Monthly Archives: July 2010

My Best Pie Yet

I thought it was almost too beautiful to eat! We did eat it though and it tasted almost as good as it looked.  It was Strawberry Rhubarb.  I wanted to get the bags of strawberries and rhubarb out of the freezer so I made more strawberry jam and made up some pies to freeze.  I don’t know why I’ve always been intimidated by lattice crust – it was so easy.  Mmm mmm mmm.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

  • 4 cups rhubarb (sliced in small pieces or diced)
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch (or preferred thickener)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • small dash nutmeg
  • generous few dashes of cinnamon

Mix all ingredients well in a bowl.  Pour in to 9 inch pie crust.  Top with a second crust (try the lattice – it’s easy!).  Beat a small egg and use a pastry brush to coat the top crust.  Cover the rim with foil or a pie shield.  Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes.  Drop the temperature to 375 F and bake for another 50-60 minutes.  Remove the shield or foil for the last 10-15 minutes.  Be sure to place a cookie sheet or pizza pan under the pie to catch any overflow during baking.

Allow pie to cool completely (2-3 hours) then slice and serve with ice cream on top.  Enjoy! 🙂

How I Clean My Couch in 60 Seconds

This is part of Works for Me Wednesday.

I picked up this handy “dog hair remover brush” at Walmart (eww) probably over a year ago.  With 4 dogs and a cat in the house I am always looking for alternatives to those disposable sticky rollers.  I really hit the jackpot with this one.  The label claims that the brush consists only of natural rubber.  The bristles are very flexible and their is a little shield on the underside.

I use it our couches, both of which are suede.  I use sweep it over the couch in short, quick strokes.  I start on the top and then do the back, arms, and finally the cushions and the front.  The hair flies right off.  It also gets rid of any wood shavings from the rabbit cage and any bits of dirt that were carried up by our socks.  I brush the couches once or twice a week before I vacuum.  It also works great on the pillows.

I have used it a little on clothes.  How well it works depends on the fabric.  Things with a longer nap like corduroy work best.  It does not work as well for regular flat fabric but will take off some of the hair.

I just got it out today and realized how much I rely on it in the living room.  The only one I can find online is listed as the PETCO Dog Hair Remover Brush.  Mine wasn’t the PETCO brand but it looks like exactly the same product.  Plus, it’s on sale!

A good look at…my teeth!

I’ve mentioned before that I’d like to share some of the steps I’m taking to prepare for starting a family.  While this may seem unrelated, one of the first things I’m doing is reevaluating my dental care routine.  Why worry about my teeth now?

  • According the the American Dental Hygienists’ Association an estimated 75% of Americans reportedly have some form of periodontal disease.
  • Women with periodontal disease may be at three to five times greater risk of preterm birth than those who are periodontally healthy.
  • Poor dental health has been linked again and again to cardiovascular disease due to the transmission of bacteria from the mouth through the bloodstream and the subsequent build up on the valves of the heart.

Statistics aside, why else is this a good time to consider good dental care?  Simply put, I want to teach my future children good dental habits.  I want that twice a day brushing and flossing to come natural to them.  I need to get in a better routine myself and the time to do it is not going to be when I am chasing after a toddler.

Plus, pregnancy itself can affect dental health.  Some women claim to have more sensitive gums when pregnant.  My dental hygienist suggested that brushing during times of morning sickness can stimulate one’s gag reflex.  Thus, she thinks women tend to brush less during early pregnancy allowing more plaque buildup and gingivitis which in turn causes gum sensitivity.

So, how’s a freakishly over prepared girl to best manage her pearly whites before she’s even pregnant?  Here are 4 easy steps…

  1. Think ahead when scheduling dental check ups.  Have routine x-rays taken at your last visit prior to trying to conceive, even if they aren’t due for several months.  Get any problem areas repaired so you don’t have to deal with them while pregnant.  Ask your dentist or hygienist about any special clinic policies for pregnant women and seek out any advice they can offer.
  2. Consider investing in an electronic toothbrush.  I’ve been putting this off due to the anti-greeness of such a device but I’m going to cave soon.  Not only will this help make my brushing time more effective but electronic toothbrushes also stimulate the gums to reduce sensitivity and bleeding.  I’m a consistently poor brusher on my left side (I’m left handed) and my dentist thinks an electronic toothbrush will really help get my teeth in the best shape possible.  Plus, I think the timer will keep me from cutting those brushing sessions short.
  3. Follow the ADA’s recommended guidelines:  brush at least twice daily and floss at least once daily.  Like I said earlier – if you’re not in the habit, get there now, before baby comes!
  4. Shop around for a natural toothpaste.  If you’re concerned about chemicals and things affecting your offspring it’s time to start replacing those conventional products with ones that you’re more comfortable with.

