sunburn? vinegar.

My biggest use of vinegar is when I dye Easter eggs and make Good Season’s Italian dressing. But I almost always seem to have it in my pantry.

A few summers ago, a friend of mine called me while on vacation at the beach. Her young son had a painful sunburn on his back and shoulders. Solarcaine was not working. And it was nearing bedtime.

I don’t remember where I got this (ya know I probably read it somewhere), but I immediately remembered:


Best on clean dry skin (NO RUBBING – just pat or air dry). If you have a spray bottle, pour vinegar into it and lightly spray on sunburned skin. Let it evaporate. The sting (and the smell of vinegar) should be GONE. Reapply about 3 or 4 hours later, if needed.

She didn’t have a spray bottle, so I suggested a paper towel, saturated in vinegar, laid gently on his shoulders to apply the vinegar. It worked. He was able to get to sleep – and anyone who’s tried to get a sunburned kid to sleep, knows – that is a huge feat! (The paper towel application is better for faces too – it just stinks a little during application.)

NOTE: If there are ANY open wounds on the skin (bug bites, scratches, etc.) the vinegar will sting and burn in that spot, so DON’T do it!

For a more complete description of the process, check out this entry.

Find great recipes and helpful kitchen tips at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes! Check out MY past Kitchen Tip Tuesday posts HERE.

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family. MY previous Works for Me Wednesday posts are HERE.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer.

Pragmatic Summer Recipes

Kristin over at We are THAT Family is is hosting a themed edition of Works for Me Wednesday this week! Here are some of my favorite summer recipes! Click on the links for the original post and the ingredients/recipe.

Chicken Grape Salad


5 Minute Panera Wanna Be Salad

Wannabe Salad Ingredients
Wannabe Salad Ingredients
Panera Wannabe Salad
Panera Wannabe Salad

5 Minute MorningStar Burrito Lunch

5 minute MorningStar Burritos Before
5 minute MorningStar Burritos Before
5 minute MorningStar Burritos Done!
5 minute MorningStar Burritos Done!

Mom’s Pasta Salad


Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Mary at Giving Up on Perfect.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to January 2015 are archived at We Are THAT Family

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer

summer already?


One more full day of school (Tuesday) and two more half days (Wednesday and Thursday). That’s it. Then “Mayhem” is officially OVER for us!


So here, at the BEGINNING of summer are the:

No more crack of dawn alarm clocks!
No more struggle from bed to shower to breakfast to car every morning!
No more car line!
No more packing lunches the night before!
No more laying out clothes the night before!
No more packing backpacks the night before!
No more permission slips!
No more fundraisers!
No more check writing for this and that, and this and that.
(FirstHusband calls it the death of a thousand paper cuts.)
No more multiple trips to school in one day.

Every summer, I like the kids to tackle LEARNING something. Because – if left to their own devices – they would completely VEG in front of video games and television while constantly complaining about how BORED they were. So here are:

Minimum of 1/2 hour of LEARNING every day
PinkGirl has decided to continue learning computer keyboarding and math everyday. We like online typing games. We also got our own copy of her 2nd Grade math book last summer and we are ordering our own copy of her 3rd Grade math book this summer.
FavoriteSon has decided to continue learning to play the guitar. I think he should learn something else too. Poor guy. He doesn’t know yet.

Minimum of 1/2 hour of READING every day.
PinkGirl has decided to start with her BoxCar Children books.
FavoriteSon has no preference so FirstHusband and I have picked some out for him to start:
The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel and Slaying the Dragon: How to Turn Your Small Steps to Great Feats by Michael Johnson.

Minimum of 1/2 hour of physical activity every day:
PinkGirl has the redneck pool (photo HERE), so that’s not usually an issue, except for rain.
FavoriteSon has some sports camps, but on the days he doesn’t, he has committed to strength training and basketball. I’m committed to getting back to a two minute plank before he can do one. He knows I can’t do any strength training until after June 16th, so he’s slacking.

So, learning, physical activity and reading. What else? Any ideas?

I’m thinking I might “strongly encourage” each of them to plan and cook a meal or two, or four per month. It rains every afternoon in the summer anyway, it’s not like we’ll be in the pool at that time of day.

Let’s finish up with a preview of a few GOOD things about summer being OVER:

I will be able to complete a thought.
I will be able to hear clocks tick in the solitude I will have been deprived of for nearly 3 months.

