Gingerly Made: November 2010

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Conquering Curry

I'm a picky eater. I don't like mayonnaise, mustard, salad dressings (because they are made with mayo or mustard or vinegar which I only eat sparingly), or any kind of dry bean. But, there are also foods that just don't appeal to me. And one of them is curry.

I've only had curry once or twice and one of those times, it was from a box that I picked up at the grocery store. It stank. It looked like goo. Just the smell of it made me gag - literally. When I see pictures of curry or see someone make it on TV, the texture or consistency of it just doesn't look good. But, I am trying to make an effort to eat more things that I don't like and expand my palette. (With the exception of mayonnaise. I don't like it. Never will. And have absolutely no desire to try.)

Anyway, I found a recipe for Easy Chicken Curry in the More With Less Cookbook, and decided to try it. I knew my husband would try it and most likely like it, it was just my tastebuds on the line. Guess what?? It turned out great! It didn't have that nasty smell from the box curry. It smelled good. And it was more saucey, not goopy.

So, this is what I did...

Brown up two normal sized chicken breast (if they are those huge ones, you'll probably only need one)
Cut it into small pieces and add 2 - 2.5 cups of water
Cut up some green pepper, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic and add that to the pot.

Next, in a seperate bowl, mix together 1 cup of tomato sauce (I used my homemade spaghetti sauce), 1/3 cup milk, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch.
Then add it to the pot with the chicken and veggies.
Finally, add 1 tablespoon curry powder, salt, and pepper.
Let it simmer for 45 minutes and put over rice.


It was really good. I still have a little mental hiccup with curry, but that's just because I didn't like it for so long. But like all food, homemade makes a HUGE difference!

Linked to the Hearth and Soul Blog Hop.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Turning Off the TV

I am and always have been a TV addict. It's a terrible thing and I struggle with it constantly. Starting in 5th grade, I rode the bus home and then spent the two hours before my parents got home alone. I didn't mind the being alone part, I was the only kid left in the house, so being by myself was fine. It was the silence that bothered me. It made me paranoid. Oddly enough, silence made me feel like someone was going to sneak up on me. So, I turned on the TV. And to this day I do the same thing. If I'm at home, the TV is on for nothing more than noise.

Now, there have been a few times when Caitlin has brought me the remote when the TV was off. I don't know if it bothered her that the TV was off, or if she genuinely wanted to watch a little TV. Either way, I don't want her to fall into the trap that I did. She is a busy girl and doesn't sit down and watch TV. She does get excited if she sees a doggie on TV, but she doesn't stare at the screen for a long time; not even 10 minutes straight. While I don't mind if she does watch some, I just don't want her to feel like it has to be on. So, I am doing my best to turn off the TV.

I will put on PBS for one or two shows, but then turn it off and turn on some music. I still get to have my anti-paranoia noise. I've actually been really enjoying it and Caitlin doesn't seem to mind either. She loves music too so it's worked out nicely.

My Husband's Faith in Me

So the day before Thanksgiving, my hubby was going to get a haircut. He was way to busy the day before that. But, the place we normally go to get our haircuts was closed. Go figure. So, we went to the drug store and bought a razor set for cutting men's hair.

I tried to psych him out of it all morning. I had never cut a guy's hair before and only done a girl's hair once before in college. I asked him what he'd do or how he'd feel if I messed it up and then he had to shave his head. But, my hubby had faith in me to do a good a job.

So, after Caitlin went down for her nap, we set up in the kitchen and I started cutting. I was so nervous, but I did it! And it doesn't look bad! So, from now on, I guess I'll be cutting my husband's hair. It saves us some money and although it isn't a lot, every penny counts. I just wish I had taken a before and after pic.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Tom's of Maine Sponsored Post and $500 Giveaway

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tom's of Maine. All opinions are 100% mine.

In the past, I have thought about finding more natural ways to take care of my teeth, but hesitant to make the decision to go forward with it because I was unsure about the quality of care I would get with alternative toothpastes and mouthwashes. Then I heard about Tom's Of Maine. Tom's of Maine is a leading natural products company focused on oral and personal care. For 40 years, Tom’s has been committed to supporting people, communities and the planet.

I was really intrigued by their use of natural products, but what convinced me to try them out was their honesty. On Tom's website, they list all of the ingredients they use, where it came from, and what it's purpose is. I don't know of any other company that does that!

I tried their mouthwash and really like it! 
They don't have any alcohol in their mouthwash, so you don't get that burn like other mouthwashes. And the cool minty flavor leaves my whole mouth feeling clean and refreshed. But they also have toothpaste, deodorant, floss, and soaps.

