Sunday, March 21, 2010

Things that amaze me

Besides the ridiculosity of the weather in Dallas right now... Seriously. It was 70 degrees two days ago, dipped down below freezing overnight with 6 inches of snow, and will be back to 65 tomorrow. I really just don't understand it.
Anyways, Thursday was match day and much celebration ensued. This led to the inevitable minor wine spills on fabric and carpet and myself. Luckily, we've figured out by now what works for stains, which leads to my post. Cleaning products that amaze me.
1. Oxy-clean. Adding it to laundry is great, but it really shines for hard-core stain and mess cleanup if you add it to boiling water. Boiling water with oxy-clean will get wine out of upholstery, and is the sole reason that we may be able to get our pet deposit back (Reagan is well-trained, but there have been 2 times when he has gotten, ahem, ill when Ethan and I were both at work/school. Boiling water, adding oxy-clean, then going over it with a rug-doctor erases any memory of mishap)
2. Tide stain pen. spot of wine or coffee on your shirt? gone. I have no idea how it works.
3. Bar-Keeper's friend. When made into a paste, gets rid of those random gray streaks that occur when metal hits porcelain, gets rid of baked-on brown stains on glass baking dishes, cleans off the thingies under our burners, and has revitalized a thrift-store brass serving tray from the 60's that I got for about $4.
4. Febreze. I have used this on my hair in the past before Dallas bars went smoke-free. works wonders.
5. Magic Eraser. If anything is dingy that should be white, this usually takes care of it.

Of course, some of the best products are old-school, and may have been something your grandma used. Castile soap mixed with baking soda makes a great scrubber, Ketchup will shine up copper and stainless steel, And if you drop an egg on the kitchen floor you can pour table salt over it and sweep it all up...I am a huge klutz, and have used this trick many times :). I've also heard that newspapers are superior to paper towels for wiping down glass with glass cleaner (I have not tried this myself, as I haven't seen a newspaper in several months).

In other news, I became an aunt TWICE within a week. My nephew Mason was born on a Monday, and my niece Win was born the following Friday (two different moms, not really bizarre twins!). I of course forgot my camera when we went to see Mason, but here is a picture of Win. I think she looks a little like me, but with her Daddy's nose.

Also, for those wondering, I matched at UTSW in general surgery. I will save the details of that for a different post

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Made in America

When we were vacationing in France, one of the things that struck us was how proud the French were of their country, and how many of their products were locally made. From simple ceramics to rolling pins to expensive copper cookware, most of the things we came across were made within France. Even McDonalds has commited to using mostly locally farmed French produce and meat within the Paris stores (because that was the only way they could entice people to eat there). We decided to do something similar with our own household purchases. We had already started; our dishes are Fiestaware, our glasses are made by Anchor Hocking (thanks Aunt Kirsten!) and we have some Lodge and Pyrex things as well.
What was most striking to me was when I visited a store that I used to think was extremely cute and artsy (albeit expensive) and realized that EVERYTHING THEY CARRIED was made in China. I'm not naming names, but it rhymes with schmanthropologie. I thought to myself, "why am supposed to think it's okay to pay $70 for this shirt when it's made in China, across the street from the people working for Target?". I understand paying more for something that's made by people getting paid a fair wage, for well-made and sturdy goods. But paying more because I'm funding an advertising campaign seems pretty stupid. So NO more. We've decided to try and buy American-made when we can, to support our country and to ensure that we're not contributing to undemocratic working conditions. Here are some of the beautiful things that we either already have or are lusting after:

Anchor Hocking

We have Anchor Hocking Glasses for everyday use, as well as some pie plates. They also make other glass cooking products, drinkware, mixing bowls, and serveware. I am lusting after the contemporary serving bowls to use as both mixing and serving bowls; however, I am pretty klutzy (I actually recently broke a mellamine mixing bowl, so I'm not sure glass is the best idea) but they're very pretty if you don't have butterfingers like me. And also great because everyone seems to be worried about chemicals leeching out of plastic these days.


I started buying Fiestaware when I was 18 and about to move into my very first apartment. I started out with 4 place settings, and have grown to have 9 in various colors, along with a cream/sugar set, salt and pepper shakers, and even Fiestaware dog bowls for Reagan. It's hardy and fun. It makes every meal a Fiesta!

Buck Knives

Ethan has an everyday collapsible knife from this Company that was given to him for his birthday and he loves it. We both agree that their steak knives would be a beautiful and functional addition to our kitchen (as soon as we're making income and not living on student loans!)


Everyone loves Pyrex! We have many of their baking and cooking items, and they're great. Their vintage glass refrigerator storage has recently gained popularity-Ethan's mom has a large set that she got when she was first Married, and it's kind of awesome (although I'm secretly afraid of dropping it...)

Blue Star

Blue Star ovens are awesome... I beleive they are less expensive than other super-expensive ovens (like Viking) for similar or superior quality. They have a 22,000 BTU burner, the highest in the industry, as well as tons of color choices. We've already agreed that when we're rich and famous we'll get a 60 inch Blue Star range and cook all the time. That will probably happen in about 30-40 years. I plan ahead.

Lodge Logic

Lodge cast iron has been made for years and years. We got a cast-iron skillet for a wedding present from my Grandma Jan, and it is in constant rotation. We use it for bacon, fried eggs, searing meats, and frittatas. It is AWESOME. However, it should be mentioned that their enameled dutch ovens are an exception to the American-made glory; they are made in China of French enamel.

Rodney Kent

We got a Rodney Kent serving platter as a wedding gift. It's made of Magalon, a magnesium-aluminum alloy that is oven-proof. We honestly just picked it because we liked the look, but since receiving our platter I have researched it a bit more; Rodney Kent aluminum serving pieces were very popular in the 1940s and 1950s as wedding gifts, and it is readily collectible on Ebay (hint, hint, birthday gifts!). It is affordable enough that we can continue to add to our collection, and it is beautiful and rustic at the same time.

If you're interested in more American-made products, you can visit this website. This is by no means a comprehensive website, but it is useful as a starting point.