Friday Favorite – Microfiber Dusting Cloths

cloths

Along with the warm weather, rainy days and blooming flowers comes spring cleaning.  Yippe.  I cannot believe I am writing about cleaning, but these cloths are so great, I just had to share them with you.

I never really enjoyed cleaning (who really does?), but I do like having a clean house.  So, as with most people, cleaning for me is a necessary evil.

I have always helped with cleaning.  When I was a child, Saturday mornings were reserved for whole house cleaning.  Yes, I got to watch cartoons and my mom would always make us a nice breakfast, but later in the morning,  it was time to clean.  Thankfully, my mom let me choose between vacuuming or dusting.  I chose the latter.  I would get the furniture polish and one of my dad’s old t-shirts and dust all of the furniture in all of the rooms on both floors.  Yuck.  When I got my own apartment, I found myself doing the same thing as I did as a child – using an old t-shirt as a dust rag. Then, I found the Pledge wipes which came out around the time the Clorox wipes did.  Wipes were the big thing – quick, easy and disposable.  Yes!  I thought they would be easier than carrying around a can of Pledge and a rag, so I tried them.  No good.  I found they left a dull film on my furniture that even my husband noticed.

So, I ended up going back to the old t-shirt and polish and noticed  that there was a film on several pieces of my furniture. I tried a different type of polish, but still was not satisfied.  I also noticed that when the sun shone in through the windows, I would see little dust particles hours after I had just finished cleaning.  I was starting to get annoyed.  I began doing research, as I was finding myself with a dust cloth in my hand a few times a week.  I could not seem to get all of those little particles off the surface.  I found an article on http://www.about.com and read that polishing  furniture every week is actually not good for the wood and will definitely cause a film to form. The article recommended that furniture be polished once a month and to use a micro-fiber cloth to dust the other weeks and that these cloths prevent dust from accumulating.   Well, that was good enough for me.  I went to Bed Bath and Beyond the other day and saw a pack of three cloths for $3.99. Plus, I had a 20% coupon. Worse case scenario – I would use them once and throw them out.  As soon as I got home, I tried using the cloths and I was very pleased.  They work really well and are very soft and sturdy.  To clean them, just toss them in with your towels in warm water and they will be ready to go again. I also used the cloths on some of the electronic devices in our home and again, the cloth wiped up the dust very quickly.

This is the product description from the Bed Bath and Beyond website:
Great for home, auto and office this set of three microfiber cleaning cloths offer 100% microfiber cleaning power. Microfiber is made up of millions of microscopic fibers that trap and hold dirt, dust and grime. Clean without chemicals. Lint and streak free. Use damp or dry. Each cloth measures 12” x 12”. Machine wash.

Although I do not enjoy dusting, using these cloths will hopefully make it more tolerable.  And I like that as the sun shone in on the furniture this morning, there was not a speck of dust to be seen. Good stuff!

It Really is Here!!

spring

 

According to the calendar, we are a full week into spring.  When most people think of spring, images of bright green grass, blooming flowers, short-sleeved shirts and open-toed shoes come to mind. Well, at least those are the things that come to my mind.  While the sun has decided to show itself more and more this past week, the temps have remained cool, even in North Carolina as my dear uncle told me the other night.   I am wondering when the real spring weather will arrive.  I still do not have an answer to that, but I do have a strong indication that it’s on its way sooooon.

This morning, when I woke up and got out of bed, I smelled spring.  In our house.  Okay, it was actually the hyacinths that I bought for our moms for Easter that were blooming in the foyer, but the lovely scent  immediately woke me up and put a smile on my face.  While I love the smell of most flowers, certain ones make my allergies go nuts.  Guess what? Blooming hyacinths are one of them. Yep. Just found that out this morning.  After sneezing five to six times, I decided that I had better take them outside.  When I placed them on our stoop, I heard the most wonderful sound – birds chirping!  I started to get excited.  Spring really is here.  The sun is out.  Flowers are blooming (at least in our house) and the birds are singing songs.   Now, if the temperatures would rise up (literally) and join the party, things would really be good…

Happy Spring!

