Month: March 2014

To the bravest of the brave

American Heroes II

This is just a short post. But I found this so endearing and heartfelt that I needed to share. You might have seen this article circulating around social media. I love reading stories about soldiers. I have the utmost respect for them and think that they are amazing. They put their lives on the line everyday for all of us. They don’t even know who we are but they are on the frontlines protecting our country and our rights as Americans. I feel that these people should get celebrity status. Not someone who can throw a ball or shoot a hoop from the three point line. But every time a soldier is discussing his or her experiences they are so humble. They act like what they just did is not a big deal. I applaud them for that and I applaud them for their service! We would be nowhere without all of you. You are our heroes!

I hope you enjoy the article I mentioned above. To all of the service men and women out there: You are awesome!

It’s a dog, dog, dog, dog world

20140314_092924

This is our dog Petey. He is my first baby. People who are not pet owners will probably laugh or roll their eyes at that comment. However, in the dog owner’s world, it is the truth. I love my son with all of my heart. And I love my dog just the same. Petey made me a mommy first. So, therefore, he is my first baby.

We adopted Petey over 2 years ago. July 31, 2011 to be exact.  He was my birthday present that year. I can still remember walking into North Shore Animal League and being so overwhelmed with all of the choices. I literally cried as I walked down the aisles of cages with dogs that just wanted to be loved. I still think of that day and pray that they all found their forever homes. I wish I could have taken all of them. Alas, that was impossible. We then stumbled upon a few cages towards the back that were hidden from view. And there was the cutest  little dog just resting in his cage. He just looked at us and we looked at him. We asked one of the workers if we could take him out to play with him. Well, that was it. One hour later and we walked out as a family.

Petey was a rescue from a puppy mill. Here is a link if you would like to read more. He hadn’t had too much experience outside of a cage. So we literally had to teach him how to walk with a leash, how to step on grass, how to walk up steps, how to eat food out of a dog bowl, etc. The poor dog was matted and he had a cut on his front right paw that was healing. North Shore said he was cut when they rescued him from the puppy mill. It breaks my heart to think people actually do things like this to dogs. They should be treated the same way to see how they are hurting these poor innocent animals.

20140310_135537

I really didn’t have too much experience with dogs. My mom had gotten a dog the year before I got married. His name is Linguini. (He is the cutie here!)Yes, we are Italian! He is a poodle and chihuahua mix. So, I had been around a dog to at least know what to expect.

20140323_103120

 

My husband’s parents  also have a dog. Her name is Fluffy. Miss Fluffy to you. She is a shih tzu. Fluffy is 17 years old. She has  out lived all dogs in her breed. She is an old lady. Her time on Earth is limited now. She has lived a wonderful 17 years, though. So many memories of that dog.

With Fluffy being so old it makes me think what it will be like in 10 years with Petey. I try not to think of it. However, when you become a pet owner, it is just part of the job. Dogs do not live as long as humans. It is so unfortunate because they are the ones that show you the most love and loyalty. They will sit in your lap when you need a hug. They will listen when you need someone to talk to. They will play when you want to be silly. And they will greet you at the door when you come home with such love and devotion.

I refuse to watch any movies where dogs are hurt or die. For example, I will never read nor watch the movie Marley and Me. I know how it ends. I would be a mess for months. I’d rather enjoy my dog’s love instead of focusing on the bad parts.

To all of you non dog owners, the saying goes “To each his own”. However, you don’t know what you are missing. Is it a lot of work? Sometimes. Are dogs messy? Not really. My house doesn’t smell of dog. And I’d like to think my house is pretty clean. Do they cost a lot of money? Eh, each person will have their own opinion on that. The most important thing about owning a dog is the love. Knowing that there is constant companionship. And the love that you know you will be greeted with when you walk through the front door.

And how can you resist this face?!

20140322_153426

What are some of your dog experiences? Anyone else adopt a dog? Comment below!

Don’t forget to share The Mrs Z. Files with your friends!

You can contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com

How big is the universe?

universe

The idea of how big the universe is boggles my mind. It is such a farfetched idea to me that it literally stops me in my thoughts for a few moments. The universe, according to what I have always been taught, just keeps going. Just keeps going! Where does it stop? How big is the universe? Sometimes when I ask these questions, I feel like a 5 year old asking why the sky is blue. However, it is just such an intriguing idea that I need to keep asking. It is like the post I wrote about age and I am the character in the short text Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. The five year old in me just keeps coming out when I think of the idea of the universe.

To flabbergast me even more, I have been watching the show Cosmos on the National Geographic Channel. One of the episodes discussed the idea of how big the universe is.  The narrator spoke of the observable universe. They discussed the size of Earth and then compared it to the size of the galaxy. He kept comparing the size of Earth to larger parts of the universe until he got to the last one called the Observable Universe. In so many words, astrophysicists have estimated really well the size of the universe. They use light that has been thrown from other galaxies and measure how long it has traveled. After reading this article, the universe is larger than anyone has ever expected. Scientists still do not know where the universe ends, according to the article. They are working on it, though.

