Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pamper Yourself With What is in Your Kitchen

Craving a little self-love?  Being stuck inside again after such beautiful 70 degree days, I’m feeling a bit frumpy.  So I’ve decided to throw a little all-natural pampering into my weekend.  Last week was particularly hard on our family.  Doc worked more than usual and with his commute tied in, he barely saw Little Bird most days.  Our school now has longer days, so I spend several more hours at work last week.  Trying to make the most of the time I did have at home with my family, I felt very run down when I woke up this morning.  So, it’s time to recharge!

Here are a few ways to make yourself a Spa Day at home.

I suggest making your “at home pampering” supplies first, then lighting candles, listening to soothing music, and spending a little bit of time relaxing and taking care of yourself.

If your cuticles dry out easily, this is a remedy I love.  Try warming olive oil (vegetable oil works as well) in a bowl in the microwave for a few seconds. I normally start with 5 seconds on the microwave and then see if it needs more.  Hot oil burns. Then soak hands and fingertips in the warm (not hot) oil.  For those of you who wash your hands a lot or use drying agents like hand sanitizer, this is a great way to restore moisture to your hands!

Dry Skin Scrub – many of us love those expensive store bought scrubs that leave our skin feeling silky and shining.  You can make them at home easily using sugar!  This website has a wonderfully easy recipe using sugar, olive oil, and lemon juice (optional).

If your hair is craving a little TLC, try mashing up bananas!  Bananas will leave your hair full of volume and feeling incredibly silky.  It just takes FOREVER to get out!

Face Masks:

Dry Skin – smash an avocado, put it on our face, wait 20 minutes, rinse with warm water, then flush with cold.

Oily Skin – Mix oatmeal and baking soda with water to make a paste, then apply on face and rub gently.

Acne – Rub egg yolk on your face, allow to dry, then rinse with hot water, then flush with cold.  For variations on this you can look here.  I tried adding honey and loved it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Goodbye Facebook. Doubt I will miss you…

I am declaring my independence from the Social Network.

I hold these truths to be self evident, all friends are not created equal.  That I should be endowed with certain rights, among these the right to not having every obscure relative tracking my daily life, the right to privacy settings that can keep people I don’t want to stay in contact with from seeking me out repeatedly, and the right to read updates about friends and family without chain letters and quiz results cluttering up my space.

I have “liked” many facebook petitions requesting these things be changed, but as Facebook is an “f you! we’re free! we do what we want!” maniac who changes the format every two weeks without fair notification, I can no longer remain part of this monster.

I miss real friends.  Ones you call instead of texting or facebooking.  Ones you even write letters to… 

I miss actually catching up with family instead of just filling in the gaps left between photos and statuses.  

I miss facebook being an open forum to post your thoughts on what idiots Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin are without having to worry about conservative relatives knowing that you are *shhhh* liberal.

So goodbye facebook, I don’t need you. It was cool when you were young, but you’re stretched and floppy now.  It’s like being in a club.  It’s cool until everyone is a member and then what’s the point.

Friends – you have until Friday to snag any pictures I have posted that you want before the account goes static.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Using Mother Nature to cure problems caused by…well, mother nature…


Due to three months of my life that were sucked away a little over 3 years ago, I will most likely never feel comfortable taking any form of hormonal birth control again - which means the benefits of hormone birth control (like fewer cramps, lighter periods, etc.) are gone, gone, gone.

So, I started thinking – other than Oral Contraceptives, what are my choices at regulating those lovely little side effects of being a woman that mother nature dumps on my doorstep.

The best ideas I found were at

So I tested some out.  My findings are in green.

