In contemplation of the weather
June 22, 2010

Summer officially started yesterday.  And it’s hot.  I don’t mean “it’s hot in the South in the summer” hot.  I mean, it feels like August in the South, before it was even officially summer.  We have already started hitting 100° temperatures and it’s only June.

And while we Southerners love to complain about the weather, especially the heat and humidity, I realized that we really have a lot to bitch about here lately.  Let’s take a look back at this year so far.  In January, we had the worst snow I can ever remember, but not only that, it snowed several more times this winter.  We’re just not prepared for that here, because we just don’t get much frozen precipitation.  We are, however, very used to other precipitation.  We are a fairly rainy city, with an affinity for thunderstorms and tornadoes.  But last month, we had historical rains and flooding.  Our city is still pulling out of the Flood.  Now, we are experiencing unbelievable heat, with at least another 3 months or more of “summer” left to the year.

With such severe and record breaking weather so far this year, I am left to only wonder what the next 6 months have in store.  Maybe we have been through the worst of it, and the rest of the year will be nice.  We can only hope.

Blogiversary, Helpful Hints, Giveaway
June 14, 2010

That’s right kids, it’s been 2 years since Sally opened her own virtual world!  In the past year, Sally has: posted more recipes, hunted more dinos, trained for 2 very different half marathons, got a personal record running a half marathon, hula hooped 13.1 miles in a storm, bought her own home, traveled to Canada again, hula hooped with fire, got snowed in, was flooded, became a new aunt (Tante), and shared many of her Helpful Hints.

And what better way to celebrate a blogiversary than with a Helpful Hints Giveaway!  But first, here are a couple more helpful hints to keep you going!

Sore feet
Been wearing heels too long?  Or feet are just worn out from a long run?  Use a TENNIS BALL or GOLF BALL to massage those sore feet.  This can be done at your desk or while watching TV.  Just slip off those shoes, and roll your foot back and forth on a tennis ball to massage your feet.

Scratches on Wood
I hate when I accidentally ding up a coffee table or picture frame moving it around.  How do you cover that ding?  Just just a MARKER that is a similar color to the wood finish.  You could buy the fancy expensive furniture markers, or you can just save your money and buy the same thing with a different name.  I keep a black and a brown marker on hand at all times!

No Socks
In the summer, you can’t just wear socks or hose with all kinds of shoes.  Besides the weird way it looks, it is also very warm.  But how do you get your shoes to feel comfortable and to reduce the sweatiness factor?   Just sprinkle some BABY POWDER or other foot powder in your shoe and voila, instant dry fit!

Back Tension
I hate when I have a knot in my back.  It seems impossible to work it out on my own.  But I just place a TENNIS BALL between my chair or the wall and my back and roll back and forth on it, or just sit back against the ball on the knot in my back.  It really helps relieve the knot and massage your back.

Gardening
While gardening, many plants need to be staked against a trellis or other stick, but some plants are too delicate for metal or plastic ties.  Just take some old PANTYHOSE, cut off small rings from the legs and snip one end. You instantly have a gentle, stretchy tie that will expand with the plant and can be easily removed, without damaging the plant.  Next time don’t throw away that pair with the run, just put it in with your gardening tools!

Wet Shoes
In the past year, I have learned a lot about running and walking in the rain!  So, I’ve had to deal with my fair share of soaking wet water-logged sneakers.  The fastest way to dry out the sneakers (without causing any warping, etc.) is to stuff them with NEWSPAPER.  For some reason, the paper used for newspapers is very absorbent and dries quickly.  Just remember to change them out periodically until your shoes are dry.  The paper wicks away the moisture and helps prevent any mildew or mold, and means you’ll be back out running or walking quicker!

Fluffing Laundry
Do you want your towels fluffy like when you first bought them?  Throw a TENNIS BALL in the dryer with your towels (just don’t use dryer sheets – they zap the absorbency of towels and should never be used with any towels).  The ball will bounce around with your towels, make a little noise, and help fluff and separate your towels while they dry!

BLOGIVERSARY GIVEAWAY
Ok, now to the Giveaway.  I know, I know, that’s the only reason you’re here.  That’s ok, I love giveaways too, just be sure to tell your friends!  This Blogiversary Giveaway is Helpful Hints related!  Each item in the package is something I have mentioned as a tool in Sally’s Helpful Hints!  I have not included every item I have suggested because some are not very conducive to shipping (e.g., honey).

