Friday, August 27, 2010

Driving Through Wyoming ... Again

Wyoming is a nice state. It has some really neat scenery... but it's not exactly a vacation destination. Let face it, when traveling, Wyoming is normally the means to an end. Having driven through Wyoming enough to know this, I try to plan pit stops that will be fun for the kids because stopping at a gas station in the middle of Pringle, WY just isn't very exciting.

This year we drove through Wyoming on our way to Mt. Rushmore. (I'll write more on why that's such a family-friendly vacation on another post). Before we left, I looked up parks in Cheyenne, WY that would be right off the interstate, so as not to delay us anymore than necessary. I figured we could have a picnic lunch at the park and let the kids blow off some steam at the playground. The first park we stopped at was Pioneer Park. It wasn't very well maintained. Although the city's website said the park had public bathrooms, they were all locked up. The play area was nice enough, but we weren't really impressed with the park. So, if you are driving through Cheyenne, don't stop there.

Instead, stop at Lions Park. It's a great park just off the I-25 interstate with a few different play areas, picnic tables and restrooms. They have the coolest playground I have ever been to. Playgrounds these days have really been dumbed down for safety reasons, taking a lot of the fun out of playing outside. I'm not against safety, it's just a shame we haven't figured out how to let our kids have fun and be safe. That's why I wanted to write about this park. I wish we would have taken pictures, but we were all too busy having fun. Sometimes that's more important anyway. There was a merry-go-round with climbing rope shaped like a cone on it. So a child could climb up and sit inside the rope while riding around. They also had quite a bit of equipment that used centripetal force. All you had to do was sit or climb or hang on and the equipment would start to spin. Anyway, all of us, from 30 year-olds to 2 year-olds enjoyed this place. So, next time you are driving through Cheyenne, Wyoming, check it out!

Here's a picture I found online that helps explain the merry-go-round. The one at Lions Park wasn't quite like this, but you get the idea:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Learning More About Making Yogurt

I've been making my own yogurt on and off for several years. But just recently I learned to make vanilla yogurt in a way that my family particularly likes. So, I've been making it even more.

And I started to have some questions:
  • How is yogurt culture made to begin with?
  • Why does my yogurt start only last for 4-5 batches of yogurt... and then other times it lasts much longer?
  • Can I freeze yogurt start and then use it later?
And I have found some answers:
  • How is yogurt culture made to begin with? Well, I did a few Google searches on this and I have no idea still. If anyone actually knows, please comment!
  • I learned that the reason my start sometimes lasted longer than other times had to do with how often I was making yogurt/"feeding" the start. When I make it daily, the start lasts a long, long time. When I make it every other day, it lasts about 2 weeks.
  • Yes, you can freeze your yogurt start for up to a month or so. I froze mine while we were off on vacation and made yogurt with it after we got home. I let it thaw and then made yogurt as usual. It turned out great.
I've got terrible allergies this time of year and learned that milk products don't help. So, I've been cutting back on my dairy consumption. But I learned that yogurt is something I don't want to give up. Here's an informative article about the health benefits (which are many) for yogurt.

And here's a really good article about yogurt making, complete with troubleshooting tips:

Why Yogurt

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Store Emergency Numbers in Cell Phone

Today I was driving in the grocery store parking lot when I saw a truck with no one at the wheel but a Golden Retriever rolling backwards, crossing my path, headed straight for a tree and a natural gas meter thingy. And of course, the truck hit the meter first, and the smell of natural gas began to fill the air. I parked my car. I figured I should call someone. I didn't have the police dept phone number handy. So I called 911 from my cell. Not really an emergency, I would have rather called the police. But, I figured that because it was a gas leak in a public area, it could easily get out of control, so it wasn't too crazy of me to call 911.

But the experience got me to thinking. At home I have a nice phone list that I can go to with all sorts of handy numbers, including emergencies. I should at least have emergency numbers on my cell phone. Well, they are there now! Police, Fire, Gas and Electric. Because, in emergencies, the mind is the first thing to go, it helps to have them on speed-dial.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How to Adjust Your Own Glasses

As quirky as it may sound to learn to adjust your own eyeglasses, there are some definite advantages to this skill. Glasses almost always get bent out of shape on a weekend or sometime when you can't get to the eye doctor to get them fixed. Or, sometimes even though you have had your glasses professionally adjusted, they just don't fit right. Wouldn't it be great to know how to do it yourself? Sure.

