Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tip Time: How to Easily Open Those Closed Pistachios

{EAV:13a9cbe6deed7954}
How to open closed Pistachio nuts
We recently discovered that our youngest son LOVES Pistachios, so I was sitting here opening them and giving him the nuts, and putting a small pile aside so my husband could help me get them open.  When I asked him for help, he looked at me and simply said, "Oh - I just throw those away."

Goodness!  at $3.99 for a tiny bag, and $9.99 for a bigger bag, he better NOT be throwing them out!!  So I went on a quest to find out how to open the Pistachios that are too closed to easily open.  Here is what I found to work:

To Open a Pistachio That Only Has a Tiny Opening in the Shell:
1. Using a shell from a Pistachio that you have already opened, put the tip into the small opening of the nut you are trying to open.
2. Twist it either way, which will force the shell apart.
3. You should hear a nice crack as it opens, and you should then be able to open the shell easily.

To Open a Pistachio That is Completely Closed:
1. Use a meat mallet to crack the shell so you can then use another empty shell to twist it open.

After learning these tips, I was able to open every single Pistachio nut from the bag, not throwing ANY out!

Do you have an easy way you open Pistachios?  A favorite recipe, or a good use for the shells?  Leave me a comment and let me know!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Tip Time: Do You KNOW Which Side of the Car You Gas Tank is On?

Know which side of the car your gas gauge is on
For years, when going to get gas I would stop and try to look down the side of my car using the driver's side mirrors to see which side the gas tank was on.  I got it right about half the time... until last year, when my husband noticed that there is a little arrow on the gas gauge that points to the side of the car, now I never have to guess!

I thought I was alone in not ever noticing that tiny little arrow, but each time I ask someone if they know which side of the car their gas tank is on, they don't know... until I tell them about the arrow!

So go check your gas gauge and it might just tell you which side your gas tank is on.

Do you know which side of the car your gas tank is on?

~ Wendi

Use Clipix to Organize Your Online Life - It is Fast, Easy and Doesn't Cost Anything

If you would have asked me a few weeks ago what I find most annoying about the internet, I would have told you that it was a tie between all the great things I find online but can never find when I really need them, and keeping all my bookmarks organized.  Since joining Clipix, I've had a blast organizing everything I find online into boards that are topic specific.  I've even been able to go back to my old bookmarks and organize them so they will actually be useful.

Best of all, clipix is FREE, fast and easy to set up.  I think it took me about 10 seconds to get signed up and "Clipping" my favorites to my new boards.  Clipix has made it really easy to start clipping, they've even made it possible to simply drag the Clip tool to your toolbar so you can get started in seconds.  You can re-clip other people's clips, comment on them, share clips on Facebook and Twitter, and they even have an App, so you can Clip on the go.

It is great - as a blogger, I've got boards to organize helpful sites for my blog (broken link checker, Google Analytics, etc), favorite places to list giveaways, and other resources, as well as boards to Clip the reviews I've done for products and books.  As a Mom, I've got some great boards for kids crafts, games, and ideas of places to go in our area.

Screenshot of one of my Clipix Boards

The best thing about Clipix is that I can customize the privacy of each board I create so that I control who sees them.  I have a few that are private, that only I can see, and I've got a few that I share.  It really makes me feel great that I can organize and visually Clip information I want to come back to, and that I can control who sees my clips.

Clipix also has a system called Syncboards, where multiple people can Clip to the same board - I'm thinking this would be great for relatives to share family news and photos!
How would you use Clipix... and what are you waiting for!  Go check it out!

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Reposted from my original blog Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reads (and More) in Seattle, some things may have been edited, originally published February, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ZeroWater Pitcher: Your Source For Pure, Filtered Water

From the moment I learned about the story behind ZeroWater, I was intrigued. The long and the short of it is that the technology used to filter water so that it has absolutely NOTHING extra in it (so you are drinking PURE water) was developed by a father and son team until it got Mom's approval.  It took a lot of research and testing, but when they accomplished their goal, they had developed ZeroWater.

My own experience with ZeroWater has been very eye-opening.

The water pitcher comes with a TDS testing stick, which tests the Total Dissolved Solids contained in the water (I highly suggest you visit the ZeroWater site to read more about TDS as I don't want to get too technical, but it is a fascinating and quick read!).  Keep in mind that our area has very good quality water out of the tap - but you can taste the chlorine in the water.