This package includes:  Tennis balls , eye drops, Friction Aid stick, cinnamon, black and brown sharpie markers, meat tenderizer, Tide To-Go stick, baby powder, pantyhose, dryer sheets, and tea tree oil stick.  And I may throw in some other bonus goodies for good measure upon shipping.

What do you need to do?  Just leave a comment (one comment only per person please) either about your favorite Helpful Hint from Sally, or share one of your own helpful hints with Sally and her readers!  The giveaway will end Friday, June 18 at 12:01AM CST.  At that point I will assign the valid entries a number and take a random drawing.

*(NOTE:  Sally does not specifically endorse any product featured on Sally’s Helpful Hints on Sallaboutme, nor has she received any special endorsements or sponsorship by any particular brand or company.  She’s just that nice to go out and buy them herself just for the readers.  Often the products purchased for the giveaway are generic brands with no particular preference to a particular company.  All uses of or participation in any of Sally’s Helpful Hints are at your own risk.  It’s the internet folks, you are always at your own risk.  Giveaway currently only available for shipping within the lower 48 States.  Rules subject to revision at any time by Sally.)

AND THE WINNER IS…..

Nate Baker! Congrats Nate!  I’ll email you very soon and get your package to you!  Thank you to everyone for playing along!  There are some really great hints below, check them out!  And look for them to appear in future Sally’s Helpful Hints posts!

(Note: Many apologies to Gareth, one of my most faithful readers.  He lives on the other side of the pond, so he was disqualified from the Giveaway.  But you should go check out his blog and send him a little love from this side of the pond…especially after the world cup game the other day…)

Sweet Relief: The mini cheesecakes
June 1, 2010

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to meet many of my online foodie bloggers at the Sweet Relief bake sale.  Oh wow, I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much money on sweets in one purchase, or had that many incredibly wonderful goodies at once either!  Let me assure you I’m running extra miles and lifting extra weights this week to keep up!

I really wanted to participate, but after I started thinking about it I realized it was like meeting your boyfriend’s/husband’s mother for the first time over dinner.  What was I going to bring?  Would it be good enough?  What should I wear?  Etc.  Yes, I know I stress over silly little things, who doesn’t?

Then I remembered my go-to, number 1, all pleasing, no fail dessert.  My famous chocolate covered raspberry cheesecake.  I’ve made it for years, I can’t mess it up and everyone loves it.  I figured since it was a bake sale, where everything was to be sold for $2 each, I would make miniature versions of the cheesecake.  No problem.  I’ve made miniature cherry cheesecake before.  I forgot about how some things are different in miniature version.  But I will share with you my closely guarded recipe (in miniature version).  (Please keep in mind, I’ve made this so many times, I eyeball all ingredients, so the following recipe is not exact, but is from the original recipe I began with many years ago.)

Mini Chocolate Covered Raspberry Cheesecakes

Box of Oreos or Trader Joe’s Jo-Joes. (I opted for Jo Joes)
Butter
6-8ox of cream cheese (I opt for fat free)
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk (I opt for fat free)
1 egg (or egg substitute)
3 Tbsp. Lemon juice
1tsp Vanilla extract
Frozen or fresh raspberries
2+oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350.  Line muffin tin with muffin cups, and spray with nonstick spray.
Crush well oreos/cookies (cream and all).  Melt some butter and mix with the crushed cookies.  Minimum 12-15 cookies for 12 muffin cups, plus a couple tablespoons of melted butter.  Press the cookie mixture into the bottom of the muffin cups.  Press raspberries into cookie crust.
With mixer, beat cream cheese until fluffy.  Gradually mix in condensed milk until well blended.  Add egg, lemon juice, and vanilla.  Mix well until smooth.
Pour cream cheese mixture over cookies/berries.
Bake for 30-35 minutes.  (mini cheesecakes will rise a lot in the middle, but will settle once cooling)

(This is a picture from the second batch, not as much “sinkage” in the centers as the first batch.  I was really worried with the first batch.)

Refrigerate/freeze until ready to finalize for a party/bake sale.
Heat chocolate with whipping cream on low heat.  Stir constantly until smooth.  Pour over cheesecakes until covered and garnish with a raspberry on top!  Refrigerate or freeze until ready to present.

Fortunately, they turned out way better than I expected and many people said they liked them!  I even got a special cupcake stand to present them at the bake sale.

