IKEA Milk Frother

I like to order things online. It’s so much easier to comparison shop, read reviews, place the order, and find it on your doorstep soon after. I know, I know, the mom and pop are suffering from the ability to order online (specifically Amazon), but it saves me time and money.

Like I said in the last post, I’ve been blending up my coffee with cream and coconut oil. I was drinking it without blending it, but blending it makes it much tastier. But using my stick blender is pretty time-intensive on a short morning before work, so I ordered this – IKEA Produkt Milk Frother. It was less than $10 and eligible for Amazon Prime, and it had good reviews. And I didn’t have to leave the house to order it.

Low and behold, a few days later I came home from work to these two packages (one from Bath & Body Works, and one envelope).

The frother was in the envelope, nestled inside the box. No instructions, no batteries, just a very light-feeling frother.

Much smaller than the stick blender I’ve been using. Don’t get me wrong, I love my stick blender. I first used one when making soap, but then got one for making food. Lovely appliance. But taking it out and cleaning it was too much for me.

So, we had to put it to the test. Before blending (cream and coconut oil).

Here I am using the frother. It’s very quiet and feels like it is doing nothing. Sal took pictures for me while I frothed away. Much like the larger stick blender, it can make quite a mess, if you’re not careful. Using both of these blenders takes me back to my soapmaking days. Emulsifying the oils and the lye…

Here we are finished.

It’s not bad. Much more convenient than dragging out the stick blender, but also not as powerful. I definitely like to froth up even a simple cup of coffee and cream, or tea and cream. Blended, not stirred. It makes a difference.

All in all, I like my little frother. Was a worthwhile purchase. It certainly does the job, and I’m glad I ordered it. It’s been fun already making drinks for the kids.

Here was my Bath & Body Works delights. Mostly old scents that you can’t get in the stores, Sun Ripened Raspberry, Country Apple, but also a Coconut(something). They had free shipping plus a percent off, which made it a deal. And I didn’t have to leave the house or use my gas to get it. Yay me.

Lean Cuisine Complaint

I am SO tired of opening up my Lean Cuisines and finding this on the inside of the boxes:

This is the THIRD time I’ve contacted Lean Cuisine regarding. This has happened twice before. I take my lunches to work. At lunch time, I’m hungry. In to the breakroom I travel to unpack my Lena Cuisine Lasagna lunch and there is food outside of the container, on the sides and all over the inside of the box. Today it was a nice mess of frozen cheese and sauce that fell on the floor and junked up my hands. My eyes about rolled out of my head, as this wasn’t the first time, and it couldn’t have happened on a worse day. The last two times, they sent me coupons to replace my meal, which I am thankful for. Right now, though, as I am headachy, starving and consuming a possibly tainted meal, the idea of having it replaced by yet another free and possibly tainted mess of a meal doesn’t really do it for me, to be honest. The last two times I ditched the food, today I’m starving and willing to take the risk. I’m also about done purchasing from such a sloppy manufacturer.

Book Review – A Reliable Wife

The joy of picking out a new book never escapes me. Unless I have a book club read lined up. But, if I haven’t read it I’m usually excited for the change of scenery in book choice (like this time).

Just finished:

A Reliable Wife

There is a reason why I had to have a glass of wine in my hand every time I picked up this book. Or at least an oppressive cloud of boredom hanging over my head. This read like a Harlequin novel “dressed up” as historical fiction. Violent, sexually-repressed man places order for a “reliable wife” – shady lady with a plan answers ad. The plot thickens (or gets incredibly soap opera-ish from there). If it weren’t for my obsessive-compulsive need to finish books when I start them, (and the ability to trade paperbacks online) I would have used it for kindling in the firepit. It seemed to have decent reviews, so maybe it’s just me. I really don’t know. Don’t care.  Done. Next!

Now starting:

The Lords of Discipline

This is a book club pick.

You can see all of the books I’ve read so far this year on my 2011 Books I’ve Read list.

Book List 2011

I haven’t been very good about keeping track of the books I’ve read so far this year. As much as I’d like to make a separate entry for one and do a little write-up, a little late night sit-down with a glass of wine will have to do.

I’m doing these based on the 3-star scale (see sidebar).