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Mary at Giving Up on Perfect.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to January 2015 are archived at We Are THAT Family

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer

Easter Bunny Cake


Growing up, my mom often made an Easter Bunny cake like this one for Easter. (page down for more photos)


Easy, not too crafty (thank goodness), I think I’m making one this year. Judging from the number of available photos on Google Images, I’m not the only one. Check it out:

Bake a cake, any cake, in two round cake pans. Mine will be chocolate. There is no reason for me to eat cake unless it is chocolate. Let it cool and then cut it like this:


On the serving plate (my mom always used a piece of cardboard covered in aluminum foil), CAREFULLY arrange it like this:


Then, frost and decorate! My mom always frosted it white and covered it with coconut shavings as a base. Dark chocolate cake with coconut – mmmm – just like a Mounds bar. But CAKE!

That does it. We’re making this cake.

Here’s a video and some more samples:

A Zooma Zooma Zooma Zoom!






Find great recipes and helpful kitchen tips at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!

And click on over to check out the recipes at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday hosted by Lisa at Blessed With Grace

Need more? Head over to Tasty Tuesday hosted by Kim at Forever . . . Wherever!

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer

And I’m jumping ahead to Friday with my Would You Like Chocolate With That? hosted by Lisa at Stop and Smell the Chocolate

If you’ve got a few minutes, check out my previous chocolate posts.


Busy, Busy, Busy. The only thing I like better than eating Cream Cheese Chicken is MAKING it. Soooooo easy! Dump everything in a crockpot and come back later. That’s what I’m doing today.

But earlier this week I needed something ready in 10 or 15 minutes start to finish. That’s where these come in:


We like these and they are fast, easy and fairly cheap. (We first got them BOGO.) They usually don’t have this many broccoli stems (from the Garlic Shrimp). I pulled them out and supplemented it with some frozen broccoli florets.

One bag is supposed to be a meal, but seriously. This kid can eat. So we cook two bags. Unfortunately, we didn’t have two of the same kind, so we just had shrimp and more shrimp. PinkGirl liked the Garlic Shrimp on the left. FavoriteSon preferred the Shrimp Scampi on the right. I added some more peas to the Shrimp Scampi on the right.


zero leftovers.

Find great recipes and helpful kitchen tips at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!

And click on over to check out the recipes at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday hosted by Lisa at Blessed With Grace

Need more? Head over to Tasty Tuesday hosted by Kim at Forever . . . Wherever!

egg cube.

I mentioned before that my kids love boiled eggs, but I forgot to mention this little gadget I found at a rummage sale for 25 cents.

UPDATE: This post has been featured on another site under the title “15 Weird Kitchen And Cooking Appliances Are Pretty Much Useless.” Of course it’s useless. It’s a novelty item. It’s fun, not functional. I paid a quarter for it. And it’s not an appliance under any stretch of the imagination.


It’s a tiny little vice-like plastic egg cuber. Seriously. It turns boiled eggs into squares. You boil the egg, peel it while it is still warm, pop it in the square shaped compartment and screw down the lid. Refrigerate for a few minutes and you get this: (okay. I accidentally froze mine. That’s why the sides are so wrinkly.)


Then, you send it to school in a kid’s lunch box or slice it in half and serve on a plate of deviled eggs and when asked about it, you make comments like, “ouch. that had to hurt.” or “I don’t know. It just came that way.” Any other suggested responses would be MUCH appreciated.

If you pop the gadget into the freezer to chill it, you can speed up the process and cube more than one before the eggs cool off too much. The cube isn’t quite as square after the egg is cool. I hope I run across another one so I can make more than one at time.

And of course, someone put a video on youtube.

I may not be able to make square watermelons, but I can make these.

Find great recipes and helpful kitchen tips at Kitchen Tip Tuesdays hosted by Tammy’s Recipes!

And click on over to check out the recipes at Tempt My Tummy Tuesday hosted by Lisa at Blessed With Grace

Need more? Head over to Tasty Tuesday hosted by Kim at Forever . . . Wherever!

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer

Greatest Tip: 5 minute onions in a flash (freeze).

There’s a “Greatest Hits” theme going on over at Works for Me Wednesday today so I thought I’d revisit the post that consistently stays near the top of the “Top 10” list here at Pragmatic Compendium.

5 minute onions in a flash (freeze).

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer

neti pot 101

In one of my “What I Learned This Week” post, I mentioned that I learned to use a neti pot. It was weird, but very effective. I love that it is all natural. And it’s so FAST – less than 5 minutes! It just doesn’t seem like you should be able to breathe through your mouth while you’re using it, but the fact that you can just proves that the saline doesn’t go down your throat – or you would be choking instead of breathing.

