Friday, April 27, 2012

Lemi Shine: A miracle in a bottle!

You may already know that Lemi Shine is The. Best. Thing. to add to your dishwasher these days....ever since phosphates were ordered left out of dishwasher detergent. If I don't add this stuff to my dishwasher, the dishes won't come out clean.

But did you know Lemi Shine is good--excellent, in fact--for cleaning more than just your dishes? I didn't, until today.

Exhibit A:
{There seems to be a red reflection in the pic from the red jacket I'm wearing. Sorry. Just ignore it.}

This yucky brown hard water stain has lived on my bathroom sink/counter for a long time. I have put vinegar on it, I have scrubbed it with Ajax, Comet, etc., and nothing would get it off. In fact, vinegar took some of it off, but only after sitting on it and then scrubbing at it for a while. This morning I got the idea to put Lemi Shine on it. I sprinkled a little on it and then scrubbed at it lightly, and in literally 30 seconds, it was gone. Gone! See?
I was so happy about this, that I used it to clean away the rough, ugly white film that was covering the stone counter around my kitchen sink faucet and handles. Again, in just a minute or less, it scrubbed right off.

I should have taken a "before" shot, but trust me, all around these handles, the bottoms of them, and on the stone was white scale crap. But not any more!! 

Then I used it to scrub out my stainless sink.

 Perty! Better than anything else I've used, which includes baking soda, comet, vinegar, and that Bar Keeper's Friend stuff. (Not sure if that's the right name...)

Cleaning was fun today. :)

**Note: This is my own opinion and experience. Lemi Shine is not sponsoring or paying me for this post in any way. Although maybe they should! haha!**

Or so she says

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yesterday, politics. Today? Potatoes.

{This was Sunday's sunset. Isn't it amazing? The sky all awash in purple and pink. Such a gift.}

Yesterday I wrote about Senator Liljenquist, and a lot of people read it. Thank you! This is a race I'm really interested in, because he's the first candidate in my life who I truly have NO reservations about voting for. This is a rare thing in politics today, as you know, so I have to act on it. But today is not about politics...

Today is about one of The. Best. gardening tips I think I've ever heard. Last night, my friend and neighbor was kind enough to allow several of the ladies in my neighborhood to visit her garden and hear some of her best tips and ideas for growing vegetables. She is truly a many-talented wonder, and gave us some great tips.

I think the best one was about growing potatoes. We've grown potatoes almost every year since we've lived in this house, which is ten years. And now it's going to be even easier thanks to my friend's advice. Here it is. (Warning, it's a little bit of a shocker.)


What? For serious? Yes, for serious.

Get a big pot, about the same diameter as your arms make when you make a circle in front of you. You can put 4-5 starts (or seed potatoes)  in each pot you use. If you get a bigger pot, you can put more starts in it. Just put enough soil in the bottom of the pot to cover your seed potatoes. After you see sprouts and they grow about 4-6 inches tall, add more soil. Keep adding soil as the potato plants grow. This sounds a lot easier than hilling the potatoes in the garden. It's not something I ever remember to do often enough. Also, don't be like me and forget to remove the flowers from the potato plants. You'll get more potatoes if you remember.

Here's the best part, in my opinion. When fall comes, you no longer have to dig up potatoes you can't see and slice through about 30% of them in the process (really annoying). Lay out a piece of plastic and turn your pot or pots over on top of it. Now just sift through the soil to find all the potatoes. Does this sound easy, or what? So easy that we're doing it this year. I will definitely report on the results.

Thank you, Nona!! To see what else she can do, visit her Etsy shop. Her bead crochet is amazing!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blogger call with Dan Liljenquist, candidate for U.S. Senate

I've posted previously about my support for former State Senator Dan Liljenquist, who is challenging Senator Orrin Hatch for his seat on the United States Senate. Last Saturday at our state republican convention, Senator Liljenquist got enough votes to push Senator Hatch into his first ever primary. Or as I like to say it, Senator Hatch did not get enough votes to avoid a primary for the first time since he was elected 36 years ago. This is major. It really shows that Dan is a viable candidate with great ideas.

