Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

Buzz Aldrin on the Moon

We should do more of it.

Seriously. It’s been years since we actually got a person on the moon (much less a female or a minority).

This dip we have in national curiosity about space reminds me of the early part of the 20th century when the US became isolationist. The only way to move forward is to look outward and, oh I don’t know, actually make that first move.

Which we did back on July 20th, 1969.

The goal was set by JFK in 1961 and reached by end of the decade. That’s what we can do when we work together and make the effort.

Moving forward, keeping the pace, and getting the job done. We’ve done it with other things, although those were mostly reactionary (9/11 & Katrina come to mind). Wouldn’t it be grand to do something positive & proactive again?

I would love to see my kids get excited about traveling the solar system. My eldest likes to watch the stars at night and, at our new place, we have a great view. I want him to think that he too can make it to the moon or beyond.

So, in my opinion, making that positive first step towards exploration and discovery is the goal the United States should focus on. We should continue what those space pioneers began in 1960’s, build on it, and create a new sense of wonder for the whole world.

114 degrees in the shade

Except for me. Yes, I live in the desert. Yes, I knew it was going to be hot when I moved here. And, no, I don’t have  a pool.

The two swamp coolers we have won’t stand up to this kind of heat. We’ll just have to mosey on down to the movie theater this afternoon during the worst of the heat and watch Harry Potter.

So, I guess the heat isn’t too bad. Just as long as I’m not in it.

..and cats and hamsters and horses…well, you get the idea. Even as some of the hand made pet items make me alternatively cringe and smile, they also make me realize that we will do anything for, or to, our pets.

Case in point: my puppy needed a martingale collar for his upcoming obedience class but I couldn’t find one small enough (he has one tiny neck!). So, I turned to the wonderfully talented Mandy at Pawsh Companions for help. She came up with a professionally designed martingale collar that looks good and works well.

That’s my Charlie there to the left. Isn’t he adorable?

Anyhoo, there are is a mind numbing amount of pet items on Etsy. Here are a few that jumped out at me and I thought I’d share with all the dog (and other pet) lover’s in the blogosphere!

Modern Dog House Plans: for those who prefer DIY and feel manly (or womanly..we can swing hammers too!) about making their best buddy a better designed house than most of us live in.

Eco Dog Coat: Who can resist a dachshund in posh green recycled plastic? I know I can’t and if my grandmother’s dachshund were still with us, she’d be wearing this snazzy jacket! Better yet it comes in custom sizes and colors. Charlie may be sporting some new clothes come wintertime.

Bully Bowl, The Food Station for Short-Nosed Dogs: What a very cool idea for those dogs with smushed in faces! The bowl is tilted so that the dog can eat comfortably. I’ve not seen something like this before so it is truly an unique item! Plus it’s affordable, customizable, and applicable to other dog breeds. A fabulous trifecta!

Chicken Gourmet Cookies for Big Dogs: Finally! Something for the big boys (and girls) to enjoy in more than one bite! These extra large doggie cookies are meant to satisfy even the biggest appetites (the owner has a newfoundland mix so she knows!). The ingredients are pet safe and natural too without processed items. And did I mention they are particularly elegant to look at? Check out these big dog cookies that even the Queen would be proud to serve to her pampered pooches.

Pet Portraits in Oils by puci: Honor your pet with a one-of-a-kind oil portrait. This artist has some serious talent and the prices are reasonable.

Every Dog Has His Day Spa Kit: Lovely presentation gift for that perfectly pampered pooch. This Day Spa Kit includes everything you need to keep your pup clean and smelling good.

Do you have a favorite dog item that you’d like to share? Know of other great Etsy sellers? Let me know!

Honest Scrap Award

Honest Scrap Award

So, Carrie Ann (Another Day, Another Thought..or Two) has awarded me the Honest Scrap award. I am, apparently, to publish to the world 10 true things about myself and then nominate 5 other bloggers to pass on the honesty love.

Hmmmm.

Since I am in an expansive mood, having just survived an encounter with a gopher snake hissing at our 10 week old puppy, I have decided to bestow upon you those things that I find true about myself.