My TDS Readings:  ** Our house has Copper pipes
Kitchen Faucet, Cold Water: 21
Kitchen Faucet, Hot Water: 45
Filtered Refrigerator Water (Copper pipes, about 20 feet from the faucet): 27

Now, I also decided to test a bottle of purified water from the grocery store... imagine my shock when it came back at a whopping 38!!  Hmmm, so I guess my tap water is better.

I was shocked at the difference between our hot and cold water, which tells me that our hot water heater has a lot of sediment in it.  Soon, I'm going to check into the possibility of draining it to remove some of the sediment!  But in the mean time, I will no longer be cooking with hot water (I'll boil eggs and pasta by starting with cold water from now on).

Check out this map, which shows the average TDS range by State:



In the Box:
In the box, you will receive the pitcher base, water reservoir, lid, filter, and instructions.  It takes only a moment to put the pitcher together.

I LOVE that the filter screws into the water reservoir.  Our old water filter pitcher had a filter that just set in the water reservoir and I always wondered if water didn't just leak into the pitcher without being filtered.

I also really like that you can pour from the pitcher as well as use the spicket at the base of the handle.

My Experience:
To really test the water, I drank a glass of tap water, then I drank a glass of the 000 ZeroWater, and boy was I surprised!  Not only did the ZeroWater NOT have any taste, but it tasted softer, which I don't understand at all but am really enjoying.

After almost two weeks of drinking ZeroWater, I am still loving it.  The water is still reading at 000 TDS, and it is still smelling and tasting great (as in no taste or smell at all).

The company recommends replacing the filter when your TDS readings reach 006, so I'll come back and let you know how long it takes us to reach that level.

I've been able to find the pitchers (there are different sizes) and filters available at our local Target and Bed, Bath and Beyond, as well as online at Target.

I've now had a few people over to test out my new ZeroWater, and everyone has really enjoyed the new water and had a lot of fun testing water at different outlets (including the bottled water).

Additional Thoughts:
We got a fish aquarium back in October, and had a lot of trouble getting the water established.  Our local pet store suggested that as we have Copper pipes throughout our home, we may have too much metal in our water, which their tests can't determine.  We are just getting our water to where it should be, and I plan to try using the ZeroWater filtered water next time we clean the tank.

I decided to look the pitcher up on Amazon and browse what others were saying, and I'm glad I did.  There are a bunch of great reviews and a bunch of bad ones... meaning, lots of people either love it or hate it.  After reading what they had to say, it made sense.  You love it when you have the pure water to drink, but depending on how many people are using your pitcher and how high your water's TDS are, your filter may last 6+ weeks, or it may only last 2, and if you wait too long to change it, it may smell and/or taste bad.

For example, if I had water with TDS levels in the more extreme numbers, say 300, the filter is working a lot faster to get all the junk out of the water.  By the time the filter is full of junk, your TDS readings will start to go up, and if you wait too long to change it, the water will start to smell and taste bad - this is KEY - think about your water, by this point, it is now going through a very dirty filter which is likely no longer pulling bad things from the water and may be adding more in... it can only absorb so much.  This is why it is so important to change the filter when the TDS numbers are starting to go up.

ZeroWater in the Media:
Both the Today Show and Good Housekeeping have featured ZeroWater recently, showing exactly what is in your water, and how well ZeroWater outperforms other water filtration systems.

Today Show:http://video.today.msnbc.msn.com/today/46396159#46396159

Good Housekeeping:http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/womens-health/water-safety


ZeroWater 10-Cup Water Filter Pitcher 
ZeroWater ~ $37.99
Kitchen / Water Filters

Edition Reviewed: 10 Cup Water Filter Pitcher - Review sample received courtesy of ZeroWater, many thanks!


About ZeroWater: (From their site)
ZeroWater® Technology
Developed Over Fifteen Years Ago to Solve One Family’s Desire for Great Water

The ZeroWater® technology was first developed to solve a mother’s fatigue from dragging gallons of bottled water jugs home from the grocery store. A father and son put their respective manufacturing and chemistry backgrounds to use to develop an in-home water filtration solution to meet the mother’s approval.

That quest led them to an in-depth study of the technologies successfully used in industrial, environmental, and even government applications for water filtration. That, in turn, led them to ask the question: Why can’t families have the same quality of water derived from those proven technologies? Only when they tried to answer that question did the father and son team find that home users were being completely neglected by the makers of the sophisticated water filtration technologies. Instead, families were being pushed to buy conventional and simple carbon based filters for their in-home filtration.