Sweet Relief raised $1,000 for Second Harvest Food Bank of Nashville.  Not bad for about 1 week notice and a completely grassroots, social media undertaking!  Many thanks to Love and Olive Oil for all her hard work!!

Sweet Relief
May 24, 2010

Do you love homemade baked goods?  Do you still want to help out Nashville?  How about both at the same time?  Sounds pretty SWEET, because it is!

Join us this Saturday, May 29 for a bake sale featuring some of Nashville’s food bloggers.  (And even I’m baking some goodies! I’m a much better baker than cook!)  Believe me, you don’t want to miss this!  I have been following these bloggers for a while and love their stuff.

Many thanks to foodie blogger Love and Olive Oil for organizing the event!  I’m also looking forward to meeting my blogging lovelies (more to be added):

Love and Olive Oil
One Particular Kitchen
Lesley Eats
Eat. Drink. Smile.
Food alla Puttanesca
Erin’s Food Files (her goodies will be in attendance, but she will be out of town)

If you’re interested in helping out, visit Love and Olive Oil’s blog to contact her directly.  Come bring your goodies, or just come and get some goodies for yourself and help out Second Harvest Food Bank!

How do miniature versions of my famous chocolate covered raspberry cheesecake sound?  Or maybe my molasses cookies?  Pretty Sweet!

Eat Out For Nashville
May 17, 2010

Today is a special day for foodies and people who like to eat.  Yes, that means you!  While most of the flood waters have receded, people and businesses are still working on rebuilding.  While not everyone has the time or money to donate to help out others, we all need to eat, right?  Why not visit any of the wonderful local restaurants that are donating 50% of their proceeds today to the Tennessee Emergency Response Fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee?  That’s right, 50%!  Most restaurants are only participating for dinner, so check the details carefully.

For the most updated lists of participating restaurants, please visit a couple of my favorite blogs and websites.

Nashville Scene Bites

Eat. Drink. Smile.

Erin’s Food Files

Nashvillest

The owner of Amerigo, one of my favorite local restaurants, organized the event.  It is also where I met Beloved 6 months ago today, so naturally we are going there tonight.  Where are you going to eat?

Sally’s Helpful Hints – Flood Edition
May 6, 2010

As you know, Sally’s city is under water.  What a great time to offer some helpful hints for those flooded!

Pumping Water
Need to pump water out of your house?  Can’t find any more sump pumps at hardware stores?  That’s ok, just go to the garden center and purchase a POND PUMP for less money!  Many thanks to my coworker who has a beautiful pond in her backyard for this suggestion!  A pond pump can pump 3,500 gallons/hour (that’s a lot of H2O!), can be submerged without electric shock, and is more readily available in a crisis like this!

Boy Scouts/Cub Scouts/Girl Scouts
Need help tearing down or restoring your flooded home?  Call upon your local scout troop!  They can help with painting, ripping out drywall, etc.  And the best part, they will probably get a badge or some other sort of recognition for helping!  Besides, the kids are out of school anyway, so might as well give them something worthwhile to do!

Showers
Our water supply is scarce, so we need to take NAVY SHOWERS. Navy shower is: Get in shower, turn on water just enough to get wet, turn off water, lather with soap, turn on water to rinse, turn off water.  Time and gallons saved!  Also, try to avoid shaving and washing hair, which takes a long time and lots of water!  You can also try using BABY WIPES to help clean up.  Skip a shower one day and use a baby wipe instead.  I’ve even heard of someone using it to help slick back their unwashed hair!

Shaving
Can’t shave in a water restriction? Try WAXING! My favorite waxer is not only the best in town, and has the best rates in town, but she’s donating 10% of proceeds to flood relief for appointments booked in the next 2 weeks.  Men, you can also try waxing, or use an ELECTRIC SHAVER, or grow a “Flood Beard!”  Women, if you must shave, try using BABY OIL  instead, it moisturizes and prevents nicks.

Greasy Hair
Can’t wash your hair?  Can’t find a good dry shampoo?  Just sprinkle a tiny bit of BABY POWDER and rub it into your scalp and then brush out your hair.  It’s not a permanent fix, but it will soak up much of the oil and give your hair a little more life.  Just be careful, I really mean a tiny bit so you don’t get clumps or get weird white patches of hair.  Start with a little bit, brush it out, then repeat if you need more.  Also, my blogging sister at One Particular Kitchen, suggested adding a little bit of cocoa powder to it if you have dark hair.  Ooh bet that smells yummy!  And if you’re a guy…consider taking the clippers to your head for a nice clean “high and tight” look.  Normally I do not condone shaved heads and beards, but this is for my city and I’ll allow it!

