Thursday, October 30, 2008

Working on Life

Life is good right now. I mean there are so many good things going on with people around me. Like new love, babies being born and babies in anticipation - soon to be born, parties with friends and get together. The fall going into winter is a great time of year. I like to watch the seasons change and with that I find myself making new resolutions and changes in my life as well.

This week once again has been crazy, planning my time well enough to get all the extra things accomplished. Last night as I sat at my kitchen counter playing with my Bedazzler, it was nice just relax and enjoy making "the girls" costumes for Halloween. I have to say for a first timer with making their costumes I think I did a pretty good job. My girls will be Ballerina's. This is how the idea came to me for their costume. Both Lizie and Roxie will do tricks for a treat (as most of us will do as well don’t you think), and one of their tricks is Dance. They will stand on their hind legs and dance a circle for a treat, only if there are not any distractions. Then it hit me how they are just like a ballerina. A friend of mine Michelle gave me a great idea the night we were crafting, so the next day I went to the Dollar store and got these headbands, a whole package for a $1. Soon the idea all came together and with the help of my mom on the sewing it part, we hand stitched these little tutu's for "the girls". I had to go the extra mile and add the bling; it is all about the Bling for me. You may think I am crazy for doing this that is ok. It is fun and it is the only time of year I can really dress up “the girls” without anyone thinking it is out of the ordinary. FYI at home they don’t wear clothes unless it is a blizzard outside and it is really cold and they are shivering, then I put sweaters on them. We only put clothes on them for company and special occasions because it is more fun for the reaction we get when they are dressed up. But these diva’s are normal little Chihuahua at home “No Mas"

I ended my evening working on my mail in ballet that finally arrived. I dropped that off in the mail today. Yeah! One more vote for America! I would encourage you to vote, your voice needs to be heard and your vote will make a difference.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cleaning Nerd is Back!

Ok, I said I would update my cleaning experience on the bathroom. I am just a nerd. I loved it. It was a little more work than usual, mostly because my bathroom was so bad. Yep I just admitted it. We let it go. I didn’t hassle Adam to get it done, mostly because I wanted to see what this stuff would do to a really dirty bathroom. To my great surprise it did a wonderful job. If you can get past the smell of Vinegar then it is great. I didn’t add any nice smelling stuff to it, I wanted it to be hard core cleaner with no fluff and it was. I have to say inhaling vinegar is much better then the bleach or heavy chemical that I normally use on my bathroom. The trick I found was to rinse the tub and shower with hot water, then spray all over. Go back and spray in sections and wipe or in my case scrub, if you can see the grim is not coming off, spray more and keep doing it until it does. I figure once I get a good cleaning then I can spray the walls daily when I am done showering and that will keep them good until the next deep cleaning. With the tub, you know the black ring that forms. Well it forms, I used the cleaner and found it wasn’t enough so I sprinkled Baking Soda and it worked magic on the tub. My sinks and toilet sparkled. So I have decided I will continue to keep cleaning with my green supplies. Here are some more recipes that I have used and found to be great!
Bathroom Cleaners:

Toilet Bowl Cleaners:
A) Baking Soda and Vinegar: Sprinkle baking soda into the bowl, then squirt with vinegar and scour with a toilet brush. Cleans and deodorizes.
B)1 cup borax, 1/2 cup white vinegar. Flush to wet the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle the borax around the toilet bowl, then spray with vinegar. Leave for several hours or overnight before scrubbing with a toilet brush.
4) Denture tablets are an excellent substitute for toilet cleaner. Drop two tablets into the bowl and clean as you would with toilet cleaner.

Tub And Tile Cleaners:
A) Baking Soda. Sprinkle baking soda like you would scour powder. Rub with a damp sponge. Rinse thoroughly.
B) Vinegar and Baking Soda. To remove film buildup on bathtubs, apply vinegar full-strength to a sponge and wipe. Next, use baking soda as you would scour powder. Rub with a damp sponge and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
C) Vinegar. Vinegar removes most dirt without scrubbing and doesn't leave a film. Use 1/4 cup (or more) vinegar to 1 gallon water.

Plumbing Fixtures:
1) To clean stainless steel, chrome, fiberglass, ceramic, porcelain or enamel fixtures, dissolve 2 tbsp baking soda in 1 qt of water. Wipe on fixtures then rinse.
2) Vinegar and Paper Towels. Hard lime deposits around faucets can be softened for easy removal by covering the deposits with vinegar-soaked paper towels. Leave the paper towels on for about one hour before cleaning. Leaves chrome clean and shiny.

