Summer Infant prepping for Spring!

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With spring in full swing, organizing and getting ready for a new year (with a new addition!) has been crazy. The first thing on our list for the year was “bed-training” Tristan, our 21 month old son. He’s been either co-sleeping, in a crib, or a pack and play for his entire little person life, but with a baby on the way and his climbing skills only sharpening, we knew the days of confined sleeping were coming to a close. Tristan is very spirited and curious (read as: he likes to mess with things he knows he isn’t supposed to mess with, preferably in the most dangerous fashion possible). So, when the conversation of switching him to a Big Boy Bed came up, I insisted we get a video monitor to mount in the kids’ room before we put the pack and play away for good. 

We settled on the Summer Infant Secure Sight Handheld Video Monitor, which is a mouthful, but super easy to set up. It came with cord trappers, and a screw and wall anchor to mount it with. I mounted it above the kids’ window, so I could get a full view of the room. At $120 and using NO BATTERIES, HOORAY, it was a great value. If we’d had an extra hundred to spend on it, I’d have dropped the extra for their wifi model, which you can view from your smartphone and move the camera remotely. While those would be nice, the video monitor is seriously the best thing that has happened to toddler room sharing. My kids are fairly certain I have X-ray vision now that I can just say “GET BACK IN BED” loudly without even opening the door to their room. I think I’m in love. 

This is my second Summer Infant purchase, my first was their ridiculously large (up to 12 ft) baby gate that has kept my computer safe from unexpected “PUSH THE LIGHT BUTTON” shut downs for 4 months now! Both are incredible products and I must say that for any purchases for baby #3, they’re going to be the first brand I look at.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful time enjoying this slight break in freezing temps, and starting Spring off with a bang! More DIY and organizational things will be coming soon. :)

Streamlining Life – All-In-One Organization Super Binder

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Today’s project started with a bit of inspiration from Clean Mama’s Start Here. series (who has infinitely cuter printables than the quick pages I made). In a desperate need for a more streamlined daily organization system, I grabbed a big three-ring binder, a pack of dividers, and a ridiculous amount of sheet protectors (for a whopping $7 total). Armed with Pinterest, PrintMaster, and an extra hour, I got to work.

 

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My Super Binder sections were Calendars, Coupons, Finances, Home, Garden, Kids, Projects, and Blog. My handwriting is atrocious. 

I started with narrowing down and then prioritizing (based on daily use) which sections I would actually use. Store-bought daily planners usually have all sorts of junk like phone book and unwieldy note sections that I never use. Instead, I opted for something I would find far more versatile and give me the monthly calendar view I prefer. 

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I placed a 1/3 page notes section at the top of my monthly calendar, and set up the calendar in a sheet protector so each month would open to the left of the binder. To the right of each month I put a handful of regular ruled notebook paper for extra jotting space.

I really like having unlimited note space for each month without having to crowd my actual monthly calendar, or fool with a monthly AND weekly calendar. 

For the coupon section, I simply threw in three full-page sheet protectors to start with, and separated my coupons into sheets that worked for me. To the casual couponer, this could mean “Regular use items”, “Unusual purchases” and “One time use”, while the more advanced probably already have their own binder system that can be transferred. 

Finances is where I really started getting into quick-glance vs. detail.

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Obviously, go with headers that work best for your situation. One big thing I didn’t include (as it doesn’t apply to us right now) is a mortgage section.

This I set up as a spreadsheet, with our checking and savings balances next to an estimate on our remaining car, medical, college, and “miscellaneous” debt. If you have separate savings accounts for college funds or anything else, you may want to list them individually to keep a closer eye on the monthly or weekly deposits. Set up rows that work for you: if you make monthly payments/deposits, use monthly rows. We pay different things weekly, so a weekly row system works better for us.

My “Home” and “Garden” sections included cover pages with weekly and monthly tasks, with more ruled paper for extra things that may need attention. Any big projects went on notebook paper in the “Projects” section to be tackled individually. “Kids” just had ruled paper for quick notes: crafts I want to try, appointments, milestones, and miscellaneous “WE NEED MORE SOCKS” jotting. 

So, what can you do to get more organized in an hour?
Tell me! Let’s make this a streamlined year!

Gears Are Turning

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Alright, loves, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I’m booting up again, after almost an entire year without internet! How did I survive?? Anyhow, I have lots of new projects to work on and share, including recipes I’ve picked up, DIY projects I’ve been playing with, some cold-weather sewing, and preparation for our big homesteading gardens! 

