Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weekend Retreat

Happy Spring!  (I think.)  It snowed all day Friday where we are, even though the evidence of that had disappeared by yesterday!  Crazy!  The temps are warming up though, and I am so ready for that.  These last uncomfortable weeks of my pregnancy have me dying to be able to walk around in my super-comfy maxi dresses and skirts.  Soon!  :-)

For us, March has been quite a month.  A better get the nursery ready--start buying local fresh meat and produce because yuck what are GMOs--Daddy's growing a beard--time to start fishing again--let's get the yard cleaned up--is it really the end of March already? kinda month.

Here's what I've learned:

The battle to keep stuff from taking over the house is never-ending.  Why is this?  I swear I feel like all I've done in the past several weeks is get rid of things...yet I look around and our home is still cluttered!  I guess when you have kids you have to accept that they have a lot of stuff, I just feel like we've been so intentional about guarding what we allow to come into our home for this very reason.  We're far from being minimalists, but we're also very particular about what we keep.  Maybe it's the fact that we've cleaned out our office to create a nursery and now we have this entire room that's full of stuff for a tiny person who's not even using any of it yet.  I don't know.  But it can be a little overwhelming sometimes.

My husband is awesome.  Okay, so I already knew this, but I just need to brag on him a little.  He's been picking up the slack with so much lately.  So far my third trimester has left me exhausted again, but there's not much I have to worry or feel guilty about with him around!  Thank goodness for him, he's been a huge blessing to have at home with me these past couple months.

"You don't need to fast before your glucose test." doesn't mean "Go ahead, eat what you want."  I learned this one the hard way.  I, for some reason, thought it appropriate to eat pancakes for breakfast and then a personal pan pizza for lunch and then show up for my blood test.  (Duh.)  Obviously I failed, causing me to have to go in to have the three-hour glucose test done.  That one I passed.  And that, my friend, is a lesson I will only have to learn once, I promise you that!  :-)

What about you?  How was your month? 

Now let's grab a cup of something delicious and get away for a little while!  Enjoy some of my favorite wanderings from the past month...

Kalyn over at Creative Savings has some awesome Easter basket ideas in case you're like us and don't want to spend a ton on candy and junk.

There's still enough of a chill in the air to appreciate a good soup, and when it's one that's no-fuss, done in the slow cooker...even better!  I'll definitely be trying this recipe from Tiffany at Creme de la Crumb!

There's such an abundance of info out there nowadays that it can quickly become overwhelming to learn about anything.  I love how Crunchy Betty gives us the most essential stuff all in one shot.

If you're a mom, you'll appreciate this one.  And probably come up with some ways you're the worst ever, too! 

I laughed out loud while reading this, but the heart of this is absolutely awesome.  Once again, Terri over at Letters to Lindsey speaks truth in love like only she can.

And, I'll leave you with this thought:

"Contentment is the equilibrium between the enjoyment of life now and the anticipation of what is to come." 
 ~Priscilla Shirer~

Friday, March 13, 2015

Note to My Younger Self

I turned 30 recently!  I smile when I think about the look on some people's faces lately when they've realized I hit this big milestone.  Some don't believe me.  Their eyes get huge and they exclaim, "What?!  No!  You don't look a day over 23!"  Why, thank you very much...I'll put that one in my pocket for later, for sure!

Others--those who are closer to me--raise their eyebrows and say things like, "Oh boy.  How does that make you feel?"  Which is equally comical to me, because it really doesn't make me feel any certain way.  But their reactions make me feel like I should feel a certain way about it.  Like I've turned a corner or something.

I get that it's a milestone.  I do.  It's a completely new decade, for one thing.

But can I be totally honest right now?  I'm feeling relieved.

For a few reasons.  Number one:  It's about time.  Seriously.  I feel like I've lived a full lifetime already, and for me?  It's almost like my number age is starting to catch up to my actual age.  Having to grow up a little too soon has always left me feeling more wise than I probably should be.  I'm thankful for this life experience now, but when you're a twenty-something year old girl with a high-pitched voice who "doesn't look a day over sixteen," people tend not to take you very seriously.  At least not as seriously as you feel you should be taken.  So, perhaps I'm also feeling like I've "earned" this new age.

