Thursday, January 31, 2013

14 Days of Valentine's (for Husband or Significant Other)

What an amazing idea for Valentine's Day! I found this on accident while looking at Pinterest and thought it was the perfect little way to to let your "other half" feel special for not just one day, but 14! There are 18 ideas so you can choose the 14 your significant other will like the most. You will need to start tomorrow, February 1!

14 days of Valentines treats for hubby!

Just in case you can't read all of the 14 days from the photo I will type them out.
1. Crush soda: I have a CRUSH on you
2. Reese's Pieces: You stole a PIECE of my heart
3. Hot Tamales: You are my HOT TAMALE
4. Sweedish Fish: You o'FISH'ally have my heart
5. M&M Pretzel: I'd be KNOTS without you
6. Any can of soda: I "SODA" think you are amazing
7. 100 Grand Bar: You are priceless to me
8. Pop Rocks Candy: You ROCK my world
9. Skittles: You COLOR my world
10. Package of Gum: I'm stuck on you
11. Starburst: You are the "STAR" in my eyes
12. Rollo: I like the way you ROLL
13. Pay Day: I'm NUTS about you
14. SweetTarts: You are my SWEETIE
15. Almond Joy: It's a JOY being married to you
 16. Apple: You are the APPLE of my eye
17. Now & Later candy: I want you NOW AND LATER
18. Baby Ruth: Thanks for going to BAT for me

Originally Posted on Pinterest by: Dana Sharp-Sharp

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Latex Allergy: My Story and Advice on Products to Avoid

I have a latex allergy and it took me by surprise at first all the things I should avoid. There are many people who have a sensitivity to latex, which is a beginning sign of an allergy. This is the type of allergy that for most people gets worse with each exposure. That was the case for me.

Here is my story of how I noticed and diagnosed a latex allergy:

I wore latex medical gloves multiple times a day when changing diapers when I was a teacher. I probably wore these gloves for nearly a year before I started to have problems.

I think the first problem came about during the winter months and my hands were dry and cracking from hand washing 60+ times a day and the cold weather. With my skin already in a compromised state, I began having red skin discoloration on my entire hand up to where the glove stopped. Since it was possible to have latex free gloves, I tried using those for a while. My hands were still red many days, but my skin hurt less.

My next known exposure was when I touched rubber cement. I was gluing many pieces of paper one afternoon. If you have ever used rubber cement in excess you know it ends up on your hands and you use your fingers to remove globs or strings of the glue. I washed my hands when I was finished, but I still exposed my skin to it. Later that night both of my hands got red in exactly the shape of a latex glove I used to wear. I guess for me my body recognized the latex and reacted in all the places it had contacted in the past.

The last latex exposure I had was the worst of them all. In a hurry, and great need, I put on a latex glove to help a fellow teacher with a very ill child that needed cleaned up immediately. I knew it was latex when I put it on, so my part in helping was to quickly remove the child's soiled clothing then take the gloves off. I probably only had them on for three minutes tops. A few days later I ended up needing to got the doctor's office. I received a steroidal cream to use topically on my hands, and it was recommended I get a prescription for an epi-pen. I am fortunate, I have never had any breathing symptoms from my allergy.

For many, like me, a latex allergy can be progressive over time. As your body recognizes it and knows it does not want contact, it will react in increasingly strong reactions. I went from exposure multiple times a day to getting inflamed skin with contact lasting only 3 minutes or less and thorough hand washing.

So, since many people can tell their skin is sensitive but do not necessarily go to the doctor here are some products I have researched to avoid OR have had personal experience with and have learned to avoid.

Whoopie Cushions
Rubber Bands 
Latex Condoms
Rubber Cement
*Industrial Adhesive-look closely it likely has latex
Paint-most wall paint has latex, I am not sensitive to this however-but some might be
Resistance Bands-some of them
Bands used during blood draws
Duct Tape or other high adhesive tape
Envelope Glue (don't lick it, use a sponge!)
Aerosol Adhesive
Feminine Pads-just note that some adhesives on the back side might contain latex. If you are very active and often have bunching or your pad starts to un-stick from your underwear, you might have adhesive near or on your skin.