Vermont, Don’t Change!

Over the weekend, my husband and I and some of our friends went up to Mount Snow, Vermont for a 40th Birthday/End of the Season ski/snowboarding weekend.  If you have never been to Vermont, you are missing one of the most historic and beautiful states in America.  Known mainly for its delicious maple syrup,  “The Green Mountain State” is filled with pine trees, creeks, streams, historic sites, good people and gorgeous mountains.  It is a wonderful place to go hiking, canoeing, snowboarding, skiing, antiquing and mountain biking.

We were at the lower end of Vermont, and as you travel further north towards Straton Mountain and Killington, everything gets bigger and taller and even more scenic.  If you are a history buff like me, you can visit some of the many Revolutionary War sites that are on the outskirts of the quaint little towns you will drive though to get to any of the ski resorts.  I adore small charming towns way more than big cities (though they have a place). There is something warm and inviting about them and I like to walk up and down the main street visiting the little shops, always buying just a little something to remember our visit and help their local economy.

Another thing I love about Vermont is the clean air and water.  When you get out of your car, you can take a deep breath and smell…nothing.  Nothing but air.  It’s wonderful and invigorating.  And, this was one place I did not have to worry about bringing bottled water because you can actually drink from the tap!!  GASP!! Yes! It’s true! That is a big thing for me.  I think it is ridiculous that so many of us cannot drink water the tap water in our homes. Even my parents in PA who have a well cannot drink their tap water because of all the chlorine they have to put in the water to counteract the mass amounts of sulfur. It’s terrible.

As my husband and I drove home yesterday, we were both very sad to leave.  We had fresh snow Saturday morning to board on and as always enjoyed seeing the pine trees covered with snow as we ascended up the lift.  We enjoyed the mountain air, powdery snow and magnificent scenery.  It was also such a pleasure to meet so many genuinely kind people and of course, enjoy the company of our friends.  To us, Vermont is a little slice of heaven and we are seriously thinking of retiring there one day.  I just hope it stays the way it is now and does not change. EVER!

It’s Their Birthdays!

 

 

Today is a very special day in my husband’s  family. It is the birthday of three family members, one being my amazing husband (Happy 40th, honey!) Now, what are the chances that THREE family members would be born on the same exact day?  Well, birthday sharing seems to be a pattern with me.  My husband shares his birthday with his father and God-daughter,  I was born on my aunt’s birthday, my brother was born on my father’s birthday and my mom shared her birthday with my late great aunt. I think it’s pretty neat that so many people close to me share their special days.

Last night, as I struggled to fall asleep, I started thinking about birthdays and realized a few unusual things.  Six months out of the year, we celebrate multiple birthdays from both sides of the family (taking into consideration our immediate families, parents’ siblings, first cousins and their children).  Check it out…

March – Four birthdays

June – Five birthdays

July – Three birthdays

August – Four birthdays

September – Three birthdays

November – Three birthdays

Maybe it’s just me, but I think that is really neat.  Along with our love for family and food, Italian heritage and strong core values, sharing birthday months  is one more thing our families have in common – which is why I will say again that I am so blessed to have been born into a wonderful family and to have married into another.

 

 

 

 

On the Same Step!

Last weekend, I went shopping with two of my favorite people in the world – my mom and my niece. We love to shop and do lunch together and starting “picking dates” to do just that several years ago when my niece was about six or seven years old.  She shares my mother’s and my love for clothing, shoes, make up and hair accessories.  One thing that my niece liked to do was ride the escalator in pretty much every store.  The first time we got on the escalator, my mom got on the first step and my niece and I stood on the step behind her.  As we started moving up, my niece suddenly said, “No! On the same step! With me in the middle.”  So, my mom took a step down and got on her right side, as I stood on her left.  All on the same step.  We smiled as we looked at ourselves in the mirror gliding down to the bottom floor.  I thought it was the cutest thing that she wanted her aunt and grandmother on the same step as her.

