Search This Blog

Friday, January 28, 2011

Thank You Karma!

Sometimes when you put things out in to the universe it does all work out. I did end up getting called in for jury duty, but it was today, a Friday, and Andy is home! When I got there we did our intake and then waited to go up to the court room. After about an hour the judge came in and said all 15 cases scheduled for trial today had been resolved and we could go home. Yeah!

So all in all, not a bad day, and I made a little cash to pay for my new coffee table/ottoman which is being delivered today.

I must admit I was kind of disappointed I didn't get to see some trial action, but am relieved to not be there still. Guess Karma and I made a compromise and I will have to hold up my end of the bargain by buying extra Girl Scout cookies. Damn!

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I need and want a vacation!!! For the past several years we've had staycations for a couple of reasons. One, it's economical (duh!) and two, with a lot of little kids it's hard to go somewhere where there is something for everyone. We have had a few fun vacays away from home--Bear Lake, Disneyland and Green River, but staying at home is kind of our thing, at least until my money tree grows back or the money fairy comes off her hiadus.

Our local areas have a lot to offer and other people come here to enjoy them, so maybe we should too.

Like I've said in the past, I am a planner. I love to be organized and know what I am doing. I realize not everyone is like that, but I am. Otherwise why would I be planning to spend a week with my family when our vacation is likely 5 months away?

Here are some tips for planning your staycation.

1. Search out local attractions you've never been too, or not been in awhile. Include surrounding cities in your search of things to see. If you live near a big city you've probably seen a lot of the sites, so pick a neighboring city. Even small communities have some fun local parks or pools to enjoy.

2. Let each person pick one thing they'd like to do. Those who don't want to do something just need a gentle reminder that they get to choose an activity to, and everyone needs to be supportive.

3. Vary the activities. We've visited museums, parks, pools, bakeries, new restaurants, recreation centers, craft stores,theaters, and new grocery stores.

4. Plan your days. I like to have a theme for each day. We like to do an "Arts Day" which could include a trip to a theater or museum and the craft store. We also love "Water Days" which usually include a trip to a local water park or pool, picnic and then water balloon or Super Soaker fight after dinner.

5. Eat in a different way. Ditch the dining room table and have a picnic at a park, in the backyard or on the floor. Choose a new type of food or a new restaurant. Let the kids help in making a meal of their choosing. I swear they eat new things better if they have a hand in the preparation.

6. Sleep in a new place. Check into a local hotel for a few nights, camp in the backyard or let the kids sleep in a homemade fort. It will be a new adventure!

7. Look for discounts and coupons. Use the website or book, local ads,, google and check out restaurant's websties for specials and discounts.

8. Remember it's all about MAKING MEMORIES. Take your camera, allow for small souvenirs, journal your days, or do whatever will help your family remember the experience.

This can be as economical or pricey as you make it. The planning is very flexible and is in your control. We have done anywhere from 2 to 6 days. They've all been memorable and we learn what we can really do and like to do as a family. We've learned skipping out on Cherry Hill is BAD. So we'll be putting it in our plans this year. Smores in the backyard is a must for us. We love a good pizza parlour and redbox rental.

Choose what makes you happy and go for it. Until the sun returns to our nation, I will be happily daydreaming about ice cream at the splash pad.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Online Shopping

I should not watch HGTV--Ever!! There are too many things on there that make me break major commandments. I want to do everything to my house that I see on there. I now feel the need to redecorate, rearrange, repurpose all my material possessions. Crap! It's a tough balance between doing what I want and keeping it affordable. Of course I found some ways to make it happen and I am passing them onto you, lucky readers!

I found a great new storage ottoman for my family room. The one we have is a mission style and about 10 years old. While I like it, our need for storage has increased. Also the table is wood and with little ones running around someone always bumps or scratches themselves on it. So I've been looking for a leather one for a little while, but after watching HGTV all night (Andy was at scout camp again) I amped up my search. I found one for $72 at I checked about eight different sites and some prices were as high as $120 for the exact same thing. Of course I always try to beat the best price I find, so then I Googled for discount codes and found one for 10% off. It worked! I saved an additional $7.20 and shipping at is $2.95 on every order. The code I used was 121278. I don't know how long the code will work, but if you need something for your home, or for a gift, or whatever try it.

I have also been working on Story Books for the twins' birthdays. The basic idea behind it is a scrapbook that tells a fictional story where my kid is the main character. They normally run about $30 to print and ship. $60 for books is not in the budget since they want a friend party this year, and have some other gift requests and needs. Using the codes YAYFREEBOOK and SOAPBOOK on I got the books free and shipping was $7 each. Good savings! Again I don't know how long the codes will last. There is also another Snapfish code that may work for 20% off, welcomeback.

