Saturday, November 7, 2009

When I was in high school . . .

He was just coming on the scene. And you knew then that he was the hotness. His longevity is stunning, at least to me. And when the boys go to sleep, I still enjoy his music. Had a boyfriend once who was an aspiring emcee . . . used to rail against him because he said he never, ever wrote down his rhymes. My boyfriend used to say he was a liar . . . nobody could do that. I don't know. It was hard to hide my admiration for him then and it's hard to hide it now. Oh yeah, I love my roots reggae. Love my classical music. But I also love my . . .

I think he's brilliant in so many ways.

I love this commercial and own almost every album of Jay-Z's. And Z1 absolutely loves this song so even though I can only somewhat tolerate Rhianna's singing, I play the clean (radio edit) version often.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another use for vodka

We buy vodka around here to make vanilla extract and other tinctures. A few months ago, though, I started to use it as a deodorant and I really love it. A long time ago, I blogged about another liquid deodorant I made with lemon juice. That worked well, but this one works even better. It's basically the same recipe except you replace the lemon juice with vodka and reduce the amounts of essential oils.

All Natural Deodorant Spray
One 4 ounce spray bottle
3 parts vodka
1 part water
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops of another essential oil (I've been using clove oil exclusively--I don't know . . . I like it)
Put everything in a bottle and shake well before each use.

I use this in combination with Kimberlily's Recipe for Cream Deodorant and it works just as well as Secret used to. I use it everyday except on occasions when I really don't want to sweat like if I'm going on an interview and I'll be nervous. For those occasions, I suck it up and use Dove which is, to me, although not as strong as Secret, easy to wash off (unlike Secret).

Just a note: you don't need the greatest vodka in the world for an underarm spray. You might want to get a little better quality for your tinctures and extracts although some sources say there's absolutely no difference in quality. I find that hard to believe though.

Photo Credit: "Tall True Russian Vodka" by True Russian Vodka on

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cast Iron Cookware is the Truth!

To say I love my cast iron cookware would be a huge, massive understatement. My cookware of choice is now and will probably always be cast iron. Some people say that cast iron is too heavy to use on a daily basis but I like to look at moving my cast iron pans and pots as an addition to my other weight lifting exercises. I don't mind it at all. See, cast iron is wonderful. It is the original non-stick cookware and there'll be no scary stories years from now about how the stuff that makes it non-stick will give you cancer or cause brain damage. Nothing sticks to a well-seasoned cast iron pan.

And of course, that's the next complaint folks have . . . taking care of cast iron is a pain. Well, no, that's not true either. Before using cast iron, you've got to season it. Here is a very simple guide to seasoning cast iron. I've never had to re-season my cast iron pans and I don't use lard or bacon grease to do it. I use vegetable shortening and it works well. You don't wash cast iron with soap. I use very hot water and a plastic mesh scrubbie--that's it. I don't let my cast iron air dry either. After I clean them, I just set them over a medium flame and drive off any moisture.

I bought most of my cast iron cookware at (you guessed it) the thrift store and I've really been able to build quite a collection with those pieces and ones that have been handed down to me or just thrown away. Really, even the rustiest of cast iron pans can be revived with some loving care. I did buy my largest cast iron skillet (12") at Bed Bath and Beyond and with a 20% coupon, paid just a touch over $20 which is really excellent considering the price of a top quality non-stick coated skillet.

There are so many good reasons to use cast iron including the trace iron that gets into your food. My cast iron cookware is versatile and, I think most important to me, basic. Your great great grandma may have used cast iron. It is tried and true and I love that.

From grilled cheese to braised greens . . . cast iron cookware is the truth!

Photo Credit: Simple Intergenerational Cookware by Zane Selvans on

Monday, November 2, 2009

On this day 79 years ago

Photo Courtesy of skibriye's on

Sunday, November 1, 2009

2010 Fitness Goals?

Yup, I'm already thinking about what I'd like to achieve next year fitness-wise. My main goal next year is to really develop upper body strength. I want to be able to do push ups, chin-ups, planks, side planks, and all that. Right now, I'm barely able although I've come a long way since I started working out consistently in January. As is the case for many women, my upper body is a weak point and most of my strength is in my legs. I'd like a more even distribution and I'm looking forward to the challenge. My arms and shoulders are taking shape nicely and I'm pleased with the definition ("cuts") I'm starting to see. But what I really want are killer arms. :)

I found this useful article while googling tonight. And I've been doing The Trainer's Edge: Long and Lean Yoga by Baron Baptiste which is a huge challenge for me right now. By the end of 2010, I'd at least like to be able to keep up. See, what I love about yoga is that building upper body strength doesn't use weights--just your own body as weight. I agree wholeheartedly with Baptiste that this is a more functional, natural kind of strength-building. And while I don't totally discount lifting weights and enjoy lifting weights, I prefer yoga style strength training.

