Monday, September 30, 2013

Halloween costumes!

I'm the type of mom {and person} who likes things matchy matchy.

I know this is like the ultimate fashion don't, but I love it.  I like my clothing and accessories to match and I really love it when I can dress the kids in similar looking outfits and coordinate them to the adorable maximum possible.

As it's often really hard to find matching outfits for our kids since we have one boy and one girl, I can't wait for this Halloween, where the possibilities are endless.

We already had a Tigger costume at home for Little Man from an awesome hand-me-down, so this year all I needed was a costume for Little Lady.  After shopping around, I found a gently loved Piglet costume for less than $10, and we are all set!

I seriously cannot wait for the cuteness that is about to ensue in these costumes.  Now, if I could only convince DH that we need to wear coordinating costumes...

Have you planned your children's Halloween costumes yet?

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Since when did the dentist's office become about that?

I've been to the dentist quite a few times these past few months.  After going in for a cleaning and finding I had multiple cavities, it required several appointments {five, to be exact ... not that I was counting} to get all of the work done.

Since our last dentist had moved away {which was part of the reason why I hadn't been seen in so long - as he left sometime during Little Lady's pregnancy}, I started all of the work with a new dentist in town who has been really great throughout all the various visits.

Until the last one.

Now, I still do like the dentist.  He's a really nice guy, and great at what he does.  But at the end of my last visit, instead of saying, "Okay, see you in 6 months for your next cleaning!", instead he asked me if I wanted to do professional teeth whitening.

The fact that he offered teeth whitening didn't bother me so much, but how he said it did.  He offered it after commenting on the fact that my teeth weren't as white as they could be and that some of the other girls my age often get their teeth whitened because they like how it looks with their appearance, implying that I should feel the same way.

I know that part of his job is to sell his services because he has to eat too, but it just came off in a way I didn't appreciate.  Mainly, as I was sitting there talking to him about it, I was thinking of my baby daughter.  Thinking of how no matter where you go - even the dentist - as a woman you're being judged on your appearance and told you need to look a certain way or conform to a certain standard.  I was thinking about how I would feel if someone said that to her, and how upset I would be if someone did say something to Little Lady like that.

I know part of this could be an overreaction due to insecurity, but at the same time I also feel like this is one of the reasons why women sometimes don't feel comfortable in their own skin.  I mean, if I can't even go to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned without hearing about how I could look better physically, it's sending a strong message.

I know that I do things to make myself look a certain way, like coloring my hair or wearing make-up.  But that's because I like how I look that way, it makes me happy - it's not because someone else told me I wasn't meeting the standards of the other females in my age group.

That night I went home and thought about it a little.  I realized that there was no way in heck I either wanted or needed to have my teeth professionally whitened and that anyone who thinks that's something I should do doesn't matter enough to me to bother with it.  I'm happy in my own skin.  I'm happy with who I am.  That includes who I am on the inside and on the outside - even if it isn't perfect, even if I like some parts and not others, even if maybe my teeth aren't as white as they can be.

It's who I am, and I'm just fine with that.

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

TNO's Tips & Tricks 35 - Slow Cooker Liners

Earlier this week I posted on the blog about how we've started monthly crock pot cooking, which has been fantastic so far!  A few hours of cooking for an entire month's worth of meals - with no time spent each day thinking about what I'm going to serve for dinner or trying to wrangle two small children while cooking?

Sign me up.

However, one thing about crock pot cooking that I absolutely despise is the clean-up.  Sure, it's just one pot - and how hard can that be?  Well... it's only one simple, easy pot until you consider how long the food has been able to sit and bake onto the bottom and sides.

Baked-in food on our slow cooker has to be one of my least favorite cleaning jobs in the whole house, because it takes forever and I never feel like it gets as clean as I'd like it to be - until I found slow cooker liners.

You all know I'm pretty crunchy.  I try to use as few plastic products as possible to decrease our waste, and I'm conscious about our environmental footprint.  But the battle of scrubbing my crock pot is just not one I'm wiling to fight every day of the monthly crock pot challenge, leading to our use of liners.

