You Can’t Just Walk Into Target For One Thing

targetI love Target, or Tar-zhay as we still like to call it. That place has got everything, things you didn’t even know you wanted until you walk inside. But if I ever shop there to buy the one or two things I need and walk out with only those items, it’ll be the first time. I swear they know my weaknesses for low prices, cute outfits, and impulse shopping. Just yesterday we had run out of paper towels.

The Grub’s been trying out this new food we got her and she’s been having none of it. Dumps it right on the floor and don’t even get me started on how much of it ended up on my clothes. She does not like this stuff at all, and she’s letting both of us know about it. We’ve had to take two of Kevin’s suit pants to the cleaners and he made the mistake of trying to feed her in that favorite Ravens T-shirt I got him for his birthday.

Needless to say, we’d been going through paper towels a lot quicker than usual around here and we were running low. I used to think Kevin went through rolls of paper towels fast, but he’s got nothing on Elsa. Oh how I long for the days where he would use them for anything and everything around the house; whether it was for drying his hands at the kitchen sink, wiping down the car, cleaning the blinds, blowing his nose – it seemed my Kevin went through a roll of paper towels a day. (more…)

The Crock-Pot Can Be Your Best Friend

crock potNo it’s true. I know maybe it can be slightly intimidating to some people, but trust me on this. You may be thinking to yourself that it’s just too easy, there has to be some kind of catch. Perhaps you’re put off by the fact that you don’t know what setting to put it on and you’re afraid you’re going to ruin your meal. It’s possible you’re confused about just what you can cook inside of it. Let me put all your fears and concerns to rest; the crock-pot can be your best friend because all you really have to do is prep and the cooker does everything else. I’ve sworn by this trusty Mother’s Little Helper for the past year and a half and I haven’t made a bad meal with it yet.

So what’s a crock-pot exactly? It sits on your counter, you plug it in, and the ceramic pot (they usually hold about six quarts of liquid) sits in an outer shell that contains a heating mechanism. The purpose of the crock-pot is to slow-cook your food at lower temperatures. This process takes longer to cook your food but is perfect for roasts, soups, stews, and, our favorite, chili. There are often three settings; high, low, and a “warm” setting. We mostly set our crock-pot to low, which means you’re looking at about 6-8 hours of average cook time versus a 4-6 hour time on high. Lower settings let your food simmer longer and the results are spectacular. (more…)

Back to School? Already??

Back to School Road SignWell, it’s almost summer I don’t believe my eyes – but there are already some back to school sales starting up. Are you kidding? There’s still half the summer left to go. The weather just got nice and hot in some parts of the country. Kids are still at camp. Around here, we still have an entire calendar of outdoor events for the whole family. Movies in the park, concerts at the beach, the amusement parks are now running daily just a few hours away.

But soon enough, I guess the leaves will start to change their colors, the air will get chillier and before you know it, the Fall will be here. School will be back in session and it will be time to get the kids all of their gear.

Of course, the most important thing above all others that will need to be carefully considered is which backpack they get for classes. My next door neighbors, the Taylors, have two boys, ages 12 and 10 and I don’t envy their parents. Each new school year it’s a contest for who has the coolest gear. This year, it’s looking like the hot item is the backpack.

I remember when I was in school, kids were always competitive over who had the best stuff, but these days it seems to have gotten way out of hand. The backpack is the newest status symbol among boys and girls. In my day (listen to how old I sound!), we didn’t care about things like backpacks, we had other items in mind that had to outdo the other kids. But every generation has its thing I guess, and this year, the kids are all about the hot backpack.

I know the Taylor boys want tactical backpacks this year. Those are some next level techno-fashion statements that are sure to make them the coolest kids in class. Those bags are military issue, with lots of pockets and cool exterior shells that are waterproof and scuff resistant. In fact, they’re so durable they’re probably best suited for young kids, because of all the damage they’re capable of inflicting.

