These 3 Items Clean Almost Anything

CleaningLately when I clean I am trying to get as much done as possible in the shortest amount of time. I never seem to have a decent chunk of time to devote to a deep clean. Because of this state of perpetual rush, I often do not have the less used cleaning supplies on hand such as drain de-clogger, dishwashing cleaner and soap scum remover. I don’t buy these types of products often and because they tend to have harsh chemicals I am reluctant to use them. (I once used way to much shower cleaner and I made myself sick from the smell. )

This has lead me to explore Pinterest and the internet for more natural, quick assemble cleaners with items I might have in the pantry instead of having to run to the store for expensive cleaners. Luckily, it seems almost everything can be cleaned with vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.

It appears only the method and applications of cleaning differ.  One downside of more natural cleaners is that they don’t usually have the strength of the store bought versions. For that reason I have been on a hunt to find applications and ingredients that will actually work in a busy house of kids and pets.

So far here are the ones that have been working well for me. If you have any natural go-to cleaners or a method that you swear by I would really appreciate if you shared them here.  Would love to here if  natural cleaners are working in your home.

How To Clean Your Dishwasher from

Dishwasher cleaner

Homemade Drain De-clogger from

unclog a sink

Garbage Disposal Cleaner and Refreshers from

garbage disposal cleaner

How to clean your glass Cooktop from

DIY Window Cleaner from


Review of Disney Cruise Lines “Palo” Restaurant

Cruising is almost sanonomous with eating. In fact unlike other vacations, food quality is one of the key factors used to determine a cruise ships rating. On a cruise ship you get the rare opportunity to dine out and try new things without having each tasting hit you in the wallet. For most cruise lines, dining is part of the overall price of the trip so you can eat to your hearts content, savor in an array of cuisine at each meal, and take your palette on an adventure. All without having to cook a thing yourself.

My introduction to cruise specialty dining

In recent years, a rise in cruise ship specialty restaurant’s has emerged. These offer upscale dining at an additional fee over and above your regular cruise purchase price. Upon hearing about this other dining option, I was skeptical. Why someone would spend additional money for a meal when the main dining room fare was varied, delicious and satisfying?

However, after one particular cruise experience, my husband and I overheard a woman literally gushing about the cuisine at one of these specialty restaurants. She stated it was the best meal she has ever had and continued to wax poetic about every dish, drink and breadstick she consumed. I was curious but still not convince that it could be that much better.

Last year, our family enjoyed a short 3-day cruise with another family. We decided to treat them to the specialty Italian restaurant aboard the “Disney Magic.” The price was affordable, roughly $30 per person additional, which is about what you would spend at a local steakhouse. However, the quality, incredible flavor and presentation was nothing like we ever expected. It was literally the best meal we have ever had!

The restaurant was called Palo, named after the signature long poles used by gondoliers in Venice. On our most Disney Magicrecent cruise aboard “the Magic” me and my husband made a special point to revist this amazing culinary memory. However, you don’t have to be sailing “the Magic, Palo can be found aboard any Disney ship. To book your dining experience for brunch or dinner, you can do so when you board or at the Disney cruise website. Using your reservation number you can reserve your table roughly 90 days in advance.

Dress code for Palo is dress pants or slacks and a collared shirt for men, and a dress, skirt or pants and a blouse for women. Jeans in good condition are allowed by why would you? You can wear jeans everyday.

No yelling about fork throwing, cleaning up spills or cutting up someone else’s food. Why not get dolled like you did pre-children? Get your nails done. Indulge in a relaxing massage. and share a delicious meal with your significant other.

The atmosphere of the restaurant is calm, serene with a great view of the ocean. Once seated you are introduced to your server who pretty much waits on you hand and foot. I marveled at the waiter’s uncanny talent of knowing when to check in at your table and when to allow you time to enjoy your dishes. The first course is an appetizer of anti-pasto, various cured meats, cheeses, olives and bread. I could have filled up on this all by itself. It was so good.

We are not big wine drinkers but your wait staff are happy to recommend a wine selection to pair with your meal. Likewise, I have heard the wine specially made for Palo is very good. For the appetizer, I had selected the gnocchi and my husband had a shrimp dish. On our prior trip, since we were a large group, we pretty much tried everything and it was all amazing! So do not worry if you have a hard time deciding the waiter will have you try both.

