Wednesday, April 30

Simple Salsa by Tyler Florence

A while back, I posted about the fabulous Mexican Pot Roast Nachos from Tyler Florence. I wanted to highlight again the quick, delicious salsa that is in the recipe. I took pictures when I made it last week (probably for the fifth time since the fall). It's so simple to put together and tastes quite fresh for coming from canned tomatoes. It yields a generous batch as well. Print the recipe here.

Another recipe we recently tried is Couscous with Apricot Vinaigrette. It's from Real Simple, and you can't get any simpler than couscous. It's so quick to make! The fixings that go with the couscous are also simple and quick, and the finished product is a great accompaniment to a meal. I measured out my own couscous instead of using a 10-ounce box.

Monday, April 28

There Is More Cheese!!!

Ryan and I got a surprise in the mail last week, thanks to my mom :) Thanks, Mom!

Vaccines: Anthrax

In my reading, I'm finding information that vaccines can be unsafe for adults as well as children. The anthrax vaccine, mandatory for all US soldiers as of 1998, has never been clinically tested for safety. Yet it has been used on all soldiers for almost 10 years.

There is an independent film being shown at the at the GI Film Festival, Carnegie Institute in Washington, D.C. on May 18. This film reveals information about the anthrax vaccine and its dangers to our soldiers. You can view the trailer here. It's sad to see the images at the end of the trailer of deformed babies, borne to women who served in the military. They received the vaccine and later had deformed children. There are many cases of physical and neurological ailments tied to the vaccine. It all started with the "anthrax threat" in 2001:
Significantly, the infamous 2001 anthrax powder attacks, killing five people and sickening 17 others after 9/11, were domestic and not foreign in nature. They were allegedly inspired by laboratory insiders who mailed the powder to the offices of two US senators, a number of national news offices in New York City, and elsewhere. The incidents are still under active FBI investigation. That probe, says Fox News, recently identified three or four new suspects at an Army bioweapons lab intricately involved in helping to support the need for the mandated vaccine. They include a deputy commander, an anthrax scientist and a microbiologist. Thomas D. Williams, Truthout Report (April 9, 2008)
Retired Air Force Lt. Col. John Richardson said,
Two federal judges have now confirmed the Pentagon broke the law by forcing service members to take anthrax vaccine from 1998 to late 2005. Since 2005, mandating the vaccine is now lawful only because of the FDA's willingness to ignore clear evidence in military medical records of the deaths and disabilities associated with the anthrax vaccine. Just as the government misled the American people about the threat from Iraqi anthrax and the source of the anthrax letter attacks, it continues to mislead the troops about the safety and efficacy of the anthrax vaccine.
Several Israeli news investigative reports from May 17, 2007 and February 24, 2008 reveal that elite combat unit troops were given the experimental anthrax vaccine in 2000 without being informed what they were getting and, when they suffered severe reactions and disability, were told their poor health had nothing to do with the vaccine they were given.
What does this have to do with us who are not in the military? For me, it's eye opening to consider the breadth and depth of misinformation about vaccines. Apparently, the anthrax vaccine is not
proven to protect against powder anthrax. It hasn't been clinically tested, yet is fully endorsed by the FDA.

The big question I'm facing currently is: are vaccines even effective? Do they really protect against various diseases? I've read from more than one source that major diseases were on the decline before vaccines were introduced in various communities and countries. Polio was on the decline, thanks to better sanitation, before the vaccine was introduced. It is very disturbing to me but I need to read more.

Sunday, April 27

Vaccines: Mercury Followup

I wanted to follow up my other post on mercury with some information from the book I'm reading (What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations), from Chapter 3, Mercury in Vaccines: Shots of Danger?

