Sunday, January 20, 2013

Vinegar Top Ten

I'm sure this subject line has you at the edge of your seat.  But I have to say, vinegar is one of my very favorite things and it seems everyday I am discovering another valuable use for the pungent liquid.  Here is a list of ten of my favorite....
Brooke's Vinegar Top Ten

10. Let's start where I did, in food.  I love it in Bean Soup, which seams to be an upper Midwest thing, so I won't fault you for not appreciating it; I use the apple cider vinegar on the bean soup if possible.  But the handy thing about vinegar is that it can be used to make buttermilk.... simply place a Tbsp of white vinegar {or lemon juice, but I never seem to have that on hand} in a liquid measuring cup, add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.  Let stand for five minute. Then, use as much as your recipe calls for. Voilà!  I also like vinegar in salad dressings.  A lot.  Red wine vinegar & a good olive oil.... Yumm!

9. Those pesky little bugs & ants that sneak in are no match for an open dish of vinegar.  We have a couple of areas in our house {near the fireplace & by a lamp in our kitchen} that seem to attract the pests, so I fill up a little jar of vinegar and they are deterred by the smell.  Adiós, insects!

8. We have a lot of minerals in our water, it's just the nature of the beast here in Ohio.  The downside to this is the rapid buildup in such places as our shower head.  A quick fix: remove shower head & immerse in a vinegar bath.  I usually use 100% vinegar, but you can dilute it with water if you like.  I like to do this for several hours.  Simply return to its station in the shower and run water through it before bathing.

7. Need to remove mold & mildew from caulking in the bathroom?  Saturate a paper towel with vinegar & lay over the infected caulk.  Allow to sit for as long as possible, then remove.  Presto.  Bub-bye yuck.

6. Fabric softener fix.  Fact: Liquid fabric softeners clog up your agitator and they also make your towels less absorbent.  Not only will vinegar in lieu of fabric softener soften your garments, it also helps to remove detergent build-up in your.  Seriously, softest towels EVER!

5. Streak-free window & mirror cleaner magic!  I actually keep a couple of bottles of this around the house.  Just a regular old squirt bottle {I'm a big fan of the ones they sell at Fleet Farm} filled with about half water & half vinegar.  I use this weekly to clean my mirrors, and whenever I need to clean my windows.  It is seriously like magic!

4. Not only is the 50/50 solution great for windows & mirrors, it makes a great multi-purpose cleaner.  It comes in quite handy where there is a sticky spill on the floor.  And while I haven't used it to scrub my floors {yet!} a lot of people use vinegar in lieu of Pine-Sol for their scrubbing needs.

3. Yet again, another use for the 50/50.... I use it for my weekly cleaning on my shower walls.  Spritzing it on the walls, then wiping it down with a dry cloth is all it takes.

2. Smurf Vomit!  From time to time the build up of soap & minerals in the shower needs some extra cleaning power.  That is when I turn to what I affectionately call Smurf Vomit: 1 cup of vinegar, boiling hot, mixed with one cup of blue Dawn liquid dish soap.  Add to a spray bottle, spray on shower walls & doors and let sit for at least two hours.  Wipe down with water, and smile at the clean.  It may take a couple of doses to really take care of business, depending on the severity of the build-up.

1. Fruit cleaner.  I know, I know, who wants to eat fruit that tastes like vinegar?  I was a skeptic, too.  But the nurse who taught my communicable disease class had me convinced enough to try it and I'm hooked.  For one, vinegar is a natural germ-killer.  Awesome.  For another, it adds life to your fruit.  Double awesome.  I use it primarily for my berries, and here's what you do: Soak fruit in a bowl filled with water & vinegar.  Drain, rinse & eat.  I also use baking soda, sometimes instead of vinegar, sometimes in addition to it.  Either way, I feel much better about feeding clean fruit to my kids knowing this kills off all of the pests & pesticides that get stuck in those hard-to-reach places.  And I kid you not, your strawberries are so fragrant when you're done drowning them in vinegar, they're hard to resist!

