Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

We received this dress from friends of ours when Madelyn was born. Since it is a 2T size I put it in her closet for when she was big enough to wear it. Last week I was in her bedroom putting some items away and she opened her closet and pointed to this dress saying, "Pretty." Why yes, my princess, it is pretty. So we tried it on and, Oh. My. Frilly. She is so adorable, is she not?!?!?!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts: Apples, Garage Sales & Oh, My Spinning Head

randomtuesday

We went apple picking and I now have 10lbs of apples in my refrigerator. Ten pounds of apples may not look like a lot in a dilapidated old wheelbarrow, but in my tiny refrigerator it looks like I brought home the whole orchard.

In the past three days we have eaten apples baked, cobblered, with the skin, without the skin, with peanut butter and topped with ice cream. Next I am making apple strudel muffins. By the time I am done with 10 lbs of apples I may not even want to see another apple again in my life. Although I must admit those baked apples with ice cream where de-lish.

I am doing a community garage sale on Saturday and hoping to clear out a ton of junk from our house. It has my head spinning and I almost feel like my time is worth more than the $.50 that I may get for the clock that I saw at Walmart for $5.00 new. Although I am sure the buyer will try and bargain me down to $.25. And if that's the case and $.25 is going to break your budget, then just take the dang thing.

October has been a super busy month for me leaving me with little spare time (so notice I am using that precious time to blog). It got me thinking of all the working mothers out there. How do you do it? All that I have to do in a day which inevitably spills over to the weekends I could NEVER get done in non-business hours.

My 30-day Love Challenge is going okay. It's hard, let me tell you. I have missed a few days here and there just cause life has gotten in the way. But, for the most part I have stuck to my schedule and I am more than half-way through. Yay me!

Kaiden had his first soccer game last Saturday. Oh. My. Goodness. It was as hilarious as I expected. But he LOVED it. And even though he played most of the game, which meant he stood on the field and had to be reminded that you actually have to run after the ball instead of just stand there, he made sure to declare to his daddy that, "I'm a really good soccer player, Daddy." Modesty has never been his strong suit.

I have been getting to the gym pretty regularly these days. And using my new iPod that I got last year for Christmas. How did I ever work out without it? I am still not sure why hubs thought I was joking when I asked him to load Backstreet Boys, N Sync & Pearl Jam on there, though.

While leggings are a very comfortable option, I am still not so sure about the trend coming back in style. Admittedly I bought a pair a week or so ago at Target with a really cute 3/4 sleeve cow neck sweater. I tried it on the other day in hopes of convincing myself that it's okay to "go there" again. I'm not quite convinced yet. Thankfully the temps are still in the 80's/90's here so I have a few weeks until it become appropriate apparel.

Until next time...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

"Green" Skin Care

If you read my post about "green" cleaning recipes then you know that I am on a quest to get toxic chemicals out of my home. And if you read this post, you know that includes skin care. So I have also been doing a TON of research on beauty products and how I can change from the ones that are swimming with crap to more natural ones. Think that our government is regulating these "mainstream" products and the ingredients that go in them? Think again. Most of the ingredients in your skin care products (1) have NOT been regulated or tested by any government agency and (2) are banned from most European countries and Canada. So why are they still being used here? Well, that's the million dollar question.

But instead of getting up on my soapbox and exposing you to my rants, I'll let you surf around the Internet or poke your nose into some books on the subject and come to your own conclusions. Don't let me be the one that spoils your beauty party.

Now for skin care tips for the "green" gals out there.

From the time I moved here to Arizona in 2003 I have had issues with my skin. It's like I rode into town and my face errupted. I almost never have a clear face and always seem to have a blemish popping up here and there at all times. What's even more frustrating with this is that a lot of the time when they do actually go away they leave scars that take FOREVER to fade. It's like I am a 13-year-old teenager again. I have tried everything. Ev-er-y-thing. And while some products have helped a bit here and there, I still have never had a clear complexion. I believe a lot of this has to do with what you eat. And, miraculously, since I have done my 30-day no meat challenge I have noticed a significant improvement in my skin. But I haven't been totally satisfied with just that.

After a ton of research on beauty secrets I found that a lot of people, especially with problem skin, have been washing their face with honey. I know, right!?!??! Honey?!?!? So, I decided to give it a try. And after two weeks of washing my face morning and night with just honey, I am amazed! My skin is softer and smoother and I haven't had a single blemish. One night I felt a pimple coming on so I did a honey mask and let it sit on my face for about 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off and the next day, I'm serious as a heart attack, no pimple! It dried it right up.

