I was just telling some friends how busy my schedule has been lately. I am sad I haven’t been able to post much of the things on my mind but I have to stop and post about this.
While folding an endless pile of towels the other day I was also watching Undercover Boss which featured the Philly Pretzel Factory. Lets just say it was a mouth watering episode! So it got me thinking that although I am not the best cook and certainly not the best at making bread products they made it look very easy to make pretzels. I got online and found a recipe that looked simple enough for me to try making pretzel bites last night.
The dough was very easy to make using my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook. I let it rise like it suggested and then got my son involved (after much hand washing) with helping me roll out the dough into the long strips. After cutting them into small bite size pieces they simply are dunked into boiling water for about 30 seconds, placed on a greased cookie sheet, brushed with an egg wash mixture and heavy salt and then they are ready to bake. Of course it smelled amazing but I was pleasantly suprised at how they tasted! Mine didn’t come out looking as amazing as the photo but maybe with time I can master that too. The recipe also said you can do cinnamon and sugar instead of salt but I also think it is worth trying with butter and parmesean cheese! The recipe also has suggestions for dipping sauces. I had honey mustard on hand but my husband made an olive oil and Italian herb sauce too.
Click here for the recipe: http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/homemade-soft-pretzel-bites/
What other spices, variations or sauces would be good on these pretzel bites?
It is RODEO time in Houston. Every year this time the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is in town for a few weeks. It usually is here during spring break so it becomes one of our day trips as a family. If you have never been to something like this it can be an all day event. Not only do they have a carnival with tons of rides, games and food vendors but there is also over 480 retail vendors with everything like cowboy boots, candy, jewelry, scented candles, furniture, clothing, kitchen gadgets, etc. They also have a kids zone with fun exhibits, rides and interactive activities. Want to see an egg hatch live? They have it! Want to see them milk a cow? They have it! Want to walk around thousands of pens full of stinky pigs, cows, horses, chickens, etc? They have it! They also have livestock auctions and competitions.
The big event is the rodeo and concert held inside Reliant Stadium. They always have a concert after the rodeo that features a headline singer or group. Although I am not a huge country music fan I am impressed with the A list of stars that have sold out shows each year like Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, and Reba McEntire. The rodeo itself includes bucking horses and bull riding, chuck wagon races, barrel races, the calf scramble, calf roping, etc. One of my favorites by far is the “Mutton Bustin”. The announcer actually puts it the best when he says “this is the part of the show where we strap our kids to farm animals and call it entertainment”. If you have never seen it you have to watch the video below. Basically it is a child around 5-6 years old wearing a heavily padded vest and helmet put on the back of a sheep, told to grab on to its wool, and then hang on for dear life when the gate opens. As the sheep runs across the pen the object is to see who can stay on the longest. Over the years I have seen a few kids with tears but the majority have huge grins on their faces and are pumping their fists in the air with excitement after they take that dive to the ground.
What is your favorite thing about a rodeo?
This is so easy it almost isn’t fair! It really takes less the 5 minutes to throw everything into your crock pot and walk away! This is one of my favorite recipes to fix on Sunday because I can start it quickly before leaving for church.
Ham & White Bean Soup
Pour the cans of beans with the juice and chicken broth into the crock pot. Mix in the amount of ham you desire and place bay leaves in last. Cover the crock pot and cook on low for 4 or more hours. Serve with hot bread or rolls.
** For the ham you can use a ham hock, leftover ham pieces, or I buy the Hormel diced ham which I find in the meat section near the whole hams. I have started only using 1/2 of the package of ham pieces and freeze the other half for the next time! Stock up on the canned products and ham when you have coupons or find them on sale.This makes a really easy meal to always have on hand.
What quick fixing crock pot recipes are your favorites?
Thankfully most of my friends and family are caring enough to use proper phone etiquette but I often have the unfortunate opportunity to speak with customers who could use a little schooling on what they should and should not be doing when on the phone. You would be surprised at how often these incidence happen. These calls could be uncomfortable in any situation but especially to a customer service agent speaking with a complete stranger! Here are just some of the things we are subjected to listening to:
- Using the Bathroom: Seriously, we can hear you! Especially when you flush! Please do your business before or after the call and if it is an emergency either ask us to hold or call us back. Just don’t take us with you!
- Television or Radio TOO LOUD! It is very hard to get your information when we cannot hear anything but our TV commercial going in the background. What is worse is those customers who cannot hear us either but don’t think to turn their volume down in order to hear better. I am not going to scream to compensate for your loud TV!
