Friday, December 31, 2010

My Household Tips

Here are a few of my own household tips to make life a little easier for those of us who clean up the messes, even when it’s our own mess.

Ever had Blue Bunny ice cream? I’m a fan of it. Even the low calorie version is delicious. What’s even nicer is that it comes in an oval, resealable, plastic tub. I couldn’t bear to throw away such a valuable plastic container so I decided to use it as an indoor planter.
I took two clean Blue Bunny containers. (I have more because I eat a lot of ice cream) I punched a few drainage holes in the bottom.
Before all of my outdoor basil died, I rooted a few sprigs in water and planted them in dirt inside the empty Blue Bunny ice cream container. I sat the container of basil inside of another empty container to catch the water.
The oval shape fits perfectly in my windowsill where my basil gets just the right amount of light.

Shower and Tub Cleaning

I have the premade shower and tub surround. The good thing about it is that there is no grout to clean mold out of. The only thing I don’t like is having to clean it. Like most showers and tubs in the past, I had to use strong cleaners which required a mask and ventilation. There was always a lot of scrubbing and after all of that work, who wants to get back in the tub/shower and get it dirty again. The spray on shower cleaners have never worked for me. There’s still a lot of back breaking scrubbing

That is UNTIL…

Yes, that’s right folks, no fumes oven cleaner .
1. Spray the no fume oven cleaner over a small area of the shower wall, top to bottom. (It doesn’t make sense to start at the bottom. When you clean the top you’ll have to clean any drips from the bottom.)
2. Have a bucket of warm water and a sponge or rag. Wring the water out of your sponge and wipe it down.
3. That’s right, don’t scrub, don’t chisel, .......wiiiiipe....... itttt....... down.4. The grime comes off like melted butter. Just look at your rag and you’ll see it.   Update 11-18-2012.since this post I have been using Scrubbing Bubbles. It works well

5. Every now and then rinse your rag and go on to another spot. I usually do the tub after I’ve finished the walls.
NOTE: n I don’t wet the walls before applying the foam.
n I don’t know if this works with ceramic tile and grout but you could test it out on a spot.
n I don’t put any cleaner on the chrome fixtures or the drain.
n I ventilate even though the label says it’s fume free.

I can’t take credit for this cleaning tip. I saw it on the NET and was skeptical as to whether it would work or not. Now that I know it does I’ll keep using it.

Fast Food Plastic and Foam CupsI eat a lot of fast food. The workers know me and usually know what I want because I get the same thing every time. Most times my meal is a “to go” so I end up with a lot of plastic ware ,empty cups, rewashed, throwaway platters etc. I always tell myself I’ll use them again and then I end up with a lot of clutter.
Then I feel guilty. Taking the same clean cup or plate to the food establishment on my next visit sounds kind of crude. Besides I think it’s against health department rules to reuse these items.
I’ve used fast food cups for a little of everything. No doubt you have a few uses . My latest use is to soak tableware. Before I run the dishwasher I make sure I have a load. During the interim the food on cutlery has the opportunity to get as hard as cement. I end up having to handwash it.
Now I put a little dish soap and water in a foam cup. I place dirty eating utensils in the cup (business end down) which is kept inside the dishwasher. When it’s time to run a load I place the utensils in their appointed basket and let the dishwasher do the rest.
I’ve found that my tableware comes out cleaner without me having to rewash by hand.

Single Cuppa CoffeeI’ve been trying to cut back on my coffee consumption. I’m limiting myself to 2 cups a day. My coffee maker makes 10 cups.
Instead of buying a 2 cup model, I use the one I have.
I'm cheap. So what!?
1. I put enough coffee in a filter into the basket for one cup of coffee.
2. I pour a cup of water into the dispenser.
3. I set my ceramic mug or cup underneath the spout and turn it on. When the cup gets about ½ full, I turn off the coffee maker and let the rest drip in the cup.

If it looks as if my cup will run over, ( I couldn't resist) I remove the cup and place either a saucer or an empty cup there to catch the residue.
I’m not saying these tips are all my own but just among some of my favorites.
I’m open to new ones.
THAT'S IT*** Updated 11-18-2012

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Day in Birmingham, Alabama

Friday, December 24, 2010

Yes, Dear Reader, There is a Christmas Ornament In That Tree.

Decorated by the Charlie Brown Gang

Saturday, December 18, 2010

New Orleans 2010

Amtrak Station New Orleans, LA
Boarded Amtrak’s Crescent along with my traveling companions for a visit to The Big Easy, New Orleans, Louisiana. I hadn’t been on a passenger train since I was a child. I was surprised at the roomy leg space and the ability to recline without my head ending up in some stranger’s lap.