Now if you are going to try washing your face with honey here are a few tips:
-Use raw, organic honey. None of this processed honey that comes in the little bear squeezy-do.
-Remove any make-up first (read on for clearing your skin of make-up)
-Add a drop or two of tea tree oil for some blemish protection as tea tree oil will help with acne.
-Add some brown sugar or baking soda to the honey (mix in your hand) for a scrub. (*note* I have read that sugar will tend to invite bacteria so if you have problem skin I would steer clear of the sugar and just use the baking soda)
-Use as a mask at night. Just slather on your face and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Rinse off.
-Make sure you use a headband to pull back stray hair. While the honey is sticky going on, it really gets nice and smooth once on your face....but if it gets in your hair....stick-o-rama.

Coconut oil
Up until about a week ago I was taking my eye make-up off with commercial brands of eye make-up remover. And even though I used 3 different kinds at the same time (yes, three!) to try and get my make-up off, I still would wake up in the morning with raccoon eyes. So, while reading and reading and reading about all natural products I saw that a lot of people were using Coconut oil for make-up removing. I bought a jar and gave it a try. I kid you not, it took all my make-up off immediately with hardly any scrubbing and wiping like I was doing with my store bought stuff. And it conditions your skin like nobodies business.

So, what I do is massage the coconut oil (a small dab will do you just fine) into my face, including eyes. Wipe off with a piece of toilet paper. Rinse with water. Wash with honey! That's it!

I also used coconut oil as a shaving cream. Just slathered it all over my legs and shaved. My skin felt soft and moisturized as well as smelled oh so yummy. You can also use it as a hair conditioning pre-shampoo treatment or use as a moisturizer. Try it as a foot cream and slather on dry feet and cover with socks before you go to bed. A lot of people use it as a eye cream as well. I, personally, think that it is a little oily and find it doesn't penetrate my skin quick enough to use as a daily moisturizer. I have also read conflicting information where some people said it helped wonderfully with their acne while others say that it made it worse. So, for that reason, I have been a little afraid to keep it on my face for an extended period of time. But, I will continue to use it for make-up removal and shaving cream.

If you are going to use coconut oil, again, make sure it is unrefined, extra virgin, raw (if you can find it), organic coconut oil.

Olive Oil
Believe it or not I have been using olive oil as a facial moisturizer. Most mornings I feel like a turkey on Thanksgiving morning getting basted and ready for the oven, but it is a wonderful moisturizer. I hesitated at first putting an oil on my skin, especially my face, but it has so far been really wonderful. It penetrates my skin and doesn't feel oily at all. You can also use it as a make-up remover and takes off eye make-up in a few quick swipes.

I know I am a broken record, but buy Extra Virgin, organic Olive Oil.

Egyptian Magic
I read about this balm in a book and saw some reviews on the Internet and figured it was worth a try. It's a little expensive for the 4oz tub, but a little dab will go a long way. I have been mostly using it as an eye cream at night and, I know that I making everything out to be miracle cures, but really the fine lines under my eyes have significantly gone away. I have also used it as a hand cream and seems to work pretty well. Further reading suggests that people put it on everything...bee stings, rashes, cuts, pimples, etc. and it heals them all really quickly.

Give all my home treatments a try. I am confident that you will find them all really fantastic, really cheap (compared to most "mainstream" varieties) and will be much healthier & toxic-free!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Green" Cleaning Recipes

I have totally submerged myself in this whole non-toxic, clean living path that I am on. When I tell you that I have been doing a TON of research, I'm not kidding. Reading books and countless sites on the Internet have given me endless amounts of information about beauty and cleaning products. And can I just start off my saying, "Yuck." It's insane what's in them. But if you want to do some research for yourself here's a few of my favorite places to start.

Gorgeously Green
book and website. She also has a book covering beauty products in which I am currently on the wait list at the library to get.

Another great website is
No More Dirty Looks. They also have a book that I am currently reading.

I must admit I have been having fun toying around with a few recipes that I have discovered on the web. And much to my dismay, they actually work as good, if not better, then their chemically laden counterparts that cost $$ more at the store. While you may have to invest in a few key ingredients up front, using the non-toxic products will save your wallet in the long run. Here are some recipes that I have currently been using for cleaning around my home.

