Go ahead and laugh at me. But because I wasn't raised in a Jewish household (but am Jewish by birth), I missed out on a lot of things, Shabbat being one of them. I love teaching my girls the prayers and lighting the candles and seeing their excitement, even though they don't yet truly grasp the meaning of it. And tonight we shared Shabbat dinner with friends, which makes it even sweeter. My chicken didn't turn out all that great (slightly overcooked), but everything else was alright.
Now what to do about these dishpan hands??!!
1/4 cup Canola oil
1/3 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups BREAD flour (NOT all-purpose!)
3/4 tsp. salt
- I save all plastic bags (and I don't mean plastic grocery bags because I DO NOT USE THOSE EVER), like the bags loaves of bread come in or hamburger bun bags or the bags our newspapers come in. I use these to scoop doggie poop. You could also stash some in your car for on-the-go trash, stinky diaper disposal, wet swim suits, or whatever else.
- If you haven't done so already (SHAME ON YOU), invest in some reusable shopping/grocery bags. You can get them anywhere nowadays, for as cheap as $1 each at some grocery stores. Then you can be a rock star and go to http://www.etsy.com/ and search for "reusable produce bags." You can get a set of 6 for a few dollars, and there are small and large sizes. These are great because it means when you are buying apples, pears, nectarines, etc., you do not need to use those nasty plastic produce bags at the store in addition to the other plastic grocery bags you may (A-HEM) still be using.
- I love my Swiffer. I do sometimes use the Swiffer pads, and when I do, I make sure to flip 'em over and use BOTH sides, and that both sides are really grimy before I toss them. Most of the time I am instead strapping on a chamois, rag, or an old t-shirt and using that.
- I use sponges and rags to clean off my kitchen table and counter tops. Paper towels make me batty. Dan is also often guilty of taking a handful of strawberries, rinsing them, and laying them down on a paper towel to hull and slice them before adding to his cereal. BAD DAN!!! I do it on a cutting board or a regular plate. That's one less paper towel to toss in the trash!
- I invested in some cheap cloth napkins for everyday use, and even got the girls some of their own (very fun/floral/polka dot ones) from http://www.etsy.com/. This means no paper napkins or paper towels being used at meals to wipe your face.
- Turn off the tap when you are brushing your teeth. Turn off the shower or at least turn it way down when you are shaving your legs. I also often turn it off when I am shampooing my hair and lathering up with soap.
- Turn up your thermostat in the summer and turn it down in the winter. Use your ceiling fans and other fans to help cool the house down (I have thyroid issues, so I confess summer is hard on me at times and I am guilty of using my AC more than I'd like to), and in winter throw on a sweater or sweatshirt if you're chilly.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle. Some people aren't sure what can be recycled, so you should check with your local company to be sure. Things everyone can recycle (but things I likewise see in the trash ALL THE TIME) are: empty cardboard cereal/cracker boxes, empty toilet paper & paper towel rolls, magazines, newspapers, empty milk or juice cartons (yes, the cardboard ones!), soda cans, yogurt containers, water bottles, etc....Mixed paper (like all that junk mail you get!) can also usually be recycled.
- Stop buying bottled water and invest in a Brita or Pur filter system.
- Buy local & organic whenever possible.
- Go to http://www.terracycle.net/ and see if you can register to create your own recycling brigade for various products----I recycle my kids' Capri Sun juice pouches through them.
- Go to http://www.catalogchoice.org/ and stop all the junk mail/catalogs from coming to your house. Once you register a particular catalog it can take several weeks to actually stop, but it WILL stop. I can't tell you how drastically I've reduced our incoming junk mail this way!!!
- Turn off the lights as you leave a room. Turn off the tv if you're not watching.
- Remember that turning something off doesn't always save energy/resources. Unplugging, however, can help a great deal more. I often unplug my computer, my toaster oven, coffee maker, etc....ladies, if you leave your hair dryer, curling iron, and Chi plugged in 24/7, STOP IT NOW!!! It's so easy to just unplug it.
- Combine/consolidate errands when you can.
- Teach your children about our planet, its resources, and gently explain the rules to them. I often hear my kids yelling at each other not to waste water!
- Compost your kitchen scraps. I can't tell you to do this because I'm not doing it myself yet. Dan is balking about having some ugly receptacle in the yard and I'm also not very educated as to what bin would be best for us and where to get it from (a friend of mine recommended http://www.compostbins.com/) ....stay tuned.
- Wash all your clothes in cold water and dry them on lowest heat setting. This will also help save your clothes, not just the environment!!!! When possible, lay clothing flat to dry.
- Use soy candles. I like Mrs. Meyers' candles.
- While I know all green products are not necessarily the greenest, I like Method and Mrs. Meyers brands for most of my cleaning needs. I vowed to create my own cleansers using everyday things like lemon oil, vinegar, water, etc., but I have been too lazy.
- Remember that every little bit helps. Do whatever you can do.
- Register for on-line bill paying where payments are automatically deducted from your checking account. This saves you a stamp and also saves paper.
- Some companies (like Patagonia) will recycle some of their clothing. Other places even accept old tennis shoes. Also consider donating your old clothing and shoes to Goodwill, Vietnam Vets, or any other worthy cause. You can also use your old or hole-y t-shirts as rags to clean with. Use your old towels for cleaning your car inside & out.
- Run your dishwasher and washing machine only when they are full.
- Geez, I could go on and on!
My daughter Isabel's little legs kicking furiously under the water as she bobbed her head beneath the surface and flailed her arms around. Not a perfectly synchronized swimmer to be sure, but a swimmer nonetheless! We were in the baby pool at Dan's parents' country club, which is about 3 feet deep all around. Swim lessons the last several weeks have gotten the girls more comfortable in the water, and add that to a pool they can stand up & walk around in, and voila! Izzy took off. She swam short distances between me and Susan (Dan's stepmom) and I think the fact that she could pause and put her feet on the bottom gave her confidence. She'd take a quick breath and then yank her feet up and dive under again to swim the rest of the way. Popping up to the surface, she'd swipe the chunks of hair out of her eyes, make a dramatic gasping sound, and wait for more applause.
Once she started, she wouldn't stop. Her eyes became red from the chlorine and her skin was wrinkled like a prune. She refused to rest even though I encouraged her to do so...finally we insisted that it was time to go home. I was hoping to try again today (and to see what she would do in the big pool), but it's raining here. So it will have to wait.
Abby appeared nonchalant at first, but I think jealousy has set up shop. As with most other things at our house, though, I believe this will force Abby to take the plunge (pun intended), too. Both girls are very comfortable in the water, but lately Abby tilts her head back and looks up as she goes underwater---which means water goes up her nose since she can't always remember to blow bubbles.
Anyway, it was one of those BIG moments as a parent--when you realize your kids are growing up. I had a flashback to this time last year, when the girls were in the midst of potty training and a trip to the pool was mostly just stressful for me and involved lots of in & out and yanking down wet suits, soggy swim diapers, and the single most embarrassing thing ever, the Abby-had-diarrhea-in-the-country-club-pool, the OhMyGodIWantToShrivelUpAndDie Day. Fortunately those memories are all in the past and we are big girls now and it's so exciting to step back for a minute to realize how far we've come. I know we still have a long way to go and my life never seems to feel calm, organized, and stress-free, but...the girls are great (most of the time) and it's rewarding to see them excel at something and feel like it's partially because of me.
And then someone starts yanking someone's hair or screaming about being hit and I snap right back to reality.