Tuesday, March 31, 2009

What's the deal with organic apparel?

I have to admit that way back when I first heard about organic clothing, I thought it was a bunch of hype. I mean, food is one thing. But, unless you're a goat, I doubt you'll be ingesting that cotton t-shirt.

When I heard the supplier for my t-shirt shop was going to be offering a wider array of organic apparel, I thought I'd better figure out what the deal was.

Here's the bottom line: Pesticides are icky. And do you know what gets a TON of pesticide dumped on it? Cotton. Cotton farmed using conventional (non-organic) methods uses more pesticide per square foot than any other crop. (Yikes!!)

Producing one t-shirt typically uses 1/3 lb. of agricultural chemicals. So purchasing an organic tee keeps 1/3 lb. of chemicals out of our air and water supply. Which is nice.

Honestly, I've kind of changed my mind on the subject. I'm going to make more of an effort to buy organic clothing when I can. I know that won't be true of everyone, so I'll continue to carry non-organic tees, etc. in my shop, but I'm excited to be able to offer more quality organic options - including women's tees.

You can see a full list of my new offerings and find out about the introductory discount I'm offering on my Bold Avenue blog.

Monday, March 30, 2009

On the menu: week of 3/29

Let's cut to the chase on this week's menu: (Please save your questions for the end.)

  • Monday - tortilla de patata (Spanish tortilla) with new potatoes, Peruvian ensalada, and fake tabbouleh
  • Tuesday - lemon mustard chicken with green beans
  • Wednesday - quiche, take 2
  • Thursday - leftovers
  • Friday - hobo dinners

I figured out what I don't like about quiche. Growing up, I despised quiche. Since then, there have been quiches I've liked to varying degrees. Last week I made quiche for the first time in a long time. The Hubs loved it. I didn't. And I made it. So I have no one to blame but myself. But I think I finally realized what makes a quiche I'm not going to like:
  1. too much swiss cheese - I like swiss cheese but not as a dominant flavor
  2. too much of the same - I like the texture better when there's chunks in it. I can't explain why really. The first quiche I ever remember enjoying my friend's mom made with big pieces of sausage and vegetables throughout.
  3. pie crust is not on my list of favorite things
So I want to try it again. Mom suggested substituting mozzarella for some of the swiss cheese in the recipe, and I'm going to add some beef sausage, tomatoes and green onions. I'm also considering brushing the top of the crust with garlic and herbs in a little melted butter (inspired not by Mom this time but by Hungry Howie).

In contrast, hobo dinners were a favorite of mine growing up. For each person, you wrap a hamburger patty topped with sliced potatoes, onions and carrots, as well as salt and pepper to taste, in some foil and cook at 350 degrees for about an hour. To be a little more hobo, you can also cook it in campfire coals - preferably somewhere near train tracks with all your belongings tied in a bundle to be slung over your shoulder. But we're not really about authenticity this week.

What is fake tabbouleh? you may ask. I'll tell you. Fake tabbouleh occurs when you have more parsley than you know what to do with and want to make something out of it without purchasing anything, so you take a tabbouleh recipe (the one in this book, perhaps), throw authenticity out the window, use only the ingredients you have on hand and ditch the rest. What you end up with may not reeeally be tabbouleh, but if you end up with a salad made with parsley, tomatoes, green onion, lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper, how can that be a bad thing?

Some of you have, in fact, asked How did the chickpea patties turn out? The answer: seriously delicious! A bit crumbly, but very good. I would definitely make them again.

That's all the time we have for today, but be sure to check out the Chive Talkin' Menu Plan Blog Roll for more menu plan goodness!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quick Takes: time flies to secret crayon-fighting weapon

My quick takes on this week...

How is it already Friday again? Didn't we just do this? It seems like not enough has been crossed off my to-do list for another week to have gone by already. Sigh.

We came home the other day, and the cat and kittens were gone. The Hubs did some investigating and found them behind an unoccupied unit a couple doors down. Well, he found most of them. Two of the kittens didn't make it. We're pretty sure that another cat attacked and that's what prompted the move. It's very sad.

