I’ve mentioned before that we love watching MythBusters. And by “we” I mean FirstHusband, FavoriteSon, PinkGirl and myself. All of us. I even think the cats watch. I think they watch our MythBuster DVDs when we’re not home. Somebody is leaving them out of the case. Bob (a cat) looks guilty to me. Or maybe that’s just because of what he did to the carpet.
But I digress. MythBusters. Sneaky, fun education. We learn a LOT. (FirstHusband and FavoriteSon heckle a few things too.) In addition to the Mentos/Diet Coke phenomenon, one thing we’ve learned is how to take away “the burn” when eating spicy foods.
FavoriteSon decided to perform his own test. He gathered up the bottles of hot sauce he got his dad for Christmas. (It’s a little game they play every year.) Bottles with names like “Smokin’ Toncils,” “Temporary Insanity” or “Blow Torch” on the labels. FavoriteSon picked a bottle and dipped a toothpick inside.
Took the toothpick out.
A learning experience for him. Entertainment for the rest of us. The cats didn’t want to try it.
You’re looking at our view from the 5th floor of the Ocean Walk Resort at Daytona Beach this past week.
FirstHusband called me from the road (actually, from the airport) on Monday to tell me he had unexpectedly gotten some time off this week – could I book a hotel somewhere for Wednesday night through Saturday night. Not so easy. We wanted to go to the east coast (of Florida) just in case our boat repair was completed this week. (Didn’t happen.) We wanted a one bedroom suite overlooking the ocean in a hotel with a better than good pool – and we wanted it for less than $200 a night. We could have used FirstHusband’s hotel points, but all the pools were . . . boring.
My first choice was Ron Jon’s Cape Caribe because it overlooks Cape Canaveral and if the boat was ready, we would be minutes away. Booked. We could only get Wednesday and Thursday night. I started looking at the choices for our hotel points. Again. Boring. And booked. (After all, I was trying to get a room for four nights – in peak season – with less than 36 hours notice.) Then I remembered Ocean Walk at Daytona Beach. I had taken the kids there with a bunch of moms and kids two years ago. We went the day school got out and stayed 3 nights. It was great! Two pools, one with a water slide, a separate lazy river, two hot tubs and a kiddie pool, right on the ocean. The resort is attached to the Ocean Walk Shoppes which is 3 stories of restaurants, a movie theater and shopping. Across the street is Daytona Lagoon - which has a water park, go carts, arcade and mini-golf and laser tag. Perfect.
I called to make the reservation and this time, I got Wednesday, Thursday ($167 each) and Friday ($172) night. But not Saturday night. Probably better, this way we have Sunday as a “down day” before regular life begins again on Monday. (and THAT is why I do NOT understand the benefit of a timeshare. We can book a weeks vacation for nearly the same as the annual maintenance fee for a time share.)
We ended up on the 7th floor, in a one bedroom with a balcony overlooking the ocean. (I loaded more photos on KeepandShare. Click HERE to take a look!).
Unfortunately, the air conditioning wasn’t working and the room hadn’t been cleaned yet. ewww.
Justin, at the front desk moved us in a matter of minutes and we ended up on the 5th floor. Again, the air wasn’t working properly. The thermostat said it was 72 degrees, but FirstHusband’s travel alarm clock thermostat read 80 degrees. We called guest services and asked if they would send someone to check it out. We got unpacked and changed into bathing suits, but before we could even get out the door to the pool, maintenance knocked on it. In minutes, he had “flushed the system” and it was blowing cold air. Sweet. You know, I don’t care about problems like this if they are fixed. Quickly. Great service so far.
Now, down to the pool and looking for the pool towels. And looking. FirstHusband went to the front desk to find them and Justin immediately asked him how the room worked out. Very nice. We were told the place to get the towels was closed for the day but that we could use our room towels. FirstHuband and FavoriteSon went up to our room to get our own beach towels (just take them, you won’t be sorry). It was already 76 degrees. They came back down and we spent some time in the lazy river and hot tub. When we went up to get dressed for dinner there was a bag of towels at our door and the phone was ringing as we came inside. It was Janet at the front desk, asking if we got our extra towels. Very nice.
We went to dinner at Johnny Rockets and, again – GREAT service. Our server was friendly, attentive and didn’t treat the kids like they were “just kids” if you know what I mean. He already had a good tip before he explained that he had only been working there two weeks, just moved from Kentucky with his wife and daughter to be near his wife’s elderly father. He was a landscaper by trade, but had a little bit of a learning curve because the plants were so different here than in Kentucky. hmmm. The story was good, delivered in a friendly way, but he told it while cleaning an already clean table next to us. It felt a little contrived. Plus, he skipped the standard question resort servers always open with when they want to chat. “So, where you from?” Still, he already had a good tip because he was so attentive and, just GOOD at his job. His ketchup smiley face for PinkGirl’s fries was just a bonus.
