Water Slides

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's funny that you can meet random strangers, hop on a raft together, scream at the top of your lungs and fear for your lives together and become high-fiving best friends....all within 90 seconds. Fear really brings people together. That, and nearly crapping your bathing suits together!

Vacation...you're doing it wrong.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Here's how a vacation should go:
Step 1: Have fun
Step 2: Don't do laundry
Step 3: Arrive home, and do laundry

Here's how my vacation is going:
Step 1: Get a head cold RIGHT before you leave to see family, before the little vacay starts.
Step 2: Baby doesn't sleep all that much so you have little sleep AND a head cold...but you suck it up.
Step 3: Son says he has a tummy ache before getting in the car to start vacay. He throws up 15 minutes later. 
Step 4: Clean son up, get him gatorade and drive 1.5 hours in a car that smells like vomit. 
Step 5: Arrive at destination and as you are pulling off the highway, son pukes a TON, including on his beloved blanket.
Step 6: Strip son's clothes off on the side of the road in 40 degree weather while he shakes and daddy cleans up his carseat. 
Step 7: Put him back in the car, miserable and without his beloved blanket.
Step 8: Check into hotel, room isn't ready yet and might not be for up to 4 hours.
Step 9: Take refuge in hotel laundry room. It has no chairs, but you note the floors are easily cleaned if there is a 3rd round of vomit. 
Step 10: Explain to 3 year old that he is in a magical hotel full of fun and water slides, but he can't partake in anything until he can at least eat and keep down food.
Step 11: Get call from hotel that room is ready after about 90 minutes of waiting. 
Step 12: CELEBRATE!!!!
Step 13: Get to room and there is no pack n' play as requested for 11 month old.
Step 14: Call front desk and ask for a pack n' play
Step 15: Check out the different parts of the Lodge, always keeping an eye on the closest garbage can in case boy needs to puke.
Step 16: Rename child "ticking timebomb"
Step 17: Try to go to dinner, miserable failure.
Step 18: Husband starts to feel not so good.
Step 19: You called again earlier, but after returning from dinner there is STILL no Pack n' Play in the room. Call for a 3rd time. 
Step 21: Take deep breath
Step 22: Go to story time because 3 year old is smiling, feeling better and able to keep food down.
Step 23: Put kids to bed, praying little one does not throw up in the middle of the night.
Step 24: Put hubby to bed, thankful there are two queen beds in the room.
Step 25: Buy a magazine and vitamin C drink (contemplate wine) and curl up in the lobby, happy to not be cleaning puke.
Step 26: Check on family, everyone is alive.
Step 27: Go work out (truth be told, it's the only thing open).
Step 28: Blog about your fan-freaking-tastic day.
Step 29: Pass out and hope to God that tomorrow is better, it HAS to be better. RIGHT?

I feel rich

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Do you feel rich today? Take a moment to be thankful for the things that you have that money can't buy. Health, family, humor, smiles, laughter, love, memories and donuts. 

Ok....donuts can be bought with money...but they are pretty fantastic!!

Follow your passion....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

This is a nice little reminder that you don't have to be amazing at something all your life to be a smashing success! Find and follow your passion...even if it feels too late!
Now I want to watch Julie & Julia....I love that movie!!

Baby Instruction Manual

Monday, February 20, 2012

I really wish babies came with customized manuals (because every child really is different, even when they come from the same ovaries and same sperm receptacle) and little read out screens.

Recently, my daughter was sick. It seemed never ending, but never reached a fever or any of those "take your kid to the doctor if they do this" symptoms. So we waited for something alarming to happen. Finally, she was just "off" enough that we took her in. Come to find out, the child was harboring two infected ears. Poor little Miss P! This is why I think children should have read out screens.

I stumbled upon these parenting tips the other day, and they cracked me up....so I just had to share...

The scary thing about this one, is that I've seen photos of carseats installed completely wrong...so this one isn't so far off! I could get on my soapbox (because I dipped into the wine again), but I won't. I'll just drop this little website right here, in case you, or someone you know, needs it.

*gigglesnort* I really shouldn't drink wine while updating my blog. But that there is funny...and wrong.

I disagree, this is very effective in some homes. The first born gets all the teething rings, the second born gets whatever is leftover and any child after that gets whatever is laying around....even shoes!

Our house is so small that we joked that my daughter would sleep in one of our drawers. If we were to have a third, this would be our reality.

Get ready for a complete tangent!
Have you discovered these?