I love shopping online purely so I don't have to drag the kids with me anywhere. Many sites have free or low shipping so it's worth it to me to save gas and sanity not going out to buy a lot of stuff. I also love online shopping because it's easy to compare prices and there are almost always discount codes.

There are many websites that specialize in publishing discount codes. However, I find a lot by just using Google and typing in what I need. Sometimes I do have to try a few codes before one works, but spending a few extra minutes searching usually results in a discount.

Happy Shopping!

Birthday Update

Danni and Lexi had a great birthday party yesterday. Thanks to all my family who came to celebrate. It is so fun to see all my kids with their cousins. They are all so cute and play pretty well together. Thanks for the gifts too. Both the girls are wearing new outfits today and look totally cute. My sis gave Danni a shirt that says "Mommy's Little Angel." It's pretty funny, on purpose, and Danni's pretty lucky her horns hold her halo. Seriously she is a good kid and I love her BIG personality. Here's some pics of what we did to honor our daughter's big days.

 The pizza party
 The magnificent Butterfly cake
Lexi's First Birthday
Maybe the lemon was too much, or maybe she's just being dramatically shy.

It was a fun day. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Minestrone Soup

I love this recipe. It's easy and is a good leftover (remember that's a big deal 'cuz normally I hate leftovers).

15 oz. can tomato sauce
3 c. chicken or beef broth
32 oz. diced or stewed tomatoes
2-15 oz. cans. Kidney beans (or 1 can of Kidney and 1 can of Garbanzo beans)
3 c. water
2 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 c. Italian dressing
1/2 onion, chopped
1 c. carrots
1 c. chopped zucchini
1/2 c. celery
2 c. pasta, uncooked
1 lb. hamburger* optional

*You can make this without meat, but I usually use meat since I live with a bunch of carnivores.

Cook the meat and onion in the Italian dressing and 1/2 c. broth, until no pink shows. Add the tomato sauce, stewed tomatoes, remainder of broth, beans, veggies and seasonings.  Cook on medium for 20 minutes. Add the uncooked pasta and cook another 10-15 minutes (I use mini alphabet pasta and it takes about 10 min.).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby!

Our caboose turns 1 today. The last year has gone by so fast! I can't believe we made it through. Lexi is a sweet girl and our family wouldn't be the same without her. To celebrate we are having a special dinner and Butterfly cupcakes. Pictures to come...

I baked the cupcakes in heart shaped baking molds and then used them as wings and Swiss cake rolls as the butterfly bodies. I used candy for the antennae. I also decorated a cake board so the butterflies had a sky and grass to play in.

I love to fill cupcakes with different things. Here are a few of my favorite combos:

Triple chocolate cake with peppermint flavoring, frosted with chocolate mint frosting and decorated with crushed peppermint

Red velvet cupcakes frosted with cherry-vanilla cream frosting

Lemon cupcakes with 2 Tbsp. lemon zest added to batter before baking, then poked with a fork when fully cooked and frosted with a lemon juice/powdered sugar glaze

Yellow cake cupcakes. When cooled use a frosting bag and tip to fill each cupcake with chocolate pudding. Then frost with chocolate frosting

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Mamma Said There'd Be Days Like This

My morning started out with Dannika crying that Jack ate Doby. I am not sure how she knew this, but she was convinced it was true. Eventually when a package of M&M's spilled all over the kitchen, Doby had mysteriously found his way back to our house.

Next I was finishing a PTO newsletter and received the message "Catastrophic Error" from my computer. Really catastrophic???

Next Danni came running in my room screaming that she'd broken up with Seth, our 3 year old neighbor and friend. If this isn't a picture of what's to come I don't know what is. When I raised my eyebrow and gave her my look she said, "No mom, I am serious. I really did break up with Seth, but I am going to marry him anyway."

Jack and Dannika were discussing who was teaching in Primary a few weeks ago. Jack kept saying "No, no it was Sis. Smith* (names have been changed to protect the innocent.)  Danni said, "No! It was sister Potaohead." Thank you Toy Story 3.

It's been a fun filled day. Right in line with yesterday. The older girls were all too excited that yesterday was a flag flying holiday when the 12 pre-teen boys from our neighborhood descend upon our house at early hours of the morning. All giggles and teasing aside, it freaks me out they care enough what they look like that early to become "presentable" even if they don't actually go outside where the boys are. Right now it's just curious looking and peeking out the window. Again, can we all see the writing on the walls???