We went back to the room and I thought I’d check my blog, even though Ocean Walk advertised that wireless internet was available in the lobby, I thought I’d try. yep. Room 506 gets wireless internet. Low signal at the kitchen counter, fair signal on the balcony and great signal from the bedroom.
Let me take a break and mention the room. Clean. Pleasantly decorated. Full size fridge with an ice maker. We forgot to turn it on when got into the room, but we brought an ice chest, so we had a bag of ice. The curtains in the bedroom were strange. The window looked out into the hallway. It was a full pane of glass, so it didn’t open, but the curtains didn’t cover the entire window. Check out the photo of the bedroom, above. The curtains didn’t close. Luckily, we had a chip clip.
Some “positives” about the room?
Overall, it was not the nicest hotel we’ve ever stayed in, but it was clean.
The pools were great.
It was close to everything we wanted to do (we didn’t use the van once).
Equipped with a washer/dryer, a blowdryer, two televisions, a dvd player, a vacuum, an iron, a (no fee) combination safe and well equipped kitchen with a full size fridge with an ice maker, coffee maker, toaster, microwave, oven, stove and a dishwasher.
Some things you might want to consider before staying at Ocean Walk Daytona Beach?
Unfortunately, the mattresses were NOT comfortable.
And the pillows ranged from rock hard to lumpy soft.
Keep in mind, this is timeshare resort, so no daily maid service.
That means no daily shampoo/soap/conditioner replenishment.
Water pressure ranged from fair to almost non-existent. (We tried to shower at “off peak” shower times.)
Some things about the room that didn’t bother us, but might annoy someone else?
There was NO shelf in the bathroom to hold ANYTHING.
The bathroom was missing one drawer.
The floor lamp in the living room was missing a light bulb.
Some hooks on the balcony curtains had come off the rod.
The safe was too small to fit the laptop computer.
The alarm clock was broken.
As for the uncomfortable mattress? I had a $50 Spa Finder gift certificate burning a hole in my purse and was very happy to discover that the resort’s spa, Vacation Therapy Spa, accepted it! I supplemented the gift certificate a little and opted for a 50 minute full body Swedish massage. I supplemented it $10 more for a “firm” Swedish massage. Wonderful experience!
On Thursday around 11:30 am, I called to make an appointment for a massage and got an appointment for 12:30 – just one hour later! I arrived 15 minutes early, as requested. The brochure said to arrive 30 minutes prior to an appointment, but the person I spoke with on the phone ended the conversation by saying, “I’ll see you around 12:15.” I walked in and was immediately taken back to the locker room, given a big white robe to wear and a key for a locker. I changed, locked up my stuff and went into this little waiting area. Soft music, dim lighting, a beaded metal curtain surrounding the little room. I picked up a magazine (dated 2 days before) and someone asked me if I wanted water (I did) and then even asked me if I wanted lemon (I didn’t). (As someone who doesn’t like lemon in their water, I always appreciate it when I’m asked.) The massage therapist, Kathleen came to get me and took me back to the therapy room. Again, soft music, dim lighting, candles, and a fountain just outside the door – which you could hear from inside the room. One full body massage later, I’m feeling very relaxed. She did a GREAT job. After the massage, she took me back to the little room with the beaded metal curtain and gave me more water (came with the lemon this time, but I didn’t even care). She even came back after a few minutes to explain some stretching exercises I could do to help the arthritis in my neck. I knew most of them, but learned two more. (Chin to shoulder and the “backstroke.”) Overall WONDERFUL experience!
We spent the rest of the day Thursday just hanging around the pool and ocean. I even read a FICTION book! (Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg) FirstHusband was reading Cold Sassy Tree (recommended by Lisa Writes) and he really liked it. Thanks AGAIN, Lisa! We ended the day with dinner at R.J. Gators (for some reason, it was called Backwater Fresh Grill, but the ticket and Ocean Walk signs referred to it as R.J. Gators). Whatever the name, it was GOOD. Great service and great food!
Friday, we went to Daytona Lagoon (Florida residents, don’t forget your drivers licenses for an $8 discount per ticket). The food wasn’t all that good and, at around $8 per person, we blew the money we saved on the discount. Better to eat before you go, because outside food and drinks are not allowed. At the very least, there’s a Burger King next to the parking garage. Great little water park! PinkGirl’s favorite part was this giant structure with 3 water slides, water spurting out everywhere and at the very top, a GIANT bucket that tipped when it filled up – sending water everywhere. Plenty of seating surrounding this area and what I liked best was the fact that the chairs were low and right at the edge of the water, so I could dangle my feet and legs in the water and see the entire structure. PinkGirl lasted about an hour and a half and then had a complete breakdown – a combination of over excitement, low blood sugar, lack of sleep and (we think) sunscreen and sweat in her eyes. FirstHusband took her back to the room and I stayed with FavoriteSon to ride the slides and hang out in the lazy river. The lazy river was nice, but there were very Very VERY few tubes. It was after 3:00 p.m. and not that crowded – but I would say that for every three people in the lazy river, only one person had a tube. That said, I probably only went around 2 or 3 times before I got one. The music was classic rock, but you could only hear it in certain parts of the river. I love me a lazy river and FavoriteSon and I must have floated for over an hour. Maybe an hour and a half.
