Friday, November 01, 2013

Things I Learned in October

I'm hooked on this prompt from Chatting at the Sky--finding it fun to keep a draft running all month and jot down the random things I learn. Here are October's lessons:

1. "Sushi" does not actually mean "raw fish." Am I the only one who totally misunderstood this? My Filipina friend Ana set me straight after I asked a confused question on a Facebook photo she posted of her homemade sushi made with cooked crab. She explained:
"It's still considered sushi even when you use cooked meat. The term sushi literally means sour-tasting. It's actually the vinegared rice that makes the sushi a sushi. When you use raw meat (not necessarily seafood), then you call it sashimi."
I always avoided sushi because I was pretty certain I couldn't handle the texture of raw meat--well, not that I've had tons of opportunities to try it, but I've certainly never sought any. Now I'm kind of curious to give it a taste.

2. There are few foods I love more than burnt cheese, and I may or may not have recently purposely placed plain provolone cheese on my stone and baked it to eat straight up burnt cheese. Turns out there is actually a fancy-sounding name for that, which sounds so much more sophisticated than burnt cheese: "frico." That said, frico grilled cheese seemed like a brilliant idea--but it was an epic fail. The cheese glued the bread to the pan and made nothing more than a mess. 

3. Britax has excellent customer service. We learned the hard way that with the more expensive carseats, you're paying for ease of use. The Cosco Alpha Omega seat we had when Elijah was a baby was terrible--incredibly difficult to get installed correctly when rearfacing, a pain in the neck to adjust. With Jude, we splurged on a Chicco KeyFit30 and LOVED it. Now both boys are in Britax seats--Jude in a Boulevard and Elijah in a Frontier--and we are very pleased with them. However, the side impact wing/headrest on Jude's recently broke, so I called Britax. The seat is more than a year old, but they sent us a replacement part, no questions asked.

And while we're on the subject...70-90% of carseats are installed or used improperly, even though 95% of parents think they're using the seats correctly. Here's a simple guide with helpful photos--make sure you are one of the minority! Some of the most common mistakes:
  • chest clip too low (it should be at armpit level)
  • harness straps too loose (you should not be able to pinch any slack)
  • seat not installed tightly enough (it should not move more than one inch side to side at the belt patch)
  • improper seat choice (forward facing too soon, booster too soon)
4. Magic Eraser works on soap scum. CHANGED MY LIFE. Yes I'm about a decade behind on this. Better late than never right? I ignored the hype for the longest time because I assumed it had to be full of all kinds of crazy chemicals to be so magical. Finally I found out, nope, it's just sanding off the top layer of dirt. Cleaning the tub/shower used to be my most despised housekeeping task ever. OK, it still is, but I couldn't believe how much easier and more effective the job was when I gave the Magic Eraser a try at last.

5. Rome apples are not crisp. Neither are Winesaps. I've been on the hunt for a good apple to eat plain since they are in season right now, but I have been striking out repeatedly with local orchards. Two growers have told me that these varieties were crisp...they were NOT. I have Cameos on order--I'm pretty sure I remember really liking those in the past. At least we can always make applesauce from the mushy, mealy ones...but I am really hungry for some good tart-sweet, hard-crisp eating apples!

6. You can use 1/3 c. maple syrup instead of the sugar in this baked oatmeal recipe, making it even healthier. The boys are happy to eat regular oatmeal every morning, but I don't care for it. Every once in a while I make this and we all consider it a delicious treat. I've also used blueberries or blackberries in place of the cranberries. All work well, but I have learned the hard way that chopping the cranberries is important. This recipe isn't very sweet at all, but even with my sweet tooth, I really enjoy it.

7. Remember the lady who sued McDonalds back in the 90s because their coffee was hot and she spilled it on herself? For 20 years we've pointed to that story as the ultimate example of how ridiculously out of control lawsuits are. But it turns out there's WAY more to the story than you've probably heard. Did you know that she suffered third degree burns that left her hospitalized for a week? Or that her first move was to contact McDonalds privately and ask them to pay her medical bills? Or that not only did the jury's original recommendation of $2.7 million amount to only two days' coffee sales for McDonalds, but that a judge ultimately reduced the settlement to less than $500,000? The news report I watched this month was eye-opening, to say the least. How many times do I have to learn this lesson--that stories are almost always much more complicated than the little pieces I know?

