Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Family, Home, and Me with Tara

My old high school friend, Tara, is next up on our FHandM series. If you are a mom who is trying to juggle a million things on top of taking care of your child, you need to check out her blog, TurboMommy. She is a work from home mom with a beautiful 8-month-old boy and she covers organization tips she uses in running her household as well as stories about her beautiful little family.  

photo courtesy of Picture People

"As a work from home mom it is so easy to get caught up in the everyday hustle and bustle of taking care of a baby, home and work. Most days before I know it, it is 9 o’clock and my husband, Eric, and I haven’t spent any time together. So, Eric and I decided that his days off are family days. (Which are not the typical Saturday, Sunday. It changes weekly)

We block out technology and focus on spending time as a family.

Our favorite things to do include:
-Hikes at the local state park
-Walk/run/workout sessions at a soccer field
-Play board games

We have made the conscious effort to be 100% present in mind and in body on those days because nothing is more important than family. Everything else can wait."

"There are a few things I have discovered that make running my home a little bit smoother. When it comes to cleaning the house I found with a baby, I only have a short window at nap time to get everything done. So, I have to clean a little bit everyday, which is much easier and less overwhelming than doing it all at once.

My husband also reduces my stress level by helping me with Kolton when I need to focus as well as cooking majority of the daily dinners. We sit down every Sunday and plan our meals for the week." (check out her ingenious Weekly Menu Board!) "Then as long as Eric isn’t working the night shift he’ll cook dinner because he loves to cook. He is the type of guy that can throw things in a pan and it would be a gourmet meal.

photo courtesy of Tara

My husband is a huge part of keeping our family happy and running smoothly, and I could not feel more blessed because of him.

One thing that I learned when I became a mom was that the things that I took for granted before are the things that I now cherish the most. It is the simple things in life that give the most joy."

"When I was pregnant with Kolton I kept hearing about how I would never shower and never dress well again! I made myself a promise that I would take a shower everyday and not stray from my style just because I am a mom. I would be the young, cool mom.

At first the portable play mat and Boppy were the perfect solution. He would play or just sit while I was in the shower, and I could keep and eye on him. Trying to shower while he slept in his crib just made me rush and nervous.

Now that he is older and starting to be more mobile, the bouncy seat is the perfect thing while I shower. However, I can see the day coming where I have to get up before Kolton in order to get ready for the day. Until then though, I will enjoy “sleeping in”. (If you call 6 am sleeping in.)

photo courtesy of Tara

Taking a shower may seem like such a simple task but it is my time to put my self together for the day, which makes me feel so much more confident in myself.

I have known Kensie since high school, it has been so wonderful watching her family grow and flourish over the years. It means so much to me that she asked me to guest blog! Thank you Kensie!"

Thanks, Tara, for sharing your advice with us. Don't forget to check out Tara's blog, TurboMommy. Right now she is doing series of stories from when she was pregnant.

If you are interested in contributing to the Family, Home, and Me series, please email me at gracefullykensie [at] gmail [dot] com.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Family, Home, and Me with Beth

Beth is a really good friend of mine and is sharing her part of the FHandM series today. Beth started her blog, Mes Aventures, while she was studying abroad in France a few years ago and it has grown and changed with her as she's finished school, started teaching, and been married. She might just be the most genuinely kind person I've ever met. I had to say goodbye to her recently for a couple of months while she followed her cute husband to DC for an internship, but school will be starting up again soon which means she'll be heading back here to teach 3rd grade. Yay!

photo courtesy of Gina Edwards

"One of my husband and my favorite recipes is a crock pot recipe, Caribbean Pot Roast.  It comes from Taste of Home Most Requested Recipes, 2012 edition.  I don't have pictures of every step, but here is the finished product."  

    photo courtesy of Taste of Home Most Requested Recipes, 2012 edition
  • 2 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 boneless beef chuck roast (2-1/2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking cocoa
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce

  • Place potatoes, carrots and celery in a 5-qt. slow cooker. In a large skillet, brown meat in oil on all sides. Transfer meat to slow cooker.
  • In the same skillet, saute onion in drippings until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Combine the flour, sugar, brown sugar, seasonings, orange peel and cocoa. Stir in tomato sauce; add to skillet and heat through. Pour over beef.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until beef and vegetables are tender. Yield: 10 servings.