There are many other possible items with latex, so you should research further if you have, or think you have, a latex allergy. I hope this information at least helps in your initial research and what to avoid!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lent Begins February 13, 2013

Lent will begin on Wednesday, February 13, this year. The Lenten season is the time period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday (40 days not counting any Sundays). Churches typically have special alter linens and sermon topics as the church prepares for the most important religious holiday of the year.

There is much about Easter that really has nothing to do with the religious meaning of the day: bunnies, chickens, Easter eggs, candy, and Easter baskets. All of those things are fun and memorable to children and adults, but I try to also do something else that keeps my heart centered around the significance of what Easter really is: I give up something for Lent.

I always need to think ahead about what I choose to give up (or take on) for the Lenten season. Over the years I have chosen to observe this religious practice I have given up things such as: gum, chocolate, soda, dessert, not drinking any beverage but water, and I had taken on reading from the bible or a devotional daily. I have known people to give up t.v., eat healthy, exercise daily, or even not sit with legs crossed (this one is something one of my Stepford Sister's gave up in H.S.!).

For me, I would like to choose something that is going to be difficult and challenging to me: not yelling at my step-children or husband when I get upset. Basically, keep my cool when I'm not happy about something that is happening or going to happen.

One thing I try to remember during Lent is that this practice of giving up something is a symbolic gesture to try and sacrifice as our Lord did for us when he died on the cross to save our sins. I believe that being a loving and almighty God, that if we fail we won't be looked down upon but that we tried to do something and had a moment of weakness. All you can do is pray about it and try again!

There is one alternative to lent that I was told about in high school by a friend that I have never really looked much further into, but it made sense. The alternative is that Sunday's do not count toward the 40 days of lent between Ash Wednesday (beginning of Lent) and Easter Sunday. If you look at a calender and count this, it is true. The explanation she gave me is that Sunday does not count and that you are allowed to cheat because it is more realistic to achieve being successful at your goal if you are allowed to do whatever it is on Sunday. From my knowledge, this is practiced Methodists, but not practiced by Catholics who also give up items for lent. *Note: I am NOT a religion expert, so you might have different stories or opinions on the subject, I'm just sharing my experience.

To me, cheating once a week makes lent a little too easy-I want to feel like I am really sacrificing.

The one thing I have always given myself a pass with: on St. Patrick's day a Shamrock shake from McDonald's!!! Because this is a limited time product, I have worked in allowing myself that special treat. For me planning it ahead is not breaking my sacrifice. What I feel is breaking the sacrifice is when it is done on a whim or in a time of weakness. Luckily this year, shamrock shakes do not conflict with what I am giving up!

Regardless of your decision to give up something for lent, remember that if you have a friend or family member who chooses this practice it is important not to dismiss their sacrifice by trying to convince them to cheat or give up all together. It might be a difficult thing for them to give up, don't spoil their hard efforts and will power!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Weather Storm Preparations

During the past summer, I found myself unprepared for a severe summer storm that left my home without power during very hot days. Everyone hopes they won't need to do any prep, but it only takes one bad storm to make you wish you had done a few simple things ahead of time.

1. Purchase canned foods or items that will not need to be cooked to consume. This seems pretty logical, but you would be surprised how many people have plenty of food in the home but then cannot heat or cook it so they are left with very little to choose from.

If you are lucky enough to have a gas stove or gas fireplace, you could heat some foods. I would advise against trying to cook meat in a gas fireplace though-I would only use a gas fireplace to heat up food a little if you really felt you must!

Having these extra food items is not wasted money. Purchase foods you would eat eventually anyway. Canned foods have long shelf lives and don't have to be expensive. Also, if it is cold enough that you are dealing with an ice or snow storm, remember you should be able to store your food in your garage or on a porch if the electric to your refrigerator is out.  Just watch out for animals if it is outside. Most pictures feature alcohol in snow-but you can use this same principle for your normal food!

