Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Carving Tonight!

Tonight we will carve pumpkins. This year we have two very cute (yes, they are cute) pumpkins we got from a friend. Since buying a pumpkins runs about $5 each, getting some from a friend is the best deal. Granted, they are very small and squaty, but I like pumpkins with spunk. Aren't they... well, cute?

I carve pumpkins the old fashioned way with crude materials from the kitchen: Spoons for scooping and knifes for cutting. Oh, and the kids. No pumpkin carving kits here. So, our pumpkins aren't fancy, but they always have personality.

I ran across a website that actually explains a science project on the various methods for keeping a jack-o-lantern fresh. I'm a bit of a science junky on weird things, so naturally, I found this interesting. There are all sorts of methods for slowing a jack-o-lantern's decay (water, Vaseline, special spray...), but in the end it looks as though carving the pumpkins a day or two before the big night is the best.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ode to Bill Cosby


My favorite comedian, Bill Cosby has been in the news lately for receiving the Mark Twain (another great humorist) Prize for American Humor. So, I checked out his website to see what Cosby is up to now. What Cosby is doing is admirable, encouraging family values and education, with an emphasis on the African American community, but this stuff is applicable to everyone. We're more alike than we are different, after all.

And here you can check out some of the funny man's most popular clips. These are clean, as always...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cleaning Burned Food Off Dishes With Little Elbow Grease

I don't use Teflon pans when I scramble eggs. I scramble them on stainless steel pans... so that means that I have to scrap and scrub the pan afterward. As a result, I rarely make scrambled eggs. It's true. I may try making them tomorrow thanks to this tip fro Lifehacker.

They say to soak the pan in hot water with some dishwasher detergent. Supposedly you barely have to do any scrubbing using this method. I would like to give this a try.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Make Your Own Font for Free Revisited

I've blogged about a free way to make your own font before, but the website used is no longer free (starts at $9.95) so It's time to find another.

Here are a couple of Free Font Design websites:


http://fontstruct.fontshop.com/ - This site is great for the artist/designer. You sign up for a free account and go to work painstakingly constructing each letter using a grid as your guide. I tried it and decided I did not have the time. It took me five minutes to make the letter A... and it wasn't even fancy. But, like I said, this is great for the creative type who has the time. Font design software can be pricey, so this is an excellent alternative. You can also download the fonts that others have designed for free as well. That's a plus for font lovers.

http://www.fontcapture.com/ - This is the font making website for the average person. Like yourfonts.com, it may not be free forever, but while it is under beta testing, it's free. It's pretty much the same idea as yourfonts.com. You print off a template and carefully fill it in with your handwriting and then scan it, upload it, and wait a few seconds for your font to be generated. Then you download it. Simple.

Protecting Your Lawn From Grubs

Earlier this Spring a friend of mine told me how grubs (the larva of Japanese Beetles) had killed some patches of their front lawn. She's never even heard of grubs (neither had I) and was sad that she had to learn how to take care of them the hard way. The local lawn and garden store advised that she put down some grub prevention stuff (pesticide) in the fall and then she wouldn't have to worry about it in the summer. So, rather than buy a grub killer, of course I wanted to see if there was something I could make instead.

Here's what I found:
Someone asked a similar question here. The basic answer is that grubs aren't always that bad, so long as there aren't so many that nature can't take care of them. Birds love to eat grubs and can usually keep them down. But, when there is a problem with grubs (some types of grasses have more of a problem than others), the expert advised mixing detergent with water and spraying it on the grass. The grubs are supposed to come to the surface. The expert says that the detergent actually isn't bad for the grass either. Elsewhere, I read to sprinkle the detergent on the grass and then soak the area thoroughly with water.

From what I've read, I think rather than putting pesticide all over my lawn in the effort to prevent grubs, I'll just take my chances and treat any trouble spots with detergent and water.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jinni, Find Movies You Like


Ran across a new website that might be helpful to people like me who don't know how to choose a movie they'll like on their own. Jinni.com is essentially a movie database. You type a movie you like and it will recommend others like it. It will refer you to options for viewing or buying it, whether it be through Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, etc. There's a lot more to Jinni than just that, you can search by mood, place, audience.... the lists continues. And there's even more to Jinni which I'll leave to you to check out.