After watching the show and doing some research of my own, the whole idea still makes me feel like that 5 year old with an endless amount of questions. It fascinates me at the same time too. Think of all of the galaxies that must be in the observable universe. Will we ever be able to travel that far? Are there species that are living in these other galaxies? I doubt in my life time we will ever know. Someday though!

After doing some research, I have also come to a conclusion. The astrophysicists that figure out all of this are complete geniuses! I wouldn’t even know where to begin. But they have dedicated their lives and their careers to finding it out. I think they are probably the coolest people out there. I feel almost inferior to their intelligence. They are, however, such great role models for our younger generation.

I highly recommend watching the Cosmos series on the National Geographic Channel.  It is amazing to learn about something, such as the universe, that is so large. It definitely humbles you when you think about yourself compared to the vastness of the universe. Again, it boggles the mind.

What are your thoughts on the universe? Anyone else have other interesting documentaries to share? Comment below!

You can also contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

Oh Goldfish…Why must you tease us?

Goldfish-Crackers

As a child, I literally lived on Goldfish. They are so easy to just pop in your mouth and who can resist the parmesan flavored ones? Then, I grew up and learned how to read the ingredient labels on food. And that ended our love affair. Sigh…..

I was thinking of writing about Goldfish the other day when a friend of mine sent me this article. (Shout out to Diana!!) It just clarified everything I thought about the ingredients not only in Goldfish but in Pepperidge Farm in general. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Pepperidge Farm. I think I have definitely bought my fair share of their products. I just feel, in this day and age, they need to look at their ingredients and begin to see where they can add more natural ones.

Look at this label from their Golden 3-Layer Cake.

pepperidgefarmingredients

I don’t even know what half of the ingredients are, let alone pronounce them. My motto: If you can’t pronounce it or you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it. These ingredients are literally damaging our bodies each time we eat them.  When you read the article it says that the founder of Pepperidge Farm originally started this company to make food without additives because her son had an allergy to commercially baked products. What happened to this brand?!?!

Goldfish ingredients are not quite as bad but they do contain GMOs.

goldfishingredients

According to the article I mentioned above, Goldfish is being sued because they claim on their product that it is natural and no artificial ingredients. Several of the ingredients are GMO based. So sad :(. I love these crackers.

So, what is a girl to do? You need friends who watch out for you! And my friend Diana sent me this recipe for homemade Goldfish crackers!! I have yet to make it but it seems pretty straightforward. The writer shows how to make the fish shape out of an aluminum can. That seems like too much work for me. I would honestly use any small cookie cutter I had to make these. It is the taste that I miss the most!

I definitely plan on making these real soon. I hope you try them as well :).

Comment below.

You can also contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com

Don’t forget to spread the word about The Mrs. Z Files! Thanks a bunch!

Never waste tomato paste again!

how to store tomato paste 4

Looking for a quick kitchen tip? Well, you stumbled upon the right place. How many opened cans of tomato paste have you wasted in your lifetime? I know I can count quite a few. I found a tip the other day which left me speechless.

After you open a can of tomato paste and use what you need, don’t throw it away. Take out a cookie sheet and line it with parchment paper. Then, scoop out the paste using a tablespoon and line the cookie sheet with however many tablespoons of paste you can create. You can also use a teaspoon and alternate making tablespoon and teaspoon measurements. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer to allow the tomato paste to freeze. Once it has frozen, store the tomato paste scoops in a container in the freezer. Ta Da! You didn’t waste any tomato paste and you have premeasured amounts for easy use in your next recipe.

This was one of the best finds ever! Of course I shook my head and said, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”.  I hope this comes in handy in your kitchen.

Do you have any time saving or money saving tips for your kitchen? Comment below! We would all love to know :).

Contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

Spring has sprung!

20140320_125519

 

This is a very quick post today. For those of you who have liked my Facebook page, you already have seen this. So, sorry for the redundancy.

I learned about the vernal equinox in junior high. I remember my sixth or seventh grade teacher telling us that you can stand an egg up during this time because the gravitational pull is strongest. I have done a lot of research and most people say that even though this is true, you can stand an egg up on any other day. Well, I still hold a firm belief that it is much easier to stand an egg up on this day, as well as the winter solstice, then any other day.

Spring sprung at 12:57 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. I started trying around 12:30. At 12:52 p.m., my egg stood up. I will promise you that the egg is not hard boiled, it is not a fake egg, and there is nothing holding it up. Here is a better view:

20140320_125551

So, keep this is mind for next spring. It is a great ice breaker for talking about gravity with your class  or your own kids.