I have to admit some things about it have changed. But, that’s to be expected after so many years. I really enjoyed it. Box lunches from Honeybaked Ham were distributed by our travel agent before boarding and they were delicious.

The following day we had a guided windshield tour of the “Paris of the Americas”. Since we didn’t leave the coach (bus) these pictures may have a bit of a reflection. Parade route taken during Mardi Gras. Numerous strands of beads still hang in the trees.

Our guide was very knowledgeable and a native New Orleanian giving us the history and the trivia of the sites seen. I won’t list all of the places we saw but here are some: This FEMA trailer was home for so many after the hurricane.
Though Fats Domino no longer lives here, this is his home and the production studio he had next to it. Our guide states that he lives elsewhere.

We saw the homes that Brad Pitt has been building through his Make It Right program After visiting the 9th Ward talking with its residents following Katrina, Pitt vowed to rebuild 150, green, storm resistant ,houses.

This home is designed to float if flood waters get too high. A new kind of ark.
The homes aren't free. Residents must pay for them but at a cost they can afford. Though stylishly built, they don't appear to be built for the handicapped. How is a person in a wheelchair supposed to mount those steps?

The cemeteries of New Orleans are a tour within themselves. There is magnanimous history and tradition behind New Orleans funerals.
One thing I do remember the guide saying is that a tomb can be rented. Families also reuse tombs. How’s that for recycling?

World War II MuseumVisiting a huge museum for real enthusiasts takes more than just an hour. Because of schedule and time restraints I couldn’t really drink it all in the way I like to when visiting a museum.
The Solomon Victory Theatre across from the museum presents an IMAX, 4D, surround sound interactive presentation of Beyond All Boundaries.The seats vibrate during tank and bomb simulations. Snow falls from the ceiling while a lonely soldier huddles next to a crackling fire in a snow drenched field. And you can hear the crackles and smell the smoke. There’s more but I won’t spoil it for you. This is the best interactive presentation I have ever seen.
From our lunch cruise on the Steamboat Natchez the captain pointed out several spots of interest. Among them:
Domino Sugar is manufactured in New Orleans.

are non mechanical storage containers on water. They can't be moved without the assistance of a ship's tow.
Ms. Harriett at the New Orleans School of Cooking dazzled us with cooking and conversation. She prepared a corn and crab bisque, Jambalaya, Bananas Foster(she even made it flame), and Pralines. Her presentation was similar to that of a cooking show on the Food Channel. The food was delicious.

Street Performers Human Statue. Uncle Louie
Street Musician

This Human Statue is similar to Robo-Tron.


Friday, November 12, 2010

I hate exercise !

Getting in and out of the back seat of a car involves me unfolding myself slowly allowing each body part to get adjusted to the new position . A friend was saying that she now exercises in the morning after arising. She says that it has tremendously helped the hip pain she'd been having. In an attempt to keep the joints lubricated I've been doing a few rotations of the body parts before getting out of bed.

The Movie Stop Game Stop store sells pre-owned DVDs and games. I purchased two DVDs. One was Leslie Sansone Walk ???( She has several walking DVDs)and the other was Weight Loss Pilates. How can I go wrong at $3 each?

The Pilates DVD allows the person to pick their own level. There's Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced.

The first thing I did after removing the DVD from the shrink wrap was to sit in my recliner and watch the DVD.

I decided to do the Beginner's level since that's what I am. I'd thought Pilates would be easy. After about 10 minutes I was getting tired and feeling all of the muscle groups I haven't used. This is some serious stuff. It was kicking my butt. After 20 minutes I had to give it up. What's even more aggravating is the way the women on the DVD are not sweating as if they're actually having fun.

I didn't beat myself up. I did learn that breathing is important. The instructor constantly reminded the viewer about correct breathing patterns. I believe that incorrect breathing can cause a person to tire out pretty fast. I know that I'm guilty of holding my breath while I'm exercising. I didn't realize this until I began concentrating on the correct way.
I was also proud of myself for holding out for 20 minutes because the disk is only 30 minutes long. I plan to try it again because I did seem to gain some energy and endorphins.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


If you will recall, I signed up for Grow Alabama. In one of my veg boxes, I had green tomatoes. I wasn't sure what to do with them. Fried green tomatoes are good but I've never been successful with trying to make them. I've been trying to eat more healthy and so I searched for an alternative and found Baked "Fried" Green Tomatoes.

