Thursday, March 13, 2014

Trying New Things

My goal as a mom and wife is to live as close to an eco-friendly life as possible on the small budget we have. That means making my own cleaners and eating organic, locally grown meats and vegetables whenever we can. That also means being creative with my meager budget. Pinterest. That's all I need to say. I seriously have a love affair. It's my go-to app when I have a question about how to do something or just need a little inspiration. I have a lot of pins, like almost two thousand a lot, but not enough time to devote to actually making most of them. This week I've decided I'm going to go for it! Pinterest has been my best friend when it comes to being an eco-friendly household, especially clean eating. Eating organic is expensive. There's just no way around that. One thing I'm doing to eat cleanly while still staying within our budget is making things myself. For example, this week I bought roasted peanuts and made my own peanut butter. I was a little hesitant about this endeavor because I have to be honest--peanut butter is something else I have a love affair with. I just don't like that commercially made ones, even all-natural ones, add more salt and sugar than what our bodies need. So I hit Pinterest to find a recipe. The first few I looked at needed additional oils which I didn't want and didn't have on hand so I kept looking. I finally found one that is just peanuts. That's it. Talk about simple! All you do is blend them in a food processor until it has a creamy consistency. Homemade peanut butter is a little different than the store kind of creamy because it's not completely smooth. And that's okay with me. I gave some to Little Love on her PBJ the other day and she was amazed at how much better it tasted. She loves it so much that she doesn't even want the jarred stuff anymore! Mom and Pinterest for the win!!

Another thing our family eats a lot of is bread (probably more than we realistically should). If you check out the label on your bread, I would bet that there's at least 4 or 5 ingredients that you can't even pronounce let alone have any clue what they are or why they're there. That was another alarm bell going off in my head so instead of buying prepacked bread with preservatives and fake coloring, I'm making ours from scratch. I love knowing exactly what is going into my food and know that I can make it much healthier (and cheaper!) than what I buy at the grocery store. And 9 times out of 10, it tastes much better than the commercial item! These endeavors definitely take up a little more of my time, but it's worth it. I want to teach my children that convenience isn't always better. Now, I'm not saying that our family will never eat things that aren't homemade again because that would be unrealistic. But I'm definitely going to do my best to limit my family's unnecessary exposure to chemicals, "fake" ingredients, and preservatives.

Two other projects I've tried recently is making my own detergent (different from my other posts) and deep cleaning the Pack N' Play we keep at my MIL's. I don't have pictures of either, unfortunately (I thought of that AFTER I was finished) but both projects turned out fantastically. In the powdered detergent version, I felt like my clothes weren't getting very clean and I suspect that the Fels Naptha isn't dissolving very well in cold water. We were still having problems with deodorant residue and food residue on the kids clothing. I went back to using Gain because I adore the scent, but really dislike the price (even with coupons) and all the added chemicals. It also wasn't getting my diapers very clean. I found a different version of laundry soap that uses the same ingredients as the powdered version, but you cook them instead. It's called Mom's Super Laundry Sauce from Budget101.com. Yes, this version takes a few extra minutes but it is totally worth it! I've been using this version for about 3 weeks and couldn't be happier with it. The first load of laundry I tested it on was... You guessed it! Diapers! If it can't get diapers clean, then it's not worth my time or effort. Well, my diapers came out better than clean. They went back to being just like new!! I am stoked that there isn't anymore funky smell and I don't have to strip them again with bleach. This version has had no issues getting our clothes clean either. This particular recipe makes 1/2 gallon which equals 128 loads because it's super concentrated and you only need 1 TBS per load--yes, it really does work with only 1 TBS, even large loads (I use 1/2 TBS if I'm doing a small load). I definitely will not switch back to commercial! The next time I make it, I'm going to try adding some essential oils to give it a nice smell. Moving on to the Pack N' Play. We got this particular one for free and knew the minute we picked it up that it had been stored in a musty basement (possibly from smokers?). It was pretty dirty and smelled horrible. We tried cleaning it with cleaners, spraying it with lysol, using a steamer... Everything we could think of but the smell still lingered and it was still dingy. I really didn't like my kids playing in it (thankfully it's our spare). My great friend and fellow Pinterest lover sent me a link on how to deep clean it. I was ALL. OVER. THAT. I picked up the play yard from my MIL and went right to work. It was so easy to do and only used 1 cap of baby laundry soap (I used Gain because it's what I had on hand), 1/4 cup baking soda, and a splash of vinegar. It came out looking and smelling great! (Click this for the instructions.)