I love kids, but let’s be honest, they’re not entirely delicate with their belongings. I should know, I was a kid once. I was always hard on my belongings and rarely took care of anything until I was older and appreciated the value of material things.

Anyway, if you’re looking to buy your kids cool gear that can withstand the punishment of the school year, then you might just want to check out tactical backpacks at this website http://packitinpackitout.com/tactical-backpacks/ find out more about the options and prices when you click that link. Your kids will thank you for taking the time to get them reliable gear that will also make them the coolest kids in class.

The Never-Ending Battle with Our DVR

dvrKevin and I are big fans of TV. But obviously, time is something we don’t have a lot of. It’s not like the old days when we’d spend all night watching shows and movies. In fact, I can’t remember the last movie I’ve seen. We have Netflix but we don’t get to it all that often, because we’re constantly trying to clear off the DVR. I mean we have episodes of shows from last year still on there.

I sure do envy people who get to binge-watch entire seasons of a TV show in a weekend. Those days are long behind us at the moment. So now we have a DVR that has about 19% free space left and admittedly, it’s mostly my shows. Kevin and I enjoy some of the same programs but let’s face it, I need my guilty pleasures. I need my Real Housewives and Modern Family. But the DVR is becoming an obsession with me. I find that every waking moment I have that isn’t spent doing something else (and THOSE are few and far between) I’m firing up the DVR.

Just so I can clear off more space. But every time I delete one episode, it’s recorded two more. Luckily, a lot of the shows we watch have gone on hiatus for the summer. Some of our favorites like The Blacklist, Elementary, Justified, Modern Family, Parenthood, have all ended their seasons so at least we can have some respite from more of them being added to the hard drive. But we still have weeks of shows to catch up on! But now there are summer shows starting up soon and I know Kevin’s been recording Fargo and Louie on FX. Which adds even more content to the DVR.

Elsa hasn’t really been reacting to any of our TV watching, she sort of just stares blankly at the screen. But there will be something that makes her sit up and take notice or giggle from time to time. Kevin’s been watching the new 24 show and Elsa seems to like Jack Bauer a lot. Every time they show a close up of him on the screen, she sits up and starts laughing. They should make that one of the advertisements of the show: Jack Bauer. Striking fear into the hearts of terrorists and making babies laugh! I think they’d have an even bigger audience that way.

Another show we really like is The Goldbergs, which is a relief because not only is it funny, but it’s only a half hour long. Fast forwarding through the commercials, the actual time spent watching the show is only about 22 minutes. Talk about helpful. Makes me get through episodes faster and that means another show is off my DVR! Same with Modern Family. Only 22 minutes and then it’s bye bye. Big Bang Theory too. Though I think we’re getting tired of that one. It’s becoming a little repetitive, especially with Sheldon. It’s like they’re making him more of jerk this season. But I digress, it’s still only a half hour long so it’s watch quick and delete. And that really helps around here!

 

 

 

The Grub is a Music Critic

grub musicWhen the Grub was in just an itty bitty in my belly we used to play music for her to listen to as she was developing. Like every other parent out there, we tried just about anything and everything to help our wonderful little bundle of joy reach her full potential before coming out into the world and bringing all of the happiness that surrounded her into our lives.

The thing we’d always heard was to play classical music, as it helped her brain development and I think we both wanted a child with some discerning tastes. We tried it for the last remaining months of my pregnancy as I read that infants can remember sounds over that period of time specifically. Obviously her hearing would be different in there, since the environment is like being underwater; but she would recall the things she listened to nonetheless.

