Sunday, January 25, 2009

I Can Vouch for That

So lately I've been thinking about posting some endorsements for my favorite products. Most of these things I use all the time and every time I do I think, "I wish I could tell everyone about how awesome this is!" So, I went around the house this morning and took pictures of all my favorite things. Yes, I got a little carried away, but, I swear all of this stuff is great!

Grandma Sycamore's Home-Maid Bread: This bread is really great. I usually get the white bread because I like it best for toast, but there's a couple other kinds like sunflower seed that are also delicious. This bread goes bad fast, which probably means there aren't as many preservatives as in other brands, but I just keep mine in the freezer and take out a couple slices at a time.

Challenge Butter Spreadable Butter with Canola Oil: I like using real butter, not margarine and this stuff is great because it's easy to spread, even when it's cold. I've tried other brands such as Land O'Lakes that look almost identical, but they're not as good. I always make sure I get this one with the purple lid. It also freezes well.

Scotch Brite Dish Wand: This is so much better than filling up the sink with water every time I need to wash something by hand. Plus you can buy cheap sponge refills so you don't have to replace the whole thing every time it gets gross. The sponge/scrubber works much better than the ones that just have a brush, especially for plates and such.

Shun Santoku Knife: Not only is this knife very sharp and comfortable to use, it's also very beautiful. If I could keep just one knife in my drawer, this would be it.

Old Spice High Endurance Deodorant: Seth actually uses this, not me, but I swear this stuff smells so good! My favorite scent is 'Aqua Reef' but for some reason it's hard to find.

Asics Gel-Cumulus 10 Running Shoes: I could not believe what a difference these made in my running. I've had some lightweight New Balance shoes that I thought were really fancy and then I started getting bad shin splints. At first I thought my legs were just weak, but then it got so bad I was willing to try anything. I went to the local Striders store where they did an analysis on my feet and said this was the type of shoe to go with. I tried on a bunch of shoes and these were my favorites by far. The toe box has tons of room for my wide feet and they are very supportive and comfortable. I was able to run much farther in these shoes and my legs never hurt at all. I was amazed. Plus they're really cute. Seth actually has these same shoes in the men's version and he loves them too.

No Boundaries Flats: OK so I don't really have a brand loyalty for these, but I bought these at Walmart once for less than $10 and they've turned out to be some of my favorite shoes. I think they're really cute and they're easy to just slip on and off. I really like this style of flat shoe because it's casual, comfortable and goes with pretty much everything.

Oil of Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum: I was looking for some type of light moisturizing product, because even though my skin is super oily, I still manage to have small dry patches here and there. Plus I'm getting pretty old so I figured anything that could help delay my crows feet is worth a shot. This smells really good, has a great texture and absorbs quickly into my skin without making it feel greasy.

Mitchum Unscented Clear Gel Anti-Perspirant & Deodorant: I HATE women's deodorant scents. They seriously stink. I have tried just about all the brands available and they all suck at keeping you dry. Mitchum has a lot more of the aluminum ingredient than the other brands and it works much better. Because their women's scents stink just as much as everyone else's, I just buy their unscented kind. I accidentally bought the men's deodorant last time, but it doesn't really matter. It's the same except for the label.

Boots No 7 Intelligent Balance Mousse Foundation: Wow this stuff seriously rocks. It covers better than anything I've ever used and the texture is amazing. I don't need a separate concealer with this stuff. The first time I used it Seth actually commented on how great my skin looked. It will make dry patches of skin show up really well, so make sure your skin is moisturized well before you put it on. I have really pale skin as many of you know and I use the New Ivory 10 and it blends in perfectly. I found it at Target.

Kleenex Viva Big Roll Choose-A-Size Paper Towels: I love these because they're super strong and cloth-like. They also have the smaller sheets so you can choose how much you need instead of ripping off a huge sheet every time. I wish they came in a multi-pack but other than that, they're awesome!

Charmin Ultra Strong Toilet Paper: Some things you can skimp on. Toilet paper is not one of those things. I love this brand because it's pretty thick stuff and it's soft and it doesn't fall apart. The Mega Rolls last forever.