You may want to remove the small children and elderly from the screen. No? Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Truth #1: I like cookies. While I realize that this isn’t an earth shattering admission, it does have its consequences. Namely to my thighs and hips. Cookies are a bit of an obsession with me and I cannot have them in the house. Just so we’re clear, graham crackers do not count as they are a cracker and not a cookie.

Truth #2: I like to read. I will read a book from beginning to end in a couple of hours. I just pulled out all my books from their boxes after moving and found that I need more shelves. Well, more like 5 more book cases. My husband says its an addiction worse than crack cocaine. I don’t know what he’s talking about, too many books. How can you have too many books? I just need more shelves.

Truth #3: I am a mouse potato. I would rather spend time on the computer than watching the TV. Of course, there isn’t much on TV that I’d like to watch and at least my computer’s spam filter is a good one. Just an FYI, you know you are a mouse potato when you have to deliberately turn away from the screen to have a two second conversation with your spouse and/or child. Not having access to the Internet for the past 4 days has been a good thing for me. Jittery but good.

Truth #4: I like to color but not to draw. This is a bit of an odd admission for me since I am a pretty good artist. I can draw, mind you, I just prefer to play with lights and shadows than figure out the lines beforehand. Coloring books rock!

Truth #5: Pink is my favorite color. It didn’t used to be. However, the fact that I have 1 husband, 3 sons, and a male puppy has forced me to remind them with a subtle clue that I am, in fact, female and not “just one of the guys.” In other words, I don’t appreciate them farting, burbing, or pulling things out of their noses at the dinner table. Or any other time for that matter.

Truth #6: I wrote a book. Okay, it was a really bad one but still I took the time to write it. As a matter of fact, I’m stuck in the editing phase for it at the moment. I can’t figure out how to get the main characters from point A to point B and still kill off the henchman. Anyhoo, the book was the product of National Novel Writing Month (and yes, I did win!). I plan on writing another book this November and will be posting about it on my other blog, Write Chronicles.

Truth #7: I am a bad granddaughter. I should call my grandparents more often but I don’t. It isn’t that I don’t love them because I do. I’m just lazy.

Excuse me for a moment.

Okay, just confirmed that my grandparents still love me. Now we can move onto….

Truth #8: I swear like a sailor. Well, not all the time but I have been known to exhibit more salty language. This only becomes a major problem when the two year old begins to repeat everything I say.

Truth #9: I hate snakes. Okay, I admit it. I do not love all of God’s creatures. Snakes creep me out. There is a gopher snake living under the timber shoring up the lawn in our backyard and I can’t send the kids out to play until it leaves. Which I have a feeling it won’t. It hissed at my puppy which automatically puts it on my s**t list. Plus they ick me out with their wide mouths and eating of live animals. Eww.

Truth #10: I have a hot temper but just as quickly forgive. As my hubs puts it, I’m a bit high strung (and high maintenance but those are separate issues. I think.). I pray every day for access to the Fruits of the Spirit and, on some days, I fail miserably. On the flip side, I’ve learned to forgive and ask for forgiveness which you would think is an inherent behavior but isn’t. It was a tough learning process that made my family stronger in the end.

Okay, that’s done. Kind of cathartic. Anyhoo, I nominate the following people for the Honest Scrap award:

No, I realize that isn’t five people on my nominee list, and yes, I can count. I’ve nominated 2 very special people that I respect and admire. I’d nominate Carrie Ann, too, but she’s already gotten the award and we don’t want her head to swell too much. She’s fabulous and she knows it.

I love menus. Restaurants make them look so easy to put together. The pictures of the food make the dishes look mouth watering and, when I read the description, the ingredients seem somewhat simple (okay, we’re talking Denny’s not the Russian Tea Room).

And then I think to myself: I bet I could do that. I know I’d save money if I had a plan of attack, so to speak, when payday comes around. All I need to do is sit down and write it out!

And then I get home and two seconds into the meal planning process I give it up as hopeless.

Meal planning can be tough! Who’d a thunk it, right?

