Tuesday, October 11, 2011

To everything there is a season…

Oh October, how I love thee. It truly is a gorgeous month. I feel that October is the start of the new fall season. The temperature is still pleasant and apples, raspberries, pumpkins and other yummy squashes are ripe and ready to harvest. The leaves on the trees are exchanging their faithful green color for something with more of a pop, like yellow, pink, red, orange and fuchsia. I love the change in seasons and the beauty that comes with it.

As I am en route to pick up kids from school or shuttle them to chess club or soccer, I often see many of my friends at the playground with their smaller children, talking to other mothers and having a serene time playing leisurely with their kids. Sigh. I think back on those times in my life. They were good times.

My reminiscing is sweetly overshadowed by my daughter, Amelia, singing the Colors Song, in Spanish. Almost as soon as she stops, Conrad tells me of his latest wildlife adventure he is planning and Riley asks with an eager look, “Can I come? I’ll be your sidekick right?”

“Me too!” Amelia chimes in.

“Me!” Quinn says with his hand in the air.

Conrad’s eyes brighten and he says with much intensity, “Oh ya, we’ll need everybody!”

I smile and know that this is a good season of my life too.

In October 2008, Pres. Monson stated, “Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey, and share our love with friends and family. One day each of us will run out of tomorrows.”

I think the tendency for most of us is to worry about or eagerly anticipate the future or long for the pleasantries of the past. My children are especially excited for the future. Amelia has taken to drawing fabulously bright pictures of the big house we will live in one day, Conrad has his hobby farm planned out in our future back yard and Riley can’t wait for an official Star Wars themed room. I will admit that it is fun to “dream of my mansion above,” but shouldn’t the majority of our time be spent enjoying the present?

At the most recent General Relief Society Meeting, Pres. Uchtdorf told us to “forget not to be happy now.” He goes on to say, “The happiest people I know are not those who find their golden ticket; they are those who, while in pursuit of worthy goals, discover and treasure the beauty and sweetness of the everyday moments. They are the ones who, thread by daily thread, weave a tapestry of gratitude and wonder throughout their lives. These are they who are truly happy.”

Just as this glorious summer has changed to beautiful fall, so do our lives change from one stage of life to the next. In Ecclesiastes 3:1 is reads, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” It is my hope for myself, my family and all of you my friends, that we will remember that each season of our lives has meaning. That we will look around at what is going on right now and be happy in these moments and thank God that we can be alive to experience them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Conrad's in love with those Girl Scouts

Cookies, that is. His favorite flavor is the Samoa kind. (you know with coconut, chocolate & caramel) Sadly we won't be seeing the Girl Scouts or their cookies until next year. sigh.

It was Conrad's turn to make the treat for Family Home Evening and so he wanted to make Samoas. We went on the internet and found a copycat recipe that wasn't impossible to follow, tasted fantastic and looked slightly more decadent than those in the box.
Conrad has been wanting to dabble more and more in the culinary arts and this was a perfectly delicious way to get him started.

I found the recipe here

This is Conrad's "Dr. Cinnamon Fruitcake" impression

Friday, April 1, 2011

My Refrigerator, Cleaned with Love

For Christmas, my kids gave me the best gift. No, a shopping spree! Not a 7 day cruise around the Hawaiian Islands! No, not that sparkly blue Mini Cooper with checker top and racer stripe! Oh, it was something even better than that. They gave me the gift of service and washed the refrigerator and of course they used LOVE and Simple Green to make it sparkle.

I also like to use Simple Green all purpose cleaner, for cleaning the refrigerator. It should be diluted 1:30 with hot water in your kitchen sink or bucket.

1. Turn the refrigerator and freezer temperature off

2. Take everything out the refrigerator, including the stuff on the shelves on the door and throw away expired, moldy, spoiled foods.

3. Take out the glass shelves and drawers.

4. With a clean sponge or cloth, wash the shelves and drawers in the sink with the Simple Green. Making sure to get them as see-through as the first day you saw them.