Ok, so now you know about Tom's of Maine products, now for the giveaway

Tom's of Main is giving away a $500 Target gift card and other prizes simply by entering at their That's Wicked Fresh contest page. All you have to do is share one of your favorite Wicked Fresh moment memories, experience or discovery. My Wicked Fresh moment is "Getting my little girl fully potty trained will be my #WickedFresh moment! http://bit.ly/wickedfresh" What's yours?

Join Tom’s of Maine on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter @TomsofMaine.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Reflections

Like most everyone else, I have been reflecting this past week over my life and all the many reasons I have to be thankful. So, please indulge me a moment, because while my list of things to be thankful for may seem the same as many others', I believe it's important to not only recognize these things and be thankful for them, but that we should also verbalize it. I feel that the act of saying or writing these things out make them so much more real than just a vague holiday where we all get together and eat. So, this year and every year, I am thankful for:
  1. My God. I believe in the Living God who came to earth in the form of man, lived a perfect, sinless life, died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again on the third day defeating the curse of death. Without Him I would be lost and hopeless.
  2. My family. There aren't another two people in this world who fit me so perfectly as my husband and my daughter. My husband knows my strengths and my weaknesses and yet he still wants to be married to me. My daughter is an absolute blessing and the sweetest little girl I know. The rest of my family, immediate and extended, are the best family. Sure we are a little complicated and we have our problems. Who doesn't? But we love each other very much and that's all I can ask for.
  3. My friends and extended family. I don't have a lot of really close friends, but the ones I have I would trust with anything. They keep me sane when life wants me to be crazy. They have seen me through the best times in my life and the worst.
  4. My husband has a job and I don't. In a time when so many people are out of work, my husband has a good job. And not just a job, but one that he enjoys. And I am blessed to be able to stay home. There are so many parents who would love to stay at home and take care of their children, but can't for one reason or another.
And while, there are still so many other things to be thankful for, these are the ones I definitely do not take for granted. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and take some time to reflect on all the many things in your life you are truly grateful for.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Burn, Curb, Pile, or Mow?

It's that time of year when the leaves have turned color and fallen to the ground. And I'm wondering what you do with all of your leaves. Do you burn them, put them at the curb for the city to pick up as yard waste, pile them up around your trees, mow over them, or absolutely nothing at all?

We don't have many trees in our yard, but my parents live on a heavily wooded lot. Growing up, my dad, mom, and I would get out in the yard and rake, rake, rake. Then, when we had a big pile, we would rake them onto a tarp and drag the pile to the base of some tree or out into the wooden area by the house.

Today, I raked up some leaves in our backyard and piled them up around the tree they fell from. And while I didn't like all that raking when I was a kid, now I think this is the absolute best thing you can do with those leaves. The leaves serve as a cheap (free) mulch to pile around your trees, keeping their roots nice and warm through the winter. And all that raking is great exercise!

I guess I could just leave them where they fell, but I feel compelled to do something with them. Everyone's yards look so pretty and manicured where we live, that it feels sloppy to do nothing. But I'm ok with it. Like I said, I get some exercise in.

Oh, and just for fun, here are a few pictures of Caitlin having her first romp in a leaf pile.

Getting Bendy - A Lesson for Overplanners

I have a problem. I am an over planner. Don't get me wrong, I think planning is a wonderful thing. But sometimes it gets in my way, especially when my go-with-the-flow hubby has something else in mind.

Several years ago, before a baby came into the picture, my hubby came home from work on a Friday night and told me that he wanted to go to the beach, stay the night, and spend the day at the beach the next day. And, oh boy, I freaked out. I had just gotten home from work too and was tired, working on getting dinner ready and all I could think about was all the planning necessary for a trip to the beach. We'd have to pack, find something to do with the dog and cat, and I don't know what else, but at the time, it seemed like a huge, huge thing to me.

Are you laughing at me yet?? I am.

I was so, I don't even know the word, but I couldn't even go on a spontaneous trip 2-3 hours away. And it frustrated my husband to all ends. Well, now we have a daughter who will be 2 in March, and I have learned to be much more flexible (bendy).

While I am still a planner, hubby laughs at me and my lists, I have learned to expect the unexpected and to go with it... Sometimes.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Green Blog Hop

Most every week, I link up to the Green Blog Hop. I love finding other blogs that have environmental motivations. If you are interested in linking up, see information about the hop below. I don't make a big post about it every week, but you can always find the link to it in my left hand column. I hope you enjoy browsing the linked blogs.