Palo Mushroom risottoBy this point it is easy to fill up on appetizers and anti-pasto, but hold back because the entrée and dessert are coming. Before the main event, there is one more stop at the dishes Italy is know for…pasta. If I had to pick my favorite dish of the dinner the Butternut Squash Angelloti (Ravioli) would be the winner.

Silky, pillowy pasta dough enrobed a sweet buttery, flavorful filling, topped with bits of almond cookies. It was probably the best dish I have ever had in my life! Yes, it was that good. (I am trying desperately to recreate it at home BTW.) If you book at Palo you can not leave without trying this dish. It is memorable.

Next up was the entrée. There is a nice range of fish, beef and chicken dishes, like Osso Bucco and Beef Tenderloin. I was fortunate on our last experience to have the opportunity to sample most of the main dishes offered. Honestly, they are all incredible. You really can not go wrong no matter what you choose.Palo steak

For me the standout was the fish. The server brings you a gorgeous roasted fish and gracefully debones it right there in front of you. It actually made me think of my childhood and my dad who use to debone fresh caught fish for me. But he struggled and mashed up the flaky meat while the waiter pulled the whole bone out effortlessly. Not only was this fish beautifully presented it (like everything else at Palo) tasted incredible. It was light, flaky savory and flavorful. I am not a huge fish eater but this made me a convert.

Finally, we get to my favorite part of any meal. The dessert. Being a sweets lover I couldn’t wait for this. Considering how great the entire meal was I actually felt like they could do little to top all of these amazing dishes.

cruise restaurant palo souffleThe perfect combination of hot and cold, crunch and creamy, with a deep, rich chocolate flavor. It is a perfect little ramekin holding the decadent contents of this dish. Along side you find the yin and yang of sauces, chocolate and vanilla. As your mouth waters your server breaks the surface of the soufflé and pours in the hot sauces. Then finally places a circle of vanilla ice cream which starts to melt and mix upon impact. It is perfection in dessert form.

The only problem we experienced with our first time to Palo was not over eating. We were so overwhelmed by how good the food was we over indulged…on everything. By the end of the meal we were stuffed and had to waddle out of the restaurant. Me and my husband resisted that urge this time. Instead we paced ourselves  thoroughly enjoying every moment, every taste and savoring every bite.

If you every have the opportunity to have dinner at Palo do not pass it up. Next time we are heading for there brunch.



The Working World and the Royal Court

Royal court and the working worldI know this is going to sound a bit off the wall but why does the working world so resemble a 17th century royal court?  Recently I have been reading a fascinating book about Catherine the Great and have been intrigued by the strange parallels I see in the court life then and the work life of today.

Here are some of the similarities that have stood out to me:

1.Your standing, wealth and prosperity hinge on whether the boss/king likes you

I have come to notice in the working world it really doesn’t matter how much you produce if you have a bad attitude and are not well liked by the boss then you are going nowhere. The most productive worker is not as valuable as the one whose company the boss enjoys. This may sound cynical but we can all think of a job where this is the truth. (If not just watch the movie Office Space.)

No one likes to be around a negative nelly even if they work hard. Kings (and Queen) were even less tolerant of negativity and a bad attitude. Often times the negative individual would find themselves removed from court, have their status and lands diminished or be locked away in a tower or goo log somewhere. (Work equivalent to the boiler room.)

2. Gossip is the main language spoken.

Like royal court gossip is done by everyone from the lowest in court to the king or queen themselves. Gossip could land you in a heap of trouble, take out your enemies or (much like Anne Boylen) become the favorite of the king or queen. In the work setting gossip runs a mock in much the same way. Everyone knows who is with whom, who is stealing a promotion and who is getting the axe. Most gossip is half-truths and lies but in the royal court as well as the workplace unfortunately many decisions have some basis in gossip.

3. The environment can be unpredictable

Just ask the employees of Enron. In the office environment  mergers, bankruptcy’s and poor management can create and unstable environment in any business. In the royal court poor decisions made by the monarchy can bankrupt a country. Likewise, alliances, royal succession and wars have a dramatic effect on court life. Countries such as Prussia who where once strong can disappear during these types of events. Just as companies who seemed thriving and prosperous one year cease to exist a few years later.

