Humidify Your Home the Cheap and Easy Way!

Our house has forced-air heat: The furnace blows warm air through the ducts and out through vents in most of the rooms.  Our vents are in the baseboards, so they push out the air horizontally at floor level.  This tip also would work with a wall vent that is just above a shelf or table, and would probably work with floor vents or a floor furnace as well.  (If you have ceiling vents or another type of heat, such as radiators, and have a humidifying tip, I’d love to hear it!  Please post a comment.)

The trouble with forced-air heat is that the air coming out of the ducts is very dry.  Most winters this has bothered me a bit, but this year it’s really getting to me!  Maybe I’m more delicate because I’m pregnant.  I have awakened at least once almost every night with my mouth completely dried out, and I often have a slight nosebleed in the morning.  Our whole family had viral bronchitis in January, and the dry air was making our coughing worse.  We needed more moisture!

We tried an electric humidifier.  I could see mist coming out of its spout some of the time, so I knew it was doing something, and it did seem to make the air slightly gentler.  But there were several things about it that bothered me: Read more…

Lemon Creamy Salmon with Tangy Greens

This is a meal my family has enjoyed repeatedly since it was inspired by a chicken recipe more than two years ago.  We rarely eat chicken and never cook it at home, so we’ve always made this with canned wild Alaskan salmon.  I’ve now made enough changes to the original recipe that I feel this qualifies as a different recipe. You can make this meal for $5 or less if you stock up on canned salmon when it goes on sale, and you choose wisely on the greens and carbohydrate–the recipe is very flexible about those specifics. There are five components to this meal, which picky people may prefer to eat separately: salmon in sauce, greens, dressing, dried cranberries, and a carbohydrate.  The way I serve this meal for myself is to put the salmon on top of the carbohydrate, and the dressing and cranberries on top of the greens. To make 4 servings, you will need:

  • 15 oz. canned or pre-cooked salmon
  • 1 small or 1/2 large onion
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 servings prepared carbohydrate: pasta, rice, baked or mashed potato, toasted hearty bread, etc.
  • 4 cups fresh, or 2 cups shredded frozen, dark green leaves: kale, spinach, Swiss chard, etc.
  • 1/3 cup olive oil (separately from above oil)
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (or other dried fruit)

The first step is to consider what kind of carb and what kind of greens you are using.  If the carb is not yet cooked, start cooking it first.  If you’ll be serving toast, wait until last to toast it so it will be warm.  If you want to eat the greens raw, all you have to do is rinse them and tear larger leaves into bite-size pieces.  If the greens are frozen, or they’re fresh but you want to serve them cooked, start cooking them–I often use frozen kale, just put it in a covered pot with a small amount of water, and poke it with a spoon every few minutes until all the chunks are broken up and it is a slightly less bright green.

Drain the salmon and remove unwanted bones.

Dice the onion.  Cook it in 2 Tbsp. oil until it begins to brown.

Stir in broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and stir in yogurt, thyme, and lemon juice.  (If you used leftover cooked salmon that was not salted, instead of canned salmon, you may want to add some salt.)  Stir for about 2 minutes.

Add the salmon.  Break it up into small chunks.  Heat for another few minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, make the dressing, either by shaking in a small glass jar or by whisking in a small bowl: Crush the garlic and mix it with 1/3 cup oil and the vinegar and salt.

Serve the salmon, carb, greens, dressing, and cranberries together or separately, as desired.

Visit the Hearth & Soul Blog Hop and Real Food Friday for more recipes!  Visit Fabulously Frugal Thursday and Thrifty Thursday for more affordable ideas!

My kid doesn’t have to wear a coat.

I’m an easily chilled sort of person. I like to feel warm and cozy, and being cold upsets me. In any given weather conditions, I’m usually wearing at least as many garments as the average person, often more.

My son Nicholas seems to feel warm most of the time. He’s often quite calm and comfortable in very cold temperatures. He has a decent sense of modesty and won’t run around undressed in public–he doesn’t even like to go shirtless–but he’ll happily wear a light jacket or no jacket, bare feet or flip-flops, one layer of short-sleeved shirt, in conditions where I think that isn’t nearly enough.

I decided a long time ago not to fight about this. I do advise him when the weather has gotten colder since the last time he was outside, or when the forecast calls for a 20-degree drop during the day. I occasionally insist that he bring along appropriate garments in case he wants them later. But I don’t force him to wear a coat, or zip it up, or keep the hood on.