All this fun on top of opening my mailbox and seeing a summons to jury duty. I think I should break up with my mailman! I know, constitutional rights, freedom of speech, innocent until proven guilty, blah, blah, great blessings living here, but really jury duty??? Please Karma, I love you. I will give extra food to the food drive and buy extra Girl Scout cookies in return for no jury duty. I have until the 28th to see if I have to go or not.

On a plus, I got a note from Jack's teacher. He scored 98% on his Math block test. So he's ahead of the curve and knows now what most kids by the end of the year, and learning math in Chinese. He should pass up all my abilities by next Christmas. His teacher was so proud of him and it was so great to hear such positive news after struggling with all the changes at the beginning of the year. They may all look like Andy, but one of them has got my OCD brains! Yeah!

It never stops and I'd probably hate it if it did!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chicken Cannelloni

This is an easy make ahead meal. I've never frozen and then thawed this one, but it can be made the day before and refrigerated and baked the next day.

1 package Manicotti shells, cooked
2 lb. cooked, shredded chicken
1 1/2 c. part-skim ricotta cheese (you can also use 1/2 cottage cheese and 1/2 ricotta)
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
1- 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. favorite tomato sauce, seasoned with Italian Herbs
1 1/2 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook the Manicotti shells according to package directions.
Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

Combine cooked chicken, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic powder and salt, until chicken is well coated.

Fill each shell with filling. Place them in the baking dish. Pour the seasoned tomato sauce around the noodles, but NOT on top. Sprinkle the mozzarella and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes.

I serve this with a spinach salad (spinach, romaine, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes, avocado, sprouts, any other veggie you like and croutons) and crusty wheat bread.

Again, everyone in my (picky) family loves this dish and it's easy to make. Enjoy

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Here's What I Know

If you asked my kids they would say I know everything. That's because they have yet to reach the teen phase where I know nothing and they know everything. The first thing I know is that Karma will come knocking at my door and biting me in the butt for all the teenage angst I caused my parents. From the age of 4 I thought "I can do whatever I want to do." My mom actually had this recorded and my sweet sis likes to remind me that attitude is genetic (hence my #3 daughter). Anyway I know this teenage drama will descend upon our household in mere months and I've already started checking out Swiss boarding schools.

Here's a few other things I know.

I know today will be better than yesterday if I can see the good in each person and opportunity.

I know trials do not last forever.

I know who I am, my faults and strengths, and revel in the reality that I call a spade a spade. If you don't like it --Leave.

I know that I will hear my mom yelling at me (yes from beyond the grave) for leaving the fridge door open, even though I am 30 something and don't live in her house. She also yells when I open packages with my teeth.

I know someday my kids will all be grown and gone and I will wish that they were home making messes, arguing and calling my name. I won't wash the mirror in my room sometimes just to keep the little handprints awhile longer.

I know I am funny, even if I don't mean to be. I know I roll my eyes without realizing it, please don't misinterpret the eye roll--sometimes it just has a mind of its own.

I have guiding principles that have made me the girl I am today. Sometimes I forget who I am in the midst of running kids around, grocery shopping, dinner making, laundry day, volunteering, mentoring and all the other tasks I am responsible for. If you need a minute to find yourself, consider the following:

1. What three characteristics do you admire in other people?
2. What words of advice do you find yourself repeating to your kids?
3. What cliches or aphorisims are repeated in your home?
4. Is there a quote or saying that speaks to your soul?
5. Complete this pharase, "If only people would learn to ___________ they would be happier."
6. Complete this phrase, "If only people were less ________ the world would be a better place."
7. When I need comfort I turn to:
8. When was the last time you felt perfectly at peace?
9. What is one thing you are constantly pursuing but never quite achieving?
10. When I need answers I:

Thanks Angie for the inspiration. We have become the person we are because of the decisions we make every day. Remember the "Quilt" post? If not, go back on this blog and read it. I think it's good at any age to remind yourself of who you are and who you are not. Sometimes making decisions are easier if you know yourself first.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Microwave Short Cuts

