Archive of ‘Uncategorized’ category

So you want to Clean you Toilet

toilet8I think I should warn you from the beginning that if you are eating, or have a queasy stomach you may not want to continue with this post.  There are some graphic pictures and I don’t want to be blamed for anyone losing their lunch.

Alright, you’ve been warned, let’s continue.  I have to clarify this post by saying that I really thought that I had been cleaning my toilet the best it could be cleaned for the past number of years.  I have 5 boys (just in case you forgot) and my toilets can get pretty bad.(understatement of the year)  I have scrubbed them, used a toothpick to get into the crevices the best I could and used an old tooth brush on occasion, but there have always been stains that I just couldn’t get off.

toilet1I had my friend Dana (my scientist friend who helped me out with this post) mention a while ago that she takes a part the toilet when she cleans it and then “waxes” it.  I thought “Wow” and didn’t think much more of it until she mentioned it again recently and I decided that I needed to have her teach me her ways.  I haven’t been haptoilet2py with mine for a while and thought that I just needed to replace the toilets all together.  I asked Dana to come teach me and she said she’d be happy to.  She had me get a few supplies together.  Gel Gloss, bathroom cleaner (whatever kind you prefer), a wrench, a flat head screwdriver, a magic eraser, and denture cleaner.

toilet4toilet3Fill your sink so that the water is about 4 inches high and put in around 3 denture cleaner tablets.  These are supposed to be for 8 oz of water each, so adjust as needed for the size of your sink.  Now for the gross part.  The first thing to do is remove the toilet lid.  To do this you use the screwdriver to pop up the latches at the hinge as shown in this picture.  You then use the wrench to grab the plastic nut under the toilet holding the screw in place and use the screwdriver to take off the big plastic screws holding the lid on.  Don’t be surprised if dried bits of grossness drops down when you take these off.  Yuck!!!  Place the screws and the nuts in the sink to soak, along with the bottom of the toilet lid giving those hinges a good chance to soak.

toilet5toilet6Now you clean your toilet.  Spray it with your cleaner and wipe it down thoroughly.  If there are stained areas that you can’t get clean, use a magic eraser.  This should get everything else off.  Next go to the things that have been soaking in the sink.  If left in long enough, almost no scrubbing should be needed on the screws and nuts.  I had to use the magic eraser to get some yellow stains off the seat.  I was really surprised that everything came off.  I mean everything.  Yeah!!  Once the toilet is dry, spray it with the gel gloss.  The same goes for the lid.  I did the lid in a dry bathtub so that the overspray would land in there.  Dana recommends spraying the floor by the back of the toilet and also any walls and baseboards around it.  The Gel Gloss will protect all of these things and make clean up a snap.  After spraying, you will need to wait 10-15 minutes for the Gel Gloss to dry.  Once it is, take a clean dry cloth and rub all surfaces that you sprayed in a circular motion just like you would if you were waxing your car.  You’ll be amazed at how shiny and smooth everything is.

toilet7All that is left now is to reattach the toilet lid.  Once it’s screwed back on tightly, go wash your hands really well and reward yourself with a brownie, ice cream, or Diet Coke.  I’d say you’ve earned it!

post-closer

What to try (and not try) this Fall

Here in Arizona Autumn isn’t quite what you think that it should be.  When I think of Fall I think of cool mornings, warm days and a crisp, brisk feeling in the air.  This is the time every year that I want to move.  It’s still so hot!  Every day this week will be hovering around 100 and there is no “brisk” feeling in the air.  I start eating pumpkin a little bit earlier than I probably would somewhere else (beginning of September), because I need something to physically tell me it’s Autumn!!  There are so many seasonal products out now that I decided to give some a try to help you know what you need to try and what you don’t!

