About Mae

I'm a wife to my best pal, Babe, who also happens to be my junior high sweetheart. I'm a mother to my five-year-old son, Bubba, and my three-year-old daughter, Birdie. I'm a true midwesterner blogging about my journey of improving my life. My goals are to be a better wife, a better mother, better at taking care of myself and everything around me. This blog will be a chronicle of my follies and my successes.

Under Sink Makeover – Master Bath

I’ve been tackling lots of little tasks around the house lately.  Each one seems to make me want to do the next because solving these little problems makes me feel so much better.  I really dislike the feeling of disorganization and I feel so much calmer, happier, and content when my house is well organized.  I haven’t shown you all of the little tasks I’ve been working on, but I have shared some.  (For example, the reorganization of my kitchen spices and the complete overhaul of my laundry room closet.)  None of these jobs are “big” so they seem really manageable to me.  Honestly, a BIG job would be my basement – a.k.a. “where the toys go to die” in my house, but that task is so overwhelming to even think about I just prefer to shut the door and pretend it isn’t there than to actually put the effort into dealing with it!  Plus, I feel like I really can’t commit to any bigger jobs in the near future simply because of my family’s schedule this year.  The way my son’s public school hours are in combination with my daughter’s preschool hours plus our various sports, activities, classes, etc. means I pretty much have every one of my days chopped up into 30-45 minute increments.  That makes tackling any big job seem like it would take FOREVER.  So for now, I’m sticking to smaller jobs.  But I’ve found that these tasks may seem small, but they make a HUGE difference in how I feel about the state of our home.

Today I want to share with you my master bathroom cabinet job.  Just like the laundry room closet, this little task was years overdue.  It was one of those situations where I just kept adding things and never took anything out.  Like ever.

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When I organized the cabinets my husband asked in a horrified voice, “You aren’t going to show before pictures on your blog, are you?”  When I told him I was, he was like, “Well don’t show my cabinet… I need to protect my brand!”  I laughed so hard!  But the truth is, the whole point of this blog is to show progress and not perfection.  While I meant that little tag line to mean progress toward a healthier lifestyle and not trying to give the impression that our family is “perfect” in terms of health, I feel that for me, being organized IS part of my mental health.

When I’m organized, I feel better.  Lighter.  More content in my daily tasks.  I can focus on my kids and feel more joy.

When I’m disorganized I feel grumpy.  Overwhelmed.  I feel like I can’t focus on my kids because I have “so much to do”.

So, sharing the imperfections of my bathroom cabinets with my readers seems like the best way of showing progress, not perfection.  I also hope it motivates people like me to see that being organized truly results in an increased quality of life!  If I take a few minutes to organize the parts of my home in need, I can spend the rest of my life in the moment with the people who matter most.  If I avoid being organized, I spend every moment consumed with frustration about the state of things around me.

Organized is just plain better!

I started by pulling everything out.  It was obnoxious.  (And I had a cute helper!):

IMG_2018 Someone please tell me why I had all that stuff under there that I wasn’t even using!  I have no idea.  I just never got around to dealing with it, I guess.  Or at least that’s the best excuse I can come up with at the moment.

These are the funniest things I found:

IMG_2019 Why on earth did I have a sample of wet Swiffers under there?  I don’t even USE wet Swiffers!  Those pregnancy tests were expired!  That bottle of hairspray moved here with us, which means it was at least 5.5 years old.  (Shows how much I use hair products!  Ha! Almost never!)  And I’m not certain, but I *think* the cleansing strips and little soaps were from college.  No, seriously!   I haven’t used them in over a decade.  That’s just gross!  What is wrong with me?!?!?

And here’s another funny find…  Do ever have one of those glorious moments where you find yourself in Target all ALONE?  I love it.  I walk every aisle.  And apparently when I am wandering around Target and I have a few minutes to myself I have a habit of thinking I need more pony tail holders.  Look at how many partially used packets of pony tail holders I found.  It’s ridiculous!

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Anyway, it felt GREAT to toss most of the junk out.  Here’s how much garbage I ended up with between my cabinet and my husband’s:

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Before I put back in the keepers, I cleaned it all out with my favorite nontoxic cleaner!

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I am a big fan of clean and clear countertops, both in my kitchen as well as in my bathrooms.  I really don’t like to walk into a bathroom and see hairbrushes, toothpaste, washcloths, bottles of lotion, etc. all over the counters.  I’m not sure why but it kind of grosses me out.  (Not to mention that it just looks messy!)  So I have a simple solution to keeping my bathroom counters clean and clutter free.  So simple, in fact, that my husband saw my way of doing it and has started using my solution as well!

The secret:  All you need is a bathroom caddy!  (I guess I must really like caddies more than I realized seeing as how I just posted about my cleaning caddy the other day!)  It doesn’t have to be expensive nor fancy, because it will not be left out for anyone to see anyway.  My bathroom caddy is actually my old shower caddy from college!  Seriously!  That was a looooooooong time ago, and I’m certain it didn’t cost more than a couple of dollars even back them!  My husband is using some old black plastic container as his bathroom caddy.  (My caddy is white basket on left:)

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Like I said, it doesn’t matter what it looks like, because the point of a bathroom caddy is that it holds all of your dailies out of sight, or all of the supplies you use to get ready in the morning or to get ready for bed at night.  For me, that means my caddy has only the basics:  Each day I use a hairbrush, clips/headbands to hold my hair out of my face when I wash my face, face wash, daily lotion with spf, nighttime repair lotion, eye cream, chapstick, toothpaste, floss, contact lens supplies, retainer, deodorant, etc.  So each morning when I wake up, I can lean down to get what I need out of my cabinet only ONCE, get myself all freshened up, and then put my caddy away.  The same thing for bedtime, I get out my bathroom caddy, it has everything I need to wash my face, put on my nighttime repair lotion, brush and floss my teeth, pop in my retainer (yes, I still wear a retainer!), take out my contacts, etc. and ALL my supplies are in ONE place.  As soon as I’m done, I just pop my bathroom caddy back under my sink and – VOILA! – my countertop isn’t a big old cluttered mess!