Thimerosal has been used in vaccines since 1930.
The concern over mercury in foods and drugs began in 1997.
High levels of mercury can cause brain cells to die, and lower, chronic levels may result in silent, or insidious effects that affect the immune system at the cellular level. Thus the first signs of low-level mercury poisoning may be an inability to get rid of the flu, bronchitis, or a yeast infection, or it may lead to cancer. Thus many people may be toxic from mercury and not even know it.
The ethylmercury in the vaccine is being injected into the bodies of infants who do not have a fully developed immune system, and their bodies cannot get rid of the mercury properly. The mercury in the tuna is not injected into the bloodstream; it is eaten, which means it goes through the digestive tract, and the liver has an opportunity to help rid the body of the poison. In infants, the blood-brain barrier, a membrane between circulating blood and the brain that prevents certain harmful substances from reaching the brain, is not yet able to keep out toxins that can damage the brain. So mercury sent directly into the bloodstream enters the brain and converts to a form of mercury (inorganic) that remains the brain, where it does its damage.
The author mentions the dramatic increase in autoimmune and neurological health problems affecting children since 1964, "the year the US added six new vaccines to the required vaccination schedule: live virus polio (five doses), measles, mumps and rubella (MMR, two doses); Hib (four doses); and hepatitis B (three doses)." Autoimmune and neurological health problems include asthma, autism, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease and more.

There has been some victory with the removal of thimerosal from many vaccines. Yet the government, in a joint statement from the CDC, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics and the Public Health Services, said that "while there was no evidence of any harm caused by low levels of thimerosal in vaccines and the risk was only theoretical," they agreed to remove thimerosal from vaccines "as a precautionary measure".

Do you believe thimerosal is dangerous?
If so, you might have a problem with the above organizations saying the risk is only theoretical. What does common sense tell you about the safety of metals being injected into babies (or anyone, for that matter)? Do you believe the above organizations when they tout the safety of other medications and vaccines when they ignore the danger of thimerosal? It's true that many vaccines had thimerosal removed. However, what else do these organizations say (including your doctor, possibly) that may not be true or a blatant negligence of the truth? Are they truly informed and justified in saying that it is not too much to inject a 2 month old with 7 vaccines? Can you really believe them when they say that when your baby has an adverse reaction to a vaccination event that it's just normal? Is there something that could be going on inside your baby that he can't tell you about, and with the next set of vaccines, does it worsen and build up further? Do we really understand the long-term impact of vaccines on one's immune system? Has the government truly given you assurance that the safety and health of your child is #1? The vaccine industry is a huge business (If you don't know how huge, read this to start, thanks Sara). I read on a government site that the thought behind combination vaccines and multiple injections is to ensure that all the vaccinations are administered. Parents don't want to make 10-15 trips to the doctor every year to space the shots out. It's more conventient to stack them up. Is this safe? Is it really safe???

These are the questions we ask ourselves, and they raise such a level of concern to us.

Friday, April 25


I think there is a message I'm supposed to be hearing, as I've come across topics of "Clutter" a lot recently. It is spring, after all. Crystal is spurring her readers on with de-cluttering projects, and Get Rich Slowly is helping us remember how much stuff we accumulate.

The other night, while Ryan was at class, I finally attacked the mount of linens and clothes in our bedroom. I had winter sweaters out that needed to be stored (no drawer space thanks to my new husband...who I wouldn't trade for the world!), a huge duvet that was too warm at this point and pillows and sheets and towels that needed a home. I trimmed down a lot of it by putting some linens and clothes in some plastic bins I got on clearance at Target a few weeks ago, and reorganized Ryan's closet shelf to house sheets and blankets. It felt great!

Our next project is to find homes for many items stacked in the old guest room/new study. We rearranged it a few weeks ago and it's now Ryan's study with a desk and a book shelf. Much is left to organize though, but we're glad he has a dedicated place for his seminary studies.

An incentive for me to push on sooner than later with some de-cluttering and organization is a yard sale our church is putting on next month. I plan to take a ton of stuff there, including items that we "upgraded", so to speak, through wedding gifts. Some things are just extra and no longer needed. I LOVE getting rid of clutter.

Are you working on anything like this lately? If so, what is it?

Items to Note

I subscribe to several blogs, and a couple items of interest were recently posted:
  1. Free Crash Test Videos from Consumer Reports
  2. Retirement Plan Rollover Chart
  3. Barnes & Noble: Summer Reading Program--Earn a free book!

First Car Purchase!

Ryan and I purchase our first car together this week! We picked it up Tuesday night and are enjoying it. We had shared a car since we got married two months ago and while we enjoyed the extra time together, we looked forward to replacing Ryan's dead car. I looked and looked and looked for a 2000 or 2001 Camry and we finally found one that we could look at (schedule restraints, distance, etc), pay for, and like. It is our hope and prayer that we can have it for 6-8 years and 100k more miles. This one is a 2000 and it only has 82k miles which is low for the year.