4. Those at the top flourish while those at the bottom toil.

This is a fairly new discussion in business terms. It is the idea that CEO make an average of 1,000 times more then their lowest paid employee and do not produce at the level to warrant such an income disparity. Whether this is the case or not, most upper management employees do make much more then those at the bottom.

This becomes very bad news in the public sector where the money spent is not from a product produced but from taxpayers. So the lavish trips, expensive offices and misuse of money is even more of an egregious offense. You can parallel this with the causes that lead to the French revolution. The French nobility and court spent lavishly and extravagantly while their subject were left to handle heavy taxes and food shortages.

5. A rejection of how thing have always been done may lead to new ideas

One thing to note is not addressed in this parallel and that is America and the Entrepreneur.  In American their is not monarchy. Sure there is still gossip and rumor. There is public unrest and poor decision making. But just as America grow out of the desire to leave the King of England behind to form a different government. We have the ability to leave the gossip, favoritism, poor environment and toil of our current job behind. Yes, it takes guts, innovation and hard work but just as America was build out of a distain for nobility. Thriving businesses have been built upon the idea of doing things different, smarter and better then the company’s before them had.

What is your take on this theory? Am I way of base or do you see similarities as well. Please share your thoughts and opinions with me.


Over the Moon Link Party #65

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Welcome to the Over the Moon Link Party!  You can link up any family friendly posts without profanity. Have a post you want to give more reach? Need some comments or shares? Want a post that’s close to going viral takeoff like a rocket? Now is the time to link it up!

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5 Things for Parents to Remember on the Sidelines of Youth Sports

5 things for parents to remember on the sidelines of youth sportsPlaying youth sports has so many benefits. It teaches teamwork, leadership, and perseverance among other things. These are skills a child will refer back to their entire life. Becoming involved in sports helps to shape children into amazing adults, productive human beings and incredible role models. Having my children involved in sports teams it is fascinating to watch as they learn new skills, develop leadership and overcome interpersonal challenges.

Once of the most heart warming of sights is seeing my son light up when his coach takes special time with him to congratulate or teach him a new skill. Coaches have such an important role in the life of these beginning athletes. They teach them valuable skills and connect with them in a different way then a parent.

For this reason I have always felt an immediate respect for these types of coaches, especially those who are unpaid volunteers. They give so much of themselves and their time to help make children into a better people. While coaches and the team setting are important, there is one piece of this puzzle than I am leaving out. This is the person who can make or break the childhood sports experience. That is the parent.

I look back on fond memories shared with my dad as he yelled from the sidelines of my soccer game. It was one of the few occasions in our relationship where I felt he truly believed in me and will always be something I cherish . Unfortunately, this is not always be the behavior of parents on the sidelines or youth sports coaches.

Since the inception of youth teams there have always been “those ” parents. You know the one. The one with a secret dream of become an NFL star, or Major Leaguer but never got a chance. These are the ones that do not just believe their 5 year old can be the next Johnny Bench or Magic  Johnson. They are determined to make is happen.

They get a bit overzealous and turn the game from being light-hearted fun into pressure filled warfare. We can all have be this parent from time to time but most of us can pull ourselves back from the edge and leave the coaching to the coach. However, their are some adults who forget these are kids and this is just a game.

It has gotten so bad that most youth leagues now require parents sign a Code of Ethics pledge. The code of ethics is intended to remind parents to well…act like adults. Apparently, it has happened enough times and in enough instances that a signed document is necessary to keep parents in check.

I can say from personal experience I became totally disgusted when a parent coach in my sons little league violated this pledge. He was a coach/player parent/league administrator and for years has used his position to cherry pick his teams. Selecting only the best, most experienced and oldest players to dominate over all others grade schoolers and win the championship each season. He had to secure the coveted plastic, baseball batter atop a metallic blue stand. The underwhelming trophy telling everyone he is a “T-ball Championship Winner.”

These are 6 and 7- year-olds! The dejected look on my son’s face knowing this team was unbeatable, broke my heart. To hear his team members sadly state they were going to loss before the game ever started, was awful. All for what? What skills did this teach any of them. What challenge did it present to the other team? All so a pathetic, broken man could fulfill his dream of little league domination.

