Monday, September 30, 2013

Messy Monday: How to Clean Your Mattress

I change my linens every Sunday. It's a habit I got into a few years ago & kept. Another habit I try to keep is cleaning my mattress every month. After all, we always hear about how many dust mites live in our mattresses, right? If not, you don't even want to know. Just start cleaning. But I promise you, it's a lot easier than you think.

Please excuse my ugly mattress, it was a gift many years ago. I'm hoping Santa will bring me a new one this year.

As long as you're not cleaning up any stains, simply sprinkling some baking soda while your linens are in the wash will do the trick. (Baking soda will absorb moisture, dirt & odor.)  Just be sure you sweep up the baking soda very slowly, so that you are able to get into all the crevices. If you'd like, you can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the baking soda.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Simple Sunday: Playground Antics

My oldest, just hanging out...

This is what my son considers "taking a break"...

I just wanted a good picture. She wasn't having it...

I wanted to play too!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Snacktastic Saturday: Simple Doughnuts

I had a HUGE craving for some doughnuts today, but I didn't have the time to make the recipe I usually do (maple cream sticks, yummy). So I did the next best thing.

How To:

•biscuit dough
•granulated sugar
•oil for frying

- You can slice the biscuit dough into quarters or keep it whole, just toss in a bit of oil to brown it a bit.
- Toss in sugar while still hot.
- Let cool & enjoy!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fun Friday: Chalkboard Paint Pumpkins

I know it doesn't look like much, but those painted black pumpkins are actually painted with chalkboard paint. (And yes, it's still a bit wet.)
I picked our Jack Be Littles from our garden & decided to paint the largest three with chalkboard paint. This way, the kids can "paint" their pumpkins a different way every day.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Think It Thursday: Jury Duty

I'm considering it an early birthday gift from the local courts, Petit Jury Duty. A gift that I really could do without. You see, all I can think of is what I'm going to do with my kids. I have school/bus schedules for the oldest 2 & then a 1 yr old. And being a SAHM, no one assumes that I would ever need a sitter, let alone for all day. But to be "on call" for jury duty is probably worse. That means there's no concrete planning until after 5:00 PM the day before.

Obviously, I need to do more thinking. And soon because I only have a little under 3 weeks.

Green Virgin Products: Soap Nuts

If you've been around my blog long enough, you know that I'm a huge fan of homemade cleaners. But sometimes, I just don't have the time to make more. So I have to find a great alternative to have on hand, preferably something all natural.

I've had the pleasure of using Soap Nuts from Green Virgin Products over the past few weeks & have been completely amazed. You see, a soap nut is the fruit of the Chinese Soap Berry Tree that contain a natural soap called saponin. You actually wash your clothes with the outer shell which has been dried out (the inside berries have been removed). And Green Virgin Products only have sapindus Mukorossi Soap Nuts available, which are the largest in size & have the highest saponin content.

View this photo on Instagram.

With Soap Nuts, you don't need any fabric softener or dryer sheets. Even though I usually make both of those also, it's nice not having to bother with them. What else is nice, is that my clothes come out clean & they even smell like it. Of course if the job is really big & would need a pre-treater, I would still recommend using one. (Green Virgin Products has one of those too.)

The hardness of your water & whether you have a front loader or top loader washing machine have an impact on how many Soap Nuts you use & for how many loads. I have very hard water & a top loader, but have found that 5 whole Soap Nuts (broken in half for optimum use) are good for 5 loads. Just place all of the halves in the included wash bag & toss it in. It's that easy! Actually, the only difficult part can be finding the wash bag after the load is done (that took some getting used to). And just as a tip, you do not need to tie a knot in the wash bag. I learned that lesson myself & spent a few minutes trying to get the bag open to change the Soap Nuts.

Let's not forget the cost effectiveness. I received a 250 gram bag (.55 lb) which states 83 wash loads & retails for $10.95. Even though I haven't been keeping track, I think I'll get slightly more wash loads than that. And without the need for a fabric softener, the savings is huge! Actually, I think it just may be more of a savings than homemade cleaners. Especially when you can use Soap Nuts for washing more than just your clothes (like vehicles, pets, hair, floors, etc.)

Keep up with the latest from Green Virgin Products on Facebook & Twitter.