Today I got a chance to participate in a blogger call with Dan. I asked him two questions, and I would like to share his answers with you.

Senator Liljenquist is well known in Utah for his ground breaking work on state pension and Medicaid reforms. I have family members, both state retirees, who say they won't consider voting for him because of the pension reforms. I asked Dan specifically about firefighter pensions. A family member has expressed concern that his pension, earned as a firefighter, was changed or lost, because firefighters' money, which was to be separate from the rest of state pension money, was caught up with regular state pensions and in effect "stolen" from them. Here is the answer:

For current state retirees (current as in retired before July 1, 2011) nothing was changed. The existing money for firefighters was left in place. In addition, fire insurance tax paid by homeowners is still directed only to the firefighters. This means they still have and receive money separate from other state employees. I consider this to be fair, because firefighters risk their lives on a regular basis.

The second question I asked Dan has to do with Supreme Court nominees. Last week I saw a Today show interview with Senator Hatch which didn't sit well. He mentioned "hearing" that Hilary Clinton may be a future Supreme Court nominee, and went on to express his admiration for her and said how much she had done for Democrats. He said he likes her. I am not a Hilary Clinton fan and do not believe she would do the job in the way the country needs. I asked Dan about Supreme Court nominees and his take on the process. I really liked his answer:

"Congress has a role to advise and consent." He expressed the opinion that Senator Hatch has played in to the role Congress has taken up lately, and that is to DEFER to the President. Congress has given up too much power in a lot of ways, and this is one of them. Recent Presidents have chosen nominees, and Congress hasn't done much but go along with them. In relation to the state of the Supreme Court, Senator Liljenquist talked about the issue of the Right to Bear Arms, which came to a vote in the Supreme Court and was narrowly passed by a one vote margin. In his words, this is scary! It shows how liberal the Supreme Court has become, due to Presidential nominees and Congress deferring to them. Senator Liljenquist believes that this is one area where Congress must take back the power that was afforded to them in our Constitution. This is one reason why "It's Time!" for new leadership in Washington.

In this call, Dan also expressed one of his reasons for running for the U.S. Senate. He said, "In the Utah Legislature, we do not have the relationship with Senator Hatch that we should have." In other words, they do not feel the support of Senator Hatch like they should. I was unaware of this fact, but I can't say that it really surprised me. As our Senator from Utah, Senator Hatch should have more of a presence here than he does.

Another important quote from Senator Liljenquist: "I am a States' Rights guy and a 10th Amendment guy." 

As you think about the upcoming primary between Orrin Hatch and Dan Liljenquist, I hope this helps you be more informed before you vote. To find out more about Dan, visit his website by clicking on the link at the top of this post. To make a donation to Dan's campaign (which is really needed to combat the MILLIONS already spent by the Hatch campaign), click on the widget to the right.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A bag of apples

I hope that every once in awhile, I can post something that's actually meaningful to at least one person besides myself. So today I have a little story to share.

Last fall, we went to downtown Salt Lake for a niece's wedding. Anyone who lives around here or who has visited Temple Square before knows that there are always panhandlers sitting or standing around the perimeter. They are on the sidewalks, usually with some kind of sign asking for help. Sometimes it can feel uncomfortable passing by, but they usually don't harass anyone.

We typically don't hand cash to anyone, partly because there isn't always much to share, but we do give fast offerings once a month in church. This money is used to help others and funds the church's welfare system, so we have felt okay about that.

On this particular day downtown, as we waited to cross the street to where we would pass the panhandlers who were waiting there, a young man came along who was also going to cross the street. I noticed that he had a bag of apples in his hand, much like the one above. The bag had 6-8 good sized apples inside of it.