Comment below if you’d like :).

You can contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com as well.

Motherhood…The baby frontier

baby-star-wars

I often wondered what motherhood was like before I had my son. I remember being with moms and thinking how tired they looked. It all seemed so daunting. Why would I ever want to put myself through all of that? Well, I guess by the time you reach your 30s (at least for me), you get bitten by the baby bug. That’s right. One day you wake up and there is this need for a baby in your life. Trust me. If it hasn’t happened yet, it will.

The entire time I was pregnant my mood shifted from pure excitement to an agonizing fear. I had no idea how to take care of a baby. Yes, I work with kids. But at 3 o’clock they go home to their own parents. The idea of taking care of a baby 24/7 put my emotions into such a frenzy. This made those 9 months drag on for eternity. Then one day my son decided to make his appearance. And that excitement and fear changed into a state of awe. I can remember just looking down at him and just saying “Wow” over and over again. Plus, I still had no clue how to take care of a baby. Well, that changes very quickly. It is like a switch is turned on and within 24 hours you know how to change a diaper, burp a baby in the right place, change clothes within 60 seconds before the cries come, and countless other tasks.

Would I change anything of this? No way! Do I wish I could sleep in on weekends the way I use to after a leisurely Friday or Saturday night out? Sure. Do I wish I could just leave the house without having to pack the diaper bag, collect toys, put on everyone’s shoes and jackets? Sure. However, I know in a few years I will be able to do all of that again. And I know deep down I will step out into a beautiful Saturday night and turn to find my son waving goodbye. I’ll then see him turn and play with his toys and not even give a glance back. I know that my heart strings will definitely be pulled tightly at that sight. So, I will enjoy these moments now.

To those of you wondering about motherhood, it is probably the hardest job out there. It never stops. You will probably think you can do better and will do everything like a pro when it is your time. I know, I was there too. I thought this would be easy peasy. Do it when you are ready. Don’t let anyone push you. And when you see that little face for the first time, know that your life will definitely change. It will be more hectic and most likely crazy. But this momma wouldn’t change anything for the world. Except to maybe get a little more sleep!

I was reading this article and it made me think of my own experiences. Thought I would pass it along :). In regards to the Star Wars reference and picture: my husband is a HUGE Star Wars fan. That’s how we roll ;).

Comment below if you’d like!

You can contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

Lists can be very helpful!

shopping_list

So many things to do. So little time. I feel like this is my life and I am sure many of you feel the same way. In the midst of all of the chaos, I do like to feel somewhat organized. One way I do this is by making lists for myself. Sometimes I have a list to remind myself to look at the list. I know, such a weird concept. And, yes, I still use pen and paper to create my lists. I put reminders in my phone calendar. However, I need something that is in my face to remind me to do something. Call me old school. Call me a teacher. Just don’t call me stupid ( yes, I know, corny).

 

One of these lists that I create weekly is my food shopping list. This is a necessity in my life. I cannot go into a supermarket without a list. I get so overwhelmed. Before I was married my mom and sister would make a menu up of our nightly dinners and then make a food shopping list. So, when I got married and left the house, making a food shopping list was a must. I remember the first time my husband and I went food shopping. We went in with no list and randomly picked up any item. It was fun going shopping together for the first time as husband and wife. However, when our bill came out to be over $200, I knew I needed to change that. (I kept the receipt from that first food shopping trip. I am also a big scrapbooker and save special items like that for posterity.)

weekly-dinner-menu

Every week since that first food shopping trip I have sat at my dining room table with my circular in one hand and my recipe books in another. I plan for 5 dinners a week. (I would have posted my actual list. However, it is not as pretty as this template.) I go through my recipe books and find five recipes that are yummy and pretty easy to cook. I do not like spending hours in the kitchen cooking and then cleaning. After the recipes are decided upon, I go back and write down all of the ingredients I will need to buy for that week. I then think of items we eat normally for breakfast and add them to the list. Lunch is usually leftovers from the night before or something we already have in the house. I also add things such as produce or vegetables we can snack on, milk, etc.

These lists have made my life better in two ways. First, I feel way more organized and I’m not guessing each night as to what to make for dinner. Definitely an added stress I don’t need. Second, I do not feel overwhelmed at the supermarket anymore! Since I am not overwhelmed, that means I am not adding in any unnecessary items that I just picked up for no reason. This has kept our grocery bills at a decent amount each week! Also, having a list means that I have more time to price check each item that I buy. I know some of you are probably saying that I probably only save 20 cents here and there. Well, think about it. If each item you buy you save $0.20 and you buy 40 items during one shopping trip, you saved $8. That’s for one week. If you multiply that by 4 weeks in a month, that is $32. Then, if you multiply $32 by 12 months, you saved $384 for the year! How awesome is that?! Is this a tad compulsive? Perhaps. However, that means more money in my pocket. That makes me a very happy woman!