In another instance there are the parents who cart there kid all over creation because the have to be part of a “travel” team. They must attend completions and tournaments. Don’t get me wrong if the kid wants to do this it could be a genuine special memory between parent and child. The problem comes in when the need of the parent to relive their glory days outweigh the logic of the situation. Like having your 7-year-old spend summer weekend in another state competing when all they really want to do is be home playing with their friends.

As parents we only want the best for our children. That being said, we all have the potential to be those parents. We just lose sight of why our kids are playing sports in the first place. To have fun. Here are five ways to keep yourself in check as a parent of a young athlete.

Model good sportsmanship

Recognize your child will take their cues from your behavior. If you bad-mouth another team or player they will think this is acceptable behavior and follow suit.

Recognize the team in addition to your child

It is important to not fixate only on the actions of just our child. Recognizing the accomplishments other players in front of your child helps demonstrates leadership and teamwork. Encouraging your child to cheer on and congratulate others will also foster these skills.

Demonstrate Respect

Always speak to other parents, coaches, umpires and referees with respect even when you disagree. Little eyes are watching and little ears are listening. If you are feeling to emotional to restrain yourself. Walk away.

Make sure you are not pressuring your kids to live out your dreams

This is a tough one and it is easy to fall into without noticing. Everyone harbors secret dreams that their 7-year-old child will be the phenome player heading to the big leagues. But sometimes these secret hopes don’t remain secret. Some of the warning signs are being overly critical if you child misses a play or expecting them to play at a level well beyond their age and physicality. If you are buying your kid expensive equipment they never asked for it might be a good idea to examine what emotions you have invested in their sport.

Remember you are the parent, not the player

Be attentive to the needs and emotions as they grow in their sport. Also know when to step back, let them learn and find their own way. Allow them to be a kid who loves to play without the pressure of being the best. Look for chances to encourage and build self esteem. When they make a misstep help them learn to deal with losses and mistakes with grace and dignity. If parents can accept their supporting role, instead of coach or former player, then a lifetime of teachable moments, beautiful memories and valuable skills await.


hint with a kick of natural caffeine

Irish Soda Bread

irish soda breadCreate A Irish bread tradition

I know the past decade bread has gotten a bad rap. However, there is no denying that home-baked bread is the ultimate in comfort food. The aroma, the texture and the taste of good, homemade bread can not be beat. Couple this comforting food item with a day that celebrates an Irish love for carbs, i.e  potatoes, beer, shamrock shakes. It’s worth starting a bready tradition worth returning to year after year.  That is what happened with this recipe.

Finding the perfect recipe

One day several years ago I decided to make Irish Soda Bread in honor of St. Paddy’s Day. Unfortunately, finding the right recipe was not as easy as it sounds. I tried out several that we’re dry, flavorless, and crumbly. After several failed attempts and wasted supplies, the Barefoot Contessa once again, saved my baking.

I love her recipes. They use normal, pantry ingredients in reasonable proportions (a normal amount of butter and sugar.) This recipe was divine. Crunchy crust with a beautifully soft, doughy interior. Not only was the texture perfect, the flavor was fantastic! The addition of orange zest brings a brightness and is a great complement to the sweetness of the raisins.

I made a few changes to make it adaptable to my pantry staples. The original recipe called for currants which I never use and don’t really love. I added in raisins instead. Traditional Irish Soda Bread is known for the use of buttermilk. I never have buttermilk on hand since I don’t use it enough. In this case, I add a bit of lemon juice to sour the regular milk and it still adds the zing to this recipe.




Irish Soda Bread
Print Recipe
The original recipe is from Barefoot Contessa at Home
Irish Soda Bread
Print Recipe
The original recipe is from Barefoot Contessa at Home
  1. In a cup place lemon juice into milk and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Cut cold butter into flour, much like making biscuits.
  3. In a separate bowl beat together egg, soured milk, and orange zest. Slowly add the milk mixture to the flour mixture.
  4. Add in raisins. Be sure to not over mix. Just stir to combine. Mixture should be very wet.
  5. Dump dough out onto a floured surface. (I put it right on the baking sheet.) Knead it a few times to help bring it together and shape it into a round loaf.
  6. Once the loaf shape is formed. Cut an x in the top and bake in a 375 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.
Recipe Notes

If you ever wondered how Irish Soda Bread came about states:

"Irish soda bread began in the 19th century when baking soda was introduced to the lower class households of Ireland. Because ovens were scarce, soda and buttermilk were desirable because of their effectiveness in creating a plump loaf in a cast iron pot, or bastible.

