Friday, January 30, 2009

7 quick takes #1: peanut butter to DTV

The seven things worked so well last week, I thought I'd go with it! This time I participating in Conversion Diary's Seven Quick Takes - a wonderful opportunity to share with you some of the randomness which goes through my mind in a week but doesn't become a full blog post.

Somehow I ended up with a lot of questions in my "takes." But they're supposed to be quick, so I'm not going to fuss over that. Without further adieu...

  1. Are you confused about the whole peanut butter recall thing yet? Yeah, me too. My mom sent me an article, which I haven't read yet because...
  2. I've been sick on and off this week. Guess I got a milder version of the crud that's going around. (Calm down, everyone! It's not what you're thinking. I do not throw up every morning - or at all, actually. And I was running a fever.)
  3. Have you seen The Greatest Snack Food Stadium Ever Built? Oh yes, it's worth a click!
  4. This is a historical time right now. I have to say, I never thought I'd live to see the day that the Arizona Cardinals went to the Superbowl. Go Cards!
  5. Speaking of Arizona, anyone else think it's interesting that I got a snail mail response from Jon Kyl before I got emails from John McCain and Harry Mitchell?
  6. The timing of the whole bloggy love thing is perfect, because there are some people doing interesting things that I'm excited to introduce you to next week!
  7. They are pushing back the switch to digital television, because they are worried people won't be ready. Ready for what? This is not impending flood or famine. It's tv. So you don't have signal a couple days. You figure it out, go buy yourself a converter box, and live happily ever after surfing through all your extra digital channels. The end.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Bloggy lo-o-o-ove!

I feel like this is kind of a self-serving post. And, yet, I continue. But, really, it's not all about me. Just partly.

From February 1st to Valentine's Day, Happy to be at Home is encouraging everyone (yep, including you) to Spread Some Bloggy Love! They've created a fabulous list of 14 things - one for each day - to give a little something back to the blogs you enjoy.

Since some of you (yes, more than one!) are new to the whole blog world, before I get to the Actual List, I'm gonna break it down (yo). Try out at least a couple of these things over the next couple weeks.

To sum up:

  • If you like it, share it! Email a friend, link to it, social bookmark it, tweet it, etc.
  • If you've been quiet, speak up! Leave a comment (here's how) and/or email the blog's author.
  • If you haven't, click it! Visit the blog's sponsors/ads or author's shop. Here that would be Bold Avenue.
  • If you're in a rut, explore! Most blogs link to other blogs. My list of "A Few Great Blogs" is on the right, past the "Little Stuff Being Said."
  • If you keep coming back, subscribe! You can sign up to receive my blog via email or RSS. Pretty much any blog will have a subscribe link somewhere.

Ok, for the bloggers and pro blog readers out there, can ya handle it?!! Here is the Actual List:
  1. Comment, comment, comment! Stop by your favorite blogs and leave a comment on one or two posts.
  2. Subscribe. If you don’t already, subscribe via RSS, e-mail, or follow the blog on blogger.
  3. Social bookmarking. Choose a great post or two on your favorite blogs and bookmark them using StumbleUpon, Kirtsy, Digg,, or any of the other social bookmarking sites out there.
  4. Tweet. If you have a Twitter account, send out a few tweets with links to your favorite bloggers.
  5. Click through an ad or visit a site sponsor.
  6. Send a thank you email. Let your favorite bloggers know just how much you appreciate the dedication and hard work they put into their blogs.
  7. Mark your favorite blogs as a favorite in Technorati.
  8. Read through the archives. Then comment on a post or two that’s new to you.
  9. Write a post on your blog and share links to some of your favorite bloggers.
  10. Visit some of the blogs in your favorite blogger’s blogroll and let them know how you found their link.
  11. Nominate your favorites for blog awards or a BlogHer of the Week post.
  12. Find some new favorites. Spend some time exploring new blogs found through memes or carnivals.
  13. Grab a button. If your favorite bloggers have a button for their site, grab it and put it in your sidebar.
  14. When or if your favorite blogger hosts a Mr. Linky, do your best to participate.

Thanks to @summerm for tweeting a link to Profitable Mommy Blogging's post, which is how I heard about Spread Some Bloggy Love!


Button from Happy to Be at Home.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

BBT basics

Unlike the whole saliva microscope thing, I was aware of the BBT (basal body temperature) method of monitoring your cycle before I read that article.

If you're not familiar with it, here's the basic science behind the idea: the first part of your monthly cycle your body temperature is generally lower than it is the second half. (I'm talking to women here, in case there are any confused guys out there.) Once you ovulate, it spikes up and stays over a certain level until you're on your period. Ergo, if you keep a chart with your daily temperature, you'll know when you ovulated. Over time, you'll probably start to see some patterns. has more in-depth articles on how to chart your BBT, as well as fertility charting in general.

