Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Tackle It Tuesday: Embarassing Admission

Today I cleaned the shelves in our refrigerator.  While I usually do a good job of not leaving leftovers in the fridge until they become science projects, I am embarrassed to admit that there were some items in our fridge that had been there since we moved in to the house five years ago.

These items include some bottles of cooking wine and some jars of jams and jellies that I had purchased to use for different recipes.  I don't know why I held on to these items for so long.  I know that in the past when I have cleaned the fridge I had considered getting rid of these items, but for some reason I could not bring myself to do it.

This cleaning I apparently had a little more motivation to get rid of these items and I finally threw them out.  Perhaps the motivation came from knowing that in a couple of months we may need all the space we can possibly get, even in the fridge. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Going to the Car Wash

Driving down the street, we see dozens of car washes.  Some are completely full service, some are completely self service, and some are a mixture of the two.   One would think that all car washes would be the same, but I have found that there are definitely some car washes that are worth driving a little out-of-the-way.

Typically, I prefer to wash our cars by hand at home, but this summer's heat and being pregnant has caused me to prefer to use a car wash so I can get the job done more quickly. 

We have found the Little Joe's Self-Service car washes to be affordable while still having the needed water pressure to properly clean the cars.  The car wash located on 21st St N between Ridge and Tyler is our favorite one to go to.  Since we tend to do most of our shopping on the west side of town, it is usually on the way to another location so we do not have to waste a trip just to wash one of the vehicles. 

The car wash is maintained well and it only costs $1.50 to begin the wash.  They provide a timer so we know how much time we have left to wash the car and it allows users to add extra quarters to add more time.  They also have covered bays for vacuuming the car that are off to the side of the car washes so that the people vacuuming and drying the cars are not in the way of people who want to wash their cars.  I do not vacuum my car there very often, but the last time I did, I think it only cost 50 or 75 cents and their vacuums have proper suction to really clean up all the sand and dirt.

Not too long ago, I went to a car wash near my parents house since I was right there and did not want to drive to another location to wash the car.  That car wash charged $1 to use the vacuum and it hardly had any suction at all.  Then it cost $2.00 to begin the car wash.  Their system also allowed the addition of more quarters for extra wash time, but it did not provide a timer and it also did not provide a warning beep to let the user know that time is about to run out.  I managed to get the car washed and rinsed with the quarters I put in, but I was not impressed with the results.  I felt that I had to rush through the process to make sure I did not have to add another $2.00.

There are a few car washes on the east side of town that we will use if we happen to be on that side of town and need to wash a vehicle, but by far, Little Joe's on W. 21st Street is our car wash of choice.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Booking Through Thursday: Queue

Booking Through Thursday asks
"What are you reading now?  Would you recommend it?  And what’s next?"

I am currently reading two books.  I am still reading Queen Victoria: A Personal History, and I have also started reading Jane Eyre once again.

For people who enjoy reading about some history but more specifically about the actual people involved in the historical events, I would strongly recommend the Queen Victoria biography.  I like the way the author wrote each chapter to stand alone.  While I am reading the book straight through, one does not have to do so.  After reading so much Victorian literature in school, I enjoy reading about someone who was actually alive during that time and comparing her experiences with those of the characters in the novels.  The book tries to portray an honest view of Queen Victoria and does not shy away from showing her not-so-gracious side. 

Speaking of Victorian literature, I recently decided to read Jane Eyre once again.  Having presented a paper on the novel at a conference, I would definitely recommend it to other readers, especially those who want to read more classical literature.  Bronte writes in a very approachable manner.  Also, I enjoy Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next novels, the first of which is the Jane Eyre Affair, and I wanted to read the actual novel again before rereading this book next.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Weekly Menu

I am really beginning to feel like I am in a rut when it comes to planning our weekly menu.  I even had a dream the other night where my husband complained that we always eat the same types of food all the time (even though he would never make such a complaint).

I hope to begin incorporating a new main dish a couple of times a month, but this week's menu incorporates many of my old standbys.

Eggs x2
Banana Muffins x 2
Yogurt and granola
Toast with peanut butter

Leftovers x 2
Dine out x 2
Black beans
Macaroni and cheese

Lasagna, Italian bread, corn
Roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, muffins
Tortilla casserole, Mexican rice
Spaghetti, corn
Chicken sandwich, peas
Dine out
Smothered chicken, potatoes, muffins

What Are We Supposed to Eat?

Is anyone else afraid to put a bite of food in their mouth?  Sometimes the process of trying to find healthy food to eat that will satisfy whatever craving I currently have is enough to send me back to bed and pull the covers over my head with a bag of potato chips in tow.

It seems like most television talk shows have at least one segment where they discuss the types of food people should and should not eat.  One day they tell us to eat more yogurt, but the next day they tell us yogurt may be bad for us because of all the sugar companies put in it.  Some people say we should eat low fat foods, while others tell us that we need to make sure we get enough of the good fats to stay healthy.  Commercial after commercial tells us to eat more whole grains, but if you look on the package of many whole grain products, you will see the sugar listed as the second or third ingredient (added to make the whole grain more palatable).

Some days I just throw in the towel and eat whatever I feel like eating, but then I end up watching a show like The Dr.'s or Dr. Oz and I feel guilty for whatever indulgence I have just taken.  I want to eat healthier, but I sometimes wish they would place less emphasis on what we should and should not be eating and instead focus on the real issue: self-control.

The push to try and take care of the obesity problem in our country seems to be focused on the wrong issue.  Instead of punishing restaurants and forcing them to serve apple and carrot slices instead of french fries, perhaps they should spend more time education the general public and teaching about self-control.  Isn't that the real issue anyways (in many more areas than just eating I might add)?

So as I sit and ponder what to eat for my mid-afternoon snack, I have to decide which direction I want to follow: healthy or satisfying?  I would like to find more snack options that fit both criteria for me and for our daughter as she grows and begins eating more and more different types of food.  Any suggestions?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Less vs Fewer

As a former English teacher, I try not to get to picky about other people's grammar because I know that I still make plenty of mistakes as I write and speak (of course, I always told my students that I taught writing, not speech and that we typically do not speak the way we write--hopefully).  However, there are certain words that I often see misused that stand out to me because I taught specific lessons on those words.

One set of words is "less" and "fewer."  Typically, "fewer" should be used when people want to refer to items that they can count like chairs, speed, typos, and money.  People should use "less" when they want to refer to items that cannot be counted like courage, brains, and chances.

For some reason, the other day I realized that many stores with express lanes use the wrong word on their signs.  They often write "12 items or less" when it should actually be "12 items or fewer."  I guess that explains why some stores avoid this problem all together by simply writing "About 20 items."