- Eating: Munching in my ear is bad enough but when you have a mouth full of food and trying to give me your contact information it is impossible to understand you!
- Watching Porn: Just like using the bathroom we can hear this too! Please please please take care of your personal business before calling and do not make us listen to your porn during the call. I have asked people to turn their TV down in this situation but believe me I will hang up if it doesn’t stop or I feel you are doing “anything else” during that time. GROSS!
- Baby Crying: When is it ever a good time to order something or call someone when your kid is screaming bloody murder? Please get them back to sleep, give them a bottle or calm them down before calling. Certainly do not hold a screaming child when you are on the phone because being that close to the phone that is all we can hear!
- Dogs Barking: This is basically the same as the baby crying. If your dog is trying to warn a squirrel or mail man to stay out of your yard please put them up before calling or go into another room!
- Gases: Oh yes. We do have ears and we can hear every fart and burp so cover the phone, put us on mute or excuse yourself for a moment please.
- Fighting: It’s probably not a good time to call and order a product when you’re in the middle of a fight with someone at home! We are literally the fly on the wall and know all your business now!
- Swearing: This can be both happy and angry customers believe it or not. Some just have incorporated swearing into their everyday vocabulary and will just let words fly when doing a normal order. Others get angry and the words start coming. Please realize you are still speaking to a human being and swearing is not acceptable. We do have the authorization to hang up on anyone swearing if we have asked them to stop and they don’t.
- Prank Calls: It is bad enough from the kids but as an adult grow up! Even with a few beers in you it isn’t funny to call an order line for a kitchen appliance and ask what the customer service agent is wearing. You really think we sit around in lingerie waiting to take your call? Oh and by the way, we do have Caller ID so you’re not so anonymous anymore!
I am sure the list can go on but these are the most common of the phone etiquette problems I encounter on a pretty regular basis. Just realize that although someone cannot see you they certainly can still hear what is going on. Remember our children are learning proper etiquette from us. Take care of what you can before getting on the phone or even answering a phone call with anyone to avoid an inconsiderate situation on that call!
What unpleasant things have you had to listen to while on a call?
- An Unsaid Etiquette (interactive360.wordpress.com)
- The Basics of Phone Etiquette (dallasbelle.com)
- What is Etiquette? (whatiquette.wordpress.com)
Certainly there are many conditions where the positive attributes of a drug outweigh the possible negative side effects. My thoughts today point towards times when the prescribed drug is for something more minor that certainly makes you question whether risking side effects is worth the benefits of the drug.
We see more and more commercials advertising their drugs for certain medical conditions. All are required by law to list possible side effects. Have you noticed those that seem to take more of the commercial to talk about the side effects then the actual drug and it’s benefits? Comedian Tim Hawkins does a hilarious skit of this very topic.
Here is another great example: I just heard a commercial on the radio yesterday for Nuvigil. This is being advertised to help those with Excessive Sleepiness(ES) due to Shift Work Disorder (SWD). Yes this is an actual diagnosed disorder. In all fairness I have worked an overnight shift for almost 15 years so I can certainly understand all the symptoms of SWD since shift work often leads to sleep disorders. Our bodies natural instinct is to be sleeping not working during the night and be active and not asleep during the day. Lack of proper sleep can cause someone to lose their focus and even reduce their ability to function. There is an increased risk of accidents due to sleepiness. Many become more irritable or have reduced ability to participate socially. Sleepiness can also effect their overall job performance. Certainly there is an increased risk for worsening a previously diagnosed medical condition. There may be a benefit from this drug in extreme cases but what are the possible side effects? (this list taken directly from Nuvigil.com)
What are possible side effects of NUVIGIL?
- Stop taking NUVIGIL and call your doctor or get emergency help if you get any of the following serious side effects:Common side effects of NUVIGIL are headache, nausea, dizziness, and trouble sleeping. These are not all the side effects of NUVIGIL.
- Mental (psychiatric) symptoms, including: depression, feeling anxious, sensing things that are not really there, extreme increase in activity (mania), thoughts of suicide, aggression, or other mental problems
- Symptoms of a heart problem, including: chest pain, abnormal heart beat, and trouble breathing
- Tell your doctor if you get any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away. Talk to your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
What should I avoid while taking NUVIGIL?