What are your 2010 fitness goals? Have you thought about it yet?

Photo Courtesy of

The Frugal Fashionista?

Is that an oxymoron?

I'm willing to admit that for the last few years, I was not making an effort to look the best I could possibly look. There are a number of reasons but the main reason is that I was trying to be au naturel and also striving for modesty in my dress. Well, recently, I decided I was tired of looking frumpy, blah and old and decided to try to get my game back together. I stopped wearing sweats and workout clothes in public and started making a consistent effort to give myself a once over before I leave the house. It certainly helps my frame of mind and how I feel about myself.

If you read this blog though, you know that frugality has to be one of my top priorities in order for me to continue being a stay-at-home mom. Getting my game back, though, costs some money. I was trying to hook up my makeup game again. Even though I'm not a big makeup person, I realize a little foundation, lip gloss and eyebrow pencil can go a long way to giving you a polished look. But then I also realized I simply do not have $45 to drop on foundations and stuff. I was trying to revamp my wardrobe with some nice pieces. Now, believe me, I don't really shop other places besides the thrift store but I realized something else the other day while reading an excellent blog that I was recently introduced to: Wildflower. She advocates thinking really, really, really hard about every penny you spend and asking yourself, while looking through the lens of potentially difficult times fast approaching, the hard question: do I really need this ? And if you don't, you don't spend that money.

The thrift store is my slow money leak. I try to go on half-off days and all that but any good thrifter knows that the key to doing well at it is going often. So I go having the idea that I need a pair of nice fitting jeans or something. It's not that I don't have jeans but since my body proportions have changed, what I have doesn't fit quite right. I don't find what I was looking for but I do find 3 or 4 children's books, a cute purse, a nice shirt for one of the boys, or a lovely pair of shoes that would go with a particular blouse. I pay the $10 or whatever--it's great because I know that the stuff I have just purchased could easily be worth about $50.

But this is a slow money leak . . . I'm buying things I don't necessarily need. Just buying them because they're nice to have and more importantly, in relation to me upping my look game, it would be a nice addition to my wardrobe--something that would add pizzazz.

I could very well save that $10 or use it to pay for one of the childrens' activities.

But I also want to look cute. I want to accessorize and feel like I'm stepping out when I go out.

I've talked about this before but recently, it's come up again. So I'm asking myself again, how do I find the balance between being frugal and fashionable?

When I'm talking fashionable, don't get the wrong idea. I'm not a trendy person. I like classic looks with a hint of "what's in". And when I'm talking frugal, I'm talking about frugality with the goal of working toward financial security. I'm talking about saving enough money so that if an emergency hits, we can make moves. And even if no emergency ever happens, having financial security in our old age. Being fashionable is not an absolute necessity. I mean, , strictly speaking, neither is having high speed internet but the whole family uses the computer for entertainment, learning and business especially since we don't have cable. I'd say that things would have to be really hard before we got rid of the internet at home. A new pair of hoop earrings? Another bottle of nail polish? An eyebrow wax? I've thought of growing out my hair and getting it braided . . . These things make you feel nice and like a girl. Taken individually, they don't cost much. Frugality, in my mind, says wear the jewelry you have. Says you have enough nail polish. And no one but you notices your eyebrows.

You see, frugality in my mind has never meant being chic. It means being very practical. It means putting out $100 for a good pair of classic winter boots (which you bought at the end-of season clearance sale for $70). They might not match anything--no one would ever say you put together a cute outfit--but you'll be wearing those boots for years to come. Ah, but sometimes I'd rather pay $70 for the cheaply made boots that look oh so flyy with those jeans I managed to score. Is that irresponsible knowing what I know? Have I been tainted by American consumerism? Or is it the simple fact that I'm a woman and wearing cute stuff induces felicity? I'm constantly amused by those TJ Maxx commercials that talk about Maxxinistas . . . a play on the term fashionista and the newer term "frugalista". I mean, really, how important is fashion and being cute when it comes to survival and thriving in difficult times? Is it important at all?

So is it a necessity? Is your cuteness something you need? Something to really consider and take into account when you are trying to prepare for an uncertain future? It's a challenge weighing out those things that make you feel nice against the a very real reality: that the times are a changing and bank will make the change more manageable.

So, yes, I'm on the lookout for other slow money leaks but I've just identified one glaring one. Plug those small money leaks and you can easily sock away another 10%. The hubby's been saying that for years but I don't know, somehow it just clicked in a profound way the other day. Sometimes, someone else has to say it.

Do I plug the leak?

(((insert Z1's best whiney voice here)))But I don't want to!!!!

A little more money in the pocket, though, might just end up feeling better than being a frugal fashionista in the long run.
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