Monday, September 24, 2012

Glade Expressions: A Review

As a Bzz Agent, I get to try new products from time to time and give honest reviews and feedback.  I recently got picked to try and review the new Glade Expressions Fragrance Mist and Glade Expressions Oil Diffuser.  I received coupons to pick up both starter kits for free.

For the Glade Expressions Oil Diffuser, I chose the Fuji apple and cardamom spice scent.  It is a delightfully sweet and spicy scent I felt was just right for the start of the fall season.  The holder is a decorative  piece that comes in either white/black or wood/black to fit just about any decor.  It requires no batteries and is NOT a plug in...which I love.  The oil is in a container held in the bottom piece and the reed fits in the middle of the holder and just snaps right into the oil container.  I do like that the oil is contained to prevent spills and damages.  That being said, I have very curious children, so I played it safe and put it in our master bedroom.  It didn't take very long for the fragrance to fill the room.  I was really surprised, as I have tried other diffusers and I really couldn't smell anything unless I got right upon them.  It's supposed to last up to 30 days, which means I only have to replace the refills once a month.  It might last even longer...who knows?  I'll end with this...My son took his shower tonight in our bathroom and when he was finished, he asked, "Mom, what smells so good in here?"  Need I say more?  I will definitely continue buying the refills and can't wait to try the other scents available.

Here is our diffuser sitting on the counter.

As for the Glade Expressions Fragrance Mist, I chose the cotton & Italian mandarin scent.  I thought it was a light, clean fragrance good for everyday use.  It comes in a sleek, decorative container that you can leave sitting out, instead of hiding it inside the cabinets.  You just have to peel the plastic wrapping off of it when you get home, (and there is a perforated tab to get you started).  When you purchase the starter kit, a refill container already comes with it, but when you need to change it out, you just tap on the bottom, unscrew the top on the refill and insert the new one inside the container.  To use, you just squeeze around the top.  It only takes just one or two quick sprays to work.  You don't need to waist large amounts of it in order to smell it like other air fresheners and such things.  I gave a couple of quick sprays in the living room after a diaper change.  (Yeah, it was one of THOSE types of diaper changes.)  It really freshened the smell in the room and lasted for quite a while.  I have to say, I was very well pleased with the new Glade Expressions Fragrance Mist.  It also has several scents to choose from and I can't wait to try them all out. 

I chose to put ours on the shelf in the kids' bathroom.

The Glade Expressions Oil Diffuser and Fragrance Mist are definitely two products I can honestly recommend you try.  I know I am glad I had the chance to try them out and will most certainly  continue to use them in the future.  I really think you will like them, too.  

God bless!

*I was given these products to try and review for free.  I was not compensated nor required to give a certain spin.  I am only required to be honest, and my opinions are just own honest opinions.  *

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Enough Said Saturday: Career Day

Our co-op had a day for the kids to dress up like what they wanted to be when they grow up.
So, of course, I couldn't pick just one picture.  Enough Said.  :)

 My little ballerina.

My little soldier.

Ages 8yo and 6yo.  
I don't know what God's plans for their lives are yet, but I'm thankful for the journey.

God bless!

Our Homeschool Checklists

One thing I want to help instill in my children with their school work (and every area of their life,) is accountability and responsibility.  I can't always be there to make sure they get all their work done.  I do plan on them moving out of the day.  But, waiting until then to teach them how to be responsible is too late.  So, I start now, when they are young and can form good habits.

Which brings us to the checklists.  I like seeing a list, holding it in my hands, and being able to check it off.  It just gives me a feel of accomplishment and helps me stay on task.  So, last year, I made a check list of subjects for Buddy and Sweet Pea.  I told them they could do the subjects in any order they choose, they just had to check them off as the subject assignments were completed.

 The subjects go down and the days go across, so by Friday, they should have quite a few checks on their lists.  Some subjects, such as History and Science, are not done everyday, so there will be some blanks, but there should be more checks than blanks on a consistent basis.

