TATT: Taking the Bite Out of Bug Bites

‘Tis the season for mosquitoes, at least if you live in Minnesota, where it is often joked that mosquitoes are the state bird. They aren’t actually. That honor goes to the Common Loon. However, between the Common Loon and the common mosquito, I can tell you which one is more common in our back yard… bzzzzz…..

Naturally, I can’t stand them. I don’t think I’ve ever met a person who did like mosquitoes. They have absolutely no redeeming qualities. Unfortunately, I also can’t stand most bug sprays. They make my eyes water, nose itch and I really don’t like the smell. Uggg!

Being forced to choose between being eaten alive or feeling like I’m having an allergic reaction is one of those rock and a hard place situations for me. That is, it was, until I discovered Herbal Armor.

I found this at Target last year and bought it for my kids. Having tried other natural bug sprays in the past that didn’t work at all, I was a little hesitant to spend more money going down the herbal road, but I really didn’t want to cover my kids with unnecessary chemicals, so I gave it a try.

Am I ever glad I did. Not only does it keep the bugs off of my girls, it also works for me without causing any watery eyes or itchy, runny nose. I stocked up at Target again this summer and have a couple bottles out in the garage for when we go outside to play.

Herbal Armor is great. I highly recommend it. Of course, it only works when you actually put it on, which I confess, sometimes I forget to do until a few mosquitoes are so kind as to remind me that I neglected to apply it. Ouch!

Now I think we can all agree that the only thing worse than the initial mosquito bite is the red bump that itches like crazy later. But never fear, I have a solution for that too… toothpaste.

Yup, good old, always have it around, toothpaste. People think I’m crazy when I tell them this, but just try it, and I think you’ll be amazed. Not sure why it works, the internet seems to think it’s either because of the peppermint or because of the fluoride, but whatever the reason, it does work. So instead of running out and buying some special bug bite product, the next time a mosquito gets through your defenses, just head to the medicine cabinet, dab on some toothpaste, and in a minute or two, the itch will be gone. It’s like magic!

Have a happy, mosquito-free Wednesday y’all!

Of Clothes and Close Calls with Cats

Clothes and Cats, two reasons I’ve made trips to Roseville in the last three days.  Vastly different motivations, I know, but both trips had happy endings, so I thought I’d share.

Tuesday I went to visit my favorite clothing thrift store: Clothes Mentor.  I should be more specific, I went to visit the one and only thrift store where I buy clothing for myself.  You see, I love buying things at thrift stores.  Things for my house, books, vases, furniture, clothes for my kids, it’s all good!  But I just can’t stand digging through piles of random clothing to try and discover (if I’m lucky) one thing I might possibly wear.  I guess maybe I’m too picky.

But Clothes Mentor is different.  They only carry brand name items that have been in stores within the last one or two years.  The store is clean and bright and so well organized.  Everything is by type of item (jeans, pants, t-shirts, long sleeved shirts, dresses, etc) then subdivided by size and then they hang it all in order by color, which is fantastic.  I love it.  If I’m trying to locate, for example, a black t-shirt in a size medium, there’s just one little place in the store to look.

Here’s my loot from Tuesday’s trip:

One pair of Apt. 9 jeans, one GAP t-shirt, one Banana Republic top, two Limited tops, a Stone Mountain purse and a pair of (totally didn’t need them, but couldn’t resist) BCBG red suede shoes.  I think I did pretty good for $75 and change.

For anyone who wants to check it out, here is the link to the Clothes Mentor website.  They’ve apparently got fifty-seven stores in twenty-three states, so there may be one near you!

Today was my second trip to Roseville.  This one wasn’t something I was planning.  It all started when I was getting Lydia out of her crib in the morning.  I glanced out the window and noticed some movement in the corner of our yard.  It was one of the neighborhood cats who appeared to be batting at something.  “Oh good, he’s got a mouse,” I thought, then looked a little closer and realized it was a little bird.

Now I knew as I ran down the stairs that if Peter had been home, he would have thought I was being silly, but honestly, it wasn’t like the cat was hungry.  The cat has loving, attentive owners who feed him on a regular basis.  He didn’t need the poor baby bird for nourishment, so I intervened.  I scooped up the cat and sent him off in the direction of home, grabbed a box and an old towel from the garage and took the little bird (who had an obviously injured wing) into the house.

