What should I do about my smelly house?

May 18, 2012

Opening windows for at least 30 minutes a day, every day, is always a good idea.  In terms of air purifiers, I’ve tried a five and given away three (if you want to buy my remaining ionic breeze, drop me a note!), and the one I kept was the Sun Pure (thanks for giving it to me, Marcy!).  Zeolite on its own has done absolutely nothing for me (I keep having high hopes for it).  However, I just recently added potpourri to my get-rid-of-cooking-and-renovation-smells toolbox.  I get my custom-scented potpourri at the wonderful Good Home Store on 24th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. (UPDATE: as of September 2012, the store is no longer there!  I guess you can order from the website?)

Good Home Store

Good Home Store

The Good Home Store has much more than potpourri, and pretty much everything they have can be customized to your scent preferences.  I’m a fan.


Best hairdryer?

May 7, 2012

Apparently, from the wonderful reviews it got on the Bed, Bath and Beyond website, the best blow drier is the BaByliss Pro Nano Titanium Portofino Dryer.  At $139.99, it better be!  BB&B regularly sends out 20% off coupons. I would wait for one of those before you shell out the clams for this baby.


Good book for 8 year olds?

March 16, 2012

Aside from the typical answer of Harry Potter (which was AMAZING), my family absolutely loved The Ordinary Boy series (obviously, start with book one). I reviewed book three in the series.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy, Book 3: The Great Powers Outage (Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy)The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy, Book 3: The Great Powers Outage by William Boniface
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Brilliant. Simply brilliant. The Great Powers Outage was my favorite of the Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy series, of which this is the third (and latest) book. To my knowledge, Book 4 is not yet out, nor do I know if it is in development. However, I can tell you that everyone in my house is eagerly awaiting it.

In this episode, everyone in Superopolis loses their power. It’s up to Ordinary Boy to figure out what happened and how (and if!) to fix it. The plot refers to elements in Books 1 (The Hero Revealed) and 2 (The Return of Meteor Boy?), which makes for a very satisfying read. While not as technically complex as the non-linearity and recursiveness of Book 2, The Great Powers Outage was richly layered, with the peripheral stories of the class election (an indictment of the American political process, minus any ideology or dogma) as well as the tale of the founding of Superopolis and the origins of The Li’l Hero’s Handbook. The book was also a simplistic, but very effective lesson in cause and effect, especially regarding correlation vs. causality. In spite of more pronounced destruction of evil compared to Books 1 and 2, no villain (or government) took a worse beating than Pringle’s Potato Chips (very thinly disguised as “Pseudo Chips” in the book), in my humble opinion.

I feel that this series is perfect for ages 8 to adulthood. Yes, I would recommend it for adults, too. It’s well-written, irreverent, smart (not dumbed down at all) and is entertaining on many levels. Children can enjoy the books and still miss many of the more sophisticated references or underlying meanings. But the humor is solid even without these.

Notable:

p 131 (O-Boy is disappointed with his teacher’s level of ambivalence and his classmate’s lack of curiosity):

“I’m not trying to put anyone down.” I insisted. “I’m just trying to get answers. Isn’t the whole point of school to seek out knowledge?”

“Not particularly,” Miss Marble responded gloomily. “I’m afraid the point of school isn’t so much about learning things as it is learning not to say things that irritate other people.”

“But how else do we gain knowledge?” I asked. “Shouldn’t we always be asking questions and trying to use what we discover to make life better?”

“You’re free to do all that” — Miss Marble nodded — “as long as you don’t upset anyone in the process or challenge any of their beliefs.”

View all my reviews

Also, see this more recent post on great books for early middle schoolers.


Alert: Goodies at Integral Yoga and Sale at Williams Sonoma

February 15, 2012

Goodies I brought home - notice the brownie and tart are almost gone!

Goodies I brought home – notice the brownie and tart are almost gone!

I have really been in love with Integral Yoga Natural Foods these days.  I’ve gone there for years, but have recently switched to purchasing an even greater percentage of my food from there.  The change was mostly due to me going there for decadent desserts.  I adore Sweet Mama’s raw cheesecake, especially the drumstick and black and white flavors.  This week, I tried Vegan Divas Spelt Chocolate Brownie  and, on the advice of a very nice cashier, the Hail Merry Chocolate Mint Miracle Tart.  Warning: I did get way more of a blood sugar challenge from the brownie and the tart than I ever got from the raw cheesecake, so enjoy sparingly!

Also, I noticed Williams Sonoma was having a sale, so I stopped in and ended up buying Christmas pie cutters (which I will use for cookie and sandwich cutters) and cutters for 3-dimensional Christmas cookies, all at deep discount (2.99 each)!  Look out, Christmas 2012!  I will be kicking some serious cookie butt!  UPDATE, Post-2012 holiday season: I hate the 3-D Christmas cookie cutters (“Holiday Storybook Cookie Cutters”).  They don’t work!  From these cookie cutters, I learned that it is a bad idea to make cookies from cutters that can bend out of shape if the cookies need to fit together precisely.  Also, the particular cookies you make with these cutters also need to remain unrealistically rigid and strong in spite of unsually thin parts (oh, like reindeer legs that are intended to be structural supports).  Lastly, metal cookie cutters are lame because if you don’t dry them quickly and perfectly, they rust.  Fortunately, I only spent 2.99 and not the list price of 19.95 to learn this lesson.