We went back to Daytona Lagoon that night so FirstHusband and FavoriteSon rode the go carts and they had a GREAT time! Dinner at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and then back to Daytona Lagoon for laser tag. FavoriteSon scored only 25 points below the winner! After we bought the tickets, PinkGirl refused to wear the big, heavy jacket. She finally relented after I promised to stay right with her. After about a minute inside, she was off on her own and didn’t want my help. I was just another target.
Saturday, we went deep sea fishing on a party boat, but this post is already L O N G, so I’ll post about that later.
(By the way, I didn’t post while on vacation because I just don’t think it’s a good idea to announce on the internet: “My house is empty!” I know none of you are going to trek on down to Florida and break in, but I just think it’s more prudent to mention travel AFTER it is complete and we’re back home. Many of my fellow bloggers talk about trips and preparation and blogging while on vacation and I just don’t think it’s a good idea. I wish everyone would post after they get home. Especially if they post their real name and what city they live in. So. I’m paranoid. In this case, what can it hurt?)
Back to life. Back to reality.
I own a few books. Okay. More than a few. Okay. I own a lot of books. But . . .
I buy them cheap! Really! I hardly EVER pay retail! Here are my favorite (searchable) online sources:
I always check here first. half.com is a subsidiary of ebay, so I earn (so far) positive feedback as an ebay member from half.com transactions. If you have an ebay account, you still have to register for a half.com account – although you can use the same username and password for both. half.com has a pretty hefty inventory and great prices – often lower than Amazon, which is my second choice. It’s a GREAT online book source! Tell all your friends!
I also sell books on half.com. Sold one yesterday, actually. Unlike selling on ebay, listing an item for sale on half.com doesn’t cost anything (no listing fees), but they charge a (higher than ebay) commission on each sale. (I think right now it’s 20% of the sale.) Unlike ebay and Amazon, listings don’t expire. Also, if you list items for sale, you automatically have an online store, like me. Like Amazon, they charge the buyer a flat shipping fee and you pay for shipping. Currently, the standard half.com shipping fee is $3.49 per item. You decide if you want to offer expedited shipping. If so, and the buyer chooses it, half.com charges the buyer a higher shipping fee. If you can ship for under the amount they charged the buyer, you keep the difference. If shipping costs more than half.com charged the buyer, you make up the difference. Most of the time, I come out ahead, so that helps cover the commission fee.
I do buy books from ebay also, if the price and shipping are right. I just bought Cold Sassy Tree two days ago. It was recommended by Lisa Writes and I finally got around to reading it. I liked the ending so much I decided to add it to my collection because I think I’ll be reading it again in the future. It kind of reminds me of Will Campbells’ writing and theology. (Most of the books I buy are non-fiction. I keep most of my fiction books at the library, so when I actually BUY a fiction book – I really like it.) Thanks for the referral, Lisa!
No matter where I buy my books, I usually go to amazon.com to see user reviews and to take advantage of the “Search Inside” feature offered on many of the listings. I rarely buy new books from amazon.com. I usually buy used books from Amazon independent resellers by clicking on the “used & new available from . . . ” link on a product page. The shipping works largely the same as half.com. Currently, the standard Amazon shipping fee is $3.99 per item.
I do have some books listed for sale on amazon.com, but the fees keep me from listing low cost items. In addition to their commission (I think it’s 15% right now), they charge 99 cents for
some made up fee a “transaction fee” that is really meant as a deterrent to sellers. If you aren’t careful, you can actually LOSE money on a sale. What do I mean by “deterrent?” Why would a buyer let Amazon fulfill an order at retail prices if they can buy from an independent seller for less? I’m thinking they wouldn’t. So if Amazon sells an item at a retail price, I’m thinking they don’t want independent sellers listing that item. If Amazon charges sellers another dollar (okay. 99 cents.) on top of the commission, they make the profit so low it’s not worth it. Of course, Amazon doesn’t explain it that way.
I also opened an affiliate account a few months ago and have earned . . . (drumroll, please) . . . 84 cents so far. Woo Hoo! They do give you an online store, though. I’ve started to use mine to keep track of some of my favorite titles. I need to keep up with that more. I need another 84 cents.
I use this site when I’m looking for a hard to find or out of print book. I’ve also listed a rare book here before, but I don’t think I have anything listed right now. I also check prices here before listing something rare or unusual.