**Disclaimer: I received these products to try from Green Virgin Products & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Bluapple Giveaway Winners!

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Congrats to our winners! Be sure to check your emails.

Thank you to all who entered. Be sure you stick around for more great giveaways!  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Work It Wednesday: Track Your Training with Tribesports & a Full Body Dumbbell Workout

Tribesports has a great new feature that allows you to track your training. You can even save different sessions as "workouts" & then go back to them at any time. I don't know about you, but as someone who never seems to get more than 10 minutes in at a time (if I'm lucky), being able to pick up where I left off or just a few that I really need to work on, is perfect!

And with all the talk of lifting that I've heard lately, here's a Full Body Dumbbell Workout for you that can be done at home or at the gym.

Don't forget to track your progress!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Ranch Beans

First, let me clarify. These beans are not ranch flavored. The "ranch" actually refers to a cattle ranch. And cowboys, but Ranch Beans had a better ring to it than Cowboy Beans.

These hearty beans cook up in the crock pot to give you a warm meal after a full day in the wonderful fall weather.

How To:

•1 lb hamburger, cooked & crumbled
•1 lb. bacon,  cooked & diced
•2 cans baked beans
•1 can kidney beans, rinsed & drained
•1 can butter or great northern beans, rinsed & drained
•brown sugar
•1 medium onion, diced
•salt & pepper

- Combine all ingredients in crock pot using desired amounts of ketchup & brown sugar.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hrs. or high for 4-6 hrs.
- Best served with crusty bread.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Messy Monday: DIY Spider Repellent

I adore fall! But I don't like the spiders that come with the season. I know fall doesn't actually bring spiders. But it does bring them into my house for warmth from the cooler temps. And seeing as how I have three small kids running around everywhere, I have to be careful about what I spray.

How To:

•1Tbsp. lemon scented dish soap
•2Tbsp. antiseptic mouthwash 
•1/2Tbsp. ammonia
•2C. water, at room temperature
•spray bottle

- Carefully combine all ingredients in spray bottle & gently shake to combine. 
*For use outdoors*
-Spray around home where spiders may get in at. 

Bubble and Bee: Pit Putty

More & more these days we become aware of why we should use organic health and beauty products. One of the main ones I've heard quite a bit about recently, is deodorant.

Most deodorants you can buy at the store are in fact antiperspirants or a deodorant antiperspirant mixture. Antiperspirants contain aluminum sulfate, which is what keeps you from perspiring. But as wonderful as that sounds, let's think about it for a minute. Perspiring is our body's natural way of cooling itself. So we wouldn't want to wrap ourselves in an aluminum blanket, right? (Anyone else just get the mental image of a baked potato?) So obviously you wouldn't want to line your underarms with it either. And what happens when you apply antiperspirant after you just nicked yourself shaving?!

I had the pleasure of trying Pit Putty (Orange Vanilla scent), made by Bubble and Bee. This certified organic deodorant is made from just a handful of ingredients.
 •Organic Arrowroot Powder: to absorb perspiration.
•Aluminum Free Baking Soda: to block the increasing pH of the underarm to lower the likeliness of bacterial growth.
•Organic Coconut Oil: to hold the ingredients together.
•Organic Orange Essential Oil
•Organic Vanilla Extract

I was a bit confused when I received my Pit Putty because the package itself was rather big for a stick of deodorant. The reason being that it was thoroughly sealed with ice packs inside. You see, the coconut oil that holds the deodorant together is a solid below 76 degrees & a liquid above. So to help keep the coconut oil at the right temperature, Bubble and Bee has a "Summer Shipping" option available. Likewise, in warmer weather, I kept my Pit Putty in the refrigerator to keep it from liquefying since I don't have central air in my house. The only issue that arose from that, was the twist mechanism locked up. So I pulled it out of the refrigerator for a while, but it took a lot longer than I thought it would to work properly. Occasionally I would also have to reshape it if it began to crumble from not using it at the proper temperature. It was a bit much to keep everything in perfect working order, but well worth it during our humid Ohio weather.

View this photo on Instagram!