Welcome to the 19th week of the GREEN BLOG HOP!!


For "Green" Blogs Only - Even if you're just starting out!


The purpose of creating this blog hop was not to create yet another general hop, but to help network bloggers who have taken the initiative to go green for the purpose of education and continuing efforts of saving our planet - one home at a time. We will be monitoring the blogs and will delete those that are not deemed somewhat green.


PLEASE make sure to put the button on your site and make a quick blog entry - otherwise we will not be reaching the most number of people that would be interested in networking!!



* Follow the blogs of the ladies in the top three spots :
* Link your green blog article to the Linky below
* Follow as many other blogs as you want. The more you follow, the more that will follow you back! If someone follows you, it is common courtesy to follow back.
Please remember to create a blog posting including the button after linking up - Please - It's the best way to get the word out about Going Green!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Involving Everyone This Thanksgiving

I bought my Thanksgiving turkey yesterday. A whopping 18.5 pounds! Thankfully, it was one sale.

We are going to have 10 - 12 people at our house for Thanksgiving this year. You see, we are kind-a lucky; while we don't have all of our family close by, we do have a lot on both sides who live within an hour drive of our house. And that's pretty impressive considering my husband grew up on the west coast.

Anyway, my family's tradition is that we all pitch in for Thanksgiving dinner. That way, one person doesn't end up with the burden of preparing the entire meal. At least, that's the idea anyway. I personally think it's because everyone just wants to contribute and make part of the meal themselves. The first year I made Thanksgiving dinner, I made it. Maybe one or two dishes were brought, but I had the whole thing planned out so that everything would be done and hot at the same time. And when people began to arrive, they all asked if they could help. But I honestly didn't have anything for them to do, because I had it under control. I had the turkey in an electric roaster, a couple of casseroles in the oven, something in a crockpot, and all four eyes on my stove put to use. Thanksgiving dinner was organized and easy to pull off.

And people got kind of upset. If you've ever heard the phrase 'too many cooks in the kitchen,' we literally had that problem. A small kitchen and everyone wanted to get in there to help; even if it was to just stir a pot.

But what I realized, is that my family really wanted to contribute. So, I have learned to talk to each of the family members and find out what they want to bring, etc. In fact, now, it's pretty easy because we all have our signature dishes and there really isn't much to decide on anymore. If you are a 'Betty Crocker' type like me, who likes to plan and prepare for things like Thanksgiving, I ask you this year to find ways to include your family. It would make everyone feel more involved. And, whether you want to admit it or not, it does take some pressure off having to buy and prepare everything. Even if your family doesn't want to cook, find something they can share in, setting the table, clean up, bringing fun family games, dinner music, something, anything.

I hope it will make your family feel a little closer and a little more thankful for one another this year. Mine always does.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Ready to Train (Potty Train That Is)

I have realized in the past few weeks that Caitlin is getting ready to potty train. She comes up to me and says 'stinky'. This could mean either #1 or #2. To her 'stinky' means a dirty diaper. But she's telling me. She has even told me before she did it a few times.

So, I figured that I would wait on potty training until after Christmas. Potty training supplies would make a practical 'gift'. But then yesterday, Caitlin goes into the bathroom and shuts the door. I assumed she was just playing since she likes opening and shutting the doors, so I finished what I was doing and then went to check on her. She was crouched down in front of the dog food bowl and again I assumed she was playing in the dog food. No. She was going to the bathroom - in the bathroom. How smart is she!!

So we went to the store last night and bought a potty and some training pants. I guess she doesn't want to wait until after Christmas. Go figure. My toddler doesn't want to do things on my time table.

We bought the cheapest potty we could find for $10 and some change. But, what's really cool about it, is that it's made from recycled plastics and bio plastics. Safety First has a new line of products called Nature Next using renewable resources. How cool is that?! Made responsibly and the least expensive product on the shelf. That doesn't happen that often.

Any how, we are now beginning the process of potty training. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homemade Gift Baskets

I don't think any one is going to be surprised by the gifts I give this year because I keep posting them on here. Oh well. I can't help myself. I just get so excited about the different projects I'm working on. At least they won't know which gift is theirs. I'm not naming names here, just projects.

Anyway, I've made so much jam and found some great mix recipes this year that I just wanted to share them with family and friends. So, I made a couple of gift baskets with homemade pear jam, spicy rib rub, and taco seasoning. Each jar was topped with cute Christmas themed canning labels from A Sonoma Garden and put in a red wire basket.