Glass cleaner
2 c water
1/4 c white vinegar
1/2 tsp. dish soap

Keep in squirt bottle and shake up before using. I use an old wash cloth to wipe glass down with and it doesn't streak at all. If you don't like the vinegar smell (which goes away pretty quickly so I don't mind it) you can add some essential oils of your choice.

All-purpose cleaner
2 c water
1/2 c white vinegar
1 tsp castile soap (I use peppermint)
3/4 c hydrogen peroxide
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops lavender (optional)

Mix all together and store in an opaque spray bottle because the light will diffuse the essential oils and hydrogen peroxide. Use on all surfaces including granite. It smells soooo good. It kind of makes me want to lick my counter tops!

Mouthwash
I haven't tried this yet, but I have all the ingredients to make this once my store bought crap is gone.
1/2 c distilled water
1 c aloe vera juice
1 T witch hazel
2 T baking soda
20 drops peppermint oil
Keep it in the fridge for a refreshing blast of mint!


*Update (11/1) I did make this and it tastes OK. Something that we will have to get used to. But it is FAR LESS toxic then the store bought variety!

Room Freshener
Essential oil of your choice (I am in love with lavender right now)
Water

Fill an old spray bottle with water and add some essential oil to desired aroma). Spray around your room and it will feel like you are laying in a field of lavender. (This was also recommended to me to use as a "monster spray" in case your little ones are afraid of monsters in their rooms! How cleaver!)

Baking Soda
I have also been using some baking soda to scrub my kitchen sink. Which is working really well. Once I use up all my store bought bathroom cleaners I will also be using it elsewhere. Also, about a week ago my bathroom sink became clogged up from all my hair falling out when I brush it or blow it dry. So I made a homemade drain cleaner and it worked like a charm.

Pour baking soda down in the drain. About a 1/2 cup or so. Then pour about equal amount of white vinegar down the drain. Watch it fizz up. Let sit for about an hour or more. Boil a kettle full of water and slowly pour the HOT water down the drain. Repeat process if necessary. I had to do this twice, but after the second time the clog was completely gone!

How's that for $1.00 a box?!?! (or if your a Costco member you can get a HUGE bag for like $5.00! or possibly FREE if you are into couponing....which I will report on my new adventures in coupons later as I figure it all out.)

See how easy it can be? Now go ahead and give it a try!

Come back later for my "green" skin care routine!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kaiden's 3rd Birthday

Kaiden's 3rd birthday seemed to be a success. He has been wanting a bike (which he now calls his "Good Boy Bike") for some time now. We figured it was time to upgrade from the little tricycle and pass that on to Madelyn and get Kaiden a new bike.

Here he is the morning of his birthday riding his new bike at the park.

Kaiden has also been so into guitars and musical instruments that we told Grandma Mary to get him one for his birthday. It was a hit as well...

and also with Madelyn.

Because we were going out to dinner I didn't want to have to rush cake when we returned home and were trying to get the kids to bed. So, we did cake for lunch. I used this recipe and made my own vanilla icing and oh my....it was good! Blowing out the candles!

We went to Maggiano's for dinner. We usually are loyal to Olive Garden since it is kid friendly, consistently good, well priced, and the kids will eat well there. I decided to get a little fancier and, honestly, it was a mistake. I guess I had these fantasies of all sitting around the table reminiscing about Kaiden's day and the past 3 years, blah, blah, blah. I was more like an octopus trying to grab things out of the way, feed the kids, shovel food in my mouth when possible, keep the kids from getting down from the table....Next time we will stick to what we know best. But the food was GOOD none-the-less.

Cheese! (and pasta!)


Mommy makes a rare appearance in a picture with the birthday boy
Driving home to go to bed!
Happy Birthday buddy! Here's to a great year!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Love Letter

Dear honey,

I love you when you snuggle with me at night.
I love you when you tell me I am beautiful even on the days that I feel not even remotely pretty.
I love you when you play with the kids.
I love you when you read the kids stories and put them to bed.
I love you when you clean up the kitchen after dinner.
I love you when you fill up my gas tank.
I love you when you hug me.
I love you when you tell me "it'll be okay" when I am feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders.
I love you when you give me advice.
I love you when we think the same thought or say the same thing at the same time.
I love you when you ask me where the cream cheese is even though it is right in front of you in the refrigerator.
I love you when you accept me despite my imperfections.
I love you when you take the kids out so I can have some time to myself to get things done.
I love you when you work hard all day but still come home with excitement to see your family.
I love you when you send me text messages to let me know you are thinking of me.
I love you when you thank me for everything I do for the family.
I love you when we have time to go on a date night.
I love you when you hold my hand.
I love you when you look out for my health and safety.
I love you when you make me laugh.