Number two:  I am SO over my twenties.  In the course of reflection, I've come to realize that I've spent much of the last decade making mistake after mistake, piling on the regrets as if it were my career.  There are times when I ache with the want to go back and fix certain things.  I know now that with every single choice you make, you are making your life.  Back then I either didn't know this, or didn't care.  Probably a little of both.

And yet, I can't help but trust that it was all for a purpose.  True, I've veered from the path so many times that I should technically be lost for good.  But ultimately I realized I hadn't forgotten my compass after all.  True North is reliable no matter how far off the beaten path you are.

Besides...the windiest roads make the best drivers.  

So, after thinking about this for a while, I've decided that my experiences thus far--good and bad--have all gotten me to where I am today.  And I like where I am.  But if I had the chance to write a note to myself, at say twenty, with a list of things to at least start thinking about?  I would.

Here's what I'd write.

:: It's not all bad.  The road ahead is rough.  As was the one behind.  But there are going to be detours along the way that have breathtaking views.  Be careful not to speed along too fast in an effort to just make it through where you are currently.  As you know, some of the best things in life happen when we're really not looking for them, and often where we never think we'd find them. 

:: "They" weren't goes fast.  This saying is not thrown around lightly, as you will come to learn.  Your beautiful baby girl?  One night you're going to go to bed and wake up the next morning with this woman-child-like thing in your house, and you're going to wonder who the heck this is and what did she do with your baby?!  Time is precious, and not just with your children.  Please please please use it wisely.

:: That time that's so precious?  You're wasting it with all these "fun" things you think don't control you.  The drinking, the smoking, the lifestyle.  There is more to life than these temporary things.  Every minute you waste getting high is a minute you will never get back.  It's just not worth it.  One day you're going to look back and wish you had every single one of those minutes to do something different with.  Guaranteed.

:: It's ok to let go, and one day soon you will.  You struggle with a few "whys."  You carry burdens that are way too heavy.  Turns out you were never meant to know all the answers, and those burdens were never meant for you to carry.  A few years from now you will find the peace you've been searching for all this time.  And just you wait.  Rest from these things will come, I promise.

:: And last but certainly not least:  your daddy was are beautiful.  You are awesome.  You are worth it.  You make people proud.  And you do not need a man to confirm this.  Soon enough, though, a man will enter your life who will make you feel the way you deserve to feel.  He will love you unconditionally.  He will make you feel special.  He will be strong when you are weak, and carry you when you feel like you can't take another step.  He will rejoice with you on the mountaintops and sit with you in the valleys.  Don't worry, you'll know it when you meet him.  And just to be sure?  His name is Jesus.

What would you tell your younger self if you could? 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

10 Simple Household Cleaner Recipes

Making homemade cleaners.  Some do it to be green, some do it because it's cheaper, some do it for the health benefits, and most do it to take advantage of all three of these reasons.

I started making homemade laundry detergent last July in an effort to save money.  It seemed like every time I turned around it was on my shopping list and, even though I was never loyal to a specific brand and always chose instead to buy what was on sale, it added up!

I began my search online.  Although it was a little overwhelming at first to sort through the hundreds of recipes I found, I was able to find one I loved, and I can honestly say I'll never go back to store-bought!

What surprised me about my search was discovering how simple it would be to substitute homemade alternatives for every single cleaner I had underneath my sink, using just a couple of key things!  So, with nothing to lose, I made it my goal to use up all of the cleaners I currently had and to only be using homemade by the end of the year.

Some of the most powerful cleaning agents could already be found in my cupboards.  Yours too, I bet.  And what you don't have can be found pretty easily and inexpensively.  What's more, I can now breath easy (no pun intended) knowing that I've eliminated so many chemicals from our home! 

I still consider myself brand new to this type of thing, but I already feel like I've learned so much through this process.  I'm proud to say that we have now replaced all of our store-bought cleaners with homemade ones, and I wanted to share some of my favorite recipes with you.  Enjoy!