AnneOpinion

M&M’s has several Fall flavors this year.  I decided to try two of them.  The first was the Candy Corn and it is getting a big thumbs down.  It was very sicky sweet and, quite frankly, it’s the first time I’ve seen my children turn down candy.  Pecan-Pie-MMsThe second one that I tried was Pecan Pie.  You know that saying “No one can eat just one,” that’s my opinion of these M&M’s.  They were so good!  I loved them and have resisted buying another bag only because I know that I will eat the whole thing and probably not share with anyone.

image

 

My sister told me I needed to try the Archer Farms Pumpkin Cheesecake sandwich cookies that are sold at Target.  They were a good call!  I feel like they taste like they are more spice than pumpkin, so if you like fall spices (ginger, cinnamon, cloves, etc) these are a great way to get your fix of fall flavor.

noosa

 

 

 

While I was at Target I noticed that they had Pumpkin flavored Noosa Yoghurt.  I’ve been wanting to try out this brand and thought this would be a good opportunity.  Unfortunately the pumpkin was a bust.  The yogurt had a flavor that reminded me a little of pineapple and didn’t work well with the pumpkin.  I tried to pass it off to Boy 2 when he got home, but after one bite he didn’t want anymore.  Boy 3 liked it and ate rest.  So, there are some out there that would like it; I just chobani pumpkinwasn’t one of them.  If you want an Amazing Pumpkin yogurt, Chobani Flips Pumpkin Harvest Crisp is my new favorite.  I want to eat it everyday and I have been know to clear out the grocery store shelf when I find them.  It is a pumpkin flavored yogurt with pie crust pieces, pecans, and glazed pumaple bacon cookiesmpkin seeds.

When I saw that Betty Crocker had a Maple Bacon cookie mix and frosting I knew this was one that I needed to try, just because it is so different.  I will say that they are good and they are different.  I like the flavors of maple and bacon together and if that’s a combo that you like too, than you will probably like them.  They weren’t the best cookies ever, but they were all gone in one night, so they definitely not bad. caramel apple cupcake I decided that I also wanted to try Pillsbury’s Caramel Apple cupcakes and frosting.  These weren’t bad, but I don’t think that I’ll ever buy them again.  The apple flavor was faint and there was a definite artificial aftertaste with both the cupcake and the frosting.

 

extra pumpkinExtra Pumpkin Spice Gum- You won’t spit it out, but you probably won’t want to chew it for a long time.  Just don’t waste your time on it.

 

 

 

 

pumpkin milanosPepperidge Farms Pumpkin Spice Milanos.  If you love Milanos (and who doesn’t) and you love pumpkin, I think I can guarantee that you will love these.  Milano light and airy cookies with a layer of creamy chocolate and a layer of creamy pumpkin sandwiched between them.  Can’t go wrong with these!

So there’s the around up of all the things that I tried.  I had some hits (Pecan Pie M&M’s) and some misses (clearing throat sound…pumpkin gum).  I loved having an excuse to try everything.  Is there something that I missed that I need to try?

post-closer

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Year Blogiversary

Today is my One Year Blogiversary!  I can’t believe that it’s already been a year.  There have definitely been some up and downs along the way.  I’ve learned many things about programming and photography over the last year, but more importantly I’ve learned a lot about the people in my life.  I’ve been surrounded by so many supportive friends and family.  I just want to thank you for your encouragement and belief in me.  It means more than you will ever know.  Thank you to everyone who has come to visit my site and especially those of you who have left comments.  Sometimes putting up a post is very nerve-racking.  I write about something that I love (mostly food) 🙂 and then I wait to see how it’s received.  It makes me so excited when I hear about your successes with a recipe I’ve posted or a product I recommended!

I’ve decided that I want to celebrate by taking a look back at some of my favorites from the past year. Thank you again for your support and here’s looking to an exciting 2nd year!

bolognese-w

This Crockpot Bolognese is a favorite around here.  I especially love that it makes enough for two dinners. (freeze half of the sauce for a quick meal in the future)

close-2Bbreadstick

 

These breadsticks are a HUGE hit wherever I take them.  The garlic seasoning mix on them is one no kitchen should be without!

