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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Book of the Week! Nurture Shock by Po Bronson & Ashley Merryman

I was first told about Nurture Shock by Babs kindergarten teacher this past spring.  It sounded interesting and so I reserved it at the library.  I did get the book after a couple of weeks and really enjoyed it.

For those of you who have read Freakonomics, it's like the Freakonomics of parenting.  It takes a look at some of the popular parenting styles of today and then compares them to scientific research that has been done specifically regarding those techniques.

I found it fascinating!  It talks about everything from the problems of excess praise to the importance of adequate sleep, from sibling rivalry to self control.  I have been constantly talking about this book to almost anyone who would listen.  And to several who didn't listen.  It's definitely a book that really makes you think about your approach to parenting.  It has changed the way I approach some things and I can see a difference.  But like all parenting strategies, I won't really know where I messed up for another twenty years. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I have sun damage?! No way!

During my first visit to Elase Medical Spa I was asking about a machine they have in the waiting area.  Turns out it's one of those magical machines that can show you if you have any sun damage on your face.  It can also show other details like how dry your skin is and how your wrinkles rate in comparison to "the ideal" for your age.

First you have to understand that when I was growing up, I wore sunscreen more than anyone else I know.  With the exception of my sister.  My mother is a redhead and made sure we had sunscreen on for all the major events including field day, outdoor swimming, water parks and days at the lake.  All things involving water since burns during watery events are always worse.  But I didn't necessarily wear sunscreen everyday.  No one did really.  And considering how often I wore sunscreen and how I never went tanning or used baby oil in the sun to get tan (oh my goodness, I would have burned so badly I would have never recovered) I honestly thought that my sun damage would be minimal.

I was wrong.  So very, very wrong.

I'll let the pictures do the talking.....

Here I am, getting my face scanned....
This is the color version of the scan.  All the spots show sun damage and the green spots show where the damage is more severe.
But the black and white version is the one that really drives the point home.


There was one highlight though.  It compares your state of wrinkles to the "ideal" state of wrinkles of other women your age.
From my understanding of the process, around 50% in each category would be considered average.  That 13% percent you see there?  My one redeeming facial quality.  I'll take good news wherever I can get it.

Thank you sunscreen for protecting me from more wrinkles. 

After seeing this, I decided to do the skin lightening procedure which helps to undo the sun damage.  I'm nervous.  This year has been the unintended year of expanding my comfort zone.  And boy, will this expand my comfort zone.  In a big way.  But at least we're all in this together.

**I'm a brand ambassador for Elase Medical Spa.  Although I am compensated for my time, all opinions, experiences and sun damage are my own.**

Friday, June 28, 2013

Couch to 5K Fail

You may (or may not) remember about a year ago when I started the Couch to 5K running program.  I was dedicated.  I was determined.  And I was derailed.  Over and over again.  Usually at week five.

The first time around I was doing my week five runs and it was intense.  The first run is 5 minute intervals, the second was 10 minutes and the third was 20 minutes.  All in one week.  I found this so intimidating to be jumping from a five minute run to a 20 minute run in one week.  I thought for sure that I couldn't possibly do it.  So of course I couldn't.  I just kept doing the first run of the week over and over again.

And then I had shoulder surgery.  Talk about getting derailed.

Fast forward a few months to January.  I was officially cleared to start running again but seeing as it was January in Utah, the air was too toxic and crunchy to actually run in.  Or leave the house safely.  Enter the treadmill.  CG and I decided to invest in a treadmill.  Now I know for a lot of people exercise equipment quickly becomes a new and expensive form of alternative storage for clothes, files, etc.  I'm happy to announce that our treadmill doesn't store anything except the occasional selection of plastic picnic food brought over by the girls.

So I started the Couch to 5K program.  Again.  And I got to week five.  Again.  Clearly I had a mental block with week five. 

After a lot of thought and even discussing it with my doctor, I just decided to jump on the treadmill and run as long as I can.  And then just keep adding to my time as I could without worrying about sticking to a specific program.

That first run I ran a mile.  The second run was only a half mile, but that's okay.  I was running.  And without the stress.  Running programs work really well for some people and the Couch to 5K program really helped me get started but when something isn't working for you anymore it's time to find something new.

Now I run three days a week and do strength training exercises two days a week.  I finally invested (this week!) in a good pair of Asics running shoes and it's made a big difference.  And they are pink.  That's always a bonus.  My girls made me a running chart and every time I run they put another sticker on my chart.  Seriously, I don't think they can get any cuter!  They always ask how far I ran and fight over who gets to put the sticker on the chart.

And today, when I finished my run and finally reached my goal of running two miles, they cheered.  My babies cheered for me.  Even though I look funny when I run and for some inexplicable reason I keep kicking myself on the inside of my ankles (it hurts and leave sores) they were so happy.  And so was I.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tip Tuesday--I love Borax & Cleaning the Microwave

I don't think my latest favoritest cleaning product has gotten enough attention lately.  I've talked about it before and how it can magically clean your acrylic bathtub with the greatest of ease.  Today's tip takes us into the kitchen.