- Do not drive a car or do other dangerous activities until you and your doctor know how NUVIGIL affects you.
- Avoid drinking alcohol.
What should I tell my doctor before starting NUVIGIL?
- Tell your doctor about all of your health conditions including if you have: history of mental health problems (including psychosis), heart problems or had a heart attack, high blood pressure, liver or kidney problems, a history of drug or alcohol abuse or addiction, or are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
- Tell your doctor about all of the medicines you take. Women who use hormonal birth control may have a higher chance of getting pregnant, while taking and for one month after stopping NUVIGIL. Talk to your doctor about other birth control methods while taking NUVIGIL.
So let’s recap. First thing that stands out to me is the “trouble sleeping”. Does that seem weird to anyone else since the problem to begin with is a sleep disorder leading to excessive sleepiness? Certainly other possible side effects are common with most drugs like headache, nausea, dizziness, etc. The other thing that stood out to me though that is a huge red flag is mental (psychiatric) symptoms including seeing things that are not really there, aggression and thoughts of suicide. What about possible heart problems? Being unable to drive a car driving a car until you know the effects of the drug can be a problem for many as they still have work and family responsibilities. Do any of those seem like something you want to gamble with?
I truly am thankful for all the medical resources available and the continual advancements in research that improve our lives. I will say again that there are many conditions that require proper medication and in those cases the benefits surley outweigh the side effects. For those people just looking for a magic pill for all your ailments maybe a closer look at the side effects is needed. I mean seriously if you have to take another pill to help with the side effects created by the first pill is it worth it? We really do not want our children learning bad habits by taking medication for every little thing either. Do your research and look into all areas of assistance before jumping into a prescription. ALWAYS ask your doctor about the side effects and if there is something else that might be just as effective without all the possible side effects. Remember many doctors have incentives to promote certain drugs for the manufactures so make sure they are doing what is best for you, not the drug manufacturer!
What are your thoughts about the long lists of possible side effects for prescription drugs?
My son is in Cub Scouts and needed to make a theme cake to bring to the Blue and Gold Banquet for his pack. This is a father and son project to come up with an idea and decorate their cake for this competition. They went over many options to go with the theme of “resourcefulness” like a pocket knife, camp fire, recycling, and a compass. My son chose a compass. Instead of trying to frost and then decorate a cake with frosting tips they decided to try fondant instead. We have a close friend that decorates cakes that advised us to go online and find a recipe for marshmallow fondant because it was really easy.
Although I can follow recipes I always worry about trying something that in my mind is hard, even if someone tells me it is easy. In the spirit of adventure I decided to jump in feet first and make this fondant. It is simply melted marshmallows, a bit of water and a ton of powdered sugar. Using my KitchenAide Mixer with the dough hook made it even more simple! I just added the melted marshmallow and water and began slowly adding the powdered sugar until it reached the consistency I wanted. I then pulled it out and continued kneading it with some additional powdered sugar until it was no longer sticky. Since we decided to do more than one color I did not add the coloring with the initial mixing. I had to separate out the dough into the amounts I needed and then put it back into the mixer one at a time adding the color. I did some additional kneading to make sure all the color was consistent with no streaks. I then wrapped each color in plastic wrap and placed them in the refrigerator as the recipe had stated (I found out later from our friend that refrigeration isn’t necessary if it is wrapped properly and will be used within a few days).
We had already made a cake which we had frozen. This makes it easier when trying to press the fondant on and around the cake. Before starting with the fondant they spread a thin layer of cake frosting on the cake to help the fondant adhere properly. For the fondant they placed it in between two pieces of plastic wrap and used a rolling-pin to roll it out thin. They cut out the pieces they needed for each part and placed them on the cake. Where corners met they were able to mold and pinch them together to make it more seamless. They also made templates for the letters and markings on the top, cut them out and placed them on the top of the cake. It was done in no time!
They had so much fun making this cake and seeing how quickly everything came together we want to do more. I think over spring break and the summer I will make some cupcakes, fondant of different colors, and get small cookie cutters and stencil templates to let my children decorate some cupcakes! We may even become adventurous and do a layered cake together. LET THEM EAT CAKE!
To see the website for recipe and instructions on this easy marshmallow fondant click HERE.
Have you ever used fondant for your cake decorating?
- My first time…..using fondant that is! (amultifariousme.wordpress.com)
- My First Fondant Cake! (funwithcupcakes.wordpress.com)