It is a battery operated nasal aspirator. It is quite possibly the greatest and most disgusting device I have ever owned. I saw them when my son was itty bitty, but honestly he was rarely sick and the good old booger sucker we got from the hospital worked just fine. But recently (as described above) my daughter was sick enough to purchase one of these battery operated brain booger suckers. It did help her breathe easier and got her on the road to healthy faster than if we didn't use it, but oh the faces the poor baby gave us when we administered this thing! The silver lining? It plays 12 songs and sounds like an icecream truck. I swear P will run away, holding her nose, from any icecream truck that comes near her when she is older. Awesome!

And I leave you with...

This is just silly...you NEVER wake a sleeping baby!

I just interviewed a towel

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I would like to introduce my guest this evening, this is EnviroCloth, although he likes to go by E.C. 

Jen: Hi, E.C. thanks for stopping by! I've received a few questions about you after becoming a Norwex Independent Consultant. Would you mind answering a question or two?

E.C.: You bet! Where would you like to start?

It removes bacteria, with only water. So that means it is loaded or coated with some sort of chemical, right? Nope! The microfiber is a blend of polyester & polyamide and is 1/100th the size of a strand of human hair. There is also silver woven in, but absolutely no chemicals or additives.

How does it clean? When combined with the Norwex knitting process, it becomes highly effective at attracting and holding dirt and grime. You can also feel the microfiber grabbing at the surface as you wipe. 

Why is it considered Antibacterial? The antibacterial agent is embedded inside tiny microfibers the size of 0.3 denier or smaller. All Norwex Antibac microfiber cloths & wet mops contain this environmentally-friendly, Silver Technology that has been approved by both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  

How does the silver work? Silver interrupts a cell's ability to form chemical bonds essential to its survival. Bacteria, viruses and fungi need the bonds for their oxygen metabolism. Essentially, the organism suffocates and dies. 

How do you know it is working? Smell the towel. Smell it after you've used it for 2 days, a week, 2 weeks. I think the BEST test, is use another non-antibac towel the same way you use the antibac towel.  

How long will it last? All Norwex microfiber products have a full 2 year satisfaction guarantee. This means that if in that period of time your Norwex Antibac microfiber cloth degrades in some way with normal use and proper care, Norwex will replace it

Can I wash and dry it normally? To save the environment, and reduce the use of detergents, we suggest that slightly dirty cloths be hand washed in warm water with any brand dish or laundry soap (do not use hand soap, as it contains oil). Rinse well, and air dry. For more soiled-looking cloths (like when I used my cloth to clean the inside of my NASTY microwave), simply wash in any temperature cycle with any detergent in the washing machine, and ONLY with lint-free laundry (no terry towels). Then dry in a dryer with temperatures up to 90-degrees or simply air. DO NOT USE bleach, abrasive solutions, fabric softener or dryer softener sheets, these destroy the products ability to clean. DO NOT iron, DO NOT USE with paints or inks. If fabric softener or chemicals were used with the cloths, or they are heavily soiled, boil in water on stovetop for 15 minutes or place wet cloth within a plastic bag and microwave on high for 1 minute - this disinfects and allows the microfibers to swell and release the substances. 

Jen: Thanks EnviroCloth. It was so nice getting to know you better!


Coffee might be my first love. It's probably because I'm from the Northwest...but coffee makes my world go 'round. It's not just the taste either, it's the smell (which, the other day reminded me of my Grandma B's house. She would brew coffee after dinner and evidentially that little tradition stuck in my nose because I didn't really remember it until I was brewing a cup of coffee the other day. I'm guessing I brewed the same brand or something? I dunno....our brains are strange, that's for sure. Or mayhaps MY brain is strange. I'd put money on that).

Back. on. track. Jen.

Where was I? Oh yes, my love for coffee. It smells fantastic. And there is nothing like holding a warm mug of coffee in your hands on a cold day.

Then there is the taste....mmmmmmmmm....there is nothing like the taste of an amazing cup of coffee. There is a shop here in Bellingham that makes the best darn lattes ever. Seriously. BEST. EVER.

And it's not bad to look at...

image from WomansDay

So much yummy awesomeness!

Over half way through Fast Food Free February

Friday, February 17, 2012

I keep meaning to update on our progress!

We are still going strong!! There have been a couple times where it would have been SO easy to swing through fast food because I didn't pack enough snacks for the day, but I didn't give up!

On Valentine's Day we were out an about and P fell asleep when we were mere minutes away from home. So, I decided to take my son on a date while my daughter napped. We went to a local drive in and had burgers, played "I Spy" and "Twenty Questions" (N wants to be a Surfer when he grows up). Ya, not health food, but it WAS real food and actually came from a cow and didn't have 9872987 additives...so it wasn't a total cheat!