Nutritional Facts: 3 ounces cooked beef with 1/2 cup vegetable mixture equals 278 calories, 12 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 74 mg cholesterol, 453 mg sodium, 16 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 25 g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1/2 fat.

"I'm not going to tell about some unknown strategy or cleaning solution that no one has ever heard of before. If that was what you were expecting, sorry.  What I would like to share is about some often forgotten deep cleaning places.  Usually when people deep clean they do a great job of cleaning out the inside of their fridge, scrub the floor really well, wash all of the comforters on the beds, vacuum under the cushions in the couch, and if they're feeling really ambitious, perhaps inside the cupboards in the kitchen.  Some often overlooked places during spring-cleaning (that can make all the difference when it comes time to move suddenly or your contract ends, etc.) are: 

1. Scrubbing the kitchen floor UNDERNEATH your fridge
2. Vacuuming all the dust out of the BACK of your fridge that get sucked in by the fan (who knows what it's there for)
3. Those of you with swamp coolers--vacuuming out the dust or taking the cover off and rinsing the hot air return cover
4. Dusting/cleaning off blinds (especially the vertical blinds)
5. Washing the ceiling in your bathroom
6. If you have kids, washing the door frames at their level
7. Cleaning your microwave (though I try to do this every week so it doesn't ever become scary)
8. Cleaning the drawer underneath your stove that is called the "warming drawer" but that everyone uses for pans
9. Scrubbing the drip pans on the oven
10. Vacuuming your closet and dusting off the shelves

Here are some before and after pictures from my adventures with cleaning the drip pans on my stove. (Note: I have an old oven/stove where I couldn't lift up the top of the stove to clean the inside; that fact alone makes cleaning the drip pans and space underneath a once a year challenge.)"

photos courtesy of Beth

"One of my hidden talents is my ability to alphabetize and my love of doing so.  I love alphabetizing files. I love alphabetizing my students homework, projects, notes from home, permission slips, etc.  I think about my students in terms of alphabetization--when I'm trying to figure out who is missing during the fire drill, or on the field trip bus, or with doing lunch count I use my mental alphabet list. I've found that I've been able to store a lot of information in my mind about my students based on having organized them alphabetically in my mind.  However, my love of alphabetizing doesn't end with my job as an elementary teacher; I alphabetize things for church, and when it used to just be my books, sometimes I would organize my books alphabetically (now it's more by genre or subject type).  Maybe my love of alphabetizing came because my maiden name started with a Y and I had to learn all the rest of the alphabet before we got to my last name letter or the agony of sitting through around 600 other seniors in my high school graduation waiting for it to get to my turn.  Whatever the reason or cause, I am a pro at alphabetizing."

Thanks, Beth, for sharing with us. That recipe sounds incredible! You can follow Beth on her blog, Mes Aventures.

If you are interested in contributing to the Family, Home, and Me series, please email me at gracefullykensie [at] gmail [dot] com.

Monday, June 17, 2013

24 hour date

Let me start out by saying my husband is as amazing as they come. He's pretty laid-back and chill so when it comes to date night, I'm usually the one finding a babysitter, checking movie times, calling for reservations, etc. However, he went above and beyond the other day. I dropped the kids off at my aunt's house for a full 24 hours and we started our date around 12:30 pm. I had no idea what we were going to do. Mitch planned the entire thing. I was so freaking excited and the whole thing definitely lived up to my expectations.

Getting ready to take off. 