Other sites I’ve used are:
(although if you want to change your email account, you can’t. You have to set up a new account. THAT was annoying. I had already registered my “Millionaire’s Club” card number to my account. The online inventory isn’t that great, but I love the brick and mortar shopping because they often carry books by local writers.
I also just opened an account on paperbackswap.com. I’ve listed my minimum 10 books to get started, but I haven’t selected any books for myself yet. Since I haven’t had any activity yet, I can’t comment. But Lynn likes it!
I get books from Goodwill, Salvation Army, local thrift stores, garage sales, and library sales too. My biggest source? My church’s annual rummage sale, the first weekend of October. I’m the “Book Lady” because I take off two weeks every year and work the prep. I sort and alphabetize hundreds of book in that two week period. I also bring home a few. You know how some women will buy a new outfit, bring it home, take off the tags and slip it into the closet? Not me. I sneak home a box of books and quickly shelve them. “What? Those old things? No, they’ve been there for a while.” Take a look at the photo in this post from last year. October is bookshelf buying season in this house! (Yo! FirstHusband! Are you rolling your eyes?)
But. My favorite. all. time. bookstore?
The Book Warehouse at exit 5 on I-75 in Valdosta, Georgia. (technically, it’s Lake Park, Georiga)
Give me $50 and an hour in there and you’ll still have to drag me out – after giving me more money.
Someone will have to help me carry all the books, though.
Busy, busy week! But I didn’t want to miss out on Kitchen Tip Tuesdays!
My tip this week? Pick up a container of fat free vanilla yogurt at the grocery store! Then look for No Pudge Brownie mix! At my grocery store, it’s located in the health food section. The mix and the yogurt is all you need for a GREAT no fat brownie. My kids even love it!
These fudgy, chewy brownies were created by Lindsay Frucci, who calls herself a brownieholic. Back in 1995, she decided to see if she could come up with her own fat free brownie recipe. In the process, she “made and threw away more pans of brownies than most people make in a lifetime.” Her taste testers were the two builders who were remodeling her home at the time and they “took their mission very seriously, carefully evaluating every batch of fat free brownies for taste and texture.” By the time the remodeling was complete, she had her recipe!
A two inch square brownie has only 120 calories and NO FAT! Check out the No Pudge Frequently Asked Questions page for a single serving recipe and more info!
Even my kids love them!
I haven’t listed anything on eBay for MONTHS. But yesterday the storms were TERRIBLE and I had the computers unplugged. With no internet access and with the momentum from cleaning out PinkGirl’s room still going strong, I decided to tackle a few piles in my office. I boxed up a LOT of stuff to give away, but found this and thought I’d try out the new (well new to me because I haven’t listed in so long) eBay seller interface. (When this doesn’t sell, you’ll see why I give so much stuff to charity and why It’s Deductible is such a wonderful tool to value the items.)
You can see the actual eBay listing HERE. My eBay username is Hip2BeSquare.
I’ve been thinking about doing a few posts on eBay buying and selling for some future Works for Me Wednesdays. Any thoughts? Questions about eBay?
I’ll let Weird Al get the info flowing.
FavoriteSon was camping with friends last weekend, so it was just me, PinkGirl and her dad. What to do? What to do?
We ended up in PinkGirl’s room. We were pretty sure it was her room. It was pink. After three play dates, one followed by a sleepover – each with a different pair of sisters, this is what it looked like on Sunday afternoon.
Now, I know these 6 other girls don’t have a clue what the Underwear Principle is, but PinkGirl totally gets the concept. And the organization of her room was NOT working for her. The two air mattresses aside, her toys, books, and costumes weren’t stored well. We could have just helped her clean everything up and put everything away, but the fact is, it would have turned out this way again. (I know this from experience.) Let me explain:
Let’s start with books. PinkGirl is her mother’s daughter. She loves books. If you see the pile of books over to the right side of the photo, you can see some cubbies at the head of her bed. (Click the photo to see a larger image.) They went all the way up to the ceiling. The lower cubbies faced outward, the upper cubbies were reversed to provide easy access when she was in bed. Not working for two reasons. See that pink box sticking out of the lower cubbie? We tried to store books in those bins, inside the cubbies. She would take books out (that would be plural) to get to the one she wanted and NEVER put them back. Also, she would bring books (that would be plural) from the lower cubbies into bed with her and NEVER put them back. Not working. She needed access to her books from her favorite place to read. Her bed. She also needed to be able to pull the exact book she wanted without sifting through lots of others. So. Book storage in Pinkgirl’s Room? Not working.