This past year has been, as I predicted, a grand bundle of wonderful, and a healthy portion of crazy. I made the transition from working mom to stay-at-home, thanks to Anthony’s unpredictable work hours in the prestigious field of Mortuary Sciences. He’s really settled into this new job with ease, and it’s gotten to where I can’t imagine him doing anything else. 

It’s been both delightful and mind-boggling to watch Zoey and Tristan establish their own personalities and behaviors. Zoey is very creative and loves learning about doctors and bodies, the stars and weather, and can’t get enough coloring. Tristan can’t get enough of food, music, and engineering complex structures to get into things he should not be getting into. He also has a crush on Nani from Lilo and Stitch, who just happens to be one of my favorite cartoon characters of all time. 

Being at home has been a great experience for me, and has given me the time to learn new things and delve deeper into activities that I enjoy but didn’t have the hours for before. I am so very excited to share this journey with you in the coming months. Until then, peace, love, and Pinterest!

Cosmo VoxBox 2012!

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So things have been pretty crazy lately! On top of the holidays, we’re going to be moving again in the next couple of weeks and my husband scored a nice salary job with benefits and all. Things are definitely looking up for us in the next year! With all the wonderful surprises we’ve had over the last couple of months, one that really made me feel great was my Cosmo VoxBox from Influenster!

Influenster is a great company dedicated to product reviews and suggestions. By joining, you have the opportunity to receive free items in “VoxBoxes” that are styled toward interests you have. It’s a really enjoyable program and I was completely pumped when I received my Cosmo VoxBox, the first one I’ve gotten so far!

Inside, I found a Gillette Venus Embrace razor with a Venus & Olay refill, Forever Red from Bath & Body Works, Ghirardelli Gourmet Milk Sea Salt Escape, and FriXion by Pilot Pen to try and review! So here we go!

 

Gillette Venus Embrace was an amazing razor. I have very sensitive skin and fine hair, so it’s hard for me to find a razor that is both effective and doesn’t tear the snot out of my skin. The Venus & Olay refill was even better, the moisturizing bars on either side of the head made shaving so smooth and friction-less that I couldn’t even feel the blades against my skin. Wonderfully refreshing and the husband has already been informed that I will be purchasing this razor ONLY from now on because it’s the only blade I’ve ever shaved with that didn’t give me any razor burn in the dead of winter. Congrats Gillette, you have made me a lifelong customer!

Forever Red from Bath & Body Works was a nice scent. I’m not a fan of flowery scents, however, and I am still pretty hung up on my perfume oils so while it is a really nice perfume, the combination just isn’t for me. I probably won’t be purchasing this based on the fact that I’m really really picky about my perfume. Sorry Bath & Body Works, I’ll still definitely come by for Cucumber Melon and Midnight Pomegranate, but Forever Red won’t be making my list.

Ghirardelli Gourmet Milk Sea Salt Escape was surprising. I’ve never been a big fan of sea salt in chocolate (mostly because it usually comes in dark chocolate and I’m not a big fan of dark chocolate) but this was great! This bar was very rich, but the milk chocolate was a light enough flavor that it wasn’t overpowering. One square was enough to curb sweet and salty cravings, though the sea salt was only a very subtle flavor. I absolutely love roasted almonds, so that was great. I’m always on the lookout for little treats that curb cravings without breaking the bank as far calories or blood sugar goes, and it was really refreshing to find a chocolate bar where one square was enough to satisfy and I can pretend the roasted almonds had enough protein to stave off trashing my blood sugar, right?? Right? Definitely looking for these at the grocery store on our next trip!

FriXion Pilot Pen: I’m a pen floozy. I just am. I love a pen that provides fluid writing and doesn’t end up being all scratchy. An erasable pen that actually erases well and has a nice bright ink that actually looks like pen is just icing on the cake. I spend a significant amount of my day writing, from shopping lists to to-do lists, from stories to quick jots, doodles, and don’t forget, I waitress. This pen was perfect and I love that they sent a pink one too. That allows some hope for a nice rich purple or blue, which I will be searching for when I hit the store next. I could not recommend this pen more. It writes with the boldness and fluidity of a gel pen, but erases easier than some of my pencils! As it erases by friction, rather than a standard eraser, you also don’t have to worry about the eraser getting all gunky or hard and giving out on you. Like I said, pen floozy.