Thursday, April 24

Vaccines: Meet Sara

I just "met" Sara, who started a blog to chronicle her investigation into vaccines. We're coming from very similar points of view in raising awareness and chronicling our own journey for more information to make a decision for our family. She is a fellow Christian in the area, and her blog is called Vaccines and My Child.

Vaccines: Mercury & Preservatives

Background to this post
Other posts labeled Vaccines

It's pretty widely known that mercury is poisonous to humans. I learned that the volume allowed by the EPA to be considered nontoxic is .1 mcg per day. I also learned that the amount of mercury in vaccines that contain the preservative thimerosal is 25 mcg, many times over the "safe" amount.
While the presence of mercury is not as prevalent today as it was in the 1990s (thanks to countless parents and advocates who raised enough of an outcry to have it examined and largely removed), there are still a couple vaccines that contain mercury, seen here. Where it shows .01% Thimerosal concentration, that equates to 25mcg of mercury. Largely, most children's vaccines do not contain thimerosal today.

The EPA has been outspoken regarding mercury in women who are of a child-bearing age and who are pregnant, advising against consumption of fish with higher levels of mercury and also warning about spills and proper cleanup for both men and women.
On the basic information page of EPA website, they introduce mercury and where you might find it, and it does not even mention its content in vaccines. It is mentioned further down on the site along with other products containing mercury. Even more disturbing, on the Human Exposure page for how humans can come in contact with mercury, it does not mention vaccines. However, they bend over backwards to illustrate how fish become contaminated with mercury. On the FDA's website, I read the following:
It's only in a few species of fish that methyl mercury levels reach FDA limit for human consumption of 1 ppm. [This is .1 to 25mcg in some vaccines] This most frequently occurs in some large predator fish, such as shark and swordfish. Certain species of very large tuna, typically sold as fresh steaks or sushi, can have levels over 1 ppm. (Canned tuna, composed of smaller species of tuna such as skipjack and albacore, has much lower levels of methyl mercury, averaging only about 0.17 ppm.) The average concentration of methyl mercury for commercially important species (mostly marine in origin) is less than 0.3 ppm.
The government is concerned about people being exposed to mercury fish and other substances, but it recommends that even higher amounts of mercury be injected through vaccines! Many people can properly excrete the mercury before it does a lot of damage. However, one cannot see what internal mechanisms have been affected and what neurological effect could be taking place from mercury. It may not be evident until years later. The damage from diabetes, smoking, and drinking cannot be seen for some time either, but the damage is still occurring. Thankfully, there are significantly fewer children today being exposed to mercury than there were in the 1990s. I don't know at this point which preservative replaced thimerosal in each vaccine, and some do not require a preservative at all. The package contents of the vaccine disclose what substances are contained in the shots and which brands have what such as: formaldehyde, anti-freeze, aluminum, aborted fetal tissue (human diploid cell cultures and human diploid lung fibroblasts), and fetal bovine serum.

Some simple questions to consider: 1) are you aware which brand of vaccines your doctor gives your child, and 2) does it contain toxic preservatives, and 3) can you ask for a different brand? And for your own health as an adult, did you know the adult flu shot contains thimerosal, as well as the tetanus shot? According to the table, there are 7 kinds of flu shots, and 4 of them contain thimerosal (the pediatric version (up to 35 months) does not). One company makes the single tetanus shot, and even the booster contains 25mcg of mercury. The DT(the T being tetanus)for pediatric use does contain thimerosal but the combo DTaP does not contain thimerosal even though the individual tetanus does. That's a challenge for us because we do not wish for our children to receive combination vaccines, but getting the tetanus later in life when there is greater risk doesn't look so hot either because of mercury.

What's interesting is that when most shots
did contain thimerosal, the content was the same whether it was an adult or a baby receiving the shot. It's just one problem that we have with the "one size fits all" approach to vaccinations.

Skewed Skewers?

America's Test Kitchen has an interesting review of skewers used for grilling. I bought my first set a last summer, and they're long, flat and metal. I've found them to be pretty satisfactory. They weren't too thick to thread meat or vegetables and kept the food in place while grilling and turning. I remember that I bought them at a store in the Strip District of Pittsburgh [a wholesale shopping area...not the other possible meaning] but am unsure of the brand.