{Health-wise, slow cooker liners are made of similar material to an oven bag used for cooking turkey or other items, are approved by the FDA for food use, and are BPA free if you're using the Reynold's brand like we do!}

If you've never used a slow cooker liner, it's basically just a thin piece of plastic you place in the crock pot prior to adding your food.  The liner acts as a barrier between the pot and the food, so any gunk you have that gets baked into the bottom and sides of the pot is baked onto the liner and not your pot.

crock pot life hack kitchen solutions

DH claims that he can get the liner not to leak at all because he doesn't stir very much when food is in the pot, but I'm an impatient crock pot cook and stir a few times a day as I'm running past the kitchen with the kids.  Typically, I do see a few leaks from the bottom of the liner, but most of the time it is just liquids.  In that case, I can just give the pot a quick wash with soap and water and the mess is completely gone with the pot being ready for the next day's meal.

It's as easy and as simple as that!

Have you ever used a slow cooker liner?

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Norwex Review!

A few weeks ago, I was on our local news station to highlight a green cleaning company - Norwex.  A local representative, Angie, sat down with me and chatted about the products, and I'd love to share her answers to my questions with you!

1.  What is Norwex?

Norwex is the new way to clean!  The company focuses on cleaning without chemicals. Pretty smart, right?  Norwex all began with ONE cloth - the Envirocloth which is a microfiber cloth spun with microsilver. It's the "everything" cloth for all purpose cleaning. It is a high quality micro fiber traps in the dirt, grease and grime, while the micro silver technology goes to work inhibiting bacteria, mold and virus growth. No more stinky cloths and no more chemicals.  

Cleaning with Norwex products will save you TIME, MONEY, HEALTH and the ENVIRONMENT!

2.  How did you discover the company?

A family friend asked (read begged) me to have a Norwex party for her.  I did NOT want to do it, I was very happy with my vinegar and essential oil mixtures I had been using for the last couple of years.  But feeling obligated and a bit intrigued, I finally agreed to host a demo and I’m SO happy I did.  Norwex has changed my life, made my home healthier and has made this momma happier knowing that I’m not introducing harmful chemicals to my munchkins.

3.  What made you become a consultant?

I knew that the ‘would you like to be a consultant?’ pitch was coming after my show, in fact, even before the show started I had my ‘thanks but no thanks’ response ready to go.  However, after seeing the Norwex products in action, I realized it was time for another plan -- because I was SO excited about Norwex that I actually wanted to share it with other people!

Norwex has been around for 30 years, but it has only been in the U.S. since 2011 - so it has been really exciting to introduce others to it and help them realize that you really CAN clean WITHOUT harmful chemicals!

4.  What is your favorite product?

 Picking just one favorite product is tough -- but my top 3 are:

  1. The Envirocloth - It is amazing how it really does pick up EVERYTHING off the surface and locks it into the core of the cloth without cross-contaminating surfaces.  And yes, you really CAN use it for everything...mirrors, shower stalls, cars, walls, toys, tables, countertops and more!
  2. Enviro Mop System - It’s a big envirocloth for your floors, what isn’t there to love about that.  My floors have never felt SO clean.  No smudgy footprints, no sticky chemical reside.  Love it!
  3. Cleaning Paste - I may need to coin this product as the “son saver” because it quickly and easily took my 3-year old son’s marker “art project” right off the wall...and left the paint right where it should be!

5.  Since this business is new to many of my readers, where can we find you?  

I’d love to connect and introduce you to the wonderful world of Norwex!  Let’s connect:
Like me on Facebook:

If you haven't already checked out Angie's Norwex Products, definitely give them a try - We're LOVING them here in the Naptown Organizer Household!

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Once a Month Crock Pot Cooking!

* This post contains affiliate links.

Those of you who know me well know that I have absolutely no desire OR ability to be a chef.