Popcorn Heating Pack by Annie: My sister Annie made heating packs out of a special kind of popcorn last year. Apparently she had tons of the stuff, so when she asked if I wanted any, I said sure! I actually took two because they are so great. I use these all the time when it's a little chilly in the house, especially at night. I like to heat one up in the microwave (it takes about 3-4 minutes) and then snuggle with it in bed or on the couch while I read. They stay warm for a really long time, a lot better than the store bought ones. They are also amazing for cramps. And, Annie was genius enough to make the cover removable so I can wash them!

The New Method Pilates Precision Toning with Jennifer Kries & Quick Fix Stability Ball Workout: I've done a lot of workout videos in my day and these two are by far my favorites. They are both really good workouts that are actually enjoyable and the instructors aren't annoying. Plus they give just the right amount of instruction. Enough for your first time doing the workout, but not so much that it gets on your nerves after you've done them for awhile. They also seem to produce fast results. The Toning portion of the Pilates DVD is my favorite and I also like the Quick Fix video because there are 3, 10 minute segments... arms, stomach and legs, so you can do one or all three!

Olive Oil Dispenser: OK I don't know what this is actually called, but I love this type of bottle with the spout. I keep this next to the stove to quickly swirl oil in the pan and the opening doesn't get all oily and messy. I've also seen people use them for dish soap. I believe I got this one at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Microfiber Towels: I love these things! I bought two different colors, white for glass only and grey for everything else. It works really well for dusting when you get it very slightly damp. I use this for all my furniture and the TV. I also use them that way for cleaning my car. They don't leave lint on the mirrors when I use them with Windex in the bathroom.

Purina Tidy Cats Scoop Multiple Cats Immediate Odor Control Litter: This stuff is actually pretty cheap and it works very well. You can buy the more expensive bucket the first time for easy storage and then just buy it in large bags that are much cheaper to refill it later on. I like the Immediate Odor Control much better than the Long Lasting Odor Control because it doesn't have that super strong kitty litter smell.

Magnetic Spice Tins: Corinne actually put a post on her blog about these the other day, but I'm going to rave about them too because they're so awesome. I store them on the side of the fridge so they are within easy reach while I'm cooking and they don't take up any cabinet space. I also think they look really pretty and they keep the spices alphabetized for easy location. I bought mine along with spice labels at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Mini Scoop: This is one of my favorite kitchen things. I don't know how I ever got along without it. Cookies are so much funner and easier to make, and they all come out the same size. I use this for other random things all the time. I believe this one is a #40 or 2 tbsp. size.

Lime Juicer: This thing works so much better than those reamer type juicers. Plus it's really fast. Don't get tricked into buying those plastic ones, make sure it's metal. I bought the one for limes, but I can also use it on lemons so long as I remember to get the small ones. You could probably buy the bigger one that's for lemons and use it for limes too.

Presto Tilt N' Drain Griddle: This was my most recent purchase and I love it! I can't believe I've gone so long without one of these babies! This one has an adjustable thermometer. It also has sides that pull out to slightly tilt the griddle so that grease drains out the hole in the front. They can also be pushed in to keep it level for cooking things like french toast and pancakes. This thing is huge and it can fit 9 slices of bread on it at once. It also fits approximately 7-9 slices of bacon. The cord is a tad too short for me, but it works OK. It was only about $35 and well worth every penny.

True Temp Oven Probe Thermometer: I bought this cheap little thing at Target, but it has been very useful. I don't have to cut open my chicken or meat anymore to see if it's done. I also use it when I bake bread to make sure the center is cooked all the way. I just stick the probe into the center, close the oven and clip the read-out to the fridge. It can be set for a specific temperature and when it reaches the set point, a buzzer goes off.

Clip On Spoon Holders: I'd been eyeing these things for a while but at $7 each, they were a little pricey for me. I received a gift certificate to Bed Bath and Beyond for Christmas, and used it to buy a couple of these. You just clip them on the edge of your pan and then you can rest your stirring utensil in it so you don't get the stove all messy. I've also clipped mine on the edge of a mixing bowl full of pancake batter to hold my measuring cup so it doesn't fall in and get all messy. They are definitely worth the $7.