Now, obviously, my bathroom caddy wouldn’t work for everyone.  For example, I don’t wear makeup every day.  For my makeup, I keep a separate spot filled with those supplies and it makes it easy for me to use them when I need/want to wear makeup, but I don’t have to have makeup taking up space and in my way every morning/evening because for me, those are not “dailies”.  If I did have circumstances where makeup was a daily item for me, I would still use this system… I’d just buy a larger caddy.

My husband keeps similar basic items in his bathroom caddy:  he has face wash, face lotion, deodorant, toothpaste and floss, and a couple of other things.  His is even more basic than mine… but I guess that’s one of the benefits of being a man!

Check it out… clutter-free countertops!  Yay!

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I’m so glad to be able to check these cabinets off my list!  Having less clutter in these spots makes me feel so much happier and calmer when I’m getting ready.  I wasn’t even using half the junk under my sink in those before photos so it just was weighing me down and making me feel grumpy!  I love opening the cabinets and having a feeling of lightness.  (Is that even a word?)

How do you organize your bathroom cabinets?

Do you already use a bathroom caddy to hold your dailies or do you like to keep them out?

Do you think having all your dailies in a caddy would help you feel calmer when you get ready to start your day or to go to bed?

Cleaning Caddy

I have had this post written for a while (as a sequel to this post about reorganizing my laundry room closet) and totally forgot to post it… whoops!  Oh well, better late than never…

Just wanted to share with you what I keep in my little handy dandy cleaning caddy.

IMG_1348 First of all, I received this great little caddy when I bought my very first Get Clean Starter Kit about 6ish years ago.  It works perfectly and has obviously held up well for that many years, but really I’m sure you could buy some type of bucket/bin that works at a dollar store or something.

And before I give you all the details of its contents, I’d also like to mention that since I have a house with two floors, I keep one set of cleaning supplies upstairs and one set downstairs.  (So, yes, that means I buy two of everything… but it’s no big deal because it works out to be the same in terms of cost since by doing it this way I only go through the cleaning supplies half as fast.)  Having one of my little kits of cleaning supplies both upstairs and downstairs has made ALL the difference in making my cleaning life easier!  I just love this system!  If you have a two-story home, consider it!

So what’s in there, anyway?  Well, here’s what I’ve got:

IMG_13561.  an old toothbrush:  I keep this old toothbrush in here because there are a couple of little nooks & crannies (especially in bathrooms!) where it comes in handy!

2. a basic scrub brush:  I use this mostly for the floor of my kids’ tub because it has “texture” and I feel a rag just doesn’t get the job done.

3.  an old plastic cup:  I keep this in here for rinsing just in case I need it!

4.  a tablespoon:  I use this for measuring the Basic H Organic Cleaning Concentrate into my bucket so I can mop floors, etc.  I just bought extra tablespoons at the dollar store and keep them in the kit permanently.  It’s much easier than realizing I need it and having to go down to my kitchen to dig one out!  (That last sentence gives you a window into my true laziness, doesn’t it?!?!)

IMG_13505.  a set of white wash cloths:  These are the same white rags I wrote about in this previous post about wiping up my messy kids, but I keep some here for cleaning as well.  These are just some I bought at Costco.  I like them because they don’t leave any lint behind when I clean.  I actually think that cheaper rags are better for cleaning than more expensive wash cloths because the cheap ones don’t leave fuzzies behind!  I use these for just about everything: wiping down the walls of the shower, countertops, walls, baseboards, floors, cabinets, etc.

6.  my blue Get Clean Window cloth:  I use this to go over the mirrors in my bathrooms.  I also use it when I wash my windows (Previous post link!) in the house… but let’s face it, that’s not a weekly kind of occurrence!  😉

7.  I go back and forth between the colorful washable microfiber cloths and the disposable Swiffers.  I KNOW the Swiffers are a worse environmental choice, but I just haven’t been able to give them up entirely.  I just try to use them less often now.

IMG_13538.  Scour Off Heavy Duty Paste:  I am obsessed with this scrub!  It’s like a natural version of something like Goo-Gone.  And it smells good too… it’s made from ground up cherry pits.

IMG_13519.  a bottle of Basic H Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate:  I keep this in here because if I fill a bucket up with water to do the floors, I add a tablespoon of Basic H Organic Cleaning Concentrate to the bucket.  It’s also what I use to fill the three spray bottles I’ll mention next!

10.  spray bottle of Window & Mirror Cleaner:  This bottle contains 16 ounces of water and two DROPS (Yes, just two DROPS) of the Basic H Organic Cleaning Concentrate.

11.  spray bottle of All Purpose Cleaner:  This bottle contains 16 ounces of water and one-fourth teaspoon (yep, that’s it!) of the Basic H Organic Cleaning Concentrate.

12.  spray bottle of Degreaser Cleaner:  This bottle contains 16 ounces of water and 1.5 teaspoons of the Basic H Organic Cleaning Concentrate.  I use this more in my kitchen than I do upstairs, but I like to keep it in both places just in case.