We went to Tucanos for lunch. Mitch actually put a lot of thought into where we went to eat. I've been doing a semi-Paleo diet recently, which is really easy to do at a Brazilian Steakhouse. It was very sweet of him. 

Then, we went to a movie. Mitch picked out The Internship. I don't know that I recommend it. There were funny parts, don't get me wrong, but I'm not going to buy it for my collection or anything. I still had a great time being with my favorite guy.

After the movie, we went home and changed. Mitch packed up a picnic (I had no idea what food at the time) and we headed up Provo canyon to this sweet little camping spot where he set up our tiny barbecue and grilled some chicken for a salad.  He'd gone online and found a Paleo recipe to make for our dinner up the canyon. Isn't he so cute?! 

We actually ended up eating it in the car because of all the bugs flying around. It was still sweet and yummy nonetheless. Mitch took me to this hiking spot afterwards and we ended up hiking all the way to the top of the mountain! Not what he had originally planned, but we had some time to kill before the next activity. The scenery was absolutely amazing! Hands down the prettiest trail I have ever been on in my life. There was a couple getting their engagement photos taken there, that's how pretty it was. 

My poor attempt at a shot of us. 

  That tiny grey speck in the middle is our car. We'd only gone about 1/3 of the way up at that point.

There was a point where we were completely surrounded by a field of these beautiful yellow flowers. It was a definite "The hills are alive..." moment!

There aren't words to describe the view we saw at the top. Absolutely breathtaking. I didn't even bother taking pictures of it because I knew there was no way they would do it justice. I turned to Mitch and said "I wish there was a camera that could capture what my eyes are seeing. A screen has such a limited range." In response, he said, "That's probably how it's supposed to be. A screen can't capture everything. You need to be present in the moment." 

Boom. Can you say profound?

And then, less than 10 minutes later, I hear, "I just punched a bee!" Gotta love him. 

 "I'm on top of a mountain!"

Our last activity he had planned for the night was watching the sunset. He had come prepared with drinks and a blanket so we could snuggle up. We went out to lunch the other day and he had gotten orange soda as his drink. I took a sip and said something to the effect of, "Oh my gosh, it's been so long since I've had this. It's SO good!" He remembered and he brought me an orange soda for our sunset. So very thoughtful. 

We ended up staying out super late with friends going bowling and getting some middle of the night breakfast and then sleeping in until 11:30 in the morning (something that NEVER happens), but my favorite parts of our long date were when it was just Mitch and me. We hardly get to spend quality one on one time together what with 2 little munchkins running around, so this date was very very special to me. 

I don't want to forget to say a happy belated father's day to that gorgeous guy, my wonderful husband. You are the most amazing dad to our children and I wouldn't want anyone else doing the job. We all love you so much and are so grateful for all you do. I am so proud of you and am thrilled that we get to spend eternity together as a family. I freakin love you, babe!

Friday, June 14, 2013

DIY, reusable, knock-off Clorox Wipes

I'm in love! This might be one of my favorite homemade cleaning products I've made to date. Homemade knock-off Clorox wipes. It's honestly 100% better than the real deal. It's cheaper, eco-friendly, kid-friendly, and just plain more affective! I tried a different recipe first, but I didn't like the idea of using rubbing alcohol on all the things my kids are going to touch and/or put in their mouths, so I searched for other alternatives and I found this one

I started by cutting up about 3 old T shirts into Clorox wipe-size rectangles. I had an old baby wipe container laying around that was just perfect to keep these in. You can just toss them all in, but I'm the personality that needs to fold them up neatly so I did. Then I mixed together the recipe below.

I liked the idea of putting the recipe on the back of the container. Now I don't have to go scouring Pinterest to find the recipe each time I need it. I poured the mixture on top of the pile of rags and now I just shake it up a little each time I need one. And when I say "each time I need one", I mean about every hour. 