I'm just about adequate at the simple culinary tasks such as making a sandwich or making macaroni and cheese.  And I can somewhat squeak by at following most recipes that aren't too complicated.  Most of our meals involve DH grilling out and my making salads, veggies, and sides.  But we've been in a little bit of a cooking rut for a long while - and it's getting sad.  At first after Little Lady was born, I did an okay job of keeping up with meals.  However, as I've been working more and it seems like sleeping less as mentioned here, our meals have slipped into a bunch of boring regulars and we needed a change.

posted a few days ago on the Facebook page that we've decided to try once a month crock pot cooking, and so far - it's been going really well!  I'll keep posting updates as we get through the month, but I figured I would post on how it's been so far, what recipes I used {since so many of you asked to see them!}, and exactly what we bought at the store.

30 Day Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plan

Instead of reinventing the wheel, I searched Pinterest and found these freeze-ahead crock pot recipes from another blog.  The recipes made the following meals:

- BBQ Pineapple Pulled Pork
- Lemon Garlic Chicken
- Chicken & Spinach
- Taco Soup
- Pizza Soup
- San Francisco Pork Chops
- Chicken Curry
- Savory Chicken
- Rainy Day Stew

The original blogger who cooked for a month with these recipes should serve at least 18 meals for two people and cost her only $68.  Sixty-eight dollars, right?  That was the main reason I tried these specific recipes - because I really wanted to see how much meals for a month would cost!

When we shopped, DH and I spent right around $130.  So, not quite the $68, but still really great for a full month of dinners {and likely a bunch of lunches as well with leftovers}.  I would highly recommend that you use the meal plan I listed below, because part of the reason why we spent more than what was originally stated was because there were a ton of items on her meal plan list that weren't actually needed for the recipes.  So, here's the recipe shopping list we used:
30 day slow cooker freezer meals

If you look carefully on my shopping list, you'll notice several items the original blogger had added, such as bacon, eggs, etc. - are not longer on my list.  While we enjoyed several days worth of warm breakfasts, none of these recipes used those items.

Also, we made the mistake of buying bags of potatoes and onions, and ended up with WAY too many.  We did also buy bagged frozen chicken instead of fresh chicken and had some left over.  That definitely won't go to waste in our house, but that may have inflated our cost a bit as we had extra after the recipes were finished being made.  {We use chicken breast tenders instead of chicken breasts typically because the portion sizes are smaller and more accurate to one piece per person.}

We also included Slow Cooker Liners which I highly recommend, and the cost of these were added into our total.  This could have inflated our cost as we purchased several bags.  I have a post upcoming on liners for you!

30 Day Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plan

As for prep time, DH and I worked together and were able to finish all the recipes in just a few hours.  I know it was surely less than four hours, but maybe even less?  So, while it did take some time, it wasn't an entire day like some monthly cooks report.

When we began to cook, the first recipe we used was the Rainy Day Stew, mainly because you can't freeze potatoes {they turn black}, so we wanted to cook that in the crock pot right away, without freezing.  That is the first meal we've had, and it lasted our family of four {I count the kids as one serving since they're so little and don't eat too much} three full dinners and two lunches for DH.

30 Day Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plan

If we're looking at cost, since the grocery total was $130, each individual meal cost $14.44.  If we look only at the Rainy Day Stew, our cost per serving is $1.31, which I find to be a fantastic number.  If you consider the amount you'll spend ordering a pizza or two, you can spend upwards of $5 per person on delivery pizza for one of those I don't want to cook days.

30 Day Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plan

As I said, I'll keep updating as we go through a few more of the meals or at the end to talk about how we liked the meals.  For now, though, I'm really excited about the fact that I not only don't have to cook each day, but I don't have to worry about what each meal will be - it's already all planned out and sitting in my fridge/freezer.

Anyone want to take the 30 day Crock Pot Challenge with me?

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Monday, September 23, 2013

So I think I'm finally hitting that point of parenting - and layingdown some ground rules

The past few weeks have been, you know, short.