Tonight we say good-bye to our friends Ali, Zach and Rory (who, you'll remember, taught us how to properly drink tea - through a straw!). They are going on an epic road trip and moving to New York. So far away! I am sad but excited for them and for what's ahead. Best wishes, friends, and know you'll be in our thoughts and prayers - especially whenever we eat pancakes!

Some people are Unplugging today - from the computer or other electronic distractions in their lives. A great idea, but even harder to do when you run a business. And I just found out about the whole deal last night (probably because I'm kind of behind on my blog reading), so I didn't want to randomly spring it on you here. So...maybe another time.

I'm in the process of adding these really fabulous organic tees (and onesies!) to my shop. I'll let you know more when they're all in there!

CheapTweet is a website that tries to find all the deals that people have mentioned on Twitter and collect them in one place. (Saying something on Twitter = tweeting, hence the name.) They listed yesterday's post (because it was about good deals), and I realized that they had a whole page of sale/special offer kinda things I had tweeted. So I put a little button linking to those in my sidebar. Or here's a link if you're curious.

I'm going to tell you the secret I learned this week for getting crayon off tile floors: water. That's right, you heard it here first. Depending on the floor and the tile, you might have to get more serious than that, but if water does the trick, you might as well save the Magic Eraser for something really messy.

More Quick Takes at today's Conversion Diary.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

For a good deal, call (up) these 5 sites!

Ok, now for the post I didn't post yesterday.

Here are 5 deal/coupon sites I wanted to share with you. They are all free and do not require any kind of registration.

  • The Deal Seeking Mom blog posts several special offers a day for discounts on things like Redbox rentals, groceries, magazines, eating out and all kinds of stuff - both online and offline. DSM also has pages dedicated to how to save money specifically via coupons, freebies, drugstores, grocery stores and Wal-mart.
  • RetailMeNot.com is basically a database of coupons (mostly online coupon codes but also some printable store coupons) for the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and Germany. Search results may include "featured coupons" from the merchant itself, as well as codes users have received and shared. Since some of the user-submitted codes may be expired or invalid for other reasons, it gives a percentage (success rate) of how many users reported the coupon working.
  • CouponNerds.com works in a similar way to RetailMeNot.com, except it is exclusively for online coupons. I did a few searches and got fewer and less reliable results (i.e. I searched for "target" and got only two results, neither of which had anything to do with Target stores), but it still might be worth a look if you haven't been able to find a coupon code for something elsewhere.
  • CPCoupon.com is the most reliable source for up-to-date CafePress coupons (usually $5 off your purchase of $50). This is important because I accept all valid CafePress coupons in my Bold Avenue shop. :) (Today, for example, you could use this coupon code: DWELTAWAIT.)
  • ABC15's Smart Shopper is one you must check out if you're in the Phoenix area. She announces deals for local stores, restaurants, etc. and giveaways that usually only last one day. You just need to print out a Smart Shopper card (or pick one up at a UPS store) and watch for the deals on the news or the site.

Do ABC affiliates in other parts of the country have their own "Smart Shoppers" or something similar?

What other sites do you like for finding deals and coupons?


Photos by me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mind mush

Sitting in the living room putting his shoes on, the Hubs heard something like this emanate from the kitchen:

(coffeemaker gurgling in the background)

Oh. Oops. Wait! Oh no! Stop that!

(me fumbling around trying to turn off the coffeemaker) (which isn't that hard - unless you haven't had coffee yet)

Hubs: Is it not working?

Me: No. I'm not working. I forgot to put in the coffee.

Yes, friends, I had started the coffeemaker with nothing in it but water.

Then I sat down at the computer and realized that, in a similar stroke of genius, I left off the attribution to yesterday's photo.

I don't know if you know what a stickler I (normally) am for that kind of thing. As someone who has dabbled in both verbal and visual arts for years and has been writing "books" since before I could write, I take using other people's work properly very seriously. I'm very careful about what photos I use, how I credit my sources, and I've read all up on Creative Commons Licenses. When I thought (incorrectly) Chanelle's photos were not licensed for sharing, I specifically emailed to see if I could use that photo and said of course I would link it properly, etc. That's kind of overkill. But then I completely spaced it. Ahem.

All that to say, I've had a crazy couple o' weeks, and I think my brain is turning to mush. Which is why the post I was going to write for you today (about finding good deals) is going to wait.

I think it's better for everyone if I do not try to educate/inform anyone on anything today. As for you: feel free to check out Chanelle's awesome photos and leave her lots of glowing comments.

Sorry, Chanelle, for dropping the ball on that one! It's all fixed now.


These photos were by me. So...yeah.

And since we're attributing everything today, graphic by Creative Commons.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

The site that brought you "Kids' Parties Take a Pay Cut" is now featuring a list of the "12 Worst Baby Birthday Party Themes."

It. is. hilarious.

I don't want to spoil anything for you, but I will tell you that they have a very...creative idea for babies born on tax day.

So if you want to know how not to celebrate your baby's first birthday or you just want to smile, check it out.


Edited to add: Photo by iamchanelle.

Monday, March 23, 2009

On the menu: week of 3/22

Fun from the grocery store:

I went looking for a jar of red peppers at Sunflower Market (which you already know I love) (no, they don't pay me to say that), and I instead I found this "Mediterranean appetizer" with red peppers AND parsley AND eggplant AND garlic. AND it was on sale. So...yum! That went into last week's quiche, pasta and pizza. And I wish I'd bought more.

Another great grocery find was this jumbo pita bread (ours came from Haji Baba), which was perfect for the pita pizzas. I used leftover ingredients from the week - mushrooms, green onions, pasta sauce, tomatoes, etc. - as toppings. Then I threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, and the pita got very crisp and thin and easy for the Hubs to eat. (Yay!)

One more thing you might be interested to know (unless you're vegetarian) - bone-in ham is 79 cents a pound at Food City this week. If you don't have a Food City near you, I'm sure it'll be on sale somewhere else soon, since Easter is coming up.

As for what we're eating this week:

  • Monday - Black bean soup (which is in the crockpot now)
  • Tuesday - Ham with new potatoes and corn
  • Wednesday - Mediterranean salad with chickpea patties (This is another Real Simple recipe, but I can't find it on their site - maybe too new.)
  • Thursday - Fried rice with ham and veggies
  • Friday - Last-minute lasagna
  • Saturday - Probably more pita pizza (It's just so good! And so easy!)
I'm making myself hungry! I'm gonna go eat now, but you can check out more menu plans on the Chive Talkin' Menu Plan Blog Roll, which has moved - so make sure to update your bookmarks!

Photos by me. Note: Pita bread bag is on pizza stone for scale. Do not throw the whole bag in the oven. ;)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quick Takes: Out for a pack to IKEA hazards

So it's time for this week's Quick Takes. I have some photos for you, but I'm unable to post them now, so look for them tomorrow.

  1. Mama Cat has decided the kittens can live without her constantly on top of them (literally), so we've gotten a better look at the teeny kitties - who are doing just fine - when she goes out for food. Or whatever she's doing. Hopefully, it's food. I'd hate to see her come back with a pack of cigarettes or something.
  2. A lot of people are on spring break this week. I didn't take the week off, but it has been a break from my normal routine. I've had some things I've had to take care of, some fun times with Mom (who is off this week) and lots of time to think and rethink about life, business and all that little stuff. ;)
  3. Had a lovely morning coffee/tea date with my mom, sitting on the patio outside Liberty Market.
  4. I was on jury duty Wednesday. Pretty uneventful. The most exciting part was when the group that I was with got lost on the elevator. We couldn't figure out what floor we needed to go to. And, on the third try, when the doors opened and we were finally in the right place, spontaneous cheers erupted. (I am not making this up.) The people waiting to get on the elevator were pretty baffled.
  5. I'm getting excited about National Poetry Month! I have some fun ideas cooking!
  6. I created a page (actually, it's a Squidoo lens) about gardening in the desert southwest. I'd love for you to stop by, check it out, and let me know what you think. Also, if you want to create your own Squidoo page/lens, click here, and let me know if you have any questions.
  7. Have I mentioned before the hazards of the kids' section at IKEA? The whole place is filled with dangerously adorable toys. Brooke Shields may be concerned about children being born so parents have an excuse to buy a minivan. But I think there's an even greater threat than German engineering - Swedish whimsy.
More Quick Takes at today's Conversion Diary post.