There have been a couple hidden benefits of giving up fast food. I have accidentally given up soda. I had no intention to do this, it just happened. I was thinking about it the other day, and we rarely have soda in the house, so really the only time I drink it is when I go out to eat. Then I realized I REALLY only drink it when we go to fast food, because I always gravitate to ordering by number, and the meal comes with a drink. So I paid for it, I'm gonna drink it! Whereas when we go to a real food restaurant, the soda is rarely free, so I drink water. Yay!

My son's behavior has also been improved and the only thing we really changed was the fast food thing. It may have absolutely no correlation...but I'll take the improved behavior!!! He still hasn't requested fast food, so I'm thinking March might be Fast Food Free as well.

P.S. I know for a fact the hubster hasn't followed the Fast Food Free February rules....

Does this look familiar, B??

....but he has been a good boy and kept the rest of the family on course when he is home. That's all this Momma can ask for! :)

What would you do if today were your last day?

"If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? Whenever the answer has been 'no' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something" -Steve Jobs

I found this quote the other day. It so perfectly described how I was feeling. 

This week we made a pretty major decision, I quit my Saturday job. I LOVE my job, but when it came down to it, I LOVE my family more. With busy schedules, we were having less and less family time. I was missing so much...we knew something just had to give. 

I'm going to miss my job a lot. I'm going to miss the people and on the days my kids are naughty or puking, I'm going to miss being able to walk out the door, giving my husband a smile that says, "Have fun with that!" 

I'm sure I'll miss the extra money, but I won't regret having more laughs, more smiles, more hugs, more kisses, more milestones and more memories. I'll even take more fits.  

My Garbage Can

Thursday, February 16, 2012

See that at the end of my driveway? Ya, I should take a photo, but I'm too lazy....it looks like this:

My lonely trash can  makes my heart swell with pride. Know why??

It is simply ONE garbage can at the curb. ONE!!! The only time this happens around here, is when we are on vacation....for a full week! We just seem to make SO much garbage between two children and two "grown ups" (I couldn't write adults, I'm not so sure that is accurate! *grins*).

Anywho...the garbage can. Sure, it is feeling a little lonely because his friend is empty and sitting next to the deck, but this means that all my little changes to eat better, use less processed foods (which always have more packaging) and just have less "stuff" seems to be working!

Oh, it is the simple things in life that make you so happy!

Meal Planning

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Meal planning saves lives.


Life is just so much easier when you know what you will be eating at 6pm instead of looking in the cupboard at 5:45 and finding a can of tuna, a tablespoon of peanut butter and brown rice.

Meal planning saves money too. By knowing what you are going to be having for dinner that week, you go out to eat less and you know exactly what to purchase at the grocery store.

My point? When you have a list you generally stick to it (sure there are a few random things that honestly grow legs and jump into the cart. Or, if you have kids, they throw stuff in). AND you can go one step further...check out the grocery store ads before you meal plan and see what meats are on sale before you select your meals. Even more savings!

Not a fan of scouring ads, dreaming up meals, making lists, grocery shopping, putting groceries away and cooking?? I have some sites & tips for you, although I have no ability to help you with the actual shopping, putting away and cooking...that's all you baby!

Meal Planning Sites:

#1. Food on the Table  Create a meal plan for your family using chef-approved recipes that everyone will like. They find the sales at your neighborhood supermarket so you don't have to mess with the circular and you can print out your grocery list organized by department. It is free and, there's an app for that!

#2. Cozi I use this site/app for my calendar, but I also use it for meal planning. This is a little more work, but I will search cookbooks and the internet for meals that I want to make that week (I'll post links to some of my favorite places below) then I type up the list in Cozi. I go through my cupboards first, checking off things I already have, then open the app when I'm in the grocery store so that I can check things off as I go. Much easier to do this without children...with children they keep grabbing for the phone and checking off random things.

#3. Oh Dinner! This one isn't free, but it IS fantastic! It is owned by two locals and I've been using it for a couple months and really enjoy it. Every week they have 10 different meals (and one yummy dessert) and includes ideas for sides. You can create instant grocery lists and recipes that you can print or email. "Like" them on Facebook  and you will receive some great recipes and tips. They taught me to toss my sweet potato fries with a little cumin and coriander...and I'll NEVER be able to eat them any other way again! Amazing I tell you!

Here are some tips that have helped me:

#1. I can NEVER find meals when I need them...I just draw a blank and cannot come up with a single idea. So I started a new file in my bookmarks called "meals for the future" so that when I'm putzing around on the internet and run into something, I can save it here for when I actually need a little inspiration...and I save things as I find them on Pinterest.