At the time, Sweet Pea was still fond of getting marker all over her body and her clothes, so we used the new Crayola Dry Erase Crayons.  They are much friendlier with laundry than the regular dry erase markers and the kiddos loved it.  They would use a different color for each day, and sometimes for each subject.  It helped them to keep themselves on track instead of me having to do it for them.  Of course, there were plenty of days when I had to stay on top of them to get everything done.  Even on those days, though, it helped them to see the subjects getting checked off and the work getting finished so they knew 'quitting time' was getting closer.  Even as adults, we ALL have those days that we just can't wait for everything on our list to be finished so we can stop for the day.

I haven't made this year's list for the kiddos yet because I just want us all to get 'in the groove' first, but I will be making them in the next couple of weeks.  (Which will also allow me to continue feeding my laminating addiction.) 

This year, I added a list for myself.  Like I said, every year it seems the subject list gets a little longer and I found myself trying to remember what we had already done and what we still needed to do and who was doing what.  Whew!  So, even though the kiddos will have their own lists, I decided I need to make myself one to keep up with everything I need to do.

I, with the help of my husband~mostly my husband, created a checklist of each subject for each child and included small boxes to put my little checks in.  (And, of course, I just had to laminate it!)

The names have been changed covered to protect the innocent.  :)

This has helped me so much, already.  And I love that I can just wipe it clean and be ready for the next day.  I leave you with this small confession, though.  Only AFTER I made the list AND laminated it, did I realize that I, yes~the preacher's wife, forgot to include Bible study on the list!!!  My husband said he is "so proud" of me.  Hehehe.  Never fear, I will make sure it is included on the kiddos' lists.

I would love to hear what you have done to help your kiddos with self-accountability and responsibility.  Just leave a comment below.

God bless!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Laundry Detergent, Homemade Style

All 3X Small & Mighty Stainlifter Liquid Laundry Detergent, 32 oz

I have used "all" detergent for years and I have no complaints about it.  But, if I can do something to save a little money here and there, I will give it a try.  I'm also trying to use things with more natural ingredients instead of the heavy chemical items. Trying another chemical filled detergent for less money wasn't an option.  I have more than one child with extremely sensitive skin and messing with detergents is a big risk. However, when I saw some recipes for homemade detergent on Pinterest, and the ingredients seemed a little more natural and a little less harsh than the store bought detergents out there, I decided to take the plunge.

I found How Does She?'s recipe for laundry detergent on Pinterest and really liked it.  (Plus, her bottle of detergent just looked so pretty!)  I waited until I used up what I already had, then off to the grocery store I went.

(I forgot to take a picture with the soap bars before I grated them.  Oops!)

How Does She?'s recipe calls for Borax, Arm & Hammer's Super Washing Soda, 2 bars of Zote soap, and baking soda, with OxyClean and Purex Crystals as optional ingredients.  The store I went to didn't sell Zote soap, so I used Fels~Naptha soap bars, instead.  I decided NOT to use baking soda since I read several comments from others that it faded dark colored clothes.  I think the baking soda is to act as an odor neutralizer, and the Super Washing Soda does that.  I also decided to leave out the OxyClean at this point and add it as needed.  It just seemed a little more harsh than I wanted in my everyday detergent.  I DID opt for the Purex Crystals because, honestly, I love good smelling laundry.

I love the bright yellow color, it smelled so fresh,
and actually felt good on my hands!

I realized the Fels~Naptha bars were smaller than the Zote soap bars, but I still miscalculated how many bars would equal the 2 Zote bars called for.  I bought and grated 3 (or maybe 4) bars and you need almost 6 bars of Fels~Naptha to equal 2 bars of Zote.  (What?  Me miscalculate something?  Never! Hahaha!!!)  But, after talking with a couple of friends on facebook, I decided to just go with what I already had instead of running out to buy more.

I followed the advice of the post I was taking this from in the way she mixed all the ingredients together.  I mixed a little bit at a time, stirring as I went, then added a little bit more.  That made it easier to make sure everything was equally mixed.