Sources:  ADHA, PubMed.

Breakfast at the Farm

Last Sunday we had breakfast at the farm after church instead of going out to a restaurant.  I really enjoyed hosting!  My family is about an hour away so I’ve rarely had the chance to host anything.  I added an extra leaf (leave?) to the table an everything!  Funny thing about those flowers… I picked them out by our grain bins.  This year I got a little behind on the weed whacking and it turns out some of those weeds produce flowers if you let them grow long enough.  I don’t know if they’re really weeds or flowers but they’re pretty so I’m letting them stay. 🙂

Brian’s Mom and Grandpa joined us.  It’s so nice to spend church and breakfast with our family all around us!  I’m very glad we had Grandpa out for breakfast because he’s been in the hospital this past week.  At age 94, we’re trying hard to cherish every moment.  He’s still quick as can be and won’t hesitate to give you a punch on the arm.

My Mom and sister moved out here a few weeks ago.  It is so cool to have them nearby – they’re only about 3 miles away!!  That sure beat an hour drive and makes visiting a lot easier.

I couldn’t resist snapping this shot.  Like I mentioned, we have to put our boots back in the bedroom closet after church each week.  Brian’s were sitting at the foot of our bed and thought it would make a great picture.

Do you have family over much?  For what?  Do you like hosting or prefer to visit somewhere else?  If you could have your dream party for family what would it be like?

Housekeeping Trouble Spots

Our house is gradually looking better for longer periods of time since I’ve settled in to a cleaning routine.  I still rarely make it through the week without missing at least one scheduled day of cleaning but things still look pretty good.  However, I have noticed there are a few areas of our home that are constantly cluttered and looking terrible.  I have some ideas on how to tackle these areas and I’ll be sharing my solutions as I implement them.  I’m even going to be brave and share a few pictures.  To start out, here are the Top 5 Trouble Spots in my home:

  1. Recycling: There is a counter top about a foot wide between our sink and kitchen door.  Our cutlery sits there in a wooden block.  Flattened cardboard and paper gets tucks behind the block.  Can and bottles pile up in front of the block.  Eventually, the papers get so high that you can’t see the light switch.  Shortly after that, the whole collection tumbles to the ground and fills the doorway.  At that point I gather it all up and stomp downstairs to put it where it goes.  Arggg!!  Specific problem: The recycling bins are not in a convenient spot, and I don’t really want to crowd our entryway or kitchen any more.
  2. Laundry: I have no problem getting the laundry washed and hung on the line.  I’m almost as good about bringing it back in.  Then, the baskets get put in our bedroom so they are out of sight.  It seems like there are always 2 or 3 baskets in there.  Finally, I dump them all out on our bed, sort them, and either hang them up or put them in our dressers.  I’m getting better about putting away a basket at a time but it is still a problem.  Plus, I get really sick of crowded closets and fighting with dresser drawers.  Our bedroom is so small that my dresser is in our office.  We have a laundry chute that makes it easy to keep dirty clothes where they belong, it’s all the clean ones that get me.  Specific problem:  Inefficient system for handling clean clothes and cramped spaces to put them.

  3. To Be Filed: I’ve posted before about my Basket System for bookkeeping and filing.  I still use that system and it works great.  For the most part.  I’m not exactly great about filing the to be filed stuff.  Maybe, sometimes, it might overflow and get stuffed in a paper sack labeled “to be filed”.  Part of the reasoning for that is that I’m bad about filing (obviously).  I think a bigger part of it is that I have 2 filing cabinets and one set of the folders isn’t even labeled.  The folders aren’t in any form of order either since I’ve added more over the years.  Specific problem:  Filing cabinets need to be revamped and made easier to use.
  4. Shoes: I built a nice bench for our back room but there is not enough room under it for all of our shoes.  Our extra shoes go in the bottom of Brian’s closet (in a big pile).  Every Sunday we dig out our cowboy boots for church and then they lay in the back room for half the week before I put them away.  The bottom part of the bench isn’t wide enough for the shoes to sit flat so they are constantly falling over and out in to the middle of the room.  Specific problem:  We need a better system for shoe storage. 
  5. Basement:  I know this is great in scope but truly, the whole basement is one big trouble spot!  We need more shelving to get things up off the floor.  The laundry area needs a place for detergent other than on top of the dryer.  The canned goods/pantry area is an absolute disaster.  The recycling bins overflow and need serious help.  This is especially bad because when you come in our back door the first thing you see is the basement.  Specific problem:  Lack of organization in the basement.

I would love to hear what the trouble spots are in your home.  Feel free to leave your list in the comments.  As I begin to implement solutions I’ll be sure to share them here.