Next, the toys. Little toys. Kid meal size toys. Lots of them. Everywhere. FavoriteSon had a box for each. Tarzan toys? In the box with a picture of Tarzan on it. Toy Story toys? In a box with Buzz and Woody on it. Bugs Life toys? You get the idea. FavoriteSon liked everything separated because he played in a very structured world. PinkGirl, on the other hand, can have Buzz Lightyear marrying Cinderella with Tarzan as the best man, fighting off Zurg while the entire cast of every Disney movie ever made attends the wedding. So. PinkGirl does not store her toys by “like kind.” She likes to dump a box, pick today’s cast of characters, shove everyone else out of the way and play. When she’s done, she like to dump everyone a box. Any box. It doesn’t matter. (Kinda freaks FavoriteSon out a little, but he’ll be okay.)
In addition, PinkGirl has an elevated bed and she LOVES to hang her comforter over the side and make a tent to play in. Santa brought her a Barbie Hotel last Christmas (she calls it “The Tipton“) and she has it tucked under there. (It’s pretty cool, I saw one just like it a few years ago at a garage sale for $25.00. That would have been a great deal! ) Anyway, she needs a place for Barbie storage too.
So. We bought 4 more cubbie units. One 3 x 3 unit and three 2 x 4 units. Each unit was $39.99 at Target. Each cubbie is 1 square foot. In all, we added 33 cubic feet of additional storage space to PinkGirl’s room. FirstHusband is a MASTER at putting these babies together these days, but this time he had some help.
AMAZING difference. We lined the wall with them, floor to ceiling. Somehow the height of the bed was just perfect. It didn’t block ANY cubbies completely. Check it out four days later. Still straight. (hey. four days is major in this house.)
PinkGirl’s entire library is right within reach when she is in bed. She’s got all her books completely organized. Chapter books together, one cubby for paperback storybooks and another for hardback, one cubby for large Christian books and another for small. Dr. Seuss has his own cubby, Disney has two and “learning” books are all grouped together. She put nearly every one of the books on her new shelves all by herself.
Under the bed, she’s got all her toys in bins, Barbies in the top cubbies, everything within easy reach. And again – SHE put everything in the cubbie bins.
Just a note here, the white, plastic bins were from Walmart. At a $1.83, they are a great option for these cubbies. Target does sell canvas boxes in different colors but I HATE them. They are thin and cheap and they don’t hold their shape. I got the dark pink canvas bins (shown below) at Big Lots for less than half the price -and they are heavy, strong and hold their shape. They don’t go all the way up to the top of the cubbie, but we like that because we can see inside without pulling them out. I would have gotten more instead of using the white plastic bins, but Big Lots didn’t have the colors we wanted right now. Maybe later. For now, all but one these bins (in the photo below) are EMPTY!!! So we have the flexibility to rearrange some things as we figure out what works and doesn’t work about our latest organization of PinkGirl’s stuff. Most of the stuff in the photo below is for playing school and for creating art (With everything except paint. No painting in the bedroom.)
We also have some completely empty cubbies at the head of the bed. (she was eating a snack at her table – we don’t usually store ketchup in her room)
So. In less than a day, for less than $200, this room went from a pink explosion to pinkalicious. So far. So good.
We even manage to box up over 50 books, lots of toys, outgrown costumes and an old, giant Fisher Price doll house for charity donation. I’ve already entered it into It’s Deductible! Now if I can just get it all moved from the hallway to my van. And then to the charity drop off. Baby steps. Baby steps.
I know Elle doesn’t. But somebody must be falling for these emails or they would stop, right?
“My name is Adams Ofori Esq. (really. not just “adam” but “adams.” with an “s.” okay. )
My client is the family of late Mobutu Sese Seko the former ruler of the Republic of Congo who was ousted out of power by late Laurent Kabila whose son Joseph Kabila has now succeeded as the ruler of the country. (I’m sorry. did you say something? I dozed off there for a minute.) When the late Mobutu was chased out of power, he fled the country and I was a major broker for his granted political asylum in Morocco where he eventually died of prostate cancer. (bummer. i mean for him. sounds like you made out alright.)
Simply because the enemies of their regime are now in power, it will interest you to know (really. it doesn’t.) that our client and a family have suffered unspeakable intimidation, humiliation and huge financial and other loss to seizures and confiscations (over$600MILLION). (what? the translation software just threw up.)
On the instruction of Madam (the widow of late Mobutu Sese Seko who is now the head of the family), (of course.) the essence of this mail is to seek to secure your understanding and co-operation with regards to bringing to fruition an overseas investment program which will serve as the source of sustenance and livelihood for the family but without traces to any member of this family nor to any member of our Law Firm. (i’m honored. really. i am.) Madam wants this investment program to be a financial endowment for her children. (how sweet.)
The fund in focus is $40M (USD) which is currently in the vault of a security company in Canada as 2 crates containing Law Reports and Promotional Materials belonging to our Law Firm – The need for false content declaration is to prevent any manner of betrayal or blackmail from any quarter. (sounds reasonable.) Actually we successfully shipped the crates to Canada with diplomatic immunity by invoking the immunity accruable to classified judicial documents under the HURILAW provisions. (that sounds very legitimate.)