Nicholas started teaching me about this a few days after he was born. Everything I had read about baby care said that your baby should wear as many layers as you are wearing yourself, plus a hat. He was born in December, so on our first day home from the hospital, I was wearing a flannel shirt over a long-sleeved thermal top over a nursing bra, jeans over cotton leggings, and three pairs of socks. It was a bit confusing to extrapolate the equivalent from his wardrobe, but I swaddled him in a flannel blanket over a long-sleeved knit jumpsuit over a T-shirt and diaper, knitted booties over socks, plus a knitted hat.

His face seemed very pink. He was grouchy.

“I think he’s hot,” said his grandmother.

Read more…

My Favorite Love Song

I’m not very romantic. A lot of the gooey sentiments expressed around Valentine’s Day send me into fits of critical thinking. I’m kind of like this. But I am in love with Daniel, and have been for almost 20 years, and sometimes get kind of sentimental about it.

In particular, I can get all choked up thinking about the years when I truly believed it was unlikely that I would ever find someone I really loved and liked and felt really well matched with, who would feel the same way about me–because I thought I was too weird, too smart, too interested in unpopular things and not good enough at feigning interest in popular things, too unfashionable, too tall, too radical, too shy, too strange in my perception of romantic relationships, too nervous, too obsessed with words so that a long list repeatedly using a word like “too” would start to make that word seem so ridiculous that I’d feel uncertain it really existed. My first many crushes on boys convinced me that anybody I thought was wonderful would consider me somewhere between horribly repulsive and unworthy of notice.

Despite all that, I wistfully enjoyed listening to this song, composed by Linda Ronstadt and Wendy Waldman, performed by Lucy Simon on In Harmony, the 1980 album of wonderful songs for children performed by popular singers of the era. I loved the whole album (except for “The Sailor and the Mermaid”–gack, romance and terrible singing!) and played it a zillion times and memorized all the songs, but it’s this one that came to mind when I finally did find someone really compatible and fall in love.

I Have a Song

I have a song. I think it’s a song that’s about you.
I have a song. I think it’s a song about somebody who
Can see a cloud go drifting by, feel the very same as I.
Oh, I have a song. I think it’s a song that’s about you,
That’s about you.

I have a dream. I think it’s a dream maybe you have too.
I have a dream, a wonderful dream about somebody who
I think would really like to know the part of me I’m scared to show.
Oh, I have a dream. I think it’s a dream maybe you have too,
That maybe you have too.

I have a hope. I think it’s a hope that I share with you.
I have a hope, a wonderful hope about somebody who
Believes in love, believes in me, believes in how good life can be.
Oh, I have a hope. I think it’s a hope that I share with you.
Oh, I have a hope. I think it’s a hope that I share with you.
Oh, I share with you.

See? It’s not about how I’m obsessed with you and you’re everything to me and I’d die without you and I’d kill for you and I’m nothing without you and all that overblown freakishness. This song is about how we appreciate the same things, enjoy being together, want to know each other deeply and be okay with that. It’s a song about my fondest dream and hope, that someone special will love the true me, and how I’m a little frightened even to talk about that, but I hope maybe you’ll understand and feel the same and we can share our lives together.

It’s not that it’s the greatest song. It’s very ’70s-sounding, with instrumental music that starts off so saggy that it makes me want to roll my eyes a little. But it’s earnest and singable, and it says exactly what I want. To me, finding the man for whom my heart had this song is the most romantic thing imaginable, and all I really want for Valentine’s Day is to listen to it (or even just think it) while held in his arms.

My brother had the same doubts I did about ever finding a compatible partner, and then he didn’t have my experience of choosing an ultra-geeky college with a skewed gender ratio where it was surprisingly easy to surround myself with compatible people, fall in love repeatedly, and find a wonderful life-partner before I turned 21. My brother had a harder time, well into adulthood. But then he found somebody wonderful! We went to their wedding a few years ago. I’m not into weddings. But when the music that accompanied my brother down the aisle was “I Have a Song”, I almost collapsed into a sobbing sentimental heap. Because he had that song, that dream, that hope, and now finally he had someone to share that song! Wow.

So that’s what I think is romantic. This is the love song that works for me!