They also have downloadable chart, which is pretty good. But since I haven't found the perfect BBT chart yet, I'm working on making my own template. If it turns out as awesome as I think it will, I'll post it here.


Photo by me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

CPSIA response

I didn't really expect a response when I emailed my senators about the CPSIA. Especially not one in my mailbox.

But there it was, on official U.S. Senate stationery, a response from Jon Kyl. It said:

Thank you for your email letting me know of your concerns about the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (H.R. 4040).

I share your concerns and was one of just three Senators to vote against it.

So only three senators voted against it, and one of them was from my state. And takes the time to respond to people. Pretty sweet, huh?!

Friday, January 23, 2009

7 random facts about Stephanie

Heather tagged me, so it's my turn to share with you...


  1. My brownie girl scout troop was on the Wallace & Ladmo Show.
  2. I don't understand why people make oatmeal raisin cookies when they could make oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Or even oatmeal cranberry cookies.
  3. My hubby and I don't remember for sure when we first met. Maybe it was at our friends' house. But we wouldn't swear to it in court or anything.
  4. I came up with Every Life Writes a Poem when I was driving one day.
  5. Unless you count my semester abroad, I've always lived in the Phoenix (AZ) area, and yet...
  6. The first time I left the U.S. was when I went to Spain.
  7. It usually takes me longer to write short blog posts than long ones.

Here's who I am tagging:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Palms' last stand

There is only one place in Arizona where palm trees really belong.

Palm Canyon in the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is only "natural habitat" for palm trees in the state (although there's no shortage of human-planted ones). This has intrigued the Hubs for years, and he's been wanting to see it for himself. In fact, we'd planned to go on the way home from our California trip last May, but we ran out of time.

Then, a few weeks ago, he and my dad got to conspiring, and a date was set. I guess they figured it was a good time for a road trip out there since it's not hot, and gas is still under $2 a gallon.

So Dad, Mom, the Hubs and I set off Monday morning. (I dropped a pretty big hint, didn't I?)

We drove west for a couple hours until we got to Quartzite. We kept driving.

At the Kofa Refuge, there's a dirt road that goes all the way to the base of these massive rocks, which jut up out of the dessert to form the canyon.

It's a short hike back - about half a mile - to where you can view the palms.

You would probably miss them, tucked between protective walls of rock, but there's a very helpful sign that points them out.

We did see a few families with kids make the trip. Although it wasn't strenuous, bringing a backpack carrier for little ones is a good idea. (We saw one dad with a pretty elaborate one, in case his four-year-old got worn out.)

There are plenty of rocks to sit on and enjoy the view of the majestic canyon and the funny little clump of palm trees clinging to one side of it.

Most people come, take a quick snapshot and leave. But I think it's worth sitting a spell if you can. It's not a "lost world" experience (we didn't see a single dinosaur, even though the Hubs was on the lookout). It is a beautiful place to sit and watch the sun and shadow slowly make their way across the rocks.

After the hike, we made some sandwiches and munched at the trail head. We were glad we brought our own chairs, since we didn't see any picnic tables...anywhere.

It was a fun little trip, and we found out that they do allow camping in Kofa. So we may be back to explore further later on.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

We all start again

Did you watch it? (Or listen?) Did you see history change? What will you tell your children (or what did you tell them) about yesterday?

It only happens every four years, and there's still time (every media outlet will be rehashing things for days to come. Or there's YouTube. Or podcasts.) to watch/listen and take this opportunity to talk about history or the democratic process.

You know how I love fresh starts. And Inauguration Day is a much-less-arbitrary new beginning than New Year's Day. So I'm hoping for the best for the next four years, but one great thing about the democratic process is that if we don't like something, we can speak up.

In the meantime, a ran across a few fabulous posts yesterday that I just had to share:


Photo by iamchanelle. Used by permission.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama-mania meets Legomania

Construction is finished. People are gathered. The motorcade is ready. The White House is ready. Even the porta-pottys are ready.

Yep, the Inauguration Day model is all set at Legoland in California.

What did you think I was talking about? ;)

P.S. If you're interested in the real thing, here's the event schedule. Visit the viewers' guide from the L.A. Times for television coverage, or listen in on NPR.


Photo by gnislew.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day tripping

It's good to have travel books when you go to faraway places. However, what you'll probably use even more over time are books about places to visit within a day's drive of where you live.

This is probably more important once you have kids. I would think you'd want to leave less up to chance and know where you're going and what to expect when you get there. Plus, shorter car trips are a great way to start preparing them for more extensive travel in the future.

One book with a lot of information for seeing Arizona is Day Trips from Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff by Pam Hait. There are lots of suggestions for trips you can take - with accompanying maps. The destinations include lesser-known sites as well as the big attractions.

