Monthly Archives: August 2011

Twenty-Seven Random Uses for Baking Soda

August 31, 2011

Something important has come to my attention that I think you all should know about:

December 30th is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day.

Try to contain yourselves. While I know you are thrilled by the prospect of celebrating such an important day, please remember that you have a meager 120 days to prepare. We’ve got work to do.

So why this post? I must confess that I’m a tiny bit obsessed with baking soda. But as weird as this obsession is, it is a little lighter on the pocket book than, say, shoes. Or expensive Pomeranians. So I guess we’re in the clear. I like baking soda because I do a LOT of baking, and because I use it as a very cheap way to clean just about everything. I even like the design on the box. The literalness of the arm and hammer make me feel safe.


On one of my many random internet searches the other day I found a whole cache of new uses for friendly little bicarbonate. I felt The Green Lemon could use a good scrub, so here they are:

BEAUTY

1. Get rid of product build-up in hair. Once a week add 1 tsp of baking soda to your shampoo. This will get rid of residue left from hair styling products.

2. Gentle, everyday face wash. Take 2-3 tsp. of baking soda and mix it with a little warm water in your palm to make a paste. Apply to your face with your fingers or a facial brush (Ever used one? They’re delightful), then rinse. This is an excellent, gentle everyday wash and also good if you’re on a pinch, say camping or on vacation and you forget your usual face wash.

3. Soothing bath. Add ½ cup of baking soda to your next bath. It neutralizes acids on your skin, gets rid of grime, and leaves your skin feeling soft and soothed. If you’re not up to a full-body commitment than try adding some to your foot soak (a few TBSP should do the trick). No need for soap!

4. Freshen breath. If you’ve got some serious bad breath put 1 tsp of baking soda in a glass of water, then swish and spit. This will neutralize the bad breath odors (not just cover them up with minty goodness).

5. Clean nails. Dip a wet nailbrush into baking soda then scrub your nails. This cleans nails and softens cuticles.

6. Clean your brushes and combs. This is important for manageable air. Get rid of product and oil build up by soaking brushes/combs in warm water and 1 tsp water. I like to just do this in the sink. Rinse and allow to air dry.

7. Dry Shampoo. Sometimes things get desperate. If you have greasy hair and about 4 minutes before your book club comes over, sprinkle a little on your hair brush and brush through hair to remove oil.

8. Whiten teeth. Sprinkle a little baking soda on your toothpaste loaded toothbrush and brush like normal. This will whiten teeth and really freshen breath.

HEALTH

9. Stop heartburn and indigestion. Completely dissolve ½ tsp of baking soda into 4 oz of water. Down the hatch. It neutralizes the acids in your body. (Check with your doctor on this one, particularly if you are on a sodium restricted diet or on prescription medications.)

10. Treat insect bites. Apply a paste made of baking soda and water to affected area.

DEODORIZING

This is what I really love about baking soda—it basically absorbs, eats and digests bad smells like some kind of greedy little monster. Here are some ideas for using it as a deodorizer:

11. Refrigerator. Put an open box in your refrigerator and change regularly. This also works in closets and cars.

12. Shoes. Sprinkle some in stinky shoes and let sit (shake out before wearing).

13. Garbage cans. Sprinkle baking soda into garbage cans between bag changes then scrub can out every so often with baking soda and water. (This one really works!)

14. Carpet. Sprinkle liberally onto stinky carpet, let sit overnight (or a few hours) and then vacuum up.

15. Pet bedding. Sprinkle on, let sit, then vacuum off.

16. Laundry. Deodorize really stinky wash (think gym clothes, or campfire clothes) by adding ½ cup of baking soda to rinse cycle.

17. Stuffed animals. Freshen up teddy by sprinkling baking soda on, allowing to sit, then brushing off.

CLEANING

18. Toilets. Sprinkle baking soda into bowl then add vinegar. Allow to fizz then scrub and flush. This works so well!

19. Bath tub. Sprinkle baking soda onto sponge, then scrub down surface area and rinse. I love this because then you won’t feel like you’re in a chemical bath during your next soak. (Also works well on shower curtains and the fridge!)

20. Mop bathroom floors. Add ½ cup baking soda to a bucket of warm water and mop up floor.

21. Greasy pots and pans. Add 2 TBSP baking soda along with your regular dish detergent to your soaking pans. Allow to soak then scrub like normal.