How do you make those chocolate peanut butter cups?

June 8, 2011

Carob peanut butter balls

Carob peanut butter balls

They are actually carob peanut butter balls, and before I tell you what I put in them, let me give props to American Gra-Frutti, who make the Roasted Carob Coconut Drops that inspired me so much, I had to try to make them at home!  I found the A. Gra-Frutti drops at a Whole Foods in Atlanta and fell in love.  They are spectacular, gluten-free, dairy free, vegan and are sweetened with raw, organic agave.  They’re available all through Atlanta and also through mail order (according to the Agrafrutti.com website, which has all sorts of gluten-free goodies on it, and seems like a responsibly-run company, at least from my quick persusal of the site!).  I think they (or many other products on this site) would make great gifts, too!

Here is my version:

1 cup Chatfield’s carob powder
1/2 cup of raw, unrefined coconut oil (I used 1 part International Harvest’s Coconut oil and 1 part Artisana coconut butter)
2 Tbs raw honey
1/4 cup Go Hunza raw, unsweetened coconut flakes (I chopped them more finely in my Vitamix before adding)
1/4 cup Maranatha organic no-stir creamy peanut butter (I wish I read the label on this one before getting it – it has sugar added)

NOTE: It really helps if the coconut oil/butter and honey are warm, like they are on a hot day, and if the peanut butter is cold, and the natural kind (that gets kind of hard when it’s in the fridge).

Mix the carob, coconut oil/butter and honey together until uniformly blended.  You can use a food processor, but since I did this on a very warm day, the coconut and honey were nearly liquid, so it was easy enough to do with a spoon.  Then, fold in the coconut flakes until evenly distributed.   Put a quarter-sized sphere of the carob mixture in your hand in a ball.  Press a small amount of peanut butter (about 1/8 tsp) into it and press the carob mixture around the peanut butter to cover it.  Roll into a ball.  Refrigerate until solid.  Serve cold.  This recipe makes about 20 of these delicious treats.

ANOTHER NOTE: If you are nut-free, a good substitute for the peanut butter would be sunbutter.


Best show for children?

May 24, 2011

Avatar: The Last Airbender (the TV show, NOT the movie). It was on Nickelodeon, is pretty much in constant re-runs, is out on DVD, and is available for instant streaming on Netflix.  I would say it’s good for children around 7 and up, and grown-ups might like it too (my husband and I both loved it).  There is some violence, as there is a war going on during the series, but there are wonderful lessons about friendship, kindness, choosing peace over violence, listening to your inner voice, working hard, determination, forgiveness, protecting the earth and love.  It really helps to watch it in order, and to make sure you see the entire series (there are three seasons).

I cannot say enough good things about this television show.  In fact, I would like to say thank you to Michael Dante DiMartinoBryan Konietzko, everyone that worked on the project, including Nickelodeon for putting this series out.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I hope my son will carry the lessons of Avatar: The Last Airbender with him for the rest of his life.  Also, as if all that wasn’t enough, there are fabulous chapter books that summarize the series, and are at a reading level of around 6-9.  Here is my review of one of them: Earth Kingdom Chronicles: The Tale of Aang.

 


Gift for Geeks?

April 12, 2011

G Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet BookG Is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book by David M. Schwartz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I actually read this book on my own, I enjoyed it so much. It’s a Math Alphabet book, probably good for matheletes of all ages, starting around 6 or 7. To give you an example of some of the topics, we have A is for Abacus, B in for Binary, C is for Cubit, D is for Diamond, E is for Equilateral and Exponent (they were too excited to just give one E entry), F is for Fibonacci, etc. You get the idea of what level they are at.

Little T and I especially liked “K is for Königsberg” (about the “Königsberg bridge problem), a great example of a network theory problem.

“R is for Rhombicosidodecaheadron” kind of lost us, but we were recaptured by “T is for Tessellate” (when shapes cover a surface with no gaps in between).

View all my reviews


Electronic Holiday Cards?

December 22, 2010

Yes.  I am a big fan.  They cut my stress levels in half during the holiday season and wow, do they save a lot of paper!  I use Paperless Post and while I think they could make their site a tiny bit easier to use, I like how the cards look and how you can see who opened the card and responses to it.  A good friend of mine uses Jacquie Lawson cards.  I don’t know how they work on the back end, but they look nice when I get them.


What do you want for Christmas this year?

December 13, 2010

Besides a surprise birthday party next year, (cue violins) which I have wanted every single year of my life and have never gotten (/violins), I would very much like a Paracord Survival Belt in neon pink color with black edge.


Down comforter?

November 2, 2010

I absolutely love Down Factory.  I cannot recommend them highly enough.  Love them!  I have three of their comforters, one of which is about six years old now, and the others are about 4 years old.  None are even close to needing to be replaced.  I have had other down comforters in the past, but they lost feathers after a while and they didn’t last more than about 2 years.  My comforters still have plenty of loft, and they’re able to be machine washed in hot without losing feathers or becoming damaged.  Also, their customer service is fabulous – they’re such nice people!  I know I totally sound like a commercial, but I just had to wash a comforter tonight and that reminded me how amazing they are.  Thank you, Down Factory!  I love you guys!


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