2. Locate your snow and ice supplies ahead of time. This includes knowing where your shovel is (and hat, gloves, scarves, coats, boots, etc.) If you would happen to lose power, sometimes these items are stored in places we cannot see well. I still haven't found my snow shovel yet because I never had time to do my fall garage cleaning and it is buried under tremendous mounds of stuff.

If you have rock salt and you are expecting freezing rain and ice, you can pre-treat your driveway, porch, walkways and sidewalks. Place a little extra salt behind and in front of your car's tires. This will both help limit the ice and give you a bit of traction to get yourself going.

3. Prepare your car for snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. The first tip, leave your windshield wipers pulled up and away from the windshield. This will prevent the rubber from freezing to your windshield and getting damaged from trying to move when stuck.  Car batteries get drained far easier and faster in colder temperatures, so be sure your close all of your doors all the way and do not leave any interior lights on.

Get windshield wiper fluid with a much lower freezing point. Sometimes you can help your windshield defrost faster by using the fluid on the ice and snow already there.

Don't forget to bring your ice scraper out of the car before expecting snow or ice. I can't tell you how many times I have needed or wanted my scraper and it was locked inside (or worse frozen) the car.

Another tip that I have to remind myself of is make sure you remove bottled drinks when it is below freezing outside. This includes soda in cans and 2 liters (both of which I have had leak in my car this winter).

4. Clear your gutters. If you have a gutter that you can tell isn't clear, take a few minutes to try and get out what you can. When snow and ice start to melt, you could have a disaster on your hands. Not counting the damage that could be done to the gutters from excessive weight, if the melting water starts pouring over the top of the gutter you could be left with flooding on the ground below, damage to any plants in the way, and risk of the water freezing or sitting against the foundation of your house because it isn't being absorbed by the ground.

A friend shared an idea she found from Pinterest with me a few weeks ago. Buy pantyhose and fill them with rock salt. Throw the pantyhose up on your roof just above your gutter so that as ice or snow start to melt, it will dissolve some of the salt with it as it travels down. It will then get salty water in your gutter to help thaw what is already there or keep  new water from freezing.

5. Plans for heat and light. If you would have a power outage having heat and light are going to be important. I always try to keep some spare batteries in my home, a few flashlights, and lots of candles and matches. Candles will help you with both heat and light for your home.

If you are fortunate enough to have a gas fireplace, you will want to likely spend most of your time in the room with the fire. Just make sure you have proper ventilation and you have opened the top of your fireplace so the fumes that are dangerous can escape. Heat rises, so you might also find that one of the rooms upstairs is warmer. Blinds and drapes help insulate the inside from the outside of the window-so keep these things closed to help keep in the most heat possible.

Having a some instant hand warmers might be a good idea also. This would be especially helpful if you plan to try and keep up with your outdoor walkways and driveway but you have no power upon returning back into your home. If you have a gas water tank, you will still be able to take a warm shower to heat up too. Just remember, sometimes feeling warm for a few minutes will make you feel colder in the end when you have to resume being back in a cooler home. Sometimes it is best to just be used to the temperature change.

6. Care for you pets. You are going to want to be sure that you have proper accommodations for your pets during a winter storm. If you have an outdoor dog, you should strongly consider allowing them in the house-or at least the garage or basement away from the harsher outdoor elements.  Dog coats and blankets are also going to help your pet feel more comfortable. Make sure their water is fresh and not frozen as well. Keeping a little path shoveled for the will help them not get too cold from snow getting stuck to their body.

If you have any other helpful winter weather storm preparations please let us know. This list was compiled out of experience and common sense, it is by no means meant to be your only source of information or lifesaving.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My body has turned against me!

Yes this is a post about how much I hate being pregnant. For some women it is a beautiful thing...they are radiant glowing goddesses producing life and all that is good...but not me. I am sick and tired...and sick and tired of being pregnant, and I am not due until June!!