22. Oven cleaner. Clean oven by sprinkling it with baking soda, and then spraying with water. Let sit overnight, then scrub oven out in the morning.

23. Dishwasher. Freshen dishwasher by putting 1 cup into dishwasher then running on rinse cycle.

RANDOM

24. Fruit and vegetable scrub. Sometimes those things just look dirty. Sprinkle a little baking soda on a clean, damp sponge and scrub, then rinse. This way you won’t end up with any harmful residues on your food.

25. Put out fires. Baking soda can be very helpful in small kitchen fires. Turn off gas/electricity if possible then throws handfuls on the base of flame.

26. Camping Cure-All. Use to wash hands and dishes, as sun burn and mosquito relief, as deodorant and toothpaste. The list goes on.

27. Cleaning your dog. Give your dog a version of a dry-shampoo wash. Between baths sprinkle baking soda on him, rub it on, then brush him to get it out of his coat. (I need to do this for my rather stinky dog who refuses to be anywhere but on my lap at the moment.)

And because you know I’m not that creative (or clean), here are some fabulous websites I found great tips at:

Deliciously Girly: Nine Chick Lit Novels I Loved

August 24, 2011

It’s like reality TV without the shame. It’s like calling your best friend to gossip for hours. It’s like reading—in pink. Yes, I’m talking about Chick Lit.

I don’t read a lot of it. Call me snobby, but after years of voracious reading I have little patience with anything I deem so-so. And I’ve found most Chick Lit to be so-so. But every so often I’ve found a gem that has put me on Reading Cloud Nine.

Chick Lit novels get a bad rap for their “light” or “fluffy” content. But I’ve found several that are riveting, insightful, and downright delicious. And there’s nothing wrong with reading something that doesn’t leave you sniveling in the bathtub over a devastating ending.

I’m not saying you’re off the hook for reading more substantial books: autobiographies, memoirs, classics, and really good fiction. But just because Chick Lit books are generally more cupcake than bran muffin doesn’t mean they don’t have their place in a healthy reading diet.

This list constitutes 100% of the chick lit books I have made it through (sure sign that I liked them).

1. Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding

I think about this book at least once a week. The first time I read it I was in high school and I recruited a friend to guide me around the halls between classes so I could read during every free second I had. Good law it is funny. And if you haven’t watched the movie yet, then PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER and go rent it. (Yes, that was yelling.) The second book, Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, is just as awesome as the first (particularly the jail/tampon scene—trust me) but the second movie is an absolute abomination. Don’t see it.

2. The Devil Wears Prada: A Novel, by Lauren Weisberger

Okay, fine, so you’ve all seen the movie. But have you read the book? I’m not a particularly fashionable girl, so all the brand-dropping didn’t set my heart a flutter, but this book was great. Andrea, an ambitious but hopelessly style-less young woman become assistant to the terrifying dictator of Runway Magazine—Amanda Priestly. If you thought your boss was bad, read this. The villain is glorious—she makes you want to pull your perfectly highlighted hair out, and the book doesn’t get all wrapped up in a nice, neat package at the end, which I always like.

 3. Something Borrowed /  Something Blue, by Emily Giffin

I read Something Borrowed in about 4 hours. I could not stop reading it. Yes, this is chick lit. But this feels like smart chick lit. I didn’t know if I agreed with anything that was going on in this book (“good girl” Rachel White finds herself entangled with the fiancée of her best but sickeningly overshadowing friend Darcy) and that’s what made it so delicious. Something Blue is also excellent—I might have liked it even better than Something Borrowed. It picks up with Darcy’s side of the story, somehow showing a story you thought you knew in a totally different light.

4. The Nanny Diaries, by Emma Mclaughlin & Nicola Kraus

I read this while working as a nanny so I probably enjoyed this more than I should have, but my goodness this is great. This gives a glimpse into the bizarre world of Manhattan social-light child-rearing. Great characters, great plot, dreamy boyfriend, and some really annoying protagonists. Loved it.

 5. You’ll Never Nanny in this town Again: The True Adventures of a Hollywood Nanny, by Suzanne Hansen

This is a fun read. It’s an autobiography of a woman who was a “nanny to the stars” in LA. Every chapter is headed with celebrity parenting quotes that will make you gasp with righteous indignation. You get all the juicy details of who was great, who was horrifying, and just how awesome the DeVito family is.