My niece is now 11 (going on 25) and we continue to ride the escalators together when we shop. Even though she is older and much taller, we still ride on the same step.  I wonder how long we will do this. I hope it is forever, but I know that is likely not the case, for one day, she will not want to ride on the same step as my mom and me.  But for now, I will enjoy it every single time in every single store.  My mom, my niece and I…all on the same step.

 

For the Girls…

Today, I am thinking of all the wonderful women I have in my life from my mother and mother-in-law to my aunts, nieces, cousins and friends.  While I am not an expert on life or have a degree in philosophy, I do have some tips that I hope will make their day a little brighter. I am very blessed to have such strong and amazing females around me.  Taking the words of Martina McBride…”This one’s for the girls.”

Ladies,

1.  Don’t settle for ANYTHING or ANYONE.

2.  Do what makes you happy.

3.  Believe in yourself and you will be successful.

4.  Love yourself and your body just the way it is.  Do not compare yourself to the altered images of models in magazines and on TV.  They are altered. You are real!

5.  Cry. When you need to and when you want to.  It is not a sign of weakness.

6.  Take time for yourself, especially those of you who are mothers with careers.  I admire working moms more than any other group of people.  You are my heroes!

7.  Find something to smile about each and every day.  Hopefully, you won’t have to look too far!

8.  Do not waste your time with a person who puts you down – be it a boyfriend, friend, relative or husband.  People treat you the way you LET them treat you.  If a person is always negative or makes you feel badly about yourself, end that relationship and move on.  You deserve better!

9.  Enjoy the company of other women.  When a bunch of women get together, there is always laughter, smiles and great times!  GIRL POWER!

10.  Ask for help when you need it.  Women today are expected to do it all from being mothers and wives to having successful careers and running a household. When you feel overwhelmed, ask for help. It’s OKAY!!

 

 

 

Friday Favorite – Alex and Ani Bangle Bracelets!

A and A 001

 

I have always loved all kinds of jewelry. You will always see me with earrings, a necklace and at least one bracelet on. Without jewelry, I feel naked.  Lately, I have become slightly obsessed with Alex and Ani bracelets.  I first saw them on my friend, Terri. She had all different ones in silver and a few in gold and wore them together. They looked fabulous!! They are bangles with charms on them and are very unique.  So far, I have a shark fin, seashell, pineapple, feather and starfish.  I picked out the shark fin and my husband chose the rest. Can you tell I love the beach??  They make great gifts, too, because there is something for everyone.  Alex and Ani also make rings, necklaces, earrings and special collections.

Here is why I love them:

1.  They are bangles with charms on them, not just a charm bracelet.  I love the look of stacked bangles (arm candy, as some call it) with the charms hanging down for the dangling effect. So cool!

2.  Many of the proceeds from the bangles go to charity. The first one I purchased is the shark fin for balance and up to 20% of the proceeds will go help support children with cystic fibrosis.

3. They are MADE IN THE USA. That’s correct.  The main headquarters is located in Rhode Island, but have stores in many states in the Northeast.  A lot of boutiques carry their products and there is a store locator on their website so you can see where you can buy them.

4. They are made from recycled material.

5.  They are adjustable, so they will fit big or small wrists.

Go to their website for more info – http://www.alexandani.com,  but I must warn you that they are addicting!

For those of you who might not know, I also have a cooking blog, which I post in less frequently than this one. I just had to share this with you, though!

The Cooking Goose

 Turkey Reubens! 006

 

My husband and I love reubens.  I mean LOVE them.  He enjoys the traditional kind with corned beef, while I prefer ones with turkey.  He also adds mustard to his.  I have not tried that yet, but I bet it’s delicious!

The other night, we had my brother-in-law and cousins over for dinner and I set up a reuben “bar” for everyone to serve themselves.  I was not sure who liked turkey and who liked corned beef and how they like them cooked, so I thought I would let them all make their own. It was a smashing success.

Turkey Reubens! 001

 

I used the George Foreman Grill which ended up serving as a grill and Panini maker. This was one of the last ones we made, so excuse the bits of cheese (which, by the way, were eaten later!)