Benjamin Franklin said "time is money." My friend Jeff Lewis has a theory that helps him decide how to spend his time, especially when it comes to repairs or DIY projects. He calculates the time it would take him to do something by how much money he makes an hour. If he can save money by doing it himself he will. If not, he calls an expert. He's crazy, but this actually makes sense to me! Andy and I actually call this "The Jeff Lewis Theory."
Here are a few quick tips on how to use your microwave to save you time. These are from Teresa Hunsaker of the USU Dept. of Family and Consumer Science Dept.
Meatloaf in Minutes. Use your favorite meatloaf recipe, only form the meat mixture into 4 or 5 small oval or rectangular shaped meatloaves and place in a glass cooking dish side by side. Top with your usual toppings of ketchup, mustard, barbeque sauce, and brown sugar. Cover lightly with waxed paper. Cook on HIGH for 7-10 minutes. Let stand 1 minute. Rotate and cook for another 1 minute on HIGH, making sure meat is thoroughly cooked. If you have a meat thermometer to a temp check to 160.

Partially Cook Food for Grilling. Most meats should be cooked at 50% power (ground beef is the exception). So place your marinated chicken breasts or ribs in a microwave safe dish and cook at 50% power until almost done (usually this takes 4-6 minutes) then move immediately out to your grill to finish cooking. This will keep your meat more moist and shorten the grilling time without sacrificing the grilled flavor. I always recommend using a meat thermometer to check cooking temps for meats.
Juice a Lemon. Zap lemons, oranges, limes, and other citrus for 10-20 seconds on HIGH. These do become hot, so use some caution. Cut open and juice. This will aide in getting more juice out of the citrus.
Soften Brown Sugar. Place hard dry brown sugar in a microwave safe bowl. Add a lettuce leaf over the top or a few slices of apple. Cover and place in the microwave. I like to use 50% power (rather than HIGH so as not to melt any of the brown sugar) for 30 seconds. Stir and reheat for another 15 seconds on 50% power. Stir again, remove the lettuce or apple and place in an airtight container along with a fresh apple slice.
Melt Chocolate. Microwave at 50% power for 2-3 minutes (depending on the quantity, type chocolate, and size pieces). Stir after 1 minutes, then check/stir every 20 seconds or so, to see that pieces are melting and chocolate is not seizing up or scorching.
Raise Frozen Roll Dough. Place 4 cups of water in a 4 cup glass measure. Heat on HIGH to boiling. Meanwhile, arrange rolls on a glass tray or glass baking dish. Spray with vegetable oil cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap. While microwave is still warm and water is in the back of the microwave place your tray of rolls in the oven. Begin thawing by heating at 50% power for 30 seconds. Let sit for 1 minute. Repeat the 30 second heat cycle at 50% power. Let sit for 1 minute. (May have to repeat one more time.)
Now drop the power to 30% and heat in 30 second intervals, checking rolls after each. Once rolls have completely thawed and are starting to rise you can either let them finish rising outside the microwave covered in a warm place or drop the power to 10% and heat for a couple of minutes at 10% power then sit for 2 minutes. Then heat at 10% power for 2 minutes then let them sit for 4 minutes. They should be about doubled in bulk by this time. This entire process on frozen rolls takes about 12-15 minutes. Bake in a conventional oven as instructed on the package.
Sanitize a Sponge. I was a little skeptical about this, but authorities do say, if done right, this method does kill a very high percentage of micro-organisms. The sponge must be completely wet and caution used. Heat the completely wet sponge on HIGH for 2 minutes. Using tongs, remove from the microwave. There are those who have had some serious mishaps and even started a fire this way, so be careful and cautious. I am more inclined to use a low concentration of bleach and water as my method of sanitizing a sponge. See, I told you I was skeptical.
De-crystallize Honey. This is one use for my microwave that I just love. I have done it many times, as I store and use lots of honey. I prefer to heat my honey at 50% power, but I do know there are many sources that say you can use full or HIGH power. I heat my honey just until the crystals are dissolved.
Soften Cream Cheese. Un-wrap an 8 ounce package of cream cheese and place in a microwave safe dish. Microwave at 50% power for 1 ½-2 minutes. Voila.
Roasting Garlic. Cut the tops off of one to four heads of garlic, leaving the heads intact. Place the garlic in a microwave-safe dish, and drizzle with olive oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and microwave for six to eight minutes, depending on the size of the garlic heads. Keep the garlic covered and let it stand for 10 minutes before using.
Toasting Coconut or Nuts. Spread coconut or other nuts in a thin layer on a paper plate or paper towel. Microwave on HIGH, or full power, for 2-3 minutes, or until lightly browned. Some spots may brown too quickly, so stir after a minute or so.
Sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, and nuts can also be done using this method, by increasing the cook time for the type of seed or nut you are toasting.
Soften Ice Cream to Scoop. Sometimes our ice cream is frozen so hard you can't get a scoop through it. This trick works for a full half gallon of ice cream…place in the microwave on HIGH for 20-30 seconds, your ice cream will be ready to scoop!
Heating Beauty Products and health aides—lotions, creams, oils, and even heat packs can be warmed gently in the microwave—feels so good. Some products will need to be warmed on 50% or less, and other can be warmed on HIGH—for example my rice heat pack is 2 minutes on HIGH and it is toasty warm.
Dry Herbs and Citrus Fruit Peels. For those who love to grow herbs like I do, did you know you can quickly dry them for storage by using your microwave? Place cleaned herbs between two paper towels and microwave 1 to 2 minutes on HIGH. Check to see if they are dry enough to crumble. If they need more time dry further in 15-20 second intervals.
Cook Bacon. Cooking bacon in the microwave is a cinch, and it turns out so well. Place 5 or 6 slices of bacon on a layer of paper towels, or better yet a bacon tray intended for the microwave (available in most all kitchen stores), cover with paper towel and microwave on HIGH, of full power, for 3 minutes, or until crisp. Less mess and easy clean up—my favorite!
Ripen an Avocado. Prick avocado with a fork 3 or 4 times, as you would a potato for baking. Place unripe avocado on paper towels and microwave in 30 second intervals at 50% power (not HIGH). After each 30 second cook time let sit a minute, check for softness, then repeat. While this works quite well the flavor is not as full and the avocado is best used smashed, not sliced.
Perfect White Sauce Every Time. Place 2 TBS butter in a 1 quart measure and melt in microwave (50% power for 15-20 seconds). Add in 2 TBS flour to make a roux or paste. With a wire whisk mix in 1 cup of milk, ½ tsp powdered chicken bouillon, and some pepper. Microwave on HIGH for about 3 minutes—whisking after 2 minutes. Add time, if not quite thickened, in 30 second intervals until thick.
A few more uses for your microwave include: heating and softening tortillas, warming pancake syrup, drying bread crumbs or croutons, melting caramels, making peanut brittle, thawing meat for meal preparation in a hurry (meat must be cooked immediately upon thawing when using a microwave), and scrambling eggs—so cool!
A Word of Caution: Do not attempt to deep fat fry, boil an egg, or heat a baby bottle of milk—it is too easy to overheat milk, get hot spots, and then burn the baby's mouth.