#2. Recruit the family to pick a meal or two for the week. My husband plans once a week, and as my son gets older, I will be asking for his input. If I were to ask now, we would be having peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches once a week. Not my fav.

#3. Include one day a week as "Leftover" night...unless you have a large family or a teen or two, you will probably have leftovers of some sort.

#4. FREEZER MEALS!!! I will do a blog post that goes into depth about my love for freezer meals....but for now, I'll just say if you cook a little extra and freeze a meal for later...you will fall in love with your freezer too!

So, if you have the hubby pick one meal, the kids pick another meal, have a freezer meal stashed in the freezer and a "leftover" night, that means you only have to plan 3 meals a week. Easy, squeezy!

Here are my favorite places to find yummy meals:
A Year of Slow Cooking
Full Bellies. Happy Kids (and this is probably my FAVORITE from them)
Cook for good
All Recipes
Family Fun
Kraft I used to use this a lot more, but we are trying to do less processed foods, so I find myself changing up these recipes a little bit. They have a "use what's on hand" tool ....and that brings me to...
Google Yup, Google. I type in the ingredients I have on hand...like "Green onions, ham, potatoes" and it gives me some killer ideas. I mostly use this at the end of the week when I have accidentally used part of a meal for something else...so I just have randomness in the kitchen.
Pinterest Yes, I ADORE Pinterest! I will go there a lot to just browse. But sometimes I'll type something like "Meals on a Budget" into the search bar and see what comes up or if I'm looking for a chicken recipe I'll type in "Chicken" and see what randomness Pinterest has to offer that day.

Well, now I'm hungry...What's for dinner?

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sure, it's a holiday created by Hallmark...but remember that the Hoff still loves you.


Crock Pot Chicken & Rice

Monday, February 13, 2012

I have many variations of this meal but here is how we are going to throw down today...

First, put some chicken boobs in your crock pot. (darn it, I was going to have a photo right here, but I totally forgot to take it...pretend you see chicken breasts).


Next, open a few cans and containers and dump them on top of your boobs (drain the beans first!)

That would be a can of black beans, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of kidney beans (I would use pinto...but was out!) salsa (1 cup) and a couple table spoons of taco seasoning. Corn is good, but I was out of that too!

Now, there is one can missing from this photo....cream of chicken soup. It's missing because I'm going to make some homemade cream of chicken soup! Why go to the trouble?
Um....wow that's a lot of stuff in that little can! Instead, I shall use this and freeze 1/2 for another day (each batch makes two cans). It contains:
Chicken broth, poultry seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, salt, parsley, paprika, milk & flour
I know how to pronounce ALL of those ingredients!

Ok, back on track!!! So dump the homemade cream of chicken soup on top of everything else, give it a quick stir, put the lid on your magical crock pot, set on low for 6-8 hours and go do something fabulous while your slow cooker does all the work.

Oh how I love thee!

Side note: I know I said you can put pretty much anything in a crock pot and it will taste fantastic....but PLEASE do not try this theory with babies....even if you add A1.

Goodness is this child cute! 
Or kitties....

Ok...that's just not sanitary!!!!

*Fast Forward 6-8 hours*

Make up some brown rice (or use leftovers). Stir in the cooked rice about 30 minutes before it is done cooking. I know it will look a little soupy...but the rice will totally take care of that!!! 

Serve in bowls with crushed tortilla chips and a dollop of sour cream.

mmmmmmm....do you smell that? That is heaven in a bowl!

New Fad Diet

This morning I was feeding Miss P her breakfast. I told her I should start the "11 Month Old Diet" fad. For this diet, you can only eat organic baby food, things that are easy to chew and breastmilk.

This made me giggle.

But maybe I'm on to something? I could get a Kardashian to endorse it (because they have some strange spell over people) and when everyone starts demanding breastmilk in large quantities, us lactating mommas will be the cat's meow!!

Oh goodness, my brain is very strange. I was dropped as a child, that is my excuse!

It's Laundry Time

I'm not a fan of paying for things you just throw away/wash down the drain. I know laundry detergent is necessary to get our clothes clean, I just don't like paying much for it! I am excited to try this...

It is the new laundry detergent from Norwex. I think I'm most excited because it is supposed to be awesome on cloth diapers too, so I will no longer have to buy two different detergents (and those diaper detergents aren't cheap!)

I have yet to try it, but will report back when I do...however the preliminary financial stats look promising...