There are a million other uses for vinegar that didn't make my list.  My grandma told me her mother used it to rinse my grandmother's hair when she was little, as it worked as a conditioner.  Some people use it to kill weeds, though I admit I haven't tried that one yet.  Many add essential oils, or soak orange or lemon rinds in the vinegar to add a delicious scent to their cleaning.  Others swear by using hot vinegar with baking soda to clean drains.  I'm the first to tell you it isn't the most pleasant smell on the planet, but it certainly is a handy & inexpensive secret weapon!

Happy Vinegaring!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thank You Thursday

1. I'm thankful we are getting traffic on our house. I truly did not expect to have any interest this month, so I am pleasantly surprised. I'll be even more thankful if the right buyer comes around at just the right time.

2. That said, at the end of the day, I'm still thankful I have a house to come home to. I don't enjoy the hurry & scurry of getting the house staged and finding something to do for an hour plus. I also don't enjoy saving some of my chores until later in the night, but the fact that I'm still in my home and not a small, cramped living space is something to be especially grateful for right now.

3. I'm thankful for my girls. There are millions great kids out there, but I'm grateful for mine. I just love 'em.

4. I'm so, so thankful for Geoff. We both work hard to do right by our family. It makes my heart full knowing I'm in this with a great partner.... Thank you for all you do, Geoff!

5. I'm thankful for my co-teacher, Robin. If I could pick my perfect work partner, it would be her. What a great feeling to arrive to that every working day!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Ten on Tuesday

1. The only way to describe Uma Thurman last night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon was like watching someone pole dance in a chair.  She kept looking at him with creepy sex eyes.  So uncomfortable.

2. Taylor Swift's song "I Knew You Were Trouble" has some throw-back qualities.  I know this because every time I hear the chorus it reminds me of shopping at Deb's, and it's been A LONG time since I've fit into anything in that store.

3. I'm officially a fan of Italian Blood Orange Soda.  Yummmmm!

4. Karaoke Machine: solid investment.  The girls spend a fair amount of time rockin' out on that thing.  Belching and sometimes being inappropriate, too, but mostly singing.  Not always great singing, but singing nonetheless.

5. Strange dream last night.  Lauren was driving one of my dad's old trucks, and I was driving my Grand Am.  It got weirder, but I'm still stuck on the significance of the old vehicles.  And what was I thinking letting my six-year-old drive a stick?!

6. Confession Alert: I love finding the girls' random drawings around the house.  Lauren's are especially cute with her rockets and words of love.

7. I have zero regrets about the girls having their tonsils & adenoids out this summer.  We've only used the nebulizer twice this winter, and we've had zero middle-of-the-night coughing fits.  Thank. You. God.

8. After weeks of slacking on my workout routine, I'm finally back in the groove.  The worst part is actually getting out of bed.  Second worst part, that funky feeling right before I take a shower.  The payoff.... I feel great the rest of the day!

9. These days once I'm on Pinterest it's like pulling teeth to get me off.  My latest crack up is this Dorothy & Toto pic.  Gotta love people with the same sense of humor.

10. I'm anxiously waiting to try my latest crockpot creation: Crockpot Olive Garden Pasta Soup.  I even bought a little crockpot so I could half recipes and not have so much left over when I'm cooking for just me & the girls.  It's almost time to dig in.  Wish me luck!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Not-So-Generic Top Ten

My new favorite blog topic.... My list of Top Tens for any random, given subject.  Today's subject, ten things I won't go generic on.