Monday, January 10, 2011

My Favorite Things 2011

I often post about how to save money, but there are a few things I will splurge on because in my opinion they are worth it. I thought I'd just throw these out there and if you have faves send them my way via comment or email.

Katie's Favorite Splurges

1. Pledge Multi Purpose wipes. These things clean everything and are safe on all surfaces. They really do a good job and are easy for kids to use. When I need to spruce things up quick, they are perfect. They run about $4 for a pack of 25.

2. Sally Hansen wax kit. I was blessed with voluptuous eyebrows. I've been plucking, waxing, etc. since I was 12. The Sally Hansen kit (about $7) comes with pre-measured strips for eyebrows, underarms, bikini area (I don't recommend these strips or any strips for that area) and don't require any heat source. You simply cut the strip to desired shape and size then rub the strips between your hands to heat up the wax. Apply and quickly rip off. It's not too painful, although after 20 years of doing this my nerves are probably severely damaged. But if you have the brow shape you want you can just follow the shape each time you wax and save lots of money not going to the salon for at $15 wax.

3. Redbox movies. Way easier than any other video store. Reasonable for one night of movie viewing...can get pricey if you forget to return them, but if you forget 25 times in a row, the movie is yours to keep for $25. Love the discount codes and that new releases are easily found.

4. Velcro dots. I uses these things for a lot. They come in different sizes and shapes and close everything from backpacks to dress ups to quick hems for clothes. I use these to fix lots of games, toys, doll clothes, kids clothes, hair accessories. They are great and a quick fix. A roll of 100 dots runs about $6.

5. Duncan Hines Red Velvet cupcakes. I love cupcakes--Andy would say I am obsessed. It's true. These are the best brand ($1.29 if not on sale) and so good.

6. Gel pens. I love the Pilot G-2 series. Comes in lots of colors. Writes nicely. About $6-$7 for 5 pens.

7. Victoria's Secret body lotion. These babies are $9.50 a bottle, but are often $5 at the semi-annual sales. I have really dry skin and my heels crack easily. This stuff takes care of all my skin issues and smells awesome. I love the Pear Glace and Secret Crush scents.