To read more click here.


*Disclosure: I am an Amazon Associate. I get a very small amount for any purchases made when you click through a link from Wendi's Book Corner, which I then save up to buy more books. :)

Reposted from my original blog Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reads (and More) in Seattle, some things may have been edited, originally published February, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Make a Difference in Your Child';s Life - Find Out Their Learning Style with SparkBox

If taking 1-2 minutes to find out your child's learning style could help you understand how they learn and what will make them more successful, would you do it?  I certainly would.

Each child is unique, and not all kids learn the same way.  I personally believe that sometimes, knowing HOW someone learns or communicates can lessen learning challenges and make learning more fun and enjoyable.  I also believe that understanding and working with the way children learn can have a huge impact on their success and their self-confidence.

What is your child’s learning type?
There are three basic learning styles: Visual (seeing), Auditory (hearing) and Kinesthetic (physical touch).  In general, children will learn using all three styles, but one will be more dominant than the others.  Being able to help determine your child/children's dominant learning style can give you the tools to help your child succeed. (You may be interested in finding out about your own learning style too).

About Each Basic Learning Style: 

Visual learners *Seeing*
Children who are visual learners have an easier time learning by looking at images, watching a demonstration and reading from a book.  For visual learners, it’s easy to look at pictures and charts, but it may be distracting and hard to focus while trying to listen to someone talking or providing an explanation.


Auditory *Hearing*
Children who are auditory learners have an easier time listening to an explanation than reading about it.  Having a child recite information they are learning out loud may help their learning, as well as having background music on.  Distracting noises may hinder learning, so a relatively quiet space may be necessary.

Kinesthetic Learners *Touching*
Children who are Kinesthetic learners have an easier time learning through “hands-on” experiences. Doing an activity helps them learn.  Kinesthetic learners may struggle to learn while needing to sit quietly.  Writing things down (taking notes) will help the learning process.

Why it is Important For Parents to Understand Their Child’s Learning Style
By knowing your child's learning style, you can greatly impact the success of his or her learning.  Ensuring that your child is able to understand how to learn more successfully will give them the tools to succeed and lessen learning frustrations.

It is important for children to be able to utilize all three learning styles, as there will be times when it is not practical or possible to utilize one or more of the preferred styles.

How do you Determine Your Child's Learning Style?
Spark Box Toys has provided a short quiz to help you find out!  It is 7 questions long and will only take a moment or two to finish.  At the end you provide your email so they can send you the results and some helpful information (expert advise on helpful approaches to work with your child) on your child's learning style.



According to Spark Box, studies have indicated that you can start seeing your child's learning type preferences as early as one year.  Find out today what their style is so you can start empowering them now!

* Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Spark Box Toys via Karma Media.  All opinions are mine, and information about Learning Styles was gained from their site.

Reposted from my original blog Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reads (and More) in Seattle, some things may have been edited, originally published February, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Best Ever Brownie Recipe

Best Ever Brownie Recipe
Fudgy Football Brownies from Bhg.com
I made these brownies for one of our family Football Sunday get-togethers.  Everyone loved them SO much... and my then 4-year-old asked if his birthday cake could be made out of these brownies and decorated as a Candyland game board.  (I'll share how that turned out shortly)

This recipe worked great double-stacked for a cake as well, but be aware that the "cake" was so rich, people really only needed very small pieces.  :)

Each time I've made these, they have turned out great and I've heard nothing but raves about them.

I found the original recipe in Better Homes and Gardens Tailgating 2011 magazine.  Here is the recipe:

Fudgy Football Brownies:

Ingredients

1 C butter
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 C sugar
4 eggs
2 tspvanilla
1 1/3 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 C mini semisweet chocolate pieces

Ingredients used for Best Ever Fudgy Brownie Recipe
Ingredients: Sugar, flour, butter, eggs, unsweetened chocolate, vanilla, mini chocolate chips
Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

2.  Line a 15x10 baking pan with foil, greasing (I used Pam Cooking Spray)

3. Coarsely chop the unsweetened chocolate

4. Combine the butter and unsweetened chocolate in a medium saucepan and heat on low heat until melted, stirring often.  Let cool slightly.

5. Add sugar to melted chocolate/butter mixture.  Once well blended, add eggs one at a time, stirring well each time until the egg is completely blended into the mixture.  Add vanilla, stir.