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13.  a bottle of Basic G (germicide):  I use this on toilets and other particularly germy spots. You can see in the picture below how I keep track of when I need to make a new batch.  I write the date I made the mix (it lasts for 3 months) so I know when I need to mix a fresh batch.  (Usually what I do with whatever’s left in the bottle before I make a new batch is run it through my washing machine to make sure I don’t get any mildew smells, etc.)

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In addition, I keep my bucket and my toilet bowl brush right next to my caddy.  I am not a fan of keeping toilet bowl wands in the bathroom.  No matter how “nice” they are, I think it’s gross to look at, so I keep mine in a closet so my guests don’t have to see it.  (It’s the white “stick” you see pointing out of the top of the bucket on the right in the photo below.)

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That’s it!  Everything I need to clean whatever messes arise!  I just carry my handy-dandy caddy with me from room to room.  It makes cleaning way more efficient.  It also makes the thought of cleaning seem like less of a chore because I don’t have a mess of supplies everywhere.

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Do you keep a kit of cleaning supplies?

What’s in yours?

Do you keep one on each level of your house?

If you have been considering getting on the “green” cleaning train, I would like to say, “Just go for it!”  Take the plunge and you will be SO happy you did.  I’m tellin’ ya… it’s cheaper, works great, and healthier for my family!  Check it out!

Check out some of my previous cleaning-related posts:

Shining Your Sink Without Toxins!

 

How I Greenified My Dishwashing

Sparkling Windows

 

Cleaning Professional Raves About Shaklee Get Clean Line

 

Whole Grains and Kiddos

Last year I made a big switch in one of my family’s staples – our bread.

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The whole bread thing has been quite a progression.  It really is the perfect example of how all of my family’s eating and nutrition has changed so much over the years and also about how we still have so many changes to learn more about and make.

First of all, I grew up on white bread.  I mean, didn’t we all?!?!

When my husband and I got married, we didn’t really eat bread that often – not because we were on Atkins or anything (trust me – we ate plenty of other refined carbs!), but just because neither one of us was ever a big fan of sandwiches so we rarely needed a loaf of bread in the house.  But on the occasion we did buy some bread from the grocery store, we basically bought the “tan” version of white bread.  I think by then we were both informed enough to know that white bread was not healthy, but we both still wanted that soft texture we were used to and had grown up with.  It was comfortable middle ground, ya know?

At some point after having kids I switched us to what I thought was a better version of that “tan” bread.  And a year or so after that I realized the “healthier tan” bread I had been buying actually had high fructose corn syrup in it (not sure why it took me so long to actually READ THE LABEL – duh!!!), so I switched brands to something better.  While my “better” bread was then free of high fructose corn syrup, it did contain other stuff I don’t know anything about and couldn’t pronounce.

It was a progression:  white bread – tan, soft bread – tanner, less soft bread – better bread with better ingredients.

Well, I’m not sure what took me so long, but last year I FINALLY made the switch to REAL whole grain bread.  And by real, I mean the kind baked using nothing besides ingredients that are found in a real kitchen and that I know how to pronounce- like 100% whole grain flour, honey, water, salt, eggs, and yeast.

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I remember the day I made the switch and I crafted my kids’ first peanut butter & jelly sandwiches with the new bread.  I was anticipating a variety of reactions – and none of my predictions were correct.  I expected the kids to look at it funny.  I expected one of them to ask why it looked “different”.  I expected someone to announce that they didn’t like it.  I was totally prepared for a lot of different scenarios… except for the scenario that played out:  They both sat down and happily ate their PB&J without any fuss at all!  I couldn’t believe it!  My son did say something to the effect of, “Got some new bread, huh, Mom?”  and that was the end of it.  I could hardly believe it!  I didn’t have to trick.  I didn’t have to transition.  They just went with it!  That was one of those moments in motherhood where there were angels singing and rainbows and such.  😉

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I’m happy to announce that last year we became, and we still are, a whole grain bread family!  Yay!

I’ve found myself letting my kids eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches more often.  They just love them, and I feel so good knowing they’re eating something so pure now.  (I will share a separate post with you another day about the “stickiness” of my peanut butter transition as well as my major struggle with jellies and jams.)

Here’s Bubba having some breakfast:  peanut butter & honey whole grain toast with fruit.

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I’m writing this post for all moms out there who are making healthy changes like I am.  I know sometimes it’s hard.  Often it is just easier to keep doing what we’re doing so as not so have to listen to whining and unhappiness.  BUT – sometimes – change is totally fine with kids!  And we’ll never know which changes will be easy and which ones will be challenging unless we try!  So don’t be afraid, fellow health-seeking mommas!

It’s okay to tell the kids about the changes you are making.  Teach them why, let them in on the “secret plan”, and you never know… they just might surprise you!

What healthy changes have you made that have been hardest for your kids to accept?  What healthy changes have been easier than you predicted they would be?

Welcome To Miami

Bienvenido A Miami!

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We are back from a quick trip to enjoy some fun in the sun!  We planned this trip on a whim just about two weeks beforehand.  My husband and I were going through our calendar (Google Calendar) and realized that the kids didn’t have school on Friday/Monday, my husband would be in Miami until Thursday afternoon and also didn’t have work on Monday, and we had no really important plans for the weekend… seemed like the perfect excuse to head on down to the sunshine state!

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The kids and I flew down on Thursday afternoon and my husband picked us up at the airport.  This was my first time flying with the kiddos all by myself.  I am NOT a fan of flying so this was a real test for me… and it all worked out just great!  I think it really helps that my kids are very used to traveling by now – they’ve each been doing so a few times a year since they were 7ish months old so they know what to expect.  Plus, I let them each eat a lollipop during takeoff so they look forward to that special treat… it’s the little things in life, right?!?!