Let's take a look at the review. Bamboo skewers stink, they say. They are bound burn and break when cooking at high heat, regardless of soaking. The food typically ends up turning on round skewers, making it difficult to turn the food when needed. They recommend flat skewers, which works for me since I already own them! So as grilling season heats up, be on the lookout for flat skewers. I hope you can find some and enjoy skewering to your heart's content. Chicken thigh meat, by the way, is a delicious choice!

Monday, April 21

Read these old Posts!

Most of my blog is about cooking or photography. If you are new to viewing my blog, I thought I'd highlight some posts and favorite recipes. Note the link to the left called "Previously Posted Recipes". I have captured most recipes in this link which I have mentioned on my blog.

I'm all in the mood to cook some fresh, spicy, and/or flavorful foods since winter is mostly behind us, so here are some of my favorites:

Island Rice (Cooking Light)
Asian Barbeque Chicken (pairs VERY well with Island Rice)
Green Bean Salad with Mint Vinaigrette - Northwest Best Places Cookbook
Individual Chocolate Melting Cakes - Real Simple
Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup - Giada De Laurentiis

In Between
Roasted Potato Salad with Mustard Dressing - CL
Arugula, Roasted Tomato, and Goat Cheese Salad - CL
Chipotle Sweet Mashed Potatoes - CL

More Involved
Crunchy Shrimp with Toasted Couscous and Ginger-Orange Sauce - This was the Grand Prize winner and Entree Category winner from the 2006 Cooking Light Reader Receipe Contest. I can't wait to make this for Ryan!
Ancho-And-Coffee-Rubbed Filet Mignon with Ancho-Mushroom Sauce - Bobby Flay

Saturday, April 19

There Is No More Cheese

It's usually a little sad when I use up the last of our supply of Tillamook Cheese. What's this cheese, you say? It's made in the coastal town of Tillamook, Oregon and growing up, we'd always get a 2lb loaf of "Oregon Cheese" from my grandparents in our Christmas box that came in the mail. Not only are we fond of it because it's from Oregon, but it's also a highly rated cheese for it's quality and taste (which I didn't appreciate as a child for obvious reasons: it was just CHEESE!!!). As an adult, I certainly appreciate it more, but I can't get it here in Pittsburgh without paying an arm and a leg for an itty bitty block at Giant Eagle. Tillamook ice cream, by the way, is the best I've ever tasted.

These days, since I only get it from Oregon,
having Tillamook Cheese in our home means that I saw my family recently, either because I was there or they were here, ever since they moved more than a year ago to Oregon. My mom generously brought me not one, but TWO baby loaves of Sharp Cheddar Cheese when they came for our wedding about two months ago. We just finished up the last of the cheese last week.

At this point, the next time we'll have any Oregon cheese is
when we visit my family over Labor Day. Labor Day! It's so far away!! Mom, can you send some more before it gets too warm to mail it? :) We miss you guys too, not just the cheese.

Photo from company website

Friday, April 18

Birthday Cake

Ryan requested that I make the Double Chocolate Torte for his birthday next month. He really enjoyed it last year, and I even went as far as freezing a couple slices for him to take to his family in Kansas. It went over EXTREMELY well, and I think I became part of the family at that point. I laced it with "We really like Alicia" dust.

For this year, I am happy to delight my husband this way, and I have no one to impress (and I really didn't back then either). I am very thankful to have a husband who loves chocolate like I do :).

Thursday, April 17

The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks

I added a funny blog to my Google Reader feed. I haven't viewed all the posts to determine if there is questionable content, but the posts from the last few days have been humorous. You can get the jist of it just from the title: The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks.

Vaccines: Recent News

Excerpts from the National Vaccine Information Center this week:
"After nearly three decades of resisting public calls from parents of vaccine injured children for a formal investigation into vaccine safety, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has established the National Vaccine Advisory Committee Working Group on Vaccine Safety to review a scientific research agenda proposed by DHHS."

"Another panel participant, Peter Bell, of Autism Speaks, described his son's regression into autism. While making it clear he is strongly pro-vaccine, Peter gave an eloquent plea for credible scientific research into vaccine safety issues and asked Committee members and government officials to "not demonize parents who are asking questions and searching for answers" to outstanding questions about vaccine risks."