If you’re nervous or skeptical, check out these two short clips. The first shows the exact neti pot we own. The second clip is a homemade variation. A kid demonstrates using a funnel. He makes it look so easy!

eHow also has a great article explaining how it works.

If you struggle with sinus problems, give this a shot. This could be a perfect solution for those who shouldn’t take cold medication due to high blood pressure, pregnancy or some other medical condition. Don’t be chicken.

But you may not want to make it a spectator sport, because sometimes the results aren’t pretty. But then again, neither is that disgusting, wet, snorting sound frequently made by people trying to delay blowing their nose. ewww.

(UPDATE: December 2011PLEASE follow manufacturer’s directions for neti pots and USE ONLY FILTERED, DISTILLED or BOILED WATER.
Deaths have been linked to bacteria in tap water.
CLICK HERE to read more.)

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer

mom coping strategy #1: sleep.

Tina has inspired me again. A few weeks ago, she wrote a post on a Bible study she was doing and what she gleaned from it.

“Being kind is definitely something I struggle with. Not with the rest of the world, but with my own children. I get impatient, frustrated, short-tempered and unkind. And I really SO do not want to be that mom. I am praying now for a gentle spirit. I’ve always admired women who have that….godly women that love the Lord and seem to just live and breathe Proverbs 31. Believe me, my children don’t, as a rule, arise and call me blessed.”

My daughter sure as heck doesn’t arise and call me blessed. Often, she’s a crank in the morning until after we give her some orange juice or Ovaltine and her blood sugar levels out. We OFTEN wake her up with a no-spill sippy cup in our hand. (Try it, you might be amazed at the difference in your kiddo’s morning attitude and cooperation.)

I write about my parenting strategies and my perspective, and it may seem like I’m getting it right, but I need to clarify. I fall off the “good mom” wagon all the time. I just get back on as fast as I can. AND, I used to fall off MUCH more often when my kids were home with me 24-7. AND I know some of the reasons why.

PinkGirl and I have our moments. MOST of the time, I can give her grace when she has a blood sugar dip and starts crying for no apparent reason. But sometimes, I find myself asking her, “WHY are you crying NOW?” and saying my standard, “Handle this differently” or “Solve your problem.” in a frustrated, impatient tone of voice instead of my encouraging, reminder voice. Sometimes, when she is “disagreeable,” I completely forget to calculate when she ate last and I react with what is to me, a lack of empathy and a toneless voice. What SHE sees is a mom “who doesn’t care about me when I’m upset!” (and she tells me exactly that.) Instead of responding with grace and providing her a complex carb/protein combo before continuing in a reasonable conversation with her, I react immediately and escalate the situation. The whole episode steals time and energy and peace from our day. It’s a waste. And I know it. I don’t like it. So I try to take my own advice and “Solve my problem” by “handling things differently.”

When find myself impatient or frustrated with my kids, I start by looking for the root causes so I can fix my real problem. Physiological, psychological, spiritual . . . I always start with the physiological. (I’ve got my fair share of problems, but today I’m only focusing on ONE of the the physical problems.) I do a little self-check.

  • Am I tired?
  • Am I hungry?
  • Is my iron low because I keep forgetting to take that stupid pill?

Until I “fix” these physical issues I can’t consistently parent intentionally or well. Unfortunately, “fixing” isn’t an instantaneous, one time thing. Often I have to make consistent changes over time to completely get RID of these problems rather than just trying to manage them. If I’m not careful, I could end up like this: (the first two minutes)

But back to fixing my (physical) problems and handling things differently. Let’s start with “tired.”

I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep. Sometimes I don’t get enough sleep. So I’ve made a few changes:

