Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Baking soda toothpaste experiment

When you look at a bottle of baking soda, would you ever have thought of it as a toothpaste? Um, not me! I've never thought of it as anything more than a baking ingredient, the one you can't add a lot of, only a teeny tiny teaspoon or it would make your cake taste weird. Yea, that!

When I read about folks who have been using for shampooing hair, washing dishes and clothes, cleaning floors and counter tops, brushing teeth for years and a gazillion other things, I was like wow, I had no idea. So what is this magical thing that's natural, doesn't contain tons of chemicals and saves money?

In my mind, it's entirely too good to be true. A baking ingredient does all that? Only one way to find out. But I wasn't going to jump in and get all crazy, know what I mean?

I whipped out my bottle of baking soda, poured out a little and mixed it with a little water to make a paste... and voila! my own toothpaste. Well, some say to add peroxide paste but I didn't have any, so I just added water. Came time to brush my teeth before bed, I honestly didn't know what to expect. I've never tasted baking soda on its own.

Let's just say, I was in for a shock. The taste almost mad me gag! It's salty, eww! Did you know baking soda is salty? I didn't, silly me! Why then would it even be called sodium bicarbonate if it wasn't salty? So there you go.

And the verdict? I've only used my baking soda toothpaste (which I shall affectionately call BS Toothpaste) twice so far but I'll say this, it leaves the teeth feeling squeaky clean. I shouldn't be too surprised. But I am. I read the flouride in regular toothpaste is not good for you.

That said, I'm not going to go BS right away. I still have a few tubes of regular toothpaste in stock to get through. After that, I'm not sure. I might just go BS. My kids are eager to try it, not sure they'll like it though.

I'm also eager to try using baking soda as a shampoo. Anyone else use BS for anything else other than baking?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

To go or not to go?

Hey guys, I'm feeling a little down today. There are things I know I need to do but I can't, for various reasons, and I'm feeling guilty that maybe I really should try a little harder to overcome those hurdles and do what is expected of me. Now that I've written it out, it's really looking a lot easier said than done.

Bit of a dilemma here.

You know, like I really should visit someone who isn't feeling well lately but because he lives with people I'm not on talking terms with, I just don't want to go over there because I don't relish the idea of running into them in THEIR house!

I've never set foot in their house and it would be totally awkward when they open the door and I'm standing there. And I totally won't feel comfortable talking to him when I know they're in the building.

I really feel like I should go though. But I don't want to. Know what I mean? It would be so awkward and unpleasant. But if I don't go, I know he'll be very disappointed and the guilt is going to gnaw at me and make me miserable.

I keep going back and forth with my decision. But I can't make up my mind. What do you think?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Day trip to San Francisco

Hey friends, today I'm going to share with you my trip to "the city by the bay, the city that rocks, the city that never stops". Remember that 80's song by Starship, "We built this city"? Yup, that one...

For starters, have I mentioned how much I love San Francisco? Well, I do! Somehow when I'm on vacation, I find myself going back there again, and again. I was there again this past spring with my two older kids. The trip was to celebrate my Big Guy's college graduation.

We were staying in Gilroy for a couple of days to do a bit of shopping at the outlets. When I say "a bit of shopping", don't you believe me for a minute. I shop like a maniac but that's a story for another day. Anyhoo, San Francisco being what I think of as my adopted hometown, I just had to get into the city, even if it was only for a day.

Spring in San Francisco is some seriously gorgeous weather, sunny but crispy cool, which I adore. We drove past these beautiful town homes on our way in. I'm thinking it must be nice living in a town home, tall and narrow with that quaint gate and sliver of a front yard.

First stop, the Golden Gate Bridge. The first time I ever set eyes on this sight was soon after I started college way back then. Nothing has changed, it's still as stately and beautiful as ever. That's me looking for a parking spot.

Lots of photos and a walk down the bridge later, we hopped over to the Palace of Fine Arts which is a skip and a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge and it's another place I never miss visiting whenever I'm in SF. Just strolling through the gardens with its fountains and geese and gazing at the magnificent architecture takes me to a different place and time. Maybe I was a Roman princess in a previous life, you never know LOL.

Big Guy, my trusty navigator, took us through the roller-coaster streets of SF and we ended up parking on this slope of a street. See that arrow, that's my car, precariously clinging on for dear life at 45 degrees. When we opened the car doors, we had to pull ourselves up from an incline. It was some crazy stunt. We had to swing our legs out without the car door slamming shut while hanging on to keep ourselves from falling backwards.

A short climb up the hill and here we are at Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world. I'd love to be living in one of those houses lining this crazy crooked street. Look out way over there! I think that view alone is worth the hordes of noisy tourists milling around your front door taking pictures all day lone.