Enough with the other details, how was it?! (I know you were totally thinking that.) My Pit Putty was amazing! The first thing I noticed was the scent. You could distinctly smell both the orange & the vanilla, but also a hint of coconut that gave it a tropical flair. But the real amazement was after applying my Pit Putty. I could instantly feel it absorbing my perspiration. I don't think I've ever felt so...dry! And a little bit went a long way too. Most days one application was enough, but others I needed to re-apply if I was doing something extra strenuous in the humidity. 

You can barely tell that this was after I had to reshape it a bit.

Paraben & aluminum-free, propylene glycol-free, vegan, not tested on animals, it works & it's fun! What's not to love?!

Keep up with the latest from Bubble and Bee on Facebook & Twitter.

**Disclaimer: I received these products to try from Bubble and Bee & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Simple Sunday: Bedtime Reading

This is how we get ready for bedtime. Big sister reading a story from her library book (with crazy, unbrushed damp hair) & a bite of bread.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Snacktastic Saturday: PB&J Ice Cream

This really needs no introduction...

Can you see all of the PB&J goodness?!

How To:

•vanilla ice cream
•peanut butter (I'm a fan of creamy)
•mixed fruit ice cream topping

- Stir to combine desired amount of all ingredients in a bowl. 


Friday, September 20, 2013

Fun Friday: Crayon Sun Catcher

I always get a ton of light through the back door when the sun is setting. So today I thought I'd take some of the broken crayons we had to make a sun catcher of some sorts with the kids. 

It doesn't look the best & from this angle, it doesn't eve look like it's light outside (it is, I swear to you). Of course the sun went behind the clouds & it started raining about 2 min. after we were done. So no word yet on if it even works or not yet, but the kids & I had messy fun making it!

Wafu Japanese Dressings

I love going to Japanese Steakhouses. Unfortunately, I haven't been to one for years. Actually, my family hasn't even dined out at a restaurant since my 21 month old was just a little thing in a car seat. So with three young kids who have different concepts of cooperation, we usually settle on take-out. And we all know that the terms "Japanese Steakhouse" & "take-out", just don't go together.

Now I can enjoy a Japanese Steakhouse inspired salad at home! Wafu Japanese Dressings are made of high quality natural ingredients & are amazingly delicious.

View this photo in Instagram

Wasabi Edamame is perfect with steak! I made a salad of spring mix & topped it with carrots, radishes, snow peas, red & green onions, medium-rare grilled steak, crispy wonton wrappers & of course a bit of Wasabi Edamame Dressing. The taste was amazing! Much better than I was anticipating.

Next up, Ginger Carrot. On each bottle is a tag with a suggested recipe. This dressing said it made the perfect dip when a bit of Siracha was added. So of course I made a Shrimp Egg Roll Salad (store bought egg rolls though because I'm not that good...yet). I kept my lettuce pretty simple with some crunchy radishes, carrots, red & green onions. Honestly, I questioned how good it would be because I can be a bit persnickety about my sauces. The end result...well, I need to buy more Ginger Carrot Dressing because I'm completely out!

The Original Sesame was perfect for my Japanese inspired Chicken Caesar Salad. And I used the Original Sesame Light on a cold noodle salad made from leftover spaghetti noddles, cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms & green onions. Sadly for you, I inhaled both of these long before I even thought to take a picture. Sorry.

Wafu Dressings are cholesterol free (with the exception of Original Sesame which is low cholesterol), peanut free & kosher. Which  means I can get my Japanese Steakhouse fix whenever I want to without feeling guilty about it. Except I might feel a bit guilty about not wanting to share....nah! 

Also available in Natural Wafu, which are all gluten free & GMO free. You can find the Natural Wafu Dressings in Whole Food stores in the mid Atlantic. Or you can order Wafu Japanese Dressings online.  

Keep up with the latest from Wafu on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.

**Disclaimer: I received these products to try from Wafu Japanese Dressings & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Think It Thursday: My Favorite Time of Year!

I found this on Pinterest & it pretty much sums it all up for me. Although I could do with or without the football. The only thing missing is my birthday!

What do you love about fall?

The Bluapple: Review & Giveaway

I know I'm not the only one to notice the increasing prices of produce! And that's not even getting organic. But with fresh fruits & veggies such an important part of our daily diets, there's really not much we can do about it. (Unless you live in the perfect locale for a year round garden.) But there is something we can do to make sure we're not throwing our money away.

