Thursday, August 14, 2014

5 Quick Steps to a Clean Bathroom

We are deep into potty training mode and that means the bathroom my little guy uses is, well, not as spotless as I'd like. With a new baby, and two dogs also thrown in the mix, its tough to keep up! But bathroom clean up doesn't have to take forever.

Step 1: Take a look around. See anything that has made its way into the bathroom that doesn't belong? (examples include but are not limited to: shoes, blocks, Ninja Turtles, crayons). Recruit your little ones to help you and put that stuff away.  If you're short on time and minions, toss it in a basket and put it in the room they belong in. Maybe they will magically get put away?

Step 2: Toilet time. Throw the bowl cleaner in, give it a good scrub down and then clean the outside with either a Lysol wipe or spray.  I like to use something that smells fresh so I really feel like its doing the job. Yes, I know, it's probably working the same as non yummy smelling ones, but its a treat for my nose.  This is also when I wipe down any surfaces, and the sink.

Step 3: Remove all garbage and line the trash can with two or three plastic bags to make it easy to dispose of the full bag and the next is already in place.

Step 4: Forget the broom and grab the vacuum.  I use the hose and brush on all my non-carpeted floors and it makes it quicker and does a much more thorough job.  Use the brush to get the corners and the parts of the toilet where dog hair and dirt tends to congregate too.  

Step 5: If time allows, I use a sponge to mop so I can really scrub, but if you're short on time, do a quick mop, let it dry a minute or two and do it once more.  I use Gain Mr. Clean All Purpose in a big thing of super hot water. It smells amazing and shines when I'm done.

Oh, guess what! You're done!

You may notice I skipped the hamper and shower/tub.  I empty the hamper as it gets full and toss a load of laundry in, and the showers I don't do every time I bathroom clean.  Typically, unless they are super dirty, I do those every 3-4 bathroom cleans.  Or I ask (demand) my husband do them, because I hate that job.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Superheroes Believe in Miracles

Have you checked out Superheroes Believe in Miracles? It's a wonderful charity organization which sends birthday packages to kids with serious and chronic illnesses.  To cover some the shipping costs, they are auctioning off many items, including a Crooked By Design Minion hat I recently donated. To check out the auction be sure to "like" their Facebook page and stay tuned for tonight's auction.  There's a bunch of other great stuff from other Etsy shops as well and it goes to a great cause!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gluten Free Shake n' Bake Chicken

Remember Shake n' Bake? So easy to throw together and so delicious. I wanted to try a gluten free version and this one came out amazing. So easy and quick to make and it makes a lot of the mixture so  you can store some for later.

I followed the recipe almost exact, only I used chili powder instead of cayenne and onion powder instead of flakes because it's what I had on hand.  Recipe taken directly from The Black Peppercorn.

  • 3 cups bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp dried onion flakes
  • 3 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp dry parsley
  • ½ tsp dry basil
  • ½ tsp dry oregano
I let Atticus shake it up in a Ziplock bag and then baked on 400 for about 20 or so minutes. The mixture stayed on it great and it was moist and delish. Atticus enjoyed it too!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

My Adventures in Cloth Diapering

When I was pregnant with my daughter, who is currently 3 months old, I decided I wanted to cloth diaper.  The reason was simple really: I wanted to save money.  I thought my husband would be happy with this, after all, money is to be saved! But he wasn't.  He didn't want the hassle of extra laundry and definitely didn't like the upfront cost of cloth.  I assured him, it would save money, just give it a try. He agreed (probably because I was so incredibly lucky that my sister's friend provided me with everything I needed to get started). 

So, there I was, a newborn baby in hand and a pile of  gDiapers on the changing table.  So, what do I do now? I'm not going to play it cool here, I was confused about even the most simple principles of cloth diapering.  I had never used them before. To answer my questions, I did what I always do: I did some research and asked other moms.  Hopefully my experience can help you along with your adventures in cloth diapering!

1. First things first, how do these things work?
I am using gDiapers, mostly because they were given to me, but also because I like them.  I do use some Bum Genius as well, which I also like.  For the g's, you do have some work involved with assembling them each wash, but because you swap out the liners during the day, you don't have to wash the actual diaper part each time there's a messy or wet diaper.  Also, the g goes on the back, which is opposite of what I thought!  The Bum Genius have a cloth insert to catch all the wet, but the whole diaper does need to be washed each time.

2. How do I wash them?
The first thing I wondered, was what kind of detergent do I need to use on these and will that be expensive? I did some research on the best and worst detergents to use and found that Gain is the worst, and that Honest Co. is the best. I already get my Honest Co. supplies every six weeks so this was perfect!  It's what I've used on the diapers ever since and works great.  A little goes a long way, which is wonderful, because you only need a couple tablespoons per load. 

Without subscribing to the bundle, it is $12.95 for a bottle.  Pricey, yes, but you only need a little.  I use this on the baby's clothes too, so the bottle lasts awhile since I'm only using it on this.  If you get the bundle, you get 5 full sized items for $35.95, so you can save by doing this.  

Also, Target just announced that have Honest Co. in stock, so you can try it out without subscribing to anything.

I'm sure everyone has different ways of washing and used different products, but this is what I do and what works for me.  I wash every couple days.  We part time cloth, using disposables during then night and if we are out and about.  90% of the time, however, its cloth.  When I am ready to wash a load, I add about two tablespoons of detergent and wash on the warm cycle, all of it thrown in together, including my cloth wipes (which are mostly just baby wash cloths).  Once that cycle is done, I do another wash with no added detergent, on the hot cycle.  When it comes time to dry, I air dry the plastic inserts and toss the rest in the dryer on the regular setting, with a big towel in the dryer with them to soak up some of the moisture and make them dry faster.  Or, line drying is always great, too.

