30. April 2012 · Comments Off on Florida Discoveries 21: Dolphin Cruising in Destin · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

We had a wonderful afternoon on a dolphin cruise. The weather couldn't have been more cooperative!

I guess it’s been a while since I wrote one of these “Discoveries” posts, isn’t it? It doesn’t mean we didn’t do anything — in fact, I’m reminded that I should relabel my USS Alabama, Mardi Gras and Santa Train posts “Alabama Discoveries”…we do seem to spend a lot of time there, don’t we?

Maybe while I’m at it I’ll rename our Atlanta road trips “Georgia Discoveries” ūüôā

Thanks to a Groupon I purchased several months ago, we were able to take advantage of a dolphin cruise around Destin Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico this past weekend. The Groupon benefits expired on April 30th, so in typical Major Mom fashion, we took the trip on April 29th.

We took a 30 minute narrated tour of Destin Harbor and then traveled through the East Pass into the Gulf and got up close and personal with three separate pods of dolphins. As you might have read or heard, dolphins are indeed very social and friendly. The younger ones enjoyed showing off for us — trying to get as much air as possible when jumping! More »

28. April 2012 · Comments Off on Canning Homemade Fresh Salsa · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

I tried canning two pints of fresh salsa.

You know it happens to you, right?  Those food cravings.

Come on…admit it!

Sometimes you just feel like having something that isn’t sitting in your fridge or pantry. ¬†In my case, it was homemade fresh salsa. ¬†I like the salsa that you get in Mexican restaurants. ¬†The kind that comes to you in a carafe and you pour it into a bowl with some fresh corn tortilla chips.

Last year — at about this time — the boys and I made Pioneer Woman’s Restaurant Style Salsa with cilantro and¬†jalape√Īos¬†fresh from my garden. ¬†Since I put in my garden about 3 weeks late, I had no such freshness in my backyard and I had to settle for the ingredients from my local grocery store.

The recipe makes about 48 oz. of salsa…so this year I tried canning two of the three pints of it. ¬†I had some wide-mouth pint jars, and it was simple to process the two jars in a smaller pot.

I consulted my handy-dandy Ball Blue Book¬†for some guidance on how long to process the jars. ¬†And here’s where I’m in a¬†conundrum: I didn’t cook the salsa ahead of time. ¬†I want “fresh” salsa. ¬†So except for the cooking process during the 15 minutes in the water canner, I otherwise did NOT cook this salsa.

It appears there are numerous guides suggesting that a salsa mix needs to be boiled for 10+ minutes but found this recipe on Food.com where the author didn’t cook the salsa ahead of time. ¬†There was plenty of lemon juice in the recipe (mine had the same amount of lime juice). ¬†Seemed to be good reviews.

Since all of us in the house are blasting through this salsa at breakneck speed, I don’t think we’ll be letting these jars sit for more than a month or so. ¬†The pint that I put in the fridge on Thursday is already almost gone.

What say you?  Do you think the 1/4 c. of lime juice that I squeezed into this recipe is enough to keep the yuckies at bay without boiling the salsa first?

**This doesn’t mean I want another baby. ¬†It’s just nice to look back on my boys’ super-dooper cute baby pictures!

Today a fellow Air Force spouse friend posted pictures of her daughter on Facebook — portraits taken at the beach just after her first birthday. ¬†There were some family portraits also. ¬†In one of the pictures, the photographer did some really nice post-processing that really brought out the blue in her eyes.

Since the family will be moving away from the beach this summer, they were glad to get a nice portrait session before leaving.

Seeing the baby with her big blue eyes brought back memories of when Timmy had blue eyes. ¬†Which was up through his first birthday — then they turned hazel.

Timmy was about 10 months old here, we were visiting Dave's parents on Long Island for Thanksgiving in 2005. The sun was shining brightly so his irises were HUGE!

And because I can’t put up a cute picture of one of my babies without giving props to the other, here’s one of my favorites of Jacob.

April 2003. Jacob was about 7 months old and this was his first trip to the local pool.