"SafeMinds board member Jim Moody, JD, commented that a lack of credible scientific studies demonstrating vaccine safety makes the application of one-size-fits-all vaccine policies on the entire child population an uncontrolled "scientific experiment."

"Only time will tell if the meeting on Capitol Hill last Friday was for real or for show. Three decades is long enough to wait for government to listen to the people and take action to find out the truth about vaccine risks so every child in America has the opportunity to grow up healthy."
It's my understanding that three decades is also how much time passed after the first studies came out (1939) about smoking for the government to start issuing warnings on cigarette packages that smoking "may" be harmful to your health (1969).

Vaccines: Article

Cluster of "SIDS" deaths in north Idaho prompt parents to blame vaccines; doctors, government deny vaccine link

The deaths of three infants in Coeur d'Alene in September and October, 2007, within a few days of their four- month vaccines, prompted one of the mothers to fight back.

By Ingri Cassel
Frontpage story

Shelly Walker's heart wrenching story made the front page of The Spokesman-Review newspaper on December 22, 2007, with the provocative headline, "Did vaccines kill?"

The headline shook up many residents here as they prepared for Christmas with their families. The story highlighted Shelly's shock when she discovered her son Vance in his crib unresponsive and limp. Blood was crusted under his eyes and a bloody foam was coming from his mouth onto the blanket lying beside him.The following is from The Spokesman-Review story:

"My baby was so healthy," said Shelly Walker, 39, of Hayden. "He was extremely full of life, energy and vitality.

"In the early morning of Sept. 15, less than three days after Vance Vernon Walker received a round of vaccines at Lakeside Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine in Coeur d'Alene, his mother awoke to a parent's worst nightmare. "It was about 5:15 a.m. I woke up and thought, 'He's not making any noise!' " Walker recalled. "I went to pick him up and then I screamed.

"Her 16 1/2-pound boy was warm and his lips were still pink, but he wasn't moving. Blood was crusted beneath his eyes and his clothes and toys were covered with a bloody froth. As her husband, Brian, 46, called 911, Walker worked frantically to resuscitate their child. But in the emergency room at Kootenai Medical Center, doctors said Vance had been dead for several hours."

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, April 16

Vaccines 3: CDC Schedule

Background to this post
Resources I'm using (plus others that I will link)

Below is a link to a chart comparing vaccinations today versus in 1983. Those in my generation should keep in mind that it's not the same as when we were kids and received vaccinations. And even then, I do not believe they were very safe when we were kids because vaccines contained the preservative thimerosal during that time. Thimerosal's content is half mercury, and there was enough of an outcry in the 90s that thimerosal was removed from most vaccines...eventually (the existing shots with mercury were still administered until they were gone...hel-LO it's a poison...they should have been destroyed, not injected into kids!!). Some vaccines still contain toxic levels of thimerosal today (adult flu shots and tetanus) and I'll post about that and more about mercury later. Regardless of what is or is not contained in preservatives today, we are concerned about the vaccinations themselves (frequency, age given, necessity, etc).

Looking around at how many people I know who have immune system problems, I wonder about volume of issues (allergies, asthma, fatigue, arthritis, gluten allergies & celiacs) in adults today. While I am not ready to say, yes, these are caused by such and such (because I don't know), I do not believe it is all attributable to "greater capabilities to diagnose and learn". Take mercury poisoning from dental fillings - it's fairly widely known (I think) that the mercury in fillings can slowly poison people. In a couple cases of people I know, much relief was found by purging the body of mercury that had been built up over time (often from dental fillings) and had been slowly, daily, released into the blood stream. There has been a surge of poor health in recent years and I wonder how much, if any, can be attributed to childhood vaccines, resulting in a compromised immune system. Maybe the vaccines alone were handled OK by the body, but other factors hindered the body from resisting the effects. I believe there are other factors such as food and environment too.

Now for the chart.
Here are the vaccines given today compared to vaccines given in 1983. Note the increase: there were 10 vaccine events in 1983 by the age of 6, and there are now 36. Looking at the chart, in 2007, at two months of age, an infant is injected with the following vaccines in one office visit:
  1. Diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus (DTaP)
  2. Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV),
  3. Polio (IPV)
  4. Rotavirus
  5. Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
Here is a color layout 2008 schedule from the CDC itself.