Then I made recipe cards to go with the rib rub and taco seasoning. (I took the canning label and digitally put it on a recipe card so they would match. Since the labels were free to download, I don't think A Sonoma Garden would mind.) After everything was in the gift basket, padded with shredded paper, I put them in a shrink wrap bag and tied it all up with a red bow.

Of course, as soon as I got done, eco-awareness set in. I wish I had thought to find another way to wrap it up besides using shrink wrap. Knowing that the gifts inside are all homemade will have to suffice. We're none of us perfect you know.

Anyway, aside from shrink wrap afterthoughts, I'm really happy with how the gift baskets turned out. I just hope the recipients enjoy them as much as I have.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The First Frost

So this past weekend, we had our first frost. I know that's not something most people really think about. But, as a vegetable gardener, it leaves me with mixed feelings. The frost meant that we had to pull up our okra plants or let the frost kill them. They were still blooming and producing beautiful okra. Sigh. On the other hand, gardeners wait for that first frost every year before picking any of their winter greens. Our collards are huge and just waiting to be picked, and now we can. Why, you ask? I'm not sure exactly why, but something about the frost makes your winter greens taste so much better. I mean they are cold weather crops, growing better in cooler temperatures, but it also makes them more flavorful.

So, bye bye okra. I'm going to miss you and your summer-time friends.


And, hello to you collards and other cool weather crops.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Blackberry Bed

Everyone has a different landscaping style. Some people prefer lots of flowers while others like shrubs or simple grass lawns. Personally, I see the beauty in all of these styles. But, my problem is that I'm very bad at executing any of them. So, Eric and I have adopted an edible landscape. You know we have several raised beds for our vegetable garden, but we are expanding now.

For a while now we have wanted blueberry and blackberry shrubs in our back yard. In the spring we planted blueberry bushes, but the extreme heat this summer killed them. We'll have to try those again next year.

In the meantime, Eric cleaned out an overgrown shrubfest in the corner of our yard that has been bugging me for the two and half years we've been in this house, and we planted two thornless blackberry bushes. I'm so excited to get some fresh blackberries next summer! My mind is already thinking of blackberry jam, blackberry pie, fresh berries on ice cream or in a salad. Hopefully by planting in the fall, that will give the blackberry bushes plenty of time to root well and avoid the tragedy that was our blueberries.

Here's a before picture. You can see we already started clearing out the spot closest to the fence. And I believe there were two shrubs in that small space, two you can still see and a giant poke berry bush. That's too small a space for that many shrubs that large!! (At least it is for me.) There was even a vine of some kind that was beginning to crawl up the house. I'm glad we cleared it all out before that vine could damage our siding.


And here's the after picture. Ah, so much better. Cleared out, mulched over, and beautiful blackberry bushes growing strong and healthy to give me yummy blackberries next summer. When they grow nice and big, it will fill up what seems a little empty now. Then the bed will be nice and full, but not overgrown. Whoo hoo!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Decorating with Holiday Helpers from the Garden Hut

For any of my local readers, we have a wonderful garden and landscaping shop here in Fuquay. If you haven't been to the Garden Hut, you really should go. They have great plants, and a cute shop, but best of all, the people who work there are extremely friendly and helpful. Anyway, this Saturday, November 6th, they are unveiling their annual Christmas Shop. It's always full of beautiful Christmas things that make me want to take them all home. They also have fun crafty events coming up. See below for all of their upcoming events. I hope you can make it!

Oh, and if you are wondering, I have not been paid or gifted in any way for this post. The Garden Hut passed this information on to me and I thought some locals might want to know about it.


Decorating with Holiday Helpers from the Garden Hut



Saturday, Nov 6 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Holiday Open House ~
Grand unveiling of our Christmas Shop with theme decorated trees and a winter wonderland of holiday offerings. Live music, door prizes, specials, great food, and balloons for the kids. Free.
The Garden Hut, 1004 Old Honeycutt Road, Fuquay-Varina (919) 552-0590, www.NelsasGardenHut.com

Saturday, Nov 13 at 11 a.m.
Plant Walk with Nelsa. Take an upclose look at plants to add to your landscape, with planting & maintenance tips from horticulturist Nelsa Cox. Free. Call 919/ 552-0590 to register or sign up on
facebook. The Garden Hut, 1004 Old Honeycutt Road, Fuquay-Varina (919) 552-0590, www.NelsasGardenHut.com