On to the family update:

Bug is now almost 9 months old and still a total chunker! We finally got his acid reflux under control by switching his formula. It's to the point where he hasn't needed any acid reflux meds! Yay! He's finally starting to pull himself up onto his feet instead of to his knees and is crawling normally instead of army crawling. These both came about in the past week. I was getting worried about him not putting much weight on his legs or seeming disinterested in standing. The doctor said if he still isn't putting weight on them by his next check-up, then it was time for some physical therapy. I'm so happy that we don't have to go that route!

Little Love is doing great and is loving 3rd grade. The amount of work she's doing this year compared to last has been shocking. She's had so many tests this year but has aced each of them. I'm so impressed and proud that she's gotten back into reading. I feel like she really lost her love for it last year but since starting the Harry Potter series in September, has rekindled it. She's read through the first four books since then and is stoked to be on the 5th one. I absolutely adore that she's a girl after my own heart! Now, I just have to teach her to knit... ;-)

Love Bug just turned 2. I can't believe I'm saying, well typing, that! Two years old!! It feels like just yesterday I brought her home from the hospital and she was learning to roll over, crawl, and walk! She is such a bundle of joy and energy all the time. She's talking so much more than I remember Little Love doing at this age. I absolutely adore her antics and sweet nature. I also love that she's holding conversations with us. She says the funniest things and at the most inappropriate moments which makes what she says even more funny. One of my favorite phrases she's saying right now is, "Kristi! Kris! Mere!" (come here) while opening and closing both hands. She's so fascinated with everything. I forgot how much of a sponge they are at this age. Yesterday, we put a diaper on Nora and she kept lifting Nora's dress up to look at it, gasp, and put her hand over her mouth. Then she'd look at me. LoL! Right now, we're working on counting and numbers with her. She can mostly count to 10 but tends to skip 6.

I'm so stoked that spring is almost here! We've had a few 50+ degree days here but the ground is still sopping wet so going outside to play with the kids hasn't been an option. After today's temp plummet, we're supposed to be going back into the 50's for a few days. I'm hoping that the ground will dry enough that we can take the kids to the park. Harry has yet to get on/in a swing. Speaking of spring... I'm finally going to try my hand at gardening. Nothing too major, just lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes--my staple salad fixings. I've been wanting to try for years but have been hesitant due to my lack of green thumb (I've killed every house plant I have ever owned!). From what I read, these are some of the easiest veges to start with so we'll see how it goes. We're planning to purchase a 42 in. x 42 in. raised bed from Home Depot and place it on the right side of the house. I read a few articles on how to start your plants inside using newspaper and this method helps with better growing plants. This is just another way that I can help skim some from our grocery budget, eat healthier, and be more "green".

Well that's it for today. Until next time, much love and many blessings!


♥Courtney♥

Friday, September 6, 2013

Counting My Blessings

As I sit here with my pumpkin coffee, I can't help but count my blessings. As I was going through my day yesterday, I realized that while my life may sometimes feel like a train wreck, though it may sometimes be painful, I have so much to be thankful for. I have a beautiful home even though it's almost always a mess. I have a vehicle to take me wherever I want to go. I have 3 amazing children who I couldn't possibly love more. I have the most wonderful husband I could ever ask for. But most of all, I have a Lord who has blessed me beyond words and sometimes, I forget that. I admit it. There are times when I forget just how awesome and amazing God is!

I want to talk about my husband for a minute. We've shared our laughter, tears, joys, sorrows, and love for the past 6 1/2 years, 2 1/2 of those being married. I know it sounds cliche but I fall more in love with him everyday. He provides for our family so I can stay home and raise our children. He comes home after a long, tiring, and stressful day at work and helps me with dinner and the kids. He takes out the trash for me. He lets me have a kid-free evening to sit at Panera and knit with friends. He watches our children so I can volunteer with the PTA. There's a million other things that he does for us that I don't even know about because he chooses to do them without recognition. I am amazed everyday at the unconditional love he has shown, is showing, and will continue showing me until death do us part. I don't always remember to tell him how much I appreciate everything he does for our family and I don't always remember to be kind.