The days have been short and the time has moved quickly.  Up until now I've felt really with it, like I've been able to keep up with everything.  I've been keeping up with the kids, the house, the laundry, the cleaning, working, tot school, the blog, a social calendar, the babywearing educating, my mom groups - everything.

But then all of a sudden it's two in the morning and I'm still sitting here on the computer trying to formulate a coherent thought after being up all night with Little Lady who is rather sadly teething her sixth tooth and greatly feeling it.  Looking around, there's clothes waiting to be put away, dishes still sitting out, toys laying around.  The house is still, but the remainder of the day is still present.

It's lucky, really, the chaos of this beautiful life.

And while every thread of my normal self wants to run around the room like a crazy person - picking up this here and straightening that there - I'm not.  For once, I'm just leaving it be.

I think every parent experiences this at some point and honestly I'm sort of shocked it took me over two and a half years and two children to get here, but I'm finally here.  There's just so much sometimes, I mean I could never sleep and still wouldn't be finished with everything.  I could, and have been, not only burning the candle at both ends - but probably also scorching it from the sides as well.  Staying up all night long finishing things or being up with Little Lady.  Being on all day, as the kids have staggered naps lately where someone is always awake.  Trying to finish not only our day to day things but also new projects like re-doing some of our furniture pieces and re-organizing some of our less functional rooms.

It's to that point - that point where I need to step back a little.

I know, you're probably reading this and thinking you've heard that tale so many times from a mom blogger.  Right?  Well, this doesn't mean I'm going to stop blogging.  I just may set a few better rules for myself.  Like, sleeping.  And, you know, giving myself a little a slack.

One of the biggest lessons I think any parent has to learn is where their give is.  Or, in my case, when they need to give.

So here goes, these are my rules.  If I don't stick to them, I seriously want you all to remind me and make me remember that I need to - that I'm only good to my family when I take care of myself.

1. Go to bed.  

After eleven at night, I need to be in bed.  And that means, no tv or playing on my phone - just sleeping or at least trying.

2. Don't try to take on a million things.  

If I haven't finished all of our normal stuff then I shouldn't be doing anything more.  Our drawers can get organized another day, the chairs can wait to get painted on another day, and the basement will get cleaned out sometime in this lifetime, but if there is a pile of laundry in the living room or the floors haven't been cleaned in a while - that's the priority.

3. Get up at an earlier hour.

I'm not talking about being up at 6a.  But since my kids sleep in sometimes until 9 or 10a, it doesn't hurt any of us if I'm setting an alarm for 8- even if I've been up half the night.  It gives me a little time to get dressed, eat some breakfast, and get ready for the day.  If I don't take that little amount of time for myself, by the time we're done with breakfast and morning routines for the kids and I can get myself ready, we're close to being into first nap territory and nothing gets done.

4. But give yourself permission to nap.  Really, it's okay.

Because sometimes there are those days where it's better for all involved when everyone has a moment to recharge if naps line up just so.

and finally...

5. Start taking walks again.

I've been slacking on this one, but getting everyone outside and taking a nice long walk really helps us all to feel better.  I love getting some fresh air.  Little Lady's favorite place to be is cuddled up in a sling or carrier when I'm moving around.  Little Man loves seeing the animals we pass at the farms in our area, watching all the cars go by, and stopping at the park on the way home.  It's a win for all involved, and I need to be doing that more.

So, there it is.  You all are going to have to keep me honest, but I'm totally in need of starting to follow these rules.

Anyone else want in on this with me?  Have any rules you need to add for yourself?

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

TNO's Tips & Tricks 34 - How to clean your front loading washer!

* This post contains affiliate links.

Since last week's tips & tricks post centered around choosing a top loading washer, I figured this week it made sense to talk about cleaning the front loader you may already have in your home.

Because these things can get fuuuuuuunky.  For real.