Turkey Reubens! 003

 

Now, if you do not have all of the…

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A Farewell to Capital Letters…

 

 

I am sorry to report that the use of capital letters appears to be over.  No longer do you see capital letters on people’s names, places, websites, book titles or advertisements.

As a former teacher, I used to get very frustrated when students  did not use proper capitalization and punctuation by the time they got to me in middle school.  I could not understand it.  I knew that the elementary teachers taught them punctuation, but could not fathom why the kids would not retain and apply the rules. So, I did what most English teachers do.  I would explain the rule, have the students copy it in their notebooks (they HAVE to know it then), practice using the rule, play a grammar game, pick out examples of the rule in writing and then assess them.  But after all that, the kids were still not using these rules in their everyday writing (which, of course, is the main goal of learning punctuation, contrary to most students’ belief that it is merely a way for teachers to torture students).

One day, it hit me.  There are lower case letters EVERYWHERE from the titles and subtitles of shows to song titles and even people’s names.  I also noticed that many billboards and advertisements are also in lower case letters.  I suddenly realized that it was not my students’ fault for not knowing when to capitalize letters.  It is what they are surrounded with and subconsciously, they might have seen so many lower case letters that they just started using them for every word, including their own names.  But my question is when did this happen and more importantly, why?  Is it because of the use of the computer to check things for us? Did teachers give up?  Is it now considered “writer’s choice” not to use capitalization? Or to use all capital letters?  (I’ve seen that as well.)

I am all for technology but communicating through social media is having a very negative effect on our children’s writing.  As you may know, the majority of kids (and even some adults) using social media do not use any type of grammar, spelling or punctuation.   And social media seems to be the most common form of communication these days. Kids spend their free time read texts, tweets and blogs and when they see adults using  improper punctuation and grammar, they mimic us and our habits.

I don’t mean to completely fault social media and the entertainment and advertising industries, but one thing seems clear.  Kids need a good foundation of how to use proper grammar and punctuation before they decide to use slang. Otherwise, they will not know the difference and the use of capital letters will continue to dwindle until one day, we might have to bid them a permanent farewell.

The Mazda and Me

I never really understood the obsession some people have with their cars. Now, if it was a really cool sports car or classic car, yes, I got that. But regular old cars, no. I never got it.  To me, a car was just a means of transportation. Nothing more.

After over 10 years of driving my car, I feel quite a bit differently.  Why? Because I love my 2002 Mazda Protege. It has over 188,000 miles on it and has become affectionately known as “The Mighty Mazda” because of her endurance, maneuverability and reliability.   It is by far the best car I have ever owned.  She has been through a lot with me – from rain and snow storms to flooding.  She has also been my chariot to many special events – weddings, birthday parties, vacations and to less happy places  such as funerals and hospital visits.  She has been on country roads and in large cities. She has been pulled over a few times for getting a little too fiesty, but was usually excused and let go (except for one time). And, if I might personify it for a moment, my dear car is one of the few who has heard me sing. Loudly. And curse.  Repeatedly.  It’s amazing the engine hasn’t seized up.

I once heard that the car a person drives often reflects his/her personality.  I started thinking about that today.  Over the past few years, I began to get little laugh lines around my eyes and  she has gotten a few rust spots around her wheel wells.  Every now and then, I need a day at the spa and so does she (there’s a great car wash about two miles away).  She needs oil to keep her running well and sometimes, I need an adult beverage to do the same.  She is small and can hold her own among the giant SUVs that drive along her sides each day and I like to think that I can hold my own with most people as well.

Yesterday, I got in “The Mighty” and much to my horror, noticed a large crack across the windshield. It started on the passenger side and extended in an almost perfectly straight line towards the driver’s side.  It did not obstruct my view, thankfully, but I will definitely need a new windshield.  I was heartbroken.  After many years of driving on busy highways (such as routes 78, 80 and 95) dodging crazy drivers and enduring all kinds of weather, she finally cracked.  I just hope they don’t say that about me one day!