We crossed the street, and the young man with the apples crossed ahead of us. He had piqued my interest with his apples, so I watched him. He went straight up to one of the panhandlers and said, "I'm sorry that I have no money to give you, but I would like to give you an apple." The recipient of the apple looked a little surprised, but took it and said, "Thank you." As we passed, I could hear the young man go up to another of the panhandlers and repeat his gift of an apple, with the same thanks. This young man had obviously prepared to give an apple to at least half a dozen panhandlers that day.

I was impressed by this. I found myself thinking, "Now, why couldn't I have thought ahead like that young man and had some apples to offer?" I actually had a tree full of apples at home just waiting to be picked. The gift of an apple was a simple thing, but it appeared to mean a lot to the people who received one. What an example that young man set for me.

A bag of apples. I won't ever forget it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Recipe: Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

Wondering what's for dinner? Looking for a recipe that's so easy, it may not actually be a recipe? Look no further.

Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches. So easy and delicious! All you need to get started is a crockpot, a few chicken breasts, and your favorite barbecue sauce.

I like to use a combination of sauces. Why? Because I have convinced myself that two barbecue sauces are better than one, although one has to be Sweet Baby Ray's. This time I added some Bull's Eye Memphis Style as well. It was awesome.

Just put the chicken breasts in the crockpot. I like to spray the pot with Pam first. I have 7 mouths to feed, and two of those are teenage boys, so I use 5 good-sized chicken breasts. If they're small, more like chicken cutlets, I use 8. This makes enough so that there are leftovers for my honey's lunch the next day, plus a little extra.

Pour the sauces all over the chicken breasts. I don't bother to mix them together first. I used about 2/3 of the bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's, and 1/3 of the Bull's Eye. (My boys used most of the rest of the Sweet Baby Ray's to dip their tater tots into at dinner time. Note: If you like Napoleon Dynamite like we do, you just call them "tots").

Cook the chicken breasts either on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 6-8. Then take two forks and shred the chicken. If you need more sauce, stir more into the shredded chicken and heat through. Serve on buns. Some of us like to put cheddar cheese on our sandwich. Some of us don't. Personally, the cheese HAS to be on it. :)

Enjoy your easy, slow-cooked barbecue chicken sandwiches!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Got 7 minutes? Try this.

My sister put me on to this several months back. It's a great little workout that will really work your core strength. So if it's pouring cats & dogs outside and you don't wanna go out and run (gee, that sounds kind of familiar) try this. And who doesn't love Dr. Oz?

I am wondering if Joel Harper is related to Bob (of Biggest Loser fame)? I love Bob's Inside Out series workouts.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Kettle Corn

Unfortunately, I do not have a picture for this. Fortunately, everyone knows what kettle corn looks like, so it's probably not too big of a deal.

This recipe was born one night when I REALLY REALLY wanted kettle corn and didn't have any. I experimented and actually made it twice. I had a recipe the first time, but thought it could be improved on so I changed it. For once, the second time was the charm! :)

Homemade Kettle Corn (way better than anything in the bag!)

Pop 1/2 c. of corn kernals in an air popper and set aside. You could probably also pop up a bag of microwave popcorn and use that, but I can't vouch for how it would taste since I haven't tried it.
In a saucepan, combine 2 T. oil, 2 T. water, and 2/3 c. white sugar. Stir as it comes to a boil. Just before it boils, throw in 2 T. butter and melt it in. When it boils, set your timer for 3 1/2 minutes, and let it simmer. Remove from heat and pour over popcorn while stirring constantly. It will want to clump together at first, but keep stirring and as it cools it will separate nicely. Sprinkle with salt to taste and stir it in. Enjoy your homemade kettle corn!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Deer--infinity vs Me--a very happy 1

I thought the deer had eaten every single one of my tulips (and that's a lot). But to my surprise...

Ha, Deer!! You missed one!! (Insert evil cackle here.)