This totals 7 inoculations given in 5 injections. Thinking about that makes us uneasy, and we wonder what that does to a two-month old. We are looking at each vaccine and the related disease and will post here about them. Keep in mind how long it takes the government to finally admit something isn't safe when you look at their recommended schedule and their assertion that vaccines are safe and not harmful. They are just beginning to take the concerns of parents more seriously and conduct studies. Many studies in the past were promised, but not conducted. The studies will take years to complete. Don't wait for that. Take a look around now at the facts about vaccines and also growing number of testimonies of parent after parent who now have a vaccine injured child and trusted the word of their doctors to proceed with vaccinations. We certainly do not wish to tell you what to do or not do. We encourage you to look at this subject and consider the issue of vaccine safety for your children (or future children). We may look at the same research and draw different conclusions - I just want to put the information out there.

Tuesday, April 15


What books are you reading or wanting to read right now? I have several checked out from the library:

Supreme Conflict - started the other night
Thirteenth Tale - haven't started
Going Gray - 1/3 read
Omnivore's Dilemma - picking up from library today
What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Children's Vaccinations - a couple chapters in

I chose the first four books from Catherine's year-end favorite books post.

Ryan and I started reading the Narnia books to each other a few months ago and need to pull them out again. However, instead of reading on Friday, it was pretty fun to kill each other at Monopoly. I won the second game with over $47 million. We have the new version of Monopoly with modern properties, and it was fun.

Great Sale on Makeup

UPDATE: I've read online that this company is a scam and never ships their products. I place an order last week and am now skeptical and advise not ordering anything.

I read about a great sale going on at E.L.F. makeup. The company was bought by Nordstrom so many ELF labeled products are listed at $1. She also gave a coupon code (CAROLINA) for $7.50 off your first purchase of $15 or more, which ends up covering shipping costs.

Some things I saw for $1:

  • Eyelash curler
  • Travel mirror
  • Pressed Powder
  • Blush
  • Nail polish
  • Nail files
  • Brushes
There are MANY more products for $1. Check it out and save!

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

It seems morbid and sad to post about this service, but I know it could possibly help someone: Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep is a volunteer photography organization that provides professional photography to families facing infant bereavement, free of charge. I saw it mentioned on the blog of a family who lost their baby daughter hours after her birth last week (the father is a member of the Christian band Selah). They knew at 20 weeks that she likely would not live after birth, and they continued the pregnancy with trust in the Lord for His providence. (Read their story here).

I hope you will never need this service but want to mention this group in the event that someone you know could benefit from it. There are photographers all throughout the country who do this on top of their regular, paid business. I read a great deal of the website and appreciate their approach to capturing those precious moments after birth when a baby is not expected to live. Testimonials state that having the pictures helped them grieve and remember their child. The pictures are softer and warmer than the point-and-shoot or Polaroid photos taken by hospital staff and are more representative of the precious baby they remember.

Image from organization website.

Monday, April 14


What do you "indulge" in? Especially if you work to be frugal and live on a budget - do you occasionally splurge? On what?

Ryan and I have made a tight budget for ourselves so that we're saving about 36% of our take-home pay every month. There are some things, however, that I love to buy, such as All-Clad stainless steel cookware & Le Creuset cast iron cookware.
I don't buy these items very often either but have tried to obtain some classic, versatile pieces over the years. I often find it for less than full price, either with a Bed Bath & Beyond coupon or buying from eBay. I know they will last a very long time and are high quality brands. Ryan and I just used some wedding money to buy this beautiful 8-Qt. Stockpot, new from eBay. It ended up being about $110 lower than the full retail price after shipping. There is an All-Clad seconds sale coming up in a couple months at the factory south of Pittsburgh. Instead of buying a couple other items from our wedding registry at BB&B, I hope to find the pieces at the sale.

We also both love Starbucks Iced Mochas but usually use our blow money on them. It's nice that we save in many areas such as cutting Ryan's hair at home, CVS shopping, selling items on eBay and amazon, taking time to look through grocery store ads, using the envelope system, among other things.

What about you? What items do you really like buying?