8. The number 42 has been retired not just from the Dodgers, but from all of baseball, in honor of Jackie Robinson. Steve and I just watched the new movie 42 and absolutely loved it. 

How about you - what did you learn this last month?


Danielle said...

We had two Britax Roundabouts for the boys and then Sophia used one and we were happy with them. We just got Sophia a new car seat though, as recently she hated it and cried everytime we got in the car. She was close to out growing it so we went ahead and upgraded. Which reminds me, what have you done with your old car seats? I can't find any place that will take and recycle old ones locally. I feel it's such a shame to throw something away that can be recycled! I understand the need for expiration dates, although I think it's a bit of racket too.

So what IS in Mr. Clean, because it does have a warning on the box that says it's toxic for children. I can't remember because I stopped using it. I use Norwex clothes now and love them because they're not consumable.

I LOVE Gala and Stayman apples.

I have 42 on my movie wish list, so I'm glad to hear you liked it!

Amy said...

Old carseats - we've only had that problem once, and it wasn't expired, so we gave it to a family we knew who needed one. You aren't supposed to buy used seats, but that's just because you don't know if it's been in an accident. I'd never buy one at a yard sale or on craigslist, but I wouldn't have a problem if it was someone I trusted. Jude's infant seat is just sitting in our doesn't expire for a few more years. I'm not quite ready to get rid of it, but I was hoping to at least loan it to someone--but everyone we know having babies is having second babies and not needing a carseat. I hate that it's such a nice, expensive seat and it's just collecting dust...

With the expiration dates thing, I never understood that until someone pointed out that the plastic really will degrade over time--you think about the extreme heat and cold it's exposed to, sitting in a car 24/7.

Magic erasers - they're made of melamine foam. No chemicals, just the abrasive properties of the material that make them scrub surfaces clean (which means you really have to be careful what you use them on or how hard you scrub, because they are essentially sanding off a layer as I understand it). They disintegrate with scrubbing like you'd expect sandpaper to do, kind of.

Galas are sometimes OK, but the ones I've gotten at the grocery haven't been crisp enough for me. And I think Staymans were what I got at the farmers' market last week--they are supposed to be similar to Winesap. The lady insisted that Winesaps are crisp, and that if I'd gotten soft ones, it was because they had been stored for a while, but that these were fresh off the tree. So I tried them, but they were NOT crisp. Alas :P

Danielle said...

Right, I know that the plastic is supposed to degrade over time with car seats, I just have a hard time believing it's 5 years. I have three car seats that are expired in the basement. That's what happens when you have twins, so many car seats!! :)

My issue with the magic erasers was more worried about my kids messing with them eating them and so forth. Yes, the boys have been known to bite off foam!?! Melamine is still toxic for kids. But in my old house my cleaning products had to be at a level where my kids could get them and now they don't. Also, Sophia doesn't have an oral fixation, so I could probably try using them again.

Try getting Galas from an orchard instead. I pulled my Staymans right off the tree and they were very crisp. You might have to pick them yourself. What about Granny Smith? Too tart? I like to just eat them plain. What about Honey Crisp? They are definitely crisp, but perhaps not tart enough for you? They tend to be a bit sweeter. Happy apple picking! ;)

Amy said...

Five years does seem kind of short. I thought it was usually 7? I think that's what ours have been.

Yes, I imagine it would still be toxic to eat melamine - yikes! My concern with the chemicals is more breathing fumes and such. My boys have never gotten into the cleaning supplies and haven't had the temptation to eat foam so I haven't had to worry about that! Ha!

Granny Smiths are too tart, yes - and I did recently discover I love Honeycrisp but they are usually really pricey - plus they are not available locally or organic. I usually try to hit one or the other with apples (never can get both). I'm so crazy picky about apples! Gettting a bushel of Cameos tomorrow...crossing my fingers! At least if they are bad, they aren't wasted, I can always make applesauce/apple butter.