5. Rinse with hot water and dry with a dry clean cloth or paper towel. Set aside.

Now we’re ready for the inside of the refrigerator.

6. Make sure to remove all food, crumbs and all other “leftovers” from the bottom.

7. Take your sponge and the Simple Green and start at the top and scrub until you reach the bottom and don’t forget the doors.

*While doing this, be sure to frequently rewet your sponge and ring it out to keep it clean.

8. Repeat step 7, except use clean hot water to rinse.

9. Repeat step 6-8 when cleaning the freezer and the outside of the refrigerator.

10. Replace the shelves, drawers and food and don’t forget to turn the temperature back on!

Keeping your fridge clean should be done quarterly and the outside should be wiped down monthly. (This should be done more often, depending on the holiday.) And it would a good idea to get rid of the no-longer-edible-leftovers, regularly.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Your Floors are so Fabuloso!

Sweeping and moping are my favorite chores because they don’t take much time and I like to walk on a floor that isn’t sticky or laced with crumbs. This job is simple yet important because it reduces the visitation/invasion of unwanted guests like mice, ants and cockroaches and makes it easier to slide around and practice those sweet dance moves you learned.

The kitchen and bathroom floors should be cleaned weekly, and even daily, depending on your lifestyle. The key to effective and efficient floor cleaning is meticulous preparation.


1. Move as much off the floor as possible. This includes: garbage cans, rugs, chairs, even your table if you can.

2. Sweep the floor thoroughly with a broom. If you don’t sweep, mopping will just make those crumbs from yesterday’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich soggy. Start in the far corner of the floor and work back out. Don’t forget to sweep behind the door, under the heating element, and in the corners. Sweep debris into the dust pan and discard.

3. Prepare a cleaning mixture. For most mopping, I use ¼ cup of Fabuloso Multi-Use Cleaner (I like the name and its smell) in one gallon of hot water.


3. Spot clean the corners and extra grimy areas with a little cleaner and cleaning brush or sponge.

4. Get the mop wet with the cleaning mixture and ring it out. (This will be done frequently to keep the mop clean.) Then thoroughly clean the whole floor in the same pattern as you swept.

5. After a few minutes mopping, rinse out the mop in the sink or tub (if you don’t do this, you begin to spread the dirty mop water solution across the whole floor).

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until you have covered the whole floor twice.

Note: The tile on our bathroom floor has very deep grout lines that get quite dirty and discolored.

Periodically I use ¼ cup of bleach per gallon of water. I do the same routine, but I don’t ring out the mop before passing it over the floor. This leaves the floor quite wet. I let the bleach water sit on the floor for an hour (or more), and then I finish the mopping as usual.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Get some work done on those cabinets

Call me superficial, but I dare say the way a cabinet looks on the outside is just as important as what’s on the inside. And it wouldn’t hurt to have a little work done on those cabinets. But this work will be a lot cheaper and easier than an episode of “Extreme Makeover”.

I like to use Simple Green all purpose cleaner because it’s nontoxic, biodegradable, and smells nice in either original or lemon scent. Simple Green works wonders on all sorts of kitchen, bathroom, and household items. For cabinets, Simple Green should be diluted 1:20 with hot water in a spray bottle or bucket.
  1. Take everything out of the cabinet including the shelves.
  2. Wipe down the cabinet with a dry cloth, to get dust and debris out of the way, so you can focus on more important things like grease and gunk.
  3. Start at the top and evenly cover with Simple Green. Let it set for a couple of minutes.
  4. With a clean hot wet sponge, cloth or brush start at the top and work those arm muscles and scrub the cabinet. If you’re worried it’s not clean enough, there is no harm in scrubbing it again.
  5. With a different hot clean damp cloth, wipe down the cabinet with water.
  6. Then using a clean dry cloth or paper towel, wipe down the freshly cleaned cabinet.
  7. Use steps 2-6 on the shelves before putting them back into your beautifully clean cabinet.

