.

I found some great free forms on this page that would substitute easily for the forms I used from Mom's toolbelt: http://cshcn.org/planning-record-keeping/care-notebook
There's a provider list, medication list, appointment log, and several other forms that look very handy!  I'm going to keep track of this website in case I need to add other pages!

I'm glad my notebook is assembled.  Now I need to go fill it in!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Crock Pot Beets--They Worked!

My husband and I like beets.  But, I don't like how long I have to cook them on the stove.  It means I have to not forget (amidst the craziness of life) that I have a pot on the stove for several hours.  Once my beets almost, but just barely didn't, went dry in the pan.  I wanted to find a new way, so I searched online and found a way to cook them in the crock pot.

Here's the method:
Wash the beets.  Take off the bit of end root and tops.  Place 1 beet in the center of a piece of foil and sprinkle a little coarse salt over it and drizzle a bit of olive oil.  Wrap up completely and place in a crock pot.

I layered them up to the top of the crock pot.  I used my smaller crock pot and not the huge one I have.  I had wondered if I would be able to layer them on top of each other or only on the bottom.  I layered them on top of each other and it worked out fine.  I cooked them on high for 6 hours.  Online I read that it would only take 3 hours.  But, I think that because I filled up my crock pot it took longer.  They weren't mushy, but were just right.  

I am so glad that I no longer have to cook beets on the stove!  This was much simpler to manage!  Beets are a great source of iron and I am glad I'll be able to fix them more often now.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

New Twist on Quiche

I love quiche.  But, I don't love that it takes almost an hour usually to bake it.  But, this past week I found a recipe that works as a good substitute.  Of course, I modified it a lot (more than I realized at first), so I'm going to post it as I made it.

Pie #1

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  

1.  Get a deep dish pie pan.  Spray the bottom with cooking spray.  Place a tortilla at the bottom.  I found that a 10" fills the bottom exactly and works well.  Spray the top of the tortilla.

2.  In a bowl, mix 3 cups shredded chicken,
1 cup cheddar cheese, sharp if your family likes it or milder if preferred
1/2 cup. minced cilantro (decrease to 1/4 cup if you are concerned it might be too strong)
A small handful of diced sweet banana pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

3.  Spread mixture on top of tortilla.

4.  Mix 2 large eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Mix till smooth. You don't want flour lumps.

5.  Pour over mixture in pie pan.  Sprinkle another cup of cheese on top.  Place pie in oven.  My oven bakes really hot on the bottom, so I have to preheat the oven completely, then place my pan on the top rack and place a cookie sheet on the bottom rack.  I bake it for 17 minutes.  I start checking at 15 minutes.  It can take up to 20 minutes to bake if your oven isn't as hot as mine.  

I know it sounds a little crazy that I have to do all of that for my oven (and it was replaced just 10 months ago).  But, I'm just thankful to have figured out how to make it work!  I was constantly burning things or having to lower the temperature to get food to bake through.  An appliance repairman came to fix my dishwasher and he and I discussed my oven.  He explained that ovens now overheat so that they can preheat faster.  Because of this, you have to give your oven longer to preheat.

Pie #2
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  

1.  Get a deep dish pie pan.  Spray the bottom with cooking spray.  Place a tortilla at the bottom.  I found that a 10" fills the bottom exactly and works well.  Spray the top of the tortilla.

2.  In a bowl, mix 3 cups shredded chicken,
1 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, sharp if your family likes it or milder if preferred
8 oz. sliced mushrooms, sauteed quickly over high heat in a little canola oil
handful of sliced green onions
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

3.  Spread mixture on top of tortilla.

4.  Mix 2 large eggs, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt.  Mix till smooth. You don't want flour lumps.

5.  Pour over mixture in pie pan.  Sprinkle another cup of cheese on top.  Place pie in oven.  My oven bakes really hot on the bottom, so I have to preheat the oven completely, then place my pan on the top rack and place a cookie sheet on the bottom rack.  I bake it for 17 minutes.  I start checking at 15 minutes.  It can take up to 20 minutes to bake if your oven isn't as hot as mine.  

I've served this dish for dinner and for breakfast.  I love that it cooks in half the time of a quiche and it sure tastes good!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Yard Sale Treasure of the Summer

Yesterday my middle daughter found a treasure while garage saling.  Part of garage saling is knowing what you're looking for and seeing it underneath dirt, marks, and even paint.  My middle daughter is my shopper.  She loves to shop in stores and she loves to garage sale with me.

We drove quite a ways out of town as we followed signs to a yard sale.  The family had bought an auction lot in order to purchase a dining room set and was selling the rest of it off at this yard sale.  The homeowner said she'd definitely make enough from the yard sale to cover the cost of the lot and pay for their dining room set.  Well, she didn't realize what one of the things from the lot was and how much it would matter to a little girl.

My daughter brought me a doll as I was looking through the movies.  I thought, "Really?  Another doll?"  I am skittish about dolls or anything that has any stuffing and I can't throw into a washing machine to make sure it was clean.  I told her to go ask the lady how much it was.  She told her it was $1.  Okay, I told her.  That will be fine.  It had marks all over its hands and several black marks on the face.  The arms and legs were dirty, but it wore a cute cheerleading outfit.

When we got in the car, my daughter told me she was sure it was an American Girl doll.  I told her we'd check when we got it home.  I cautioned her not to be too hopeful that all the marks would come off.  We'd have to work at it when we got home and see what we could do.

After one more yard sale, we headed home.  Immediately, Sami brought the doll to our kitchen island for surgery.  She took off the doll's clothes and threw them in the washing machine.  I sprayed the pom poms with Lysol and set them on a towel to dry.  We got out the baking soda and a damp rag to begin the cleaning process.  We worked away and got the marks off the face.  The green mark on one thumb wouldn't completely go away.  But, the legs and arms cleaned up.  We brushed the hair (and sprayed it with Lysol).  She was thrilled.

I went online when I discovered a marking that said "Pleasant Company" on the back of the doll to find out if it was an American Girl doll.  Yes, indeed this doll is an American Girl doll complete with an American Girl outfit.  Outfits run between $30 and $40 on their own.

My daughter found a treasure that she is very happy with.  She didn't mind the elbow grease and was very happy to help me.  She has been generous and is sharing it with her sister.

Yard Saling is fun because you never know what you're going to find.  My daughter definitely learned that yesterday.

I am thankful for this blessing for her, but I am even more thankful to see how she is sharing it and how she is simply excited about it rather than bragging about it.