The girls were very interested in the baby bird, but agreed to let him rest while they ate breakfast and got dressed.  Once everyone was ready, Lydia, Alethea, Dee and the bird had a brief meet and greet before we all piled into the car and headed off.

Our destination?  The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center on Dale Street.

My sister’s friend told me about it a while back.  They take orphaned or injured wild mammals (including rodents), birds and reptiles.  While the pictures in the lobby of the Trumpeter Swan and the baby beaver were a lot more impressive than one little fledgling Yellow Bellied Sapsucker (which is what they tell me our feathered friend was), it was still an exciting little excursion for me and the girls.  During the ride down I got to answer Alethea’s bird questions: “Are the birds in the sky dirty too? Or just the one we found?”  and “Why don’t birds wear shoes?”

So now you all know where to find deals on designer duds as well as a place to take injured squirrels, all in Roseville, Minnesota.  Aren’t you glad you stopped by?  And why don’t birds wear shoes, anyway?

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day

I’m not a baker.  Not by any means.  Other than a repertoire of a half dozen well rehearsed cookie recipes, I pretty much stick to boxed mixes and straight from the bakery goods.  However, I do love fresh baked bread, I mean, who doesn’t?  Right?  But despite the fact that I periodically toyed with the idea of taking up bread making, my lack of baking finesse and the amount of time it takes to make bread from scratch have always deterred me.

Until now, that is…

For Christmas, I asked for and received a new cookbook: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day.  (Thanks, John and Denny!)  I gotta tell you, I love this book!  I’ve been making fresh bread several times a week ever since I got it.  Me… baking bread… on a regular basis.  Crazy!

The premise is simple, you mix up a large batch of dough (it takes me about 10 minutes using my stand mixer, but you can do it by hand too), and then store the dough in your refrigerator for up to two weeks, just taking out enough to make one loaf whenever you feel the need for some freshly baked goodness.

It’s ridiculously easy, no-kneed bread that makes your house smell divine!  And it’s tasty too!

(This is the first loaf I ever made.  Well, actually it’s just part of the loaf.  The girls and I got about half way through it before I remembered to take a picture!  This bread is so good!)

There is a basic white bread recipe the authors recommend you try first, but then there are several chapters of variations and other types to try.  I’ve made three different kinds so far and they’ve all been great, even when I’ve neglected to perfectly follow the instructions.  Eventually I’m planning on trying my hand at the Pecan Caramel Rolls.  They sound amazing!

So anyway, if you love freshly made bread, but hate the time commitment it demands, this book is for you.  I highly recommend it!

Speaking of Impressive

Wow, what a surprise to drop by my own blog and see new post up that I knew nothing about!  Hmmm….  Time to change the administrator password perhaps.

I don’t usually post more than once a day, but since the last post wasn’t actually mine, I hope you’ll forgive the extra blogging.  So, without further ado, on to my subject for the day…

A friend told us about this awesome video called The Letter Factory by Leap Frog.  (Thanks for the recommendation, Amie!)  While I subscribe firmly to the thought that most ‘educational’ kids programing is more entertaining than informative, and that limiting your child’s TV exposure is best, I have been thoroughly impressed by this video.  Alethea enjoys watching it and I find it to be age appropriate and not annoying, which is all that I generally expect from our shows.  However, (bonus!) she really is learning her alphabet sounds!

Check out this video I took of her a couple weeks ago, keeping in mind that she had only watched the Letter Factory DVD about half a dozen times over the course of a month at this point:

(For die-hard cute kid singing fans, you can watch letters Q-Z by clicking here.)

At the time I took the above video of her, I obviously realized she was learning the letter sounds in the song.  But that wasn’t totally a shock to me, since Alethea picks up on anything set to music really quickly.  What did surprise me was when today at the Library she, completely unprompted, walked up to a big sign that said ‘READ’, pointed to the R and said, “Rrrrrr!”

So, there’s my sales pitch.  My two and a half year old can recognize the letter R and tell you what sound it makes.  Not because I’m a great parent or implemented some crazy rigorous reading program, but because she watched the Letter Factory a handful of times.  If you have a pre-reader in your life, I’d highly recommend this video!