The Art of Racing in the Rain
I liked this. I know nothing about racing or race cars, I enjoy dogs, but am not obsessed with them. I liked this book. Still think about Enzo sometimes, especially when I look at my little doggie, sucking in air through his nose, taking in the world.

The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

Held my interest, but didn’t grab me. Seemed like there were peices of the puzzle that were left hanging. With so much detail in the book, it was frustrating that some parts were so vague (like the uncle/brother development).

Prayers for Sale
Cute, likeable enough, looked forward to reading it. Enjoyed a “happy ending” for once (sorry if that gives anything away —  I didn’t say why it’s “happy”). But… it wasn’t a book that floored me. This is terrible, but (confession) sometimes I got sick of storytime. I realize that it is probably intended to excite the reader as it did Nit, but I had to keep my eyes from rolling.

The Catcher in the Rye
Gosh, I don’t just want to give a 3-star rating away, but this was pretty darn close. It has what makes a classic. Wasn’t my favorite story, the ending wasn’t perfect, but the writing was fantastic.

The Help
Liked it. Fun enough book to read. It was one of my bookclub books (just like the ‘Prayers one), and I was thrilled because there a story behind it. (If you’re Nit from Prayers for Sale, get excited.) This is a popular book. Library was out of it. Paperbackswap has a long wait list. On a whim I tried Half-price Books, they had one copy. I didn’t really want to spend the money on it, but my searching at St. Vinnie’s and Goodwill hadn’t panned out. As I flipped through the book, I noticed water damage. The clerk said I could have some money off. I continued to contemplate, and then noticed what looked like mustard stains. “Hotdog while reading?” The clerk lowered the price even more, though she said it was such a popular book they could probably still get twice to three times the price she was offering me – maybe more. I hemmed, I yawned, I got the book for 3 bucks. Works.

Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire

This was a good read. At times I had to kind of “choke” it down (very explicit), but I found it much like The Catcher in the Rye with the first-person narrative that sucks you in to the point of feeling like you’re walking alongside the character. I still have not seen the movie, Push, based on the book. I don’t know if I want to, honestly.

A Reliable Wife

There is a reason why I had to have a glass of wine in my hand every time I picked up this book. Or at least an oppressive cloud of boredom hanging over my head. This read like a Harlequin novel “dressed up” as historical fiction. Violent, sexually-repressed man places order for a “reliable wife” – shady lady with a plan answers ad. The plot thickens (or gets incredibly soap opera-ish from there). If it weren’t for my obsessive-compulsive need to finish books when I start them, (and the ability to trade paperbacks online) I would have used it for kindling in the firepit. It seemed to have decent reviews, so maybe it’s just me. I really don’t know. Don’t care.  Done. Next!

The Lords of Discipline

This was a book club pick. It was decent.

Jane Eyre

I liked this book. I hung around with me for quite some time after reading it.


Book Review: Half Broke Horses

Half Broke HorsesRarely does a sequel (prequel) equal or surpass the original. A couple of weeks ago, I  read Half Broke Horses (after reading The Glass Castle a few years ago). I was interested in reading ‘Horses since GC had so easily became one of my favorite memoir books. I enjoyed the author’s voice, the way she could still find ways to make me smile while while reading about her challenging circumstances. I was excited to dig into HBH, hoping it would be even half as good as GC.  I can honestly, and happily, say Half Broke Horses lived up to The Glass Castle; I ate it up just as easily.

After reading both books, it still seems to make sense to read Glass Castle first, even though Half Broke Horses is about the author’s grandmother (who is not even a main character in Glass Castle). To connect and understand Jeanette first, by reading GC, gives the reader a special appreciation when reading about her maternal grandmother in HBH.

Bottom line: If you enjoyed The Glass Castle, you’ll like Half Broke Horses.


Crest White Strips Give Me A Headache?

I’ve been using Crest White Strips for about a week now. I should restate that. I’ve successfully completed approximately 7 days (2x per day) of the Crest White Strip regimen. They were not all back-to-back, however. I notice that I’ve had a headache on most every day that I’ve used them. Correlation? Maybe. I believe it is because of a very sensitive tooth that I have on the left side of my mouth. Possibly.

I do notice a difference in my teeth. Not dramatic, but definitely a bit brighter.