 

churro-muffinsHave you tried these Churro muffins yet?  These mini muffins are dipped in butter and tossed in cinnamon sugar.  Need I say more?

 

 

 

 

brownie-oatmealThis decadent breakfast is actually good for you and low in calories!  I like to make a few at the beginning of the week and keep them in the fridge for a quick breakfast or snack.

 

 

ham-fried-rice

I love this Ham Fried Rice!  I tried for years to make fried rice and it never tasted right, until now.  We have it for dinner at least once a month. (which is really often for this house)

 

 

homemade-ketchup

 

I love this ketchup!  It’s just as good as any I have ever bought and it has no high fructose corn syrup.  I also love that I mix it up in the crock pot and just let it simmer.

 

 

strawberry-lemonade

 

Simple syrup is the key to this Strawberry Lemonade turning out perfect every time!  Make sure and make a double batch because it will go very quickly!

 

 

 

bubbles5

 

These bubbles were so fun to make!  Young and old enjoyed making and popping them. I highly recommend making them for a guaranteed fun time!

 

 

 

bottom-lash-mascara

Last, but not least, if you missed my post about Bottom Lash Mascara, check it out.  It’s my favorite makeup find this year. 🙂

 

Hope you’ve found one or two things that you’re excited to try!  Thanks for visiting!!

post-closer

 

 

 

Bubbles for Days

bubbles4I have been dying to try these bubbles for a year now and my family reunion 3 weeks ago was the perfect excuse to get all of the supplies together, which is the number one reason for me not doing many things that I’d like to.  I’d read about them here on Our Best Bites and thought it would be no big deal.  I needed blue Dawn soap, baking powder, glycerin, and J-Lube for the bubble soap. I had read that the J-Lube was available at farm supply stores so I didn’t worry about ordering it because I was going to Nebraska for my reunion and well, let’s just say that when many of your high school classmates spend the summer detassling corn, you know that farmers are not in short supply.

bubbles5As soon as I got there I started calling farm supply stores and much to my dismay, no one carried J-Lube.  I thought that I had a guaranteed place when I saw that QC Supply out of Elkhorn was the supplier for Amazon.  Yeah, guess who didn’t have it?  I almost started arguing with the man on the phone about how he had to have it because he sold it on Amazon, but he was a no nonsense guy and I could tell it would do no good.

Lucky for me my brother lives in a cute little town in rural Nebraska and when I went to visit him I called another QC Supply and they had it.  Halleluiah!  The man at the store told me that only stores that supply pig and cow farmers carry it so that is why I couldn’t find it before.  So, my advice to you is to buy it from QC Supply here.  Amazon also carries it but it costs more to buy it through them.  Alright, so now that you know all about my adventures to find J-Lube, here’s what I thought about how the bubbles went.

AnneOpinion

bubbles3They are A-mazing!!  I couldn’t believe how big they were. We had several that were over 15 feet long.  And the colors!  They were so pretty!  Fun, fun for everyone!

One last thing about the J-Lube.  You only use 1/2 teaspoon each time you make it so this bottle will be a lifetime supply for you and anyone else you choose to share with.  Anyone around me in Arizona, feel free to ask and I’ll get you some.

The glycerin was very easy to find in the cake decorating section at a craft store like Michael’s or Hobby Lobby.

bubbles2When I was picking up the dowels for the bubble wand I also got a washer for a weight on the bottom string.  It worked really well at holding the bottom string down.  The dowels that I bought were on the thinner side and the kids broke them messing around after we had finished.  I will buy some on the thicker side next time. To assemble, tie one string that is about 2 feet long to the top of each dowel (you have two).  Tie a second string that has the washer on it and is long enough that it hangs down loosely when the top one is pulled tight. I totally missed taking a picture of what the bubble wand should look like it.  To see it go here.

bubbles1The last thing that I discovered is that a tall  plastic pitcher worked best for holding the soap. I started in a bucket, but the solution was not high enough to cover all of the string.  A gallon sized pitcher worked perfectly.