Brooke's Not-So-Generic Top Ten
10. Toothpaste: I won't even use other brand names.  I have one, and only one brand of toothpaste that I trust on my pearly whites. I absolutely refuse to even entertain the idea of anything else.  To be fair, I've tried.
9. Q-Tips: Here's one where Q-Tip will forever have my loyalty.  Tightly bound cotton, a firm stick.  Those cheap, plastic guys bend at first swipe.  I'm a Q-Tipper for life.
8. Soap: Hand soap, bar of soap, it doesn't matter.  This girl likes a good soap.  Also, I'm a little sensitive to smell, so anything heavy in perfumes is out.  All too often, generics tend to leave a lingering funk.  No thank you.
7. Coffee: One word.... Dirt.
6. Make-Up: Again, I've tried.  Maybe not so much generic as much as cheap drug store types.  You know their names.  Clumpy mascaras.... Honestly, you're better off not wearing anything.
5. Shampoo: Maybe it's my fine, fly-away hair.  Or maybe it's the fact that I've actually used quality products, so when I use the cheapies my hair is a hot mess.  Whatever the reason, I like my salon shampoo & conditioning products and I'm stickin' to it.
4. Hairspray: Ahhhh, the days when poofing the perfect set of bangs was in.  And then you walked out into the rain and immediately the smell of Aqua Net or that purple can of Aussie hits the crowd and that deflated mass slaps your forehead silly; you know only a good shampooing can conquer that mess.  While my current hairspray does not hold up to the rain, it certainly isn't cause to throw in the towel.
3. Tampons: Seems like a great money-saver, BUT I can say from experience, it is like giving a ride to a square peg in a round hole.  Enough said.
2. Scotch Tape: Nothing, and I mean nothing, tops 3M's sticky adhesive.  I don't even like the way generics roll off the dispenser.  Straight-up frustrating!
1. Ziploc Bags: I tried.  But the bottom line is that nothing, and I do mean NOTHING beats a Ziploc bag.  Now if I can just get my husband to learn how to properly close them.... I think I smell another top ten.  Stay tuned.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Waffle House Top Ten

Before I got married I had no idea there was a Waffle House.  But as this northern girl reluctantly ventured into the bottom half of the good ol' US of A it would quickly win its way into my heart, my thighs & my life.

This morning as I Instagramed a picture of my homemade waffle masterpiece, the delicious memories of Waffle House visits came flooding back, inspiring this Top Ten....
Brooke's Top Ten Waffle House Visits

10. Palm Bay, Florida: Brooke takes her sister-in-law, Heidi, out for a little Adult Girl Time while Geoff stays home with the baby. On the wall behind Heidi is a trail of ants. This is no surprise to Brooke.  However, it probably would be to Heidi.  Brooke does not want to end her sanity break, so she says nothing.  Not Brooke's proudest moment, but classic Waffle House.

9. Melbourne, Florida: Brooke takes Mom, Dad, Aunt Karen & Uncle Mark to Waffle House before her guests catch their flight back to Minneapolis.  This is also Abby's first trip to the WH, but she won't get to enjoy it, as she is only 5 months old.  The other patrons on the flight bound for MSP did get a taste of that meal, however.  Going to a Waffle House before a flying commercial is NOT recommended for anyone with digestive issues.

8. Melbourne, Florida: Shawn & Kimmy come to visit their new little cousins.  It is now official Waffle House edict: All future WH visits must be made in pajamas regardless of the time of day.

7. Fairborn, Ohio: Brooke, Abby & Lauren wake up just before noon after their 12 hour drive back from Minnesota.  Geoff has nothing to eat in the house; clearly a WH visit is in order.  All three girls wear, what else, their jammies.

6. Somewhere just north of the Everglades, Florida: a very pregnant Brooke, Geoff and one-year-old Abigail stop at WH on their way back from a UMD hockey game in Ft. Myers.  They didn't know it yet, but their next stop would be a roadside alligator show shack.  Strange combination of some of their favorite things.

5. Palm Bay, Florida: Word is out to the Iowa neighbors that Brooke likes the Waffle House. So does Gary.  Brooke & Gary go on a Waffle House date.  Barb gets off the hook making Gary his favorite waffles with pecans and offers to watch the girls.  Everybody wins.

4. Somewhere in Alabama: Brooke takes Dad to the Waffle House for the very first time.  Waitress is missing some of her blue Lee Press-On nails.  Classic Waffle House.

3. Roanoke, Virginia: Dad's first WH encounter is unleashed in the hotel room as Brooke stands outside the bathroom door brushing her teeth.  Brooke & Geoff's relocation to Massachusetts ensures she will have plenty of time to get this experience out of her system before reuniting with her favorite hillbilly breakfast.