Want to know if you need to do a little more work on those cabinets. You’ll know by just feeling them. Run your hand over them.(if they’re sticky, that’s a bad thing.) Unlike plastic surgery, (think Joan Rivers) it’s unlikely that you will go overboard with the work you have done on your cabinets. If you frequently fry your freakin’ food, have fondue food fights, or have kids that climb on the counters to get bowls with their honey-covered hands, you might want to clean more often.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shower Power

With daily maintenance, and periodic cleaning, your shower and tub can be clean enough that, if needed, your medical resident neighbor could perform emergency surgery in your tub.

Daily Maintenance

Just like flossing daily prevents more painful dental problems, two daily practices after bathing will prevent you from having to work as hard to avoid mold and mildew, which grow in warm and damp locations. First, wipe down water on the shower walls with a squeegee, the top of the tub, and the shower curtain. Second, keep the door open to the bathroom and leave the over head fan on for 30 minutes.

Weekly/Monthly tub and shower cleaning

1. Wipe down the shower walls and tub with hot water.

2. Generously spray all the grout (the lines in between the tiles) with a good cleanser. I use Lysol Mold & Mildew remover (or Tilex) with bleach.

3. Sprinkle Comet disinfectant powder (with bleach - you can use liquid as well) evenly over the tub.

4. Wait at least 30 minutes (let the cleanser do the work while you fill out your NCAA bracket).

5. Use a wet sponge to clean off the cleanser from the wall.

5. With a scouring pad or cleaning brush, start at the top of the tube and work your way down to the drain and scrub that tub hard. I often enjoy this part because I look at this as an arm muscle building exercise. Think of (the original) Karate Kid; “Wax on. Wax off.”

4. Rinse off with hot water and admire the sparkle.

Note: The bleach really kills the germs, but avoid breathing the vapors. Make sure to keep the bathroom door open and the fan on to keep sufficient ventilation.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Don't you dare

Conrad has an eye for finding things. His code name is "Eagle Eye" because of his ability to find anything anywhere. Here's a prime example, while in Guadalajara at a huge outdoor market/swap meet, Conrad was looking around and found a carat and a half diamond. (a perfect cubic zirconia, still not too shabby.) He then in the US found another one. Crazy right? What an eye. He's also been the hero of many lost keys, earring, cell phones, etc. His most recent discovery was an unopened jar of Nutella. All I can say is lucky.

Conrad has this jar under lock and key times 3.

His diamonds are in a safe with only one lock.

He trusts no one in the house. Only Conrad holds the 3 keys. Thus the shackled jar of Nutella sits exposed high on a shelf taunting the passersby.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fake 'tilll you Make it

So I was recently asked by the activities organizer for our student housing community to write a weekly article with cleaning tips for the other residents. She said that someone from our community reported that I was the person to talk to about cleaning. I almost laughed out loud (LOL). I really did think she was joking. Then I thought that someone else must be pulling a trick by recommending me. Apparently the source was quite serious about her recommendation.

After I got over the initial, and then residual surprise, I thought, "Why not? I can do field research, and get paid to write about it!" So I discussed it with Hans and then accepted when he said that he'd help make it fun. I started with what I knew, which I learned here in MN. Here is the premier 250-word article.

I’ve lived at CSCC for almost 5 years. I will be writing short articles on cleaning so that your mother-in-law will be impressed when she comes over, or more importantly, so that you can get your full deposit back when you eventually bid farewell to CSCC. So let’s get cleaning!

Lovin’ Your Oven

I never cared much about the inside of my oven. Don’t get me wrong, I love to bake and cook with a vengeance, but when things would splatter in the oven, like Rex-Kwon-Do, I would just close the door and walk away. I'd occasionally think, "I should clean that oven, it looks like I've coated it with lava rock.” But it was always hot when I thought of it, and I didn't want to burn myself.

Then one day I went over to a neighbor's house. She opened her oven, and it gleamed. She said she cleaned it once per month and that she would just:

1) liberally spray the inside of the cooled oven (not hot) with oven cleaner (fume-free Easy-Off is my fave),

2) let it sit overnight (or at least two hours),

3) leave a note as a reminder to finish the job, and

4) effortlessly (but thoroughly) wipe it clean with an old, warm and damp rag, sponge, or paper towel in the morning.