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The Miami area was great!

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Our first full day was “cold” (high of 72 and mostly cloudy) and the rest of our time there it was 78-82, pretty sunny, and relatively humid… a welcome change from the 9-degree midwest winter temperatures we left behind!  Since we knew that first day wasn’t going to be an ideal beach day, we used it to do some touristy stuff that didn’t involve being on water.

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First we checked out Zoo Miami.  It is spread out through a pretty expansive property… so much so that the zoo rents out these super cute family bikes to help folks get through it.  We thought they looked cool and they ended up being a hit.  My son was particularly obsessed with being in the driver’s seat!  And let me give you a piece of advice:  stay off the roadways approximately 10 years from now because he is a terrible driver!

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We ended that day in downtown Miami and had a hard time choosing what we wanted to do for dinner.  We are all big fans of good food and love to try new things when we can.  We had done a bunch of research ahead of time on restaurant options.  My husband and I finally narrowed that meal down to either Mexican or sushi and we let my son pick (because my daughter was all tuckered out and asleep in the car after such a busy day) and he chose Mexican.  We went to what I would call a “hip” Mexican spot called El Vato.  It was good – not great – but then the desserts came out.  (I think this is another reason my kiddos like traveling so much… they know we often order desserts when we’re on vacation!)  We ordered some churros and strawberry apple pie.  Well, let me just tell you that the churros were the BEST EVER (think warm, fresh, and drizzled with caramel) and that strawberry apple pie (which wasn’t really “pie” it was more like a warm strawberry/apple pie filling inside a thin pastry that was wrapped up like a little sweet burrito) was equally as amazing.  I still can’t decide which one I liked best!

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The next day began with some beach and pool time.  It was cloudy in the morning but plenty warm so we made the best of it.  You know kids don’t really care much whether it’s sunny or not.  Give them a pool or a beach and they’re all set for hours.

They all had fun playing with the underwater camera.  Here’s Bubba doing the “gangnam style” dance:

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We got our sushi fix for lunch that day and then it was time to do some more adventuring.

Later that afternoon we checked out an Everglades tour.  Just like with food, I’m a big fan of trying to give my kids experiences that are unique to the places we visit.  I mean every major city has a zoo, right, but I’m talking experiences that really represent the area.  Before any big adventure, we ususally head to the library and check out some books on the area we are going to and that usually gives us some good ideas about what we might like to learn about while we’re there.  For example, last year we spent a long weekend in Dana Point, CA and in our research we learned they had a lot of tide pools there.  So the whole focus of that trip, for my kids, became seeing and experiencing the tidepools they had learned about.  For this Miami trip, a lot of our reading mentioned the Everglades, so we just had to include that in our adventure.

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Just like our books taught us about, we rode an airboat and saw some awesome wildlife.

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We learned that the Everglades is not a swamp, it’s actually a river that just has a REALLY slow current.  Also, it is super shallow – like a foot or two deep!  I didn’t know any of that, so I was glad we had read up some before heading there.  I always love to see how it makes the kids feel so smart and empowered that they’ve got a little bit of knowledge on a subject before they really dive into it.  The great thing was that we learned even more about the Everglades once we began our tour.  We had a knowledgable guide and I found it to be a great lesson in ecology for the kids and for me as well!

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The ‘gators were cool but frankly I found them quite scary!  This guy came WAY too close the boat, if you ask me!

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I was fascinated by the whole cycle of life and power struggle that happens with all the creatures within the Everglades.  I also learned a lot about all the non-native plants and animals in the Everglades, how they got there, and their effect on the area.  Fascinating.

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That night we decided to eat what the Miami area is known for – Cuban food!  We checked out a spot that was deemed both authentic as well as highly rated and it was really good.  This was my first time eating traditional Cuban cuisine and I was surprised by it… I assumed it would be a lot like Mexican food, but in reality, it was a lot more like my traditional Wisconsin “supper club” food than Mexican.  Interesting, right?  Yes, of course there were rice and beans, but I was so struck by the similarities between the rest of our plates with a more German/Polish style.  I ordered the traditional pork, the kids each ordered some type of steak and chicken dishes and my husband did some steak as well.

In the end, I would just like to say that the Cuban pork was, BY FAR, the best pork dish I have ever eaten in my life.  If I had any clue how to make pork taste like that, I would cook it a lot more often!

Birdie was in love with almost everything on her plate… so much so that after a while she lost all sense of table manners and just started grabbing handfuls of food and shoving it into her mouth.  I guess it was “finger lickin’ good”.

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The next morning we fueled up and headed out to a natural area that offered a unique canoeing experience.

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Folks can rent canoes and then ride through some mangrove trails.  Think hiking trails except on water.

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It was very beautiful, peaceful, and unique.

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I believe this picture might have been taken somewhere around the time we got lost.  No, seriously, I’m not even kidding.  We had a map and it seemed pretty easy to just follow the water trails, but we definitely got off course at least twice.  Ooops!

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I’m pretty sure if anyone asks my kids about going canoeing in Florida, neither of them will tell you about the cool birds we saw, what the mangroves were like, etc.  No, no, I’m pretty sure they’ll start giggling and telling all about how Mommy and Daddy got lost.  Kids!

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We enjoyed some more beach and pool action that day.  It never gets old, does it?!

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Later we took lessons to learn all about stand up paddle boarding.  This was our first time and we really liked it.  Well, I should say, most of us liked it.  Let me explain.  We got to our lesson, got a quick overview from our instructor and headed out into the ocean.  My son sat on my husband’s board and my daughter sat on my board.

