Names have been changed to protect the innocent...and my husband...and me...but not the dog. His name is Dexter.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tip Tuesday--How To Get Chlorine Out of Hair and Swimsuits Naturally!

IT'S SUMMER!!!!  And summer means swimming.  Lots and lots of swimming.  And swimming lessons that seem to take over your life.  At least that's how it feels for me.  

This weeks tip is for dealing the all the chlorine in your life.  Both my girls have really long hair and if I wash it every single day it totally dries it out.  And we all get kind of cranky.  But I can't just leave all the nasty chlorine chemicals hanging out in their hair.  This is what we do and it works like a charm!

After swimming lessons we head home and the girls jump in the shower.  Depending on how tired and/or hungry they are there might be less jumping and more dragging.  Anyway.....I take their swimsuits (usually from off the bathroom floor) and soak them in the bathroom sink with warm water and a splash of vinegar.  Leave them to soak for a few minutes (no rinsing) and then hang them up to dry.  I learned the hard way to never ever wash swimsuits in the washing machine, even on the delicate cycle.  This pretty much gets the vinegar out.  I've found that after a few times, the vinegar alone doesn't seem to cut it so about once a week I add a tiny bit of our laundry detergent to the water, soak, rinse and good as new!  

While the swimsuits are soaking in the sink, I spray vinegar on my girls hair and they rinse it out at the end of their shower.  By the end of the week, their hair needs a regular washing but this works great for the everyday chlorine detox.  Plus it makes their hair soft and shiny.  Bonus!

If you have any awesome summer tips, please leave them in the comments!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ironic Chaos

That's the only term I can come up with to even attempt to accurately describe the last eight weeks at our house.  Before you get all worried (I know you care deeply), you should know that it has all pretty much been First World Problems.  Problems, for sure.  But of the First World variety so I'm able to cope pretty well and still be grateful because in spite of the ironic chaos, we are a happy, healthy family.  Yes, a broken bone is involved but I hear buckle fractures aren't as bad.

Let me begin in late spring of 2014......when our trusty computer refused to turn on.  Ever again.  It was done and would not negotiate.  That's a big reason for my Internet silence.  Well, probably not the biggest reason (we eventually borrowed my mother in law's seldom used laptop) but definitely a contributing factor.  We are no longer using that laptop since my father in law's  computer died.  And then his printer.  Apparently what we have is catching.

Now, on to the bigger, more fascinating things.  We had decided a while back to go back to renting out the basement.  About four years ago we had had enough of renting out our basement and were ready to expand!  And we were thrilled.  See here.  But here was the reality of it all.....we rarely used the space for family time and activities.  It mostly just stored stuff.  And boy does that excess stuff accumulate fast!  Don't know what to do with something?  Just put it in the basement.  We'll deal with it "later".  So we decided that we were going to rent it out again and use that money to do some extras that we wouldn't normally be able to afford, like fun vacations and buying CG the truck he's always wanted.  The key to our reasoning was to "get ahead" financially.  Remember that part....it will be funny later on.

So we commenced with the emptying of our basement.  Phrases like "where did all this @#$% come from" and "are we done yet?" were heard frequently.  The basement required very little work (or so we thought) to get it ready to rent again so it was mostly just sorting through all the stuff that had accumulated for "later".  Later is a nasty, vengeful word.  It holds a grudge.  Big time.

We decided that since we would be putting up (semi) permanent walls in order to make the separate entrance for the basement apartment, we should probably re-do the kitchen floor beforehand so that it would all match, should we ever choose to take the walls back down.  Honestly, the kitchen floor has needed intervention for the last several years and there's no time like the present!  And it seemed so logical and responsible to have that taken care of before renting out again.  Given our time restraints and the accepting of our lack of DIY love, we decided to have the entire thing done by a flooring company.  Again, responsible and mature.

The flooring is selected, ordered and the deposit makes it all official.  But there were some issues with the ordering and the delivering.  And then the floor was finally installed two days before the walls were going up.  Mild panic.  But it was fine.  I watched the installer work (occasional glimpses....I didn't want to be weird) and it seemed a little....not like I was expecting.  But I'm not a flooring professional so I didn't bug him.  And it's not like he wasn't working hard, because he was.  I was just told that 3-4 layers of flooring should come off (he removed one) and there was a strong possibility of needing a new underlayment (he used mud) and it just didn't seem right.  But it was done in time and we rejoiced!  Until.....

Our brand new "luxury vinyl tile" was scratched to oblivion within the first week.  We did not rejoice.  We were mad.  And when I say "we", I mean "me".  I was ticked.  We just spent a significant amount of money and it was wearing worse than the cheap vinyl tiles we put in seven years ago!  So I called the flooring company and it seemed there were two separate problems.....the tile itself (which they are thankfully replacing even though they said the warranty says you have to have felt feet on chairs....psh) and the floor preparation which can be fixed once the floor is being replaced.