According to The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread. (yes, there is such a thing)  They state Traditional Irish Soda Bread has no additions. "Flour, Salt, Baking Soda, Buttermilk.  Anything else added makes it a "Tea Cake!"  I have to admit I was pretty surprised to find a whole society about Irish Soda Bread but their website is full of interesting history and recipe variations. Who knew there was so much more to this simple bread.

You can check out the original recipe from Ina Garten in Barefoot at Home, as well as other cookbooks by Ina that I love and use myself. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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St. Patrick’s Day: It’s more than just green beer!

green beer
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Wearing shamrocks, drinking green beer, and marching in a parade have become yearly activities associated with St. Patrick’s Day. Although the holiday began in Irish religious tradition, it has taken root globally. Making leprechaun traps are a regular grade school assignment in the US. Every year McDonald’s pumps out its, now infamous, Shamrock Shake and we all believe we are a little Irish on St. Paddy’s Day.

But beyond the festivities and merry making what do we really know about this holiday? Well for starters St. Patrick was a real guy. The day is to honor St. Patrick bringing Christianity to Ireland.

St. Patrick was actually from Britain. At sixteen he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a slave. During his time there he discovered his calling. When he escaped and returned home, he became a priest. After sometime he felt another calling. This was to return to the place he spent 6 years as a slave, and spread his faith.  He traveled back to Ireland and set about converting the Irish people to Christianity.

So how did a feast day devoted to a Christian Saint go mainstream?

In the early 1900’s, St. Patrick’s Feast Day became a national Catholic holiday and the Saint’s association with Ireland grew. From there it became a national holiday in Ireland. Parades honoring Irish heritage and culture began to take place in conjunction with the feast day. When the Great Potato Famine occurred many Irish emigrated to America. They brought the St. Patrick’s Day traditions with them to cities like New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Today, although it is not a recognized national holiday in the US, St. Paddy’s Day has become a national way to recognize Irish heritage throughout America. Likewise, it has spread in an international phenomenon and is  celebrated worldwide in countries like Russia, Japan and Argentina.

What is the meaning behind Shamrocks, leprechauns and Green beer?

The Shamrock is more then just a green clover. It was the symbol used by St. Patrick to explain the holy trinity. The idea of a four leaf clover being good luck actually pre-dates St. Patrick according to

Celtic dominance once extended across Ireland and much of Western Europe. It was the Druids (Celtic priests) who elevated four leaf clovers to the status of good-luck charms, allegedly potent against malevolent spirits. Their status as Celtic charms is the origin of the modern belief in their power to bestow good luck.”

Leprechauns were part of early Irish folklore. They are mischievous fairy like folk tasked with mending the shoes of other magical beings. According to, in the leprechaun legend, these little being can use their magic for good or evil purposes. Should you capture a one of these wee 0nes, they will share their pot of gold with you.

According to Irish legends, people lucky enough to find a leprechaun and capture him (or, in some stories, steal his magical ring, coin or amulet) can barter his freedom for his treasure. Leprechauns are usually said to be able to grant the person three wishes. But dealing with leprechauns can be a tricky proposition.”

And then there was the beer..

Green Beer? This strange beverage is America’s contribution to the St. Patrick’s Day feast. According to, green beer was first served in 1914 by a New York coroner during a St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

A newspaper article from 1914 describes a New York social club serving green beer at a celebratory St. Patrick’s Day dinner. In it, the invention is attributed to one Dr. Curtin, a coroner’s physician who achieved the effect by putting a drop of “wash blue” dye in a certain quantity of beer.”

Apparently, green beer is so remarkable it can not be contained to St. Patrick’s Day alone. It now has it’s very own day called Green Beer Day and even celebrated yearly by Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

If you want to brew up your own green beer, here is a recipe from

However, you celebrate St. Paddy’s Day remember Be safe, Be merry and wear the green.

(Sources: Wikipedia, and


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