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My husband and I both found it easier than we had anticipated to stand up and get into our groove.  He fell just a couple of times, which my son thought was HILARIOUS.

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I was all fine and dandy for about a half an hour.  My daughter and I were talking, laughing at my husband, and just having a good ol’ time.  And then out of nowhere, I fell in.  It wasn’t one of those long, slow-motion falls where you feel it happening and just can’t do anything to stop it.  No, it was like – BOOM! – I was underwater before I even knew what was happening!  My daughter didn’t fall in at all.  She was still dry, sitting in her spot, holding onto her little handle, looking at me when I surfaced.  I swam back to the board, hopped back on, and off we went.  And that’s when I heard it… crying.  I’m still not exactly sure what my daughter was crying about (she couldn’t really articulate the reason and I couldn’t exactly sit down and have a whole heart to heart to figure it out because, you know, I WAS ON A STAND UP PADDLE BOARD OUT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OCEAN!) but I *think* it just really upset her to see her mommy fall in.  She kept asking through her tears, “Mommy, what if you fall in again?!” and I just laughed and said, “Well, then I’ll just hop back on the board again just like I did that time!”.  She was kind of on edge after that, nervous laughing and such, so we only stayed out about ten more minutes and then ended it.  I didn’t want to traumatize her, but I didn’t want her to think we were “giving up” just because we fell in once.

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All in all, I would TOTALLY do stand up paddle boarding again!  I didn’t think it was much of a workout at all (the only body part I felt I was working out was the arches of my feet – it was a weird feeling!), but I did think it was a very cool experience and I’m so glad we exposed our kids to that.

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Our last day was really only a partial day because we had to catch a 3:30 flight home, so we just let the kids get some more fun in at the pool before we packed up and left.

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My daughter is such a fish now and my son just loves to be tossed every which way into the air by my husband.

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Of course I snuck in a few runs on the beach during our time down there.  I didn’t realize how much different the sand would be than the beach in Siesta Key, Florida.  I ended up running barefoot because I found running in shoes in this type of sand to be really difficult.  It was nice to have that freedom though because then I could run in the dry sand or down in the surf if I wanted to get a few splashes and cool off as I went.  The ocean sure is magnificent!

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We were all exhausted at the end of each night, which is one sure sign of a great adventure.  My favorite photo of the trip is below and shows just how tuckered out the kiddos were:

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I love adventuring with my family.  We see, we laugh, we experience, we snuggle, we learn, we giggle…  it’s just the best.  I love my family!

 

 

 

Fluffy Whole Grain Waffles

I just love breakfast food, don’t you?  Mmmmm… I look forward to a nice, warm breakfast in the morning and I also love that breakfast foods can be eaten for quick lunches and dinners, too!  I try to keep our breakfasts as healthy as possible – lots of whole grains, quality proteins, and some vitamin-rich fruits.  I still haven’t figured out how to add much in the way of vegetables to our breakfasts (umm, does salsa count on top of eggs??  Ha!) but oh well, I think I’ve got us in a good breakfast groove now and I’m feeling pretty good about it.

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We rotate through all the normal breakfast fare:

  • eggs (These are great scrambled for adding in odds and ends from the fridge like a bit of leftover cheese, the ends of peppers that weren’t used yet, or whatever else I can find in there.  Even on days when I start out making something like an omlet, I always end up screwing it up and it turns into scrambled eggs anyway!  Ha! )
  • whole grain pancakes (I make them myself and freeze the extras to be warmed up quickly just like store-bought frozen waffles on mornings when we’re in a hurry.)
  • plain whole milk yogurt (I have taken to flavoring it myself with either honey or maple syrup and whatever berries I happen to have that day fresh or frozen.  My kids think it tastes like ice cream.)
  • cereal with milk (So far we stick to two cereal choices:  I buy both traditional Cheerios as well as an organic, high-fiber version from Trader Joe’s since fiber is something I focus on.  It’s not perfect, but it’s a decent choice I’m okay with for now.)
  • whole grain muffins/breads (Just like the pancakes above, I have taken to making these myself and freezing the extras for future mornings.  And just like with the pancakes I use whole grain flour as opposed to traditional white, I leave out the sugars, supplement the sweetness with healthier options, and pump them full things like pumpkin, bananas, etc.)
  • toast (whole grain, of course, topped with whatever strikes us that day.  My favorite is  a tablespoon of quality peanut butter with sliced bananas.  Yum!  My daughter’s most frequent request is peanut butter with honey.  My son’s favorite lately is to have his toast made into a peanut butter and jelly “breakfast sandwich”.  My husband is still loving that butter crock I told you about because he loves butter on everything – including his toast.)
  • steel cut oatmeal (I add diced apples, ground flax seeds, cinnamon, and maple syrup to mine.  Sometimes my kids want to sprinkle raisins on theirs.  I find oatmeal to be one of those foods that tastes much better when eaten as leftovers the next day, so I usually make a big batch and then we eat it three breakfasts in a row.)
  • fresh fruit (Just a small side of fruit starts the day off right.  We don’t drink juice unless it’s a birthday party or something because, again, to me the whole purpose of eating fruit, aside from the vitamins, is all that natural fiber!  When you drink your fruits, you don’t get any of the fiber.
  • whole grain waffles (Last but not least – this is the recipe I’m going to share with you today!  Yay!)

Okay, on to the main point of today’s post:  Delicious, Fluffy, Healthy Waffles!  I got a lot of response to this recipe on Facebook (like that page to see what’s next!) so I wanted to share it here as well!