One bag will get you:
552 loads using 1/2 tsp. per load for Front Load HE =$0.04 / load
276 loads using 1 tsp. per load for Front Load HE = $0.08 / load
92 Loads using 1 Tablespoon Top Load (Soft Water) =$.23 / load
46 Loads using 2 T. Top Load (Hard water) =$0.46 / load

We have a front load HE, so I'm kinda excited that I should only have to use 1/2 tsp!

How does this stack up to other detergents?

80 Load box of Tide HE powder, cost $21.99 ($0.27 / load)
48 Load bottle of Tide HE free & gentle, cost $12.25 ($0.25/load).

Even if you use the full tsp for your HE front load, you would need 3 boxes of Tide to do the same amount of loads, which is $65.97, instead of $20.99 for Norwex Ultra Power Plus.

Comfort Food

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's not nasty out, but it's not stellar either....so tonight, we shall dine on comfort food!

Tater Tot Casserole
1 onion (I mince so that no one knows it is there, if I had zucchini, I would mince that up too!!)
1lb low fat ground beef or ground turkey
Low sodium seasoning
2 Tbsp ketchup
1 package frozen mixed veggies (with the lima beans and all that jazz)
1 can cream of mushroom or cream of chicken soup (I plan to make homemade cream of chicken soup later this week, but have some low sodium mushroom soup that I'll use up today)
1/2 package tater tots
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
Brown onion & ground beef, season to taste and add ketchup. Transfer to the bottom of a casserole dish.

Take the rest of your friends....

And toss them in the pool...

...and add to the top of the ground beef mix. Sprinkle a little more cheese, if you dare, over the casserole. Cover and bake at 425 for 1 hr.


Valentine's Craft

I found this adorable craft idea on Pinterest. I already have felt and ribbon laying around, so it was super cheap and easy for a 3 year old to do (of course I did all the cutting, but I did it at night so everything would be ready to go the next day) the almost one year old enjoyed eating them (now that is a shocker!)

The garland will look super cute when we decorate the house on Valentine's day....and maybe even decorate the neighbor's door! :)

Can't we all...be smart?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." -Albert Einstein
How many of us do this daily? We are all smart in our own way, but we can't all be smart in EVERY way. Take time to discover what you are amazing at, and don't worry about what you aren't so great at...that's why someone else is amazing at it!

The above quote was in a magazine I was reading....and then it led to reading about empowering children. I enjoyed this read ... 
"Gone are the days where parents solely want their kids to get "good jobs" but now we want them to have rewarding lives! It is a shift of epic proportions."
Isn't it true though? I don't so much dream a future for my children that includes what I feel they should be, or where they should go to school....but I dream of them being content, confident, giving members of society.

Parenting seems to be a long term science experiment. There are a trillion variables and we aren't sure which ones will actually work or which ones might harm, but in the end we just hope it earns us a blue ribbon and doesn't blow up in our face.

Oh please don't let me do anything that blows up my children!!!

Baby Booties

I'm labeling this "What's on my needles?" but honestly they aren't on my needles yet...but I want them to be! How cute are these sweet little shoes? And my daughter won't be able to rip them off her feet like every other shoe that I put on her. You can get the free pattern here

Currently I'm knitting these hats...

...to place for sale in my etsy shop. They are my own creation and I'm SO proud of them. I plan on working up the pattern and placing it for free on ravelry....but just need to find the time! Can I get a cloning machine please?

Be a better mom...by running away

Friday, February 10, 2012

About an hour ago I ran, quickly, away from my house, and didn't look back. Today wasn't a bad day...it was just long...and my son was being...um....three years old. We started our morning at the library, where he didn't really listen to me, didn't listen to the lady reading books and bit me on the way out the door. Awesomesauce!

Things got better mid-day. A friend of his came over to play and P napped. We played playdough and made hand puppets....it was fun...but he was very needy and I was needing of a little personal space. Side note:  I remember before I had kids, I would look at a parent in my position, and think "Awe, all he wants is a hug" but when he's had two trillion hugs and cuddles, EVEN WHILE I PEE, there is a breaking point....I had reached mine!

Then, 5pm hit. 

I'm not sure why, but this is the point in the evening where I start losing my cool....and he ramps up. It wasn't pretty. B came home and I said "I have to leave soon or I'm going to eat him". He didn't question it and suggested I go get a pedicure (BEST. HUSBAND. EVER.)