Because it's so packed with useful stuff, we overlook its counter-intuitive organizational structure (i.e. there's more than one "Day Trip 01" and no index). It's worth the extra page flipping.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Everything Inauguration Day for kids

It only happens every 4-8 years, and Inauguration Day is a great learning opportunity. There is a treasure trove of information at Tech Savvy Mama.

They have an insane amount of links on topics that parents or teachers can use to educate kids about historical context, biography, American government, traditions, and even fashion. There are also printable worksheets. Lots of interesting stuff there! You should seriously check it out.

Photo by Presidential Inaugural Committee.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pregnancy category PDF - for real this time!

I don't know what happened to the link on my Pregnancy categories for drugs post, but it did not work. (I'm sure it's not my fault. Maybe link gremlins came in the night and chewed on it or something--?)

Anyway, I fixed the actual post. Since you don't probably scan past posts with rapt attention (the way you do with current posts) (right???), here is the for-real link to the document with the pregnancy category information.

P.S. Thanks to Aunty for bringing this to my attention!


Photo by me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Behind the scenes with breakfast

I didn't intend to mislead anyone. When I said *Recipes in an upcoming post. I meant I would tell you how I made the items on my Christmas Eve breakfast menu - not that there would be exact measurements involved.

This is the kind of Mediterranean-style cooking which defies recipes. If you go to the Mediterranean coast of, say, Spain, you'll find that people are better at telling stories than measuring precisely, but the food is good anyway.

So, in lieu of precise recipes, I'm going to tell you some stories and trust that it'll still all come out good. We'll start with this...

A Word about Spanish Tortilla

The world is not flat, and neither is Spanish tortilla (tortilla de patata). So get that image out of your head. Instead, think of a fluffy and delicious concoction of eggs and potatoes.

When I describe it to people here in the U.S. they usually go "oh! Like a frittata?"

I'm not really sure what defines a frittata, but the response is so consistent that now I just say "yes."

The preparation of tortilla de patata (as I learned it in Spain), involves a deep pan, lots of olive oil, a ceramic plate-like contraption with a handle on the back and one death-defying Flip, which is designed to transfer the tortilla from pan to plate-thing, so you can slide it back into the pan and cook the other side.

I didn't purchase the ceramic contraption when I had the opportunity, because I naively thought a plate would work just as well. An assumption that was - shall we say - flipping stupid.

The Breakthroughs

Nearly 10 years after learning to make Spanish tortilla, I figured out a couple new tricks:

  1. You can avoid a nerve-wracking Flip with an inadequate dinner plate by simply covering the tortilla during the last half of cooking. The result won't be exactly the same. But you lose very little (evenly-distributed potatoes - and maybe some of your Spanish cooking cred) compared to what you gain (freedom from Flip fail anxiety).
  2. Sweet potatoes are a delightful substitute, even if they are a bit...well...sweet for the dinner table. They're perfect, however, for breakfast or brunch.
Given #1, I didn't know if I could really still call my concoction tortilla de patata. So I started referring to it as a frittata. Plus, that requires less explanation.

And, when I realized #2, Christmas Eve breakfast started to fall into place.

What Happened That Morning

I got up on Christmas Eve, got the coffee brewing, set out my ingredients, and started cooking.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, E was waking up Christine's brother by singing "Hakuna Frittata."

• One potato: Sweet Potato Frittata

I started by putting a generous amount of olive oil (this is key! Keep that bottle handy!) in the bottom of a deep frying pan, and let it heat up. Then I poured in the sweet potato chunks the Hubs had cut up the night before. Once they were close to being done, I added chopped onion. After a minute or two, I dumped in a bag of frozen spinach and stirred it all together until things were well mixed. I cracked at least 8 eggs into one of those big Pyrex measuring cups with the pour spout, beat them a bit, then poured over the top. I should have put a generous amount of salt and maybe pepper on top at this point, but I'm pretty sure I forgot. I put a lid over it and let it cook until it was set.

When it was all done, I put it on a large plate and stuck it in the oven to keep it warm.

• Two potato: Red Potato Frittata

If you hate chopping like I do, you might be tempted to cut potatoes (of any kind) into big pieces. The problem with that is cooking them will take for-ev-er. So you have three options:
  1. Suck it up and think about how the reduced cooking time will be worth it. Really it will.
  2. Find someone to chop them for you. (Marrying a man who loves to chop helps with this item.)
  3. Buy the already chopped up kind.
I don't usually go for #3, since I'm such a bargain hunter (and because I lucked out on #2). However, I happened to find a smokin' deal on chopped red potatoes with herbs. (Woohoo!)

I followed basically the same procedure as above (starting with the olive oil - hey, it's good for you!), only instead of adding onions and then spinach, I just added organic shiitake mushrooms.