  • First, I now take Ambien when I need it. Not every day – only when I can’t get to sleep. I started with Tylenol PM. One was too much. Half was just enough. When both my GP and my GYN heard I was taking it, they both suggested Ambien instead. I started with 10mg control release. Too much. I need to wake up when a kid needs me. Then I went with the regular 10mg. Too much. Drowsy the next morning. I now take 5mg.
  • I also intentionally GO TO BED earlier. Sometimes (not often) as early as 10:00 p.m. I’m a night owl. Sometimes I’m not sleepy at 10:00 p.m. If I can’t get to sleep, I take some Ambien. My goal is to go to bed the same day I wake up instead of wake up the same day I go to bed.
  • When I read in bed, I only read fiction. I don’t need to be learning when I’m trying to calm my mind. Even when I read a devotional, I find my brain ramping up when it should be ramping down. To make sure I don’t slip up, I don’t keep any non-fiction books in the bedroom.
  • The low iron can make me weak and tired too, so I take a prescription iron supplement. (But I’m fixing that too.)
  • No coffee after 1:00 p.m. or so. Enough said.
  • Back when PinkGirl was a baby, I would nap when she napped. I read this over and over again when FavoriteSon was a baby and I rarely followed the advice. When PinkGirl was born, I was older, with more on my plate and more tired. I kinda had no choice.
  • Sometimes it was the kid’s sleep cycles that threw a wrench in mine. When a kid won’t go to sleep or wakes up in the middle of the night, what are you going to do? Sleep anyway? Not likely. I’ll write another post on overcoming kid sleep problems. We had to do that too.
  • I removed things from my “To Do” list. Some jobs get harder the longer they are delayed. Like dishes and laundry. But some jobs take the same amount of time and effort each time you do them, regardless of whether you last did them yesterday or last week. Like vacuuming, cleaning the toilet or dusting. So my house wasn’t up to white glove standards. big whoop.

So, given my history and challenges, I have a question for moms like Tina and I who sometimes get, as Tina put it, “impatient, frustrated, short-tempered and unkind:”

What kind of sleep are you getting? Supposedly, a sleep cycle is 90 minutes. I know that when my sleep is fragmented or I don’t get enough of it, I’m predisposed to a lack of patience and frustration. It doesn’t take much to push me off the “good mom” wagon.

Yes, when I get more sleep, my day is shorter. I have less time to accomplish all the things I “need” to. But when I get more (and better) sleep, my day – and my family’s day – is BETTER. And all those things I “need” to do? Some get done. Some don’t. Some jobs I keep doing. Some jobs FirstHusband handles. Some jobs the kids take care of. Some I decide not to do anymore.

You CAN change your situation. Even minor changes can add up. We have choices to make every day. When you say to yourself, “I HAVE to do (insert urgent, important task here).” Rethink it. Do you? What’s the worst thing that would happen if you didn’t? What things can you let go of? What things can you allow others to take responsibility for? Maybe the person who picks up your slack doesn’t do things exactly like you would. Is it THAT important that something be done your way?

I used to think I had no choices. But I was confusing “no choice” with “difficult choice.”

Find more ideas over at Works for Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristen at We Are THAT Family.

Works for Me Wednesday posts prior to February 2009 are archived at Rocks In My Dryer

i’m ten years YOUNGER!

I’ve mentioned a few times that I do strength training with a personal trainer. It continues to be one of my “ACTION” items this year. I started a little over a year ago. The day after my 43rd birthday (I’m 44 now), I called a nearby gym to arrange personal training sessions.

Why at 43? My mother had a stroke a few months prior. She’s only 22 years older than me. I don’t want to get weaker as I get older. I want to keep up with my kids. I don’t want a handicap sticker on my car. I want to be healthy. Strong. Active.

The hard fact is that I am overweight. I never got back to my pre-pregnancy weight after my son was born. Even though I’ve been overweight all these years, I’ve always been under my own personal invisible panic number on the scale. My whole life (with the exception of pregnancy), I’ve stayed under this number. I knew if I got to this number I would freak out. In 2006, I passed that number by 10 pounds. The number is . . . 200 pounds.

I freaked out.

I’ll break this up into two parts. First, the changes I made (and continue to make) with regard to food. Then, what I’m doing about exercise.


First, I called Jenny Craig. I’m a Jenny Craig “lifer” and I needed help. I went on what I called “Jenny Watchers” which is a combination of Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers. Basically, it is Weight Watchers, but I used the prepackaged Jenny Craig Food. I used Jenny Craig to get back down below the panic number again. I relearned what a portion size looks like. I was reminded to eat something about every 3 hours to keep my metabolism from dropping (it also helps the reflux too). I have a real good understanding of the nutritional info and good eating habits. Now, I am FINISHED with diets. I am just CHANGING the way I eat. Everyday. I can’t sustain a diet for the rest of my life. I need something reasonable I can live with – forever. I’m still learning, trying different techniques and recipes, incorporating new habits.

But I did “Jenny Watchers” for a few months – until summer vacation. It was the first week of August, 2007. I went on vacation at Walt Disney World, ate dinner at the best restaurants on property for 8 days and then didn’t get back to Jenny Craig for 6 weeks. Guess how much I gained after eating Disney food for a week and “normal” food for 5 weeks after that?

I lost 1 pound!