We completed arrangement with a bank in Europe where a solid understanding has been reached regarding your opening (in Europe? did somebody in a bank in Europe recommended me for this? I’ll have to send them a lovely fruit basket.) of a special transit account where the funds could be lodged for channeling (syn. laundering? i hope not. i hate laundry.) on a bank to bank basis to an account which you will nominate for the pursuit of this investment program. The understanding reached with the bank is dependable and reliable (how reassuring.) and as soon as I read from you, we should commence to fine-tune arrangements for you to mutually attend to the needful. (i think your translation software ralphed again.)
The terms and investment options as described by our client would be disclosed to you as soon as we hear from you. (yo “adams” – sorry. can’t reply. bounced and permanently deleted you from my email filter already. right after I copied your important message into my blog for heckling.)
Thanks and God bless as we expect to read from you soon. (don’t wait up.)
Adams Ofori Esq.”
I have a mail filter called MailWasher that really Works for Me. Sure, you can just mark a sender’s email address as a junk mail sender, but the fact is, spammers change email addresses like my daughter changes clothes. MailWasher allows me to preview, bounce and delete emails before I download them. I love the “bounce” feature. When you “bounce” an email, it looks like your email address is invalid. The idea is to get removed from the spammer’s email list.
MailWasher Free provides filtering for one email account and MailWasher Pro ($39.95) allows for multiple accounts. I have an older freeware version that allows for multiple accounts and it is still going strong!
(In full disclosure, when I went to www.mailwasher.net to pick up the link, I noticed an affiliate link, so I’ll probably sign up. But not today. Is it Friday yet?)
This is one of my favorite recipes. It takes a little more prep time than I usually like and about an hour to bake, but it is SO worth it!
I saw Paul James (aka “The Gardener Guy” on HGTV) prepare this on his cooking show (Home Grown Cooking) a few years ago and just had to try it. He called it “Fruit Stuffed Pork Roll” and the credits indicate the recipe was published in a book called “Classic Cooking With Pork: Over 100 Luscious Ways to Prepare the Other White Meat” by Philippe Molle in 1997, but Amazon shows it as “Classic Cooking With Pork: 100 Luscious Ways to Prepare Today’s Lean and Healthy Pork” and I didn’t see “Fruit Stuffed Pork Roll” in the table of contents, so it appears it was altered for the show. That is FINE with me. It turned out great!
We made two of these this weekend and I took some photos along the way. Check it out.
3-1/2 lb. boneless pork loin roast, trimmed of excess fat
Salt and pepper to taste
Ground coriander to taste
1-1/2 cups assorted dried fruits, any variety, diced
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1 tsp. fresh ginger, minced (I use ground)
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup heavy cream (I mix up non-dairy creamer according to the directions on the jar)
2 Tbs. whole-grain mustard (I use spicy brown mustard)
First “butterfly” the roast. When you butterfly a roast, it’s a little different than when you butterfly a single serving size of meat, like a chicken breast. This requires two cuts. I tried to show it in the photos.
Starting about one third the depth of the meat, the first cut was made from right to left – but NOT all the way through. Then the newly cut “flap” was opened to toward the left, like it was on a hinge.
A second cut was made from left to right, starting at the hinge. Again, stopping before cutting all the way through, the flap was folded to the right on the hinge. As you can probably tell, the thickness of each section is determined by these cuts. Just try to keep it relatively even.
The original recipe calls for it to be baked for 35 to 40 minutes, but I’ve always had to cook it about an hour. I just use a meat thermometer and bake until the internal temperature (away from the fruit) reaches 160 degrees.
The roast is removed from the dish and set aside while the wine is added to the baking dish and a wooden spoon is used to scrape bits stuck to the dish. (I have never understood the need for a wooden spoon.)
(I stopped here and refrigerated the roasts and the liquid because it was late. I’ll finish up tomorrow and take more photos.)
The liquid is added to a small saucepan with chicken stock and brought to a boil over medium-high heat. After a few minutes, the cream and mustard are added and stirred to blend. The sauce will thicken after about 2 to 3 minutes.
To serve, remove string and slice pork. Top with sauce.
I found a cute little pink apron with PinkGirl’s name embroidered yesterday at a local thrift store for a dollar! She put in on and has transformed in to a server, a chef and an inventor. She hasn’t left the kitchen all day except to serve us lunch. This is her latest invention. I was instructed to “blog it, mom!” I had to guess at the amounts because she cooks like her dad. (A little of this, a little of that.)
2 tbsp sugar free seedless blackberry jam
2 tbsp sugar free apricot preserves
2 “sprinkles” of ground ginger
6 or 7, maybe 8, could be 10 chunks of canned pineapple
refrigerate for 8 minutes (this seems very important. use a timer.)
Makes 1 or 2 servings, depending on how much you want.