The last time I went to a movie rental place, I remember staring at the different titles, feeling inundated with images that ranged from harmless to pornographic. In disgust, I fled to the family section. We rarely watch movies... maybe that's why knowing what to pick was so hard for me. I really wanted to watch a well-scripted, well-made, tasteful, thought provoking movie other than a cartoon, but in the end, I came home with Thomas The Tank Engine because I figured since I couldn't find anything I'd like, I'd at least get something I knew my children would like.

Next time I'm in the mood for a good, thought provoking movie, I'll try Jinni.com for some ideas.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Make Your Own Foaming Hand Soap

Foaming soap is so handy. My kids love it, but they go through soap like crazy. Refills are expensive, if you can even find them. You can't just put regular soap in foaming soap dispensers since regular liquid soap on it's own is too thick... It's got to be watery, so the recipe is basically soap and water.

My recipe here is for a 7.5 fl oz foaming soap container. Here's what you need:
  • Dish soap of your choice
  • Water
  • Foaming soap dispenser
After some trial and error, I have found that dish soap works the best. Fill your soap container about 1/8 inch full (2-3 Tablespoons) of a nice smelling dish soap and then fill the rest with water. Replace the lid and shake the mixture up. I have tried to do this with regular liquid hand soaps, but he results have been sub-par (I'm sure some brands will perform better than others). They just don't foam as well.

Here's what others do to make their foaming soap:

Friday, October 9, 2009

HotPrints Offers Free Photo Books Once a Month


If you are a Facebooker, you might like what HotPrints.com has to offer you. HotPrints allows you to make photo books using photos from Facebook. This doesn't just mean the photos you posted, but the photos available to you from your friends as well. (I'm not completely sure how I feel about this). Anyway, each month you get a credit to make a FREE photo book (they even ship it to you free). Since you get what you pay for, there will be ads in your photo book- that you can tear out- specifically aimed at you, using your profile info from Facebook. You don't have to sign up for an account, they just go through your Facebook account. You can also buy photo books from hot prints starting at just $2.99.

If this is too creepy in the privacy realm for you, then I don't recommend it. But, if you're a total cheapskate who just wants some free prints, this is a viable option. To read more, visit Lifehacker.

If ever have enough photos on Facebook to make a photobook, I might give up my privacy to give it a try.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Loan Repayment Calculators

I don't know why, but I love to plug numbers into calculators and dream of how quickly we could pay off our house... or more importantly, our students loan. Some repayment calculators out there are very basic and don't offer you to play with different scenarios. Here are a couple of calculators I like:
  • Bankrate- This calculator is supposedly for home equity loans, but it works for about any loan. This calculator works with Java, so as you input numbers into the calculator, it will automatically adjust other amounts. Very cool. I like that you can view the details of your calculations with a payment schedule. It also has a nice graph for my visual side.
  • Suncorp - This calculator has a lump sum option, which is nice. It also uses Java, has a nice graph and figures your monthly payment amount. So, this is good for determining the right monthly payment in order to pay your loan off in X amount of time.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Less Mess Pomegranate Preparation


I love Pomegranates and this is the season for them. They can get pretty messy, but I learned to "seed" them in a large bowl of water in the sink a few years ago. The white flesh floats to the top and the seeds sink to the bottom. After you have removed the seeds, you just drain the water. Took me five minutes... and my hands aren't red. For a more in depth view look at preparing pomegranates, you can watch this:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Curious About Mormons?

Now for the taboo subject of religion. I believe in the freedom of it. I respect the beliefs of others and hope that they will respect mine. While I'm quite settled and firm in my own beliefs (I'm a Latter-day Saint), I still enjoy learning about other religions and beliefs so that I can better understand others.

This weekend marks General Conference weekend for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a time when the church members worldwide stop to listen (with the help of cable, internet, and radio technologies) to the words of our prophets. This General Conference can be viewed live from the following websites on Saturday and Sunday at 10AM and 2PM MST each day.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Practical Yoga

I have mentioned Esther Ekhart before in a post about yoga for the upper back. I have found her website to be quite nice. It's a very clean, organized site. You can easily find yoga exercises to target your interests. It's great for the yoga newbie as well as the yoga connoisseur. I like Esther's yoga instruction style as well. She explains everything in nice detail, but doesn't waste your time. Check it out.