We'd planned to have a good lunch along Fisherman's Wharf where I remember tasting the best clam chowder ever years ago. But it was so crowded everywhere with tourists spilling out of every corner, it was impossible to find a good place to sit down and have a nice, unhurried lunch. So we ended up at McDonald's across the street from the wharf.

As we were leaving, we took a turn to Chinatown. My kids have never been there. They've only seen it on TV, those little old Chinese men huddled over stone tables playing checkers on the street. So they were excited they actually spotted this same scene playing out right before their very eyes as we cruised through Chinatown.

It was hard saying goodbye to San Francisco. It always is. It's like my heart belongs there somehow. We arrived back in Gilroy just in time for dinner and a bit of shopping. We were up early the next morning for our day trip to Carmel and Monterey, another of my favorite pieces of California. Stay tuned for that.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

My version of loaded potato skins

Have you ever bought a grocery item that you completely forgot you have a ton of at home and then gone ahead and bought a ton more? Well, that happens to me... quite a lot. This week, I have an abundance of Russets sitting around, the result of buying more when I still have lots at home.

Said Russets were starting to look a little sad and wrinkly so I thought hey, let's make some loaded potato skins. They're a big hit with my kids and they really do go fast.

They're really easy to make too. Here's how I made my version.
  • 6 Russet potatoes, halved
  • 6 slices back bacon, roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, diced (optional, we just happen to love onions)
  • cheddar and mozzarella cheese (feel free to use your favorites)
  • green/spring onions, finely chopped
  • salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
  1. Scrub the potatoes really well and rub some oil on them, skin side.
  2. Microwave on high for10-12 minutes, or till softened but not too soft since you're going to be baking them later.
  3. Scoop out the center of each potato leaving a ring around the skin to form a bowl.
  4. Mash up the potato centers in another bowl. Add bacon and onions. Season to taste. Mix well.
  5. Scoop a portion of the mixture into each potato skin.
  6. Top with spring onions, and cheese however generously you like.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes or till cheeses are melted to a beautiful light brown.
  8. Dig in!!

I would've sprinkled some finely chopped spring onions on top except I didn't have any on hand. But this is already so so good as it is. So kid-friendly too if you have little ones, and makes a very nice appetizer or snack when you have friends over.

Do you like potato skins? Where do you usually have them? Have you ever made your own? If not, you really have to try making these.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Yummy in my tummy

Hey everyone, how's your weekend going?

Mine isn't really going anywhere. I'm just glad it's the weekend. I'm tired and I need to kick off my shoes badly after a hectic week. Don't ask me what I did, it's all a blur now and quite frankly, I'd like to leave it that way!

Crazy days, crazy weeks make me hungry and I usually end up rewarding myself with food. Something yummy, of course. Thankfully there's a great Vietnamese restaurant just around the corner from my place. This noodle stirfry that's more veggies, shrimp, fish and mushrooms than noodles is just the way I like it.

What's even more incredible is this avocado smoothie over red beans. It's so so good I can't even find the words to describe it. Smooth, silky, creamy, not too sweet, pure genius. If you doing Viet, remember you have to look for this smoothie on their menu.

Anyone else reward themselves with food after a trying day or week? I do and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I don't care if the healthy eating/weight loss gurus come after me. So anyone else? Come on, let's see a show of hands ;)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Working out: How to get back to the grind

I'm back in the thick of working out again. No more excuses. I let it slide, I have to get back on track, that's all. Sometimes easier said than done, I know. But it can be done. I've done it before.

For starters, I need to find that motivation. Some folks relate exercise to eating. They look at exercise as their ticket to guilt-free eating. I don't. I don't believe that's how it works. I simply enjoy working out. I like the endorphin rush and the feel-good-after. And tank tops being my regular garb, I have to get my definition back.

Getting back to the grind isn't always a smooth path though. At best, there will be false starts. This is real life, not Keeping Up With the Fardashians. I may get all enthusiastic one morning and beat myself up for a half hour, then nothing for 3 days. It's sometimes slow-going at first but once I get my rhythm back, it's all going to work out, literally.

I don't try to do too much at first. You fire up a disused engine, it's bound to splutter for a bit. I just listen to my body and if it says, I'm tired, I say, okay, fine, let's stop here today. I was sore at first, that's normal, but it's important to give your muscles time to recover and get readjusted. So I usually start out light, go easy and ease back into things.

I'm back on track now. It's been 3, 4 weeks. I'm so crazy I even work out on Sundays. Heck, I never work out on Sundays. What's wrong with me (lol)? But that's just how good it feels to be back.

Anyone else starting to work out after a break? Care to share your tips? I'm sure we could all use some fresh ideas. If you're finding it hard to reestablish your workout routine, you might want to give my tips a try and let me know how they work for you :)