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Below you will find the recipe I used to make these great waffles.  They are a soft batch of fluffy, delicious goodness and they are completely healthy. Bonus that my kiddos scarfed them down as if they were frosted donuts or something. Double bonus that I now have almost three dozen to freeze and use on other days when we’re in a hurry.  I like to make these (and some of the items listed above like muffins, pancakes, oatmeal, etc.) in large batches to I don’t have to make a mess in my kitchen cooking from scratch as often. These will last us months! Yay!

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The above photo shows you the size of my waffles since all waffle makers are different – Nine of them fit in each gallon-sized ziploc bag. This recipe made 41 waffles of this size. My kids scarfed down 3 each, so I had almost 3 dozen to freeze. If you don’t want as many, adjust the recipe as desired. They warm up just like store-bought frozen waffles do in a microwave or toaster oven. Serve with REAL butter and REAL maple syrup (none of that Mrs. Butterworth’s nonsense). They are super fluffy and absolutely delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 3.5 cups milk (room temp or warmed)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (warmed)
  • 3 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Whisk together the first 6 ingredients. Add in the last 5 and whisk until smooth. Ladle into your waffle iron just as you would any store-bought waffle mix. They will make you wonder why you never made healthy waffles before!

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And for those of you curious about the nutrition information of these waffles, here you go!  (Again, this was based on the fact that the recipe above made 41 of these in my size waffle iron, so adjust accordingly if your waffle iron makes a different shape, etc.)

  • 81 calories
  • 3.7g fat (healthy fat from unprocessed sources)
  • 21mg cholesterol
  • 28mg sodium (FYI store-bought ones are in 300-400s)
  • 9.7g carbohydrates (store-bought are 25-30s)
  • 3g protein
  • 1.5g fiber
  • 2.3g sugar

And it all came from whole foods, whole grains, etc. 
No yellow dye #5, no enriched anything. Yay!

Does your family like waffles?  Do you ever eat breakfast-for-dinner?

 

Long Overdue

When we moved into this house over five years ago, I unpacked all our old laundry room gear from our old house, shoved it into the new house’s laundry room closet and shut the door.

Soon after moving here I made the switch I told you about in this post to a healthier way of keeping things clean around here.

Well, when I started using the Shaklee Get Clean Laundry line, I basically took all my old laundry supplies, pushed them against the back wall of the closet shelves and placed all the Get Clean Laundry goodies up front so I could use them easily every day.  And I left the closet like that.  For five years.  (Why do I do stuff like that???)

Anyway, I recently tackled it and wanted to share this quick little project because it was something so small but it really made me feel so good when it was done!

Here’s a quick before and after to get started.  The left picture is the before – stuff randomly all over every shelf.  The right picture is the after, which I will show the details of below.

closet before afterAs my husband always tells me, if you’re going to make an omlet, sometimes you have to crack a few eggs (and make a mess).  Here’s almost everything pulled out of the closet.  Wowzers.  (To see what my laundry room really looks like – check out this post!)

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Now look at this close up shot.  Check out the LAYERS of dust on the lids of these items.  I’m not sure they have ever been used in the 5 years they have sat in that closet.  Gross.

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Since I’m outing myself publicly here, I’ll also share this icky find:

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That’s a plastic lid from when I used to use more “traditional” (chemical-laden) laundry detergents.  I have not used those in almost exactly 5 years.  Which means this nasty, dried-goo measuring cup lid has been sitting in this closet for that long collecting dust and just being gross for that long for no reason.  Obviously, this closet was in need of some serious attention.

I found a random bottle of lotion in there:

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First of all, I’m not sure I even remember ever buying this brand of lotion… it must have been a long time ago or something.  And secondly, WHY was there lotion in the laundry room closet of all places????  No clue.  Tossed that sucker into the trash and moved on.

Yet another embarrassing find:  a broken long-handled duster “thingy”.

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I know it’s been broken for a long time.  (I used to use it for dusting ceiling fans but use something else now.)  Why was I saving something that was broken?  Was I going to fix it?  (Cue hysterical laughter…. I’m not sure I’ve ever fixed ANYTHING in my entire life.)  So into the trash that went as well.

I was feeling good about tossing things out so I got rid of a good portion of what you saw above that I’d taken out of the closet.  I was feeling lighter already!

Here’s an example of some old laundry products I tossed out.  This one was bleach.  I haven’t used bleach in quite some time (I use Nature Bright in its place now). I was curious so I looked at the bottom… check out what I discovered:

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Yep, that bottle definitely expired in 2010.  Seriously.

Next up, I put my Shaklee Basic H Organic Cleaning Concentrate to work and I sprayed down and wiped out the closet shelves, walls, and floor using the All-Purpose mix.  I also sprayed and wiped down all the actual bottles of laundry soap, fabric softener, etc.  I wanted the closet as well as all of its contents to be squeaky clean so I could start over and make this closet work for me.

Then I put all the newly cleaned items I wanted to keep but rarely use into a box so I could still store them “just in case” but so I didn’t have to look at them all the time.

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I made use of the super tall ceiling situation in this closet by putting in some Costco sized paper towels and such.  On the second shelf I decided to put some random extra cleaning supplies like Swiffers, as well as an extra scrub brush and a lint roller – both of which we rarely use but I didn’t feel like I should toss out.

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Not sure if laundry room shelves are often pretty, but this next shelf is the prettiest one I’ve ever had!

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What you see on this shelf from left to right:  Fresh Laundry Fragrance Free Concentrate, Fresh Laundry Soft Fabric Concentrate, Nature Bright, Soft Fabric Fragrance Free Dryer Sheets, some extra Hand Wash Concentrate, an orange spray bottle filled with plain water for times when I need to dampen an article of clothing and toss it in the dryer to remove wrinkles, (or – ya know – restart a load of laundry AGAIN!) and in the front a small bottle of straight, concentrated Basic-H Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate.  I have multiples of most of this stuff because I never want to run out.  I do a LOT of laundry around here!  I always seem to be tossing one of these items into my online cart when I’m placing my order.