But what about those walls we put up for the basement entrance?!?  Yes.....exactly.  I'll come back to this later though.  I'm trying to keep it sequential so no one gets confused.

Also during this time, the van decided that the air conditioning no longer wanted to work.  Like at all.  And I have two girls who can't handle intense heat and a van that doesn't have back windows that go down.  It was a non-negotiable fix.  A $1600 non-negotiable fix.  Ahem.

As for the basement apartment, we replaced the disposal the last renters broke, replaced a bath fixture, cleaned things out (thanks to my saintly sister in law) and did some painting.  And it was ready.  Until they tried to plug in their dryer.

Turns out the "dryer plug" actually had a wooden stud in front of it, impeding access.  But it didn't matter anyway since it was the wrong plug AND didn't have any power running to it anyhow.  So we had to have a new dryer plug run to that room.  But in order to do that, we had to have the entire electrical panel replaced. And then replace all the breakers because they didn't fit into the new panel.  All very common and yet very bad timing.

Of course, this was all taking place during the last week of school, which everyone knows is a very calm and not at all crazy time.   But wait!  It gets better!  Or worse, depending on how you look at it.  During all of the electrical hullabaloo in the basement our upstairs oven locked.  As in, locked itself shut (like for a self cleaning cycle) and refused to open.  No matter what we did.  No Open.  We consulted the Google and learned many things.  First of all, NEVER use your self cleaning cycle because it causes problems like this pretty frequently.  Also?  Our warranty expired in April.  This was June.  The most helpful information was that there is a fuse at the back of the oven that may (or may not....didn't read any true success stories) undo this problem if you change it.  Just pull the oven out and take a look.  The thing is, we have a wall oven.  Wall ovens are super heavy and so they make sure that they are securely screwed into the wall so that it doesn't fall out.  All you have to do to get the oven out of the wall, is to open the door and take out the screws on each side.  Unless you can't open the door.  And then you're screwed.

We've heard different tips and purchased/returned tools that are supposed to help us, but 6+ weeks later I am still without an oven.  Yes, you read that right.  I don't have a working oven.  The girl who makes almost everything from scratch and bakes/cooks all the time doesn't have an oven.  Well, an oven that opens and is usable.  Still looks like new though!  I frequently point out to CG how well I'm coping with this and often request that he fully appreciates the lack of crying, yelling, nagging or complete melting down that has resulted in this lack of oven.  He looks at me like I'm crazy.  Six weeks and counting.......

In other news, Dexter has had this weird (kind of gross) growth that has been growing on his leg for a couple years now.  It never seemed to bother him so we didn't worry too much about it.  But then he got a growth by his eye that really seemed to bother him.  We took him to the vet and everyone was shocked at his age because he still acts like a puppy.  Which is both good and bad.  We opted to do the surgery and he's doing much better now.  But I really thought this was going to be what truly pushed me over the edge.

The Cone of Shame
Some dogs hate it, some hide when wearing it, some dogs probably do other things.  I don't really know.  What I do know is that Dexter opted to use it like a bulldozer.  You got in his way?  He would just push you with the big plastic cone until you got out of his way.  He used it in any way he could.  I'm not totally convinced he hated it.  By the way, having a cone of shame rammed into the back of your legs is surprisingly painful.  And he's a pretty strong dog.  He almost pushed CG down the back stairs.  The rest of us didn't have a chance, really.

Then this cute girl got glasses.

And then she broke her arm.  Dodge ball is a mean, mean game when you're half the size of everyone else.

Thankfully we have insurance and even though we have a fun deductible to pay before insurance will pay anything (so we pretty much will pay for it all), we still have it if we needed it.  Perspective.

Other than all that, we've been having a great summer!  Time is flying by way too fast and I have so many posts to catch up on....the end of the school year, dance recitals, swimming, glasses and all the other fun things we've been up to.  Even hiking!  We are the hiking family this year!

Also?  I cut off about a foot of hair.  I should probably post pictures of that.

But for now.....I'm going to bed.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What Superhero Mom Are You?

I admit it.  I'm a sucker for a good personality quiz.  I like know what my colors are.  And my letters.  I also like knowing what kind of girl friend I am and even what kind of roommate.  I love them.  So when I saw this little quiz about what kind of Superhero Mom you might be I HAD to find out.  I had to.

If you want to know what kind of #SuperheroMom you are then head on over here to find out.  And enter to win a Vitamix while you're at it.  And if you win it, but don't want it, then you can give it to me.

Back to the quiz.....here are my results!

Drum roll, please......