Friday, April 11


This list was featured in the paper last year with articles surrounding the All-Star game.

Top 6 Things Pittsburghers apologize for in advance:

1) The Pittsburgh Left- If the first car in the opposing lane of traffic has its left-turn signal blinking, be careful. As soon as the light turns green, the driver likely will try to streak through the intersection before you do. Pittsburghers are, for the most part, wonderful people, but they can be awful drivers. [GUILTY!]

2) Liquor stores and beer distributors - You can't buy beer at liquor stores, you can't buy liquor from beer distributors and you can't buy any alcoholic beverage at a grocery store. Beer distributors are privately owned, but they're not allowed to sell you anything smaller than a case. And even though liquor stores are owned by the state, the state still charges an 18 percent tax on liquor. BYOB.

3) Road layout - The geography around here doesn't allow for a grid, but clearly the city planners could have done better than this. Streets seem to stop randomly or, worse yet, turn into a concrete staircase before continuing a block or two later as if this was completely normal behavior for a road. Right angle intersections are precious commodities, and roads have two or three names each, but that doesn't matter because they're often not marked.

4) Pittsburghers' casual relationship with stop signs, speed limits and turn signals - This comes from years of driving under the conditions explained above. It's sort of a passive-aggressive rebellion -- since they can't defy the roads, they defy the rules.

5) Directions from natives who use landmarks you only know if you live here - Nearly everyone who lives in Pittsburgh was born here. Not knowing the location of Gateway Center is as alien to them as not knowing where the sun is. Also, some residents take pride in having spent a lifetime learning the road system, and this sort of thing is their only chance to show it off.

6) Parking prices - Pittsburgh's 50 percent parking tax, increased two years ago when the city went broke, is by far the highest in the nation. When you pay your parking tab, think of it as a lesson in civic engagement -- when you go home, you'll know what happens if you let your local leaders spend every dime in the city's bank account.

For any of you who visit or used to live in Pittsburgh...can you identify?

Thursday, April 10

Chefs Catalog Free Shipping

Today and tomorrow only, you can get free shipping on any sized order at using this link. If you have never shopped there, they have an AWESOME selection of kitchen items. There are items you can't find at BB&B, and items that are cheaper than Williams Sonoma and Sur la Table.

We're looking to replace our digital thermometer (maybe with this one?) and may take advantage of this offer. Check out their extensive array of sale items. You can narrow down easily by price or category. This $10 egg plate is pretty and holds more eggs than most egg plates I've seen.

Mother's Day is next month!

Item pictured: Ceramic bowls

Wednesday, April 9

Vaccines 1: Intro

A few years ago, I heard that a mother of six typically opted out of some vaccinations for her children and spaced the shots over time. I also recall reading on a message board that a woman was checking out pediatricians for her unborn child, and she asked about vaccinations. The Dr. rattled off something about how the CDC recommends shots at such and such an age, etc. The mother was going to accept the Dr.'s opinion at that but decided to ask the Dr. what she did for her own children. "Well, I skip this one and space these two out..." or something along those lines - it wasn't what the CDC recommended or mandated. It was intriguing.

Fast forward to the present day. Ryan and I would like to have children someday, and I recall hearing about vaccines a little more recently. If we have children and we do nothing besides what the doctor's office routinely administers based on CDC policy,
  • What injections will our children receive?
  • What are they?
  • Why are they given?
  • How many diseases are contained in the shots?
  • What are the side effects?
  • What warrants each vaccination?
  • Is there a neurological or developmental affect on the child from the shots?
  • What are the dangers of the diseases themselves if they are contracted?
I was struck with the need to look into this more and do some research and decide if we would refuse or put off some vaccinations for our children. I've done some reading online, have talked to some friends who have done careful research, and I am reading a couple of books (this and this). There can be too much information on the Internet, and there can also be false information. I hope Ryan and I will be able to make the right decision for what we will do in our family. So far, if we had to draw a line in the sand, we are leaning towards selective vaccination and are not against all vaccinations. In short, what is "recommended" seems to be too many, too soon.

My intent is to blog periodically about what I learn, and there is a two-fold purpose for it. I'd like to sort my own findings and thoughts as Ryan and I work through this, and I'd also like to provide that information to encourage those who read my blog who have young children or may have children someday to consider their understanding of vaccines. I wondered at one point if it was too "early" to look into this since we are not parents-to-be, but I don't believe it is. We'll need to make this decision someday, and I have resources now which can help us. This can be a sensitive subject and I don't intend to tell you what decision to make regarding your family. I will probably ask a lot questions and leave many unanswered, mainly to raise them for consideration. We are looking at this from a Christian perspective, that our kids will be entrusted to us by the Lord but belong to Him, that God has redeemed us unto salvation and gives us wisdom to make decisions.

Stay tuned.

Photo credit.

Farm Share

Ryan and I are thinking about joining a local farm share this summer. It goes into the fall and you can get either weekly or bi-weekly shares of fresh produce. We'd choose the bi-weekly share and get 8-9 varieties of fresh produce every two weeks. I think it will help to increase our vegetable intake!

The farm we are considering is the Dillner Family Farm. I've been interested in this for a little while and was glad to find one fairly close to where we live. We're looking forward to having very fresh produce which will last longer than grocery store produce. The Farm is a CSA farm (community sustainable agriculture). We'd pick up our [already washed] food every two weeks on Tuesday afternoons. There are some friends from church who are doing this farm share too, so maybe something can be coordinated for the pick-up.

This will be a great move for us if we:
  1. Eat all the food and don't let any/too much go to waste.
  2. Lower our regular food budget by the amount per week by the weekly cost (paid up front): $14 a week.
I hope we like everything that comes in the share. Looking at the harvest calendar, I don't care for beets and eggplant, and neither does Ryan. I like almost everything else though and could surely make do with what we don't like. Ryan will become giddy over the sweet corn, especially if we make it with Chili Lime Butter (I always work LIME in somehow....I know, I know!!).

Have you tried something like this or are you considering it? Do you like LIMES? lol.

Dear Deer

This deer has a floppy ear and I can't quite tell what is up. I don't usually get very good close-ups of deer, but the second one turned out well.

Monday, April 7

Bobby Flay's Pork

The recipe I mentioned last week was a hit!! Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Guava Glaze and Orange-Habanero Mojo is full of heat and flavor. Instead of making it with Island Rice, we had Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes, and it was the perfect accompaniment. My mom also made the pork and enjoyed it.

Additional notes: I used guava jelly which I found at Giant Eagle. The brand is Crosse & Blackwell with a jar like this. The price was about $3.59. I also brined the pork tenderloin which is my standard practice, and it involves submerging the trimmed tenderloins in a solution of 4 cups water, 3 Tbs Kosher Salt and 3/4 cup sugar, for at least 45 minutes. We cook our tenderloins to 145 degrees and let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting. The interior should be a light pink for optimal tenderness.
We also greatly enjoyed another new recipe, Thai Chicken Saute, which we had with Island Rice. That also was the perfect side dish. According to previous recipe reviewers, I halved the chili sauce. The resulting heat level was ideal for me, and Ryan added a few extra drops to his own dinner. In addition, I added snow peas with the onions, and it rounded out the meal really well. I found the Sriracha sauce at Target for $3 or so.

Two Things

Two foods I greatly enjoy are Iced Peppermint Mochas (Iced Double Tall Nonfat 2-Pump Peppermint Mocha, no whip) and Chili N Lime Almonds. Together? Not so much.

If you like Starbucks or another coffee shop (even if it is your house), what is your favorite drink?

Also, money Saving Mom posted about her favorite frugal blogs. Check it out.


Sunday, April 6

Equipment Corner

America's Test Kitchen has a lot of free content on their website, including equipment reviews. They are really interesting to read if you are keen on cooking or kitchen things(especially when the product you currently own comes out on top!). You may need to register with an email address, but it is free.

Go here to see free current season equipment reviews. I was intrigued by the test results of baking/cooking sprays.

There are also recipe tests for free, here, including:
Lastly, the Science Desk is also interesting. "What Happens to Alcohol in Stews?" was intriguing.

Wednesday, April 2

Picture Post (10)

Anne's son

My sister-in-law, Lori

Steps at The Plaza in Kansas City, MO.

More cool tile at The Plaza

Reflections (with Lisa and Ryan)

March madness

My sister-in-law Liana

The sky really was falling. Or so Ryan said.

Lastly, my husband and his blue, blue eyes