Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Things I Learned in April

I learned so much in April. Where to start?

1. A smartphone app can actually enhance, rather than distract from, your prayer life. I've been using PrayerMate for a few weeks now and have really found it helpful. It took me a little while to get subjects and details entered, but once I got going, I thought it was great. It organizes individual prayer "cards" under "categories" like family, church, global missions, personal holiness, etc. (all totally customizable). I love how you can easily add photos to the cards and text or email the person you're praying for from within the app. I have really struggled to be consistent with intercession, but this is helping.

2. Cars are deadly machines--and I am not invincible. Though the boys and I were unharmed in our early-April wreck, I was shaken. It was a wake-up call, in terms of how quickly an accident can happen and how careless I'd become. Sure, I don't text while driving (and if you do, PLEASE STOP), but how many other distracting behaviors do I excuse? And how much worse could our accident have been if I'd been doing one at the time? I've been driving more cautiously, and paying closer attention. I feel more nervous on the road than I ever did before. 

3. On a related note, some engineer at Britax deserves a HUGE raise. Our insurance company replaced our carseats after the accident (here's why), and we discovered that Britax had redesigned Elijah's harness-to-booster seat since we bought it a couple of years ago. Their new ClickTight technology is seriously GENIUS. It's a game-changer. I hope other companies follow suit; it makes secure installation quick, easy and foolproof. (Don't forget: your child's seat should not move more than *one inch* from side to side at the belt path. This is another super-common carseat usage mistake--check your kids' seats!)

4. Also related (OK, this is not technically something I learned but I am putting it here in hopes that maybe it will become something YOU learned), I now firmly believe more than ever in investing in a good carseat and taking advantage of available safety technology beyond what is strictly "required" by law. Please, don't turn your kids around too soon, and don't put them in boosters too soon. Rearfacing is five times safer, and bigger kids need to pass the five-step test before they are truly ready for a booster, no matter what height or weight they are.

5. Dawn + vinegar + water works amazingly to clean the shower. A while back I recommended Magic Eraser for soap scum, which I still heartily endorse, but was recently complaining to a friend how difficult it is to get our textured shower floor clean. She shared this recipe: a swirl of Dawn, then fill the spray bottle the rest of the way with half vinegar, half water. Spray it down, then (this part is key, I think) walk away and let it work for a while. When I came back maybe 10-20 minutes later, it took way less elbow grease to scrub the floor than it usually requires!

6. Forget beans and rice; my new favorite is beans and slaw. Specifically, the black bean ragout in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook with this super-simple lime cilantro slaw. I was first introduced to the idea in that link, where SK pairs beans, slaw and feta in a tortilla. Finding that surprisingly delicious, I soon concluded: apart from the tortilla and cheese, why not use the slaw with the beans as a side dish instead of the typical beans-and-rice? I love the fresh, crunchy, tangy, bright flavor against the rich, smoky beans. And it's a perfect way to get some more veggies in Mexican meals that can sometimes be low on them.

7. Haven't tried this yet, but I totally will the next time I buy cherry/grape tomatoes: How to Cut a Dozen Cherry Tomatoes in Half All At Once. Genius.

8. The reason most climbers attempt to summit Mount Everest in May: for the rest of the year, winds can exceed 100mph at the top. Sometimes they're faster than hurricane wind speeds. I discovered this little tidbit after the tragic deaths of the Sherpas prompted me to do some googling and I wound up on a rabbit trail of reading about climbing Everest.

What about you--what did you learn last month?


Danielle said...

I tried that SK bean/slaw recipe but didn't like it. Can't remember why. Maybe I should try it again.

If you're into Everest I recommend a fairly recent podcast from, you guessed it, "What I Missed in History Class. ;)

Amy said...

The way the black beans are prepared in that original recipe isn't great. We tried it that way and liked it well enough to make again eventually...next time I used my normal black beans recipe, which we really enjoy...but I like it best with the black bean ragout in her cookbook. With that recipe, if you use smoked paprika + a chipotle pepper in adobo (instead of just a dried chile) it gives the beans a really great smoky flavor that I just think plays nicely against the slaw.

Zoanna said...

So glad you and the boys weren't injured. It takes a good while to get over the anxiety of driving after an accident.

I have to try that cherry tomato trick .

Danielle said...

So would any dish cleaner work or just Dawn??? Is there something about Dawn that makes in special? I might have to try this concoction. :)

Amy said...

Not sure, Danielle...I know with other things (like stripping cloth diapers or removing grease from laundry) people have specifically recommended Dawn. I can't make any guarantees with off brands :)