**Be sure to close the velcro tabs before washing or they will be a tangled mess!**

To avoid the staining and ruining of the diapers, it is advised that you don't use diaper cream or anything with them, but since starting them at about a week old, my girl hasn't had many rashes, compared to those she was getting with disposable (poor girl with her sensitive skin!).



3. How are the dirty diapers stored between wash days?
This took some trial and error on my part, and I haven't perfected my method yet. I started with a bin, with the lid on, thinking that would do the trick, but it got very smelly in there when the lid was removed. I switched to a lidded trash can with a mesh laundry bag inside. When wash times comes, I wash the laundry bag with it too.  I am going to upgrade to a wet bag soon, I just haven't gotten around to it.

4. What about cloth wipes? How do those work?
I began cloth wiping from the start because my kids tend to have sensitive skin.  With my son, I cloth wiped for the first few weeks and then switched to sensitive wipes.  My daughter has used cloth for the most part and free and clear wipes when I am out and about.  To make the wipes solution, I mix:

-1 cup warm water
-1 tbsp baby wash
-1 tbsp baby oil

I gently mix it and add it to a container or spray bottle.  I prefer the spray bottle, but it does get clogged with the baby wash sometimes.  I used Honest Co. but any kind you use on your baby at bath time is great. I used what I had handy and what I knew didn't upset her skin.  I have heard coconut oil works well instead of baby oil.  When a cloth is used, I toss it in with the diapers to be washed.

For the actual wipes, I made some, and also use little baby wash cloths.  

4. Why cloth diaper and wipe?
For me, it was to save money.  Yes, the environmental reasons are great too, but I mostly wanted to cut down on cost.  Babies use a lot of diapers and if I can cut down on how many I purchase, that is reason enough for me.  Sure, my electric bill might be slightly higher with the extra laundry, but not enough that I have noticed it.  Here is some great information on cost and cloth diapering in general.

5. But isn't it a pain to constantly be washing?
Yes, and no. Sometimes, it is annoying that I have extra laundry to do.  But at the end of the day, I have a ton of laundry, constantly, anyway, so its not that big of a deal for me.  I am home with my kids, so it works for me.  I can toss them in the laundry during nap time, no problem. It has just become routine for me, and honestly, not having to buy diapers often is a huge relief. My husband has come around on using them, as long as he doesn't have to wash them, which I agreed to.  But the long and short of it is, they work for me, so I'm sticking to it.  My girl is breast fed, so it makes the yucky diapers easy to clean, which is great.  We'll see what happens the food starts!

As with all things parenting, I am still learning this system, but am here to answer any questions I can about my experience.  I'm sure everyone does this different, and that's ok! Do what works best for you and your baby and feel free to comment with or message me with questions, that I will do my best to answer.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Trash to Treasure: DIY Garden Space

It's that wonderful time of year where we de-clutter like crazy here at our house! We've been sorting, tossing, donating, and boy does it feel good to clear some space. One place I haven't given much time lately (or ever) is my basement. It's wet, its creepy, I don't like it. Save for laundry days, I don't go down there much.  But as I started tossing things out, I finally asked my husband to get these rusty old shelves out of a corner down there. They have been there for who knows how long, way before we lived here.

 Instead of tossing it, I took about a half hour and cleaned it up for use as a garden area storage solution.  I hosed it down, scrubbed off a little of the rust and just spray painted it with gold spray paint I found at AC Moore.  I ran out of spray paint and plan on giving it another coat at some point, but I loved the way it turned out!

I am not much of a gardener, as much as I wish I was.  I don't have the patience for weeding and it gets really humid here in upstate NY during the summer, so I like to spend as little time as possible pulling up weeds.  I have failed at gardening many times, but I won't let that stop me from trying again! This year, with a new baby and an eager 3 year old, I decided to take the easy road and head on over to Wal-Mart and grab some pre-planted veggie plants. I started very small, cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers.  We'll see how they go and possibly add some more.  But for now, I'm happy with our tiny garden, and our little garden space!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

This Week's Meal Plan

Here's what I have planned for the week!  I like to plan out my week of dinners so I can look for coupons and then grocery shop. Doing this helps me stay on track with what I need at the grocery store, and helps reduce impulse shopping with racks up that grocery bill!  I also like to use what I have in the house, so as much as possible, I use what I have before buying ingredients.

Saturday: Chicken Kabobs on the grill

Sunday: Corned Beef & Cabbage (because I have a ton in my freezer)

Monday: Sheppard's Pie (with sweet potatoes and turkey burger)

Thursday: Burgers on the grill

Friday, June 6, 2014

Your Pins Tested! Skinny Chicken Broccoli Casserole

I'm not a big broccoli person, but I try my best to eat it since its so good for you.  Atticus isn't really into it, either, so I was surprised at how much he enjoyed this meal.

I found this casserole from this pin and you can also find it on my food board on Pinterest.
You can find this recipe here.


The only thing I added to the recipe was a little garlic salt. Next time I make it I'll add some minced garlic when cooking the onions and mushrooms and I would have used a little more chicken.  Also, I used sharp cheddar cheese instead of Mexican blend.

To make this gluten free, like I did, substitute Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Flour instead of regular flour.  

Feel free to send me recipes on Pinterest!  Follow me here.