Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

i have been waiting to post this tip for several months now but thought it would go best with the onset of spring.

clearly, coffee is one of my passions.  and nothing says spring like exchanging a few hot coffee drinks for cold ones.  everyone has their favorites, but i really like a good iced coffee.  nothing gives you a kick in the pants like iced coffee... and i think because it's usually stronger (since it's been around for a bit) and you can drink it so much faster.  an all around good combination.

for these reasons, i always have iced coffee on hand at home.  there's nothing to it... no extra cost or effort.  you just need to be a bit proactive!  here's the trick...   you know how every morning (or whenever you make coffee), there is usually a bit left over in the pot that you end up dumping out when you rinse out your pot?  instead of pouring that little bit down the drain, pour it in a pitcher that you can keep in the refrigerator.  every time you make a pot of coffee, add your leftovers to that pitcher.  i'm always amazed at how quickly i can fill a pitcher without having to make any extra coffee.  now, there are times when i will make an extra large pot of coffee (or a separate pot!) for the sole purpose of making iced coffee.  but this system works well because it's making good use of what you already have - eliminating waste and furthering your resources.  always a good thing!

now, when it comes to serving your iced coffee, here a few more tips.  first, be sure to stir the pitcher every now and again (and empty it every so often to start over) because, like tea, coffee does end up with some residual "sediment."  par for the course, yes, but not something you want to find in your glass.  also, if you prefer sweetened or flavored iced coffee, simply add flavored creamer to a glass of ice and then add your iced coffee.  stir briskly and then, if you can, drink with a straw!  ok, so you don't have to use the straw, but i always enjoy cold coffee beverages better with a straw AND your teeth will benefit (and be whiter) without the extra exposure to the coffee.

bottoms up!

Friday, March 19, 2010

and so it goes...

nothing terribly exciting or blog-worthy going on here.  and,  yet,... here goes.

i am enjoying the Little House books but have been forbidden by chloe to move on to the next book until she has caught up.  lucy has also decided to join us and is starting the first book.  patrick and tucker are enjoying watching the series with us, but that's about it!

parsley and i are going to the vet in a bit.  she's had diarrhea for almost a week now, and i have no idea why.  i tried changing her food back to the "good stuff" but it didn't help.  thankfully, she's housebroken enough to only do the deed outside.  regrettably, however, she only has the urge to do said deed in the middle of the night.  several times.  so, every other hour, she whines and cries, until i drag myself out of bed and take her outside.  and then we repeat that process until morning.  this has made for a long and tiring week.  add to that the fact that i woke up yesterday with a very stiff and sore neck...  good times.

thankfully, we have a pretty easy weekend ahead of us.  the kids are spending tonight at my parents' house, so chuck and i are hoping to put a big dent in season 2 of Lost.  i am actually pretty excited about that.  tomorrow morning is a staff meeting for church... and those are always fun, too.

i wish i had a bit more energy to make this day more productive, but i'm not seeing that happening.  maybe more coffee?


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Tuesday's Tip

i realize i'm preaching to the choir with this one.  but just in case...

embrace your local library.  for real.  i realize the value of this tip is largely dependent on what state you live in (thus determining how much money your library has to work with), but chances are your library offers things of which you're not yet aware!  

when i lived in pennsylvania, our county library was little more than a double-wide trailer, which is why i then discovered the joys of used book stores (but that's a whole other tip!).  here in maryland, however, the library system is quite complex and accommodating.  when my four children were all pre-schoolers, i avoided the library in an attempt to preserve the peace and quiet that i felt other readers deserved.  however, i soon learned that i can still enjoy the library without even having to take my little noisemakers in!  i browse and reserve all my books online.  i even get an email to let me know when my books are available and then others to inform me that they are almost due.  i am also able to renew materials online.  to make this whole system even better, my library (and many others) has a drive-thru window that has hours beyond the normal library hours so that i never have to get out of my car.  

now, i will say that it took me a while to discover all this.  i had grown up in the baltimore county library system but only recently discovered that the harford county library is the place for me.  and, until baltimore county stops charging for dvd rentals, they won't get my business.  it's amazing!  i can rent movies and video games for free.  and, if i'm willing to be a bit proactive, i can make sure they have what i want ahead of time so that they are ready to be picked up when i want them.  

beyond free movies, i can also "rent" audiobooks online which can then be uploaded to my ipod or mp3 player.  and another service i have not even used yet is all the free workshops and classes the library offers. there are all kinds of fun classes for kids, but there are others for adults - and they are not all book related.  i've seen quilting, gardening, video gaming, dancing, etc all offered at my local library.  

one final perk is that, although the library system works on a county-wide basis, it is interactive with every other system in the state.  which means that when my son discovers some obscure Star Wars novel which can not be found anywhere (except Amazon for $80), my local library discovered it 2 counties over, requested it, and emailed me two weeks later to let me know it was ready.  i like that.  

Monday, March 15, 2010

keeping up with Chloe

chloe is seven and growing up in ways that constantly amaze me.  sometimes i look at my children and am forced to recognize that they are no longer toddlers or even preschoolers... they are becoming, well,... people.  part of letting children become people, i'm learning, is allowing them to make choices while still, very subtly, guiding those choices.  sure, dictating their every move is still possible, but i don't think that is the wisest option in the long run.

recently, i spoke with chloe about choosing some good books to read.  she was not making inappropriate choices, but i felt that she wasn't really choosing anything.  being an avid and very good reader at such a young age has its challenges, believe it or not.  the books that are written for K-2 are typically easy readers.    since she had read those in preK, finding something that was challenging and yet age-appropriate has not been easy.  i don't feel the need to completely censor everything, but i also don't want my 7 year old daughter only reading books about teenage girls and dating.  we'll have enough of that.  some day.

so, i decided to try a different approach.  patrick and chuck have enjoyed reading the same books and then discussing them for some time.  (patrick, of course, is another story.  presently that boy is reading his second book by Tolkien.  he's a machine.)  doing this allows chuck a good starting point for discussion with patrick, as well as allowing him a window into what he's reading.  so, in similar fashion, i told chloe that if she would read the Little House books, i'd read them with her.  she gladly accepted the challenge and has enjoyed trying to stay ahead of me and talking about the parts that have caught her attention.  interestingly enough, i never read these books as a child, so now i get to enjoy them as well.  her added bonus is that we are also renting the tv series from the library, one disc at a time.  the kids are all loving them.  and, truly, it's nice to be able to return to something that is just a bit simpler... and safer.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

catching up with the rest of the world

so, i've felt as if i've dropped off the face of cyber-earth lately.  nothing major going on... just life.  but sometimes that's all it takes.

something fun that's been taking up our free time is watching Lost, a series that everyone else seems to follow.  although we feel a bit behind the times, chuck and i have enjoyed watching such a suspenseful series this way.  we can watch it instantly with Netflix - no commercials, no waiting for the next episode.  and, honestly, i don't know how the rest of you have waited it out each week.  this show is killing me!  we're hoping to finish season 1 tonight... but that's about 5 episodes.  hmm...