So, here I sit. At the best darn place my frazzled butt could land. Pure Bliss

There is jazz music playing softly, an almost devoured piece of chocolate cake to my right and an empty glass of Merlot. There is a knitting group chatting and knitting in the corner (just being near yarn warms my heart) and it's FREAKING HAPPY HOUR! I think I'm going to hide in the bathroom at closing time. They can't make me leave!!!! (I'm sounding like quite a lush, btw....I haven't had all that much alcohol this year, and since I started blogging a whopping 3 days ago, I've consumed 2 glasses of wine. Maybe blogging makes me drink?)

What is a girl to do when she has yummy treats, no children and a few hours to completely unwind? She surfs Pinterest (you are SHOCKED aren't you?)

I stumbled upon this...

I think on an evening when I run away from my house screaming like it is on fire, it is best to sign up for a 52 week challenge to strengthen your relationship with your kids! :)

The blog that this linked to is fantastic, you should check her out!

I'm back to being my sane self now...so I shall return home, and I'm a much better mother for it! Well, maybe one more piece of cake....

Be More, With Less?

I never really explained my blog title, did I?

You see, I am on a bit of a self discovery mission. Part of my mission is spiritual, part of it is to be the best stinkin' example I can be for my children, and part of it is to leave the earth better than I found it. A New Year's Resolution of sorts...but wasn't really decided on New Years...

Of course on a grand scale I would like to cure cancer or something, but honestly, what are the odds of me doing that? So I have decided to just be more, with less... 

Be more giving, with less taking
Be more wise, with less judgment
Be more healthy, with less junk food
Be more physically active, with less whining
Be more earth friendly, with less packaging and waste
Be more content, with less "stuff"
Be more friendly, with less effort
Be more creative, with less planning
Be more present, with less contemplation about the past or future
Be more genuine, with less concern of what people think of me
Be more playful, with less television
Be more organized, with less clutter
Be more put together, with less time

I also want to do more...

Do more vacations, with less money
Do more eating, with less preservatives
Do more cooking, with less processed foods
Do more cleaning, with less toxins

I just plain want to do & be more...and want to inspire others to do the same.

P.S. portions of this blog post were written while enjoying a very large glass of red wine, a reward for making it through another day. So if there are any many tons of mistakes, blame the two buck chuck!

My love, my crock pot

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I have a minor major obsession with my crock pot. It makes me insanely happy. I put random things in it, turn it on and when dinner time comes around, there is magical, hot food inside. This is a busy momma/lazy momma's best friend. I have come to the conclusion I could put my shoe and a bottle of A1 in there and something fantastic would come out, however I'm not really willing to try this (I really love my shoes!).

Today I am making fajitas for dinner. This morning I eye'd my crock pot, wondering if it could crank out some yummy fajitas. But then I decided to just do it on the stove top instead, my crock pot really does need a day of rest!

Imagine my amusement when I was surfing Pinterest just now (thank you nap time) and stumbled upon this...

That right there is a recipe for Crock Pot Fajitas, folks!  (The recipe is here)

If only it weren't 2.5 hours before dinner....if only...

P.S. What does one get their Crock Pot for Valentine's Day?

A cleaner house with just water?

Recently, my friend started selling something called Norwex. She was passionate about the product. Some of the stuff looked good, but honestly....$15.99 for a towel? It better make me coffee!!! I wanted to support her though, because she is fantastic! So when she had a contest on Facebook to spread the word about her Norwex business...I shared away! And low and behold, I won a couple towels in the contest! SCORE!!! Free stuff AND supporting my friend! I read a bit more about them on her site, and when they came in the mail I started using them. This towel is freaking MAGIC...I would not be surprised if I woke up one morning and it made me a cup of coffee!!

So, first of all....what is microfiber? 

One of the most important technological developments in recent years has been the ability to produce extremely fine fibers. These “micro-fibers” are of an even finer quality than natural fibers such as silk. In many products it is the luxurious feel and look of the fabrics, which makes the microfiber so special. In others it is their unique physical and mechanical performance which makes this fabric unique. With Norwex microfiber, we focus on the physical and mechanical performance in our product line.
Textile fibers are measured in grams per 10,000 meters (dtex). For a fiber to be considered a microfiber it must be 1 dtex or finer. This means a single thread of 10,000 meters must weigh less than 1 gram.
Norwex’s microfiber has a dtex of 0.13. One gram of Norwex microfiber will span over 70,000 meters. In each Norwex Enviro Cloth there is approximately 2.9 million meters of microfiber.
Used dry these fibers produce an electrostatic charge which attracts and holds dust particles. When wet the fibers use capillary vacuum force to pull moisture and grease from the surface up into the fibers. http://www.norwexproducts.com/what-is-microfiber
Does Norwex use fairy dust to make their microfiber towels better than the rest? 
No, but they do use silver! Norwex Antibacterial microfiber is the most innovative product in the industry! Microfiber cloths remove 99% of the bacteria from smooth surfaces and the silver in the cloth destroys that bacteria after a few hours. You're left with a cleaner, healthier environment.
Ok...enough cutting and pasting from websites...SHOW me how this thing works.