We had 3 four year olds that all loved making the bubbles by themselves.  The teenagers loved doing it and I must admit that I had a lot of fun seeing how long I could get one.  Here’s a picture of my longest bubble.  Isn’t it amazing how big these things are!?!  So much fun!!

post-closer

Big Bubbles Recipe

Recipe from Our Best Bites

  • 1 cup Original Dawn dish soap
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons glycerin- craft store in the cake decorating section
  • 1/2 teaspoon J-Lube (order here)
  • 1 gallon water
  • 2 wooden dowels
  • 1 washer
  • gallon sized plastic pitcher

In the plastic pitcher, combine baking powder and J-Lube. Slowly whisk in warm water until smooth. Add glycerin, water, and Dawn.

To make the bubble wand, tie one end of the yarn tightly near the top of one of the dowels. Run a line of yarn about 1 1/2-2 feet to the same spot on the other dowel and tie it securely. Tie a second string under the first, place the washer on the string and secure it the string to the second dowel so it droops down when the top one is pulled taut.

Dip the bubble wand in the bubble soap. When you pull them out, keep the sticks as far apart as possible and start walking backwards. Watch as beautiful big bubbles start to form.  Be prepared for lots of smiles!!

 

Foil Ball as a Dryer Sheet- What???

Foil-ballsI’m sure you’ve run into many amazing “life hacks” that are everywhere you turn on the internet.  Some of them work and some of them don’t.  I have definitely had experience with both and I always question when someone says that I could use something that is virtually free from around my house, in place of something that I’ve spent money on over the years.

Enter: Foil Ball.  According to many internet blogs you don’t need to use dryer sheets to fight static cling in your dryer.  You just need to scrunch up aluminum foil into a ball, throw it into your dryer with your clothes and bam!  no static cling when they are done. I wondered if this could really work so I asked my awesome friend Dana (remember her science expertise with the Listerine exfoliating our feet).  She is my go to expert for all things science related.  Dana explained it this way.  “Think of the foil as the loser in a game of dodgeball…as the clothes dry and the moisture decreases, the static increases.  Clothes with static are full of charged particles and the foil attracts those particles like all of the dodgeballs targeting the loser.”

Now we know why science says it will work, but what happens in real life?   I’m always game for trying something new, especially if I don’t need to go buy anything for it.  So I tried it over the last few weeks and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to what I’ve found.

AnneOpinion

The first thing I wondered about was if the balls would be hot and burn me when I took at the clothes.  The answer to that question is no.  Aluminum Foil is a contuctor of heat, it does not retain it.  So when you take everything out of the dryer the foil balls are the same temperature as the clothes around them.

I’m giving these foil balls two thumbs up.  I’ve tried them with all types of clothes, towels and sheets and everything came out static free.  The only time that I had a problem was with one of my first loads I had some static cling, but I decided that I had made the balls too small and so I added more aluminum foil and had no problems after that.  The balls should be a little bit smaller than your first.  You want to crumple them into a ball, but you don’t need to worry about making them really tight.  I found that after a time or two through the dryer they were round smooth balls from all of the bouncing around that they did.  They will get smaller over time.  The larger ball in the picture has gone through the dryer once and the smaller one has gone through eight loads.  If they get so small that they don’t seem to be working, just wrap more foil around the outside.

The one complaint that I have is that they are loud.  As the dryer drum turns the metal on metal makes loud thumping noises.  It’s not unbearable, but it is a little annoying.  I usually shut my laundry room door now.