Although many of the Elastigirl traits do apply to me, one that certainly does not is the elasticity.  Trust me....one look at my post baby stomach will prove it.  As a matter of fact, this movie came out at the end of my pregnancy with Lolly and I surprised CG with tickets to see it.  As we were watching the movie and Elastigirl was doing her stretching thing, I leaned over to CG and told him that I bet she didn't have stretch marks like I did.  They're epic.  No really....they bled.  But anyway....

I love the description and it really does describe me a lot.  I do wonder about my superpower though.  In my quest for simplifying my life I think my super power (multi-tasking) may actually be my kryptonite.

I loved this quiz!   If you take the quiz, come back and tell me what #SuperheroMom you got!  Maybe we can make our own X-Men team.  I mean, X-Women team.


**Disclosure.....I was compensated for this post but it did not in any way lessen the enjoyment of the quiz.  It also didn't do a thing for my stretch marks.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Favorite-Ogden Nature Center's Earth Day Celebration

A couple years ago was our very first time going to the Ogden Nature Center's Earth Day Celebration and we had the best time!  My girls didn't stop talking about it for months and have started talking about it again the last few weeks since it's coming up soon!  Tomorrow in fact!
We have the best time and at only $2 per person its affordable AND the money goes to a great cause!

Saturday, April 19, 12 noon - 4 pm
The Nature Center's outdoor glen will be filled with tons of earth-friendly ideas, a native plant sale, product booths, workshops and fun activities!  All of Utah's green gurus will be on hand with topics ranging from bee keeping, composting, and invastive weeds, to Llama cart rides and a climbing wall for kiddos!  Children always love the US Forest Service water trailer while adults enjoy taking home green ideas for their homes and gardens.  Read more for all the details.
Cost: $2 per person
The are so many activities.....face painting, wreath making, bubbles, workshops and presentations.  My particular favorites are the wool spinning and getting to feed the alpacas.  I'm not sure if the alpacas will be there this year but I sure hope so!

Side note.....you may or may not know that one day I want to live on an alpaca ranch and have chickens and spin wool and do all sorts of things like that.  Surprising, I know.

So!  If you're wondering what you and/or your family can do tomorrow that doesn't involve a gigantic bunny costume or bringing home tons of candy you don't need (trust me...you don't need it) now you have a fun day planned for you and all you have to do is show up!

For more details on the activities go here.  And then I will see you there!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tip Tuesday-Easter Egg Decorating Tips for the Lazy

Last year was the first year that we decorated our Easter eggs with Sharpie markers and I'm pretty sure we may never go back. 

The girls get full access to all my colored Sharpie markers (which is a dream come true for them) and I don't have to worry about egg dye getting on everything but the eggs. 

Plus they get to create the exact designs they won't without the frustration of the limits of egg dye.  I'm not a fan of the egg dye.  Just say no.
And then pull those Sharpies out and actually enjoy decorating eggs with your kids!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Recipe Swap Wednesday-Gluten Free Granola

This is one of our favorite things for breakfast.  Everyone loves it so much I haven't even been able to get a picture of it.  It's great on its' own, with milk, sprinkled over yogurt, or any other granola ideas you might have.  I just recently started making again and it has not lasted longer than 48 hours.  It's that good.

Gluten Free Granola

Ingredients
3 cups gluten free oats
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 cup (or more) coarsely chopped nuts and/or dried fruit
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  You can use a tradition oven setting or a convection oven setting to make the cooking time shorter.

In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, coconut and nuts/fruit.  In a saucepan combine brown sugar, butter, water, salt, vanilla and cinnamon over a medium heat until the mixture is melted and bubbly.  Pour this over the oat mixture and stir well.  Let stand for 10 minutes.

Spread granola mixture evenly on a large baking sheet with space to allow for air circulation.  Place on the center rack in the oven.  The cooking time will vary depending on oven and setting.

For traditional oven baking setting:
Bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir.  Place the baking sheet back in the oven to bake for another 15 minutes.  Continue this cycle until the granola is golden brown and completely dry.  It usually takes about three cycles.

For convection setting:
Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir.  Place the baking sheet back in the oven to bake for another 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and stir.  Place the baking sheet back in oven for just five more minutes (more if needed), until the granola is golden brown and completely dry.

And then enjoy for the next 48 hours because it disappears fast!

Helpful Hints
You can also add 1/4 flax seed to improve the nutritional quality
If you add dried fruit it gets pretty dried out during the baking progress.  I tend to use only nuts in the recipe and then add fresh or dried fruit when serving.
It's tempting to leave the granola in a great big clump for the first round of baking in order to make little granola clumps.  It's doesn't work.  Don't do it.


Friday, March 14, 2014

St. Patrick's Day....To Celebrate or Not To Celebrate

This.  This is something that has been on my mind for the last....oh, year or so. 

