Monday, February 26, 2018

Entertain Me!

February was not a great month for movies and shows in my house, so I have nothing to recommend. My husband has been doing most  of the picking. I told him I may have to fire him if he doesn't step up his game and make some good picks.

Speaking of games...

My family enjoys board games, so we're always looking for new fun. We came across Secret Hitler, the board game. At first, I thought this was going to be too simplistic to be any fun. The rules are simple. 5-10 players are each dealt a card identifying them as liberal, fascist, or Hitler. At the beginning of the game, all players close their eyes and the players who drew the fascist and Hitler card are allowed to open their eyes and see who is on their evil team.

The object is then for Hitler and his minions to try to take over the government by tricking people into enacting fascist policies.

It sounds complicated, but it's super easy and whole lot of fun.

What's even better is that if you don't want to buy this game, or want to try it for free-- there is a free download on the game's website.

We bought our version for $35. (I didn't realize it was available for free!) But it's so much fun, it's worth it.
Get your free PDF or order your own board game here!
February was a good month for books. Most of my reading is spent on beta reads, or reading rough drafts of yet-to-be published works. for fellow writers, but I do buy books too. This month's favorite read was a book I got whole it was on sale, probably months ago. I often go to Kindle's free reads and download books that look interesting.

This one was a winner. It's a memoir of a young Californian teacher who is hired to teach in Arizona in 1912-- the first year of Arizona's statehood into the union. Historic memoirs are such a great way to take an intimate peek at history!

Free on Kindle Unlimited

Monday, February 19, 2018

When people are divided...

I am a HS teacher
I am a HS mom
I hate guns and violence
I am pro 2nd amendment

These things seem to contradict one another when each one should place me on one side or the other of a highly controversial debate.

When people are divided by a fence, I look for a gate.

I'm not going to say any more about this issue. We don't like to get political on this blog. What I want to talk about is COMPROMISE. It's time to start mending fences...

I've heard many outrageous theories and knee-jerk "solutions." I've also heard many thoughtful comments and sane conclusions from both sides - because I'm willing to LISTEN.

As a teacher, I have the privilege of observing every kind of person thrown together in one place. My number one goal is to help teens succeed through school and become better adults: able to deal with real problems when they enter the harsh world of reality.

That should be EVERYONE'S GOAL! The sad truth is, not enough adults are willing to become parents who need to teach children that life isn't always going to go their way and discipline them when they break the rules. Give kids perspective and life lessons and friends from every walk of life -- these things are so much more valuable than useless, dust-collecting trophies.

We need to LET THEM FAIL sometimes and show them how to LEARN FROM IT! They need to be taught how to listen to someone with a different opinion and have a civil discussion rather than fight or resort to violence!

I could go on, but like I said, I don't want to incite a controversial war... My final thoughts: Every problem of this world has to start somewhere and the solution can usually be found in the same place - IN THE HOME.

Thanks for listening. Hope you have a positive week!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Salt of the Earth

Did you know the word for salary came from the word for salt? Salt was so valuable in ancient Rome that it was used as currency. Today, it's a pretty cheap staple that can be used for more than just a topping for fries. 

Here are some tips I've heard, but haven't tried out myself-- yet.

~Pour salt on a wine stain for easy clean up. (Thanks for the tip, Jo!)
~Clean silk flowers by tossing them and a quarter cup of salt in a plastic bag and shake gently.
~Reduce frost on windshields and windows by wiping down with a salt water solution.
~Clean your fish tank with salt (non-iodized). Pour a little on a sponge to wipe down the inside.
~Soak enamel and ceramics in salt water to get rid of stains.
~Clean an electric coffee maker by running through a pot of water with a few tablespoons of salt to clean away the grime and freshen up the flavor.
~Pre-treat stains while out with some salt on the table.
~Soak pit stains in hot salty water to get rid of the yellow stains.

Here are a few salt tricks I have tried and love. 

~Salt is a great deodorizer. Hands smell like onions after cooking? Pour some salt on your hands and then wash them.
~Soak drinking bottles in salt water overnight to get rid of funky smells.
~Use a salt water solution to kill weeds.
~For nearly impossible to clean items, pour salt, ice, and a bit of water in the container then shake or stir to clean it out.

My dirty coffee/tea carafe.
The tiny neck makes it impossible to scrub.
Pour salt, ice, and a little bit of water in the bottom and swirl. 
Rinse and it's clean.