I like that when I use these I don’t have to worry able taking out my microfiber towels.  When I use dryer sheets its always a worry that one of the towels will slip through and be ruined.  I also love that you can’t “use up” foil.  This one is definitely a keeper for me!

post-closer

Tie one on for Dad

happy-father's-day!Is June flying by incredibly quick for anyone else?  I feel like I’ve blinked and it’s already June 12.  One more blink and it will be June 21 and Father’s Day will be upon me.  Luckily I found 3 adorable bow tie ideas that I can use this year to make this holiday a breeze and me “Mom of the Year.”  (because THAT is what Father’s Day is about right?) 😉

AnneOpinion

mms-bow-tiesFirst I found this great idea for making bow tie M & M’s.  I used washi tape to pull in the middle and then printed off ” You’re “TIE”rific  Happy Father’s Day!” on cardstock, attached and voilà!  Perfect gift for the one or 100 dads that are special in you life. It also makes a great card to send to any dads (and grandpas) who aren’t close enough to celebrate with in person.  (I found the original idea on Crafty Morning.  Thanks for the inspiration!!)

bow-tie-napkins2I thought these bow tie napkins were perfect for our table on Father’s Day.  I again used washi tape and I loved how the kids could do it.  This idea I found on Be Different, Act Normal, was one that I think would work well for making Dad feel important at a small family dinner or would also be great for a large affair celebrating the many wonderful men in your life.

 

The last “bow tie” is found on this fun (and easy) Father’s Day Cake.  A cake mix, a can of frosting abow-tie-cakend a bag (or two) of M&M’s and you’re set!  I found when I made mine that a medium sized bag did not have enough of the the blue M&M’s for the suspenders so I had to get another bag.  Just buy a large bag to start and you should be safe.  This is another thing that the kids can do to show Dad their love.  Thanks to “We like to Learn as we Go” for making Father’s Day dessert a no brainer this year!!

I’m so excited to use these fun ideas for our dad this year!  He’s the best and we love getting the chance to celebrate how awesome he is!!

post-closer

 

How to Oil your Grill

I have been told for years that you should oil your grill before barbequing.  I have not listened.  Mostly because I only knew how to do it with a brush and I didn’t like cleaning the oil out of the brush and it always seemed to make a mess somehow.  I don’t know how, but it did.  So I have been content to grill and have part of my meat stick to the grate and I just figured that was a part of life.

That changed a couple of months ago when I saw a demonstration of how to oil your grill on Cooks Country.  It appealed to me right away because it involved soaking a paper towel in oil, grabbing said paper towel with tongs and then rubbing it on the grill to oil it and then the paper towel can get tossed in the trash.  No oily mess on the counter, or spilled bowl of oil or greasy brush to clean; you can see why I decided to try it!  I have been using this method religiously for the last two months (except when I made these hot dogs; I don’t know why I thought that I didn’t need to do it for hot dogs but you do) and I love it.  The meat and veggies get beautiful dark grill marks and part of them is not left on the grill when you flip them over.  Hallelujah!  Hope that this helps your BBQing experience!

post-closer

No Mess Corn on the Cob

corn-on-the-cobI love corn on the cob and when I was growing up I couldn’t understand why we didn’t have it more than once or twice a summer.  Now that I’m a mom and have had the mess in my kitchen I completely understand and my family normally only has corn on the cob once or twice a year. Last summer, while visiting my husband’s family, my mother in law introduced me to a new way to cook corn on the cob, and it has been life changing.  I now feel like I can have corn on the cob whenever I want.  You won’t believe how easy it is.

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place corn (in husks) on a baking sheet.

Step 2:  Place corn in the oven for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Remove corn from the oven.  Pull off the silk and husks (which will come off together, very easily and will not make a mess of silk strings everywhere) and eat.  You can add butter, salt and pepper if desired.

AnneOpinion

Can you believe how easy that is?  After baking the silks stick together and come off all together.  That alone would make me a convert to this method but it tastes better too.

I have boiled, grilled, and grilled in husks in the past.  None of those methods works as well as this one.  I love how the corn is super moist from cooking in the husk and you don’t loose any of the flavor like you do with boiling.

We now have corn on the cob about once a week during the summer.  It’s so nice to have this “treat” more often.  Everyone is loving it except for Boy 1, who is currently enjoying the benefits of a life with braces.  Guess you can’t please everyone.  😉

post-closer

1 2