I tried to put some of it in the Purex bottle just like the blogger I got this from did, (it really looked nice)...yeah, that didn't work.  The soap separated from the other ingredients and no matter what I did, (shaking, rolling, subtracting amounts,) it still separated itself.  Since I only had a very small amount of OxyClean left, I decided to just pour that in with the mix, (it wasn't enough to amount to anything,) and use the OxyClean container and it seemed to work much better.  The rest of it is kept in a large bucket with a tight lid until I need some more.  I'm going to keep track of how long this batch lasts.  Some say theirs can last 6 months to a year, but we are a family of 5, so we shall see how it goes.  I am fairly certain it will still last longer and be more cost effective than continuing to buy detergent from the store.

It only takes 2 TBS of this detergent per load to use.  Yes, you read that right...2 Tablespoons!  That is exactly one coffee scoop full.  Keep in mind that it doesn't suds as much as store bought brands, so don't be tempted to keep adding more.  Suds are not necessary for cleanliness.  From what I have read, this detergent recipe is also safe to use in HE washers and front loading washers.  But, don't quote me on that since my washer is neither.

So far, we have been pretty satisfied with our clothes.  They come out clean, smell GREAT, and are pretty soft considering I haven't used fabric softener since starting this new detergent.  The only thing that didn't come out as soft were the towels.  I may continue to add fabric softener when washing towels, and when I run out of what I have, I will probably switch over to vinegar as my softener since it is also more natural.

Don't be afraid to try homemade laundry detergent!  I am glad I tried it and I think you might be, too.

God bless!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Back in Action!!

When we dropped Direct TV and our Knology accounts, they immediately closed the email account.  Immediately.  So, I have had to go through and change everything and I'm still working on it.  I couldn't access my blog because it was under the old Knology address.  I tried to change my email in my Google account but they won't allow gmail addresses.  Go figure.  The cable guy forgot to leave us the access code to set up an email account through our new provider, so we had to wait for it, taking even longer before I could finally get back to blogging.
But, I am officially back in action!!!  Woohoo!!  Now, if you will excuse me, please...I've got some blog posts to write.  :)

God Bless!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Reorganizing: Master Bathroom Storage

If you haven't read my Don't Judge Me: My 'Before' Reorganizing Story, then make sure you take time to do so either before or after checking out this will help make sense of things.

We don't have a very big master bathroom.  (We don't have a very big house.)  And in a small bathroom, there is even less room for storage.  Add 2 years of not doing anything to help, (like I the linked post), you get this:  

 I know, right!?!  Hide your children's eyes, gasp, scream...but, I hope you can at least appreciate how hard it is to share the ugly truth with you. 
Yes, that is plastic wrap in there.  I had to wrap my bandaged knee after my surgery and never took it back out...I just didn't want it back in the kitchen after being in the bathroom...know what I mean?  And all the medication just laying around...again, read the Don't Judge Me article. This is what happened.  But, as you can see, there is NOTHING functional and peaceful about this space. 

So...on a Dollar Tree kind of budget, that's where I headed.  I picked up several little baskets and utilized some we already had around the house.  I threw away or recycled a bunch of stuff.  Bunches and bunches.  And it felt good.

My husband's items are organized on the left, and my things are organized on the right.  There is a basket for unopened/unused items, (I found 3 unopened deodorant containers!), a basket for lotions and perfumes, a basket for bandages and ointment, and storage containers for other things and that hide all the o.t.c. medication a little better.  Those containers were actually already there, but they weren't very accessible.  (I properly disposed of the prescription meds that were outdated & irrelevant~and there was a lot because I don't like taking medication, so most bottles were pretty full.)

Now, I'm not Martha Stewart, and this space will keep improving as our budget allows and I get more ideas, but here is the after:

There's even room, now, for my Thirty One bags that I keep my hair and makeup supplies in.  (Before, they had to sit on the counter, taking up valuable space.)  I would still like it to look a little less crowded, but for now, say it with me..."Much Better!"

I also reorganized the only other storage compartment in the bathroom, a small cabinet that we purchased about 2 years into our marriage.  It has served its purpose well.  I didn't get 'before' pictures of it, but it wasn't much better than the previous space.  I put all of my nail polish and related items in a basket and moved it to the bottom open shelf.  (My daughter, Sweet Pea, specifically asked where it was), and stored the toilet paper on the top shelf where it's a little more covered.