We started out with classical music, but then we both figured why not get her started on some of the essentials of great music all around. So Kevin and I made a list of all the bands and singers we wanted to introduce Elsa to; and of course, these were all of our favorite bands past and present. Over the course of the final three months before her birth, we played a whole variety of music for Elsa. Here’s just a partial list of who we played for her, besides just classical music:

 

The Rolling Stones

The Velvet Underground

AC/DC

Black Sabbath

Steely Dan

Rod Stewart

The Breeders

Daft Punk

The Pixies

Radiohead

Elton John

Swedish House Mafia

The Bird and the Bee

Donna Summer

Stereolab

The Beatles

Led Zeppelin

The Cardigans

The Beach Boys

 

There were more, but I can’t remember all of them. Anyway, we figured giving her a wide spectrum of musical tastes would help her little brain grow into appreciating all kinds of music, just like Kevin and I do. Ever since she’s been born, we still play her the same eclectic selection of songs and singers and of course, I also sing to her. Her reactions are priceless! Apparently young infants are sensitive to a full range of diversity and and I can tell when she likes something or doesn’t like something.

Loud hard rock actually pleases her more than I thought it might, with higher pitched voices making her sit up and take notice. Kevin tried playing Motorhead for her, but that just made her cry (and to tell you the truth it does the same for me!) But my little girl also seems to have a little punk rock in her, reacting with a smile to Joan Jett. She also likes early David Bowie which pleased both Kevin and myself. She’s not much of a Stones fan nor does she dig Black Sabbath.

But the Beach Boys were a favorite and she really likes Inara George’s voice from the Bird and the Bee. We played Elsa their whole Hall and Oates album and she smiled and giggled a lot. Same with Stereolab. We’ve yet to try any country music, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

 

Looking for a Good Dog Collar? Go Herbal!

boston terrierNow that the summer months are upon us, flea and tick season is here. We had our Boston Terrier, Sam, treated to combat the inevitable parasite infestation; but sometimes that isn’t enough to ward them off. The decision was made to get Sam a flea collar to keep him comfortable and the house free of pests. We let him run around the backyard a lot and of course, he loves taking walks around the neighborhood.

That means we sometimes run into neighboring dogs which can result in a lot of sniffing and curious interaction, making Sam even more susceptible to picking up something unwanted on his skin and coat. I used to get him one of those commercial brands, but working at the grocery store has made me more aware of the healthier options that are available (since we sell a lot of them) and I find myself doing a lot more research on many of the things I buy for the family, Sam included!

So now Sam’s wearing an herbal dog collar. I feel a lot better about putting one around his neck now that I don’t have to worry about harmful pesticides poisoning him and causing him renal or liver failure, nervous system issues or even worse, cancer. You’d be surprised how mainstream dog collar products can put your pet at risk for such maladies. Herbal means there aren’t any toxic materials or harmful odors that could pose a health hazard for Sam.

These types of collars fight off fleas, ticks, even mosquitoes and other insects with the use of pleasant smelling herbs that can also soothe pets and calm their nerves much in the same way these ingredients can relax any of us in a similar manner. Not only are these dog collars safer for your pet, but they won’t clean out your wallet either. You might think herbal means expensive, but with many options available out there, that’s just not the case.

I’ve found a few brands that offer flea collars, most of them using oils such as citronella, cedar, eucalyptus, and pennyroyal, in addition to other active elements that are entirely safe for use with your pet. One of the best I’ve found comes from Castor and Pollux. It takes all of these ingredients and infuses them into a plastic collar that releases them over a period of weeks for total protection against fleas, ticks, and all biting insects; which are repelled by the scents of citronella and cedar. Another good collar I’ve found comes from Sentry and it’s well suited for dogs with high anxiety who get nervous easily. Sentry uses many of the same repellant oils but also adds chamomile and lavender for that calming effect on your pet.

The collar is body heat activated, so the more nervous and worried the dog becomes the more the collar releases the relaxing scents. There’s one more I’ve found from a company called Pet Guard that uses all of the active oils like citronella, cedar, and eucalyptus, among others, but is also designed to help reduce pet odors themselves. The collar has a menthol scent that is pleasant to humans but, like all of the other ingredients, repels pests. It’s also good for pets who may not have the most pleasing body aroma, the menthol beating back the strong odors that your dog can do nothing about.

All of them are great options to help your dog through flea and tick season and I highly recommend each one!