Shower Heads:
1) Metal Shower Heads:
To remove deposits which may be clogging your metal shower head, combine 1/2 cup white vinegar and one quart water. Then completely submerge the shower head and boil 15 minutes.
2) Plastic Shower Heads:
Combine 1 pint white vinegar and 1 pint hot water. Completely submerge the shower head and soak for about one hour.

Rust Stain and Hard Water Deposit Remover:
Apply full-strength vinegar or lemon juice and let stand until spot disappears, rinse. Repeat if necessary.

Mildew Remover:
Dissolve half-cup vinegar with half-cup borax in warm water.

Lime Deposits:
White vinegar

Borax you can find at the grocery store in the cleaning isle it is BORAX (sodium borate): A natural mineral that kills mold and bacteria. An alternative to bleach, it deodorizes, removes stains and boosts the cleaning power of soap.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Here’s to you Kevin and Kristy

Don’t they look perfect together? What a wonderful experience to be able to be at a wedding. The spirit that I felt in the room; my body tingled from head to toe. There is something very special about the temple and the fact that we can be married from all time and eternity. It was wonderful to see two people who waited and didn’t settle to find the right person, get married at the right time and place. I met Kristy for the first time that day and fell in love with her right away. I kept telling Adam that they could not be more perfect for each other. I am so happy for my friend Kevin for holding out and the being able to find his companion. I have to say I was getting a little worried about him. He seemed to be getting more cynical as the years passes. Let me tell you how I met Kevin. Way back, I realized it was 18 years ago we met via an old boyfriend. Kevin lived across the hall from him in the dorm. Kevin would double date with us. Then Kevin went on a mission and then Craig went on his mission and then later I found myself going on a mission. I remember that call that came in on my first night in my pad in Switzerland. My companion hands me the phone and says it is for you. Who could be calling me? Then there is this voice asking me all these questions, I am answering yes to all of them. I come to find out it is Kevin. We ended up serving in the same areas though out my mission. I remember celebrating his birthday one year in Germany at one of our district meetings.

On our way home we stopped at a Halloween store and comprised on a costume for both of us. We will not do what I wanted to do this year, maybe next but I think we will have fun in what we choose for the party Friday Night. On our way home I took some pictures of us in the car. It was a fun day!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Just Thinking about Stuff

Prison Break
Biggest Loser
Gossip Girl
Desperate House Wife’s
Brothers and Sisters
The Office
Days of Our Lives
Ugly Betty
Osp I am such a TV head

Macaroni Grill
Andre’s Swiss Gourmet

Adoption approval
The weekends
Black Friday
Skiing for Thanksgiving
Going to Seattle

The colors of the trees
Kicking a pile of leaves
The cool weather
Putting on a sweater
Time to sit by the fire
Hot apple cider
Christmas will be here soon

Adopt a baby or two or three
Learn how to sew
Tile flooring in the kitchen
Vacation to Germany
Learn how to make whole wheat bread
Be a stay at home mom
Learn how to decorate cakes
Learn how to shoot a gun

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I did it!

Yes, I did it. I am the master of re-evaluating space. Yes, I have a talent to play Tetris in real life. Adam always says it won’t fit. I tell him give me some time and I will make it fit. This happens with closets, packing for trips and the freezer. And so it happened with our garage. I told him I could get the car, 2 bikes and a scooter with all our other junk in the garage. He told me it would not happen. I had to prove him wrong. Like I said I am the master of re-evaluating spaces. It took us all summer to prepare for this great event of housing at least one vehicle, two bikes and a scooter in the garage this winter. We spend many Saturdays de-cluttering our lives. Many trips to goodwill with stuff that has sat in boxes since we left North Carolina almost 6 years ago. As with all our stuff you have that moment of attachment for an item you have not needed, seen or used in a decade. Come on, you know what I am talking about. We had many of those moments, but in the end we did get rid of a lot of stuff. I have to say there is something rewarding about de-cluttering our lives.