$15.99 is a lot for a towel, even though it kinda rocks. I can get super cheap towels on Amazon or the soap.com.
This is true. In fact I am probably the biggest fan of Viva Paper Towels that you will ever meet. I wrote them a love note one time because their towels are so awesome for wiping down my kids, I am a fan on Facebook and I buy it by the truck load on Amazon. I'm a paper towel snob to say the least! But paper towels will run you from $0.0189 (yes, that is not quite 2 cents, but it adds up quick!) to $0.027 per towel for my beloved Viva towels. So let's do some math, shall we?
Cost per towel for bargain towel: $0.0189
Cost per towel for Viva towel: $0.027
Cost per towel for Norwex: $15.99
Now, let's say you use 20 paper towels per day (obviously, you will only use one Norwex towel, you will just rinse and reuse).
Cost per day for bargain towel: $0.378
Cost per day for Viva towel: $0.54
Cost per day for Norwex: $15.99
Twenty Paper towels per day? No one goes through 20 paper towels in a day...
1 Wipe up the counter after making breakfast 
 2 wipe P after eating bananas 
 3 wipe up tray and highchair after bananas 
 4 wipe up floor full of random food 
 5 wipe N's hands and face after breakfast 
 6 wipe up yogurt mess on table 
 7 wipe up spilled coffee 
 8 wipe down the cupboard doors after being slimed by P 
 9 wipe up the paint on the table after crafts 
 10 wipe N's hands 
 11 wipe up tyenol on carpet after trying to give P liquid tyelnol while she was crawling 
 12 wipe up the counter after making lunch 
 13 wipe P's hands and face after lunch 
 14 wipe up tray & floor (not much of a job, so I would have only used 1 paper towel) 
 15 wipe up N's hands & face 
 16 wipe down table 
 17 wipe floor after apple juice is spilled 
 18 wipe floor after mud is tracked in after puddle stomping 
 19 wipe stove top after spaghetti bubbles a bit too much 
 20 wipe up counters after preparing dinner 
 21 wipe N's hands and face after dinner 
 22 wipe P's hands and face after dinner 
 23 wipe up huge mess on the floor 
 24 wipe up highchair and tray 
 25 wipe fridge that got a little bit of P's mess on it 
 26 wipe down table 
 27 wipe counters after doing dishes 
 28 wipe N's hands and face after snack  
You are very right, I use 28
Cost per day for bargain towel: $0.5292
Cost per day for Viva towel: $0.756
Cost per day for Norwex: $15.99

So the cost per month for paper towels vs. a Norwex towel:
Cost per month for bargain towel: $15.876
Cost per month for Viva towel: $22.68
Cost per month for Norwex: $15.99
These costs don't take into account cleaning supplies either...we are just talking towels. Plus you are saving the environment because you have less waste from the packaging the paper towels come in, the paper towels themselves, the cleaning supply containers and all that jazz.
I do miss the paper towel rolls though, they made really cool crafts! But I still have my TP rolls...there is no way I'm giving up my TP...even for a magical towel with silver in it!!!!!

Fast Food Free February

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's Fast Food Free February in our house. Why? Because....

This photo has been making it's way around Facebook lately. I ignored it at first. I would rather be blissfully ignorant while I munch my "chicken" nuggets dipped in high fructose corn syrup/sweet n sour sauce. It is cheap. It is fast. I have two children and we are on the go a lot and I KNOW my son will actually eat something at McDonald's without a fight. It tastes fairly tasty (going down, about 15 minutes later is another story). And honestly, I crave it from time to time. But then I kept seeing the photo more and more, and I opened up Pandora's box. I KNOW McDonald's is not good for me. They publish their fat and calories right on your meal now and I know it's just junk...but I never really looked into WHAT was in it. When I did, I told the family we would be having NO fast food in the month of February as a little science experiment. 