This isn't the recipe I used and I don't remember the website I got mine from.


Time to table: 50 minutes

Serves 4 (assumed 1/2 a tomato a serving)


1/4 cup flour

1/4 cup yellow cornmeal

1 teaspoon kosher salt (don't skimp on the salt)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or the pepper!)

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon pimento or sweet paprika (or cumin or maybe garam masala)



2 large green tomatoes, core removed in a V shape, sliced crosswise about 1/3 inch thick

Preheat oven to 400F.

Place a baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes to get it plenty hot.

Spray it with cooking spray.

Meanwhile, stir together the breading. Place the breading in a large shallow container,

the buttermilk in another. Slice the tomatoes. Once the baking sheet has been preheated, work quickly. Dip each tomato slice into the buttermilk, then into the breading. Arrange on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the slices over. Bake another 10 minutes or until cooked clear through.

Serve hot, they don't improve! A'int that the truth I'd read someplace that buttermilk could be frozen but it would only be good for cooking when unthawed.

I used buttermilk that I'd frozen some time back when I'd needed buttermilk for another project. After unthawing, it didn't have the same consistency as originally. I put about a TBS of white vinegar and waited 5 minutes for the two to react.

I dipped the slices in the buttermilk one at a time.
I didn't have any cornmeal so I used bread crumbs. I placed in all of the seasonings except kosher salt. I used regular salt.

The next step was to spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.

Place the breaded tomatoes in a single layer and brush with butter.
BTW- That's Reynolds nonstick foil I'm using. It lives up to its claim. I sprayed the foil anyway.

NOTE: If I brush with butter the coating will come off. Instead I put Parkay no calorie spray on each one. AS you can see, I poured and drizzled instead of sprayed.

Here is the final product.

Edible but not so great. Too tart.
My recipe didn't suggest using any sugar. The next time I'll try the above recipe.

Baked "Fried" Green Tomatoes

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Grow Alabama

Grow Alabama is an organization that allows the public to have fresh produce in season delivered to various pick up sites where the customer picks them up.

The levels include gold, silver and bronze. Each of these levels has a different price and amount of produce the consumer receives.

I chose the silver level. In it I will receive 6 different vegs/fruits. It is enough for 3-4 servings. The consumer is allowed to order 2 of something if one of the items is not to his liking. For instance if cucumbers are in the veg box and you don't like cucumbers, you can get two of squash, if squash is one of the vegs offered that week.

I bought one of the certificates for $49 that would allow me to have $99 worth of food over a four week period.

Below are the items I received during week three.

As you can see there are only 5 different items. That is because I chose to have two orders of string beans in place of cucumbers.

I made sure that I showed you the bruises on the apples. They still turned out to be very good.

I won't continue in this program because:

1.The person I talked to on the phone about where to pick up had the personality of vinegar and lemon.
The place I wanted to receive my produce was to get its deliveries at 2:30. I had to be at work by 4:00. At 3:00 the vegbox had not arrived. I called the office and the woman was not rude but she showed little concern. I told her I was new to the program and was not familiar with how it worked. I had to extract (as in dentistry) any information I needed to make a decision.
Though I've never met her, she reminded me of the Carol Burnett character, Mrs. Wiggins.

Woman: I'll call the driver and call you back.
Me: waiting, waiting, 3:10. She hasn't called me back. I call back and ask, "Is he coming?".
Woman: He didn't answer his phone.
Long pause ....waiting for her to give me further instructions.
Me: What should I do? I've got to be at work at four.
Woman: I can give you a credit.
Long pause... waiting for her to tell me what a credit is and how it works
Me: What is that? How does it work?

Getting information out of this woman was excruciating.

2. I never knew from week to week what I would be getting unless I called, though my e-mail address was on file. I had to ask for that also.
3. The list would say there'd be eggplant and then when I get my vegbox I didn't have eggplant instead I'd have two squash. I guess they ran out of eggplant and gave two of whatever was plentiful.
4. One week I received an e-mail that there wouldn't be a delivery. That was fine but the Woman put everyone's e-mail address in Cc instead of Bcc. Now everybody knows everyone else's e-mail address.
5. The following week there was no delivery because of the death of one of their employees. That's understandable. I respect that.
6. My last vegbox was last week. I don't plan to reorder.

I'd like to support the local farmers but I have not been pleased with the service especially customer service. Although when I called in last week a new person answered and she had much better customer service skills. I told her so. Still, this is more trouble than it is worth.
Grow Alabama needs to polish its skills.