As I was sitting at Panera last night, we had a discussion on how we as wives aren't always kind to our husbands. Even though we may be joking at times, the words we say and how we say them can come across as biting or even downright mean. I have found myself being more knit-picky and annoyed with little things since Harrison has been born. After that conversation, I decided I'm going to find only positive things to say to my husband. I'm honestly curious how much better this will make our relationship and help our communication.

Now that all the sappy stuff is out of the way, here's the low-down at the Kramers over the past few months. At the beginning of June, Harrison was born. The transition of going from 2 to 3 kids was much harder than I anticipated. We had a lot of feeding issues in the first month and a half and it's was pretty crazy and stressful in our house (hence why you're only now getting an update). Since then, my Little Love has started 3rd grade (3rd grade!!) and is enjoying every minute of it! Things are starting to settle down and become more routine like now and I'm thankful for that. For awhile there, I thought I might pull all my hair out! It's been a roller coaster of emotions but I'm enjoying every minute of it; and yes, even those pull-out-my-hair and sobbing times!

On that note, I'm off to get my Little Love up for school. Next time, I'll update with some pictures. Until then, much love and many blessings!


♥Courtney♥

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Lysol(R) Power & Free(TM) Review



I used the wipes and cleaner on multiple surfaces and rooms in my home. The packaging on both products is very nice and eye-catching. The advertising of the smell and hydrogen peroxide activation was the first thing that caught my eye. The wipes container was very easy to open, and the center wipe was easy to find and thread, unlike many other brands I've tried in the past. The spray bottle was very easy to use as well. The nozzle has an on/off feature for safety that I really like and the trigger is easy to squeeze. My initial thoughts on the line are positive. I hadn't used either product before but have experiences with other Lysol products so I had very high hopes for this line.

I used the wipes first, specifically in my kitchen on the island. My initial reaction was the smell. I really didn't like the smell of the wipes as it was more chemical than I had anticipated. It did a very good job of cleaning the island which had some stuck on food and residue (specifically flour and dough from making stromboli). I did have to scrub some to get the food off, but it still did a good job cleaning. I really like that the wipe didn't leave any residue. The next place I used the wipe was on the kitchen sink. This is an area of my kitchen that gets used constantly; therefore, always needs some additional attention. It did a good job cleaning and disinfecting the sinks. I didn't have to use too much force or pressure to get them clean. Since the wipes don't leave residue, I think these wipes would be great to use on childrens' desks in classrooms.


After being pretty happy with the wipes, I couldn't wait to try the spray! I first used it in the bathrooms on the sinks and toilets. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the results and ease of use! My initial reaction to the smell was amazing (and wishing the wipes smelled the same!). The citrus scent is light and clean, not at all chemical-like. I liken it to the smell of a plug-in. The spray gives nice coverage when held about 12 inches away (I didn't try it any closer). I had some toothpaste stuck on the faucet of the kids bathroom and contact solution on the sink in my bathroom. I let the spray sit for about a minute and everything wiped off incredibly easy. I didn't have to use any force and very minimal pressure. (I used an old cloth diaper prefold as my rag.) I really like that the spray covers well, doesn't foam, and smells wonderful. I don't feel like I have to air out the house when using it and it's safe to use around the kids. The next place I used the spray was in the kitchen on the counters and sink. It did a really great job cleaning both areas. Again, I didn't have to scrub or apply a lot of pressure to get them clean. My only negative experience with the spray is when used on stainless steel sinks, it leaves a film. What I mean by this is that the sink is left looking dull. Normally when using other cleaners, my sink is pretty shiny. I don't know if that has something to do with a chemical found in those other cleaners but I have to be honest and say that it really doesn't bother me so much that I wouldn't continue using it.

Here's the before and after shots of my kitchen sink:




All in all I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with this line and will definitely continue using it!


♥Courtney♥

Although I was given the opportunity to try these products for free as a BzzAgent, the above opinions and experiences are 100% mine. :-)