The next shelf isn’t as beautiful, but its beauty lies in the fact that it holds all my cleaning supplies in a caddy and a bucket that I can quickly grab and carry to any room of my house whenever cleaning needs to get done.  I will post next week a detailed view of what’s IN there and why having it all in one caddy makes my life a lot easier so check back for that post!

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This next shelf is extra tissues, paper towels that didn’t fit up top, and some rags I use for cleaning.  (Again, come back for the post about the cleaning caddy above for more on that or check out this old post that explains a part of what I do with those handy little suckers.)

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Last, I slid the box of “things we don’t really use but I felt like we should keep” under the bottom shelf.  (That long stick thing is a lint trap cleaner that I bought and have never once used, which is why you see that it still has the tags on it.  But if the dryer lint trap ever seems reeeeeally clogged, boy am I ready!)  😉

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So here it is again – the before and after:

closet before after

(*Note:  the only thing missing is the vacuum.  That spot is still its home, but I left it out for the sake of the photo so it wouldn’t block the shelves and the contents of the closet could more easily be seen here.)

And then I stood back and admired my accomplishment.  For a long time.  A really long time.  I know it’s just a little laundry room closet and all, but I stopped to admire that darn thing at least 5 additional times after my kids went to sleep that night.  I just stood there in the quiet looking at how organized it was and silently patting myself on the back.  It feels so good to check something off the list.  Especially something that’s been on the list for that many years.  😉

Between this little project and the spice cabinet, I’m feeling good about all the little things I’m tackling around here.  Still lots to do though… but isn’t that always the way?

New Year’s Resolutions

I just love New Year’s resolutions. I really do. I love hearing what my friends are choosing to focus on each year. I think it’s such a great thing- deciding to try something new or make a change. Sure a person can make a decision like that any day of the year, but since most folks do it around this holiday, I always take full advantage of asking people about them. I think it’s so FUN!

In the past I’ve has resolutions in a wide range of topics. I’ve also had results in a wide range as well. Ha ha ha!

Off the top of my head, here are some of my past resolutions I can remember:
1. Flossing my teeth each night – I did pretty well… only missed a couple of nights!
2. Training for a full marathon – I did it! Yay!
3. Taking my make up off and washing my face each night before bed – I failed within days!
4. Cooking one brand new recipe per week for a year – I majorly failed.
5. There are plenty more but I can’t remember them – that’s probably because I didn’t succeed at keeping them!

My goal for this year is to take better care of myself in terms of rest. I do a good job with my exercise and nutrition, but WAY too often find myself staying awake until the wee hours doing this or that around the house. So this year I’m going to focus on correcting that. If I’m out and about doing something fun – that’s different. But if I’m at home just “getting stuff done”, there’s no reason I need to be staying up until midnight. The projects will all still be there in the morning. I’m aiming for a “drop dead time” of 10:30pm to start walking up the stairs. I figure it takes a while for me to brush my teeth, wash my face, etc. so if I get the process started at 10:30 I should be asleep by 11pm.

Here’s to a well-rested 2013!

And with that, I’m heading up to bed. And for the record, it’s only 10:17pm, so that means I’m a star student so far this year! Ha!

What are your New Year’s resolutions? I would love to hear them… it’s one of my most favorite things!

Just Checking In

Well I had a lot planned as far as posts this month. I was was going to show how our Christmas tree is actually a “memory tree”. I took photos of my favorite Christmas gift wrapping gadget to post as a Mae’s Favorite Thing Friday item. I tried out a few new healthy recipes and was going to post one. I was going to share my family’s favorite free Christmas tradition.

But, I haven’t felt much like posting anything. There’s the obvious hustle and bustle of the holidays, but the truth is that I have been affected in a big way by the school shooting tragedy in Newtown.

I feel like I don’t want to do anything besides hang out with my kids. Nothing.

I’m not sure why this particular tragedy has me shaken to my core more than others in history, but it has. Maybe because I used to be a first-grade teacher? When I look at the photos of Ms. Soto who died saving her students, I immediately break down in tears. When I was teaching and my school would practice the “Code Red” drills, it was always such an eerie situation. Maybe it’s because my son started elementary school this year so it feels even more real to me? I really don’t know WHY. There are lots of horrible tragedies every day, and when I read the news I cry and when I go to bed I pray about them… but the Newtown situation makes me feel like my insides are all a mess and they might never get back to normal. And the logical side of me knows that tomorrow is never promised, that we could all get hit by a bus while crossing the street, blah, blah, blah. I don’t know WHY, but I’m just simply a mess right now.

If there is anything good to come of Newtown, on a personal level for me, I feel like it has TRULY made me more cognizant of being in the moment with my kiddos as well as responding to their (constant) needs & requests in a way that is kinder, calmer, and more purposeful. I’m not really a “yeller” to begin with, but I do find myself answering a lot more often with a “sure” instead of a “not right now” and I am also less inclined to fall into my bad habit of sarcasm. As a mother I am still so wholly imperfect, but these are the good outcomes. It’s so sad they came at the huge loss of other mothers just like me.

I want a rewind button. I want to rewind time for all those other moms. I want it all to go away.

But it can’t. So, I’ll cry a little more when I think about or read about Newtown. I’ll pray a little more. Play a little more. Hug and kiss and read and laugh and snuggle and do all the good stuff a little more.