So, for today, I’m going to talk to you (and hope that you listen) about the ins and outs of menu planning and how it can benefit you, the working parent.

For starters, knowing what you are going to eat for the next two weeks (more or less) really helps keep down the whining and pestering around 4 pm.

“Mom, what’s for dinner?”*

Those are words you may never have to hear again. All you have to do is point to the refrigerator where the menu is posted, which your child may or may not be able to read. If they can’t, direct them to their other parent or older sibling for translation services.

Then there is the money saving aspect. If you know what you are going to eat, when you take your weekly jaunt to the grocery store all you have to do is purchase those ingredients for your menu. This saves on money because you aren’t buying generalities (gosh,  I think I’ll need 5 dozen eggs as opposed to I know I need 2 dozen eggs).  Just as long as you aren’t buying esoteric items, you should keep your purchases down to a manageable level. If you use coupons and sale items for your menu, you’re ahead of the game! As a side note, I’ve learned that you have to add in your snacks, too, or they catch up with you at the check out line.

With a menu plan, you keep the trips to the grocery store down to a minimum. So, if I know what my ingredients are, I can purchase them at one time and not have to make a run to the store every few days for items that I “forgot.” The only exception to this is milk and fresh veggies. We go through both pretty quickly so I always keep a bit of cash on the side to make sure I can purchase these each week (we only shop every two weeks).

So, what are the down sides to menu planning? Well, you have to actually create a menu. And, as I mentioned previously, it’s not an easy task. At least it wasn’t for me. You see, I get tired of baked chicken and salad. Or spaghetti and salad. Or pork chops and salad.

Do you sense a theme here?

When I think of menus, I think of a restaurant menu that has a plethora of interesting choices that are not found in the typical kitchen. This is my downfall. However, when I pick myself up off the floor and return to reality, I realized that I don’t have to spend hours pouring over my recipe box or allrecipes.com to create the perfect menu. There are plenty of alternatives available from the library (gasp!) or on the Internet.

Let us speak first of my friend, the library. How I love her! She is generous with her possessions and stern yet gentle with her reprimands (25 cent late fees, anyone?). Go to your nearest library and look up the following books:

Not into reading cookbooks and copying out your own menus or grocery lists? Me neither. There are other options that will send to your email a list of weekly dinners and accompanying grocery list. Just be aware that these options cost money, typically, and are only for dinners. You’ll still have to plan out breakfast and lunches (the Yum-o! cookbook has many recipes for breakfast and lunch).

  • Menus4Moms Basic Weekly Menu (free for basic menu)
    • added bonus of Grocery Deals, a free way of finding the sales in the grocery stores nearest to you
  • e-Mealz ($1.50 a week, payable 3 months in advance which works out to about $15)
    • recommended by Dave Ramsey
  • Meals Matter (free resource to create your own menu plans from pre-existing recipes or add in your own; simple and easy to use!)

The other option is to use a menu building software that will print out a grocery list for you. There are several available ranging from free to quite expensive. This is a good option if you want ultimate control over what you eat, particularly if you are on a specific diet.

As a final note, these menus are for dinners only. You’ll have to come up with your own ideas for breakfasts and lunches. Ray’s Yum-o! has lots of kid friendly breakfast and lunch ideas that adults will enjoy too. My kids particularly like the breakfast cereal parfaits!

  • Back-To-School Breakfast Recipes
    • if you add the recipes into your meal planner (like Meals Matter), you can get the ingredients into your over-all grocery list; otherwise, just add them onto the list you already have for your dinners
    • scroll to the bottom of the recipe page to get the links
  • Creative Breakfast Ideas (pdf)
    • while I am not endorsing their website, I do find the two page recipe booklet to have some good recipes
  • School Lunch Recipe Tips
    • Okay, I do realize it is summertime. However, if you are working from home, chances are you are making lunch for the munchkins anyway.
    • Or you can go right to the Lunch Recipes, if you prefer.

Do you plan your menus? Is this information overwhelming or helpful? Let me know!

* I have yet to hear them ask their father this question and he’s in the next room!

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