For the shelves behind the door, I used a couple of baskets-one to store feminine items and one for sample/travel items.  That seems to make the space flow much better than a bunch of boxes and bottles laying around.

I really like my bathroom space now.  It's not perfect and like I said, will be evolving, but I can breathe easier and smile more with a space that's organized, functional, accessible, and sensible-to me.  And that, my friends, is what it's all about.

God bless!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Don't Judge Me: My 'Before' Reorganizing Story

Okay, blogger friends, I have been in full-on, Pinterest inspired, reorganization mode, lately.  But, before I can blog about it and before you see the 'before' pictures, I say...don't judge me, please!

A.  I was not born with my mother's natural organizing skills.  It has always been, and still is, a struggle for me to stay organized.  I don't know why.

B.  Some of the 'before' picture areas weren't always THAT bad.  I did try.  But, here's what happened...

     1.  Pregnancy.  Yep, in late summer of 2010 and at 38 years of age, I found out we were expecting our third child...Sunshine.  And for me, that means 6months minimum of at least a moderate-not mild-moderate level of all-day-long morning sickness.  This round had the extra perks of a constant headache, often turning into an immobilizing migraine.  Somewhere around the 34 or 35 week point, I was put on bed rest because of early labor contractions.  You better believe no organizing happened during that whole time.
This was all I was allowed to do at Sweet Pea's birthday party.
     2.  In my 9th month of pregnancy, about 2 or 3 days after I was taken off of bed rest of course, I broke my ankle.  I stepped off of our back deck.  But, that's not how it broke.  I took a couple of steps on flat yard and my right ankle just twisted, breaking a chip of a bone.  (This really isn't surprising to people who know me, lol.)  Thankfully, it was a clean break in a place that would heal itself in time and didn't require anything other than me using a walker for a couple of weeks and wearing a boot for a little while.  Nevertheless, it hurt, bad.  All the extra, unbalanced, weight did NOT help.  No organizing happened.                                                     
For Easter, I decorated the walker with bows...oh, yes I did! 

     3.  After little Sunshine was born in late April 2011, I had increasing pain in my left knee and it kept trying to pop out of place.  It had been hurting for a while, but when I fell, obviously my left leg overcompensated a lot to make up for the weak left ankle.  I think that just caused further damage in my knee, which resulted in surgery that October and physical therapy for several weeks after that.  You guessed it...still no organizing.
Sunshine on her birth day. 
     4.  But, the last reason is why I think my house just stayed unorganized and got worse over time.  After Sunshine was born and the newness wore off, I really just didn't care about anything.  I continued to homeschool and care for my children, but all I wanted to do was...nothing, except maybe sleep.  Or, cry.  I wanted to cry and did quite often.  I had no idea why I felt that way and often wanted to escape.  I kept telling my husband that maybe if I just went away for a weekend all by myself, that would help me.  But, with three children, one being a baby, that didn't happen. This went on for months.  Through the surgery, through Christmas, and deep into 2012.  I put up a good front, or at least I tried.  Facebook posts were positive and funny, and I think I even got some blogging done.  But, on the inside, I was really bothered by the whole thing.  It just wasn't me.  Somewhere around April or May of this year, I finally called my ob/gyn and scheduled a regular checkup and planned to talk to her about this, but the earliest appointment I could get was at least 3 months away in August.  But, somewhere in the middle of that waiting, (and doing a lot of praying), I read an article about someone's experience with post-partum depression.  Ding, ding, ding!!!  Finally, everything made sense.  I had never experienced post-partum depression before, and I don't suffer from depression in general, so I really had no idea what was going on with me until that moment.  And, honestly, it was like a heavy burden suddenly lifted.  The depression didn't leave immediately, but either it was about to end naturally, or just realizing what was going on caused it to fade away.  (Or maybe both?)  Of course, by the time I was ready and willing to care for myself and my house again, which was just in the past month, it was a wreck!!!!  (Yes, 2 years of almost no organizing activity!)  And of course, non-naturally organized people have no idea where to start, but Pinterest helped with that. 

So, when you see some of the pictures I managed to remember to take in the 'before' stages, I say...don't judge me, please.  Just look at the 'after' and realize how much I'm smiling now. 

God bless!