My body turned against me with:

Nausea- Morning sickness is not just reserved for the morning. I have it in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. The only times I feel almost normal are directly after eating and while I am asleep. Except sometime even those times aren't safe. I was in the middle of dinner one night and had to excuse myself to throw up everything I just ate...then I got seconds since I need sustenance. 
Hemorrhoids- I didn't even know what they really were I wish I didn't. 
Acne- I have always had an issue with my chin, but thanks to pregnancy that has spread to the rest of my face, my neck, shoulders, and chest. I feel like a teenager!  
Rapid hair regrowth- Not only is it more difficult to shave, but I have to shave twice as often. My legs get a five o'clock shadow...and even that weird hair right below my belly button grows back just as fast.  
Gas- the gas hurts, the bloating is a pain, the burping and other unmentionable things is embarrassing to say the least. I feel gross pretty much all the time.
Snoring- Pregnancy apparently kicks your mucus production into over-gear causing a chainsaw like symphony to be produced from my sleeping body every night. I snore so loudly I wake myself up!
Swelling of the hands and feet- Jewelry and shoes are now the enemy. My sausage like fingers don't enjoy being adorned by rings and have lost quite a bit of dexterity. Attempting to wear shoes other than my stretched out sneakers gives my feet claustrophobia. Also, I'm not sure if it is the swelling, the supporting of extra weight, or my new and off-center center of balance, but my feet hurt even without the shoes.
Hot Flashes- Oh they are not just for menopause people, my pregnancy has me sweating in January!

(me with my dad and siblings)

Plus there is all this fun stuff I can't do, like skiing!

My growing belly also had another odd side effect I never considered before...

Invasion of personal space- I hate, let me repeat HATE strange people or even acquaintances thinking that because my belly is growing they are allowed to touch it. In fact, with the exception of my two closest friends, my doctors, my mom, and my husband, I don't want anyone touching my belly. I have skin with nerve endings and I am the one feeling this groping not the baby. It is my body and I don't want everyone pawing at it.

There are of course SOME good things about being pregnant...

People know you are not just "fat" you are pregnant, so you don't have to feel nearly as self conscious about your protruding stomach.

It is a great conversation starter since I am not much of a people person. I am pretty quiet and hardly ever start conversations voluntarily. Luckily, being pregnant is a great way to fill in those conversation gaps. I always have something to fall back on to talk about!

It can also be a handy excuse! Pregnancy is a very versatile excuse. I use it if I don't want to be rude while refusing food. "Oh no I couldn't, I am feeling a little queasy today." Or if I don't feel like going out, "Sorry I am just feeling so tired today." Of course, it would make an even better excuse if those things weren't also kind of true.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Valentine's Wreath and Coordinating Vase Centerpiece

Valentine's Day is less than a month away, and some people like to get out their decorations and cheer up their homes with some pink, red, and purple colored items to get away from the white, blue, and silver of winter colors.

I made a wreath just after Christmas that turned out wonderfully, so I decided to become more adventurous and try one for February!

If you can be resourceful, you might be able to still find some red items from Christmas to incorporate into your red, pink, purple, and or white wreath (some people can manage to get blue in there too!).

It took me a while to figure out what I wanted the base of my wreath to be-greenery, foil, felt, ribbon, yarn, etc. The easiest way for me to determine how to proceed was to take stock of the items I was sure I wanted to use on the wreath.

I had red and silver mini ornaments, purple and blue "Christmas" bells, and 3-d blue "Christmas" glitter hearts, as well as a pink "Christmas" fabric mesh garland. I decided to take a gamble with the mesh garland and bought a metal floral wreath form.

I left the mesh garland folded into a large square and gathered around the entire wreath form. I used a piece of matching pink ribbon to secure the mesh as tightly as I could manage. I took a photo from behind so you can see how I did it.

Once I got the mesh secured, I wanted to go ahead and plan out where my main focus decorations would go next. I decided that out of the eight blue hearts I had, using just four looked the best. I used Christmas ornament hooks to hold all the pieces of my wreath together. When possible, I used the wire frame as extra support in attaching pieces.

The next most important element of the wreath were the 6 bells I had, followed by the silver and red ornaments. I had plenty of silver and red ball ornaments, so I continued attaching them until I felt that adding more would make it look less attractive.