25. April 2012 · Comments Off on Our Fishtank · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever written about our fishtank before. I know I’ve written several times about our fountain/pond set up in the front yard of our current house.¬†We have a 5 gallon tank in our kitchen also.

Jacob got his first fish around his 5th birthday. Small tanks with bettas and danios. Easy-to-care-for fish. We took the fishtank (sans fish) to Nebraska, and tried out some other fish — Glo-Fish danios were popular with the boys but they seemed to not live for more than 3-4 months at a time, and cost twice as much as non-fluorescent danios.

In Florida, we set up one more time, this time with fancy guppies. We kept 3-4 guppies in the tank and they did quite well. We lost one of them after about 6 months, which seemed par for the course.

About a year ago, we took on a blue gourami from a friend who was moving. A BIG blue gourami who proceeded to eat the tails off two of the guppies…the ones with the prettiest, fanciest tails. Since they were apparently threats to him even though he was about 20x their sizes. A fish with no tail doesn’t last long.

From May 2011 until April 2012, we had a small Endler’s guppy (which had a very plain tail and therefore was allowed to live) and the blue gourami. They existed in very quiet harmony.

The guppy is still with us, the blue gourami passed away at the beginning of this month.

So we repopulated the fish tank with some smaller fish. And decided to replace the really old plastic plants and anchor-thingy tank decoration in the tank while we were at it.

Zebra danios have always done well with us…so we bought 3 of them. You want to get groups of three because they’re “community fish”, and are happiest in groups.

We also chose a new kind of fish — new to us. “Mickey Mouse” platys. These are also community fish — considering the boys’ obsession with Hidden Mickeys, these were PERFECT! The boys love them!

Here are two fo the Mickey Mouse platys. Aren't they cute? They're about the size of feeder goldfish.

A closeup of the tail. See the Hidden Mickey?

While we were at it, we redecorated the tank to Post-Modern Bikini Bottom. Enjoy!

You can see one of our zebra danios towards the top of the pineapple.

First of all, an update on my iPhone cracked glass drama. I’m so happy that USAA called me this morning to tell me that my computer/media insurance rider WILL cover the dropped phone, I’m to get an assessment from Apple about whether we can just replace the glass…which they will cover. If Apple says “No, replace the whole phone.” then USAA will cover replacing the whole phone!

WOW! Now, before you all go running to USAA for computer/media riders, the adjuster made it clear that our policy is one of the LAST ONES to be worded such that it covers iPhones and by the end of 2012 ours will flip to exclude smart phones.

The moral of the story? Get the Apple Care or your cell phone provider’s insurance for your phone.

Now…back to the point of this post. Today I went to Walmart to get an Otterbox case for my phone. I wasn’t very happy with the Griffin Survivor iPhone case so I exchanged it. The Otterbox costs more — it’s probably the most expensive case there is. But hey — now I don’t have to pay to fix my phone, right?

My new Otter Box. The "Survivor" case I had before was a very bright pink, this one is more subdued. I like pink...in a subdued way.

I also needed groceries. For the first time in a long time I wasn’t squeezing in a grocery trip among several other daily errands. I could take my time.

As I used to do a lot more often, I began to take note of “new” products out there. And they got me wondering…

I saw a lot of stuff but these two products caught my attention.

First of all, I found this “Whole Grain (Hamburger) Helper.”

"Whole Grain (Hamburger) Helper". Plopped right next to regular Hamburger Helper.

Many of you know about my adventures with Hamburger Helper in 2010. And my adventures with “homemade” Hamburger Helper afterwards. (Maybe it’s time to make the homemade version for the kids again, by the way).

So I did some comparisons. I put Stroganoff-flavored Whole Grain Helper next to the Stroganoff-flavored regular Hamburger Helper to compare ingredients and nutrition facts.

I don’t see a lot of difference…take a look and tell me what you think?

The "Whole Grain" version is on the left, the standard is on the right. There's a little bit of calorie and sodium savings, but not enough for me to stop the presses and start buying it.