I love you today, I'll love you tomorrow and I'll love you forever.
I am the luckiest woman in the world to be married to such a wonderful man.

Lovingly yours,
Me

Friday, October 1, 2010

30-Day Love Challenge

A couple years ago we watched the movie Fireproof that is based on the book the Love Dare. After watching the movie I bought the book in hopes of one day going through the 40-day challenge. After attempting it many, many times, and never getting further than day 3, I recently thought that I would try a different approach.

Since doing my 30-day No Meat & No TV challenge in the month of September I felt motivated to try another 30-day challenge and thought of the idea of doing a 30-day Love Challenge. Sort of based on the Love Dare, sort of not. My pastor often talks about how we need to determine and stick to a family flow chart. This means we should always be putting God first, our spouse second and our children third. Admittedly, I am often guilty of skewing this flow chart and putting my kids above all else. I seem to focus all my attention on my kids craziness and seem to forget that not only should I be devoting myself daily to God first, but my husband needs (and deserves) more attention that I am giving to the kids.

We've all been there. You married ladies all know what I am talking about. The day is non-stop with going, going, going, doing, doing, doing that by the end of the day your best energy is spent on the house and the kids and nothing is left for your husband. And I am not just talking about sex. I am talking about attention. One-on-one attention. Hugs, kisses, making him feel special, telling him that he is appreciated, building him up, letting him know that you have thought about him. So, I thought this challenge might be a good way for me to focus on my husband each and every day. And the best part is, I am not going to tell him (unless, of course, he reads this post and my cover is blown)! So, shhhhhhhh, it's a secret.

So, I have jotted down a schedule of things that I am going to do for him each day in the month of October. As you will see, a lot of these things take little or no effort at all. But I know it will make him feel so special just to have been thought of each and every day.

So here's to us and hoping to put a little *spark* back in our relationship!

Oct 1-Send him an E-card.
Oct 2-Give him a big hug and tell him what an amazing husband, father and provider he is for our family. (Also is Kaiden's 3rd birthday)
Oct 3-Give a back rub before bed.
Oct 4-Bake cookies and deliver them to his office with the kids.
Oct 5-Write a love letter.
Oct 6-Buy some new pj's and wear them to bed rather than my ratty t-shirt and shorts better know as "ole faithful."
Oct 7-Draw a bubble bath for him to soak in while I put both kids to bed.
Oct 8-Make Heart Hands craft of mine and kids hands and write loving note on them.
Oct 9-Make him breakfast in bed.
Oct 10-Give a back rub.
Oct 11-Put a card on his dashboard.
Oct 12-Send plant/flowers to his office.
Oct 13-Put towel in the dryer so it is warm for him when he gets done showering.
Oct 14-Send him a pix message of myself with a loving message.
Oct 15-Movie night. Watch Clash of the Titans (or another "man" movie) in bed together.
Oct 16-Arrange a golf outing with friends.
Oct 17-Give a back rub before bed.
Oct 18-Put a post-it note saying "I Love You" on his medicine cabinet door so he sees it when he is getting ready for work.
Oct 19-Put a Hershey's kiss and hug in his lunch.
Oct 20-Give him a framed pic of his family.
Oct 21-Make a puzzle with a love note.
Oct 22-Write a note on his Facebook wall telling him what a great husband and father he is.
Oct 23-Date night at the first place we had dinner together.
Oct 24-Give him a massage.
Oct 25-Watch Monday Night Football with him.
Oct 26-TBD
Oct 27-Make a gift box with a handmade book in it of "Top 10 reasons why I love you." Wrap it and put it where he can discover it at work.
Oct 28-Do a "Thankful Thursday" post devoted to him.
Oct 29-Make a picnic dinner in the living room for after the kids are in bed.
Oct 30-TBD

There are a few days that I have left without a planned activity. Mostly because I think I may need a few days to rearrange some things depending on how the month goes with our schedules. But I will fill them in later as I see how the month is going.

Now remember, I am not telling him that I am doing this. So, if you know my husband, DO NOT SPILL THE BEANS. Even though some of these are things that I already do on a here and there basis, I am sure he will thing that something is up when it is happening daily.