 6. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner

Cannie is a late 20 something who after breaking up with her loser boyfriend learns he is writing an article about her using lines such as “loving a larger woman is an act of courage in our world.” She’s devastated, but manages to pull off a pretty awesome comeback.

 7. In Her Shoes, (also) by Jennifer Weiner

You’ve probably seen this movie too. This is a story of two very different sisters—one a beautiful train wreck, the other a practical, unhappy lawyer. When their sisterly bond is devastated by an act of betrayal they both have to find their way.

 8. Little Earthquakes, (yes, another one) by Jennifer Weiner

This is Chick Lit for mothers. Three women meet in a prenatal yoga class and despite their differences become fast friends. Ayinde is a gorgeous, ambitious biracial woman married to an NBA player who she suspects of cheating. Becky is an overweight chef with a mother in law from you-know-where. Kelly, is a super-organized idealist with problems in her past. Their group is joined by Lia, a once-famous actress who leaves her husband unexpectedly. Every single one of their stories could be a book in their own, bring them together, you get Chick Lit magic.

 9. All We Ever Wanted Was Everything: A Novel, by Janelle Brown

This is the story of 3 women—a mother and 2 daughters—trying to survive Silicon Valley. When the family patriarch’s business goes public he announces to his wife that he is leaving her for her tennis partner. Meanwhile, 20 something daughter Margaret struggles to drag herself (and her gigantic credit card debt) into an ideal Hollywood lifestyle, and 14 year old Lizzie gets introduced to the world of men (via other 14 year old boys.) It was either the great story or the picture of the sundae on the front, but I couldn‘t put this one down.

 

Now go get yourself something with frosting, chocolate, sprinkles and/or ice cream and indulge in a little Chick Lit.  It’s good to be a girl. And PLEASE, leave me some recommendations for good chick lit. I am tapped out.

Glistener the Goldfish

August 17, 2011

I have this thing about fish.

They make me want to do the icky dance for minutes at a time. I will have full on panic attacks if I think one has brushed past me in open water. I stare at the carpet in the reception areas of Chinese restaurants because if they have a tank of giant, bloated scaly fish there’s a very good chance I’m not going to enjoy my General Tso’s Chicken. And if I were on Fear Factor that would be my challenge—to lay in one of those pet store tanks and let their creepy little bodies swim all over me. You get the point.

But the other day I was talking to David about childhood pets and remembered that I wasn’t always this way. I once felt genuine love for those slippery little guys. Particularly one named Glistener.

I generally consider fish to be heartbreak in the making. Fittingly, most of them have the life span of a goldfish—which is roughly equivalent to the time it takes for a small child to name and become attached to it. I was 7, and my sister Ally was 5, when the Great Goldfish Tragedies began.

Our first visit to the pet shop was magical. Ally chose a small, sensible gray fish that she named Madeline. I chose a flashy gold one named (uniquely) Goldie. Within 24 hours Ally and I were knocking excitedly on my parents’ bedroom door to tell them that we had taught Goldie his first trick—swimming on his back. Our parents drove us back to the store for me to pick out a new one. And this pattern continued for several months. Poor Madeline saw more death than an exterminator.

I was particularly attached to Sunshine, who lived almost 3 weeks. After so many fish I think my parents realized I had suffered a huge amount of heartache for a 7 year old. So instead of the usual toilet bowl ceremony my dad buried Sunshine under a large pine tree in the backyard. I made her a headstone out of some chipped up brick and brought her some flowers. Then I bowed my head and told her I would never forget her. And cried. 20 minutes later I found the strength to move on. And it was back to the pet store.

And that is when I first met Glistener. She was a flashy, bright orange with perfect black lips that said “O” over and over. She reminded me of a Vegas showgirl, which I had aspirations of becoming. I knew it was time to bring out the name I had been storing up—the most beautiful name I had ever thought up. Glistener. Adjective made noun. Poetry made Piscis.

My parents knew love when they saw it. While I kept my eye on Glistener they summoned the teenager spending a disgruntled summer working a job at the pet store and he got his obligatory little net. The fish knew what was coming and scattered like confetti in the wind. But finally Glistener, my Glistener, who truly glistened, was cornered and scooped into a little plastic bag full of water.