 

All in all, I was thrilled with the items that I received in my Cosmo VoxBox, and I’m really looking forward to trying out new products from Influenster in the future!

 

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes!

A Pleasant Night In

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So things have been pretty crazy hectic around here for a while with both of us working full time and trying to juggle that with the catastrophic disaster that comes with having a 2 year old and a 4 month old who has decided that scooting about is top notch.

Occasionally, there are breaks in the chaos, though they’re often the eye of the storm. Here’s to good food and a little bit of recharging to prep for the next thing!

Garden Tortellini Soup

  • 1 12oz can of evaporated milk
  • 20 oz vegetable stock (I used a no added salt brand)
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 cup of mushrooms, cut thick
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3 packs of Michelina’s Tortellini Alfredo with Broccoli (the individual serving sizes)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 1.5oz packet of Alfredo sauce mix
  • Black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese

In a large pot on low heat, mix water, sauce mix and vegetable broth slowly so that the sauce mix doesn’t clump. Then add the garlic, onion, and spices, stir well and add the Michelina’s. I didn’t even thaw these, just dropped them in frozen solid and let the sauce thaw gradually and mix with the rest of the broth. Cover and keep on low heat for about 20 minutes. I used this time to wash the spinach and cut mushrooms. Add the mushrooms, spinach, and evaporated milk, and cover and simmer for another 20. Serve with black pepper and Parmesan cheese.

This makes about 4-6 servings, and is both light and surprisingly filling for a vegetarian dish.

The unique challenges of having a blended family

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The princess has decided lots of things over the last two weeks.

  • Princesses only wear clothes they deem pretty enough.
  • Dresses and poofy skirts are the only things pretty enough for princesses to wear.
  • If mommy puts pants on or goes near the clean laundry pile, she is clearly trying to escape.
  • If mommy goes to the closet, she clearly needs wardrobe assistance. Princesses should always pick mommy’s clothes to the proper princess standard. See the item above.
  • The baby eats mommy but it’s okay as long as the princess is overseeing to make sure the baby doesn’t accidentally eat mommy in a way that is ouchie.
  • Freckles are ouchies.
  • Breakfast is for losers.
  • Screaming is extremely effective.
  • Cheese is the only important food group.
  • What used to be the favorite breakfast food, apples & cinnamon oatmeal, does not have cheese. See items above.
  • Anthony’s name is now daddy.
  • Mommy’s house is “home”.
  • Cows may say “mooooo” but baby cows say “Awwwwwww”

Princess Zoey has officially started calling Anthony daddy. I feel like I’m treading in an emotional minefield. This is a huge development, especially as her attitude towards him has pretty much been that of “you are my substitute mommy until mommy is here and then I act like you are the prince of darkness and you hang me upside down by my toes and make me eat vegetables”. We had a long talk about this when we decided to get married and both agreed that it would be Zoey’s decision what she wanted to call him and when. I’ve referred to him as “Anthony” to her until we started getting into the gray area. A couple of weeks ago we were sitting on the couch and she pointed to him on my phone background.

“Who’s that?”

“That’s Anthony, baby,” I replied. She made her thinking face that she picked up from him, screwing her mouth around to make it look like she’s chewing on her lip.

“Who’s that? Daddy?” She said, pointing again.

“Is it daddy?” I asked her. She thought for a moment again and then nodded.

“Daddy.” The word didn’t appear again that night, or most of the next day until Anthony was headed for the store. Zoey looked up at him as he was leaving and waved.

“Bye bye daddy.” For a moment I thought he was going to explode he smiled so big. She got forehead kisses and a “Bye bye baby.”

Until she went back to her papa’s, I continued to refer to him as Anthony to her, worried that if I switched too soon I would be making a change she wasn’t comfortable with yet. The next Monday she surprised me with continuing to call him Daddy. We made the transition as well, and now Anthony is “Daddy”. We refer to Isrrael as “Papa” here to avoid confusing her, but she doesn’t seem to be having any trouble with it.

Of course, Mommy is still preferred to snuggle with over Daddy, but her feelings toward him are easy to see. She’s sad and wants to text or call him if he leaves for work before she wakes up, and asks after him when she deems he’s been at the store for too long. It’s a delicate balance, and one that will continue to be delicate for a long time, but at least she’s setting her own pace.

And papa invited me (plural!) to the birthday party he’s throwing for her. We’ve also managed to have several casual conversations. Can you say “progress”?

At the rate she’s picking up new words lately, I wouldn’t be surprised if Zoey could!