  1. Eat a healthy balanced diet and limit sugar, salt, and caffeine the week before you expect your period. The healthy diet seems to be a big help – but my energy level drops really low the week before, so limiting caffeine is a problem.  I also take a prenatal vitamin daily and that seems to keep me from being AS tired as I used to be.
  2. A warm bath. I find that they help WHILE I’m in the bath, but as soon as I get out, we’re back to square 1 OR it gets worse.
  3. Lay down in a fetal position to relieve back pain.  I actually kind of love this recommendation because when I lay in the fetal position it’s generally because I hurt so bad I can’t do anything and it feels like defeat.  Now that it’s recommended, I’ll feel like I'm “treating” my symptoms!
  4. Regular exercise and mild exercise when cramping.  This is definitely the biggest help.  We went for a bike ride and my pain level was drastically lower for the rest of the day and part of the next.  Super helpful.
  5. Raspberry leaf tea. I took this when I was pregnant to get ready for birth – I can’t stand the taste anymore because of it – and I always recommend talking to a doctor before you use anything herbal – because it is still a chemical like any drug that can interact with something else you are taking.
  6. Pineapple juice
  7. Acupuncture, reflexology, massage…Massages are helpful.  For anything.  I think they help the mental aspects more than anything because I actually relax.

Of course, when you don’t have time to lay around in the fetal position, sipping pineapple juice, getting massages, and treating ourselves to natural remedies and hoping they work fast enough to keep us from snapping at someone or crying at TV ads – there is ibuprofen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Simplify Your Bedroom

The last year has brought many wonderful changes to our family.  One of these things is a steady income.  Thanks to that, Doc and I have finally been able to start going through old things and putting together furniture, artwork, and decorating our home in a way that reflects who we are as a family and our ideals.  We have simplified by removing clutter and are now focusing on replacing our “hand-me-down” starter furniture we were given when we got married with pieces that are earth and family friendly.

The easiest of our rooms to attack first was the bedroom.

I think Redbook put it best.  If there is anything in your bedroom that doesn’t pertain to:

A.) Sex

B.) Sleeping

…then get rid of it.

Especially if you have kids.  Your room is your sanctuary.  Keep it that way. 

No kid toys allowed.  No TV.  No clutter. 

I will tell you that since removing everything not pertaining to A or B, my room feels so much more relaxing.  I walk in, and feel tension leave.  Love. It.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Love Day Treats


Today Little Bird and I made Love Day treats!  I have made this modified form of “haystack” for Doc as a Valentine’s gift for a long time.

Here is what you need:


Ruffles, Peanut Butter, Walnuts, Meltable Chocolate, Butterscotch Chips, some sort of mold or tray and ziplocs for smashing!

These are kind of like a no-bake cookie.  You start off by melting some of the chocolate and pouring it into the bottom of the molds.


I left one of the molds empty because one of my coworkers doesn’t like chocolate and peanut butter together.

Next you have mash the potato chips into little pieces.  I use the whole bag and smash them in small groups.

Smashing up potato chips is the best part!  Just ask Little Bird:





Next you have to melt the butterscotch chips and about a cup of peanut butter.  I like to use a wooden skewer to stir things like this because I don’t end up wasting a bunch of food that gets stuck on the stirring device.  You want to melt it at 30 second increments until it is smooth.  Then you stir the melted butterscotch peanut butter in with the potato chips and about a cup of chopped IMG_1482walnuts!  I would recommend buying the walnuts you use already chopped because chopping them myself sucked. was a rewarding yet time consuming activity.

You will stir these all together until everything is nice a coated with the mixture.  You want it to be pretty clumpy.  It should be a nice golden color.  Now all you have to do is press the mixture into your molds on top ofIMG_1490 the chocolate.  I used a spoon to do this (which Little Bird loved licking after I was done!)




Now simply put them in the freezer for about an hour and VOILA!


I made heart shaped ones and “cupcake” style ones to give to friends and family for Love Day!  You can pop the shapes out of silicon molds, but otherwise, sticking with something like cupcake wrappers is the easiest as far as getting them out of the tray and into your wrappings.

I put the treats in pretty boxes and then stored them in the freezer until it’s time to give them.  They can also be stored in the refrigerator but you probably want to keep them there until it’s time to give/eat!



Haystacks were something Doc’s grandma used to make.  She passed away around this time of year.  I like making these around now because it seems like a good way to remember her.  Even though it’s my own variation – the smell reminds me of her, and how excited she was when we’d bring her some.