~During the last snow storm, I went to Wal Mart to get salt for my front steps and accidentally got water softener salt instead of rock salt. Best mistake ever! At first, my husband was skeptical. They are huge pellets- sort of like throwing gravel on your walks. They are slow dissolving, so they stayed on the sidewalks for two days of snow and kept  clear of snow and ice.

Water softener pellets. My new favorite snow removing tool. 
Who knew that salt was even funny?

Monday, February 5, 2018


It's still cold over here!
But I don't like to complain about the cold, because pretty soon I'll be complaining about the heat. And that's way worse.

Since it is still winter--I believe the good old groundhog saw his shadow, blessing us with 6 more fun-filled frigid days of it--I thought I'd talk about some ways to make it through the uncomfortable changes cold weather bestows upon us.

Chapped Lips - I use vaseline lip therapy or chapstick, always keep your lip soother of choice handy for applying after eating and drinking or any time your lips are in need of love. And make sure the kids apply it too - some like it, some don't. Watch out for the fun flavors--kids tend to lick it off and spread the dryness around their mouths, making things worse...

Crackled Skin - Lotion may be something you regularly keep on hand (get it?) But in winter, it's a necessity. Apply every time you wash/sanitize your hands. And gloves are great when cleaning to keep hands from getting wet unnecessarily. But sometimes that's not enough. Many of my friends give me suggestions, but nothing seemed to work. I get EXTRA dry skin patches in cold weather that no over-the-counter lotion will cure. To prevent this, I apply lotion several times a day. But when the extra dry patches appear, usually on hands or feet, here's what my dermatologist suggested:
  • soak areas for ten minutes (I can't sit still for ten minutes, so I don't last that long...)
  • pat dry, leaving some moisture on skin
  • spread skin with thick coat of vaseline (I have a prescription salve, but vaseline does the trick just fine when I run out of it)
  • cover with plastic gloves or seal with plastic wrap
  • best to do overnight
This is a pain in the butt, but it works for me. I've had to do it almost every winter. Surprisingly this year, I've kept the patches at bay. But I can't let my guard down. Best Advice: Stay on top of your regimen--do what works for you!

Brittle, Staticky Hair - Best Advice: Wash it less! And if you can't stand going a day without washing your hair, try dry shampoo. I hear tell it's great: from my hair dresser to teenage girls--reliable sources! And if there's any way you can let it air dry, try that too. The less heat on hair, the better.

Curs-ed Colds
Runaway Noses
Fierce Fevers
Uncontrollable Coughs
Horrible Headaches
The Fearsome Flu

All of these ailments love winter. Their natural enemies, the sun and fresh air, are on vacation. So it's up to us to take them on... Can't go into battle without a strategy! Here are a few things to keep in mind:

ON THE OFFENSE (heading off the invasion):
  • Wash hands! - those harbingers of bacteria and viruses - most importantly before you EAT! (and don't forget the lotion)
  • Eat healthier - this time of year, you need those vitamin backup soldiers!
  • Sleep! Hardly anyone sleeps the recommended amount of time, go for an extra hour a night. It could save you from being bed-ridden for a few days.
  • Be alert to the warning signs - Crankiness, sneezes, sore throat, lethargy. As for myself, I can taste it when I'm about to be sick. Take Zicam or Cold-eeze immediately! I dread the day the germs figure a way to outwit those meds.
ON THE DEFENSE (dealing with infestation):
  • Sanitize - Use wipes & sprays in infected areas and continue to wash/sanitize hands. Some say that overdoing it with the sanitizer can leave you more vulnerable. That's why I limit myself to after anything gross & before eating.
  • Quarantine - Sick people need to stay in their room until they feel better or are fever free and no one uses their bathroom (the healthy ones get to use the master bath, ugh) In my house, if they need to come out, they have a designated sick chair that no one else is allowed to use until it has been decontaminated.
  • Nourish - If the sickies feel like eating, fill them up! If they don't, they need electrolytes and clear liquids and chicken soup - it's still the number one sick people food. After a stomach bug, ease into eating - nothing greasy, heavy, or spicy.
  • Cleanse - This is my least favorite of the unfavorables. Cleaning up after - washing all linens, surfaces, clothes, and spraying anything that can't be put in the washer or wiped. Wear gloves!!
Though Spring is right around the corner (I hope) don't let your guard down. February has been known to sneak in a last bout of sickness... Good luck! And may the viruses run in fear of you!

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