Friday, November 30, 2007

Give presents that don't cost you a penny.


The government not included, most people would rather you didn't go in to debt, in order to buy them a present. Here are some ideas for great presents that won't cost you any money at all!

1. Donate blood together.
On Season Two of 90210, Brenda and Dylan donate blood on Valentine's Day, 'cause it's cool, baby.

2. Become an organ donor.
Do good, feel good.
Sign up at Donate Life.

3. Wear your seatbelt.
Don't start the car until everyone else puts theirs on too!

4. Stop doing something that drives you friend/family member crazy.
Don't wear the perfume that makes Aunt Sally sneeze, put the dog in the basement when Donald comes over and drive like a normal person.

5. Tell them that you would rather take a walk.
Takes the pressure off of them to get you a present, too!

6. Write a letter.
To your future self, to a friend you've lost touch with, to a soldier stationed over there.

7. Double a recipe and bring some over to a friend.
Yum!

8. Leave a nice comment on their blog.
Hint, hint...

9. Give yourself a present: take a deep breath and just do what you want to do.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Celebrate without a tree.



All the magazines I'm reading are debating the buy a real Christmas tree vs. buy an artificial tree dilemma. Which is less costly to the consumer? Which is better for the environment? On and on the debate rages. I say, forget the trees and get wreaths instead.

1) Celebrate multiple winter holidays? Wreaths are a symbol of winter, not any particular holiday. Decorate them as you wish.

2) Wreaths are made out of branches that have been trimmed off of trees. Thus, they have already been recycled once.

3) They are much easier to handle and much faster to decorate. And you can play Frisbee with them too.

Still addicted to decorating a tree?

Decorate the living trees in front or back of your house with lights, buy a small rosemary bush to decorate/use for cooking or just display ornaments in large glass jars.

And most of all, don't feel like you need to compete with Martha Stewart. (She doesn't do it all herself, anyway.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Learn a foreign language.


I recently got in to a heated debate with my favorite 3 year old. I can't remember what started the exchange, but we quickly resorted to one word responses:

"No." She said pointedly.

"No." I said back, in the same tone, showing her that I was an equal.

"No." She retorted without even blinking.

Ha! I thought to myself. I'll pull a Bugs Bunny (Rabbit Fire) on her! So I said, "Yes."

"No." She responded, not amused.

I know, I know, I thought...I'll best her by using my foreign language skills! "Si!" I said, switching to Spanish.

"No." She said, with a little smirk on her face.

I'll get her, I thought. I'll say no in Spanish, then I will win. So I drew on my six years of high school Spanish, and said..."No."

She looked at me, sighed, and went back to eating her locally grown, heirloom, sustainably harvested, hand picked, delivered by a biodiesel truck, soon to be composted, organic apple.

Next time, I'll try Italian.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Toss that top sheet.



(REUSABLE) MAIL BAG:

Missburrows, you think you are so cool. I bet I can stump you. Do you have a way to reduce my laundry loads, save me time and find something to occupy my kids, so that I can sit down and have a martini?

jenn30764



Hi jen30764,

Here is my suggestion, toss that top sheet. My husband could not sleep in a bed where the sheets were tucked in and I am forever bored with doing laundry, so we decided to ditch the top sheet. We switched to a down comforter with a washable comforter cover (duvet). It is now faster and easier to make the bed and do the laundry and the top sheet makes a very cool fort in the living room.

Thanks for not asking about a recipe for a martini, then you would have stumped me.

missburrows

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Always have some diet soda available when throwing a party.



Please note, I said, soda, not pop. I don't care how long I live here, With god as my witness, I will never call it pop.


(Knock on the door)

Me: Hello?
(Men dressed in dark suits with dark glasses are at the door.)

Them: We hear you are refusing to use the word pop. Is this correct?

Me: Whaaaa???

Them: Is this correct?

Me: Yes, yes it is.

Them: Then you need to come with us...

Me: But, but....I'm a true Washingtonian...I know that the state fruit is the apple, the state mammal is the orca...the state fabric is fleece (right?), I'm a frequent and habitual voter in both state and county elections....I make mean faces at people that smoke within 25 feet of buildings...I don't understand...Wait, did former Rep. Richard Curtis send you? He never really liked me....

Them: Sorry, but we need to take you in. We have places for people like you...

(A short time later)

Them: Here, you deal with her.

New Them: Welcome to Oregon. So we hear that you are refusing to say the word pop. Is this correct?

Me: Ah, crap.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fleece is a lovely thing



and it makes a fiery ring.
Covered by warm desire
I fell in to a ring of fire.

I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down
and the flames went higher.
And it burns, burns, burns
the ring of fire
the ring of fire.
And it burns, burns, burns
the ring of fire
the ring of fire.

The feel of fleece is sweet.
I even like it on my feet.
I fell for you as a child.
Ohhh, fleece you make me go wild.


(missburrow's remake of Johnny Cash's classic song, Ring of Fire, inspired by a recent laundry experience and the onset of a wet, cold winter.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Do a turkey test run.


Cooking a turkey is easy...unless you've never done it before. I suggest you do a turkey test run. You can do it on one of the days leading up to Thanksgiving, or any time of the year. Here are some turkey tricks I learned the hard way:

1) If you need to buy a roasting pan, measure the inside of your oven so you buy one that will fit.

2) Allow lots of extra time for the turkey to defrost. Then allow even more time.

3) The turkey will have two cavities. These cavities usually come filled with either disgusting stuff or yummy flavor makers (it's up to you). Take them out. Do not cook the turkey with them inside.

4) Do not pick up a hot cooked turkey with your hands. Martha Stewart thinks these are the best for that task. (Then again, she does make them.)

5) Do not carve the turkey in front of your guests. Rachael Ray even recently mentioned that she makes two turkeys. One goes on the table for presentation while the other gets sliced up in the kitchen. Later, she brings the second turkey to the kitchen and carves that one.

6) Freeze some of the cooked, sliced turkey to make sandwiches in the future.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Create a sick box.



At some point in time I realized that 1) my husband cannot read my mind and 2) when I am sick I have a hard time communicating what I need. To combat this, I have created a Sick Box. It is located in the pantry and includes all the foods I prefer to eat when I am not feeling well.

Included: Lemon-Lime Gatorade, Chocolate Slim-Fast Shakes,Tazo Tea, Ramen Noodles and Oyster Crackers. I also make sure we always have at least one bag of Sugar Free Ricola on hand and a stash of facial tissue.

When I was sick as a child, my mom would always put a little bell by our bed, so that we could get her attention without having to yell downstairs. So my husband and I have one of those too. (It takes awhile, but she shows up eventually.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

If you are going to see the doctor, wear short sleeves.



Whether getting my blood pressure taken or getting blood work done, experience has taught me to wear short sleeves when I am going to see the doctor. That way, I don't have to pull my arm out of the sleeve and sit there semi-dressed. In the winter, I often layer a sweater over the shirt so I don't freeze to death while meeting with the doctor.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Make opportunities for wishes.




Back in the days when I used to ride the school bus to school, I was told by a fellow classmate that if you put your finger on a screw (in the bus), and lifted your feet while the bus drove over the train tracks, you could make a wish. Strange, yes, but I wasn't going to question the possibility of getting a wish.

I no longer ride a school bus, but whenever my husband and I head in to Portland we pass by the new Portland Aerial Tram. If one (or both) of the trams is out, I get to make a wish. Who doesn't want more opportunities for wishes?
It also counts if you see the tram on the news. Wish away!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Talk with your sibling(s) about your childhood experiences.


My brother and I recently realized that no amount of photos, videos or tours of our childhood home will really help someone else understand what it was like to grow up. Siblings however, already know.

Talking with your sibling(s) can also clarify some unpleasant memories. I had always felt guilty about the time I threw up Honey Nut Cheerios all over my brother while he was in the bathroom. I'm glad we talked about it, because I guess he had always felt guilty about preening in the bathroom mirror as I pounded on the door for him to let me in. Eventually he opened it....

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Always take off your shoes when you are in the house.


All the talk shows and magazines are touting this as a new thing to do to keep your house cleaner and keep outside toxins off the rug. Martha Stewart even has a sign in her magazine that you can frame, so that you can ask nicely "Please remove your shoes."

But I was first taught this, back in high school, by all of my Italian friends' mothers. Sicilian to be exact. I of course, did not get any explanation as to why I had to take off my shoes, but as I walked by the ubiquitous living room that was not touched except during holidays (often with furniture draped in plastic furniture covers) I did not dare to ask. And although my feet often got cold, within 10 minutes of entering the house I was offered something warm and yummy to eat.

These days I also ask people to remove their shoes in the house. My parents have their own slippers already in my closet and I have nice warm slipper socks for everyone else.

While I will probably not have homemade spaghetti sauce with meatballs or Italian Wedding Soup slowly simmering on the stove, I will have hot tea and guest cookies (if we haven't eaten them already).

Monday, November 5, 2007

Sign up for automatic mortgage payments.

My dad bought me David Bach's book, The Automatic Millionaire, a few years ago. Granted, it took me a bit to finally get this set up, but after reading the same suggestion in some of the books by Suze Orman, I finally got my act together. I even added an extra 10% to each month's payment to chip away at the mortgage a little faster.

Setting up the automatic monthly payment with my lender was easy and now I need not worry whether or not I have mailed the mortgage check. Hey, and since I am not using a stamp or an envelope, it counts as being green too!

Technorati is cool.

Technorati Profile

Always have a pen nearby.

I've learned from my mom to always have a pen with you. I have one in each one of my bags, about 6 in the center console of each car and numerous others in designated spots throughout the house.

While they are useful for crossing off items on my grocery list, jotting down phone numbers and making mustaches on people in magazine ads, they are also handy for jotting down blog ideas.

Always have some chocolate in the freezer.

We try not to have too much candy in the house. But experience has taught me that it is smart to have some chocolate tucked away in the freezer. Having a little chocolate on hand keeps me from driving to the supermarket and buying an entire cake. Plain chocolate candy (no nuts, no caramel) seems to freeze the best. I prefer Dove's Assorted Miniatures. These guys have nice rounded corners too.

If you are going to a child's birthday party, bring a small gift for the siblings.

My mom taught me this one and I have had many a parent thank me for the thoughtfulness. First off, make sure the sibling is old enough to even care that it is not his/her birthday, otherwise hold off until they are older.
Small, wrapped gifts that you can hide in a purse, pocket or bag work the best. Always make sure the gift is age appropriate. It is also nice if it will keep the sibling occupied. I have had good luck with individually boxed toys from Playmobil and the Nerf Pocket Vortex Football

Keep the extra toilet paper and room deodorizer in plain sight.

I have learned from experience that it is cruel to both guests and home owners to hide the extra toilet paper and room deodorizer. Like the book says, Everybody Poops. So you'd better deal with it!

Put two extra rolls in a pretty basket on the back of the toilet and your guests will never have to ransack your cabinets with their pants around their ankles.

Keep the visit pleasant by having room spray in the bathroom available and obvious. Many companies make some pretty ones. Try Method's Aroma Spray or something from Bath and Body Works. Even old perfume will work.
You are welcome.

Sporting events are better in person.

My dad took me to many sporting events. We saw the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, The Hartford Whalers (former NHL team), the Harford Wolf Pack and various other teams. While I am impressed by the sexy new flat screen T.V.s (especially those from Sharp) there really is no comparison to being surrounded by screaming fans, having your feet stick to the floors, eating stadium food that tastes great (then sits like a rock in your tummy) and the louder than you can believe music.

I am so grateful that he instilled in me the experience of being a sports fan.

Now, if only I could remember the names of the various sports teams here in the Pacific Northwest. Is it the Portland Puddles? Maybe the Washington Waterdrops?

Looking for a great gift idea? Take someone to a game. Just remember the ear plugs and Purell.

Use old envelopes for grocery lists.

My mom taught me to open envelopes horizontally with a letter opener. After you take out the mail, you can use the back of the empty envelope to write your grocery list. You can even put coupons into the envelope. This also works for errands.

I post the envelope on the fridge next to an IKEA pencil I've attached to a magnet with thread.

With eco-conscious living being "in" right now, I can tell people that I'm being "green", not just dorky.