I have to try really hard to remember not to throw the wipes away after I use them and I toss them on the shelf over my washer and dryer. That way, I can dump them all int he washer at once and they go straight from the dryer back into their container. 

It's obvious that the cloth wipes will be more durable than the store-bought, disposable ones, but the texture of the material is also better for scrubbing. And one of these babies will last me WAY longer. I can wipe out both my bathroom sinks and my whole kitchen counter with only one wipe! It used to take me 3 Clorox wipes just to do my counter. Like I said before, this project is cheaper, eco-friendly, kid-friendly, and just plain more affective! 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

7x7 Remix; Linking up with Putting Me Together

lace top: old navy (shop); patterned top: dress barn (old); lavender button down: old navy (shop); shorts: altered by me; striped skirt: altered by me (similar); mint skinnies: charlotte rouse (sold out, similar); gold flats: payless (shop)

Today I'm linking up with one of my favorite blogs, Putting Me Together, to do a 7x7 Remix. I've never done anything like this on this blog before and I'm so excited! I had so much fun mixing and matching. Some of my favorite ensembles came as a big surprise to me (see 2+6+7). Who knew that they would work so well together? Scroll down to see my favorite combos I came up with and click on the button at the bottom to head back to the host page to see many more remixes. 

scarf: target (old); bracelet: no longer in business

I was definitely not a collared shirt kinda gal growing up. The last thing I wanted to be was classic. I was all original, at least in my own eyes. Now, though, I've definitely come around to the idea. I love how I can go out with 5-day-old unwashed hair, no makeup and a button down and still feel put together. 

I apologize for my glowing white shirt. Still working out the kinks of smartphone-tography. 

This is one of my favorite tops right now and probably one of my favorite outfits, too. It has the air of a simple white tee and shorts combo, but the lace texture makes it a bit more interesting. This outfit is very casual and simplistic and I tried to keep with that spirit when picking accessories. 

I was so excited when I put these two pieces together. I was very worried it would be too much but I'm LOVING the contrast. I think it's just different enough that it works. 

necklace: lia sophia (old)

This skirt was originally a dress that I picked up at a brand new vintage shop down the street called Encore Thrift Shop. The dress was cute, but all those stripes were just way too overpowering on my short frame. So I took some scissors and my sewing machine to it and made a cute, casual skirt. This might be my favorite piece in this entire remix. It will go with anything from a simple graphic tee to classic blouse, which means it will also go from running errands to a casual date night to church. 

This is my go-to template for the everyday, running errands outfit. It might not be that lavender shirt and it might not be those exact shorts, but it's usually pretty darn close to the picture above. Like I mentioned before, the button down makes it feel put together no matter what I do but it's still casual enough that I can wrestle with kids and get stuff done. 

yellow necklace: very jane (old)

I love love love the pattern mixing trend that's been going around and this just might be my favorite example of that in my wardrobe. The two pieces compliment each other because of the similar black coloring but contrast enough that the visual element here is striking. If that's not enough, I decided to add a bright yellow statement necklace to add another bit of interest to the outfit. 

I didn't love this outfit when I first planned it out. I had the white top and the mint jeans, but it felt like I was missing something. It didn't feel like a complete look to me. I considered layering the lavender top over the white one and leaving it open, but I wasn't a huge fan of that either. It still felt like something was needed to bring it all together. I was rummaging through my accessories when I found this scarf that I've had for years that I'd completely forgotten about. This scarf really pulls the outfit together. The green water color effect stands out against the white top and it compliments the mint jeans really well without being too matchy. I think its just what this outfit was crying out for. What do you think?

I had so much fun with this project and I hope you enjoyed seeing what I came up with. It's always good to have a little reminder that, with a well-designed wardrobe and a little creativity, you can make many outfits from just a few pieces. (sorry about the major corniness of that last sentence)

Click the button to head back to the host page where you can see what Audrey came up with for her 7x7 remix and any other bloggers who link up as well.