I have no trouble getting the strips on my teeth, as some reviews I’ve read. I did have one strip that left the gel behind and was rendered useless. Also, when I have the strips in my mouth, I spit. I don’t swallow my saliva for a half hour. Maybe it is weird, but I really don’t want that gunk in my tummy, just as I don’t want toothpaste or mouthwash in there either. I don’t need a whitened tummy.

Cheeseburger In Paradise – Review

Yesterday we took Franny in to get his cast checked. His pinky toe was kind of smushed and looked as if it were suffering for lack of air. They had to use that blasted saw to cut away some of his cast. Again. Not a great experience, honestly, after the whole wedging incident. I can’t believe after all he’s been through it is the cast saw that seems to be causing him so much greif. Poor thing. Once it was done it was done, though, and he could wiggle his toes more freely. We asked if our next appointment would involve the cast saw, and they confirmed that – goody gumdrops – yes indeedy he would be having the entire cast removed and either replaced by another cast, or by a walking boot. But, he would for sure have the cast removed. Good to know. There may be some pre-medding involved in that appointment. At the least numerous speckled conversations between now and then about the cast saw.

After the grueling experience, we thought we should catch a lunch, preferably one where we could sit outside and enjoy the weather. After brief consideration we decided to go to Cheeseburger In Paradise in Middelton, Wi. We’ve been there before a few times. First just Frank and I when it first opened, then with the boys (Dante was not impressed) and now again with Franny.

Cheeseburger In Paradise

To spare the mighty cliffhanger: we  doubt we’ll be going back (it took us a bit to figure that one out, apparently). Nothing major or sexy; it just simply isn’t our cup of tea. Here’s why:

  • This visit we sat outside, which was wonderful. What wasn’t wonderful was the sticky, odorous table. Also not wonderful — the music. I enjoy some musical ambiance, but not when it overpowers the option of actually using your “inside voice” while dining. Unless you are in a club  or something, you really shouldn’t have to shout or ask “Huh?” constantly over your cheeseburger.
  • The bathroom was fine, save for the fact that I had to change stalls to avoid the water on the floor. I mention bathrooms because they are important to me.
  • The fried pickles were VERY good. If I were to be lured back, it would be for that crunchy, sour and salty delight. Frank’s salad was good. Not $10 good, as it was priced, but good. Franny’s mini-burgers… not so good. He took one bite and ditched them. I took one bite and couldn’t tell if it was the oddest flavored beef I’ve ever tasted OR if my palate was fussy after eating my turkey burger (that I split with Franny so he would have some nourishment beyond his strawberry lemonade — which was tasty). I had a bacon burger (turkey). It was mediocre; nothing great, nothing horrific. I prefer Red Robin’s burgers, though. Their sweet potato chips are very good, however I opted for the fries this time, and they too were (as Frank would say) “nothing to write home about.” With my fries I always ask for a side of Ranch dressing to dip it in. That can be a deal-breaker as well, because if a restaurant doesn’t have good Ranch, it can ruin the fry experience for me. Their Ranch was watery and tasted nothing like Ranch dressing.

Bottom Line: The bill was $30. We tried to keep it lower by drinking water and having Franny order off the kids menu, but the pickles did us in, and the prices are a bit heftier than your ordinary burger joint. We still left feeling that if we were spending $30 on a lunch, we darn sure should at the very least enjoy it (and the bathrooms and Ranch should be up to par). I’m not sure if the “Cheeseburger in Paradise” means that you’re ambiance and dining experience should be similar to a tropical paradise OR that the burgers are meant to be heavenly. Either way I felt the mark was missed.


Link: Cheeseburger In Paradise

Eggland’s Best Eggs – Review

This is a review from a few years ago from when I was using a different blogging platform. Since we are still eating Eggland’s Best Eggs (it has been 3 years now), I figured it was worth re-posting and making available. Occasionally I will buy organic eggs, if a grocer doesn’t carry EB eggs. But for the most part, we still buy these and the post is relevent.

Eggland’s Best Eggs

Eggland's Best Eggs I was sick of finding chicken feces on and inside the cartons of eggs at the supermarket. I have long eyed up the organic eggs at the store, but the price made me balk. Why bother trying what I could not afford on a regular basis? Well, after seeing an indie movie on chicken farms, and then seeing a commercial about EB eggs, I decided to give EB eggs a try. Oh the power of television, eh?