Here's how I did it:

First, I Googled "how to adjust eyeglasses." From my reading I learned that metal frames are the easiest to adjust on your own. That's what I have. I also learned that a hair dryer comes in handy when adjusting the plastic coated ear pieces. Holding the ear piece under a hair dryer for a few seconds (10-15) can help soften the plastic so that it will bend without cracking.

Here are the tools needed:
  • Needle nose pliers
  • screw driver (small ones... you can buy small screwdriver kits at many dollar stores)
  • soft cloth (fleece worked great for me)
  • hair dryer
  • Your old glasses to use as a guide
1. If you have a pair of old glasses that fit right, compare them to your new glasses to determine where the adjustments need to be made.

2. Generally speaking, with metal frames, you can make them wider or narrower by carefully adjusting them with your hands.

3. For the nose pieces, you may feel most comfortable removing the plastic pads with a screw so you won't have to worry about breaking them while you adjust the metal piece of the nose pieces. For the metal pieces, I used a small fleece scrap and put it in between the needle nose pliers and the glasses so that I would protect the glasses' paint job. After adjusting the metal part of the nose piece, put the plastic nose pads in. (I didn't remove my nose pads to do this adjustment because I was willing to take a risk...)

4. For the ear pieces, which are often coated with a plastic coating, hold them under a hair dryer (on, of course) for a few seconds until the plastic is warm. Adjust as needed.

This being my first time adjusting my own glasses, it took me a few tries to get them just how I wanted them. There was a lot of trying on and taking off. But now, if I had to do it again, I could be much faster.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bought My Eyeglasses Online!

Yes, as crazy as it seems, I bought my prescription eyeglasses online. And it only cost me $33.90 It all started when I read an article about it from my favorite blog lifehacker. Very interesting, I thought. I'll have to remember that when I need new glasses. At the time, I just had reading glasses and wasn't in need of anymore. So, I just put the idea in the back of my head.

But my eyes started to change. I headed to the eye doctor. I learned that I could now "graduate" from reading glasses to wearing glasses all the time! Okay, not really that exciting. Doc said that I didn't really need to wear them all the time, but I could if I wanted to. I have a great doctor who doesn't pressure me to buy glasses from them. She offered to write me a prescription since I didn't quite know what I wanted to do at the moment. I took her up on it.

After leaving the doctor's office I remembered that lifehacker article about buying glasses online. I figured now was as good a time as any. If my online eyeglasses ended up making me look like a fashion misfit I only really needed them for reading anyway and I usually do that out of the public view. Plus, why spend $300 on glasses that I didn't need all the time anyway? I'd convinced myself to give it a try.

I chose to order my glasses from Zennioptical.com (there are lots of other places that sell glasses online). My main reason was price and selection. They have a lot of selection for very low prices. Quality was not the main issue for me, cost was. Zenni's website is pretty easy to use. It's a little busy for me, though. I really like their search options. You can search for glasses based on a number of different factors, including temple distance. I used my old glasses as a guide to figure out what measurements I would like in my new set of glasses. I ordered the ones pictured above.

To order your own glasses, you need to know your pupilary distance (PD). If I had been thinking, I would have asked my eye doctor for this. She didn't include it on my prescription. But, it's really not that hard to figure out with the help of someone else. It's basically the distance between the center of each of your pupils, measured in mm. My hubby measured mine. Mine is 56.

Ordering was easy. The total came to $33.90. Prescription glasses with clip on sunglasses. Not bad, eh?

I messed up when inputting my address. Instead of selecting "US" in the country drop down box, I accidentally selected: "US-Virgin Islands" ( I don't even know where that is. Someone get me a map!). I didn't notice this mistake until after I had waited three weeks for my order. I called customer service. All operators were busy so I left a message. I had serious doubts that they would call me back. But they did! The very next day I received a call. The service representative explained my error. She said it happens a lot. (Thanks, but I still feel dunce-y.) She said she'd have it shipped to me as soon as they could locate the package. Within a week and a half, my glasses arrived. Zenni communicated with me via email to let me know that they had found my package and when it would be mailed to me. This was a positive customer service experience for me.

My glasses arrived well-packaged in a hard case. The clip on sunglasses aren't real classy, but I wear them occasionally anyway since I guess I am a bit of a fashion misfit. I don't really recommend them, but they work. They also came with a cleaning cloth. Handy dandy.

I'll write about adjusting my eyeglasses in my next post.

BTW: The Virgin Islands are by Puerto Rico.