Canon All-in-One MP530 Printer/Scanner/Copier/Fax: My experience with photo printers in the past was not very good. The pictures always came out with lines in them or grainy looking. I wasted more time and ink to get mediocre prints. This printer works so great. My photos print out perfect every time and it never jams up. I also like that it has separate ink refills for every color, so you only have to replace the ones that are empty. The cartridges are expensive, just like every other printer out there, but they seem to last a long time. The only thing I don't like about it is that it's really loud, especially when it warms up, but I'll take that if it means I get perfect prints.

Wow it feels great to finally have all that out in the open. I hope you like some of this stuff as much as I do!

More Things That Must Go

A while back I posted a list of my "Things That Must Go." For those of you who don't know, this is a weekly segment that Kerry, Bill and Gina do on Radio From Hell on X96. I decided to do my own list because that way I don't have to wait for months on end and hope that my frustrations get aired. This way everyone gets to hear them whether they want to or not. So without further delay, here you go...

1. Lazy food promoters. I can't look at a menu or hear a restaurant commercial without hearing the words "________ to perfection" as in "grilled to perfection" or "cooked to perfection" or "steamed to perfection." You get the point. Is it so hard to describe food that you have to use the exact same phrase every time? Plus, would anyone advertise that they are cooking things until they are "just good enough?" If you want to put across how amazing you can cook a steak, fine. Just stop being so lazy and come up with something more creative than that old worn overused cliched standby. How about "cooked just until the cow stops moving" or "grilled till it's blacker than Donald Trump's heart" or "steamed until the damn lobster stops screaming." Now THAT sounds tasty.

2.McDonald's trying to be cool. They keep coming up with all these ads where they try way too hard to get on the cool bus. It just makes them look pathetic and desperate. An R&B song about chicken nuggets? Break dancers? Millions of billboards touting some fancy salad with walnuts in it? Please. You're not cool McDonald's. Sell your crappy food if you must, but stop trying to be the Burger King. It's not going to happen.

3. Mispronouncing words... usually on purpose. There's really only a couple that really irk me. Like "Flustrated." It's not Flustrated, it's FRUSTRATED with an R! This one seriously really gets under my skin. Another one I've been hearing a lot lately mainly comes from a guy I work with, but I've heard it before, so I'll mention it... "will you do me a flavor" instead of "will you do me a FAVOR." Stop putting that stupid 'L' in there. As soon as you ask me for a 'flavor' it immediately makes me want to yell "NO!" and punch you in the face.

4. Fake Hand Washing. I honestly see/hear this all the time at work and it really grosses me out. Someone gets done doing their business in the bathroom and then goes over to the sink, turns it on for two seconds and then goes for the paper towel. HELLO! There's no way in hell you had time to lather up with soap and rinse in two seconds. If you're not going to properly wash your hands, just walk out and don't bother trying to make it look like you did. You're only contaminating the paper towel dispenser with your poo germs for the people who actually did use soap.

5. Crappy wiring. OK, this one I haven't experienced anywhere but in our current apartment. I am not joking when I say that I trip the circuit breaker at least once everyday while blow-drying my hair. It's tripped as many as three times in one ten minute period and two times is not uncommon. I've taken to turning off as many lights and extras such as the bathroom fan just to keep from using that extra bit of electricity in some lame attempt to get it to stop. It also always trips at least once when I push the 'on' button on the vacuum. All I can say is the next time we move, I'm going to bring three blow-dryers and turn them all on at the same time, just to make sure the new place can handle it before I make any commitments.

6. Auto Insurance & Cell Phone Commercials. There is no way that all of them have the best service and I'll save money switching to all of them. It's impossible. Especially because I've checked with all the major ones and I end up paying way more than the ones I'm currently with. I don't know how they all come up with these numbers that people will save hundreds of dollars etc., but it's all lies and they should be banned.

Well, I think that's it for now. So, if you're doing any of these things... STOP IT!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thumb Tucker

No, the title of this blog is not a typo. It's not supposed to say 'Thumb Sucker.'