Tuesday, Nov 30 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. or Sat., Dec. 4 from 1 – 2 p.m.
Bow classes - Make two holiday bows with designer Michelle Hobson. $25, materials included. Preregistration required 919/ 552-0590. The Garden Hut, 1004 Old Honeycutt Road, Fuquay-Varina (919) 552-0590, www.NelsasGardenHut.com

Saturday, December 4 at 10 a.m. to 12
Wreath Class - Make a gorgeous wreath using a fraser fir base filled with an assortment of fresh and dried botanicals. Manager Michelle Hobson and Lisa Treadaway of The Little Herb House guide you through decorating the wreath and making the bow. Ready to hang at the end of this class for $55, including materials.
Preregistration required 919/ 552-0590. The Garden Hut, 1004 Old Honeycutt Road, Fuquay-Varina (919) 552-0590, www.NelsasGardenHut.com


The Garden Hut is located at 1004 Old Honeycutt Road in Fuquay-Varina. For information and registration, call (919) 552-0590, visit www.NelsasGardenHut.com or find us on facebook



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Carpet Cleaning

With the holidays approaching, lots of company coming, and a jewelry party next weekend, hubby and I decided it was about time we cleaned the carpet. We've been in this house for 2.5 years with a dog and baby. The poor carpet was due.

Personally, I hate carpet. It's hard to clean, it's a great hiding place for all sorts of allergens, and it's not nearly as pretty as hard wood floors. But, nevertheless, our house came with carpeted floors and so we are dealing with it - for now. We rented a carpet cleaner from a local grocery store and got to work. WOW! Let me tell you, those things work! Our carpet looks and smells so much better!

I did most of the cleaning so Eric and Caitlin could play for awhile. (It was actually a nice break for me to get something done without having to hold Caitlin in one arm for once.) But of course, Eric wanted to give it a test drive and even Caitlin was curious about the big 'baccu'.


If you have carpet in your house and haven't done anything more than vacuum in awhile, I recommend renting a carpet cleaner. It's not that expensive. It cost us $38 (after a $10 coupon) for renting the machine for 24 hours and to buy the cleaner (which will last a long time). Then we moved all the furniture out of the carpeted area, vacuumed to remove crumbs, then used the rental. It's a bit extra on your budget, but if you can afford it, it's so worth it.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Planning for the Holidays

Do you know how much money you are going to spend on Christmas gifts this year? I'm a bit of an organizational freak. I just like organizing way too much. (Too bad things don't always STAY organized.) Anyway, part of my organizing obsession comes in the form of lists. If I don't write something down, odds are I won't remember it. And the same holds true during Christmas time too.

I write down everyone we plan to buy, or make, gifts for, and then assign a spending limit for that person depending on whether that person is part of a gift exchange with limits, will require shipping, etc. Typically our spending limits are $50 for family gift exchange person, $10 for everyone else's stocking stuffers, $10 - $15 for kids and other gift exchanges. Then I write down things that I think, or have gotten hints, that person would want. This then becomes my shopping list.

This list is on my Google Documents spreadsheet, so I can share it online with my hubby and access it anywhere I can get internet. Because it's on a spreadsheet, I add formulas to add up the total cost of all presents and also to show how much I spent per person and how much is left per person. I even go so far as to color code it too. (I know, I know, I'm a total dork!!) White is family with green highlights for our gift exchange person, blue for gifts that need to be shipped, and orange for friends.

Maybe this seems excessive, but it really helps me make sure that I don't forget anyone, ship presents on time, shop with a purpose instead of buying random things (which costs more money), and stay in budget. If you want to be a freak like me, check out my blank spreadsheet and feel free to copy it and use it yourself. (Make sure you go to 'File', 'Make a Copy' though or else everyone will be able to see your list.) The formulas are already entered, so as soon as you add an amount it will automatically calculate for you. Happy Budgeted Shopping!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dumb Momma

I feel like a total idiot sometimes. I took Caitlin to the doctor because after a double ear infection a couple of weeks ago, she was still messing with her ears, a lot. She didn't have any other symptoms, she just kept covering them up every time I laid her down and other times throughout the day. Well, the doctor checked and said her ears were squeaky clean. That's fantastic news! But I still feel like an idiot. That's like the third time I've taken her to the doctor, sure that her ears were hurting her and absolutely nothing was wrong besides some canine teeth coming in. And to add to it, the two ear infections she did have I totally missed. I took her to the doctor for those times thinking something else was wrong.

The doctors at our pediatrician's office are all very kind and tell me that it's good that I brought her in. Better safe than sorry and all that. But I know they have to think I'm a big fat dummy.
 
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