8. Flavored, colored gel lip gloss. Many companies sell these. I like Cover Girl, Max Factor and LA Looks. The glosses not only give you shine and sparkle, but are flavored and not waxy. Cover Girl offers lots of colors and they run about $8; Max has a nice selection--a little sticky in application--and run between $6-10 and LA Looks--only offers 4-5 colors/flavors, but is available at Dollar Tree.

9. Isaac Mizrahi shoes. My favorite shoes are purple snakeskin (imitation) 3 inch pumps by Isaac. I love the quality and they wear forever. They run about $40 a pair, which for me is a lot. I love his designs and it lets me add some fun to my normal fashion.

10. For Every Body candles. This is a place in Lindon, UT that makes and sells their own stuff. I love their candles because they are soy based and they have great scents. My favorite things about these candles are that the tops of the candles are decorated. The sugar cookie scent has sprinkles in the wax. The cranberry has two molded berries in the top. Some have glitter or other fun things. They make great gifts. Check out They also sell scrapbook, home decor and other fun things.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Easy Scrapbook

My new friend Angie Hill Lucas gave me this great idea at a women's retreat a few months ago. It's an easy way to keep up on what's going on in your life. I have 6 photo/ memory scrapbooks that I keep--one for each kid and a family one. It's overwhelming at times and they, the books and kids, grow so fast. Plus, I like to bling the pages out and they get pricey.

Answer these 10 questions on the same day each month. At the end of the year you may see new patterns in your life, or come across interesting thoughts that keep repeating, or find inspiration from other things. This is an easy way to keep track of yourself.

10 Questions (these are ones I came up with, with inspiration from Angie)

1. What did I eat for dinner today?  Chick pea pasta w/ sausage
2. Who was the last person I talked to on the phone? Andy
3. What color did I wear today? Black
4. What was the last good thing I read? "Dead Even" a novel
5. What's one goal I have accomplished this week? Balanced the checkbook
6. What's one thing I need to work on? Finding free fun
7. Today's best thought? Danni saying, "Pretend I'm Jesus."
8. One word to sum up today is? Exhausting
9. One worry or concern? Money
10. Favorite thing I did this week? Made peanut butter brownies in my new square molds.

So I am answering these same questions every month on the 7th and at the end of the year, hopefully I've learned something new about me, or at least kept track of myself.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

So 2011 is finally here. Yeah! I quit making resolutions a long time ago, since they never lasted past the 15th. I have a lot of goals, some of which actually get accomplished during a year. Mostly I just like to make it through each day as happily and healthily as possible, and try to do one nice thing for someone else every day. It's that simple. Sometimes those nice things are even for me, like take a shower, or do the dishes or have a Diet Coke and read a book that's not about raising kids, disciplining kids, entertaining kids or cooking.

I live a blessed life. Thanks to all of you who are in it and allow me to be me. I will continue to find new ways to save money this year. Thanks Obama for the continuance of Bush Tax Cuts--that would help if the job market and housing market weren't in the crapper. But seriously, Thanks. So with that in mind I leave you with the following dual use product. Happy New Year.

10 Alternative Uses For Alka-Seltzer.

1. Clean a toilet. Drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets, wait twenty minutes, brush, and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action will help loosen the grime.
2. Attract Fish. Fish dig on bubbles. Fill a tube jig with a piece of Alka-Seltzer and cast off.
3. Clean hard-to-reach areas of deep vessels, such as a flower vase. Fill with water and drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets.
4. Polish jewelry. Dissolve two Alka-Seltzer tablets into a glass of water and immerse the soak jewelry for two minutes.
5. Remove burnt food from cookware. Fill your cookware with warm water, then dissolve five tablets and allow to sit for an hour or so.
6. Clean your coffeemaker. Fill the top portion of the coffee-maker with water, then drop in three tablets. When the Alka-Seltzer has dissolved, put the coffeemaker through a brew cycle. Flush with water, then do another brew of pure water for a final wash.
7. Unclog the drain. Drop two or three tablets in the sink, and chase with a cup of white vinegar. Allow the hot water to run for three or four minutes.
8. Cure urinary tract infections. Dissolve two tablets in a glass of water and drink at the onset of urinary tract infections.
9. Get short-term relief from nicotine withdrawal symptoms.  Two Alka-Seltzer tablets three times a day will help curb the cravings.
10. Soothe insect bites. Dissolve two tablets in  water, and saturate a cloth or cotton ball with the solution, and place on the bite for thirty minutes.