When I got home the next day after school the ever astute Ally pointed out something astonishing. Glistener’s lips weren’t very black anymore. We stood in front of the bowl in shock for a good 3 minutes. I was trying to be fair but I had a feeling that Madeline had something to do with it. Just before I began the accusation my mom poked her head into our bedroom and we told her the news. “Hmmm,” she said. “Sometimes fish change when they get to their homes. Glistener must be a very special fish.”

10 years later, after Glistener had been dead for 9 and 5/6 years, my parents felt I was ready to handle the truth. While I had been at school that first day they had found Glistener doing the back stroke while Madeline swam blithely beneath, probably with the tune of “Another One Bites the Dust” swimming through her head. They panicked. They knew I couldn’t handle one more loss. So they cruised back to the store and demanded Glistener’s exact replica. Apparently this took about 10 minutes of shouting and pointing at 1 out of 10,0000 fish. Finally they gave up and just caught one. Its lips weren’t quite as black, but they hoped it would do. They called it “Glistener II” whenever I wasn’t around and prayed its little lips would get blacker. And I never knew a thing.

So I guess this goldfish story is actually the story of two very good parents.

 

You Have to Read: “One Day” by David Nicholls

August 7, 2011

Right now I feel like I’m made of brownie. Gooey, warm and a tiny bit sad. (Does chocolate taste melancholy to anyone but me?)

Only really good love stories give me this feeling. And I just finished one. It’s called One Day, by David Nicholls.

I just finished the book in a bubble bath (I’ve got to stop doing these, you should see all the library books I’ve ruined), and the ending was so good that even though my water drained and I was sitting in a chilly, empty tub for the last 10 pages I couldn’t move. I had to finish it.

Now that’s a story.

I was drawn to this book by its concept. It is the story of a relationship between two people, Emma and Dexter. But this isn’t your average boy meets girl. Instead of telling what happened (A), which led to (B) and ultimately ended in (C), this story is told over a 20 year span, but only on one day of every year, July 15.

I loved the feeling of being thrown into the story, every July 15, and being made to figure out what was going on. I loved how witty and interesting the characters were. And I loved how real it felt. This is the story not only of a relationship, but of how life turns out different than you’d always imagined. And how you cope with the expectations of who you once thought you’d be.

A couple of lines made my heart stop. More than a few made me laugh. And all of it entertained me. I couldn’t put it down. It was unexpected and refreshing and delightful and…gritty. Did I use that word yet?

But don’t take my word for it, check out this review by Tony Parsons:

A totally brilliant book about the heart breaking gap between the way we were and the way we are… The best weird love story since The Time Traveler’s Wife. Every reader will fall in love with it. And every writer will wish they had written it.

I can tell you one thing, this writer sure wishes she’d written it.

 

The Fifteen People You Will Meet on Facebook

August 3, 2011

I have a few words of advice for all you Facebook virgins. (If there are any of you left out there.)

Facebook takes time. Lots of it. You will spend hours checking out pictures of people you don’t really care about, and days reading status updates that make your brain go numb. You could spend entire years of your life getting to know the intricacies of your old high school friends’ daily lives, what they watch, what they eat, and who “It’s Complicated” with.

And that’s what concerns me.

You see, I know you have limited time on the Internet. Time that should be spent reading The Green Lemon. Or telling others about The Green Lemon. Or staring into space. And because I am so devoted to my readers, I have come up with a plan to save you all that precious time.

Rest assured I am well qualified for this. I have put in my time online, and it is my theory that while there may be over 750 million people on the network, if you break them down into categories, there are really only about 15. I know these people likes. I know their comments. And I know their profile pictures. Using my patented process which I like to call EVERYONE YOU WILL EVER MEET ON FACEBOOK you will soon call yourself a truly connected person. And today, for the first time ever, I am willing to share that with you.

You’re welcome.

 

THE PERSON YOU THOUGHT YOU KNEW WHEN YOU ACCEPTED THEIR FRIEND REQUEST, BUT SOON REALIZED YOU DON’T: He looked sort of familiar when the “Friend Request” came up, but the accompanying thumbnail photo made it too hard to tell. Now you wonder why you’re receiving updates about a complete stranger’s trip to New Jersey to visit his in-laws. Would it be rude to delete him?