Happy Love Day

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I may as well rename my blog…

to “Real Simples Biggest Promoter Ever”!!

Ok, I rave about it all the time, but hell – it has amazing stuff!

Real Simple Magazine is the only magazine I subscribe to or buy.  I actually use a lot of the stuff in it, love the articles, and swipe the recipes constantly because they are actually practical!

This month, they had a list of 30 super healthy foods to include in your diet.  I liked this list because it made me realize that I am already doing a great job of feeding my family really healthy foods!

Of the 30, I already frequently serve these:

  • Black Beans
  • Broccoli
  • Chicken Breasts
  • Edamame
  • Eggs
  • Extra-virgin Olive Oil (EVOO for you Rachel Rae fans)
  • Oatmeal
  • Oranges
  • Peanut Butter
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Yogurt (nonfat Greek)

I don’t think that 11 off the list is that bad at all!  We’re adding Blueberries and Walnuts to our breakfast routine to fit two more in.

One of my biggest efforts in our lives has been to revamp how we eat.  I’ve been working on this goal for two years now.  I try to keep ingredients simple.  I buy all the fresh veggies and fruits I can (frozen when I can’t) – keep the proteins lean and the grains whole wheat.

The result has been incredible in how we feel and how we feel about food.  It really says something when fast food actually sounds awful (with the exception of Taco Bell…I still love crunch wrap supremes). 

Anyway, you can hit up their website to look for something fun to try.  I’ll be hitting up this one next week!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Love Day

Valentine’s Day is not something I have ever really celebrated.  As far as the commercialization of it, I’m not really a fan.  Doc and I became engaged on February 23rd, and often celebrate our “Engagemaversary” instead. 

However, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about expressing love for others.  I don’t think I’m necessarily that good at it.  I certainly don’t tell the people I love that I care about them often enough.  I also think I could improve at showing my appreciation for people as well. 

So this year, I’m thinking of Valentine’s Day as Love Day: a day to express love to those you care about. 

I thought I’d share this idea with those of you who may be looking for a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day apart from simply celebrating your romantic relationship (or feeling like your lack of one is being pointed out).


This year I am mailing letters to people I care about.  I want to show them that I appreciate them, even if I suck at showing it most of the time.

Does one day and one card make up for it? No.  But it’s probably a good start.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Quiet Time

The recent week off from work has given us time to implement “Quiet Play” time for Little Bird.  Instead of laying her down for a nap, we lower her lights, turn on quiet music, and shut her doors.  She plays alone, in her room quietly, and naps if she chooses to.  This has worked really well.  She hasn’t been upset about it, and we often hear blocks being stacked or her reading her books while she is relaxing.

However, this method does have a side effect.

Randomly falling asleep.






I was going to climb in bed, but I just couldn’t make it.









I was watching you under the door.  You were boring.





And the money shot!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Eat Simply–A Green and a Yellow


Some of you might have remembered the ole “eat a green and a yellow vegetable everyday” adage.  I like it.  It adds color to my meals and helps me plan out healthier food.

You can read about the benefits of different fruits and vegetable colors here.  My mom made sure we had a green and yellow daily (normally green beans and corn).   I try to keep our meals colorful and switch it up, but I have two staples that I love to turn to when I need a quick healthy and delicious side to add to my diet.

Carrots and Peas!  So here are some simple ways to cook vegetables that are delicious, family (meaning picky men and baby) friendly, and require very little work on your part.

Ginger Carrots


Thanks to a wonderful gift from family last Christmas (thanks Diane!) we now have a vegetable steamer!


If, however you do not have one, you can always microwave cut up carrots (organic please) in a dish with a little bit of water and cover the dish with plastic wrap.  When they are done, ginger them up!  They add a nice little zing to the vegetable that makes them taste fancy!

Mint Peas


You can buy frozen peas that steam in the bag.  Follow instructions, sprinkle with mint.  Voila!  You have a neat little dish that is amazing for you and pretty tasty.