I hope you enjoyed this Mrs. Z tidbit. Hopefully, you can use this in your life :).

Comment below :).

You can also contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

Oreos!

big_oreo

 

March 9, 2014

When I was a little girl one of my favorite cookies were Oreos. I loved dunking them in a cold glass of milk. Sometimes I would take the two cookie pieces apart and just eat the cream. Yummy!! Let’s just say, I have definitely eaten my fair share of Oreos.

Oreo-Ingredients

Sadly, I have not had an Oreo in years for my own personal reasons. These reasons are solely based on the ingredients (see picture above). They include palm oil and high fructose corn syrup. I largely avoid those added preservatives in my diet. So, you could imagine my joy when I came across this recipe for homemade organic Oreos.  At first glance the recipe seemed mighty lengthy. However, this blogger explained in detail each step. This was great for me. If any of you are like me, I need any type of recipe spelled out and explained. I also enjoy when someone includes pictures in a recipe so at least I know if I am headed in the correct direction.

Back to the recipe. It calls for all organic ingredients. This is totally up to you if you are going to do that or use whatever you have on hand. I used organic ingredients for everything except the sugar and the cocoa powder. I used dark chocolate cocoa powder, which had no processed ingredients in it. As far as the sugar, that was a store brand. Yes, I used regular sugar. I’ve already mentioned that I am working on changing products in my house to healthier choices. I just haven’t gotten to this particular one yet.

oreos3

Making the actual cookie dough was easy. The recipe didn’t say how much whole wheat flour to actually put in because the blogger used spelt instead. I put in 2 cups and next time I might put in 1 and 3/4 cups. The dough had a slightly drier texture to it and I think it was from too much flour.

oreos4

I also recommend not putting the dough into the refrigerator for longer than 30 minutes. It was very hard when I took it out and was slightly difficult to roll out.

 

Once I did roll it out, I used a heart shape cookie cutter to make the cookie shapes. I made this around Valentine’s Day, so I thought it was appropriate. You can change the shape for any holiday or occasion.  After the cookies baked and cooled, I made the cream. It doesn’t taste exactly like an actual Oreo but it was super yummy! Next time, I need to use less milk because it was a little too runny.

20140213_144942

Here is what my final product looked like. They really were delicious. The texture of the cookie is not hard like the originals. But it just tasted so good and I felt at ease knowing all of the ingredients were of my choosing to put in. Since I used a small cookie cutter, I wound up being able to make 60 cookies!

I hope you enjoy this recipe and that you try your own homemade Oreos! I know I added a lot of things that I would do differently next time. But remember: this was my first time using the recipe. There is always room for improvement in everything you do ;).

Post your pictures below of the Oreos you make!

You can contact me at themrszfiles@gmail.com.

Age ain’t nothin’ but a number…

3172ed37d43d6806409f1cea19c1bf65

Age ain’t nothin’ but a number. That’s how the saying goes, right? I was reading an article about age the other day and the writer asked what age meant to you. So, of course, it got me thinking.  If you are looking at the literal point of view, you are aging each second that it takes you to read this article. We start aging the second we are born. We age with each moment that passes and every memory that is created.

As a writer (and a thinker. I also view myself as a thinker.), you see age in a totally different aspect.  You view age through moments in time. You know those moments when your mind wanders and you’re seeing a time long ago. The images are a bit hazy but you can see it. You have that feeling of perfect calm come over you. Reality does come calling quite quickly. However, those few hazy images give you that push for the day.

Age takes us in different directions. The person you were at 10 years old is not that same person you are now. Your life has taken so many twists and turns that it ages you like a fine wine (this is an extremely cheesy comparison. And sorry about the cheesy part. Get it: cheese, wine. Again, the joys of motherhood ;).) Your life will inevitably change directions many times throughout the course of your life. You will always be you, though.

This topic actually reminds me of a short text that I’ve read with my students numerous times. It is called Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. Whoever reads this text gets a different meaning out of it.  My favorite is this:

What they don’t understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you’re eleven, you’re also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you  wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don’t. You open your eyes and everything’s just like yesterday, only it’s today. And you don’t feel eleven at all. You feel like you’re still ten. And you are – underneath the year that makes you eleven.

 

This really is such a great description of age and how you feel on the inside. You may change from year to year but you are the same old you. All of the past you is still there, living in the crevices of your mind. This is age. It is the culmination of everything that has made you.

With age also comes the thought of how to make a mark on society. For me, that is being the best mommy in the world. I am giving my son a strong foundation so that he will one day leave an indelible mark on the world.  One day, my mark will also include being an amazing educator. I have not forgotten that part of me. Being a mommy right now is the most important thing to me. However, shaping young minds is like nothing else. To me, that is age. Shaping young minds and giving my son the wings to soar high.