Toilets
Gallons of water are literally flushed away with toilet use.  I’m happy to see at least one restaurant in town brought in porta johns to help their customers conserve water.  I know it’s gross, but as the old saying goes: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.”  Good advice.

Hand Washing
Remember the flu and H1N1 virus epidemic?  Remember all the hand washing and sanitizing we had to do?  You can help save water by using HAND SANITIZER instead of washing your hands every time.  I bought some for my office and hope that my coworkers will help me conserve water!

Dishes and Utensils
We’re still on a water restriction.  Use paper plates, plastic utensils, and use the same cup all day long.  While it usually may be wasteful to use disposable ware for everyday use, it’s much more wasteful to wash dishes!

Cooking and Food
Try cooking things that do not require the use of a pots and pans.  Make friends with your microwave and nuke something without dirtying dishes.  Cook a pizza in the oven.  Make a sandwich on a paper plate.  Eat raw veggies with dip or hummus.  (basically eat like me most of the time)  We are still allowed to use water to cook (i.e., cooking pasta and for sauces), but do it sparingly and remember that you should try to avoid washing dishes, so why should you get a pot dirty.  Try visiting one of our local restaurants, let them do the cooking, and keep the money locally!

Updated:
Exercise
What happens when you work out?  You sweat and get stinky? Then you need a shower.  Well, maybe just this once you can skip a couple workouts.   I am, I haven’t run since it started raining and haven’t been to the gym.  It’s my small sacrifice.  Really a week or so off will not kill you, besides your body needs recovery time just as much as it needs the work out!

Travel
Going out of town?  Take your dirty laundry with you!  Parents live out of town? Give them a visit and help them relive your college years and take your laundry home to mom.  (Just do it yourself this time.)  They won’t mind and you’ll save water!

Stay Tuned…I will continue to update this space with more Helpful Hints as I think of them and please feel free to add your own in the comments below!  And be an example to your coworkers, neighbors, and friends and follow your own tips and encourage them to do so as well!

As always, follow Nashvillest for all the latest information on the Nashville Flood!


Nashville Flood Lite
May 5, 2010

Things are still moving along with the flood.  Many of the flood waters have started receding, but that does not mean they have completely receded, it’s just not as bad as 2 days ago.  There is still a water restriction, water is still safe, but our reserves are depleting quickly.  And yes, it’s been very heartbreaking.  I am on the verge of sobbing with every photo and video of flooding in my hometown.

So, I thought I’d bring a little sunshine to those affected.  While this is still a very real and serious situation, we could all use a little laugh.  And honestly that’s something that my hometown is good at, irony, sarcasm, and laughter.  First, please read this essay by one of our biggest fans of our hometown hockey team, it is truly inspiring.

Here’s how we feel, this little guy really gets the point across.  (photo)

We’re finally getting some national media coverage…even if it’s just the fake news.  Many thanks to Jon Stewart! (video)

The mall that is flooded has an “Aquarium” restaurant.  The tanks broke and most of the salt-water fish died, but apparently the piranhas (yes, I said piranhas) are doing just fine and are swimming around the mall! (video)

During the flooding coverage last weekend, one of the local weathermen was sketching the storm’s path on the screen, and um…well, came up with a certain unintentionally funny anatomically correct joke.  Thanks to Jimmy Kimmel for taking it to another level.  (video)

And of course, I have to include a picture of the Giant Carp caught  in someone’s yard, not far from my house!  Here’s a  humorous take on Giant Carp Guy. The photo is for real, the comments however…

And please continue to visit Nashvillest for all information on Nashville Flood and how you can help save our city.

Nashville Flood Update
May 4, 2010

Grand Ole Opry submerged. Photo courtesy of Nashvillest and local photographer

Today is Day 4 of the Nashville Flood.  They are calling this a “1,000 Year Flood.”  We are not much better than when I last posted on Sunday and in some cases, we are worse.  It finally stopped raining Sunday night, but the flood waters and rivers continued to rise.  And in some cases the water was oddly bubbling out of the ground, threatening to flood buildings from the bottom up!