About a year ago one of my fellow co-workers at Lumenis, Linda, pointed something out to me that I'd never noticed. She asked me why I walked around with my fists balled up and my thumb tucked in. I'd never realized I'd done it and to this day I don't know why I do it. I guess it's just another random habit. Every once in a while I'll look down and notice that I'm doing it again and silently curse Linda for making me aware of it. Maybe I'm afraid of my thumbs getting cold. Maybe I'm unconsciously scared they'll get cut off. Who knows. Anyway, after looking at the pictures from New Year's over at Rachel's house, I noticed there was only one picture of me and I was tucking in my thumbs, yet again.

Hello, my name is Karen and I'm a Thumb Tucker.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Super Fun Time

I know you've all been waiting for this moment... the time when I get to share with you all of the wonderful activities Seth and I enjoyed over Christmas vacation. We both really needed the break from work and school and made the most of the time we had together and with our families.

We spent our first Christmas together at home. Seth got me a fancy new Simms fly fishing vest and tied up a whole box of Royal Wulff flies. He spent a lot of time on my gift and I really appreciate all the thought he put into it. I really loved it!

I just woke up... Don't be jealous!

Seth also really liked his gift. I got him a fly tying bench complete with a lamp and a fly box. He's been tying a lot of flies lately (in addition to the ones he made me!) and he uses his new bench a lot.

We did really well this year I thought especially considering we set a reasonable budget for gifts and actually stuck to it. We may have had to think a little more and spend a bit more time, but I think it made everything mean that much more.
We also got some really nice things from our family. My parents gave us a set of monogrammed towels (which my mom made herself!). Corinne and her family gave us a print of one of my Dad's pictures. It turned out really beautiful and looks great in our apartment. Annie and Eric put all of the family home videos on DVDs along with music and everything. There were around 10 DVDs that they made and I could tell it was a lot of work. We really appreciated and loved it. Seth's family exchanges names and this year Rachel and Abraham had our name. Rachel crocheted a beautiful white afghan for us and made some mixes for soup, biscuits and cookies. It was very thoughtful and I'm sure it took her a long time to make.
We spent Christmas with my family this year because my sister, Corinne and her family were here from Arizona. The day after Christmas my dad took me, Seth, Corinne and JR out shooting on the west side of Utah Lake. Not too many people were out because it was pretty cold and snowy.

My 'Home Defender'

I think this is an AR-15, but who cares... I look hot!

Dad showing Seth his sawed off shotgun.

Militia anyone?

We had a great time skeet shooting using my dad's double barrelled shotgun.

Corinne's gone a little soft since she moved to Arizona...

JR's gone a little crazy.

It was great to see my nieces Lily and Ella and my nephew, Bryce. They are such cute kids and it was a blast hanging out with them. Lily, who just turned 5 was nice enough to give me a make-over using the make-up she just got for Christmas. I really needed it.

First, lipstick and face sparkles...

Next, eyeshadow. Blue is my signature color....

The finished product. Don't be a hater.

We also went to Clark Planetarium with my parents and Corinne and her family. We saw a 3-D movie called 'Santa vs. the Snowman.' The kids really liked it and we thought we looked pretty awesome in our special glasses!

We drove up to Idaho to spend New Year's with Seth's family. January 1st is our nephew, Soren's birthday. He turned 2 this year and we had fun with him and the family at Rachel's house.

Soren smiling while we sang him Happy Birthday.

Grandpa Hanson and Arielle

Collette and Marty


Seth and Grandma Hanson... they were having a good time... really.
We probably won't get another long vacation like that for a while but it was fun while it lasted. We appreciate our families and the great people that they are. Hopefully we'll get to see them all again soon!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Slacker Me

Ok I know I haven't done a post for awhile so this is just to keep you interested while I put something together. You'd think I could have managed to find some time during my almost two week vacation over Christmas, but somehow, I didn't.

It's funny though because I swear I check everyone else's blogs almost everyday and start to get annoyed when they don't have a new post on at least a weekly basis. Then I realize I haven't done one for a month. Crazy me.