• Cinnamon Oranges

I thought some fruit would be a good counterpoint to the heavy, protein-packed frittatas. In addition to honeydew, I served cinnamon oranges, a side dish my mom puts with dinner. It worked great in the morning, though.

All you do is peel the oranges (thanks to Dad and the Hubs for your help with that!), section them up, coarsely chop them and throw them in a bowl. Mix in some cinnamon and voila! Simple deliciousness!

• The Moment of Truth

Once everyone was there and coffeed, we served it all up.

The reaction?

"Hakuna frittatta indeed!"


Photos by me.

Thanks to the Hubs, Dad, E, Christine, Rebecca and Josh for a lovely morning!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pregnancy categories for drugs

Have you ever seen prescription medication having a label like "Pregnancy Category C?" I actually just noticed that recently.

I was wondering what that was all about, and I found this PDF that explains it all.

Basically, the FDA has these categories (A, B, C, D and X), which let you know the risk based on past studies (if there are any) and potential benefits.

I also learned a new word: teratogen. According to Wiktionary, it's "Any agent or substance which can cause malformation of an embryo or birth defects." The PDF above has a list those, as well.

Of course, different medical professionals will have differing opinions on medication during pregnancy, but this is good information to check out and possibly a place to start the discussion.

Edited to add: I fixed the link on the PDF - it should go to


Photo by abardwell.

Monday, January 12, 2009

CPSIA update

About the CPSIA (Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act), I was misinformed regarding the public comment deadlines.

There is still time to speak up for the small businesses who won't be able to shoulder the burden of this overly stringent regulation!

The law is supposed to go into effect February 10 of this year, but there is a lot of opposition to it. I mean A LOT.

It's been called "National Bankruptcy Day", because of the sheer number of small companies - natural children's products manufacturerers, makers of handmade toys (including home crafters), and many others - it could put out of business.

It would not apply in the same way to second-hand stores, and certain materials have been exempted. However, as it stands now, it would still have wide-ranging unintended consequences for small businesses that have never used excessive amounts of lead in their children's products.

There's a fabulous post at Rocks in my Dryer, which explains more about what the CPSIA is, who it will affect and how both businesses and consumers will be affected.

For links to more articles and information, you can check out my CPSIA bookmarks.

Photos: 1) by cathy cullis. CCL. 2) by scrapbit. CCL.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Gardening with kids

You know I'm a big fan of kids gardening. Actually, I think gardening can help anyone grow and thrive.

So I love this article from Summer Minor about how to garden with kids. It has some great tips for making gardening more fun for them - and you!


Photo by me.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Children's television

I flipped on the radio looking for news and instead heard Diane Rehm talking about Sesame Street. Not something you hear every day, but former TV Guide editor Michael Davis just wrote a book about it. His comments on children's t.v. programming and the evolution of Sesame Street were so interesting that I just kept listening.

I appreciated how he emphasized children having plenty of time to play outside and simply be kids while recognizing that they're probably going to watch some t.v. - so it might as well be quality educational programming. He also encouraged parents to watch t.v. with their children, so they can discuss it afterward, rather than just using it as a babysitter. I know that's not always practical, but it sounds like a good thing to shoot for!

The book, by the way, is called Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. (Gotta love that title!)

Since they're (apparently) targeting a younger audience now, I've heard people say Sesame Street isn't what it used to be*, but that makes a "complete history" even more valuable, right?

*Ali: I couldn't find your post on this, feel free to link in the comments. :)

*Edited to add: The post I wanted to reference there is Mom to Henson, come in Henson from Ali at Sanguine.


Photos: (1) by Lone Primate. CCL.(2) by johnmarkos. CCL. (3) by dalcrose. CCL.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

For your little stickers...

Kids love sticking stickers. And they can get surprisingly pricey. So, fabulous stickers that you can download for free are definitely a great find!

Thanks to Craft online, I found this adorable sheet of animal stickers in retro colors by designer Lotta Bruhn. For the price of a self-adhesive sheet*, you can download, print, cut out, stick...and repeat as necessary.

*These are set up for an A4 sheet, but a letter-size (8.5x11 in) self-adhesive sheet should also work.


Photo by me of our niece enjoying sticking some free - but not nearly so cute - address labels we got in the mail.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Coffee anyone?

I got this sweet new coffee pot from my awesome hubby for Christmas. (He had some help picking it out - thanks, Christine!) I think it's coolest feature is that it's programmable, so when I wake up, I know that delicious caffeinated goodness is brewing downstairs.

Speaking of which, it sounds like it's about ready. You wanna try some? I'll pour you a cup. With cream, right?

Here ya go. Isn't it delicious?!

P.S. Thanks, too, to Christine's brother Josh for the fabulous coffee!


Photos by me.