2. Norman, Oklahoma: After much discussion on their honeymoon road trip, Geoff & Shawn have Brooke curious and they stop for her first exposure to the WH.  Brooke also tries grits for the first & last time.  Waffle House employees, and now close personal friends, think it is weird that three people are honeymooning together.  Brooke, Geoff & Shawn think it is like the pot calling the kettle black.

1. Fairborn, Ohio: Brooke, Geoff, Alex & Mindi are hungry, but the children have already eaten.  Because the WH is packed, they set the children up in the van with a movie right outside the window of their booth.  This is the first & last time they have ever done such a thing, but they are pretty sure this is common protocol for WH regulars, especially in the early morning hours after partying.  Mindi asks waitress if they have waffles with strawberries. Waitress replies, "Yes, but they are not real strawberries. This is only a one star restaurant."  Classic Waffle House.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Ten on Tuesday

1. Remember that moment when the concept of how they actually get money into checks perplexed you?  I seriously do.

2. Experts claim without question that oatmeal is the best breakfast for a vast array of reasons.  Now, if only they could get it to taste worthy of making it into my daily menu.  Up to this point I've yet to taste an oatmeal I can stomach for more than four consecutive days.  Your move, oatmeal.

3. Am I the only person who has a beef with where stationary soap dishes are cemented in showers?  The fiberglass showers place them in just the right place to be knocked off by your elbow.  The tile showers place them perfectly in the line of fire to be quickly broken down by the blast of the water.  Don't even get me started on the showers that don't have a place for me to place my foot when I shave my legs....

4. I actually find it a thrill to decipher which store brand products are superior to both other store brands and their brand name counterparts.  I have to say, my favorite store brand vanilla ice cream is Target's.  I have the girls' tonsillectomy to thank for that discovery.

5. Shepard Smith, anchor at FOX News.  I'm torn here.  He easily engages me in the programs he anchors.  But then there is his arrogance.  I've overlooked his daily shout-out to Oxford, Mississippi.  But twice now he's capped stories about the NHL lockout with snarky comments about how no one cares.  I care.  What I don't care about is Mississippi or your beloved Alabama "Roll Tide" (whatever that means) football team.  As a person I think he's a douche.

6. It's funny how kangaroos are cute and angelic looking, and yet I'm pretty sure they could kick or box the crap out of a grown man.  Me for sure.  Frankly, they scare me.

7. Random Family Fun Fact: Lauren is the only one of my parents' grandchildren that does not also share a name with one of my mother's brothers' dogs.  Follow-Up Fact: All of the dogs were named before the children were born.  Does this mean that subconsciously my sister & I have issues?

8. Growing up I was never a fan of radio talk shows.  I listened to KROC or KDWB when I got ready for school, but there was enough music to keep me engaged and the talk was light & entertaining.  Now I'd take a talk show any day.... Elvis Duran, Neal Boortz, Andy Dean, I could listen to my faves all day.

9. While I was home for Christmas I noticed my favorite column in the Owatonna People's Press was MIA.  That's right, they dropped Dear Abby.  So I'm posting the link for future reference, this way next time I'm home and without a paper version I've got this baby online:  Thanks, Mrs. Best for passing this on!

10. My Christmas vacation this year was crappy, and that's being kind.  There were many sweet spots, but overall the trip ranks as one of my least favorite visits home.  This is honest to God, the best part of my entire time in Minnesota this Christmas:  I could watch it a million times and not get tired of it.... maybe it's Jerry's endearing Minnesota accent.  Maybe it's his spirit.  But when it comes down to it, I just like the way looking at The Tree makes me feel.

Happy 2013!


{About Me}

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Fairborn, Ohio, United States
I'm a teacher by trade, writer at heart & mom in every sense of my being. I never considered writing as a profession, but after I got married and began moving around the country, I began sharing my adventures, misadventures & updates through a sort of e-mail newsletter. I found a true passion in unconventional story-telling that has followed me into motherhood.