 This post will now feature a bonus Valentine's decor piece: I found this great vase/tea light candle stand at my local antique shop tonight for $13. I didn't know exactly what I would do with it, but knew I had to have it. I was so excited that I thought of an idea within 40 minutes of buying it. As I finished the Valentine's wreath, I had extra materials. I filled the "flower" vase up with the red and silver ornaments used on the wreath-plus some bright pink glitter ones I chose not to use on the wreath since the mesh was already bright pink. I then used some wooden skewers and put the blue hearts on the end of them. I was able to group the hearts by twos since the shape of them allowed me to easily intertwine them.

I also had some very thin hot pink wire garland that I made rings out of for each candle holder.

 Now, I have two coordinating homemade Valentine's Day decorations!!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Decorating with Fabric

Decorate table legs with strips of fabric for an inexpensive fun look!

Use curtains to divide large spaces.

Use fabric over wood or cork inside a frame to make pretty peg boards.

Use felt to cover a portion of a wall and make your own story board. 

Cover frames with fabric for a striking visual.

 Use large hand decorated tapestries to cover the ceiling above your child's bed. It can be something they decorate themselves and could even tell a story so they would have a bedtime story that lasts all night long.

There are all kinds of cool inexpensive and easy ways to decorate with fabric. If you have any you would like to share, don't be shy! We are always looking for neat ideas here!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Homemade Dinners from Around the World #5-American

I know what you are thinking: American-how is that international? Well, even American food is a type of cuisine from somewhere! Most of the time what people tend to think of as American food, actually has influences from many cultures and countries. After all, we are a melting pot of sorts from all around the world. I know that American dishes are probably very easy for you to come up with, but I will share a few that you might not have thought of, and that are very easy to prepare.

The coleslaw is not a traditional slaw, and I have found that many people who say they don't like coleslaw say they like this one. It is almost more of a salad with a sweet dressing to me. Just try it though-it has a light flavor and is pretty healthy too.

Dishes for the Meal:
Pastrami on Rye
Apple Coleslaw
Mac and Cheese

Pastrami on Rye
*Ingredients per sandwich
2 slices of deli rye or pumpernickel/rye swirl
2 slices of deli sliced provolone cheese
6-8 thin slices of pastrami (depending upon how much meat you like adjust) I like turkey pastrami the best
optional-butter or margarine to help crisp bread
optional-canned, bagged, or jarred sauerkraut 

Put the slices of pastrami spread out in an electric skillet (or large frying pan). I like to cook my pastrami alone before putting it on my sandwich. After you have cooked it so that you are getting some curled edges and nice darker fry marks on the meat, you can put the meat between two slices of bread along with the cheese. I return the bread to the skillet or frying pan to toast similarly to a grilled cheese sandwich. Sometimes if I have enough oil from the meat I don't put butter or margarine on the bread and just put the bread right into the pan.

Apple Coleslaw
1 bag of coleslaw mix
2 bags of broccoli slaw
T. Marjezetti's Simply Slaw dressing
unsalted raw cashews
1 apple of choice (sweet is good)

Empty the coleslaw mix(s) into a large bowl. Add your diced apple pieces (about the size of a chunky salsa or canned diced tomatoes). Start by adding a small amount of dressing, then add as necessary. This part always varies for me even if I buy the same slaw mix bag. You can always add more, but it is difficult to take out excess dressing. The cashews should be added fairly last minute. The entire coleslaw is best made within 30 minutes of eating, but the cashews especially won't save because they will get soft and loose all crunch (eww).

Mac and Cheese
1 box Kraft Mac and Cheese original
Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
tortilla chips

Cook the macaroni noodles per box instructions. When mixing the macaroni, butter, milk, and cheese powder from the box,  measure all ingredients per the box except for the milk. I add the smallest amount of milk necessary to dissolve all of the cheese powder. After the macaroni and cheese has been made from the box, add one cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese and stir and keep on low until completely melted. As you are serving, add a small amount of crushed tortilla chips on top to give it a crunch. I consider this dish half mac and cheese and half nachos!

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