I love it when something (or someone) else does the work for me, so I tried it and BAM it works, every time. Now my oven sparkles (almost) every month, with minimal work. But don’t forget to write yourself a note! More than once I’ve turned on the oven, only to remember that I forgot step 4. Don’t forget step 4. That stinks! Really!

By the way, which color do you like best? I'm torn between orange and periwinkle and Hans prefers the cherry red.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The writing on the wall

Amelia loves to color and draw and ever since she learned her letters in preschool, she wants to have us spell EVERYTHING so she can write it down. Recently she has been drawing her family and animals, My Little Pony, actually. You know: Rainbow Dash, Pink Pie, Scooter Lou...
Well one night while I was upstairs getting the boys to bed, Amelia was downstairs with Hans at work drawing and writing. Apparently she asked Hans for the glue and because Hans was busy at the computer, he handed her a bottle of glue, no questions asked.

As you can see on the picture Amelia wanted the paper to really stick to the wall, logically she covered a quarter of the paper with glue.
By the time I came down stairs, the glue was on its way to drying and those papers are still plastered there to this day.

The picture reads, Rainbow Dash and Pinky Pie are my favorite. Amelia.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tag Me

When I grew up, professional wrestling was not what it is today. There didn’t seem to be so much money involved, and the wrestlers were not quite so impressive physically, especially in their speedos and wrestling shoes. Even their names seemed a bit more benign. I remember “Rowdy Roddy” Piper, “The British Bulldog” and “The Bushwackers,” a comical pair of brothers from Australia (shown in the photo).

I liked the tag-team competitions. They seemed to have the most interesting combinations of wrestlers, and it seemed like the matches were more often between two good teams, rather than involving a clear winner and another wrestler with cheap costumes, bad hair, and flabby physiques (although there was plenty of that in tag teams). The rule for tag team was that only one wrestler for each team could be on the mat at one time. The one not on the mat had to wait in his respective corner until the one on the mat “tagged” his teammate so that he could come back in.

Often I think I take on the part of the spectator or fan, wincing at the pain of “my wrestler”, hoping and praying that “my wrestler” will win, and even cheering him on. Recently I’ve had a few experiences that have caused me to question my assumptions. First, I’ve felt like I’ve been being beat up in the ring, thinking that I must be a bad wrestler, only to realize that it would have helped to have a team. More worryingly, I’ve been on the other side of the rope and suddenly realized that I’m not only authorized to help, but that wrestler in the ring is my team mate, and may not actually know how to tag me. Rather than wait passively in the corner for my teammate to come all the way to me, I need to stretch as far as I can, and sometimes even jump into the ring to help.

There are so many reasons to feel that we are in the audience, and not actually on the team slated for the mat. The legitimate reasons to not go to the mat are many. First, we don’t want to make our wrestler feel like he is doing a bad job. Second, we want him to learn and to grow for himself because helping too much may make him weak. Third, these wrestling matches are going on all around us, and it’s just physically impossible to “get involved” with the difficulties of everyone for whom we care. But there are also reasons that are more about us than about the wrestler in the ring. For example, reaching in to help can be observed by others. Our attempt to help may be misinterpreted, not just by Ricky, but also by others. Thus, we open ourselves to criticism. We can more easily protect ourselves, not only from the battle within the ring, but the judgment of the crowd outside of the ring, if we are cautious. Finally, it simply takes time and we have a lot of other things to do.

Not every struggle is like a tag team match. On the other hand, not every struggle is an individual match either. Some situations are clearer than others. Knowing the difference on the margin requires judgment, and I guess I’m developing that (slowly). But I think that I’ve made the resolution that I think I’d rather be the type of person that errs on the side of jumping in to tag my teammate too often, than the kind that errs on waiting outside the ring too often. I think that more of us are the "least of these" (Matt 25:40) than we may think.