Great on pancakes, waffles, biscuits and toast! (FirstHusband and I think it would also work as a topping for pound cake or angel food cake.)
Click HERE for a print friendly version of this recipe!
It is actually very good. Much better than the sharp cheddar cheese/dark chocolate/rosemary and olive oil Triscuit creation from last month.
PinkGirl also altered the “frozen chicken, cream cheese chicken” crockpot recipe and it would be cooking right now. Except it’s not. Because my crockpot is dead. It only took me an hour to realize it wasn’t working. So I have a 6 quart crock full of uncooked food sitting on the counter, waiting for me to make room for it in the fridge before I go to Walmart to buy a new crockpot. I’m thinking the chicken won’t be frozen when I finally get it into another crockpot.
UPDATE: I’m so glad I didn’t go out and buy a crockpot this afternoon! It turns out that BOTH outlets I tried this afternoon were on the same GFCI – even though they were on opposite sides of my kitchen – with another outlet between them. We’ve lived in this house for 12 years and we didn’t know that. Since the chicken thawed out, FirstHusband used a pot and the stovetop instead. And PinkGirl helped. She wore that apron ALL day. My kitchen is . . . a little messy.
Garage Sales don’t work for me. While I myself shop garage sales, I just do not have the patience to have one myself. Shannon over at Rocks in My Dryer is of the same opinion. Besides, where I live, city workers routinely drive around on Friday and Saturday mornings confiscating all the garage sale signs. Advertising in the paper and on craigslist helps, but the lack of impulse shoppers is a serious hit to the bottom line when it comes to garage sales.
For us, it works out better to give our stuff away. (It feels good too!) Since we itemize our taxes, we itemize our charitable contributions.
I recently discovered I was UNDERESTIMATING the value of the items we give away. I stumbled upon a handy little program called “It’s Deductible” on the http://www.intuit.com website. (It’s Deductible is included with the purchase of Turbo Tax, but it is FREE online!)
It is GREAT! It values items based on common ebay pricing. Check out these screen shots (click to see larger images). I select a category, in this case, I picked “Books, Movies & Music.”
Then, I click the exact item I’m giving away, in this case, I selected “Books.”
The choices are clear and the prices are pretty good. For example, if you give away a “high quality” hardback book, the estimated value is $4.00. It’s Deductible automatically calculates your tax savings according to the tax bracket you entered in. When you are finished, you can view and print summaries in PDF. Really a wonderful tool!
And did I mention? It’s FREE!
Find more great tips at Works for Me Wednesday hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!
We had a hankering for mangos a few weeks back and, after trying to cut up the first one, I quickly googled the instructions. (There are no photos of the first attempt, it was a mess.)
First, I cut off the bottom of the mango so it would stand up all by itself.
A mango has a large, oblong pit and the goal was to get as much fruit off of it as possible. I cut off the two sides, or “cheeks” as close to the pit as I could. (Mangos aren’t egg shaped. If you turn them, you can see two opposing sides are somewhat flat.) Then I trimmed the edges. If you look closely, the white you see is the pit.
Because I wanted diced mango, I cut a checkerboard pattern in the flesh (but not all the way through the skin) and pushed the skin inside out so it looked kind of like a little mango hedgehog. I forgot to take a photo of my own little hedgehog, so here’s one from Google images:
Finally, I sliced the cubes off the skin, put them in a container (square or rectangle of course) and popped them in the fridge to chill. (You may need to check on your container later. It may be empty.) Check out the youtube video for an example and a few other options:
Where’s the little red clock? I forgot. You trust me don’t cha?
Find more tips, ideas and recipes at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy at Tammy’s Recipes. Check it out!
Have a great 4th of July!
Reading Lisa’s post immediately brought this to my mind.
“I guess what I really believe is that neighborhoods get reissued. You know, the community.” . . .
. . . “You know what ‘community’ is,” Doops said, his voice rising with impatience. “It’s a bunch of folks getting along for some reason. Something holds them together. Generally something bad. Like me and you and Kingston. Hell, if we had met at the circus we probably wouldn’t even have liked one another. But this damned army, this idiot war, holds us together. Being miserable seems to hold folks together. But when they’re easy and everything is going right, they drift apart. Everybody goes home for a funeral and that’s all.”
Kingston dropped his head, the look on his face that of a little boy caught in mischief. Doop’s last words made him think of home, of his mother and grandfather. He felt a sadness but now he did not want Doops to stop, nodded his head for him to go on.
“And that’s all I’m talking about,” Doops continued. “Nobody needs nobody when they’re happy. But it just happens. We don’t make it. We don’t make community any more than we make souls. It’s created.”
“And you think we were around somewhere else? Some other time?” Kingston asked, looking at Doops and Model T as one, in a way he had never looked at them before. Neither of them appeared to notice.