Multi-Purpose Cleaner

Fill a 32 oz spray bottle with water, leaving an inch or two to add the other ingredients.
Add about 2 Tbsp castile soap (My favorite scent is almond.)
Add 10-20 drops of tea tree oil

Shake gently and use wherever you would use your commercial multi-purpose cleaner.

*To disinfect a surface afterward, follow up by spraying vinegar on it and allowing it to evaporate.  Vinegar has natural microbial properties.

Soft Scrub
2 tsp vinegar
2 tsp cream of tartar

Combine ingredients and apply to your surface with a rag or cloth.  Allow to sit for about 10 minutes.  Scrub solution off and wash with hot, soapy water.

*Use large amounts of the paste for larger surfaces, just be sure to keep the proportions.

Carpet Powder

1/2 C baking soda
1/2 C Borax
About 20-25 drops of essential oil (I use cinnamon for this recipe.)

Mix ingredients and pour into an empty parmesan cheese shaker.

Sprinkle onto carpets about 20 minutes before vacuuming.  Vacuum as usual.

*Baking soda works just as well for odor elimination.

Fabric Refresher

1 C rubbing alcohol
1 C vinegar
10-20 drops of essential oil (lavender or grapefruit is lovely for this one)

Combine ingredients into a spray bottle and spray directly onto fabrics.

*Worried about the vinegar smell?  Don't!  It will naturally neutralize any odors and the smell disappears as soon as it dries.  The rubbing alcohol is there to simply carry the scent of the essential oil and will evaporate almost immediately.  (Cheap vodka can also be substituted in a pinch.)

*You can also put a couple of tablespoons of your favorite liquid fabric softener into a spray bottle and fill the bottle the rest of the way with water to create this if you're not concerned about using commercial fabric softeners.

Dusting Spray

1 C water
1/4 C vinegar
2 tsp olive oil
10-15 drops of essential oil (Citrus scents like lemon and orange are great for this recipe)

Combine ingredients into a spray bottle.  Shake before each use.  Spray directly onto furniture and buff off with a clean, dry, cloth.

Glass and Window Cleaner

1/4 C rubbing alcohol
1/4 C vinegar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 C hot water

Combine all the ingredients into a spray bottle.  Spray directly onto your surface and wipe with a clean, dry, cloth.  Shake well before each use.

*Cornstarch sounds like a weird ingredient for a glass cleaner, but it serves a great purpose.  Click the title of this recipe to read Crunchy Betty's explanation.

Floor Cleaner

1 gallon hot water
1 C vinegar
1/4 C Borax
10 drops essential oil (I like tea tree or lemon for this one.)

Combine ingredients and mop floors as usual, allowing to dry naturally.

Wood Floor Cleaner

1 gallon hot water
1/2 C olive oil
15 drops lemon essential oil

Combine ingredients and mop floors as usual.

Liquid Laundry Soap

Makes ten gallons.

4 C hot tap water
1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
1 C washing soda
1/2 C Borax

Grate the soap into the hot water and heat on the stove, stirring continuously, until all the soap is dissolved.  Fill a 5-gallon bucket half full of hot water.  Add the soap mixture and dry ingredients and stir.  Fill the bucket the rest of the way with more hot water.  Cover and allow to sit overnight.  Mixture will thicken.

Fill a clean, used laundry detergent bottle halfway with cleaner and then the rest of the way with water.  Shake well before each use, as mixture will gel.

Use about 5/8 C for each load.

*Homemade laundry soap does not suds like commercial soaps do.  This is ok!  I've learned that a ton of suds does not equal cleaner clothes.  Commercial detergents use too much soap, which is actually the reason why clothes come out stiff, causing you to need fabric softener.

Fabric Softener

2 C hair conditioner
3 C white vinegar
6 C hot water

Combine all ingredients and funnel into a container.  Use as you would your commercial fabric softener.

*Vinegar by itself will soften clothing, but this is a good recipe in case you love the added fragrance aspect.  A few drops of essential oils can be added to this as well.

*Again, a switch to homemade laundry soap should eliminate the need for fabric softener!

Now what about you?!  Do you have a favorite recipe or tip to share?  I'd love to hear it!  And if you try any of these, let me know how it turns out for you!