Edited to add photos I took of my beautiful mom and those cute little kitties!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Little Women

What's fun in Phoenix this weekend? A fabulous production of Little Women!

It's based on the classic novel (not the movie), and I've heard great things about it! This would be a great introduction to theater for school-aged kids or a fun time for anyone who wants to enjoy a quality show and support local talent.

Show dates and times:
Friday, March 20 - 7:00 pm
Saturday, March 21 - 2:00 pm
Saturday, March 21 - 7:00 pm

Mesquite High School Performing Arts Auditorium
500 S. McQueen Rd., Gilbert, AZ

online $12
at the door $14


Rehearsal photos by Savanna Jezek. Used by permission.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Nursing in public (sort of)

Can you see the teeny baby kittens?


Photos by me. (Just call me the kitty pawpawrazzi.) | More Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Slaves, saints, snakes and shamrocks

St. Patrick was not a leprechaun. In fact, he wasn't even Irish.

He was a real person born in Roman-ruled Britain in the fourth century and brought to Ireland as a slave. Even though he escaped, he had such a heart for the Irish people that he later returned to the country to share with them about Jesus.

There are many tales from his life, but, like many figures of times gone by, it is sometimes hard to find the line between history and legend. Did he really drive the snakes out of Ireland? Find meaning in shamrocks? Drink green beer?

What better way to sort it all out (or at least have fun exploring it) than through a children's book with fabulous illustrations?

Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola was recommended to me by my mom, early childhood expert and preschool director extraordinaire. It tells the story of his life, followed by several of the legends about him. Although the book doesn't deal with the roots of green beer, it's a great read. Mom says it's best for 3- or 4-year-olds and up - a little too wordy for anyone younger than that - but definitely enjoyable for adults, as well.

So, check it out. And have a great day! Today we're all as Irish as St. Patrick!


Photos by me.

Monday, March 16, 2009

On the menu: week of 3/15/09

Up next, this week's menu.

But, first, a little background information:

  1. You may recall that I make corned beef every St. Patrick's day, a tradition which may have started with my Scots-Irish ancestors, but more likely came from my mom, who has made it every year as long as I can remember.
  2. I am not in the mood to do a lot of grocery shopping this week. I'm more in the mood to use the same really yummy ingredients in more than one meal. I think the key to pulling this off is to stick with really yummy.
  3. Remember how last week I wrote "pizza" down for Friday's dinner, crossed it out, moved it to Tuesday, and then back to Friday? Well, guess what we ended up eating Tuesday night? Yep. Pizza. It was a great day not to have to worry about dinner. Then Friday night, the Hubs decided to grill the thin boneless pork chops that we were supposed to have eaten Tuesday. He marinated them in Soy Vay, and they were delicious. We had a lovely dinner out on the patio next to the garden. He also grilled up a few extra pork chops without any marinade.
  4. Saturday we got to hang out with Liz (sister of the Hubs) and Matt (hubby of Liz). Since the Hubs was working, we missed out on enjoying Liz's famous waffles with a group of their friends that morning, but all was not lost on the waffle front. They sent some home with us.
Enough of that, let's move on to the main course:

  • Monday - Breakfast for dinner! Liz's waffles (see #4), topped with fruit, and scrambled eggs on the side.
  • Tuesday - Corned beef and red potatoes
  • Wednesday - Pasta with Alfredo sauce, sliced grilled pork (see #3), mushrooms and maybe those red peppers that come in a jar
  • Thursday - Basic quiche with spinach and mushrooms
  • Friday - Corned beef hash (with leftover corned beef and potatoes)
  • Saturday - Pizzas on pita bread (inspired by this, although no pesto this time) with leftover ingredients (mushrooms, etc.) from earlier in the week.

See how that all comes together? (on paper.) We'll see how this week actually pans out!

For dessert:

Stop by My Joyful Haven for more delicious menu plans!

Edited: I meant to link to My Joyful Haven's homepage (fixed). And here's a link directly to this week's menu plan blog roll. Also, I changed the breakfast for dinner wording, so that you knew I meant scrambled eggs with the waffles - not on top of them. (Iew.)