Jake says it'll probably be gone by tonight just because I posted this.
He may be right.
But I'll enjoy it while it lasts!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Something New: Ice Machine

I like to say that you learn something new every day. At least if you're paying attention you might. Yesterday, Jake had knee surgery and it was a good day to learn something new.

Waaay back (like 26 years ago?) when I had knee surgery the last time, this is how I had to ice my knee after surgery:

It's really old fashioned, but it still works. However, now they have something new-fangled and pretty darn cool.

Behold, The Ice Machine:

I had never seen such a thing until yesterday. The cooler part above holds ice and water. The little motor on the top continuously circulates the ice water through a tube and into and around Jake's knee. His knee is wrapped in a blue pad with little channels all through it for the cold water to flow in and out of.

Thus the knee is continually iced and swelling is reduced much easier and faster.

Like Jake's nurse said to me yesterday, "Why didn't I think of that?"

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Showing some 'tude.

Last night after FHE, we took the kids down to the school yard to play. Libby has been trying to learn how to ride her bike without training wheels. This video was taken after she rode a little without Dad holding on. I'm trying to congratulate her, but she's having none of it. This bike riding stuff isn't all it's cracked up to be I guess. She seems to be saying, "I am DONE with this bike. Good riddance."

I laugh every time I see this.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter 2012

Every Easter, we take pics of the kids in all their finery. It's a good chance to see how they have grown from one spring to the next.

This was Easter 2011:

This is Easter 2012:

Most everyone is taller and they all have grown so much! I just can't believe how fast time goes by.

Easter pics wouldn't be complete without the "do your own thing" pics I let them do after we take the "smile nice!" pics I make them let me take:

Nothin' like a little brotherly love:

The two oldest. Yes, Jake is pulling that face on purpose. It's rare to get a "normal" smile from him.

Hope everyone had a great Easter!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

NOT Spring.

Jake and I talked about this yesterday. He asked me how many seasons Utah has? I said, "In Utah we have 8 seasons: Spring, NOT Spring, Summer, Not Summer, Fall, NOT Fall, Winter and NOT Winter." For example, we had a lot of that NOT Winter this year. Don't know what it was, but it was NOT Winter. Now today, it is NOT Spring!

This was literally a couple of days ago:

Molly the Dog was basking in 80 degree loveliness.

This, on the other hand, is today:

Poor little flowers! They are not basking today, but they are always pretty darn resilient. There's a lesson in that somewhere...

As you can see, we woke up to about 4 inches of snow on the ground. The beauty of it is, it will probably be gone by this afternoon. Tomorrow at the latest. :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review: Heaven Is Here

{Pic taken at a Heaven Is Here book signing. LOVED meeting Nie!}

If you read Nie's blog, and really, I don't know many people who don't, then you know that her new book is out today. Here in Utah, we were lucky enough to be able to purchase it early. I took my girls down to Deseret Book Saturday night and we bought a copy, met Stephanie Nielson and her girls, and she signed my copy for me and Nicole. Can I just tell you that my daughters said after meeting Stephanie, "She is really pretty." They are right. Stephanie has a lovely glow about her.

I literally read her book in a day and a half. That should tell you something right there: I couldn't put it down. I read between conference sessions, I read in bed with a flashlight, and I spent the first day of spring break reading & finishing it.

The book is definitely harrowing in parts. The plane crash and the aftermath are hard to read. It's tough reading the details about how much Stephanie and her dashing Mr. Nielson went through, but again and again Stephanie shows the reader what she's made of. I cannot even imagine living through what she has lived through! What an example.

The story really illustrates the bond between Stephanie and Christian. It's a lovely romance! It also shows just how thin the veil is. I really appreciated Stephanie sharing her experiences with her Nana Aurora while she was sleeping. If you read Heaven Is Here, you will laugh, you will cry (keep the tissues handy!) and you will feel more gratitude for life and what you have. This is a book I will read again and again. Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing your story.