Here’s the ingredient list. Again, a few of the more chemical-y ingredients — such as MSG — aren’t in the whole grain version, but I was surprised at how much was still in the whole grain version.

I’d have been happier if they had removed that partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

The other product was with the Capri Sun beverages. I typically get my sons the “Roaring Waters” drinks, which are low-calorie alternatives to Capri Sun. But these Super-V drinks caught my attention:

Cue the John Williams theme! It's SUPER-V! With fiber, to boot!

We buy V-8 Splash sometimes, especially the Light Concord Grape flavor. But I try really hard not to make a habit out of substituting fruit and vegetable juices for the real thing. So I decided to let the boys try these in their lunchboxes. We’ll let you know.

PS: Does your school recycle Capri Sun pouches for Terracycle? Our boys’ schools do and it’s a great program. I’ve been promising myself a Capri Sun bag for a long time…maybe I need to actually do it?

This was the beginning of a pretty bad Saturday...

That’s how long have had my latest iPhone.

I know, I dropped my original phone and had to deal with missing pixels for several months, then I dropped my 2nd iPhone into the toilet…and now this.

On Saturday morning Jacob and I were preparing to run at our local Relay for Life event (which ended up canceled due to poor weather)…I was putting the phone into a velcro sleeve so I could start running. And it fell to the ground. It landed squarely on its back. Hence the dramatic cracking you see here.

The good news is that the phone itself is still working perfectly fine. The phone, the GPS/location services, the camera, the motion sensors, leveling sensors, etc. It’s all good. Yay!

I do NOT have AppleCare. I had assumed the computer and media rider on my property insurance would take care of this, but it probably won’t. While on Saturday I was pretty nervous about having to spend $750 on a new replacement for this phone, it probably won’t be quite that bad.

The continued good news is that I can apparently bring the phone to an Apple Store and one can replace the back glass inexpensively. Anywhere from $29 to $100 based on assorted Apple support forums.

But wait. I don’t live near an Apple Store! ¬†Never fear! ¬†Next month I’ll be in Omaha and I think I’ll take my phone to the store out there and see what they can do.

In the meantime, I got my hands on a pretty substantial case. In part because I’m really paranoid now, but also because I need to protect that cracked back panel — there are slivers of glass that can cut up my fingers, and Dave reminded me that I needed to protect the phone more now from that pervasive Florida moisture!

Just call me “Butterfingers”. ¬†Sigh…

17. April 2012 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

I realized that I posted an incomplete paint job picture in that last post.

So here are some pictures of the finished walls.  Please note that every. single. wall. in this house was WHITE beforehand.

BEFORE:

The whiter-than-white kitchen.

Whiter-than-white living room. This was taken just before the previous residents moved out.

AFTER:

Front entryway. Pardon the poor lighting.

Kids'/Guest Bath. It's a VERY light blue. You can look at the contrast between the walls and ceiling to see the subtle difference.

The fireplace. Two different colors here.

Looking towards the kitchen.

The kids photobombing.

We carried the accent color to a couple other walls.

15. April 2012 · Comments Off on We have completed painting the kitchen! We are officially FINISHED with the pai… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags:
We have completed painting the kitchen! We are officially FINISHED with the painting! In the meantime, I am trying a tool that brings Facebook posts into my blog. Let's hope I don't generate an endless loop, lol!

I now have LiveFyre itself on board to help me troubleshoot things. ¬†I have flipped an additional switch in the LiveFyre settings and if you could continue to leave FB and blog comments I can see what is working and what isn’t.

I’m now about to try some Twitter testing…so hopefully you’ll see comments from Twitter come in on this post, thanks!

In the meantime, here’s another picture for you to enjoy! ¬†Jacob’s team won their baseball game today. ¬†Timmy’s team didn’t win, but they only lost by 3 runs, and Timmy scored a run! ¬†We’re so proud of our guys! ¬†This was taken on the way home from baseball today.

Timmy was happy about (a) doing well at baseball and (b) riding in a convertible on this beautiful day!