Our microwave is above our stove top and because of the steam, it gets a dusty build up on the front that is really hard to get off.  The same thing has probably happened to your stove hood if you have that over your stove instead.  It's annoying and difficult to get off.  You can clean it, but it doesn't actually go anywhere.  It's just cleaner build up that it was before.

I read recently somewhere (Facebook? Pinterest? Random tip?  I don't really know...) that suggested making a paste out of Borax and water and use that to clean the stove hood.  But making a paste just seemed like a little too much effort.  So instead I just sprayed some homemade cleaner (Have I told you about that?  I probably should...) on the front of my microwave and sprinkled a little Borax directly on to a wet sponge and scrubbed.  A little bit.  And POOF!  It came right off, easy as can be.  I love Borax.  Really.

And because I'm feeling generous, I'm sharing my latest cleaning short cut.  I'm sure we've all heard the tip about putting a bowl of water with lemon juice in your microwave and running it for two minutes to make it easier to clean out.  It definitely works, but sometimes I just don't want to find a microwave safe bowl, fill it with water, cook it for two minutes and then have to clean it after I'm done.  So I sprayed my homemade cleaner in my microwave and ran it for 30 seconds.  My microwave wiped clean even easier this way and I was done in the two minutes it would have taken to cook the bowl of water.  Yay!

**Disclaimer: I've only done this with my homemade cleaner and did not have any problems with it.  I'm not sure how safe it would be with a commercial/chemical cleaner.  I would think just spraying water in would work as well.  

And now for my favorite homemade cleaner recipe.  I use a glass bottle (I actually re-use an old probiotic bottle) that is about 16 ounces.  I put about a teaspoon of baking soda in the bottom and ssslllloooowwwwllly fill the bottle with vinegar until it's about half full.  Then I fill the rest of the way with water.  I add a citrus essential oil (right now it's tangerine) and shake before each use.  I use it everywhere!  Counter tops, microwave, stove top, cupboards, appliances, seriously everywhere.  Not only do I not have to worry about chemicals getting into our food but it's completely safe for my kids to use.  Which means they can clean more.  Bonus.  I have another bottle of cleaner I use in the bathroom.  It smells like grapefruit. 

You may not be able to look in any room of my house because it's so messy, but you're totally welcome to come view my microwave.  It sparkles. For now.

**Another Disclaimer: Please don't just show up at my house to see my microwave.  I'll have an anxiety attack.  And that would be awkward. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Recipe Swap Wednesday-Denny's Ultimate Skillet Copycat

We love Denny's.  Denny's is our family diner and has been requested many times over when deciding where we should eat out on the rare occasion we do eat out.  (We don't eat out that often.  It's not a bad thing to eat out, but it's a definite treat when we do get to go out.)

One of my very most favorite things to order is called the Ultimate Skillet.  I love it and those that taste test off of my plate also love it.  So of course I had to figure out a way to make it at home.  We may not be able to eat at Denny's every night but we do eat at home pretty much every night and figuring out a similarly yummy recipe became a quest. 

And here is the result of my quest!

Denny's Ultimate Skillet Copycat Recipe
1 package of sausage links
I onion, chopped
8 potatoes, diced
1 red or green pepper, diced
Shredded cheddar cheese (about 1/4 cup)
1 tomato, diced or grape tomatoes
Fresh baby spinach

1. In a large skillet, cook the sausage links.  I like to cut them into fourths (either before or after) so that it's evenly distributed throughout the skillet.

2. Add the onion and potato and saute until the potato is softened.

3. Add the diced peppers and cook until the pepper is the desired texture.

4. Add the shredded cheese.  I use about 1/4 cup but you can add as much or as little as you like. 

5. Add the tomato and fresh spinach and saute until the spinach is wilty.

6.  And serve!  I like to serve it with fried eggs and fresh fruit.

**Note: This can easily be made into a vegetarian dish (ahem....Kristina) by omitting the sausage and starting off the process with some vegetable or olive oil.  

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tip Tuesday-Easy Gift For Teachers

As I was trolling through Pinterest looking for a cute and easy end of year gift for my girls teachers (we all did that, right?!.....) I was a bit....overwhelmed.  First of all, a lot of these gifts looked pretty expensive to put together.  Or extremely time consuming.  Plus, I like having my girls make the gift for their teacher and most were beyond their ability at this time.  But we have the old stand by....the glittery apple. 
One teacher's favorite color is red and the other teacher's favorite color is green.  That worked out well.  These are pretty fun and the girls had a great time.  They require a bit more planning but they are covered in glitter so who wouldn't love that?!

This year we shook things up a little and added a cute jar of candy.  I found this jar at the dollar store and filled it with a rainbow of flavors, via Skittles.
I'll probably come up with a cutesy, possibly cheesy, saying to go with it.  I'm sending them to school tomorrow so I should probably come up with something quick. 

The moral to this story is that you really can put together a cute gift for your child's teacher without spending a ton of money or many hours putting it together.  It may be a simple token of affection but most teacher's I know just appreciate it when you acknowledge how hard they work.  Everyone loves a little sugar.

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