Produce releases ethylene gas, which accelerates the ripening & spoilage process. We all remember something about that from Chemistry class, right? But did you know that different fruits & vegetables omit different amounts of ethylene gas? This can make other fruits & veggies that are well into the ripening stage, spoil in what seems like no time at all.

(Excuse the reflection.) View this photo on Instagram

The Bluapple contains a packet of active ingredient granules that absorb the ethylene gas omitted by your produce. Once absorbed, it is completely harmless & will have no effect on your fruits & veggies. The Bluapple works best in contained spaces (like the crisper drawers in your refrigerator) & will begin working for a full 3 months after you open the package. On their website, The Bluapple allows you to enter the date of first use, then they will send you a reminder when it's time to change the granule packet inside. And here's a tip, it's recommended that you open your old granule packet & use it as a fertilizer for your houseplants!

I've been using The Bluapple in my crisper drawers for a little while now. Most noticeably I've seen a huge difference with berries, tomatoes, lettuce & other leafy greens (I believe in a salad a day). I don't know how many times I've bought strawberries before with the intention of using them in 2-3 days, only they don't quite make it that long, so I have to buy more. But now they seemed to be as good as the day I bought them after 2-3 days!

Want to start saving money by extending the life of your produce?

The Bluapple will send three lucky winners a Bluapple pack of their own! The giveaway will conclude on at 12:00 a.m. est on Thursday 9/26/13. Winners will be announced via rafflecopter & in a separate blog post which will be published no later than 9:00 a.m. on Thursday 9/26/13. Winners will also be notified via email & announced on the Smith and Blessings facebook page. Winners will have 24 hours to submit shipping information, which will then be passed on to The Bluapple for distribution of product. If 24 hours has lapsed, a new winner will be picked & then will also have 24 hours to submit their information. *Giveaway open to U.S. & Canada residents. 

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Keep up with the latest from The Bluapple on facebook and twitter!

*Available nationally at retail locations such as Whole Foods and Bed Bath & Beyond, as well as online.

 **Disclaimer: I received these products to try from The Bluapple & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

UGLee Pen Giveaway Winner!

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Congrats to Lisa A.! Be sure you respond with your shipping info within 24 hrs.!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Work It Wednesday: Accessorize!

I'm a fan of simple pieces, especially come fall. There's just something about jeans & a solid tee (long or short sleeved) with a pair of boots that screams comfort. But of course "plain" can get boring, so the best way to give your wardrobe a new look is by accessorizing.

I'm not certain if this would be considered a bauble necklace or not (to me, baubles are round), but it has one of falls hot color Not to mention the fact that it really pops on a basic black tee. (White too.)

This is by far my favorite necklace though. Even if for the only reason that it can be quickly grabbed & put on over my head. A long chain necklace is the perfect compliment to any long tunic style shirt. Not to mention it helps keep the kids occupied when we get stuck at the doctor's office for too long. 

 So don't be afraid to grab the pieces that pop out at you! You'll definitely get a chance to show them off!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tasty Tuesday: Easy Ziti

On occasion, we have a few hectic nights during the week where we have to go as soon as everyone is done with dinner. Of course these nights usually only happen when I've had a very busy day & don't have a lot of time to make dinner before the starving natives get home. My go to dish when the situation arises...Easy Ziti!

How To:

•1 box ziti
•1 lb. hamburger
•desired add-ins such as diced onion, minced garlic, etc. (optional)
• 45oz. jar pasta sauce
•16oz. container cottage cheese
•desired seasonings such as salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, etc. (optional)
•shredded mozzarella cheese
• cooking spray
•9x13 glass baking dish

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Spray 9x13 dish with cooking spray & set aside.
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook ziti till al dente. Drain & set aside.
- In a large skillet, brown hamburger. This is where you would cook any add-ins if desired. Drain & set aside.
- In the same large pot you cooked the pasta in, mix together pasta, hamburger, pasta sauce, cottage cheese & desired seasonings. You can also add some shredded mozzarella if you want a really cheesy Ziti.
- Top with shredded mozzarella & bake in your 400 degree preheated oven for 20 minutes.
- Place under broiler for just a few minutes to brown the cheese on top. Just be sure you keep an eye on it.
- Best served with garlic bread & a small side salad.