THE MOM: This woman is a champion, but she’s been consumed. By babies.  She posts about breastfeeding and asks for tips on breast pumps. At weird hours. And she’s replaced all photos of herself with photos of babies in gigantic daisy bows.

 

THE CRYPTIC PARTIER: You generally have no idea what this person is trying to say, as his status usually says something like LAST NIGHT -=WAISTED. Sometimes you wonder if you should correct their spelling. Or tell them it makes them look dumb to post pictures of themselves flipping off the camera.  But then you take a second look at the crazed look in their eye and decide maybe you shouldn’t get involved. He looks unstable.

THE INAPPROPRIATE FAMILY MEMBER: This is perhaps an aunt or distant cousin that you actually really like—in real life. But then they catch the Facebook bug and start creeping on your game. Maybe you’re trying to connect with some attractive girl you met at a party the night before and you write: “Hey Sara, great meeting you last night. We should get together sometime.” Inappropriate Family Member somehow finds this comment on your new friends’ wall and then comments directly below you with “YOU SHOULD REALLY GO OUT WITH MY NEPHEW HE IS SO AWESOME EVEN IF HE HAS THE WORST GAS EVER, LOL.”

THE MLM: This is someone you knew in college but haven’t spoken to in years. One day you’ll get a very chatty message from him asking how you’re doing, how your life is, and if you want to catch up. You think, “How nice, it would be great to reconnect.” When you reply he jumps right in with asking if you would be interested in selling large bottles of magical pineapple juice as part of the MLM he now swears by. He swears you will be driving a Ferrari within 6 months. You delete him.

YOUR EX BOYFRIEND: You know he’s there. In fact, he was probably the third person you looked up after getting your Facebook account. You note with satisfaction that his new girlfriend is nowhere near as cute as you and that she sort of looks like your ex-boyfriend’s mom. And after this chain of thoughts you now have to recognize that you are not a very good person.

THE GIRL WHO TAKES PICTURES OF HERSELF IN A BIKINI: There’s no reason she should be in a bikini. She’s standing in her (cluttered) apartment alone, with her head cocked as she takes a picture of herself. In November. In Minneapolis. And you’re pretty sure that her tangerine colored skin is neither natural nor healthy.

 

THE TEENAGER: We’re not sure they’re speaking English. Posts are frequent, very frequent, and generally say things like: TTTOOOMM CCC ISS MY BOOOYYYYYY, followed by approximately 37 equally unintelligible replies from Teenager’s friend.

 

THE NOT SO GORGEOUS FRIEND FROM HIGH SCHOOL WHO TURNED OUT TO BE GORGEOUS: You are fascinated with this person. Last time you saw them you’d have described them as “nice.” As in “plain.” Now they are smoking hot, and judging by their pictures, living it up. You’ve looked through their complete album of pictures about 4 times in the last month.

THE “WE’RE SO HAPPILY MARRIED” COUPLE: This couple uses Facebook like a love letter. They are constantly writing about how much they love Husband or Wife, using creative words like “honey love,” “pumpkin muffin,” and “schnooks.” You’ve heard rumors they hate each other.

 

THE WILDLY SUCCESFUL JET SETTER: This person is going to make you hate your life. They travel to the coolest places with their coolest job in the coolest clothes. Try not to dwell.

 

 

THE STALKER YOU’VE NEVER MET: You can’t remember accepting this person’s friend request but one day you realize that a man with a middle initial (like Jaren R. Collins) has commented on every single one of your photos. He also sends you a message saying that he’s looked at all your pictures and thinks the two of you would really get along, and maybe you should meet up? And don’t worry, he only lives a few hours away. You start locking your bedroom door at night.

THE THOUGHTFUL QUOTE PROVIDER: This person’s aim is to inspire. You will hear about sunsets. And why you should live each moment as if it’s your last. And receive daily reminder to follow your dreams and/or heart.

 

 

THE PERSON WHO DOESN’T REALIZE THAT FACEBOOK IS A PUBLIC FORUM: Somehow she didn’t get the memo. She posts things like “Just called in sick to my stupid jerk-face boss. I need a day at the mall!!!”

 

 

THE 25 PEOPLE WHOSE PHONE NUMBERS YOU KNOW: These are the people you would say hello to if you saw them in the grocery store. Call you old-fashioned, but you usually just call these people when you want to talk.

 

 

Is the grass is any greener over on Google+?