It all started with another judgemental blog post...like how many things start these days.  I'm not going to post the link because, frankly, I don't think it deserves the click.  The basic gist of the blog post was bashing all the mom's who choose to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with their kids.  Now, you might be asking why someone would be so irrationally against how total strangers choose to spend their day.  And the answer makes perfect sense.....because it makes her look bad.  Yep.  That's it.  All St. Patrick's Day celebrations should be stopped because she chooses not to celebrate and therefore feels that strangers celebrations make her look bad.

Using this logic I should probably stop feeding my family healthy meals because I'm making the people who don't feed their families healthy meals look bad.  And I should probably have my kids wear dirty clothing so the mom's who are behind on the laundry this week don't feel bad.  And maybe I should park my kids in front of the television so that the mom's who are having a rough week and needed a little assistance from the TV to make it through don't feel bad.

Or maybe I should just do what's best for my family right now and not be so obsessed with what everyone else is doing.  As a matter of fact, my girls are playing on the iPad right now and I don't feel bad about it at all.

Back to the blog post.....  

This is not a small, unknown blog it was posted on but a big, popular blog.  So many people read it and many people shared it on Facebook, sometimes even accompanied with snarky remarks about how "those moms" need to get off Pinterest and get a life.

This made me sad.  It made a lot of mom's sad.  Personally, I started celebrating St. Patrick's Day with my little family long before Pinterest came along and this blog post didn't change my family tradition in any way.  But I know of quite a few mom's who felt really bad.  It stole the joy they felt out of celebrating with their kids.  It stole the joy out of the leprechaun trap making and rainbow cupcake baking and green milk drinking.   It made these women, who were just trying to make fun memories with their kids, feel dumb.  It Stole The Joy!

I can see how, in some negative condescending way, it may have been empowering to the women who don't like celebrating St. Patrick's Day or any other small holiday.  I can understand how Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and all the other social media platforms can make you feel like you are somehow not measuring up as a mother.  It makes all of us feel that way, whether it's holiday celebrations or perfectly clean homes or any of the other things where we feel we don't measure up.  But holiday celebrations are not what makes a good mother.  Crafts and treats and Instagram moments don't make a good mother.  It's the every day moments that don't make it to Facebook that decides our fate of Good Mother or Bad Mother.
 

BUT.  A very big but....If you make yourself feel better about your parenting choices by putting other women down it does reflect on who you are as a person.  As a woman.  And ultimately, that WILL influence who you are as a mother.


Honestly, I didn't see a single post from a Pro-Holiday mom proclaiming their superiority in motherhood for choosing to celebrate.  Some may argue that it is implied.  My personal theory is that a lot of those feelings (on both sides) come from insecurities.  Approximately 99.9% of mom's feel insecure about their parenting choices at some point in their lives.  It can be about holidays, school, chores, discipline, after school activities, clothes, screen time, hair styles, meals, snacks, pets, ANYTHING.  We've all been there.  But making ourselves feel better by criticizing another moms choices doesn't make us any better.  It just steals the joy.

So to all you moms out there who are celebrating St. Patrick's Day with wild Irish abandon I say, Great!  Have a great time!  You are a good mom! 

And to all you moms out there who are not celebrating St. Patrick's Day I say, Great! Have a great time!  You are a good mom!  


    

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sugar Free....

Dear Diary,

Today is day three of our no sugar month.  The first day wasn't so bad because Lolly, Babs and CG were all home so we were in it together and I was constantly supervised.  When everyone is gone and I only have my unending list of chores to keep me company it gets a little harder. 

I'm happy to report I haven't screamed incoherently at anyone due to my sugar detoxing.  So far.  And I have gained .8 pounds so things are going as expected. 

I might be feeling a tad cranky.  And a little snarky.  Because, as good as a pear is, it's just got nothing on the chocolate that I really need right now. 

It's going to get better, right? 

Sigh......

Yours Truly,
Lady of Perpetual Sugar Detox 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

May The Force Be With You 
This Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Recipe Swap Wednesday-Sugar Cookies

I'm about to share with you the recipe for the best sugar cookies you will ever eat.  They are amazing.  And slightly addicting.  They're perfect for Valentine's Day or any other holiday requiring sugar cookies.  I usually make them for Earth Day.  Because I am a hippie that celebrates Earth Day!  But whatever reason you have for making these cookies, you will be happy you did.

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter, softened
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups flour, plus flour for rolling

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream eggs, sour cream, baking soda and vanilla together.  Mix in sugar and butter. Then add baking powder, salt and flour.
Roll out dough to 1/4" thickness and put those rarely used cookie cutters to good use.
Bake for 7-10 minutes, depending on cookie size.
Once they are cooled, frost and enjoy!  And consider giving some away (this recipe makes A LOT!) so you don't enjoy them too much.  They also freeze well (un-frosted) for later use.

Not the best picture, but definitely the best sugar cookies!

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