Simplify! It is hard and I still find myself wanting to hold onto stuff like a soccer shirt I wore when I was five years old for a couple of years for the Grasshoppers. I loved that team and loved that shirt. I have all the patches that we won sewn to the shirt. This is one of those items even though it is packed away in memories I can't seem to let it go. So there you have it. We can only simplify those things that don't have the deep connection to. I will think more clearly about the items I want to purchase in the future and how usable will it be in my home or will it be a trinket that I will have to dust that just looks good?

So my sister said to me. I will believe it when I see it. So Sis here you go. Take a look at my garage. Yeah baby it all fits. Once again, what am I? Yeah baby the Master of Re-Evaluating Space!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Apple Pie

Ok it was conference weekend. And I really wanted to bake the best homemade whole wheat ever. Well that didn't happen. I don't know what it is about bread, but I just can't do it. I try and try. So I ground my own wheat with the wheat grinder, I make sure I have good yeast and I do everything just as the recipe says and nope my bread does not rise and it is like a brick. I will conquer this! Just not right now. So today I decided I would master an apple pie. I looked around on the Internet for a recipe and came across one that I thought sounded good. So I did it. I made my crust early this morning and then in between conference sessions I made the pie. It is cooling as we speak. It turned out beautiful. So nice I had to take a picture. Looks good enough to eat!

Ok I am adding to this the recipe since I have had a few requests.

Best Brown Sugar Apple Pie you will ever eat!

1 double crust refrigerated
8 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples
1/2 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 Tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into little pieces
Glaze: Milk and granulated sugar

1. If you have not already, prepare the crust and refrigerate for at least one hour, or until firm enough to roll.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll the larger portion of pastry into a 13 1/2 inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Place in pie shell, trim edges and refrigerate. Now is a good time to preheat oven to 400F.

3. Pie shell is chilling in the frigate, make the filling. Combine the apples, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon and nutmeg in a large bowl. Mix well. I like to use my hands and really get into it. Set aside while you roll the top pastry. Lightly surface round.

4. Once the top is rolled out, pull the pie shell out of the fridge and fill it with the apple mixture. Smooth the apples with your hands. Dot the top of the pie with butter, dropping the pieces here and there over the apples. (I forget this step sometimes and the pie is still amazing)

5. Lightly moisten the rim of the pie shell with a wet finger or pastry brush. (I used my fingers) Invert the top pastry over the filling, center it, fold over the edges and seal the pie. Trim if needed before. Then pinch the edge and make it pretty. Make several 2 inch long slits in the top pastry at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o'clock. Lightly brush the top pastry with milk and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

6. Place the pie directly on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pie from the oven and place it on a covered with aluminum foil cookie sheet. Reduce the oven temp to 375F. Put back in the oven and cook for another 30 mins. When the pie is done, you should be able to see the juices bubbling up onto the crust.

7. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let cool for at least an hour if you can wait before slicing. IF you wait until it is room temp the pie will slice and look like a piece you would see in a magazine. Beautiful and it tastes really good as well.

Adoption Collage

This weekend has been a busy weekend. Among all the things we accomplished the most important thing was to complete our Adoption Collage. We are in the final stages to being approved. This has been a long process. It has taken us 5 months so far to get where we are. We have hit a few road bumps along the way, but in the end it will all be worth it. I don't want to jinx anything so I will not go into how soon we will be live and active. But it is soon. We are so anxious to get our profile out there. To let the waiting to begin. I hear that is the worst part is waiting. But for me I am ok with the waiting part. It was getting to this point that has been the trial. I know it will all happen when it should happen. Our family we be united in the Lord's due time. Boy have I learned this! I am just so excited to be able to adopt, and we are so excited to move forward with our family and building a new one.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Eco- friendly Nerd - yep that is Nikki