6. Combine the flour and baking soda in a small bowl and stir.  Stir the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until combined (don't over stir)

7. Gently stir in small chocolate pieces.

8. Pour the batter into the baking pan, spreading evenly.

9. Bake 18 minutes

10. Let cool on wire rack.  When cool, remove from pan using the foil.

11.  Cut brownies, or layer the brownie with frosting in between two layers if making a cake.

These are best after they have cooled.

Candyland Cake for son's birthday
Candyland Cake Made With Fudgy Football Brownie recipe
Here is a picture of the Fudgy Brownie Candyland Cake.   I'll post about the cake shortly!

If you end up making these wonderful brownies, I hope you will come back and let me know what you thought of them.  :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Homemaker Confusion And The Determination To Succeed

I have to chuckle as I write this.  I've apologized over and over to my husband for being so disorganized and "lazy."  You see, I grew up thinking I would be a business professional, and I didn't pay much attention to housekeeping/homemaking.  I was so afraid of doctors and hospitals that I didn't actually think I'd have kids.

Sure, as a DINK (Double Income No Kids) family, my hubby and I did pretty great in household matters!  We ate out a lot (not so many dishes to wash there), and we cleaned up around the house when people were coming over (we really weren't home much).  There really wasn't much to do.... then the kids arrived!

Both our wonderful boys arrived a bit earlier than scheduled (the elder was born one month early, the younger, almost 4 weeks early), and we decided that I would stay home with them.  ...  And it has been one big roller coaster ride ever since.  (By the way, I wouldn't give it up for ANYTHING!)

Needless to say (all excuses aside), I am FAR from well-organized like I was at work.  Somehow I just can't make it all work.  So I am always scrambling when people come over to get the house ready, and I dread making dinner because I don't have a PLAN.

Thus, I'm GOING to make this work!  I'm going to come up with a PLAN, and I'm going to SHARE what works with me, so you may not need to struggle as much as I do!

I adore my family more than anything in the world, so I WILL become a great homemaker AND find a way to have fun at the same time.  :)

Feel free to leave me any tips you've got up your sleeve ~ I'd love to hear from you!

Introductions!

Hello!

Many of you may know me from Wendi's Book Corner, where I've written about books and products (and various other subjects) since August of 2008.  Over the past year, I've really enjoyed branching out into products and places and I wanted to get a more general blog going, thus the concept for What Wendi Wants started forming.  I want to let my followers over at Wendi's Book Corner get back to what they originally started visiting for: books.  :)

A little about me: I am a mid-30's woman, mother, wife, daughter, grand-daughter, friend, etc. who lives near Seattle, Washington.  I have a wonderful husband (we met in high school, dated for YEARS, and got married in 2000).  We now have two very active young boys (one is 5, the other is 2).

Until our family started, I worked for a Fortune 50 company as a business professional.  I earned my Master's degree in Business, specializing in Human Resources, Accounting and Change Management.  I loved my day job and the challenges it presented, but I love my family more.  I am now a stay-at-home Mom.  I am passionate about my family and love learning and sharing with others.

Some of the things I love in life and will likely share with you: my family, books, movies, games, household products, gardening, crafts, recipes, places to visit, etc.  I want a lot out of life (thus the title, What Wendi Wants), and I'm going to share fun aspects with you!

I love hosting product parties and have had a lot of success sharing great products and services with local Seattle and Eastside families.

I originally created Wendi's Book Corner as a way to document and record all the books I read, and have found it to be so rewarding and fun!  It has also grown and evolved into a general blog where I share book and product reviews, crafts, recipes, daily life and where I'm starting some fun local features, including Around The Sound, where I'll showcase local events and places to visit in and around the Seattle area.

I love my blog - so come on over and say hi!  You can also find me on The Husband Project.

In 2011, Wendi's Book Corner was nominated for Parents Best Local Mom Blog!
By Best Local Mom Blog


If you would like to send me a book or product to review on my blog (Amazon, Library Thing and GoodReads also), please email me and I will send you my contact information. I will make a point to review your book or product as soon as possible. wbarker@hotmail.com




Full disclosure: As of December 1, 2009, the FTC is requiring that bloggers who post their reviews disclose the source of the book/product they are reviewing. Most of the books and products I review were received courtesy (free of charge) of the publisher, author, publicist, manufacturer, or other Word-of-Mouth Marketing company (like BzzAgent, One2One Network, etc). I do not get paid for my reviews ~ I simply enjoy learning about new books/products and passing on the information and my thoughts.



The Website Grade for http://wendisbookcorner.blogspot.com!



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