I believe the price for a dozen eggs is about $2.49. My regular feces-specked eggs were about $1.07 per 18. So, yeah, it is a price jump. But I felt like splurging. Got the eggs home, fried them up. I can tell you that just in the feel of these eggs they are different. The shells are sturdier. And they look adorable, lined up in the carton with the “EB” stamp on them.

Taste? Yes, there is most definitely a taste difference. They have a cleaner, creamier, fresher flavor. They are, most definitely, a better egg.

EB’s website speaks on the nutritional values of their eggs. Interesting. Also you can find information about they eggs and why they think they are better.

Bottom Line: These eggs are most definitely better than what I am accustomed to. However, we are a budget-conscious family of seven and we eat a lot of eggs (we like them and they are cheap). I do think it is worth the price jump for us, though, and I will continue to buy them.


Link: Eggland’s Best Eggs

Charlie’s Soap Review

Groovy Mom Review I have in my possession something I’ve been wanting to try for a very, very long time. Charlie’s Soap.

1 – Laundry Powder
1 – Laundry Liquid
1 – All-purpose cleaner

My main interest in Charlie’s Soap is the powder since HE “friendly” laundry powder is not the easiest to come by. Though I had the products in my hot chubby hands a couple months ago, it took me a bit to get around to thoroughly testing the powder. For one, I needed to get my soft water in order. I tried it with hard water and was not too keen on it. Though I’ve heard the Charlie’s Soap people are ready and willing to help troubleshoot for those with hard water, I decided to wait. I wanted to give it a fair shot in my “normal” laundering conditions, and that included soft water. I will note that, for me, Charlie’s Soap in hard water with the addition of Borax powder seemed to do an OK job. I have no idea if that is the protocol for hard water people. But, in my moment of compulsive laundering techniques, I thought I’d give it a try. However – on one load of laundry (gym clothing), there was still odor after washing. That was when I stopped testing with hard water.

Soft water status attained, I cleaned my washer, as instructed to do before using the soap. Again.

A double dose of either of our Laundry products, along with some old towels or shop rags, will be more than enough to loosen these deposits from your tub. After this first load, remove the towels and your machine should be properly prepped for use. – Charlie’s Soap FAQ

I did this before with the hard water situation, but decided it couldn’t hurt to do it again. For the past week, now, I’ve used Charlie’s Soap (1 T.) in my top-loading HE washer, in every load. No detergent has touched my washer during this time. At first I used the soap without any softener, but the static cling was insane. So I use about 1/2 cup of white vinegar (YES it works splendidly with any laundering soap/detergent and NO it does not smell in the finished product) per wash and that has helped tremendously.

As of my 1-week trial I am happy and satisfied. My clothes… smell clean. They look clean. I’m a bit surprised, as I am quite accustomed to heavily-scented, stark blue liquids and the implication that being stark blue and perfumed it will clean better. I’m also accustomed to liquid, but very much enjoy the powder. Less mess and flat out easier. The little 80-use bag takes up way less room than a jug of detergent. I was 1/3 way through it, though, before I realized it came with its own little green measuring scoop. It was tucked down inside.

I’ll admit I’ve used a dryer sheet a few times (when I’ve forgotten vinegar). Though I like scented things, I also like the smell of simply clean fabrics and knowing that I’m not wearing a chemical factory on my body. So really, I don’t mind that much that the laundry smells just less like a cuddly teddy bear and more like… clean laundry. It is somewhat reminiscent of line-dried clothing. “Just clean clothes,” as they say.

I will continue to use the soap until it is gone and report back if I have anything more to add. But so far, all is well. Even on my four boys dirty wrestling and soccer gear. Being that it is winter around here, I haven’t been able to put Charlie’s Soap to the test of muddy soccer, football and baseball gear. That might be another update. But from what I’ve seen it has handled all of the food stains that we have managed to put through the wash.

I’m not sure yet about the laundry powder “bringing out the stains of past” but it is dealing with the present ones just fine. I am very happy with it.

Also good to note – nobody in our family has developed a rash or skin irritation from the product.

Bottom line: Simple, safe, economical. Really liking it. So far my rating for the laundry detergent is:

So far my rating for the all-purpose cleaner is:

I will quickly say that the cleaner works well on counters, on my dirty fridge, bathroom… (again, will report back again when the bottle is empty). I give it two stars rather than three at the moment because I’m still evaluating and deciding.