So here is what scared me (from the book, "Omnivore's Dilema")

“The ingredients listed in the flyer suggest a lot of thought goes into a nugget, that and a lot of corn. Of the thirty-eight ingredients it takes to make a McNugget, I counted thirteen that can be derived from corn: the corn-fed chicken itself; modified cornstarch (to bind the pulverized chicken meat); mono-, tri-, and diglycerides (emulsifiers, which keep the fats and water from separating); dextrose; lecithin (another emulsifier); chicken broth (to restore some of the flavor that processing leeches out); yellow corn flour and more modified cornstarch (for the batter); cornstarch (a filler); vegetable shortening; partially hydrogenated corn oil; and citric acid as a preservative. A couple of other plants take part in the nugget: There's some wheat in the batter, and on any given day the hydrogenated oil could come from soybeans, canola, or cotton rather than corn, depending on the market price and availability.
According to the handout, McNuggets also contain several completely synthetic ingredients, quasiedible substances that ultimately come not from a corn or soybean field but form a petroleum refinery or chemical plant. These chemicals are what make modern processed food possible, by keeping the organic materials in them from going bad or looking strange after months in the freezer or on the road. Listed first are the "leavening agents": sodium aluminum phosphate, mono-calcium phosphate, sodium acid pyrophosphate, and calcium lactate. These are antioxidants added to keep the various animal and vegetable fats involved in a nugget from turning rancid. Then there are "anti-foaming agents" like dimethylpolysiloxene, added to the cooking oil to keep the starches from binding to air molecules, so as to produce foam during the fry. The problem is evidently grave enough to warrant adding a toxic chemical to the food: According to the Handbook of Food Additives, dimethylpolysiloxene is a suspected carcinogen and an established mutagen, tumorigen, and reproductive effector; it's also flammable. But perhaps the most alarming ingredient in a Chicken McNugget is tertiary butylhydroquinone, or TBHQ, an antioxidant derived from petroleum that is either sprayed directly on the nugget or the inside of the box it comes in to "help preserve freshness." According to A Consumer's Dictionary of Food Additives, TBHQ is a form of butane (i.e. lighter fluid) the FDA allows processors to use sparingly in our food: It can comprise no more than 0.02 percent of the oil in a nugget. Which is probably just as well, considering that ingesting a single gram of TBHQ can cause "nausea, vomiting, ringing in the ears, delirium, a sense of suffocation, and collapse." Ingesting five grams of TBHQ can kill.”

February 1st: I had absolutely NO clue how reliant we were on Fast Food until the first day of our experiment. I kinda craved it. And so did my son, he cried when I told him the rules. 

What are the rules? No fast food chain restaurants except for Subway and Starbucks (but only skim lattes at Starbucks, when the almost one year old starts sleeping through the night, maybe Mommy won't need so much coffee, and only "real" food at Subway). I noticed right away how often I bribed my son with McD's just to get him in the car or to stop a fit. Ya, parent of the year right here! This little fast food strike was going to be more effective than I thought!

Last month I bought a ton of Chicken from Zaycon Foods, so one day I baked up some "naked" chicken nuggets (to add to salads, put on skewers and serve at lunch or just dip em) along with some "shake n bake" chicken nuggets. My son looked right at me as I was elbow deep in chicken bits and said, "McDonalds does that better". Ouch. I went back to my thankless job, baked, then froze my chicken nuggets for another day.

A couple days ago I needed a fast lunch option, and remembered my chicken nuggets. Of course he first thought we were going to McD's...but when I showed him the ones mommy made, he was ok with it and enjoyed them a lot. I was even told they were the best he has ever eaten! Mommy for the win!!

Today is Day 8 and my son hasn't asked for McDonald's or any other fast food in a few days. He is eating better and not needing a toy to bribe him to eat. I swear even his behavior is better. I don't blame fast food companies for making cruddy food at cheap prices, they do it because it's a major business. I blame me for being lazy, and not sticking to my "My kids won't eat McD's" stance. Being a good mom is harder than it looks. 

I think we are all happier for the change and we are only 1/3 of the way through the month. It takes more planning on my part (I MUST pack snacks when we leave the house, and I'm still not good at doing this) but it's even helping our pocket book. BONUS!

Why not me?

The other day I was thinking I needed to find a blog to follow that was "one part knitting, one part humor, one part parenting advice, one part parenting humor, one part wanting to hide from your children, one part cooking, one part creative, one part crock pot obsession, one part inspiring and two parts pinterest". If you Google that, you don't get much worth reading!

So then I thought, Why not me? I have no talent for writing, a strange sense of humor that doesn't always translate well online and a tendency to start blogs that last about a week before puttering out...I'll rock this!

We are off on an adventure. It is sure to be a rambling road full of dead ends, derailments, uphill battles and possibly a wrong turn or two (have I mentioned I'm a horrible driver and extremely neurotic?) Who knows where we will end up....but we'll have fun getting there!