Landmarks: Our city relies heavily on tourists, but many of our “crown jewels” are in danger.  Some of our threatened/submerged sites:  Country Music Hall of Fame, Grand Ole Opry, LP Field (where the NFL team the Tennessee Titans plays), Bridgestone Arena (where I just saw our NHL Nashville Predators play in Stanley Cup playoffs last week), Schermerhorn Symphony Center (where our Grammy award winning Nashville Symphony plays), Historic 2nd Avenue, Gaylord Opryland Hotel, Opry Mills Mall (site of the former Opryland theme park), Bicentennial Mall and the Nashville Farmer’s Market, the Ghost Ballet statue (though I never loved that thing, it’s become a part of downtown and now it’s fallen into the river), and the list continues to grow!

Flooding: We think the rivers have finally crested.  (fyi, “cresting” means the highest point the water is going to reach before receding, not the highest it has ever been or the water’s act of rising)  But now at least one levee is leaking and threatening to break.  Some amazing volunteers went down to the site last night and helped build a sandbag wall.  Although at least one correctional facility had to be evacuated, the inmates still helped fill the sandbags and volunteers built the wall, well after nightfall last night.

Loss of Life and Rescues: We have had at least 10 deaths in the county and 14 statewide so far, and counting as the waters recede and they are able to get to some of the homes and cars submerged in the hardest hit neighborhoods.  Many shelters are at capacity and running low on supplies.

Water Supply: Our water supply is still threatened.  The city had to shut down one of our two water treatment plants due to flooding, so we are operating at half capacity.  The inmates were also sandbagging yesterday to help keep the waters from threatening the last plant, and apparently the water stopped rising within a foot of reaching the plant.  A sewage treatment plant has been flooded and sewage has leaked into the river, but fortunately it’s very diluted from the rain.  Our water is still safe to drink, but we have to conserve and use water only for drinking and food preparation.  If we put too much strain on the remaining treatment plant, the psi (pounds per square inch) could drop and that is when we could experience leakage and contamination.  So, for the meantime, I’m not showering (smell me yet over there?), washing clothes, or washing dishes, and using bottled water, turning off my ice maker, and only flushing when necessary.

Utilities and Public Services: Many locations have lost power and continue to lose power, either as a system becomes submerged or as the electric company has to shut off the power to a location threatened by rising waters.  As you know, water and electricity do not mix.  Others have lost their gas heat as well, which means cold showers (if you have enough water).  Unfortunately with this mixture of water, electricity, and gas outages, we’ve had several fires, and even one home exploded in a nearby neighborhood once the gas was sparked.  We are also starting to experience spottiness and outages in cell phones, telephone landlines, and internet, but hopefully that is only temporary and we won’t get completely cut off from the rest of the country.  All bus and train services have been suspended indefinitely, hindering many who rely upon those to commute to work and other areas.  Mail appears to still be running.  We are running low on gasoline due to flooding in some fuel storage areas, but hopefully that will resolve soon.  Public school systems are still closed, because some of the buildings have been affected. We’re right at the end of the school year and some kids were in the middle of national exams.

We will make it through this!  We have finally started to get some national media attention and the President called the Governor and pledged aid to the city and surrounding area.  But there is more you can do!

Donate:
Text to “REDCROSS” to 90999 to donate to the Middle Tennessee Red Cross
Community Fund of Middle Tennessee (thanks for Barbie for this tip!)
Hands on Nashville

Volunteer:
Hands On Nashville is coordinating the volunteer efforts

There are many more opportunities!  Follow Nashvillest for all the latest information on the flooding and ways to help out our city, its people and animals, and our famous landmarks!

Under Water
May 2, 2010

That is exactly what my city is right now.  Under water.  Flooded.  In my nearly 30 years living here, I’ve experienced a lot of rain and many storms, but I have never seen anything like this.  My home is currently safe, but other parts of the area are not as lucky.  Glued to the TV, I have seen people trapped on the interstate between flooded areas, as well as helicopter and boat rescues.  I watched on live TV as a mobile home floated down the interstate and disintegrated as it hit the cars on the road.

We have already been asked to conserve water, because the water plant has been shut off, and to stay home off the roads so rescue crews can work.

This is a photo of my neighborhood Saturday.  Cars are driving on the raised median because the road is flooded.

I usually do not like to ask for help, but we really need more assistance here.  We need the national news to get the word out.  And we need more rescue efforts.

To help volunteer, please contact Hands On Nashville.

For more details, please follow these links for video, photos, and more information.

Nashvillest (a wonderful source of information for everything!)

Mashable (video and photos)

Flickr account with local photos