Ozeri Deluxe Milk Frother in Stainless Steel, with Stand and 4 Frothing Attachments

Working in a Cafe before, I acquired quite the taste for specialty coffees. I still make most of them quite often, especially mochas. However, if I wanted a latte full of froth I'd have to go on a bit of a drive to buy one. But not anymore!

The Ozeri Deluxe Milk Frother, comes with a stand (perfect for keeping near my "beverage station") & 4 attachments. You get 2 frothing whisks, 1 egg beater (which comes in handy when the kids want to help make scrambled eggs) & a cocktail mixer. All of which easily snap in & out of place. It also comes with two AA batteries so you don't have to wait to use it (thank goodness!). But the batteries did seem to be a bit on the weaker side. As soon as I switched them to my usual brand, I was getting an ample amount of froth in no time.

Look at all the froth!

I have only frothed 1% milk, but it is said that the Ozeri Deluxe Milk Frother can froth other milks such as soy, almond & coconut. Which is good, because I plan to experiment with my drinks. An orgeat latte with coconut milk sounds pretty good right about now, don't you think?

Pumpkin Spice Latte! (There's more froth than it looks like.) Find the recipe here.

Want one for yourself so you can satisfy your inner barista? You can find it on Amazon (for a very reasonable price too). 

 **Disclaimer: I received these products to try from Moderna Housewares/Ozeri & am simply sharing my personal opinion which may vary from yours. I was not compensated for this review.

Can Do Kid Giveaway Winner!

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Congrats to Rhea S.! Please be sure to check your email! 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Messy Monday: DIY Floor Cleaner

This happens to me all the time. I go to clean the floor, only I have no cleaner. Which of course is OK since I'd rather make my own anyways.

How To:

•1/4C. vinegar
•1/4C. Borax
•3Tbsp. baking soda
•1Tbsp. dish washing liquid
•10 drops tea tree oil
 •2 gallons warm hot water

-Mix all ingredients together.
-No need to rinse off of floor.


Years ago I had a minor knee injury. My kneecap popped out of place, but did a little damage that never healed properly when it popped back in. Being in my very early twenties then (barely), I didn't really see the need for surgery to repair it. Now that I'm in my early thirties, I occasionally feel that decision. Every now & then, depending on what I've been doing & the weather, my knee really bothers me. But being a busy SAHM of three, I really can't let that slow me down.

Introducing THERA°PEARL Knee Wrap! Pearl technology (comparable to "a bag of peas") helps send relief directly to the pain, while the opening over the kneecap helps keep you in motion. You can also choose cold or heat therapy (check out Hot/Cold 101 for which method suits your pain better), which last the full Dr. recommended 20 minutes.

 A couple weeks ago I ran a little too hard & felt it in my knee the next day. Over the course of the day, I'd pop the THERA°PEARL Knee Wrap in the microwave for 35 seconds & wear it for 20 minutes at a time. The large Velcro strap in the back helps guarantee that it stays in place, so you don't have to wrap it to keep it there. And let's not forget that it's actually quite comfortable considering. Which all means that I didn't miss a beat keeping after my brood.

Not quite convinced yet?

“We’re thrilled to partner with the NFLPA in developing products that impact a player’s training and recovery,” said Daniel Baumwald, President of THERA°PEARL. “Our products maximize targeted hot and cold therapy and are uniquely designed for athletes and athlete recovery. We are happy to make this technology available to the NFL players for
whom recovery is such a crucial part of the game.”

If it's good enough for a NFL player, it's good enough for me. After all, trudging loads of laundry up & down 3 flights of steps (along with the occasional child in the basket), while avoiding toys & other obstacles should be considered a sport. Shouldn't it?

Keep up on the latest from THERA°PEARL via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest & Google+.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Simple Sunday: Damien's 4th Birthday Party!

Let me start by saying that I am awful about taking pictures at parties. I always seem to be busy doing something else, including looking for my phone or the camera. But with the help of my sister-in-law, I did manage to get a few pictures of Damien's 4th Birthday Party.


He got TWO shirts that said "I hear you but I'm not listening"...PERFECT!

Almost managed to blow out all the candles. Almost.