In five weeks. No dieting. Just living normally. After a week of eating DISNEY food!

So no more diets. Just changing the way I eat. The way our whole family eats.

Exercise was next.

I called about personal training sessions. Because I’ve met me. I need accountability. Let’s just say, the trainer at the nearby gym didn’t “get me” and leave it at that. So I called Bally. I joined Bally back in 1989 for something like $2000 (with unlimited tanning, of course) and after paying that off, they’ve been taking $5.33 a month out of my checking account for nearly 2 decades now. The only problem is that I moved a full 30 minutes away from the nearest Bally. But seriously. $5.33 a month. I just couldn’t cancel it. I just couldn’t do it.

So I called Bally. After briefly explaining the reason for my call, the manager asked:

“Do you prefer a male or a female trainer?”

“I don’t have a preference. I just want to maximize my time at the gym. I want to work multiple muscle groups at the same time. I’m not focused on losing weight. I want to be stronger and healthier and I feel like, if I accomplish that, the weight will take care of itself. And I need someone who can help me recognize the line between pushing myself and hurting myself.”

“I have just the person for you. I’ll have her call you when she gets in later today.”

So, later that day, TinyPowerHouse calls me and we arrange my first session.

That was over a year ago and I’ve been driving the 30 minutes to Bally twice a week to let her push me to my limits.

She is SO worth the drive! She’s really VERY good at what she does and a great fit for me. (The right trainer makes ALL the difference!) We rarely use weight machines. We use an adjustable step, dumbbells, weight bars, weight balls, a Bosu balance trainer, a balance ball and my own body weight. I have NEVER worked a lone muscle with her. I ALWAYS work multiple muscle groups when she is bossing me around. And EVERY session, we take it up a notch. EVERY session is challenging. Some might not like that, but I LOVE it. My thought is that if I’m going to pay for it – and make time for it – I’m going to make it COUNT – every time. I even bought a Bosu balance trainer for my house. I already had the dumbbells.

So, you may be wondering. After working with TinyPowerHouse for over a year, how much weight have I lost? Only 5 pounds.


I’m down 10% body fat. 10%! Woooo Hoooo!

I read that we lose 10% muscle mass every decade as we age. If that ‘s true, I’m 10 years younger than I was when I started!

The real benefit for me is that I am stronger. I have more energy. More endurance. I am healthier. My body shape is different. I have visible muscle tone! And when I arm wrestle FavoriteSon, I still win. Although I have arthritis in my neck (an old laptop case/bookbag injury in MBA school), I rarely get into traction anymore. At the advice of my accountant, I asked my doctor if he thought strength training would help my neck. He did and wrote a letter indicating that for tax purposes. I found out I can even write it off as a medical expense through my business!

The speed bump in this endeavor is that on January 9th, Bally closed in my area and now the nearest one is 45 minutes away. So TinyPowerHouse and I have decided to continue working together and I’ll pay her directly. She makes more per hour, I pay less. She comes to my house, and tomorrow I’ll go to the community work out room in her complex. I even bumped up my sessions to three times/hours per week instead of two.

Now to add the cardio for some additional weight loss and to modify my evening eating habits, which currently are sabotaging my efforts. Since reading Simple Steps: 10 Weeks to Getting Control of Your Life: Health, Weight, Home, Spirit, my goal is to walk 20 minutes a day on the days I don’t do strength training – and I hope to sneak in some walking on the strength training days too. Some days, I’ll walk longer. Last quarter, I was up to an 18 minute mile and trying to get in 2 or 3 miles at a time but the block of time it required just wasn’t sustainable long term. I know I need some accountability, so I’m probably going to put a widget somewhere on the right indicating whether I’ve been physically active that day.

I’m not giving this up. nope. not giving this up. It’s working for me.

I do most of my strength training workouts while the kids are in school and my kids are old enough to leave home while I walk around the block (with my cell phone, of course).

But moms of babies? Moms of toddlers? You can do it too!

You can find a gym that has a childcare center – don’t settle for substandard care – and take your kiddos to the gym with you! Or take them for a walk in the stroller – just 20 minutes! Check for a “stroller workout” class in your area by going to or! Can’t find a class? Try it on your own or with some friends using this workout! Or try a video like Mom-O-Rama Workout With Baby, Mom-o-Rama: Workout with Toddler, Mommy Baby Body Builders or Fitmom Postnatal Workout.

You can DO it!

Want to learn cool tips and tricks from lots of different people? Click on over to Works for Me Wednesday hosted by Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer!