Fun with National Day: Today is National Argyle Day!

file0001631089542.jpgI bought this calendar a few weeks ago, and it lists several non-holiday “days” each day. I thought I’d share some with you each month.

I love “National Days“- they are so much fun, and some of them are really silly. It’s a great way to get the kids out of a funk, especially when there are no holidays or fun days for a long stretch of time. It’s also a fun way to teach kids little facts. For example, Pancake Day usually coincides with the start of Lent (Shrove Tuesday) .

Today is Argyle day. We are all celebrating by wearing argyle socks. Mr. has a vast array of argyle socks. I bought him these last year.

It’s also national Bubble Bath Day! The kids will be celebrating later with a “disco bath”- that’s a bubble bath with a few glow sticks thrown in. Even the big kid can’t resist a disco bath. In addition to this bubble bath, which the kids love, the big kid is a fan of these bath bombs.

Friday the 10th is Houseplant appreciation day, I’m not sure what we’ll do to celebrate, but if I figure it out, I’ll post about it on Facebook or Instagram.

My Favorites: Fall Edition

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For some of us, fall means changing leaves, cool weather, and busting out sweaters. For those of us in the South West, it means nothing has changed. EXCEPT: Santa Ana Winds, and fire danger is LIEK WHOAH.

None the less, there are some things that to me mean that fall is here! And here are just a few of my favorites:

Torani Sugar Free Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup– I love this stuff, especially in hot coffee with a little half and half. It’s like a cinnamon dolce latte but without the big price tag.

This stuff is also pretty tasty in oatmeal too.

And a bottle this size will last a few months.

24oz_Cup_Plain_WM_IcelandicCreamSkyr-400x400.pngSiggi’s Plain Skyr Whole Milk (Yogurt)– This stuff is THE BEST yogurt I’ve ever had. I love Greek Yogurt, but it’s got nothing on Siggi’s. It’s thicker, richer, and creamier than any other yogurt. It’s a great substitute for sour cream, and when mixed with fruit and granola (Like this stuff from Bear Naked– which is another one of my new favorite things), it’s heaven.

Slow Cooker Liners– Fall usually means that your Slow Cooker/Crockpot gets a lot of use. Nothing sucks more than scrubbing crusty stuff off the bottom of a slow cooker.

Enter the Slow Cooker Liner- it makes clean up soooo much easier. It’s kinda like a baking bag, but less crinkly.

Santa Ana winds and fire danger. Not fun for the environment. Also, not fun for people. The hot dry air makes your skin dry, it makes your lips chapped and cracked. UGH.  My favorite product hands down to combat the dry weather shenanigans:

Bag BalmIt’s awesome for your hands, feet, and lips. Slather some on your feet, cover with some cotton socks, and hop into bed. The next morning, your feet will look and feel a million times better.

 

Talk Back: What are some of your favorite items this fall?

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Frugal Home Repairs…

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Drip…Drip…Drip. Just the thought of that sound gets my hackles up! Recently, our master bathroom faucet started to drip. In a matter of a few days, the drip became a tiny stream.

Armed with our trusty Home Depot Repair guide, I looked through the plumbing section and found the section that applied. I headed off to Home Depot to buy a faucet puller.

Sometimes home repair manuals aren’t enough. Thankfully there are so many great videos on Youtube. These videos are often made by professional plumbers or tool/hardware companies. They can be a very valuable resource, especially if you are a visual learner.

This is the video that was the most helpful. Step by step directions, helpful tips, and it was realistic as to how much work it would take.

I am a DIY-er from way back, but even I know my limitations. Working as a team, we were able to take the faucet apart, install the new part and put it back together. Now it’s dripping a lot less.

The problem isn’t 100% fixed, but we’re still working on it. That’s the other thing about DIY home repair- Sometimes it’s not a quick 5-minute fix. Sometimes it’s a multiple-day, multiple trip to the hardware store, watching lots of Youtube videos, googling the same question in different ways.

This was the 3rd home repair I had tackled in the past 6 months. The other two were pretty easy, relativity speaking (replacing the flushing mechanisms in two separate toilets- both were different).

Here is my advice if you endeavor to tackle home repairs:

  • Google is your friend. Look up information before you get started.
  • Youtube can be a lifesaver! Check out multiple videos, especially videos made by professionals.
  • Check out the home repair book selection at your local library. While I linked to the book we used on Amazon, most branch libraries have all sorts of books on home repair.
  • Ask the dudes at the hardware store. The guy in the plumbing section of our local Home Depot told me he was a plumber, but he retired and picked up a couple shifts at Home Depot a week to keep busy. He gave me a bunch of tips, talked me through the process, and congratulated us on doing a job ourselves.
  • Hit up your tribe! Post a request for help on Social Media, shoot an email out to your peeps. You would be surprised how many people have done their own home repairs and may have tools to borrow, tips to share, or can lend a hand.

Talk Back: Are you a DIY Home pro, or are you intimidated by a toolbelt? Brag about your best home repair!

 

 

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4 Fresh, Healthy Smoothie Recipes Kids will Love!

37f39aabb6da4ee265e271d175c59991.jpgWe have smoothies a lot. It’s a good way to get fruit and/or veggies into the kids without any fuss.

It’s important to have a good blender that can handle fruits/veggies and ice. I love our new Calphalon Blender. I received it through one of my review programs.

We also have reusable shake straws– they are perfect for thick smoothies.

Here are the four recipes that my kids love!

Copycat Strawberries Gone Bananas (from Jamba): 1 cup apple juice (or milk), 1 frozen banana, 1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

The Big Orange Smoothie: This one is the big kids’ favorite and is a version of one of his Jamba Juice favorites that is no longer on the menu. 1 cup orange juice, 1 cup frozen peaches, 1/2 c. frozen mango pulp, 1/2 cup chopped carrots, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

Green Berry Surprise: The surprise is the spinach. You can’t see it or taste it! 1 cup water & a scoop of protein powder (Or milk of your choice), 1 cup frozen berries, 1 frozen banana, 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

Tropical Freeze: 1 cup juice (I like to mix orange and the pineapple juice from the can if you used canned pineapples until it’s 1 cup), 1 frozen banana, 1/2 c. frozen mango pulp, 1/2 cup pineapple,  1/2 c. frozen peaches, 1/2 cup ice (or more, depending on how thick you like your smoothies). Blend all ingredients- makes 1 BIG smoothie or 2 kid-sized.

The nice thing about smoothies is that you can use fresh or frozen fruit or veggies, any kind of juice, it’s all up to you!

Liquids:

  • Milk: Dairy, Oat, Hemp, Soy, Almond, or other nut milk. Your Choice.
  • Juice (Apple, Orange, and Carrot are popular)
  • Water and a scoop of protein powder
  • Water

Some of our favorite fruits include:

  • Bananas (I peel and slice overripe bananas and put them in ziploc bags, so they are ready to use!)
  • Strawberries- 99 Cents Only and Dollar Tree both stock 12 oz bags of strawberries. If you can’t find them in season, this is a great alternative.
  • Peaches- I usually buy them frozen.
  • Mangoes- 99 Cents Only sells Mango pulp, which is just the good parts of mango formed into a brick and frozen. I love mangoes, but I hate peeling and slicing them.
  • Mixed berries- 99 Cents Only sells mixed berries, which is usually strawberries, blueberries, blackberries.
  • Pineapple- Either canned in its own juice or frozen chunks. Frozen Pineapple is good straight out of the bag. Fresh pineapple is a lot of work to process just to turn into smoothies.

Tasty Veggies we enjoy in our smoothies:

  • Carrots- I usually chop them up small so they are easily incorporated.
  • Spinach- It blends in well and isn’t noticeable.

 

Talk Back: I’d love to hear what your favorite smoothie flavors are!

 

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Funovation Panel is looking for Members!

I’ve been a member of the Funovation Panel for a few years now, and we’ve tested several toys for them, and won a couple gift cards!

  • The Funovation Panel is a community of families that provide their feedback about new toys, videos, images, and much more. We’re looking for new members to help us understand what families want from toys today.
  • Members are invited to participate in projects such as in-home toy tests, early screening of TV shows, trend identification, and providing input on toys and ideas in the early stages of development. Help shape what will appear in stores and on screens across the world to better suit your family!
  • Also, to show our appreciation, for every Funovation survey you complete, you will be entered into a drawing for one of three $50 Amazon gift cards. That starts with this one, so click below!

Easy Home Maintenance: Cleaning Your Box Fans!

Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 7.35.48 PM.pngRecently, we noticed that our box fans weren’t providing much cool air. Before dropping over $150 to replace them all, I decided to see if cleaning them would improve their airflow capabilities. After all, they were still functioning mechanically, they weren’t putting out the air flow they used to.

With temperatures in excess of 80 degrees almost all year round here, box fans are a needed appliance in our home. We can’t go without them, as running the AC is cost-prohibitive.

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Oh dear.

These fans are all about a year old, and while I have vacuumed the front and back of them previously (I do it once a week), they had never been taken apart and cleaned.

Gather all the tools needed before you start. For this job you will need:

  • A sheet to cover your work area.
  • A screwdriver (our fans all have Philips head screws)
  • A dish to hold the screws while the fan is disassembled
  • All-purpose cleaner. I used Comet Lilac Bliss- it’s what we had in the house, and it worked really well.
  • A stiff-bristled brush. I used the brush I use to scrub the soap scum/hard water deposits out of the bathtubs (like this)
  • Rags or really scratchy paper towels. You need something that will trap the dirt.
  • Vacuum Cleaner with a brush attachment.
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Before: This stuff was tough to scrub off!
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Once again, my Dyson Vacuum saves the day!
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After: So fresh and so clean!

Here are my tips for deep cleaning your fans-

    1. UNPLUG THEM! It seems like a no-brainer, but I’m going to remind you to not clean appliances that are still plugged in.
    2. Remove the front and back plastic pieces of the fan. Ours were held together with 6 screws.
    3. To remove the dirt/fuzz/cat/hair/whatever grossness that was on the fan front and back, I placed them in the bathtub and sprayed them down with all-purpose cleaner. I allowed them to sit for about 20 minutes while I cleaned the fan blade and fan case.
    4. Using all-purpose cleaner and a rag, carefully spray and wipe the fan blades, both front and back sides.
    5. Using the vacuum hand tool with the brush attachment, clean the interior of the fan case, as well as the backside of the fan motor. I was amazed at the amount of fuzz, dirt, and hair was around the intakes for the fans.
    6. Once the fan blades and fan case are clean, return to the bathroom and scrub the fan front and back. Rinse and dry completely.
    7. Reattach the front and back to the fan case, plug in and test out. All 6 fans worked 100% better after being cleaned. This is now a chore that has been added to the end of season home cleaning list.
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Re-assembled and working like new!

Cleaning all of the fans took about 2 hours, and that included time to make snacks for two very starving kids, let the cat in and out a few times and help with math homework. Without distractions, I could have gotten done in about an hour.

In the future, I may invest in some of these Box Fan Filters, which until today I had no idea existed.

Taking care of appliances, like these box fans is just another way that we are able to extend the useful life of often-used items in our homes, and that saves us money in the long run.

Talk Back: What types of small things do you do to extend the life of your small appliances?

Top 10 Herbs and Spices needed for a Well-Stocked Kitchen!

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I get a lot of people who ask about my spice rack- what do I keep in my kitchen, since we cook at home so much. I made a list of what I use, then I polled my Facebook friends. Below is a reflection of what we use most at home, plus what most of my foodie friends use too all combined into a handy dandy top ten list!

I prefer spices and herbs from Penzey’s– They have the best quality and a wide variety. They tend to be a little more expensive, but they are very high-quality herbs and spices, and you will use much less than their cheaper counterparts. If you have a Penzey’s store near you, it’s worth checking out. Join their mailing list- they frequently have coupons for freebies and really good deals (and free shipping sometimes too if you don’t live close to a store). Penzey’s also sells their spices on Amazon!

  1. Mural of Flavor
  2. Cinnamon
  3. Cumin
  4. Chili Powder
  5. Italian Seasoning
  6. Oregano
  7. Ginger
  8. Bay Leaves
  9. Paprika
  10. Turkish Seasoning

These are of course in addition to Table Salt, Kosher Salt, a pepper mill for freshly cracked pepper, roasted garlic, granulated garlic, toasted onions, onion powder, and air-dried shallots. For me, these are pantry staples and every kitchen should have them, as they are used in so many recipes, in addition to the 10 above.

 

Talk Back: What are some of your favorite seasonings?