Photos by me.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Shrimp van to Rufus the plant

7 Quick Takes - the (almost) weekly post where I share random stuff from my week that doesn't fit anywhere else.

Ready? OK!

1.If you're driving south from Phoenix on Maricopa Road, you'll start to see handmade signs along the side of the road advertising "Rocky Point Shrimp." Eventually, you'll get to the place of business: a large white van on a rural corner. The weirdest part is that I've seen bunches of cars parked around it more than once. You have to be pretty brave to buy stuff out of some random van. Especially sea food. That came from 5 hours away. In Mexico. All I can say to both business owners and customers: Buena suerte.

2.I'm still planning on doing more cloth diaper definitions, I just haven't had the time to put that together yet. Hopefully I can post that this week. (Keep your fingers crossed!)

3.The pastors at my church have started fasting and praying on Thursdays, and they've invited the rest of us to do the same, if we feel lead to do so. Skipping a meal (or even eating a meal that doesn't have enough protein) is physically a problem for me. (I get huge headaches, dizziness...blahblahblah....won't bore you with all the details.) So I've been thinking about what really is the essence of fasting and how to set aside time to focus on prayer without making myself sick. I've skimmed John Piper's "The Crazy Idea of Fasting in '09" and this other article, "Biblical Fasting - What It Is and How To Do It," I randomly came across. I'd like to take more time to read through those. Oh yes, and I read a post on the Girl Talk blog too. Any other recommendations?

4.Ladies: I heard about month.ly.info from SortaCrunchy Megan a couple months ago. It's a great tool for tracking your monthly cycle, which might turn out not to be as random as you think it is. Very simple, very handy - especially if you're specifically trying to have or avoid having children right now.

5.Sometimes there are cool things going on here locally that I want to make sure the Phoenix-area peeps know about, but I know that you are not all in Arizona (or anywhere near it). I guess I figure maybe it'll give you an idea for something to do in your own town. Like "oh, I can't go that art show, but I wonder what local artists around here are doing." Or maybe you'll come visit. That's my thinking anyway. What do you guys think? Does the Phoenix stuff get on your nerves?

6.Hubs is sick today. So I'm working in between saying things like, "Have you taken an aspirin yet?" and "Why don't you drink some more water?" but trying not to be a nag.

7.When the Hubs picked up his prescription yesterday (hey, I offered to go, but he went on the way home from the doctor), he also picked up this tiny, adorable little plant. His name is Rufus.


Take time for more quick takes at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

You asked for it: cabbage salad

Since you asked so nicely, here is the recipe for my Aunt Roberta's cabbage salad. She calls it a "slaw," but it's not like the cole slaw I'm used to, so I don't really think of it that way. So po-tay-to, po-tah-to, call it whatever you want.

Here's how to make it...

2 T butter
1 head cabbage, chopped
8 T slivered almonds (2/3 cup)
8 T sesame seeds
8 green onions, sliced
2 T Top Ramen Noodle Mix (Chicken or Oriental)

4 T sugar
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
6 T rice vinegar
1 cup salad oil
flavor packet from Ramen Noodles

  1. Brown almonds and seeds in butter.
  2. Mix dressing ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix cabbage and onions in a large bowl.
  4. Add almonds, seeds and noodles to cabbage and onions, then pour dressing over top.
You can also add slivered, cooked chicken.

We did take it to the potluck last night, and I think it was a hit, because we didn't bring much back home.

Thanks, Aunt Roberta!


Photos by me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Growing (like weeds)

Did anyone ever say that to you when you were a kid? "You're just growin' like a weed!" I heard that kind of thing a lot. Anyway.

We celebrated our niece Rachel's eighth birthday this weekend with the hubby's side of the family.

And their fish. (They were sure ready to party!)

We ate delicious spaghetti...

....checked out the artwork that the Hubs and his siblings (secretly) contributed to the bottom of a coffee table long ago...

...and just chilled a bit.

We brought these cute little flower gardening kits for Rachel's gift.

I hope they grow! (The flowers, I mean. I don't think I have to worry about the kids!)


Photos by the Hubs and me.