Going green has really been on my mind, when I lived in Switzerland it was a way of life and I adapted to it mostly because it was easy. Well, sort of, after receiving several fines and then understanding how the recycling worked and then learning from the locals I made it a part of everyday living. I have often thought about my experience there and how much I had changed when I returned home. My taste buds had changed, my grocery shopping habits had changed my thoughts on transportation had changed. I remember coming home and freaking out about talking to a box to make my food order. Why didn’t we just get out of the car and walk in to talk to someone in person. I remember my brother laughing at me about it. As years past I found myself conforming back to the ways of American living. My taste buds changed from this healthy living to the greasy fast food craving. I found it to be more expensive to eat the European lifestyle. I remember eating more whole foods only because there was no choice in Switzerland. I remember the first time I walked into a grocery store. It was a little market below where we lived. The store was ¼ size of a King Scoopers, there were only a few isles of boxed and canned items, and the choices were very limited, only one brand not four or five like you see in the USA. There were no bottled salad dressings and that is where I learned to make my own. So buying fresh and whole foods were easy, since our fridge looked like the size of a dorm room fridge we could only buy small amounts of food and that kept things from spoiling and also kept us going every few days to the store. So I guess in the long run we actually saved money, because we ate everything that we bought. I don’t know about you but when I shop I try and shop of the whole week. Then I find things weeks later in the fridge that I thought I was going to use and didn’t and now it is time to throw away. Waste! Something I am working on. I am being more cautious about what I am buying and when I buy in bulk these are items that will sit on my shelf or in my freezer for future meals. This summer we really embraced our garden and I found that we ate with the foods we grew. I am learning to eat what is in season and work my meals around these food items. So as the season change so do our appetite, I will miss our garden, but anxious for next year and what we will add to it.

Going green with my cleaning supplies. I am such a nerd. I have to share my excitement with my new cleaning supplies. I have been doing more searches on ways to improve my more eco friendly lifestyle. I kind of went on a cleaning strike at the house and I was hoping to make a point. I guess the only point I found was that I am the only one who noticed the dust bunnies on the floors, they food stick to the counters and cupboards and the dirty rugs and mildew in the bathrooms. Oh well. But to have my house so gross in my eyes, was the greatest time to try out my new cleaning supplies. So after work I made a trip to the store with my list of items that I wanted to buy to begin making my own supplies. When I got home I was so excited to start. Yes I told you I am such a nerd, little thing like this was so exciting to me. I am not sure I have ever been so excited to clean. Well I began conquering the kitchen. I did the dishes and got the counters cleaned off. I mixed my first bottle on concoction and began. WOW!!! Yes this deserves a WOW!!!! I usually have some sort of film on my bar; I clean and clean and there is always some residue left behind. Not any more. This stuffed was a miracle worker. I then used it on my white cupboards, Spray and wipe. Oh baby it is working with out scrubbing. Spray and wipe, can this be my new life? No scrubbing and wondering if I will ever get this stuff clean. Next I tackled the floor. Let me just tell you how much I hate my kitchen floor. It is one of those items that since we moved into the house I have wanted to replace. It is not a priority so we have not replaced it, but it has been a thorn in my side. It is white and unless you get on your knees and scrub with all your might it will never get white. I have done this twice since moving in this house 4 years now. Uh…Yeah…I just admitted that. In the mean time everything I have used leaves a nice residue, so I NEVER walk bare foot on that floor. Oh those days are over. The first brush on the floor, by the way I am not on my knees working I am using my mop. A smile hits my face; I made it through the first section, with much surprise and glee. Then I clean the cloth and go back for the next round. As each round is done, my sink water get blacker and blacker and my floors are getting whiter and whiter. Oh this is too good to be true. They look good, but the test is walking barefoot. I wait 20 mins while doing so I am sweeping the laminate floors and cleaning the other rooms in the main level. I go back for the moment of truth. I kick my flip flops aside and walk around the floor. Oh, I am nervous, but I continue walking around the kitchen as I do I get a little bounce in my step and a little flicker in my heart. It works! I tell you again I am such a nerd. There was no residue, the floors sparkled and they felt so good on my bare feet. I don’t think it will bug me as much to have these floors. Yes eventually I will get them replaced but for now. I will continue to clean them with my new cleaner and be walking happily on them. So here are the recipes below that I have tried so far. I am going to next tackle the bathroom and if I find as much joy in those room as I did in my kitchen I will be sure to write about it. The bathroom I think is the worst place in the house to clean. I hate cleaning the bathroom. I usually have Adam do it; I would rather do the whole house than that room in our house.

This is what I used on my kitchen floor.

Homemade Floor Cleaner
1 cup white vinegar
1 gallon warm water
Mix in your cleaning bucket and use this to clean vinyl type floors.

This is what I used in my kitchen.

All-Purpose Cleaner
2T vinegar
1 t Borax
Hot water
A few drops of a mild dish detergent
10 drops of essential oil, optional
In a 16 spray bottle put vinegar, borax and hot water. Swish around until borax has dissolved. Add the drops of dish detergent and fill the rest of the bottle with water. Add the essential oil (I used tangerine)