“I said the community was around,” Doops said. “Maybe, as you put it, there a neighborhood quiver. And the Great Whoever reaches back and shoots off a dose of community from time to time when one is needed somewhere. When it fits His gameplan. You know, maybe there’s only room in the world for just so many communities. Not souls. Communities. Like, the Lord not only created planets. He created communities. A solar system and a community system. And they go on spinning. All in place. All where they’re supposed to be and when. Each one pushing the other away and holding it close at the same time. And they go on spinning. Different times maybe, but they go on.”
“What’s the difference between a community and a country?” Kingston asked.
“Size,” Doops said. He answered quickly, as if he’d been waiting for the question, wanting it to be asked. “And kings. A community doesn’t have a king, a ruler. Everybody is equal. Now, it might start out as a community. But then somebody wants to improve on it, make it better because it gets bigger. And when it starts choosing captains, whammo! No more community. And that’s when it gets put back in the quiver. Waiting to get reissued.
“Or maybe the difference between a community and a country is that a community has a soul and a country doesn’t. Because God created the community and man created the country. Some king sees all these communities around and says, ‘Hoboy! Let’s put ‘em all together and rule over ‘em.’ And then he promptly f@#%’s it up.”
No one spoke. They sat together in silence, each one staring at the space immediately in front of him.
from “The Glad River” by Will D. Campbell
It took a few minutes to figure out which book this was in and another few minutes to find the right pages, but it was something FirstHusband and I have discussed at length in the past. When a church struggles, it is so heart wrenching. Will it survive and possibly become even stronger? Will it split? Will it die? How, in the process, can God be glorified by the words and actions of those involved?
I’ve written a devotional about a previous church struggle we went through. It’s over on Pragmatic Communion entitled “trials often hide blessings.” Thanks to Mocha with Linda for the devotional’s post title.
I’m sure I’m going to want to find this again, so pardon my “note to self” if you will: found on pages 59-60.
If you’ve stopped by before, you may already know that I HATE round containers because they waste space.
I’ve got to say – I LOVE these! Where do I get one?
Although these are pretty cool too.
We took this photo in August of 2006 when we went on the “Behind the Seeds” tour of Living with the Land at Epcot. Magical!
This is the pasta salad my mom makes:
Cooked Rotini Pasta
Good Seasons Italian Dressing (Mix packet, plus vinegar and oil)
Boiled Eggs (chopped, diced, sliced – whatever you prefer)
Green Olives, Cut in Half
Combine Pasta, Boiled Eggs and Green Olives in a Large Bowl
Mix Up the Salad Dressing According to Package Directions (I use the low oil version)
Pour the Dressing All Over the Pasta
Chill and Serve!
It really tastes MUCH better cold.
You may want to use more than one “bottle” of the dressing.
Sometimes I add chopped tomatoes.
I use a bowl with a lid so I can gently shake it to distribute the salad dressing. This way, I can store it in the fridge and flip it and shake it before I remove the lid.
For some reason, both my kids LOVE boiled eggs.
Unfortunately, until a few years ago, my egg boiling skills were right in line with my sewing and skateboarding skills – non-existent. Besides the fact that they often had a gooey center, I – more often than not – ended up with the saddest, most pitiful deviled eggs I’ve ever seen. Then, one day, while (yet again) making egg salad after abandoning the impossible task of trying to get a lumpy, paper thin, shredded, boiled egg white half to hold deviled egg filling, I decided to Google the perfect boiled egg. (What did I do before Google?)
Here’s how I get “practically perfect” boiled eggs, every time. (“Mary Poppins. Practically perfect in every way.”)
1. Put the eggs on the bottom of a pan, in one layer.
2. Add enough water to completely cover the eggs, maybe about an inch over.
3. Put the pan on a burner and turn it to medium-high heat.
4. Let the water come to a boil.
5. Put the lid on the pan when the water is boiling and move the pan onto a cold burner (oh, and you should probably turn off the hot burner).
(Now here’s where I mess up all the time.)
6. Set the timer for 15 minutes for Large-sized eggs (or for 12 minutes for Medium-sized eggs or for 18 minutes for Extra Large-sized eggs).
7. Put the pan in the sink when the timer goes off (or in my case, when I remember I have a pan of eggs on the stove).
8. Run cold water into the pan until the eggs are cool (I just run water until the water is cool).
And THIS is why I’m not embarrassed to serve deviled eggs to people outside my immediate family anymore:
9. I CHILL the eggs before I peel them! I put them in the fridge for 15 minutes. (Okay, so I put them in the fridge until I remember I have boiled eggs chilling in the fridge.)
10. Gently tap a cooled egg on a flat surface and then roll it until the larger cracks turn into tiny cracks all over the egg.
11. NOW peel the egg and rinse any tiny pieces of egg shell under running water.
Note: I only feed my disposal egg shells and potato skins when FirstHusband is in the mood to crawl under the sink and unclog it (that would be never).