However, with a few simple tricks, let's take your front loading washing machine from a seriously scary place to a nice, squeaky, clean appliance again!

how to clean your washing machine

Let's start by talking about maintenance cleaning first.  The first thing I highly recommend is to leave the door to the washer cracked open always.  Leaving the door open even slightly when the washing machine is not in use allows the washer to dry out.  If you close the door when the washing machine is not in use, you are very likely to get mold in your washer.

Another recommendation is to make sure you're not leaving wet clothing in the washer overnight.  Um... that's kinda one of those "in a perfect world" sort of things, right?  Let's just move on, because I know that happens in our household...


Did you know that you're also supposed to wipe down the rubber door seal and the plastic window after every wash?  I'll be completely honest - I don't get to it every time.  But I do wipe the rubber parts of the washing machine at least after every 2-3 washes.  I'll often just grab a quick wet washcloth, give it a swipe around, and then toss that washcloth in the next load.  It's simple, it takes literally only a few extra seconds, and it'll help your washer from growing legs and walking off into a dirty, nasty sunset.

how to clean your washing machine
Like this lovely - that my friend came home to after renting out her apartment for a while.  Yuck!
{If your washer does end up looking like the one above, try mixing some warm water and vinegar.  If you let that soak, give it a scrub, and that still doesn't work?  You may have to try it again with some bleach.  Typically though, warm vinegar and water is going to do the job just fine.}

As for actually cleaning your washer, check and see if it has a clean cycle, which my washer does.  Mine also has a note on it next to the clean cycle specifying "bleach only".  Because I'm a Betty-by-the-book, I stick with that and mostly do use bleach when using the clean cycle.

Mainly because I'm afraid I'll break it, and DH will get mad because I didn't follow the rules.  You know - how in typical fashion I just throw vinegar at anything remotely unsightly.

I run an empty wash with a cup or two of bleach on the clean cycle every few months if I feel like the washer is getting gross.  I'll also typically run a rinse cycle {empty} after a bleach wash to make sure all the bleach is out prior to washing our clothes again.  I have noticed that when I strip our diapers with either RLR or Mighty Bubbles, that I don't have to clean the washer nearly as much as they seem to strip the funk out of both the diapers and the washer!

It may seem silly to actually clean the machine that cleans your clothing, but if you have any indicators that your washer is dirty {including visible mold or gunk, stinky smelling clothing after being washed, or a stinky smelling washer} check out some of the hints above to clean your front loader!

Have you ever cleaned out your washer?  What is your routine?

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Joovy Boob Bottle Review!

* This is not a sponsored post, but I did receive products to review.  There are affiliate links in this post, so if you want to show me some love - give me a click!

Recently I had the excellent opportunity to try out the full line of the Joovy Boob bottles.

Joovy baby bottle boob review

I mean, really.  The bottles are named Boob.  Is there anything cooler than that name?  I think not.

The Boob bottles are an upscale version of the baby bottle, offering their CleanVent system, new nipple design, and the possibility of using just about a million corresponding accessories.  The new nipple design is made to be more like a breast with a larger base and longer nipple.  And the CleanVent system is awesome, as it's just a simple circular plastic piece fitting inside the lid of the bottle.

We've previously used a bottle system with a vent on the bottom of the bottle, leading often to leaking and spilled milk.  And with how hard I work to make that milk, I'm not interested in losing any!  So we're loving the no-leak Boob bottles!

Additionally, as I mentioned above - there are about a million accessories.  This includes an insulator {to either keep bottles warmer for longer or keep frozen milk from thawing for longer}, four different nipple sizes {slow flow, medium flow, fast flow, and X cut - my favorite as a speech pathologist who loves a standard cross cut nipple for thickened feedings}, breast pump adapters {which we will for sure use in the car on our way to DH's parents' home later this year}, bottle caps, & bottle and nipple brushes.

Joovy baby bottle boob review

My kids typically have had no problem whatsoever with taking a bottle and have never refused bottles, so when trying out the Boob bottle system with Little Lady - it did not surprise me that she just took right to them, drank her freezer stash milk, and was on her way back to playing.

If you're in the market for a new bottle system - definitely check out the Boob bottles from Joovy!

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