Thanks for reading my blog, thanks for commenting about the posts that you relate to, thanks for letting me know about the changes you -like me- are making with your families, and thanks for letting me share some sadness too.

I’m off to watch my precious babies sleep a bit before I head to bed. G’night! ~Mae

Free Shipping Only Lasts So Long

Hey All,

Just a reminder for those of you who haven’t placed your Shaklee order yet this month:  If you order in the next couple of days and your order exceeds $200, it will ship for free (up to $20 worth of shipping fees)!

To me, this is the perfect opportunity to stock up on those heavy items and have them shipped to me for free!  I’ll share with you what I ordered this month:

  • Get Clean Fresh Laundry Concentrate (Fragrance Free) – I got a couple of these since they’re super heavy and I like always having an extra on hand… we go through a lot of laundry in my house!
  • Get Clean Nature Bright Laundry Booster & Stain Remover – another heavy one!
  • Basic H2 Organic Super Cleaning Concentrate – my current bottle is still almost half full, but this is a major staple I don’t ever want to run out of because I use it to clean pretty much every inch of my home!  (Windows, counters, walls, bathrooms, floors, stovetop, inside my fridge, my car, I dust with it, you name it!)
  • Scour Off Heavy Duty Paste – this is the awesome product made from ground up cherry pits that I just posted about the other day!  I actually ordered two of them because I’m giving one as a Christmas gift.
  • Get Clean Dish Washer Automatic Concentrate – I am always paranoid about running out of this stuff because we seem to run our dishwasher about as much as our washing machine.  Luckily, last time I ran out my neighbor (who also uses Shaklee!) loaned me a scoop of powder while my shipment was on its way!  Ha ha ha!  This one bag weighs 2 pounds so it’s another great one to double up on during these free shipping events!
  • Hand Wash Concentrate – I love this hand soap.  I also love that it’s concentrated so I can add a little water and know it’ll last longer even with little kids constantly using more soap than necessary to wash their hands!  😉
  • I got a box of Vitalizer supplements for me as well as the supplements I give my kids (Bubba takes the Mighty Smarts and both kids take the Incredivites.)  I didn’t get any for my husband because he didn’t need to be restocked just yet so I’ll wait til next month for that one.
  • Shaklee recently came out with some new little snacks I wanted to taste, so I tossed in one of the new Cinch Snack Crisps just to check them out.
  • And then I think I was under the $200 mark by like $2, so I threw in one of the Super Microfiber Window Cloths simply because I love them!

So there you have it – that was my “stock up” order and it all shipped for free!  Yay!

How about you?  Only three more days…

 

How To Shine Your Sink Without Toxins

Well… I might have been doing some baking lately.  And I might have been feeling lazy by the time it was time to do all the dishes.  And I might have left one of the muffin tins in my sink – you know, “to soak”.    And I might have left it there for a few hours.  And a few hours might have turned into the rest of the evening, overnight, and several hours into the next day.  And I might have discovered rust marks in my sink after such a lazy escapade.  Whoops.

The good news is… I knew the secret to fixing it and it only took me about 20 seconds.  Let me show my trick.

First, the sink:

Here’s a close up – see those circular rust marks in the upper portion of the sink from the bottom of my muffin tin?

Well, I started the obvious – some of my favorite chemical-free dish soap – Shaklee’s Dish Wash Concentrate.  It made my sink look nice, but it wasn’t enough to deal with the rust.

Out of curiosity, I tried the rough side of this sponge.  Didn’t work.

Then I thought I’d try the big guns… steel wool!  Nope!  The rust didn’t budge.

So, I busted out one of my favorite products EVER from Shaklee’s NonToxic Get Clean line – it’s called Scour Off Heavy Duty Paste and it is amazing.  No, seriously, this stuff rocks my socks off.  Here’s what it looks like in its cute little tub:

Here’s what it looks like inside:

I wish computers could show you smells, because this stuff smells delicious.  It’s made from ground up cherry pits, so you can just imagine the aroma…

And for the record, all I used was the amount you see on my sponge in that picture above. Just a dab will do the job – a little really does go a long way with Scour Off!  It took off the rust and shined my entire sink up beautifully in less than 20 seconds!

So much better!

I love, love, love a shiny sink!  (Weird, I know, but it’s true!)

I love Scour Off.  I have used it for a zillion things in my house.  I’ve used it to clean out my oven (no nasty fumes from toxic oven cleaners for us!), get gook off my kids’ art table, get soap scum off shower doors, get dried paint off my wood floors, get non-washable marker off my white kitchen table (why do they still manufacture non-washable markers anyway?  They should be outlawed!), get gook off the grates of my stovetop, etc.  I love that Scour Off is so useful, so easy to use, and most of all I love knowing I’m not using chemicals in my home that will harm my family.

Remember when I told you about the cleaning lady who was raving about Get Clean’s products?  Well, I told you about how she was loving (and ordering!) the Basic H, but I didn’t talk much about the Scour Off… she loved it so much she ordered two tubs of it.  It was so funny, she was like, “I can’t believe it!” and said she just had to get some.  😉

If you are like me and are trying to remove as many harmful things from your home as possible, take it from me, you do NOT need any crazy products like CLR or anything crazy toxic like that!  The Get Clean line can do it all – plus it’s cheaper, it’s nontoxic, and it works like a charm!  (Shaklee stands behind all their products – if you aren’t happy, you can get your money back – it’s as easy as that!)

You can order yourself a tub of Scour Off (and all the other awesome Get Clean supplies) by clicking here.

That’s it for today… I’d better go take care of the dishes in my sink… ha ha ha!  😉